Newfoundland Legislative Assembly, 16 February 1869, Newfoundland Debates over Confederation with Canada.

1 THE NEWFOUNDLANDER. St. John's, Wednesday, February 24, 1869.
TUESDAY, Feb. 16.
The House met at three o'clock, pursuant to adjournment.
On motion of Mr. GODDEN, the House resolved itself into Committee of the Whole on the further consideraion of the address in reply to his Excellency's speech, Mr. KNIGHT in the chair.
Mr. LITTLE thought that too much time had been spent in the discussing a question which in reality was not before the chaur, and that that which really was before the chair had been discussed in a manner calculated to distract the attention of the House, and consume time which ought to be devoted to other purposes. Every species of argument had been used, and a general desise to rush to the front in the cause of Confederation had been exhibited, though that question was not before the House. The Government could not deny but that it was their own supporters who first promoted this unnecessary discussion, which consumed the time and mouey of the country. His (Mr. L's) idea was that the discussion should be confined to each section as it presented itself. The section now under consideration was that which proposed immediate legislation on the question of Confederation, or at least that the House should now enter into the discussion of that question. He concurred with all his heart in the latter part of the amendment proposed by the hon. member, Mr. Talbo, not only because of his (Mr. L's) pledge to his constituents, but principally because this Legislature was not elected for the purpose of definitely binding the country on the subject of Confederation. Even the hon. and learned leader of the Government himself was not sent here by his constituents with full power to deal with the question. In plain language, he told the people that the matter would be referred to them before any action would be taken on it; and he (Mr. L.) did not doubt but that the hon. and learned geutleman would keep his promise. In limine, the moment assent is given to the principle or a measure and its details are taken up for cousideration, and embodied in resolutious and passed by this House, from that moment the approval of the country to that principle becomes a mere [?]. He (Mr. L.) understood that the course proposed by the Government was to discuss the principle and the terms together, and by a resolution of this House make the acceptance of these terms a solemn act of the Legislature, then to send a delegation to the Government of the Dominion, asking their assent to these terms, and if they be accepted by them, then to dissolve the Legislature and send hon. members to their constituencies for approval of their course of action, and not for acceptance or rejection of the principle of Confederation. If that be the course by which it is proposed to accomplished a gigantic scheme, for the amelioration of the country's ils, it is taking a very bad in means for the accomplishment of that end. They were not there to legislate on the question of Coafederation, and he, for oue, was returned to oppose it in the shape in which it was first presented to the country. He would oppose both terms and resolution in the present House, because otherwise he would be false to his coustituents. The present Legislature was incapable of dealing with the matter, because it had not been clothed with the necessary powers by the people, who alone can [?] them. In a matter of this sort be considered that all should act together, sinking all party and personal interests, when the rights pf [?] government were about to be transferred to strangers, and the dearest interests of the people to be sacrificed. The matter has been subject of discussion in [?], House before, and the House had set its face against the principle and the terms, as emploied in the Quebec scheme. That no one could deny. Petitions were presented to this House against the introduction of that scheme, add yet hon, gentlemen opposite say that the Legislature were empow ered to discuss the principle and to bind the country. Such was not the case. It would be a breach of faith to attempt it, and those who, attempted it will find that the day of reckoning will come, when they will appear before their taskmasters, who will assurelly bring them to account for their faithlessness. He (Mr. L.) would have no reason to four meeting his constituents, for he would observe his pledge to them, which was that in the first instance the question of Confederation and its term should be, submitted to the people. Should they at the polls declare in favour of it, then he would be happy to carry out their desires to the bast of his ability until then he would vote against both, unless it were made a condition that unless the people adopted them they should not be held to bind the country. He did not regard legislative action on such a matter as mere lip service or proformx work. After passing resolutions as proposed, the question would become ore of man, not of measures. Really the conduct of the Government with regard to this matter was sufficient to excite suspicion in the minds of honest men. Wny have they not long ago come down with the proposed terms? Why do they keep them back? Why herald the very shadow of Confederation with such speeches as had been heard? Why not in these speeches deal with facts instead of theories? He thought the amendment before the chair was a very proper one, and woull give it his support, for the reasons which he had already expressed. To these reasons and that opinion he would adhere. He had given his opinion as shortly as he could. He would, so far as his power enabled him, opposs the passing of any resolutions respecting the principle or term of Confederation, because the matter should first be laid before the people, who knew best what was for their own interest.
Mr. PROWSE had much pleasure in listening to the hon. and learned member who had just spoken, though he (Mr. P.) differed with his views. He (Mr. P.) considered that the whole question of Confederation rested on the terms. Hon. gentlemen opposite, and all blessed with the highest and most gifted minds, admitted that the principle was one which could not be gainsaid. There was no man would go so far as to say we would not have Confederation on any terms. To go to the bustings with the naked question of principle would have no meaning, but to go with the principle accompanied by the terms was what they could very easily understand. He agreed with the hon. and learned member for Harbor Main that the people should decide the question for themselves. How could the terms be placed before them? These must first be discussed and agreed to; and they ought to be agreed to by every member in the House. He (Mr. P.) considered that the terms should be fair and equitable, and suited to tax interests of the Colony. It would also have to be considered whether they would be accepted by the Dominion Government. If they were, then they would be submitted to the people. If they do not accept them then they fall to the ground; but if they do accept them, then both this Legislature and that of the Dominion will have to address the Queen in Council praying Her approval of the matter. The hon. and learned member for Harbor Main said that the couduct of the Government was calculated to excite suspicion. He (Mr. P.) considered that the conduct of the Governmentt had been all through as fair and open and above board as it could possibly be. The hon. gentleman did not say in what way their conduct was suspicious. Had they accelerated or pushed on the question, or forced it in any way? He (Mr. P.) had nothing to do with the Government, and merely gave his own opinions on the course of events, as any other independant member would. The Government looked on the matter as a most, grave and important one, and they proceeded slowly and calmly with it, just as it should be. He supposed that in due time the terms would be brought down. They could then be discussed and criticised and [?], There was a time when Confederation was a small child in the House, and when it had a great many enemies quite ready to strangle it, but now it had grown up and acquired considerable strength, and those who before tried to strangle it are glad to help it along. He (Mr. P.) could recollect when the majority against Confederation, both inside and outside of the House, was very large, but the majority was even larger the other way now. This was too important a question for mere tricks of party, and it was criminal for any man to be politically dishonest about it. He had placed his views on record in 1895, and to these views he still adhered. He then believed that as the majority was so large against it, it would be a long time before it was settled. However, he now believed that the time to settle it had come. He ageed with the hon. and learned member for Harbor Main, that this House could not make any final settlement respecting the terms. That was the province of the people and a proviso to that effect should be inserted in the resolutions. He (Mr. P.) did not like to see the unfair way in which this question of Confederation was dealt with, both inside and outside of the House. Every man who speaks in favor of Confederation had again and again to fight against some exploded idea or other. The "bleaching bones" idea was so far gone that even the great head centre of Confederation distained to use it any more. The
Union of Ireland was also brought forward in eloquent terms, what possible contestion was there between the Union of Ireland and this guestion of Confederation? Hon. gentlemen knew very well that it had none, and it was cowardly, mean and dastardly thus to appeal to the passions and prejudices of the people. His District had suffered a great deal by the withdrawal of local steam, The withdrawal, however was unavoidable, for in the present condition of the colony the subsidy could not be afforded. He thought that local steam shoull be a sine Qua Non of Confederation. They would then have something better than the dirty tub they used to have, and would also have better than the present tub in Conception Bay. He knew that the hon. member for St. John's had tried and were trying to stir up a feeling against confederation, but he believed that his (Mr. P's) constituents were favorable to it on good terms. He hoped these good terms would be got, and that if not none other would be accepted. He had often in that House tried to procure the erection of a Light House in his district, but had failed. Last summer representations on the matter were made to the Dominion Government and without hesitation they sent down a steamer, had a survey held and the site agreed on, and the building will commence at once. There was earnest of one of the benefits of Confederation. The speeches on this question were so long that the subject was nearly worn threadbare, but there was one important matter which was only slightly, if at all glanced at. That was the power given to the Dominion Parliament to negotiate commercial treaties, which would aftect this country in the matters of the French shore and the Spanish trade. He had been told that the Dominion was endeavoring to establish a free trade with the Spanish West India Islands, and that it will be accomplished so soon as the affairs of Spain are settled. Newfoundland had a very great interest in that matter. The differential duty against foreign flags had operated very prejudicially to our interests. This duty had been the means of prohibiting our fish being carried in English bottoms to Spain, and it had been maintained by the interest which a few Mediterranean ship-owners possessed at the Cortes. With the new Government the flag duty would be taken away, and our commercial relations with Spain would, through the influence of the Dominion be placed upon a much fairer footing than at present. It was of the greatest possible importance to us that our interests should be represented at Madrid. The produce of Sweden, and Holland had, through the influence of their respective Ministers, been brought into great demand in the Spanish market. Spain consumed annually 900,000qds. of codfish, and of this we did not send them one- fourth, hiring been cut out by the Swedish fish. Petitions and memorials sent year after year to the Colonial office had all proved unavailing to remove the invidious obstacles against which we had to contend, and our only chance of success lay in the power conferred upon the Dominion, of making commercial treaties and sending an accredited minister to these Courts. He (Mr. P.) had referred to this point because he knew something of it personally. He trusted when the real question came down, the terms and bona fide conditions of Confederation, they will receive that calm and dispassionate consideration to which they were entitled.
The hon. COLONIAL SECRETARY should have taken no part in the debate, did he not consider it the duty of every hon member to express his opinions on the important matters, before the chair. For his (hon C. S's) part, he was tied by no pledges, but felt himself perfectly free to deal with the question of Confederation and to give publicity to the views which he had always held. When the question was first brought into notice, though we had a genial tariff and everything in our favour, he had been of opinion that we could not ally ourselves to the neighbouring Colonies without being benefitted. He had regarded Newfoundland as a poor family invited to cast in her lot with half a dozen families in comfortable circumstances, and he had been persuaded that such a union could not but rebound to her advantage. In 1865 he had before his constituents avowed his sentiments, and he had told them that whenever the question came up for consideration he would vote in favour of it. If then they had disapproved of his sentiments they need not have elected him. He should now vote in favour of the Address, and if in this he was running counter to the opinions of his district they were perfectly free to elect another man. We could not but regard this quastion of union as one fraught with importance, as it must affect the weal or woe of the country for all time to come. The settlement of the matter could not without prejudice to the community be longer delayed. Delay would not only be cowardly but suicidal as, regarded the interests of the Country and those who were charged with the protection of those interests. He believed the country demanded a decision at the hands of this House, and that seven-tenths of the people of the Island were in favour of a change. Should then that change be such as would continue us in our present position as a miserable fishing dependency? Or should it be such as would unite us with a Dominion growing in wealth and importance every day? With reference to the subject of Reciprocity, though every hon. member admitted its advantges, there was a variety of opinions. Hon gentlemen on this side agreed with his Excellency, that separated from the Dominion we should be in no position to ensure to ourselves the benefits of reciprocal free trade, while hon. gentlemen opposite contended that Reciprocity might be brought about by a reduction of the civil expenditure. With this latter view he (hon, C.S.), could not concur. Wherever there was a useless expenditure or a useless office let it be removed. Bu, retrench as we might he considered it, utterly impossible to obtain all the benefits from such a policy as hon. members opposite contemplated, and though these benefits might be obtained, he considered that they would bear no comparison to those growing out of confederation. He (hon. C. S.) had understood the hon. member, Mr. Little, to say that it was the intention of the Government to adopt by resolution the saction of this colony to the terms of Confederation. He (hon. C. S.) did not understaad it so. If this were so the question would be definitely settled. The measure could not be tested at the general election and the election, would be a question not of measures but of men. The hon. member was throwing dust in the eyes of his coustituency, and endeavouring to shirk the responsibility which was incumbent upon him, leaving himself free to accept Confederation as a foregone conclusion, while it was in reality undecided and he might in honesty oppose it. He (hon. C. S.) considered that the time had arrived when we should act like rational creatures. We could not remain blind to the decleusion of the means of employment and deaf to the appeals of misery and distress. The resources on which the people had trusted did not keep pace with the increase of population. He did not mean to say that Confederation would have the effect of bringing fish to our shores, but he regarded it as a means to an end, and that end the gradual but unceasing and certain improvement of the condition of the country. It would be needless for him to express in detail his views upon this subject, for abler hands had already dealt with it in all its bearings. He hoped that the terms to which this House would assant would be such as would prove advantageous to the country, that there would be no difficulty in obtaining their appoval at the hands of the General Government, and that before long Newfoundland would be an integral part of the Confederacy.
Mr. GLEN.—Hon. members opposite seemed to be trying to educate the people on the subject of Confederation, before the terms came down. He only rose to make a remark upon the speech of the hon. Reciever General, which was a very able and argumentative speech. But the hon, gentleman had stated matters which were not facts, tending to delude the people. This statement could not arise from the ignorance of the hon. gettleman. If the statement had come from the hon. member, Mr. Pinsent, he (Mr. G.) would not have taken the slightest notice of it, for he did not consider that that hon. gentleman was quite au fait at figures. The hon. Receiver General had stated that our expenditure under Confederation would be $315,000 and the grant from the Dominion $416,000, so that $100,000 would annually be left for roads. Now the Dominion did not grant us $416,000, so the fact stated was not correct. The amount of the Dominion subsidy was $369,000, so that there was a difference of $47,000 against the Colony. That statement of the hon. gantleman had gone, forth to the world, had been extensively read, and coming forth with the prestige of his high character, it must have taken effect. The hon. gentleman should have been more guarded. If the Confederate cause were a good one, it would not require misstatements to support it. The hon, member, Mr. Pinsent, seemed to be trimming his wings for a flight to Ottawa, and when bye and bye the ugly rush for situations came (for there would be an ugly rush), the hon. member if he failed in getting a high legal position as Attorney General or Solicitor General, after the display which he had made the other day, would be fully justified in looking for the post of Finance Minister. He (M.G.) had stated a few days ago that the Dominion was in difficulties, and that to save themselves from insolveccy, they had to issue $5,000,000 in Treasury notes. The hon. member, Mr. Rendell, had said that that could not be, as their debentures were at a premium in London. The hon. member should recollect that at that time parties in England could not get more than 1.5 per cent. for their money, on account of the excessive supply of gold. Suppose the Dominion Government had thrown this $5,000,000 of debentures into the London market, would they have been saleable? Certainly not. The Dominion Government were just as insolvent as our own Government. These Treasury notes would have to be called in, and a crash would come. Though they were a Government of great abilities, they were a reckless Government. He (Mr. G.) could not see the expediency of one bankrupt Government going into partnership with another.
The Hon. RECIEVER GENERAL maintained the accuracy of his statement. The subsidy of the Domminion Government would amount to $416,500 and under the Resolutions which were to be brought in, the Government would look for a yet larger grant.
Mr. GLEN.—The Dominion Government deducts the interest on the debt from the subsidy.
Hon. RECIEVER GENERAL.—Yes, but that I have charged under the expenditure. He (hon. R.G.) was amused by the anxiety of hon. members opposite. In Nova Scotia Confederation was carried without an appeal to the constituencies. In Newfoundland the Legislature are determined that the constituencies shall be consulted, and because the very conditions which were denied to Nova Scotia are granted to Newfoundland, Newfoundland, forsooth, is the most aggrieved country in the world. He was astonished to hear the hon. member, Mr Little, talk of legislating upon Confederation. A simple resolutions is not legislation, as legislation requires the concurrence of the three estates of Parliament. We pass resolutions expanatory of the details upon which we would recommend the constituencies to accept the Union, and after having these conditions assented to by the General Government, we go to the constituencies and say "Look calmly into the question, see the condition of the country and say whether or not we shall remain as we are: if so, sweep from the bustings of those men who have ill- advised yet, but if you cousider they are honest adopt these terms and go into the Union." Hon. members opposite were throwing dust in the eyes of there constituents, and if they could succeed in getting into power, they would carry out the measure if Confederation. That was the meaning of the phrase, "men and not measures." He was perfectly astonished at the hon. member, Mr. Glen, saying that he (hon. R.G.) was guilty of acts to delude the people. He was here to instruct the people as far as his powers and his position went, and when he went before his constituents, if they disapproved of him, they could reject him, and end his political influence.
Mr. RENOUF contended that the figures of the hon Receiver General were false, and that the hon member, Mr. Glen, was correct. The hon. member had said we would have to provide $315,000 for various services. He (Mr. R.) held in his hand a statement which proved that we should have to provide $360,000. Here was an error of$45,000. The Miscellaneous expensiture under Confederation, instead of $3,000, the amount assumed by the hon. Receiver General, could not amount to less than $37,000; for provision for coastal steam would have to be made. He denied that the hon. Reciever General represented the views of his constituants or of the Roman Catholic population.
The hon. RECIEVER GENERAL said, that the best reply to this remark was a letter he had received from the Right Revd. Dr. Mullock, which he read as follows—
"My dear Mr. Kent, I was delighted with your speech in to-day's Newfoundlander. It is argumentative, convincing, and will do a great deal of good. Praying for God continue you in good health.
I remain, yours sincerely,
The hon. John Kent.
Mr. RENOUF.—Hon. gentlemen, on this side had the highest regard for Dr.Mullock, but this was a matter which should be left to the people. Hon. members on this side had fought the batle of the people through good and through evil report, and as long as they had the honor of occupying seats in the House, they would represent their districts independent of any influence.
Mr. BRENNAN.—There was a great deal of conflicting opinions about Confederation. £700 worth of potatoes would cause the people of St. Mary's Bay to be independent, instead of paying it to a Geologist. Where was the property discovered by that Geologist? Not the full of his (Mr. B's) fist. There was plenty of flags which ought to be used for drains about Torbay. The pipes cost a great deal of money, that came from across the Atlantic Ocean. A gentleman said to him (Mr. B.) that they were a great deal cheaper than the square drain. "Are they?" said he (Mr. B.), "Oh yes," said the gentleman "that is what they have in London." "Are you going to tell me" said he (Mr. B.) "that they are cheaper when the money goes across the ocean and will never return." Whereas, if the money was spent in time country it would be like a weaver's shuttle, no sooner out of one hand than into the other. Have the flags at each side, lay it and cover it with three feet of earth, and it will last as long as the South Side hill. Our people were not here accustomed to heavy labour. The Rilway work in Canada was tha hardest work that could be. He considered that annexation would be more beneficial to Newfoundland as far as its encouragement of labour was concerned, than Confederation.
Mr. KEARNEY considered the subject before the chair was the most important that could come before this House. It was well known that he was returned to this House pledged to oppose Confederation. In case, however, the government, intended sending delegates to Canada, to adjust to terms of Confederation, he hoped they would not forget this side of the House. The hon. member then referred at considerable length to the supply system, and the detrimental effects produced by the fishermen being compelled to sell their fish green, for food. He referred to some cases of extortion. He drew particular attention to the great want and poverty that existed among the people, and appealed to the government not to allow the people to starve.
Mr. HOGSETT thought that he had said everything that was necessary upon the paragraph before the chair, and the amendment which had been proposed. It appeared, however, that the hon. Receiver General had been hatching an egg, and wanted to lay it. He (Mr. H.) had been told that the Hon. Receiver General had flung a letter in the faces of the oppositions which he alleged he had received from the Right Rev. Dr. Mullock. Now he (Mr. H) could not see why that Right Revd. Prelate's name should be dragged bafore this House, and used as a means of itimidating and controlling that independance of action which this side of the House possesses. Did the hon Receiver General think to whip us into line by a letter of that description? Did we see any Protestant gentleman in this House dragging in his Bishop's name before the House, and making it the subject of debate? Why, the very fact of so violating the pivacy of that communication shows that the hon. Receiver General would, if it suited his purpose, betray Dr. Mullock to-morrow. The hon Receiver General had received that letter in compliment to the speech which he delivered, and he now hurls it before this House as an evidance that he was the champion of the Catholic interests of this country. Why, the hon Receiver General killed more Catholics, and is answerable for more Catholic blood than any man that ever stepped upou our shores. II6 drags his Bishop's name, now before this House to be the scoffing and sport of those who did not agree with him in his religious views, in order to cover his own insolence and cowardice. There was one Bishop in this country if his faith, who had given the hon Receiver General character and standing in the community, and yet he ungratefully abused him. How often had he (Mr. H.) heard him wag his tongue against his Bishop? Why if the Right Revd. Dr. Mullock associated with the Receiver General, he would lower his position and do injury to his sacred character. The opposition knew their Bishop and respected him, and when he was attacked they would defend him. They would not go behind his back to [?] him. If he (Mr. H.) thought proper to show when the Receiver General forget he was a Catholic and a Christian. He (Mr. H.) warned him not again to drag the name of that exalted individual before this House. It was only cowards and knaves who would do such a thing. He (Mr. H.) had got up merely to give expression is these views. Let him go and put his head in a padding bag, forswear politics; and do penance for the wrongs that he had done that great and good man, his Bishop, and the insult he had ordered to every Roman Catholic from Cape John to Cape Ray.
The paragraph was then adopted.
On motion of Mr. GODDEN, the Committee then rose, and the Chairman reported that the Committee had passed the address without amendment
On motion that the said report be received Mr. PARSONS moved and Mr. GLEN seconded the following amendment to the second paragraph of the address:—
While we admit the necessity for the large outlay under the head of relief of the able bodied poor, we cannot refrain from expressing our disapproval of the injudicious mode in which such outlay was effected, and our regret, that no remedial measures had been adopted by the Government to relieve the evils accruing to the poor from its stoppage.
The amendment was put and lost on a division,—Yeahs, Messrs Glen, Hogsett, Parsons, Brennan, Kearney, Little, Talbot, Major Renouf; Nays—Hons Attorney General Colonial Secretary, Receiver General, A. Shea, the Surveyor General, Mesrs Randell, Knight, Burton, Oakley, Evans, Barnett, Prowse Pinsent, Barron. O'Rielly, Green, Goddeu Kavanagh.
Mr. HOGSETT then moved in amendment seconded, by Mr. TALBOT, that the fourth paragraph be expunged and the following substituted in lieu thereof:—
In reference to the French shore question, we fail to discover in your Excelleusy's speech any thing that relievs this important matter from the difficulties which surrounded it on the occasion of the address of the Legislature in the past session; and whilst we recognise your Excellency's conduct in a desire to bring this subject to a satisfactory conclusion, we cannot but regret that no reply has been made to the resolutions and petitions of this Legislature, and that the policy indicated in Lord Carnarvon's despatch of the 7th December, 1866, is approved of by the late Secretary of State for the Colonies.
The amendment was put and lost on a similar division to the foregoing.
Mr. TALBOT then moved, in amendment, seconded by Major Renouf, that the sixth paragraph be expunged, and the following substituted in lieu thereof:—
With regard to the question of Confederation, we beg respectfully to observe that the only scheme having reference to this matter which has been submitted to our consideration with that known by this name of the Qeubec Resolutions, and that scheme has already been rejected by the Legislature and the country; and we further take leave to express to your Excelleney our conviction and desire that a subject of such vital importance to the liberties of the country should be submitted to the decision of the people at the polls, before any further action be taken upon it by the Legislature.
The amendment was put and lost, on a similar division to the foregoing.
The original motion was then put and carried.
Ordered that the address be read a third time to-morrow.
The House than adjourned till to-morrow, at 3 o'clock.


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