Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly, 11 April 1865, Nova Scotia Confederation with Canada.



House met at 3 o'clock.


Hon PROV. SEC. moved the third reading of the bill "For the better encouragement of education."
Hon. Mr. LOCKE opposed the principle of assessment as most obnoxious to the people, and moved a resolution to this effect: -
Whereas, the system of direct taxation for the support of schools has been condemned by and is obnoxious to the wishes of the people of this Province, and instead of promoting had retarded the progress of education;
Therefore Resolved, That this bill be referred back to committee for the purpose of striking out so much thereof as establishes that principle, and that there should be substituted therefor clauses provinding for subscriptions or contributions by fees to supplement the proposes grant for the support of schools.
Hon. PROV. SEC. said that the resolution asked the house to stultify itself and to resort to an old system which had been tried and found inadequate. He hoped a majority would not be found, for party purposes, willing to adopt such a course.
Mr. LOCKE disavowed all party feeling in the matterm and expressed the opinion that the present law had retarded education and closed one half the schools. He thought the Legislature had no right to meddle with the pockets of the people as the bill proposed.
Hon. ATTY. GEN. said he had yet to learn that the people were willing to go back to the old system which had been abandoned last year by a vote of nine-tenths of the Legislature. For years past all parties had acknowledged its inadequacy to meet the requirements of the country, and the necessity of an improved system of education. Notwithstanding all the difficulties that naturally arose in putting into operation a bill new to the people, the results on the whole had been satisfactory and encouraging. Under all the circumstances, it was absurd for the hon. gentleman to ask the house to go back to a system which had been condemned by nine-tenths of the members last year.
Mr. ARCHIBALD made a few remarks in support of the principle of assessment, which had been advocated by leading minds in the House and country for many years. He would not support a resolution which went to establish a principle which he felt was unsuited to the public requirements, and was condemned by a large majority last winter. The bill of last year was objectionable in many respects, but the object of the present measure was to remove many of the injurious features of the former, and place education on a more satisfactory basis. - Some details he strongly objected to still, but of its vital principle he approved.
Mr. STEWART CAMPELL said that the question as to whether the rejection of the assessment principle would destroy the bill, and embarrass the Government, was not the point to be considered at all. What they were called upon to ascertain was whether that principle was in accordance with the feelings and wishes of the country. If it was, then let it be accepted; but if not, irrespective of any party considerations whatever. He differed entirely from the hon. Provincial Secretary, when he said that they would stultify themselves by rejecting the assessment clause; on the contrary, he thoughthat it would be the Government that stultified themselves when they called upon the house to pass a measure which for the last twelve months had received universal condemnation throughout the country. The hon. Provincial Secretary stated that the house had already acted upon this principle. That vote was taken in a thin house, when fifteen gentlemen recorded their votes against it, and eighteen for it: and he believed that if they were not influened by pressure since brought to bear, the majority would be the other way. He denied that the bill of last year had been a success in the country. Even admitting that in some populous districts it had met with support, that was no answer to the fact that the large majority of districts lying outside of these were deprived of the meand of education altogether. He disclaimed all idea in opposing this bill, of wishing to embarrass the government. If it had that effect, they had brought it on their own heads. He opposed it because he knew it to be obnoxious to his constituents. If it was a good bill, he called upon the government to appeal to the peopl and allow them to pass their judgment upon it; but he did not think that ever they believed that it was in accordance with the wishes of the people. He called upon gentlemen opposite to record their opinions upon this question, according to their own convictions and what they knew was the feeling of the country. He did not think that it was the duty of any gentlemen, however much they might desire to sustain the government, to perpetuate a system so obnoxious to the people.
The assertion of the hon. Atty. Gen., that education was in a better position now than under the old law, had been so often refuted that he would not take up time by alluding to it now. The petitions upon the table shewed the contrary; and it would have been better for the government to have paid some regard to them, rather than pass them by unnoticed.
The hon'ble gentleman concluded by calling upon gentlemen opposite to act independently and fearlessly upon this question - their duty to their constituents should be their consideration - that to the Government was only secondary. He would rather always remain in opposition than be a slave to any Government.
Was this a time, he would ask, to force an obnoxious measure upon the people of this country—a time, if we could believe the opinions of gentlemen opposite—when danger is threatened—and it was therefore of more than ordinary importance that the affection and confidence of the people should be reposed in the Government of the day. Let us then encourage these feelings—let us have willing hearts as well as hands to defend us, and although our numbers may be few—and the danger great—he believed that there was sufficient courage, energy and spirit in the people of this country to sustain them in the hour of need.
Mr. BLANCHARD did not intend to have addressed the House, but the question having assumed such proportions, he felt it his duty to offer a few observations. This question of assessment for the support of schools was by no means a new one. Upon looking back to the Journals of 1856, he found that the subject was debated in the House and the following resolutions were then moved :-
" Whereas the principle of assessment is the only permanent foundation for the common school education of the country, and as this principle is the leading feature of the measure now under consideration and the details may be modified and improved,-
" Resolved, therefore, that the bill entitled an act for the better encouragement of education be referred to a select committee with instructions to consider the same, and report thereon at a future day.
" For the motion thirty-seven against it nine."
The men whose names he found recorded in favor of that resolution he had been accustomed from his boyhood to look up to with respect and esteem; and when that resolution was carried it met with his hearty approval. From his earliest recollections, he had been educated in the belief that the principle of assessment was the only correct one; and in supporting it now he certainly could not be suspected of being a slave to the Government. He was sorry that he was compelled to differ from those for whose opinions he had always entertained the highest respect; but he felt that he would be recreant to the duty he owed to the country, and to the opinions he always entertained, if he voted for the resolution of the hon. member for Shelburne. He was not disposed now to enter into an argument to prove that assessment was the true principle. This had been proved so often that it was unnecessary. When this principle was introduced into the bill of last year, he told the hon. Prov. Sec. that if it was founded upon the proper basis, he would give his assistance in carrying it out. He thought that the time had come when the principle should be fairly tried, and he now felt that if he voted for the resolution before the house, he would be taking a step in a backward direction. At the same time, he must not be understood as giving his entire approval to the whole bill,—there were many objectionable features in it, which he had done his best to remove. For instance, the construction—of the Council of Public Instruction was particularly obnoxious to him ; but this feature he could not object to. He did not support it with a view of assisting the Government, but because he felt it was the only sound basis upon which the common school system of the country should rest.
Mr. BLACKWOOD said that there were many  clauses of this bill exceedingly objectionable to him, and none more so than the mode in which the Council of Public Instruction was constituted. He should have been very glad if that had been re-considered, or at all events remodelled, so as to remove some of its objectionable features. But, as regards the feature of the bill now under consideration, he felt called upon to sustain it, for he was convinced that, when properly carried out, it was the only proper basis upon which the common school system of the country should rest. He was sorry that he was obliged to differ with his friend the member for Shelburne; but he could not consistently vote for his motion without acting contrary to the opinions he had always entertained. He did not support the measure with the view of assisting the Government—for he would scorn to bolster up any Government by supporting them in carrying out what he did not believe was for the interests of the whole country. He wished, then, in giving his vote for the measure, to put himself right before the house and his constituents—and to let them understand that, in the course he was taking, he was not sustaining a Government—but a principle, which he believed was calculated to benetit the cause of education.
Mr. JOST had already stated that he was opposed to the principle of compulsory taxation. He wished the matter to be left in the hands of the people.
Mr. BILL said that the house was aware that he had presented petitions signed by many hundreds of persons against assessment for the support of schools. It was a system that looked very well upon paper, but it was not so easy to carry it out. When he made up his mind to vote for assessment, he was at the same time determined to vote for separate schools, for he did not think it just to have the one without the other. He regretted very much that he felt it his duty to support the resolution.
Mr. KILLAM said that it was evident that the system of county assessment proposed by the bill would not give the amount required for the support of the schools—and they would have to raise the balance by subscriptions from the people. He objected in committee to the principle upon which the bill distributes the public money, and he should vote for the resolution before the house.
A call of the house was had.
Mr. C. J. CAMPBELL said that it was clearly understood when this bill was sent to committee that no one was committed to the principle. He was glad it was not going to be made a party question, as it left it open to the supporters of the Government to take an independent course. He agreed with the member for Kings, that, if they had direct taxation, they must have seperate schools. He though, if they were going to have free Schools, the better plan would be to appropriate the surplus revenne in the Provincial chest for their support, and, if that was not enough, he did not think the people would object to an increase of the advalorem duties.
Mr. Ross, in reference to a statement made on a previous evening by the Provincial Secretary, that there were 62 schools in operation in Victoria county, said that he was not in a position to contradict him then, but he had telegraphed down to the county, and had received an answer that there were only 27.
Hon. PROV. SECY. said that his information PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES. 219 was derived from the report of the Superintendent of Education. He did not say that 62 schools were in operation, but that 62 school sections had organized under the law. He had listened with some surprise to the style of argument used by the member for Guysborough. He had listened to rather extraordinary appeals in that house, and had seen great liberties taken with hon. gentlemen, but he had never heard of such a liberty as that which had just been taken by the member for Guysborough with the gentlemen who supported the Governmentt. He(Mr.C.)could not say that the principle of assessment was bad, for hehad affirmed it over and over again, but he called upon hon. gentlemen to vote against the bill from the small, paltry consideration of losing a few votes among their constituents.
He did not consider the present position of the cause of education in this country, nor what was due to the people he represented; but he called upon hon. gentlemen to consider only what was due to themselves, and from personal motives to defeat a measure designed to improve the common school system of the country.
He (the Pro. Sec.) would ask whether this was a dignified or honorable position to occupy —to call upon gentlemen on that side of the house to abandon a government that had had the courage to grapple with a great question, which they knew was fraught with great danger, but which they felt the best interests of the country demanded should be dealt with at their hands? He did not envy that hon. gentleman the position he occupied, and he should look with interest at the division, to see how many would be guided by his advice.
Mr. STEWART CAMPBELL said that the hon. Provincial Secretary had expressed surprise at his moving a call of the house. His reason was plain; three or four gentlemen who had expressed themselves opposed to the bill had been about the house all day; but where were they now? His object was to bring every man here to record his vote, as it was his duty to do. The hon. Pro. Sec. had taken exception to the appeal he had made to the house. He thought that when the house remembered the appeal that hon. gentleman once made to the house and the country on the subject of retrenchment—an appeal which it is true achieved its purpose and gave him power,—a power he did not envy him, when gained by such unworthy means—they would agree with him that he was the last man to criticise the motives of any hon. gentleman in that house.
The question was then taken upon Mr. Chas. Campbell's amendment, which was lost by a large majority.
Mr. Locke's motion was then put, and lost by a vote of 30 to 16.
For—Messrs. Heffernan, Ross, Hatfield, Killam, Ray, Bill, Miller, C. J. Campbell, Robertson, Locke, Bourinot, Stewart Campbell, Caldwell, Robichau, Coffin, Balcam—16.
Against—D. Fraser, Shannon, Tobin, Donkin, Hill, Longley, McFarlane, McKay, King, Lawrence, Allison, Pryor, Parker, Whitman, Kaulback, Moore, Hamilton, Pro. Sec., J. Fraser, J. Campbell, McLelan, Blackwood, Atty. Gen., Blanchard, Annand, Cowie, Mckinnon, C. J. Campbell, Fin. Sec., Archibald—30.
Mr. ARCHIBALD moved that the bill be recommitted for the purpose of striking out the clause relating to the Council of Public Instruction and substituting the following:
" The Governor may appoint not more than nine and not less than seven persons, of whom the Superintendent of Education shall be one, to be a Council of Public Instruction, and such persons shall hold their office during pleasure, and shall be subject to all lawful orders and directions, in the exercise of their duties which may from time to time be issued by the Governor in Council."
On the question being taken, there appeared for it 16 against 29.
For:—Ross, Parker, Heffernan, Ray, Bill, Blanchard, Locke, McLelan, Blackwood, Robertson, S. Campbell, Annand, Archibald, Coffin, Balcam, Robichau—16.
Against:—C. J. Campbell, Hill, Bourinot, Longley, Tobin, Killam, McFarlane, McKay, Hatfield, Lawrence, Hatfield, D. Fraser, Whitman, Kaulback, Moore, Hamilton, Miller, J. Campbell, Donkin, Prov. Secretary, Caldwell, King, Cowie, Colin Campbell, McKinnon, Fin. Secretary, Shannon, Atty. General—29.
Mr. BILL moved the following amendment:
" Resolved—That thss bill be re-committed for the purpose of amending the second section thereof, so as to include the Lieut. Governor for the time being, in the Council of Public Instruction, and that he be the head thereof."
Hon. PROV. SEC. felt it his duty to say, that he had good reason for believing that the Lieut. Governor entertained the strongest objection to occupy the position contemplated by this amendment.
Mr. BILL was rather surprised at this, for he was under the impression that his Excellency, wished to identify himself with the education of the country. In a speech which he delivered at a banquet last summer to the Canadian Delegates, he expressed himself to that effect, and said that he considered it not only his duty but his privilege to take an interest in the educational system of the country. The sentiments he then expressed met with the cordial approval of thousands of the intelligent people of this country; and with the permission of the house he would read an extract from it. The hon. gentleman then read as follows:-
" It would afford me great satisfaction were I to realize in the future course of my administration one-half of what the Provincial Sec. has ventured to anticipate. Whatever I might wish to effect or whatever an individual might hope to accomplish is nothing in comparison to that which a free and intelligent people have it in their own power to accomplish for themselves. I have had some experience, gentlemen, in public affairs, and have at all events been able to learn this during my term of office, that there is no greater mistake in governing than governing too much. In a country like this a Governor must rely on his Ministry and on the people, whose representatives they are, if he hopes to effect an real public benefit; yet whilst he looks to the Ministry and to the people for assistance it is his duty to aid, by every means in his power, the development of the intellect and education of the country."
He felt that this was rather a delicate subject to treat upon, and he was under the impression  that he had only to mention it, when it would be at once agreed to. He was at a  loss to understand what objections his Excellency could have to be connected with the 220 PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES. Council of Public Instruction, and he regretted it exceedingly as he thought his presence there, and the benefit of his experience would be of great value to the deliberations of that body. He would not press the matter any further, as the Prov. Sec. had stated that it would be distasteful to the feelings of his Excellency, and he would therefore withdraw his motion.
Hon. PROV. SEC. trusted that the hon. gentleman would withdraw his motion, and not put the Government in the unpleasant position of having to vote against it.
Mr. ARCHIBALD expressed his regret to hear the statement made by the Prov. Sec., that his Excellency had expressed his unwillingness to be connected with the Council of Public Instruction. He looked upon his presence there as a matter of greatimportanee, but after what the Prov. Sec. had stated, the member for Kings had done right in withhrawing his mo tion.
Mr. BLANCHARD moved that the bill be recommitted for the purpose of striking out certain clauses relating to the City of Halifax, a resolution had been placed in his hands which had been passed by the City Council by a vote of 10 to 5, and altho he did not agree with it in all its points, he thought the house ought to pay proper respect to the voice of the City as heard through its representatives.
The hon. gentleman read the resolution from the City Council as follows:-
"Resolved, That that portion of the school bill which specially relates to the City of Halifax is arbitrary in the principle of compulsory assessment, and is inapplicable to the circumstances of the City of Halifax,—and this Council representing the various wards of the City protest against its passage through the Legislature."
When it was considered that the City Council, elected by the citizens and representing their interests were refused power by the house to tax the people for the purchase of what they considered valuable property, it was no wonder that they complained that the power of taxation for the erection of school houses, should be taken away from them, and vested in irresponsible commissioners. He would ask the house whether they were prepared to place in the hands of those men uncontrolled powers to tax the people for the erection of school houses in each ward of the city. Not only was this objectionable feature in the bill, but the necessary consequence of the passage of these clauses would be the establishment of separate schools in the City of Halifax. There were two denominations prepared to come in and take advantage of these clauses in the bill, the Episcopalians and the Roman Catholics —and there were no other denominations in a position to do so. He did not wish to make any invidious remarks in reference to these two denominations. It was greatly to their credit that they had erected handsome school houses, but that was no reason why they should come in and monopolize the public moneys to the exclusion of all other bodies. He did not see why the city should be placed upon a different footing from the rest of the province, and why it should be allowed to elect its own Trustees, with uncontrolled powers of taxation. As he before remarked the taxation of the city was increasing to an alarming extent, and he was surprise at the silence of the representatives for the city, who were more immediately interested in the subject.
Hon. Mr. SHANNON said that the hon. member for Inverness seemed anxious that his own constituents and the people far away should be taxed, and he himself escape. Now, as regards the position of the city of Halifax, they had had a law on the statute book for years which had never been carried out; and his object was to get a law that could be carried out. This bill had been for sometime before the house and the country, and where were the petitions from the city against it? Not one. It was true that the City Council were now moving in the matter, but they did not object to any particular clause of the bill, their resolution is against the whole bill. If they had said they objected to the mode of appointment of trustees, he could have understood them, but they went against the whole principle of assessment. He could not understand the force of the remarks of the member for Inverness as to separate schools. The congregation of St. Luke's had an admirable school house. If an arrangement could be made with them—not to hand over the school monies to the Dean and Chapter, but to get them to hand over the school house to the Council of Public Instruction for a free school, he did not see what objection there could be; and so with the Roman Catholics, who were about erecting a handsome school house, and so with the National school, and others in the different wards; if they could be obtained no great necessity would exist for taxation for the erection of school houses. He was not at all afraid of this bugbear of separate schools—raised by the member for Inverness.
Mr. BLANCHARD denied that he made any such statement as that his constituents might be taxed, while the citizens of Halifax should go free. He said that taxation was heavy enough already, in Halifax, and he was not willing to give uncontrolled powers to persons responsible to nobody. He was not afraid to give his constituents power to tax themselves, but the member for Halifax appeared to be so. The hon. gentleman says this idea of separate schools is only a bug-bear; and he talks about St. Luke's, and the Roman Catholics handing their school houses over to the Council of Public Instruction. Does anybody believe that the Dean and Chapter of St. Luke's would hand over their handsome school houses, without retaining the power to control the school? or that the Roman Catholics would hand over theirs without retaining the appointment of the teachers? He thought not. If they were going to have separate schools, let them say so at once; but don't let it be done in such an underhand way.
Mr. MILLER should vote against Mr. Blanchard's motion for the very reasons he had given in its favor.
Mr. TOBIN hoped that the hon. member would not press his motion. This subject should be approached with delicacy and moderation; and unless each one was prepared to give way, to a certain extent, to the other, it would be impossible to carry out the system.
Mr. PRYOR said he gave his cordial support to the clauses in the bill relating to the city of Halifax, and he was prepared to take the responsibility of the course he had pursued.
He wished to give the system a fair trial, and if it did not succeed, it could be altered.
Mr. BLANCHARD under the circumstances withdrew his motion.
Mr. LE VESCONTE moved the clause which he had read on a previous day as to the rights of minorities—which was lost—31 to 8.
For.—Miller, Bill, LeVesconte, McDonnell, Tobin, McKinnon, Robichau, Caldwell—8.
Against.—John Campbell, Pryor, Moore, D. Fraser, McFarlane, C. J. Campbell, Blackwood, Hamilton, Allison, Laurence, Ray, Parker, McKay, Chipman, Kaulback, Hill, Long- ley, Donkin, Prov. Secy., Blanchard, S. Campbell, Annand, Balcom, Ross, Robertson, Shannan, Locke, Finl. Secy., Cowie, Archibald.
Mr. STEWART CAMPBELL moved that the bill be deferred to that day three months.
Mr. LEVESCONTE, although opposed to the bill, should vote against this motion, as it would be ten times worse to go back to the bill now on the statute book.
Mr. MILLER wished to remove a misapprehension upon that subject. It did not at all follow, that if they rejected this bill they must fall back upon the old law. A measure might be framed in consonance with the wishes and feelings of the people. The hon. gentleman commented upon the bill of last session at some length, and argued that by amendments it had been stripped of a great many of its obnoxious features, and was not at all the bill as originally introduced. Therefore it was not right for the hon. gentleman to say, that the house had only the option of accepting this bill, or being driven back to the obnoxious bill of last session. The hon. gentleman recapitulated the reasons why he should be compelled to vote against this bill upon its third reading.
Hon. ATTY. GENL. contended that the clauses relating to the city of Halifax, were totally inapplicable to thinly settled districts. The principle might be carried out in the more populous districts, where the different denominations had school houses of their own. The hon. gentleman referred to the fact that, in Nova Scotia, no distinction was made between any sect or creed, and he hoped that none would ever seek for any preference.
After some further slight discussion, the question was taken upon Mr. Stewart Campbell's motion—to defer the Bill for 3 months- which was lost, 20 to 8.
For.—Killam, Heffernan, Parker, Ray, Hatfield, Miller, S. Campbell, Balcom—8.
Against.—D. Fraser, Shannon, Atty. Genl., Donkin, Le Vesconte, Finl. Sec. Colin Campbell, Lawrence, J. Campbell, McKay, Allison, Moore, Whitman, Kaulback, Longley, Prov. Secy., Hill, McKinnon, Tobin, Cowie—20.
Mr. STEWART CAMPBELL gave notice to rescind.
Hon. Prov. SEC. expressed his astonishment that after having had a call of the house, he should persist in a notice to rescind.
Mr. STEWART CAMPBELL replied that he did so because not half of the house was present.
Hon. Prov. SECY. moved that the bill be read a third time and finally pass.
Some discussion then ensued upon a question of order, as to whether that motion could be put—pending the notice to rescind.
The Speaker took time to consider.
The house adjourned until the next day at o'clock.


Nova Scotia. The Debates and Proceedings of the House of Assembly. Halifax: Croshill and Bourinot, 1864-1867. Digitized by Canadiana.



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