Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, 18 April 1864, Prince Edward Island Confederation with Canada.



Committee on despatches resumed.
Hon. Mr. SPEAKER.—Mr. Chairman, since I have had a seat in this House, many questions of moment have been introduced and discussed, but although I was a member of the Legislature at the times when the principles of Responsible Government, Free Trade, and an Elective Legislative Council were debated, yet the subject on which we are now engaged, is, in my opinion, of importance paramount to any which has ever engaged the attention of our local legislature. The question at issue is briefly, whether we are to have a Legislature of our own, or whether we shall be absorbed by union with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. This is a subject which can be discussed without party bias, and it is the duty of every hon. member to give his individual opinion on a matter of such importance, irrespectively of the obligations which the interests of political combination in many cases impose. This question of a union of the Maritime Colonies is not a new one. In 1814, the father of Her Majesty, the late Duke of Kent, while Commander-in- Chief of the Province of Nova Scotia, corresponded on the subject with Judge Sewell in Canada. The Duke was of opinion that these Colonies, without a political union, would never occupy the influential position to which they were entitled by the elements of material prosperity which they possessed. It was urged this morning as an argument in favor of the union, that, in the event of a cessation of the present civil war in the States, we would be powerless against a northern army or against the united forces of the restored union. If that be the only argument which can be advanced by the advocates of the suggested, association, their position is weak indeed ; for I ask, what could the united colonies effect against the forces which could be brought against them ? Assuming the population of the Canadas to be two and one-half millions, and that of the Lower Provinces half a million, can it be expected that we could, in case of invasion, offer successful resistance to the disciplined armies which a population exceeding twenty millions could send forth ? The minds of hon. members may be seduced from a sober consideration of this question, by the idea that we would be laying the foundations of a great country, and I admit the influence of that feeling on my own mind last Session. But, Sir, I confess that a change has come o'er the spirit of my dream. What benefits are we to reap from the  proposed reunion, for we were united up to 1769 ? New Brunswick has a large funded debt, in comparison to which our public liabilities, the fruitful subject of so much grumbling, are mere matter of moonshine. The public debt of the Island amounts to not more than £60,000 or £ 70,000, and we have the public domain to the credit of the country. Although the resolution submitted does not commit this House to the expression of any opinion on the subject of the union of the colonies, it is but right that the delegates, who may be appointed as the representatives of the Island at the proposed conference, should have their position fortified by the avowed sentiments of members of the Legislature—that they should be able to tell the representatives of the sister colonies what are the feelings of those whom they represent. I am decidedly of opinion that we should, as an act of common courtesy, assent to the appointment of delegates, if for no other purpose than that of hearing what propositions may be offered by the representatives of the other provinces. With this view, I shall support the resolution, but I entertain very decided objections to the proposed union. In New Brunswick, the Railway barely supports itself, and earns nothing towards repayment of the money borrowed for its construction. In looking over the Journals of the House of Assembly of that Province, I find that its Railway Debentures require no less than £58,000 annual interest, to be paid at Baring's in London. In his speech on the Union of the Lower Colonies, the Hon. Mr. Tupper, Provincial Secretary of Nova Scotia, said that the time had not yet arrived for an union with Canada because of the large debt of that Colony. " I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word, " for the argument deduced from it, is applicable against our union with the other colonies. Canada is burdened with a debt of more than sixty millions of dollars, and there is an annual deficit in the revenue of a million. As to the idea attributed to the Imperial Government that these Colonies are able to bear the burden of defending themselves against the invasion of a foreign foe, the sooner Great Britain awakes from that delusion the better. Our small annual appropriation of £400 for the volunteer organization is not passed without strong expressions of disapprobation, while Nova Scotia grants $20,000 for that service. If we are to have a union, I should hope that it would be of a Federative, not Legislative, character, so that we might retain our Local Legislature, and our people have the management of our affairs. Our status, if united, would, I am bound to assume, be adjusted on the basis, either of territorial area or numerical ratio of population. If the first criterion be adopted, we would occupy a very inconsiderable position in the United Legislature. If our representation is to be regulated by population, the official statistics on that point afford but little prospect of Prince Edward Island exercising much influence in the halls of the United Colonies. The House of Assembly in Nova Scotis is composed of some 55 members, New Brunswick has 42 or 43, and in any political combination of the kind foreshadowed, we might expect to receive the treatment that Scotland and Ireland were subjected to when their separate Legislatures were abolished. I own, Mr. Chairman, to a feeling of surprise when I read the allusion made by the Hon. PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 38 Provincial Secretary of Nova Scotia in the personal character of the debates in this House, as an argument for the inference that our union with that Colony and New Brunswick would tend to elevate the character of our Legislative discussions. I admit and deplore the frequent introduction of offensive personalities here ; but I ask why should we be twitted with such a charge, when any one who will take the trouble to read the recorded speeches of Nova Scotian legislators will readily acknowledge that it would be more becoming in them to take the beam out of their own eyes, ere they allude to the more in ours. And in New Brunswick during the present session, a scene of unparalleled, I might almost say disgusting personal abuse, occurred on the floor of the Assembly between the Attorney General and a member of the House. In view of those facts, it would be as well if they would confine their imputations of personalities to themselves. At present, the money that we raise among ourselves is spent on the Island, and I ask, what guarantee have we that, once absorbed in the Union, we may not have to pass a budget framed to meet the railway charges of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick ? I know not what may result from this overture, but I caution hon. members that if they sell their birthright, they may expect their country to retrograde as Cape Breton has done since her annexation to Nova Scotia. We have at present the system of self government and self taxation, and if there be some defects in the practical working of our institutions, it is " better to bear the ills we have, than fly to others that we know not of. " We have already an independent judiciary, and if our professional men and their clients should have to appear in the Great Supreme Court of Acadia, I do not see what improvement would be effected by the change. At present, we enjoy the advantages of the Railways in the neighbouring provinces without the burden of the coal, and if we were prevented from those advantages, I admit an argument might be drawn in favor of the Union, but it should also be borne in mind that the Railway in New Brunswick derives a large amount of income from this island. I was surprised at hearing the Hon. Colonial Secretary this morning when he spoke in terms of disparagement of our legislation. A reference to our Statute Book will shew that in many instances we have led the van of these Colonies in Legislative action. I will merely refer to our law of evidence, and our Elective Council Bill as proving the truth of my assertion. And I cannot think that facts were strong in favor of his statement that our judiciary was so limited that others than the judges were frequently called on to preside at the trials of cases in which the judges, while at the bar, had been retained as Counsel or Attornies. I know of but one such case, which was tried at St. Eleanor's two or three years ago. The hon. Col. Secretary also told us that our internal communications would be improved by the increased outlay which the revenue of the united colonies could afford and that capital would flow in on us after our separate constitution shall be merged in the union. As to the first argument, my impression is very decidedly opposed to it, and I cannot conceive that our identification with other countries, deeply involved in debt, will have the effect of inducing men of wealth to invest their property in the Colony. The statistics of the Island shew that, without the public lands, which they possess, without the Imperial Expenditure for naval and military purposes, which has been so abundantly, nay, lavishly disbursed in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, we have thriven and advanced in material prosperity, as did the old thirteen Colonies, by our own unaided resources. The very first result of a union with those provinces would be a uniform tariff ; and while we hear complaints of our present scale of duties, let it be remembered that in the neighboring colonies the people are taxed far more heavily. In view of all these facts, I repeat the question, what are we to gain by a union ? Consider further, Mr. Chairman, the peculiarity which would necessarily arise from our insular position. All who hear me know that our Colonial Legislatures meet in the winter season ; and I ask hon. members, on either side, if they would fancy the idea of crossing the Straits of Northumberland in January or February, to attend to, their Legislative duties. Sir, I believe that this scheme has been devised, more in the interests of the ruling parties in the neighboring colonies, than in regard for those of the people. The Tilleys and Tuppers would fair have a wider field for the exercise of their talents and the extention of their sway, but it is our duty to protect the rights of those whose representatives we are, and what public man will not hesitate, ere he votes that our institutions shall become nonentities ? We have been told, and with truth, that Scotland prospered after, and in consequence of, her union with England, in 1707. There might be some cogency in the argument, if, before the union, she had possessed free institutions ; but such was not the case, and she benefited by the change, and stands now among the foremost of civilized nations. The same remark is applicable, to a great extent, to Ireland, whose parliament could not levy a tax, until under the law known as " Poynings, " the proposition received the previous sanction of the English Cabinet. We all know that there has been for years an agitation for the repeal of the union, and we see at this day a people asking for a restitution of the privileges which we are invited to surrender. The mode in which the union between Great Britain and Ireland was carried through the Legislature of the latter country, I have no hesitation in denouncing as a gigantic piece of villainy. Millions of British gold were used in influencing the decisions of the Irish Legislature, in fact, so gross and patent was the corruption practised, that the Speaker of the House of Commons acquired the Soubriquet of " the Undertaker " from his guaranteeing to the Government a sufficient number of votes to be obtained at certain prices. Here, thank God, we have a parliament which is, at all events, pure from any such taint. The argument, that we shall be materially benefitted by forming a part of a country which will count its population by millions, finds no acquiescence in my mind, when I reflect on what Tell achieved for Switzerland against the most powerful nation of his time, and that Greece, under the protection of the leading nations of Europe has maintained her separate nationality. While the Mother Country remains true to her traditions, are we to be coerced by threats of the Stars and Stripes of the Northern States ? I have no fear that the Aegis, under which we have hitherto prospered, will be withdrawn, or that " the meteor flag of England " will be replaced in those colonies by that of the United States.
Hon. Mr. HENSLEY. - Mr. Chairman, acknowledging that the resolution does not pledge the House to an approval of an union of the Lower Provinces, I yet consider that the range which the debate has taken is within the legitimate bounds of discussion. Without offering any observations upon the probable consequences to the Island of a cessation of the civil war which has so long raged in the States, I see no special reason to apprehend a successful invasion of the Colony, by the disengaged forces of the Republic. That subject, I am, however, willing to leave to the more qualified judgement of the hon. leader of the Government and the Speaker, who are both military men. The extensive land frontier of Canada justified the Imperial authorities in urging upon its Government the propriety and necessity of that great dependency taking measures for its own protection against hostile incursions, but nothing has yet transpired, as far as my knowledge extends, which is indicative of any intention on the part of the Mother Country to abandon her Colonial possessions. The naval power of Great Britain is our best protection, and I believe that it would be as available in our defence as ever. With reference to the suggested union, I must confess that I cannot foresee the advantages to be derived from it ; but I think it but reasonable to PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 39 appoint a delegation, if for no other object than a discussion of the question in all its bearings. I have listened with pleasure to the able and eloquent remarks of his Honor the Speaker, and in his sentiments I fully coincide. The allusion he made to the personalities attributed to our debates by the Provincial Secretary of Nova Scotia, was not only justified by facts, but, it appears to me, came with much propriety from a gentleman holding the high position of Speaker of this House. Much as I regret the style which sometimes characterises our discussions of public measures in our halls of Legislation and the columns of our press, I yet maintain that we compare favorably, in this respect with our fellow subjects of the neighboring Colonies. I cannot but consider that an almost insuperable objection to the proposed union will be found in the difficulty of any Island Representatives attending in the winter season in a Parliament to be convened in either Nova Scotia or New Brunswick. When Dr. Tupper, in Nova Scotia, urged that union with Canada was not desirable, on the ground that his country would not have an equal number of Representatives in the Legislature, I would have liked to have asked him whether Nova Scotia or New Brunswick would be prepared to admit us to an equal voice in the deliberations of the associate Lower Colonies. Although the union between Upper and Lower Canada was arranged on the basis of each Colony having an equal number of Representatives, it is now sought by the latter to regulate representation according to population. In view of this fact, what guarantee have we that, after having cast in our lot with our neighbors on the principle of numerical equality of representation we may not hereafter have that principle abrogated ? I see many difficulties of a practical nature in the way of this projected union, in addition to those which have been referred to. The rate of taxation would require to be adjusted with reference to our financial condition, as distinct from those of the other Provinces. The holding the winter terms of our Supreme Court would afford matter for serious consideration, for it could hardly be expected that the judges should cross the Straits in an ice boat. While such questions as these are present to my mind, I still vote for the resolution which has been submitted, as being so cautiously worded that it commits members to nothing but the sanction of a delegation by whom the subject may be discussed, and our ultimate action can afterwards be had.
Hon. Mr. WARBURTON.—Pleased as I have been, Mr. Chairman, at hearing the pertinent and lucid observations which have fallen from the lips of the hon. Sopeaker, I should have been more gratified if he had announced his intention of voting against the resolution, as I can see no necessity of putting the country to the expense of the proposed delegation. With that limitation, I heartily endorse every word of his eloquent speech.
Hon. Mr. POPE.—I must say, Mr. Chairman, that the speech which we have heard from the hon. and learned speaker does that gentleman great credit, and I feel myself constrained to record my opinions as being decidedly opposite to those enunciated by the Hon. Col. Secretary. Without reviewing the statistics which have been brought before the Committee, I agree in the opinion that the appointment of a delegation is but an act of common courtesy. I cannot but admit the force of the argument that our isolated situation during the winter months presents almost insuperable objections to our Legislative union with the other Colonies. Had we been always united with them, we might be content to continue the connection, but, as the case is, we should retain possession of what privileges we enjoy. It may be said that we are a small country for the machinery of a separate government, but we would be in a far inferior position, if united. If representation is to be based upon the relative numbers of population, we, with a population of 84,000 would have our influence merged in a union with Nova Scotia's 300,000 and the 200,000 of New Brunswick. Both of these colonies are burdened with heavy liabilites incurred on account of their Railways, the benefits of which we enjoy without the burden of their cost. As to the argument that the union would introduce capital into the Island, I cannot recognize its force. Capitalists will invest their means in countries which, from the extent of their geographical area, and the consequent varieties of resources, offer the amplest fields for investment, and the brightest prospects of advantageous returns. The principal dependence of the people of this Island is on agriculture, and no man of realized wealth is likely to invest it in a country where, for half the year, his attention must be devoted to keeping himself and his cattle from freezing. We have resources which, in some respects, render us, small as is our territorial extent, second to none of our Sister Colonies ; and if, as has been suggested, the business of shipbuilding should decline, our fisheries may justly be regarded as a permanent source of wealth. I can see no advantage likely to accrue from our union with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, or with either of them ; and it is but right that members should express their opinions on the subject to be discussed by our delegates, who, by the express terms of the resolution, are precluded from pledging the action of the Legislature of the Colony. If the Capital of the United Provinces were to be fixed in the Island, there might be some reasons for our advocacy of a political association ; but as that is not to be expected, I cannot imagine any benefits we are to receive from the change in our constitution.
Hon. Mr. LAIRD.—Mr. Chairman, I rise to express my gratification at what has fallen from the hon. Speaker, and, for one, I would not object to vote for the appointment of delegates if the representatives of the three colonies were to meet in the Island.
Hon. Mr. KELLY.—If I had a thousand votes, I would give them all in opposition to the resolution. What is the necessity of appointing gentlemen to consult on the subject of a union from which we can derive no benefits ? I heartily concur in the expressions of approval which have been made of the remarks of the hon. Speaker, and agree with him in his opposition to the scheme.
Hon. Mr. DAVIES.—Mr. Chairman, this subject of a union of the Colonies has been matter of speculation among their public men for several years. While I have always been of opinion that benefits would accrue from the union of these Colonies, I readily admit the force of the argument drawn from the fact that we derive benefits from the Railways in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, without being required to contribute to the cost of their construction. The proposed amalgamation would not, as far as I am capable of forming an opinion on the subject, afford additional protection to the Island from hostile invasion. While each of the Provinces referred to is burdened with heavy debts, our compatively trifling liabilities, not amounting, after crediting the value of our public lands, to more than about £50,000, will require careful consideration in any negotiations on the subject of our union. The people of the Island feel that our tariff is at present sufficiently heavy for the resources of the Colony and the means of the inhabitants, and one serious objection would be removed from my mind by the proper adjustment of our separate public debt in any scheme of union. My own opinion is, that a union is only a question of time—that is must occur sooner or later. Situate as we are at present, we are powerless at the Colonial Office on the most important subject of the Land Question, and it cannot be doubted that we would occupy a more influential position, if we formed a part of a great united province. The enlarged field of subjects of political discussion would elevate the minds of the people, and extinguish the narrow feelings which at present embitter the parties into which we are, and have been, divided. The assimilation of our currency PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 40 be that of the other __ would give an impetus to trade by facilitating business transactions. It is in the resolution of hon. members that our possession of a separate Government has been compared, abroad, to the placing of a large steam engine into a small canoe, and it does appear a paltry matter to assemble a legislature, such as ours, to regulate the disbursement of some £30,000 or £40,000 sterling. The causation of our petty squabbles will have the effect of inducing many gentlemen of means to take up their abodes with us, as they formerly did, and I cannot see how a judiciously framed union can have the effect of diminishing our resources. At all events, I think it but right that we should accede to the invitation to be represented at the proposed conference.
Mr. BRECKEN.–It is so seldom that questions in this House rise above the influence of mere party interests, that I must express my satisfaction at the tone and spirit which has characterized this debate. In common with my hon. colleague, I have not adopted a decided opinion on the subject, but I agree with him that it is due to common courtesy that we should appoint delegates. This subject should be dealt with cautiously, for its results will affect not ourselves alone, but our childrens' children for all time; for let it be borne in mind that any steps taken in the direction of the union, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to retrace. I listened with pleasure to the remarks of the hon Speaker, which were worthy of his high position, and the frank and manly avowal of his change of opinion is ample guarantee of his sincerity. I have always considered that our institutions were not permanent, and that opinion is being daily confirmed. The hon. leader of the Government laid great stress on the probable result of the armed hordes now engaged in active warfare in the States, being disengaged by the establishment of peace in their distracted country. But I cannot see why, if we owe allegiance to the Crown of Great Britain at present, and as I presume our union is not intended to dissolve that bond, the same means of protection will not be still available for us. Admitting and regretting that our discussions are too often distinguished by offensive personalities, I cannot assume the benefits attributed by the leaders of the Government of Nova Scotia to our union with that Province in the improvement in the character of our debates. Gladly would I hail the subsidence of the angry feelings which embitter the relations of our political men but when the Provincial Secretary of that Colony sees fit to rebuke us, I answer that he had better look at home–he need not go from his own country for specimens of gross and undignified language need in the Legislature and the press of the Colony, amalgamation with which would, forsooth, purify and exalt the character of our public discussions. Although, in the event of the union taking place, we may not be bound in specific terms to the payment of the heavy debts of the other Colonies, yet the proceeds of a common tariff would be paid into a common treasury, and we should thus be, indirectly, contributing to the payment of the interest on their liabilities. As to the differences of currency which has been alluded to, that is a matter which depends on the state of trade more than on legislation. While my present impressions are adverse to the union, I am in favor of the appointment of delegates who, I have no doubt, will be cautious in what they say or do, remembering that this suggested union will bear a striking analogy to a matrimonial connection, which, however, pleased the parties may have been with each other, during their days of single blessedness, in many cases they find it desirable, but impossible, to dissolve. The report of the delegates will show what benefits our people are to derive from the measure, and when that shall have been before us, it will be time enough to discuss the advisability of our casting in our lot with our neighbors. The reference made by the hon. Speaker to the representative basis on which the two Canadas were united, has great weight in my mind. At the time of the consolidation of that union, the population of the Lower Provinces was in excess of that of the Upper– but numerical equality of representatives was decided on. But now, when the proportion was reversed, the Upper Canadians are seeking to have the principle of representation according to population, the Lower Province objects to this as involving a breach of the conditions on which the union was formed. At present, we have the largest representation of any country, with the legislative statistics of which I am acquainted. We have 1 representative to every of the population, and, if united, as the scale of representation existing in the neighboring Provinces, instead of thirty members in the Assembly, we would not be awarded more than thirteen. The argument that our comparatively small representation in the United Legislature could ensure our local interests, by turning the scale as occasion might require between the members from New Bruncwick and Nova Scotia, militates against the principle of union, and would place us in a position not very dignified. Besides, the similarity and almost identify of interests of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick would our shifting position of very little moment to set Legislature If we were territorially connected with those Provinces, I would support the union, for although their Railways have imposed heavy burdens on their resources, still their people receive vast benefits from, and all the money expanded on their construction is spent among themselves.
Mr HOWLAN, I cannot conceive, what benefits we are likely to receive from the political amalgamation of our 80,000 people with 600,000. We have been ridiculed on account of our inferiority in territorial area, and amount of population, and I do not believe that the Union suggested would give any addition to the rights which we at present possess. It becomes the duty of any legislature to deliberate seriously are they surrender the parliament of their country, and the privileges of its people. It is true, that we do not possess the same amount of talent that is to be found in the larger population of our sister Colonies, but I maintain that we are every day manifesting improvement, and I fail to perceive how Union with Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, will benefit us in this respect. The first result, say, condition of our Union with these provinces would probably be a tariff of 15 per cent, with a Railway tax of 21 in addition. The practical result of the schema will be simply the extinction of our Legislature, and of the control of our revenues, and taxation, and in my humble opinion this is but the first step towards a general amalgamation of all the North American Colonies, and I believe that Canada is holding aloof, merely till the Union of the Lower Provinces shall be consummated. As to the ___ conjured up by the hon leader of the Government, that we might be subjected to an invasion by 600,000 men, when the civil war in the States shall cease, I think they would find more alluring arenas for the gratification of their propensities for ___, than this little Island affords. If we are not considered worthy of the protection of the mother country, as provincials, we have nothing to lose. It has been said that the tariff of the States is the cause of the war. Such is not the case, for the __ tariff was enacted under the presidency of Buchanan. The true origin of the present deplorable struggle is to be found in the initiation of slavery, and I, for one, hope that the North will wipe out the foul stain. But, Mr Chairman, to revert to the subject of the proposed Union, there is a strong argument against it, in the fact of so many countries trying to regain their lost Constituencies. Take Ireland, as an instance. Some years ago, when I stood in its Halls of Legislation once graded by the presence of such men as Grattan, Curran and others of hsitoric reputation, my thoughts were indeed melancholy, as I reflected on the altered features of the scene around me. But I need not travel so far for an illustration of my argument. Cape Breton lost her separate Constitution, and in vain has she endeavored to regain it. The Honorable Colonial Secretary, has pointed our future prospects in gloomy colours, but he has not shown how they are to be improved by the Union. We would still retain our agriculture, and our fisheries. The latter will in a few years be the greatest source of our prosperity. Already we had every summer 1200 or 1400 sail carrying away vast amounts of wealth from our shores to enrich a town built on a barren rock. Before I sit down, I must allude to the reference made by the Hon Col. Secretary to the religious ___ existing in our midst. History will record, and posterity will believe that __ member was the first to throw the ___ of religious __ among a once united people. The hon. member then submitted the following amendment, which was ___ by the Hon Mr Warburton :
Resolved, That it is expedient under present circumstances, to appoint delegates to confer with those who may be appointed by the Governments of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for the purpose of discovering the expediency of a union of the __ Provinces, &c.
Mr. HOWAT - I have listened to the arguments very ably put before the Committee, and I must say that my opinions remain unchanged from what they were last year. I still hold to the view that it would not be well for us to be unifed with the larger Provinces. It is ??? should we go into the union, and find it did not meet our expectations, whether we could get our independence again. Some appear to think that union would be the means of allaying the little animosities which exist in our community. Larger countries do not seem to be exempt from these more than our own, for I was just reading the other day of an election in some part of England, and even there great difficulties were experienced on this very point ; consequently, I believe it to be a mistaken view that small places alone are disturbed by such feelings. In the old country, candidates are sometimes pelted with brickbats and rotten eggs ; now, Sir, we have scarcely come to that in our little Colony. Were the Provinces united, they would each probably require to be divided into municipalities ; and in electing the officers for such, the same feelings would likely arise which are complained of at present. I also believe that in the event of a union the taxation would be almost doubled. Deciding upon the seat of Government would likewise be a difficulty ; and however the question might be settled, we could scarcely expect that the capital would be on this Island. I am opposed to union, still I think it would be treating the other Colonies with sparcely proper courtesy not to accede to the appointment of a delegation.
Mr. MONTGOMERY - I will support the resolution authorizing the appointment of delegates, but only on condition that they have no power independent of the Legislature. They should only, as it were, spy out the land, and report to this House. It is because the resolution merely contemplates this that I do not object to it.
Hon. Mr McAULAY read the amendment proposed by Mr Howlan, and objected to it, because it was so worded as to say that this House would not agree to union on any terms.
Mr HASLAM. -Mr Chairman, we are only, as it were, reasoning on the proposal of our sister Colonies—only desiring to obtain information as to what terms they would agree to take us into a union, and for this purpose the resolution is very cautiously worded. The delegates will only be required to meet those appointed by the other Provinces, listen to their suggestions, and report again to this Legislature. When we look at the debt of Nova Scotia end New Brunswick, it appears to me that we should hesitate before we enter into a union. Whatever advantage we might gain from it, it is evident that we could obtain very little more benefit from their railways than at present. It costs a considerable sum to convey our mails here in the winter season, an expense which we wold probably have to still bear though a union were consummated. We might derive the benefit of an increase of trade, but this would not amount to much ; therefore, taking a view of the whole case, I think we ought to be careful how we act in this matter. As to the religious bickerings alluded to by former speakers, they have been got up for a certain purpose, and may not continue for any length of time. I detest them, and say that they have no business in the halls of legislation. They are extraneous matter in this debate, and should not be allowed to weigh our decisions on this question. I differ with the hon. Col. Secretary in thinking that a union would increase our capital. I believe we would still have to depend on our own resources. We ought to be cautions how we proceed, but I can see no difficulty in the way of supporting the resolution proposed by the hon. leader of the Government. These Colonies are undoubtedly destined to become a great country ; and should a union, after mature consideration, be deemed advisable, I would be prepared to fall in with the movement.
Hon Mr COLES again spoke at considerable length. He said that be had been listening to the arguments of the different speakers, and had come to the conclusion that to authorize the appointment of delegates would be a bogus affair, as it appeared that not more than one hon. member or two were at all in favor of union. The hon. Colonial Secretary was the only one who entirely approved of it. Now, what end would it serve to appoint delegates if we were de termined not to enter into a union. It has been argued that we should send delegates as a matter of courtesy, but this was too serious a question for more forms. The other Provinces seemed to have resolved on union whether we want into it or not, so that means unions we were prepared to go the whole course. We had better decline to appoint delegates. It had been stated that a delegation would be the means of obtaining information. This was a very weak arguement, for we already know exactly the state of the other Colonies. By sending delegates, we might be thought to commit ourselves to union ; he therefore thought it a safer course to support the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Cascumpeo.. When he (Mr C.) spoke in the morning, he saw no serious objection to the resolution proposed by the hon. leader of the Government, but then he was not aware that hon. members were so unanimously opposed to giving up our Legislature. Our speeches would probably be referred to, so we might as well maintain our consistency, and vote against even the appointment of a delegation. Were it a federal union of the whole of the Provinces that was proposed, he (Mr C.) would more readily give it his support.
Hon. Col. GRAY replied, that this morning the hon. member did not seem disposed to make this a party question ; but it appeared now that simply because the resolution had been proposed by himself (Col. Gray) as leader of the Government - what was his duty to do on account of the communication received from the Government of Nova Scotia-the hon. leader of the Opposition did not intend to treat it as an open question. He had spoken in favor of a federal union of the Provinces, but this was not the matter before the House. He had also stated that all hon. members, with one of two exceptions, were opposed to the proposed union. He (Col. G.) had not said that he was opposed to the union. If the other Colonies would agree to build the Provincial Buildings here, and engage to aid us in abolishing our landlord system, he might give it his hearty support.
Hon. Mr COLES said a march had been stolen on the Opposition. We were told that it was not a party question, and was certainly so understood by the hon. the Speaker this afternoon when he delivered one of the best speeches ever given within these walls. The hon. leader of the Government, however, now threw out the hint to his supporters that the resolution was brought forward by the Government.
Hon. Mr WHELAN.—Before the question is taken, Mr Chairman, I will say a few words on the subject; and in the first place, I have to express my regret at not having heard the remarks of the hon. Speaker which those more fortunate than I, have characterised so highly. Before entering upon the discussion of a question of such pre- eminent importance, the Government should have given notice of a particular day to be appropriated to it, and it is amusing to hear the disclaimer that it 1s to be considered as a Government measure. Never was a more momentous question submitted to this Legislature; and since the Government decline to pledge themselves to it, the sending of a delegation to the proposed conference is nothing but a farce. I care not for the nature of the union whether it be Federal or Legislative, either will be absurd while we remain tied to the apron- strings of our venerable mother—Great Britain. The time will come when, as foreshadowed by the statesmen and politicians of Britain, the Colonies will be cast off; and when that time shall arrive, they may with far more propriety than at present discuss the principle and details of a union, either Federal or Legislative. The anticipated invasion of hordes of hostile Marauders from the States is not likely to occur; but if it should take place, the people of Great Britain, not of this Island, would be responsible for it -and we would not be under the necessity of sacrificing our blood and our treasure in a vain endeavor in a struggle which we had no part in creating. The opinion that it would be advantageous to separate the connection which binds the Colonies to the Mother Countly is gaining ground in Britain, and if it should assume a practical shape, we would be as well off in our separate condition as we would be us a member of a Confederacy with the neighboring Provinces. These Colonies are as old as, some older, than were the thirteen which, in 1775, revolted from Great Britain ; but are we as prosperous as they? Is this lsland in wealth equal to the little PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 42 State of Rhode Island! Are these maritime Colonies as advanced as any of the states to which I have referred! The answer is obvious, and equally so is the reason-it is to be found in our dependent position. It is simply a scheme mockery for us to go through the farce of phasing through the Legislature acts, the face of which meet the announced to us by the Colonial Minister after the laps of some 8 or 9 Months. [illegible] particular instances to prove the truth of my assertion, they are too numerous and too well Known to hon. members on either side of the House to require specific mention. If our Legislative and Constitutional privileges were as free and unrestrained in operation as those of Rhode Island, we would not be waking months in distracting matters which are more appropriate subjects for The deliberations of the Court of Quarter Session or a Vestry. If the proposed union would give us so much influence as to leave our Legislative action unfettered by the underhand intrigues and influence of the proprietors as the Colonial Office, I would support it; for here, with an Assembly of 60, and a Legislative Council of 17 members, any of our proceedings can be set at naught by the Colonial Minister for the time being, who knows nothing of the Colony. The present position of our legislature, representing but some 80,000 people, is powerless against the secret influence of the proprietors at the Colonial Office. The style of the remarks of the hon. Colonial Secretary earns from me no tribune of respect for his sincerity, for he has not openly advocated a policy or necessity of a union; he knows full well that if we were merged in a large united Province, his occupation of stirring of religious opposition as a means of acquiring political power, would be, like that of Othello,, gone. The area of the British North American Colonies exceeds that of the United States, and we are, as far as resources are concerned, more advantageously situated to carry on Government than were the old Colonies at the time of the revolution. The imports and exports far exceeded those of the latter, when they asserted their independence and 1776. While our present relation to the Imperial Government subsists, any union would place of us in a position similar to that of Ireland and Cape Breton. Previously to 1772, Ireland had her own King, Lords and Commons -her commerce increased, and it until her Legislature was corrupted, her prosperity was steadily advancing. The Colonial Office acts towards us on the presumption that the Island is under the absolute control of the proprietors, and the idea of Georgetown, Summerside, or St. Eleanor's, being independent of our legislative control is not more absurd than the supposition That we will be allowed the reality of representative institutions, while in our isolated condition we are bound by the data of a Colonial Minister, in whose appointment we have no voice, and who can treat our remonstrances with disdain. Without subjecting myself to the charge of disloyalty, (for I wish to continue the connection with the brightest crown which ever graced the brow of the monarch) I repeat, that while the price of irresponsible interference in our affairs is continued, annexation to any foreign power would be preferable to the insulting mockery by which the people of this Island, slaves to Sir Samuel Cunard and others of the proprietors, are told that they have the right of self- government. If the truth of my assertion is disputed, I ask any hon. member, it he will tell the country that our Legislation use a operative to settle the main question within the consent of the gentleman I am named. The resolution would not be so objectionable, to my mind, if it embodied an expression of opinion for or against the union: but the Government, I believe, are disposed to amuse the people and provide, at the public expense, a pleasure trip for some of their friends, as was the case last year. As to the exemption of the Island from the Railway debts of the Sister Colonies, in common fairness, it should be borne in mind that the Island to rise great benefit from them, and that it is not unreasonable that an honest acknowledgment of that fact should be made.
The question was then put on Mr. Howlan's amendment, which was lost, and the original resolution carried. When the House resumed, and the Speaker put the question on the main resolution, Mr. Howlan again moved his amendment, and the House divided as follows :
For the amendment - Messrs. Howlan, Sutherland, Sinclair Conroy, Hons. Kelly. Thornton, Whelan, Cole, Warburton, - 9.
For the resolution - Hon . Col. Gray, Col. Secretary, J. C. Pope, Longworth, Laird, [illegible], Davies, [illegible] [illegible], Montgomery, Haslam, Ramsay, Mc[illegible], J. Y.,, [illegible], - 18.
So the resolution was carried, and after the transaction of a little routine business the House was adjourned.


The Parliamentary Reporter of Debates and Proceedings of the House of Assembly. Charlottetown: The Protestant, 1864-1865. Microfilm copies provided by the Prince Edward Island Libraries and Archives.



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