Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, 22 April 1867, Prince Edward Island Confederation with Canada.


MONDAY, April 22.

Hon. ATTORNEY GENERAL moved that the House do adopt the usual Resolution touching the distribution of a certain number of copies of the Journals. In submitting which, he observed that it would be necessary to forward copies to the Governmental departments of the Provinces recently Confederated.
Hon. Mr. HAVILAND asked the Hon. Attorney General if he admitted that Confederation was a fixed fact.
Hon. Mr. DUNCAN remarked that the people of Nova Scotia were driven into Confederation without their consent—they were denied the privilege of an appeal to the Polls.
Mr. HOWAT did not see the necessity of recognizing the Confederated Government, as it was termed, for it could scarcely be said that it had, as yet, an existence —certainly it was not yet in working order, and, therefore, it was unnecessary on the part of that House to give it any hasty recognition.
Hon. Mr. DAVIES said the fact that the Bill for Confederating Canada and the two Maritime Provinces had passed the Imperial Parliament, and received Her Majesty's Roya1 assent, rendering it necessary that the House should recognize it. He thought the views of some hon. members of the Opposition must have been considerably modified on the question of Confederation, for it appeared that they had nominated the Hon. Mr. Haviland, who was a strong Confederate, as their Leader.
After some further remarks from hon. members, the resolution was put and agreed to.
Debate on the Draft Address in Answer to His Excellency's Speech.
On motion of Hon. Mr. KELLY, the House resolved itself into a Committee of the whole to take into consideration the Draft Address in answer to His Excellency's Speech at the opening of the Session,—Mr. BELL in the Chair.
The 1st paragraph was agreed to without remark.
On the 2d paragraph being read—
Hon. Mr. HENSLEY rose to move its adoption, and said:—Mr Chairman: This clause may not meet with the approval of all lion. members, though I am unable to see that any one can raise against it a valid objection. It does not censure any party; it simply states a fact. While it says that "the late time at which it was deemed advisable to dissolve the last Assembly, and the Ministerial arrangements resulting from the General Election," prevented His Excellency from summoning the House at an earlier period, it does not cast the least reflection upon the late Government. We charitably suppose that they had good reason for delaying the Election. But, as some eight or ten months of the most suitable season of the year for holding it, elapsed before the House was dissolved, a satisfactory explanation of the matter, from some of His Excellency's late advisers, would, no doubt, be gratifying to hon. members, as well as to the people generally. As you are aware, Sir, the "ministerial arrangements" referred to in the clause, are those rendered necessary by the resignation of the late Government and its principal officers, whose places had to be filled up to carry on the public business of the Colony. Those hon. members who accepted offices of emolument, of course, had to vacate their seats; and, though the writs for the Elections, in such cases, were made returnable as soon as possible, delay in calling the Legislature together was impossible. We do not wish to attach blame ot the late party in power; we merely express our willingness, notwithstanding the lateness of the Session, to devote a sufficient time to mature such measures as the exigencies of the Colony and the public service may require. It, however, would afford me pleasure to hear from two hon. members present (Messrs. Duncan and Henderson), who held seats at the late Executive Board, an explanation of the reason why the General Election was so long delayed. It is surmised that the late Government deferred the dissolution of the Assembly until Confederation might be matured; but as those two hon members are understood to be decidedly opposed to that measure, they could not have consented to the delay on any such ground.
Hon. Mr McAULAY.—Mr. Chairman, 1 cannot but admire the moderation of the hon. gentleman who has just resumed his seat! At first he was not going to cast any reflection upon the late Government, but he concluded his speech by calling upon them to give an account of their actions. Conduct like this is unparliamentary. Never before, I believe, has such a thing occurred in any country, as an incoming Government attempting to call their predecessors to account on the floors of the Legislature. A new light has dawned upon the world since the advent of the present Government party to power, and I hope it will benefit from the.faint illumination which that light affords. It is contrary to parliamentary rule for one House to refer to the proceedings of another. But the hon. member's allusion to the acts of the late Government seems merely intended to cover tho mis deeds of his own party. He complains of the lateness of the Session, and throws all the blame upon His Excellency's former advisers. His excuse will not stand the test of investigation. The General Election was held on the 26th of February, and the House was not summoned to meet until the 18th of April. Why the delay? The pleading about ministerial arrangements will not satisfy the public. Were the Officers of the late Government asked to retain their places for a few months, until the business of the Session could be got over? The real fact of the case appears to be that the leaders of the party now in power were so anxious to obtain office, that, rather than forego the sweets of emolument for a few weeks, they were prepared to put the people to expense, and the country members to great inconvenience. I will not move any amendment to the paragraph under consideration; but I hope that the Hon. Attorney General will adhere to parliamentary rule more strictly in the future.
Mr. BRECKEN.—I regret that the hon. Leader of the Opposition is not in his place: if he were, I have no doubt he would satisfy the Hon. Attorney General respecting the delay in holding the General Election, which seems to cause that hon. member so much uneasiness. I believe, however, that his surmise was pretty nearly correct; that the late Government deemed it advisable to delay the Election until the intentions of the Imperial Government, with respect to the position this Island would occupy in regard to Confederation should be made known. Though I am opposed to Confederation, I believe the policy of the late Administration, in waiting to ascertain the decision of the Home Government on that question, was a sound one. It was but right that the people of this Island should be made aware of what the Imperial Government purposed to do with them, before they were required to go to the polls. This is a small Colony; and, though we objected to enter the proposed Confederation, it was possible that the authorities at Home might resolve to include us in the Bill then about to be brought before parliament The people, I think, will not blame the late Government for delaying the Election until the public mind was relieved upon that point. It would have been unwise to put the country to the expense of a General Election, without knowing what would be our future fate. But, Mr. Chairman, if I recollect rightly, the late Government placed their resignations in His Excellency's hands some ten or twelve days before their successors were appointed, therefore the very late period at which the Session was called, could not be altogether attributable to the time at which the Election was held. And, after the Government was formed, and they had placed their friends in office, there was apparently no occasion for delaying the opening of the Session until last week. They were strong—at least numerically so, whether really strong or not. They had nineteen to eleven of the Opposition—or eighteen to twelve—a question which I suppose the hon. member for Tryon alone can solve; consequently the absence of two or three members from their seats should not have delayed the public business. But, I suppose we must accept the explanation in the paragraph under consideration, that "ministerial arrangements," or perhaps more properly, ministerial difficulties—prevented an earlier call of the House. We know, Sir, from the declaration of the hon. Leader of the Government himself, at the late nomination, that his present supporters in the Legislature are composed of all political parties; therefore it is easy to understand how difficulties may arise. The paragraph before the Committee is moderate; and, indeed, the whole Address is moderate, and, had it not been for the allusion made by the Hon. Attorney General to the course pursued by the late Government in reference to the General Election, I would not have troubled this hon. Committee so early in the debate.
Hon. Mr. DAVIES.—The hon. member for Charlottetown has stated that the reason the late Administrators delayed the Election, was in order to ascerttain what action the Home Government intended to take on Confederation. This is a very extraordinary excuse to offer. Did they suppose or desire that the Imperial Government would force us into Confederation? The British Parliament would not be so unjust as to sanction such an act. We are in as independent a position as any of the States in the neighboring Republic; and our independent rights cannot properly be taken from us. But the British Government never wished to coerce us into Confederation. Those who held up this idea, were the men who wished that this Island might be legislated into the Union without the people's consent. The Home Government could not rightfully deprive us of our separate Government, unless we had violated the constitution of the Colony. And I believe this is what the late Government attempted to impress upon the Home authorities, when they sent for troops to quell, what they represented to be a disturbance among the tenantry, thereby bringing the Island into discredit. To state that the late Administration delayed the election until it was known whether this Colony would be included in it or not, is as much as to say, that they believed the Legislature of this Island to be a farce, and our constituents not a free people.
Mr. BRECKEN.—Mr. Chairman, I agree with the hon. member for Belfast, that it was not at all probable that the Home Government would take away the Constitution of the Colony without our consent. But the Government did not know what instructions His Excellency might, almost at any moment, receive. He might have been instructed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to dissolve the House, and test the opinion of the country on the question of Confederation. Suppose that he had received such instructions a week or two after the Election was over, would not the country have thought that the Government of the day had been too hasty in making an appeal to the people? I am just as prepared as the hon. member to stand up for the rights of the Colony; but considering our insignificance, I cannot admit that we are so independent of the Mother Country, as he has asserted. The object of the late Government, he also stated, seemed to be to bring discredit, or a stigma upon the Colony. This was caused, he says, by their sending for the troops. The Tenant Union disturbances, are no doubt looked upon by him, as a very trifling affair. He did not condescend to inform us whether he was a member of that organization or not; but I know, Sir, that when a procession of that body paraded the streets of Charlottetown, they halted opposite the hon. gentleman's business establishment, and gave him an ovation. He appeared at the door before them, and received the honor with a countenance radiant with the smiles of patriotism. I am not going to detain this hon. committee at present to discuss the point whether the nature of the disturbances which arose, out of the great Tenant League agitation, were such as to justify the late Government in sending for troops. I will merely say that if the hon. member for Belfast sincerely believes that their action in the matter was intended, or calculated to bring the Colony into disgrace, he ought, now, since he is a member of the Government, to have introduced a paragraph into His Excellency's speech to carry out the objects of this Tenant Association which he countenanced and supported. A little pepper in the Speech would have been an improvement. I was not at the hon. member's elbow through his election campaign, but I have been informed that the League had not a little to do with his presence here. If, then, Sir, he owes his seat in this House to the influence of that organization, why has he not something in this Address on the subject, even supposing he could not procure a place for it in the speech from the Throne? I fear, Sir, that having ridden into this House on that political horse, he has turned him away, never more to be heard of, until the next Election day comes round. I can only compare his conduct to a man who has undertaken a long journey on foot, and finding himself fatigued, and almost despairing of reaching his destination, he meets with a horse which he coaxes with a little provender, leaps on his back, rides to the end of his journey, and turns him adrift. So is the hon. member with the Tenant organization; he gave it a few political oats, and encouraged it to help him along, but having served his purpose, he has now quietly forgotten its claims. He may declaim about the troops and the acts of the late Government, but now, after having become one of His Excellency's sworn advisers, he will discover that he must pursue the same policy in maintaining law and order, as was adopted by the Conservative party. It is rumored that the British troops are to be withdrawn from the other Provinces after they are confederated. If so, those which are here will also be called away. Should the hon. member for Belfast, then ascertain that law and order can not be maintained in this Colony, except at the point of the bayonet, he, I think, will conclude that we are not so independent as he at present imagines.
Hon. Mr. DUNCAN.—The subject of the Tenant League having been brought forward by the hon. member for Belfast (Mr. Davies) one of the members of the Government, it is, Mr. Chairman, no harm for the Opposition to mention it. The conduct of my hon. colleague in regard to the Tenant association has been, I think, somewhat strange. In fact he has merely used that body as a means of getting into power, and even in his canvass before the late Election, he regulated his speeches in regard to the Land Question and the rights of the Tenantry very much by the character of the people whom he happened to be addressing. He should not, I think, have alluded to this question at all, and I wonder that he has done so. But, Sir, returning to the paragraph under discussion, why did not the present Government, if they desired to call the Legislature at an earlier period, wait a few weeks before appointing their principal officers from the members on floor of the House? Could not some of these appointments have been postponed until the House had risen, and thereby no delay be occasioned? But the Address throughout follows the policy of the late Government—that policy which the present Government at the late Election found so much fault with, but which now they appear ready to carry out. I, for my part, Mr. Chairman, see nothing objectionable in this paragraph, but am surprised at my hon. colleague's allusions to the Tenant League. It is plain that he has merely used that organization as a means of getting into the Government, and that he will now have no further use for the tenantry until he again calls upon them at another Election.
Hon. Mr. DAVIES.—I wish, Mr. Chairman, to make a few remarks regarding the defence of the hon. member for Charlottetown, with respect to the action of the late Government in delaying the General Elections. The observations which have fallen from that gentleman would lead us to believe that had certain news come from England regarding Confederation, the House would never have been called. This is but a poor defence of the action of the Government, and is equal to saying that its members were willing to sell their country and prove traitors to the trust reposed in them. And is not the party carrying out the same policy still? Have not the Opposition chosen the hon. and learned PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 8 member for Georgetown, a red hot Unionist, as their leader, thus showing their leanings to the Confederation Scheme? With regard to what my hon. colleague (Mr. Duncan) has said of my connection with the Tenant League, I may tell him that I am not now in this House through the influence of that body, though many of its members voted for me. It is true that I at first supported the Tenants in their demands, but I had afterwards cause to disapprove of many of their acts. The hon. member's rambling allusions to my canvass and election in Belfast have not very much weight. He clearly expected to carry all Belfast 'before him,but failed in the attempt.
Mr. BRECKEN—In the explanation which I gave of the probable cause of the delay in issuing the Writs for the General Election, I merely stated that, in my opinion, that delay was occasioned by a desire on the part of the late Government to postpone the Elections until something more definite was known on the subject of Confederation; but I did not wish to convey the impression that they were waiting in order to sell their country. Even if disposed to take such action on Confederation, they wouid have had to submit it to the Legislature; and I therefore do not see that they were in a position to act as traitors, even were they so inclined. Much, Mr. Chairman, has been said about the Opposition's having chosen the hon. member for Georgetown, (Mr. Haviland) who is a Confederate, as their leader, but I cannot think it consistent in ,the hon. member for Belfast to condemn them for doing so when the party of which he is a member offered the highest honor in this House which they could confer upon the same Confederate gentleman, namely. the Speaker's Chair. And has not the Government of which he is a member appointed a gentleman who is a strong Confederate to the most lucrative office in their gift? That gentleman has since lost his Election, and I am sorry that such is the case. The Queen's Printer has always been a credit to the House and i would not have the slightest objection to seeing him now on the floor, for I have always respected him, strongly though he has denounced the policy of the Conservative party. I consider that the Liberal party —if such a party. exists—acted rightly in appointing Mr. Whelan; l merely object to the inconsistency of hon. members who made that appointment, now finding fault with the Opposition for selecting their ablest and most experienced member as Leader, even though he be a Confederate.
Hon. Mr. DAVIES—The. hon. member who has just spoken considers that I cannot, with any degree of consistency, approve of Mr. Whelan's appointment as Queen's Printer, and yet condemn the Opposition for choosing the hon. member for Georgetown (Mr. Haviland) as their Leader. It is well-known that Mr. Whelan had strong claims upon the Liberal party. He ran his election, was returned, and then applied for the Printership; but, before that office was given him, he renounced his former opinions in favor of Confederation, and promised to oppose the measure in the House, if again elected. It appears, however, that, on his returning to his constituents, they were not satisfied with his promise, and rejected him; and. I am proud, as a politician, they did so, though I myself believe that, had Mr.Whelan been again returned, he would have opposed Confederation. But the case is different in regard to Mr. Haviland. The Opposition have chosen him unpledged, and he will still support Confederation.
Mr. BRECKEN.—I am sorry, Mr. Chairman, that Mr. Whelan is not present. I have always had too high an opinion of that gentleman to think that he would sell himself and' his opinions for an office, and, if he were now in the House, he would not, I think, thank the hon. member who has just sat down, for the character which he has given him, that of a political hireling. I have never seen his abandonment of his opinions, and I do not htink such was ever made. The hon. member thinks there is a vast difference between the appointment of Mr. Whelan and that of Mr. Haviland. If he objects to the Opposition being led by the latter gentleman, why was he so anxious to place him in the Speaker's Chair? If he is bent upon betraying the interests of his native country, was that the reward to give him,— make him first Commoner of the land? I believe Mr. Whelan is as much a Confederate as ever, and he was placed in office by the present composite Government, for, that is its character. There are in it fragments of the old Liberal party, some of the Tenant League element, I believe, and some Conservatives. The position of the present hon. Leader of the Opposition is before the country. He is, we know, a staunch Confederate; and, since his avowal of his opinions on this matter, he has been returned by his constituents. Regarding the delay in the Elections, Mr. Chairman, as I said before, I do not think that the Conservative party delayed them, in order to sell the people, or that they had the power or inclination to do so. Surely the House of Assembly that passed the "No terms Resolution" would not be willing to sell the country. There was, I think, as much integrity in the late House, as in the present one; and I consider it right that the Elections were delayed, in order that the people might be better informed upon the subject of Confederation, and the wishes of the Imperial Government.
Hon. ATTORNEY GENERAL.—I did not, Mr. Chairman, think that the Tenant League and Confederation would be brought up for discussion, when I moved the clause now under consideration. Nothing of the sort was mentioned in the clause; and, in moving it, I merely stated that no blame was cast upon the late Government, as they were probably able to give good reasons for their acts. It was reported that the late Government desired to sacrifice the Island on the altar of Confederation, and therefore delayed the dissolution of the Assembly; but, as a proof that this could notbe the case, I alluded to the fact that the hon. members opposite, for Belfast and Murray Harbor, both strong anti-Confederates, were in the Executive up to and after the time at which the dissolution would ordinarily have taken place. But, if the dissolution was delayed to enable the people to obtain more information on Confederation, that they might thereby form a more correct opinion on the subject, I am willing to concede the wisdom of the delay. Regarding the case of the hon. Leader of the Opposition, and that of the present Queen's Printer, I consider that, if any person thinks proper to cover his views on a subject, and to say that he will not press them upon the attention of the House, I am perfectly at liberty to accept him as an officer, either of the Government or of this House. I look upon the hon. member for Georgetown as pledged not to support Confederation, until he shall again appeal to his constituents on the subject. It was not at all unparliamentary for the Government to offer him the Speaker's chair. In the British Parliament, the Speaker is chosen simply with regard to his merits, leaving his political opinions out of the question; and why could not we do the same? The hon.member for Charlottetown also stated that he believed that the dissolution of the late House was probably delayed, in order to afford time to receive despatches from the Home Government on the subject of Confederation. It was probably of advantage to the people, that, at the time the Elections took place, the question, in all its bearings, and all its fulness, should be before them, giving them an opportunity of forming their own opinions on the matter, and taking these opinions as a guide for their actions; and I consider that no PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 9 compulsion that could be brought to bear, would prevent them doing so. The hon. member for Georgetown (Mr. McAulay) has accused me of acting in an unparliamentary manner. That gentleman occupied the Speaker's Chair for some time, in the late House, and, of course, his statements will carry great weight. It sounded very well for him to say that I had departed from Parliamentary practice; but I am unable to see in what respect I did so. If asking for an explanation, to enlighten this hon. Committee, is unparliamentary. I must, I confess, plead guilty. Much has been said about Departmental and Responsible Government. I lately read. in a Halifax newspaper, an article on this subject, which defined Responsible Government to be a government according to the well-understood wishes of the people, as expressed through a majority of their Representatives. We, then, have Responsible Government in its pure form, so long as we have a majority of the Representatives carrying out their wishes. The hon. member for the City also stated that there was nothing in His Excellency's Speech,- that, in the Speech the Government merely followed the policy of the late Administration. What an example the Tories have set, certainly? They laid aside the Land Purchase Bill, which was a Liberal measure, and tried other measures for the purchase of the Lands; but, these failing, they finally returned to the original Bill. Does the hon. member think that, because the Conservatives adopted the policy of the Liberals, that the party, in its return to power, is to throw aside that policy, and adopt a new one? We do not, Sir, follow the Conservative party, but merely support a measure brought forward by ourselves,-a measure the best adapted to settle the Land Question, and which as done so to a very great extent. But, Sir, the present Government have been blamed, by some hon. members of the Opposition, for not having waited until the House had risen, before appointing its officers from that body. It was impossible for the Government to work until its principal officers, such as the Colonial Secretary, were appointed; and I think that my hon. friend, the Leader of the Opposition, would have been rather surprised, had the Government asked him to remain in office after the defeat of his party. I trust that the hon. member for Georgetown (Mr. McAulay) will see fit to withdraw the charge of being unparliamentary, which he has brought against me.
Hon. Mr. McAULAY.- If the hon. member expects me to retract his hopes, Mr. Chairman, will end in disappointment. When I charged him with being unparliamentary, I did not speak unadvisedly; and there are now, or were lately, before him, authorities to prove the correctness of what I said. If he is not too indolent to peruse these authorities, he will find that references in consure are not allowed in the Imperial Parliament.
Hon. Mr. HAVILAND.- If I had been in my place at the commencement of this debate much discussion might have been saved. The debate, Mr. Chairman, should have been confined to the paragraph now before you, instead of which, we have subjects brought up and discussed which do not even appear in the Address. The hon. member for Charlottetown was right in saying that Confederation was the cause of the delay in holding the late General Election. Her Majesty's Representatives, together with his advisers, considered that it was for the interest of the Island to defer the Election as late as possible, that all the information which could be received might have laid before the people at the polls, that they might know the result of the Conference in London, and the principles of the Confederation Bill before the Imperial Parliament. We expected some despatch in answer to the Address sent from this House last year which would contain more than the usual announcement that Her Majesty had received it graciously. On the day of nominations such as despatch was received and immediately published the people might read it; and had the Election taken place in the autumn the country would have been in ignorance of many of the facts concerning Confederation. Very probably the reason why some hon. members object to the late Government's having delayed the Election, is that they were then anxiously waiting to get into the House, and were therefore impatient of any delay. Some insinuation has been thrown out that the late Government were waiting to sell the country. I can tell hon. members,-and my word will, I think, have some weight, for I am pretty well known,-that I was returned by my constituents pledged not to commit the Island to any scheme of Confederation, without first appealing to the people, anjd I would as soon cut off my hand as allow it to be done. I only hope that hon. members opposite will be as well able to clear their skirts when they go out of power as I am. I never, Mr. Chairman, heard on the floor of this House such an extraordinary admission as that made by the hon. member for Belfast (Mr. Davies) regarding the Queen's Printer's appointment. He actually seemed to me to sing a pean of joy over that gentleman's defeat. If the hon. member was unwilling to see him in office, he should, I think have resigned his position as a member of the Executive. By the principles of Responsible Government every member of that body is individually responsible for every appointment, and it is the duty of each of them to defend that appointment when made.
Hon. Mr. DAVIES.- I think I may be allowed to explain my statement in regard to Mr. Whelan's appointment as Queen's Printer. I would have been oppposed to his appointment, had I not been aware that, before his first Election, he publicly renounced his opinions on Confederation. When I said that I was glad that the people had now rejected him, I merely meant that I was glad they had done so, if they did not consider him sincere in the pledges which he had given.
Hon. Mr. DUNCAN.- I omitted, Mr. Chairman, to remind my hon. colleague, who so strongly condemned the action of the late Government in sending for the troops, that the Opposition of last Session, with the exception of two hon. members, approved of the step taken by the Conservative Administration in that matter.
Hon. Mr. HENDERSON.- During the Debate, reference has been made to me personally, as a member of the late Government, and an insinuation has been made against the Government, for which I consider it my duty to demand something more than assertion. The hon. member for Belfast (Mr. Davies) has stated that the late Government had called the soldiers into the Island, with the intention of forcing the Island into Confederation. Can he produce any proof-anything like proof-for that statement? Does he mean to say that his Honor the Chief Justice, who was at that time Administrator of the Government, would consent to anything like that? I repudiate the statement, and hand it back to the gentleman for proof. I admit that, perhaps preliminary steps, on the part of the civil power, were not used in time, and I will give you no opinion now, contrary to the opinions which I held when in the Government. I do not wish to occupy the time of this hon. Committee: but when the integrity of the late Government is called in question, I consider it my duty to defend them. I say, then, that the hon. member for Belfast (Mr. Davies) has given no proof- except his bare assertion--that such was the motive of the late Government, in calling the Troops. I regret that this subject has been brought forward. I would be one of the last to mention it. Some gentlemen have referred to the fact that my hon. and learned PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 10 friend, the member for Georgetown, has been chosen as Leader by the Opposition. We were in this act, Sir, as consistent as were the Government in offering him the Speaker's chair. The fact of their having done this only proves that we have made a wise choice. I myself heard that gentleman, when addressing his constituents in Georgetown, say, if ever that crisis came, when his vote could put this Island into Confederation without the consent of the people, God forbid that he should give it. Take this fact in connection with the well-known character of the hon. member for Georgetown, and we have, I think, as good a guarantee for his conduct as can be required.
Hon. Mr. HOWLAN.-I did not, Mr. Chairman, intend to speak at this stage of the proceedings; but, certainly, I did not expect that any hon. gentleman would have made such statements as the hon. member for Belfast (Mr. Duncan) has done. He said that all the Opposition of last year were in favor of bringing the troops here, except two-the hon. member for New Glasgow, and the hon. member for Tryon. All the members of the minority of last year, with the exception of two, were not in favor of the action of the late Government in that matter; and, therefore, Sir, his statement is incorrect. There was a Resolution brought in by the Government, to which the hon. member for Tryon moved an amendment, and eight members voted for it—which amendment I will now read:
"That the House of Assembly regret the disturbances and troubles which occurred in this Colony in the past year, but the House, at the same time, are of opinion that the alleged open and systematic defiance of the law might have been set aside by a further recourse to the aid of the civil power at the disposal of the local anthorities, before calling in the aid of Her Majesty's troops."
Now, Sir, I find that eight voted for this amendment, and this is an important fact. I did not intend to go into this question. I am sorry, and I think every hon. member in this House is sorry, that the Hon. Mr. Whelan has not been returned,-sory that he was so unfortunate . There have been other matters brought up, which, I think, we had better now pass by, as we shall have amply opportunity, hereafter, to speak to them. I will only say that I was surprised at the explanation given by the hon. memeber, with respect to the delay in holding the Election,
Hon. Mr. HAVILAND.—Does the hon. member refer to me?
Hon. Mr. HOWLAN.—I referred to the hon. member for Belfast (Mr. Duncan).
Mr. HOWAT.—Mr. Chairman, I was the one who moved the resolution in the House last year which has just been read by the hon. member. I believe that law and order should be maintained; and I believe that all classes are liable to become excited at times; but I do think that the Government should have used the means at their disposal before they brought the troops here. Had theydone so, they would have had no occasion for the troops to put down any disturbance. But now that they are here, I am glad to see them. it is admitted by all that this Session was called too late, and both sides of the House seem to try to get clear of the blame. Now, is there cause for complaint? I, for one, believe that there is blame, and I wish that blame to rest upon those on whom it should. If the present Government, as explained by the Hon. the Atty. Gen., had no more time than was required by law for calling the Legislature, then the blame must rest with the late Government. I am at a loss to understand the hon. member for Charlottetown (Mr. Brecken) when he gave as a reason that they were waiting for fuller information on Confederation. Now, Sir, if he was sincere last year in the no terms resolution, there was no necessity to wait for any further information on the subject of Confederation; and the Election should have been held at the proper time, and the country not put to the inconvenience of calling the Legislature so late.
Mr. BRECKEN.—In the absence of the Leader of the Opposition, I suggested what I thought probably was the reason why the late Election did not take place at an earlier date, that the Government were waiting the result of the deliberations of the delegates of the other Provinces, in London, on the subject of Confederation. If such was their reason, it appears to me a sufficient one; for who could tell to what extent our position might have been effected by the policy of the Imperial Government? Some persons predicted that we would be coerced into union; others, that certain terms would be offered for the acceptance or rejection of the people of this Colony, and with that object a dissolution would have to take place. The hon. member for Belfast (Mr. Davies) will surely admit that it was of consequence that all doubts in this important matter should be removed before the Electors were called upon to choose their representatives. The hon. member charges me, as one of the supporters of the celebrated no terms resolution, with inconsistency in excusing this delay; but Sir, the hon. member knows very well that, although I voted for these resolutions, I did not agree with the wording of them; and if he refers to the report of my speech on that occasion, he will find that I stated that they went too far, that to say that no terms of union that would prove advantageous to our interests and the well-being of the people could be offered was going too far. My reasons for voting for these resolutions were, that I believed that no other terms were in store for us other than those offered by the Quebec Scheme--terms which I believe then, and still do, were neither just nor liberal to the Island; and that in a union on such terms, our material interests would be most seriously depressed. That looking at what was then taking place in the neighboring Province of Nova Scotia, the very great dissatisfaction that appeared to exist there, and the protests that were being made against the policy of the Government going into Confederation without first appealing to the people, I considered it would have been dangerous for us to admit the principle in the abstract, until there was a prospect of getting fair terms, such as the people of this Colony would be prepared to accept. If the hon. member (Mr. Davies) will take the trouble to refer to my speech, when these resolutions were under discussion last Session, he will find that I have not changed my opinions. That I then said that terms might be offered which it would be to our interest to accept. Not that I think it any discredit to a man to change his opinions, on political as well as other subjects. The man who never changes his opinion, never corrects his errors. Since last Session Confederation has undergone a material change. The union of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick has been accomplished; besides the terms of the compact have also been materially changed. With us, Sir, I think it is only a question of time. I have never thought that we can stand alone and keep out of the union. If i thought we could without imperilling our various interests, I would say in the words of Shakspeare, "better PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 11 bear those ills we have than fly to others we know not of." Our position now is such that it becomes the duty of every public man to look the question fairly in the face, not in a party spirit with the object of making political stock out of it. It is time we made up our minds on this great question, as to the most beneficial course to be pursued, and having done so to stand or fall by those opinions.
Hon. Mr. DAVIES.--I look at members who have pledged themselves.
Mr. BRECKEN.--The hon. member need not alarm himself about my inconsistency. I am not going to play with the question. I have pledged myself in common, I believe, with every hon. member of this House, not to commit the country to Confederation until the question is first submitted to the people at the polls. This pledge was most distinctly given, and I intend to keep it strictly.
Hon. Mr. DAVIES.--I understood the hon. member for Charlottetown.
Mr. BRECKEN.--I consider myself bound by a pledge to hand back to my constituents the power they entrusted me with undiminished. I do not feel myself precluded from discussion the question. For, if the present Government were to open negociations with the Confederate Colonies, for the purpose of joining the Union--a course that would not very much surprise me--and obtain an offer on favorable terms, I should consider myself bound to vote against closing with that offer, and vote for referring the question to the people I am surprised at the coolness of the hon. member, twitting me with inconsistency on the subject of Confederation. I ask him, what candidate did he support at the recent Election for Charlottetown,-my hon. colleague, a prominent supporter of Confederation, one of the celebrated " ninety-four. " If, Sir, the hon. member and his party, well-knowing my colleague's views on that question, supported, and, with the assistance of some Confederates in the city, returned him to this House; but--strange and inconsistent--having placed him in that responsible position, they are afraid, I understand, to trust him as a member of the Executive Council, and resolutely refuse to appoint him to that position, although he has as resolutely insisted on his right to be there. Looking at the fact that he is one of the representatives of the capital of the Colony, and the only one who is in harmony with the Government, if there is anything of that element amongst them, which I much doubt, and considering that his constituents are the most wealthy, and certainly as intelligent as any in the Island, and that the greater portion of the mercantile, mechanical, and many other of our important interests are centred in the Town and Royalty, I do think my colleague, and those who sent him here, have a right to see him at the Executive Council Board. I understand the Government distrusts him on account of his qualifications and position, in other respects, do not justify the appointment. Strange inconsistency, voting for a gentleman, returning him to this House, and still afraid to trust him as a member of the Government. But, Sir, for another piece of inconsistency on the part of the hon member (Mr. Davies) and his party. How does he defend the appointment to the office of Queen;s Printer of a gentleman, one of the most ardent and talented (and on that account the most dangerous) advocates of Confederation. The hon. member designates Confederates as traitors. Is this his mode of punishing treachery by appointing the offender to the most lucrative office in the gift of the Government?
Hon. Mr. KELLY.--Mr. Davies was not appointed to the Executive until after Mr. Whelan was appointed Queen's Printer.
Mr. BRECKEN.--So much the worse for him, if such was the fact, for, by accepting a seat in the Government, he endorsed and approved of the Act; but the fact is Mr. Davies was a member of the Government at the time the appointment was made. The hon. member (Mr. Davies) jeers us for having a red-hot Unionist as Leader of the Opposition. It is within the knowledge of this hon. House, that that hon. member and the Government proposed to punish the Leader of the Opposition for his red-hot Confederate ideas, by making him first Commoner of the land, placing him in the Speaker's Chair. Strange method this, of marking the people's and the hon. member's disapprobation of the Leader of the Opposition's unsound and traitorous opinions on a question so vitally affecting our interests. The fact is, the Government is a mass of inconsistency; there are scarcely two of them who profess the same principles. Their Leader, who has not at present a seat in this House, always contented, (and no later than a few days ago, on the hustings in Charlottetown.) that the departmental system of Responsible Government was the only true system. How often have we, on this side of the House, been denunciated as traitors for departing from it, by excluding office-holders from the Legislature. Now, we find this composite Government following the course laid down by the Conservatives, without having the honesty or candor to confess that they have seen the error of their way, or to assign reasons for changing their minds. No, Sir; rather than admit that it was honorable for their opponents to do anything right, they prefer pursuing a course which they have denounced as deceptive. They tell us that all political parties must make compromises. To a certain extent this is true,--but in matters of detail, there is a point at which compromises must stop. There are certain vital principles, which admit of no compromise, unless they wish to be, as this Government are, compromised from head to foot, without any distinctive principle, composed of a remnant of the old Liberal party, an infusion of Tenant Leaguers, and a few calling themselves moderate Conservatives. Look at some of their recent and most important appointments. What principle of Responsible Government was respected in the appointment of the Colonia! Treasurer--a gentleman who, a few weeks ago, was rejected, at the Legislative Council Election, by an overwhelming majority; and, as to the appointment to the head of the Customs' Department, I cannot say what known rule of the Constitution has been invaded, as the framers of that system of government, wide and comprehensive as they made it, never contemplated such a case of unblushing political jobbery occurring; this was reserved for the ingenuity of Prince Edward Island Liberals. And bear in mind, Mr. Chairman, that the Government, by making this appointment, endorses its propriety collectively and individually, otherwise PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 12 they would insist on the Controller of Customs obtaining the approval of his constituents. I can picture to myself that gentleman, when on the hustings, diluting on the grievances and wrongs perpetuated by those ruthless and grinding Tories, and assuring the people that, if they would only return him to Parliament, he would put his shoulder to the wheel, and case them of all their burdens and wrongs. They do so. He, on his part, accepts a lucrative office, makes his bow to his oppressed constituency, and takes final leave of them and their grievances. I have always looked upon Responsible Government as a very elastic thing; it may be compared to an Indian rubber bag, capable of being squeezed into a variety of shapes and forms; and, provided you keep it inflated with the breath of the well-understood wishes of the people for the time, all well; but the present composite Government seem disposed to squeeze that very breath out of it, and hold it up to the people as an empty and meaningless thing. So much, Sir, for the consistency of the hon. member for Belfast and his new-found friends.
Hon. Mr. LAIRD.--Mr. Chairman; being a young member, I did not wish to be too hasty in rising to address this hon. Committee. But I cannot any longer retain my seat, when I hear such a reason given for delaying the General Election. In fact, it is no reason at all. Sir, in my boyish days I was led to believe that law and lawyers were nearly synomous terms for roguery and deception; but I have lived that opinion down. Still, when I hear the hon. and learned member for Charlottetown advancing such reasons as he has done to-night, I am almost forced to the conclusion that my early impressions were correct. Now, if he was honest in voting for the " no terms " resolutions, it ought to be a matter of indifference to him how early in the summer the elections were held. If consistency had characterized the actions of the late Government, delay in the case was unnecessary. The attempt to justify putting off the Elections, on account of the general tenor of the resolutions on Confederation passed last Session, is, I think, without force, when we consider that the " no terms " portion of themis their most prominent feature,--so much so, that they receive their designation from it, and will continue to do so, while the Journals of this House remain in existence. The hon. member for Charlottetown has also twitted the members of the Government about the "composite" material of which it is formed. Be that as it may, I think their opinions are more in harmony with each other, and their actions characterized by greater unanimity, than were those of the late Government. One member of that " happy family "--the hon. member for Murray Harbor (Mr. Henderson)--was kicked (pardon the expression) out of that honorable body. And the operation appears to have had a beneficial effect upon him, judging from his present conduct, following, as he does, closely to, and firmly supporting, the present hon. Leader of the Opposition, who remained a member of the late Government after his (Mr. Henderson's) gentle dismissal.
Mr. BRECKEN.--To say that no terms could be offered that would induce us to enter into Confederation, was certainly going too far. The hon. member from Bedeque insinuates that I was prepared to enter into Confederation, if better terms were offered. This is an error. I did not say so, or deviate from my pledge to return the matter to the hustings.
Hon. Mr. HENDERSON.--Mr. Chairman; the hon. member, who has just sat down (Mr. Laird), in his reply to the hon. and learned member on my right (Mr. Brecken) had alluded to me; but, I would remind him that it is quite unnecessary to attack me over the shoulders of another, for, I believe, I can stand upon my own legs. He affirms that I was kicked out of the late Government; but I can assure him that I was neither kicked nor pushed out of the Government, as the correspondence on the subject, published several months ago, has sufficiently proved; and, if the question were put to the vote of the intelligent people of the Island, I venture to say that they would pronounce my conduct as honorable as that of any member in this House. The illustration made use of by the hon. member, I did not distinctly hear, but its drift I can easily understand; and believe that, if it may be taken as a true index to his forthcoming speeches, he may expect laurels, not a few, before the end of the Session. He has only bound on the state harness; let him not think too hastily that he would work his way through a difficulty like the one alluded to, with more credit than I have done. The hon. member (Mr. Davies) is muttering on his seat, while I am speaking; but, I must tell that hon. member that it would be much more gentlemanly for him to stand up and reply to me himself, if able to do so, than to sit prompting another for that purpose.
Mr. McLENNAN.--This discursive debate, Mr. Chairman, is a perfect waste of time. I am one of those who approve of the action of the late Government in reference to the General Election. Hon. members have brought into this discussion matters not before this hon. Committee. In the paragraph under consideration, there is not one word that has any reference to Confederation. It is a waste of time to be referring now to many of the subjects which have been dragged into this debate. There will be ample opportunity to do so when these questions come up, in proper form, before the House.
Mr. PROWSE.--Mr. Chairman: I feel it to be my duty to tell the hon. member for Belfast (Mr. Davies) that, when he undertakes to charge this side of the House as being the Confederate side, he is stating what is incorrect. There are, Sir, on this side of the House, men as strongly anti-Confederate as can be be found anywhere. Why, Sir, the conduct of the majority, with respect to the elections for the City of Charlottetown, cannot be defended. The hon. gentleman charges us with changing our opinions on Confederation, because we have a Confederate for our Leader; and yet he and his party were willing and anxious to put that same gentleman into the Speaker's Chair. I am sure, if a Confederate was placed in that honorable position by this House, it would be regarded by the public as a tendency towards Confederation, much more than the act of the Opposition, in choosing him to be their Leader. I need not say one word with respect to the hon. member giving his own vote for a strong Confederate, after what has been said by others on that act of his. The Government side of this House is made up of old Liberals, Tenant-Leaguers, Confederates, and Conservatives; and on this side, there are men who are strongly opposed to Confederation. With respect to the question, why the late Government did not cause the Elections to take place earlier, I may say that, if they felt that any danger was to come out of hasty steps, they were doing a good serivce in acting as they did. And, Sir, I believe, there was a time when a Legislature, only nine months old, was dissolved, and a late Assembly taken place at the usual time, there was reason to apprehend that the same would have again occurred. If that was the reason, I consider it a perfectly satisfactory one, for it probably saved the country the expense of a second PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 13 Election. We know that the Home Authorities were more anxious that this Colony should go into Confederation, than they were, spme time ago, that we should have six additional members in this House; therefore, it was quite probable that they might have instructed His Excellency to dissolve the Assembly, and test the question of Confederation at the polls.


The Parliamentary Reporter of Debates and Proceedings of the House of Assembly. Charlottetown: The Patriot, 1867. Microfilm copies provided by the Prince Edward Island Libraries and Archives.



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