Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, 9 March 1870, Prince Edward Island Confederation with Canada.



Debate on the Address resumed.
Hon. the SPEAKER said he was an anti-confederate, had been one from the first, and none of the arguments used had in the least induced him to change his opinion. He was sorry that since last session the learned member for Charlottetown had strayed from the anti-confederate ranks, and whose able support they had thereby lost ; but the hon. member might have had good reason for changing his mind on this subject. He would look for a moment at the finance side of the question. We were to receive ÂŁ100,00, and for which we were asked to give up the rights and liberties of the peoples of this Island. He would ask was much such a sum a sufficient compensation for the liberties, rights, privileges and revenues of this Colony ? Our revenue this year was up to ÂŁ90,000, and he did not doubt but then in two years more it would reach ÂŁ100,000. If we became, or were now a part of the Dominion, we would then have a uniform tariff. Ours now was but 11 per cent, while that of the Dominion was 14 or 15 per cent. If our tariff had been as high as that of the Dominion for the past year, the revenue would have come up to that figure. Out of union, as we now were, with the tariff of this year, he felt that, according to the increase of population, in two years our revenue would be equal to the amount we would receive, and that in ten years it would greatly exceed that amount. He would like to know to whom would this increased revenue belong? Would Canada put her hands into her own treasury and pay that surplus over to us ? In consideration of the loss sustained by this Colony in having been deprived of its public lands, it was proposed to allow us ÂŁ200,000, which sum, if possible, was to be obtained from the Imperial Government ; if not thus secured, Canada proposed to give us the money herself, but he doubted very much if she would ever pay it. The amount of our indebtedness, ÂŁ150,000, had been incurred for a landable purpose. So much was this the case, he had never heard any complaints from the people respecting it. No, not even among those who were on properties for which the Government had been allowed to purchase at rates which made it necessary to fix the price higher than twelve or thirteen shillings per acre which was the highest price fixed by law for these lands. The country was improving from one end of the Island to the other ; homesteads were being erected, and the people were contented. He could not, therefore, but conclude that the purchasing of the lands had been a benefit to the country. It was, he considered, the duty of the land office to see that the lands sold were paid for as the instalments became due ; of the Government Surveyor to mark out and describe lands that were to be disposed of, in the different parts of the country, and of the Government to use their efforts to have them taken up and improved. By pursuing this course our debt would be gradually wiped off, without the aid of PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 32 Canadian money. He did not doubt but that Great Britain desired this Colony to unite with Canada, but did not believe she would use force or compel us to do so against our will. Under our constitution, every man had freedom of speech and action, and as there were no more loyal people under the British flag than those of this colony, he had no fears that coercive measures would ever be adopted. Great Britain had no claims upon us. We paid our civil list, were buying out our lands, and had made provision for the payment of the Lieutenant Governor's salary. In this he thought we had acted prematurely. We should have tested the home government more fully on this question. However, as we had now to pay him, he thought we should have the privilege of appointing that officer. Having been thrown upon our own resources, we ought to be left to enjoy our own opinions. This colony was small in comparison with Canada, but, like those of the New Dominion, we were an agricultural people, and their products were similar to our own. Any market Canada could offer us were, like Halifax, easily supplied. We had had markets in England, Newfoundland, the West Indies and the United States, but none suited us so well as the latter. Since the repeal of the reciprocity treaty in 1864, we found the British market a good one. He did not know but that we had done as well since 1864 as we had from 1854 up to that time. In all the markets we go to, except Canada, where our products were taken, there we could purchase our supplies. In England we should buy our goods, because they took our products in return; while in the Dominion if we bought goods, we had to pay for them with the gold and silver which was required for circulation among ourselves. We were told that an inter- colonial free trade would spring up, but how, he was at a loss to see. When the despatches were laid upon the table the question would be more fully considered, meantime he would prefer to bear the ills we have than, fly to those we knew nothing of.
Dr. JENKINS, in rising to speak, did so under a deep sense of responsibility, and felt how unable he was to set the question before the public in its proper light. He had always been in favor of confederation in the abstract, but opposed the Quebec Scheme because he considered it was unjust to this Island. He consider ed it an important question, and thought the committee should look at it from such a stand point of view as would enable it to see what its duty was. He thought all would concede that our entering the Dominion was a matter of indifference to her people. Canada would scorn to give us £200,000 to induce us to unite with her. When confederation was first mooted it was a matter of indifference to Canada whether we joined them or not; it was the same still. Canada, in this matter, was merely the month-piece of the mother country. The Dominion counted their revenue by millions; we counted ours by thousands. Our revenue would be about the fortieth part of theirs. He could not see that our entering into confederation would be the least advantage to Canada. The reason the 800,000 dollars was offered us, was simply because Great Britain suggested that she should deal liberally with the Island, and he could not see that it was fair to say Canada would take it out of us in another way, for the Dominion could not tax us without taxing her own people. In many parts of the Dominion they were already complaining, and even groaning under their municipal taxes, and no doubt they would resist any undue increase in their tariff. He believed the holding of those colonies was a source of weakness to Great Britain, and the means through which the United States caused her much annoyance; and that if she should even be forced to protect these North American colonies against the United States, it would cost an immense loss of blood and treasure; and even then he doubted it it could be successfully done. Great Britain seemed to say to the colonies, "you have grown to your manhood. It is dangerous for us to hold you any longer; we will allow you to do for yourselves." It was a step toward independence, and one that would eventually lead to annexation. He did not intend to enter minutely into the financial part of the argument, but would merely say that, assuming we were, by the terms, to lose something, he thought it unreasonable for this colony to suppose it would be allowed to resist the Imperial policy. If we did not unite and become a province of Canada, we would be tacked on as a dependency of the Dominion. It appeared to him that the people had been struck with a panic, and that the officers (he meant the govt.) should have endeavored to rally and in PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 33 spire them with new courage; instead of thus acting, the officers in command told the people to run from the imaginary foe–confederation. He came in contact frequently with the country people, had a firm faith in their good sense and intelligence, and believed they were prepared to deal with this question properly. The present leaders of the people seemed to think that by trimming their sails to meet the popular breeze they would be able to command the ship of state and steer it into the harbor whither they wished to go. But candor induced one of the officers to admit last evening that the probability was the popular breeze would land him in the bosom of his own family. The time he believed had arrived when public men would have to take a stand upon this question. If we refused fair terms, he was persuaded a pressure would be brought to bear upon us. He would prefer that Great Britain should compensate us for the loss of our public lands, but if this could not be effected, he could see no valid reason for refusing to accept payment from the Dominion. The idea that it would entail disgrace upon us to accept the $800,000 was ridiculous.
Mr. HOWAT said the hon. member for Charlottetown (Dr. Jenkins) seemed to think the people had been struck with a panic. It was not so, and the hon. member would find that the antis had as much courage as himself; not could he (Dr. Jenkins) prove his assertion. It was the mature and deliberate opinion of the people of this Island that to enter confederation would he to give up their liberty, and he would have the hon. member to know that the people were not so ignorant, or easily struck with a panic; neither would he find them ready to run from an imaginary foe. They valued their privileges and were prepared to defend them. The hon. member for the city (Mr. Brecken) said that the game of isolation was played out, and that we could not expect to be allowed to remain much longer as we were. In a few minutes afterwards he said the government ought to make proposals to the Dominion, and if they were not accepted we could fall back into our former position. If isolation was played out, he did not see how it could be possible that we, after making proposals to Canada, could fall back into our former position. The hon. member said also that after the next general election the members around this board would be all antis, and that they would be an inferior class of politicians. This certainly was not very complimentary to the people of this colony, eight out of every nine of whom were anti-confederates. Did the hon. member believe that all the talent and respectability of the colony was confined to this small minority? The hon. member appeared to have arrived at such an absurd conclusion. That they were so incapable of judging for themselves he (Mr. H.) did not believe. He was aware an impression prevailed, or was attempted to be created, to the effect that if the $800,000 was received as an equivalent for the loss of our public lands that they were to be had by the tenants as a free gift. He (Mr. H.) endeavored to disabuse some people of this impression by assuring them that it would in no way alter the arrangements now in operation under the land purchase bill, but that the tenants would have to pay for their lands by instalments as they now did. He did not believe we, even if we were to join the Dominion, would receive that money. The despatch merely said they would use their endeavors to obtain it; and he felt satisfied the Dominion government would keep the question open for an indefinite period of time. This Island did not want Canadian money to buy out the lands of the proprietors; if the proprietors would sell, there was money enough in the colony to pay for those estates.
Mr. BRECKEN said our position was different from that of Nova Scotia or New Brunswick. When confederation took place, they were from the first a part of the New Dominion, and the exceptions which had since been effected in favor of Nova Scotia, and which were complained of in Ontario, could not apply to this Island, for if we were going to join the Union, we would be doing so for the first time. Nova Scotia entered the union and afterwards complained of the terms. Her case was therefore like that of a contractor who, after he completed his engagement, demanded a larger sum than he was to receive. The hon. member should recollect that the powers of parliament were unlimited, and those power might yet be used to cripple us. In our present position, upon what were we dependent but the good faith and protection of the British government? With respect to isolation, his opinion was that it was played out.
Mr. MCNEILL understood the hon. member yesterday to say that annexation would take place unless we went into confederation. Now if such a consequence were to result from our keeping out of the Dominion, he would not be surprised if the United States would reduce their tariff in favor of this Island, for, doubtless, if we had free trade with the United States, very few persons would be heard favoring confederation. Notwithstanding all he (Mr. McNeill) had heard, he still saw no reason why he should not remain as we were ; for he thought it mattered little to Canada whether we united with her or not, for Canada, he believed, would eventually amalgamate with the United States. The hon. member for the city (Dr. Jenkins) said so, only he would like to see us unite first with Canada, in order that it might be the sooner brought about. It seemed to the opinion of several distinguished men that annexation would, in the course of time, take place ; and if it was true that it could not take place until we united with Canada, then, if such was the case, he did not wonder that Great Britain felt some anxiety on the subject, especially if she had a wish to retain the colonies. He thought the offer for union, if we desired it, should have been made by us, but as we had declared ourselves opposed to entering confederation, he thought the Dominion should not have made proposals to us at all. An argument had been attempted to be drawn in favor of confederation from the union effected in Germany; but he thought it did not apply to our case at all. If he understood what a panic was, he thought it was a feeling suddenly effected—something that took place very quickly—which he thought would not apply to the question of confederation, which had, in one form or other, been for six years before the people of this Island, who were as much opposed to it to-day as when the question was first mooted. Perhaps our yound men now in college, when they came to occupy our places, might not see so much danger in the connection ; and no doubt by that time it would be better understood. Public opinion might change, but at present it was entirely opposed to altering our position, and he felt convinced it would be dangerous for any Government to seriously entertain the question. Probably it was premature to provide so readily for the payment of the Lieut. Governor's salary, but he considered it was the last demand that could be made upon us, and perhaps none voted for it with more reluctance than he did. He thought that demand would yet appear as a blot upon Great Britain, whenever the history of the Island was considered, and the transaction recalled. Her statesmen might yet regret that they were parties to a demand which reflected dishonor upon those who made it. All we wished was fair play, and to be left alone. The force of argument which the confedrates might have, and the influence they could command, we might safely meet with the unwavering fortress of public opinion. The people would refuse to accept of confederation upon any terms until the British Government did justice to this colony ; and if that were done, our next duty wouldbe to see if a union was likely to prove a cordial one ; if not, it would be far better to keep out of it altogether. As long as he had a right to raise his voice in the Legislature, he would maintain that this colony was unjustly treated by Great Britain. PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 35 They separated us from Nova Scotia for the benefit of the proprietors ; had made us pay our own civil list, and make provision for the payment of the Lieut. Governor's salary ; all of which this colony was now doing ; and it was also fast buying out the estates of the proprietors. It would, therefore, be exceedingly unjust to force us to unite with Canada.
Mr. MCCORMACK thought the question had been pretty well ventilated, and when the proper time came to discuss the subject, he would be prepared to give his opinion. He was opposed to confederation, and represented a district that was also opposed to enter into a union with Canada, and his intentions were to oppose entering into confederation as long as it would be possible to do so ; not could he understand why Canada should manifest so much anxiety to get this Island into the Dominion. He though it was a matter which concerned the people of this Island only, and Canada, in his opinion, should allow us to do our own work. He was satisfied we could manage our own little ship much better than they could do it for us, and thought if we went into the Canadian cradle and asked them to take care of us, we should receive a very severe rocking at their hands.
Mr. G. SINCLAIR said the protection of our little colony was a matter of grave importance, and caution should be used lest we hastily or unguardedly disposed of our rights. His opinions had not undergone any change from the first. He was opposed to it still, even in the abstract. The hon member for the city said isolation was played out, but he (Mr. S.) saw no occasion for drawing such a conclusion, or for making such a statement. Confederation did not originate with the Imperial Government. A proposal was made by Nova Scotia for a legislative union of the Maritime Provinces, and the hon member for Georgetown (Mr. Haviland) did not then regard the movement as emanating from the Home Government, but as one evincing the desire of some of the colonial politicians who desired a wider field and broader basis for the display of their abilities. To the meeting originating out of that proposal of Nova Scotia the Canadian politicians came, and they, by proposing a wider sphere than the Maritime Provinces as a political field, aimed through the movement at settling the dispute between Upper and Lower Canada, and thereby had succeeded in having the two Canadas separated, and a stop put to the continual bickerings which took place be tween them. He believed all the interests of the other Provinces would be much better promoted had they yet retained their former position, and had full control as formerly in the management of all their local affairs. Reference had been made to a panic ; but it was well known that the people of New Brunswick were induced by some such means to vote themselves into confederation, and he believed all would now allow that Nova Scotia was not fairly treated ; and, knowing as we did, that Nova Scotia had made so many fruitless efforts to free herself, and that discontent still existed in New Brunswick, what would likely be our condition in the future when such was now the case with those who were geographically united with Canada ? Our position was such that no terms could be offered to induce us to unite with the Dominion, or that it would be our duty to accept, which would be fair to the other parts of the Dominion to offer. He did not think that we should, even if going into union, accept of a fixed revenue. No man would accept of a position for a fixed salary where the expenses and labor would be constantly increasing ; neither should this Island, even if it was going into union with Canada. Our wants would increase, and with them our expenses also. If we were in the Dominion we would have to bear the fortieth part of their expenses for all general purposes, and if we looked at the difference between our indebtedness and that of Canada, we would find that ours was by ÂŁ20,000 less than it would have been had we been, previous to this, a part of the Dominion ; hence, had we, after the union of the Provinces, been separated from the others, like Ontario from Quebec, we would have been allowed ÂŁ20,000 less than was now offered us, and if we went on at the same rate, our position would be constantly improving. He thought that for several years to come we would not require a railroad, and therefore could live under a cheap mode of taxation. The country was yet in its infancy, and had but merely commenced the development of its resources, so that in twenty years time he believed the commercial and agricultural prosperity of this Island would be such that we ourselves would be astonished when we compared it with the past. We required to improve our facilities for trade ; to buy in the cheapest market and sell our products where they would command the best price. As to the advantages to be derived from a free trade with the Dominion, he saw little to encourage us to hope for many benefits from that source. If the Dominion succeeded, we could ask to be admitted at any time. With PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 36 respect to the $800,000, it had little influence with him. He thought it would be a long time before we should receive it ; nor did he see what security or guarantee we had that we should ever obtain it. He was included to oppose confederation in toto.
Hon. Mr. HAVILAND said it was difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain what the views of hon members were on the government side of the House on this question. He understood the hon member (Mr. Callbeck) to say that when he first saw the proposals of the "better terms" that he was in favor of them, and the same views were said to be entertained by Hon. Col. Secretary.
Hon. Mr. CALLBECK thought the hon member must have misunderstood him. What he said was that he took the terms home and gave them a careful perusal ; and, after doing so, was convinced they were not just to Prince Edward Island.
Hon. Mr. HAVILAND still thought the spirit of the hon member's address was, that he considered the terms favorable when he first read them ; at all events he (Mr. H.) so understood him. He had listened to the remarks of the hon member for Bedeque, and admitted that they had more weight with him (Mr. H.) than those of all the other hon members who had spoken, for it was obvious the hon member had studied the subject ; but still he must confess he could not tell to which side the hon member belonged, for, during the delivery of his able address, he first inclined to one side, and then to the other. But in his statements he led the committee into a few of the secrets contained in the correspondence which took place between the Government and the Canadian delegates. The hon member for Princetown stated that had we been in the Dominion at the time of the union, it would have made a difference of ÂŁ20,000 in the annual amount we would have received out of the general revenue. But the hon member should recollect that the debt of Canada had been caused by the construction of important public works, which cost us nothing, but from which we, in common with them, would receive important advantages. One of the chief complaints of Upper Canada was, that Lower Canada received more than her fair proportion of the revenue for her public works, and the same objection was now being made respecting the Maritime Provinces. If, as some hon members concluded, confederation or annexation was our destiny, and if the views of hon members entertaining such sentiments were correct, they would do well to study the constitution of the United states ; for if they did, they would find that each state must defray all state expenses by a state tax, and that no state received aid for any purpose out of the general revenue. Hence, confederation presented advantages superior to annexation in this respect.
Adjourned for one hour.
Hon. Mr. HAVILAND, in reply to the hon member from St. Peters, Mr. (McCormack) who said he did not understand what Canada wanted us, stated that Canada wanted us to assist her in forming one united nation, extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific, without any hostile tariffs to obstruct trade, a uniform currency, and a connected postal service. There were reasons laid down by some of the ablest statesmen in favor of union, Lard Carnarvon, in a despatch sent to our Lieutenant Governor in 1867, stated --
"That in time of war and tumult, the armed forces of British North America should be one under one supreme command-that in time of peace, their commerce, their post, their great lines of communication, and with due regard to local usuage, their civil and criminal jurisprudence, should be governed by the same rules ; that an extended public opinion should be brought to bear on the settlement of narrow local controversies, and that the most important affairs of British North America should be administered by a combination of the ablest men whom it can furnish - these benefits appear to me so indisputable, so pervading, and so permanent in their character, that I should be wanting to my duty if I did not express to you, and through you to the community over which you preside, my earnest hope that no trifling obstacle will be allowed to interfere with their full attainment."
The principles enunciated by Lord Carnarvon had been endorsed by the government which now wields the destinies of the British Empire, by its leading men-Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Bright. Mr. Bright had been looked upon as a man who was anxious to get rid of these colonies, but this was a great mistake. Despatches had been sent out by the Colonial Minister, giving reasons for confederation. The British government wished us to unite, not that she might get rid of us, but that we might be no longer in leading strings, but become a PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 37 powerful nation under the meteor flag of Great Britain. The London Times, the leading newspaper of England, as had been quoted by Mr. Brecken last night, repudiated the idea of Britain giving up her colonies - Englishmen would shed the last drop of their blood in defence of these colonies. We had also the opinion of a statesman, who was even, if possible, more radical than John Bright, Mr. Forster, who said --
"I rejoice that the question of the colonies has been brought forward, inasmuch as it has made it clear to me that neither in England nor it the colonies do we intend that the empire should be broken up."
He (Mr. Haviland) did not wish for either annexation or independence. but to retain our connection with Great Britain. While we were under the aegis of Great Britain there would be no danger of our being swallowed up by the United States, but if we retained our present isolated position, that result would be almost inevitable. It was not the glory argument alone that would induce England to retain her hold of these colonies, there was also the necessity for having a friendly port for her ship's in case of war with America. It was not boasting to say that Britain was mistress of the seas. The Americans themselves acknowledged than they had no navy that could cope with that of England ; and when the Monarch, that took the remains of George Peabody to America, dropped anchor in American waters, she had been thronged almost day and night with an admiring crowd. When Mason and Slidell were taken out of a British ship by the Americans, England demanded them back, and sent the flower of her army across the Atlantic to be prepared for any contingencies that might arise. A great deal had been said about the Munroe doctrine, held by the Americans, but that did not interfere with us, it was only to prevent nations of Europe from establishing new colonies on this continent. The hon. member from Wilmot Creek (Mr. Laird) had laid down the principle that the Dominion would never prosper because they had paid gold for some of their territory; but the United States was a prosperous country and a great part of their territory had been purchases. In 1808 the United States purchased the whole of the region west of the Mississippi, then called Louisiana, which included not only the present States of that name, but Arkansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Iowa and the vast wild region of the West, for fifteen millions of dollars. In 1818, the disputes with Spain were settled by a treaty ceding the whole territory of Florida to the United States as an indemnity for the claims of American merchants against that power. Five millions of dollars were paid by the American government to the claimants, which may be considered the purchase money of Florida. New Mexico and Upper California were purchased from Mexico in 1848 for fifteen millions of dollars. They had also recently purchased Russian America for a considerable sum. The States of America would never have become such a great nation had they remained separate. The whole revenue that could be raised by the States before they united was only three hundred thousand dollars, although their population was about four millions ; while the revenue of the Dominion with  about the same population amounted to fourteen million dollars. If the Dominion was going to come to grief, as had been stated by some hon. members why was it that the Americans were watching the course of events in these colonies so anxiously. The governors of some of the States had thought it necessary to warn their legislatures against 'what was now taking place in these Provinces. They knew that if we had not a bond of union, we would be like the bundle of sticks—very weak when separated, and likely soon to join the Republic. Governor Chamberlain, of the State of Maine, had made use of the following language to his legislature: —
"The effort is now made in the British Parliament to effect the consolidation of the Provinces. If it is successful, the result cannot but be injurious to us. The friends of this country in the Provinces are earnestly opposing the scheme. It is a matter of more concern to us than may appear at first sight, and I cannot fail to press the subject upon your attention, not doubting that you will see occasion to make such remonstrance as you are able, and to secure PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 38 the most potent disuasions of the United States Government."
The speech of Senator Sumner had ended in a fizzle, but it had put the people of Great Britain on their mettle, and they had stated that they were prepared to defend their Government in the position she had taken on the Alabama question. One of the greatest statesmen of America, Secretary Seward, gave the following as his opinion of British America :—
"Hitherto, he says, "in common with many of my countrymen, I have thought Canada, or, to speak more properly British America, a mere strip lying north of the United States, easily detachable from the parent state, but incapable of maintaining itself, and, therefore, ultimately, nay, right soon to be taken in by the Federal Union, without materially changing or affecting its condition. I have dropped this opinion as a national conceit. I see in B. N. America, reaching, as it does, across the continent, from the shores of Labrador and Newfoundland to the Pacific, and occupying a considerable belt of the temperate zone, traversed equally with the United States by the Lakes, and enjoying the magnificent river St. Lawrence, with its thousands of islands in the river and gulf, a region grand enough for the seat of a great empire. In its wheat-fields, its inexhaustible lumber lands, the most extensive now remaining on the globe, its invaluable fisheries, and its yet undisturbed mineral deposits, I see the elements of wealth. I find its inhabitants vigorous, hardy, energetic, perfected by the Protestant religion and British constitutional liberty. I find them jealous of the United States and of Great Britain, as they should be, and, therefore, when I took at their resources, I know they cannot be conquered by the former, nor permanently held by the latter.
Those opinions of a great statesman did not coincide with that of hon. members who looked upon the Dominion as a narrow, insignificant strip. The Americans had a great deal to do with respect to the disturbance in the North-west territory ; Americans had been settling there with the expectation that it would finally become a state of the Union. The New York Chamber of Commerce had sent their opinions of this great region to Congress :—
"The region of Lake Winnipeg, like the valley of the Mississippi, is distinguished for the fertility of its soil, and for the extent and gentle slope of its great plains, watered by rivers of great length and admirably adapted to steam navigation. It will, in all respects, compare favorably with some of the most densely peopled regions of Europe. In other words, it is admirably fitted to become the seat of a numerous, hardy and prosperous community. It has an area equal to eight or ten first-class American states. Its great river, the Saskat chewan, carries a navigable water line to the base of the Rocky Mountains. It is not at all improbable that the valley of this river may offer the best route for a railroad to the Pacific. Red River, in the north, navigable in connection with Lake Winnipeg for eight hundred miles, directly north and south, is one of the best adapted for steam in the world, and waters one of the finest regions of this continent. Along the shores of this lake for a distance of two hundred miles northwards, the mean summer heat is equal to that of Bordeaux in France, and at Cumberland, on the Saskatchewan, the summer temperature is higher than that of Paris. The soil is for the most part a black mould of great depth and fertility, producing a plump and heavy wheat of from twenty to forty bushels to the acre. Potatoes, barley and oats can be profitably cultivated between the forty-ninth and fifty-fourth parallels of latitude, and Indian corn to the fiftieth. A hundred miles to the east of the Rocky Mountains commences a great coal-bed, sixty miles in width, and extending over sixteen degrees of latitude, to the Arctic Sea."
Had quotations been taken from the periodicals of the Dominion, hon. members might say the descriptions had been too highly colored, but as they had been taken from those who were almost enemies of the Dominion, they would not likely be overdrawn. Since the Canadians had obtained this vast territory, and the emigration fever was rife in Great Britain, it was probable the population of the Dominion would increase very rapidly ; and stalwart energetic men, when they took up their abode in a new country, soon earned for themselves a competency, and added to the material wealth of the country. Some hon. members had stated that if we bought any goods in the Dominion we would have to pay for them in gold, but statistics showed that we exported to the Dominion, in 1868, ÂŁ107,478 19s 1d. worth of our products, while, during the same year, we sent to England, not taking into account new ships, ÂŁ103,764 13s. 8d worth, and to the Republic only ÂŁ48,031 19s. 7d. worth, so that our exports to the Dominion were greater than to England and nearly three times as much as to the States. Woollen cloths could be purchased more cheaply in the Dominion than in Great Britain, for the manufacturers of Canada were now exporting to the old country and competing with British manufacturers, although obliged to pay a fifteen a per cent. tariff. Boots and shoes also, and ironmongery PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 39 of all descriptions were manufactured in Canada, and under confederation we should get all these articles duty free. A great deal had been said about bribery, but if the confederates were taunted with having received Canadian gold, they could retort by saying that their opponents had received annexation greenbacks, but he (Mr. Haviland) did not believe that either party had received any bribes. Confederation was only a question of time, but all reforms were agitated a long time before they were carried, because there was a certain class of persons who were always averse to change. He (Mr. Haviland) was surprised that there were so many members in the House who had not spoken against the principle of confederation, but had only objected to the terms which the Dominion had offered us. It was a childish argument to say that Canada would not pay the $800,000, as it could be definitely settled how and when the money should be paid, before we contented to unite. If hon. members were of opinion that confederation would be an advantage to the people of this Colony, and would be the means of extending the period of British rule on this side of the Atlantic, it was their duty to let the Dominion Government know on what terms they would consent, to go into the Union, and if Canada refused to comply with reasonable terms, the fault of not having these colonies united would lie with her and not with us.
Mr. REILLY said that when this question of confederation was mooted a few years ago, he was one of the first to take up the subject in the press and show the injustice of the Quebec scheme. He was gratified at the time to find that the views of the vast majority of the people of the country accorded with his own, and on reviewing the position then taken, the only mistake he had to acknowledge as having made at that time was stating that the scheme had been got up by ambitions colonial politicians, whereas it was now known that it was the settled policy of the Imperial parliament. He desired to approach the subject with calmness and not be guilty of using such unparliamentary language as the hon. member for Charlottetown (Mr. Brecken) had used towards hon. members on this side of the House, when he referred to them as this and that man. Such language was inexcusable in one who prided himself on his parliamentary experience. A union of these Colonies founded on proper principles, might, at some indefinite period in the future, prosper ; but the scheme had been too hurriedly prepared during the progress of the American civil war, when, as it appeared to him, the British Government became alarmed at the colossal military strength, displayed by the Republic, and wished to have a nation established on this continent that would be a counterbalance to republicanism. In this the Imperial Government were perfectly right, and he regretted that the treatment of the parent state towards   this Colony had been such as to have its call upon our loyalty responded to with coolness and indifference. There was not the slightest fear but that the British Gov-   ernment would always protect Her Majesty's subjects, for a proof had been given when they expended such a large sum of   money in rescuing a few captives in Abyssinia, and also in the case of Mason and Slidell. A nation that was to last throughout time should be gradually formed, and a great mistake had been made in forcing confederation on these Colonies in such a hurry ; and to this cause might be attributed the disturbance at the Red River and the disaffection in Nova Scotia. The people of this Island had opposed the Quebec scheme because it was unjust, and he (Mr. Reilly) was prepared to oppose the present terms, for they were better than those of the Quebec scheme only in a pecuniary point of view—there was no difference in constitutional points. The people of this Island had been unjustly dealt with by Her Majesty's Government, in regard to the land question, and although they were still thoroughly loyal, yet if an attempt were made to force them into confederation, it would test their loyalty pretty severely. When the people of this Island were called upon to surrender PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 40 their free government and joins a people with whom they had hitherto had little connection, they were justified in acting very cautiously. The system of representation in the Dominion Senate was unjust-Canada had an overwhelming majority. In the republic of America, the smallest state had the same representation in the senate as the largest. The Dominion would have many railroads and other public works, for which, in the event of union, we would have to help to pay, while we could make no use of them for many months in the year. Instead of receiving the fixed sum of eighty cents per head, we should receive a certain amount in proportion to our. taxation so that as our revenue increased we would get the benefit of it. These were some of the reasons which induced so many persons to avow themselves anti-confederates, and which he would, when the propositions came before him, enter into more fully. The hon. member for Charlottetown had not been very courteous in designating those who opposed confederation, " powder monkeys," " camp followers'," and " smelt fishers " When the union of Ireland and England was consummated, Catholic emancipation was guaranteed, but over twenty years elapsed before it was obtained, and the land question was still unsettled.
Hon. Mr. HAVILAND said that Catholic. emancipation had not been mentioned in the act of union between England and Ireland, but only promised by some members of parliament, and they had failed to carry it.
Mr. REILLY said that we had only the promise of a government which having so many difficulties to contend with, could not reasonably be expected to carry out their promises, were they ever so desirous of doing so. The people of this Island had so far worked out their destiny, and they could get along very well for the future without uniting with Canada. He (Mr. Reilly) would never agree to any action being taken on this question without the consent of the people.
Mr. BRECKEN - Did the Queen's Printer allude to him when he said that some hon. member had called him (Mr. Reilly) " that man "? If he (Mr. B.) has used the expression, he had done so uninten tionally, and would withdraw it. That hon. member was in error when he charged him with calling persons in this House "powder monkies."
Mr. REILLY understood him to use the expression.
Mr. BRECKEN - It was applied to parties outside of the House. The hon. member had twitted him (Mr. B.) with using disrespectful language, but such a charge came with a very bad grace from one who, through the Vindicator, had attacked female virtue, and defames the teacher of the Normal School.
Mr. REILLY would not allow the hon. member to misrepresent him, or proceed without proof for his assertions.
Mr. BRECKEN - The documents were in the library, and could be obtained if necessary. The hon. member had denied that he was in favor of confederation, but he (Mr. B.) could prove that his views on that question were the same as his own. It was amusing to see him stand up here and claim to be an anti- confederate, when every person knew that he had been playing fast and loose on the matter. It would have been more honorable in him to have given some credit to another journalist in the colony, who had been a much more consistent opponent of confederation than the Queen's Printer. The hon. member had referred to the Abyssinian war, and to the Mason and Slidell affair in support of the view that the mother country would protect her colonies. These cases were inded evidence that Great Britain would not allow her subjects to be ill used by savages, nor her flag to be dishonored on the high seas. The abrogation of the reciprocity treaty was a charge which had been brought against the Canadian government, but he (Mr. B.) had good reason to know it was the Americans themselves who abrogated the treaty. We had heard that when the hon. member for St. Peters came into this House a political child, he came in an anti- confederate. True, he did ; and when we remembered that he had, through the agitation of this question, been enabled to defeat an honorable and talented gentleman, who had long served his party faithfully and well it did not much redonned to his credit. Yes, that gentleman, after his faculties had become impaired, he (Mr. Reilly) had bitterly attacked, and sought to deprive of his bread, though trained in this office and PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 41 taken into his confidence ; and it was not until the clods of the valley had closed over one to whom he owed so much, and who could no longer meet him in the political field, that he passed upon him a feeble eulogy. There was no doubt that the hon. member for St. Peters had obtained his seat in this House because he was an anti-confederate, but what were his opinions now? His paper had been until lately pretty silent on the question, but it had hinted that it was this Island's best policy to get as favorable terms as she could, and enter the union; and he had heard a similar expression of opinion from himself.
Mr. REILLY asked what he had heard from himself.
Mr. BRECKEN - That as Hon. Mr. Howe had accepted the situation on receiving better terms for Nova Scotia, our true interest was to get the best terms we could and go into the union also.
Mr. REILLY denied it.
Mr. BRECKEN - He might deny it as much as he pleased, but it was nevertheless true. Yet this was the gentleman0 this was the hon. member who stood up here and told him (Mr. B.) that he ought to carry out the wishes of his constituents. There was no occasion for such advice, for, though he (Mr. B.) had the whole power in his own hands, he would not vote the Island into confederation without the consent of the people. He entirely disapproved of the manner in which Nova Scotia had been thrust into confederation by her legislators.
Mr. REILLY said the hon. member had travelled away from the subject under consideration to bring up matters connected with a newspaper, of which he (Mr. B.) had been part proprietor, but of which he had not been responsible editor ; but he could say this, that the statements referred to as having been libelious in that paper have been proved by the affidavits of parties some of whom were now in their graves. With respect to the Hon. Mr. Whelan, he admitted that he had been for a short time in that gentleman's office, but when there he had always held his own independent views. He was under no obligation whatever to Mr. Whelan. We were both at one time opposed to union, and it was he that receded from that position. After the step which Mr. Whelan had taken, much as he (Mr. R.) admired his genius and respected him for the valuable service he had rendered the cause of Liber alism in this colony, there was no course open to him (Mr. R.) but to oppose him on the question of confederation. It was not true that he had taken bread from the late Queen's Printer. The office which he (Mr. R.) now held, he had never solicited from the party. With respect to his silence on confederation, he contended that it was not his place, while communications were being held with the government to discuss the question. But he would ask where the hon. member for Charlottetown was now himself, if not on the fence? He had been a supporter of Mr. J. C. Pope's no- terms resolution, and here he was to-day speaking in favor of confederation.
Mr. BRECKEN explained that when he supported the no-terms resolutions, though he did not then like the wording of them, it was because he believed that the Quebec scheme would be adhered to. It was said at the time that not a word of it would be altered, to the dotting of an " i " or the crossing of a " t "; and if that were the case he thought it would be dangerous to open negotiations. In voting for these resolutions, he considered it advisable to let his consistency go, and do the best for the country.
Hon. Mr. LAIRD said the hon. Leader of the Opposition had this afernoon, in justification of the purchase of the North West by Canada, called his attention to the fact that the United States had frequently purchased territory. But be (Mr. L.) would. ask whether the Republic had ever purchased territory where the people a! the place were opposed to the transfer? He thought the hon member could not point out a single instance of the kind. And more than that, he would ask when the Thirteen Colonies united whether any one of them received a sum of money to induce it to enter the confederacy ? They could not afford such things ; they had no pampering mother ready to guarantee them loans to make purchases or offer inducements ; their very poverty was a guarantee that the arrangements between them would be founded on justice and fair play. The hon Leader of the Opposition had stated that the Dominion was the third maritime power in the world ; this! might be true of Canada commercially speaking, but where was her navy, or the funds to build it? One of the causes of the Red River rebellion he said, was the influx from the United States of immigrants who had gone there to stir up opposition to the transfer of the territory to the Dominion. PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 42 He (Mr. L.) would pit against this statement that of a greater statesman than even the Leader of the Opposition, namely, the Hon. Joseph Howe, who said that the North West troubles chiefly arose from the disaffection of the employees of the Hudson Bay Company, who thought they would get nothing by the sale of the territory- that all the money would go to the shareholders of the Company, and their claims would probably be entirely overlooked. The inhabitants of Red River were not all half breeds and indians, but many of them were Scotchmen, who would not like to see their liberties trampled upon; however, though, they were all half breeds that was no reason why their rights should not be respected. If any government was to propose purchasing this Island irrespective of the wishes of the people, he (Mr. L.) could fancy how the [illegible] tones of the hon Leader of the Opposition's voice would be raised in indignantly denouncing the proceedings. The hon member had also referred to the importance of having a railway running through British territory to the Pacific. Hundreds of miles of country through which such a railway would have to pass were barren, and the whole of it covered with snow nearly six months in the year, consequently, the expense of keeping the line clear, together with the limited traffic it wold draw for some time, would make it no very desirable undertaking. He (Mr. L.) thought it necessary to allude to remarks several times made by hon members of the Opposition respecting the course pursued by parties outside this House, He maintained that if any hon member wished to reply to statements outside, he should go outside to meet his opponent, and not come in here to make accusations under the protection of the sergeant-at-arms. Some gentlemen appeared to be horrified because one portion of the press had charged the other with "birbery and corruption."
Hon. Mr. HAVILAND said his remarks on this subject were in reply to the hon member, Mr. McNeill.
Hon. Mr. LAIRD.- Forty eight hours ago, before Mr. McNeill had spoken in this debate, the hon Leader of the Opposition had referred to the charges of bribery and corruption made outside the House, and he (Mr. L.) would ask what right had the squabbles of the press to be dragged in here?
Hon. Mr. HAVILAND said he had the right to speak in this House on any outside question he pleased.
Hon. Mr. LAIRD.- Let the press outside answer the press outside; but since the matter had been brought up here, he would venture to say, judging from documents which had been published, that a portion of the press of the Colony had been tampered with, he would not say through the agency of Canadian, but of confederate gold. When he used the expression confederate gold, he meant some inducement that caused a reversion of policy. Now, this was rather a serious matter, for if the press which was the fourth estate, could be tampered with, might not hon members of this House be dealt with in the same way, and then what would become of the rights of the colony? Hon. members need not be so very indignant about the alarm sounded by the press; bribery had been brought to bear in the case of larger unions than ours. Look at the conduct of certain members of the Irish parliament at the time that country became united with England. [illegible] had been the results of that union, and he (Mr. L.) contended that where money was held out as an inducement to any country to unite with another no union on such a basis could be expected to succeed.
Mr. BRECKEN would call it bribery when any inducement was held out to a public man to make him swerve from his own opinions. But he did not think that if a person shose to invest some hundreds of pounds in a printing establishment, it could be called bribery. It was easy to understand the difficulties with which the press had to contend in this country. They took up a certain course and pursued it, and if the cause they advocated should break down, they had then to turn right round. The hon member for Bedeque no doubt referred to a certain case which had lately occurred in this city, where a bill of sale had been given. If [illegible] talents and acquirements had been bought over to advocate a question, then it would be bribery; but, on the other hand, if it were only presses and type that had been bought, it would be simply a mercantile transaction. He (Mr. B.) had great respect for a portion of the anti-confederate press; it had hitherto accorded him justice, and sometimes perhaps more than justice, but if he should now happen to differ from it, he felt assured that such divergence would only be for a short time. He (Mr. B.) could not agree with the hon member for Bedeque when he argued that the government had only met PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 43 the delegates from Ottawa informally, or simply as private gentlemen. If this was the case, why, he would ask, was their visit referred to in the opening speech? The delegates were authorized to come here by a resolution of the Dominion parliament, and it was not very probable that they would consider their mission fulfilled by merely holding a conference with the members of the government as private gentlemen. No, no; Sir George Cartier, the Hon. Mr. Pilley, and the Hon. Mr. Kenny were too shrewd and experienced politicians to lay themselves open to the taunt of Mr. Galt and others in the Canadian parliament that they had offered terms to the Island government which the latter would not accept. He (Mr. B.) presumed that the proposals from Ottawa were something like the terms which the delegates had been given to understand, by the government, would be acceptable. If not, it was strange that the Dominion government should waste paper in sending down these proposals here. If the hon Colonial Secretary had used the strong language in presence of the Canadian delegates which he had in this House, and the hon member, Mr. Callbeck, had told them it was better for this colony to wait until we saw how the Dominion succeeded, he (Mr. B.) felt certain we would not have had such proposals brought to our notice. Whether it was before or after the visit of the delegates that the hon member for West River took the terms home with him, lighted a candle, and in the silence of night studied over them until he arrived at the conclusion that they were neither just nor liberal to this colony, he (Mr. B.) was unable to say, but he hoped that [illegible] this time the Canadian gentlemen had received the benefit of his cogitations (Laughter.)
Hon. COLONIAL SECRETARY said that the hon member for Charlottetown had referred last night to the blind king of Hanover being driven from his throne, and instanced Britain's non-intervention in the matter as an evidence that she was in favor of Prussian confederation. The conduct of the British government with regard to that king, and the German question generally, was more influenced by the opinions of the Manchester school of politicians, than by any desire to see the consolidation of the Prussian empire. With respect to the taunts of the Opposition about the government, not h aving power to settle the land question, he (Col. Sec.) believed they were just as able to settle the land question here as Mr. Gladstone was to settle the same question in Ireland. Probably most hon members had seen that the Canadian government had advertised for six schooners to protect the fisheries. He contended they would do no good as regarded the fisheries, and would be very apt to create a disturbance with the American government, and bring on a war, which might involve this colony in trouble and expense.
Adjourned till to-morrow.


The Parliamentary Reporter of Debates and Proceedings of the House of Assembly. Charlottetown: Partiot Book and Job Printing Rooms, 1870. Microfilm copies provided by the Prince Edward Island Libraries and Archives.



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