EN
ūüĒć

Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, 29 March 1870, Prince Edward Island Confederation with Canada.

PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 126
[...]
Confederation.
The order of the day was then taken up and gone into, for the House in Committee on the message of His Honor the Administration of the 14th [illegible] transmitting various Despatches and papers.
Mr. Kelly in the chair.
The chairman having read the Despatches-
HON. Mr. HOWLAN rose to move a resolution, [illegible] before doing so would briefly express his sentiments upon the question of a [illegible] of this Colony with the Dominion of Canada, and as the despatches just read, had brought this matter so fully to the notice of [illegible] committee he would not re-read them. It [illegible] admitted that the [illegible] of  the [illegible] PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 127 gentlemen came to ascertain if there were valid reasons why this Island should refuse to confederaate with Canada, and to see if there was what they might regard as "method in our madness," when we refused to do so. Nor did he suppose exception would be taken to the reception which the Government, on behalf of the Colony, extended to those gentlemen. They had been told that if terms better than those contained in the Quebec report were given, our objections would be removed. Well, they came and sought information not merely from the committee of Connell, but from other public men also and he (Mr. H.) thought that was quite proper. It was an important question, and public men, whether in the legislature or not, had a perfect right to express their views respecting it; and he (Mr. H.) thought it their duty specially to do so on such an important matter as that upon which the gentlemen from the Dominion Government came to seek information. He would look at the question in its political aspect. Those who held the reins of power in the Island were known as the Liberal party, which nigh thirty years ago unfurled its flag, upon which was inscribed "Free Soil, Free Education, and a Free Press." This party had of late years been augmented by an element known as the Tenant Union element, and the men of this party were not a whit behind their liberal friends, if they did not go much further in advocating their principles. It was true the great Liberal Chief, who so nobly led his party to victory was now in the neighboring Province seeking repose for his tired brain, which had, for nigh half a life time been so overtasked on behalf of the interests of his country. The second in command had, with the full consent and concurrence of his party, been elevated to the Bench to aid in the better and more satisfactory administration of justice; but around those desks he saw enough of the spirit of those who unfurled the old flag, and whose determination was not to [illegible] up the constitution of the country into other hands until the portrait of the last landlord was hung up in the Legislative Library of the Island as a memento of the past. Then, and not till then, would the different sections of the country be brought into closer communion with each other by the introduction of the iron horse, which could then run through one free farm, as it were- extending from the North Cape to the East Point, carrying the products of our thrifty and enterprising farmers to the best market. He would now ask the committee to look at the $800,000 proposed to be given as compensation for the loss of our crown lands. This he (Mr. H.) contended waas not a sufficient equivalent [illegible] ; for having figured the matter [illegible] himself and duly compared our losses with the corresponding advantages derived by the other colonies from their public lands, the very lowest amoutn we should rereceive was $1,240,00, which sum would enable the Government of the Colony to settle up the land and education [illegible]tions satisfactorily. and in other respects place us in about the same position as the other Provinces now were. It was true we were but a Colony of 100,000 people yet we prized our constitutional rights and privileges which were as dear to the inhabitants of this Colony as they were to those living in any of the other Provinces. We might be told that with all our constitutional privleges we should be able to settle the vexed question ourselves, but that as we [illegible] not done this, we should join the Dominion as its influence would soon obtain this settlement for us, and hence the offer relative to the $800,000 on condition of our entering into partnership with Canada; but were we to do so we should be allowed as much for our land as they vained their own at, which was $1 an acre; and as the area of our Island was about 1,240,000 acres, that would give us, as he had before stated, $1,240,000, the interest of which would, at 6 per cent., amount to about £22,230 per year. Such a sum would go far to enable us to strike the sum required for schools and lands out of the annual vote required for the public service of the country. But, he saw no reason why we should ever think of receiving that money from the Dominion. Canada did us no wrong, and owed us no money. In coming down here to make enquires, and in following them up with proposals, she, no doubt, was situated by a desire to do justice to her weakest and youngest sister. But, supposed we did enter into Confederation, and efforts to induce the Home Government to pay the $800,000 were to fail, and Canada should ever be called upon to pay the money, the Dominion Government might say they bought us. And is the [illegible] of such statesmen [illegible] of this Colony would [illegible] themselves placed in an [illegible] position. Again, PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 128 what reason had we to suppose that a succeeding Government might not disannul the arrangement. We found that even now Ontario was loudly complaining, and quite recently Mr. Blake brought forward a resolution having reference to the alteration made in favor of Nova Scotia, and said:
"In some way or other the compact must be re-affirmed and safeguards against its violations imposed. It must not be regarded as a mere statute to be altered by a majority. If the subsidy can be changed, what is to hinder a majority, under the dictation of the ministry of the day, reversing that portion of the compact which provides that representation shall be based on population ; there can be no such [illegible] ground for the Dominion amidst the storms which will beset her if the original compact is not adhered to in its integrity, or changed with due care and formality by the power which created it - the Imperial Parliament."
While he (Mr. H.) would be very sorry to [illegible] the slightest disrespect to the government of the Dominion, yet if he might be allowed to judge the present and the future from the history of the past, and compare small things with great, he thought Ireland's history for the past hundred years would in several particulars, be a close analogy to the history of this Island. She also had two troublesome questions which were promised to be settled - her land and church questions. "Come into the House of Commons," said the wily Castlereagh, "and your grievances will receive due consideration." They went and according to Sir Jonah Barrington, in his "Rise and Gall of the Irish Nation," cajolery, deceit, bribery, corruption, and intimidation were resorted to, to bring about the union, to such a shameful extent, that the then Speaker of the House of Commons earned the sonbriquet of the "undertaker." Henry Grattan, too, one of the purest patriots the world ever saw, lived long enough to see all the fair promises which had been made, broken, his own influence withered, and cause sufficient given him to curse the day the union was consummated. But, lest Barrington might be regarded as a partial witness, he would read an extract from the London Times, which corroborated his statement. The Times said:
"In 1798, at the very crisis of way with France, an insurrection broke out in Ireland, and was only suppressed with great bloodshed! Pitt made this the occasion of promoting a union between Great Britain and Ireland, as necessary to the safety of the state, and he wished to accompany the great reform by two measures which he believed likely of vital interest to Ireland, A state provision for the Catholic priesthood of Ireland and the emancipation of the Irish Catholics. A majority of the cabinet opposed this policy. The King was aware of it, and the support of the Irish Catholics to the Union was obtained on an understandin ; at least that its supplement, so important to them, was to be an integral part of it ; but when, after the Union had passed, Pitt had tried to accomplish the rest of his plan, the King absolutely refused this union on a scruple about his coronation oath."
The result was, the Catholics of Ireland were betrayed and Pitt was driven from office. Harrington said: The Catholics, in 1798, were ranged ; in 1799, carressed ; in 1800, cajoled, and in 1801, discarded altogether! √ą He (Mr. H.) would now invited attention to the result of the union of Scotland with England. On looking over a speech in the Parliamentary Reporter, delivered by the hon. Leader of the Opposition, in 1866, he saw that he then stated that--
"The great benefit of that national treaty had been generally felt and acknowledged for the last hundred years."
Hon. Mr. HAVILAND. - That is all sound is it not?
Hon. Mr. HOWLAN. - No, It is not. The hon. member at that time went on to say:
"From the period of its (the Union's) accomplishment, there was awakened in Scotland a spirit of industry and enterprise formerly unknown in that country, and ever since the two kingdoms of England and Scotland, incalculably to their mutual benefit, have been gradually forgetting their former subjects of discord, and uniting cordially, we the people, in the improvement and defence of their union country."
He (Mr. H.) would now see how that agreed with what Smollet's History, vol. 1, page 242, said:
"In 1725 the malt tax was found so grievous to the people of Scotland that they refused to pay it, and writs ensured at Glasgow. The populace rifled the house of Donald Campbell, their representative in Parliament, who had voted fro the tax. They maltreated some excisement, and were fired upon by the military. Twenty were killed and wounded. Evenutally General Wade took military possession of Glasgow. A bill was passed to indemnify Donald Campbell from the proceeds of taxes on all the beer and ale brewed in Glasgow. Against the malt tax petitions were presented by the convention of the Royal Burghess, and from different times treating it as a burden their country could not bear."
In 1784, as we find at page 333, three Scotch Dukes, Hamilton, Queensbury, and Montrose and three Earls, Dundonald, Marchmont and Stair, presented a petition complaining "that undue influence had PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 129 been used for carrying the election of representative Peers." The Duke of Bedford presented their petition. It was stated that a list of names had been handed in called the 'King's List,' and that endeavors were used to induce Peers to vote for the list, by promises of pensions and offices civil and military, to themselves and relations ; that pensions, offices, and release from debts owing to the Crown, were actually granted to Peers who voted for the 'list.' The petition was rejected, but not without a motion for renewed enquiry, which plainly demonstrated the truth of the allegation contained in the petitions. McCulloch, page 312, said:
"In 1787, a bill was sent down from the Lords for punishing the magistrates and city of Edinburgh on account of the murder of John Bortens. This brought up the question as to whether the charter of the city was forfeited by the assumed misconduct of the magistrates and parts of the citizens. Lord Corteret took the affirmative Earl of Hay the negative. Amongst the witnesses brought from Scotland were three Judges. A debate arose as to the manner of their examination, whether at the bar, the table, or the woolsack. Some Scotch Lords affirmed their right to be seated next the English Judges. Eventually they appeared at the bar in their robes. A bill was brought in to disable Alexander Wilson, Esquire, from holding office in the magistracy in Edinburgh or elsewhere ; for imprisoning the said A. W. for abolishing the guard and taking away the gate of the western bow-port. The bill was sent down to the Commons, a warm debate ensued, Lord Polwarth said, among other things, [and he (Mr. H.) thought it was suggestive,] 'If the Government would lay their hands on their hearts and ask themselves whether they would vote in the manner they were about to do, had the case of Edinburgh been that of Bristol, York or Norwich ? He was persuaded they would have required every title of their evidence to be proved.' The bill with some amendments was sent back to the Lords and passed.
In 1745, occurred the second rebellion, headed by Prince Charles Edward. Its short-lived success proved that Scotland was anything but a quiet, happy, contented country. If the union in those 38 years which had expired since it became law, had really accomplished any of the fine things its advocates claimed for it, it was certainly strange its value should have been so little appreciated. Certainly peace, security and contentment were not among the benefits it had at that date conferred. McCulloch further said :
"Sir John Cope defeated at Present Pans 6000 Dutch auxiliries commanded by Prince Charles Edward, at Derby, 40 miles from London. December, 1746, commenced with a retreat into Scotland, and General Harding defeated at Falkeith. In 1746, the rebels were defeated at Culloden, [after which he (Mr. H.) read that] 'all the jails of Great Britain, from the capital northward, were filled with unfortunate captives.' In May, the Duke of Cumberland advanced into the Highlands, encamped near Fort Augustus, and sent off detachments on all hands to hunt down the fugitives and lay waste the country with fire and sword. The castles of Glengarry and Lochliel were plundered an burned ; every house, hut or habitation met the same fate. All the cattle and provisions were carried off. The men were either shot upon the mountains like wild beasts or put to death in cold blood, without form of trial. The women, after having seen their husbands and fathers murdered, were subjected to brutal violations and then turned out naked, with their children, to starve on the barren heaths. One whole family was inclosed in a barn and burned."
"In a few days," says Smollet, "neither house, cottage, man, nor beast could be found in a compass of fifty miles." The union was consummated in 1710, and Smollet, page 90, vol. 2d, states that in 1713, three years after:
"During the adjournment of the  Parliament, on account of the Whitsun-holidays, the Scots of both Houses, laying aside all party distinctions, met and deliberated on this subject. They deputed the Duke of Argyle, the Early of Mar, Mr. Lockhart, and Mr. Cockburn, to lay their grievances before the Queen. They represented that their countrymen bore with impatience the violation of some articles of the Union ; and that the imposition of such an insupportable burthen as the malt tax would, in all probability, prompt them to declare the Union dissolved. The Queen, alarmed at this remonstrance, answered that she wished they might not have cause to repent of such a precipitate resolution, but she would endeavor to make all things easy. On the first day of June, the Earl of Finolater in the House of Peers represented that the Scottish nation was aggrieved in many instances ; they were deprived of a privy council, and subjected to the English laws in case of treason ; that their nobles were rendered incapable of being created British Peers ; and that now they were oppressed with the insupportable burden of a malt tax, when they had reason to expect they should reap the benefits of peace. He therefore moved that leave might be given to bring in a Bill for dissolving the Union.
He (Mr. H.) would, however, pass over the events of 1715, which might very properly be termed the first rebellion, and therefore, an unfavorable moment to look at Scotland, and turn to what the Rev. Dr. Playfair said was the condition of the country thirty-eight years after the union:
"Since the year 1745, a fortunate epoch for Scotland, in general, improvements have been carried on with great ardor and success. At that time the state of the country was rude beyne description. The most fertile tracts were wastes, or indifferently cultivated. The education, manners, dress, furniture and tables of the gentry PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 130 were not so liberal, decent and sumptuous as those of ordinary farmers are at present. The common people, clothed in the coarsest garb and starving on the meanest fare, live in despicable huts with their cattle. Their half-ploughed fields yielded but scanty crops. Manufacturers scarcely existed amongst them, and improvements culture were of a more recent date. Peas, grass, turnips or potatoes were not then raised ; no cattle were fattened ; and very little grain was exported. Oats and barley were alternately sown, and during seven months in the year, the best soil was ranged by flocks of sheep, a certain number of which were annually sold and carried off to be fed on richer pastures."
McCulloch states : ‚ÄĒ
"At the period referred to no manufactures, with the exception of that of linen, had been introduced into Scotland. Its agriculture was in the most wretched state imaginable, and the inhabitants were miserably supplied. even in the best years, with food, and were every now and then exposed to all the horrors of famine. The details already laid before the reader have shown the extreme prevalence of outrage and disorder in England in the sixteenth century; but Scotland was a prey to the same sort of disorders so late as the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries."
He (Mr. Howlan) thought, after the proofs he had given respecting the state of Scotland from 1710 to 1745 , that the statement made by the hon. Leader of the Opposition, in 1866, when speaking of the union of Scotland will England, vanished into thin air. That hon. member than said: -‚ÄĒ
"That, from the period of its accomplishment, there was awakened in Scotland a spirit of industry and enterprise formerly unknown in that industry and ever since the two kingdoms of England and Scotland, incalculably to their mutual benefit," &c.
He (Mr. H .) could not regard such statements in any other light than that of taking an unwarrantable liberty with history for the purpose of hood-winking the people of this Island. He (Mr. H.) had taken more pains to show the effect which the union had upon Scotland than with Ireland, because some people supposed that nothing would satisfy the people. of the latter country. But the impartial reader of history would admit that promises were made to Ireland, before it went into union with England, and that her people have had many grievous wrongs to complain of and yet until Mr. Gladstone arose to take hold of those causes of discontent, it could not be said that an honest effort had ever been put forth to rectify those wrongs, and if Mr. Gladstone succeeded in settling those long-vexed questions, he would deserve the approbation of every honest mind; and he thought the lessons of history were those from which that hon. committee were warranted to draw deductions for their guidance ; and believed the lessons there taught showed that before we spoke of union our land question should be first settled, when the question of confederation could be approached with more freedom. He thought the experience of New Brunswick should teach this Colony a lesson, and the following from the St. John Telegraph he would read:
"It would be interesting to learn why it is that New Brunswick influence counts for nothing at Ottawa. Why is it that we have no proper- weight or influence in the Government ? How is it that the PREMIER dares to propound measures to his Cabinet which he knows our representatives can only accept with humiliation ? Is it because they do not take a proper stand or are divided in sentiment, or why is it ? We have cordially and heartily supported the Government, and encouraged the New Brunswick members to do the same, in cases not a few, but we would a thousand times rather see our representatives in and out of the Government opposing it, with all their might, than to have our just demands treated with contempt, and our cherished privileges wrested from us without the slightest regard to our feelings or wishes, and without any necessity for so doing .
"Our correspondent tells us that the New Brunswick members, with one or two exceptions, will stand by the ballot, as we know they will by the currency resolutions, but that it will be all in vain. Why is this ? We can explain. New Brunswick has gone in loyally for Confederation. Her public men have not spouted treason, nor heeded explosive and disloyal political combinations. They have not threatened an appeal to a foreign nation. ' What and next ? ' They have not taken advantage of the fears or necessities of the Dominion to drive a hard bargain. These are the reasons why they are to be humiliated and injured ! 0r, perhaps, it is to teach a lesson to Prince Edward Island. That Island is keenly alive to what is passing' in New Brunswick. . [illegible] The Government professes to be very hearty' in promoting a union between that Island and Canada. And how does it proceed ? It says by its actions, which speak louder than words that any concessions, reasonable or unreasonable, may be made and offered to a province so long as it remains out of the Union, or even all but in arms against it, if within its bounds. But let a Province be loyal and true to the Union, let its influence be cast in that direction, at whatever sacrifice, and the Government will treat it and its representatives as so many ciphers. Its most reasonable demands will be refused and its most cherished privileges will be swept away without the slightest compunction ! A fine Union lesson this for Prince PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 131 Edward Island ! Yet it is the lesson which the Government are now busily teaching and the one which the Island will not be slow to learn.
"'The currency resolutions will not be pressed.' Of course not ! That might offend the anti-confederate bankers and brokers. The taking away of the ballot "will be pressed," but who cares that New Brunswick is offended and indignant ? And then a tax is to be placed on three or four articles which New Brunswick cannot produced. She is to pay tribute on the right hand and on the left, and to bring her into a pleasant humor to do so, she is not to have the currency assimilated, and she is to lose the ballot !
"There is one consolation. We know well why we are thus treated. So much injury and contumely would never be heaped upon us if we had been less loyal and less subservient. A more cowardly policy it would be difficult to conceive. It is that of men who imagine that they know when to bully and when to bribe, and know little more. Perhaps they do not know even quite so much, and may yet live to discover that by their ungrateful, unjust and humiliating treatment of New Brunswick, they have committed a crime and a blunder. We hope yet to see that lesson brought home to them in a manner which they will never forget. "
The Patriot of March 28th, commenting upon New Brunswick affairs, says: ‚ÄĒ
"In 1868, the total revenue of the local government of New Brunswick, was $826,587, and the expenditure $618,514. In 1869, the whole income (including a balance from the year before ) was $747,572, and the expenditure $634,582. "
The St. John Globe says :‚ÄĒ
"The available income for 1870 is set down at $433,938, and the expenditure $432,391, leaving a balance of $1,547, in favor the Government, but as the current expenditure of 1869 was $474,325, we do not believe that that of 1870 will fall short of this amount, particularly as there is to be a general election, which will cost largely in itself, and will require heavy subsidies to aid Government supporters
"The balance which the Government pretends to have on hand is, we believe, fictitious, and the Province, ln a year at least,will be reduced to its last dollar. In 1871 a new census will be taken, and if there will be found to be any addition to the population eighty cents per head will be allowed for each additional head,"
Now, if this was the experience of a Province which had a railway and was in receipt of the advantages flowing from the prosperous trade which was carried on by that means of conveyance last year - which, upon the whole, was a prosperous one - and yet if after a fair trial of confederation, her people were forced to conclusion that they would have to resort to local taxation to meet their public wants, he would leave that hon. committee to say what our position would be had we become a part of the Dominion when that Province did. With respect to their currency, there had long been a rivalry existing between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick on that question. There difference between the currency of the two Provinces was about 2.5 per cent, and Nova Scotia was likely to have her policy carried rather than New Brunswick ; hence the Telegraph enquired why that Province had no weight, why the remonstrances of her public men were unheeded at Ottawa. Having reviewed the matter from a political stand-point, he would now look at its statistical aspect, and here he would merely say that he thought the statement of the statistical report of the Union committee, recently published in Charlottetown, would show that the terms proposed were unjust to this Colony. He would therefore read the following extract:
"That the proposed grant of $800,000 as an alleged equivalent for the lands taken from us for Imperial purposes, and for the purchase of the remaining Proprietary Estates, is but a very small compensation as compared with the value of the Lands and Royalties reserved by the other Provinces for local purposes, and yielding a large annual income.
"The grants and allowances to us‚ÄĒsave and except by the small amount which would be derived from the increase in our population, until it reaches 400,000, of 80 cents a head - would be a fixed sum, quite insufficient to provide for the construction of such public improvements as are indispensable to our advancement.
"It must also be borne in mind that the Government in the application of the grant for the purchase of the remaining Proprietary Lands, would find that the fund from the sale of those Lands would not be self-sustaining, as much higher prices would have to be paid for them than heretofore. A large potions of the unsettled or wild land, would not realize one-half the price at which it could be acquired ; this loss, and the expense of managing the land depart‚ÄĒ ment we absorb more than one-half of the sum to be granted. The working of the Worrell and some of the other Estates bought by the Government fully warrants this conclusion.
"That to surrender our Revenue, which under our present Tariff has doubled itself within the last fourteen years, and may reasonably be expected to increase in a still greater ratio for many years to come, would leave us at no distant period with an income so small as to be much below the actual requirements of the Colony, and in a financial position inferior to that of other Provinces of the Dominion.
"The Committee would further observe that by the 92d Sect. of the Union Act, this Island would not be entitled to any grants from the PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 132 Dominion Parliament for any local Public Works, such as Canals and Railways ; inasmuch as from its isolated position it would be excluded as not coming within this stipulations of the Act, which declares "that such works if local, must be declared by the Parliament of Canada to be for the general advantage of Canada or for the advantage of two or more of the Provinces."
He (Mr. H.) might here say that this portion of the report met all his views on the matter. He would now turn to what was looked upon by some as the "glory argument," and if in this view of the subject we were to be guided by enlightened and experienced statesmen, we should pay attention to what they said. Earl Carnarvon, who was in office when confederation was being carried, said:‚ÄĒ
"England ought to be proud of her colonies, and should do all that in her lay to strengthen the feeling which happily existed between Great Britain and her colonies in all parts of the world ; but that if the connection was severed the political effect would be that the North American Colonies would be left to the memory of any set of privateers, in the case of a war breaking out with the United States."
Such were the sentiments uttered by the noble Earl, and he (Mr. H.) thought those views did not just now place confederation in a flattering position ; and if we entered into a federal union with Canada we would immediately be called upon to take up the policy of defending ourselves. On this Mr. Lowe said:‚ÄĒ
"We ought, in my opinion, to tell Canada that we will defend her with all our strength, that we consider her interests bound up with ours, that we will fight for her to the last, as long as she belongs to us, but that we see no chance of defending her on her own ground. IF she chooses British connexion she must take it subject to this condition ; we should also represent to her that it is perfectly open to her to establish herself as an independent republic ; it is our duty, too, to represent to her that if after well-weighed consideration she thinks it more to her interest to join the great American Republic itself, it is the duty of Canada to deliberate for her own interests and happiness."
This clearly showed that we would be called upon to defend ourselves if we were confederated with Canada; and, moreover, it was worthy of note that since confederation had taken place the Imperial Government had been carrying out that policy. At the time the union was consummated, there were in the Dominion about 12,000 troops, which had been gradually withdrawn, until the number was now reduced to about 8000, and that they were to be entirely with drawn he inferred from the following statement of Earl Granville:‚ÄĒ
"Last year we made further reduction, giving the Government of the Dominion fair notice that a very short time would elapse before we should carry out that policy to the fullest extent. It would be out of place for me now to anticipate what may be said in a few days bu the Secretary of War in moving the army estimates ; but I quite admit that the general tendency of our policy is to leave a country like Canada containing 4,000,000 of brave people the duty of self- defence."
Therefore, it was that he did not see what inducement there was for the people of this Island to change their positon. He believed there was no situation in which this Colony could be placed that her people would be more centented and happy than they were at present. In every respect we occupied a more enviable position than our neighbours. Last year, it was said that a man could hardly have a warrant in his possession until it was called in, and why? Just because the Government was prepared to redeem its paper at the Treasury. Our debt was, to speak in round numbers, ¬£150,000, and when our public lands were allowed for, we had at least ¬£100, 000 to place against that amount, which would reduce our real debt to about ten shillings a head for the population of the Island ; but if we placed to our credit, as they did in the Dominion, all our public works and public buildings, our debt would be more than fully met. In the matter of trade, our position was encouraging. Our exports, in round numbers, for the past year were ¬£865,191, and our imports, ¬£864,282, so that the balance of trade was now turning in our favor ; and he held when a country commenced thus to turn the scale, that her prosperity would advance from that period more rapidly than it did before. Under a tariff of eleven per cent, we paid ¬£22,000 for education, and had ¬£23,000 in the Treasury and in the two Banks. After paying all the expense and expenditure of the past year, notwithstanding that the markets for oats and other produce were so low, still our revenue exceeded the expenditure by nearly ¬£9000. We had our two Houses of Legislature, and all the benefits, privileges and advantages of a free people. Hon. gentlemen would also bear in mind that there was no way for us to go but by the voice of our people as expressed by themselves at the polls, and through their representatives in the Legislature. The question PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 133 was one of the most important any people could be called upon the consider‚ÄĒ even the changing, to a great extent, of their position as it now was, and in a measure transferring to others a power which we now enjoyed ourselves. He would move the following resolution:‚ÄĒ
Whereas the people of this Island value highly the powers and privileges which, as a Colony of the British empire, they now exercise and enjoy:
And whereas this Island having prospered under the constitution granted it by the parent country, its inhabitants are exceedingly averse to any change in their political condition which would take the management of the affairs of the Colony out of their hands, and place them under the control of a distant government:
And whereas this House believes that a union of this Island with the Dominion of Canada, as proposed in a minute of the Privy Council of Canada, dated 14th Dec., 1869, would be inimical to the best interests of the Colony:
Therefore, Resolved, That this House cannot entertain the said proposals of the Dominion Government, and consequently approves of the general tenor of the Reply of the Executive Government of this Island, as expressed in their minutes of Council, dated respectively the 7th day of Jan. and the 4th day of Feb., 1870.
Mr. BRECKEN did not rise to respond to the extraordinary historical statements of the hon. Leader of the Government ; but he might remark that he could not ascertain from that hon. member's lengthy speech, nor from the resolution which he had proposed what position he intended to occupy‚ÄĒwhether he was a no-terms man or the reverse. He (Mr. B.) might also say in a general way with respect to the correspondence before this hon. committee, that it was not what he expected. He thought this House would have been furnished with memoranda and the Canadian delegates while on their visit here last summer. It was true there was on the table a minute of council, dated 7th of January, and a more lengthy one dated the 4th of February ; but it was well known that the delegates were here in the month of August. The House had heard nothing of the arguments with which the members of the Government sought to enlighten the delegates on the claims of this Colony ; all that was before the committee were those minutes of council, which he supposed had been prepared after the Government had ascertained the opinions of the country. But he did not rise to reply to the speech with which this debate had been, opened or to anticipate the hon. Leader of the Opposition, Certain changes had been made against him (Mr. B. which he felt called upon to rebut. A member of the Government had said he (Mr. B.) ought to resign his seat, if his prevent views on this question were different from those which he had held when elected, and the taunt had afterwards been taken up by the hon. member for Tryon, Another hon. member had accused him of being willing to sell his birthright for a mess of pottage. If he (Mr. B.) were to be guilty of such an act, he feared that he would fare worse than even Esau, for Esau received his pottage, but where he (Mr. B.) was to get his, God only knew. He had been sold in this House, and through the columns of the press, that he had violated his public pledges on the hustings and elsewhere. Who the writer was that attacked him in the newspapers, he knew not, for he was unacquainted with his style. Anonymous writing was sometimes justifiable, but when a constituent attacked his representative, he should put his name to his correspondence. He (Mr. B.) in replying to his opponents would use as few names as possible of those not on the floor of this House. At the dejeuner given to¬† the Governor General when the delegates were her, he was called upon to reply to some toast, and he then stated that the people of this colony had no prejudices to overcome, but that this was a young country, and the opposition to union chiefly arose from the belief that we would lose the control of our own affairs. After the delegates were at Quebec, and the scheme then agreed upon came down to the Legislature, we were told that it was of the nature of a treaty‚ÄĒthat it could not be altered, no not so much as to dot and or cross a t. Believing this to be the aspect of the question as it was then under consideration, when the no-terms resolutions were submitted by the Hon. J.C. Pope, he gave them his support, though he stated at the time that he did not approve of their wording. About that time Nova Scotia had been unfairly dealt with by her representatives, and he was unwilling that any one should have the opportunity of putting this Colony into confederation on the terms of the Quebec scheme, though he expressed the belief that terms could be offered which we might accept. In supporting the no- terms resolutions, he might be accused of insincerity, but he thought it right to stand by the country, and he would support them again were he placed in a similar position. As reference had chosen made in this public papers to the reflection of the Hon. Daniel Davies at the late election, he might be excused for alluding to the subject here. Mr. Davies did not approve of PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 134 the Quebec scheme, but he was in favor of the principle of union, and therefore voted against the no-terms resolutions. It was asserted that he had not been put in nomination because he was a confederate. The assertion was not true. Mr. Davies, than whom there had never been a more honest and faithful representative, had been very unfairly treated, and that by a clique who opposed him on the ground of his being too much under the influence of Mr. W. H. Pope. This was the reason of their action, and the hon. leader of the Opposition knew what he was stating to be a fact. To prove that those persons could not be opposed to Mr. Davies on account of his confederate principles, he (Mr. B.) need only refer to the circumstance that spins of the same individuals who were instrumental in bringing forward another candidate in his place, recorded their votes for the hon. member for Georgetown (Mr. Haviland) who was known to be a "red-hot unionist." These men supported one who was always ready to fight for union, even for the Quebec scheme, yet the would not trust Mr. Davies, who only admitted the principle, and advocated our entering confederation when we received fair terms. Having proved his point in regard to his position at the last election, he (Mr. B.) would now turn to some of the other charges made against him and here he would remark that the malignity of his accusers was only exceeded by their stupidity. Did they not know that a general election was coming on, and that then he would have to appear before the people ? Yet, in view of all this, they had the effrontery to tell him that if he did not choose to hold his tongue, he should leave the House. Was a member of parliament a mere delegate or a representative ? This was the point to be considered, and he would quote high authority to show that members should act out their convictions as to what was right and not to be swayed by the passing considerations of the hour. He would give an extract from the speech of Edmund Burke to the electors of Bristol, in 1780, which was one of the most celebrated ever uttered by a public man. Burke said :‚ÄĒ
"If we degrade and deprave their minds by servility, it will be absurd to expect that they who are creeping and abject towards us will ever be bold and incorruptible asserters of our freedom against the most seducing and the most formidable of all powers. No! Human nature is not so formed nor shall we improve the faculties or better the morals of public men, by our possession of the most infallible receipt in the world for making cheats and hypocrites. Let me say, with plainness, I, who am no longer in a public character, that if, by a fair, by an indulgent, by a gentlemanly behavior to our representatives, we do not give confidence to their minds, and a liberal scope to their understandings, if we do not permit our members to act upon a very enlarged view of things, we shall, at length, infallibly degrade our national representation into a confused and shuffling bustle of local agency. When the popular member is narrowed in his views, and rendered timid in his proceedings, the service of the crown will be the sole nursery of the statesman. Among the frolics of the court it may take that of attending to its business. Then the monopoly of mental power will be added to the power of all other kinds it possesses. On the side of the people there will be nothing but impotence, for ignorance is impotence; narrowness of mind is impotence, and makes all other qualities that go along with it impotent and useless."
Upon these sentiments a distinguished man had remarked :‚ÄĒ
"The voice of posterity has decided in Mr. Burke's favor upon the principle here discussed, and the wonder is that these masterly reasonings should ever have been necessary in defence of such political principles."
Now, the position of Burke was this, he went into parliament opposed to certain measures, and while there voted to carry them. But he (Mr. B.) was differently situated ; he would not vote itself in this House to carry confederation. No, his conscience would not allow him to do it. He would give no man an opportunity to point to his son and say your father was a traitor. Those political purists who had been attempting to assail his consistency, he thought would now have good reason to feel ashamed of themselves. His views on this question were scarcely different from those of some members of the Government, but because he had the manliness to come forward and avow his sentiments, he was made the object of petty, contemptible newspaper attacks. Some of the ablest statesman of Britain had changed their opinions on most important questions, and a verdict of public opinion in their own time as well as of posterity had justified them in the course they had pursued. Sir Robert Peel who had upheld the protectionist policy, violated his pledge when he found it opposed to the true interests of his country, adopted free trade principles, made his bow to the landed gentry, and took for his companions Cobden and Bright. Hear what he said in his famous speech on the Corn Laws, delivered on the 4th of May, 1846 :‚ÄĒ
"I admit, Sir, that those who have intuitive perception to tell them that which is right in respect to matters relating to commercial policy ; I admit, Sir, that those who, after patient and PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 135 deliberate consideration, adopt at once the right course, are much more entitled to the credit attending such a course of policy than others who, at a later period of life, adopt their sentiments. But it is the duty of those who have reason to change their opinions to have the manliness to come forward and own their convictions. Sir, I think it is dishonest for a man, after being convinced upon a particular subject, to endeavor to gain credit for consistency, by being unwilling or afraid to admit the change. I admit that this alteration in my opinions may disentitle me to the noble Lord's confidence ; but I must recollect that the question for the country is not a personal one. It is not a question as to what period a man has changed, or ought to change his political opinions. The real question is: Are these measures consistent with justice and sound policy? That, Sir, is the only question we have now to consider. If you blame me for not having discovered sooner the necessity of such a measure as the present, you may say that this circumstance disentitles me to your confidence; but that will not enable you to escape the necessity of arguing this question on account of personal imputations. Are these restrictions politic and just? I have no hesitation in saying I do not think they are consistent with justice."
He (Mr. B.) would also read an extract from Sir James Graham's speech, at Carlisle, in 1859, in reply to the taunt of being a weather-cock :‚ÄĒ
"Now something is said about change of opinion. The last half century has been the period of my active life. Within that period all has changed around me. I have seen the face of nature changed. I have seen morasses converted into dry ground. I have seen desert wastes in this country now teeming with golden harvests. I have seen grass supplanting heather, and running up to the tops of our highest hills. I have seen night turned into day in our cities and dwellings by the aid of gas. I have seen time and distance all but annihilated by the locomotive power of steam by sea and land. I have seen the electric telegraph conveying from pole to pole the intercourse of man by a spark stolen, as it were, from Heaven. I have seen mighty monarchies fall. I have seen republics founded on their ruins crumbling to dust. I have seen despotic tyrannies arise and fall. And shall man, frail man, amid all those changes of nature and of policy, alone stand immoveable, unaltered in his opinions, and say he is unchanged? Is he to refuse to yield to the pressure of the times and of the circumstances in which his lot is cast, if he is not open to conviction? I, frail in my judgment, but honest in my purpose, have changed many opinions; but to say that a man dealing with state affairs is not to change his opinions under any circumstances‚ÄĒthat may be a recommendation for any deliberative assembly in the world."
Those were noble utterances, and they fell from one whose change of opinions was one of the most remarkable instances of the kind on record, for by it he forfeited the confidence of Dukes and Earls. But he (Mr. B.) would tell the political purist he had another example, that of no less a personage than the late Lord Palmerston, a statesman who swayed the House of Commons almost at his will. Hear what he said when taunted with changing his opinions :‚ÄĒ
"Public men may change their opinions upon questions of great public importance without any other motive than an honorable one. I will say a noble regard for their country's good."
Having given these examples to show that politicians were often justified in changing their opinions, he (Mr. B.) would trouble this hon. committee no longer. On some future occasion he would have an opportunity to refer to the documents on the table. He had risen to defend himself from the aspersions of his opponents; but he felt restrained by the rules of the house from properly characterizing one who, under a nom de plume, had vented upon him his malignity. What, he would ask, should be done with such a purist ? He would say, pass him over to some political bird-stuffer; in one hand place his own vile productions, and in the other these extracts on this independence of representatives which he (Mr. B.) had just read. And when this was done, where should he be put? In this building we were to have an apartment for specimens of Island ornithology. Let him be given a position there ; but where in the collection should he be placed? Beside the hawk? No, he would not disgrace the noble, courageous bird with such company. Beside the humming bird? No, he would not soil his fair plumage with the unseemly contact. Where then in all the group should the character be perched? Where, he would again ask? Put him side by side with the unsightly owl, that was his only fitting place ! (Prolonged Applause.)
Hon. COL. SECRETARY said the hon. member for Charlottetown had treated the committee to a most extraordinary speech. He had not advanced one argument in favor of confederation. His remarks were wholly of a personal character and had nothing to do with the subject under consideration.
After a few explanations from Mr Brecken and others, the debate was adjourned.

Source:

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.

Credits:

.

Selection of input documents and completion of metadata: Dave Lang.

Personnes participantes: