Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, 6 April 1870, Prince Edward Island Confederation with Canada.

Debate on Despatches resumed.
Hon. the Speaker said the question under discussion was an important one, and therefore required to be dispassionately considered by each hon. gentleman on that committee. But when he (the Speaker) looked around that chamber, and saw that empty chair, once so ably, —yes, so nobly, occupied by a gentleman whose exertions on behalf of the inhabi PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 176 tants of this Island, in maturing measures for their welfare, had so hardened his over-taxed mind, that he had been forced to seek rest and repose by withdrawing to another colony. When he (Mr. S.) thought of the labors of that man for his country, and of the effects they had had upon his once active and powerful mind, he could not but feel how saw was the fate of mankind. How often had hon. gentlemen seen him uniting with them in sending home faithful accounts of the grievance of the colony to the Colonial office, and in return receiving nothing but the cold and chilling winds of Downing Street. And now what did they see? Just this, that grievances so justly complained of, were by these in authority there, transferred to a neighboring colony to be redressed by its government. No doubt the people wished to know the opinion of their representatives upon the question as it was now presented. He cordially approved of the proceedings taken by the constituencies in calling meetings in the different districts, and inviting their representatives to attend and discuss the question of confederation before assembling in the legislature, and warning them not to surrender to a separate country and a separate legislature, the liberties and properties of eighty or ninety thousand inhabitants of Prince Edward Island, who delegated them here to defend, but not to destroy the constitution. The hon. leader of the government, in his speech, drew attention of the union of Ireland and Scotland with England, and he (Mr. S.) knew that some of Ireland's ablest statesmen, and other able men also, had in their speeches shown, that under the adminstration of Castlereagh, Ireland had received unjust treatment; and that undue influences were brought to bea rupon her public men when they gave up their parliament. And no reform that had yet been introduced, or that could be carried, would fully satisfy that people, until their parliament was again established on College Green, as that was the grand aspiration which moved the hearts of the people on that "sea girt Isle." In reading a speech of the great Irish Liberator—the great O'Connel—he could not fall ot notice the force contained in the words used and the statements made by that great man, when he said, that Great Britain had nineteen colonies, each one of which had a distinct and separate legislature, while Ireland with a popula tion greater than them all had none! The hon. and learned member, the leader of the opposition, in his speech, entered into the history of the union of Scotland with England, and gave a lucid and flattering account of its results; but he (Mr. S.) could assure his hon. friend that many a day had passed over the heads of the Scottish people before they became reconciled ot that union. Trade and commerce, however, gradually allayed a feeling which was very keenly felt by all classes in that country. Through her representatives, Scotland had been able to make her influences felt in the Imperial Parliament; but the benefits resulting therefrom, she owed, not to the union, but to the wisdom and energy so characteristic of her sons. He saw no occasion now, to go so far away to look for information bearing upon the question, or for dwelling upon scenes which were removed such a distance from us in the past, upon which to place our attention for the purpose of considering the results which confederation with the Dominion of Canada would probably produce in this Colony. We had but to go to Nova Scotia, observe the change which had taken place in the feelings of that province, and notice the discontent pervading the minds of the people. New Brunswick also, which, of its own free will and accord, nailed with Canada, complained now that their wants were neglected, and their interests overlooked by the authorities at Ottawa; and with the discontent pervading Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, he had to connect the difficulties existing at Red River, and he thought when all these were fairly considered, no difficulty would be found in arriving at the conclusion that the duty of this Island was to remain as it was and that hon. committee, he was sure, would endorse that opinion also. Th ehon. member for Murray Harbor, (Mr. Henderson) showed very clearly last night, how Nova Scotia had been treated and betrayed by her public man, and he had no doubt but that our people were determined that their public men should not have an opportunity to betray them. He hoped the public men of this ISland would never do an act which should cast that dark stain upon their public character, which must ever be associated with that of some of those members of Parliament, in Nova Scotia, who betrayed so shamefully the confidence of the people, in voting away the constitution of their country without the knowledge or concurrence of PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 177 their constituents, and yet some of them had the audacity to say in London, that the question had been submitted ot the people at the polls! At the present moment, those of them in the neighboring Province of New Brunswick, who voted themselves into union. were now as anxious to sever the connection, as those on this ISland were to keep free from a political Union with the Dominion; and he (Mr. S.) hoped the day was far distant when this colony would enter into such a connection. This colony was now in a happy and independent position. Her people were free from any trouble or turmoil. It was not so with the Dominion. We had an intelligent population. Our government was faithfully and satisfactorily attending to the interests of the country and our people were thankful that they had representatives so able and faithful, and so long as such would continue, he wa satisfied there would never be any desire to go into confederation. The people acted wisely in holding meetings before the Legislature met, to notice th action of the Ottawa government, and warn the public men of the displeasure and results which would follow if they presumed to betray their trust. The people had been warned by what took place in Nova Scotia. But he thought the Legislature of Prince Edward Island would never be guided by so degrading a sentiment as to do such an act as was perpetrated in Nova Scotia. With respect to the despatches which had been sent to the government of this ISland from Canada, and the offer therein made, he thought our government had acted wisely in stating that Great Britain should first set the example of rectifying the wrong done to this colony herself. Well did he recollect how a man who had been sent there on a mission, bad at one time romised more good measures, and beneficial results theiefrom, than any other seven did, yet when with our representations he a peared at the home office at. Downing treet, how summarily were they disposed of Great Britain, instead of looking fairly at the duty which. it owed to this Island, transferred our claim, to be disposed of by another colony, and had asks it to pay us what. should be paid by herself! According to the last despatch, we must not say any more about our claim. Well! all he would say was, the people of this colony were as loyal as any under the British flag. No eople could be found who were more so. But if Britain began to use force, he was afraid their loyalty would soon cool. He trusted, therefore, that the argument of force would never be resorted to. He observed some time ago, that an editor of one of the papers of 'the city, stated that be (Mr. S.) had on a previous occasion, made an erroneous statement. He did nothing of the kind. For he had distinctly stated that his references applied to our trade with Canada. proper, and took his information from the Custom House returns, and had stated that in 1868, our imports from Canada proper were £29,486, and our exports to the same place were but £1,093, and wodld again ask where the balance came from which met that debt? They took none of our produce, nor did our shipbuilders find a market in ports of Canada proper, for any of the vessels they built. Of course it was not. so with New Brunswick, which purchased largel from the shippers of this colony; but in Halifax, our trade thirty years ago, was better than it was now, He recollected also when we had to sell our vessels and produce in Newfoundland, to obtain money to ay bills contracted in Nova Scotia. Therefore when he spoke on the occasion referred to, he referred to Canada proper. His statements had been misrepresented. He knew the people of this Island had no desire to unite with Canada in apolitical alliance. lt had been said that Canada was, this year, going to buy our pork. Admitting such to be the case, twenty years might pass away before such would happen again. Our position, politically, was far better now than it could ever be were we in the Dominion. We were willing to trade with them, but anything further was not desired, and he hoped we had heard the last about a union with the great Dominion of Canada.
Mr. MCNEILL.—This subject had been pretty well ventilated by hon. gentlemen who prrcedcd him, and as he did not expect to advance anything new, he would not then address that committee were it not that since the question had been debated in reply to the speech of his honor the Administrator at the opening of the session, another despatch had been laid on the table. He would therefore offer a few remarks, but would not trouble the chairman to read the despatch, as he supposed hon. gentlemen recollected its contents; and as they were pretty well accustomed to such despatches, he did not think its tone and tenor surprised any one; but he might inform Earl Granville—if the voice of one of the representatives of little P. E. PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 178 Island, could reach his illustrious ear—that the wrong complained of in the minute of Council, had been already acknowledged by one of his Lordship's predecessors in the colonial office—Lord Stanley, a statesman quite as talented, and of greater colonial experience. Lord Stanley did not hesitate to state in his place in the House of Commons, that the Imperial Government had done a wrong to this colony ; and although it had been said that the demand for its redress by Great Britain need not be repeated, yet he (Mr. McNeill) knew, should unreasonable claims be again made upon this Island, that the Home government would be reminded of the injury it had inflicted upon this country. No doubt the people, as the hon. Speaker had observed, were anxious about the question before the committee. Nor was it a matter of surprise that as intelligent people should take such a deep interest in it, when they considered that thte action taken upon the matter, if in favor of confederation, was so important as to embrace the giving up of our free constitution, which, once surrendered, could never be recovered again. It had been said that isolation was played out, but no proof had been adduced to show that such was the case. It was certain, isolation had not so far injured the Island, for had it entered into confederation on the basis of the Quebec Scheme, the people would be in a far worse position to-day than they were. He would not go into figures. But from such statistics as he had seen, he thought there was room to believe the statements made might be a few thousand pounds astray on either side. But he did not view the question from a financial stand-point, but thought, that after this colony had overcome so many difficulties, managed its affairs not only as well, but better than the other Provinces, and held its own so successfully, it would be very unwise to give up on our constitution, which was not obtained without a struggle. This Island was separated from the Province of Nova Scotia at the instance of the proprietors, for their own selfish purposes, and now the remnant of those of them who were left, as if pursuing the people with an undying hatred, now wished to hand-cuff the colony on to the Dominion again ! The advocates of confederation said Canada would not impose upon this Island in any way, or legislate in a manner adverse to its interests ; and in support of their arguments pointed to Rhode Island, which received as much justice from the Federal government of the United States as any other state in the Union ; but judging from what was now occurring in the other provinces, he concluded such would not long be the experience of this Island if it went into the union. The people of New Brunswick now complained that their rights and privileges were completely overlooked, as might he seen from the following extract from the St. John Telegraph, a stormy confederate journal, which, after enumerating several grievances, to which it referred, and pointing out reforms that were expected, added :
"But the fact is far otherwise. The number of departments in the Government is unnecessarily large, as "the noble army" of employees at Ottawa is decidedly formidable. It is safe to say that many of them are not very fully employed."
On this Island we had two tests of public opinion—the press and public meetings. And so long as the press was free and uncorrupted, there would be no danger. It had not been so, however, in Nova Scotia, where it was well known that the press had been subsidized, and instead of speaking out the sentiments of Nova Scotia, it gave utterance to those of the government at Ottawa. And now, when he saw so many well-informed people here, as in that province, still protesting against the union, he could not but believe that they were right. One of the public men of Nova Scotia had undoubtedly deceived Mr. Bright by inducing him to believe the question had been submitted to the people at the polls, otherwise that gentleman would not afterwards have gone with eitghty other members of the House of Commons, into the lobby, for a rehearing of the case of Nova Scotia. There was not much doubt that the delegate from that province acted the part of a deceiver ; nor would this surprise any one who recollected the antecedents of an individual who had once deceived an unprotected female, who confided in his honor ! A man who could thus act, would not scruple to betray his country. That statement he saw in print, and mentioned it merely to show that vice was progressive. That circumstances might be regarded as a small matter by some hon. gentlemen, but it had great weight with him, (Mr. McNeill) as it showed the character of one who played so prominent a part in betraying his country, and deceiving British statesmen. There were few public men for whom he entertained more respected than the hon. the leader of the Opposition, who, he felt satisfied, would never consent to place this Island in confederation, unless the terms had been submitted and approved of by the people at the polls ; but he noticed that on a former PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 179 occasion, the leader of the Opposition, in referring to what the Legislature of Scotland, Ireland and Jamaica had done, and to the passing of the Septennial Act, undertook to justify and show the legality of the manner in which union had been carried in Nova Scotia. The Septennial Act, however arbitrary, did not take away from the people of England their constitution ; it only checked for three years the expression of public opinion ; nor did the statesmen of that day ever claim the right of handing over that kingdom to France, or any foreign country, or taking away from Parliament a power which a succeeding Parliament could not reassert? Was Nova Scotia in that position to-day? or would this Island be in that position if it was legislated into the Dominion without consulting the people? Jamaica was a crown colony. They had a good deal of trouble there in 1864. Some of the members of its Legislature were emancipated slaves, or their descenddents, against whom a strong prejudice existed among the white planters. Taking advantage, therefore, of the disturbance in the colony, the Legislature abandoned its functions to get rid of the negro element. As to Ireland, the men who represented her when the union was effected, had not been elected to vote away the constitution of their country, and though he (Mr. McNeill) was not in favor of length quotations, yet he would read a short extract to prove that the measure was carried by the basest of means. Sir Jonah Barrington, who knew what took place at that time. says :—
"The grand and fundamental point, which was then urged, reasoned upon, and which never has, and never can be refuted, was the incompetence of Parliament to betray its trust."
and it was that grievance—that unconstitutional act, which had caused most of the trouble which had since arise in Ireland. The same writer adds further :—
"Whilst the first elements of the British constitution exist, that principle is its surest protection ; the entire incompetence of representatives elected by the people, as their delegate trustees, to represent them in the great national inquest, and as such trustees and guardians, to preserve the rights and constitution so entrusted to them, inviolate ; and at the expiration of the term of that trust, deliver back their trust to their constituents as they received is, to be replaced in their own hands, or of any other trustees, for another term. But they had, and could have no power to betray their trust corrupt it to their own corrupt purposes, or transfer the most valuable of all funds, an independent constitution, the integrity of which they become trustees solely for the purpose of protecting."
That, he (Mr. McN.) thought, carried rea son with it, as it went to prove that all the power parliament had was that derived from the people, who elected its members under a constitution clearly defined; and before any parliament undertook to alter the constitution under which its members were, or had been, elected it should dissolve, and submit so important a matter to the people. He contended that parliament had no more a legal, or constitutional, right to destroy itself, than an individual had to commit suicide ; and in support of his position he would read the following from Lord Chancellor Plunkett, who, addressing the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, said :—
"Sir, I, in the most express terms, deny the competency of Parliament to do this act. I warn you, do not dare to lay your hand on the constitution. I tell you that if, circumstanced as you are, you pass this act, it will be a mere nullity, and no man in Ireland will be bound to obey it. I make the assertion deliberately. I respect it. I call any man who hears me, to take down my words. You have not been elected for this purpose. You are appointed to make laws, and not Legislatures ; you are appointed to exercise the functions of legislators, and not to transfer them ; you are appointed to act under the constitution, and not to alter it ; and if you do so, your act is a dissolution of the government ; you resolve society into its original elements. and no man in the land is bound to obey you."
Whatever sympathy he (Mr. McN.) might have for the unfortunate individual, who, bereft of reason, destroyed himself, and was buried, as in olden times, at a cross road, with a stake through his grave, he was utterly at a loss for language to describe the abhorrence in which men should be held who would unite to vote away the Parliament of their country. Such men should be held in execration for all time to come. He saw no reason why this Island should unite with Canada. Our system of government was so good as theirs ; they had no privilege we did not enjoy, and certainly in common school education we were in advance of the Dominion. Why then should we think of giving up our constitution? So long as we could manage our own affairs so satisfactorily, and there was so much discontent int he neighboring Provinces, we should never harbor so suicidal an idea. The hon. member for Charlottetown endeavored to prove that the progress of Scotland was owing to her union with England.
Mr. BRECKEN.—I had said that Scotland had prospered notwithstanding the union.
Mr. McNEILL.—Perhaps the remark fell from the hon. leader of the Opposition.
Hon. Mr. HAVILAND said that Scotland had prospered since the union.
Mr. McNEILL would not deny that; but it was well known that Scotland owed much of her success to those inherent qualities with which God had endowed her sons, and it would be utterly unfair to assume, as had been done, that Scotland, without her union with England, would nor. have prospered. All knew that the trouble between the two countrieshad been caused by the frequent wars which took place between them, and when " Prince Charlie" went to Scotland the people thought hewould be placed upon the throne of England. It was about the succession, and not about the repeal of the union that Scotland then contended. But that the Scotch were dissatisfied with the union, a quotation from a letter by their Poet written as late as 1790, to his friend Mrs. Dunlap, would prove. The patriotic poet exclaimed:—
"Alas! have I often said to myself, what are all the boasted advantages which my country reaps from the union. that can counterbalance the annihilation of her independence, and even of her name."
And in an article from "Tait's Magazine," in 1838, referring to Scottish legislation before and since the union, he read that:—
"In 1696 when the Kingdom was in a state of quiet, we find that the Scotch Parliament met at Edinhurgh on the 8th September, and adjourned on thee 12th October, during which 46 acts were passed. What is not the least remarkable part of the matter is, that the whole 46 acts are contained in 48 small octodecimo pages. Nearly the whole of those relating to the law, are to this day in force.
"The experience of a century and a half having been able to add little or nothing to the provisions. *** And all of them have not given as much trouble in their interpretation to our courts of law, short as they are, as the Judicature Act, the Cessio Act, or any Act relative to the law which has been passed within the last quarter of a century."
"No one, we imagine, will be so absurd as to pretend that the affairs of Scotland can be so efficiently managed by a legislative body sittln hundreds of miles from her territory, an having the interests of an empire dispersed over the whole face of the earth. and containin more than 100,000,000 of human beings to attend to, as by a Parliament meeting in Edinburgh. The Imperial Parliament is, in truth, unfitted for that department of legislation called local and personal. Such legislation is best conducted on the spot, or as near as possible to the spot, which is to be effected. Witnesses are then at hand; information can be got with expedition and with little expense; the members of a local parliament can be dismissed and called together with little inconvenience. The expense at present necessarily incurred for a road, a barber, or a railway bill for Scotland is intolerable. One thousand pounds a mile. even in long lines. is not an exaggerated estimate for the mere Parliamentary expense of obtaining the bill. * * *
"Then all matters relative to Scotland are slurred over in the reports or the debates—first, because the reporters think a Scotch Bill, though vitally a acting Scotland, is of no public importance; secondly, because they cannot intelligibly report what they in general do not; understand; and third, because Scotch business is generally put off till past midnight, an hour at which, except on extraordinary occasions, the reporters, by a well organized combination —Whig, Tory, and Radical reporters agreeing on this point—retire from their labor.".
This showed how Scottish affairs were managed in England since the union. Nor did he doubt but that the hon member for Georgetown (Mr. McA.) recollected what Burns said about Edinburgh.
Hon. Mr. McAULAY.—Repeat it.
Mr. McNEILL.—I will.  
"Edina, Scotia's darling seat, All hail thy palaces and towers; Where once neath a monarch's feet, Sat legislation's sovereign powers."
That Burns expressed the general sentiment of the people, no one. he thought, would deny. The loss oftheir Parliament drew influential members of society out of the country; they spent their incomes away from home, and there could be no doubt that this proved prejudicial to both Ireland and Scotland. The nobility of both countries removed to London, and even the small proprietors followed their example, and those on their estates were therefore excluded from the consumption, in their own districts and among themselves. of those fruits which their own industry had created. These and numerous other evils. which those countries complained of, he had no doubt they might attribute to the absenteesim attendant upon both unions. The people of this island, aware of what occurred in Nova Scotia, were looking forward with some anxiety to the result of their deliberations. and to the individual opinions of their representatives. The hon. member for Charlottetown had been, with respect to confederation, on the lence, but had got clean over to the Confederate side at last. He (Mr. McN.) had, in debate, mentioned the name of Benedict Arnold, but not in reference to the hon member for Charlottetown (Mr. B.) He was referring to any persons who would sell their country for Canadian gold. If the union was to prove cordial, It should not be carried by bribery and corruption. Great Britain, upon which we had a PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 181 claim, should have first settled that claim, for if we accept the $800,000, the colony might, in the union, find that it would be a debt which it would never be able to repay to the Dominion. The hon member for Charlottetown, the other evening, indulged in a tirade of invective against some of his constituents, and although he (Mr. McN.) did not come there to defend the respectable mechanics and merchants of Charlottetown, yet he thought it was out of place for the hon member to use the language he did, for the large majority of his constituents were opposed to confederation, and having returned the hon. member as a no-terms man, was it any wonder that they should say in the language of Washington, when Arnold endeavored to betray the West Point, "Who can we trust next?" In listening to the hon. gentleman, he thought his remarks were out of place, when from the sublime to the ridiculous, he soared to the upper story of that building where the stuffed owls were kept. He (Mr. McN.) was not going to answer that part of his speech, but in the words of the Dunciade, would say, "Answer him ye owls," and answer him, he had no doubt they would. As a justification for his change of views, he (Mr. B.) mentioned Burke, but the hon. gentleman seemed to forget that when Edmund Burke changed his political opinions, he gave very good reasons for so doing. He had great respect for Mr. Fox, who, for about eighteen years, led that talented opposition in the House of Commons, and who, when the revolution arose, thought it was going to give more freedom to the French people; but when he saw that their best men were executed, and that a reign of terror ensued, he exclaimed, "Oh! bloody, ferocious, cruel democracy;" and in referring to his friend, Mr. Fox, did not indulge in abuse of those from whom he parted but said: "I have indeed made a great sacrifice. I have save dmy conscience, but I have lost my friend." The hon. member (Mr. McN.) also quoted what Sir Robert Peel said to his constituents at Teignmouth, in reference to the principles of free trade, which he characterized as the principles of common sense. Free Trade was then demanded by the nation. The arguments of the anti corn law advocates convinced Peel that he was wrong, and that they were right. Convinced in his own mind, he reversed his policy, and gave the people cheap bread. Did the hon. member for Charlottetown stand in a similar position? The protectionists agreed that if free trade was car ried, England would go to ruin; or, to use the words of Disraeli on that occasion:— "England, without her agriculture, would fall like the Tyrian die and crumble into pieces like the Venetian Palaces. The free traders admitted that the landed interests might suffer, but argued that it was the duty of Parliament to legislate for the man, and not for the few. But the result had shown that if England never had a corn law, her people would never have thought one was required. It had been said, by some hon. gentlemen, as he already observed, that isolation was played out, and that this Island must cast in its lot with the other provinces. The treatment of this Island had always been exceptional; its lands were given away; it was separated from Nova Scotia to please the landed proprietors, and now there was hardly one of the proprietary party who did not wish to tack us on the Dominion again. That Great Britain would force the people of this colony against their wills to unite with Canada, he did not believe and, therefore, our position wholly depended upon ourselves. The hon. leader of the Opoosition was an anti, previous to his going to Quebec in 1864, but since then he was in favor of a union, and he (Mr. McN.) believed he was conscientious in the course he was pursuing. But he was utterly at a loss ot understand what had come over the hon. member for Charlottetown. He thought the hon. member must have had a pleasant dream, and fancied himself in the legislative halls of the Dominion, with that musical voice of his pleading the cause of little Prince Edward Island; or imagined that he had arrived at the summit of the ambition of a gentleman of the long robe, clothed in the ermine of a judge, on the bench at Ottawa. But he (Mr. McN.) did not think the hon. leader of the Opposition was dreaming; he believed that hon. gentleman was in earnest, but hoped he would yet alter his opinion. No doubt the hon. gentleman thought the anti-confederates were slow coaches, and that confederation was progress, but such was not the case; confederation was a retrograde movement. The people of this Island fought a hard battle before they obtained self-government, and it would not be progress to go into union with Canada, and thus deprive themselves of that constitution. Still, he was inclined to think, neither of the hon. members would act as the representatives of Nova Scotia had done, when they voted away their independence without the knowledge of their constituents. He was sure the hon. the leader of the Opposition would PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 182 not, nor did he think the hon. member for Charlottetown would either. He would be sorry to see the country deprived of the services of the hon. leader of the Opposition, for since he (Mr. McN.) had the honor of a seat in that House, he observed that the hon. gentleman did what he could to forward the business of the country; and although they might not meet again in that legislative hall, yet he felt it was due to the hon. gentleman to say, there was something very fair about him in debate. But when he saw him pursuing a line of policy, which he regarded as ruinous to the country-yes, for if confederation was carried out, it would make a wreck of this Island- he (Mr. McN.) would be derelict in the duty he owed to his constituents, if he did not raise his voice against anything, and everything, which would produce so disastrous a result.
Mr. BRECKEN. - The hon. member (Mr. McN.) had made allusion to him; he had first rubbed him (Mr. B.) down and then flattered him up. He had always compliments for the leader of the Opposition, but none for the member for Charlottetown. Why, he would ask, did the hon. member for Cavendish direct all his remarks to him, and compare him to a Benedict Arnold? There were others to whom he might as properly have applied the comparison as to him, (Mr. B.). The hon. member was a supporter of the present government. Why did he not also include in his remarks his own leader, the premier of the colony, Hon. Mr. Haythorne, who was a confederate, and not by any means a no-terms man? That hon. gentleman believe that terms might be offered which could be accepted. Why not take him up on this point? He (Mr. B.) would never consent to the Island going into confederation until the people agreed to it, but what did Hon. Mr. Haythorne say:-
"That he had opposed the Quebec scheme, which he considered unfair to the people of the Island, but that he was not, nevertheless, a no- terms man; that he anticipated a time when proposals of a union of this Island with Canada might be entertained."
Would the hon. member for Cavendish say, that for uttering these remarks, he would take his leader and drive a political stake through his body? (Laughter.) Like the hon. member for Murray Harbor, the last speaker had taken up a line of argument to show that the legislature of Nova Scotia had not the power to legislate the country into union without the consent of the people. He (Mr. B.) would say that such legislation was a high-handed act, yet it had been done. But what had that to do with the question here? The few extracts which the hon. member (Mr. McNeill) had read were just about as much out of place in this discussion, as would be quotations from Jack the Giant Killer. He said he (Mr. B.) had compared himself to Burke; but he, (Mr. B.) had done nothing of the kind. He had read from that author, but as well might the young lawyer who read an extract from Mansfield be said to be comparing himself to the eminent jurist, as he (Mr. B.) be charged with putting himself in the same category with Burke. The hon. member had also accused him of speaking savagely against his own constituents. This was another fabrication. He (Mr. B.) had uttered nothing against them; he had only condemned the action of some anonymous scribbler who had said that he should be silent. But he would now turn his attention to the Queen's Printer. (Hear, hear, form Mr. Howlan). Yes, the hon. member might say "hear," but he as leader of the Government was responsible for the setniments of the Queen's Printer. Now, that hon. member (Mr. Reilly) had said in his speech last night that accepting union with Canada, on what was known as the "Better Terms," would be practically taxation without representation. That was all very well now, but he (Mr. B.) knew that the Queen's Printer had advocated confederation. On the hustings last summer, when the hon. Colonial Secretary was re-elected, the hon. member for St. Peter's uttered something very like confederate sentiments. Besides, he published a newspaper, the Herald, and he (Mr. B.) would read an extract or two therefrom to show what were the hon. member's real sentiments:
"At all events, we think the time has now arrived when this Colony must state the terms upon which it will consent to enter the proposed Confederacy. The British Government is apparently determined upon the scheme, for reasons that Mr. Howe's able pamphlet has rendered too obvious, and it may be better for us to make the best terms we can now, whilst a gentleman is in the Colonial Office who is friendly to the Provinces, and who is desirous of securing to this Island the very best terms that can possibly be obtained."
Now place that extract alongside of the hon. member's expressions last night, and see what could be thought of his consistency.
Mr. REILLY.- Let the hon. member read the whole article.
Mr. BRECKEN would read what suited, and he would give further extracts from other numbers of the Herald:-
"While we speak thus against deception, we have no doubt that the guarantee of the British Government, and a clause in the articles of Confederation, to the effect that the money would be immediately handed over to this Government when the Colony expressed its willingness to join the Confederacy, would find many advocates and friends who had previously opposed the Quebec basis."
"We have no hesitation in expressing our belief that if the offer were assented to by Canada, and the money tendered to this Island as the price of its adhesion to Confederation, a majority might be found to accept it."
Mr. REILLY.- Let the hon. member read from the Herald; what he held in his hand was not the Herald.
Mr. BRECKEN.- Let the hon. member keep cool, and he would read from the Herald of 12th January last:-
"We believe that once more an opportunity of settling the land question is at hand. To obtain that object, all parties, Confederates and Antis, Tories and Liberals- nay, even proprietors themselves should join hands. Possibly this may be the last opportunity we shall ever see; one was lost at Quebec, which, if judiciously used, might have led to the happiest results."
This was strong language, and after what the hon. member had said last night, he (Mr. B.) was almost afraid that something must be wrong with his (Mr. B.'s) spectacles. (Applause.) He would read it again, in case he had been mistaken. [Hon. member re-read extract.] No, there it was, and to what after this should be (Mr. B.) compare the Queen's Printer? Last night union on the better terms would be tyranny-virtually taxation without representation, and a few weeks ago he said an opportunity was lost at Quebec which, if judiciously used, might have led to the happiest results. The hon. member for St. Peter's could not evidently be named alongside of his talented fellow countrymen, Grattan and Flood, who contended manfully for the legislature of their country; he could only be compared to a political hen, sitting on its nest, and hatching its little political nest egg. (Laughter.) He took up any phase of the question, that would probably keep him undisturbed in his comfortable emoluments. That he was a confederate in sentiment could bee seen by the several extracts which he (Mr. B.) had read from the paper under his control, and if the hon. member for Cavendish wished to bury all such traitors at his political cross-roads, he had better begin with Her Majesty's Printer. The hon. member from Wilmot Creek also-who was so afraid of the swells and pedlers from Canada,- had better look after [illegible] printer of his own government, who supported it for the sake of office, and not devote so much of his time to the hon. member for Charlottetown, who was no more a confederate than the hon. member for St. Peter's
Mr. REILLY claimed the right to reply to the hon. member for the City, (Mr. Brecken) as that hon. member had made a direct attack upon him, (Mr. R.). It was not the first time the hon. member for the City had made a political as well as a personal attack upon him.
Mr. BRECKEN denied that he ever made a personal attack upon any hon. member.
Mr. REILLY said that when he hon. member made personal attacks he always qualified them with the word, political. He (Mr. B.) was put forward as a sort of political threshing machine, to thresh every hon. member who gave an honest expression of opinion. Some years ago that hon. member had spoken in favor of no-terms, but now he (Mr. R.) believed he was willing to take almost any terms, and many of his constituents believed the same thing. He (Mr. R.) was willing to abide by what he did say, but it was dishonest for any hon. member to cut out certain parts and paragraphs of an article which might be made to convey a very different meaning from the whole article. The hon. member (Mr. Brecken) had no right to bring up matters connected with a newspaper, in this House; if he would address himself to the editor of the Herald in the columns of that paper, he would get a reply. He (Mr. R.) was not responsible to the government for what appeared in the Herald, but only for the Royal Gazette. The hon. member (Mr. Brecken) had referred to the Queen's Printer as sitting on his nest egg; but when that hon. member (Mr. B.) sat on the nest egg of the Attorney Generalship, without the consent of the people, he, (Mr. R.) much as he despised him, had never referred to the fact before.
Mr. BRECKEN said in reference to the Attorney Generalship, he had never asked for the office, but he had been appointed to the office; and he held it at the time of his election by the people of Charlottetown. But where was the Attorney General PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 184 of the present government? The Conservatives had been told that they mutilated responsible government by having officials who were not members of the legislature, but now the Liberals had no Attorney General, and scarcely any other officials, on the floor of the House. The reason he (Mr. B.) had brought up the Herald was because the editor of that paper was conducted with a certain amount of ability, and had some influence in the country. The Ottawa Citizen, in a leading article on P. E. Island, had congratulated the confederates on having the Queen's Printer in favor of confederation. The Queen's Printer had accused him (Mr. B.) of taking extracts from articles in his paper, and leaving out what would materially alter the sense, but he would ask, could anything qualify such statements as, "The time has arrived when the Island must state the terms on which they will enter the Confederacy," and "It may be better for us to make the best terms we can now."
Mr. REILLY said it was a lawyer's trick to bring forward extracts, without bringing the whole article which would convey a very different impression. The hon. member had not the courage to produce the whole articles. He (Mr. R.) would defy any gentlemen to prove that he had ever given his adhesion to confederation on any terms. He (Mr. R.) had never heard of a union being brought about without bribery, and he would tell the people of this Island to beware.
Mr. CAMERON thought the hon. members who had spoken in favour of confederation, had still failed to produce either facts or arguments sufficiently strong to prove that that scheme, if carried into effect, would be an advantage to this Island. They had told the hon. committee that Great Britain's desire expressed in Lord Granville's despatch, was that we should unite with Canada, which he admitted to be correct; but he would ask, would we be justified in sacrificing our own real interests as a colony of the empire, for the solo purpose of gratifying the Imperial Government, or the Dominion of Canada, in this matter, and more especially as we had no evidence that coercive means would or could ever be resorted to to unite us? We were told that in the event of a union, Canada would become a market for our exports, and great advantages would accrue from having free trade with the Dominion; as we would have no duties to pay, the necessity for Custom Houses would cease. To this he would say, that even now we had the privilege of regulating our tariff so as to admit Canadian or other goods duty free. And some articles of Dominion production, which were most in demand in P. E. Island, were even now on our free list. But as a revenue had to be raised from whatever source it was derived, he believed no special benefit would arise from discriminating, as regarded tariff generally, in favor of the Dominion. Whatever imports we received from the Dominion, would have to be paid in money, instead of taking our surplus produce in exchange. Her climate and soil were similar to those of our own Island. She could therefore never afford a profitable market for our exports, for her own supply would always meet her demands. The best markets for our agricultural products and fisheries, were found in the United States, the West Indies and Great Britain, and from these countries we received in exchange many articles which it was quite certain Canada, from her high latitude and limited manufactures, could never produce. The import duties of Canada - which were 15 per cent ad valorem, and he had reason to believe would soon be raised to 20 per cent, would be extended to this Island if we entered confederation. The effect of such a change would seriously cripple our commercial intercourse with other countries, and injure our propserity agriculturally, commercially and financially. The union of Scotland with England in the reign of Queen Anne, had been frequently referred to in the debate, and the prosperity of the former country was held up as being exclusively the result of that union. While he admitted that some advantages to both countries had arisen from it, inasmuch as it brought to an end the rivalries and hostilities formerly existing, he believed the commercial propserity and literacy genius of Scotland, might, in a great measure be attributed to the progress of the age in civilization, and the enterprise and the intelligence of the inhabitants, which manifested itself abroad as well as at home. He (Mr. C.) might, with equal force, assert that the national greatness of the United States was due to the separation of the thirteen original colonies from Great Britain. The arguments in favor of the Scottish union, would not, however, apply to P. E. Island, for PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 185 we were too far from Ottawa, the seat of government, with which we could hold no communication during half the year. The isolated position in which the Island, by nature, existed, would prevent us from deriving any benefit from the railways, canals, and other public works of Canada, while their construction would necessarily involve an enormous amount of taxation, a fortieth part of which would have to be borne by us. The federal government, in levying those taxes, could resort to excise as well as impost duties, as would be seen by an extract from Mr. Galt's remarks, while addressing his constituents in Canada before the union of the other colonies. He then said-
"The general government would also have the power of regulating excise duties. The imposition of these duties was as necessary as the imposition of the duties of customs, and the power to impose the one must be given to the same authority that exercised the power to impose the other. That while the Lower Provinces had no excise duties to any extent, they would have to be subjected to the same regulations that were established in Canada. In general terms, he would state that the general government would have the power of raising money by all thhe other modes and systems of taxation, and there was only one method left to the local governments, which was direct taxation, if their own resources became exhausted."
He (Mr. C.) felt quite sure that all this would be in store for P. E. Island if she threw in her destiny with that of the Dominion, for our expenditure was yearly increasing. The amount required for our education and public highways alone, would soon exceed our receipts from the central government. Direct taxation would then be inevitable. Sheer necessity would oblige us to resort to local assessments for the support of our present Free Education, a policy of which the hon. member for Charlottetown (Mr. Brecken) always appeared to be an ardent admirer, but which he (Mr. C.) thought, would press heavily on our population, while it would create the necessity of an additional staff of officials as collectors. Our system of education was perhaps second to none in the British Provinces, and our mode of providing for it the least cumbersome that could be adopted. That Canada was financially in a worse position than ourselves was quite evident from the sentiments of her own statesmen. The gentlemen from whome he had already quoted had stated in his place in the Canadian Legislature --
"That Canada standing alone had seen her credit seriously impaired, but Confederation would give us a much larger fund to pledge for the security of the public creditor, as the Lower Provinces were in a much better position."
It might suit the purposes of [illegible] confederate friends very well to say that Canada was not anxious to get P. E. Island, but he (Mr. C.) was of opinion that the above extracts showed very clearly the sentiments which promoted her politicians. Such was their position before the union of the Maritime Provinces, and now, like Pharaoh's lean kine, they had eaten up those provinces and were still craving for more. We were told that the policy of representation according to population, such as the Dominion adopted, was the soundest in the world, and that it was based on all that was desirable in the constitutions of Great Britain and of the United States. But he would observe that on that principle, Scotland and the city of London would be equally represented in the British House of Commons, as their populations were nearly the same. Instead of this being the case, however, Scotland had 53 members, while London had less than a third of that number. And while the American system in the house of representatives was adopted by the Dominion of Canada in the lower house, the constitution of the senate was entirely different, for each state in the American Republic was represented by two senators, whose tenure of office was confined to six years without any respect to population or extent of territory. The small state of Rhode Island was thus on the same footing with New York, whose population was twenty times as great. But in the Dominion of Canada, while each of the Uppoer Provinces had 24 members in the senate, P. E. Island was only to be allowed 4, who were to be appointed for life by the Governor General in Council. Each of the Canadas had thus as many in the Uppoer House as all the Lower Provinces put together. Besides, from the manner of their appointment, they were not responsible to the people whom they represented. It would thus be clearly seen that the constitution of the Dominion was not the best adapted, at least to suit the circumstances of P. E. Island. We were frequently told that isolation was "played out" and that it was impossible for the Island to remain "out in the cold" much longer. That if not embodied in the Dominion it was sure PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 186 to fall in with some foreign power. But he would remark that it had already stood many years while its population were fewer in number and its resources much less developed than at present. Besides, we had many instances of other colonies existing in the same way, and while Britain continued to protect us as one of her dependencies, we had nothing to fear in future, if left alone. But the persistent desire on the part of Canada to confederate British America against the choice of the colonies, was calculated to engender bitterness and disloyalty. Nova Scotia was far from sastisfied. And British Columbia had sent a memorial to the President of the United States, from which he would read some extracts, to show that that colony, while professing loyalty to Her Majesty's government, was forced to seek annexation rather than to be confederated with Canada. The memorialists stated:—
"That those who are British subjects are penetrated with the most profound feelings of loyalty and devotion to her Majesty and her government, and that all entertain for her feelings of the greatest attachment and to the country"
Such were the sentiments and most probably would continue to be, if allowed to retain their position as a colony. But the next paragraph showed how they regarded the scheme of consolidation:—
"That we view with feelings of alarm the avowed intention of Her Majesty's government to confederate the colony with the Dominion of Canada, as we believe such a measure can only tend to further depression and ultimate injury, for the following reasons, viz: Trust the confederation cannot give us protection against internal enemies or foreign fees, owing to the distance of this colony from Ottawa; that it cannot open to us a market for the produce of our lands, our forcats, our mines or our waters."
He (Mr. C.) felt convinced that the arguments set forth in the above extracts would equally apply to P. E. Island. And if any thing approaching a coercive policy was attempted the result might be as serious. He would now call attention to what the people of British Columbia further added:—
"That our connection with the Dominion can satisfy no sentiment of loyalty or devotion; that her commercial and industrial interests are opposed to ours; that the tariff of the Dominion will be the ruin of our farmers and the commerce of our chief cities; that we are instigated by every sentiment of loyalty to Her Majesty by an attachment to the laws and institutions of Great Britain, and our deep interest in the prosperity of our adopted country, to express our opposition to a severance from England and a confederation with Canada. We admit that the Dominion may be organized by confederation but we can see no benefit, either present or future, which can accrue therefrom; that we desire a market for our coal and lumber and our fish, and this the Dominion seeks for the same produce of her own sell. She can take nothing from us and supply us nothing in return; that confederating this colony with Canada may relieve the mother country from the trouble and expense of fostering and protecting this isolated distance colony, but it cannot free us from our long enduring depression owing to the lack of population as aforesaid, and the continued want of a home market for our produce."
The folly of attempting to force a people into a political alliance which they were not prepared to acknowledge, was strongly expressed in a declaration of independence reccently issued by the people of the North West Territory which read as follows:—
"It is admitted by all men, as a fundamental principle, that the public authority demands the obedience and respect of all its subjects, it is also admitted that the people to be governed have the right to adopt or reject the form of government. In accordance with these fundamental principles, the people of this country have obeyed and respected that authority to which the circumstances surrounding its infancy compelled it to be subjected. A company of adventurers known as the Hudson Bay Company, and invvested with certain powers granted by his Majesty Charles the Second, established itself in Rupert's Land and in the Northwest Territory, for trading purposes only."
In that declaration they refuse to recognize th authority of Canada, which they say harmed to have a right to coerce them, and impose upon them a form of government contrary to their rights as British subjects.
Hon. Mr. HAVILAND.—Will the hon. member state from what paper he is reading?
Mr. CAMERON.—The Progress.
Hon. Mr. HAVILAND.—Oh! That will do!
Mr. CAMERON.—But he would tell the hon. member that the documents from which he quoted had originated elsewhere, as he (Mr. C.) stated, before finding their way to the columbs of that paper, which he believed did not by any means misrepresent them, and they must therefore be quite reliable. Those people had no communication iwth Canada, and could not expect therefore to re PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 187 ceive any benefit from a union. Much had been said about the minute of council adopted by the government in reply to the proposals contained in the report of the committee of the Privy Council of Canada. But he thought that document was cautiously worded, and not open to the objections urged against it, because it demanded a "settlement of the land tenure, an indemnity from the Imperial Government for loss of territorial revenue," before the proposals could be recommended to the people for their consideration, not their acceptance. The Canadian proposals known as the "better terms" stated:—
"That in the event of the Island becoming part of the union, the government of the Dominion will endeavor to secure for the Island, from the Imperial Government, fair compensation for the loss of crown lands."
Now, what was more reasonable than to test the assumption of the Dominion government, as to what influence they really could exercise at Downing Street respecting our land question? But it did not at all follow that we should accept the terms of union, even if the land grievance or any of the other objections stated in the minute of council were redressed. The land question stood on its own merits, and as such demanded a settlement first, independent of union. But we were told in Lord Granville's last despatch never be acknowledged by the British government, notwithstanding the boasted influence of the Canadians.
The debated was then adjourned.


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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