Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, 12 April 1870, Prince Edward Island Confederation with Canada.


Tuesday, April 12.



The House again in committee on the Despatches.
Mr. KICKHAM said he had some conversation on the subject of confederation with Hon. Mr. Tilley last summer. His opinions on the question were the same then as they are now. He told that hon. gentleman that he (Mr. K.) could not go for confederation without the consent of his constituents, Mr. Tilley said, he (Mr. K.) might call his constituents together; but he replied that many of them were out fishing. He (Mr. K.) was opposed to confederation, unless the people desired it, and that being his view of the question, he would not take up the time of the committee, as there were others who liked to hear themselves speaking. (Laughter.)
Mr. ARSENAULT.—The beauties of confederation had been so well pictured, that there was scarcely anything left for him to say. He would not undertake to shew its benefits or disadvantages, at such length as some hon. members. If admitting the principle of confederation was sufficient to set one down as a unionist, he believed he might be called one. He thought, however, that he was in good company, for he considered there were very few in this House who had not admitted the principle. He had not said that he was anxious to see the union consummated; but he believed that it would some day take place. It was the policy of the Home Government, and he believed that something would be done to induce us to go into it. We had not heard many hon. members say that they would go for no terms at all. Only two or three had openly said so in this House, and that showed that the others believed union would take place at some future day. To hear some persons speaking, you would think this Island was a very garden of Eden—that we had all we desired, and all we could wish to have. He (Mr. A.) could not say that. It was not long ago since there was anything but peace and contentment on the Island; he referred to the time of the Tenant League agitation. The land question had been a bone of contention for the last fifty years, and a steppingstone for politicians to get into places of honor. When the better terms were first proposed, he (Mr. A.) thought that if they were carried out faithfully, they would benefit the Island with respect to this question, and he thought so still. Some had had an opportunity to purchase their lands; but others were not able to pay for them, and, in the case of not a few of these, it was because they had not had advantages. It was said, he believed, by the hon. member for Alberton, (Mr. Bell) that the people were contented and happy. This might be the case with some, but not with all. Where there were fishing stations, the people were no better off than at other 1870 PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 235 places, for fishermen neglected their farms, and those who supplied them became the proprietors of their farms. Such was the state of affairs in almost all fishing countries. He had no objection to the minute of Council, which made the land question, the main obstacle in the way of accepting the better terms; and therefore would agree to the resolution introduced by the hon. leader at the government in this House. He knew there was much truth in the saying, that we might not feel the loss of our privileges until they were no, consequently he believed it was right to deal cautiously in treating of this question. At the same time, he was not a no-terms man ; he was in favor of the principle of union. He would support the resolution to which he had already referred; but he would not pledge himself to support any other, for he believed there were many resolutions yet to be proposed.
Mr. BELL would reiterate what he had stated, that the people here were contented and happy. Any person in this Island, who would work, need not be in want. It was a country for the poor man. Every day brought out facts to show that we were better off as we were, than by going into confederation. The Finance Minister of the Dominion had just introduced into parliament a measure for issuing a large quantity of irredeemable paper, and a country that had to resort to such means, to keep up its credit, could not be prosperous. Why did not the hon. member, from Egmont Bay, refer to the case of Cape Breton? (Mr. B.) saw a man from that island who said it had never recovered from the effects of its union with Nova Scotia. Scarcely any outlying portion of a country prospered. Why could we not be left here to collect our own revenues, as well as the Isle of Man, which was so near Britain herself?
Hon. COL. SECRETARY agreed with most of the remarks that had fallen from the last speaker. Poor people could not expect that they would gain anything by union. Persons in high positions might receive a benefit by getting good offices. If the advantages which we possessed, as a separate colony, were taken away, we would know, when perhaps too late, what we had lost. Any man here, who was industrious and careful, might become independent. The policy of the government on this question had been attacked, but if it was reviewed from first to last, it would be found that they had taken a straightforward course. They had never sought an intercourse with the Canadian government, and when the delegates came here, we treated them with the respect to which they were entitled. They endeavored to ascertain why it was that we would not go into confederation. They were told that it was doubtful whether any terms would be acceptable until the land question was settled. It had been said that the government looked upon receiving compensation for the loss of territorial revenues as a mere parliamentary matter; but we told the delegates that it was doubtful, even though that question was settled, whether we should go into confederation. To show that he (Col. Sec.) was not in error, take up the proposals of the 14th December, transmitted by Sir John Young. In them his government admitted that the loss of our lands was a real grievance, and promised that they would endeavor to get redress from the Imperial government. And they said that failing to get justice from Great Britain, the Dominion government would give $800,000 towards settling these claims. When these proposals came down, he (Col. Sec.) saw that a great admission had been made by the Canadian government, but he had no idea that the answer given to them by the government here, as contained in the minute of Council, would have so soon received a reply from the Colonial Minister, who had put his own construction on that minute. His Lordship said that the terms were rejected by the government, because they did not include a settlement of the land claims; but the truth was that we would have been free to have entered confederation or not, though compensation had been given for these claims. Some hon. members tried to make it appear that the government were in favor of union; the Colonial Minister, however, said that they had rejected the terms, how then could any one say that the minute of Council was favorable to confederation? He (Col. Secy.) thought one of the great advantages which had been gained by this correspondence, was that the Canadian government had acknowledged that this Island was entitled to receive compensation for the loss of her crown lands. The Home government, by the Colonial Minister's despatch, refused to grant this compensation, and the government here, by the minute of Council, were tied to 236 PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 1870 the principle that they could not receive compensation from the Dominion treasury. This was just the position in which he (Col. Sec.) wished to be placed. He now felt free to go for a no-terms resolution: We had good encouragement to believe that our affairs would be attended to by the Home Government with as much alacrity as those of the Dominion, from the readiness with which they had complied with our request to lower the postage to Britain.
DR. JENKINS said it should borne in mind that this government had hinted to the Home Government their intention to demand from them compensation for the loss of crown lands, previous to the time when this celebrated Minute of Council now under discussion, was penned. Two years ago a delegation had been sent to the Imperial Government to endeavor to get a guarantee for a loan, which appeared to be a very humble method of demanding compensation. The course the government had taken had destroyed every chance of getting anything from the British Government; but had they allowed the Canadian Government to take this matter up, something might have been done. He (Dr. J.) believed this Minute of Council was intended to take the place of a, " no-terms" resolution, which the government were afraid to adopt. It was said that the last despatch received from the Colonial Office had settled the subject of confederation; but the government would find out pretty soon that such was not the case. This despatch was only a mild remonstrance, but every word of it plainly signified that we must go on with negotiations, and if we stopped negotiating, he (Dr. J.) believe we should soon hear something hotter. He believed the Leader of the Government (Hon. Mr. Haythorne) was honest when he stated he would take fair terms, and he (Dr. J.) was proud that he took the same ground on this subject. The question of, a railroad had been brought up in this discussion, and he (Dr. J.) had been the first to bring that matter to the notice of the House, and he hoped to see the iron horse traversing our Island before many years. A railroad was indispensable to develop the resources of the country, as our roads were absolutely impassable at certain seasons of the year, and at the rate they were being macadamized we would be all in our graves before even a few miles in the vicinity cf the towns would be covered with stone. The harbors at the eastern end of the island were open later in autumn than those in other parts of the Island and had we a railroad, farmers would be able to ship their produce late in the season, and would not be obliged to kill their horses hauling heavy loads over very bad roads. There was also a great deal of timber in thewestern part of the Island that would furnish work for a railroad to transport it to Charlottetown. He (Dr. J.) did not think the government were on the fence, but behind it, and at next election they would find a fence a very poor shelter.
Hon. Mr. HAVILAND wished to reply to a few remarks made by the hon member from Alberton (Mr. Bell) who stated that the outlying portions of a country never prospered: but if that hon member would go to the United States, he would find that California, which was an outlying State, had progressed as rapidly as many of the States nearer the seat of government. Then again he (Mr. Bell) said we should be left like the Isle of Man, which paid no duties to the British Government; but he was mistaken, for the revenues of the Isle of Man were collected by the Imperial Government.
Mr. BELL said the revenue of the Isle of Man was not collected by the British Government.
Hon. Mr. HAVILAND said a long time ago the people of the Isle of Man collected their own revenue, but it became such a nest of smugglers that the Imperial Government had to take it under their protection. The Col. Secretary had stated that our affairs were attended to with as much alacrity as the aflairs of the Dominion by the British Government.
Hon. COL. SECRETARY said he had proved it.
Hon Mr. HAVILAND said he (Col. Secretary) pretended to prove it by reference to the change made in the postal department; but the truth was, the British Government passed a law to have letters going to the Dominion charged only three pence postage, and we were so insignificant they forgot to include this Island in the arrangement, and, through the neglect of the government to look after it, we had to pay the old rate of postage six months longer than the Dominion. 1t appeard that the Col. Secretary did not know much 1870 PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 237 about the postal laws, for a government resolution was introduced this session to make packages and parcels, passing through the Post Office, liable to be seized by the Collector of Customs, and the Col. Secretary quoted some old law, as old as Responsible Government, to prove that such parcels should be detained, and he appeared totally ignorant of the new law on the subject. He (Col. Sec.) also seemed to know nothing of the despatches laid on the table by the government, for among them there was one stating that under Imperial rule samples of merchandise should be sent from England by post, and asking this Island to reciprocate, and nothing had yet been said on the subject.
Hon. Mr. HOWLAN said the subject to which that despatch alluded would be brought up in the proper time.
Hon. Mr. HAVILAND said the government had never said anything about these despatches, and if hon members had not taken the trouble of examining them, they would never have known they existed. He (Mr. H.) believed the government were so inflated with the Minute of Council that if the House was not providentially prorogues within a week they would burst. There was also a despatch relating to the Governor's Salary Bill, which the British Government wished to be amended, but nothing had been said about it. There was also a despatch stating that Governors of Colonies, when they hoisted the national flag on joyful occasions, should have a badge on it; but our government had done nothing in the matter. Perhaps they thought we were going into confederation, and we should have the Dominion beaver and maple leaves for our Colonial Arms. There were several of those despatches which required legislation, an although the session was nearly ended, nothing had been done. The hon. Col. Secretary thought the land question was now forever settled by the last despatch from Lord Granville, and if so, his (Col. Sec's.) political stock in trade was lost. He (Mr. B.) supposed, after that declaration from the Col . Secretary, that we should hear no more of the wrongs of the tenantry; but landlord and tenant would smoke the pipe of peace together like brothers. The Col. Secretary had changed his opinions on confederation since he spoke a few evenings since; then he was in a spirit to please the Imperial Government and the Dominion Government, and warned the hon. member from Tryon against a "no-terms" resolution, lest, if it were passed, Lord Granville should coerce us into union ; but now he (Col. Sec.) appeared to be in favor of a "no- terms" resolution. The Col. Secretary had also given the House a great definition of the work "reject," which was in the despatch, but unfortunately he stopped at that word.
Hon. Mr. HOWLAN said the Leader of the Opposition had, all the afternoon, been into the despatches like a horse poking his head into hay, and now it appeared he had found a "mare's nest." He (Leader of the Opposition) appeared like a bottle of ginger beer - he went off with a pop - he had travelled out of the record, but he would have to keep calm and bottle up his effervescence, and patiently wait until these despatches were brought up in regular order. One would have thought, from the discussion about Post Offices, that he (Leader of the Opposition) knew something about them, but it appeared there were some things he could not understand. the question discussed in committee of way and means was regarding the sending of jewelry through the Post Office, and this despatch related to books and pamphlets. The Leader of the Opposition would try to make the House believe that the government were remiss in their duty in not sooner getting a reduction of letter postage between this Island and England ; but as soon as they found out, that an arrangement was made with the Do-. minion, they applied to the British Government to have the same beneflts extended to us, and our postage would be uniform with that of the Dominion in June next. It was impossible for the government to know what correspondence was taking place between the Postmaster General of the Dominion and the Postmaster General of England. As regarded the badge for our flag, the government had acted upon the despatch; but this was not the proper time to discuss these matters, as confederation was the subject before the House.
Mr. REILLY thought if the minute of Council had the effect some hon. members attributed to it, it was a master stroke of policy on the part of the government to have drawn up such a document, inasmuch as it had been the means of placing the colony in a position which left the people entirely free in the 238 PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 1870 matter. The people know also that the government had been true to their pledge; and when the document which they drew up had been compared to what was worthy of a Machiavelli, or a Talleyrand, he did not think they had any cause to be ashamed of it.
Mr. BRECKEN said, judging from what the hon. member for St. Peter's said, he gloried in a Machiavellian policy on the part of the government, in producing a document which did not mean what it wast intended to convey to the mind of those who read it.  Glorying that his party was so wise as to be able to deceive the Home Government. Such a policy was indeed worthy of a Machiavelli. He (Mr. B.) looked upon such a course, to be as stupid as it was dishonest.   A Machiavellian policy was that of duplicity and hypocrisy, and yet it was the policy Her most gracious Majesty's Queen's Printer thought so clever.
Mr. REILLY considered the policy that was adopted, the very best which, under the circumstances, the government could have pursued. And though the hon. member (Mr. B.) might call the government what he pleased, yet he could not show that they had proved untrue to the promises made, or to the general interests of those who sent them there. By the course pursued, the onus of responsibility had been glued upon the Home government, and, as to the despatch, it showed clearly that the Imperial Government cared very little whether this Island united with Canada or not.
Hon. Mr. DUNCAN thought the anti- confederate party was likely to have even the strongest of those who once opposed them on their side, and the arguments used a few days ago, by his hon. colleague, were correct, the Island now belonged to the people, and he was pleased to see how many who once opposed his (Mr. Duncan's) views, were now coming to see the matter as he did. It had been asked where would they go to get money to buy out the lands of the proprietors. Borrow it in England, was the answer, and all knew the result. He would, however, inform the committee that there was then in the Union Bank:—
Deposits on call ÂŁ15,331 19 2
Treasury credit, 14,464 0 0
Deposits on interest, 9,778 18 0
Total in Union Bank, ÂŁ89,564 17 2
Deposits on call, ÂŁ17,158 2 3
Treasury credit, 10,778 18 1
Deposits on interest, 31,048 11 3 —58,985 11 1
Making a total of ÂŁ98,550 3 9
The greater portion of this amount was waiting investment when a larger interest could be obtained than the Banks would give. He had made a similar statement at the time the Loan Bill was passing through the House, and thought now if the government wanted to borrow money, they knew where to look for it with a better prospect of success than when they sent to England for it.
After a few remarks from two or three other hon members, the debate was 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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