Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, 16 April 1870, Prince Edward Island Confederation with Canada.


SATURDAY, April 16.



The House again went into committee on the Despatches.
A discussion of a conversional character took place on the resolution submitted by Hon. Mr. Howlan on Thursday night, and principally on that part of it which expressed the opinion that the people of this Island were almost unanimously opposed to any change in the constitution of the Colony.
Hon. Mr. HENDERSON said if the resolution before this hon. committee had elicited nothing new on the question of confederation, the portion of it which affirmed that, " the people of this colony were almost unanimous in their opposition " to that question, had given the discussion a turn that demanded from him a few additional observations. Hon. members who favored confederation, affirmed that not a few of the French population of the colony were prepared to vote for union at the next general election. On this point he was not in a position to say either yea or nay. But he could speak on behalf of the district which he had the honor to represent. Although sickness prevented him from visiting his constituents before the Legislature met, his previous knowledge of them and of their sentiments on this important subject together with what he had lately heard from many of them, would justify him when he asserted in the strongest terms, that the confederates in the Murray Harbor District were extremely few and far between. Though he had so often condemned the extremely unjust and provoking means by which Nova Scotia had been forced into the confederacy, without the consent of the people, and in spite of everything they could do to prevent it, he must once more cull a few facts illustrative of the feelings that lately pervaded many parts of it, and which were not extinct at the present moment. In July 1867, he happened to be at New Glasgow the very day on which the North American Act of confederation was proclaimed the law of the land. This was certainly an extraordinary event in the history of North America and it evoked demonstrations which were equally so. He carefully scanned every flag that floated in the breeze, and could only see one in its proper position, while many were to be seen half mast high, with a few black ones, and some stars and stripes ! On the first of July 1868, he was at Halifax, and in company with an intelligent gentleman from Quebec, visited the principal streets of the city. His companion was an ardent unionist, but one who was determined to examine things for himself, and when he saw the more handful of bunting that indicated the dwellings and establishments of the confederates, he looked at him (Mr. H.) with a countenance that discovered no joy, and remarked, to the effect, that if the strength of the unionists was to be estimated by their banners they were but a very small force in the capital. It was well known that hte Nova Scotians had been always distinguished fro profound loyalty ; and it was to that source, more than to any other, that their present quietness was to be attributed. It was all very well to lay due stress on the tone of private letters from Nova Scotia. He also had a few intelligent correspondents, and many friends there, but was in possession of a copy of a public Minute of Council from the Executive Government of that Province to the Colonial Minister, relative to the vexed question on which he could lay much greater stress than could be safely done on any thing of a private nature. That minute contained flat contradictions of statements made by the colonial Minister in one of his despatches to the 1870 PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 261 Governor General, and set forth the then state of things in Nova Scotia with unmistakable force, and should be accepted as much more reliable than any private information on the same subject ; and our confederates would do well to study it carefully.
Dr. JENKINS - Would the hon. member (Mr. H.) tell what he thought of the language made use of by the Hon. Mr. Laird, respecting the British Flag and the Red River affray ?
Hon. Mr. HENDERSON would tell the hon. member that in his opinion the language alluded to was the result of the speaker's overheated state of mind. But he (Mr. H.) would tell him besides, that if the Dominion Government had acted prudently toward the people of Red River, much of the confusion that now existed there might have been prevented. It might have appeared to the Dominion Government a very convenient thing to find offices for troublesome friends and supporters, by sending them off to the distant region, but common sense, with the history of Canada itself before them, should have suggested the suspicion that the wishes of some 15,000 inhabitants could not be totally ignored with safety. That some public man of the Dominion should be appointed Governor, appeared quite right and necessary, but he contended that the subordinate officers should have been chosen from among the people themselves, which, if judiciously done, would greatly tend to conciliate the masses. The hon. member (Mr. Brecken) made some allusion, during this discussion, to the magnificent mansions of the merchant princes in the cities, and to the public buildings of Canada, generally, as proofs of the greatness of that country, and as reasons why we should be prepared to cast in our lot with the Dominion. That there were such mansions and merchants in Canada, could not be denied ; but he contended that many of the humbler classes experienced the very opposite extreme. Was it not a fact that large numbers of able-bodied men, and those depending on them, had had to be supported by public and private charities ; and that of the French population, hundreds had emigrated to the United States since the inception of the Dominion ? So much for the first fruits of the golden harvest of confederation !
Mr. BRECKEN had reference to the city of Toronto, and the Hon. E. Palmer was his informant.
Hon. Mr. HENDERSON. - The hon member's statement went to prove that what the city of Toronto was in the year 1864 was altogether independent of Confederation.
Profess was reported, and the House adjourned for one hour.


House in committee on the further consideration of Despatches.
On motion of Hon. Mr. Howlan the Speaker took the chair, and the chairman reported the two following resolutions agreed to :-
" 1. 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 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 believe that a Union of this Island with the Dominion of Canada, as proposed in a Minute of the Privy Council of Canada, dated the 14th Decemer, 1869, would be inimical tot he best interests of the Colony - Thereed RESOLVED, That, this House cannot entertain the said proposals of the Dominion Government, and consequently approve of the general tenor of the reply of the Executive Government of this Island, as ex0 pressed in their Minutes of Council, dated respectively the Seventh day of January and the Fourth Day of February, 1870.
"2. WHEREAS, By a recent Despatch from Earl Granville, Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, dated the 7th day of March, 1870, it is stated that, in his opinion, the Government of Prince Edward Island will not act wisely if they allow themselves to be diverted from their own real interests for the sake of keeping alive a claim against the Imperial Government, which it is quite certain will never be acknowledged. And Whereas, This House believe that the best interests of the Island will be promoted by remaining its present form of Government under the Crown of Great Britain. And Whereas, but the intimation given in the above Despatch, this Island is left in an exceptional position, as compared with the Provinces of the Dominion in the matter of Crown Lands and Territorial Revenues - Therefore RESOLVED, That we, the people's Representatives, feel it to be our duty to oppose a Union with the Dominion of Canada, and to express our opinion that the people of this Island, while loyal in their attachment to the Crown and Government of Great Britain, are nevertheless almost unanimously opposed to any change in the Constitution of the Colony."
Hon. Mr. Kelly stated that as he had occupied the position of chairman during the debate on confederation, he had been deprived of the privilege of giving expression to his opinion on this important subkect ; and as every conceivable phase of the question had been discussed already, any lengthened remarks now would necessarily be a repetition of the ideas expressed by hon members who had previously spoken. He (Mr. K.) was entirely opposed to confederation on any terms. It was his unalterable determination to use his utmost exertions to keep our independent legislature, and he hoped it would be a long time before we should be dependent on a legislature seven or eight hundred miles from us, with only two or three members to represent us is it. If all the wealth of Canada was offered to us, it would not cause him (Mr. K.) to change his mind on the subject.
And the first of the two reported Resolutions being again read, and the question being proposed.
The Hon. Mr. Haviland move in amendment [illegible], seconded by Mr. Brecken, that all the words of the preamble, and all the words after that to the end of the question, he left out and the following inserted in here [?]
"The best interests and future prosperity of this Island will be promoted by a federal union with the Dominion of Canada, provided the [?] union can be effected upon such just and [?] terms as may be approved of by the people at the polls.
And the question being put on the amendment, the House divided ; and the names being called for, they were taken down as follows :
Yeas—Hon. Mr. Haviland, Messrs. Brecken, Green, Jenkins—4
Nays—Hons. Messrs. Howlan, Laird, Col. Secretary P. Sinclair, Callbeck, Kelly, Henderson, Macaulay, Duncan ; Messrs. Kickham, MacNeill, Cameron, MacCormack, MacLean, Reilly, MacMillan, Bell, Howat, Owen—19
So it passed in the negative.
The Hon. Mr. MacCaulay then moved, in amendment to the said reported Resolution, seconded by Mr. Howat. That all the words after "Wherea" to the end of the question, he left out, and the following  
"His Excellency, Sir John Young, Governor- General of the British North American Provinces, in a Despatch to his Honor the Administrator of the Government of this Colony, dated at Ottawa, on the fourteenth day of December last, proposed certain terms on which this Colony would be admitted into the Canadian Union ; and
"Whereas, the union of this Colony with the Canadian Confederation, on the proposed terms would be neither [illegible] nor just to Prince Edward Island, as recommended by Earl Granville ; and as the inhabitants of this Colony are [?] of disturbing their existing conection with Great Britain ; therefore, RESOLVED. That this House on behalf of the Colony, refuse to become a part of the Dominion of Canada."
And the question being put on the said amendment, the House divided ; and the names being called for, they were taken down as follows :
Yeas—Hons. Messrs. Macaulay, Duncan, Henderson, Messrs. Howat, Owen—5
Nays—Hons. Messrs. Howlan, Col. Secretary Laird, Callbeck, Kelly, P. Sinclair, Haviland ; Messrs. MacLean, Bell, Cameron, MacMillan, Brecken, Green, Jenkins, MacCormack, Kickham, MacNeill, Reilly—18
So it passed in the negative.
The question being then put shall the first Resolution, as reported from the Committee, be agreed to?
The House again divided, and the names being called for, they were taken down as follows :
Yeas-Hons. Messrs. Howlan, Laird Col. Secretary, P. Sinclar, Callbeck, Messrs. Cameron, Kickham, MacMillan, MacNeill, MacCormack, MacLean, Reilly, Bell—18.
Nays—Hons. Messrs. Haviland, Henderson, Macaulay, Duncan, Kelly ; Messrs. Green, Owen, Jenkins, Howat, Brecken—10
So it was carried int eh affirmative ; and Resolved, accordingly.
And, the second of the said reported Resolutions being again read, and the question being put therein, the House divided and the names being Called for, they were taken down as follows :
Yeas—Hons, Messrs. Howland, Laird, col. Secretary P. Sinclair, Callbeck, Kelly, Henderson, Macaulay, Duncan, Messrs. Kickham, MacNeill, Cameron, MacCormack, McLean, Reilly, Macmillan, Bell, Owen, Howat—19
Nays—Hon Mr. Haviland ; Messrs. Brecken, Jenkins, Green—4
So it was carried in the affirmative ; and Resolved, accordingly.
The Bill relating to the transference of a certain pasture let ; also the bill to ap 1870 PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 263 propriate certain moneys therein mentioned, were read a third time and passed
Mr. McNEILL presented the report of the committee on the contingent expenses of the session
The House then adjourned until Monday next.


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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