Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, 21 February 1871, Prince Edward Island Confederation with Canada.

[Hon. D. Davies] It was well known that the question of Confederation had made a division to the ranks of the Conservaties and that the Education question did the same, to some extent, for the Liberals. He had always been in favor of the principle of Confederation, but not of any hasty action, or of committing the country to it unless it was prepared for the change. But during his absence in England, five years ago, advantage was taken of his views on that question, and the result had been that he was not then returned, and a statement which he had made to the effect that he was neglecting his business by attending to his Legislative duties, had also been used against him. He (Hon. D. Davies) could not go to the polls and say he was a no- terms man, while there were others who would kick at terms of any kind. But at the late election, his hon. and learned Colleague the Attorney General and himself were returned. After the Election, it was well known that one section of the Liberal party made overtures to the Palmer wing of the Conservatives, and hence, to save themselves from annihilation, those with whom he acted had to form the present coalition Government. The step they took, had, in those ways, been forced upon them. He knew that coalition Governments were generally strong Governments, and it was sometimes said, corrupt ones, but he trusted that nothing of that kind would then exist, but that due attention would be given, and regard had to the best interests of the country.
[Hon. Mr. PERRY] The hon. member for [?] (Mr. McLean) have very well that it was understood when the present Government was formed, that the question of grants in the Catholic schools was not to be melded with the four years, in condition that Confederation was then to be dropped.
[...] point. He had however pledged himself against Confederation, and as for as his vote and influence was concerned, he was proposed to do all in his power against a scheme which the people of this Colony are not proposed to accept at present. He (Mr. Perry) would be violating his pledge if he should oppose the present Government, however they could not give a grant to St. Duncan's College ; the present Government is composed of gentlemen who have pledged themselves against Confederation and Sectarian grants, and so long as they legistlated for the good of the country they would receive his support. However, he (Mr. Perry) hoped that the time would soon arrive when all denominations would agree in enduring Sectarian schools. And further if the opposition were sincere in giving a grant and would pledge themselves to that effect he (Hon. Mr. Perry) would be very happy to join them. (Hear hear, from several of the hon. members.)
Hon. D. DAVIES said that in justice to the Roman Catholic members on the Government side of the House, he would state that in forming the Government, it was distinctl understood that these members did not give up their principles in reference to grants to Catholic schools ; they merely held them in abeyance, on condition that Confederation would be held in the same way by its supporters and friends. They say, " We are in a minority, and will wait till a change takes place in the Protestant mind, in reference to the Education Question, but we will not give up our opinions in reference to it. " He could not see anything discreditable in their joining the Conservatives on the conditions agreed upon. He had been asked, also, to hold his opinion on the Question of Confederation in abeyance, for a time, and agreed to do so. But he still held the same views on that great Question as he ever had, and thought the time would yet arrive when Confederation would be accepted by the people. His constituents were opposed to it, and he felt bound not to press it upon their attention, nor to forward it in any way.
HON. ATTORNEY GENERAL [...] His (Hon. Attorney General's) principles were the same as they were twelve month ago, they had not nndergonethe slightest change. He did not occupy his seat in that House as a confederete, for he owed his seat to his anti-confederate constituents , and would not betray them. He would never play the same game on confederation which the hon. member played upon the Tenant League. When the hon. member's supporters smote him on the one cheek, he turned to them the other also. He (Hon. Attorney General) was pledged on confederation just as the hon. member for Rustice had been, and he felt bound to keep first pledge. He did not intend to discuss the subject either publicly or privately, directly or indirectly. He claimed his right to express his views on the question on the principle that he would go back to the people at the polls for their decision. He would give the hon member every liberty to oppose him, if he deviated from his principles to the breadth of a hair. 
Mr. MCNEILL—I remember when the Hon. Attorney General pleaded pathetically for Confederation, although he has now changed his position with reference to that question. The Reform Bill and other great measures of British Legislation were not carried by such a course of inconsistency. When, sir, in a former session of the Legislature, I was twitted by the Hon. Attorney General with my connection with the Tenant League) and had complained that the Sheriff oi Queen's County had libelled the people, the hon. Attorney General asked why the matter had not been brought before the house, but, when it was so brought up, he dared not going to an investigation, but move that it be postponed 3 months, in other words dismissed; he had influential friends, when motion in reference to the tenant means he did not care to have criticized in the house, and unfortunately, there were gentlemen on the other side, similarly situated. Sir, never in my life did I feel more Perot of my position than when I took my stand at inside the Bar of this House, in company with my eye hon friend the Member for Belfast (Hon. B. Davies) to vindicate the character of the people from the aspersions cast upon them. I ask, Mr. Chairman, which of the public man of the colony can the people rely on, when we see men of intelligence, education, and high social position advocating one line of policy to-day, and to-morrow, when it may suit their interest or convenience, turn around and support a course directly to reverse? The hon Att'y General has processed himself a confederate, but now he says, "only make me Att'y General, and I will be a strong anti-confederate as you'll be able to find in the country." Oh! filthy here, you have slain your thousands, you have always been an enemy to the patriotism and liberty.
HON. ATTORNEY GENERAL - The hon. member has told the house that his constituents Endorsed his views and action, in connection with the Tenants League. I have no doubt of it, nor of the fact that he owes to that organization his see in this house; but my reference to that body was not intended to supply to be hon Member individually, but to the governments, members of which had encouraged and justified their proceedings which are well known to us all. With reference to the question of Confederation my opinion are before the country, and, sir, the pledge I gave to my constituents, I shall faithfully keep. I told them to the hustings that my views are unchanged, and I pledged myself not to vote for confederation until the question had been submitted to the people at the Polls. That pledge was frankly given, and was well understood by my constituents; but, sir, there are some who will not understand another. I must leave them in the enjoyment of their own views. I have not retracted nor been asked to retract a single word of what I stated, and as long as my constituents are satisfied with my can conduct, I am content. I have exercised my judgment independently; but, did not be hon. member only last year, argued that the position of members in this house was, morally, that of delegates?
Mr. MCNEILL.—I said that we were sent here to make laws and not to destroy the constitution of the country. I hope the hon. Att'y General will bear that in mind and be content to stand or fall by it.
Hon. Mr. SINCLAIR- [...] As to Confederation, I inferred from what fell from the Hon. Atty General that he would do nothing in the way of initiating our connection with Canada, but, Mr. Chairman, there are more ways than one of carrying out a favorite point, and many a measure has been carried indirectly which would never have succeeded by direct action. I am inclined to think from the Speech that we may have Confederation, whether we like it or not I have no desire to join Canada and the great majority of the people of the Island, are of the same way of thinking, but if it shall happen that we are weighed down under a burden of taxation greater than that of Canada, it might be desirable to join that Dominion. As I read the paragraph before the Committee, I cannot but believe there is something more in this railway scheme than meets the eye.


The Parliamentary Reporter of Debates and Proceedings of the House of Assembly. Charlottetown: The Examiner, 1871-1872. Microfilm copies provided by the Prince Edward Island Libraries and Archives.



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