Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, 30 March 1871, Prince Edward Island Confederation with Canada.

The 1871 PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 277 great question of Confederation when first brought before the people was not understood, but after a little while they carefully considered it and understood it thoroughly. Perhaps it were just as well that it was not hurried on too rapidly, and that there was given for fully considering it. It is now altogther out of place to spend the people's money is discussing such an important measure as the construction of a railroad, without bringing it before the people for their decision.
Confederation was at that time the order of the day, and the people passed a strong resolution against it. If they had broken the law we would be in Confederation to-day. The people knew that if they broke the law there would, in all probability, be numbers of them shot down. One of the most innocent men on the Princetown Road was hand-cuffed and brought to jail, but no charge whatever could be brought against him. Mr. Edmund Crabb having come out to his own gate, was taken for a spy, pushed into a wagon, and taken off to prison, for no cause whatever. I merely make these statements to show that the actions of the Government of that day were calculated to irritate the people to that degree. Some of the members of the Government are members of the Opposition with saying they are not honest in carrying out the railway scheme. I want to show that the people have reason to be suspicious of the present Government in all their public actions, and that confederation may be connected with the very matter now before the Committee. It is true the Government are solemnly pledged against Confederation for the present term; but if we get deeply involved by adding a million of money to our present debt, we shall all be compelled to pump to to keep the ship of state from sinking; and though we are pledged against Confedera 278 PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 1871 tion, my hon. friend from Bedeque (Mr. Howat), would be the first to square away the yards to keep the ship afloat, if necessary. It matters come to that pass I think we should be compelled to put into the Dominion as the only means of saving the ship. The hon. member for Charlottetown asked us twelve months ago whether the sun would not rise and the grass grow if we entered the Dominion. I say yes; the sun would rise and the grass would grow, but our people would become the slaves of the Dominion, this Island would become the down-trodden Poland of America, and a mere appendage of Canada and burdened with a heavy debt. In forcing the construction of a railroad upon the country, and involving it in such a heavy debt, the Legislature would be going beyond all bounds. I would be sorry indeed to do anything which I would be afraid to bring before the people at the polls, which would involve the Colony to such extreme done extent in proportion to our revenue. This is one of the mos important measures, and involving the largest amount of money ever brought before the Legislature of this Island. The House has spoken a great deal of time in discussing this, but it appears the Government have no renounced the idea of carrying the measure. Hon. members can do as they think proper; but, for my party I would be sorry to lend my vote to a measure which would involve the country to such an extent that it would never recover from the effects of it. I would not disgrace the memory of those who helped in clear away the forces by supporting a measure which might be the means of the loss of our constitution.
[Mr. CAMERON] We hear a great deal said about Confederation in connection with this question; it has been stated that the construction of a railroad would be a step towards it, and that it would infallibly lend to it. Now, I fail to see any connection whatever between the two questions. If this Colony stands in danger of going into Confederation, it is owing to the views entertained by the majority of the people, not on account of the undertaking of a great public work. If the construction of a railway would entail a very heavy debt upon the Colony, there would be less inducement for the Canadians to make any effort to get us into  Confederation.
MR. REILLY would, in reference to what had fallen from hon. members, first reply to what the hon. member of Cavendish (Mr. McNeill), had said, who in his observations seemed to regard the railway project as a scheme to draw the Island into Confederation. From such a view he (Mr. R.), dissented. Nor did he see what ground the hon. member had for arriving at such a conclusion. He (Mr. R.) never had but one idea on that question. Nor did he believe the Dominion Government felt dispos 1871 PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 281 ed to come down to them with any new propositions. Nor if they were to consent to unite with the Dominion of Canada would they gain thereby. The Canadian Government never intended to give anything to this Island for which they were not to receive more than an equivalent in return. Yet the hon. member appeared to imagine that if this Colony ran itself in debt, the Canadians would, if they united with them, pay the debt of this Colony, and out of pure compassion relieve this Colony out of its difficulties. He thought there could not possibly be a greater delusion. Would a union with the Dominion under any circumstances produce such a result? It was absurd to suppose anything of the kind. The argument, therefore, of the hon. member, would not go for anything, for it contained an assertion which could not be proved, inasmuch as it  was opposed to reason and common sense.
It have also been assorted that those newspapers under the influence of the Government were employed to bring about Confederation. To that he could but say he thought if such was the care they were fearfully neglecting their duty for he read them all, but failed to notice a single article in ous of them in favor of a union of this Colony with the Dominion of Canada.
[Hon. D. DAVIES] On a former occasion, the hon. member for Cavendish (Mr. McNeil) attested to what he (hon. D. D.) had said about bringing the troops to the Colony. In doing so the hon. member had endeavored to show that the object at that time of the Government was to bring about a state of affairs in the country which might be used as a pretext for placing the Island into Confederation with the Dominion of Canada. In reply to such assertions, he would content himself by simply asserting that they were not correct.
In so for as he (Hon. D. D.) was personally concerned he never had but one idea respecting Confederation, and that was that this Colony was too small and unimportant a country to be allowed to remain out of Confederation with the Dominion. But he had no wish or desire to do anything to bring about such a result, before the people were prepared and willing for the change.


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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