§ Mr. Roebuck
spoke to the following effect:—I rise, Sir, to move that a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the political condition of the Canadas, and my excuse (if excuse be needed) for pressing forward the Motion at the present time, is the extreme emergency of the matter; the critical and extraordinary position of the colonies to which the Motion relates. And in order to induce the House to accede to my request for this Committee of Inquiry, it will be my business, in the observations with which I shall accompany it, to prove the following, among other things:—first, That the provinces are at this moment in a state nearly approaching to open revolt; that Lower Canada particularly' as far as words can go, is actually in a state of revolution; the House of Assembly (their House of Commons) having formally seceded from all communication with the Executive, and also having expressly declared their intention to impeach the present governor, Lord Aylmer.—Secondly, I shall endeavour, also, to show, that this present disturbed state of these countries is the result of a long series of continuous bad government, and that the actual outbreaking of the people at the present moment springs immediately from the extremely rash and petulant behaviour of the present Secretary of the Colonies—who, unfortunately for this country, after having successfully fanned Ireland into a flame, has employed the same qualities to the same end in our Transatlantic possessions.—Thirdly, My last object, after having pointed out the evil, will be to suggest the remedy, and to this end I shall endeavour to explain why I desire a Committee of Inquiry. Before I enter upon this arduous undertaking, the House will, perhaps, permit me to allude very briefly (and I assure them that I do so with great reluctance) to the position in which I personally stand as regarding the present question. It may naturally be asked, why I should particularly interest myself in this matter, and whether I can bring to the discussion any peculiar information. I will answer both questions at once. The knowledge that I have upon this matter is greatly the result of personal experience. Many years spent in habits of great intimacy with the 768 people of those countries, have made me intimately acquainted with their history, their feelings, their character, and their desires. The things that I shall describe I have seen, and I now come forward as a witness in this case, and humbly, yet firmly, claim for my testimony that respect which the House is accustomed to pay to the evidence of all percipient witnesses. The same intercourse which has enabled me to speak of this people's affairs as one personally cognizant of them, has made me also feel a deep interest in their welfare. This may, perhaps, be sufficient to account for and excuse my thus prominently standing forward in their defence. I shall soon show, however, that, as a Representative of the English people, the importance of this subject ought to claim my attention, even had I not those personal considerations to which I have alluded. Although in what I shall immediately advance I shall speak as of my own knowledge, and on my own experience, I shall not fail, nevertheless, to corroborate my own testimony by that of others; and I do hope that the evidence I shall adduce, and the documents on which I shall rest my assertions, will gain for my observations the kind and attentive consideration of the House. Without further preface I shall proceed to discuss the matter in hand. I must observe, however, before I enter upon the descriptions with which I shall be obliged to trouble the House, that my remarks will, for the most part, apply to both provinces, though my illustrations, for the purpose of avoiding confusion, will be drawn chiefly, if not exclusively, from one,—namely, Lower Canada. In order to make any one competent to decide upon the resolution now before the House, it is necessary to give some description, however brief, of the Government to which it relates. Every one tolerably acquainted with the history of our colonies knows, that the constitution or form of government now enjoyed by the Canadas was conferred on them by 31 George 3rd, c. 31. The province of Quebec was by that Act divided into the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada; and, in imitation of the form existing in England, a triple power was created in each province, consisting—first, of the governor, who was supposed to be analogous to the King here; second, the Legislative Council, supposed to be analogous to the House of Lords; and, third, the House of Assembly, analogous to our own House of Commons. It is necessary that I should say a few words upon each 769 of these three estates. The governor, be it remembered, is a person sent from England—is removable by the will of the King—and, while in Canada he is a portion of sovereignty, he is but the immediate servant of the Government here. He then, it is clear, bears little or no analogy to the King of England. He is an officer chosen by the Executive, and responsible to the people of England. Next comes the Legislative Council. These Councillors are appointed by the King, and for life. There is no landed aristocracy in Canada; and certainly the Legislative Council, even if we were to concede that such an aristocracy existed, cannot be said to represent it. They are usually old official persons appointed to the office of Councillor, as a reward for service, or for certain other purposes to which I shall immediately advert. Lastly, the House of Assembly does really represent the people, at least in Lower Canada. There may be some doubts as to the completeness and purity of the representation in the Upper Province. Such, then, is the Legislative Body. The Administrative or Executive consists—first, of the Governor; and second, a Council, called the Executive Council. Now, one of the grand causes of all the bad government that has so long tormented these provinces is the composition of this Council, and that of the Legislative Council. These bodies hitherto have been two in name, but one in fact; the persons composing the one being the majority in the other; so that the persons composing the Executive Council could at any time put a stop to all the proceedings of Government, and forward to the utmost the sinister interests which they and their dependents wish to forward, If the House feel at all desirous of understanding the political condition of these provinces, it is absolutely necessary for them to obtain a very definite conception of the character of this Executive Council, and their dependents and connections. As the Governors sent from England go to the colonies only for a short period, and also exceedingly ignorant of everything connected with the business they are about to undertake, it is necessary that there should be always some persons existing, ready and able to instruct their ignorance: these persons are the Executive Council. They live always in the colony, and form the necessary link between succeeding governors. To persons thus serviceable rewards are necessarily given, which rewards consist of various places, money, or money's-worth, 770 paid out of the provincial funds. Besides, these people form a special society, and surround and hem in the governor, so that no one not of their tribe or party can reach him. They actually govern the country—dispose of all its places of profit and distinction, and not only rule, but insult the people. Being thus really independent of all control, their insolence, rapacity, and corruption, know no bounds; and if, at any time, the Governor, or even the Home Government does aught to offend their high mightinesses, they rebel, and treat with scorn and contumely the commands sent from England. While such is the nature and conduct of this petty and vulgar oligarchy, I beseech the House to consider the peculiar position of the people over whom they domineer. This people are in habits of daily—nay, hourly—intercourse with the Republicans of the United States of America. They are accustomed to behold across the frontier a great people—not more instructed, not more desirous of good government than themselves, self-governed—governed by thoroughly democratic institutions; and what is the result? A state of unexampled prosperity—quiet, rapid, and unceasing improvement. Laws and institutions that continue in their action as regular as a piece of physical machinery. They see cheap Government, and yet perfect protection—they see the governing body having interests identical with the people, and possessed of their ever-advancing spirit of improvement, aiding all enterprise,—in fact, performing the true functions of a Government,—not contented with protecting to its uttermost, property, person, and reputation to all its citizens, but assisting in all those great undertakings which are best forwarded by the combined efforts of a whole people. With such a sight before them, it is not wonderful that the Canadian people have imbibed the free spirit of America, and that they bear with impatience the insolence, the ignorance, the incapacity, and the vice of a nest of wretched officials, who, under the fostering domination of England, have constituted themselves an aristocracy, with all the vices of such a body, without one of the redeeming qualities which are supposed to lessen the mischiefs which are the natural attendants of all aristocracies. It is of a people thus high-spirited, pestered and stung to madness by this pestilent brood, that I am now about to speak. Some years after the Constitution had been conferred upon them, and also after repeated solicitation, the two 771 provinces were permitted to provide for their own expenses, and consequently to rule the expenditure of the Government. Those who had refused the request of the people to be allowed to provide for their own expenditure, well knew, that the control of the people would be a very different thing from that of the Government of England. The one was near, deeply interested in saving every farthing; the other was distant, and, amid the many millions of their expenditure, were not likely to be very solicitous respecting the small sums comprising the outlay of Canada. Therefore, when the people did at length obtain the control they so long had desired, a war began between the official persons on the one side, and the people by their representatives on the other,—the one party desirous of having the supervision of the people reduced to nothing; the other determined to maintain and exercise that supervision to the utmost. It is curious to see what various forms during the last twenty years the desire of the official tribe to be freed from supervision has taken, and in how many various ways they have attempted to compass their end, and in all of these, be it remembered, they have been regularly supported by the Government at home. The House of Assembly, acting on behalf of the people, have been driven to various devices to maintain their very necessary, and legitimate control. Having the administrative body utterly opposed to them, and knowing that that administrative body could govern the determinations of one body of the Legislature—namely, the Legislative Council, and also the Governor in his legislative capacity, it behoved them to be extremely wary and stedfast in all their proceedings. One great point was, to ensure their being regularly convoked, and permitted, when called together, to interfere with the affairs of Government. How was this to be accomplished? In England, the House of Commons is necessarily convoked yearly, to vote certain expenses, and to pass certain annual enactments. The Executive has no funds at its disposal, and is utterly dependent on Parliament. It has been very properly the aim of the House of Assembly to approximate its own condition, and that of the Executive of Canada, to this wholesome state. To this end, as they have no Mutiny Bill to pass annually, and as their chief expenses are comprised in their Civil List, they have very wisely determined to pass the Estimates of the Civil List yearly. It is quite astonishing 772 to learn what an outcry this determination raised amid the official tribe. Disloyalty, disrespect to his Majesty, and every evil quality that could possibly be found for the occasion, were attributed to the House of Assembly. And what in reality did it all mean? Simply this. The official tribe saw, that by this means an annual supervision was ensured, and they were sorely vexed thereat. What ought to have been the conduct of the Home Government on this matter? They ought, at once, to have acceded to the desires of the people, to have taken the Civil List yearly, and have aided the people to the utmost in maintaining that necessary supervision which they so ardently desired. Did the Government do this? No such thing. They waged war with the people by three successive Governors on this matter. The Duke of Richmond, Sir Peregrine Maitland, Lord Dalhousie—all fought this mean battle for the official tribe of hirelings who thus made a cat's paw of his Majesty's Government; and at this moment the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies is willing and endeavouring, to continue this mischievous and degrading warfare. To this there was added another source of contention. The people's representatives, still desirous of complete control over the expenditure, determined to vote their money by items—so much to this functionary, so much to that; a very wise precaution, and one almost universally adopted by the English House of Commons. As usual, the tribe of employés set up a howl. This was destructive of the prerogative—making the King (always the King, about whom they care in reality as much as they do for the Emperor of China) a cipher. This was dreadful, unbearable, republican, and cheap. The Governors joined with the officials, and the Government at home joined with the Governors. The whole business of the State was completely stopped, and confusion, and every description of ill-feeling between the people and the provincial Government necessarily followed. And who, I beg to ask, was in the wrong? Can we hesitate a moment in declaring the conduct of the Assembly in the highest degree wise and circumspect, while that of the provisional Government was corrupt and vicious—that of the Home Government the very acée of folly. As a specimen of the mode in which the Governors sent from England have sought, under the direction of the Executive Council, to foster good-will towards this country and its 773 dominions, I will state one or two instances of their dealing with the representatives of the people. The House will be able to appreciate from these the manner in which the present heated condition of the popular mind in these provinces has been brought about. During the administration of Sir James Craig, certain members of the Assembly offended the Governor by things said in the House, in their character of representatives. The Governor dealt in a summary fashion with these disagreeable legislators. He arrested five of them, and put them into the common gaol at Quebec; and one, who was afterwards a Judge, he confined a whole year. They were eventually turned out of prison, unable to learn what was their offence, or to obtain a trial. What, I ask, must have been the condition of the administration of justice—what the independence and uprightness of the Judges, in a country wherein such things were permitted? This was one class of acts. I will now mention another. For many years the Representatives of the people had endeavoured to obtain from the Executive an account of the monies in the possession of the Receiver-General of the province. Now, I ask this House—I ask the right hon. Gentleman opposite—whether this demand ought not to have been immediately complied with? Whether the conduct of the Executive, in refusing such accounts, in evading the demands of the Assembly, were not in the highest degree censurable, and evincing a corrupt and vicious system of administration? This demand, wise, necessary, and important, as it was, was steadily refused by the Executive; and by none more steadily than that immaculate person Lord Dalhousie. What was the result? The Assembly, after repeated refusals, evasions, and deception on the part of the Executive, determined to lay on no more taxes, and thus drive the Governor to draw upon the Receiver-General. The result but too truly verified their worst anticipations. The Governor thus compelled, and no longer able to shelter the Receiver-General, Sir John Caldwell, did draw upon him; and then it was discovered that this servant of the Crown had disposed of 100,000l. of the people's money, and was a bankrupt. Was this bankrupt brought to account? Was he punished? No such thing. He still possesses the property acquired by the money of the people; and is, moreover, a Legislative Councillor, and has lately been active in abusing that very nation 774 whom he had before so unmercifully robbed. During the whole administration of Lord Dalhousie the war between the Executive and the Representatives of the people was carried on with bitter animosity, and every device, legal and illegal, was attempted to, obtain a revenue independent of the control of the House of Assembly. It happens, that many sources of revenue exist which are supposed not to be within the dominion of the House, although the people of Canada do, in reality, furnish that revenue. For example, certain dues are levied at the port of Quebec under Acts of the Imperial Legislature; these are entirely withdrawn from the supervision of the House. Again, the estates of the Jesuits have become the property of the Crown; these also are withdrawn from the supervision of the House; and lately an attempt has been made to acquire a revenue by the sale of waste lands; and all this to the end of escaping from the control of the people's Representatives. Can we wonder that the people are irritated by this mode of proceeding? Can we wonder that they are exceedingly jealous of all attempts of this description? What would this House say, if it should perceive the Privy Council and the Crown endeavouring to find ways of taxing the people without their consent or control? I ask the House, and I appeal to the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies, whether we should not be justified in resisting every such attempt, and in punishing all advised it? I have already observed, that the war between the two parties has manifested itself in various shapes; all these, however, it is impossible for me now to describe. All that I am now desirous of effecting is, to create a complete and vivid conception of the sort of feeling existing among the colonists. I want to make this House understand that this war of many years has embittered the whole public mind—that it has broadly divided the country into two hostile, nay deadly hostile, sections—that on the one side a small band of persons in office, using and abusing the name of England, have fought the fight of corruption; while, on the other, the whole people, by their Representatives, have steadfastly insisted on the right to control all expense, and, in fact, to govern the country. I wish, I say, to make the House to understand, that for years this unhappy country has been in a state of trouble and combustion, created and continued by this small band of 775 official persons, who, unfortunately, by means of the Legislative Council, and by the assistance of the home Government, have been able to keep in check the great body of the nation, with their Representatives at their head. Chance unfortunately threw in the way of the unprincipled tribe of official persons another means of dividing the people, and, thereby, of strengthening their own pernicious power. In Lower Canada, the immense majority of the people are of French extraction; they speak the French language, and are of the Catholic persuasion. Incessant have been the efforts of the party which I have so often characterised, to make this difference of language and religion the means of discord and hatred among the people. In order to strengthen their own hands, they have endeavoured to create an English, as opposed to the French party, and, in private, as well as public life—in the Legislature—aye, and even in the Courts of Justice, they have endeavoured to introduce this cause of jarring discord—of vulgar, and, therefore, bitter animosity! Now, in the discharge of a great duty, with a deep feeling of the responsibility under which I am acting, do I solemnly charge the Executive for the last twenty years with disgracefully and most corruptly endeavouring to create and perpetuate national and religious hatred among a large body of his Majesty's subjects, and, for their private and paltry purposes, of stirring up and maintaining amongst those who ought to be brethren, something nearly approximating to the direful calamities of a civil war. I shall be glad to learn the mode in which any one will defend, or even extenuate this disgraceful proceeding. Such, Sir, then, is the state, which, indeed, I have been able but very imperfectly to describe, of the popular mind in Canada, when the right hon. Gentleman opposite became Secretary for the Colonies. It did so happen, however, that the Earl of Ripon, during the last five months of his Administration as Colonial Secretary, had begun to be sensible of the real condition of the colony, and had begun partially to act in a way to conciliate the people. Hopes were thus raised among the Canadian people, that the evils under which they had so long suffered were about to be removed; and, although they had much fault to find with every branch of their Executive, from the highest to the lowest, they began to believe that, at length, the Government in England was really 776 beginning to understand their condition, and to be possessed of a wish to relieve it. It was upon a people thus excited by long-continued oppression, and lately-created hope, that the right hon. Gentleman was about to exercise his control and guidance. Now, before I begin to describe what he has done, let me ask, what course any man really cognizant of the condition of the people, and possessing the calm temper and sound knowledge which should distinguish a statesman, would have pursued in so peculiarly critical and delicate a position? I think, Sir, above all things, having become thoroughly possessed of the true condition of the people; having learned their ways of feeling, their hopes, their wishes; and, having found how excited, and naturally excitable they were,—I say, above all things, he would have abstained from all language that was likely to irritate or disgust them. Knowing, that a people imbued with democratic feelings are not to be driven but led to an object, he would in all cases have endeavoured to make "persuasion do the work of fear." Knowing, that this people are in habits of daily intercourse with the United States, and naturally led to compare their own condition with that of their happy neighbours, he would, if desirous of maintaining the supremacy of England, have done nothing which should have led that people to envy the position of the Americans, either as regards the more material matters of Government, or even the deportment of their Governors. Whatever might be the bearing of rulers in Europe, he would have been fully sensible, that in America there must be no petulance, no passion, no threats, no blustering. He would, therefore, have afforded in his own person an example of calm decorum and benevolent consideration respecting the wishes and the feelings of the people. I fear, Sir, the conduct of the right hon. Secretary bears little resemblance to that which I have here been describing. He has assumed a dictatorial tone and manner; he has arrogated to himself the situation of a master; and has dealt with a jealous and high-spirited people as if they were willing to wait upon his nod, and bow down in abject submission before his supreme decrees. He has insulted the people's Representatives—he has threatened them with coercion—he has thrust upon them his determination of maintaining monarchical dominion—and has insisted so firmly upon maintaining the 777 King's prerogatives untouched, that he has seriously endangered them all, and has really rendered it doubtful whether the power of England can be maintained even a few years longer. I may be asked, Sir, for a proof of these assertions; the proof is at hand,—the opinion of the people themselves speaking through their Representatives. Let no one say, that the opinion expressed by the House of Assembly is not sufficient upon this point. It was the business of the right hon. Gentleman so to have conducted himself as to win the favourable regards of the people over whom he governed. The fact, that so far from gaining their good regards, he has raised them in formal and openly declared hostility to himself, and the Executive under him, is damning proof of his insufficiency for the task he has undertaken. This House is doubtless by this time aware that the House of Assembly in Lower Canada has formally seceded from all communication with the Executive; that they have passed a vote of determination to impeach Lord Aylmer, the Governor-General, acting under the command of the right hon. Secretary; and that they have expunged from their journals the despatches of the right hon. Secretary, as being of a nature so insulting and derogatory to their own dignity and honour, as to be unfit to remain upon their records. They came to these Resolutions: 'That, in the midst of these disorders and sufferings, this House, and the people whom it represents, had always cherished the hope, and expressed their faith, that his Majesty's Government in England did not knowingly and wilfully participate in the political immorality of its colonial agents and officers; and that it is with astonishment and grief that they have seen in the extract from the despatches of the Colonial Secretary, communicated to this House by the Governor-in-Chief, during the present Session, that one at least of the Members of his Majesty's Government entertains towards them feelings of prejudice and animosity, and inclines to favour plans of oppression and revenge, ill-adapted to change a system of abuses, the continuance of which would altogether discourage the people, extinguish in them the legitimate hope of happiness which, as British subjects, they entertained, and would leave them only the hard alternative of submitting to an ignominious bondage, or of seeing those ties endangered which united them to the mothercountry.' Such is the language held by 778 this body of representatives—and such I take to be sufficient proof, even of itself of the extreme rashness and inconsiderateness of the right hon. Secretary. But it may be asked, what were the circumstances which have led to this deplorable result? I will briefly state them; and begging the House to bear in mind the excited state of the people, and their peculiar political and geographical position, I have little doubt but that it will be immediately seen, that the course pursued was eminently qualified to lead to such a disastrous conclusion. Before I mention the circumstances which, under the direction of the right hon. Secretary, have produced these results, I must allude to a circumstance which occurred the year before last; and which, though in no way attributable to the right hon. Gentleman's government, still serves to exasperate the people, and to sharpen all their jealousies. During an election for the city of Montreal, a riot took place, and three unoffending Canadians, persons totally unconnected with any of the election proceedings, were shot by the military. Now, such a circumstance might produce little sensation in Ireland; but in any of the quiet and well-regulated communities of America it was calculated to excite feelings of the deepest sorrow and alarm. The people, generally, are very nearly connected by relationship; they are all of a happy and comfortable condition; they are grave, sedate, and live a peculiarly quiet and well-regulated life. Such an event, therefore, caused regret, and spread consternation through every part of the province. It is not now my intention to express any opinion as to the case in question; that is, whether the officers and soldiers were or were not guilty of murder; but I am exceedingly desirous of calling the attention of the House to the events which succeeded this calamitous occurrence, and entreating them to observe how well calculated they were to disgust and excite the people. Certain of the officers commanding were deemed culprits by the great body of the people; and it was necessary to have them brought to trial. In that country the Attorney-General, and Solicitor-General act as public prosecutors, and have or claim an exclusive privilege of prosecuting all offences committed against the Crown. But in this case it was notorious, that the law officers were sent from Quebec to shield the officers, to use their legal skill in extricating them from the difficulty in which they were placed. Those persons 779 who deemed the officers guilty, sought to have an advocate to aid the prosecution, besides the law officers, thus believed to be partial; this was refused; and it is now said by this disappointed people (with how much justice it is not for me now to say), that the military officers were, by the favour of the law officers, saved even from trial. The Grand Jury (which it is asserted was packed) ignored the bills; and then the Governor, in direct opposition to the feelings of the people, issued a general order, praising the officers and the soldiers who had thus killed the unoffending passengers. The public mind was wrought into a flame by this proceeding; and the House of Assembly spent much time last Session in prosecuting a very minute investigation of the matter, and the publication of the evidence laid before them did not a little tend to heighten the exasperation of the people, and to sharpen their jealous feelings against the Executive and the Judiciary. While the public were thus in a state of fermentation from these various causes, the right hon. Secretary came into office. The first matter in which he has given such bitter offence to the people of the province, is that relating to the Address of the House of Assembly, respecting the Legislative Council. Every person who has reflected on the composition of this Council must at once admit, that it is in the highest degree mischievous and absurd in its present constitution. For this there might be cited many authorities, and among these the opinion of a Committee of this House, appointed to inquire into the state of the province. There is also another authority, who uses these words respecting the Legislative Council. 'How ill that Council had discharged that office, they might judge from the papers before them. The members of that Council, upon every occasion, had enrolled themselves on the side of the Government, and against the people; they stood as an important screen between the Government and the people; they neither repelled the people on the one side, nor impelled the executive on the other; but while they enabled the one to maintain the war against the other, they were the means of keeping up a continual system of jarring and contention between the Government and the people. This Council was the root of all the evils which had taken place in the administration there during the last ten or fifteen years.'** Hansard (new series) xix. p. 337.780 These words, perhaps, the House may know were spoken by the right hon. Secretary in 1828, while he was on this side of the House. But I will not press this opinion. I certainly do not attach much weight to it; and I dare say the right hon. Secretary has seen reason on this occasion, as on many others, to repent the rash and careless expressions he has used. He must bear in mind, however, that the world out of doors are not always in a position so well to appreciate the worth of his opinions. The people, unfortunately may suppose expressions to be the result of deep consideration, and to proceed from a desire to promote the great interests of the people, which are, in fact, but hasty talk; and for the purpose of disturbing an existing Ministry. The people, dazzled by his position, and his name, would fancy, that then his opinions were of worth, as resulting from a deep conviction of the mischievous effects of the institution in question, while he, himself, would hold them at nought, deeming them either the rash expression of an inconsiderate youth, or the common places of a ready partisan. With the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, I am content to dismiss this his opinion, as not worthy regard. But, nevertheless, he must not be surprised, if the world then misled, should now charge him with tergiversation—with advocating one set of opinions when out of place, and another when admitted to office. It did so happen, however, that the persons best able to form a correct judgment coincided in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman. They also saw, that the Legislative Council was the bad and mischievous part of the Constitution; and seeing this, and actually feeling its evil effects, the House of Assembly sought to effect some change in the composition of this mischievous body; and in so doing, be it remembered, they but followed the suggestions of the Committee appointed by this House in 1828. But now, Sir, it may be objected by the right hon. Secretary, that there was no need to seek for any alteration in that body, as the Government had already, in compliance with the opinion of the Committee, essentially altered the composition of the Legislative Council, by promoting to it various persons resident in the colony. I, however, will anticipate this objection, by asserting that this change was one in name merely, and not for the better. The evils complained of in the composition of the Legislative Council were, that, as now 781 constituted, that body had interests diametrically opposed to the interests of the people—that neither by birth, by predilections, nor by property were they connected with the people of the country, and the object of the House of Assembly was to make them so. The Government, it is true, had promoted certain persons to the Legislative Council; but the determinations of that body they well knew, would be precisely the same as before. But what they knew the people also knew—and knowing were disgusted; they saw that a trick was played upon them. These people are a practical and sagacious—they are a downright and plain straightforward people—not to be duped by such a vulgar artifice. I will trouble the House with the opinion of the House of Assembly as to the supposed ameliorations of the Legislative Council. [The hon. Member read certain Resolutions of the House of Assembly in which they condemned in very strong terms the Legislative Council, as composed at present.] In accordance with the opinions expressed in this last Resolution, the House of Assembly proposed to the right hon. Secretary, through the Governor, that in order to learn what really were the wishes of the people, a body of persons should be called together, after having been elected by the people, in order simply to determine this single matter—namely, what alteration they desired in the Legislative Council. This plan was proposed—first, to learn distinctly the opinions of the people—it having been asserted by a certain party in the country, that the body of the people desired no change; second, to ensure a quiet and deliberate consideration of a very grave matter. For, as the Representatives in this case would be charged with one matter alone, and acting under a very serious responsibility, it was believed, that they would be the more likely to give it a singular and complete attention. Now, this body thus proposed to be called together by one person or other was unfortunately termed a Convention. The right hon. Secretary immediately called it a National Convention, and straightway there danced before his imagination the recollection of the French Revolution and the disastrous year of 93—and Gensonné, Gaudet, and Louort, Robespierre, Danton, and the revolutionary leaders and deeds of that day all rushed upon his mind, and, in an agony of terror and indignation, he penned the following pithy despatch to Lord Aylmer respecting the 782 proposal of the House of Assembly.I have also laid before the King the addresses of the House of Assembly. I cannot pass over this document without observation. The object of this address is to pray his Majesty to sanction a national convention of the people of Canada, for the purpose of superseding the legislative authorities, and taking into their consideration in which of two modes the constitution of Lower Canada shall be altogether destroyed; whether by the introduction of the elective principle, or by the entire abolition of the Legislative Council. On the mode proposed, his Majesty is willing to put no harsher construction than that of extreme inconsiderateness; to the object sought to be obtained his Majesty can never be advised to assent, as deeming it inconsistent with the very existence of monarchical institutions. To every measure which may secure the independence, and raise the character of the Legislative. Council, his Majesty will be most ready to assent. In 1828, a Committee of the House of Commons carefully investigated the grievances alleged by the inhabitants of the Canadas, and amongst them the constitution of the Legislative Council was a matter of serious deliberation. The Committee reported that one of the most important subjects to which their inquiries had been directed, was the state of the Legislative Council in both the Canadas, and the manner in which those Assemblies had answered the purposes for which they were instituted The Committee strongly recommended that a more independent character should be given to those bodies; that the majority of their members should not consist of persons holding offices at the pleasure of the Crown; and that any other measures that might tend to connect more intimately that branch of the Constitution with the interests of the colonies, would be attended with the greatest advantage.With respect to the Judges, with the exception only of the Chief Justice, whose presence on particular occasions might be necessary, the Committee entertained no doubt, that they had better not be involved in the political business of the House. An examination of the constitution of the body at that period and the present, will sufficiently shew in what spirit his Majesty's Government have laboured to accomplish the wishes of Parliament. The House of Assembly state correctly, that it has often been avowed, that the people of Canada could see nothing in the institutions of neighbouring countries to which they should look with envy. I have yet to learn that his Majesty's subjects in Canada entertain such sentiments at present, or that they desire to copy in a monarchical government all the institutions of a republic, or to have the mockery of an executive, absolutely dependent for its existence upon a popular body usurping the whole authority 783 of the State. I am not prepared to advise his Majesty to recommend to Parliament so serious a step as the repeal of the Act of 1791, whereby the institutions of this country were conferred separately upon the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. Serious as are the difficulties by which your Lordship's administration is beset, they are yet not such as to induce me to despair of the practical working of the British Constitution; but should events unhappily force upon Parliament the exercise of its supreme authority to compose the internal dissensions of the colonies, it would be my object and my duty, as a servant of the Crown, to submit to Parliament such modifications of the charter of the Canadas as should tend, not to the introduction of institutions inconsistent with monarchical government, but to maintaining and strengthening the connexion with the mother-country, by a close adherence to the spirit of the British Constitution, and by preserving, in their proper place, and within their due limits, the mutual rights and privileges of all classes of his Majesty's subjects.I would now beg the House to weigh this matter rather more carefully than the right hon. Gentleman has done, and endeavour to learn how Monarchy and Monarchical Institutions are to be destroyed by the simple, and I think, extremely proper method suggested by the House of Assembly. It appears that the House of Commons, itself supposed to be a democratic body, proposes that alterations should be made in a particular portion of the provincial Government—what alterations it did not, however, specify. Well, then, in order to learn what those alterations should be, the House of Assembly proposes that a body of persons should be elected by those most interested in the matter, and by those certainly best able to judge of the wants and wishes of the people; viz. the people themselves, in order to suggest the requisite changes. What is there in this subversive of Monarchy? It was not sought to make this body a Sovereign Legislative Assembly—it was not intended to supersede the King, Lords, and Commons; but it was intended to give the Imperial Legislature the best means of learning the wishes of the people and their actual wants in the matter of Government. This, I again assert, was a wise and considerate proceeding, and in no way deserving the rebuke and reproaches which the right hon. Secretary too rashly hazarded. But let us suppose for a moment that this plan was not a wise one. What shall we think of the tone and manner of the despatch which condemned it? Had the 784 right hon. Secretary considered for a moment he must have been aware that the people of Canada were not copying revolutionary France, but quiet and well-governe America. He would have remembered, that every day almost in the United States bodies are thus chosen to determine particular questions, and the people of Canada sought only to follow a plan which, on the opposite frontiers, they saw pursued by the most sagacious and best governed people on the earth. Would he not (if acting wisely and calmly), even if he differed from the House of Assembly, have expressed in very temperate language his dissent—have stated quietly his reasons for dissent—have pointed out some other, and what to him appeared a wiser plan? But he did none of these things. He at once, and without disguise, accuses a whole body of representatives, who had been acting in the solemn discharge of a sacred duty, with desiring to overthrow the Constitution of their country. He accuses them of wishing to introduce republican measures, as if by that epithet he at once condemned the plan proposed, and then, without further ado, he violently threatens them with a second edition of Ms Irish Coercion Bill. It is idle to mince the matter. We know very well what that round-about phrase was intended to signify. It meant threats—threats of changing their form of government—threats of taking away power from the popular branch of the Legislature;—and why was all this angry language used? Simply because the House of Assembly had proposed a mode of learning the people's wishes and wants which was distasteful to the right hon. Secretary. Now, Sir, what was the answer of the House of Assembly to this rash and inconsiderate menace. Just what any one acquainted with the people would have expected—just what any high-spirited body would have given; and, for my part, had they given any other, they would have had my contempt, and not, as now, my sympathy. It was this:That this House, and the people whom it represents, do not wish or intend to convey any threat; but that, relying as they do on the principles of law and justice, they are and ought to be politically strong enough not to be exposed to receive insult from any man whomsoever, or bound to suffer it in silence; that the style of the said extracts from the despatches of the Colonial Secretary, as communicated to this House, is insulting and 785 inconsiderate to such a degree, that no legally-constituted body, although its functions were infinitely subordinate to those of Legislation, could or ought to tolerate them: that no similar example can be found even in the despatches of those of his predecessors in office, least favourable to the rights of the colonies: that the tenor of the said despatches is incompatible with the rights and privileges of this House, which ought not to be called in question or defined by the Colonial Secretary, but which, as occasion may require, will be successfully promulgated and enforced by this House.That with regard to the following expressions in one of the said despatches, "should events unhappily force upon Parliament the exercise or his supreme authority to compose the internal dissension of the Colonies, it would be my object and my duty, as a servant of the Crown, to submit to Parliament, such modifications of the charter of the Canadas as should, tend, not to the introduction of institutions inconsistent with Monarchical Government, but to maintaining and strengthening the connexion with the mother-country by a close adherence to the spirit of the British Constitution, and by preserving in their proper place, and within their due limits, the mutual rights and privileges of all classes of his Majesty's subjects;" if they are to be understood as containing a threat to introduce into the constitution and other modifications than such as are asked for by the majority of the people of this province, whose sentiments cannot be legitimately expressed by any other authority than its representatives, this House would esteem itself wanting in candour to the people of England, if it hesitated to call their attention to the fact, that in less than twenty years the population of the United States of America will be as much greater than that of Great Britain, as that of British America will be greater than that of the former English colonies, when the latter deemed that the time was come to decide that the inappreciable advantage of governing themselves, instead of being governed, ought to engage them to repudiate a system of colonial government, which was, generally speaking, much better than that of British America now is.But, says the right hon. Secretary, they had a republican intent in view; they desired to destroy the Monarchical character of the Constitution, by proposing to make the Legislative Council elective by the people. To make it, in fact, similar to those Republican Senates which are to be found in the Constitution of the United States. Let us learn what is the worth of all this outcry. I would observe, however, for myself, by way of preliminary remark, that I do not advocate an elective Council—a double Chamber appears to me a 786 clumsy contrivance—a mode of increasing the defects always attendant on legislative bodies, by multiplying the number of the persons composing them. The Council, in my eyes, is a nuisance; and my way of getting rid of a nuisance, is simply to abate it—in other words, to clear it away entirely. I would utterly abolish the Legislative Council, and set up nothing in its stead, leaving the Government composed of the Governor and the House of Assembly. It appears, however, that certain persons proposed to have an elective Council, and here-upon the fright arises respecting Monarchy. Let me ask of the right hon. Gentleman, if Monarchy is supposed to be of such a nature as necessarily to entail a nuisance on the people? Is a badly-constituted second branch of the Legislature necessary to the maintenance of Monarchy? because, if it be so, I will meet the right hon. Secretary at once, and declare, that the more rapidly the one and the other are got rid of the better. If we cannot maintain our dominion over our colonies without also maintaining a scourge, our dominion is a curse; and if the people be wise, they will cast us and the Legislative Council off at the same time. But, Sir, there is, I assert, no such necessity. I assume, that the Government of England has no intentions hostile to the interest of the people of the colony. I assume, also, that the House of Assembly will know, and will endeavour to attain, what is most conducive to the welfare of their constituents; therefore, I say, it follows necessarily, that the wishes of the English Government, and those of the House of Assembly, will be identical. That, to bolster up a good dominion, such a mischievous institution as the Legislative Council is utterly unnecessary; that it is useful only to bad purposes, and an incumbrance even when it acts most wisely. Does any one believe, that our dominion over the Canadas is maintained by some score of mischief-making old men, collected together, and called a Legislative Council? The Governor is not strengthened by them;—he would not be weaker in reality were they abolished to-morrow. How, then, I should like to know, is this body necessary to monarchy? But it may be said, allow two bodies of the Legislature to be chosen by the people, and you make the people paramount. I ask, in answer to this,—do you desire things different from what the people desire? If you do, you seek to establish bad government. If you do, you make bad government and Monarchy in 787 this case identical. I, having a better opinion of the intentions of the English Government, suppose it to wish what the people wish, and, so wishing, that it would act in harmony with the people's Representatives, whether sitting in two Chambers or one. Therefore, I say, this supposed proposal of an Elective Council is, in no ways, opposed to monarchical institutions; and that it only seeks to establish a good for a pernicious institution. The right hon. Secretary, however, was not content with thus declaring war against the Assembly generally. He took care to quarrel with them in a matter peculiarly relating to their own privileges. The House of Assembly is fond of imitating the proceedings of this House; and, in order to ensure the purity and independence of the Members, it was determined to take a precaution which this House has established. In the year 1680, this House passed the following Resolution:—'That no Member of this House shall accept of any office or place of profit from the Crown without the leave of this House, or of any promise of any such office or place of profit during such time as he shall continue a Member of this House. Resolved, that all offenders herein shall be expelled this House.' The House of Assembly, in imitation of this, resolved, that all Members accepting place should vacate their seats, thereby making their constitution, in this particular, similar to our own. Some time since, Mr. Mondelet, being a Member, did accept of office; and the House declared, that he thereby vacated his seat, and called upon the Governor to issue a new writ for the county of Montreal. The Governor refused, and reported his refusal to the right hon. Secretary, who thereupon sent him a despatch, approving of his refusal to affix his name to the new writ for Montreal. [The hon. Member read the despatch.] It is quite evident, that the right hon. Secretary was egregiously in error, when he asserted, that the House of Commons never arrogated to itself this power. I have quoted this instance; and this proof of his own fallibility will, I hope, lead him to judge of others in future with something more of mildness. The tone of this despatch, like the one I have already read, is, in the highest degree, unworthy of any one claiming the character of a statesman. This sneering comparison of the knowledge and prudence of the House of Commons, and of the House of Assembly, was more 788 fitted for the flippant critique of a review, than the grave document of a responsible Officer; and this comparison, too, is made in favour of a body who passed, nemine contradicente, the resolution I have above quoted, who expelled Wilkes, and who, twelve years afterwards, expunged the record of that expulsion from their Journals. Surely, surely the right hon. Secretary must study a little more carefully the history of his country, and learn to be less hasty and positive in assertion, when he finds that he has thus grossly erred. But what said the Assembly to this? Their answer was directly in the teeth of the right hon. Gentleman's assertions. [The hon. Member quoted some other resolutions of the House of Assembly.] The result, then, of all this imprudence on the part of the right hon. Gentleman is, that the province now is, in reality, without a Government. The three bodies of the Legislature are at open war, and no communication exists between them. In the Executive the Governor is powerless, for no monies have been granted; and besides, the Governor has utterly lost the confidence of the people. In addition to this, the Judiciary is vehemently suspected by the whole province; so that, in fact, the administration of justice may be said to be at a stand. And now, Sir, I ask, amid all this confusion, what is to be done? The right hon. Secretary has refused the plan proposed by the House of Assembly; and by his proceedings generally, he and his officer, the Governor, have put the country into a flame. A revolution (I will not hide it from the House) is at hand; and here comes the question,—what ought this House to do? Is it not, I ask, high time that we should carefully investigate the matter, and afford the people some means of redress—the Executive some means of exculpation? Is it not the height of madness to allow the confusion to continue, without inquiring whether the House is inclined to agree with the opinions which I have expressed respecting the conduct of the Home and Colonial Governments? I think, then, I have made out a sufficient case for the House to grant me the Committee which I ask. I have shown, beyond all doubt, that, whether wisely or unwisely, I shall not now ask, the provinces are in a state nearly approaching to revolution. I have explained, that the cause of this great excitement was a belief existing in the minds of the people of the colonies that their Government is a bad one. I have shown how 789 necessarily they must be led to make comparisons between their own condition and the happy state of the American Republics; and that, therefore, it is highly necessary, if we desire to retain a peaceable dominion, that we should give the colonists every opportunity of expressing their complaints, and of seeking redress for their supposed grievances, through the ready intervention of the Imperial Legislature. On these grounds, I say, Sir, if we be governed by the dictates of a sound and benevolent policy, we shall unhesitatingly grant the Committee which I ask for, and allow the people to bring their complaints before us in a direct and straightforward manner. I hope, therefore, whatever else the right hon. Secretary may say on this occasion, he will not oppose the Resolution with which I intend to conclude. Before closing the observations which I have deemed it my duty to make, I would solemnly appeal to the prudence of the right hon. Gentleman, whose opinions will, I know, guide the determination of this House. I would beseech him to pause and reflect upon the consequences that will follow any rash declaration of hostility; and would earnestly entreat of him to listen to the dictates rather of a calm and sane policy, than the rash impulses of an impetuous temper. Let him recollect, that the great Republic of America, with her swarming citizens,—adventurous, wary, and sagacious,—is the close neighbour of our Canadian subjects; that thirteen millions of enthusiastic Republicans will watch with intense interest, and with selfish views, any dispute that takes place between the colonies and the mother country. Let him also be certain, that, if any rupture takes place between us, the colonists will ask, and will indubitably receive, assistance from their all-powerful neighbours. And on what terms will that assistance be granted? But on one only:—that the Canadians become part of the great Federal Republic. And when this event shall take place, who is there that, on surveying the vast possessions of this already but too formidable power, but will tremble for the fate of England. From the North Pole to the Sea of Mexico,—from the Atlantic to the Pacific,—will her gigantic territories extend. With a coast unequalled in the whole habitable globe,—with wise and beneficent institutions,—with a well-instructed and sagacious people, where shall we fix the limits of her power?—where find a check to her over-whelming force? The fleets of England 790 will dwindle into insignificance,—her naval supremacy will shrink into obedient servitude to her Transatlantic offspring. The day is not far distant which will see this prophecy fulfilled, if we rashly drive into rebellion the provinces of Canada. If we yield to their wishes, on the other hand, we may bind them to us by the gentle, but firm bonds of friendship,—we may foster them by time into an opposing power to the giant strength of America, and may erect in the more northern territories of that happy Continent a rival to the United States in force, in commerce, and in happiness. Gentle treatment—wise conciliation—will effect this. Any rash and impetuous contempt of their desires will revive the disastrous days of 1774; and the colonies now, as then, will, with arms in their hands, at once and for ever, proclaim themselves independent of our dominion. Woe to that Minister who leads us to this result! The hon. Member concluded by moving "The appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the means of remedying the evils which exist in the form of the Governments now existing in Upper and Lower Canada."
said, he must offer his thanks to the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down, first for the advice which the hon. and learned Gentleman had tendered to him—advice which be received in the spirit of kindness—and in the next place for having, by the present motion, afforded him an opportunity to explain and bring under the consideration of the House not only the constitution, but also the present state of the province of Lower Canada. He knew not what was the object of the alteration which the hon. and learned Gentleman had made from the terms in which his Motion had originally been announced to those with which the hon. and learned Gentleman had just concluded his speech; but the House would not fail to observe, that the distinction was by no means immaterial: it was one question to discuss and consider the constitution of a Colony, and another to inquire into its present state and condition. He confessed, though he had listened with great attention to the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman, it was with no small difficulty that he had followed the hon. and learned gentleman through the complicated dates, terms, facts, and circumstances, which almost rendered the hon. and learned Gentleman's statement unintelligible to persons unacquainted with the 791 subject-matter sought to be inquired into; but he (Mr. Stanley) begged the House to observe, that the hon. and learned Gentleman, on a general principle (which, however, he did not avow), called upon the Legislature of this country to enter into the consideration of the existing constitution of two colonial provinces, while the whole of the hon. and learned Gentleman's facts and allegations referred to one single province; nay more, the hon. and learned Gentleman had entirely omitted to inform the House that, in the other province, the Governor, the executive Council, and the Legislative Council, were united in the bonds of most perfect good feeling and unanimity, notwithstanding the strenuous efforts which had been essayed to disturb the harmony which had prevailed for a long period amongst these three branches of the local government of Upper Canada. It would be his duty to endeavour to supply this omission on the part of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He would first state, that not very long since a gentleman of the name of Mackenzie came over to this country from Upper Canada to complain to his Majesty's Government of certain grievances alleged by him to exist in that province. That complaint had been inquired into with the deepest anxiety by the noble Earl who was his predecessor in the office he had now the honour to fill, with a view to equal and impartial justice. His noble friend had called upon the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada to take the best mode to meet the alleged grievances; and what was the answer of the House of Assembly—a body whose independence and freedom of action had not been and he presumed would not be, disputed by the hon. and learned Gentleman, himself an advocate for freedom, and who, he was satisfied, would not quarrel with the terms of the answer which he felt bound to read to the House? His noble friend, in his despatch to Upper Canada, had stated that Mr. Mackenzie had concluded his paper containing a statement of the grievances of which he complained, and from which he had anticipated no other result (if not removed or remedied) than bloodshed, civil war, and a dissolution of the connexion between this country and the province of Upper Canada. His noble friend added, that he himself would not consent to the adoption of the opinions of Mr. Mackenzie, but, on the contrary, would reject the supposition, that any doubt could be 792 entertained that the people of Upper Canada would ever violate their sworn fidelity to their Monarch, and desolate their country by bloody rebellion. In answer to the communication of his noble friend, the House of Assembly stated:We, his Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of Upper Canada, in Provincial Parliament assembled, return our thanks, for your Excellency's Message of the 12th day of January last, transmitting a despatch of the right hon. the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in answer to certain letters and documents addressed to his Lordship, for the purpose of proving that the people of this happy and prosperous colony are oppressed and burdened with grievances, and have become so discontented, that there is danger of revolt and bloodshed, unless those alleged burdens and grievances are removed and redressed.We most readily concede that the noble Secretary of State was actuated by the best motives in framing the despatch in question; but we cannot refrain from expressing our great regret that it did not occur to his Lordship, that allegations thus deeply affecting the character of his Majesty's subjects of Upper Canada rested on no better testimony than that of an individual who had been twice expelled this House, and who, in consequence of his having fabricated and reiterated libels of the grossest description, had been declared unfit and unworthy a seat in the Assembly during the present Parliament. If this fact had occurred to his Lordship, it is reasonable to suppose, that he would not have felt himself at liberty to recognize the author of this additional calumny on the people of this province, as the agent, or as speaking the sentiments of any portion of the loyal inhabitants of the province of Upper Canada, and would therefore have considered it utterly unnecessary to enter into so elaborate an examination or refutation of anything advanced by him.The House of Assembly are unwilling to occupy your Excellency's time or attention by commenting on the details of the dispatch, or on the different matters referred to in it, as constituting grounds of complaint on the part of a few of the people of this province; they will merely remark, that the remedy for any ills alleged to exist is placed in the hands and is within the constitutional power, of the Legislature of the colony; and the noble Secretary of State does the people of this province but justice in believing, that there are no people on earth who are less likely to yield to the unmanly weakness of despairing of the public good, and of betraying their most sacred duties in a pusillanimous spirit. Acting upon principles and feelings diametrically opposite to those imputed to them, we are confident, that they will take care to exercise their rights as freemen and British sub- 793 jects, in such a manner as will insure the election of representatives who will maintain our excellent constitution, guard our rights, and, with the concurrence of the other branches of the Legislature, adopt such measures as may appear necessary for removing any just ground of complaint.This was the Address of the House of Assembly of Upper Canada on this occasion. This was the way in which they spoke of that Constitution and that system of government which the hon. Member had thought fit to come down to that House to vilify and abuse. This was the language of the representatives of that Colony which the hon. Member would lead the House of Commons to consider as disaffected and discontented. This was the language of an Assembly elected in the freest and most impartial manner—chosen by a constituency composed of 40s. freeholders and of persons in free possession of houses of the value of 5l., or renting houses of the value of 10l. Yet this was the way in which the representatives of Canada spoke of the Constitution and of the happiness they enjoyed under it. He would next beg to remind the House, that, in the year 1828, a Committee of the House of Commons had been appointed to inquire into the government of Canada. The hon. Gentleman, in his review of circumstances since 1810, had thought fit to pass over that Committee without ever deigning to mention it, or to inform the House that such a Committee had sat at all. [Mr. Roebuck: The right hon. Gentleman is mistaken. I noticed the proceedings of that Committee] He was not even aware, that the hon. Gentleman had mentioned it. At all events the mention of it was so slight that it had altogether escaped his (Mr. Stanley's) observation. That Committee, in their Report, state that they "are desirous of recording the principle which, in their judgment, should be applied in any alterations in the constitutions of the Canadas which were imparted to them under the formal Act of the British Legislature of 1791. That principle is, to limit the alterations which it may be desirable to make by any future British Act, as far as possible, to such points as, from the relation between the mother country, and the Canadas, can only be disposed of by the paramount authority of the British Legislature; and they are of opinion, that all other changes should, if possible, be carried into effect by the Local Legislatures themselves, in amicable communication with the Local Government." He cordially em- 794 braced that opinion. He joined the Committee in thinking that as little intervention as possible should take place on the part of the Government of the mother country, and he was surprised that the hon. Gentleman would propose an intervention on the part of this country, in the affairs of a colony which enjoyed freer institutions than almost any other country on the face of the globe, and the Legislative Assembly of which, chosen by the free voice of the people, had declared their satisfaction with the Government and the present system of affairs. He was peculiarly surprised that the hon. Gentleman should have chosen the present period to bring forward this Motion, when the general election in Canada was about to come on, and the people would have an opportunity of showing, by the choice or rejection of their present Representatives, whether or not they continued to enjoy that satisfaction which they had formerly expressed. He would take the allegations of the hon. and learned Member as he had made them, though the case of the two colonies was essentially different. In the one the Constitution was not complained of in any degree; in the other a party was strongly opposed to it. In Upper Canada there were no complaints, nor grounds of complaint but, he must admit, that the case was different in the Lower Province. In tracing the hon. and learned Gentleman through his several allegations and complaints, he would endeavour to trespass on the time of the House as shortly as the nature of the subject would admit, consistently with giving a full explanation of the points which the hon. and learned Gentleman had mooted. The first point mentioned by the hon. and learned Gentleman was the difference between the Constitution of Upper and Lower Canada. In the one, he admitted, that there was no matter for complaint, but, in the other, there was. The first point of complaint was the Constitution of the Executive, and next of the Legislative Council. The duties of the Executive Council were to advise with the Governor on the affairs of the colony; to pass the Government accounts as far as regarded the Treasury, and other matters connected with the Government; but, said the hon. Gentleman, the Executive Council interferes with the duties of the Legislative Council. This was a fallacy which ran through his whole argument. He told them of an act of abuse committed by Sir James Craig in 1810, 795 which he willingly admitted to have been unconstitutional, and of other acts previous to 1828; but the hon. and learned Gentleman said nothing of the recommendations of the Committee of 1828; nor did he once tell the House that the Government had ever since acted in the closest manner on the recommendations of the Committee, and had used every exertion to do away with every cause of grievance. In the Amendment which he should conclude, by moving to the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman, he meant to propose, that the Committee to be appointed should be confined in their inquiries to the state of Lower Canada. He proposed, that the Committee be appointed to inquire into the state of the Lower Province, because the Government of that colony was on its trial both here and in Canada. It was necessary that the members of that Government should have an opportunity of defending themselves from the accusations brought against them by the hon. and learned Member. He knew, that it would be impossible for the House to go into a consideration of the multifarious subjects which such an inquiry would embrace, still he invited—nay, more—demanded an inquiry, in order that the hon. Member should substantiate the charges brought against the Government, or the Government have an opportunity of refuting them; and he (Mr. Stanley) pledged himself to show before the Committee, that the Government, in all they had done, had acted in strict accordance with the recommendations of the Committee of 1828, and that their conduct throughout, since that period, had been marked by a spirit of conciliation and concession. With regard to the Legislative and Executive Councils, the hon. Member said, that the Executive Council swayed the opinions of the Legislative Council, and actually governed it; that it was the centre of a small body of place-men, who were entirely under the influence of the Government; and that the principal portion of the members of the Executive Council were members of the Legislative Assembly. Now, what was the fact? Why, that in the Executive Council of Upper Canada there were thirty-two members, of whom only six were members of the Legislative Council. As to Lower Canada, the Executive Council of that province consisted of thirty-seven members, three only of whom were in the Legislative Council. These were facts which he should be able to show satisfactorily to the House, and of which he could produce the most undeniable evidence 796 before the Committee. The hon. Member had accused him of having altered the opinions which he had expressed in 1828, on the subject of the Constitution of the Legislative Council; but such was not the fact. He had then declared, and he now repeated, that a Legislative Council, constituted as the Legislative Council of Lower Canada then was, and depending, as the members then were, on the Crown, and subject to the influence of the Government, such a Legislative Council he had declared to be a grievance, and he still continued to be of that opinion. He would strengthen what he then said by some extracts from the Report of the Committee of 1828, in regard to the Government of Lower Canada; but, before doing so, he would beg to draw the attention of the House to a part of the evidence taken before that Committee. The House was aware, that in 1828, a petition, signed by 87,000 of the inhabitants of Lower Canada, living under the French law, was sent to the British House of Commons, in which complaints were made of arbitrary acts on the part of the Governor of the Province, and of many abuses. This petition was intrusted to the care of three gentlemen, Mr. Neilson, Mr. Viger, and Mr. Cuvillier, members of the Assembly of Lower Canada, who had been deputed to this country for the purpose of seeking redress of the injuries complained of by them. Now, it was remarkable, that Resolutions passed by the Assembly to which the hon. and learned Gentleman had referred, were opposed by Messrs. Neilson and Cuvillier, who could not be supposed to be opposed to the popular party. Mr. Neilson moved an Amendment, admitting some evils, but expressing satisfaction at the course pursued by the Government, and calling on the House to co-operate strenuously with the Governor for the redress of real and practical grievances. That was the language used by Mr. Neilson, in speaking to the fifth of the ninety-six Resolutions then adopted; and he complained, that his recommendation was not followed, but that, on the contrary, resolutions were agreed to, which condemned the Government. To show what Mr. Neilson's opinion was, in respect to the Constitution of the Legislative Council, he would quote that Gentleman's evidence before a Committee of the House of Commons. He stated:—There are two modes in winch the Composition of the Legislative Council might be bettered: the one which, I believe, the majority of the people in Lower Canada have in view, 797 is, by the exercise of the prerogative, appointing men who are independent of the Executive, and, in fact, who are able to live by their own means. That has appeared to us to be the most consistent with the Constitution under which we live. If that were found to be impracticable, the other mode would be to make the Legislative Council elective, by electors of a higher qualification, and fixing a qualification in property for the persons that might sit in the Council. I should conceive that the latter mode would be safe enough for all parties; still it seems to be a deviation from the Constitution under which we live.You conceive, then, that the fault of the Legislative Council is not in the original constitution of the body, but in the manner in which the choice of councillors has been exercised?—Certainly; that may, perhaps, be unavoidable; because it is impossible that the Government here should see in the colony, excepting by the means of the people that are in the colony; they must take the recommendations that are sent from the colony; and if they are men that are not independent, and not suited altogether to act an independent part in the Council, of course they must appoint them notwithstanding, for they do not know that it is otherwise.When you say that those alterations would improve the Constitution of the Legislative Council, do you use the word 'improve,' in this sense, that they would constitute a body which would agree with the lower House in their views, instead of agreeing with the Governor, as it now does, in his views?—I should suppose that it would be compelled to agree with neither one nor the other. At present, we suppose that it is absolutely compelled to agree with the Governor. Then it would be an independent body, that would keep the balance between the two, and give a certain stability to the existing laws and institutions.It never was imagined (the witness continued), by us, at least, that the Legislative Council was to be otherwise than a body originating, in some measure, from the Crown.He then recommended that—The Judges ought to be excluded from the Legislative Council; for it unavoidably mixes them up with politics, and they become, instead of Judges, in some measure political partizans.And, in reply to other questions, Mr. Neilson continued—If the Chief Justice is to be everything as he is at present, a Member of the Legislative Council, Chairman of the Executive Council, presiding in the Court of Appeals, and taking an active part in all the public business of the province, he must be almost incapable of avoiding, when he is upon the Bench, feeling a certain bias: it is believed, too, that such a bias exists; for instance, when a prosecution is advised, it must be sanctioned in the Council in order to allow the expenses; the Executive 798 Council has, of course, advised the prosecution, and the Chief Justice is the Judge to sit on the Bench, and try it, and he is in danger of being biassed. In truth, people do conceive that there is a bias at present in matters where the Crown is concerned.If the Chief Justice, or any Judge, were not to be active politicians, there would be no harm in their being anywhere; but the society being small, they become active politicians.Is it not by being Executive Councillors that they get mixed up with politics?—Yes, that is the great evil of their being Legislative Councillors, but in the Legislative Council, in the passing of Bills, they take an active part; they are for or opposed to the Bill; and it has been frequently found, that they interpret in their Courts, according to the interpretation in the Council.He continues—Would you think it desirable that a provision of this sort should be made, that not above a certain proportion of the Legislative Council should consist of persons in the pay and employment of Government?—Certainly, I should say so, that would be a proper rule for the Government to act upon.Mr. Neilson, therefore, did not object to the Legislative Council, but he wished that it should be kept distinct from the Executive Council. Mr. Cuvillier used still stronger language than Mr. Neilson in regard to the exclusion of the Judges. In the evidence given before the Committee, there was this passage:—Do the petitioners whom you represent complain of the composition of the Legislative Council?—They do.Of what do they complain?—They complain that the majority of the Members of the Legislative Council are persons holding places of profit during pleasure, and, in consequence of that, they are not considered independent of the Crown.How do they propose to remedy it?—I do not know that their opinion has been taken upon that particular point. I can only give it as my opinion to the Committee, that if it were not expedient to make the Legislative Council elective, certainly the Judges ought to be excluded from that body, and also the Collectors and Receivers of Revenue, and the Auditors of Accounts. If, on the other hand, the Legislative Council were to be elective, a certain qualification, of course, would be requisite in the Electors, and a certain qualification for the Members; but, decidedly, certain descriptions of persons ought not to be elected in the Council, for instance, Collectors and Receivers of the Revenue.Now this was not the Report of the Committee of the House of Commons, but the language of the Representatives of the 799 popular portion of the House of Assembly of Lower Canada. The Committee of this House, at the same time, strongly recommended, that "a more independent character should be given to the Legislative Councils in both the Canadas; that the majority of the Members should not consist of persons holding offices at the pleasure of the Crown; and that any other measures that might tend to connect more intimately this branch of the Constitution with the interests of the Colonies would be attended with the greatest advantage. With respect to the Judges, with the exception of the Chief Justice, whose presence on particular occasions might be necessary, your Committee entertain no doubt that they had better not be involved in the political business of the House. Upon similar grounds it appears to your Committee, that it is not desirable that Judges should hold seats in the Executive Council." These were the recommendations of the Committee of the House of Commons. To show how they had been acted on, with the exception of the Chief Justice, none of the Judges now occupied seats in the Council; and not only in this particular, but in all other respects, it would be found, that the recommendations of the Committee had been complied with in a spirit of good faith. In 1828, the Legislative Council consisted of twenty-seven Members, of whom eighteen held offices under the Crown, and eight were of French Canadian birth. But what was the state of the Legislative Council at the present time? Its character for independence was infinitely greater now than it was then in both Upper and Lower Canada; for, as he had before stated, all the Judges were withdrawn from it, with the exception of the Chief Justice. Since 1828, the number of the members of the Legislative Council was increased from twenty-seven to thirty-five, and of these only seven were connected with the Crown; so that now no fewer than twenty-seven members of that body were wholly independent of the Government. If the fact should be disputed, he was ready to prove it by positive evidence. He would furnish a list of the names of the parties, as his desire was, that the matter should be sifted from the bottom. He repeated, that the Government here must have been grossly deceived,—a circumstance he did not believe, if the fact were not as he had stated, that twenty-seven out of the thirty-five members who constituted the Legislative Assembly held no offices whatever under the Government, or at the pleasure 800 of the Crown. With respect to the national origin of the members of which the hon. Member complained, he found that she Assembly was composed, at the different periods, as follows:—
But it must be remembered, that the complaint was, that the French Canadians were excluded, whereas it was a fact that, since 1828, the number of them had been nearly doubled. This was the spirit in which the Government carried into execution the recommendations of the Committee; and to show that they still continued to carry them through with the same spirit, he would read an extract from a despatch of Lord Aylmer, dated 1831, and addressed to the noble Lord who filled the office which he (Mr. Stanley) had the honour of now filling. Lord Aylmer forwarded a list of eleven names for appointment to seats in the Legislative Council; and it would be found that every one of them was independent of the Government, with the exception of one gentleman, a French Canadian, who held the nominal office of Provincial Aide-de-Camp to the Governor. Lord Aylmer said, 'These gentlemen if appointed, will increase the number of the Legislative Council to thirty-five, including the Speaker, and without counting the three Puisne Judges of the district of Quebec (Messrs. Kerr, Tashereau, and Bowen), who no longer attend the meetings, or take part in the deliberations of that body. In the accompanying list your Lordship will observe, that of the eleven gentlemen now recommended to be appointed Legislative Councillors, eight are of French extraction, four are Members of the House of Assembly; and they are totally independent of the Local Government of the province, with one exception, as appears by the accompanying list, and the circumstances attending which are therein stated. Of the thirty-five Members of which the Legislative Council will consist in the event of these gentlemen being appointed, fifteen will be found of French extraction.' Subsequent additions had been made in the same spirit, and the result was, that instead of the Government having a majority of six in the Legislative Council, who were removable at pleasure, as in 1828, the whole thirty-five Members were now independent, and beyond the control 801 of the Government. This showed, that the Government had substantially and honestly adopted the recommendations of the Committee of 1828. The hon. Gentleman had stated, that he had departed from the principles laid down by the Committee, but he had now read that which appeared in the evidence before the Committee of the House, and the Report made thereon; and he was prepared to show, that his whole proceedings had been consistent with the recommendations of the Report. The hon. Member asked, whether his despatches were written in a spirit which showed good-will to the Assembly; the hon. and learned Gentleman might think not; but the course which it had been his painful duty to pursue from the period of his accepting the Seals of the Colonial Office was only in unison with that which the noble Lord who preceded him, at last, and with the greatest reluctance, felt himself bound to adopt. The Government of this country had been most anxious to maintain harmony between the Crown and the House of Assembly, but it had unhappily devolved upon him, in the exercise of his duty, to endeavour to put down the monstrous pretensions to which the House of Assembly laid claim—pretensions which, if admitted, would at once have subverted the Constitution of Lower Canada. He would beg to call the attention of the House to the situation of the province at the time he accepted the office of Colonial Secretary. While he fully concurred with the views which his noble friend had taken, and while he was prepared to defend the policy on which he had acted—while he was ready to admit his own responsibility as a member of the Government during the time his noble friend held the Colonial Seals, for any one and for all the acts which had proceeded from the Colonial Office, he was not prepared to submit to an invidious distinction between himself and his predecessor. There was another point in the speech of the hon. Member—he trusted the House would bear with him, though he was aware how difficult it was to command its attention on such a subject—there was another point to which he would beg to refer—namely, one of finance. The House of Assembly claimed the uncontrolled direction of the revenues raised in the province, and he admitted the general principle which that claim involved. But he was borne out by the opinion of the House of Commons in 1828; and at any rate he had right reason to justify him in 802 thinking that the Executive Officers and the Judges ought to be rendered independent of the caprices of a popular Assembly. He believed, too, that the House of Commons would join with him in saying, that these Officers should not be dependent on an annual grant of money. If there were any one thing more calculated than another to uphold and secure, not only the liberty, but the happiness of the people, it was to be found in maintaining the Judicial Bench independent of the Crown on the one hand, and of the people on the other. ["Hear, Hear," from Mr. Roebuck.] He was glad to hear the hon. Gentleman admit that fact, because when that was granted, all that he contended for must follow. The hon. and learned Gentleman however had omitted to state, that in 1774, the Act called the Quebec Act was passed, under which certain duties were leviable by his Majesty, without any control. In the year 1778, a Declaratory Act was passed by the Legislature, by which the duties levied in the province were made applicable only to colonial purposes. In 1791, a division—a most unfortunate division, in his opinion—was made of that portion of the dominions of the British Crown into the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada; the upper province being peopled by English and American settlers, while the lower was almost entirely occupied by the descendants of the French colonists. A separate Government, and, of course, a separate Legislative Council, were granted to both provinces, while, at the same time, the free enjoyment of the laws under which they had up to that time lived was guaranteed to all, although the basis of the laws which the French so much regarded was the feudal tenure in its most unmitigated and worst form. It was declared, that they should have the unrestrained use of their own language, their own religion, their own laws; and, on the part of the English Government, that engagement had been zealously, sedulously, anxiously, adhered to. A way was indeed thrown open for those who chose to avail themselves of it, to enable them to hold lands in free and common soccage. At this period the amount of the revenue coming into the Crown from the casual and territorial duties rendered it unnecessary to apply to the House of Assembly for any sums in aid of the local expenditure; and that continued so till 1818, when an application was found necessary. The House of Assembly at first complied with the requisition, and 803 granted an additional sum of money, without any stipulations as to its disposal; but, after some time, they claimed—and he thought that the claim was a fair one—they claimed a superintendence over the revenues collected within the province. Things went on in this state for a few years; concessions being made sometimes on one side, and sometimes on the other, till at last the Governor of the province authorized the Receiver to take any sum out of the chest of the province on an order signed by him, without waiting for the sanction of the House of Assembly for its appropriation. That was a step which never should meet with his approbation; and it was at this proceeding that the censure of the Select Committee of the House of Commons in 1828 was levelled. To show the spirit by which the House of Assembly was actuated, he would then mention one circumstance. The Legislature broke up last year at an early period, leaving the quarantine establishments in a state of great distress, when the Cholera was raging with unexampled fury, and famine was partially ravaging the country. Under these circumstances, the Governor, chiefly from his own resources, had advanced 7,000l. to provide for the pressing wants which such a calamity occasioned; and when he applied the next Session, in full confidence that the House of Assembly would reimburse him for what he had thus humanely advanced, he was met by a taunt against the misappropriation of the money. The House would observe, that not one farthing of this 7,000l. had been expended in paying the salaries of any members of the Executive, or of the Judges, but it had been all laid out in alleviating, at a time of great national suffering, the distresses of the sick population. Admitting the control of the House of Assembly over the taxes levied by their authority, there still remained the duties levied and appropriated under the 14th George 3rd: and on this point the opinion of the Select Committee of the House of Commons, to which he had before referred, was this:—'That from the opinion given by the law-officers of the Crown, your Committee must conclude, that the legal right of appropriating the revenues arising from the Act of 1774, is vested in the Crown; but the real interest of the province would be best promoted, by placing the receipts and expenditure of the whole public revenue under the superintendence and control of the House of Assembly. Your Commit- 804 tee, while recommending such a concession on behalf of the Crown, are strongly impressed with the advantage of rendering the Governor, the members of the Executive Council, and the Judges, independent of the annual votes of the House of Assembly for their respective salaries.' In pursuance of that proposal, his noble friend (Lord Aylmer) had proceeded to his appointment, and, relying upon the good faith of the House of Assembly of Lower Canada, had surrendered all the revenues of the province into their hands, fully expecting to receive that fair and honourable treatment which such confidence deserved. In this confidence, however, he had been disappointed: he had been met only with revilings and refusal. It was not lightly, nor upon insufficient authority, that he now brought forward this charge against the House of Assembly, for he held in his hand the resolution of the Assembly in 1828, to the effect that it would be expedient to render the Governor, Judges, and other Executive functionaries, independent of that House for the payment of their yearly salaries. On the passing of this Resolution, Government had proceeded in a sort of medium course, and, by a temporary arrangement, deducted the salaries of its officers from the original Crown-dues. But the House of Assembly then persisted in including their amount in the general Estimate of the Civil-list. On this, his noble friend and predecessor offered to take 35,000l. in consideration of their expenses, provided the Legislative Assembly would consent to make a permanent provision to that extent. This, however, was refused. It was in 1831 that his noble friend made this proposal to the Assembly of Lower Canada, and at the same time made proposals of a similar nature to the Assembly of the Upper Province. From the latter Assembly he received in reply an Address of Thanks, for the kind manner in which his Majesty had met their wishes in that particular, and they offered to secure a permanent Civil-list for the maintenance of his Majesty's Government and the Judicial Authorities. Upon the strength of these assurances, his noble friend had brought a Bill into Parliament in conformity with the plans they proposed, placing full dependence upon the word and honour of the House of Assembly, that they would forthwith make the Judges independent of the annual vote of the Assembly. But how did the event turn out? Had the Assembly made any such perma- 805 neat provision? No. They pretended to pass an Act regulating the condition of those officers, and, amongst other things, enacted that they should hold their offices for life; but they had not fixed what salaries they were to receive. They pretended to establish the independence of the executive officers of the Crown; but they at the same time assumed to themselves a right of impeachment over all the high officers of the State. The Legislative Assembly passed that Bill; but it was afterwards declared to be inadmissible to the Royal sanction, not by him (Mr. Stanley), but by his noble predecessor who was then in office. His noble friend had signified his dissent to that measure, and at the same time stated, that his Majesty would for the future provide for the salaries of his judicial functionaries out of the revenues already in the hands of the Government. The House of Assembly in various other ways, continued to assume a right of interference in the executive powers of the Crown, as in the appointment of officers, and other similar matters, with which they had no right to concern themselves. If the executive powers of the State were thus to be made continually dependent upon the control of a popular Assembly, instead of the discretion of those intrusted with the duties of Government, it would be better to hand over the whole of those executive powers at once into their hands. He was sorry to trouble the House with so many details, but he must state one or two particulars to illustrate the conduct of the Assembly. It so happened, that the district of Gaspe, one of the few places in Lower Canada where English influence rather predominated, had been some time ago represented by a gentleman of the name of Christie, who had been indiscreet enough to displease by some publication, the party paramount in the House of Assembly, and on his appearing to take his seat there, it was determined that he was not a fit person to sit with them. He was re-elected, and five or six times in succession, no longer entering into any discussion on the point of his qualification, they expelled him after each re-election. Now, in this instance, whatever might be the private opinion of individuals, so strongly did the Government feel that they could not interfere with the privileges of the House of Assembly, that not the least hesitation was manifested at issuing the respective writs which the Assembly in this instance ordered. With regard to M. Mondelet, be had accepted 806 the honorary appointment of a Councillor, for which he received no emolument whatever. There was no law subsisting in the colony which required the vacating of a seat in the Legislature on accepting an appointment. They, however, determined that all persons who for the future should accept offices of emolument under the Crown should vacate their seats in the Legislature; they sent this Bill to the other branch, and passed a Resolution, that even before it received the Royal Assent, it should have the force of law in the colony. Now, M. Mondelet did not come within the provisions of this enactment, either in the letter or in the spirit, yet the Speaker was ordered to issue his writ for a new election, in consequence of M. Mondelet's having accepted a place of profit under the Crown. He spoke under correction, but he spoke on very high authority, when he said, that the House of Commons knew its own privileges and the rights of others too well to arrogate to itself the power of making laws without the consent of the other branches of the Legislature; and if the Great Seal was ordered to be affixed to any such illegal enactment, the Chancellor of Great Britain, whose office the Governor of Lower Canada filled, would not permit that order to be executed. He really hardly knew how to follow the hon. Gentleman through the many points his speech presented; but he would touch on what the hon. member was pleased to call the massacre at Montreal. Now, this formidable phrase meant, in fact, nothing more than an election disturbance, in which two or three persons were unfortunately killed. The Grand Jury, whose functions had been but recently modelled, and modelled after the Grand Juries in England—by the way, great praise had been bestowed by the Judges on the manner in which the very perplexing provisions of the act to establish Grand Juries in Canada had been met—ignored the bill preferred against the individuals who were charged with the murder, and an address, signed by 7,700 persons, out of a population of about 21,000 inhabitants, expressed the high sense which those who had signed the address entertained of the temper with which these election proceedings were conducted. The House of Assembly instituted an inquiry into the circumstances; they summoned witnesses; they examined papers; and finding they could at that time make nothing of it, adjourned the inquiry to the next Session. It was then resumed, and 807 made the pretext for postponing the writ for this the most important city in Lower Canada, and the principal mart of commerce was kept for a year and a-half without a representative, the assembly alleging that it was not proper to issue a writ for the city during its then riotous state. He believed, that in doing this, the Assembly had only in view the exclusion of British influence. He was glad, that in Upper Canada at least, there existed no difference in their language, their religion, and their laws, and though there were certainly some variations in opinion entertained on what engendered the most vehement feelings of antipathy—religion, they had not risen to anything like animosity. He would beg to refer to part of the evidence delivered before the Committee of 1828, by a gentleman whose opinions, from his practical knowledge of the Canadas, were entitled to the greatest weight—he meant his right hon. friend, the Secretary at War. His right hon. friend stated, that the great object of the French colonists was, to maintain themselves in the condition in which they had up to the present time remained, and that if he were in their situation he might reasonably form the same wishes, but that these objects could only be effected at the expense of sacrificing British interests, and of retarding all improvement. There was no person more studiously desirous than he was to preserve the engagements which this country had entered into with the Canadians, and maintain them in the free exercise of their religion; but, at the same time, they had a duty to perform in promoting the influx of British capital and protecting British settlers going into the province. This was a struggle which had long been going on between the British in habitants and French seigneurs; the latter being apprehensive of danger to their feudal tenures. That, at some future period, the two provinces would be reunited he had not the least doubt, but at the present time he felt an unwillingness to recommend to Parliament this step, and he had stated in his despatch, that he was averse from interfering in any manner with the charter, though he had little doubt that, ultimately that would be necessary, as the only means of restoring harmony between all parties. Their great grievance was the Canada Tenures Act. The allotments of land in the back settlements were granted out by that in free and common soccage, and were intended to be subject to the English laws of property, 808 without interfering with the rights of the seigneurs over land already appropriated. Difficulties had arisen as to the interpretation of passages in the Act of Parliament of 1791, which it was found could not be dealt with by the Canada authorities; and Parliament, as it was justified in doing, stepped in to interpret its own Act. The Crown, which was in the place of seigneur paramount of the whole province, offered all the seigneurs the choice of holding in free and common soccage, instead of by feudal tenure, and this without levying any fine, provided only they would deal in like manner with all persons who held under them. It was voluntary on their part; but only two or three had taken advantage of it, while half the seigneuries lay waste and unoccupied. But how that law could injure the seigneurs, as it did not interfere with them, he could not understand. It was idle to suppose, that the interest of the French inhabitants could be affected by such a course of proceeding. On the contrary, the Canada Tenures Bill was calculated most materially to benefit the province and the great mass of the inhabitants who were French Canadians. He would now address himself to the cases in which complaints respecting the conduct of the Government had been made; and he challenged a rigorous investigation into the facts and circumstances of each case. The first was the seminary of Montreal, the rights of which, he begged to say, were held in considerable doubt. This seminary was originally attached to that of St. Sulpice, at Paris. It now exercised the functions, and enjoyed the privileges, of seigneur of Montreal, amongst which was the power of imposing taxes and duties. The House would immediately perceive how excessively onerous this must be in a large commercial town like Montreal. He believed he was correct in stating, that a tax, amounting to one-fifth on every mutation of property, was levied there. The Law Officers of the Crown had given an opinion against the fact of those rights being vested in the seminary. The rights and revenues had been originally granted for the conversion of the infidels; now they were turned to the purposes of education. An adjustment of the claims of the seminary had been proposed; and what, he asked, were the terms offered by the Government? It proposed to grant to the seminary the whole amount of its annual revenues, taking an average of the receipts for the last ten years; and, moreover, they 809 further pledged themselves, that, if any surplus arose from the revenues, upon the payment of this annual allowance they would place that surplus in the hands of the House of Assembly for purposes of education. Next, as to the complaint, that the Legislative Council was not made elective, he contended that, in a country where the mass of the population were French Canadians, while almost all the property, with the exception of the land, was in the hands of the British inhabitants, and when the House of Assembly, from a jealousy of their own laws and privileges, showed an aversion to the settlement of British capital in the province, and threw continual obstacles in the way; if they were to make the Legislative Council elective, it could have no other effect than that of not only abrogating the power of the Government and of the Executive, but, moreover, the rights of British subjects, which he, for one, was not prepared to surrender to any means of intimidation which any body of men could employ. He would meet their efforts, however, with constitutional resistance, by keeping in the hands of the Government the influence over a body which, while it could not interfere with the functions or privileges of the House of Assembly, would yet act as a shield to all classes of his Majesty's subjects; and would, without reference to the popularity of their proceeding at the moment, see that all were protected, let the assault come from whatsoever quarter it might. The last charge was, that they had not admitted a fair proportion of French Canadians to public offices. It was alleged, that, out of 214 public functionaries, only forty-seven were French Canadians. Now, it was the very nature of a colony that, in order to preserve the connexion between it and the mother country entire, many officers should be brought from the latter. How were the facts of the case? Of the 214, 125 were of British origin, and born in these countries, and eighty-one were born in the Canadas; and of those eighty-one so born in the Canadas, thirty-one were of British parentage, and fifty of French Canadian parentage. This was the fair way to take the proportion of the French Canadians employed by Government, not as compared with those sent from the mother country, and with the British-born Canadians, but simply and solely with the latter. It was true that, of nine Judges three only were French Canadians; but when the hon. Member said, that the 810 Judges, like the Legislative Council, were not connected with the colony, he said that which was altogether incorrect. There was not one of these Judges from this country. They were all gentlemen from the bar of Canada, who had adopted Canada as their own, and had raised themselves to the bench by successful professional exertion. He was satisfied to rest the defence of the Government—not of himself alone, but of his predecessor—upon the statements he had that night made. He was desirous of having them subjected to the most rigorous investigation, limiting it, however, strictly to the subjects which had been made the foundation of charges against them. He would freely give any despatch he had written, together with the answer he had received; and he hoped the documents he would so cheerfully furnish, would not alone be examined, but re-examined, and cross-examined. The Government was on its trial; and he hoped it would have a full, fair, and impartial one. There was another question to which he would briefly refer, and that was a financial one. He had to state, that he should feel himself compelled to come before them in consequence of the violation of the implied pledge of the Legislative Assembly, with his noble friend, when he brought in his Bill, in 1831, which conferred on the Assembly the power of voting its own supplies. It was then understood, that the Assembly would provide permanently for the maintenance of the judicial establishment in the colony. That they had failed to do; and as it was not to be tolerated that the Judges should be left dependent upon the annual grants of a popular Assembly, he should feel it his duty to propose a Bill for suspending the Act in question until the Legislative Assembly had redeemed their pledge, and made a fitting permanent provision for the judicial establishment. He trusted, in asking this, he was not going too far, when he was, at the same time, ready to make the stipulation, that, after the condition had been complied with, the whole of the revenues should be given over to the authority of the Provincial Assembly. He would not dwell upon the topics insisted upon, or the expressions used in the recent Resolutions of the Legislative Assembly. Great praise was conferred upon two hon. Members of that House,—the hon. member for Dublin, and the hon. member for Middlesex,—praise which, he doubted not, was most sweet to their ears: they were described as 811 the champions of the rights and liberties of their respective countries, even in the worst days of Tory Government; and applauded, as sharing the liberal and enlightened feelings of the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada. After professing their attachment to Great Britain, the Assembly proceeded to talk about the institutions of America, and to indulge in the expression of such extreme opinions, conveyed in such objectionable language, that he would not trust himself with any comment upon them, lest perchance he might lose his temper, against which the hon. Member had so courteously and so kindly cautioned him. In conclusion, then, he would move, as an Amendment upon the Motion of the hon. Member, "That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire and report, whether the grievances complained of in 1828, by certain inhabitants of Lower Canada, had been redressed, and also whether the recommendation of a Committee of that House, to whom the question of these grievances was referred, had been complied with on the part of the Government; also to inquire into other grievances now set forth in the Resolutions of the House of Assembly in Lower Canada, and report thereupon to the House."
1828. 1833. Anglo-Americans 3 5 English 6 7 Irish 2 1 Scotch 9 8 French Canadians 6 11
said, that, from the aspect things had assumed, he would advise his friend to withdraw his Motion and allow the amendment to succeed, placing the inquiry upon the responsibility of the Government, as he was sure it would be of great use to those colonies. He would not enter into details, but merely express his opinion that to take into consideration the vital interests of our colonies would, even as a precedent (putting out of the question the positive and practical good effected), tend to strengthen the social link between the mother country and her dependencies. A reciprocity of confidence, of justice and support—and these were great things—would be promoted. With respect to the legislation, he (Mr. O'Connell) thought the decision of the Upper House in the colonies worth nothing. The Resolution alluded to was carried by a simple majority of three. Surely a decision of such an assembly, adopted by so small a majority could not, in common fairness, be considered as representing the opinion of the whole colony. It was one thing to say, that there was a majority of the Assembly, and another thing to presume, that those persons would be again elected by their constituents. 812 Let the real condition of Lower Canada be looked to. There were 550,000 native Canadians, and only 75,000 British. Unquestionably the great preponderance of the native population would, as it ought, produce a feeling favourable to the interests of the people, and in some degree unfavourable to the British interest. Again, the difference of religion (and here the balance was struck in favour of the natives against the British) must have naturally operated as another cause of discontent, especially if religion were made one of the instruments of domination. Again, not more than one out of three Justices were landlords, and of the Judges not one-third were landlords. It appeared, too, from the list which he held in his hand, that the majority of the Legislative Council were public tenants under the control of the Crown, or adventurers who had no stake in the colony. It was a monstrous anomaly to invest the Crown with the appointment of the Legislative Council, which was only the creature of its own will. A body to legislate for the good of the people should be elected by the people. The example of the United States was enough to teach the Canadians, as it ought to teach all who valued a pure, salutary, and practical system of representation, that the dominion of a foreign Government was not one of the wisest or the best instruments to be used in promoting the prosperity of any people, and that a free and effective election of public functionaries by the people who paid them was the best mode of carrying the public business to a successful issue. Then, as to the ministers of religion, he was sure, that the Canadians would sooner die than submit to have their Catholic clergy degraded. That was the reason why the English law as to property was opposed. It would deprive the Catholic clergy of every foot of ground. Then again with respect to voting the supplies, why should not the assembly have the control of every item of the expenditure? That assembly had made no grant to the Judges, because if it did that, it might not be called together at all. As to the case of murder in Montreal, these two facts were plain—the Government had undertaken the prosecution, and there had been no trial. The blood that had been shed was yet unatoned for. Such being the case, the Legislative Assembly had a perfect right, it was their duty, to adopt the course they had pursued. But it was said by the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies that the inhabitants of Lower 813 Canada were opposed to improvement. By that he supposed it was meant that they would follow their own judgment which they had a perfect right to do. Was not the property in the province their property? Assuredly it was; and they had a right not merely to appoint the Legislative Assembly, but also the Legislative Council. That concession ought, in good policy and sound justice, to be made to them. The Crown would still possess ample authority; and, in fact, the only authority it could possess in accordance with its best interest and the peace and prosperity of the colony. The concession of the Committee of Inquiry rendered it unnecessary for him to go any further into the question; but he could not resume his seat without protesting against any project for a legislative union between the two provinces. Such a measure must produce the worst results, and excite disturbances not to be quieted but by the alienation of the Colonies. Let the Government act wisely, and give to the Canadians the appointment of the Legislative Council, as well as of the Legislative Assembly, and the present difficulties would be overcome.
§ Mr. Hume
said, the triumph for Lower Canada, which had been achieved through the Motion of his hon. friend the member for Bath, in the concession of the appointment of a Committee of Inquiry, would have induced him to refrain from addressing the House upon the question, had not the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies particularly alluded to him in the course of his speech. He would tell the right hon. Gentleman that he would much rather be considered as the protector of a distant people than the oppressor of our own subjects. He would tell the right hon. Gentleman that since he had presided in the Colonial Office, discontent had prevailed in the colonies at the insults and injuries they had received, and they had been induced to study seriously how they could best protect themselves. Much had been said of the spirit which prevailed in Lower Canada; it was said that it was averse to the British connection; and in support of that assertion reference was made to the majorities in favour of the similar measures adopted by Government in Upper Canada. He would tell the right hon. Gentleman, and those who credited such representations that the majorities favourable to the recent measures of Government in Upper Canada were obtained by corruption and bribery. But, notwithstanding the most gross and exten- 814 sive corruption in Upper Canada, the majorities for the Government measures had been trifling, while in Lower Canada, the votes had been two to one against them. Had the right hon. Gentleman pursued the course taken by his predecessor, Lord Goderich, the state of affairs at the present moment would have been very different from what it was. When Lord Goderich found that the Attorney and Solicitor General had misconducted themselves, he at once suspended them, and his conduct drew forth the gratitude of the colony; but the right hon. Gentleman, as soon as he entered upon office, appointed one of these Gentlemen to a superior office in Nova Scotia, and sent the other back to Upper Canada, as if to exhibit a triumph over that portion of the people who had required his removal. To make a colony beneficial, the mother country must carry with it the hearts of the people, and that could never be the case in Canada while the Crown pretended to a revenue independent of the Legislature. Would the people of this country endure any such pretension? What would be said if the Crown in the United Kingdom should claim a revenue independent of Parliament? He, therefore, disapproved of the conduct sanctioned by the right hon. Gentleman with respect to the reserved revenue. The Crown ought at once to have conceded all right to that revenue. But the effect of the two systems was best seen in its results. Lord Goderich had been thanked throughout the colony, and the right hon. Gentleman had been censured, and in as severe terms as language could apply. He would not then read the Resolutions adopted, but it was evident from them that the Legislative Assembly, as existing, was an alien to the sympathies of the people. He was glad there was to be a Committee of Inquiry, but he should regard that Committee as worthless if it were not impartially selected. That was a point of great importance, for if it were composed of Members not ready and anxious to go fully into the question it would give no satisfaction. It was impossible to keep up an aristocracy in the colonies as had been proposed by Sir George Murray. The contiguity to the United States rendered any such scheme impracticable, and it must be abandoned. He was astonished that Government had not long since seen the impossibility of preserving its authority in the colonies unless they were allowed the entire control of their own finances. The right hon. Gen- 815 tleman had declared his anxiety to do justice to the Canadians, and the right hon. Gentleman was pleased with his own exertions in that behalf; but there was not one soul in the colonies who did not condemn them. The persons principally to be affected by the inquiry were at a distance and without Representatives in that House, and that was another reason why the Committee should be impartial and efficient.
§ Viscount Howick
rose rather to correct some errors into which hon. Members had fallen than to discuss the question at large. Indeed, as a Committee of Inquiry was to be appointed, such a discussion at that moment would be ill-timed. The two hon. Members who had spoken last had stated the great point in dispute to be whether or not the colony should be permitted to exercise a full and efficient control over the public purse. He was most decidedly of opinion that it should; but that, in fact, was not the question; and he must do the Government of the Duke of Wellington the justice to state, that it was not the question even while that Government was in existence. That Government and the present had fully admitted that right, and had acted up to that admission. The chief point now in dispute was whether or not the salaries of the Judges should be permanently fixed; in fact, whether or not the Judges should be independent of the Assembly, in as far as remuneration was concerned. The hon. and learned member for Dublin had complained that the Roman Catholic clergy in Lower Canada were hardly dealt by. The hon. and learned Member must have been entirely misinformed. Ever since the conquest the utmost care had been taken to prevent the possibility of any such complaint being made with justice; and he was quite sure that if the hon. and learned Gentleman would inquire fully into the matter he would find the real state of the case to be that the Roman Catholic clergy regarded the party of Mr. Papineau as far less favourable to them than the other. The hon. and learned Member again had completely misconceived the case when he stated that the Government had denied the right of the Legislative Assembly to expel its Members. The fact was the reverse. In the one province, Mr. M'Kenzie, and in the other Mr. Christie, had been expelled, and the Government, however wrong it might have thought the expulsion in each case, did not at all question the right, although it questioned the manner in which 816 it was exercised, and issued the writ as requested. The case, however, of Mr. Mondelet was very different. He, in fact, was not expelled, and, therefore, the Governor refused the writ. The circumstances were these:—A Bill was in progress rendering an acceptance of office a disqualification for a seat in the Assembly. Mr. Mondelet accepted a mere honorary office, and the Legislative Assembly having passed a Resolution to the effect proposed in the Bill, applied for a new writ, on the ground that Mr. Mondelet had vacated his seat. Of course the Governor refused the writ, for Mr. Mondelet had not been expelled; and to have allowed a simple Resolution of the Legislative Assembly the force of law would have been to have given that body the entire power of the Legislature. He regretted deeply that the affairs of Lower Canada had come to the present pass. Ever since he had had a seat in that House he had taken a great interest in the subject; and when he sat on the other side of the House he had, with his right hon. friend (Mr. Stanley) and Mr. Huskisson, strongly opposed the plan of Sir George Murray for retaining a part of the reserved revenue as a provision for a Civil-list. He had considered that it was much better for the Crown to concede its rights, than to come into conflict with the Assembly, for he had then a full conviction that the Assembly would permanently provide for the salaries of the municipal and judicial officers, and he was now extremely sorry to find that expectation had not been realized. With respect to what had passed during the last twelve months he could not, of course, pretend to any knowledge, but he did know that even when he left office the aspect of affairs was very threatening. In the appointment of the Committee he rejoiced, for he hoped and believed that it would lead to some plan which would effect an amicable adjustment of the difficulties. He also hoped that the Members on the other side who possessed, unquestionably, great influence in Lower Canada would exercise that influence rather to soothe than to exasperate.
§ Mr. Patrick Stewart
rejoiced that the subject had been brought forward, for he was convinced that if peace were to be restored in Canada it must be by instituting an inquiry into the complaints. After the great colonial measure of last Session he thought the House might well be bold in colonial improvement. He was also glad of the distinction which had been kept in 817 view between the two provinces. Indeed, when he read the notice of Motion as given by the hon. member for Bath, it excited his astonishment, for although he knew that that hon. Member was connected by descent and residence with Canada he could not conceive how he could make out a case of inquiry as applicable to both provinces. There was but one mode, in his opinion, of remedying the evils now disturbing Lower Canada, and that remedy was a legislative union between the two provinces. He was convinced that nothing but a restoration of the old bond of union would overcome the difficulties which were now so severely felt. He approved of the conduct of Government with reference to the reserved revenue. The understanding three years ago was, that the Civil-list should be permanently voted; and yet no permanent provision had been made even for the Judges. Inquiry, however, was absolutely necessary for the satisfaction of all parties, and he, therefore, rejoiced to find that a Committee was to be appointed.
§ Mr. Roebuck
contended, that if there had been any breach of good faith it rested with the Government, and not with the House of Assembly. As a proof of the violence that had been offered to the popular feeling, he would only direct the attention of the House to the attempts which had been made by the Legislative Council to nurse an English party into existence in opposition to the French inhabitants, and to the attempts which had been made by the Judges to suppress the use of the French language in the Courts of Law. They did not succeed, indeed, because the people resisted those attempts. Could it be said that nothing had been done to excite the people's jealousy, while unjust distinctions were kept up; and attempts were made to establish a Protestant Church—the greater part of the population being Catholic? How could it be expected that people would contentedly see efforts made to set up a Church for which they were to pay, in which they felt no interest, if they did not entertain towards it a decided hostility? There ought to be no distinction of a religious description—no distinction of classes of the people; and till this was obtained, he hoped that the exertions which had been made to get such distinctions abolished would be continued. Again, he contended that the colony had a complete right to control the expenditure of every farthing of money, for all the revenue of the colony came from their labour and from 818 no other source. He begged leave to withdraw his Motion.
§ Motion withdrawn.
§ Mr. Secretary Stanley moved for the appointment of a Committee, to inquire how far the grievances complained of by the inhabitants of Lower Canada in 1828 had been redressed.
§ Committee appointed accordingly.