HC Deb 01 August 1834 vol 25 cc891-3
Mr. Robert Wallace

said, he had a Petition to present of a very extraordinary nature, such as he had never expected the honour of presenting. It was from a gentleman of Nova Scotia, and complained of the most extraordinary grievance that he (Mr. Wallace) had ever heard of. He would remark here, that it was now more requisite to look to the interests of our Colonies, since the alteration of the representation by the Reform Bill rendered it impossible for the Colonies to obtain a representative by sending a certain sum of money, and thus purchasing a seat in that House. They were now compelled to get such Members as himself to state their case to the best of their abilities. The petitioner was a gentleman of the name of Maurice Christie, residing at Gaspe, in Lower Canada, who stated, that he had been five times unanimously elected as representative of that district, and as often expelled by the Assembly of Quebec. The reasons for his exclusion were simply these:—Previous to his election this Gentleman had, as Chairman of the Quarter Sessions, been called upon as a matter of duty to send a list of those gentlemen whom he thought fit and proper persons to fill the office of Justice of the Peace, thereby giving him a power, which he was bound to exercise to the best of his knowledge and belief, of sending only the names of those whom he thought well worthy to fill the situation. This gentleman, in the due exercise of his duty, omitted the names of four gentlemen who had formerly stood upon the list. He (Mr. Wallace) submitted to the House, that he was well entitled so to exercise his discretion; and he would ask if the Lords-lieutenant of counties in this country were not bound to exercise a similar discretion? For this act, however, this gentleman was tried before a secret conclave; he was not admitted to hear the evidence against him; he was not allowed counsel; and he (Mr. Wallace), would ask what would be the situation of the hon. member for Colchester, if he had not had the opportunity of an open and fair investigation? But he would also ask, if this conduct were not traceable to another matter? The district was situated at a distance of 400 miles from the capital of the province; it was separated from it by a great extent of forest land impassable in winter, and scarcely to be passed in summer. Its manufactures were of a totally different nature from those in which Quebec took any interest; and he would ask the House, if it were not possible that some feeling towards the individual who had advocated the separation of this district from the province, and its addition to that of New Brunswick, might not have influenced the Members of the Assembly of Quebec to act as they had done? This gentleman had openly advocated a separation, and he (Mr. Wallace) in the same situation would have done the same, and he would promise that next Session he would go more at large into this part of the subject. This district contained a most influential and numerous population, amounting to 14,000, and the representative of this large number of persons had been five times expelled the Assembly of Quebec. What would be said, if that House should act in a similar manner to those Irish Members who advocated a Repeal of the Union, and had not the people of Gaspe the same cause to complain which the people of Ireland in such a situation would have? He was not aware; that any objection was to be made to this petition. The petitioner prayed to be heard at the Bar of that House, in order that that House might decide whether, as a gentleman, a Magistrate, and an honest man, he had done anything to disqualify him from being a Member of the Assembly of Quebec. He claimed from the House on the part of this much-injured individual an opportunity of showing, that he was an honest and injured man; and he (the petitioner) was indifferent whether this opportunity was afforded him at the Bar of that House or before a public tribunal in his own country: it was to him one and the same thing. He hoped it would be enough to repeat, that this gentleman had been five times unanimously elected, and as often expelled—the constituency being thus in his person disfranchised—to induce the Government, as this was an extreme case, to step forward and interfere.

Petition laid on the Table.