§ Mr. Roebuck:
I am charged, Sir, with a petition from certain Members of the Legislative Council, and House of Assembly of Lower Canada, complaining of the grievances under which they labour; and I would most earnestly entreat the House to bestow upon it a calm, serious, and anxious consideration. A more important document has not been laid before it, since the disastrous period of 1774. Then, in a humble but firm manner, our North American colonies laid before this House a statement of the grievances under which they laboured. The prayers of the colonists were, unhappily for this kingdom, 661 treated with contempt and scorn. Instead of redress, coercion was attempted; and the result was, that the magnificent territories, now forming the United States of America, were for ever severed from the dominion of Great Britain. More than half a century has passed since the conclusion of that disastrous attempt; and the inhabitants of the territories, which yet remain to us on the continent of North America, are almost precisely in the condition of the colonists in the year 1774. They complain of the same grievances; they appeal to the same authority; and, in case their appeal be disregarded, they are prepared (and I say this in the spirit of melancholy warning to the Gentlemen opposite)to have recourse to the same violent remedy. As a Member of the British Parliament, as one anxious to maintain the integrity of our empire, I deem it my duty to use a language that cannot be misunderstood. I have been selected by the people of Lower Canada to appeal, in their name, to the justice of the Imperial Parliament. I have now, then, a double duty to perform—to state, as distinctly as I am able, the petitions of the colonists; to lay before you a description of their frame of mind, which, from my peculiar position, I believe myself better able to do than any other Member of this House. having done this, I must remember my duty to the people of England, and consult with you, without favour or affection, as to the best mode of extricating ourselves from the difficulty under which we labour. The second part of my duty I shall, on another opportunity, attempt to fulfil; at present I shall confine myself to the task of explaining the actual condition of the colony—the circumstances which have given rise to this petition, and the several demands which it contains. On the 2nd of the coming month, I shall propose a remedy for the evils, which I shall this night describe, and Parliament must, in its wisdom, determine, whether the course which I shall point out, is that which is best suited to calm the fears and allay the discontents which so long have vexed the inhabitants of the Canadas. The petition which I now present, Sir, is the petition of four Members only of the Legislative Council of Lower Canada, and of sixty-one Members of the House of Assembly. As the winter had only commenced when this document was prepared, it was found impracticable to reach the 662 whole of the various Members. Had that been possible, however, not more than about seven legislative councillors could have signed it, while the whole number of signatures, by Members of the Assembly, would have amounted to about seventy-eight out of eighty-eight. I am not aware of the exact number of the Legislative Council, though I believe it to be about thirty-four. So much, Sir, as regards the persons signing. I now come to the petition itself, and the grievances of which it complains. These grievances, and the complaints to which they have given rise, are of long standing. I must travel back la few years, in order to make the House understand them. England, in 1791, bestowed upon the two Canadas a new I Constitution; that constitution in each province consisted of—1. the House of Assembly; 2. the Legislative Council; and 3. the Governor. The Governor represents the King, the House of Assembly represents the people; and the Legislative Council represents nothing. The Legislative Council is supposed, by the letter of the Act of Parliament, to be composed of persons selected by the Crown, and for life; in truth they have been since the first set were selected (and how they were selected I will immediately show) the creatures of their own election. When the first American war ended, there were certain persons who had espoused the English side, who fancied their interests would be better provided for, if they left their homes and went to Canada. This gentry called themselves sometimes United English (and now go by the name of United English), sometimes Loyalists. Out of this band many of the first Legislative Council were selected; from that time they have elected themselves. The Governor takes persons at their recommendation; they recommend persons of their own party and families, and thus the Legislative Council has become a sort of refuge for the destitute. They have made a party which they have artfully, but not falsely, called the English party, and pursue their own private interests with the most barefaced profligacy and assurance. No sooner was the Constitution granted, than differences began to arise. For some time, the people, stunned by the conquest, and unused to the exercise of freedom, did not understand the force of the instrument granted to them. By degrees, however, they came to have a very 663 English conception of the use of a House of Commons. They began to investigate the expenditure of the Government. This raised the ire of the Legislative and Executive Councils, and the Governors. Various arbitrary acts followed; all sanctioned by the Legislative Council, all opposed by the House of Assembly. As we approach our own times, do these arbitrary acts become less atrocious? Sir James Craig dared to imprison the Members of the House; Lord Dalhousie spent the people's money without the consent of the House; Lord Aylmer insults the people and their representatives, and pays somebody's money—whose I know not—without the sanction of the Parliament. The great object of the House of Assembly, from the moment of their first establishment to the present instant, has been to obtain over their internal concerns a complete and efficient control. In this attempt they have been perpetually thwarted. Tired of continued contests, the House of Assembly, and the people, at length, in the year 1828, petitioned this House respecting their grievances; a select Committee sat, and investigated them, and made several important admissions, and several important recommendations. The people's hopes were raised by this proceeding on the part of the Imperial Parliament; and had these recommendations been candidly and honestly acted upon, I feel convinced that the colony would now have been peaceful and contented. In the mean time Ministerial changes took place, and Lord Ripon, and the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, successively held the Seals of the Colonial Department. It is the fashion on both sides of this House to lavish laudation on the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire. His position in this House and out of it, together with the exaggerated opinion entertained of his abilities in debate, explain, very satisfactorily, the cause of all this amazing panegyric. I, Sir, am not about to follow in the train of those who have indulged in this pleasant business of laudation. On the contrary, I feel it my duty not merely to dissent in silence from all this violent praise, but also most unequivocally to declare, that, whatever people may fancy respecting his great Parliamentary talents, in the far higher and necessary qualities of a statesman, he has shown himself lamentably deficient. To me, Sir, the power of captiously sharing in a debate—the power of 664 making oneself disagreeable—is but a vulgar capability. Vehement and petulant, doubtless every one will confess the noble Lord to be; but at the same time, I will prove him devoid of that calm temper, that wise forethought and sagacity, that enlarged and unprejudiced spirit, and that generous sympathy, which are requisite for a great statesman. In none of his proceedings has any great and liberal principle been seen to be the guide of his conduct; but, in place of a liberal and exalted policy, we have always perceived dominant in the mind of that noble Lord, narrow and virulent prejudice. We have beheld violent energy exhibited to attain petty ends; and rancorous gall thrown upon those who stood in the way of aims, hastily resolved on, and doggedly pursued. I shall not go to Ireland for proof of my assertions. The noble Lord having exercised his hand on that unfortunate country, and having, by his conduct, brought the Irish to something very like open rebellion, next proceeded to make experiments on the other side of the Atlantic. It is from this country—from Canada, whose bitter complaints I am now uttering—that I shall seek my evidence of the noble Lord's incompetence. It should be borne in mind, however, that the conduct of the noble Lord was much more dangerous in the case of Canada, than in that of Ireland. Ireland is surrounded by the sea—has England for her close neighbour—but Canada is separated only by an imaginary line from the United States, in which States she will find a powerful and sagacious people, intimately sympathising in her feelings, and ready to succour her distress. It may be asked of me, in what way did the noble Lord, while ruling the Canadian people, evince this narrow-mindedness, this violent temper, and this virulent prejudice? With the permission of the House, I will explain how and when.
I may lay it down as a rule, from which no one will dissent, that laws must, in all cases, be framed with a reference to the peculiar opinions of the people who are to obey them. Any one, for example, who should attempt to legislate for the people of Hindostan, would, if pretending to the name of a prudent and sagacious lawgiver, bear constantly in mind the peculiar religious feelings of that curious people. In looking to America, what, I ask, are those peculiar feelings, which it behoves a lawgiver carefully to regard? Any one 665 who knows that country must be aware that the predominant influence is that of the United States of America. This influence is predominant (that is, the feelings of the people of the United States materially influence the feelings of every inhabitant of that continent) from the city of Mexico to the city of Quebec. The ruling feeling respecting government is the desire entertained by all classes for popular government. I do not mean thereby republican government; for, to a people as sagacious as the Americans, the difference between a well-regulated constitutional monarchy and a representative republic, is too minute to be a matter of concern. What they desire—what they deem absolutely essential to their happiness—is the possession of self-government. This feeling is as acute in Canada as in the United States;—it enters into all their speculations concerning their government; and nothing will ever appear to them a good government, which does not efficiently provide for the people, the uncontrolled power over their own concerns. Now, had the noble Lord but condescended to deem this feeling of democracy a mere vulgar and inexplicable prejudice, like the religious prejudice of the Hindoo, and legislated and acted with reference to it, he would never have committed the egregious follies that marked his administration. Instead of doing this, however, he haughtily and contemptuously turned from every proposal on the part of the Canadian people, speaking through their representatives, to render their government more in accordance with the feelings and habits predominant in America. He always fancied that he was legislating for England: he considered that he had the English aristocratic feeling always in his favour; and could not root out of his mind the prejudice of this position, or look with a liberal spirit upon a state of things differing from that in which he lived. What was the result? The petitioners, in whose behalf I am speaking, shall answer for me:
"Resolved,—That, in the midst of these disorders and sufferings, this House, and the people whom it represents, had always expressed the hope and cherished the faith, that his Majesty's Government in England would 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 666 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 unite them to the mother-country.
"Resolved,—That this House, and the people whom it represents, do not wish or intend to convey any threat; but that, relying, as they do, upon 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 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 successively promulgated and enforced by this House."
The House of Assembly so deeply resented the insulting language of the noble Lord, that they expunged his despatch from their journals, and thus conveyed a reproof that no Minister of the Crown had ever before received. It matters not whether it be true that the noble Lord does feel the animosity supposed,—it is enough that he has so acted as to make the people believe that he does. It is quite sufficient evidence against a ruler, that the whole people, over whom he rules, conceive him to be their enemy. In the present instance, such is the fact; the public of Canada distrust and hate him; and, when I say the people, let me be understood. Poll the inhabitants, and above four-fifths 667 of them will express their opinions, as I have here described them. I would here, with the permission of the House, read a passage in a speech of Mr. Burke, on a subject precisely similar. There are many persons fond of the authority of that celebrated Statesman, and, perhaps, the noble Lord will condescend to take a warning from him, even though my voice should utter it. Mine, indeed, is the voice, but the words are those of Burke:—
"These were the considerations, Gentlemen, which led me early to think, that in the comprehensive dominion which the Divine Providence had put into our hands, instead of troubling our understandings with speculations concerning the unity of empire, and the identity or distinction of legislative powers, and inflaming our passions with the heat and pride of controversy, it was our duty, in all soberness, to conform our Government to the character and circumstances of the several people who composed this mighty and strangely-diversified mass. I never was wild enough to conceive that one method would serve for the whole; that the natives of Hindostan and those of Virginia could be ordered in the same manner; or that the Cutchery Court and the Grand Jury of Salem could be regulated on a similar plan. I was persuaded that Government was a practical thing, made for the happiness of mankind, and not to furnish out a spectacle of uniformity, to gratify the schemes of visionary politicians. Our business was to rule, not to wrangle; and it would have been a poor compensation that we had triumphed in a dispute, whilst we lost an empire. If there be one fact in the world perfectly clear, it is this,—'That the disposition of the people of America is wholly averse to any other than a free Government;' and this is indication enough to any honest Statesman how he ought to adapt whatever power he finds in his hands to their case. If any ask me what a free Government is, I answer that, for any practical purpose, it is what the people think so; and that they, and not I, are the natural, lawful, and competent judges in this matter."
It may, however, be said, Sir, that Canada being inhabited by persons of French and English origin, there is a marked division of parties according to the nation or race from which they have sprung—that while the French party thus view the noble Lord with feelings dis- 668 approbation, the English party trust and esteem him. This assertion, which know will be made, I will now answer—and answer in a way to preclude the repetition of the statement by any man of fairness and candour. Lower Canada is divided into seigneuries and townships: the seigneuries, for the most part, are inhabited by French Canadians—the townships entirely by persons of British, Irish, and American descent,—they are English; that is, they speak the English language. Now, if there were an English and a French party, always divided, and governed only by the feelings of race and origin, the townships would side entirely with the English part as it is called. But what is the fact? During the discussion of last year, I stated that it would be found that the townships would side with the remainder of the people, because their interests were identical; and I find that the townships of Drummond, I'Acadié and Stanstead (the latter the largest of the townships) have returned Members favourable to the popular cause. Again, Sir, the city of Quebec hitherto has elected persons of English origin; and yet, during the last election, it has sent persons to Parliament favourable to the popular cause. But I have a still more striking fact. Out of eighty-eight Members, there are twenty-one members of English origin. If we recollect that only one-fifth of the inhabitants are English, this surely is a large proportion of Representatives. Of these twenty-one Members, ten have signed the petition which I now present. If the statement were true respecting the English and French party, this could not be the case. It is requisite that I should now explain the meaning of this false assertion respecting an English and French party. The official party in Canada have chosen to take a title which they know, on this side of the water, will be an attractive one:—they call themselves, par excellence, English. They pretend to be the English interest—to care about England—to be loyal and obedient. The truth, in fact, is, that they are a peculiarly selfish party. They care nothing for England and her interests, excepting in so far as England supports their abominable dominion; and the moment any English Minister shews an intention to listen fairly to all parties, and do justice to all, they begin furiously to abuse that Minister, and that England which supports him. They are loyal and English only, when to be so is favourable 669 to their little, despicable, and mischievous oligarchy. Before I have done, I shall exhibit some remarkable instances of this conduct on their part. The consequence of the proceedings of the noble Lord was easy to be foreseen. The House of Assembly so strongly felt the injustice and insult of which he had been guilty, that they determined to petition this House; and that petition I last year presented, and it was referred to a Committee that sate upon the affairs of Canada. The history of that Committee I must now detail to the House. It was appointed and selected by the noble Lord. It should be borne in mind that most of the insides of the "Derby dilly" sat on that Committee; and, as was to be expected, it justified the noble Lord in all its proceedings. Perhaps, the noble Lord will ask if I consider that such a justification clears him in my opinion? I frankly answer, not at all. Few persons would be condemned, if they had to choose their judges: still fewer, I suspect, if they sat in authority on the bench, and controlled the whole proceeding. To call such a farce a trial of the Government is an abuse of terms. When I went into that Committee I was certain that such would be the result; and the only benefit that I expected to derive from it was, that I might be able vividly to depict to them the discontents of the people, and the danger of continuing such a course of Government as that adopted by the noble Lord: what I did not hope from their justice, I did hope to obtain from their fears. It may be said, and said in this House with much effect, that it is strange that I should put no more faith in the honour and justice of a set of English Gentlemen. I feel, assured, Sir, that I shall be driven to answer this objection: I therefore anticipate it. In the first place, I knew that all the sympathies of the Members composing that Committee, naturally went with the noble Lord. They were in habits of daily intercourse with him—they were his friends, his associates, and some of them his colleagues; they, therefore, I foresaw, would look with jealousy upon anything inculpating him; and would receive, with implicit confidence, anything in his favour. Moreover, the petitioners were 3000 miles off: their opinions had no influence upon that Committee. It was careless of their good as well as ill opinion. There was also another and very important circumstance connected with this in- 670 quiry. All the complaints, with one exception, were respecting small sums of money, persons having small salaries—petty officers, frequently with petty incomes, in the eyes of Englishmen,—accustomed, many of them, to deal with thousands of their own, and to dispose of millions belonging to the people. To make thorn feel the injustice in matters of a few pounds, or to understand the importance attached to it by the petitioners, was impossible. But my main fear arose from the general frame and tenour of mind of the Members of the Committee. Every man, of any station in England, has strong aristocratic leanings, and he dreads, as well as dislikes, the democratic spirit. My whole case rested upon democracy: the people whom I was representing are democrats—they seek for democratic institutions—they are surrounded by democratic neighbours. The Committee, I knew, would go with the noble Lord in his opposition to that spirit; and would be, like him, blind, from prejudice, as to the dreadful evils likely to result from such a conduct. I was, therefore, in prudence justified in expecting a full exculpation of the noble Lord; but I hoped for some practical suggestions which might serve to alleviate the evils of the petitioners. In the midst of our deliberations the noble Lord retired from office, and was succeeded by the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the town of Cambridge. I beg that it may be understood that I have not the slightest intention of setting the two ex-Secretaries together by the ears; but I am bound to say, that I did hear with great joy of the retirement of the noble Lord, and the accession of his successor; because I knew the noble Lord to be headlong, prejudiced, and self-confident; and I hoped to find the right hon. Gentleman amenable to reason, and willing to do justice. The right hon. Gentleman, told me, and with much truth that he was entirely ignorant of the whole matter under dispute, that he sincerely desired to do justice to all parties; and that if the Canadians would only grant him time, he would, to the utmost of his power, forward what he conceived to be the true interests of the country. He said that he could not, in his present state, be expected to form an opinion. On one thing, however, he had determined, and that was, not to press the Acts introduced by the noble Lord, the object of which 671 was to take away from the Colonists certain revenues, and thereby to free the Colonial Government from their control. This he promised not to do; only asking that the Colonists would, in the next Session, pass a Bill, the same with that they had passed under Sir James Kempt, providing for the civil Government, under a protest and understanding, that thereby they created no precedent in prejudice to their cause. This they, on my request, promised; I then agreed to close the Committee, and to leave the reformation of the existence of abuses, in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman. The House must, however, at once understand that this was not all the assurance I received. Certain things were very pointedly stated by me, and acquiesced in by the right hon. Gentleman, and another Member of the Government, peculiarly connected with Canada. They spoke my language respecting the then state of the country; and I was certainly led to believe, that very marked changes would have rapidly followed the accession of the Member for Cambridge. I am sorry to say, that I fell greatly into error—nothing has been done—all the evils complained of still exist,—more mischief has been added,—and the state of the colony is now such, that unless some immediate steps be taken to redress what the Colonists deem their grievances, I am convinced that an immediate outbreak will happen among the people:— that unless their demands be granted, they will rebel—and if the mischievous system which has hitherto prevailed, is to continue; if the same heart-burnings are to be allowed to be created for the gratification of a small and mischievous oligarchy, who spread a moral pestilence over the land; if these are to be the fruits of our dominion—however, for the sake of England, I may deplore such a result, for the sake of the human race, to me it appears that the sooner they rebel the better. If our dominion is to be a curse, wisdom and humanity alike require that it should immediately cease.
Such is the general outline of the circumstances which resulted from the petitions of the Canadians respecting their grievances. In order that the House may better understand the nature or the grievances themselves, I will, with its permission, explain the matters complained of. So soon as the constitution existing 672 was conferred on the Canadas, disputes arose, as I have already said, between two parties in the colony. Those disputes arose, because the people, speaking through their representatives, demanded to have the government of their own concerns; and the Legislative Council party wanted to keep dominion in their own hands. In order to attain their end, the Legislative Council had two schemes, intimately connected one with the other:—the one was to make the servants of the public independent of the House of Assembly, by obtaining a permanent civil list; and the other, was to leave, at the control of the Assembly, certain portions of the revenue. In furtherance of the first part of their plan, it was proposed to the House of Assembly, by various Governors, that they should vote one large sum of money, as it was then called, en bloc—and that, too, for the life of the King. En bloc meant, that no separate items should be discussed, but that the whole should be voted at once, and that the Governor and those around him, who really governed, should apportion it out amongst themselves. This the house strenuously resisted: they refused such a supply; and, in return, Lord Dalhousie illegally took the money out of the public chest. At length the en bloc demand was given up; still they insisted on a permanent civil list. By degrees, this civil list was confined to the judges, the governor, his secretary, and the attorney-general and solicitor-general. The House was inclined to grant so much of this last demand as related to the administration of justice, on certain conditions. They passed a bill for the appropriation of a permanent salary to the judges, directing that these salaries should be paid out of the casual and territorial revenues. The meaning of this cannot be understood without an explanation of the second part of the plan above alluded to. The House of Assembly have uniformly insisted on their right to control the whole of the revenue. On the 6th of December, 1828 the House resolved,—
"That, under no circumstances, and upon no considerations whatever, ought this House to abandon, or in any way compromise its inherent and constitutional right, as a branch of the provincial Parliament representing his Majesty's subjects in this Colony, to superintend and control the receipt and expenditure of the whole public revenue arising with in this province." 673 This resolution was passed because the official party had classified the revenue, and chose to consider, that certain of the classes were legally and rightfully beyond the control of the Assembly. This reserved revenue consisted—I. Of the proceeds of certain English and provincial Acts of Parliament; 2. Of the Jesuits' estates: 3. Of the land and timber fund; 4. Of certain rents and fines arising from lands held under the Crown. In time, the Government saw the justice of giving up the first class, which was at that period the most productive; but they still reserved the remainder. Respecting the Jesuits' estates, the Canadians bitterly complained that they had, while in the possession of the Jesuits, contributed to the education of the Canadian Catholic youth, and that now they were appropriated in a manner wholly opposed to this. They complained, and with justice, that the Jesuits' College in Quebec, one of the largest buildings in Canada, was made a soldiers' barracks. They complained that the proceeds of these reserved funds were appropriated to the maintenance of an exclusive Church Establishment; and surely these were legitimate subjects for complaint. The truth is, the spirit that in England makes us maintain the Church in spite of the whole dissenting body—which in Ireland continues it though bloodshed and riot are the consequences,—makes us cross the water, and breed confusion and doubt, distrusts and heart-burnings, among the principal inhabitants of Canada. This Church Establishment has been the evil genius of England, and has in too many instances been the curse of her dominions. In consequence of the reiterated complaints of the Canadians, at length the Home Government consented to give up the Jesuits' estates. Those in the Island of Montreal were given up; those of Quebec, however, were, and are still retained; the College still continues a barrack, and all accounts respecting the Jesuits' revenues, were peremptorily refused to the House of Assembly. What faith can the House have in statements respecting these estates, if the official and authentic documents are all carefully withheld from them? This matter of the Jesuits' estates, however, is but a small part of the grievance. The remaining portion of the casual and territorial revenues, is equally pregnant with mischief and discontent. It should be remarked, that all the complaints of the 674 Canadians respecting the two first classes of the reserved revenues, were, after long discussion, and vehement reviling of the Representatives, declared by the Home Government to be just and well founded. There was, however, no language too bitter for the official party to use, while discoursing on the unheard-of audacity of the House of Assembly, in demanding to know what was done with the people's money. They were called republicans, disloyal, anti-English levelers, democrats, incendiaries, rebels, traitors, enemies of their country, and contemners of all that was just and holy. All this storm was raised by the constitutional demand on the part of the people's Representatives to know how the proceeds of the people's industry was disposed of by the servants of the public. The storm on these two separate claims at length ceased, but only to rage with greater fury respecting the claims of the people to the remaining portion of the reserved revenue. Now, let us inquire respecting the remaining portion—namely, the land and timber fund. I know that the waste lands of Canada are called Crown lands. This is a mere technical expression; the waste lands do not belong to the King of England, but to the people of Canada. It is idle for us to let mere law jargon impose upon our sober senses. Upon all principles of policy, on the score simply of common sense, I claim as the undoubted right of the people of Canada, the lands of that province. The grounds of this demand cannot be invaded. The inhabitants of Canada are protected by the government of Canada—they are subject to the laws of Canada. Upon the government of Canada devolves the duty of securing the lives, the property, and the reputation of the inhabitants. For the fulfilment of this obligation, it is endowed with certain powers, and is bound to take advantage of all the facilities which its situation affords. When a new settlement is formed, new duties arise for the Government. Waste lands afford a means of revenue to fulfil those duties; they, that is the lands, are not then to be diverted from this purpose, to gratify private cupidity, or to make a revenue for England. The administration of these lands forms a very important portion of the internal affairs of the Colony; and we have, as well by Act of Parliament, as by a long course of policy, given to this Colony the right of 675 managing its own internal affairs. Therefore I claim, for the Canadian people, the administration of the waste lands, and the right to the monies that may be derived from them, as well as the power of appropriating them. It happens that this fund is a growing fund. The United States derive a large revenue from this source; and the people of Canada are justified in expecting that they, living in the same climate, possessed of the same facilities, should derive the same benefits. The official party, however, desirous of having a disposable fund, hating the control of the people's representatives, wish to have this territorial and casual revenue, free from the power of the Assembly. The Assembly, on the other hand, are determined to prevent such reservation. In the midst of the disputes on this matter, arose the question of freeing the administration of justice from any domination on the part of the Assembly. This was a popular topic, and the Representatives of the people determined to grant this demand. They said "yes, we will make the Judges independent, as well of ourselves as of the Crown; they shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and not the pleasure of the Crown; and they shall have permanent salaries, instead of salaries annually voted; they shall have salaries of the same amount as heretofore, and they shall be paid out of the monies accruing from the casual and territorial revenue." And what was the consequence? Why, the British Government that had made such wonderful professions of a desire to have an independent judicature, refused the assent of the Crown to this Bill, though passed by the House of Assembly, and, unanimously, by the Legislative Council. In this state of the case, the House of Assembly are accused of breach of faith; they have resolved— "That on the permanent settlement before-mentioned (of the financial question) being effected with the consent of this House, it will be expedient to render the Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, or person administering the government of the Province for the time being, the Judges, and Executive Councillors, independent of the annual vote of this House, to the extent of their present salaries." And it is asserted, that they have not acted up to this resolution. Now, I ask, after what I have stated respecting the reservations made, whether the financial question can be said 676 to have been permanently settled? Until the whole revenue be given up to the people without reserve or evasion, this question will not, cannot be settled; and no breach of faith can be imputed to the House of Assembly, while the whole affair remains in its present unsatisfactory condition. That House has made many advances towards conciliation; they passed the Bill above alluded to, respecting the Judges, which Bill was opposed by the Crown, even when the people did no longer insist upon their demands. The people yielded, but the Government would not. It will be found no easy matter to bring the Representatives back to that state; their demands are now greater, and must be satisfied. I have not yet exhausted the grievances of the Canadian people respecting. English interference with the appropriation of their lands. Last year a Bill, as a private Bill, passed this House, establishing a land company with certain powers, in opposition to the wishes and the laws of the Canadians. What would be the feelings of the landed gentry of this House, if the Canadian people should constitute a Company to buy lands in England by bargain with the Government, which lands belonged to the people of England? And what would be the feelings of the lawyers on the Treasury Bench, if, not contented with this invasion of English rights, the Canadians should also make new laws of conveyance, in contradiction of the existing law of England? I will tell the House what the Canadians have determined to do; and I am anxious that the people of this country should be made acquainted with the fact. They have determined never to allow a title to any lands which this Company may purchase or sell. On the next meeting of the provincial Parliament, the House of Assembly will pass a resolution to this effect; and I desire to direct the attention of the hon. Member for Worcester to this circumstance. He is, I know, a very important fraction of this said land Company, and will be responsible to every one who shall be deceived by representations on the part of that Company which cannot be realized. The people of England, the poor emigrants, should know—and I hope he will be careful to disseminate this information—that if any one go out to Canada in the expectation of finding lands of the Company to which they can give a sure and 677 peaceable title, he will be egregiously mistaken; for the Canadian Legislature are determined to overturn this Company, which they deem illegal, and a gross violation of their liberties. They are determined—no matter how long may be the possession of the settler—no matter what the sum that may have been paid by him—to take all these lands back into their own hands. If any persons suffer, after this very distinct announcement made by me, in the name, and on the behalf of the Canadian Legislature, they have themselves to blame. If they put faith in the deceptive promises of the Company after this warning, they must pay the penalty of their folly. It remains with the Company to determine, whether they can honestly continue to hold out prospects which they must know to be false, and to entice people to emigrate to lands on which they must be certain they will meet only with difficulty and distress. This Land Company is connected with the Financial Question, because they serve, by their payments, to swell the amount of that fund, which is reserved from the control of the Legislature. It is on this ground that I now include it in my list of grievances. I have not yet even exhausted the long list of evils connected with the lands of this country. I shall here, however, merely allude to that mischievous piece of legislation, the Canadian Tenures Act. Upon another occasion, I will shew how necessary will be the repeal of that ill-advised and ill-digested measure. These various grievances were all of them, excepting that of the land Company, necessarily brought under the consideration of Lord Goderich; and, although he was unable to settle all the differences arising from them, he shewed a great desire to conciliate, and was especially anxious to create no unnecessary discontent. Fatally for the peace of Canada, he was led to believe it necessary to insist upon the reservation of this casual and territorial revenue. This rendered it impossible for him to answer the question; but still he continued to maintain a good correspondence with the House of Assembly, and was always treated by them with great respect and courtesy, because he himself set the example by his manner towards the House. It was reserved for the noble Lord who succeeded him to insult the Assembly, and thus to break off all connexion with the House. The 678 House of Assembly found, after many years of patient trial, that no hope of accommodation remained while the Legislative Council was constituted as it then was, and is; but they, deeming that the direct recommendation of any great constitutional change in the Council was beyond their mission, stated to governor that they desired that the people themselves should decide upon the matter. It is the custom in America to do this. A convention is called to determine on organic changes. The representatives are chosen for that one purpose, and are solemnly endowed with power to alter the Constitution. The Canadian Assembly wished that a convention of the same description should be called in Canada; and signified their desire to the Home Government through the Governor. The noble Lord, without the slightest regard to the peculiar condition of the people—of the state of feelings and opinions, at once insults the Assembly for proposing such a plan—calls their proposed convention a national convention, and would lead us to believe that we ought to expect the doings of Robespierre and Danton at the hands of the Canadian leaders. The noble Lord, I see, expresses his dissent. If he did not mean this, why call it a national convention? He well knew the feelings of Englishmen on that subject, and why insinuate what he did not openly wish to avow? If the epithet meant anything —and I cannot suppose the noble Lord used it for no purpose—it meant the unfair inference to which I have just alluded. He sent the despatch of which I have above spoken, and from that moment to the present, it has been found impossible to bring the House of Assembly to any terms, but those which they originally proposed. They are determined to have a complete control over their own concerns, and they are determined to work out all changes necessary to that end. I have now to speak of the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Cambridge, and the first matter on which I have to remark is, that he has allowed Lord Aylmer to remain Governor of the province. He, Sir, knows as well as I know—that all confidence is destroyed between the House of Assembly and his Lordship—and he must have been aware of the impossibility of accommodating the differences existing, while Lord Aylmer remained. I will give the House a specimen of his Lordship's fitness for govern- 679 ing, in his late proceedings respecting the quarantine. But, before I do this, I must make a grave charge against the noble Lord, the Member for Lancashire, respecting this same matter. He misled the House, last year, by one of the most extraordinary statements that, I think, was ever made by an official person of his station and eminence. Surely this House has a right to expect that the communications made to it by his Majesty's Ministers, be not lightly made. The Ministers are in possession of the best evidence, and when they speak, they speak with authority. Now I charge the noble Lord with having—not, indeed, intentionally asserted what was not the fact, but with having—in culpable haste, and culpable neglect of the evidence before him, made an accusation against the House of Assembly, utterly unfounded. The charge was a grave one; it produced a great effect upon the House of Commons; it ought to have been borne out by evidence, but was utterly unfounded from the beginning to the end. The noble Lord last year, in a speech made in answer to my statement respecting the grievances complained of by the House of Assembly, made the following charge:—"Before I go further, I will give an instance of the spirit in which the Assembly has recently acted. Last year the Assembly broke up at a very early period, having done very little business during the Session, and the financial affairs of the province were left wholly unprovided for. The cholera not having subsided, the quarantine establishment was in the greatest distress; a famine raged through a portion of the country; and under these circumstances the Governor felt himself justified in taking (partly, too, from his own private resources,) about 7,000l. for the relief of those persons who were suffering from famine and pestilence. At the commencement of the present Session he applied to the House of Assembly for indemnity and reimbursement, but he was met by a resolution taunting him with a misappropriation of the public money. It was not for the purpose of paying salaries to the Judges, or any other high Officers, that the Governor had made this advance of money; nor for the sake of benefiting himself, but for the sole object of assisting the starving and the sick — the wretched population of the country. With a degree of honesty, candour, and liberality, which 680 does high honour to the individual, the Governor, relying on the good faith of the Legislative Assembly advanced this 7,000l. in a manner that I have stated, and I regret to say, that he has been disappointed, and has met with nothing in return for his generous conduct but revilings and taunts of the most bitter description." Now for the answer to this accusation. Captain M'Kinnan, aide-de-camp to Lord Aylmer, was examined by the Committee, and I put the following questions and received the answers I shall now read:—
"1204. What are the circumstances which led the Governor, on his own responsibility, to advance a sum, for which he has since been indemnified, for the use of the quarantine department?—the fear that pervaded the province generally, that the cholera would appear a second time, and the anxiety all the inhabitants felt that there should be a quarantine station. It was merely a renewal of what took place in 1832, when a vote of money was passed by the Legislature, in case the cholera should make its appearance; and Lord Aylmer made the advance on his own responsibility, in consequence of the Quarantine Bill of 1833 having failed in the Legislature.
1205. Do you know of a sum of 7,000l. being advanced by Lord Aylmer out of his own private funds?—He advanced a sum of money, but not to that amount.
1206. Was it not 500l.?—He made an advance out of his own private funds, on account of the distress that existed in parts of the province from the failure of the harvest; the exact amount I cannot state; it was not large; about 600l. or 700l.
1207. Did the Assembly refuse to grant that sum?—They indemnified him. 1208. So that the many statements that have been made as to the misapplication of funds, are incorrect?—The best answer I can give to any statement of that kind, as to misapplication of funds, is that Lord Aylmer, was indemnified for all the advances he made without the authority of the Assembly."
A year has been passed since the accusation, and only now am I able to refute this groundless and unjustifiable charge. I leave the matter to the consideration of the House, expressing this hope, that hereafter the noble Lord will take warning, and remember that when he brings a charge, it is his duty to ascertain the facts 681 before he hazards any accusation. From this specimen we shall learn to be cautious low we trust him; and, before we believe, shall ask for his evidence. But as to the matter immediately in hand. Again—did the Quarantine Bill fail in the Legislature, and again did the cholera make its appearance?—The corporation of Montreal, on its appearance, applied to the head of the executive, Lord Aylmer, in order that steps might be taken to avert the dreaded danger. What was the conduct of this sapient and benevolent ruler? The party that had offended him, if he was offended, was the House of Assembly. The inhabitants of Montreal, the corporation of Montreal, were innocent. Yet he, regardless of his duty as a Governor—regardless of humanity and justice—insults the corporation, takes no heed of the pestilence, but coolly allows affairs to go their own way; the consequence was, that the pestilence carried off many hundreds of the inhabitants, who might have been saved had the Governor been endowed with but common humanity. Is it wise, is it decent, is it Christian-like, thus, from personal pique, to visit the poor and unoffending with the dreadful scourge of a pestilential disease? But if the Governor's justice and humanity are small, his prudence is yet more minute. He and the ex-Attorney-General (Mr. Stuart) have, within a few weeks, been exhibiting themselves in the newspapers. They have disgusted all sober and serious people by their sad antics. Mr. Stuart has chosen, in terms hardly allowed by the courtesy of civilized life, to give his Lordship the lie; and the correspondence closes by his threatening to call his Lordship out to mortal duel, when he shall have ceased to be Governor. We may smile, perhaps laugh at these things; but it is a somewhat strange spectacle to be merry about. Here is a man clothed with all the power and dignity of a representative of his Majesty; and he thus chooses to descend from his station to take part in a vulgar and degrading altercation. A pretty situation, truly, for one almost clothed with the imperial purple to figure in! But these two charges are not all that I have to bring against this Governor—I ask the right hon. Gentleman—I ask the Members whom I see here, and who were on the Canada Committee of 1828—what is their opinion of Mr. Gale? Is it not notorious that he is a red hot partisan—that 682 he is one of the most furious of what I may fairly call the Orangemen of Canada? And yet this man has been promoted to the Bench. I do hope, I do believe that the right hon. Gentleman has some answer to this charge. But if he have, what can he think of the discrimination, the judgment, the honesty of that Governor who could recommend this partisan, who had been marked by the Committee of 1828, as one not to be favoured,—who was represented by that Committee to the Colonial Office as a person to be carefully kept out of office—to take a seat on the Bench, and to administer justice to the people? What can the House think of the party which would choose him, of the Governor which could approve of him? I do hope that the right hon. Gentleman did not sanction that approval. But I do confidentially ask him, wherefore, he permitted so imbecile and unfit a Governor to remain in a Colony, the most critically situated of any now under our dominion. Here, Sir, I must close the long list of Canadian grievances; not that I have enumerated the whole painful catalogue, but because I may not further weary the House with the detail. But, before I sit down, let me entreat the right hon. Gentleman opposite to approach this subject in a spirit of wise conciliation. I have spoken faithfully what I believe to be the present condition of the Colony. I have done it boldly,— I believe I have done it correctly. This is no time to tamper with the disease. Coercion will not succeed; and nothing but a full and complete concession will now satisfy the people. They demand the privilege of self-government; and no wise and prudent statesman would at this time, and under the peculiar circumstances which surround this people, refuse or evade so reasonable a demand. The country is one of democratic habits. There is a great equality in the condition of all the inhabitants—no aristocracy exists; neither can the elements of an aristocracy be discovered. Around them the Canadians see democratic neighbours—happy, peaceful, and successful. They demand for themselves a like condition and like privileges. I sincerely hope that these demands may not be refused too often. I beg leave to bring up this petition.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
requested the indulgence of the House while he endeavoured to give some explanation with respect to his own share in the transactions which had 683 been adverted to, and also while be made some reply to the observations which had fallen from the hon. and learned Member for Bath (Mr. Roebuck). The subject might not appear very important or interesting, but he could assure those Gentlemen who had perhaps not attended to the whole of the details in which the hon. and learned Gentleman had entered, that a subject more important to the real interests of the country, whether they considered its relation to Canada in a commercial or in a more general point of view, could not be brought before Parliament. Although he had not the good fortune to agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman in many of his observations, he fully and entirely concurred in the hon. and learned Gentleman's appeal to the House to consider this great question as one not only involving the affairs of Lower Canada, not only involving, he would say, the connexion between British North America and this country, but involving also the conduct of Government, the character of Parliament, and the honour of the country. He would endeavour to approach the consideration of so extensive a subject with temper, and in a spirit of calmness and impartiality. He would adopt the precept of the hon. and learned Gentleman himself, and he only wished that he who gave the recommendation had shown that he could follow it himself. He wished that the hon. Member had approached the subject, as he would endeavour to do—not for the purpose of casting blame or recrimination on any individuals, but with the sole view of considering the course it was the duty of Parliament to pursue.
He must say, not only with reference to this debate, but with reference to former discussions on the same subject, that the learned Gentleman had, by his mode of treating it—he said this with a knowledge of the fact —done more to create difficulties and to throw obstacles in the way of an amicable arrangement of these great matters, than the exertions of his whole life, whatever they might be, with the best intentions to boot, could ever repair. Was it to go abroad—was it to be endured that a British Member of Parliament, in bringing forward a question of this nature, should stand up in that House and claiming to speak authoritatively in the name of the people of Canada, should declare, that if they did not procure redress, they were determined to have recourse to the same 684 violent measures as severed the United States from this country? Did it become a British Member of Parliament to say, on the part of these petitioners, that he stated, in the name of the people of Canada, that if all they asked were not conceded, the colony was determined to rebel? Was it just, or was it necessary to venture on an appeal to the fears of the House of Commons, while the hon. and learned Gentleman knew and must know that if he appealed to their justice, that if he appealed to their sympathy on behalf of the most distant of the British possessions, those colonies would be entitled to a fair hearing at the hands of Parliament, and would receive it? He wished that this case had been discussed in the language of calmness, and temper, and moderation. Far be it from him to say that there had not been much in the state of Lower Canada of which the Canadians had just cause to complain. He admitted it. But this fact did not stand upon his assertion, only, it stood recorded on the proceedings of the House—it was proved by the information of every one who had considered the subject—it stood recorded in the reports of their own Committees—the speeches of successive governors recorded in the acknowledgment of successive Ministers. Still he said, that the best, the wisest, and the most statesman-like policy, and let it be remembered that the hon. and learned Gentleman had prescribed rules to statesmen, and taken upon himself to lecture them for want of temper land discretion—was not to get lost in the wild vortex of words, but calmly to investigate facts; to inquire accurately, and having discovered the course of duty, to pursue that course of duty steadily and unflinchingly. He felt it necessary to follow the hon. and learned Gentleman through some of the observations he had made, though undoubtedly he should not go quite so far back as the hon. and learned Gentleman had gone. He should be extremely reluctant to adopt such a course of proceeding, and he should, therefore, proceed from the period at which he conceived the affairs of Canada were first fairly brought under the consideration of the House, he meant the appointment of the Canada Committee of 1828. It was not for him to decide whether the appointment of that Committee was or was not a wise and prudent course; it was not for him to decide whether the affairs of 685 Canada which were submitted to that Committee would or would not have been better left under the direction of a responsible Government; but whatever might be thought on that subject, he was quite certain that one statement could not be contradicted—that the Select Committee were earnest and zealous in their intent and determination to probe to the very bottom every real grievance, and to suggest every real and practicable remedy. He would say, without hesitation, that a more honest or a more indefatigable Committee never was appointed, and never sat; and if he wanted evidence of the fact, he would say it was proved by the course of their inquiry; and by the report they had made. He had not those documents before him which had been referred to—he should have some observations to make hereafter on the irregular and unparliamentary manner in which certain documents had been quoted by the hon. and learned Gentleman on the present occasion—he would not avail himself of them at the present moment; but he knew, and the hon. and learned Gentleman also knew well, that frequently, from the year 1828 up to the present period, the recommendations of that Committee had been made the subject of most earnest eulogium, even by the popular party of Canada itself, and that for a very long period—until the union of excited popular feeling on the one hand, and disappointed hope on the other, produced the state of things which existed in Canada at that moment—the utmost that was required on the part of the Canadians was, that the recommendations of that Committee should be carried into full and entire effect.
He regretted, and he intended to do no more than, in passing, to express that feeling with reference to a matter now gone by, he deeply regretted, that the recommendations of that Committee were not more immediately acted upon by the Government and the House. He believed that in this, as in other cases, the delay of wise and provident Reform had led to exaggerated expectations, and had thus produced the spirit of discontent which now unfortunately prevailed. He believed that if, in the year 1828, the full recommendations of that Committee had been carried into effect, they would never have heard of the ninety-two resolutions, or of the existing state of things in Canada. Further information, however, was called 686 for. The year that followed 1828 was one during which the attention of Parliament was occupied by other, and perhaps more important questions. Nothing was done to settle the Canadian question; and discontent accumulated upon discontent; complaints, irritation, distrust, and misconception between the Governor and the Assembly; and, up to the year 1830, when his noble Friend, Lord Ripon, became Colonial Secretary, no effectual steps had been taken, to carry into full effect the recommendations of the Committee. He did not state this as a matter of serious charge against any individual, because from the state of political questions in that House, it was next to impossible for any one to find an opportunity of bringing such a topic as the affairs of Canada before it; still, to that unfortunate circumstance he attributed all the evil consequences that had followed. The hon. and learned Gentleman had acknowledged that, in some respects, Lord Ripon, by various measures, deserved the confidence and thanks of the Canadians: but were they satisfied with him? He must here beg to set the hon. and learned Gentleman right in one particular. The hon. and learned Gentleman had taken upon himself to cast certain animadversions on the conduct of his noble Friend the Member for North Lancashire (Lord Stanley), to whom the hon. Gentleman had imputed the act of breaking off all intercourse between the Governor and the Assembly. The hon. and learned Gentleman was totally and entirely misinformed as regarded the question of fact, for the severance of that intercourse had taken place before his noble Friend went to the Colonial Office. Thus, if it were to be imputed to any man, Lord Ripon must be that person. But had the hon. and learned Gentleman pursued a fair or reasonable course? Notice had been given by him, that a petition was to be presented relative to the affairs of Lower Canada. A Committee, on which he should have more to observe hereafter, had been appointed in the last Session of Parliament, and for reasons which were quite satisfactory to that Committee, they agreed that the evidence taken before them should not be reported to that House. They were unanimous upon the subject; the hon. and learned Gentleman himself concurred with the other Members of the Committee on that point. And yet, upon the present occasion, 687 for no other purpose than that of raising a charge against his noble Friend, what did the hon. and learned Gentleman do, but bring down in his pocket that unreported evidence, and with the view of laying some foundation for that charge, read that evidence to the House. He felt that he had no right to appeal to that evidence; and he would not appeal to it; discretion, as well as impartiality, ought to have precluded any use of it by the hon. and learned Gentleman. The dispatches and documents to which the hon. and learned Gentleman had referred, had never been reported to the House, and he had no right to make use of them. In 1832, the ninety-two resolutions, amounting almost to a declaration of war by the Assembly against the Government, passed. A petition was then presented to the House. How was that petition met? By the appointment of a Committee upon it. The hon. and learned Gentleman had made a remark, as if that were a packed Committee, ready to do the bidding of a particular individual, capable of being influenced and led away from the paths of justice by the Minister, and not likely to deal fairly or impartially with the subject. The House would just permit him to read the names of the Gentlemen of whom that Committee was composed. He hoped they would go forth to the public; let the people of Canada know the names of the members of that Committee, let the people of England know who were the Gentlemen who were supposed by the hon. and learned Member for Bath to have so weak a sense of justice or impartiality. The appointment of the Committee was agreed to on the Motion of his noble Friend; and his name was consequently the first on the list. The second name was that of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, Mr. Roebuck. He believed he might read the names, as they were now matter of history:—Mr. Frankland Lewis, Mr. Williams Wynn, Mr. Evelyn Denison, Mr. Loch, Mr. Fazakerly, Lord Sandon, Mr. Labouchere, Sir James Graham, Mr. Goulburn, Lord Howick, Mr. Baring, Mr. Ellice, Mr. Robinson, Mr. O'Connell, Mr. Robert Grant, Sir Matthew White Ridley, Mr. Bonham Carter, Sir Henry Hardinge, Mr. Henry Lytton Bulwer, Mr. Ward, Sir George Grey (Sir George Grey observed, that he had been unable to attend), Mr. Ramsden, Mr. E. Stewart, Mr. Romilly, Sir William Molesworth, and he (Mr. S. 688 Rice) was afterwards added. Undoubtedly the majority of the persons whose names he had read did not concur in the views entertained by the hon. and learned Gentleman. That, however, was not the question; the question was, whether that House and the public would believe that a Committee so constituted would have shrunk from the performance of any portion of their duty. It did so happen that the hon. and learned Gentleman was left without even this refuge, because on every one point that was essential in the Report of that Committee (to which Report he had not adverted in the slightest degree) they were unanimous. There was only a difference of opinion upon one word—the word "mutual," as connected with "misconception;" on every other point—on all that relieved his noble Friend, and ought to have protected him that night from the attack that had been made upon him—the hon. and learned Gentleman himself was a concurring party, as were the hon. and learned Gentleman's friends. He appealed to the Members of the Committee whom he then saw around him, whether this was not the fact?
[Mr. Roebuck stated, several of the Members named were not present, and could not, therefore, have coincided in the Report.]
He had only to say, that, if Gentlemen did not choose to attend, it was a very easy way of raising a clamour; if Gentlemen charged a Committee with partiality, because they overruled some of their points, it was an easy mode of making such charges; it was still easier to do so if they absented themselves afterwards from the Committee. If hon. Gentlemen, being Members of a Committee, chose to go away, what an injustice were they guilty of in throwing obloquy upon the decisions of such Committee? But he would take upon himself to say, that there was no person acting as a Member of the Committee in question who did not concur in the Report which they had made. The hon. and learned Gentleman himself concurred in every part of it. That Committee had only had one division; and the hon. and learned Gentleman had adverted to the parties, who were friends of his (Mr. Rice's) noble Friend, the Member for Lancashire; and yet, what was the consequence? why, that this portion of a packed Committee, as the hon. and learned Gentleman implied it was, found them- 689 selves in the minority upon this occasion; the hon. and learned Gentleman voted with the majority. The only division was that, therefore, in which the hon. and learned Member assisted, and had assented to. Upon the universal assent of the Committee the Report had been submitted, and, by the decision of the majority, of whom the hon. and learned Gentleman formed one, the Report had been amended. He, therefore, thought that the hon. and learned Gentleman was to be considered as an approving party, and that the hon. and learned Gentleman was late in coming down to the House with repeated charges, which had been previously negatived by the very report to which he had been a party. He would himself allude only to the Report; but, with reference to the evidence which had been given before the Committee, he felt that he had no Parliamentary right to allude to its contents, it having been determined that it should not be published. The Report declared, that there had been, on the part of his Majesty's Government, a most anxious desire to carry into effect the suggestions of the Committee appointed in 1828; that the endeavours of the Government had been unremitting, and that they had given to the interests of this colony their undivided efforts, which had been entirely successful. This was the answer, then, to the charges which had been made at the above period. With a candour and frankness almost without example, there was not a single fragment of a letter in the Colonial Office which had not been laid before the Committee; nothing had been kept back —nothing had been concealed—and he would take upon himself to say, that no one could deny but that the whole of the proceedings on the part of the Colonial Department were most unreserved. It so happened that, with reference to the Report to which he had alluded, it was not judged necessary by the Committee to enter into any examination of witnesses on the part of the late Secretary for the Colonies; the examination was confined to the witnesses on the other side. His noble Friend called no witnesses at all, but rested his case upon the testimony of those who appeared against him, and upon their statement the Report was drawn up. So much with respect to the conduct of his noble Friend. He should have been ashamed of himself if he had risen for his own vindica- 690 tion; but he must be allowed now to proceed to that portion of the case which more particularly affected himself. From all he had observed, after he was added to the Committee, and from all he had heard of what had been going on before, he felt bound to say, that no individual could have conducted himself with more fairness upon that Committee, than the hon. Gentleman who had presented the petition; but it was of some consequence to know what took place between himself and that hon. Gentleman. At that time there were two gentlemen in London who were connected with Lower Canada. It seemed to be the wish of the Committee that he, then holding the Seals of the Colonial Department, should see those gentlemen —Messrs. Viger and Moriu—and he was made acquainted with them by the favour of the hon. and learned Gentleman; and it was right to state what took place between those gentlemen and himself. At that time there was a Bill pending in the House which had been introduced by his noble Friend—his predecessor in office,— and which, if it were to be carried through, must have been carried through by him; but he did not concur in the measure, as the effect of it would have been, to have suspended the operation of a former gift, and to have deprived Canada of the power of appropriating it. He was not then prepared to proceed with that Bill; he felt however it might be right to make concessions to Canada, yet he was of opinion that great caution in the proceeding was required, and the hon. Gentleman must recollect, that he told him he would not say that it might not be expedient, at some future time, to have such a Bill; at that period he only asked for time. He stated this to the gentlemen whom he had mentioned, and who, though not officially recognised as agents from Canada, were deputed by the Assembly, and had much influence in its affairs. At the time the Report was made, there were two years' supplies due; and he intimated, that, if the Legislative Assembly would pass an unconditional supply bill for those years, he would go earnestly to work, and enter into the whole question, with the view of devising such measures, and preparing such instructions, as he thought might meet the necessity of the case. He told those gentlemen what he proposed, and they said they thought it would be satisfactory to the Legislative Assembly of Canada. He 691 had no intention of gaining time, merely for the purpose of giving the matter the go-by; for he should have considered it his highest reward, and the greatest honour of his life to have been enabled to settle the Canada question in a manner satisfactory to all parties. He did then apply himself seriously and diligently to the affair; and he could tell the House why he did not carry his plan into execution. He had prepared a despatch for the Governor of Lower Canada, stating the intentions of the Government with respect to the course which he thought ought to be pursued. It was a long and an elaborate despatch prepared, he believed, on the 13th of November. It was an affair of so much consequence that he did not think it right to dispose of it, without communication with his colleagues. On the 14th, therefore, a Cabinet Council was appointed, for the Saturday following, to have that despatch considered. The packet was to have sailed with it on the Monday, but the letter of instructions was not dispatched on Monday, because the Cabinet itself was dispatched on the Saturday morning, two hours before the appointed time at which it was to have met. While walking down Regent-Street, that Saturday morning, in expectation of meeting his colleagues, he met an acquaintance wholly unconnected with political life, who was polite enough to inform him that he was no longer in office; and such was the first intimation he had of being himself dismissed. If hon. and learned Gentlemen who were giving their attention to improvements in the law of the country, were desirous of considering how the process of ejectment might be rendered most speedy and effectual, they would do well to study the proceedings of that day. After this event, he had no other course to pursue but to communicate humbly to his Majesty, through the head of the Government, that the packet having been ordered for Monday, the most convenient course to be taken would probably be to send a despatch to Lord Aylmer, informing him of the change in the Government. That was done. The draft despatch remained, therefore, a private document, because it had never been finally approved of by the Government, and he had now no right to make use of in debate. It might be easy for him to say "such and such a thing was intended to be done;" but he did not think that would be a just course 692 by the present Government; he should prefer remaining subject to any imputation that could be thrown upon him rather than attempt to justify himself at the hazard of prejudicing the public service. The hon. Gentleman might, perhaps, say, "But all this occurred in November, and you took the Seals of Office in June; why then was not the despatch ready sooner?" The answer to that question was, that he wished the despatch to arrive in the colonies contemporaneously with the meeting of the House of Assembly. His desire was, that it should not reach the colonies at a time when it was possible that it might be dealt with uncandidly by the one side or the other. He was anxious that the intentions of Government should only arrive in Canada when the local Government should be prepared to act upon them; therefore it was that the despatch was not improperly kept back till November. What had been done since it was not for him to know. The hon. Gentleman had asked particular questions, and One was with respect to the appointment of Judge Gale. He considered that the appointment of Judge Gale was unfortunate, and was one which he could not advise his Majesty to sanction. That Gentleman was so mixed up in the affairs of 1828, that he thought his appointment one which ought not to be confirmed. There was, also, the appointment of Judge Kerr, who was a Judge of the Court of King's Bench, and also of the Admiralty Court—situations which the Assembly considered to be incompatible. He had directed a severance of the two offices. The course he took was, to direct the names of several Members of the Canadian Bar to be laid before him; and that means should be afforded to him to judge of their fitness for the appointments to be filled up. He was anxious, naturally, to avoid the choice of a partisan at either side. He desired that the names of Members of the Canadian bar only should be sent—the names of men who spoke fluently the language of the country, and who were familiar with its laws; for one of the complaints had been, that appointments were made, from this country, of persons to fill judicial and other appointments, who were not sufficiently acquainted with the French language or with Canadian institutions. He stated that he should not object to the name of Judge Gale being sent amongst those who might be returned in the list of 693 what he might term persons qualified to fill the three vacancies including that created by the removal of Judge Kerr from the Admiralty; he was not precluded by that statement from making his selection from any in the list whom he might consider most competent. There was one point in the Petition which the hon. Gentleman, in presenting it, did not advert to. It would be in the recollection of the House, that Lord Dalhousie directed certain public expenses to be paid out of Canadian revenues, unsanctioned by any Legislative authority. That proceeding was disapproved of by the Committee of 1828, and it was alleged, that he had since acted contrary to the opinion expressed in that Report. He begged to say, that he had done no such thing. In what he did he acted under the advice, and upon the responsibility of, all his Colleagues. Two years' income were due to the Government officers throughout Canada: those individuals, high and low, had been deprived of all payments during that period. Their distress was, in many cases, most urgent; many of the public servants were under the necessity of raising money on disadvantageous terms, and some were thus subject to extreme pressure and distress. The Canadian money was in the hands of the Receiver-General, and there was the utmost confidence entertained that, in November, at the meeting of the Assembly, a Bill would be passed for the appropriation of that money. Parliament not being sitting at the time, it was thought advisable to give directions, that if there were officers of the Government in a state requiring relief, and having two years' arrears then due, there being every confidence that the money would be repaid following the follow in month of November, that an advance should be made not out of any Canadian funds, but out of the extraordinary resources of this country, in order to meet their necessities. In doing this, he trusted he did no more than the House of Commons would be ready to sanction. Wherever blame rested, if blame were imputable to any one, it did not, by any means, attach to those officers who were relieved, and they ought not to suffer—it was a question, in fact, merely of temporary advance in regard to which an account had been directed to be communicated to the Assembly, and he did not believe the opinions and feelings of the people of Canada at all disapproved of 694 it. He thanked the House for the attention which they had given to his statement, tedious and uninteresting as it might have appeared. He wished he were in a position in which, without irregularity, he could have taken the liberty of stating those views of policy that were opened in the despatch to which he had referred. He should not, however feel himself precluded at a future period, when discussing the affairs of Canada, from considering what ought to be done. The case was, undoubtedly urgent; but it was not to be met by the language of threat or intimidation, held out by the hon. and learned Member for Bath. He did not mean to detract from the hon. and learned Gentleman's merits, in having taken up the cause of the liberties of Canada; but before the hon. and learned Member for Bath was in Parliament at all, Canada was not without its able, disinterested, and zealous advocates. His hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. Labouchere) had often called the attention of the House to that important and interesting subject, and in a manner which recommended it to enlightened reason and reflection; and, if he might presume to offer a word of advice to the hon. and learned Member for Bath, he would say he should imitate the example and spirit of his hon. Friend, and, while discharging his duty, endeavour to create feelings friendly to, and not at variance with, attachment to the mother country—not exciting national pride where national justice should be appealed to; and making that matter of passion which ought to be a matter of calm and enlightened conviction. The hon. and learned Member for Bath was not more sincere than he was in wishing well to the Canadas, nor more sensible of the importance of those Colonies. But, perhaps, he might take credit to himself for feeling more deeply than the hon. and learned Gentleman the value of their connexion with this country. Talk as the hon. and learned Gentleman might, of the 13,000,000 of Republicans on the other side of the Atlantic, whom he presumed likely to favour Canadian discontent—the connexion with Great Britain, provided justice were done, was much more valuable in itself, and he believed, more dear to the sound part of the Canadian population, than any advantages which the United States could hold out. He hoped, in considering what was just and 695 proper to be done, they should avoid in that House the use of intemperate language, which on the other side of the Atlantic would only increase the existing difficulties by which this interesting and important question was encompassed on all sides.
assured the House he had no intention whatever to rise on the present occasion, feeling as he did that his own vindication, if any were necessary, had been amply and honourably furnished by the statement of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Rice) who had just sat down. He was under no apprehension that he should be tempted to pursue the course followed by the hon. and learned Member for Bath; and with regard to the personal attacks which had been made on him, he felt he should best consult his own credit, and the good taste of the House, by entirely and at once passing them over without a single comment, as altogether unworthy of the slightest notice. So far as the accusation went of his having in an official situation neglected his public duty, and tended to alienate the affections of his Majesty's Canadian subjects, his answer was, that last year, when the hon. and learned Member for Bath, on the part of the present petitioners, called for a Parliamentary Committee, in order to investigate this matter—his answer was, "Let there be a Committee of the House of Commons; let them go into every one of the charges;" and his promise was, which he realised to the letter, that from the stores of the Colonial Department, from every means he had of giving information, nothing should be withheld, nothing concealed, entertaining sincerely the desire, that the whole matter should be more fully, more perfectly, and more impartially gone into than in the hurried space of a general discussion in that House. Into every one of the charges they did go; and what was the course which the hon. and learned Member then pursued? The House of Assembly, or rather the majority of that House, had, in order to substantiate their allegations, sent over persons to act as their agents. On each separate charge one of those individuals was examined by the hon. Member himself; on every one of the ninety-two articles the hon. and learned Member, before any other step was taken in the Committee, was asked whether he had anything to say, and he (Lord Stanley) was 696 afterwards asked whether there was anything on the part of Government to submit. Upon the papers so produced, on the examination so conducted, and without one single particle of evidence adduced on the part of Government, was he prepared before the Committee to meet their verdict. He did so meet it; nor did he shrink from a specific verdict on each and every one of the resolutions. He appealed to the Members who were present whether he had not acceded most reluctantly to a request that the evidence, and a separate verdict in each case, should not be taken, because by publishing that evidence, and giving those verdicts, feelings of irritation might be excited in the Canadas which would be injurious to the public interest. As a public officer, he had gone to the utmost verge in sacrificing what was due to himself personally, for the purpose of preventing that irritation and injury to the public service. And, he asked, after that concession—after the hon. and learned Member himself had agreed to the general declaration that there had been on the part of Government an earnest, unremitting, and anxious desire to carry into effect the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee of 1828, in many instances with eminent success,— after challenging a separate verdict on each charge, was it fair, was it honourable, was it even decent that the very same charges so examined into by the Committee, and refuted before it over and over again, should now be made matter of renewed attack in the course of a discussion on the presentation of a petition? So far as he was concerned, he should desire nothing better than that the whole of the evidence which the hon. and learned Member had brought down should be laid on the Table of the House; but after having acceded unwillingly to the suppression of the evidence, and a verdict of acquittal having been virtually pronounced in favour of the Government, it was most irregular to bring forward the same accusations, as if they had not already been sifted thoroughly and separately and individually disproved. He did not personally complain; he did not object to the petition being received and treated with all the respect which it merited; and he thought he should better discharge his duty by leaving the case in the hands of those who had no private interest or personal prejudice in 697 the matter—those who had succeeded him in office, and those who now held the reins of Government at the present moment. There was only one point to which, in conclusion, he would allude, and in respect of which the House might judge of the hon. and learned Gentleman's accuracy of statement. It had been made a matter of charge, coupled with sundry courteous expressions, which he should not more directly allude to, that from the moment of his coming into office, and in consequence of the disgust which had thereby been occasioned, the House of Assembly declined any further communication with the Government. Did the hon. and learned Member not know that the House had passed that resolution three or four months before he had been called on to assume office? He had not the despatch by him at the present moment; but he was much mistaken if the very first despatch which he wrote to Canada within one month after receiving the Seals of office, and taking up the subject where it had been left by his predecessor, did not contain an animadversion on that very resolution, and the hon. and learned Member might have known of that despatch, it having been laid before the Committee, and being actually in his possession at the present moment. Whatever steps he had taken had been in the way of following up the course of his predecessor in office, and with his consent and concurrence. With these observations he left his justification to the statement of his right hon. Friend and the general sense of the House.
§ Mr. Robinson
declared that, in the whole course of his Parliamentary experience, he had never heard a more unfair, distorted, and intemperate address than that of the hon. and learned Member for Bath. In one respect that hon. and learned Gentleman was a fit and proper representative of the Canadas—he represented all their intemperance. He did not deny that there was much to complain of on their part, but there was every disposition in the House and in the Government to look into the question with a view to its satisfactory adjustment. The hon. and learned Gentleman, however, told them, that the Canadian party would never be satisfied unless they had an effective legislative council. That might or might not be a proper thing to introduce into the Colonies, but such an experiment would be a com- 698 plete departure from all the principles of British legislation by which the Colonies had hitherto been governed. He despaired of seeing the subject brought to a satisfactory issue after such an exhibition as they had been favoured with to-night. He denied that the hon. and learned Gentleman spoke the sentiments of the Canadian public, or even any considerable portion of them. It was said, they would rebel if the whole of their demands were not conceded, being backed by 13,000,000 of sturdy Republicans in their neighbourhood; but with all his acquaintance with the colonies he must be permitted to say, that such was the opinion only of the most wild and visionary of mankind. The hon. and learned Gentleman had written a letter to the Colonies, in which he recommended an appeal to arms.
§ Mr. Roebuck
begged to set the hon. Member for Worcester right. That hon. Member had misrepresented him. He did not advise the Colonists to appeal to arms, but he recommended them to pursue any other course rather than resort to arms.
§ Mr. Robinson
would ask the hon. Member, whether he had not mentioned to the people the possibility of their being called upon to appeal to arms. He recollected, however, that the hon. Member for Middlesex, with whom the hon. Member for Bath was in the habit of acting, alluded to the Canadians resorting to arms in a certain contingency with something like approbation. He could not but complain that such dangerous language was used to the Colonists; and he firmly believed that nothing tended so much to prevent a satisfactory settlement of the Canadian dispute, as the conduct of the hon. Member for Bath and the hon. Member for Middlesex. Those hon. Gentlemen had by their conduct, sanctioned many of the charges brought by the Canadians against the British Land Company. The hon. Member for Bath had even gone the length of allowing his name to be used in connexion with a statement which declared, that those who purchased land from that Company, bought it without a legal title, and might be dispossessed of it. But he must declare, that the tenure of the land sold to the emigrants to Lower Canada was as good as that in any other of the Colonies; and that the whole end and object of bringing these charges was to prevent the emigration of British settlers 699 to that Colony. The House was already aware that a strong feeling prevailed in Lower Canada against persons going out from this country to settle there. The hon. Member for Bath was certainly not the representative of the British population in that Colony, nor was he the representative of the great portion of the respectable Canadians; but only of a small faction under the control of Mr. Papineau. That person, who was Speaker of the Assembly in Lower Canada, and whom the hon. Member had continually referred to and praised, had made the most gross attacks upon him as Chairman of the British Land Company, and had called him a vile sharper. If that person had addressed such language to him in this country, he would have treated it as a personal matter of a very different nature. He admitted, however, that the consideration of questions of this kind ought not to be mixed up with personal matters. In conclusion, he thought that it would be advisable to take some steps, so that for the future no persons should be members of the Council who were not possessed of large property in the Colony, for heretofore it had appeared as if gentlemen had been placed on the Council rather in consequence of their connection with the Government than on any other account. He had no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman now at the head of the Government would take care that respectable persons connected with the Colony should be placed on the Council, by which means he would do much to settle the unhappy differences that prevail there. The hon. Member for Bath wished to do away with the Legislative Council, and govern the Colony by means of the House of Assembly and the Governor. The adoption of such a course would lead to the severance of Lower Canada from the Crown of England, and would prevent English subjects settling in that Colony. He had no doubt, that the present Government would take up this subject with the earnest wish to do justice; and would pursue such a course as would direct the tide of emigration to that fine country. If, however, they left things as they were, or adopted the course suggested by the hon. Member for Bath, emigration would be checked, and not many years would elapse before that country became a waste, as it originally was.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer.
I beg to assure the hon. Member who has 700 just concluded, as well as the House at large, that it is because I wish to act upon the advice he has now given me, and because I desire to view the subject dispassionately, and divested of the difficulties in which it is sought to immerge it, that I rise for the purpose of deprecating the continuance of a discussion which, in my humble opinion, is neither likely to conduce to the amicable settlement of the unfortunate difficulties that prevail between the Canadian Colonies and the British Government, or to place the question in a point of view which will make it more intelligible or less intricate to those to whom its several bearings are imperfectly known. I do hope, Sir, that this debate will not be continued; but should it not meet the wish of the House that it should here stop, I do trust it will be continued without any further reference to Mr. Papineau or his actions, to the Canadian party as opposed to the English party, or, in short, without further reference to any of those exciting and unincidental topics with which it has pleased the hon. and learned Member for Bath to charge his speech. I am, however, inclined to hope that the course which his Majesty's Government have resolved upon pursuing in reference to the subject, and which I am now about to announce, will be deemed a conclusive reason why the advice of the hon. Member for Worcester should be generally followed, and why this discussion should, at all events, for the present, be brought to an end. Before, however, I proceed to state the intentions of the Government, I must be allowed to say a few words, in answer to an observation of the hon. and learned Member for Bath. Referring to the great delay which has taken place in the settlement of the disputed matter, the hon. and learned Member said, he attributed it altogether to the frequent changes which had of late years occurred in the office of Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, and concluded by recommending that a fixed office, not determinable on the changes in the Administration, should be created for the management of Colonial affairs. Such a remedy, I do not hesitate to say, is one altogether incapable of adoption. The Executive for the time being, it is quite evident, must, as a body, be answerable for the management of the highly-important affairs coming under the jurisdiction of the Colonial Department. Now, how 701 could that responsibility be attached to them if they were to have at the head of that department an officer altogether independent of their control, and totally irresponsible to them for any acts he might direct in the management of those affairs. Such an arrangement could not be satisfactory to any of the parties concerned in Colonial affairs; and great as might be the inconvenience attendant upon frequent changes in the office of Colonial Secretary, I am prepared to maintain that the remedy proposed would be far from an improvement. I think I can, however, satisfy the hon. Member, that at all events the recent change in the Administration, has not prejudiced the consideration of the present question, and that it shall not do so. I am ready, on the part of my noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies, to give the hon. Member every pledge he may desire. On the appointment of Lord Aberdeen, he found this Canadian question in precisely the same condition it was left by the Committee which sat in 1830. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has stated that when removed from office, he was on the eve of proposing to his colleagues in office certain principles on which a settlement of the question should be sought. I believe that to have been the case; but, as the right hon. Gentleman has stated, of those principles no record was left by him at the Colonial Office. For my part, and I am sure I may say the same on the part of my noble Friend, I much wish that such a record was in our possession, because, in addition to the opportunity it would have given us of testifying our respect for the opinions of the right hon. Gentleman, it could not but materially have assisted us in the task we had to perform. The right hon. Gentleman's motive for taking with him all the documents he had prepared on the subject, no one can question; it was that his successor in office should not be embarrassed by his views in forming his decision; but, much as I am disposed to do credit to the proper spirit which characterised his conduct, I cannot help repeating my regret that Lord Aberdeen should not have had the benefit of his opinions. However, notwithstanding the recent change of Government, and notwithstanding, also, the arduousness of the duties in which, immediately on his appointment as Secretary for Colonial Affairs, he finds himself 702 involved, I am happy to say measures have already been taken to insure a settlement of the differences. On our taking office, we felt that the question demanded instant consideration, and we accordingly had it communicated to the Colonial authorities that we were determined at an early period to proceed to the settlement of the disputes. With this view we authorised Lord Aylmer to inform them that his Majesty had determined to send out to Canada a representative totally unconnected with local politics, altogether unembued with local prejudices, and completely unmixed in Canadian affairs, who should be enabled on the spot to take a whole view of the subject, and being in full possession of the opinions and intentions of the Government here upon the several matters in dispute, might report upon the best and most satisfactory means for bringing them to a final adjustment. This is the course we propose to adopt. We felt the greatest difficulty in bringing the matter to a conclusion, by written communications. There might be misunderstanding on some points, misinterpretation on others, and the distance between the two points rendering the clearing of those misunderstandings and misrepresentations, a most tedious and difficult process, we, after mature deliberation, came to the resolution, that it would be better to send out a person in full possession of our views and intentions in the several matters to be adjudicated, and enabled to enter into full communication with the Canadian authorities upon them. Our final intention is, upon a report of the real state of the case being made to us, to remove what is justly obnoxious, and in place of it, to propose those measures which we believe to be consistent with justice to the parties concerned, and with sound policy as regards the general interests of the country. Under these circumstances, I think the House will feel that I take the most prudent course in declining to enter further into the subject at present, and I, at the same time, hope they will agree with me in the opinion that the course most likely to bring about an amicable settlement of the dispute, is that which his Majesty's Government have adopted. We do not mean to disregard the petitions of the Canadian population, but we mean to appeal to their sense of reason and justice; and we believe, firmly believe, that our appeal will prove successful. We 703 will give their claims every just consideration, but, at the same time, I am bound distinctly to state, we do not mean to declare any new principle of Government in the Colonies. Our object is to see of what it is the Canadian people complain, and then to see to what extent those complaints are founded in justice. If we find they are not founded in justice, our aim shall be to prevent their continued and useless agitation; but if, on the contrary, we find they are founded in justice, we shall apply ourselves in a spirit of conciliation, and without regard to the epithets of contumely and insult previously heaped upon us, to their permanent and satisfactory removal. Having stated thus clearly what is the course we have resolved upon pursuing, in reference to this question, I beg to assure the House, I shall not occupy their attention by any comment upon the numerous and unincidental topics introduced by the hon. Member for Bath into his speech. One word, however; a sense of justice compels me to say in defence of the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, whose conduct has been so unjustifiably attacked by the hon. Member who originated this discussion. Sir, I do not believe that the conduct of any Ministry of this country, or any public man, Minister or otherwise, was ever exposed to so severe an ordeal, as that of the noble Lord to whom I allude; and I may say further, I doubt whether any man could go through such an ordeal, with more honour or credit to his character than did the noble Lord. While a Minister of the Crown that noble Lord went before a Committee of the House of Commons—a Committee indiscriminately chosen—having on its list many Members adverse to the policy of the Government with which he was connected—a Committee as fair a representative of the average opinions of that House, as could possibly be selected—a Committee as fully the representative of the interests of the Canadian body, as of the British party in Canada—before such a Committee the noble Lord went, and, after producing to them every document, public or private, his office contained, left it to them to judge whether the complaints brought against him were founded in justice or otherwise. Sir, I repeat I know of no example of a Minister having taken such a course to free himself from accusation, and much less of a Minister, after taking 704 such a course, passing through the ordeal so honourable to himself and his character, as did the noble Lord. As far, therefore, as the accusation of the hon. Member for Bath is concerned, I think the noble Lord best consults his own dignity, by treating it with indignant, or rather contemptuous silence. I would here, Sir, cease to occupy the attention of the House, were it not that there occurs to me one other point in the hon. Member for Bath's speech, which I do not think I ought to pass over without notice. The hon. Member has been pleased to threaten us, t hat unless everything the Canadians ask for is granted them, they have determined upon rebellion. Those, I think, were the expressions of the hon. and learned Member. He also undertook to assure us, that thirteen million inhabitants of the United States of America, a country with which Great Britain at this moment enjoys the profoundest amity, a country with which Great Britain is almost daily interchanging expressions of most friendly feeling, a country with which Great Britain has scarcely a subject of difference—their old jealousies being now removed, and each, conscious that the prosperity of the other must influence its own prosperity, reciprocally desiring that peace, tranquillity, and good order might flourish in the other —such, Sir, I say, being the state of the two countries, the hon. Gentleman thinks fit to declare that if a rebellion should break out in Canada, the whole of the United Provinces are prepared to interfere in our domestic quarrels, and join these rebellious Canadians. Now, Sir, I will not do the United States the injustice to believe, even for a moment, that they, or any one on their behalf, could have authorised the hon. and learned Member to make such a declaration within the walls of the British House of Commons. I have too high an opinion of their justice and integrity; but even if that opinion were wanting, I entertain such a sense of their shrewdness, common sense, and discretion, that I cannot believe they would select as their organ in this House, the hon. Member who has thought proper to represent himself in that capacity. With respect to his declaration of the intentions of the Canadians, I have also a word to say. I think, Sir, it is far better for me instead of being exasperated by the language the hon. and learned Member has been pleased to put, as it were, into the 705 mouths of the Canadian party, of whom he says he is the representative, and instead of demeaning myself by retorting equally hard words and unworthy expressions, simply, and in the plainest language, to state, that I both hope and trust the hon. Gentleman has had no authority from that party to tell the British House of Commons, that, unless all their demands are acceded to, they will have recourse to rebellion. Indeed, Sir, painful as the alternative would be, I should be rather inclined to believe that for the moment—I say, Sir, only for the moment—the wisdom and discretion for which the hon. and learned Gentleman is so remarkable, forsook him, than to suppose that he gave us a correct report of the intentions of his, as he has been pleased to term them, constituents. But if, on the other hand, it should turn out that his information is correct—if it be true that the Canadian people, or any part of them, have instructed the hon. Member to act in the capacity of their Minister at War, and to declare in the British Parliament that they are prepared to rebel, if all their demands are not acceded to—I, as Minister of the British Government, will meet them, not with any counter declaration of hostility, but, with the hand of peace and friendship grasping theirs, I will say to them, "Still we intend to do you justice—still, notwithstanding we derive from your menaces a fresh source of strength—although by your threats you arm us with fresh means of arousing public opinion on our side—and although by your unfounded accusations, accusations which in the end will recoil on yourselves, and give us the strength to disregard your vaunting, you induce a fresh conviction of your injustice and intemperance, we are determined to go on unflinchingly in the course we have set out on; and, by removing all fair ground for complaint, take from you even the pretence for asserting that his Majesty's Colonial subjects do not meet from the British Government that consideration and attention to which they are entitled.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Robinson), with his usual disregard of facts, had told the House that the petition that had been presented, did not represent the feelings and wishes of the colonists! but he would ask, in what better mode than by such a petition could their wishes and feelings be ascertained? The disputes existed, be it 706 remembered, previously to the late general election in Canada, which was as strongly contested as any in England before the passing of the Reform Bill. There could be no doubt but that the petition was the deliberate expression of the opinion of the people. No less than 10–11ths of the population were of the faction (as it had been called) of Mr. Papineau. Was the hon. Gentleman aware, that out of eighty-eight representatives which Lower Canada sent to Parliament at the last election, only twenty-seven represented what he termed the British interests, and constituted what might be more properly described as the Tory party? What was the result of the general election? Sixty of the representatives of the people were in favour of the petition; four, and only four, refused to sign it; twelve were prevented from attending to sign it by the bad state of the roads; in short, out of the eighty-eight, only nine were opposed to the resolution. The population represented by the petition amounted to 373,000, while those who were adverse to it numbered only 32,000. Were the people of Canada satisfied or not; had they good Government or had they not? He would answer, that neither had they good Government, nor were they satisfied. They asked to be placed in the situation which the Constitution of 1791 promised that they should be placed in; they wanted to be allowed to enjoy rights which the charter gave them. They considered that they were deprived of their rights; that they were misgoverned; that their property was taken from them improperly; that Judges were placed on the Bench who ought not to be there. What would this House think if, out of every four Bills it passed, three were rejected by the House of Lords? and those Bills of the greatest importance—relating to such matters as public education, the finances of the country, the state of the Government and even the independence of the House itself. It could be proved by documents in his possession that the Legislative Council contained in it placemenmen— fattening on the spoils of the country, men who disregarded the large mass of the population, who were deaf to their cries for redress, and who rejected with disdain their demand for improvement. By a list published in 1833, it appeared that out of 169 Bills passed unanimously by the House of Assembly, from 1822 to 707 1832, sent up to the Legislative Council, 122 were rejected by the Council without any reasons being assigned. And what was the nature of these Bills? They were to prevent Judges from holding situations that were inconsistent with the judicial office; there were acts also for the promotion of education, and they were all refused; others were for preventing men sitting in the House of Commons from holding offices under the Crown, and being in fact pensioners of the Crown. The people imagined that by this Constitution they were to be protected from the undue influence of the Crown in their House of Assembly as we were in ours; but the Government constantly violated that law. A Bill was passed every year by the House of Assembly declaratory of what ought to be the Acts of the Government, and those Bills were as regularly rejected. In 1829, out of twenty-four Acts sixteen were rejected; in 1831, out of fourteen Acts only three were approved. The truth was, the Legislative Council were ruled by a petty faction, and that faction had the ear of, and were supported by, the persons in office in this country. The Canadians were in a situation similar to that of the people of England before the passing of the Reform Bill. The revenues of the country were appropriated by men not named by the Crown, but appointed by others who had the ear of the Crown, and who, taking advantage of their situation, sent home inaccurate reports. The people of the colony had come repeatedly before the House without obtaining redress. A Committee had been appointed, which reported that the allegations as to grievances had been substantiated, but nothing was done for their removal. The right hon. Gentleman, who was the late Secretary for the Colonies, said he regretted that the recommendations of the Committee were not carried into effect, and that the grievances were allowed to continue in existence, increasing the irritation and rancour that prevailed. Had the recommendations of the Committee been carried into effect in any one instance? They had not. What, then, must be the feelings of the people? The question, he contended, had not been fairly stated. Hon. Members, instead of debating the question, had indulged in a course of crimination and recrimination. He admitted it was desirable that peace should be maintained 708 in our Colonies, and that they should entertain a desire for the connection with England, founded on a conviction that their interests would be secured and promoted; but when abuses existed, as in Canada, was his hon. and learned Friend to be blamed for stating candidly what the state of the country was? The proper question was this; was the complaint made of grievances well-founded or not? The late Secretary for the Colonies had told them that he had not time to redress their grievances; thus they existed at the present moment. The hon. Gentleman then referred to the Canada Company for the disposal of land. He did not say, that it did harm, and ought to be abolished; on the contrary, it afforded the means of improving the state of the country, by inducing people with capital to settle there. But what was complained of was, that the money paid for the land to re-sell, was neither under the cognizance of the English House of Commons, nor of the Commons of Canada. This was what the people raised their voice against, declaring that they would not allow anybody to apply those funds to the bribery of the Members of their House of Assembly to maintain a bad Government. The right hon. Baronet (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had alluded to some new arrangements; but he could tell him that if he supposed anything effectual could be done without a new principle being adopted, he would find himself exceedingly mistaken. The legislative body never could be made to work well. That was the great source of complaint. It was with regret, therefore, that he heard the right hon. Gentleman declare that no new principle would be adopted. The Vice-President of the Board of Trade had declared that it was impossible that the people could remain quiet, or be satisfied with such a system. The hon. Member for Worcester, in making allusion to him (Mr. Hume), had remarked on his language, and the effect it had on the State of Affairs in Upper Canada. A petition was on its way here from that colony, and when it arrived, he should be ready to go into the question with the hon. Gentleman; but he objected to these allusions as unfair—he objected to this nibbling at the state of Upper Canada, when the affairs alone of Lower Canada were before the House. The language of his hon. Friend had been objected to, as calculated to ex- 709 cite the people to violence; but what his hon. Friend had told the people was, that they were to depend on the British House of Commons—that justice would be done them; in fact, he gave them every species of advice except recommending them to appeal to arms. Everything depended on the manner in which quotations were made. The letter of his hon. Friend (and he would add, the letter also written by himself, and to which allusion had been made) ought to have been read. Was it any wonder that there existed dissatisfaction when the one-tenth being persons of English descent received ten times the honour and emolument of the other portion.
in rising, begged to observe that no course that could possibly be adopted was so likely to injure the cause of the Colonist, and none that he should so sincerely deprecate, as untimely discussion and violent declamation. He had been acquainted with many of the best informed men in the Colonies for many years, and they were unanimously of opinion that with all its defects the present Constitution had been of the greatest possible benefit. He was told that only an ideal frontier separated the Colonies from the United States. He had himself been there, and looked across that frontier, and from inquiries that he had made, he did not think the contiguity so dangerous as Gentlemen on the opposite side were inclined to insinuate, for he found that from 10,000 to 20,000 settlers had gone from the one place to the other, and now acted as loyal subjects to the King. When he saw, too, that people went in large numbers to settle in Upper Canada—not in Lower Canada among the French, he felt inclined to attribute the dissent expressed to the Constitution of Government, to the excitement maintained and the differences fomented by the enemies of order both in England and in the Colonies. Add to this the disagreement between two nations, both of a national and religious nature, and the House need no longer entertain any surprise, that neither the present Government nor its predecessor had been able to tranquillise the Colony. When hon. Gentlemen invoked the observance of the Constitution of Lower Canada, they should first show how it had been violated. Nine-tenths of the complaints against Government were for violating the Constitution. That Constitution 710 might be bad, but it had not been violated. The distribution of land which had been so much talked of, was no violation of the Constitution, but was in accordance to law. Gentlemen were aware that in all the Colonies of Great Britain the sound and substantial blessings of freedom were enjoyed; but whether in those countries or in this, if there were constant irritating attempts to provoke discord, materials for mischief were to be found every where, and it was easy for those so disposed to keep up the excitement for the purpose of making complaints. Constant discussion on these subjects tended only to exasperate the people. He should wish that a watchful eye might be kept on the proceedings of the Colonists, but that by the forbearance of the Government the angry state of parties might be conciliated and a state of peace preserved.
§ Mr. Labouchere
contended, that when the Constitution was granted in the time of Pitt, there was an understanding that it was not final, but that it was to be open to such improvement as might, from time to time, appear desirable. He hoped it would not go forth to the Colony, that the Government would resist any alteration in the Constitution. He would not give any opinion as to the alterations necessary to be made in the Constitution of Canada; but he trusted it would not go forth to the public, that the Government of this country was disposed to resist the adoption of all necessary ameliorations. The hon. Member concluded by expressing a wish to be satisfied upon two points; first, whether the complaints of the people of the Canadas would be referred to the Legislature or the Governor; and, secondly, whether the person who was to be deputed from this country was to be created Governor of the Colony,
Mr. Secretary Goulburn
replied that the individual to be deputed from the Government of this country was to be only a Commissioner. Not having been in the House when the right hon. Baronet, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, explained his intentions he could not satisfy the hon. Member on the other point.
§ Mr. Sheil
said, that the right hon. Member for Cambridge had stated certain facts which were corroborative of the circumstances of a similar character adduced by the hon. Member for Bath. It appeared on the showing of all concerned, that a serious and important difference 711 had arisen between the Executive and the Legislative powers in the Canadas—between the House of Assembly and the Governor General. It had been stated that Lord Aylmer had advanced 7,000l. out of his own pocket to carry on the affairs of the Government; but by the Report of the Committee it appeared on the evidence of a Mr. M'Kinnon that he had advanced no such sum, 500l. being the maximum of what he was out of pocket on that occasion. Therefore that allegation fell to the ground. The late right hon. Secretary for the Colonies had also stated that a person named Gale had been created a Judge, notwithstanding the remonstrances of the local Legislature, and the censure of the Government in this country. And yet the individual who made that obnoxious appointment, Lord Aylmer, was to be continued in the office of Governor. He did not desire by anything he might say or do to create ill-feeling between the Colony and the mother-country, or widen the breach which he regretted to say existed: but, he could not help saying, that he believed the people of the Canadas must have been much aggrieved, as not a single statement made by the hon. Member for Bath had been contradicted. The right hon. Baronet had stated that he would do justice to the complaints of the Colonists; and he was disposed to give the right hon. Baronet credit for the intention. But still he thought the right hon. Gentleman might have been more explicit in his statements, and told the House how far he intended to go in the subject of redress. He deprecated the indulgence of anything like party feeling in the discussion on the question before the House; because he thought the objects which should be held in view were the interests and integrity of the empire and the security of the Colonies. But he could not conceal from himself that the people of the Canadas had much to complain of, and heavy grievances to charge against the Government. It was not denied, that most, if not all, the official appointments in the Colonies were made from persons sent from this country at the instance of the local Executive: neither was it denied that the Executive had refused to sanction several important salutary measures passed by the local Legislature. When these facts were not contested no one could pretend to say that something was not re- 712 quired to be done in the way of change or amendment. His hon. Friend the Member for Bath had said that an appeal to arms might be made by the Canadians if their wrongs were suffered to remain unredressed; and he was attacked by the right hon. Baronet in no measured terms for saying it. But a prophecy was one thing, and the faculty of accomplishing it was another; and though his hon. Friend might have honestly predicted such a result he was sure he would be the last to sanction it. Another fertile source of heart-burning in Canada was afforded by religious causes. The Colony was Catholic; Catholicism was the recognised religion of the country by the treaties under which it had been surrendered; yet the local Government had seized on the estates of that Church, and applied them, not to the support of that Church, but to the maintenance of the Established Church of this kingdom.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
objected to the course which the hon. and learned Member was pursuing as unparliamentary and unprecedented. The hon. Member was reading to the House quotations from the evidence taken before a Committee of the House which had never been laid on the Table, and which was, consequently, not within the cognizance of the House.
§ Mr. Sheil
had found the Report on the Table of the House, and had only made the same use of it as his hon. Friend the Member for Bath had done, without incurring the reprehension of the right hon. Baronet. The right hon. Baronet relied on the Report of the Committee, yet he would not permit the evidence on which it was founded to be used. But he would ask, did that Report exculpate the Governor of the Canadas or contradict the statements made by the hon. Member for Bath? He would maintain it did not. The hon. and learned Member concluded by urging on the consideration of the House the necessity of entering into the subject divested of all party spirit; and redressing the wrongs of the Colonists with reference only to their nature and amount.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that he had expressly desired to avoid entering into the subject, because the effects of a preliminary discussion might have the effect of prejudicing the question at present pending. He thought the Canadian House of Assembly was a fitter place to entertain complaints of the nature of those contained in the petitions in the first instance than the British House of Commons, to which an ultimate appeal only ought to be addressed.
§ Mr. Patrick M. Stewart
said, that he was connected with the British Canadian interest, and was therefore competent to discuss the subject of the petition. He did not think that the grievances were so great as that document stated, and he believed that some of them did not exist. From his knowledge of these Colonies, he was safe in saying, that all the petitions from thence would not be on one side; and he was satisfied that in the course of a few days the House might reckon upon several counter petitions from them. He fully agreed with the right hon. Baronet, and was of opinion, that if his suggestion were carried into effect the Colonies would be secured from anarchy and Republicanism, while the people would have the full enjoyment of all their national rights.
§ Mr. Roebuck
said, in reference to the language used by him, and which had been complained of by the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that on this subject he could not avoid expressing, in plain honest words, his sense of the injury done to the Colony. He was peculiarly connected with Canada, and the people there had done him the honour of corresponding much with him on the subject of their grievances. He was acquainted with large numbers of the inhabitants of those countries, and was he, therefore, so representing their feelings, and representing them as a Member of that House—was he, in well-rounded phrase, to represent them as loyal, contented, and happy, when he well knew that was not the state of their mind? In Mr. Burke's speech on the subject of the American Colonies in 1774 he said, "You must not state such things of the Colonies, for that they were about to be driven to rebellion." That House was at that period petitioned over and over again without any attention being paid, or remedy afforded. He believed the present state of the Canadas was similar 714 to that of our American Colonies in 1774. The right hon. Baronet, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had deprecated that any words uttered by him should have the effect of exciting feelings of resistance and rebellion. He did not wish it; he hoped only that his words might be a warning to the Government, and that his best influence should be exerted to produce conciliation and quiet. He hoped that his view of the present state of the excited feelings of the Canadas was not a correct one, and that no disturbance would take place. In allusion to what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman near him (Mr. Spring Rice), that he was likely to throw impediments in the way of a settlement he would say that he would do nothing to thwart the intention of those who desired conciliation and peace. He had been charged with acquiescing in the Report of the Committee; it did not follow that because he did not divide on it that he approved of it, any more than that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Spring Rice) might be considered as approving of a letter which he (Mr. Roebuck) wrote and showed to the right hon. Gentleman. It was thought necessary to say something to exculpate a noble Lord. It was stated that he (Mr. Roebuck) wished to get over the Committee, because he had not been enabled to make out his case against the conduct of the Government towards the Canadas. He would assure the right hon. Baronet, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that his best influence should be exercised to produce beneficial results. He would wait the decision of the measures to be proposed; if they were good and effective, they should have his approbation; if not, his best endeavours would be again employed to procure justice for those Colonies. And he would then abstain from any expressions that would irritate or give offence.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, that if the first speech of the hon. Gentleman had partaken of even a portion of the spirit of forbearance which pervaded the second, no observations should have fallen from him which contained a syllable of reproach or invective. He congratulated the hon. Member on the altered tone of his second address, which he said was conceived and expressed in a far wiser, better, and more temperate spirit than the first. He would add, that every possible degree of caution had been used in the 715 selection of the individual who was to be sent to Canada, as the representative of the British Government; and every necessary power had been conferred on him to settle the questions at issue between the local Executive and the Legislature. He had also to state, that a notification of the appointment, and an intimation of the probable time of his arrival, had been sent to the Canadas upwards of six weeks since.
The Petition to lie on the Table.