§ On the motion of Lord John Russell, the House resolved itself into a Committee on the paragraph in the King's speech respecting Canada.
§ Mr. Roebuck
rose and said: Having what I believe to be an important proposition to lay before the Committee, I am exceedingly desirous of obtaining their attention while yet untired and undisturbed by the warmth and asperities of debate. I am now about to endeavour, for the last time at which the attempt can be successful, to propound a plan for the reconciliation of the people of Canada and this country, and for the amicable and immediate arrangement of the perplexing and fatal dissensions which have so long existed between the provincial Government and the imperial Administration. We are on the eve of taking a step which will for ever preclude all hope of peace and content hereafter. I say this is no spirit of boasting or of taunt. To me, a quarrel between England and Canada can bring nothing but pain and regret; but I thus warn this House, and the Ministers of the Crown, because I know the subject on which I am speaking, and but too plainly perceive the long train of disaster and distress which the fatal course we now meditate, will inevitably entail upon the people of both countries. In order to avert this evil, I deem it my duty to make one effort more, and a solemn duty I esteem it; and, in order that I may perform it to the best of my ability, I beseech the attention and indulgent consideration of the Committee. If the resolutions 1210 proposed by the noble Lord are persevered in and carried, all hope of peace is for ever precluded. The province of Canada, together with our other possessions in America, may for a few years still remain under our dominion; but fatal discontent will pervade the minds of the colonists, and their every aspiration will be for the happy time of their deliverance from our yoke; they will watch with eager anxiety and impatience for the first favourable opportunity for contemptuously spurning our control, and will, with ardent belief in the glories and happiness of a life of national independence, rear at once the standard of revolt, and assume the name and port of an independent people. Whatever may be the course we may pursue, the time must inevitably come, when our American colonies will become independent states; but I, for one, am not anxious that this event should be anticipated and brought about before its natural period; and above all, I am desirous that when this period does arrive, we may separate in peace and good-will towards one another; that we may voluntarily resign our supervising care, and that the colonies may assume it with our sanction and approval; that no bitterness should result from this new relation, but that reciprocal kindness should beget lasting and reciprocal good-will. In order, then, that this good feeling may exist, it is necessary that our connexion, while it lasts, should not be accompanied with strife, with contempt, and ill-treatment on the one band, and ill-suppressed hate and desired revenge on the other. In the hope of preventing this disastrous consummation, and of promoting a kindly feeling between Lower Canada and ourselves, I entreat the House to pause while yet there is time for consideration. I beseech them to listen to a proposal which I believe will meet the many difficulties which attend the present unhappy disputes, and remove from the minds of the wise and prudent of all parties in the province, all cause of distrust and discontent. In the full confidence that this proposal will accomplish this purpose, I shall now proceed to detail it to the Committee. Any plan for the pacification of Canada must necessarily have reference to two sets of difficulties, first, while it is so extensive and effective in its reform of abuses long complained of as to satisfy the Canadian people, it must, secondly, also be of such 1211 a character as to meet the approval of the people of this country and its rulers, in spite of all their many prejudices, and peculiar interests and feelings. This is certainly a difficult problem to solve. Our American colonies are in the immediate neighbourhood of, and in constant intercourse with, the United States. In those states democratic forms of government and democratic feelings reign triumphant. The people are happy, proud of their institutions, and ascribe much of their well-being to the blessings of self-government. The spirit of this great republic naturally pervades every region of the great continent which they inhabit. The inhabitant of the bleak shores of Labrador, and of New Brunswick, as well as be who dwells under the genial sun of Mexico, is subject to the moral and mental influence of the United States: the people of Canada, both of the Upper and the Lower province, have their minds insensibly fashioned, and their wishes and ideas formed and directed, by the opinions and habits of their happy and powerful neighbours. Thus, as there is a European, so has there been created an American, mode of thinking and feeling; and we may estimate and understand this new sentiment, when we remember that the progenitors of the people who have created it left this very country in which we now are, and landed as pilgrims on the bleak and barren rock of Plymouth, in New England, because they would not suffer any one to dictate to their consciences, or control or coerce their persons, or command their property, without their foreknown and declared assent. This determination has been handed down to their descendants—has been sanctioned and hallowed in their remembrance by the fearful trial of their great revolution—and is, at this day, the political religion of all the people of America, whether they be of English, French, Dutch, German, or Spanish descent. On the other band, the people of England are a proud people, and, though generous, they love dominion; added to this, their Government, and everything emanating from it, is aristocratic in its character. Here, then, we have two difficulties in our path; first, we have to conciliate the proud prejudices of the people at large, not to affront their acknowledged supremacy and sovereign rule; and, secondly, we must avoid clashing as far as possible with the aristocratic 1212 feelings, I may say passion, of their rulers; and while we do all this, we must both rectify the acknowledged abuses of the Canadian government and satisfy the democratic longings of her people. My plan endeavours to accomplish this arduous task, and to avoid these opposite difficulties. It is necessary for me, however, to premise that the plan, as I shall lay it before the Committee, must, to obtain the objects in view, be taken as a whole. The adoption of any part, and rejection of the remainder, will not satisfy the demands of the Canadians. They seek a change of system, not simply a partial alteration as respects one or two abuses. The plan which I shall now submit to the Committee in its entireness contemplates a change of system sufficient to satisfy the just wishes of the colonists, while it in no degree diminishes that superiority about which this House and this country are so peculiarly sensitive, But this effect can be produced only by the adoption of the scheme in all its essential particulars. The proposed scheme, then, refers to the following subjects of dispute:—First, the Legislative Council; second, the Executive Council; third, a General Assembly. So far the plan relates to a change in the present constitution of the Canadas. Fourth, the Finances; fifth, the Tenures Act; sixth, the Land Company; seventh, and lastly, the proposed change in the boundaries of the province of Lower Canada. I would first solicit the attention of the Committee to the changes which my plan contemplates in the constitution of Lower Canada, and our North American provinces generally. Of these changes the first regards the Legislative Council. The Committee have already decided against that amendment of the Council which the people of Canada have themselves solicited. It remains for us to inquire whether some change palatable to the people can be devised, which, at the same time, will meet with the approbation of this House. If this cannot be done, there is no means of an amicable arrangement of the present question. The people of Canada are, from long experience, so thoroughly persuaded of the mischievous nature of the present constitution of the Legislative Council, that their minds are irrevocably made up respecting it. If you refuse them all change in this part of the constitution, you will, in their opinion, determine to continue bad government in 1213 Canada. I speak on this subject advisedly; and, while so doing, I appeal to every person who knows the feelings of the people as to the truth of my assertion, when I say, that unless the Legislative Council be reformed by being made elective, or altogether abolished, the people of Canada will remain discontented—that every thing you do in the way of reform will be viewed with contempt and suspicion, and yourselves with hatred. It is useless to disguise this fact. I do not dwell on this point without great regret; but necessity compels me to press it upon the House, and thus, by reiteration to awaken their attention to it. It must be remembered, that everybody who has yet inquired into the conduct of the Legislative Council has gravely condemned it. The Committee which sat in 1828, condemned it, and recommended what the House a few days since by its resolution adopted, while, by the very same resolution, it tacitly acknowledged that the reform recommended so strongly in 1828, remained to this day unaccomplished. Again, the Commissioners, whose report is now on your table, speak in unequivocal terms of the necessity of some reform, and admit the propriety, at some future day, of making the Council elective. The words of the Commissioners deserve serious attention.We have as yet," (say they) "only spoken of those causes of imperfection in the upper chamber which were of an adventitious nature, depending upon the mixed quality of the population, or growing out of the false position which the council assumed, when it charged itself with the duty of supporting the political ascendancy of a minority. To which we might have added the damage it received from the frequent and injudicious compliments that were in former times paid to it at the expense of the Assembly, in the speeches at the prorogation of Parliament, or on other public occasions. We have still to notice the more essential disadvantages, that highly respectable and well-qualified as are many of the individuals who might be found to till the places of councillors, yet in a new country, where there are no distinctions of title, and few of fortune it is difficult for the mere nomination of the Crown to confer upon any person sufficient importance to maintain him with effect in the position of a legislature that in such a country the people will be little inclined to respect any Legislative body which does not emanate from themselves; and that this effect must be enhanced in Lower Canada by the example of the powerful states which flourish so immediately in her neighbourhood. For these considerations, 1214 though we feel ourselves forced to pronounce our opinion against the expediency of an elective council, we should by go means be understood as opposed to the institution on principle; so far, at least, as any country in America is concerned. We will even say that, under more favourable circumstances, at an earlier time, or had less animosity been excited, we can conceive that good might have resulted from the introduction of a principle of election, by appointing a class of voters with a raised qualification; and also providing, in order to secure a due permanence of interest in the province, that the individuals to be elected should be possessed of a substantial quantity of real estate; but we cannot advise the experiment now.Pages 7— 15. They say of the Legislative Council.—In the course of these protracted disputes, too, it happened that the Assembly, composed almost exclusively of French Canadians, have constantly figured as the assertors of popular rights, and as the advocates of liberal institutions; whilst the council, in which the English interest prevails have, on the other hand, been made to appear as the supporters of arbitrary power, and of antiquated political doctrines; and to this alone, we are persuaded the fact is to be attributed that the majority of settlers from the United States have hitherto sided with the French rather than the English party. The representatives of the counties of Stanstead and Misisquoi have not been sent to Parliament to defend the feudal system, to protect the French language, or to oppose a system of registration. They have been sent to lend their aid to the assertors of popular rights, and to oppose a Government by which, in their opinion, settlers from the United States have been neglected, or regarded with disfavour. Even during our own residence in the province we have seen the council continue to act in the same spirit, and discard what we believe would have proved a most salutary measure, in a manner which can hardly he taken otherwise than to indicate at least a coldness towards the establishment of customs calculated to exercise the judgment and promote the general improvement of the people: we allude to a Bill for enabling parishes and townships to elect local officers and assess themselves for local purposes, which measure, though not absolutely rejected, was suffered to fail in a way that showed no Friendliness to the principle,Condemned, then, by all, standing in the way of any permanent settlement of the disputes now pending between the people of Canada and the imperial administration, why should this council be suffered to remain? The House has rejected the proposal to make it elective—will it not give satisfaction to the people by abolishing the council entirely? It is said, in 1215 objection to this plan of abolition, that hereby the control of the imperial government will be materially and injuriously diminished. They who make this objection appear very little to have considered the real nature of this Legislative Council, and its actual working in the whole machine of the government. The only actual advantage which the home Government derives from this anomalous body is sometimes the power of proposing amendments to the Bills passed by the Assembly. I allow it to be desirable that the Governor should not be reduced to the alternative of absolutely rejecting measures proposed by the Assembly, or of accepting them entirely and without alteration. It is desirable that he should have the power of saying to the Assembly, "I approve of so much of your Bill, but to such and such parts I object, and for the following reasons. Have you any objection so to modify your measure as to obviate my objections?" This he may now do, perchance, through the medium of the Legislative Council, and this is the only real advantage which is derived by the Imperial Government from the Council. There is, there has been, much talk about making the Council independent—all this, on both sides, I deem to have been erroneous. The object should never have been to make the Council independent. The people have found out their error, and so I suspect has the Government. The true aim of those who wish good government would be to make the Council, or those who perform the functions which the Council ought to perform, responsible. The people have demanded that the Council should at once be made responsible to to them, the people. This demand the House has refused. I now propose a plan by which a sort of joint responsibility should be created, a responsibility direct to the Imperial Government, indirect to the people; immediate in the one case, mediate in the other; and this I propose to effect by means of an Executive Council, to be called the Governor in Council. The Legislative Council being abolished, I have to devise some scheme by which the Governor should possess the power of amendment, which I have already allowed to be necessary. At present he possesses it in an imperfect and roundabout manner. I propose to give it to him in all cases directly and openly, and this is to be effected by the means of the Execu- 1216 tive Council. This body is to be composed of the Attorney and Solicitor-general, together with ten Councillors, all to be chosen by the Governor, on his arrival at his Government, and they are to retain their office of Executive Councillor during the pleasure of the Governor. This body is to be called the Governor in Council. The functions of this Council, as respects Legislation I can best describe by following a measure through its several stages. First, a Bill is brought into, and passed by, the House of Assembly. It is then sent to the Governor in Council. It may there be amended, or not. If not amended, it is at once forwarded to the Governor for his assent or veto; but if amended, it is sent back to the Assembly. They either adopt or reject the amendments; and in either case, the Bill is now at once sent to the Governor, and not to the Governor in Council. And on the Governor rests the ultimate responsibility of rejecting or accepting the measure. I must here guard myself against misconception. It must be carefully borne in mind, that no power of rejecting any measure passed by the Assembly is given to the Governor in Council. That body can only amend—it cannot reject. This is a matter of vital importance—so important, that if such a Council should be created, and the power of rejection given to it, no satisfaction whatever could be given to the people, who are now discontented. The grand object of my plants to concentrate responsibility, and to bring it to bear upon known individuals. The Governor is he whom we seek to render circumspect and careful, and no subterfuge can be permitted by which this object may be frustrated. The plan which I here propose is no novelty, for at this moment it exists in reality in most of our colonies. In most of our Colonies, it is true that two Councils in name exist; but they are in reality composed of the same persons, and are chosen during pleasure by the Governor. I propose to have only one Council in name as well as reality, and to make it dependent directly upon the Governor. The direct responsibility to the Governor is an indirect responsibility to the House of Assembly. The House of Assembly has always been able, in process of time, to direct the conduct of the Governor; and thus, through him, they would eventually control indirectly the Executive Council: thus the joint responsibility, of which I 1217 spoke some time since, is effected. By this plan we get rid of a body of persons responsible to no one, whom no one honours or confides in, and who permanently oppose all reforms, whether proposed by the Assembly or the Government. And what evil, I ask, can be done by the abolition of this obnoxious body. The supremacy of this country is maintained even more completely than now by the proposed plan. All the really useful objects that are sought to be obtained by the present Legislative Council are really and effectually obtained by the plan proposed; while all the evils which are acknowledged by every impartial inquirer to result from the Legislative Council would be avoided. What is it, let me ask, that stands in the way of our adopting this measure? Not its novelty; for it is actually existent in most of our colonies—Upper and Lower Canada being exceptions to the general rule: not its want of efficiency for all the ends proposed, for no one, I think, can doubt that it will really effect the purpose intended. What, then, is the obstacle? I fear, a name; an analogy founded simply on the fact of the Legislative Council being a second chamber, and because the demand for a reform in this legislative body comes at the inopportune period when we ourselves are discussing the merits of our House of Lords. But are we to be frightened by a name, and to be driven from our purpose by the shadow of a forced analogy? The House of Lords does itself no honour in supposing that the grounds on which it can be defended are the same as those which must be urged in favour of a body unconnected with the people at large—not engaging their sympathies—not linked to their memories by any associations of glory or renown. If the House of Lords bore the same relation to this House and this country which the Legislative Council of Canada bears to the House of Assembly and the people of Canada, I would tomorrow move for its instant abolition, with a certainty that I should carry my proposal by an overwhelming majority. No; the true strength of the House of Lords lies in their wealth and in the feelings of the people. Veneration for that House has been handed down from one generation of Englishmen to another; and it requires a powerful effort of the judgment —a superiority to established prejudices of feeling and thought, very rare in this 1218 or any other country, to throw off our inbred respect for the other House of Parliament; and to see that what has been taught us in our cradle and in our youth are the phantoms of a misdirected imagination—the lusty offspring of what Bentham called "an interest-begotten prejudice." No such power no such hallucination can attach to the Legislative Council of Canada. They are not an aristocracy—have no wealth, no blood, no historical recollections to support them. They are a clique of hungry officials, hated as well as despised by the community whom they plunder. As my whole hope of reconciliation rests upon the adoption by this House of this part of my plan. I have presumed to dwell upon it at greater length than otherwise I should have considered myself justified in doing. But this is the foundation of my whole fabric; if this be not laid, all that follows will be useless labour and words thrown away. This House will, I hope, give me credit for speaking plainly on all occasions—will acknowledge that I never shrink from avowing my convictions, no matter how unpalatable they may prove to my hearers. On the present occasion I would intreat them to put faith in my assertions, and to believe me when I say, that peace will never, again exist in our colony of Lower Canada if the rash measures proposed by his Majesty's Ministers be adopted—and that content would immediately follow the adoption of the measure which I have here propounded to the House. If the part which I have already explained meet with, their favour, I hare little fear for the remaining portions—but if this be rejected, what follows would be utterly useless. Having thus provided a legislature for the colony which would deserve and obtain the respect of the people, all is not effected which is yet required to satisfy the just demands, and to obviate the well-founded complaints, of the Canadians. Up to the present time complaints have been continually made by the House of Assembly of the insufficient mode in which justice is administered in the province." The imperial government is pertinacious and urgent in its demands upon the Assembly, to make the judges independent of popular control, but nothing has ever yet been done to make these said judges responsible to some body, and thus render them active, just, and prudent. I must take 1219 this opportunity openly to express my opinion as to the continued appeals of the home government to the Assembly respecting the situation of dependence in which the judges now are, in consequence of an annual vote being required to pay them. This dread of a popular assembly I at once state to be feigned. I think the whole outcry that has been made, a part of a wicked plan to enslave the colony. The desire was, to hate a government entirely independent of the people, and the case of the judges has been put prominently forward, because there was some plausibility in the Suggestion of making them free of immediate and pressing influences. But the real truth is, that no evil has ever yet arisen in consequence of their present dependence on the Assembly; on the contrary, had they not been so dependent they would all of them have been ten times more useless and mischievous than at present. I am the more strengthened in this view of the case as I find that the quarrel between this country and the provinces now constituting the United States began precisely on the same subject, and in the same manner. The Home Government asked for permanent salaries for the judges and governors, and a permanent civil list. The people vehemently resisted the demand, and eventually turned out in arms rather than accede to it. Untaught by that fatal experiment, again our Government are driving headlong to the same precipice, urging the same mischievous demands, and stirring up by the same means confusion and resistance in our colonies. The similarity of the language used by both parties to that employed in the year 1775, is absolutely startling, and if we substitute Massachusetts or Virginia for Lower Canada, one record would serve for both sets of transactions. It is lamentable to think, that no government will learn by any experience but its own. But in order to allay the discontent on this head, my scheme contemplates a remedy for the evils complained of. The Government has always acknowledged that some tribunal should exist by which delinquent judges might be brought" to punishment, but they have continually declared their own inability to frame a competent tribunal. The people have, therefore, very steadily preserved in their own hands the only check they possessed over their magistrates, namely, the annual vote of the Assembly. If, however, a new and efficient means of 1220 checking and controlling the judicature could be devised, the House of Assembly would willingly yield up this annual vote, and grant salaries to the judges for a term of years. Now, the method I propose for obtaining this desirable object is as follows:—I propose that a General Assembly should sit at Montreal, composed of delegates chosen by the Houses of Assembly in Upper and Lower Canada, in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward's Island. Each province should send five delegates, and the General Assembly should represent the various colonies thus electing them. The term for which this assembly should exist ought to be four years. The most difficult matter connected with this body would be, the describing and accurately defining its separate powers and duties. These ought to relate to two distinct subjects. This General Assembly ought to be both a judicial and a legislative body. The judicial functions ought to be two-fold. 1st. It ought to constitute a tribunal before which the judges of the various provinces might be impeached; and out of the Assembly a court composed of not more than three members might constitute. 2dly, a court of appeal, and perform all the judicial functions now inefficiently exercised by our Privy Council. It would not be difficult to describe accurately and clearly the precise extent of these judicial powers, and the manner in which they were to be exercised. A law of impeachment would be required, together with a code of procedure. But no difficulties of any moment would here obstruct the path of the Legislator. If this tribunal were created for the trial of the delinquent judges, no difficulty would arise in granting them a salary for a term of years. I shall have to speak on this subject when I come to the question of finance, and therefore defer further explanation until I arrive at that part of my subject. The real matter of difficulty would be the defining the Legislative powers of this General Assembly. As the delegates would represent, each of them, the province which sent them, and not the people numerically, this General Assembly ought in its legislative capacity, to be confined wholly to matters affecting the various provinces as separate states, if I may use the term in their case; as, for example, to matters in dispute between two or more provinces— to means of general communication, whe- 1221 ther by rivers, canals, roads, or railroads, and, perhaps, the post-office might advantageously be placed under their supervision. Great care and much mastery of language, great jurisprudential science would be needed to frame the law by which the powers and duties of this Assembly would be created. We need not, however, doubt the possibility of drawing up such a law, when we know that the same sort of difficulty had to be encountered, and was encountered, by those who framed the constitution of the Federal Government of the United States. I would here take occasion to remark, that the language so prevalent when Gentlemen speak of the disputes now existing between Upper and Lower Canada, leads to very erroneous conceptions. People fancy that the two provinces are quarrelling with each other, and that Lower Canada is endeavouring to impose upon the upper province. This is by no means the case. The understanding between the two provinces has hitherto been of the most friendly nature, and Upper Canada has, in reality, had no cause of complaint. It can only be for mischievous purposes that certain persons talk of disputes, and endeavour to create ill-will where none now exists. I have now, Sir, explained so much of my plan as relates to change in the political Constitution of Lower Canada and the neighbouring colonies; but, unhappily, I have not yet exhausted the catalogue of disputes and complaints in Canada. Little would have been done towards creating good-will and establishing peace, if we were not fairly to meet and definitely to settle the many difficulties surrounding the delicate question of finance in Canada. The difficulties connected with finance in Lower Canada, are of a twofold description. First—The first relate to the collection and supervision of the revenue. Second—The second to its distribution. I will endeavour to explain, as briefly as possible, the peculiar difficulties of each division, and then state my proposed remedy. When the present constitution was granted to the Canadas, the whole of the revenues of the province of all descriptions were formally and solemnly given up to the Assembly, to provide for the civil expenses of the province. If the Committee will turn to the 32nd page of the minutes of evidence taken before the Select Committee of 1834, and which I now hold in my 1222 hand, they will find a message from Lord Dorchester, the then Governor of Canada, to the House of Assembly. That message contains a description of all the sources of revenue in the province. At present there is no dispute about any part thereof, except the casual and territorial revenue, including the land and timber fund. It is contended by those who have so long resisted responsibility to the Assembly, that this casual and territorial revenue belongs to the Crown, and that it never was given up to the House of Assembly. On this point I beg the attention of the Committee to the first paragraph of the message of Lord Dorchester, and to those remarkable words contained therein. "The Governor has given directions for laying before the House of Assembly an account of the provincial revenue of the Crown from the commencement of the new constitution to the 10th of January, 1794. First, the casual and territorial revenue as established, prior to the conquest, which, his Majesty has been most graciously pleased to "order to be applied towards defraying the civil expenses of this province." Surely, after this, we shall not have it denied, in this House at least, that the casual and territorial revenue was distinctly, formally, and advisedly brought under the control of the House of Assembly by this message. The House of Assembly requires that this declaration of Lord Dorchester should be acted up to; it requires that the whole revenue without reserve, that is, the whole gross revenue; should be submitted to the supervision of the Assembly, so that the people may in no shape be taxed without the assent of their representatives. Various subterfuges have been resorted to in order to withdraw part of the revenue from the supervision of the Assembly; and one of the pretences to this end was repeated by the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire, and late Secretary for the Colonies. A notable pretence, truly. It is in a few words as follows:—In England the King, as a King, has certain private estates, as much his estates as that of any Gentleman who hears me; what the King now possesses are part only of the hereditary estates of our ancient kings—estates from, which they formerly drew their means of subsistence, just as any private gentleman does from his own property at the present day. These revenues the King gives up at the commencement of each reign, and 1223 makes an advantageous bargain for so doing; inasmuch, as the revenues derived from these estates are now actually nothing, since the cost of collection quite equals the whole return; but the civil list, which the Monarch acquires, is good solid money to a very large extent. These private estates of the King are called Crown lands in England; but it so happens that all the lands not settled in Canada are also called Crown lands, and because these two things bear the same name they are quietly assumed to be identical. That is to say, the whole of New South Wales, for example, discovered and acquired by the English nation, is the same thing as the King's private estate in Dale; and the Canadas, acquired by the blood and treasure of England, made fertile and valuable by the labour of the colonists, are to be deemed the private appanage of the King. This pretence is too monstrous to be maintained when once explained. What then do I propose to do with the revenues of Lower Canada? I propose; at once, without reserve, to submit them to the control of the Assembly; and I am the more strongly convinced of the necessity of this proceeding by the declaration of Sir George Murray, when Secretary for the Colonies, to the following effect:—In his dispatch to Sir James Kempt, of the 29th September, 1828, he says: "So long as the Assembly is called upon to provide for, and to regulate, any portion of the public expenditure, it will virtually acquire a control over the whole. If the entire charge of the civil government of the province could be limited to the amount of the Crown revenues, it might be possible to act without any dependence on the Assembly. But whether such result would be desirable, or would be really conducive "to the welfare of the province at large, it is unnecessary for me to inquire. It is sufficient to say, that under the existing Jaw, the executive government of Lower Canada cannot be relieved from a state of virtual pecuniary dependence upon the Assembly by any constitutional means, and methods of a different nature must not be resorted to." Such is the language of a Tory Secretary of State? Would that the Whig Government would imitate his respect for the constitution and the law. If then, it be impossible for the Government to avoid being virtually dependent on the Assembly, I cannot but think it the wisest plan, without subter- 1224 fuge, or trick, or contrivance, at once to give up the whole revenue, and without bickering and quarrelling, to submit to a necessity from which you cannot legally escape. So far, then, as respects the collection and supervision of the revenue. I now proceed to the distribution; and here I arrive at the great source of all the bitter waters of this painful dispute. The Government unwisely, as I think, being urged by no evil yet arisen, demanded, in a fatal hour for the peace of Canada, a permanent civil list. This was steadily refused while the question of the revenues was left unsettled, and while no tribunal was provided for the trial of delinquent judges. If, however, the tribunal I have already proposed should be established, and if the revenues were honestly given up to the Assembly, a civil list would at once be granted by the Assembly for the term of seven or ten years, to the following officers: the Governor, the judges, the ten senior executive councillors, including the Attorney and Solicitor-General. And lest any doubt should arise as to the fulfilment of this promise on my part, I should desire the measure I contemplate to pass in such a form as that its coming into execution should be dependent on the passing of a civil list by the Assembly. At this time I cannot stop to discuss the accusation so often made against the Assembly, and reiterated by the noble Lord opposite, of breach of faith as respects the civil list. The field I have yet to travel is so extensive, that I cannot deviate from the straight path; but I promise this House and the noble Lord that, before the evening has passed over, that accusation shall be answered, and answered at once and for ever. At this point I may be met with the lamentations respecting the misery of the official people, whose salaries are at this period unpaid; and I may be asked, if I contemplate the leaving these distressed officers in their present unhappy condition. My answer is—pass this measure I propose to you, and, as a part of it, pay the officers out of the English treasury. By this means you will relieve the distress which so bitterly afflicts your official hearts, and you will not outrage the feelings of the Canadian people; but I beg it to be remembered, that I consent to the payment of these people in this way only on the understanding that the plan I propose is adopted. Any payment, without redressing the grievances of the 1225 Canadian people, no matter whether the money is furnished out of our treasury, or that of Canada, would be a gross and flagrant violation of the Canadian constitution, a breach of faith on our part, and an unjustifiable insult to an injured people. On the remaining points of dispute I shall not lay any very great stress at present. The Tenures Act has already been given up by the Government, and the Land Company may for the present be left out of our consideration. Let its claims rest, as they now rest, on an Act of Parliament, and let us not encumber the present question by any special reference to its concerns. If I might be permitted to suggest a course on this subject to his Majesty's Ministers, I would recommend them to enter into negociations with the Land Company. I suspect by this time that corporation is getting heartily tired of its bargain, and would be glad to withdraw themselves from a country in which they are looked upon with no kindly feelings. They would, I fancy, not be backward to accept an equivalent on lands situated in the genial climate of Australia, where no jealousy would impede their progress—where they might found a colony in place of disturbing one. On the subject of the boundaries of Lower Canada, I would entreat the Government to do nothing. They have enough in their hands already in the shape of dispute, let them not add another difficulty to a subject already complicated. They may say, and with some truth, there is land at the mouth of the river St. Lawrence unsettled, and, perhaps, they may propose to create a new government in those parts, and offer lands to the poor emigrants from Ireland. Should they persevere in this plan, I would suggest that they should offer these lands to the Land Company, and perhaps they might then (could they persuade the Company to accept them) allay the discontent that will infallibly arise in consequence of any change of the present boundaries of Canada. But the most prudent course would be, to say nothing of either subject at present, and at the earliest opportunity to endeavour to remove the Land Company to another country. Such, Sir, is my plan for the pacification of Canada—a plan which I believe adequate to the end in view—sufficiently extensive in its reforms to satisfy the just demands of the people of Canada, and containing nothing which ought to alarm or affront the pride 1226 of this country. The most important portions of the scheme are actually in existence in many of our colonies, and all that is really novel is rather in opposition to, than in favour of the peculiar and democratic leanings of the Canadians. I am, therefore, at a loss to learn on what public grounds this proposal can be opposed. I can, indeed, easily understand the personal vanity, the private interests, and the ignorant prejudices that stand in my way; but I would entreat his Majesty's Ministers to prove themselves on this great occasion superior to these wretched inducements; and I would also address myself, with all due courtesy, to the noble Lord, late Secretary for the Colonies, and beseech him, if he desire the happiness of his country; the peace and kind fellowship of all our various citizens, to check and subdue in the present instance the bitter asperity of manner and of language which distinguished his address in his attack, (unfounded as I pledge myself to prove it at the fitting opportunity) upon the whole Canadian people, when this perplexing question was last before the House. That address will not soon be forgotten by the colony to which it was in reality directed. The position of the speaker gave it importance. A man who had held a great and responsible office, who had been intrusted with the rule of all our vast colonial possessions, must, by the world at large, who are ignorant of the many secret influences which govern public affairs, be considered as one deemed by his countrymen generally worthy of trust, and capable of shaping his conduct so as to make it accord with the feelings and wishes of the nation which confides in him. The colony, then, looking at the noble Lord's late position—considering also the sort of pre-eminence which he enjoys in his own party—cannot but believe that he expresses the policy of One large section of the English community—and what in their judgment will they think this policy to be? The noble Lord is fond at times of indulging in homely nay (he must pardon me for so saying), even in vulgar illustrations. These sometimes add significance to a sentence which a more polished phrase would not have conveyed. In the present instance the noble Lord accomplished this feat with a very sinister dexterity. "You, (said he, addressing the Ministers of the Crown), you show your teeth, but dare not bite," 1227 What will the Canadian people conclude from this currish figure? Why that the noble Lord having shown, and pretty plainly, too, his teeth, will use them on the first favourable opportunity, and indulge his snarling disposition by snapping at and worrying the Canadian people. He may soon have the opportunity afforded to him. The Canadians know this, and they therefore will naturally award to the noble Lord's address a greater weight than it deserved from any intrinsic merit of its own. But that which I now aim at is to persuade the noble Lord to "sprinkle cool patience upon the heat of his distemper," to lay aside, on so critical an occasion as the present, the personal vanities of debate and of offices and approach the question before us in a spirit of calm deliberation, of conciliation, and of kindness. Let him extend the sphere of his political horizon—let its circle include the future destinies of a great people, and thus neglect and overlook the petty passions of personal warfare, and despise the poor pleasure derived from making himself disagreeable. He has done but too much mischief already, by the unhappy petulance of his uncontrolled temper; let him, even at this hour, endeavour to repair the evil, by endeavouring to set an example to those whom he has unjustly offended— of one who, in the very height and fury of his passion, yielded to prudent council, and was ready, by forbearance and a hearty desire for peace and good order to do all that he was able, to allay heat and animosities, arrange perplexing difficulties and conciliate contending prejudices and interests. Let the noble Lord do this, and he will turn his former mistakes into the means of acquiring an increase of reputation and respect. Turning from the noble Lord to his Majesty's Ministers, I would at their hands endeavour to obtain a deliberate consideration for the project which I have laid before them. In an evil hour for their own reputation they resolved to tarnish their name by promulgating the wretched ebullitions of despotism which now disgrace our table. Their strength, if they have any, lies in the belief that some men have of their being the apostles of generous and liberal principles of Government. Deprive their supporters of this belief—let the people of England and the world at large once think that this is a mere delusion, and the fabric Of their present greatness crumbles at 1228 once into the dust. And what, I ask, could be more efficacious towards such a consummation than the proposal which they are about to make, of depriving a people of the power of self-government? And what, I ask, shall we think of that page of history which relates to our posterity that the liberty which was granted by the despotic William Pitt, was destroyed at the instigation and by the power of the so called liberal Government of 1837?—they who framed the Reform Bill, crushed the liberty of Canada—they who desired good Government for Ireland annihilated at one blow the constitution of the Canadian people, and in fervent emulation of Lord North, when he denounced the people of Massachusett's Bay, and with far less palliation than he could offer for his mad career (for the example of that ill-fated minister is before them), they set themselves zealously to work to rear upon the ruins of our colonial dominion another independent nation in America. Again, let me ask, for what is all this atrocious conduct pursued? Does not the noble Lord who proposed these resolutions plainly perceive that he is a tool, and mere puppet, in the hands of others—of others who are now employing his name and power to the furtherance of their own sinister and personal purposes? Does not the noble Lord, when he feels this feel also somewhat degraded by the foul uses to which he has allowed himself to be turned? Let him disenthrall himself—let him trust to his own feelings in this case, and pursue by consistent conduct the reputation he has already acquired. Let him be known in one hemisphere and in the other as the asserter of liberal principles of Government, not as the lover of freedom in Europe, but a despot in America. Before the House decides upon this momentous question, I would entreat them to contemplate for a moment with me some of the consequences that may result from our determinations. In the plan that I have presumed to lay before them I have endeavoured to provide for the future as well as the present. The time must come when the whole of our American possessions shall become independent states; and there are two peculiar combinations that may occur when this happens; one fraught with danger to England, aye, to Europe; the other carrying with it protection to the world at large. If any circumstances should lead 1229 the English colonies of America to join themselves with the United States, and thus confer upon that already powerful people an unbroken line of coast from the Gulf of Mexico to the North Pole, and also a territory stretching from the Pacific to the Atlantic ocean—if such an event should happen, a very few years would be required to make the American republic as formidable to all the nations of the earth as was ancient Rome in her days of greatness. But if we could, by care, erect a northen federal republic out of our colonies, to check and control this mighty power, we should act wisely and with forethought. Let us, then, not so anger and thwart these our colonies while under our dominion as to make them turn to the United States for sympathy and support; but let us teach them to act together, to look also to us for kindness and assistance, so that, when the time of separation does occur, we shall still be close friends, aiding each other, and protecting and reciprocally forwarding the interests of both nations. The scheme I have proposed has this end in view; it remains to be seen whether that end. meets with the approbation of this House, and whether the means suggested are in their opinion adequate to the purpose intended. If they should agree with me, however, that the object I aim at deserves their approval, I intreat them to pause before they for ever shut themselves out from all possibility of attaining it by adopting the resolutions proposed by the noble Lord. Let them hesitate ere they refuse the means now offered to them of Establishing peace and content in this long-disturbed and ill-governed colony of Canada.
said, that perhaps his noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) would excuse him if he did not attempt to enter further into the general question than to address himself to that part of the speech of the hon. Gentleman which had been directed most pointedly at him. Whatever the hon. Member for Bath might think of that uncontrollable temper with which he had been pleased to compliment him, he could assure the hon. Member that his want of control was never less put to trial than on the present occasion, and his object in now rising to address the House was to give an explanation on one point, which explanation might save the hon. Gentleman and the House some trouble. It appeared by what the hon. Member had said, that be bad done some 1230 injustice to the House of Assembly, But it was not an injustice which in the slightest degree affected his view of the merits of the question, or its political bearing in relation to the mother country, and the colonies, or the policy that ought to be maintained, or the spirit that dictated the policy which had been maintained. However, from an examination of papers which he now held in his hand relating to the subject, he believed, that the observations which he did make with regard to the House of Assembly were stronger than the facts would seem to justify. He wished to state that at once, in order to remove any erroneous impression. What he had stated was, that at the time his noble Friend, then Lard Goderich (now the Earl of Ripon), brought forward in the House of Lords his proposition on the subject, he did it under a specific pledge from the House of Assembly, by which he was bound to obtain that Act, and to pass those measures which were then considered desirable, and his noble Friend opposite brought forward precisely the same measure in 1831. He believed it would be found then that he had spoken with perfect correctness. He hoped that the explanation he was making would be satisfactory to the hon. Member for Bath and the House as to the degree of error which ought to be imputed to him, In February 1831, the Bill (which subsequently passed in the month of October, the same year) was brought into Parliament by his noble Friend Lord Goderich, being Colonial Secretary, the noble Lord opposite (Visc. Howick) then, acting under him in that department, and the question being, whether the House of Assembly were bound by any pledge they had given, in the event of the revenues being banded over to their disposal, to make the desired provision for the Judges, Governor, and Executive, the following was the language used by his noble Friend (Viscount Howick):—"I am willing to admit that these persons (the Judge and Governor) should not be dependent for their salary on the annual vote of the Assembly. The Assembly have recognised that principle; and therefore his Majesty's Government think they are perfectly justified in relying on the good feeling of the Assembly for proper provision for conducting the civil government of the colony. In that confidence we shall leave the whole of the 1231 revenues at the disposal of the House of Assembly.* He begged the House to observe in passing, although this related to a subsequent resolution, that under the denomination of "the whole of the revenues," his noble Friend, in precise conformity with the Canadian Commissioners of 1828, did not include the casual and territorial revenues arising from the sale of waste lands. The hon. Member for Middlesex, in the course of the same debate, made use of these expressions:—"It is well known that the Canadian people are determined never to give up the point on which they conceive their whole liberty to rest." That referred to the application of the revenues of the province. "They have, however," continued the hon. Member "been in advance of us, and they have come to resolutions which will be found in the very Report alluded to—they have offered to provide for the civil list on the condition that you give them that command of their revenues which you are now about to do under this Bill," (excepting, as he had already stated, the casual and territorial revenues.) "I quite agree with the noble Lord, that it is better to trust to the liberal feelings of the Canadians than assert your authority over them.* The hon. Gentleman even at that time did not mix up other questions with this arrangement; he considered it as an arrangement apart from the rest; for in the very short speech he then uttered, consisting of but three sentences, he also stated very distinctly and plainly—" The present measure will remove one great cause of dissatisfaction; but I am convinced, from the communications I have had with both the Canadas, they will not be satisfied till they have the election of both the Councils." Not to say that there were not other grounds of dissatisfaction; but they were kept entirely separate from the main arrangement—stated broadly thus—that upon fulfilment of one condition on the part of the Crown, the House of Assembly were pledged by their resolutions to fulfil the other upon their part. Therefore, if he (Lord Stanley) had spoken as regarded the time when his noble Friend brought forward his Bill in May, 1831, he should have been strictly accurate in saying, that the Bill was then distinctly grounded on the condition ac-*Hansard (Third Series) vol. ii. p. 688.† Ibid. p. 692, 693.1232 tually conceded by the House of Assembly of Lower Canada. But it was right he should state—and this was the admission he had to make—that the Bill was lost after passing through the Commons in consequence of the dissolution of Parliament, occasioned by the discussions on the Reform Bill in 1831. At the same time, when it was brought forward in the following Session, in the month of September, the same year, the hon. Member for Middlesex asked if it were the same Bill? and it was identically the same Bill that ultimately passed. It was very little discussed, till it came to the third reading in the House of Lords; and in the interval, this happened. The proposal of the Government had, in the meantime, been submitted to Upper and Lower Canada, when it was by the one accepted, and by the other rejected. This was the admission he had to make with regard to the pledge which had been given as affecting the character of the House of Assembly, and the confidence in which the Government and Parliament of this country had passed that measure. He hoped the hon. Member for Bath would admit, that he had fairly stated how far he had exceeded the strict letter of the fact, and how far, also, he was borne out in his representation by the actual circumstances of the case. In September, 1831, the Legislature of Lower Canada, after referring to the report containing the resolutions by which they were specifically pledged to make this concession on certain terms, proceeded to state, in direct opposition to the hon. Member for Middlesex, "Your Committee cannot, for a moment, presume that the last recited resolution was intended to be acted upon before the recommendations of the Committee of the House of Commons on the civil government of Canada, to whom the petitions of the inhabitants of this province for a redress of grievances were also referred, should have their entire execution." At that time, the House of Assembly in Lower Canada professed to be entirely satisfied with the recommendations of the Committee of 1828; and this singular fact occurred:—Certain resolutions were at that time brought forward, and carried in Committee in the House of Assembly, regarding the constitution of the Legislative Council, which were subsequently omitted from the report, and studiously excluded from making any part 1233 of the terms required, and that fact was noticed by Lord Aylmer in a despatch to Lord Goderich. Lord Aylmer stated, that the consideration of the civil list had, on certain specified grounds, been rejected for the present, there being reservations applying to particular grievances still remaining unredressed. The character of the Legislative Council was not one of those grievances, because it was, by the resolution being repudiated by the House of Assembly, excluded from making any part of their case. But there were certain causes stated, and Lord Ripon, in arguing the matter in the House of Lords, and in a despatch to Lord Aylmer, contained in the minutes of evidence, mentioned certain circumstances which had been referred to by the House of Assembly as the ground of refusing to accede to the civil list. He said to Lord Aylmer, and in the House of Lords, "I am satisfied the House of Assembly would have taken a very different view of this matter if they had known that, in the interval between these resolutions and what had passed in England, certain measures which they referred to had actually been conceded by the Government at home with reference to the principal subjects of grievance on which they resisted the consideration of the civil list. Therefore," said his noble Friend, in moving this measure in the House of Lords, "notwithstanding the refusal of the House of Assembly in Lower Canada to deal with this question, I bring it forward in confidence, Upper Canada having acceded to it, and Lower Canada refusing to accede to it on the ground that Government has not taken certain measures which I have since adopted, and which ought, and I believe will satisfy them. I will not abstain on that ground from bringing it forward, as applicable to Lower as well as Upper Canada." The words his noble Friend had uttered, were these:—" If I had considered that these proceedings on their part arose from any insuperable objection, or from any difficulty likely to be thrown in the way of any final adjustment of the question, I certainly should not have been disposed to include the province of Lower Canada in the provisions of this Bill. Of course, if Lower Canada does not pass an act by which this object may be attained, and which will give them the disposal of this money, the subject will remain in the same relation in which it is now placed, 1234 and we shall then be under the disagreeble necessity of seeing whether any other mode can be adopted by which the difficulty of the case may be remedied. I do hope, however, that what is proposed will satisfy them, as it ought to satisfy them; I am convinced it is intended to do so."* He stated this with reference to the difficulties raised in the intermediate time by the House of Assembly, exempting them so far from the breach of faith, that at the time the Act was really passed by the Legislature, they had in some degree got out of the obligation they had undertaken by the previous resolutions. But still the matter remained in the same position. The Act was passed in the full, undisguised, avowed confidence on the part of the Legislature, that Lower Canada would perform its part; for the measure passed with a declaration in the House of Lords, that if unhappily they should be disappointed, it should be for the Legislature to consider what different steps should be resorted to in order finally to settle the question. He was anxious to state this at that early period of the debate, because it was the only point, on a careful consideration of all the papers, in which he believed he had at all misstated the facts of the case, but that mistake, so far as it went, did not in his mind, in the slightest degree, alter the view he took of the political bearings of the case in the implied confidence, conditions, and expectations on which the Parliament of Great Britain had been induced to pass the Bill which gave the Legislature of Lower Canada control over the whole revenues, always excepting the casual and territorial revenues of the province.
§ Lord J. Russell
was very glad that he had given way to his noble Friend who had just spoken, because it gave him an opportunity of again explaining the grounds upon which these resolutions had been proposed, as well as the general course of policy by which the Government had been guided upon this very important question. It was stated in a former debate, and had been made the ground of a charge against his Majesty's Government, with respect to these resolutions, from two very different quarters, that they were totally inadequate to the object they pro-* Hansard (Third Series) vol. vi. p. 1186–1187.1235 fessed to have in view. Now, in the view that the Government took of the matter, it did not seem desirable, as long as there was any chance of coming to an amicable Arrangement, that they should come to the serious and sorrowful conclusion that the Act of 1791 could not be executed, and that they should be obliged either to yield entirely to demands which they considered inconsistent with the relations that should exist between the mother country and a colony on the one hand, or that on the other they should propose to put an end to the representative government of the colony and suspend the constitution of 1791. These were the two courses that might be considered as adequate to the occasion. If they sought upon the present occasion to come to some clear and definitive decision, they would be placed in this position, that according to the opinion of the Government the demands of the Assembly on the one hand were such that they could not yield to them consistently with the relations usually existing between a mother country and a colony; and, on the other hand, they could not propose a settlement which would enable them to carry on the Government for the future without difficulty unless that settlement could be proposed on the basis that the consent of the Assembly should not be necessary to grant the funds that were essential to the maintenance of the government. Neither of those courses was his Majesty's Government prepared to take; because in a matter of so much importance as this—in a matter where, after all, it must be considered that those with whom they were at present at issue upon the subject of these resolutions were the representatives of the people of Canada, representatives declared by the Commissioners to be so chosen, that a greater proportion of Members could not be given to their opponents without doing something unfair and unjust in the distribution of the elective franchise. Contending with those representatives, his Majesty's Government were not willing, as long as they could possibly avoid it, to say that they would come to a final and decisive breach with the House of Assembly, and surrender altogether the hope of carrying on the colonial government on the general principles of the act of 1791. Yet, if he were not mistaken, the proposal which his noble Friend (Lord Stanley) opposite was inclined to favour, was that, which he, when he was a 1236 Member of the Government, gave notice of making to the House, and in which he must confess his colleagues agreed. That proposal tended to this result, that if the government of Canada found that the Assembly would not consent to these proposals, and that they could not, in consequence, transact the business of the colony, that then the Government should be able to continue for any indefinite time independent of the consent of the Assembly. His noble Friend had spoken with that view, as he (Lord J. Russell) conceived, of the Act 1 and 2 of the King, commonly called Lord Ripon's Act, being the Act passed in reference to the Canadas whilst that noble Lord was Secretary for the colonies. There was another reason why he (Lord J. Russell) did not think it expedient to propose the suspension or repeal of that Act: it was an Act founded not so much upon any difference of opinion with respect to the particular allegations that had been made by the noble Lord, as with respect to the general policy of founding measures upon such allegations. It was to be remembered that they were standing in the position of a mother country disputing with a colony—a powerful state contending with a power which, in comparison, was of a very subordinate kind. In such a contention it was not advisable to make the disputed point a matter of quarrel or harshness of conduct either on one side or the other. It was not advisable to say to the Assembly, "You held out promises—you gave forth expectations to us—you have not fulfilled those promises nor satisfied those expectations, and, therefore, as a punishment of your breach of faith we impose upon you such and such a penalty." That was a course which in his opinion would be the most likely of all to exasperate. The Act which his noble Friend (Lord Stanley) had alluded to was an act founded no doubt upon the expectations entertained by the Earl of Ripon that a civil list would be granted by the House of Assembly. But though founded upon the expectations so entertained by his noble Friend, and by the Government of which he was a Member, the granting of the civil list was not made any part of the condition on which the Act was passed. The act of the British Legislature did not state that the certain concessions were to be made to the House of Assembly upon the condition that a civil list should be granted for the maintenance 1237 of the provincial government—it stated nakedly, freely, absolutely, that for the future the sums in question should be applied by the Assemblies of the province. He knew that it was the advice of some —of Sir James Kempt in particular—that the condition should be made before the revenue was parted with; but the Earl of Ripon thought it right to reject that advice, and the Government and Parliament of the day agreed with him in the propriety of not acting upon it; and the act as it now stood upon the statute-book—he had read it over and over again—simply acknowledged, that for the future the Assembly should have the disposal of the Crown revenue. Now, if they repealed or suspended an act of that kind, upon the special ground that the House of Assembly, upon certain allegations that had been made, and which were matters of circumstantial proof, had not kept faith with the mother country, it would be a mode of proceeding the most likely of any either to produce an ill-feeling between the mother country and the colony, or make the colony and every individual member of its Assemblies feel that he was attacked for a want of honour and good faith, make him resent the imputation, and maintain, as members of popular Assemblies, were apt to do when speaking as the representatives of others, that what had been done was not a breach of faith, but the result of a conviction of what was due to the people of a colony which had been treated with injustice by the mother country. It was with a view to avoid that question, which he thought the most likely of all to excite angry feelings, that in bringing the question before the House he had stated it entirely upon general grounds. He stated, that it was the opinion of the Government that the propositions made by the House of Assembly were not consonant with the constitution of a colony, that they differed from the Assembly upon that point of opinion, that upon that point of opinion they could not agree with their demands, and therefore, they asked the House of Commons, and the Imperial Legislature, to state their opinion upon the point. In that question he imagined there was nothing that ought naturally to provoke or irritate an ill feeling in the colony. The colony no doubt would say, that their demands ought to have been granted by the Imperial Legislature, but 1238 the colony could not say that the Imperial Legislature had acted upon any other than those general political grounds which, without affecting the personal honour or character of the Assembly, were the fair and legitimate grounds upon which the general government and general legislature of the British empire might be conducted in reference to any of its dependencies. Having stated thus much with respect to the inadequacy of the propositions made on the one side, he came next to the propositions made on the other side, and which had been stated at the commencement, as he foresaw it would be, with the utmost ability, and in the manner most likely to persuade the House, by the hon. and learned Member for Bath (Mr. Roebuck.) The statement of that hon. and learned Gentleman favoured the views of the House of Assembly. He must, however, apply to the statement of the hon. and learned Member for Bath this reflection, which appeared to him to be decisive, that although if they decided against the demands of the House of Assembly, and the House of Assembly should say, "The Parliament of Great Britain having, by a great majority, put a negative upon our demands, we will point out other methods by which we are ready to co-operate in the government of the colony in accordance with the views of Great Britain "— although, in such a case it would be the duty of a Minister of the Crown to listen anxiously and carefully to every proposition that might be made, yet he must say, that after so long and so protracted a discussion with the House of Assembly of Canada, it would not be prudent—it would not be dignified—it would not be safe for them to accept the representation of the hon. and learned Member for Bath as a representation of the terms, even if they were desirable, by which the House of Assembly of Lower Canada was disposed ultimately to abide. Commissioners were sent out by the King to inquire into the alleged grievances of the colony; and the Assembly, on various occasions, from the time of their arrival to the last time on which the Assembly entered into a debate, spoke of the Commissioners as wholly unauthorised persons, having no right to interfere in any of the affairs or any of the concerns of the colony. He would read to the House the words, not very decorous or becoming, he thought, employed by the Assembly towards these 1239 persons—persons of high character and station commissioned by the King.
The Assembly said,—The presence in the provinces of certain pretended authorities, whose powers and attributes are not to be found either in the constitution, or in any law, has so often been alleged by your Excellency, and by the executive authorities in the metropolitan state, as being of a nature to retard to a future period the restoration of order and the introduction of those improvements demanded by the people, that we cannot refrain from here making a few general observations which must have attracted the attention of every public man. We believe that this House is the legitimate and authorised organ of all classes of inhabitants in the country, and that its representations are the constitutional expressions of their wishes and of their wants. We believe that the impartial use we have made of the powers vested in us for the protection and happiness of all our fellow-subjects ought to have secured to us due confidence when we solemnly exercised those high privileges. It must, however, have been the result of an unjust distrust of this House, and the people of this province, that his Majesty's Government has rejected our prayers to defer to the opinions of a few individuals, strangers to the country, the fate of which was thereby committed to men whose vague and subordinate mission could not be acknowledged by any independent authority recognised by the constitution, the spirit of which his Majesty is particularly desirous to maintain.Such was the manner in which the Assembly spoke of his Majesty's Commissioners. If they refused so absolutely, so continually, and so peremptorily to point out their grievances to the Commissioners appointed by the King, were they to be told that the Commons and Lords of England were to accept from the hon. and learned Member for Bath a representation that he was authorised finally to adjust all the matters in dispute, that the solemn, deliberate, and repeated assertions of the Assembly were not to be taken as expressive of its wish, but that all the proceedings of the Imperial Parliament in reference to the colony, should be founded upon the representations of the hon. and learned Member for Bath? Ably and skilfully as the hon. and learned Gentleman had stated his proposition, he could not but feel that even if it were a proposition upon which it would be desirable to found the future government of the colony, if they were to alter and vary their resolutions according, to such a proposition, the Assembly of Lower Canada 1240 might fairly and justly say to them "We told you that you were to look to the House of Lower Canada alone as the representatives of Lower Canada—we utterly deny anything that has been said by any Member of your House of Commons—we repudiate, reject, and disavow every statement that he has offered—we call for an elective Legislative Council— we call for a responsible Executive, an Executive responsible to the elected Assembly of the province, and removable upon their address; and to any other terms we will not consent." Such might be the answer of the House of Assembly of Lower Canada, if the House of Commons were to say, that it was prepared to adopt the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Bath. He came then to the question of what would be the best course for the Imperial Legislature to pursue. In considering the point, it would be necessary for him to make a few observations on some parts of the statement made by the hon. and learned Member for Bath. It appeared to him (Lord John Russell), that the best manner in which they could proceed would be to consider and to agree to the resolutions which he had had the honour to propose to the House. Those resolutions did not, as the hon. and learned Member for Bath stated in the first debate upon this question— the resolutions did not look merely to the supplying the wants of the judges and official persons, who bad now been several years without that support, and that payment which they had a right to expect; they went to other points—they went to points on which the House of Assembly had chiefly dwelt—they declared fully and decidedly the opinions of the House of Commons on those points; and when the House had taken the means, which he thought it ought to take, for relieving the embarrassment of the judges and official persons whose salaries had not been paid, there would then arise an occasion on which the House of Assembly could fully reconsider its position. The hon. and learned Member for Bath had stated, taking a tone somewhat different from that which he had adopted the other evening, that the Assembly of Lower Canada, or rather the people of Lower Canada, would raise the standard of revolt, and place themselves under the government of the United States of America, 1241 Now, his (Lord John Russell's) conviction was, that it was not the interest of the people of Lower Canada, to seek to place themselves under the United States of America. His conviction was, that they would then be less likely to have their own wants and wishes consulted, their own habits and customs considered and attended to, than they were at the present moment. His opinion also was, that the United States of America would not be anxious to seek a quarrel with Great Britain in such a question. He thought, therefore, there was every reason to expect that the Assembly, on receiving the resolutions of the House of Commons, and knowing its determination, would then fully and deliberately reconsider their position, and, awakening themselves to a sense of the advantage of living under a mild and free government, subject only to very light and trifling taxes, having the disposal of their own revenues for the advancement and improvement of their own local concerns and interests, no part of them being appropriated to the advantage of the empire of Great Britain—and considering how little there was of real practical grievance, and how much of their former resolution had been owing to the then existing excitement and exasperation—would either altogether abandon their former propositions, or state their wishes in a manner in which it would be possible for the Government of this country to come to a final and satisfactory agreement. With respect to the other points on which the hon. and learned Gentleman had touched, he owned that he very much agreed with him—indeed he agreed with almost every party in that respect, that the Legislative Council of Lower Canada had not answered the purposes and objects for which it had been instituted. To show what these purposes and objects were, it would be sufficient to quote a part of the constitution of Lower Canada which never had been enforced, but which served to show the intention, the animus, with which a portion of that constitution was formed. He alluded to that part of the constitution of Lower Canada, whereby it was permitted to his Majesty to grant hereditary titles and honours, and hereditary estates to such individuals in the colony as might suit his royal pleasure. At the time that that constitution was granted, there were two great principles striving for the mastery in the British 1242 Legislature. On the one hand, it was contended, that aristocratic privileges were the security of every good government; and on the other there prevailed a notion more false as he thought—that aristocratic privileges ought everywhere to be done away with. One side of the Legislature said, "let us have everywhere an aristocracy;" the other side said, "let aristocracies every where be abolished." That was the prevailing quarrel in Great Britain at the time, and it entered, as might have been expected, into the acts passed for the future constitution of the colony. He thought, that in practice, the constitution, so impregnated with the spirit of the quarrel that occupied the attention of Europe at the time, had not been found an advantageous constitution for Canada. The Crown had not always elected the most distinguished persons in the colony to sit in the Legislative Council, and it was questionable whether there were any of sufficient distinction to be admitted to hereditary honours. Therefore, it was not on the excellence of the Legislative Council of Lower Canada, that he took his stand, or founded the resolution he had proposed to the House. That resolution was an answer to the demand of the House of Assembly for an elective Legislative Council. What was the demand? It said, they expressed their constant and unalterable conviction, that the present opposition between the Legislative Council and the House of Assembly could not be ended until the principle of popular election should be introduced into the constitution of the Legislative Council. Now, it was that demand of the House of Assembly to which the first resolution that had been carried, was a decision of the opinion of this House of Commons. This House thereby declared, that the adoption of an elective Legislative Council in the colony was unadvisable. With respect to the opinion which the hon. Gentleman had given, that instead of doing everything possible to make the Legislative Council an independent body, acting upon its own views, it ought to be a body connected more immediately with the Crown; that was a suggestion which he certainly thought worthy of the utmost consideration. He should have himself supposed, that the opposition to that suggestion, if he had made it at an earlier time, would have come rather from the representatives of popular opinions in the colonies than from 1243 others. If the Assembly were to say, that they should prefer a Legislative Council in which were persons who held their seats either for a certain period of time, or during the pleasure of the Crown, he thought it would then be well worthy of consideration whether the constitution of Lower Canada was, as it at present stood, equal or superior to those constitutions which had been established in our West India colonies in former times. His hon. Friend had just reminded him that in our other North American colonies the Members of the Legislative Council did hold their seats during the pleasure of the Crown. But were that a good amendment or were it a bad one, it was not an amendment which could be considered as complying with the requisition hitherto made by the Assembly of Lower Canada; who had demanded, not that the Members of the Council should be placed more under the control of the Crown, but that they should be directly responsible to the people. The Committee of 1828 thought that the Legislative Council should be made independent; but he had always doubted the wisdom of that recommendation, because, while he saw the advantage of having the principle of independence in a Legislative Council where there existed all the elements—as in this country, for example—for constituting an independent Assembly, or Council, or as it might be a House of Lords, he was not convinced of the advantage of having an independent council, where that council could not be formed of persons who were naturally qualified and pointed out to be members of such an independent body. The hon. Gentleman had spoken of the situation of the judges. He would read presently the proposition which it was intended to submit to the House, as to the constitution of a joint Committee between the two provinces of Upper and Lower Canada; but he must refer for a moment to the conduct which had been pursued by the House of Assembly with respect to the judges. The Crown of England had declared its willingness to permit the judges to hold their offices during good behaviour, and not during the pleasure of the Crown. The Assembly were willing to adopt that proposition; but, while doing so, they adopted a proposition of their own—namely, the salaries of the judges should be voted from year to year by the Assembly. From the spirit which had been, shown by the 1244 Assembly, he could not foresee any other result from that proposition than this, that while on the one hand the judges were to be made independent of the Assembly, on the other hand, occasion was to be taken year after year—according to the opinions, according to the judgments, according to the conduct of those judges in their tribunals—of diminishing, taking away, or of agreeing to vote in favour of, their salaries. The proposition which he and the Government made upon this subject was connected with the establishing of a joint Committee for the two provinces; and it was proposed to constitute not that joint Committee itself a tribunal, but to give that Committee the power to form some tribunal, before which accusations against the judges could be brought. He would now repeat the various important subjects which it was proposed should be referred to that joint Committee. He did so, because he thought, if he rightly collected the import of the hon. Gentleman's observations, that the hon. Gentleman did not differ from the opinion that a joint Committee, or some body of that kind, might form a most important element in the future government, and tend towards the future prosperity of those provinces. The joint Committee was to consist of twenty-four members; eight to be appointed by each Assembly, and four by each Legislative Council. The duties of this joint Committee, as had been stated on a former occasion, were to originate laws that were to take effect in both colonies, for the regulation of the duties of export and import in the commercial intercourse between the two provinces, for the regulation of drawbacks, for the improvement of the navigation of the St. Lawrence, for establishing insolvency courts, for constituting a general court of appeal, and for establishing a court before which impeachments of the judges and other officers of the executive might be fairly heard and decided. It would be seen that the last of these subjects comprehended one upon which the hon. and learned Member for Bath had spoken. He would next address himself to another point which had been alluded to by that hon. Gentleman, namely, the Land Company. The hon. Gentleman, when speaking on this subject, h d laid down positions with respect to the revenues of the King of England which he (Lord John Russell) should hardly have expected from such an 1245 asserter of freedom as the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman had laid it down as a position, that there were certain revenues of the King of England which were as the revenues of a private individual. Now, that was not the doctrine of the constitution of this country. It was not the doctrine that the King held private revenues which he might dispose of as a private individual. If such had been the case—if James the Second had held those revenues as a private individual, it would have been unjust to have taken them away from him; he might have continued —notwithstanding any fault or crime he committed—to hold those revenues, and Parliament would not have settled them upon William III. They were the revenues of the Crown of England; they were revenues belonging to the Crown, out of which the Crown was to provide for the public service. In the course of events, the Crown had been unable to provide, out of those revenues, both for the household and dignity of the Crown; and likewise to provide for the army; the navy, and other things for the Service of the country. Hence had arisen an arrangement between the people and the Crown, by which the Crown surrendered its revenues during the life of the sovereign; and the country took possession of them, and in return made certain grants to the Crown. The hon. Gentleman, therefore, had reasoned from an incorrect analogy in this respect. These revenues of the King of England were the revenues of the Crown; and so likewise were the revenues which were held in Canada and other provinces, such as the land revenues of the Crown in Canada. It was a pretension never before put forth, and certainly not supported by any argument, that the Assembly of Lower Canada should say:—"We are constituted by the Act of Parliament of 1791; and although there is no clause in that act which gives to us the possession of the land revenues of the Crown—and although the Only clause that there is bearing on the question has a tendency directly the other way—yet the Crown is entirely deprived of any control over those revenues, and that by the simple fact that the act of 1791 having passed, we are entitled to the whole control over these lands in the colony." He could not assent to that doctrine. He did not think it could be maintained; and certainly he thought that all the lawyers, of any authority, were it necessary to quote 1246 authorities, held a directly opposite doctrine. However, he did not think, after all, that as a matter of practical government, there would be found a very great difference between the Assembly and the Government appointed by the King; because, if he understood the hon. Gentleman aright (and indeed, in that respect, it appeared to him that the hon. Gentleman was supported by the resolutions and addresses of the Assembly themselves), what the Assembly desired was, that the management of these land revenues should be considered as a matter of public concern, and that while that management was in the hands of persons appointed by the Crown an exact account should be given by them of the receipts and appropriation of those revenues. With respect to that, he (Lord John Russell) did not think, if all the other subjects of difference were arranged, there would remain much matter in dispute on that point. It was once the intention of Lord Ripon, and he believed it was also formerly the intention of Lord Aberdeen, and Lord Glenelg had since stated, that it was his intention, that all the colonial revenues should be subject to the general control of the Assembly, provided a certain civil list were settled. But when he said this, there was one point upon which there might be a misunderstanding between the hon. Gentleman and himself. When he said, that the civil list should be settled, his notion was that the Assembly should agree to a certain civil list either during the life of the King or for a certain term of years; and upon the expiration of that civil list, then the casual and territorial revenues should revert to and be at the disposal of the Crown. But he believed the understanding on the part of the Assembly, when his proposition was originally made, was, that they were to come at once and for ever into the control of the casual and territorial revenues, at the same time that the civil list would only be settled for some ten years, perhaps; and at the expiration of those ten years, the civil list was to cease if it should so please them, although the casual and territorial revenues were still to remain under their control, and not revert to the Crown. Now, that was not his understanding with regard to the settlement of this question. His understanding with regard to a settlement which should be honorable to the Crown, and safe for the future government of the colony, was, that whatever period might be fixed for 1247 the civil list, if at the period of renewal a new civil list was not made, then the casual and territorial revenues should revert to the Crown. Upon this point he thought that the different colonial secretaries that had during the last five or six years held office under the different Governments that existed in this country in that space of time, entertained no difference of opinion; and that they were all willing to concede to this arrangement upon the understanding and upon the terms which he had now stated. He thought that upon these various points the result was, that upon the general statement between the hon. Gentleman and himself there was not a very wide difference of opinion. But if these questions came to be settled in terms, and came to be laid down in propositions which were to be finally adopted, a difference which did not appear in their general opinions might arise, and no arrangement could be concluded. He therefore arrived at the same result which he stated in the beginning— that he was most anxious that there should be a final, a pacific, and a satisfactory settlement of these matters, but he was not disposed to postpone, delay, or abandon the present resolutions. He did not wish to ask for any power by which the government of Lower Canada could go on for the next twenty or thiry years, but in the meantime, keeping the Assembly in a state of continual and perpetual hostility. He had stated one argument already with respect to the repeal of Lord Ripon's act; he might now state a few words additional upon that subject, which he thought must occur to any one on reading the last despatch laid before this House from Lord Gosford. He there stated that the duty raised under the imperial act of the 14th Geo. 3rd. was 47,602l. in 1835, and in 1836 it was only 28,432l., being a decrease of 19,170l. Lord Gosford stated, that the principal decrease was under the head of importations from the West Indies—the diminution chiefly arising from the quantity of mixed rum being consumed by the Canadians instead of the genuine West India rum. That was a statement solely relating to the finances of the province; but he begged to observe the effect which this financial fact might have upon political affairs if this country were to say, "We will rely upon these duties for the management and government of Lower Canada, and will not look to any grants from the 1248 Assembly." Whatever other consequences might ensue, those which occurred in the beginning of the contest with our North American colonies would inevitably result from this line of policy. Those people who had aleady diminished by nearly one half their usual consumption would say, "We will not consume those articles by which these revenues are obtained. We will not oppose the Government by arms, by riot, or by insurrection; but, as far as abstinence and non-consumption, we will oppose the Government by that means and endeavour to prevent the Crown from obtaining a revenue for carrying on the government of the colony." This was a most impolitic, he would add a most degrading, manner in which the Government of a great country like this should carry on the affairs of one of her colonies. He would say, that upon every ground, as long as it was possible to delay matters; upon every ground they ought not to endeavour by impolitic and inefficient means to maintain the government of the colony in spite of the House of Assembly; upon every ground of this kind they ought not to adopt a measure by which they would be declaring their determination in future to carry on the government of the colony independent of the Assembly. It might happen that when the House of Assembly should receive the decision of the Parliament of this country, they might decide that that decision formed a sufficient ground for accommodation, or for some new proposition. It might happen, however, that they would persist in their original demands, and continue to refuse any other terms whatsoever. If they should take this latter course, he thought they would by their own conduct put an end to the operation of the constitutional act by which the Canadas were governed; but he thought no blame would be imputable to the Crown and the Legislature of this country, if in those circumstances they were to endeavour to carry on the government of Lower Canada by other means than those which that act had provided. But until he was thoroughly convinced that this would be the case he should use the only means in his power of healing the question, by stating as clearly as he could the reasons why it was impossible for him to concur in the demands of the Assembly of Lower Canada; at the same time expressing a hope that there might be means still of accommodation. 1249 having said this much he would only add, that the resolution then immediately before the House referred to one of those demands which he thought it was utterly impossible for them to agree to; it referred to the demand that the Executive Council of Lower Canada should be responsible to the House of Assembly, and should be removable in the same manner as the Ministers of the Crown in this country were—that was, removable when it lost the confidence of that Assembly. It was obvious that if the House agreed to a demand of this kind, they would have an inferior and independent government in Canada. It might be a wise provision for a mother country, but it was not a wise provision for a colony. It was quite impossible to have a governor there acting by the orders of the King, and to say, at the same time, that he was to be guided by responsible advisers, but that those responsible advisers whom he should choose should be under the control of the House of Assembly. Therefore, in proposing this resolution, he was not going any further than was absolutely necessary in order to preserve the connexion between a mother country and the colonies.
wished to ask a question of the noble Lord. Treating as these resolutions did of a variety of different subjects, it was quite impossible to mix them up in one discussion, or to come to one decision upon the various subjects involved in them. He wanted to know what course in fulfilment of these resolutions was intended to be taken by his noble Friend. He wished to know which of the resolutions was to be made the subject matter of those Bills which it was absolutely necessary should be introduced and passed in order to give them the slightest effect. The first resolution required no Bill at all; but the fifth resolution, which they were now discussing, ought to form the subject of a separate Bill. He was quite satisfied that it was not advisable to subject the Executive Council to the control suggested by the House of Assembly. If the noble Lord meant to follow up this resolution with a Bill to enforce it, he should not object to the general statement in the resolution, that it was expedient to adopt means of improving the Executive Council of Lower Canada. If no Bill was to be introduced, he should protest against being mixed up with anything like an implied pledge of the kind. If the noble Lord intended to 1250 bring in a Bill on the subject he would not say one word more upon it; if, however, he did not intend to bring in a Bill, let the noble Lord at once state to the House the precise modifications intended to be proposed by the Government. As to the other concessions, if they were not followed up by Acts of Parliament they would be nothing more nor less than so much waste paper. With respect to the present resolution there was a considerable degree of vagueness, both in point of form and substance.
§ Mr. Roebuck
was surprised that the noble Lord did not make his objection before they agreed to the last resolution. He should have asked, before the last resolution was put, what measures were to be founded on it, and whether an Act was to be introduced.
replied, that in the Report of the Committee of 1828 it was distinctly declared that the composition of the Legislative Council did not require the interference of the Parliament by Legislative enactment, as its composition could be improved in the degree required by the sound judgment of the executive. On this ground he did not think that any legal enactment was required.
§ Mr. Roebuck
begged to remind the noble Lord that the Government did not state that it adopted the resolutions of the Committee of 1828. The Executive Council was created by Act of Parliament, and not by the Crown, and therefore would require the agency of the former to alter its constitution.
§ Lord John Russell
stated, that it certainly was his intention to bring in a Bill to carry into effect the changes he proposed in such cases as required an Act of Parliament. This would not be necessary in all cases. He would, however, mention one as an instance. It was proposed to exclude the judges from sitting as members of the Executive Council, and this would be effected by a Bill.
§ Mr. Ward
said, that it was hardly possible for him to express the pleasure he felt at hearing the early part of the speech of the noble Lord, but this had been damped by the latter part of it. It was not without great pain that he listened to the noble Lord when he alluded to the intention of adopting steps for the enforcement of the suggestions embodied in their resolutions. He differed from the hon. and learned Member for Bath on one 1251 point—namely, as to the principles he laid down for the disposal of waste lands in the colonies. He differed as much from his hon. Friend on this point as he did from the noble Lord on the necessity of subjecting Canada to a violation of the constitution of that country with a view of putting an end to the unfortunate differences which prevailed there now. His hon. and learned Friend proposed that the control over the whole of the waste lands in Lower Canada should be in the House of Assembly and Legislature of the colony. He thought this was a most important subject, and the House should be made fully aware of the consequences that might result from pursuing an erroneous course on this point. He did not believe that the power of disposing of the waste lands of Lower Canada vested in any other authority than in the Crown of England. He acknowledged the right which the charter of 1791 gave the colonists to the land which were brought within enclosures; but he did not acknowledge their right to those lands which were not reclaimed: on the contrary, he believed that the title to them vested in the Crown. At present, however, they were at the disposal of the Parliament of Great Britain; for in 1830 his Majesty made a surrender of these lands on the settlement of the Civil List. In the speech from the throne he said, "I place without reserve at your disposal my interest in the hereditary revenues and in those funds which may be derived from any droits of the Crown or Admiralty, from the West-India duties, or from any casual revenues either in my foreign possessions or in the United Kingdom." By this arrangement it was clear, that the control over the waste lands in the colonies was transferred to the Parliament. Parliament, however, had never yet exercised the right of stipulating as to the disposal of waste lands in the colonies, but left the matter to the control of the Colonial-office. This was a course which, in his opinion, would lead to much evil, and he thought that a sufficient control should be exercised to prevent the land being made over for the purpose of peculation and jobbing. He could only consider the resolutions as a whole, and as embracing the principles upon which the Government thought that Canada should be governed. Now, his objection to these resolutions was, that there was noting in them cal- 1252 culated to lead to a permanent settlement of the dispute with Canada. He saw nothing in these resolutions but a power of making temporary provision for the payment of the arrears of salary due to the Government functionaries in Canada; and this was done in such a manner as to render it a direct violation of the constitutional charter of the colony of 1791. In fact the resolutions were nothing more nor less than the abrogation of the Canadian constitution. It was an act of power which they had no right whatever to enforce. By the constitution of 1791 nothing could be more distinct than the sacrifice of all right of taxation in Canada on the part of the Legislature of this country. No distinction could be made between the disbursement of funds belonging to the colony in the hands of the receiver-general of the colony and the imposition of a tax. The eighth resolution declared, that for the purpose of defraying the arrears due on account of the charges of the administration the balance in the hands of the receiver-general of the colony shall be devoted to that purpose. This resolution attacked the only mode by which the Colonial Assembly was able to check the abuses of the Government of Great Britain. They had no annual estimates; they had no army or navy estimates to vote; they had no means of checking the executive unless by stopping the supplies in the way they had done; and immediately they resorted to this constitutional check, the Government turned round and threatened to deprive them of the rights which the English Parliament had conferred on them. This was not a struggle whether or not there should be a Government, as had been alleged, but whether the constitution of the colony should be sacrificed in the way proposed. It was said, that the functions of Government must be discharged, and these persons must be paid their salaries. The Canadians were just as much interested in the existence of a Government there, and indeed a great deal more so than the people of this country. The question was, whether or not the Government should be responsible? and then the question arose, to whom? Whether the heads of the department in Downing-street should have an accession to their authority, or those who were most interested in the question? He should wish to see the means of en- 1253 forcing responsibility in the hands of the Canadians. He was satisfied that Government had no right to interfere with them in this case. The constitution of 1791 placed the right of voting the supplies in the hands of the House of Assembly, and when the Government found the exercise of this right and power objectionable to them, they turned round and attempted to subvert the constitution. As the resolution now stood, it would seem only calculated to exasperate the House of Assembly, whilst at the same time it would be absolutely necessary to have the aid of this Chamber to carry it into effect. He might take this resolution as the substance of the proceedings that the Government intended to pursue. The sixth resolution confirmed the charter of the North American Land Company. Now he could not help saying, that the mode of disposing of land by this company was one of the most objectionable that could be acted upon. The seventh resolution, which related to the tenure of land in the Colony, and the ninth, which proposed to transfer the control of the hereditary revenues of the Crown to the House of Assembly, in the latter giving a permanent civil list, was also objectionable. The tenth resolution contained a great variety of subjects, and nothing could be more extensive than the matters referred to in it. He therefore said, that the resolutions would irritate the House of Assembly, which was the only body by means of which this House could enforce sound government in the country, and this certainly was not the soundest mode of proceeding that could be adopted. There were many disputed points which would not be settled by these resolutions; at the same time the constitution of 1791 was violated in the fullest degree. It was the abrogation of that constitution. By the proposed arrangement the Government merely stepped in and paid off the arrears of the salaries of the judges and other civil functionaries of the colony, but no provision was made for future cases. The House of Assembly, therefore, might for the future refuse these grants on the same ground that they had been refused for the last three years, and that House might again be called upon to interfere in the same arbitrary manner as at present. He did not think that they were pursuing a prudent or statesmanlike course in adopting the 1254 resolutions of the noble Lord—he thought that it would be the wise and more prudent course if, as had been suggested by his hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Bath, they first met the demands of the House of Assembly. As the strongest power, we should without hesitation make a conciliatory offer, and as such we should be subject to reproach for sacrificing a point of honour. The whole question was, whether we were right or not? Had we justice in our demands or not? He had had an opportunity of visiting the most extensive irresponsible Governments that had occurred in colonies—he meant the Spanish colonies in America. Nothing could be more degrading than the system of Government pursued by the mother country towards them. Everything was settled in the mother country, and everything was sacrificed for the promotion of her interests. There was plenty of nominal responsibility in the government of these colonies, but there was none in reality. The result was, that the greatest dissatisfaction existed in them; and such was the extent of this feeling, that the very first instance that an opportunity offered itself, the colonies threw off the yoke of the mother country, and the whole power of Spain crumbled away in a year. There were no kindly feelings—none of those attachments which he hoped would always exist between Great Britain and those states which had been her colonies. All the feelings of these colonies were of one kind, namely, of detestation to the mother country. To our North American colonies, before we forced them to separate themselves from Us by our tyrannical proceedings, we gave almost the full power of governing themselves. Privileges were extended to them by the Stuarts, without the slightest hesitation, which we refuse to the people of Canada, such as the nomination of the Executive Council. It appeared, that out of the thirteen American colonies, not less than eleven possessed the right of appointing the Executive Council. Could anything be more loyal than those colonies before the attempt was made to deprive them of their privileges? —and they would have been unworthy of them if they had not resisted that attempt. This was also the case in Canada, He did not believe that it was possible to perpetuate the connexion between a mother country and her colonies: for when a colony grew to a 1255 certain extent, and became ripe, it would drop off. The object, therefore, should be always to separate in such a manner that there would be a continuation of kindly feeling between the mother country and colony. He would, therefore, implore and entreat the Government to suspend these resolutions. The Ministers and that House should again make overtures for an accommodation. He cared very little for the dignity of the House, but was most anxious for the welfare of this colony. He, therefore, called upon the noble Lord to pause and to consider before he carried these proceedings into execution whether they would be satisfactory to the colony and to his well-wishers in the country, and promote the welfare of the empire.
§ Mr. Robinson
reminded the noble Lord, that he told him what would be the consequence of postponing the consideration of these resolutions, and he now saw the result. When the resolutions were first brought forward, they were considered in a full House, and this, of course, would have its effect in the colony; if, however, they passed the House when such a small number of Members were present as then occupied the benches, they would have little or no effect in the colony. He thought that it was a most unwise course of proceeding. He knew that the object of the hon. and learned Member for Bath was delay, and he did not blame him for the course he had taken; but he could not help finding fault with the Government for so readily yielding to his demands. The hon. Member for Bridge-water said, that he would oppose the resolutions by every means in his power; and now the noble Lord had an opportunity of seeing, that when a delay was asked for, on the ground that there was not sufficient information before the House, it was intended that the moral effect of passing these resolutions by a large majority should be taken away; for if they were agreed to in a House like the present, when not one-fifth of the Members were there, they would have little influence in the colony. The Commissioners, indeed, in their Report, stated that the effect of the course taken would depend on the state of the majority by which it was sanctioned in that House. With respect to the subject matter of debate, he must observe that it was of too much importance to allow of its being mixed up with personalities; he should 1256 therefore, cautiously abstain from anything calculated in the slightest degree to irritate the feelings of any man. The hon. and learned Member for Bath, instead of going into the examination of the resolutions, proceeded to propose some project of his own for governing, not merely the colony with which the learned Member was connected, and the affairs of which were then under consideration, namely, Lower Canada, but the whole of our American colonies. The hon. and learned Member, as the agent for Lower Canada, had a right to get up in that House and express the sentiments of the persons he represented; but he must express his surprise that the hon. Member claimed the right of expressing the sentiments of the inhabitants of all the American colonies. He denied, that the hon. Member had the slightest right to speak in the name of those colonies. When the hon. Gentleman said, that he demanded this, and denounced that, and assented to something else, he wished to know on what authority the hon. Gentleman spoke, and what right he had thus to address the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that his Majesty's subjects in the North American colonies were essentially democratic. He denied the truth of that statement. There was a party, and undoubtedly a powerful party, in Lower Canada which was thoroughly imbued with democratic principles; this he did not pretend to deny for a moment; but such sentiments were not entertained by the inhabitants of either Upper Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, or Prince Edward's Island. He distinctly denied the truth of the statement, and could positively assert that his Majesty's subjects in those North American provinces were perfectly satisfied with the constitution under which they lived. There might occasionally arise some minor points of discussion between the inhabitants of these colonies and the governor, or the Colonial-office, but the feelings of the people were not at all in unison with those of the inhabitants of Lower Canada. He should like to know what authority the hon. and learned Member had for saying, that the King's subjects in Upper Canada, in Nova Scotia, in New Brunswick, or in Prince Edward's Island, sanctioned the suggestion which the hon. Member had made as to the future Government of our North American colonies? He again denied, that 1257 the inhabitants of any of these provinces were desirous of being parties to any such arrangements as those recommended by the hon. and learned Member. The hon. Member for St. Alban's had attempted to make out an analogy between our North American colonies and the Spanish colonies in South America. But he would undertake to say, that there was to be found in history no instance of a more rapid and striking advance in knowledge, civilization, and prosperity, than had been made by our North American colonies. In proof of his assertion, that there existed in Upper Canada nothing of the feeling of discontent with its Government which prevailed in Lower Canada, he would read a resolution agreed to by the House of Assembly of Upper Canada last year. That Resolution declared, that "his Majesty's subjects in Upper Canada require no other protection than that which is afforded them by the laws and constitution they now possess, and the superintending power of the great empire of which they are proud to form a part; and notwithstanding the forebodings of disappointed and discontented men, fresh evidence is given day by day of the invariable attachment of the people of this province to the King and his Government, and they never permit a doubt to enter their minds of the permanency of their union with the parent state." After this distinct declaration on the part of the Representatives of the Upper Canadians, the hon. and learned Member surely could not persist in stating that the people of that province participated in the sentiments which he, as the Representative of the Lower Canadians, had so often expressed. There was equally good authority for stating, that the inhabitants of Nova Scotia, of New Brunswick, of Prince Edward's Island, were perfectly satisfied in all main points with the Government, and constitution under which they now lived. On no one occasion had any of these provinces given utterance to a wish either for a change in their Government, or still less, for a separation from the parent state. As regarded the Legislative Council, the hon. and learned Member, it must be admitted, was perfectly consistent with himself, though he went somewhat beyond the Lower Canadians, for while they only required that the Legislative Councils should be rendered elective, the hon. and learned Member called for the abolition of the 1258 body altogether. The Executive Council was to be retained, but the hon. and learned Member only proposed to leave it a suspensive power; for if the Executive Council dissented—and dissent was the only alternative permitted from any measure sent up from the House of Assembly, then the House of Assembly and the governor were to be empowered to settle the matter between them, without consulting the Executive Council any further about it. A similar miserable tampering with the constitution had been suggested by the hon. and learned Member in reference to the House of Lords here, whom it was proposed to deprive of the right of exercising their independent legislative functions, and to invest them, in exchange for this, with merely a suspensive power. In fact, the two propositions might be looked upon as forming parts of one great plan of a change in the constitution contemplated by a certain party in the House. The hon. and learned Member had taken upon himself to designate the members of the Legislative Council, a set of hungry officials. Now, he begged to tell the hon. and learned Member, with all due respect, that there were many Members of that Legislative Council, who would think themselves very far from highly honoured by a comparison being instituted between them and certain Members of that House. As to the waste lands, he was perfectly ready to admit, that the House of Assembly were entitled to a control over the revenue arising from the sale of these lands; but this was quite a different thing from the claim set up by them of arrogating to themselves, in exclusion of the Crown, the right of selling or otherwise disposing of these lands. This was a claim which he would never sanction; and he did not at all understand on what foundation it rested. The Canadian constitution had now been in existence for many years; but the discovery of the alleged right of the House of Assembly to the disposal of these waste lands, was a very recent affair. In 1796, when the King, in a message to the House of Assembly, formally asserted his right to dispose of these lands, the claim was admitted, without any difficulty. On what ground was it disputed now? The simple fact was, that the French party in Lower Canada, seeing the happy effects arising from the present system of government, and from the operations of the Canada Company, were apprehensive that the fair 1259 and judicious disposal of these lands, inducing extensive immigration from that country, would so swell the British population, as effectually to destroy all pretence for the ridiculous idea of nationality now entertained by the French party. There was one other topic on which he wished to make a remark, namely, as to what had fallen from the hon. Member for St. Alban's, in reference to what he called an infraction of the constitutional rights of the Lower Canadians, the dealing with the money now in their chest. He readily admitted that this was a proceeding only to be justified by some imperious necessity. The question was, did such an imperious necessity exist? In his opinion it did. The hon. Member for St. Alban's said, that the only means which the Lower Canadians possessed of effectually opposing a government which they disapproved of, was precisely the stoppage of the supplies; but he would put it to the House to say, whether the Lower Canadians were invested with this power for the purpose of enabling them to make war upon the Government—of overturning the constition under which they exercised all the rights they had been admitted to the enjoyment of? The Act of 1791 was passed in favour of the Canadians by the spontaneous will of Parliament, He did not mean by this to say, that this Act had not all the force and validity of a compact, but he wished to point out, that at the time Canada was conquered by this country, she possessed no legislative rights whatever, and that all those which she now possessed, and of which the stoppage of the supplies was so prominent a feature, were conferred on her spontaneously by this country. Was it to be asserted that the Lower Canadians were making a justifiable use of this important privilege when they attempted to employ it in overturning the constitution which had been bestowed on them? Surely not. The eighth resolution only affected monies which had been raised with public concurrence for public purposes; and to no purpose more essentially public could they be applied than the one contemplated. The hon. and learned Member for Bath had taken upon himself to state, that the Canada Company were in anything but a flourishing condition; that their shares were at a discount, and that they would be highly delighted to get rid of them; and he had also been good enough to throw out to 1260 them a suggestion as to how much better it would be for them to transfer their operations to South Australia, or some other colony, anywhere rather than in Canada. He could assure the hon. and learned Member, that the Company would not adopt any one of his suggestions, and were quite prepared to controvert his statements. The Company were quite content to remain where they were, resting secure in their Act of Parliament, and on their charter; and he might observe, that although he was glad the noble Lord opposite had introduced among his resolutions one confirmatory of the validity of the Company's title, yet, without offence to the noble Lord, he would say, that the title of the Company already rested on the best and strongest foundation, and he would boldly state, that no Company ever existed, which had done more good to the country in which its operations were carried on than had the Canada Company. He reserved to himself the right, at a future opportunity, of defending the Government for having chartered that Company. In conclusion, he said, he supported the Government in their present course, because he believed all other means of conciliation had been exhausted.
§ Mr. Grote
The hon. Gentleman who spoke last expressed his regret that Government had delayed these resolutions so long as they had. He took a different view of that circumstance, and, on the contrary, rejoiced at the delay, thinking that Government would thereby have an opportunity of reviewing some of the most prominent points in these resolutions. He regretted much that they had not been induced to alter their course. The language of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) who had passed over the eighth resolution was, that he did not perceive the tendency of the eighth resolution. It insulted the people of Canada, and went to deprive them of all chance of good government for the time to come. The noble Lord took credit to himself for not repealing the Act of William 4th. This resolution did more, for it disposed of the whole revenue of Canada, without the consent of the people, and subverted all those maxims on which good government had been always considered to rest. The noble Lord knew the history of England. He must recollect that in the time of the long Parliament Lord Strafford advised Charles not to call 1261 another Parliament but to bring over the array from Ireland. "Your Majesty," said he, "has made trial of all legislative measures of conciliation. Nothing, therefore, now remains but to have recourse to arms, and you are justified in employing them." The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), for the first time since the reign of Charles, made use of similar language. The hon. Member who spoke last said that the hon. Member for Bath proposed an entirely new plan. But these resolutions embraced a new system of government for Canada, and the hon. Member for Bath was, therefore, justified in proposing a substitute. He proposed a means of control over the Legislative Council, and gave the House of Assembly a right to vote and dispose of the revenue. In his (Mr. Grote's) opinion the proposals of the House of Assembly should be acceded to. First, as to the Legislative Council, he had heard much less of argument upon that branch of the subject than when the hon. Member for Bridgewater brought forward his motion. The noble Lord did not show any decided objection to a change in the Council, as proposed by the hon. Member for Bath. There were only two parties interested in the subject—the people of Canada and the people of this country. The Assembly would be quite sufficient to maintain the interests of Canada, and the Governor might maintain the interests of the mother country. The hon. Member who spoke last spoke of an analogy to the House of Lords. He did not entertain the highest opinion of that Assembly; but he would not degrade the House of Lords by a comparison with the Legislative Council of Canada to the House of Lords. He thought that the members of the Legislative Council might with greater truth be likened to the aldermen for life of our old corporations. The hon. Member for Worcester had also alluded to the division of the population of Canada into two distinct races, and had contended that the Legislative Council was necessary for the protection of the minority. He could not admit any such necessity. The House of Assembly represented not only the majority, but the whole of the population of Canada, and though the decisions of that body were necessarily determined by a majority, the interests of the minority were not the less duly represented. If, indeed, a separate legislature was to be established for every separate class or minority, every 1262 principle of a representative government would be totally disregarded. Those hon. Gentlemen who maintained such a doctrine with regard to Canada were bound, in consistency, to apply the same principle to Ireland, and to support a proposition for the repeal of the Union. It had been asserted by some hon. Gentlemen, and he found the statement recorded in the report of the Canada Commissioners, that the population of the colony was not homogeneous. Now he must declare that he could discover no proof of the existence of any antipathy in the different classes of the population to one another. Indeed all the evidence which he knew of went to establish the direct contrary. He thought the proposition of the hon. Member for Bath, a material improvement in the demands of the House of Assembly. Every person who desired the continuance of the connexion between this country and Canada must admit the expediency of giving the governor a veto upon the decisions of the House of Assembly. But what he protested against was the interposition of a third body, which, though called independent, was in reality subservient to an exclusive and quasi aristocratic interest. There was another point connected with the consideration of the present subject of the highest importance; he alluded to the disposal of the provincial revenues. The control over those revenues ought to be vested in the House of Assembly, for if it were placed in other hands there would exist no security for good government in the colony. He should vote against the resolutions of the noble Lord; and, considering the feelings which these resolutions were likely to excite in Lower Canada, he could not imagine how the noble Lord expected to be able to govern that colony in future. He desired an amicable termination of the existing differences, but such a result would be hopeless should the resolutions proposed by Government be adopted. He, for one, would never consent to the employment of force to maintain the connexion between the mother country and the colony, whenever that connexion became onerous to the latter; and he protested against the resolutions, because they tended not to conciliation, but would oblige the Government either to continue in a course of coercive measures, or to make a dishonourable retreat.
§ Mr. Patrick Stewart
thought that if Ministers had entertained, any doubt with 1263 respect to the policy and expediency of the present resolutions they might gather comfort from the shape and character which the opposition to them had at length assumed. He believed that if the wishes of the hon. Member for Bath were acted upon, the institutions of Canada would not be liberalised but revolutionised. Some hon. Gentlemen had indulged in rather gloomy predictions of the consequences which would result from the adoption of the present resolutions. He trusted that these predictions would prove false, but should they unfortunately be verified, it would then be for the Imperial Parliament and the Crown of England to put forth its power, and take such a course as might be deemed advisable. The hon. Member for St. Alban's said, that we had no right to interfere with the local Government of the Canadians. Why, the House of Assembly asked the Parliament to alter their constitution. Besides, the assertion of the hon. Member for St. Alban's was directly at variance with the doctrine laid down by Burke, Sir J. Mackintosh, and Lord Brougham, who maintained that the colonial assemblies were subordinate to the legislative assembly at home. Indeed, Lord Brougham, in his "Colonial Policy," gave absolute power, in cases of necessity, to the Imperial Parliament over the colonies; but he understood that this was one of the repented sins of that noble Lord. In the work which he had just mentioned, Lord Brougham, speaking of finance, attributed the great power of the House of Commons to the right of withholding supplies, which almost always prevented the negative of the Crown being exerted in great Britain had the following passage:It appears very clear that the relation of dependency which a colonial Establishment supposes could never be secured by a delegation of that authority to the Governor, or an extension of those rights to the people which give energy to the Executive power, and secure complete liberty to the subjects on this side of the Atlantic." "To take one example only of the radical difference between the two systems, the influence of the Commons, from their power of withholding supplies, which almost always prevents the negative of the Crown from being exerted in Great Britain, and is, indeed, the great corner stone of the British Constitution, has almost no existence in the colonial system. Accordingly every measure proposed by the Colonial Legislature that does not meet with the entire concurrence of the British Cabinet was sure to be rejected 1264 in the last instance by the Crown. So that whilst the directing influence of the people of Great Britan prevents the Crown from exerting its constitutional prerogative, and in a great degree regulates all the operations of the Royal authority, in the colonies the direct power of the Crown, backed by all the resources of the mother country, prevents any measure obnoxious to the Crown from being carried into effect, even by the unanimous efforts of the Colonial Legislature, and indirectly obtains from it all the measures that are desired." "Nor is this political arrangement, which altogether reverses the balance of the powers in the Government of the colonies, the consequence of any arbitrary or accidental part of the system. It is essential to the dependence of the colonies, and a necessary part of their subordinate constitution. It is the legal mode of enforcing subjection, consistently with the forms of the British Government.Were they then to be told that they were interfering by these resolutions with the privileges of the People? The case was, that one of our seven American colonies demanded of the mother country a transfusion of Republican principles into the system by which it was governed. As to there being any analogy, as had been attempted to be drawn between the case of Canada and that of our dispute with America, he denied altogether the similarity of the two cases. In the dispute with America the mother country had almost the unanimous voice of the American population against her, while here she had only a fraction of a colony demanding a change in the local system of Government contrary to the spirit of anything that existed in the British Constitution. He was surprised, from the general tenour of the evidence, that the hon. and Learned Member for Bath should have considered it necessary to have the report of the Commissioners printed, which consisted chiefly of the evidence given by Monsieur Morin. That Gentleman in reply to question 560, which said:—If you elected the second Chamber, and found that, having elected the Second Chamber, the obstacle to the popular will was the sovereign power not elected, is it not in the course of reason natural that you should wish to proceed to elect also the sovereign power?That Gentleman, in reply to this question, said—I have not heard many opinions expressed upon that subject, but I will take the matter even with a larger view. If, in the course of time, it was found that, the interests of the colony were so widely 1265 extended, and so diversified, that a dependence on a Government at a great distance could not provide adequately for the good Government of the country, then it might be reasonable to suppose that, in a friendly manner, on one part and on the other, the necessary change would take place. This has been the result recorded by history in all times, and in this manner all nations have been formed. The powerful empire of this United Kingdom was a colony of Rome. But this question relates to a time that has not yet come, and the country have not expressed a wish for an immediate separation from Great Britain. As to what would be done under the circumstances alluded to, he would not pretend to say. But we are sincere in our wish to preserve the connection between both countries, and it is for that we seek here the redress of abuses.How, then, could it be said that it was the object of the Canadian people to obtain American institutions? The only thing showing any feeling of this kind was in Mr. Papineau's address to his electors, in which he said.A local responsible, and national Government, to decide on peace and war, and commercial relations with the stranger, that is what Ireland and British America demand; and this is what, before a very few years, they will be sufficiently strong to take, if others are not sufficiently just to give it to them.The scheme of his hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Bath, was not one for preserving the limits and balance of the British Constitution, but one for conferring the Republican institutions without relinquishing the advantages of British connexion. He did not believe that Canada wished to enlist with the United States; the method of enlistment of the latter, was not agreeable to them. His hon. and learned Friend had stated, that the Legislative Council had been denounced by every authority in Canada which had sat in judgment on it; he should have excepted the Legislative Assembly itself in the year 1828. His hon. and learned Friend had said, that the Legislative Council was a bar of obstruction to every good measure; he denied that, and attributed all the evils which had ensued, to the grasping disposition and proceedings of the Assembly itself. The Legislative Council was accused of rejecting good measures. Now this was owing to two practices of the Assembly; the first, that of huddling a great number of measures, good or bad, into one Bill; the second, that of rejecting the whole of 1266 a Bill so composed if a single alteration had been made in it by the Council. The House had already disposed of the proposition that the Council should be changed, and now they were asked to abolish the Council altogether,—to abolish the Council, and to leave the Assembly triumphant, perhaps tyrannical. He thought the House would rather preserve the peace of the colony, and adhere to the resolutions of the noble Lord. He would address the inhabitants of Lower Canada in the language used to the American colonists by Mr. Burke; in that language he would address them, and say, "We view the establishment of the English colonies on principles of liberty, as that which is to render this kingdom venerable to future ages. In comparison of this, we regard all the victories and conquests of our warlike ancestors, or of our own times, as barbarous vulgar distinctions, in which many nations whom we look upon with little respect or value, have equalled, if not far exceeded, us. This is the peculiar and appropriated glory of England. Those who have and who hold to that foundation of common liberty, we consider as the true and only Englishmen. Those who depart from it, whether there or here, are attainted, corrupted in blood, and wholly fallen from their original rank and value. They are the real rebels to the fair constitution and just supremacy of England." Such was the language he would address to the Canadians. The House he would entreat to recollect, that there were six other North American colonies, that there was a population of 1,300,000 persons whose opinions and interests would be neglected, sacrificed, and deserted if these demands were conceded. His hon. and learned Friend he would implore to use his influence to render a further exertion of power by Parliament unnecessary; as he must well know that, in any event, it would be attended with great sacrifice by the Canadians.
§ Mr. Leader
reminded the noble Lord who so much desired to see an overwhelming majority in support of these resolutions, and who expected that they would meet with that degree of support from the House that all the Bills of Lord North—all the measures which succeeded in exasperating the American people in the last age—were carried by overwhelming majorities. He maintained, that the present position of Canada tallied exactly 1267 with the former state of the North American colonies under parallel circumstances, with this most important addition, that the Canadians had at their doors a very powerful nation, well disposed to afford them aid should they commence an active struggle to maintain their independence. The noble Lord had said, that the people of Lower Canada were really very happy, if they would but think themselves so, and that, if they had any sense, they would be contented with their present condition, instead of, by their present and other threatened proceedings, running the risk of much worse consequences. Why, this was precisely the language held in the former case, between which and the present, he (Mr. Leader) saw so exact a parallel. In a King's Speech of that day almost the very same words, and certainly the sentiments, of the noble Lord were anticipated But if the Canadian people were so peaceful and happy, why attempt, by the introduction of arbitrary principles in their treatment of them, to put an end to that so much vaunted tranquillity? This was no more a party question. It was a question whether or not the Canadas should be retained under the dominion of the British Crown by such an administration of their affairs as would temper indulgence with firmness. The proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, did seem to him to be in an extraordinary degree conciliatory, when the circumstances of aggravation were considered. It seemed to be an excellent plan for the pacification of Canada, in answer to which the Government had nothing to offer but their resolutions, which were alike objected to by their supporters and their opponents. They were founded on no principle whatever, but were merely an expedient to put off the evil day. Too strong for conciliation, they were too weak for coercion; and, feeling as he did that it was useless to ask the Government to re-consider them, all that he could do was solemnly to enter his protest against them.
§ Sir Love Parry
could, not agree in the condemnation which the hon. Member who had just sat down had passed on these resolutions; on the contrary, he hoped that the people of Canada would see that they were really adapted to the exigencies of the case, and would receive them, accordingly, in the spirit of thankfulness. He confessed, that he expected 1268 this result, for his long and intimate knowledge of that people led him to believe that there were not in the whole, range of the dominions of Great Britain, a more loyal and attached people than the people of Canada, when allowed to think for themselves. If they had wished to revolt from Great Britain, and go over to the United States, they had ample opportunities for gratifying that desire during the last war; but, so far from their having attempted such a thing, they had preserved a consistent loyalty and attachment to the British Crown. He maintained that the privileges of the Canadians, as British subjects, bad been always respected, and that they enjoyed every national liberty and political consideration that good and loyal subjects could desire. That they had had grievances was true; but it was also true, that the greater part of those grievances had met with redress; and as for any that might remain, it was quite evident, from the tenour of the fourth of these resolutions, that it was the determination of the Government to afford them every rational and safe means of alleviation. He hoped—nay, be felt assured—that Canada would, like another dependency of the British Crown—Wales —become amalgamated with the empire in feeling, as well as in name, and that before long, all present motives of discontent would die away and be forgotten.
§ Mr. Charles Buller
felt regret at prolonging the discussion, because it seemed to him that the longer it was protracted, it was conducted with the worse temper. By temper, he meant the spirit in which the House approached the question, and he certainly thought that they were legislating upon this question in ignorance, in passion, and in indifference, in a national and perfectly excusable indifference, arising from ignorance, and in ignorance that very naturally fomented and excited passion. To this he himself pleaded to be as guilty as any Member in that House could be, for it was but within the last three or four days that he had seriously and sedulously applied himself to the consideration of this question, and he now felt that he should be incurring a very heavy responsibility if he gave the assent of silence to these resolutions, as he had already given the silent assent of absence. When he talked of the indifference of the House, he alluded to that indifference which was so vary natural when the interest was so very 1269 remote from this country, and when he spoke of ignorance, he meant that ignorance which generally sprung from the impossibility of mastering complicated details, in which individuals took little or no interest. For the results of this ignorance, however, should the acts arising from it be productive of fatal consequences, he could not help saying this House would not be to blame. Upon his Majesty's Ministers would rest all the awful responsibility of precipitate measures; for they were, or ought to be, in full possession of the necessary details. They were morally responsible for the present resolutions and their results; but he was glad that he was addressing himself to Ministers who had a character to maintain in the country—who had already shown themselves amenable to the opinions of the people, and had had the magnanimity, on more than one occasion, to retract their errors. It appeared to him, however, that the conduct now proposed to be pursued by Ministers was not merely a repetition, but a servile imitation, of the blunders of a former age; and he was bound to say, that principle, which came with consistency from the Grenvilles and the Norths, came with a very bad grace from the political successors of those whose whole senatorial career had been a defence of the rights of the colonists of North America. The "gagging" Acts and the Irish Coercion Bills were nothing to the present proposition. Crimes, though they were against freedom and law, they were certainly lower in the category of guilt than the wholesale measure now proposed—a plan for destroying the constitution of a country, and for suspending the rights of a people. There had been suspensions of the Habeas Corpus Act—Acts had been passed for the suppression of particular associations, to restrict the liberty of the press, nay, even to inflict ex post facto punishment on individuals; cases had arisen in which it had been necessary to proclaim martial law in whole districts—but all these had been measures partial in their operation—Acts operating upon individuals, or, at most, but for a short time, operating upon the rights of bodies of men, so that as soon as their operation ceased, the fundamental principles of the constitution remained as sound as ever. But here a blow was aimed at the constitutional fights of a whole population—at the very root of the principle of a repre- 1270 sentative government; and the result would be, that confidence would no longer be placed in those who could inflict that blow. The present proposition, in fact, was the first instance since the American war of an exceptional measure against the rights of a whole country. Here the House was called on to proceed, not against a small knot of violators of the public peace, or against a turbulent and overbearing press, but against the constitutional rights of a whole nation, expressed through the medium of their lawful representatives. If this kind of interference with the privileges of nations was allowed, there would soon be no right safe from might, and no longer any respect for that sanctity of honour which should hedge the majesty of an imperial legislature. And these resolutions were useless to effect what would seem to be their ultimate object—the utter abrogation of the representative rights of the Canadians. Why leave the Canadians the form of representation, if you coerce their representatives in the exercise of their functions? All would at least agree that before coercive measures were resorted to, conciliation should first be tried. But this had not been done. It seemed that while certain grievances, the existence of which was at the time admitted by the Noble Lord, were under discussion, the Canadians discovered, that their main grievance consisted in the constitution of the House of Legislative Assembly. The noble Lord said, they were wrong in their view, and in the demands they built upon it; but were their blunders any excuse for our injustice? Were we to oppose unreasonable, unstatesman like conduct to their unreasonable demands, merely because they were unreasonable? At all events, let us have the advantage, if there must ultimately be a quarrel, of entering upon it with right on our side, by having first tried all means of conciliation. The ground of dispute was really very simple. It rested entirely on what should be the Constitution of the Legislative Assembly, for the question that had been passed as to the Executive Council, was entirely dependent on the other. Now, with respect to this Legislative Council, it seemed quite clear that the colony did not afford materials for an aristocracy, and, therefore, not for a Legislative Council. The very constitution of the Legislative Council showed this, besides their admit- 1271 ting the Judges as Members—a practice itself contrary to the principle of our Constitution. The real aristocracy of Canada consisted in the transient Scotch and English merchants. One of the most distinguished members of the class of which the Howards and the Russells were here the representatives, was an ironmonger— an individual eminent in tenpenny nails; another was a substantial pig merchant, eminent in sausages, and great in curing hams. This being so, it did seem to him that the Legislative Council might be altered without affecting the dignity or shaking the foundation of the House of Lords in this country. It seemed to him, that the proposition of the noble Lord was an act of violence to the Constitution of the country. He called on the House in the absence of any explanation of the motives of the noble Lord, for refusing to state his reasons for opposing the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, not rashly to enter into a course of violence of which they did not know the end. He did beg Ministers and the House to consider this, that, be the consequences of their present conduct what they might—whether they led to revolt, whether they were successful or unsuccessful, or if they so far succeeded as that the colonists did not revolt, but only hated the mother country—Ministers must ultimately succumb before the load of unpopularity which would press upon those who would be charged with a course of misgovernment ultimately destructive of our interest in the colony.
§ Mr. Roebuck
must acknowledge that the manner of the noble Lord and the language of his speech were quite conciliatory; nothing could be better in these, two respects, but, nothwithstanding these, there lurked under them the painful reality—the same insult and deep injury to the Canadian people, who would not be conciliated by gentle manner and gentle tones. The noble Lord had heaped injury and insult on a whole nation, by telling them that, in spite of the remonstrances and the acts of their representatives, he would do with them what he pleased, because he did not consider them worthy of self-government. An hon. Member had charged him with a wish and an intention to raise a flame in America. He would ask that hon. Member what he could gain by raising a flame in America? 1272 All his best interests lay in that country. He was connected with that country by the strongest ties; it was for his interest that there should be an amicable connexion between Great Britain and Canada; and how could he separate his interests from those who were in favour of good government, and who anxiously wished to bring about a proper reconciliation? He had been designated as a firebrand by an hon. Member. A firebrand! Who was the firebrand? The mover of these resolutions, whom he and others had supported as a Minister, and had raised and kept in his present position. And who had supported the noble Lord in this? Why those who delight in seeing him pursue that course; those who know that he has rushed into a violent path without duly considering whither it may lead. Theirs will be the profit—his the shame; and they will get office by the violent resolutions they encourage him to carry. He and the party with whom he acted had done all they could to support the noble Lord; and what had been the return? The noble Lord's friends in carrying the present measure were the Gentlemen opposite. It would be carried, through their support, in that House, and it would go like fire through the other. He would say the measure was a disgrace to a liberal Government, and nothing like it had been sanctioned by any Government since the days of Lord North. He was the worthy precursor of the noble Lord—he was a fit subject for emulation; and strange it was, that statesmen never learned wisdom, and that the fatal lesson read to the former Governments of England were of no use now. That, too, was done by the very party who first stood forward in the cause of freedom, and who had so long been the friends of liberty. He asked the noble Lord what possible benefit could be derived, what could be obtained, by these resolutions? Why, he would be able to pay a few officials for a period of years. And was that all? Yes. But the evil which he would cause would be far greater, and far more lasting; for he would thereby destroy his own reputation—he would destroy the reputation of the administration—he would foment a desire in a whole people to dissever the connexion with England—and drive them to the fixed determination, on the first favourable opportunity, to separate themselves from the mother country for ever. Now the noble 1273 Lord might take what he was about to say for certain: the people of Canada had no revolt in view; the dominion of England was a dominion of opinion. America was held by love, and when that was gone the power of England there crumbled into dust, and shame be to those who might cause such a result. But he would state facts because he knew what the people of that country were, and the noble Lord had described that course in a single line, which he had read that evening, that had spoken volumes. The customs of Quebec had diminished one-half by the change which had taken place in the feelings of the people; and he could tell the noble Lord that the people of Canada, on learning these resolutions, would assemble under the signals of their leaders, for they foresaw what would happen. They would assemble and pass a non-intercourse act, similar to that of 1775. It would become the religion of the Canadian people not to take a single piece of goods, and they would persevere in that till they gained their ends. [Hear, hear.] An hon. Member cheered, and said they would punish themselves. The same was said of the people of Massachusetts. That might appear wonderful to the hon. Member, but it was a fact—the people of Massachusetts endured years of misery, but they persevered and obtained their purpose, and left the benefits of their patriotic conduct to their descendants. When the contest began the people of North America did not exceed two millions and a-half. Under their own Government they had increased to thirteen millions; and that under the best constitution in the world; and he could tell the noble Lord further, that on the first war with America not a month would elapse before ten thousand rifles would issue from that country to settle the question, and on the first outbreak that precious Land Company would go over. It was strange and inconsistent that while the friends of Canada were doing all they could to settle the dispute amicably, the noble Lord was doing all he could to insult and vilify the people of that country. He must take the consequence. If he persevered in such a course he must not reckon on the support of those called Radicals; and why, because he believed they should get much more if the right hon. Baronet were in power. He very much doubted if the right hon. Baronet were in 1274 power, that, with his wary prudence and caution, he would carry out these resolutions. He would not say he would not; but he very much doubted it. He observed that the right hon. Baronet and Gentlemen on the opposite side were very silent on certain questions; they never risked an opinion on liberal measures put forward on his side of the House if they could possibly avoid it. They acted so that they might come into office with clean hands. He had no doubt, if the right hon. Baronet were to get into office, one of the first acts of the Government would be the repeal of the penny stamp; and the next would be an amicable settlement of Canada. The Radicals could get more from Gentlemen on the opposite side than from the Government. He did not know what could be worse. The right hon. Baronet, the other night, gave a description of the state of the country—he adverted to difficulties in the colonies—he asserted there was no government, and no laws passed. There were no laws passed but illiberal laws—nothing was done for the advantage of the people; and it was hard that the noble Lord should show by his acts that the only measure he could carry was a measure of coercion for Canada, while he could do nothing for Ireland. Such was the course pursued; and it was his conviction that it would be better to give up the support of the Government than submit to such treatment. He did not say that out of any party spirit, for he would oppose the other party as much if they acted as badly. He hoped the noble Lord would think on the subject, and endeavour to make up his mind to some plan which would ensure good government. He did not wish to stir up the people of Canada; but he told the noble Lord and the House what would happen. The same language as that used against Canada was used against America. Day after day, and night after night, were similar discussions carried on in the time of Lord North—similar resolutions laid on the table, and similar plans of coercion, till they were surprised by the announcement of the loss of the colonies. He could not find out the noble Lord's object. He had been turning the subject about in his mind in every way, and he could not discover what the noble Lord was driving at. What would the noble Lord do next year? Did he think the Canadian people would be better disposed after the soothing 1275 process to which they were about to be subjected? It would be better to say to them at once, "You are unworthy of taking any share in the government of your country; we will deprive you of your constitution," They would understand that such must in the nature of things be the ultimate step that would be taken with reference to them, and the House might depend upon it they would not relax their efforts until they had obtained the freedom enjoyed by their neighbours. The authority of Mr. Burke had been quoted. A passage to which great weight had been attached, had been cited from his work on colonial government. He would beg to remind the House of a passage in the same distinguished writer, which bore upon the difference between the propositions contained in the resolutions of the noble Lord and the substance of the amendment which he had moved upon them. He might say, in the language of Mr. Burke, "I offer you a simple plan; that the other is perplexed. This is mild; that is harsh. This has been found by experience effectual for its purpose; the other is a new project. This is universal; the other only pro hac vice." He asked the noble Lord, whether the cases of Mr. Burke's proposition and his own were not perfectly analogous in spirit; whether he were not offering a moderate and conciliatory plan which would hurt nobody, and would satisfy all. Though the noble Lord must consider his to be an honest and a good plan, what was his answer to it? "No," said the noble Lord, "the Canadian people have asked for a particular plan, and that they shall not have." Well, if they were not to have that, what would the noble Lord let them have? He said, "Try the means of conciliation;" but the noble Lord answered, "Oh, no; you have no authority to make that proposition." Knowing something about the colonies— having some acquaintance with Canada—and a great interest in this question, it appeared to him that he offered his plan as authorised to do so. He did not offer the plan, as agent for the colony, but as a Member of Parliament. He said, it was a good and proper proposal; and he again asked, why was it not accepted. The answer was simply this; because, having prepared certain resolutions themselves, it would wound the vanity of the government to withdraw them. He had no doubt that they considered his plan better 1276 than theirs—more calculated to create satisfaction, and to produce a state of peace, but on this ground alone—that it was incompatible with their own resolutions—the Government rejected it. It was well known, that his plan was not new; it had been often and often, as to its principal features, discussed before. He had merely recombined the elements of it. The hon. Member for Worcester said, that it was a new plan. But it was in actual operation already as to its more essential parts, he might say, in every part, with one single exception. And it was like that which the government of Canada once intended to promulgate. The only real novelty about it was this, that we have suggested that there should be established a direct control over the expenses of the government in Upper Canada. Let the House just mark the inconsistency of those individuals who had set themselves up against the demands of the Canadians. They said, that if you carry this plan into effect you will regret your having acceded to it. It had been put forth as a fact in the Report, that the English party in Canada would not bear this plan. Now the whole of that party did not compose quite one-fourth of the Canadian population. Just imagine, then, the insolence of a fraction, who are as one to four, resisting that which the great majority have so strongly expressed their concurrence in! [Mr. Robinson: I wish to explain.] According to the rule laid down by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, last night, the hon. Member for Worcester, was not in order in interrupting him. Even that fractional part of the Canadian people were not represented by the hon. Member for Worcester. The hon. Member had no authority to speak in their name. But he had. He represented the people of Canada. Having been chosen by their representatives to represent them in that House; and he told this House, that the great body of the English, as well as the French colonists were opposed to the Legislative Council. But this fact had been already acknowledged by his Majesty's Commissioners. They distinctly laid down, that about one-half of the English population, and the whole of the French population, of Canada were on the side of the House of Assembly. That being the case, bad the whole of the French population, and that portion of the English 1277 population to which he had alluded, the better claim to have their wishes and demands respected; or was the special and exclusive protection of Parliament to be awarded (to use the noble Lord's own words on another occasion) to a "miserable monopolising minority," for which the noble Lord seemed to have some special feeling in his own breast as it existed in Canada, which he appeared to be disposed to put altogether out of sight in dealing with the pretensions of a similar minority in Ireland? They must know, that if nothing else were the consequence of his persisting in these resolutions, at least the character of the noble Lord himself, and the influence of his Government with the country, would suffer in a very serious degree. Once more he entreated the noble Lord to withdraw them.
§ Lord John Russell
The hon. and learned Member for Bath has acknowledged that I have, in the course of this debate, spoken in terms of moderation and temper towards the Canadian people; and I trust, that in the terms I am about to use, I shall not be found wanting in that moderation and temper, either towards the Canadian people or towards the hon. and learned Gentleman himself: but I do think myself bound to say, that I shall not be turned from the course which I have thought it my duty to pursue, by any regard for the threats of the hon. Member. The case, as it is brought before the House, is this. The House of Assembly of Lower Canada have asked for an elective Legislative Council, and for an Executive Council, which shall be responsible to them, and not to the Government or Crown of Great Britain. We consider that these demands are inconsistent with the relations between a colony and the mother country, and that it would be better to say, at once, "let the two countries separate," than for us to pretend to govern the colony afterwards. We know, likewise, that a considerable number of the inhabitants of that colony, of British origin, protest most loudly against these demands, as leading in all probability to their oppression. This is the stale of the case; and when we come forward to ask the House to agree to a resolution, upon these questions, the hon. Gentleman tells me that we ought not to proceed; first, because the people of Canada may raise the standard of revolt; and, secondly, because be says that, if I do proceed, he 1278 and some others may withdraw from his Majesty's Ministers their support from henceforward. Sir, I do not fear either of these consequences. I do not believe, in the first place, that the Canadians will raise the standard of revolt; and I say, in the second place, that it was my duty to make these propositions to this House, and that I should betray that duty which I owe both to the Sovereign whom I serve, and to the country whose interests I stand here to defend, if I were to abstain from pressing these resolutions because the hon. Gentleman holds out a threat of withdrawing his support from the Government. But then the hon. and learned Member says, that it is not the original demands of the Canadian House of Assembly that we are now called upon to consider, but certain propositions, which he and I respectively have laid before the House. I must repeat what I stated in my former speech, that the Canadians totally deny that their opinions are to be gathered from any but their own mouths; and I say, that we have already taken pains—too great pains, I think—by referring this question again and again to them, in order to ascertain what their sentiments were, and at last we have learned that their demands are—an Elective Council and a responsible Executive. Then, am I not justified in saying, that after the division which we have taken in this House, on the main proposition contained in these resolutions of mine, I cannot take the propositions of the hon. and learned Gentleman as the grounds of accommodation, even supposing that they would be (and we have no authority to suppose that they would be) satisfactory to the Canadians? Am I not even justified in saying, that there may be every reason to suppose, that, even if these propositions were entertained and acceded to by the House, the Canadian Assembly would still, and again, say, "We adhere to our former propositions? In his first speech the hon. and learned Gentleman laid down his several propositions altogether; and he said, "you must take all my propositions as an entire, or they will not form sufficient grounds for accommodation." I took down his exact words— which were, "you must take the whole as an entire." Now, I tell the hon. and learned Gentleman that I am not prepared to accept his propositions; and I say, therefore, I cannot recommend this House 1279 to abandon all the propositions which I have submitted to it, because he proposes terms which he thinks, and only thinks, will be deemed a satisfactory accommodation by the Canadians. I say, that if, when these resolutions of ours, and the intelligence of any measure to be grounded upon them, shall reach Canada, it shall appear to the Canadian Assembly unwise in them to persevere in their present demands, after such a declaration of opinion on the part of the Legislature of Great Britain, and if they shall then offer any other propositions on which an equitable accommodation can be come to, and on which all parties shall agree, as a suitable basis for establishing the future peace and tranquillity of that colony—it will be no adherence to what is mere matter of form that should induce any Government in this country to refuse its most cordial concurrence in carrying these propositions. But I must repeat, that a mere speech from the hon. and learned Gentleman, who has not even ventured to say that he has power from any people in the Canadas to make these propositions, is not a sufficient ground to induce this House to abandon its past course, and the conclusions which it has already sanctioned. Entertaining these sentiments, no threat, no menace, shall induce me to abandon that which I consider to be the plain course of my duty as a Member of his Majesty's Government, and as a Member of the Imperial Parliament.
§ Sir R. Peel
wished to avail himself of the present opportunity to explain to the House the reasons for the vote which he was now about to give upon this question, and the view which he took of the resolutions which had been proposed by the noble Lord. He assured the hon. and learned Member for Bath, that he was never more mistaken in his life than in the impression which he seemed to entertain that he would abstain from delivering his opinions on this question, in order to increase the embarrassment of his Majesty's Government in dealing with this subject; and it was not because he concurred with the propositions of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, or blamed the noble Lord for the course which he had marked out for the Government in his resolutions, but because he agreed with his noble Friend near him (Lord Stanley) and participated in the objections which he had made to those 1280 resolutions, that he now expressed his fears that these resolutions would irritate the Canadians, and yet not be efficient for the purposes for which they were intended. He should vote in favour of the noble Lord's resolutions, because he felt that if they were to be efficient at all, their efficiency must depend on the unanimity, or if not on the unanimity, on the very large majority, by which they were carried. Yet, though he disagreed with those resolutions in some essential points, still, balancing the reasons of his dissent against the evils which were likely to arise from abandoning his opinion on mere matters of detail, he thought that the advantage arising from the Canadians knowing the unanimity, or nearly the unanimity, of the House in passing those resolutions would more than compensate the mischief which was likely to arise from his not pressing the points on which he differed from the noble Lord at the head of His Majesty's Government in that House. The hon. and learned Member for Bath had that evening proposed to the House a new scheme of Government for the Canadas, and had asked hon. Members to explain why they hesitated to adopt it. He, for one, would give the hon. and learned Member for Bath that explanation. First of all, he hesitated to adopt it because it was at variance with the recorded resolutions of the Canadians themselves; and secondly, because he considered it the most absurd scheme of Government that he had ever heard of in the whole course of his life. He would endeavour by a few observations to make the House sensible of the two grounds on which he had determined to reject the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Bath. The hon. and learned Member said, "I will have no elective council, but my new constitution shall be this—there shall be a governor, and an elective House of Assembly. The governor shall also have the power of naming ten councillors, who shall hold their appointments during pleasure. They shall have no power but that of suggesting amendments to the measures passed by the House of Assembly. When they have suggested their amendments, the governor shall return the measures to the House of Assembly, and then, if the House of Assembly shall not agree to their suggestions, the governor shall be empowered, if he thinks fit, to interpose a veto." This was the proposition of the 1281 hon. and learned Member for Bath, from which he inferred, that the hon. and learned Member wished to establish in Lower Canada, a complete democracy, or at any rate a republic with monarchical institutions. Now, this was directly contrary to the wishes of the inhabitants of that colony, as embodied in the resolutions of their House of Assembly; for, in their last resolutions, they expressed "their constant and unalterable conviction, guided by the principles of the constitution itself, and a long and sorrowful experience, that this state of violent opposition cannot be changed until the principle of popular election shall be introduced into the constitution of the Legislative Council." Hence he inferred, that the inhabitants of Upper Canada never would be satisfied until the principle of popular election was grafted upon the constitution of the Elective Council. And yet, notwithstanding this declaration on the part of the House of Assembly, the hon. and learned Member for Bath came forward to propose a scheme which got rid of a Legislative Council, elected by a popular assembly; and when that scheme was already rejected by the House of Assembly of Upper Canada, appealed to the House of Commons, and said—"Here is a ground of accommodation—why do you hesitate to accept it?" He would tell the hon. and learned Member, that he hesitated to accept it, because the hon. Member had not proved that he had authority to offer it, and because it was already clear beforehand, that it would be rejected by the Canadian House of Assembly, on the principles of their own declaration. Moreover, the hon. Member's plan involved a scheme of Government which, of all the schemes that he had ever heard of, was the most absurd and impracticable. To expect that a governor sent out from this country, and without any connexions in Lower Canada, could interpose his veto upon the acts of the House of Assembly, and yet conciliate to his government affection and respect, was in theory absurd, and in practice would be impossible. How could the veto of a governor, who had no power to break the opposition of a popular assembly, give satisfaction to the people whom he was sent to govern? With respect to these resolutions, he must say, that he doubted from the first the policy of sending out the commission to Canada, and he must now add that his doubts 1282 had been confirmed by its results. He had always considered it probable that the commission would be received, as it had been, by the Canadians, with jealousy, and he had therefore been, and still was, of opinion, that if a governor had been sent out to that colony, armed with full authority, and entering Canada as the immediate representative of his Majesty, and empowered to act in all things in his Majesty's name, he would have been more likely than any Commissioners to have brought the existing differences between the mother country and the colony, to a satisfactory settlement. When he looked at the Reports of those Commissioners, and found that they did not give any new information on the state of popular feeling in Lower Canada, nor any new ideas as to the mode of governing that colony, and when he likewise found that the Commissioners had given in a series of reports from which one of them regularly dissented, and that there was as great unwillingness on the part of the third Commissioner to decide between the two others, he saw that he had not in their reports any safe guide upon which to form his own opinions. He believed, that it was generally admitted that the two main resolutions in this paper were the fourth and the eighth. It was hardly necessary to discuss the other resolutions, for the importance of the two resolutions to which he had just adverted was so great, that all the rest (as, for instance, those regarding the tenure of land and the local duties) he dismissed as of a perfectly subordinate nature. The condition of Canada, so far as its government was concerned, was this:—It was now five years, or at least four years and a-half, since the judges of that colony, and various individuals in official employment, had not received any remuneration for their services, and the House of Assembly had declared that it would not provide any remuneration for their services, or for the conduct of the local government, unless England consented to a change in the constitution of the colony. Till that were accomplished, the colonists threatened to put a stop to all communication. What course, then, shall we pursue? That, and that only, was the question then before the House. He would not suffer himself to be betrayed by the taunts and reproaches of the hon. and learned Member for Bath into expressing himself with anything like exas- 1283 peration against the French Canadians. He sincerely wished them well. He had read the account given by that excellent officer, Sir James Kempt, of their national feeling and character. He believed that they were, in the words of Sir J. Kempt, a loyal and excellent people, liable to be deceived, and prone to view with distrust the acts of Government; and his wish that they might long exist under the protection of the British Government, remained unchanged by any violence into which they had recently been betrayed. If the Canadian people were a separate people, living on the confines of the United States, and if no other interests but those of the French Canadians were involved in this question, and if the question itself were not embarrassed by the state of Upper Canada and the bearing upon it of British interests in other American provinces, then, in case the British connexion was unpalatable to the French Canadians, and they supposed that by severing it they could promote their own interests, he should not hesitate to say, "God forbid that we should force British connexion upon them." He would go farther, and he would not hesitate to say at once to the French Canadians, "It is more for the benefit of England, even than it is for your benefit, that the connexion between us should be dissolved." For when he recollected the state of certain duties which were imposed upon us in connexion with Lower Canada,—when he recollected the evil of collision with its powerful neighbour, to which we were exposed on its account—when he recollected that we might at any moment be called upon to defend that colony from all comers, not from any local interests of our own, but from a point of honour involving our character as its protector, he must say, that if it were a mere Canadian question, he should have no objection to see the connexion dissolved, and Lower Canada establishing its own government as an independent state, or if it thought itself incapable of supporting its own independence, seeking an amicable alliance with another power. But that was not the question at present before the House. He doubted whether, if we were to tell the French Canadians, supposing in to be a simple Canadian question, "We are ready to dissolve the union between us—seek an union, if you like, with the United Slates, or if you are determined on your 1284 own independence, form yourselves into an independent nation, and be prepared to defend your independence for yourselves,"—he doubted, he said, in such a case whether, notwithstanding the threats in which the hon. and learned Member for Bath had indulged his genius, and the menaces which he had held out of 10,000 riflemen ready to start up against us,—he doubted whether, when we came to the point of separation, it would not turn out, that partly from good feelings arising from the connexion which had now subsisted between us for seventy or eighty years, and partly from the good sense of the people, calmly reviewing their own interests, and reflecting upon the powerful protection of the British people in the hour of necessity, they would not restrain their exasperation and reconcile themselves again to their duty and allegiance. But this question, as he had said before, could not be viewed with reference to the French Canadians alone. There was a British population in their province which had a right to look up to this country, not for predominance, not for exclusive privileges, but for British connexion, on the faith of the constitution which this country had framed for them. Look at the position of Lower Canada, commanding the entrance into the river St. Lawrence, and then ask whether a population of half a million had a right to say, "We insist upon a measure which in the heart of the British colonies in North America, will constitute a French republic?" What right, he would ask, had one portion of our dominions on that great continent to make this demand? If the formation of an elective council were a good measure for Lower Canada, why was it not a good measure for Upper Canada, for New Brunswick, and for all our other American possessions? And if we were prepared to accede to such a fundamental change in the constitution of Lower Canada, how could we refuse to accede to it, if demanded elsewhere? But if we apprehended that the formation of such an elective council would endanger British interests, first of all in Lower Canada, and ultimately in all the other British provinces, then we must regard it as a question not affecting the French Canadians merely, but as affecting the security and tranquillity of our other neighbouring possessions. The question then again came to this:—" Shall we consent to let the judges and the 1285 other servants of Government remain without salaries unless we allow the Canadians to attach to the payment of their salaries a fundamental change in the constitution of Lower Canada?" It was a disgrace,—he would speak out plainly—it was a disgrace to the people of this country that its public servants in Lower Canada should remain year after year without remuneration. If they were to ask him what proceeding was most likely to diminish the respect due to British authority in the colonies, he should reply, that it was the continued poverty of those servants who were necessarily employed in conducting the public service. Were we to abandon the colonies to themselves upon points of such paramount importance? Were we prepared to assert, that there should be no care taken for the due administration of justice—no functions performed by the civil servants of the Government? Although the hon. and learned Member for Bath might call the persons in the employment of the British Government its "howling officials," the House must consider them as honourable men, engaged at a distance from their homes in official duties, and must see them provided for accordingly. Their salaries were the means of their subsistence. Was it fitting that the King of England should have in his employment persons necessary for the performance of his service, and that they should remain for four years and a-half in the discharge of their duties, without receiving a single farthing in way of remuneration? At that very moment the judges in Lower Canada were in a state of destitution, not only exciting the sympathy of individuals, but also diminishing the respect due to the judicial character. They were compelled, he had understood, to pawn their books and plate,—but it was too disgusting to enter into such details, and he therefore would not allude further to their distress. If remuneration were to be made to them, by whom should it be made? That was the next question which the House was to consider. It was not denied in any quarter that some remuneration ought to be made to them. The only alternative then left was, that either this country or the colony must provide them with remuneration. Now, as the service was local, and for the promotion of colonial interests, he did not think that the people of England would consent to make a perma- 1286 nent provision for these colonial functionaries. The means of providing for them should come out of the colonial treasury. The objection made by the Canadians to that course was, that they would only consent to pay the arrears on condition that England should make a fundamental change in the constitution of Lower Canada. No alternative, therefore, remained but that of interposing the authority of the Imperial Parliament, and of saying—"The remuneration of these functionaries must come from the colonies themselves." The act of the Canadian Assembly refusing the usual appropriations was an act passed but recently. The House would not, therefore, be called on to disturb any ancient system. What he doubted was, whether, if we were to violate a constitutional principle in this respect, it would not be better to adopt the advice of the Commissioners on the single point on which they had the good fortune to be unanimous. The single point on which they agreed was—and they differed on every other point of colonial government—to advise the suspension of the Act of 1 and 2 William 4th., c. 23. They stated their agreement upon that point distinctly. They suggested a doubt whether the constitution should not be departed from for a given number of years. He thought with the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) that whenever the Legislature should take a step which had the character of violence, it should be cautious not to proceed further than was absolutely necessary. In our contest with our colonies we ought not to be betrayed into any act which could place us, the superior power, in the wrong. He did not, however, see what advance we should make towards a settlement of this question by interfering with the Act 1 and 2 William 4th, and in, taking from the colonial treasury the arrears of salaries now due to the colonial servants. Suppose another year to pass away, and the salaries to be then again in arrear, we should still be in our present position—the scandal and disgrace of our situation would be the same; the exasperation in the minds of the Members of the Assembly would be increased by our interference; and, whatever might be the majority by which our interference was approved in that House, he could not see what inducement it would afford to the House of Assembly to grant the salaries 1287 then due. When men made their minds up to the contravention of a great constitutional principle, it did not make much difference in point of moral estimation as to the extent to which they carried their contravention. The contravention was the same; but the degree of irritation which it might excite was different. What he anticipated as the result of these resolutions was, irritation in the House of Assembly at the course which we were pursuing, arising from the conviction that, if it were available for the arrears due at present, it might be made equally available for the arrears which might become due after these resolutions were passed. He meant to say, that he would as soon consent to the abrogation of the Act 1 and 2 William 4th, as to its suspension for the purpose of paying these salaries. [Mr. Roebuck: Hear.] He argued from the cheers of the hon. and learned Member that he concurred with him. The hon. and learned Member feared with him the repetition of this precedent. Then he would suggest as an amicable compromise, that the King's Government should recede so far from their present proposition as to recommend the suspension of the Act 1 and 2 William 4th, rather than the temporary repeal of it. He repeated, that the temporary repeal of it would only produce irritation, without attaining the object of the Government. One of the resolutions to which the House had assented on the last night when this subject was before it, and which had again been brought under its consideration by the amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, related to the Legislative Council. He regretted the terms in which that resolution was worded. It said, "that in the existing state of Lower Canada it is unadvisable to make the Legislative Council of that province an elective body." It was his opinion, that an Elective Council with an Elective House of Assembly was but a bad system of government; and when he assented to the proposition, that in the existing state of the colony it was unadvisable to make the Legislative Council elective, he wished to guard himself against the inference, that if the state of the colony were altered such a measure would be advisable. If he could agree to the principle, which he did not, of an elective council being an advisable measure in itself, he would say, "Let us establish it at once." It might be, that 1288 the absence of this elective council was at the bottom of all those dissensions with the colony of Lower Canada—and if it were, then we ought to lay the foundation at once of an elective instead of a legislative council. If delay in appointing an elective council were only justified by the existing state of the colony, on what ground could he refuse it to our other colonies, where the existing circumstances were not like those of Lower Canada? If the House of Commons was of opinion, that the existing state of Lower Canada was the only objection to the rendering the Legislative Council of that province elective, why did they withhold elective councils from our other colonies where the existing state of things was different from that of Lower Canada? For these reasons he objected to the terms in which this resolution was couched. He would not enter into any discussion on the other resolutions. In point of fact, he concurred in their propriety. He thought, that the bargain made with the North American Land Company should be maintained inviolate, as the national faith was pledged to it. He trusted, that in these observations he had not said one word betokening either hostility to the French Canadians, or indifference to their prosperity and welfare. He saw no hope of the connexion between us being advantageous to England, if there were a permanent feeling among the French Canadian population that it would be disadvantageous to them. Most earnestly, therefore, did he hope that some terms might be devised, or that some event might turn up which would restore peace and harmony between the colony and England. If he thought that the resolutions proposed by his Majesty's Government were unjust, he would not consent to pass them; but he felt that they were just, and therefore he gave them his cordial support. If the House of Assembly in Lower Canada persisted in refusing to make provision for Canadian services, or attached as a condition to their making such provision, that their constitution should be altered, we were called upon to assert our supremacy and to say, "We will not alter your constitution on such a condition—if you refuse to make provision for the services of your own Government, we will not throw that burthen on the people of England—we will throw it on the shoulders of those on whom it ought to rest. We will interpose 1289 the authority of the Imperial Parliament, and will provide for the remuneration of the servants of the Canadian local Government, from Canadian sources. He hoped that he had satisfied the hon. and learned Member for Bath, that the silence on which he had commented had not arisen from a desire to shrink from any unpopularity which might betide those who voted in favour of these resolutions. At the same time, in justice to himself, he must say, that he should have voted more cheerfully for other resolutions, which, involving the same principles, had carried them further in practical extent, and which, by relieving us from the necessity of recurring to the same precedent at no distant day, would have facilitated the settlement of this question, and brought nearer the termination of these unfortunate dissensions.
§ Mr. Roebuck
wished to say one or two words in explanation, as the right hon. Baronet appeared to have misunderstood the force of his observations. He had not threatened this country with a Canadian revolt—he had not said, that the French Canadians were anxious to dissolve their connexion with England. On the contrary, he had said, that there was a strong desire on their part to maintain the connexion; and as a proof of it, he had only to call to memory how right gallantly they fought for us in the last war. There were two or three points of the speech of the right hon. Baronet, on which he should like to make a passing observation, but at that late hour he felt that he ought to abstain from trespassing further on the patience of the House.
§ Mr. Labouchere
said, that having spoken upon this subject on a former occasion, he was unwilling to detain the House at that late hour. He was anxious, however, to correct a misapprehension of what he had said on a former night, in being supposed to have advocated the principle of an elective Legislative Council. He had never expressed his approbation of that principle with respect either to Canada or to any other of our colonies, because he considered it highly dangerous in its application to any of them. He thought it also dangerous, that it should go forth to those colonies that any Member of his Majesty's Government had expressed his approbation of that principle, even in the abstract. It was contrary to the genius of the constitution of this country. There was no war- 1290 rant for it to be found in the testimony of any of our historians, or in the declaration of any of our statesmen of authority. It never, at any time, formed a part of the constitution of this country, that the second branch of the Legislature should be a representative body. The hon. Member was understood to say, (but the impatience of the House would not allow him to be heard,) that he totally differed from the alternative suggested by the right hon. Baronet, of the repeal of the 1st and 2nd of William 4th, with respect to Canada; for, certainly, after the Act of Declaration passed at the end of the American war, it never could have been the intention of his Majesty's Government to interfere in the taxation of any of its colonies that had Legislative Assemblies, or to apply the proceeds of that taxation by Parliamentary authority.
§ The Committee divided on the following question:—"That while it is expedient to improve the composition of the Executive Council in Lower Canada, it is unadvisable to subject it to the responsibility demanded by the House of Assembly of that province." To which the following Amendment was proposed, viz.:—"To leave out all the words after the word 'that,' and add the words 'it is expedient to abolish the Legislative Council of the province of Lower Canada.'"
§ Ayes 269; Noes 46:—Majority 223.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acheson, Viscount||Berkeley, hon. C. C.|
|Adam, Sir C.||Bethell, Richard|
|Ainsworth, P.||Bewes, T.|
|Alston, Rowland||Biddulph, Robert|
|Anson, Colonel||Blackburne, John I.|
|Arbuthnot, hon. H.||Blackstone, W. S.|
|Archdall, M.||Bonham, R. Francis|
|Ashley, Viscount||Borthwick, Peter|
|Bailey, J.||Bramston, T. W.|
|Baillie, H. D.||Brodie, William B.|
|Bainbridge, E. T.||Brownrigg, S.|
|Baines, E.||Bruce, C. L. C.|
|Balfour, T.||Bruen, Col.|
|Bannerman, Alex.||Bruen, F.|
|Barclay, David||Buller, E.|
|Barclay, C.||Buller, Sir J. B. Yarde|
|Baring, F. T.||Bulwer, Edw. L.|
|Baring, Francis||Burrell, Sir C. M.|
|Baring, H. Bingham||Byng, George|
|Baring, W. B.||Campbell, Sir J.|
|Baring, T.||Campbell, W. F.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Castlereagh, Visc.|
|Barron, H.||Cavendish, hon. C.|
|Beckett, Sir J.||Cavendish, hon. G. H.|
|Belfast, Earl of||Chandos, Marq. of|
|Bell, M.||Chetwynd, Capt.|
|Bentinck, Lord W.||Chichester, A.|
|Clive, Viscount||Henniker, Lord|
|Clive, hon. R. H.||Herries, rt. hon. J. C.|
|Codrington, C. W.||Hinde, J. H.|
|Colborne, N. W. R.||Hobhouse, Sir J. C.|
|Cole, Viscount||Hodges, T. L.|
|Compton, H. C.||Hogg, J. W.|
|Cooper, E.||Hope, hon. James|
|Coote, Sir C. C.||Hotham, Lord|
|Corry, H.||Houstoun, G.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Howard, R.|
|Crawford, W.||Howard, P. H.|
|Curteis, Herbert B.||Howick, Viscount|
|Dalmeny, Lord||Hurst, R. H.|
|Dillwyn, L. W.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Divett, E.||Irton, Samuel|
|Donkin, Sir R.||James, W.|
|Dowdeswell, Wm.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Duffield, Thomas||Johnston, Andrew|
|Dunbar, George||Johnstone, Sir J.|
|Dunlop, J.||Jones, Wilson|
|East, J. B.||Jones, Theobald|
|Eastnor, Viscount||Kerrison, Sir Edw.|
|Eaton, Richard J.||King, Edward B.|
|Ebrington, Viscount||Knatchbull, Sir E.|
|Egerton, Sir P.||Knight, H. G.|
|Elley, Sir J.||Labouchere, H.|
|Ellice, E.||Lambton, Hedworth|
|Elwes, J.||Lee, John Lee|
|Estcourt, T. G.||Lefevre, Charles S.|
|Farrand, R.||Lefroy, A.|
|Fector, J. M.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Feilden, William||Lennard, T. B.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Lennox, Lord Arthur|
|Fergusson, R. C.||Levison, Lord|
|Finch, George||Lister, E. C.|
|Fitzroy, Lord C.||Long, W.|
|Fleetwood, P. H.||Lowther, J.H.|
|Folkes, Sir W.||Lucas, Edward|
|Forbes, W.||Lushington, Dr.|
|Forster, C. S.||Lushington, C.|
|Fort, J.||Maclean, Donald|
|Geary, Sir W.||M'Taggart, I.|
|Gladstone, T.||Mahon, Viscount|
|Gladstone, W. E.||Manners, Lord C.|
|Gordon, R.||Majoribanks, S.|
|Gordon, hon. W.||Marsland, Wm.|
|Goring, H. D.||Martin, J.|
|Goulburn, H.||Martin, T.|
|Goulburn, Sergeant||Maxwell, H.|
|Graham, Sir J.||Methuen, P.|
|Grey, Sir Geo.||Milton, Viscount|
|Guest, J.||Moreton, A.|
|Hale, Robert B.||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Hallyburton, Lord D.||Mosley, Sir O.|
|Hamilton, Geo. Alex.||Mostyn, E.|
|Hamilton, Lord||Murray, rt. hon. J.|
|Handley, H.||Neeld, John|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||Nicholl, Dr.|
|Harcourt, G. S.||O'Ferrall, R. M.|
|Hardinge, Sir H.||Ossulston, Lord|
|Hardy, J.||Palmer, Robert|
|Harland, Wm. Chas.||Palmer, George|
|Hastie, A.||Palmerston, Viscount|
|Hawkes, T.||Parker, John|
|Hawkins, J. H.||Parnell, Sir H.|
|Hay, Sir A. L.||Parry, Sir L. P.|
|Hayes, Sir Edm. S.||Patten, John Wilson|
|Pease, J.||Strangways, hon. J.|
|Pechell, Captain R.||Stuart, Lord James|
|Peel, Sir R., Bart.||Stuart, V.|
|Pemberton, Thomas||Sturt, Henry Charles|
|Pendarves, E. W.||Surrey, Earl of|
|Perceval, Col.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Philips, G. R.||Talfourd, Sergeant|
|Pigot, Robert||Tennent, J. E.|
|Plumptre, John P.||Thomas, Colonel|
|Ponsonby, W.||Thomson, C. P.|
|Ponsonby, J.||Thompson, Paul B.|
|Poulter, John Sayer||Thompson, Ald.|
|Price, S. G.||Trevor, hon. A.|
|Pringle, A.||Trevor, hon. G.|
|Rae, Sir Wm.||Troubridge, Sir T.|
|Reid, Sir John Rae||Turner, W.|
|Rice, rt. hon. T. S.||Twiss, H.|
|Richards, John||Vere, Sir C. B.|
|Richards, R.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Robinson, G. R.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Rolfe, Sir R. M.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Ross, Charles||Vyvyan, Sir R.|
|Russell, Lord John||Walker, Richard|
|Russell, Lord Charles||Wason, R.|
|Sandon, Viscount||Westenra, hon. H. R.|
|Sanford, E. A.||Weyland, Major|
|Scarlett, hon. H.||White, Samuel|
|Scott, Sir E. D.||Whitmore, Thomas|
|Scott, J. W.||Wigney, I. N.|
|Seale, Colonel||Wilbraham, G.|
|Seymour, Lord||Williams, W. A.|
|Shaw, F.||Wilson, H.|
|Shirley, E. J.||Winnington, H. J.|
|Sibthorp, Col.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Sinclair, Sir G.||Wood, Charles|
|Smith, J. A.||Worsley, Lord|
|Smith, R. V.||Woulfe, Sergeant|
|Stanley, E.||Young, G. F.|
|Stanley, Lord||Young, J.|
|Stewart, John||Lennox, Lord G.|
|Stewart, P. M.||Stanley, Edward J.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Hume, J.|
|Beauclerk, Major||Humphrey, John|
|Blake, M. J.||Hutt, William|
|Brady, Denis C.||Jervis, John|
|Bridgman, Hewitt||Marsland, Henry|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Molesworth, Sir W.|
|Brotherton, J.||O'Connell, D.|
|Browne, R. D.||O'Connell, J.|
|Buller, Charles||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Chapman, M. L.||O'Connell, Morgan|
|Clay, William||Palmer, Gen.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Ripon, Cuthbert|
|Elphinstone, H.||Roche, D.|
|Ewart, W.||Rundle, John|
|Fitzgibbon, hon. R.||Thompson, Col.|
|Gillon, W. D.||Trelawney, Sir W.|
|Grote, G.||Tulk, C. A.|
|Hall, B.||Villiers, C.P.|
|Harvey, D. W.||Wakley, T.|
|Hawes, B.||Wallace, R.|
|Hindley, C.||Warburton, H.|
|Holland, Edward||Ward, Henry George|
|Whalley, Sir S.||TELLERS.|
|Williams, W.||Leader, J. T.|
|Roebuck, J. A.|
§ House resumed; Committee to sit again.