§ Lord John Russell
, in moving that the Speaker leave the Chair, for the purpose of going into Committee on the Canada Bill, observed, that on going over the Bill he discovered a great number of verbal amendments to be necessary; and it was essential that they should commit the Bill, in order to give an opportunity to make those amendments. Of course it was more convenient that the Bill should be discussed in the amended form, if there was no objection to the principle involved in the motion for going into Committee. He should, therefore, propose that they go into Committee pro forma on the Bill.
§ On the question that the Speaker leave the Chair,
§ Mr. Warburton
rose to oppose the motion, because he was anxious to state his views in support of the plan which he had on a former night submitted. As he had twice addressed the House on this subject, he felt bound to give way to those who might wish to deliver their opinions on the principle of 477 the proposed measure. Since, however, he conceived that the proposition which he had submitted formed the only true and radical remedy for the evils which existed in the government of the colonies, and as it had been repeatedly adverted to in the discussion which had taken place, he felt justified in presenting himself once more to the House in order to substantiate the views which he had expressed. The remedy which he conceived would remove all disaffection in the colonies was to propose an amicable separation between the mother country and the colonies. He acknowledged that the mother country conferred the greatest possible been on the colonies when in 17,91 she gave them the benefit of popular representation. All the governors had counteracted the effects which might naturally be supposed to flow from popular government, and resisted all the attempts made by the colonists to obtain a full recognition of their liberties. A charge had been preferred against the House of Assembly of want of intelligence, and ignorance. Now, what was the proof to substantiate this accusation? Why, that they offered to grant 24,000l., ten per cent of their whole revenue, in support of national education. Was that House prepared to make a like proposition? And yet several Members had taunted the House of Assembly with a want of advancement in civilisation, and with not coming up to the spirit of the age. In consequence of this conduct, they had won the affections of the French Canadian population. Let the House look to the returns made of members to the House of Assembly, and then deny, if they could, that it had secured the regard and confidence of the people of Canada. The impression that prevailed amongst the Canadians, that they had not obtained the advantages which usually arose out of popular representation, had led to all the unfortunate events which had taken place between the mother country and the colonies. Let them look to the petitions, not from Lower Canada, but from the whole of their North American colonies, Upper Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward's Island, and Newfoundland, and they would find that the people required not only popular representation, but what grew naturally out of it, a responsible executive. What he meant by a responsible executive was, that if there was a majority in the House of Assembly against that government, which was put over them by the colonial government at home, or if the 478 course recommended by the administration at home was disapproved of by them, what they asked was power to dismiss the executive, and to place in their stead ministers who would act in conformity with the wishes of a majority of the inhabitants. They had given the Canadians either too little or too much; if they were to be governed by the office in Downing-street, then they never should have had imparted to them a system of popular representation, but having had this, they ought also to have had given to them a responsible executive. It was for this, that all the colonies in North America were now petitioning. But what said the Colonial Secretary? Why, that to make an executive responsible was incompatible with colonial government. Let the House attend to what appeared to him to be the measure by which all that affected the colonies according to their present system was regulated. It was not regulated by its utility as it affected the colonies, but by another rule and standard—by whether it was calculated to assert the superiority of the mother country over her colony or not. That was the standard by which every measure was now to be judged. He would say, therefore, that it was not to be wondered at that extensive disaffection and dissatisfaction should prevail in their colonies, and it must continue to be so until they gave them the benefits of responsible government. In his opinion, by a large and liberal concession at the present moment, in which measure of concession he comprehended an intimation and signification to the colonies that they were prepared, if the colonies wished it, for the purpose of improving their own form of government—that they were prepared deliberately to discuss with them by what course of measures the independence of the colony might best be brought about—if the House was prepared to make that communication to them, in his opinion the colonies would be ready to take from them any measures preparatory to that great object, and thereby a reconciliation would take place between the colony and the mother country. But if, on the contrary, they determined not only to restore, but permanently to retain their authority in these colonies, then, in his opinion, no measures that could be proposed would be likely to bring about a lasting reconciliation. The dissatisfaction that prevailed in the colony appeared to him to have arisen, not only from the circumstances he had pointed out, but it appeared to him also to 479 have partly arisen from the attempts on the part of the Government here to force institutions on the colony utterly inconsistent with the state of its society. The state of society in the colony, disguise it as they would, was essentially democratic. The uniformly easy circumstances in which the inhabitants lived, their institutions and laws, particularly that which shut out primogeniture, and established an equalization in property—this state of society, he repeated, was essentially favourable to democratic institutions. Instead of framing the laws which this country intended to apply to the colonies, so as to suit this state of society, we had been endeavouring in vain to raise up an aristocracy in that country, to which it was proposed to intrust a large share in its legislation. Such a chimera as that was never before attempted. Amongst others, Sir G. Murray had talked of the great object which it would be for the mother country if an aristocratic body were formed, to which should be given that portion of legislation which fell to the House of Lords in this country. It was impossible to create such a body by any positive law or institution. The favourable light in which aristocratic institutions were viewed in those countries where they were established was supplied by old habits and historical recollections. It generally happened that the aristocrat was connected, though remotely, with the conqueror of a people, and thus were engendered and transmitted these feelings of a right to legislation of the superior and submission on the part of the vanquished which prevailed in old countries. But to propose in a country where there was an equal distribution of wealth to set up by law an aristocratic institution, was, he again maintained, the vainest chimera that ever entered into the mind of man. If such a thing were attempted, it could only end in the extensive disaffection which now prevailed in Lower Canada. Add to this the example of those rights which were the very foundation of the institutions belonging to the country immediately in contact with Canada, and by which a love of liberty was brought home to their very door. Such institutions were as contagious in their influence as that of a democratic government in France would be to the European states by which it was surrounded. But it was said by those who were opposed to an extension of popular rights to the Canadians, that their present condition was a very happy one, and that 480 they enjoyed great physical comfort. He always thought, that men so situated were fittest to be made the recipients of free institutions. But were they satisfied with mere physical comforts? Had they no moral wants? Was this country, that had favoured Greece, Poland, South America, and Hanover in their struggles for freedom, prepared to deny that aid to Canada? Would they refuse to the Canadians, to whom they had already granted a large share of liberty, the right of aspiring to a greater, and of enjoying all the advantages which arose out of popular institutions? He maintained, therefore, that so far from the physical comfort in which they lived being any reason why they should rest satisfied with their present condition, it was the best possible argument in favour of granting them more extensive rights. When he said, "Emancipate your colonies," he did not mean that this course should be adopted in a hasty or partial manner, but that we ought maturely to consider by what steps we might make that emancipation comprehensive, and include not only Lower Canada, but all the American colonies at the same time, so as to form all into one great federal union. Various objections had been thrown out to his plan for the emancipation of the colonies. First, it was said, "the time is not yet come for such a change; the Canadians do not themselves wish for it; and so far from having any desire to part from the mother country, they are warmly attached to it." Was it their intention, then, to delay emancipation until disaffection proved the real wants of the Canadians? Was it not, on the contrary, most desirable to bring about this change whilst a good feeling towards the mother country still existed? Why not yield to policy and justice what would be forced in the end by extensive disaffection. "Oh, but the colonies do not desire separation; they express no wish for it!" Why, for a very good reason. If any person in the colonies were now to express such an opinion, he would be branded by the loyal party as a traitor. Persons could not openly maintain that doctrine for fear of the consequences that would follow to themselves. But, however, he had shown to the House that the people were in favour of a measure which they themselves stated was incompatible with colonial government; they were in favour of a responsible executive; and it was said by the Government a responsible executive was incompatible with 481 colonial government. He proved, therefore, that they were in support of a measure that was said to be incompatible with colonial government; and would the House not draw the necessary inference that, being in favour of what was incompatible with colonial government, they longed for and aspired to emancipation itself? At any rate., this was a disguised claim for emancipation. Then the hostility of races and difference of origin, and the necessity of considering and discussing the questions arising out of those circumstances had been adduced as an argument against separation. He admitted it might be an argument against immediate and hasty separation, without due natural regard for the inhabitants of the colonies. Jealousy had arisen out of the Orangeism of the country. He did not use the word in an offensive sense; but this jealousy had arisen from the undue favour which had been shown one race, and the state of degradation and submission in which this country had kept the other. Where equal laws were extended to people of different races, these jealousies were always at an end. This had been exhibited already in the case of Canada itself. When, in the year 1828, the two different races laboured under common grievances, had they not come as common petitioners, harmoniously agreeing to petition together for the redress of those grievances? In the United States of America, where every race was to be found, but existing under equal laws, no jealousy was to be found. People living under equal laws did not employ themselves in cutting each other's throats. If the House, then, would not in a hasty but in a prudent manner, bargain with the parties concerned for equal protection and equal preservation of rights, all jealousies would terminate. While there was still a great remnant of affection for the mother country, if they would determine on a separation, and bargain for the titles of the British settlers, every jealousy and unkind feeling of one to the other would perish. He acknowledged that emigration was undoubtedly a very great advantage to this country; but it was not to our colonies emigration was chiefly directed. On the contrary, it was greatest to those countries which had been emancipated from colonial dependence. At present the amount of emigration to the whole of our North American colonies was not more than 30,000 persons annually; whereas the emigration to New York alone amounted to 60,000. So that in the event of our 482 emancipating the North American colonies, there would be no diminution, but, on the contrary, a considerable increase of emigration. They need only trust to the interests of the colonies themselves, and he was sure that they would, although independent, receive with open arms all the emigrants who should think proper to go to them. As to the question of trade, it must be of great importance to carry on trade with such extensive countries as the North American colonies. But then it was well known that England lost a great deal by giving them the monopoly of the timber trade, to which he had always been opposed. The whole amount of the export trade from Canada and New Brunswick was 1,500,000l. annually, and of that 1,100,000l. was in timber alone; yet rather than go to a war of independence with them, he would willingly give them a lease of the timber monopoly for a term of years, and they would be too happy to accept such a bargain. Owing to an omission in a bill of Mr. Huskisson, the Americans were enabled to avail themselves of this privilege, and he had no doubt that if we afforded them an opportunity they would be but too happy to afford us continued supplies. But it was contended, as one argument for the continuance of the connection, that this extensive trade in bad timber was in some degree the cause of our great naval power, inasmuch as it gave rise to the carrying trade. Now he was prepared to show that a falling off in this latter species of trade, and any injury to our naval power, were not contingencies to be apprehended from the separation of the colony from Great Britain, because it was equally in our power to carry on that trade, as well after an amicable separation as before. If this trade in timber was necessary to the sustentation of our naval power, which he was not prepared to admit, he would say that, in order to give that support the greatest effect, they ought to release the Canadas from their control. For a maritime country the best means of providing for the increase of the navy was to promote in every possible way the increase of the revenue. Now it was never contended that the continuance of the monopoly of the Canada timber trade tended to increase the revenue of this country, but the reverse. Then here was another reason for separation, as the carrying trade might, after such separation, be still retained. A great deal had been said with respect to the diminution of power which Great 483 Britain would sustain if she consented to this step. So far, however, from Canada being a source of power, she was a source of weakness; for a colony in a state of revolt; and a people in a state of total disaffection and estrangement, could not, under any circumstances, conduce to the strength of the mother country. A large naval and military force, which might with advantage, and a great saving of expense, be employed elsewhere, was required to keep down the revolted province, and to prevent others from becoming disaffected. One of the greatest sources of happiness was security, but, so long as the colonies were continued in a state bordering upon revolt, peace must necessarily be endangered. It was said, however, that if independence were conceded to the North American colonies, the example would be contagious, and would spread to our other colonies. Now many of our foreign establishments were merely in the nature of military posts. The rule applied to our North American colonies, therefore, could not be applicable to those settlements, the inhabitants of which had been in the enjoyment of civil liberty; but to colonies similarly circumstanced with the Canadas, colonies which, being already possessed of a large share of civil liberty, were anxious to extend that liberty, the additional share of freedom ought to be granted. With regard to the question of revenue, it was not disputed that both the mother country and the colonies would be gainers by the independence of the latter. The colonies would gain the simple and cheap form of Government which they desired, and the mother country would save all the expenses of colonial, civil, and military establishments, to say nothing of the vast outlay to which it had been put for canals, &c., in the North American settlements. But it, had been said their national honour would suffer if the Canadas were given up. He considered the best foundation of national honour was the obtaining a character for clemency and justice. If we did not accede to the demands of the colonists we should have to rule over a disaffected people, and we could not maintain that rule without a recurrence of those slaughterings and burnings, which in the eyes of all Europe, would be considered as reflecting on our national character for clemency and justice. We could not maintain our empire in that colony without losing that character. The period of separation ought not to be deferred until the desire for it on the part 484 of the Canadians arose to such a height that what we refused to concede to justice we should be compelled to yield to force. If separation were now given as a boon, all questions of right which would arise between the mother country and the colony would be moulded to our wishes, while a feeling of amity continued to exist. In reading over the bill, he, for one, was sorry to find that the power which was granted by it to the new governor was to be con-lined to Upper and Lower Canada and that he was not to be empowered to call together representatives from all the North American colonies, for the purpose of concerting measures to form a great federal union. That appeared to him to be the only mode by which a lasting settlement of this great question could be effected; and, among other advantages, would provide some balance in that quarter of the world against the gigantic power which was growing up in the United States. If some such proposition had existed in the bill, if the emancipation of all our North American colonies had been contemplated in it, that, in his opinion, would have been the best peace offering that could have been made; and to effect that object he would have willingly armed the new governor with extraordinary powers. But the object proposed by the bill was of much too limited a nature to settle the existing differences. On these grounds he should in every stage oppose the bill; and although he would not advise those who thought with him on the subject to divide upon the question of the Speaker's leaving the chair, he hoped that upon the third reading the journals of the House would record their protest against the measure.
assured the House that he approached the consideration of the subject with great reluctance and difficulty. But in consequence of what had passed during a former debate, and of the apprehension that serious consequences might ensue from any great division in that House on any part of the bill lending to misapprehension in Canada with respect to the feeling of the people of England on the subject, he thought it his duty to offer to the consideration of her Majesty's Government whether it might not be possible, looking at the advantage of unanimity, so to alter the preamble of the Bill as to prevent any misunderstanding between the two great parties in the House. The hon. Gentlemen opposite might take that statement as they pleased. If he had only party objects in view, he should never 485 have adopted the course which it was his intention to adopt on the present occasion. He was influenced by other duties and other feelings. He felt a personal interest in the subject; and, indeed, that personal interest had been one great reason why he had not hitherto taken any part in the discussion upon it. But when he saw all parties agreed, or nearly agreed, upon the principle of the measure (for he must think, after what had been stated by the right hon. Baronet opposite, and by his noble Friend below him, that they were agreed on that general principle), he thought that they ought to get the better of party considerations, and to concur in endeavouring so to frame the measure as to make it calculated to produce the most beneficial effects, and to give to those who were to carry it into execution the best means of reconciling all parties. [Hear, hear!] He assured the hon. Gentlemen opposite, who had received what he had just said with a cheer, that until five minutes before he entered that House, nothing could be further from his intention than to make the proposition which he was about to make. He appealed to all his friends below him whether they were aware of the course he was about to take until he gave his noble Friend notice of it just before he entered the House? But, as he was thus engaged in the discussion, he thought that before he proceeded further, he ought to state to the House (and he would not trespass long upon the patience of the House in doing so,) the reason which induced him to give his support to the Bill under consideration. It might not be in the recollection of many Members of that House, that so early as in the year 1822 her Majesty's Government had, at his suggestion, brought in a Bill for the union of the two provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. The principle on which he founded the proposition for this union was the principle which had on so many occasions been advocated by his hon. Friend, the Member for Bridport, the expediency of establishing a strong government in Canada, and of rendering it too great a state to be subject to the temptation of becoming one of the states of a neighbouring power. He had been for doing this on those principles of liberality and freedom, on which alone any undertaking of that nature could be successfully or beneficially conducted. He never for a moment proposed to press on the people of Canada a government founded on those extraordinary notions of prerogative and power which were entertained and 486 avowed by some persons. He wished, on the contrary, that the Canadians should have every advantage in the connexion, and he did not wish that they should be kept in subjection to this country for one moment longer than they thought the connexion beneficial to themselves. He believed that the expressions he used on the occasion to which he had alluded were—"We should establish a constitutional government in Canada, which we may reasonably expect ought to satisfy all classes of our fellow-subjects there; we ought to fix the arrangements respecting the civil list in a manner that will not admit of any dispute or difference: having done this, we ought to govern the country with a silken thread, and whenever the Canadians express their desire to part from us, so far from forcing them to a further submission to the yoke of which they are tired, we should encourage them to make the experiment of self-government under our protection." Such were the principles on which he had proceeded. When it was said that the people of Canada were suffering under grievances, he perfectly concurred in the assertion. If hon. Members referred to the evidence which he had given during three days before the Committee, they would find that no man could be more sensible of the existence of those grievances than he was. He had described those grievances, however, not as the grievances of one party, in one colony, but as the grievances of all parties, in all our North American colonies. What had been the course pursued with reference to Canada since that period? He was bound to say, that that country had not been governed on the principles which he had advocated. He was bound to say this; and his hon. and noble Friends below him knew that that had always been his opinion. He thought that Government ought at the time to which he was adverting to have, distinctly stated to the people of Canada what they would do, and what they would not do, and that when they were asked to give up the revenue and place it under the control of the House of Assembly, they should have refused to consent to any such proposition. The government of Canada would be as impracticable as the government of Ireland would be, if one party were allowed to hold the purse-strings of the state, and to say whether or not they thought it fit that the public officers of the state should be paid. Suppose the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland were to be placed in such a situation, with two rival parties in 487 the country, that the party which, as he thought (although, perhaps, the hon. Gentlemen opposite might differ from him on that point), had just raised themselves from a state of oppression under which they had long laboured, was to be intrusted with a domination over the party by whom they had formerly been oppressed, what would be the inevitable consequence? It was well known that an oppressed party, when they acquired power, became the greatest oppressors. It would be impossible for this country to administer the government of Canada if the purse-strings of the province were to be placed in the hands of one of the parties. It was on that account that he differed entirely in opinion from Lord Goderich when that noble Lord gave up the revenue—the only means by which it was possible to control the conflicting parties in Canada. That revenue having been abandoned, he well knew that other demands would soon be made. Before making such a concession, they ought to have considered what practical means existed of carrying on the Government of Canada. It was all very well to talk of a system of liberal Government. Those who knew him knew very well what his political principles were; and he believed, he should never be accused of shrinking from the assertion of liberal principles, or from the application of those principles, in any case in which they were applicable. It might be said, that it was proper and necessary that a nation should be governed by means of the majority of the people. In ordinary cases he admitted, that that principle was perfectly correct; but the application of it to the existing situation of Lower Canada, would never be approved of by those who calmly considered the feelings, passions, and prejudices of men. Lower Canada never could be governed by the majority, neither would it be possible to govern it by the minority. Government ought to have kept in their hands the means of paying for the administration of justice, and for the other civil expenses of the province. When they were required to surrender those means, they ought to have refused to do so, and to have said at once, and without hesitation, "We will not give up that which alone will enable us to hold the balance between the two rival parties." He would tell the House that no settlement of the existing differences could lead to anything but civil strife, which, in the anomalous state of that country, did not give the Crown the 488 power to become the arbiter between the two parties. He had seen letters in news papers, written by gentlemen, who asserted that the House of Assembly ought to have the control of the purse strings; and that the only way to do justice to them, was to give that power to them, conjointly with an elective Legislative Council. If the people of Upper Canada had continued for several years to desire that the Legislative Council should be elective, although he (Mr. Ellice) might think that it would be extremely difficult to govern any country on the monarchical principle with democratic machinery, he should be the last man to force the people to conform to his opinion. But, undoubtedly, he would not yield the point without giving the Canadians ample time for reflection, and without trying to persuade them, that the advantages which they enjoyed from their connection with this country were much greater than any advantages which they could expect from a dissolution of that connection. It ought to be recollected that no form of Government was absolutely perfect. He had seen a great deal of the United States, and he had there seen one political party opposing another with the utmost violence and acrimony. He would, therefore, have done his best to persuade the people of Canada that the form of Government under which they at present lived, was better than any which they were otherwise likely to possess. But it was observed, that the Canadians were entitled to say, "We are much obliged to you for your advice, but we think we know what is best for ourselves;" and undoubtedly if, under other circumstances, they persevered in that opinion, he should be disposed to yield to it. But let the House look to the difference of the case in Lower Canada, where the question was, if one party should be allowed to pay the judges or not, until an elective Legislative Council should be granted. The objection of the House of Assembly was not founded on a just principle. To consent to their demand would be to place the power of the State entirely in the hands of the French party. He had himself, when in Canada, told Mr. Papineau, that it would be impossible to grant an elective Legislative Council, for the English inhabitants of Lower Canada well knew, that such a measure would inevitably place them in the hands of the French party; and, therefore, that the British Government could not take such a course, if the connection 489 between Canada and Great Britain was to be maintained. What would have been the case if, instead of entering into the contest, now he hoped at an end, the Queen's troops had been withdrawn from Canada? Could the Canadian people have governed themselves? He knew very well the state of education in that country; and he knew, that not one Canadian, or that not two Canadians, in a hundred could read and write. What, then, must have occurred if the British troops had been withdrawn from Canada, and if the Canadians had been left to themselves? In the first place, there would have been a most sanguinary conflict in the province; for the British party could not be expected to yield without a struggle. This conflict must have been attended with great loss of life, with extensive misery of every description, and with a dissolution of the very elements of society that it would have taken many years to repair. If they had been defeated, the English in Canada would have become mere hewers of wood and drawers of water, the very off-scourings of the population. In such a conflict as he had imagined, it was to be expected that the inhabitants of some of the neighbouring American States would have afforded their assistance. It was well known, that the power of the United States to prevent their citizens from taking part in such a contest, was very limited. But did the House imagine that the sympathies of the Americans would be all one way—all with the English race? And, besides, how easy it would be to divide Canada among the states of New York, Vermont, and Maine. Without imputing any improper motives to the citizens of the United States, everybody knew that they considered their government a good one for their neighbours. His decided opinion was, that it would have been much better if a resistance had been made at an early period to the attempts of either party in Canada to predominate. He wished to know no difference among the inhabitants; he wished to consider them not as belonging to the British party, not as belonging to the French party, but simply as Canadians. It was said that the subject had always been one of great difficulty. That was true. Providence permitted the occurrence of difficulties; but it was our duty to endeavour to surmount them. His hon. Friend below him seemed to be of opinion that no advantage had been lost by the concessions which had in former years been 490 made. For himself, he repeated that to whatever other concessions he might hare been disposed to consent, he would never have given up the control of the revenue. He would have stated boldly and at once, "The executive government cannot be administered unless the civil list be first provided for. If you will not give it, we must take it." The appointment of an elective Legislative Council he should have resisted, because he should have known that it must eventually have led to hostility between the two races, and to civil war. He begged pardon of the House for trespassing at so much length upon their attention; but the subject was one of extreme importance. His hon. Friend, the Member for Bridport, had said, that it would have been much better to have retired from the contest, and to have made the best bargain we could for the English settlers. But what bargain could we have made for them? What protection would have been available to them except the protection of the British Legislature and the British Government? Strange doctrines had been broached upon this subject. Of this he was convinced, that nine-tenths of the misery inflicted upon the Canadians had been suffered by them in consequence of the bad advice which they had received from persons in this country. He did not mean, however, to charge those persons with anything but proceeding upon mistaken principles. But when he saw the poor Canadians urged and driven into a hopeless revolt, he could not but think, that besides all those national prejudices which rendered them an easy prey to the delusive statements of their leaders, they had been further influenced by the statements which had been made by hon. Members of that House, and by other persons, with reference to the landed property in Canada which would be at their disposal in the event of success. Now, what people, or what Government, having the slightest regard to honesty, ever proceeded on such a principle as that comprehended in this intimation? In the State of New York at the time of the American revolution, his family were in possession of large landed property. They were not American citizens—they were in fact considered as alien enemies; but was their property less respected on that account? On the contrary, he had reason to know that the governing authorities in the state of New York evinced the utmost disposition to protect that property, and went out of their way for that purpose. He did not 491 believe, however, that the temptation which had been thus held out would be very extensive in its operation. The poor misguided persons who fought at St. Charles, he was sure had no such motive; and, with respect to the Canadian population in general, he must say that he had never met with so contented, so happy, so good a people. It required a strong temptation to induce such persons to take any direct course. In speaking of Mr. Papineau, he must say, that when he knew him he appeared to be a man of talent and blameless in his conduct. It was evident, however, that when his passions were engaged in any cause they carried him beyond proper self-control. Mr. Papineau was undoubtedly the leader of that party of the Assembly with whom all these unfortunate occurrences had originated. It remained to be seen how far he could acquit himself of having encouraged them. If the revolting portion of the Canadian community had been successful, the only result of that success would have been that they would have placed themselves in a much worse condition than before, He would now revert to the object which had especially induced him to rise. He had only one object in view—if possible to abstain in that House from any party divisions on the question. It was easy to explain such matters at home; but when they went forth to other countries the case became very different. If such divisions as those which he deprecated were to occur, it was well known that the number of the majority would be comparatively small. In his opinion, therefore, a very unfounded but a very injurious impression would be made elsewhere, unless the two parties in that House would come to some understanding on the subject. Gentlemen in England as well as in Canada knew that he (Mr. Ellice) connected as he was with the latter, had always studiously avoided taking part with either side. He knew the grievances of both. He had always expressed to both his readiness to assist them in the removal of any grievance that oppressed. But he should be ashamed to stand in his place in that House as the vindicator of rebellion on the part of either. In his opinion, the easier way would be to allow his noble Friend the Earl of Durham, to employ his own means of ascertaining the feelings of the Canadian people. They were now in no difficulty with respect to the upper province. The difficulty there, indeed, had never been of the same character as in the lower province. In Upper Canada 492 those who sought to disturb the peace, and those who defended and maintained it, were all of the same race—all bred under the same law. When, therefore, he saw Mackenzie and his unfortunate followers fairly beaten out of the province—when he saw them signally defeated in their attempt, not to obtain the redress of grievances, but to rob and plunder the city of Toronto, he did not feel for them in the same way as he felt for the insurgents in the lower province. He trusted, however, that in the upper province, as well as in the lower, all unnecessary cruelty would be avoided, and that not one more drop of human blood would be shed than was absolutely required to satisfy the imperative demands of justice. Under ordinary circumstances, the most prudent course to adopt might very possibly be to call together a deputation of the two provinces; but in the present heated state of the colonies he saw many circumstances which he thought would render it unadvisable to bring such an assembly together. As at present informed, he did not think it would be clear policy to adopt such a course. His right hon. Friends (the Ministers), who sat below him knew, that they were taking a very strong measure when they proposed to suspend in toto the Canadian constitution, and therefore it was natural for them to express a wish to restore it again as soon as circumstances would possibly permit. But the difficulty in which he should be placed in voting upon the preamble was this: if he voted for the amendment moved by the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) the people in Canada would say, "This is the man who voted for the imposition of an arbitrary measure upon us; this is the man who would not assent to the least modification of it; this is the man who would not allow the people of Canada to meet and concert measures for their own self-government. With the right hon. Baronet's feelings and views he (Mr. Ellice) did not wonder at the course he proposed; but it was a course in which he (Mr. Ellice) could not follow him. Instead of going out with specific instructions to convene a meeting of deputies from the two provinces, he did not see why Lord Durham should not be intrusted with powers, after a careful consideration of the circumstances in which he found the country, to adopt such measures as he should judge best for ascertaining the feelings and wishes of the people. As to the propriety of consulting, by some means 493 or other, the feelings and wishes of the people, there not only could be no doubt of it, but he was quite sure, that his noble Friend, Lord Durham, would not undertake the Government of the country unless he were allowed to do so. Upon these grounds he hoped that his noble Friend (Lord John Russell) would not urge the House to a hasty decision upon the subject. He (Mr. Ellice) did not like to set a bad precedent upon a good occasion, lest it should be referred to and acted upon as a good precedent upon a bad occasion. He was reluctant, therefore, to adopt a course which would enable her Majesty in Council to repeal an Act of Parliament. But, at the same time the right hon. Baronet (Sir It. Peel) must at once perceive, that unless the Governor-General were armed with powers that should enable him immediately to assemble a council of the people about him, there would not only be a great loss of time, but in all probability the noble Earl, upon whose shoulders the great responsibility of the mission was to be thrown, would not undertake the task imposed upon him. Whatever opinion might exist upon the other side of the House, he (Mr. Ellice) knew of no person so fitted to undertake the task of remodelling the Government of Canada, and of giving it a permanent form, as the noble Earl, who, at great personal sacrifices of his own, had consented to enter upon the task. But the measure now under discussion ought to be considered, not in reference to the particular person by whom its provisions were to be executed, but in reference to the people to whom it was to be applied. Therefore, considering, on one hand, the time that might be consumed if the Governor-General were not armed with power to assemble a council when he needed it; and, on the other hand, considering the irritating discussions which might take place if such a council were assembled at the wrong moment, he thought it would be better to place such powers in the hands of the noble Earl as should give him every possible facility in carrying out his own views. He trusted, that the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel), upon further consideration, would entertain the same opinion, and consent to withdraw his amendment. He wished now to say a few words with respect to the much vexed question of the tenures of lands. The Canada Tenures Act did not pass without much discussion. Its provisions were carefully framed, great knowledge of the sub- 494 ject was brought to bear upon them all, yet that act required to be amended the very first year after it had been passed. But no one when that measure was under consideration ever dreamed of suggesting that a tenure should be forced upon any man other than that which he already had. The Bill did not interfere with the tenure of those who already possessed lands, but provided that no more land should be granted otherwise than under the English tenure of free and common soccage. He was willing to admit with the hon. Member for Bridport that there was one provision of the English law which, as applied to Canada, ought at once to be changed—be meant that provision of the law which enforced the right of primogeniture. This law was not consistent with the habits or customs of the Canadians, and was consequently very distasteful to them. If Parliament desired that the provinces of North America should continue under the dominion of this country, care should be taken that all the laws intended to be applied to them should be founded, as far as possible, upon the plain and simple rules which obtained in the neighbouring states of America. He thanked the House for the attention with which it had favoured him. He certainly had not intended to have spoken upon that occasion, but he felt bound to state, that he thought he saw some light through the mist of difficulty which surrounded the question. He thought there would be little difficulty in bringing about such an adjustment of the matters in dispute as should be satisfactory to all the parties interested. He believed that the people of Lower Canada were, by this time, perfectly satisfied that they had nothing to gain, and that they could gain nothing, by opposing the mild and temperate government of the parent state. He had heard some hon. Gentlemen talk of emancipation. He (Mr. Ellice) wanted to know what the word "emancipation" meant as applied to Lower Canada? He wanted to see the dispute fairly settled. He wanted to see the two parties in Lower Canada placed in such a condition as should afford a complete protection to both, without giving undue preponderance to either. This was what he wished. If ever it came to be a question whether British dominion should be maintained in Canada for British subjects only, then he should say, that it would be better a hundred times to assist them in the experiment of self-government. Whilst he 495 stated that opinion, and should always act upon that principle, let it not be supposed that he thought the Canadians so shortsighted as not to perceive the advantages they possessed from their connexion with this country. Upon all points of taxation, local as well as general, they were ten times better off than the people of the adjoining provinces of the United States. Many Gentlemen in the House were fond of talking of the amazing cheapness of a republican form of government; but the people of Canada, under the dominion of the British monarchy, were subjected to an infinitely smaller amount of taxation than the people of the republican states of America. If, indeed, it did so happen that the governor of the British provinces, brought up in English society, and accustomed to English habits, had a somewhat larger salary than the President of the American republic, who was accustomed to no such luxuries; or if, again, a gentleman taken from the bar of England, abandoning a lucrative practice and breaking off all future connexion with home, received as a compensation a somewhat larger salary than the judges of the United States, these were not circumstances that should be quoted as a grievance by a people whose taxation was so low, and whose external defence did not cost them a single shilling. He had the greatest hope that the people of Canada would perceive the folly into which they had been led, and that these wretched scenes of bloodshed and burning would not be repeated. He believed when the matter was once vigorously grappled with, that it would not be so difficult to strike out the means by which alone this country could ever maintain its dominion over Canada, namely, the distribution of equal justice to both parties in the province, by a more judicious administration of the executive authority and a better administration of the judicial. From the personal feelings which he entertained towards Lord Durham—feelings in which he could not expect the Gentlemen opposite to participate—he confessed he expected much from that noble Lord's firmness and correctness of understanding. He could not conclude his observations without again asking his noble Friend (Lord John Russell) to re-consider the question with respect to the preamble.
§ Lord John Russell
I feel it incumbent upon me to address a few words to the House after the speech of my right hon. Friend. I must say, at the commencement of my observations, in consequence of some 496 ironical cheers which came from Gentlemen opposite, that I think the House is greatly indebted to my right hon. Friend for stating his sentiments on this occasion; and I must also confirm the statement which he made, that until I entered the House this evening I was perfectly ignorant of his intention of speaking. I have listened with great attention and also with great instruction, as I always do, to my right hon. Friend, whenever I have occasion to hear him, either in public or private, and whether upon the affairs of Canada or any other topic; but still I must say, that there are some points connected with the present question upon which I do not exactly agree with him, and upon which, after what he has said, I feel it incumbent upon me to address a few brief observations. In the first place I must refer to past transactions. My right hon. Friend, in alluding to this struggle, seems to be of opinion—an opinion, certainly, which I have heard him express before—that an error was committed in giving up the revenues which, by the Act of 1774, belonged to the Crown, and that that ought to have been the point upon which the resistance should have been made to the demands of the Assembly. Now, I certainly am not so far responsible for the Act of 1831 that I was not at that time a Member of the Cabinet; but I must say, that viewing, as I am obliged to do, the events which have occurred in Canada during the last few years, my opinion certainly is, that Lord Ripon was justified in proposing the repeal of the Act of 1774, and not entering into a contest with the Assembly upon that point. I am so far bound to give an opinion upon that subject, because, even if Lord Ripon had been in error, it was competent to us, in the course of the last few years, to have proposed a repeal of the Act introduced by that noble Lord. But I beg to call the attention of the House for a moment to the state in which the question would then have been placed. The Act of 1774 enforced certain duties. It applied those duties levied in Canada to the civil Government of the province, to be appropriated to that purpose by the Lords of the Treasury; but it also directed, that if there were any residue, that residue should be at the disposition of Parliament. Now, the claim of the House of Assembly was this: it was not a claim, as I imagine—and I speak now according to the opinion of the learned gentlemen who were consulted at the time—it was not a claim which they could place upon the strict grounds of law; 497 but it was a claim which they could place upon the ground of the constitution. They said, "According to the Acts of 1778 and 1791 you left to the representatives of the people in the provincial Legislature the appropriation of the supplies, and you ought not, by a new law, to make an exception to the general rule—a rule that, according to the constitution, ought to apply to all duties levied upon us." Let it be recollected, that it was upon this question, and mainly upon this question, that the quarrel happened between England and the United States. The United States of America expressly denied this right which was asserted by the Parliament of Great Britain. The Parliament of Great Britain, by the Act of 1778, expressly and in terms renounced this right over any of her colonies having representative constitutions of their own. To have quarrelled with Canada upon that ground, therefore, would have been to awaken a sympathy for the people of that province not only in the British colonies but in the United States of America, because in every State, both ancient and modern, that privilege is the most dearly prized; that privilege is considered the most important of all, which the people look back upon as that upon which their liberty and independence were first founded. I say, therefore, differing from my right hon. Friend in that respect, that if we had chosen to break with the Assembly of Lower Canada upon the question of the appropriation of duties, we should have had against us not only the feeling of the Canadians themselves, but the feelings also of all the other North American possessions of Great Britain, as well as the feelings of the people of the United States. Of course, when my right hon. Friend said, that in this manner the Government might have been maintained, he can hardly mean, surely he does not mean, that we should then have had the means of carrying on the Government independent of the Assembly, or, as would necessarily he the case, against the whole of the Assembly. I am sure, that that is not the meaning of my right hon. Friend. Yet by following the course which he says he should be disposed to recommend, we should have called the Assembly together, we should have made a breach with that body, and upon a point which would not have been made very intelligible to the people of this country, who would have argued in favour of the principles of the British constitution as applicable to Canada. The breach, too, 498 would have been upon a point upon which the most sensitive feeling existed in America. But I will enter no farther into matters that relate to the past. My right hon. Friend recommends to me a most serious consideration of the preamble of the Bill. Now I will fairly state to the House, without entering into any particular argument with respect to the preamble, what is the general view which I take upon this subject. I consider that in undertaking a settlement of the affairs of Canada the Government has a most important, a most difficult, and a most responsible duty to perform. It requires nothing less than the agreement of Parliament in the general line of policy proposed to be pursued to make it either justifiable in the Government to undertake the settlement, or possible for the Governor-General to succeed in his endeavours to accomplish it. Now, a part of the mission which has been intrusted to the Governor-General is to give him the power, if he shall so think fit, of calling together a certain number of persons who may be supposed to speak in some sense the feelings of the people of these provinces. Whatever the feeling of the House may be upon the point, I am sure it is one that cannot be a matter of indifference to my right hon. Friend; because in the latter part of his speech, speaking of a measure in which he himself took great interest—in which his object was a right object, and upon which he pressed Parliament with many views of policy which were right views—my right hon. Friend, in speaking of that measure, admits that it contained this great and serious error, namely, that it established upon certain lands the law of primogeniture; the law of primogeniture being contrary to the habits and feelings of the people. I think, too, my right hon. Friend will not deny, that, with respect to that measure, there are other points that require consideration. Then I am sure my right hon. Friend will be the last man to say, that it is not of the utmost importance that the Governor-General should be enabled not only to express his own sentiments, not only to give his own views, but should also be enabled, by some authority vested in him for that purpose, to collect, if he should so think fit, in some authorised and formal manner, the opinions and feelings of those who are deeply connected with these provinces. I admit to my right hon. Friend, who, I think, does not differ in fact from our policy, that it may be entirely inexpedient to call together such a body as is 499 named in the instructions of the Governor-General. It will be for the Governor to exercise his discretion upon that point. It will be for the Governor to determine whether the provinces are in such a state of general contentment and agreement as will render it advisable to call about him such a council. I admit, that the assembly of a council composed of the inhabitants of the province at a time when there was no prospect of their acting in concert, and with a general desire to promote the settlement of all matters in dispute, would be in the highest degree unwise and inexpedient. But when I say this, I say at the same time, that to authorise the Governor-General so to collect the opinions of the people of the province is a very considerable part and a very striking part of the general policy which we propose to pursue. It was due to Parliament, it was necessary to the Government, and necessary to the Governor-General, whoever he might be, that that part of our policy should not be concealed or withheld. It was necessary that every Member of Parliament should have the opportunity afforded to him of saying, if he so thought fit, "Upon this point of your plan I entirely agree with you or entirely differ from you." There were various modes of doing this. I do not say—and I beg my right hon. Friend's attention to this—I do not say, I am far from contending, that the mentioning of this instruction in the preamble of the Bill was the only way, or indeed the most usual way, in which the knowledge of Parliament could be directed to the subject, or the most formal way in which the sanction of Parliament could be given to it. I am quite ready to admit, that if the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Robert Peel) opposite had grounded his opposition to the preamble simply upon the ground of its not being in the usual form—if he had said, "You have an irregular mixture here of prerogative and legislation," I should have been ready, for the sake of unanimity upon the Bill, to have said, that I would not stand by the words of the preamble. But the right hon. Baronet, it is obvious—having certainly a perfect right so to do—has placed us in this difficulty. He makes the objection with respect to the unusual form of the proceeding, and at the same time states, that he thinks the course in itself unwise and ought not to be pursued. Now, if we were to consent to withdraw these words from the preamble—one of two inferences, or indeed both inferences, might be drawn; it 500 might be said, Parliament has not approved of this mode of legislation; or, on the other hand, it might be said, "Parliament has condemned this policy—Parliament is not ready to consent, that the Governor-General should go out to Canada with these powers." If the right hon. Baronet were disposed to bring the general question of the policy proposed to be pursued to an issue upon any other ground, I should have no difficulty with respect to the preamble. But as this is the only point of view in which the right hon. Baronet has brought it forward, I own I feel the greatest difficulty in complying with my right hon. Friend's advice. I feel this, Sir, I feel that these measures cannot be carried to a perfect and satisfactory conclusion unless (I am not now going to enter into any discussion of the merits of Lord Durham)—but I feel, that these measures cannot be carried to a perfect and satisfactory conclusion unless some person of eminence shall go out from this country in the full confidence of the Government which then exists at home, and unless, likewise, the Government at home can undertake the measures it proposes with regard to Canada with the full confidence and support of Parliament. For my part, feeling deeply the responsibility which we have already had with respect to Canada, having always felt that it was one of the most painful, as well as one of the most difficult subjects which we could undertake, I am not prepared to carry into effect the Bill with regard to Canada, if it be in the power of any body of Members in this House, or in the power of the public in general to say, that the policy which the Government has proposed with respect to Canada is disapproved of by a majority of the House of Commons. I am not prepared to say, that we can undertake to carry the Bill into effect if hereafter it may be said, that the Governor-General, in acting upon his instructions, has acted contrary to the wishes, contrary to the will of the House of Commons. This is a point which I wish to be explicit upon. I will not enter now—I need not enter now—into the manner in which the Bill is to be carried out; but this I do say, that we must stand clear upon the point of having with us the consent and approbation of Parliament. If this Bill is to be altered in many of its provisions, or if it is to be a different Bill, let those who have made it different, let those who approve of a totally different policy, be the persons responsible for 501 carrying it into execution. It would be far better for the country, far better for the Canadians, and far better for the general interests of the empire, that the matter should, at least be compact—that those who advise the Crown, and those who have the confidence of the House of Commons, should, at least, be the same persons; and that there should be no discrepancy between the two. I say, therefore, that I think my right hon. Friend attaches too much importance to the particular words of the preamble. I think if the words of the preamble were left out, there would still be the remaining difficulty of what is the feeling of the House with respect to it. There would still be the question, "Was the House in difficulty with respect to the terms of the preamble—has the House a difficulty in sanctioning such a mixture of legislation and prerogative, or has the House a decided opinion, that the Governor-General ought not to go out with these instructions?" I beg my right hon. Friend and this House to consider well this point, on which, sooner or later, this House must come to a decision. I do not think I am asking too much of hon. Gentlemen, when, admitting that the policy which is proposed is one of great severity, and admitting also, that we are placing in the hands of one individual, assisted, if he pleases, by a select council, and maintaining his authority instead of the local legislature which has been constituted by the Parliament, I do not think I am asking too much when I ask the House to approve the policy which we have adopted, to redress ail grievances, and to prevent future ills.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, that it was his intention, notwithstanding what he had just heard, steadily to adhere to the course which he had on a previous occasion stated his intention to pursue, because he was satisfied of the justice and the reasonableness of the propositions he had made. If he had entertained a doubt upon the subject (which he did not) before the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Ellice), who from personal and local knowledge was well qualified to form an opinion of the interests of Canada and of the real nature of the Canadian question, and who this night had made a speech confirming in every respect the impressions which he (Sir R. Peel) had formed of the right hon. Gentleman's competence to judge in the matter, that doubt was removed, for the right hon. Gentleman had (he would not say it was 502 extracted from him) borne a willing testimony to the reasonableness and justice of his (Sir R. Peel's) propositions. Confirmed, therefore, by the sentiments and opinions expressed by the right hon. Gentleman—not that he hesitated or wavered before—it was his intention to adhere to the course he had already stated: he should neither, on the one hand, be tempted to depart from that course which in the present great emergency he believed to be just, for the purpose of conciliating the support of those who entertained political opinions to which he was opposed, nor should he weaken the support promised to the Crown in order to suppress revolt by selecting out some point on which men of different opinions might concur, but he would not permit the vague intimation of the noble Lord as to the consequences of the success of his views and opinions to prevail on him to depart from his course. On the first night of the present Session he had given his support to the Address to the Crown, pledging the House to support the Crown in the suppression of revolt and insurrection; that Address had been carried by an immense majority, none of those with whom he had the satisfaction to act refusing their support to that Address. Another proposition had since been made by her Majesty's Government requiring the consent of Parliament to a Bill vesting in the hands of the Governor-General of Canada great arbitrary authority. The Government intimated the name of the Governor-General whom they had selected, and his declaration had been, that he should pay all respect to the position of the person chosen by the Crown to administer those functions; that he forgot all political differences with Lord Durham; that he would give to that noble Lord every authority necessary for the execution of the trust that he would give to any man whose political opinions were in close alliance with his own. He had further said, that he would consent to a suspension of the Canadian constitution, but that he did so with great reluctance. Now, nothing could have been easier than for him to have found some reason to withhold his assent to that suspension. Nothing could have been easier than for him to have agreed with hon. Members opposite to try the House of Assembly once more for a short time longer; but no, believing it to be right not to run the risk 503 of calling together the present Assembly, he had given his cordial support, and those with whom he acted gave their support (some certainly with doubt and hesitation), to the great object of this Bill, named, the suspension of the Canadian constitution, and the devolution of sufficient power to the Governor-General appointed by her Majesty's Ministers for administering the functions of the Government and legislation of that colony. Such was the course he and those with whom he acted had pursued. But he would go further and say, without caring for himself, or caring for consequences, he would go into the details of that measure in Committee, and he would there propose such amendments as he thought would make the Bill more conformable to justice. If he found that the Bill gave to the Governor-General powers that were unnecessary for the full, proper, and efficient discharge of his duty, he would in that case recommend a curtailment of those powers: if, having consented to an act of extreme rigour—namely, the suspension of the free constitution of a populous province, he found in the other clauses of the Bill an unnecessary violation of constitutional principles, he should withhold his assent, and do his best to induce the House not to sanction it. The principle to which he adhered, and upon which he should act, would be to discourage revolt, to enable the Crown to suppress insurrection, and to make ample provision for the conduct of the Government after the constitution was suspended; but he could not agree with the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Ellice) that any public object could be gained by any understanding or compromise between parties, in order to avoid a division. Let those on his side of the House suggest and propose their amendments, and let those amendments be adopted or rejected, according to their justice or reasonableness; but it would not answer either the views of the right hon. Gentleman or of himself that the general assent of the House should be purchased by any compromise, or that he and those who acted with him should have the appearance of acquiescing in that which they believed to be unjust and impolitic for the purpose of encouraging an impression in Canada, that the House of Commons were united in opinion, when the fact was otherwise. He would tell the noble Lord fairly, that his objection to 504 the preamble of the Bill was not a mere objection in point of form; he thought it certainly to be most unwise to mix up in the preamble of a Bill a recognition by Parliament of any act done under the prerogative of the Crown. He thought it was quite right that the Crown, being satisfied as to the necessity of exercising certain powers, should do so, and then apply to Parliament for its justification. If the law were defective, and that it was impossible to act without the intervention of Parliament, then let application be made in that respect, and if aid was withheld, then let the Crown either retain or relinquish the Government under whose advice that application was made; but he certainly did object to the confusion between the prerogative of the Crown and the functions of Parliament which was implied by the recognition beforehand of a certain act to be done by the Crown. It was a precedent not only dangerous, but one which might be perverted to the worst purposes, and which might relieve the Crown and its advisers from the responsibility which they ought to take, and thereby lead to confusion between the different branches of the Legislature. On that ground he objected to the preamble. He had not proposed to move the simple omission of the words in question, but he should propose the substitution of others, by which he intended to imply, that Canada was not to be Governed by despotic authority, and that the only hope to govern the North American provinces was by the intervention of a constitution founded on free representation. But independent of the objection in point of form, he avowed that he entertained great doubts as to the policy at present proposed; be objected beforehand, and without further information, to give his sanction to the measure as it stood. He had already distinctly said, that he would impose no restriction on the prerogative of the Crown, but in the absence of information, and in the state of feeling which existed, he did claim for himself and others that they should not be called upon to sanction any particular instructions, which in the exercise of the royal prerogative had been given to the Governor-general. If he did give his sanction to those instructions, he should be placed in the situation of a responsible Minister of the Crown, and be a participator in the responsibility of the Ministry, Did he 505 doubt that it might be right that Lord Durham should collect information from all quarters—did he doubt that it might be advantageous that the state of feeling in both the Canadas should be ascertained? Not at all; but he was not prepared to say, that it was fit and proper for the House of Commons to prescribe to Lord Durham the mode in which he should take that information—he was not prepared to say that a certain assembly should be called together now, or in the next year, or that in the state of exasperated feeling which existed in that province, the assembling of constitutional bodies in great numbers, and that the two Canadas should be brought, if not into collision, at all events into contact, was a wise measure; neither was he prepared to say, that having suspended the whole representative principle in Lower Canada (and these were sentiments in which those hon. Members who were opposed to him in politics must concur and affirm), ten men selected from five districts in Canada would be a full, fair, and free representation of the people of that colony. He knew nothing whatever of any representative system in Canada, except that which was by law established, and which they were now about to suspend. The House of Representatives consisted of eighty individuals at this moment, who were the only recognised organs of the sentiments entertained by the inhabitants of Lower Canada. The propriety of suspending that Assembly in the exercise of its legislative functions was the question now proposed to the consideration of the House; but he certainly could not consent to the declaration that ten persons, selected from five districts by the ordinance of the new governor, in pursuance of a new mode of election established by him, and with a newly-constituted tribunal for settling those disputes which would probably arise as to the eligibility of the individuals returned, and the legality of their election he never could be brought to affirm, in the words of the preamble of the Bill, that the persons so selected would constitute a fair and a fitting representation of the sentiments of the Canadian people. He never could believe that the Members of the British House of Commons, who, in a constitutional point of view, were the guardians of the representative principle, could consent, through the agency of this Bill, to the abolition of that representative system which the constitution of both 506 Canadas had established, and at the same time give their sanction to the declaration that ten persons selected in the proposed manner would form a fair and fitting representation. This was a point with reference to which he relied with much confidence upon the support of the House. Upon this ground, therefore, he objected to the principle of the measure. When Lord Durham arrived in Canada he might possibly find it practicable to carry the proposed arrangement into effect; but if he (Sir R. Peel) were asked beforehand whether, in a province in which martial law was established in many districts—in which rebellion had been only just suppressed—if he were asked whether it would facilitate the adjustment of the important interests—the settlement of the vital questions at issue—to take twenty-six gentlemen, six of them chosen by the governor from the members of both Legislative Councils, ten of them elected by the inhabitants of Upper Canada, whose feelings and interests were directly opposed to those of the people of Lower Canada, and to give them a majority of sixteen to ten composed of individuals known to be opposed in feeling to the inhabitants of the Lower province—he would at once declare that he was not prepared to answer in the affirmative. He was not disposed to place any restriction on the authority of the Crown; neither was he actuated by any unworthy desire to embarrass those with whom the responsibility rested; but he must protest against an independent Member of the House of Commons, like himself, owning no relations but those of a faithful representative of his constituents' opinions, and an eager solicitude for the preservation of the constitution in its integrity, being called on to become a party to the establishment of such a representative principle. Might he not contemplate this result, that the people of Upper Canada would refuse to comply with the proposed regulation, a result which did not appear at all improbable, considering that the inhabitants of that province had at the present moment a Legislative Council and a House of Assembly in full activity and numbers, sitting and discharging legislative functions under the sanction of an Act of Parliament? Suppose that the people of Upper Canada were to say, "We won't agree to the proposed arrangement—we can't consent to part with our legislature, which holds its sittings upon the faith of an act of Parlia- 507 ment, and exchange it for a representation composed of three persons selected from one Legislative Council, and ten individuals named by the people—we will not run the risk of parting with our legislature even for a time." Assuredly, when he saw by the instructions contained in the dispatch of the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies, that the Committee which it was proposed to appoint would be not only empowered to take into consideration matters involving the interests of both provinces, but that to the thirteen members furnished by the province of Upper Canada would be intrusted, conjointly with the other members, the power of regulating the domestic concerns and the future political institutions of the province of Lower Canada, he could not refrain from entertaining strong doubts as to whether the suggestions which they might be disposed to offer would be acceptable to the inhabitants of the lower province. If the Government desired it, they might press the arrangement, but they must take upon themselves all the responsibility, and he must refuse to be a party to it. In this, therefore, as well as in other matters connected with the subject of that night's debate, he would propose such amendments as might suggest themselves to his mind as just and desirable. Notwithstanding the observations of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ellice), he must persist in the expression of his opinion that the power which it was proposed to concede to Lord Durham of appointing to the Committee the six members of the Legislative Council was a power which it was neither judicious nor proper to extend. If, however, the hon. Gentleman could convince him that it was right to concede this power, he would not insist upon pressing his amendment which referred to that point. He had not the slightest disposition to propose any amendment tending to deprive Lord Durham of any powers which were necessary for the proper discharge of his functions. But he would steadily pursue that course of which his judgment approved, in submitting to the House such amendments as appeared to him to be conformable to reason and justice—such amendments as would prevent this Bill from establishing a dangerous precedent, or introducing any principle which was at variance with the spirit of the constitution—such amendments as would preclude the devolution upon an individual of any 508 powers which were not necessary for the settlement of the disputed questions, and the reconcilement of the conflicting interests. He should press his amendments, and it was for the noble Lord to consider well the course which it was most proper for him to pursue.
explained. After hearing the right hon. Baronet's Speech, he did not perceive any essential difference in principle between him and the proposers of this Bill. The right hon. Baronet proposed the concession to the Governor of Canada of the utmost latitude of powers for the carrying of the provisions of the Bill into effect. The particular plan proposed by the Government for accomplishing the objects which were proposed in this Bill was not suggested as imperative upon the House. He believed that the whole House were agreed that Canada could not be governed except upon the representative principle. Government entertained no intention hostile to the preservation of that principle in Canada. With regard to the precise nature of the powers to be conceded to Lord Durham, it was necessary that the views of all parties in that House should be ascertained; but it appeared to him, that much of the discussion suggested by the right hon. Baronet was upon very unimportant subjects.
§ Viscount Sandon
was understood to object to Ministers dictating to the House to adopt one particular mode out of many for the settlement of the disturbed state of affairs in Canada, more especially as the mode suggested appeared to him to be perhaps the very worst they could have selected. He could not understand the nature of the cumbrous and imperfect machinery, by the aid of which Ministers propose to carry their intentions into effect—machinery involving the re-construction of the elective franchise in Canada and the establishment of new modes of return, as well as of the trial of the validity of those elections; and all this in a country which was just emerging from rebellion. It was quite unfair to call on the House beforehand to give its sanction to such a project. He, therefore, would support, with cordiality, the amendments of the right hon. Baronet.
§ Mr. G. F. Young
was of opinion that the practical speech of the hon. Member for Coventry, must have produced a very strong impression on the House. That 509 hon. Member had thrown out a suggestion, upon which he trusted and believed that the noble Lord would act. But for this suggestion, and the corresponding alteration in the measure which he anticipated as its result, he should have been involved in the necessity of voting, in vindication of his consistency, against the measure proposed by Government. And here he would take occasion to express his strong sense of indignation at the course which had been pursued by the inhabitants of Lower Canada. Nowhere, he believed, in the pages of history, was there recorded a single instance of a revolt having taken place with so little even of the shadow of a justification upon the part of the insurgents; and it was a source of the deepest regret that some Members of their honourable House had, by their participation in the views of the rebellious Canadians, made themselves instrumental to the necessity of adopting those strong measures which it was now proposed to introduce. But he contended, that the Canadian people generally were too sensible of the important benefits they derived from their connexion with this country to wish for a total separation from it. Grievances might, and no doubt did, exist, but not by any means to such an extent as some hon. Members would have it believed. In fact, they had heard more about oppression in this country and in that House, than they had amongst the Canadians themselves. In reference to any proposed abandonment of that colony, it should be recollected that as an outlet for British manufactures it was one of our most valuable markets, while it, at the same time, afforded considerable advantages as regarded the shipping interests, and held out very great inducements to emigrants from this country. A parallel had been attempted to be made between Canada, in what was termed her struggle for freedom, and Ireland. Now, he could state on most unquestionable authority (and the hon. Gentleman read a letter from a bishop in Canada in support of his assertions) that the Roman Catholics of Lower Canada were not, as had been stated by Mr. Roebuck and others, taxed for the support of any church but that to which they themselves belonged; that the Catholics and Protestants lived together in the greatest harmony; and that in the late commotion, none had evinced greater loyalty to the British throne than Irish 510 Roman Catholics settled in that Colony.
§ Mr. Baines
, notwithstanding the indisposition he always felt to occupy the time of the House, could not satisfy himself, on a subject like this, involving the interests of millions of human beings at home and in our colonies, by giving a silent vote. He felt it due to the Government to say, that they had done themselves honour by declaring, that they would govern Canada on no other principles than those of constitutional liberty. An important crisis had now arisen in the colonial history of this country. If that crisis were used wisely, the melancholy events which had recently occurred in Canada might he retrieved, while, if wisdom did not direct the councils and the legislation of this country, we might have again to pass through scenes similar to those which took place between the years 1774 and 1782, both in North America and in England during the struggle for American independence. It appeared from the preamble of the Bill introduced into this House by his noble Friend, the Secretary for the Home Department, that the House was to be called on to declare, that it was expedient that the province of Lower Canada should be permanently governed under the dominion of Great Britain. To that proposition he was not prepared to give his assent; and in order to arrive at a just conclusion on this point, it was proper to inquire what was the cost of governing Canada as a dependency on this country, and what the gain we derived from its possession? As to the cost, it appeared from the financial statements laid before this House, that it amounted to the sum of from five to six hundred thousand a-year. The Paymaster of her Majesty's forces said to 600,000l. It also appeared, from a speech made by his right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Trade, that the expense incurred by this country from receiving the inferior timber of Canada, over and above the cost that would attend the same supply of sound timber from the Baltic, amounted to 1,400,000l. a-year, making a clear annual cost to Great Britain and Ireland of 2,000,000l. a-year; which sum would be saved if Canada was an independent state. The question then arose, what valuable consideration did we receive in exchange for this enormous annual cost? His noble Friend, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, the other night had said, that the retention of our 511 colonies was the cause of the strength of our commercial marine. But he had always understood, that the strength of our commercial marine was rather derived from the capital of our merchants, the skill and industry of our manufacturers, and the enterprise of our seamen; and in proof of this he might say, that our commercial marine trading to the United States at present, when that country was an independent republic, was four or five times as large as when that country was a dependency of Great Britain. But in order to show that the strength of our commercial marine did not depend upon our Canadian possessions, he would quote the words of the right hon. the Paymaster of her Majesty's Forces (Sir Henry Parnell), whose authority stood deservedly high and would have due weight on the Treasury bench. That right hon. Gentleman said,With respect to Canada (including our other possessions on the continent of North America) no case can be made out to show, that we should not have every commercial advantage we are supposed now to have if it were made an independent state. Neither our manufacturers, foreign commerce, nor shipping would be injured by such a measure. On the other hand, what has the nation lost by Canada? Fifty or sixty millions have already been expended, the annual charge on the British Treasury is full 600,000l. a-year, and we learn from the second Report of the Committee of Finance, that a plan of fortifying Canada has been for two or three years in progress which is to cost 3,000,000l.From this statement it appeared, and no higher authority could be found, that Great Britain would enjoy all the advantages that she at present possessed if Canada was an independent state, both as regarded her merchandise, her trade, and her shipping; and that having already spent fifty millions of money in raising that country to strength and importance, she would, if the Canadians were left to govern themselves, be saved a future expense of 2,000,000l. a-year. There was, however, one advantage derived from the possession of Canada which had not been stated, and that was, a great extent of official patronage. If Canada was exalted to the rank of a free state, they should have much fewer governorships and secretaryships to bestow than at present, and much fewer appointments in the army, the navy, and the civil departments. But no such consideration would influence his Majesty's present Government, and the people of Great Britain had too little regard to official patronage 512 to purchase it at so exorbitant a price as two millions sterling a-year. But it was alleged by the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Tamworth, the other night, that if independence were conceded by this country to Canada, the other colonies might set up the same claim, and that even the Isle of Wight might insist upon an independent Government. As to their other colonies setting up a claim to independence, it might or might not be advisable to concede such a claim, according to the circumstances of the case; but as to the Isle of Wight being induced by the example of Canada to insist upon an independent Government, the idea was preposterous; though if the Isle of White was at a distance of three thousand miles from England, instead of one hour's sail—if that island contained ten hundred thousand inhabitants instead of two thousand, and if it had, like Canada, enjoyed a Legislative Assembly for seven-and-forty years, there might have been some fitness in the comparison. It was further insisted, both in the House and out of it, that it was the bounden duty of Great Britain to retain its sway over Canada, because a vast number of its own subjects had settled in that country, and if British influence and protection were withdrawn, these settlers would be subjected to all sorts of violence and injustice. The Gentlemen who made this assertion accompanied it with others which served to show how unfounded was their apprehension of danger, They said that in the two provinces of Upper and Lower Canada there were a million of inhabitants—that in Upper Canada there were four hundred thousand, nearly all English and Irish; and that in Lower Canada there were 600,000 of whom 170,000 were English and 430,000 French Canadians; the property of the country, they said, also, was principally British or belonging to British settlers; and as to the intelligence, the preponderance was decidedly on the side of the British. If this were so, and he (Mr. Baines) was not disposed to deny it, was it to be supposed that the French Canadians, though enjoying some advantages in point of local settlement, but inferior as they were in numerical strength, in property, in intelligence, and in influence, would, if they had the disposition, be able to tyrannise and oppress their British neighbours? It was also alleged that to submit to the severance of Canada from Great Britain would be to deprive the crown of England of one of its 513 brightest jewels; but this figurative expression was calculated rather to impose upon the imagination than to convince the judgment, and so far from the Crown of England being tarnished by the voluntary surrender of Canada, when the time came that the people of that country generally thought that they ought to be free, and felt that they were not, the example of emancipating the colony would be highly appreciated in other times and by other countries, and would give to England a perpetual claim to the gratitude of the Government and people of Canada. It was on these grounds necessary and proper, when Lord Durham arrived in Canada as governor-general of that province, and when he assembled around him the representatives of the provinces, men best acquainted with their interests and their opinions, that he should inquire of them what were their wishes as to the establishment of an independent government either as to Canada separately, or as to their other settlements in North America, on the plan of federation so ably recommended by the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Bridport. In his opinion, a power to make this inquiry should be given to the noble Earl in his instructions from the Colonial-office. Such a power, accompanied with the attribute of general amnesty already promised would do more to tranquillise Canada than any coercive clauses introduced into the present Bill; indeed it would supersede to a considerable degree the necessity for such clauses; and it would be strikingly accordant with that love of liberty to which the noble pacificator, who would then be hailed as a public benefactor, was so strongly attached. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had said last night that he omitted altogether from his consideration the person appointed by the Crown to undertake this mission, but the people of England and the people of Canada would not omit that subject from their consideration. They would attach great importance to that choice, and they would rest assured that it was, so far as the noble Lord was concerned, a guarantee against the undue exercise of those absolute powers with which he was to be armed. That night the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) had intimated an intention to move an amendment in the preamble of the Bill for the purpose of withdrawing the instructions to Lord Durham from that preamble; but while those instructions were given from the Colonial-office, with a power to 514 act upon them or not, as the noble Earl might think fit, it mattered little whether they were contained in the preamble of the Bill or not; and the proposed alteration would be viewed by the House as a distinction without a difference. There might, however, be some danger from the plausibility of the proposed amendment that it would attract some votes from that (the Ministerial) side of the House; but when it was considered that the practical effect of Ministers being outvoted by the other side of the House would involve the danger of the Canadian Coercion Bill being carried into operation by a Tory administration, he felt persuaded that no persons, foreseeing these consequences, and being strongly attached to liberal principles, would be betrayed into a vote calculated to produce consequences so disastrous.
§ Mr. Slaney
said, that it was his misfortune to differ in opinion on this subject from those with whom he usually voted, and he most earnestly desired, that before any final determination should be arrived at, the whole of the measure, as well as the state of the colony, should be inquired into. Looking at the mode in which the colony had been treated, and the line of conduct which they had pursued, he was far from thinking that there were not many circumstances which tended to excuse the conduct of the Canadians in the present revolt. From the year 1771 to 1831 the whole history of the colony tended to show that its inhabitants had strictly followed the example set to them by the mother country. He did not deny that many of the claims which were made were unreasonable, and could not be granted; but there were others which were just. Instead of granting these latter claims, however, the consideration of them had been delayed, and no answer was given, and he must say, that he thought that it was by these means that the people were thrown into a position, by their being open to be led by bad advisers, that had induced the present unhappy revolt. Instead of listening to the advice of Mr. Roebuck, who had been their supporter, they had submitted to be led by others, and their differences with England had been increased and aggravated. Considering these circumstances, he must confess that his opinion was, that the greatest allowance should be made for them. No one could view the present state of the colony without feelings of the 515 deepest regret, seeing the atrocious outrages which had been committed, houses burned, and churches destroyed; and he hoped that such acts of violence might not be repeated, but that measures would be taken by which their recurrence would be prevented. He had risen chiefly to express his concurrence in the sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for Coventry, and he sincerely trusted that the suggestions which he had made would be attended to, because he considered them to be of the greatest importance, as regarded the present contest and the measure now in progress, and he sincerely hoped that the House would not divide on the mere question of form in the preamble, and which was of little importance, but that they would come to an unanimous vote. He thought that it might be necessary to invest Lord Durham with certain powers, but he thought there was one part of the preamble which should be continued in it. It embodied a principle to which the right hon. Baronet had pledged himself, and he really saw no reason for its being expunged. It was that part of the preamble which was as follows:—"And whereas it is expedient to make temporary provision for the government of Lower Canada, in order that Parliament may be enabled, after mature deliberation, to make permanent arrangements for the constitution and government of the said province, upon such a basis as may best secure the rights and liberties, and promote the interests, of all classes of her Majesty's subjects in the said province." He would venture to suggest that these lilies should be left, because it would assure the Canadians that the Houses of Parliament still desired to govern them upon constitutional principles.
§ Mr. Hutton
said, that the grievances of Canada had excited the strongest degree of sympathy in Ireland, because the Irish people were themselves suffering from grievances as serious. Speaking of the men who were immediately connected with, and who stood foremost in, the present struggle, he must say, that he was of opinion that Mr. Papineau was not a man of sufficient forbearance, or of sufficient firmness of determination or constitutional knowledge, to be able to extricate the people from the difficulties to which he had been instrumental in conducting them. He could not think that the time for the separation of the colony from this country 516 had yet arrived, for the men in whom they had put their trust were men of inferior knowledge and acquirements; and he must say, that the Canadians, under such circumstances, could not hope to thrive with a separate government. There were no names like those of Washington and Jefferson among the leaders of the people; and the effect, of men being so engaged whose characters were not determined, and whose power was limited, had already been sufficiently shown in the proceedings which had taken place, and the anarchy which had prevailed throughout the South American states. Taking these circumstances into his consideration, he could not think that the struggle at present going on could be viewed otherwise than with feelings of the greatest apprehension.
§ Mr. C. Buller
was not going to trespass on the attention of the House at any length, nor to enter into a subject fully on which many other Members had already spoken. He hoped the House would do him the justice to believe that it was with extreme reluctance that he had given his assent to the Bill under consideration. In considering the present matter, he believed that it was not for the House to inquire into by-gone transactions, or by whose neglect it was, that those measures had been omitted to be taken which the necessities of the case required; but their business was, in a wise and honest manner, to take the best means now of relieving the colony from its present position. Feeling this, he had given his support to the measure. It was considered by some that all that was harsh towards the people was to be sanctioned in the Act before the House, but his firm belief was, that such was not the fact, but that its ultimate object was to establish a good government for the colony on the best and soundest basis. It was, therefore, that he hailed the passage in the preamble in the Bill, which was to be made the subject of the amendment with the sincerest satisfaction. The Government in the present case had taken a most wise course in laying on the table the instructions which were given to Lord Dulham, and by that means had detailed the plan at length which they intended to adopt, in order that the governor—and he hoped he might speak of him as the future pacificator in Canada—might receive lull instructions, and that a better course, if possible, might be 517 taken. Considering these circumstances, he would ask why the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) did such injustice to his plan, as to allow the question to be tried on the preamble of the Bill? Why did he allow the all-important question of whether the people should be governed by a representative system, or not, to be discussed in a manner in which he would not only have those opposed to his plan, but those also who were opposed to him in form, arrayed against him? If the right hon. Baronet objected to the convention to settle the constitution with that sort of hatred which he seemed to have to all free systems of government, why did he not bring it forward in a plain manner, by objecting to the instructions given to Lord Durham? At any rate, those Members who supported the measure, ought not to allow it to be tried on the preamble. He mentioned this, because he felt that the party on the other side of the House was, he knew, always happy to catch any votes it could under any circumstances, and by denouncing some hon. Members in the strongest terms, and calling them traitors, it was glad to secure votes which, otherwise, they would never have obtained. The question, however, should be decided calmly and deliberately, whether the system proposed was one which should be adopted or not? And he wished the right hon. Baronet had considered, whether it would not have been more just to the House and to the Government if he had not opposed the clause in the preamble, but if he allowed the discussion to take place on the instructions which had been laid on the table? He did not wish the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) to answer the suggestion he had made unless it was perfectly convenient to him. He had thrown out these observations which had struck him, but, at the same time, he knew they could not be answered without deliberation, but he hoped that the noble Lord would not think it necessary to adhere to the course which he had proposed to adopt. The necessity of the words in the Bill would be obviated by the subsequent acts of the Government, and would wholly have the effect of destroying the efficacy of the best part of the plan of Government.
§ Lord John Russell
Perhaps the House will allow me to say a few words. The hon. Member, who has just spoken, is quite correct in supposing that after the power- 518 ful appeal of the hon. Member for Coventry I do not think myself justified, without deliberation and without consultation, to declare the exact course which I shall pursue. I certainly did not state that I should consider it absolutely essential that the words should remain in the preamble of the Bill; but I did say, that as they had been placed there it would not be satisfactory that they should be removed from it without the opinion of the House being pronounced in some intelligible manner in respect of that important part of the policy of Government. In regard to the particular course I mean to pursue with respect to the preamble of the Act, I beg to say, that at the meeting of this House to-morrow, after consulting my Colleagues, I will state exactly my views upon the subject.
said, that as he concluded from what the noble Lord had said, that there would be no division to-night, and that as the hon. Gentleman who had preceded him, had recommended to the House to discuss the question upon its merits, he would ask the indulgence of the House for a few moments to make a few observations upon the question; and he felt that this was more particularly necessary from the fact, that he did not share in the opinions of either of the two great parties in the State; and he was sorry to observe, that if any Member ventured upon this course, he had little chance of being tolerated in that House. He assured the House, however, that he did not rise to vituperate any party, neither her Majesty's Ministers nor their predecessors; that he had no charge of high crimes and misdemeanours to bring against them; that his simple charge against them was, that they regulated the policy of this country towards the colonies as it appeared a very large proportion of the country desired to regulate its policy. What he meant was, that there were distinct principles on which a colonial connexion might be maintained with the mother country, and that the majority of persons who had influence and authority in this country maintained, that one which the Government of this country had acted upon, and which was, that the government of a people in a distant country was a source of power and wealth to this country, and that it was advisable to make great sacrifices and incur great expense in order to maintain what was then termed the integrity of the empire. 519 He did not assert that this principle was fallacious, but it was his most thorough conviction that it was so; at the same time, he would not shrink from the truth in admitting that he was in a very small minority, and that the principle which considered sound that colonies were chiefly useful as filling countries with people who, having the same language, the same wants and tastes as the inhabitants of the mother country, afforded a ready asylum for its emigrants, and a good market for its products; and that in proportion as such a colony was free and contented, so would it be prosperous, and so would it better fulfil the purposes for which it was worth maintaining the connexion. This doctrine was only maintained by what the hon. Member for Lincoln spoke of with so much contempt as a knot or clique of persons who assumed the right to judge for themselves; but it did not follow that it was wrong on that account. The other principle, that which was maintained as sound by a great majority of people out of the House, and especially by the supporters of the Government in this House, he could not blame the policy of the Government; they had only acted in accordance with the wishes of the constituencies of those Members, and he only hoped that if that policy either led to war or to great expense, or to any other calamity, that those who were the eager and earnest supporters of the policy would not turn round upon the Government, and, indeed, upon the constitution itself, and allege as a ground of distrust and complaint of both, that great debts had been incurred, and that burthens of all kinds were inflicted upon the country. The two principles of Government he regarded as distinct; and those who advocated the one or the other were responsible for the consequences of each. If the colonies were, as people contended, the jewels of the Crown, and worth fighting for to acquire, and worth fighting for to maintain, let the proper sacrifices be made for the purpose; but do not let people complain afterwards. He thought that the Government had, in accordance with all that had been said in that House by their supporters and by their opponents, acted upon the principle of resisting the emancipation of the colonies, and he was at a loss to understand what was the meaning of that outcry which some persons made against the Colonial-office, and 520 against the noble Lord at the head of it, for having acted in conformity with their own principles; for when the Government refused to the colony the right to govern itself, what was it but carrying out the policy which they maintained themselves, that the separation of the colony ought by all means to be prevented, and that anything which tended to that separation was of necessity equally to be deprecated. Now, of course, whatever gave power to the colonists enabled them, if they were so inclined, the more readily to separate from the mother country, and, therefore, when the colony now in question demanded an extension of political power, it was only in accordance with the wishes of the present supporters of the Government that she should be refused; and therefore if they were involved in war in consequence of such refusal, let it be remembered that they could not complain. Let every one, according to his own judgment, advocate the principle which he thought was the best, but do not let people pretend to uphold either without being prepared for the consequences which belonged to each. He knew there was a sort of bastard policy, which was now advocated by some Gentlemen in the House and which, perhaps, had been acted upon in some degree by this country, which was, that colonies must eventually separate themselves from the mother country but that they were not fit for it yet. Now this he was unable to understand. It seemed to spring partly out of our experience of the absurdity of governing colonies against their will, and partly out of our old wish to govern them upon that principle. If colonies were advantageous as colonies, why the mother country ought to fight as well to retain them as to acquire them; but if they were a source of loss rather than gain, and that we must eventually lose them, why should this country continue to suffer this loss until the moment when they might just be a source of profit, and then let them be taken by another country, or become independent. That was inconsistent, and he thought the country ought to determine in a bold and intelligent way at once in what manner it would retain its colonial connexion with any people—whether as a portion of the empire which was bound to be subject under all circumstances to the dominion of the Government at home, or allow them to govern themselves, and 521 retain only a commercial connexion on the principles of amity and mutual advantages. This was really the question which they had to decide now, though he was aware that it had been narrowed into a sort of question between the Colonial-office and the House of Assembly; he could, however, see nothing in it but a struggle between the mother country and the colony with respect to these two principles, the colonists claiming the right of the fulfilment of promises made by this country of self-government, and the Government at home resisting that claim on the ground that what the colony claimed might lead eventually to separation; that seemed to him the real history of the question—the Colonial office feared eventual separation, and the colony was impatient of a control which was opposed to their wishes, their wants, and their feelings. The question, however, turning much upon this dispute and the respective allegations made by each party, he had listened attentively to the statements on each side, had examined carefully all the documents bearing on the subject and he did not hesitate to say, that with no prepossession either way, that he had been utterly unable to discover in what way the House of Assembly had been in fault. He saw nothing but one consistent course in all that it had done—he saw in their demands nothing but what a free, intelligent, and spirited people would require, that they had only sought what the people of this country had obtained for itself, and what every free people had sought and demanded as essential to their security; and he respected them for the consistency and for the firmness in which they persevered in what they sought, and he considered that it was the mother country that was unreasonable and inconsistent, for she had just conceded enough to justify further demands, and in refusing what was asked, was denying the remedy for the wrong that she admitted. He had looked at the report of 1828 that had been so much talked of, and he there found that the colonists had ranged their complaints apparently under two heads, namely, those practical wrongs which they endured under the system in which the Government had been administered in the colony, and the cause to which they ascribed that mal-administration. Their particular grievances were specified, but they were evidently attributable chiefly to the Legis- 522 lative Council. Now he did not deny, that many of the practical grievances had been remedied, but the cause of all the evil in such an authority as the Legislative Council was left—it was still unreformed, and it was the declaration made last year by this House that they should not have any redress that induced the people to resort to extreme measures. He could see nothing unreasonable, then, in the conduct of the House of Assembly, they had claimed only what had been admitted to be just by this country; a Committee of this House had declared that the subject which had engaged their attention the most was the Legislative Council; they declared that it neither had, nor deserved to have, the esteem or the confidence of the colony; and subsequent governments and authorities of all kinds had declared that the means did not exist in the colony for an arbitrary selection of persons, who by their station and property could inspire confidence as Members of the Legislative Council. The House of Assembly, then, declared that the only means of making the Legislative Council harmonise with the interests of the colony was by making it responsible, a principle which they knew that this country was recommending in all its municipalities, and they only sought that popular vigilant control which the Government of this country recommended in every community where the people were allowed to have the management of their own affairs. The colony considered that this principle had been conceded to them; for there was, in the first place, the constitution of 1791, which introduced the representative system, and they subsequently had all the revenues of the colony placed at their disposal. What, then, could be more inconsistent than this country, after such a concession, insisting upon the maintenance of an authority utterly at variance with powers and privileges thus conferred; and what was the reason alleged by the Commissioner for not recommending that the Canadians should have an elective Council? Why, that in the present state of parties, and with the difference of race and religion, they could not have an elective Council without giving a triumph to one party. Why, what was that, but the argument against giving Ireland good municipal government? Was it not said, that they would give a triumph to the Catholic party over the Protestant? And what 523 was the answer so justly offered? Why, that it was by recognising these distinctions by law that they were perpetuated; and that it was by making the law equal, and not in recognising such difference, that it was found, that they merged in the common interest, and that one race and one religion, instantly trusted and lived in communion with the other. And, again, if that triumph resulted from the majority of the population having power, it was surely more just than that the minority should triumph over the majority. Why, was this doctrine not equally applicable to the Canadians? He, indeed, could not see what was left for the House of Assembly—then in direct conflict with the Legislative Council—declared by the mother country to be unworthy of the confidence or esteem of the colony—but to resort to constitutional means to compel the reform of that Council; and was there no excuse for a people when they confined themselves up to the last moment within the limits of their charter in resorting to violence, when that charter was violated by the mother country, which was done, by the threat to take their money without their consent, and thus nullifying the only security they had, for the redress of grievances? He was not going to deny the criminality of persons who appeared in open rebellion to the law; but he was not prepared to vindicate the law without reference to the circumstances under which the offence was committed. He had heard the excuse which was offered for these poor people in thus fighting for their charter, by the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, and he was pleased to hear it. The noble Lord said truly, that these people naturally looked to the language and conduct of the people in the mother country, and that when they read and heard of the speeches delivered and sentiments uttered, by the Liberal party of this country, they had good reason to expect sympathy from them, and no doubt such language must have considerable influence upon them; but the noble Lord should have carried it farther; he should have referred to the conduct not only of the Liberal party, but of that party which professes to be conservative of all the institutions of the country. He should have imagined a rebellious Canadian contemplating an Orange lodge, as those lodges were disclosed to that House; he should have seen what the best blood of this country was 524 capable of when they were resisted in their purpose; he should have seen how far they regarded the law or the constitution; he might have seen of what also that party was capable, to gain popularity in sanctioning revolt in the foreign relations of this country. Who was it that recognised the French revolution? Was it not the great Conservative leader? Did he not, as soon as the workmen of Paris defeated the Royal Guard, and placed what they called a citizen King on the Throne, did not that noble Duke direct his Minister at Paris, as the representative of England, to wait upon the citizen King, in defiance of all treaties and all alliances? And why? Because it was said, the French Minister had, by his resolutions, violated the first principles of the charter, and that the people had a right to resist, and that the revolution was just. Why, then, should these poor Canadians not think that what was just with regard to the people at Paris might be considered just also on their part? He hoped these things would in justice be considered, and that hon. Members who talked in such a lofty tone of indignation at the very idea of rebellion, would remember the influence of such examples and of their own language upon the conduct of the Canadians, and how much more likely they were to be influenced by such circumstances than any language used by the hon. Member for Kilkenny or the hon. Member for Westminster; and when he urged these things, it was with the hope of bringing Members to a proper frame of mind for considering this subject, and that they should not be brought to legislate as if they had rather a great offence to punish than to provide for the future well-being of a people who cared for and were worthy of liberty. He made these remarks in consequence of observations made in the course of debate, and in consequence of the tone and spirit which pervaded the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposed to the Canadians. But the great object which the people of this country ought now to determine was, on what principle they would govern the colony—whether it should be by force, or whether with the will and concurrence of the people. Everything now turned upon this. If they thought it was wise to subject the people to the dominion of the mother country, and make them submit to a Government against their consent, let them prepare for the consequences—let them 525 send a force adequate to that purpose; but if they intended to allow these people to govern themselves, do not cavil with them about the means. It wits impossible to do both; so it became the House to decide at once, for if they persevered in retaining a power in the colony that opposed the wishes of the great majority of the people, they could expect nothing but discontent and hostility. He must contend, that against their fitness to govern themselves not one thing had been proved; nor had it been shown that the majority of the people, judged of by the acts of the Assembly, had in any way shown hatred or malice, or any intention of injuring the British part of the population; they had treated the emigrants from this country with care and kindness, and they had passed no laws or regulations adverse to the security either of life or property of that class of the colonists. They had, in his opinion, neither acted ignorantly, capriciously, or mischievously in the exercise of that authority; he, therefore, thought them in every way fitted for self-government; and as he believed that the more they were left to manage their own affairs, the more prosperous they would be, the more he felt disposed to grant them that power and control over their affairs to prevent which this country was now engaging in civil war with them, and which, if granted, he believed they would be satisfied with, without desiring independence or separation.
§ Mr. Gillon
said, he saw so much evil to forbode from this measure, so gloomy a perspective of increasing dissatisfaction in the breasts of the colonists, of slumbering hatred, which would at a future time again manifest itself in open revolt, and, above all, so gross a violation of the character for justice which this country ought to maintain, that he felt bound to express his strong opinion against the principle of the Bill. As had been eloquently stated by a noble and learned Lord in another place, the sacrifice of this, or of all our colonies, was a slight consideration when compared with the national character for justice, those great principles of eternal justice which had been so often alluded to, but which, he feared, we were now about to depart from by our acts. It was monstrous to concede to our colonies a privilege one year, and deprive them of it the moment they sought to exercise it. The conduct of a few ill-advised individuals in no way 526 altered the question. It had been charged against him and other hon. Gentlemen, that they sought to palliate the crime of revolt; but he must say, that if ever, in the history of the world, an extenuation could be offered for such an offence, it was in the case of the Canadians. They had been treated as slaves—had been wounded and insulted in the tenderest point, in the persons of their freely-chosen representatives. A threat had been made to rob their exchequer, an intention which, by the way, having had the rashness to announce, the Government did not seem to have had the firmness to execute. If tyranny and coercion were to be the order of the day, it was necessary to make that tyranny effectual. If the liberties of a whole people were to be trodden under foot, it would have been kind to have provided that the discontent of the Canadians should be confined to those curses, not loud but deep, which an insult such as this must engender, but that resistance should have been rendered hopeless. Notwithstanding what fell from the hon. Baronet, the Under Secretary for the Colonies, he (Mr. Gillon) took the liberty to assert that no two events in the history of nations ever so much resembled each other as the conduct pursued towards Canada and the commencement of the unfortunate struggle with the North American states. The proximate cause of resistance was the same—in the one case the levying of taxes, in the other the appropriating of revenues without the consent of the colonies; open, undisguised robbery in both; the same contempt in both instances for the rights of the colonists, the same arrogance in the assertion of the supremacy of the mother country, the same misconception of the feelings of the people, the same ignorance of the deep discontent which tyranny never fails to engender. A flippant allusion had been made the other night by the hon. Baronet, the Under Secretary for the Colonies, to what had fallen from his hon. Friend, the Member for Kilkenny, who instituted a comparison between the events of the present day and the commencement of the North American struggle. That hon. Baronet had said, that the events resembled each other no more than the speeches of the hon. Member for Kilkenny did those of Lord Chatham, to which allusion had been made. He must express his astonishment that the hon. Baronet should have permitted him- 527 self to employ so poor a substitute for proof and argument, or that the character of his hon. Friend, which for efficiency in the promotion of reform, in the enforcement of economy, and the advancement of public liberty, stood second to none in the estimation of the country, and most deservedly so, should not have protected him from so paltry an attack. His hon. Friend could afford to despise it. He would venture to prophesy that this mode of coercing the Canadians must in the very nature of things signally fail; that England might for the present put them down by brute force he was ready to admit; but that they would ever be attached to this country by a plan the first step of which was to violate their constitution and trample on even the semblance of liberty, he utterly disbelieved. He said more: they could not be possessed of the just feelings of freemen if they did not after such proceedings cherish a lasting detestation of British rule, and a deep-seated aversion to British tyranny. The Colonial-office, by its line of policy, and not his hon. Friends, by their declarations, had been the promoters of insurrection and rebellion. Willing to hurt and yet afraid to strike—defiance in their mouths, inefficiency in their acts, could the ingenuity of man suggest a course more likely to produce the calamitous events that had occurred? He should like to know if the Ministers were about to propose an addition to our already nearly overgrown standing army, in order to coerce Canada; he for one should strenuously oppose any such addition. And it was right that the people of this country should know how much they would have to pay for the pleasure of coercing Canada. He should feel it his duty to resist the granting of supplies, for any augmentation of our military force, because he was certain we had already too many soldiers; unless it was intended to follow a course hostile to the feelings of the people of this country; nay, he should, this session, consider himself bound to ask a reduction of taxation, for he was convinced that the system of misrule, of extravagant expenditure, of jobbing, and favouritism, would go on as long—and only as long—as the people were foolish enough to supply the means of continuing it. When a reduction was asked in the enormous expense of a standing army, kept up through upwards of twenty years of profound peace, the excuse always 528 urged for maintaining that expenditure was, the Colonies, especially Canada; the naval and military establishment of which costs this country half a million annually, besides the large indirect loss sustained by relinquishing an advantageous, to engage in a disadvantageous, traffic. An hon. Member on the opposite side of the House (he believed the hon. Member for Droitwich) had staled, that he did not think the French Canadians had now any strong ground of complaint. Not any strong ground of complaint! What did the House think of the infraction of a constitution in the violation of its first principles? The terra "French Canadians," he would observe, had been used in this country, in order to prejudice the public mind; but he would remind the House that these French Canadians had more than once distinguished themselves by the most determined loyalty, and the most courageous zeal in defence of British connection and British institutions. He must express his regret at the disastrous events of the late contest in Canada; he deprecated the spirit of fierce retaliation which had been manifested on the part of the Loyalists; the burning of villages, the desolation of the country, would tend to excite in the minds of the French Canadians, an unconquerable hostility to the British, which would be handed down from generation to generation. The hon. and literary, but not philosophical, Member for Lincoln had thought proper to read a lesson to the Radicals the other night on their line of conduct, and had deemed it expedient so far to leave the subject in debate as to allude to the division that had taken place on the first day of the session, and which related to almost anything else except the matter they were now met exclusively to discuss. That hon. Member had on that occasion read a recantation of all those opinions which previously he so eloquently maintained, and he must congratulate the advocates of arbitrary power on the powerful ally they had recently obtained. The hon. Gentleman had denounced, too, the speech of Mr. Roebuck at the bar as a lame and impotent conclusion after so great a flourish of trumpets, as he was pleased to say, had preceded it. If the hon. Gentleman had, instead of denouncing Mr. Roebuck's speech as lame and impotent, proceeded to answer it, it would have been more to the purpose; but this he had wisely ab- 529 stained from; in fact, that able and eloquent speech had not been answered by any one. The Under-Secretary for the Colonies had found it convenient to overlook the arguments contained in it, and to allude only to the charges made by Mr. Roebuck against the military under the command of Colonel Wetherall, charges which the hon. Under-Secretary said he believed he could not prove to be unfounded. He had not yet heard from any hon. Member of what the House of Assembly had been guilty that they should be deprived of their privileges. They had kept guardedly and strictly within the letter of the constitution granted to them by this country; and if that constitution was to be altered every time it suited our caprices, what confidence could the colonists have in British faith or British honour? Were the management of these delicate interests to be confided to the same hands in which they had hitherto been so signally mismanaged, he confessed he should have the most gloomy forebodings as to the result. In the appointment of the distinguished nobleman who was about to proceed as Governor to Canada he derived a gleam of hope; it was but a faint one, for the task they were about to impose on that noble individual he feared was a superhuman one, namely, to bring men to relations of cordiality and friendship through the road of insult and oppression. They were about to ask the opinion of the Canadian people, through delegates to be chosen, as to the form of Government which might suit them best. What decision had they to expect but that which the result of repeated elections sufficiently shadowed forth? If Lord Durham were allowed to grant, if he should deem it indispensable, an elective Legislative Council to the Canadians, there would be no need of suspending their present constitution—the Canadians would recognise in that power, confided in hands so able the full desire of rendering them justice; but if they limited that power according to the tenor of the resolutions of last year, that under no circumstances it should be expedient to make the council thus elective, and if at the same time they showed the despotic animus by trampling on all the outward and visible signs of freedom, they might for a time coerce, but they never could conciliate; and the history of the present times would be doomed to read another 530 signal lesson of the impossibility of ruling by any political trickery or device in defiance of the wishes of a people.
said, it was with considerable reluctance he felt it his duty to give a vote upon this occasion in favour of a measure which he could not but admit trenched deeply on the constitutional liberty of a free people. As an Irish Member, he begged to deny the justice of the parallel which had been so frequently drawn during the debates on this question, between Ireland and Canada. For a long period Ireland had been afflicted with grievances of an extraordinary magnitude. But the people of Ireland had taken peaceable and constitutional means for the redress of those grievances; and he should blush for his countrymen had they broken out into such disloyal proceedings as the Canadians had unfortunately been induced to follow. With reference to the argument of the hon. Member for Bridport, that all our colonies should be emancipated, although of a very extreme nature, it was at all events candid and straightforward, and deserved fair consideration. Undoubtedly in the vicissitudes of human affairs, it was but natural that colonies should rise in power and vigour, as the mother country decayed, and, in the maturity of their strength, might be disposed to throw off the yoke, as they no longer needed the protection of the country whose supremacy, in earlier times, they did not dispute. But when a comparison was raised between the American war of independence and the present contest in Canada, let it be borne in mind that while the Americans struggled against the tyranny of the mother country, and had just and strong ground of complaint, the Canadians had rebelled against its authority without such powerful justification. In conclusion he must state, that he gave his support to the Ministerial measure, in the earnest hope that it would be effectually the means of putting an end to those unhappy disputes in Canada, and prevent the further effusion of human blood.
said, that, representing, as he did, a large constituency, he wished to say a very few words on the question before the House, before they went into committee on the Bill. It was well known that Mr. Roebuck had acted not only as the agent of the Canadians, but that that learned gentleman had also taken the 531 trouble to agitate the electors whom he represented on the subject. This agitation had been going on for some time, but, although the learned gentleman might have succeeded in getting a small portion of the electors to concur with him in his views, it was his duty to state to that House, that the great mass of the constituency of Westminster were strongly opposed to the line of conduct which the learned Gentleman had pursued. He thought it right to make this statement, lest the Canadian people should suppose that the sentiments expressed at the meetings which had taken place, were those of the electors of Westminster generally, and to prevent them being influenced by an impression so erroneous. He, with the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Coventry, was led to believe that nine-tenths of the parties who had engaged in the revolt were influenced by the encouragement which their ambitious and violent leaders had received from hon. Members of that House. He did not mean to impute to those hon. Members improper intentions; on the contrary, they were all men for whom he had a high respect, and with whom he had been in the habit of acting. They could not have contemplated the present result, and his regret was, that, notwithstanding that result, they should have adopted a train of argument which, instead of allaying, was calculated only to continue, the misfortunes of a country for which they professed to feel such deep interest. He, for one, would venture to express his hope, that that House would give their unanimous sanction to the present measure—that it should pass with one voice—in order that the misled Canadians might be convinced that they had no right to expect popular support from this country in their ill-judged attempt to throw off the constitution which had been imparted to them. He could assure them that any such attempt would be hopeless. Several observations had been made in the course of this debate which were calculated to encourage the Canadian people in the prosecution of their disloyal designs. It had been said, that the people of the United States participated in the feelings of the rebels in Canada, but he must declare, that this was perfectly erroneous. The accounts which had been received from Canada were opposed to all anticipations of that sort. The govern- 532 ment of the United States, as they all knew, was democratic in its principles, and if that government pursued a course which evinced nothing like sympathy for the rebels in Canada, had they not a right to conclude, that the popular opinion in the United States was the reverse of what had been stated? Although North America was under the rule of a democratic government, although the government of that country was subject to popular influence, still they had not seen the slightest symptom on the part of that Government of anything like Quixotic democracy in favour of the Canadian rebels. It was, no doubt, perfectly true, that the Americans were anxious to possess knowledge in military matters; but it was equally certain that they had always shown a disposition studiously to abstain from interfering in the contests of other countries. They were a calculating people, and, therefore, not likely to engage in any contest where they could not hope for profit as well as success. Without money he could tell them war could not be carried on, and he should like to know where Mr. Papineau, or any other of the rebel leaders, could find money? He would venture to say, that no means to pay soldiers were at the disposal of the leaders of the Canadian rebels, and that without a well supplied military chest, they would find a great paucity of soldiers. This was a point on which he could speak practically. But the policy of the government of the United States might be regarded as a key or index in the matter. That government had acted with praiseworthy forbearance, and as no improper or indefensible conduct could be attributed to the United States, it was evident the proceedings of the rebels were without justification in the estimation of the American people. He would not have trespassed on the attention of the House if he had not felt that a portion of the inhabitants of that part of the metropolis with which he was more immediately connected, had been misled on this subject; but, after the able discussion which had taken place in that House, he had no doubt that their eyes would be opened to the truth, and that they would speedily withdraw the encouragement which they had given—an encouragement which was calculated to influence the Canadians to persevere in their rebellious conduct. The hon. Member for 533 Wolverhampton had found fault with the hon. Member for Lincoln for having talked of "philosophical Radicals." He could see nothing offensive in the designation, and he believed, that many of the Radicals imagined themselves to be philosophers. Indeed, they had given proofs in the course of this debate, that they did, for many of them had pursued a line of argument in which the vulgar and uninitiated were totally unable to follow them. It had been said, that the speech of Mr. Roebuck had been but feebly answered. He thought that the learned gentleman had answered his own speech in some parts, while, in others, it had been completely refuted by other hon. Gentlemen; and, as to the remainder, that was totally unworthy of observation. The commencement of it was alarming undoubtedly: but, after the learned gentleman had charged the Government with high crimes and misdemeanors, his speech became inconclusive, vain, and impotent. The learned Gentleman began by avowing that he had nothing to do with revolts—that he had always discountenanced revolts. He said he had not forwarded the revolts of either the Poles, the Belgians, or the Spaniards; but it might be very well to declare that he had nothing to do with the revolt in Canada, because that was the subject with which this Bill had to do. He thought there were ample grounds for this Bill, and that some such measure would be reasonable, even if no revolt had taken place. It might be very convenient on the part of Mr. Roebuck to deny all connexion with the revolt in Canada, but, as far as regarded the revolution in Spain, it was well known that he gave his support to the government. It might be important to a man charged with an offence in a court of law to say, that he had nothing to do with the crime imputed to him, but, although this was frequently the case, it very often happened that the judges and jury were of contrary opinion and gave a different award. In one or two parts of his speech the learned Gentleman applauded the conduct of the House of Assembly as "wise and prudent," and said that they had "won all their demands from successive "Governments." If this were so, why had they not continued the same course, and, instead of resorting to a revolt, endeavoured to win what further they required by legal and constitutional means? But 534 what said the hon. Member for Leeds? He said that, although money was the only object of the Government, they had granted all the financial demands of the Canadians; but not until 1836. Why, they were now in 1838. The rev It took place in 1837; and if all the demands of the Canadians were granted in 1836, surely this was a fact which was decisive against not only the revolt, but those who supported it. It was, proved by a variety of circumstances that what the advocates of the Canadian people demanded was, a suppression of a part of the Government. One party wished the Legislative Council altered, and the other were desirous of having an alteration made in the House of Assembly. These matters showed how impossible it was for the Government to be carried on, and that fact constituted a strong argument in favour of some such measure as this. It was perfectly clear that for some years no statute authority existed in Canada, and for the last four or five years it might almost be said, that there had been no government in that colony. So far from exhibiting wisdom or prudence, the House of Assembly had evinced the very opposite character; for, not content with demanding redress, they had actually resorted to something like a declaration of war against all peace and order. This it was, that justified the present measure; and, in conclusion, he begged again to assure the House, that the opinion of the electors of Westminster was opposed to the conduct of the rebels.
§ Mr. Wakley
had heard with some surprise the soft and bland tones of the great warrior who had just spoken, and as he was his representative in that House, he would make one or two remarks in reference to what had fallen from that gallant General. He, in the first place, felt himself bound to state, that he represented a larger proportion of this metropolis than the gallant General, and the conduct of the Radical party in this assembly had given, so far as he had been able to learn, no dissatisfaction to his constituents. He spoke only from the information which he himself had acquired from his intimate connexion with his constituents. It could not be supposed that he would stand there in opposition to their will, when it was recollected that his position in that House was a very peculiar one, inasmuch as he considered himself pledged to resign his seat if ever he should be called on by a 535 majority of his constituents to do so. What, however, was the fact? He had not been reprimanded, he had not been scolded, he had not been teased by any portion of those whom he represented for his conduct relating to Canada. But he repudiated the assertion, he altogether denied, that those hon. Gentlemen who were called the Radical party, had in any respect advised or desired that the Canadians should proceed to extremities—that they should commit themselves to an open revolt in that country. The party to which he belonged knew but one circumstance that could justify revolt, and that was the certainty of success. [Laughter.] He was very glad that the Tories on the opposite side of the House laughed at that statement—he was glad to hear them laugh, but he feared they were chuckling over the blood which had been shed in Canada. [Oh, oh!] If by their cries of "oh!'' they meant to manifest their dislike of their proceedings in Canada—if by that exclamation they intended to express their abhorrence of the crimes that had been perpetrated in that country, why did they sanction the course of the Government that had led to that bloodshed? He charged the Government with that offence. The conduct of the Government was the sole cause of the revolt in Canada; no one circumstance admitted more completely of demonstration than did that. If those who heard him were blind to the fact, the people of England knew that it was by the provoking system of unjust legislation which had been followed, that they had allowed men to obtain the dominion over the minds of the Canadians that had produced the present unfortunate result. He would say that if the people were labouring under grievances which those who claimed the right of representing them were not disposed to redress, if they could command redress, if they had the means of insuring it, they would be justified in proceeding to extreme measures. It was, in his opinion, most unjust to assert that the people were to go on yielding a passive submission to their wrongs, instead of exercising the power they possessed to rid themselves of the evil. What induced the House to pass the Reform Bill? Not a moral force? No; it was the fear of the muscle and bone of the people. If the people had come forward and declared that they were very anxious for reform, but would never proceed to 536 extremities to obtain it, he should like to know what reform they would ever have obtained from this House? It was well understood what would give the Canadian people satisfaction; and would they yield it? No. They talked night after night about great principles, and a number of very "philosophical" speeches were made; but they were thrown away on that assembly. They were much in the situation of the old lady who, after reading nine or ten columns of a reported debate, said, she was not surprised that she could not understand what she was reading about, when she at last discovered that they had been debating for nine or ten hours whether the word "now" should stand part of a question. The people understood this question full well; they knew that the House would not manifest a disposition to act on popular principles till they were compelled to do so by the voice of the public. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who had made so soft a speech this evening was impressed with that belief formerly. He remembered having heard at the Crown and Anchor an oratorical display of his during the contest for reform, on which occasion he declared that "he had just left where there were 100,000 men ready to march towards the metropolis," "and," said he, "if need be, I am prepared to draw my sword in maintaining the rights and liberties of the country." It was such manifestations of spirit which had induced many to give their support to the gallant General. That hon. and gallant General had told them, that it was very difficult to carry on war without money; now his opinion was, that the gallant General knew it was much better to discontinue a war when he found he was without money. He denied that the people were indifferent upon the subject of Canada. He denied, too, what had been stated with respect to the Radical party having stimulated the Canadians to resistance. He hoped that the two quotations he was about to give would be communicated to the country. What he asked was, if the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, had formerly written upon the subject of Canadian grievances in 1829? He was very sorry that the noble Lord was not then in his place, as he should like to remind the noble Lord of the expressions he had used, as Mr. Stanley, in reference to a Canadian petition to that House:—"On the subject of 537 the Legislative Council, I do not hesitate to say, without any disrespect to, or reflection upon, the individuals who compose it, is at the root of all the evils complained of in both provinces." That was an opinion expressed by the noble Lord. It was followed by another: "In point of fact, the remedy is not one of enactment, but of practice; and a constitutional mode is open to the people of addressing for a removal of the advisers of the Crown, and refusing supplies, if necessary, to enforce their wishes. I do, however, think that something might be done, with great advantage, to give a more really responsible character to the Executive Council, which at present is a perfectly anomalous body, hardly recognised by the constitution, and effective chiefly as a source of patronage." Now he (Mr. Wakley) wished to ask if Mr. Roebuck had ever used, even in that House, language so exciting as that, or if he had ever given a recommendation so likely to produce revolt as that, if, indeed, the legitimate exercise of a constitutional power can at any time lead to revolt. That was the language of the noble-Lord in 1829, and yet the charge now against the Radicals was, that they had caused revolt. There was not the slightest proof of the accuracy of the charges. Now, looking to the causes of the calamity, what, he asked, were the remedies proposed? The wiser course would have been, in the outset, to have applied a remedy to acknowledged grievances. But what had they heard from the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) in opposing the Bill? He really did hope, from the seductive tone which that right hon. Baronet had assumed, that he intended to make a small bidding for Radical support in that House. That right hon. Baronet had, however, been quite candid, for he declared that he did not wish to see Canada governed on constitutional principles. The right hon. Baronet commenced with the correction at the eleventh line, where constitutional principles were first referred to, and it was evident that he desired to send Lord Durham as a despot to Canada, who was not to be embarrassed or annoyed by any of the trappings or frivolities of a representative system of Government. The part of the Bill objected to by the right hon. Baronet was the only question which the Radical party could look upon with favour. It 538 pledged the Government to continue the constitution in Canada. Now, he had heard with extreme regret the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department, shrink from the declaration which he made at the commencement of these proceedings. He understood the noble Lord to declare, first, to adhere to that part of the Bill, not to relax in his support of it; and afterwards, on second thoughts, to defer until to-morrow his determination as to the exact course he might pursue. This was a system of weakness and of vacillation which tended only to show that the measures of the Executive Government were brought forward without due consideration, and without weighing all the circumstances connected with it. He hoped the noble Lord would adhere to his first declaration—to the form of the Bill as it now stood, and not be alarmed by the appearance of a majority on the other side; and even if the noble Lord should find himself in a minority, he might calculate on the support of the people of England, Ireland, and Scotland. A disposition not to adhere to the popular portions of the Bill would be construed into a disposition not to maintain the representative system in Canada, and that if despotism could be found to work there, it would be persisted in. Such a course could only cover the Ministry with obloquy, and he believed that the secession of the present Ministry from office must be its speedy result.
did not intend at that late hour to go into a discussion of the merits of the Bill. The question before them was whether they should commit the Bill pro forma or not, and on that question an important discussion had arisen. The hon. Gentleman who had appeared at the bar of the House had completely failed in proving any grievances out of which the present disturbances had justly arisen. If any hon. Member had come to the House in doubt as to the course he should pursue, the speech delivered at the bar of the House would have removed all doubt from his mind. He tendered his thanks to the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, that on the present occasion he had pursued the manly course that always distinguished him, and had thrown expediency overboard, and that he had taken a course solely based on principle. The hon. Gentleman who had spoken last had insinuated 539 that those at that side of the House pursued their present course from a desire of popularity rather than from principle, but, if it was the desire of the right hon. Baronet to pursue party interests, instead of what was best for the country, it would have been easy for him to have taken a different course. He might have moved a resolution expressive of want of confidence in her Majesty's Government as to their conduct respecting Canada, and would thus have commanded the support of the Radical party in the House. But that was not a course which the right hon. Baronet could pursue, for it would be a course without dignity. The Bill before the House was not a Bill for the permanent government of Canada. It was introduced to allow the House time to legislate permanently for Canada. The opposition given to it deserved the character given by Mr. Burke to a similar course pursued with respect to a Bill for the conciliation of America. Mr. Burke had said, with respect to the opposition given to that Bill, it was like the conduct of forward children, who, when they did not get all they liked, would take nothing at all. On a former occasion he (Mr. Borthwick) had referred to the sympathy in this country with those principles out of which the present revolt had taken its rise. It was rather extraordinary that the noble Lord who was to be intrusted with the execution of this Bill, appeared to be one of those to whom the Canadians had been taught to look up to with extreme confidence, as entertaining Radical opinions. He, about a year and a half ago, had read in a Canadian newspaper, called the Vindicator, a prophecy as to the probable death of our late beloved and lamented Sovereign William 4th, and the accession of our present most gracious Queen. In that prophecy it was stated that, on the accession of her Majesty to the throne, her councils would be filled by Mr. O'Connell, Mr. Hume, Mr. Roebuck, and Lord Durham. This paper was an organ of the popular party in Canada, and spoke their opinions. He believed that this opinion thus expressed did injustice to the noble Lord, as most assuredly it did to the royal Person now on the throne of those realms. He would not detain the House. His purpose was to appeal to the right hon. Baronet, who that night had earned for himself so goodly a laurel, whether he would permit her Majesty's Ministers to 540 escape from the condition in which they were placed? Without his aid they would not be able to carry on the Government. By the course the right hon. Baronet had taken, they were reduced to the necessity of keeping their places at his dictation, and governing the country as his instrument, and under his direction. The country would now see in whom confidence was to be placed. He intended on a future occasion to call the attention of the House to the connexion between the present disturbances and the revolutionary spirit that was encouraged in this country. He recollected on a former occasion, persons in station and authority encouraged the charges that were made against the Orange Society by the hon. Member for Kilkenny, and even went, so far as to impute to that body a treasonable design to set aside the succession to the throne. How well had those charges been repelled. Who were in Canada rushing forward to support the authority of the Crown, but those who were called Orangemen, and who gave their ready aid to defend the rights and authority of her Majesty against those persons who were foremost in propagating those charges against the loyalty of the Orangemen. This was a proud triumph to those bodies who had been thus subjected to charges so calumnious and unfounded. He thanked the House for the attention with which he had been listened to.
§ Mr. D. Callaghan
said, that the constituency which he represented felt much sympathy for the sufferings of the Canadian people. On the occasion when the resolutions of the noble Lord were before the House, he did not vote for them, as he had not been able to make up his mind on the subject. Those resolutions appeared to be the cause of what had since occurred. He did not think that there was a case sufficient to justify a suspension of the Constitution. An attempt was made to draw a comparison between Ireland and Canada, but there was this difference, that, whilst successive Administrations had refused to acknowledge the grievances of Ireland, those of Canada had not only been acknowledged, but attempts had been made to redress them. He was not the advocate of armed resistance, and deeply regretted what had taken place. The revolt appeared to have been put down, and he did not think that there was a sufficient case to justify him in supporting 541 a measure to suspend the constitution of Canada, and he must vote against the present measure for that purpose.
§ Lord Dungannon (late Mr. A. Trevor)
thought it right that the country should know that the present Government were not able to carry on their measures without falling back upon the support of the right hon. Baronet. They had been forced to look for support to that side of the House, for a storm was passing over their heads which they would find it difficult to dispel. They were now beginning to feel the effect of those principles to which they had too long given encouragement. The hon. Member for Finsbury Lad made a most extraordinary declaration—that a revolt was justifiable provided only it was successful. There were times when no man would have dared to avow such a doctrine in that House. If the present. Government were to continue in office to whom were they to look for support? They would owe that support altogether to the right hon. Baronet and those who with him, acted on principle, and not party spirit. Were the right hon. Baronet occupying a seat on the opposite benches how different would be the conduct of hon. Gentlemen opposite! Would they give that support to him which they were glad to receive from him now? They had brought forward a measure which they could only carry by the support of that (the Opposition) side of the House. The country would now see to whom its confidence was to be given. They would see whether they were to continue to look to the present ministry, or to those who, in times of difficulty and danger, were able to guide the vessel of the State. The present Government had to thank themselves for the difficulties in which they were at present placed. There never was a Government in a more contemptible position. He repeated there never was a Government equally contemptible. Without the support they received from that side of the House, they would not be able to hold office for a single day. The country would see that confidence was only to be placed in those who were the friends of peace and good order. For his part, he would pursue the course adopted by the right hon. Baronet, in whom he had the most implicit confidence, and by whose aid alone the circumstances that had arisen could be brought to a happy conclusion.
§ Sir William Somerville
would trespass 542 for a few moments on the attention of the House. He had hitherto given his support to Ministers on this question, although he confessed that it was with the greatest reluctance he gave his support to such a measure; but the question was so surrounded by difficulties that he thought it the best that could be adopted under the circumstances. He had, however, been confirmed in his intention to support them by the censures which had been passed on the measure by the hon. Gentlemen opposite. They had censured Ministers not for what they had, but what they had not, done—they censured them for not having proceeded with greater vigour; but it was that very forbearance and humanity which induced him to continue his confidence in ministers throughout the progress of this important question. At that late hour of the night he would not trouble the House at greater length, but he could not sit down without protesting against the parallel which some hon. Members had attempted to draw between the cases of Canada and Ireland. What where the pigmy wrongs of Canada to the afflictions under which Ireland had laboured for centuries? Canada had no expensive Church Establishment, supported by a Dissenting population. Canada had not been refused a participation in municipal privileges. Canada complained of misgovernment for three or four years, but Ireland had groaned under it for centuries. Having thus entered his protest against his parallel he had only to say that his confidence in Ministers would induce him to continue his support to the bill.
§ Bill committed pro forma.