§ Lord John Russell
said: I wish to address some observations to the House with respect to the course we mean to pursue relative to this Bill. I stated yesterday my view of the case, in reference to what fell from my right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry; and I certainly said, that I should be prepared this day, after consultation with my colleagues, to state the mode in which the Government meant to proceed with respect to the Bill, and the amendments proposed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for Tamworth. Accordingly, Sir, the whole subject has been considered by her Majesty's servants, and I have now to state their opinion of the manner in which we ought to proceed on this Bill. It was the anxious wish of her Majesty's Government that Parliament might have the opportunity of considering the whole of this subject and the whole policy intended to be pursued. No one, I think, has found fault with that proceeding. Indeed, the only fault which was mentioned on the first night's discussion was stated by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and amounted to this, that we had not brought forward the question in a more solemn manner by a message from the Crown, asking the advice of Parliament on the subject. Sir, without taking that mode of proceeding, yet I do think it right that the whole policy to be pursued should coincide with the view of Parliament, and that Parliament should be called on to pronounce its opinion respecting it. In pursuing this view we certainly have placed ourselves in difficulties with respect to the manner in which that advice should be asked. I am ready to admit, that part of that policy being to exercise the prerogative of the Crown, that either to enact or place in 544 the preamble of the Bill a recognition of that policy, is a departure from the ordinary usages of Parliament, but one in which we thought we were justified by the extraordinary nature of the occasion. But, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman opposite has questioned this mode of proceeding, and has found fault both with the form and substance of what we propose; and my right hon. Friend, the Member for Coventry, has called on us very emphatically to declare whether we consider ourselves bound to the preamble as an essential part of the measure. Now, with respect to the nature of our proceeding, I certainly am ready to say that it is not in accordance with the ordinary forms of the House; and with respect even to its substance, I am ready to declare, as I did on a former debate, that the words proposed by the right hon. Gentleman secure that which we think essential to be secured in a Bill of this nature; that while you propose to suspend the constitutional liberties of the province of Lower Canada, you declare at the same time that it is with a view to a permanent arrangement on which those rights and liberties may be maintained and secured. Sir, there is another question on which we felt a far greater difficulty, and as to which I stated our difficulty last night. It was, that having placed in the preamble of this Bill a recognition of part of the policy that we propose to pursue, an alteration in the preamble by which that part was omitted would seem to be an implied condemnation of our policy. Her Majesty's Government have again seriously considered this matter. Now, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman's declarations on this subject are of exceeding importance, and, in fact, on such declarations as are made by the Members of this House much of our future proceedings will of course depend. The right hon. Gentleman has, as I understood him, declared that he objected to the policy proposed to be pursued, and which was contained in an extract of a dispatch written by Lord Glenelg to Lord Durham, prescribing to Lord Durham, if he thought fit, that he may, in a certain manner pointed out, take the opinion and advice of persons representing the other inhabitants in Upper and Lower Canada. Now if the right hon. Gentleman had gone any further than this, and asserted that in his opinion that policy is faulty and likely to be so injurious to the country that he could not agree to it, then undoubtedly it would have been the duty either of himself or of 545 some other Member who agreed with him to have proposed to this House, now assembled for the purpose, and at present for the sole purpose of advising the Crown in this emergency, to declare, by some address or resolution to the Crown, that this House advised her Majesty not to sanction such a course of policy. But I have not heard the right hon. Gentleman go that length of condemnation. On the contrary, if I recollect rightly what he said yesterday evening, and in which he can now correct me if I be mistaken, his declaration was, that although he did not agree in the particular mode pointed out in the instructions, that he considered it a matter within the prerogative of the Crown on which the immediate advisers of the Crown ought to be responsible, and of which responsibility he would not relieve them by taking any share or admitting any participation on the part of this House in the plan which we submit. Such being the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman, we have felt it our duty to come to this conclusion, that with respect to the preamble itself, so far as the Bill is concerned, and looking to the importance of those considerations which my right hon. Friend behind me suggested last night, we do not think that the Bill of itself will be materially injured by an alteration in the preamble to the effect proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. Sir, with respect to the policy itself which is proposed to be pursued, we have communicated that policy to Parliament both by our speeches, and by a communication, with her Majesty's command, of that part of the dispatch containing instructions to the Earl of Durham. These instructions are, that he be at liberty, if he think fit, to consult with the province in a certain manner which is stated. Now, if those opposed to that part of the preamble which it is proposed to omit, if they entirely differ from that policy, we think that it is incumbent on them, if they extend their condemnation to the point I have stated, to offer their advice to the Throne, and to state in this House by some definitive motion a condemnation of the policy which we have so openly declared; if, on the contrary, their opinion is that it is a subject on which the House of Commons need not interfere, and that we ought not to involve the House of Commons in our responsibility on this question, but that they are content to leave it to the advisers of the Crown, why then, Sir, we consider on a view of this whole subject, that we are bound to 546 abide by the responsibility, and to consider the House of Commons as willing to allow the matter so to rest. In short, Lord Durham, in proceeding to Lower Canada, will proceed there with our instructions, and will not consider his discretion fettered by any resolution or any vote which has been come to by this House on the subject. With respect to the Bill, the governor of Lower Canada, no doubt, would be satisfied with the Bill as it is proposed to be amended. With respect to the proceedings of this House, if no proceeding be taken, of course there cannot be intended to be conveyed any censure by the House of Commons of the proposed policy of the Ministers. I am glad to think that there is a very great interest taken on this subject by this House, and that so many Gentlemen, animated, no doubt, solely with the view to the proper settlement of this question, have attended the House at this stage of the proceeding. And, Sir, as there is a great attendance of Members, I will take this oppportunity of stating again, not what are the precise and particular instructions with respect to that part of our policy to which the preamble adverts, but what is the general nature of the policy proposed to be pursued. It has always seemed to us that, with regard to this subject, while it was our duty to call on the House to suppress all appearance of resistance to authority, and while it was our duty to provide for carrying on the government in Canada, that we ought not to be parties in any way to the supposition that the great body of French Canadian inhabitants of Lower Canada, or any other part of the inhabitants of Lower Canada, were to be made the subjects of proscription or injustice in a body in consequence of what has taken place. It is our view, therefore, that in any future settlement with regard to the affairs of Lower Canada, the wishes and opinions of the people inhabiting that province should be duly consulted. Sir, if there ever was a time when it was necessary to say this, I think it is necessary to do so at the present time. I think it necessary to do so in order that when the insurrection, which Sir J. Colborne has met with so much energy and promptitude is declared by him now to be almost at an end, shall be completely ended, the angry feelings aroused, and naturally aroused, in those who were the objects of enmity in that province shall not form the rule and guide of the power representing Great Britain in that province. Sir, I feel this 547 because I differ widely and totally from the morality lately laid down at the bar of this House, and echoed within this House, that success is the only criterion of the justice of rebellion. I am not prepared to agree to a code by which John Hampden and Jack Cade shall be placed on the same level, and by which Massaniello of Naples would be covered with eternal laurels, and Algernon Sydney consigned to everlasting infamy. I am not prepared, therefore, whilst I do not estimate the merits of insurrection by success, to estimate guilt by failure. I consider still, as I did at the commencement of this insurrection, that the greater part of those who were led into it were so led chiefly by ignorance, partly by the ill construction of the powers of the government in Lower Canada, and partly by the arts and seductions of an ambitious party in that country, who made these unfortunate and simple people the tools of their machinations. In any settlement that is made in the affairs of Lower Canada their interests ought to be fully and fairly consulted. I stated, therefore, to the House that it is part of our policy when tranquillity shall be restored, and when the general opinions can be gathered, in whatever method they may be gathered (and that is a point into which I shall not now enter), they should be communicated to Parliament, and that we should not appear to be forcing on them a charter which by them may be considered a badge of slavery, but that we should rather try and come to some settlement according with their habits, agreeable to their notions, and likely to secure tranquil government for the future. This, therefore, is an essential part of the policy we mean to propose. I do not think it will be possible otherwise to carry on the government in such a manner that this House can be reconciled to its justice. Those who have seen some of the newspapers that have lately come from Upper and Lower Canada must be aware how highly irritated the feelings of some parties in the province are, and what a disposition there is to push victory to excess. I wish to state to the House that in abandoning—as I am ready to abandon—that part of the preamble of the Bill which is objected to, I still think that the position of the Governor sent from this country as was stated in the first debate which we had on this subject by the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Newark, who has always spoken with the greatest ability on this question—should be such that he may stand as me- 548 diator between the two adverse and extreme parties. I am of opinion, that by that means only can peace be preserved. I am of opinion that by such means only, and by preserving our supremacy over the province, can the permanent prosperity of its people be preserved. I am not afraid, as some of those who live in that country seem to be, that in the long run, the people of British descent will be permanently oppressed by the ancient inhabitants. My opinion is, that if we secure not only to the British, but the ancient settlers, every right and privilege they ought to possess, that they may live together in peace and harmony; and in the end I do hope —for I must express this hope—that if they have a constitutional government, that the British feelings and opinions which I have always considered the safest foundation of constitutional government—which are more essential to its proper working than any articles or provisions that may be inserted in it—I do hope that those feelings may pervade the province of Lower Canada, and that actuated by them the people of Canada will carry on their constitutional government with the freedom and liberality, but likewise, I trust, with the temper and moderation, which has always distinguished the Parliament of this country. Because, in this country, with the exception of some extreme contests, though there has been every assertion of freedom on the one hand, there has been a willingness on the other to give the Government every power which could enable it to act as a Government, but not to admit a licence fatal to the existence of the constitution. I have now stated what I propose to do as regards the preamble of the Bill. With respect to the clause, which the right hon. Baronet has given notice of his intention to move the omission of, namely, the clause giving power to the Queen in Council to repeal the Bill, I am still of opinion that it is in itself defensible.; because power has been given on several occasions to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, to proclaim certain districts under coercive laws, and be had been invested with power also to mitigate the severity of that law at his discretion: I, therefore, see no objection to the principle of the Queen in Council being enabled to repeal this Bill. But when I say this, I am likewise of opinion that if any objection is taken in Parliament to give such a power to the Crown—if it is assumed that Parliament ought to retain this power—I think that Parliament has 549 not only a right to decide the question, but further, that no such legislative power ought to be given to the Crown without the entire, or at least all but the unanimous, voice of Parliament. For these reasons I shall not object to the omission of this clause. [Loud cheers.] I perceive, Sir, that this declaration of mine is received with great cheering on the other side of the House, which would almost induce me to suppose that there are some persons in this House who, notwithstanding the magnitude of this subject, do not look solely and entirely to a happy settlement of the affairs of Lower Canada—that there really are some persons who have a party purpose to answer in their support of the right hon. Baronet opposite. Sir, if that is not the case, I am extremely happy to hear it; because then I may naturally hope that there will be nearly a unanimous settlement of this subject—because, with respect to the suggestions made as to two parts of the Bill, not essential parts, I am willing to accede to the proposition of the right hon. Baronet, as I understand him to say that any powers necessary for carrying on the Government and legislation of Lower Canada he is willing to grant. Any powers beyond those absolutely necessary to enable the Governor-General to carry on the Government of Canada I do not desire, nor, therefore, do I insist on them—as the right hon. Gentleman is willing to grant us the chief provision of our Bill, comprising all the material powers we seek. But, Sir, besides the powers in the Bill itself, there is the question of the policy embodied in the instructions to Lord Durham, which have been communicated to this House. Sir, with respect to that policy, I declare that we maintain it, that we stand by that policy, and that, though we accept the amendments of the right hon. Baronet, we do not abandon the policy which we have taken up. Sir, I am only adopting the sentiments and uttering, imperfectly, language which I have heard from those opposite, when I declare that, on a subject of this kind, if there is a want of confidence in the policy to be pursued, that want of confidence ought to be constitutionally declared; that if instructions given to a public servant are considered worthy of condemnation, it is for those who purpose to condemn them, to make a specific motion, expressive of their sentiments. I repeat, Sir, that I stand here to declare that we will carry out our policy, that we do not mean to abandon any essential part of it; but at the same 550 time, I wish it to be seen that we do not desire to maintain the proposition which has been so much opposed. Then, Sir, I maintain that we are not making any extraordinary or unwarrantable assumption—that we are not bringing the prerogative unduly to bear upon the privileges of this House—when we conceive ourselves justified in concluding that if no condemnation is pronounced, no condemnation is intended, and that, therefore, our discretion is left entirely free. Sir, with these observations, I believe, I may close the statement of the course which we intend to take with respect to this Bill. I will again say, if there is any part of the Bill which gives the Governor-General an exorbitant power, not necessary for carrying on the Government, we wish the clauses to be amended in that respect; but I do hope that this House will take care that they establish a Government in Canada capable of inspiring respect; and that they will see that they do not, in their course on this Bill, renounce the hope, and I trust the well-founded hope, of restoring or erecting a constitutional Government in that country,
§ Sir R. Peel
Sir, when I first became possessed of the bill of the noble Lord for making a temporary provision for the Government of Lower Canada, I availed myself of the earliest possible opportunity of giving public notice that there were two provisions in that bill to which I entertained insuperable objections; and that it was my intention to move amendments to those provisions, and to take the sense of the House for the purpose of having the deliberate decision of Parliament on the subject. I took the course—rather an unusual one—of giving notice of the amendments which it was my intention to propose, for the express purpose of disclaiming any advantage from concealment, and of enabling the noble Lord to take the measures which are usually taken on important questions, to secure such an assemblage of Members as should clothe the decision of this House with the important character of numbers. From the first I never entertained the slightest doubt that I should succeed. I felt so satisfied that the amendments which I intended to pro-pose were founded on reason and common sense, that I paid the House of Commons the compliment of believing that they could not resist the adoption of them. And when I heard hon. Gentlemen on the other side say that the very words in the 551 preamble to which I objected constitued in their eyes the chief, if not the sole recommendation of the measure, and when I read in the organs of government, denunciations of my motives and feelings, my confidence in ultimate success was not in the slightest degree diminished. Nay, when I heard the noble Lord last night say, in speaking of my objections, that if they were objections of form he would withdraw his opposition to them, but that if they were objections of substance he should feel some difficulty on the subject: and when I thereupon declared that my objections were not objections of form, but objections of substance, still my confidence in the reasonableness of my proposition was not in the least abated; and I felt perfectly satisfied that either by the vote of a majority, or by the voluntary adoption of my amendments on the part of the Government, reason would prevail, and the objectionable clauses would be struck out of this bill. Sir, my confidence has been justified by the result; for I understand the noble Lord to declare, that he is prepared to adopt, without qualification, the propositions I have made. It is, therefore, wholly unnecessary for me now to declare what my own views and intentions are. To preclude misconstruction, however, I will add that, I did not propose to move for the simple omission of the preamble of the bill, but I expressly stated what was the substitute I proposed, that in lieu of the preamble of the noble Lord; there should be inserted words to this effect:—"That temporary provision should be made for the Government of Canada in order that Parliament might be enabled after mature deliberation, to make permanent provision for the constitution and government of Canada." I did not say, for the Government merely; and I inserted the word "constitution" expressly to imply that the government should be a constitutional one. I added "that the basis should be a permanent one," and also "that the basis should be one which would secure the rights and liberties and promote the interests of all classes of her Majesty's subjects." By using the words "interests of all classes of her Majesty's subjects" I did mean to claim for Parliament the right of taking a comprehensive view of the whole subject, of considering the claims of British subjects, and of providing, by the establishment of a representative system, for the protection of British pro- 552 perty and feelings. By the words "rights and liberties" I expressly meant to imply that every right which the French Canadians now possess, either by capitulation or by treaty, should be strictly preserved to them—that those rights in respect to religion, and in respect to every peculiar privilege derived from capitulation or treaty should be preserved to them. I also intended to imply that the French Canadians and the British Canadians by birth should be secured in the enjoyment of a free constitutional government founded on this basis; that while it was a government established on free and constitutional principles, it should also be a government possessed of the means of defence in any case of emergency, and of providing in every respect for the good government of Canada. There can be no common interest between all parties unless such a government be established. It cannot be expected that we should undertake a charge of defending the colony in time of war, unless we are assured that there is a disposition existing in it to cultivate our connection; and if our interests are endangered, to sacrifice all minor considerations to their support. I do not now think it necessary to refer to the amendment which I proposed, and which was framed expressly for the purpose of comprehending the views which I have just explained. The noble Lord has entered (in my opinion somewhat unnecessarily) into his views of the principles of policy upon which Canada ought to be governed. In some respects I entirely agree with the noble Lord. It appears to me to be most important that the British Government should appear in Canada in an amiable light; that it should appear in the light of an arbiter between the contending parties. I am not disposed to leave the arrangements which it will be necessary to make to persons who are in a state of exasperation; exasperation to a certain extent, perhaps just and excusable, but still exasperation. Sir, it is because this is my opinion that I think the British Government in Canada ought to have been placed in such a position as to have been enabled to enforce its own policy, and to have maintained a due respect for the dignity of the law and for the honour of the Crown, not by the voluntary exertions of the inhabitants, however laudable, but by a British military force, disclaiming all participation in the feelings or views of 553 either party, and solicitous only to maintain the legal and constitutional authorities. Sir, it is because I agree in the noble Lord's present policy that I am disposed to condemn his former policy with reference to this subject, and to express my surprise that the noble Lord did not foresee the great probability that the resolutions to which we agreed last spring might, on their reaching Canada, occasion an outbreak of party feeling, and produce an excitement and violence, the only way to allay which would be a temperate exhibition of strength on the part of the Government. The noble Lord says—taking a different view of the subject from that which he took yesterday—that as no inconvenience will arise from the omission of the words which it is now proposed to leave out of the bill, no reflection can be cast on her Majesty's Government for the course which they have pursued. "But," adds the noble Lord, "if you object to our policy it is your duty to propose a vote of censure upon us." Now, my principle is that we have nothing whatever to do with the policy of her Majesty's Government on this subject. I am not to call in question the exercise of the royal prerogative in the appointment by the Crown of the Earl of Durham as governor-general of Canada. That noble Earl has been selected by the Crown for that situation; and, Sir, I know too well the importance of maintaining the prerogatives of the Crown not to check the first attempt to call in question, without a very grave necessity indeed, the exercise of such a prerogative. I shall act consistently with the same principle with reference to the instructions which have been given to Lord Durham by her Majesty's Government. I will not notice those instructions. I will not recognise them. I will propose no vote of censure upon them. For, were I to do so, and were I to select the parts in which, in my opinion we ought to concur, and parts which, in my opinion, we ought to condemn, I should place myself, a mere Member of Parliament, in the situation of an adviser of the Crown. If I exercise the right of unqualified censure and condemnation, I ought to exercise the right of qualified censure and condemnation; and in detailed instructions it is impossible that every part should be equally open to remark. Now, what would be the consequence of that? That I should claim 554 for the House of Commons a participation in the exercise of the prerogative of the Crown; and a most dangerous precedent it would be, if we were thus to pronounce, à priori, an opinion on the policy of Government. So I tell the noble Lord that he need not expect that any vote of condemnation will proceed from me. I abstain from that vote on the same principle with reference to the instructions which have been given to Lord Durham as that on which I abstain from it with reference to the bill under our consideration. As to the instructions themselves I do not think we ought ever to have seen them. I will in no shape by any public proceeding contract any responsibility on the subject; but it may save time if I tell the noble Lord that I hold her Majesty's Government entirely responsible with reference to it, and that my being in possession of the instructions in question, and yet maintaining silence upon them, in no way renders me responsible. I retain the right of questioning the policy of those instructions as if I had never seen them; and still more, I declare, as far as my private opinion is concerned, although I do not mean to record that opinion by any vote, that of all the public documents I ever met with I think that these instructions to Lord Durham are the most eminently absurd. In the first place, let me ask hon. Members if they do not think it would have been more consistent with common sense to have waited until the last moment of the noble Earl's remaining in England before communicating to him those instructions. If, Sir, I had determined on adopting a different course, I should have proposed a kind of centre-projet to the instructions, commencing with some such terms as these:—"My Lord, I have postponed until the latest moment giving your Lordship any instructions with respect to the course and policy of your proceedings in Canada. I have waited for the latest arrivals from that colony, in order to ascertain by them what is the existing condition of Canada, what are the opinions of various persons with reference to that condition, and what are the best means which offer themselves for securing the object of your Lordship's mission." But even now, if I were to address the noble Earl officially on the subject, I should say "As Parliament has thought fit to intrust to your Lordship immense powers, à fortiori I think it is 555 incumbent on me to leave your Lordship at liberty as to the mode of exercising your powers on your arrival in the colony. So far from fettering your Lordship, who will not sail until the first of April, with instructions dated on the 20th of January, instructions implying a total want of confidence in your own means of obtaining information in the country, and dictating to you how many advisers you shall collect from this council, and how many from that; how many from Upper Canada, and how many from Lower Canada, I content myself with slating to you generally the object which her Majesty's Government have in view, having full confidence that when your Lordship arrives on the spot where your operations are to be carried on you will soon be much better qualified to give effect to our intentions than we can be qualified at present to instruct you." Would it not be more consistent with common sense thus to leave Lord Durham to act according to the dictates of his own judgment, when he arrives in Canada, and when he is put in full possession of the existing state of affairs in that colony, of which it ought to be presumed that he will be a competent judge, than to embarrass him with these previous instructions. When the noble Lord opposite, therefore, challenges me to give my opinion of these instructions, although, I will not put that opinion in a formal shape and place it on record, I am perfectly ready to declare it, and to offer it to the noble Lord as the index of the course which I may hereafter pursue with reference to this subject. By those instructions her Majesty's Government leave the noble Lord no option. He must either have no meeting of councillors at all, or exactly such a meeting as they prescribe to him. He is either to have no committee of advice, or he is to have such a committee of advice as her Majesty's Government have dictated to him. Now, suppose the noble Lord on his arrival in the colony should find that a great change has taken place in the disposition of the members of the Legislative Assembly; suppose they say to him, "We find that we have been deceived, and we are now ready to conform to the wishes of the British Legislature," is the noble Lord then to call together all the constituent body in the five districts of each province—a body of which we were last night told by the hon. Member for Coventry that not two in a hundred can 556 read and write—is the noble Lord to call that body together for the purposes described in the instructions. Would it not be wiser to leave the governor-general on his arrival at the seat of his government, and after he has been put in possession of all the facts of the case, and has collected the opinions of the various authorities on the subject, to act as he may think proper, rather than on the 20th of January to tie him down to any particular course? I repeat, then, frankly that although I will not propose a vote of censure on these instructions, my condemnation of them is not the less unqualified; and, confident as I was in the success of the motion of which I gave notice with reference to the Bill before us, I am equally confident that her Majesty's Government will find themselves compelled to withdraw these instructions. I say that these instructions ought not to be maintained; I say they cannot be maintained. If you wish for conciliation in Canada you will not maintain instructions directing the Governor-general to select three Members from the Legislative Council of Upper Canada, and to invite the House of Assembly of Upper Canada to nominate ten of its members, not for the purpose of giving the Governor advice with respect to the affairs of Upper Canada, but for the purpose of uniting with individuals selected from the Legislative Council of Lower Canada, and elected by the constituent body of the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada, to consider, among other matters "the provision that should be made to meet the necessary expenses of the civil Government in Lower Canada, the state of the law affecting the tenure of landed property in that province, and the establishment of a court for the trial of appeals and impeachments." All these topics, be it observed, are exclusively interesting to Lower Canada. Why introduce into the Committee of advice thirteen persons from Upper Canada, whose very presence may possibly excite irritation? I ask any reasonable man whether such an instruction as this is not, at least, more than necessary? If the noble Earl should arrive in the colony in May, he will be the best judge of what in the existing state of the position of the colony and the feelings of the people, it is expedient for him to do. Would it not be a wiser course to leave the noble Lord to his own discretion, instead of saying to 557 him, "If you call a Committee of advice, it shall consist of such and such persons; and, although the subjects on which the advice of the Committee is to be given concern exclusively Lower Canada, thirteen of the Members of the Committee must be Upper Canadians?" Sir, after the challenge of the noble Lord to state my opinion of these instructions, it would be uncandid and dishonest on my part were I to abstain from declaring that I consider the manner in which her Majesty's Government propose to proceed calculated to rouse opposition to their own measures and to obstruct what may perhaps be found to be a very desirable object, the union of Upper and Lower Canada. On that ground, Sir, I object to her Majesty's Government making known their instructions to Lord Durham. But why have they done so? If they adhere to the proper and constitutional course, they would not have communicated his instructions to the noble Lord until he was ready to sail; but they found it necessary to publish these premature instructions for the purpose of propping up their abominable preamble. This has driven them to the melancholy expedient of giving the Governor-general of a colony his instructions three months before the period of his sailing; but I tell them, with the same confidence with which I predicted the success of my amendments to the Bill, that they will be obliged to repeal their instructions. To those instructions, however, I totally disclaim making any allusion otherwise than as stating my private opinion respecting them. Sir, I might urge other reasons for condemning those instructions. I am not willing that Parliament should part with the power or the means of entering more deeply into the question of our North American provinces. We may find it necessary to institute an inquiry at the bar of this House into circumstances connected with those provinces. It is possible that we may consider it advisable to unite the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, and Prince Edward's Island with the two Canadas, each province having a domestic Government, but all externally pursuing a common interest, and prepared to defend that interest when involved in difficulty and exposed to danger. If this could be accomplished, if the time should come when the plan that I have hinted at may be carried into effect, I can easily 558 conceive that great advantages would be the result. Those colonies have for many years been the outlet of the superabundant population of this country, a population carrying with them reminiscences of old England that must occasionally break out in the expression of feeling; and which, in spite of the French Canadians, and in spite of the neighbouring democratic states, would in all probability in the hour of danger to that mother country, whose language they speak and whose institutions they admire, induce them to rally them round our standard, and to share the difficulties and perils of foreign war. Let us not then tie up the hands of Parliament from entering into any investigation from which such beneficial results may at some future period be derivable; and for that reason I am unwilling to confine the considerations connected with this subject merely to the union of the two Canadas. Notwithstanding the comparative weakness of our other North American colonies their union would add to the strength of each, and would tend to elevate them in the scale of civilisation. I will not. abandon the hope that such a union may some day be formed; and to facilitate its formation, I would fortify the British interests in Canada, leaving them the full possession of their rights but retaining in our own hands the means of providing for the good Government of the province.
did not rise to answer the right hon. Baronet, but to declare to his noble Friend how certain he felt that his noble Friend's concession, in withdrawing that part of the preamble of the Bill to which the right hon. Baronet objected, would produce a most beneficial effect, by the almost unanimous vote on the question that would be the result. As he had stated last night, he saw no difficulty in reconciling this concession with the perfect preservation of the principles of the Bill. Both parties agreed that to the noble Earl to whom was to be intrusted the arduous task of reconciling the differences in Lower Canada, and establishing a free and liberal Government, the fullest means of obtaining the best information as to the general feelings and wishes of the people of the colony should be allowed. Knowing that there was that agreement on the subject between the two parties, he had anticipated that the question might be determined without having recourse to any division. In the opinions 559 which had been stated by his noble Friend below him he fully concurred. He would be the last man in the world to advocate any attempt to settle the constitution of Canada not founded on a determination to respect and protect all the rights, privileges, and liberties of the people. He perfectly agreed, also, with the right hon. Baronet that every right which they possessed by capitulation, or by treaty, or with reference to the principles of justice, should be secured to the French Canadians. All that they had to do was to proceed upon that principle. He cared little about the fate of the preamble which had been given to the Bill, neither did he feel disposed to enter into the details of the instructions which the ministers of the Crown had thought fit to give to their representative upon their own responsibility. He might possibly agree more with the right hon. Baronet than with her Majesty's Ministers. There was no reason why he should not state fairly to the House that he had been opposed to the preamble from the very first. He had never concealed his opposition to it; her Majesty's Ministers had been fully aware of his feelings upon the subject long before his declaration of last evening. He agreed with the right hon. Baronet more than with her Majesty's Ministers upon this point, that it would have been better to have introduced the Bill with a simple statement of the principles upon which it was founded and the objects which it had in view, and then for the noble Lord to have asked his friends for that confidence which every Government had a right to expect as regarded the giving sufficient instructions to the representative whom they should choose to carry the measure into effect. It was true that his hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, in proffering his support to the Bill, or rather in stating the reasons why he should not oppose it, stated, that he did so with the fullest approbation of the principles set forth in the preamble; and the hon. Member for Finsbury stated, that the only part of the Bill which he liked was that which declared that the Canadians should be consulted with respect to the nature of the free constitution which they were to receive. Why that was the only part of the proceeding which he liked. He would not vote for a measure of coercion unless he entertained the fullest confidence in the Government who introduced it—he 560 would not vote for it unless he felt satisfied that it was intended to have only a temporary operation, and that the suspended rights and liberties of the Canadian people would be restored at the earliest possible period that the well-being and peace of the country would permit. If it could be supposed that any part of that principle were to be abandoned in consequence of the abandonment of the preamble, he was not prepared to say that he could have supported the proposition of the right hon. Baronet; but, as he said last night, he foresaw from the first that they were all agreed as to the principle upon which they were to proceed. With respect to the future prospects of these extensive colonies, and to the possibility of ultimately uniting them, he must say that he fully coincided in the views and opinions expressed by the right hon. Baronet. But at the present moment, in the present excited state of feeling in the colonies, he thought it would be unwise, and possibly dangerous, to instruct the Earl of Durham to call a convention of the several states to discuss that topic. To propose an union of all the British North American provinces at the present moment would perhaps be the most inflammable topic that could be introduced. There would always, indeed, be great difficulty in bringing such a measure about on account of the different feelings, different laws, and different interests which existed in the different provinces. There were, besides, other feelings arising out of the late unhappy conflict which would render any proposition for effecting an union of all the provinces highly unadvisable without further and most mature consideration. But though it were impossible to accomplish so desirable an object at the present moment, it would be highly desirable that the Government at home should adopt towards the colonies such a course of policy as should tend to unite their various interests, to obliterate old prejudices, and to establish among them such an identity of interest and feeling as should ultimately admit of their being permanently united. He was sure that much might be done towards that end; he was sure that such a foundation might now be laid as would secure at no distant day the full attainment of that desirable end. As he stated last night, he wished to abstain entirely from any expression of party feelings. He could not discuss 561 this question as a party question. It was too vitally important to be regarded or debated as a party question. He was sure that the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) would give him credit for the tone and manner in which he had spoken upon the subject. He rejoiced that his noble Friend had acted upon the advice which he (Mr. Ellice) ventured to give him last evening and had reconsidered the preamble. He rejoiced, too, at the course which his noble Friend, in consequence of that reconsideration, had determined to adopt. He (Mr. Ellice) foresaw from the first, that, if the Government were to retain the preamble, they would be open to all sorts of misconstruction in the minds of the Canadians. Deeply interested as he was in the question, having for many years devoted himself very much to the affairs of Canada, he could not now abstain from congratulating the House and country that there was a prospect of their coming to a nearly unanimous opinion upon the measure before them. With respect to his noble Friend, he must observe that he knew the noble Lord to be so utterly incapable of propounding anything to that House which could have the effect of permanently restraining the constitutional rights of any part of the empire, that he should have had his full confidence and full support to the Bill upon his own character alone if he had chosen to ask him for it upon that ground. He begged to repeat, that he had involved himself in this discussion most unwillingly. He had privately determined to abstain from taking any part in the debates upon the question from the beginning to the end. He was led to depart from that intention last evening from the hope that he might induce the House to abandon all feelings of party upon the question, and to come to an unanimous, or a nearly unanimous, vote. He wished, however, as he came quite unprepared last night, and as he believed some of his observations, from the imperfect manner in which they were expressed, were not very clearly understood, to correct an error which appeared in the report of one of the newspapers. In speaking of the conduct of the American Government, he said —and he hoped it was in the recollection of the House upon that point—that he thought the conduct of that country in this crisis of the affairs of our colonies had been most generous and most friendly; whereas 562 it was reported that he had said that they were on the watch to take advantage of the difficulties in which the mother country might be involved. From the confused manner in which he had expressed his opinions last evening, he was not surprised that the misconception should have taken place; but he was well assured, from personal knowledge upon the subject, that the most friendly and amicable feeling was entertained by America towards this country. He should, therefore, be shocked to have it supposed that he had declared such an opinion as that attributed to him in the report. Whatever former feelings, arising out of old and unhappy differences, might have been, he believed that throughout the whole of America there now prevailed but one common sentiment, that what they called the Anglo-Saxon race might remain united in all countries in which it established itself under the same principles of liberty and freedom as were asserted and maintained by their forefathers. He believed that the measures taken two years since by his noble Friend to prevent a quarrel between France and America, and the recent conduct of the general Government of the United States, as well as the provincial Governments of the two states of New York and Vermont, verging upon the British frontier, were likely to do more to promote the good understanding which already existed between England and America than any advantage that could arise either from their commercial intercourse with each other, or from any other cause. He could state from personal knowledge, that an effect was produced by the interference of the English to prevent the quarrel between France and America, which would never be forgotten in the latter country; and he was sure that in England the kind and liberal conduct of America in this crisis of the affairs of the colonies ought to take an equally tenacious hold of our memories. So far from the United States feeling an, interest in these dissensions, or desiring to take advantage of them, he was persuaded that the general feeling in that country had been to give every assistance it could to restore peace and tranquillity to the disturbed districts of the British possessions. He was also persuaded that the opinions expressed by some Gentlemen in that House with respect to the manner in which the British colonies had been 563 governed were not participated in by any portion of the respectable population of the United States. He believed that a general feeling obtained throughout the whole of America that the conduct of England towards her North American possessions had been mild, unselfish (if such an expression might be used in reference to the conduct of a nation), and solely directed to the benefit and advantage of the colonies. Who could doubt, indeed, that the connexion between Canada and England was ten times more beneficial to the colony than to the parent state? And whenever peace should be restored, after the sad interruption it had recently received, he felt satisfied that one of the best means by which England could seek to reconcile the Canadian people, and to bring them to a speedy adjustment of all differences, would be to dwell on the advantages which they derived from our connexion, rather than, as he said last night, by pressing upon them our desire to govern them for some purpose of our own. He had nothing more to say upon the subject, except that he congratulated the House most sincerely upon the result at which it had arrived. He hoped that his noble Friend, in abandoning those words of the preamble, would not subject himself to any expression or any feeling of party triumph. But if such an ungenerous and unworthy feeling should for a moment be entertained or expressed, his noble Friend might console himself with the reflection, that in taking a step, which went to secure an almost unanimous vote upon the measure before the House he did more towards a reconciliation with the colonies, and to the establishment of a good and proper feeling in them, than it would be possible for any Minister to procure by any other means. With such a reflection, his noble Friend might well console himself for any little expressions of triumph in which his adversaries might choose to indulge.
§ Mr. Harvey
said, that having expressed no opinion whatever on this interesting and momentous subject out of the walls of that House, and having yet had no opportunity given him of expressing his opinion within it, he owned that he had been inclined to trespass at some length on the patience of the House, to state the reasons which had induced him on a recent occasion to vote against the second reading of this Bill, But he should now 564 relieve the House from any apprehensions on that score, because he could not speak of a Bill of which he knew nothing. The Bill (continued the hon. Gentleman) upon which we have had a debate for the last week, the Bill framed with so much care and so much legal judgment, brought forward after long and anxious consultation, with the sanction of the highest legal authority, was naturally presented to our attention as being perfect in all its parts —having no ambiguity in its object—no undue verbosity in its expressions. And yet so true is it in legislation, as in the higher interests of human affairs, "we know not what an hour may bring forth." In the short interval of four-and-twenty hours this Bill, so perfect and mature, has been decapitated, and has lost its tail. I hope, then, I shall be excused if I reserve any remarks I may have to make until the period when, peradventure, we may be led to hope the Bill will be perfection itself; that is to say, when it shall be submitted to the House for the third time. But I still hope that the conversation which we have had this evening, by far the most valuable of all the discussions we have had upon this subject, will not be allowed to pass away as a shadow, and to leave no effect upon it. I hope we may be allowed to implore the leader (Sir R. Peel) of the powerful party who range themselves upon the opposition benches to throw aside the sin which besets him of being the leader of that party, and that he will hereafter continue in his course of well-doing to counsel the cabinet, to throw around it the shield of his protection, and to spare her Majesty's Ministers and the nation from the evils which otherwise beset them. The course which the right hon. Baronet has recently pursued reminds me of the practice in a lawyer's office when I was a lad. When a draft was first prepared, it was submitted to some subordinate member of the profession—generally to somebody under the bar, who had his small fee and advised upon it; but when, in a subsequent stage, it came to be more seriously and gravely considered, it was sent to some master mind—to the very highest in the profession, who perused the deed, and finally determined the terms of it. Now, it would seem that, although we have a cabinet of small men, who consider and put together their crude notions and thoughts, they are obliged, after they have thrown them into the form of a draft, to 565 send it for revisal to the leader of the opposition. And what a splendid instance of disinterestedness was here offered by the leader of the opposition, who, whilst he gives all his important advice gratis, allows the little people to take all the fees. This is in many respects full of consolation. It will greatly tend to dispel those ungenerous imputations which have been very unsparingly cast upon the conduct and sentiments of many Gentlemen in this House. Because, although I do not hesitate to say, that in some material respects I differ from those hon. Gentlemen with whom I concurred in opposing the second reading of this Bill—although I am far from considering that our colonial possessions ought to be lightly treated, or slightly considered of—yet it is not to be forgotten that nearly all those sentiments and suggestions which have since been popularised, inasmuch as that they have been taken up by the hon. Gentlemen opposite, were thrown out in the first instance by the Gentlemen to whom I allude, and upon whom so many ungenerous and injurious imputations have been cast. The right hon. Baronet mentions it as a matter of imputation upon the Government, that when they sent forth arbitrary resolutions which had been the cause of all the mischief in Canada, but which were so vehemently and almost universally supported in this House, they did not, at the same time, make a sufficient demonstration of military force, which, said the right hon. Baronet, would have protected the colonies from the frightful scenes of devastation which have been exhibited in them. But let it not be forgotten that all the Gentlemen who resisted those resolutions—though they did not admonish the Government to send out a strong military force—yet distinctly foretold that if they were passed they could only be sustained and carried into operation by the aid of an increased military power. Then, are Gentlemen who are few in number, and who may labour under the reproach of being too philosophical in their views, to be treated as nought, because they have not a powerful party behind them to vociferate every sentence, to turn every period, and to give importance to suggestions which have no inherent weight or value in themselves? The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Coventry (Mr. Ellice), has, I own, exhibited a new light tending much to 566 disperse the clouds which have hitherto hung around this question. He has expressed a hope that the House will come to an unanimous vote upon the subject. I agree with him in the vast importance which must be attached to the Bill's receiving the unanimous support of the House; and after the discussion of to-night, I think that prospect is not entirely hopeless. In the present distracted state of parties in Canada—the one party struggling for popular rights, the other endeavouring to sustain prerogative—it is very possible that there may be no other means of controlling these rivals than by extinguishing both: but before I resort to a measure so despotic I must be assured that there are no other means by which it may be possible for me to attain the end I have in view. It has, therefore, from the beginning of the discussions upon this subject, appeared to me that whilst I should be most prompt to confer these great and responsible powers upon the noble Earl who has, I think, been most happily selected by her Majesty's Government—cheering, as he does, the friends of freedom wherever he goes—I should at the same time be little disposed to fetter him in the exercise of the mighty authority with which he is clothed. Why should he be curbed or fettered? Are the Government disposed to give him the vast authority with which they vest him under suspicion? If not, let him go forth armed with this bill, and let it contain a provision that shall enable him in all respects to act as in his judgment he shall deem wisest and best. I have read—and I hope every Gentleman whom I now address has done the same—the whole of the papers which have been produced upon this subject. For one, I can say that there is not a report, nor a particle of the testimony from any witness examined before any of the Committees which have met upon the subject, nor a line of the correspondence which has taken place between the Colonial Secretary and the different governors of the provinces, from the year 1828 down to the present moment, which I have not carefully perused; and I own it strikes me that there is every reason to hope—and recent circumstances tend to confirm that hope—that if Lord Durham, armed with the present bill, were allowed to dissolve the present assembly in Lower Canada and to convene another, he would find that assembly scarcely less 567 devoted to British interests—scarcely less inclined to follow out desirable objects than this House itself. The improving spirit of the House of Assembly, even with Mr. Papineau as its speaker, must have struck every one who has read with attention the dispatches from Lord Gosford. Let me mention an instance. Papineau was speaker of the house, and it is important to bear that fact in mind, when an address was proposed to the Assembly condemnatory of the policy of this country. An amendment was moved by one of the opposite party, and what was the division? Notwithstanding the fact of Papineau being speaker—and we all know the merited weight which a speaker's opinion has in all assemblies of this description—notwithstanding the fact of that individual throwing the whole of his weight and influence on the side of the address, when the Assembly came to divide upon the question the numbers were, forty-eight for the orginal motion, and thirty-two for the amendment. This is sufficient to show that there was, at that time, a strong British feeling in the House of Assembly. The disparity of numbers between forty-eight and thirty-two was not so great as to show an overwhelming influence on one side. It scarcely amounted to more than a government majority in any assembly; and Lord Gosford, in several of his dispatches, distinctly intimates his belief that the time will come when the Assembly may be successfully appealed to. Why, then, should not the representatives of this interesting people be at once consulted? There is another point growing out of the conversation of this evening, for it could hardly be called a debate, which provokes the consideration of the House. It is this. For what purpose are the instructions (or extracts from them) which have been given by Lord Glenelg to Lord Durham placed upon the table of this House? Are they to be dealt with by us? or are they to remain there for the artful and subtle purpose, if the necessity should hereafter arise, of leading the world to suppose that they were sanctioned by the House of Commons. On this point, the hon. and learned Gentleman continued, he differed from the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Peel,) and the right hon. Baronet would pardon him for saying, that it was not befitting the high station which he held, both in this House and in the country, upon a (Question like this, when all the elements 568 of party ought to be hushed in one common struggle to carry out one great object—to say on the one hand that he would have nothing to do with those instructions, that they were mere waste paper; and at the same ime to give a powerful adverse criticism upon them, which would go across the ocean and influence an impression that the sense of the House had been taken upon them. In his opinion those instructions ought to be retracted altogether, or the sense of the House should be formally taken upon them. When he looked at their despotic character, he could not but think it was mean and despicable first to tell the noble Lord intrusted with this important mission to take a flight to the regions of liberty, and at the same time to clip his wings, to say that the noble Lord was to go forth with enviable powers to give a free constitution to that country which it deserved—a country which knew, felt, and estimated the value of freedom—and at the same time to restrain him from doing that which, before the noble Lord had been twenty-four hours there, would strike him as the very first thing he ought to do. Let the House bear in mind its own resolution, namely, that it was inexpedient that the council should be elective. Now Lord Gosford said differently, and stated distinctly that the council ought to be elective. Look at the evidence given by every gentleman who had been examined before Committees of the House, and it would be seen they had all given it as their opinion that that branch of the legislative power required serious control and revision, so that the noble Lord about to go out to Canada was empowered to do anything and everything, except that very thing which, past doubt, would be the best. It was not treating either the Government or the Canadians fairly to get off these instructions as waste paper, and he trusted the right hon. Baronet opposite would press the Government upon them, for notwithstanding the taunt which had been thrown out that those who pretended to be the friends of liberty were giving their countenance to the despotic plan of the Government, he was satisfied that if the right hon. Baronet brought forward a motion that would effect the retractation, or elicit an explanation of those instructions, he would find that the calumniated party, though few in number, would give him support as strenuous and as sincere as those by whom he was now surrounded.
§ Viscount Howick
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has not failed to avail himself of the opportunity which he thought was afforded to him by my noble Friend's concessions to endeavour to throw ridicule upon the Government; but I assure him, and I assure the House, that although his wit was directed against ourselves, I, at least, was not prevented from enjoying it; because I felt that his sneers and taunts were not deserved, since that change in the policy of the Government against which they were directed has not taken place. Had we believed such a change to be required for the good of the country, I know that my noble Friend—and I entirely concur in his feeling—would never have been deterred by any sneers or by any taunts, however well deserved, from taking the course which he thought his duty to the Crown and the public prescribed to him; but I deny that there has been any necessity for taking a course affording just grounds for the ridicule with which we have been assailed. I say that, although we did assent, for the reasons so well stated by my noble Friend, to the alteration in the preamble of the Bill which was proposed by the right hon. Baronet, we in no one respect or particular deviate from the policy which dictated that preamble, nor in any respect propose a change in the line of conduct which we had previously determined to adopt with respect to this momentous question. The right hon. Baronet has stated in very strong language his condemnation of the course which we have pursued in presenting these instructions to the House, and also his opinion condemning the substance and the nature of those instructions. Upon these two points, avoiding as far as I can entering upon other topics, which have been so fully discussed in the House, I am anxious to offer a few words. With respect to the production of the instructions, I think that that course of proceeding was justified by these considerations. In the present state of Canada, feeling it to be our painful duty to propose the suspension of the power now possessed by the representatives of the inhabitants of the colony, we are compelled to recommend to the House that it should invest the governor-general, now about to proceed to the colony, with powers of the most arbitrary, and, I believe, most unprecedented description. I do not think, considering how long the disputes in Canada have been going on, how many professions have been made by different 570 Governments entertaining different opinions of a desire to redress the grievances complained of by the Canadians—considering all these circumstances, I do not think it would have been fit or proper to have called upon this House to consent to a measure of such coercion as this unless we had been able at the same time to give some account of the means by which we might, at no very distant period, be enabled to return to a more constitutional form of government. I feel this, that if I had not had the honour of being a member of the Government of her Majesty, if I had merely had a seat in this House as an independent Member of Parliament, and if I had been called upon simply and shortly to suspend the constitutional privileges of the Canadas, to that proposition, even though it were brought forward by the Government in which I had the strongest and the best-founded confidence, I for one could not have assented. I judged then, of the opinions of others by my own. I say that it is not only necessary to show to Parliament that the present constitution of Canada, in the present unhappy state of that province, cannot be made to work advantageously, but it is further necessary to show that in suspending that constitution, to enable us to meet the exigence of the moment, we have a hope at no distant period of returning to a constitutional form of government. Because I agree with the right hon. Baronet, that if that hope had not existed, if I thought that the great body of the Canadian people were entirely alienated from this country, I should say, that the only question for us to consider would be how a final separation could be effected in such a manner as not to sacrifice the interests of the British settlers in the province? I believe that permanently to maintain our authority against the will of the great body of the people is altogether impracticable, and that in attempting to do so we should be driven to acts of harshness and of oppression, which would lower the high character of this country to the level of those powers whose oppressive proceedings so often form the subject of declamation in this House. I believe that the endeavour so to govern the colony would be attended with the constant risk of involving us in war; and if a war should occur, would greatly aggravate its dangers and calamities. Upon thus looking at this subject, it must be obvious that it is not only necessary that we should conciliate the great body of the Canadians to our rule, but it is necessary to do this to that degree that 571 they may be induced to return as their representatives those who would concur with us in carrying on the government of the province according to the forms of a free constitution. In the next place, I differ from the right hon. Baronet, and also from my right hon. Friend, the Member for Coventry—of whose very able speech last night in general I approve,—as to the opinion they expressed that had the act of 1831 been passed in a different form—as proposed by the previous Government, by first assigning a civil list to the government of the colony, those dangers and difficulties we have since experienced would not have arisen. [Sir R. Peel had not expressed any such opinion.] I beg the right hon. Baronet's pardon. I understood him to have objected to our surrendering the revenues imposed by the act of 1774 without having previously obtained a civil list. I know that my right hon. Friend did go at some length into that subject, and as I also thought did the right hon. Baronet; but I have certainly misunderstood him, and I beg the right hon. Baronet's pardon. But upon that subject I will make this remark—that I do not understand how the difficulties of our present situation could have been avoided by any line of policy which would not have led to an accommodation between the House of Assembly and the executive authority. I believe that in any country existing under the form of a representative government, where there is a permanent and determined hostility between the representatives of the people and the executive authority, such a state of things must, sooner or later, lead to a result similar to that which we have lately unfortunately witnessed. I believe that the representatives of the people must have so much power put into their hands, that if they are not reconciled to the authority of the government, they must necessarily and inevitably drive that government to overstep the acknowledged privileges and rights of the representative body. And when that state of things arises, the representative body, if fairly elected by the great body of the population, will be supported in its rights, and will be supported even so far as in a recourse to force by the body whom it represents. Then, Sir, I say the problem which is to be solved, if we are to retain possession of Canada, is this, how are we to re-conquer, not merely the country, but the affections and hearts of the people; the affections and confidence of the people to this extent, that 572 their representatives in Parliament shall concur with us in carrying on the government. That, I say, is the problem which is to be solved, and in my opinion it is one which in the present state of Lower Canada is certainly of great difficulty, but I do not believe it to be impossible. When we look at the interests of ail parties, when, particularly, we look at the interests of that party by which the majority of the House of Assembly has been supported, we cannot help being impressed with the conviction that to them more than to ourselves the connection between the two countries is of the greatest possible importance. If their peculiar laws and manners be the objects for which they are contending, no man, certainly, can doubt that if the protection of this country were withdrawn, surrounded as they are by a large population of a different race, a change far more violent, more sudden, and more sweeping than that which will probably, at all events, take place would inevitably be their lot. When we look again at their commercial advantages, resulting from the preference given to them by us, I cannot help thinking that those advantages are far beyond any which this country can derive from the connexion. Nor, Sir, do I see in the events of late years any proof that the Canadian people, or even a majority of those who have taken an active part in the unfortunate disturbances in Lower Canada, are insensible to those advantages. We know that a little more than twenty years ago the Canadian people did give the strongest and most undoubted proof of their loyalty to this country. I see no proof that these feelings are changed; although the majority of the House of Assembly have, by means certainly most injudicious and faulty, insisted upon accomplishing many alterations and many changes, some of them undoubtedly indefensible. At the same time no man in this House has attempted to deny that the conduct of the House of Assembly was justified in the earlier stages of this controversy by the real grievances they sustained. A great proportion of those grievances have been redressed. But it is not denied that further reforms in that country are required. Upon the most important topic of all, that which has been the ostensible cause of the rupture between the House of Assembly and the mother country, the state of the Legislative Council, upon that very point that some reform is necessary, has been admitted. I think that the House of Assembly have de- 573 manded a description of reform which, if conceded, would be most mischievous and most injurious. But the Commissioners whom we sent out to inquire into the state of Lower Canada, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir E. Sugden) in the very able speech which he made a few evenings ago, and the resolutions which both Houses of Parliament have adopted—all these authorities have established the fact, that even with respect to the Legislative Council, some reform is required. Unhappily the House of Assembly, instead of allowing the possibility of effecting such a reform to be fairly and temperately discussed, instead of allowing us time, after having received information upon the subject, to consider in what manner that reform might be effected, did themselves make certain propositions for accomplishing it, and insisted upon the adoption of one particular plan, to which just objections were urged by a large part of the population of the country: and that particular plan being rejected, they proceeded at once to the extreme course of depriving the Government of the pecuniary means of administering the affairs of the colony. Such has been the cause of the unhappy result that has been witnessed. But, for my part, I am willing to believe that even to the last, separation from this country was not the object of any considerable number of persons in that colony. I firmly believe that they have been led on from one step to another, not very accurately considering what were the meaning and tendency of the measures they were adopting, hoping, possibly, to intimidate their opponents into compliance with their demands, and acting upon that feeling of excitement which is perhaps constitutional in the race to which they belong. I believe they have gone on in this manner till they produced a state of things in which any spark might, as it did, produce a conflagration. I believe that we should judge more correctly in attributing their conduct to this cause than to any settled intention of endeavouring to break the connection between this country and the colony, and, at all events, I am convinced that it is the wiser course to act upon that assumption. If we were to treat the Canadians as we should treat them under the assumption that a great body of the people were disaffected, my opinion is, that such a course of government would very speedily engender that hostility upon the presumed existence of which it was adopted; whether it 574 now prevails or not we should soon create the disaffection of which our conduct implied our belief. Perhaps it may be asked—indeed, the hon. and learned Member who has just sat down has asked, if this is the case, if there still exist grievances, why do you take such measures as you recommend to the House? why not rather attempt to redress those grievances and effect those improvements in the constitution of Canada which you admit may be requisite? In answer to the hon. and learned Gentleman I have to observe, that unhappily there has been in Canada not merely a controversy between the executive Government and the representative body, but there have been great differences and great animosities between different classes of the population; partial measures, therefore, would now do no good if we attempted to satisfy one class we should only exasperate the other. For the well working of a constitutional government it is necessary not only that there should be harmony between the representative body and the executive authority, but it is further necessary that the different classes of the community should be prevailed upon—I do not say to lay aside their party differences, because in every free Government party differences, I believe, must and will prevail—but to have some degree of tolerance for each other, so that their differences may be discussed, and their disputes decided by peaceable and constitutional means. This is necessary with a view to the working of a free constitution. It is therefore requisite, not merely that we should do that which is just towards one party in Canada, but that we should so frame our measures that they should obtain the acquiescence of the great body of both divisions of the population. I do not believe that it is by any means impossible to arrive at that acquiescence. If we look at the demands of both parties we shall find that there is in what both of them have asked much that is reasonable and also much that is unreasonable. The English party on their side have, in the first place, complained, and loudly complained, of the spirit of the legislative measures adopted by the House of Assembly on all matters of a commercial nature. They have said, justly or unjustly, that the majority of the Assembly has been indifferent to the interests of commerce and to the development of the natural resources of the country. They have said likewise that the present state of the representation of the province is one by which they are 575 subjected to unfair legislation, and they demand that the mode of constituting the House of Assembly should be changed. They further demand relief from the oppression of the feudal tenures, and greater security and facility with respect to the transfer of landed property. They, lastly, demand—and this, perhaps, is one of the most important items of the whole list—that the chief officers of the Government, and more especially the judges, should be rendered independent of a popular assembly, by having granted to them fixed and permanent salaries. On the other hand, the Majority of the House of Assembly have insisted upon a great and extensive change in the constitution both of the Executive and Legislative Councils. They have demanded that the government and the public servants should be made directly responsible to the House of Assembly. They have demanded that the whole revenue of the province should be appropriated by the House of Assembly; they have also demanded the repeal of certain Acts of Parliament, together with various other matters. Sir, I confess that, upon calmly looking at the substance and nature of these various demands, it forcibly strikes me, that there is nothing in them on either side which should forbid the hope of their being so modified, by means of friendly discussion and impartial consideration, that they might be settled with the concurrence of the great bulk of the people. For instance, with respect to the measures of legislation adopted by the Colonial Legislature in reference to the interests of commerce, it appears to me that some change is absolutely called for, not only for the sake of the lower province, but also for the sake of the upper province. Hon. Members are aware that a petition was presented to this House, and that a joint address from the House of Assembly and the Legislative Council of Upper Canada was presented to the Crown, complaining of the difficulties imposed upon them in consequence of the want of free access to the ocean: and, in a subsequent address, that Assembly proposed, by way of remedying the evil, that the Isle of Montreal should be annexed to the upper province. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Ellice) some years ago, as he last night stated, suggested the union of the two provinces. Both those measures might be justly objectionable to the party which have composed the majority of the House of Assembly in Lower Canada; but 1, for one, believe, that much could be done to 576 facilitate the future settlement of the difficulties in Lower Canada, and much to promote the interests of both provinces, if from the two Legislatures, leaving to each of them separate authority on all matters of purely domestic concern, some joint authority could be formed for the purpose of regulating all those matters in which they take a joint interest. The right hon. Baronet has said, that to some measure of that sort he himself is not indisposed; and he thinks that some such union might be highly desirable, but that it should comprise all the provinces of British North America, or, at least, not exclude the other provinces. I entirely concur with the right hon. Baronet in that opinion. I would, upon no account, prevent the other provinces from being included in such an arrangement, but the immediate pressure of existing difficulties is as regards Upper and Lower Canada only. The Act of 1791 applies only to Upper and Lower Canada, and any changes which are to take place in that Act seem to me, therefore, a subject calling for the peculiar consideration of those who are interested in those two provinces. In the same manner, with respect to reforming the Legislative Council, also, I do believe, that the House of Assembly itself might be made to see the inconvenience and disadvantage which would result from creating a second body that would be the mere echo of the Assembly, and the members of which would probably be running a race for popularity with the House of Assembly itself. But I do, at the same time, believe, that a very extensive reform in that part of the Canadian constitution is requisite; and I believe, also, that if this part of the constitution, as well as the state of representation, as affecting the interests of the English inhabitants of the province, were considered together, a fair settlement upon those subjects would be likewise practicable. In like manner, in regard to the responsibility of the public servants of the province to the House of Assembly, I am of opinion that an arrangement might be made. The hon. Member for Bridport last night argued at great length to show that this responsibility is inconsistent wish the maintenance of the authority of the mother country, and that this was a point which the House of Assembly had earnestly insisted upon for this very reason, meaning by so doing to ask for a separation from the mother country, which they could not with safety venture openly to demand. 577 I am very far from concurring in that opinion. The hon. Member must be aware that this is a demand on the part of the House of Assembly only very recently preferred. I believe that the Canadian people and the House of Assembly might be very easily reconciled to the difference existing between the responsibility of the officers of the colonial government and the responsibility of the imperial government, which a colonial relation necessarily implies. If the Governor is to be responsible to the Crown and to Parliament, it is impossible that the officers who serve under that Governor should also be responsible to the local legislatures, as the Ministers of the Crown in this country are, to the imperial legislature, because responsibility necessarily implies power, and if the Governor is not to exercise any more direct authority than the Sovereign in this country, and if a greater personal responsibility is not to attach to him, the whole notion of a colonial administration would be destroyed. Such a system would be entirely irreconcileable with the idea of the proper relation between a colony and the mother country. But the real object for which the responsibility of the servants of the Crown exists in this country, that namely of affording the people a security for good government, may be attained, and is practically attained, in the colonies by another mode. It is true that the public officers, who are under the orders of the Governor are not immediately responsible to the Legislature, but, on the other hand, the Governor is responsible to the Crown and to Parliament for his acts; and if the Governor should pursue a course of government in a manner not in accordance with the feelings of the great body of the people, they have their appeal not against his subordinates, but against himself, by an address to the Crown and by petition to the Imperial Parliament. Neither the Crown nor the Parliament has shewn itself indisposed to entertain such an appeal from the Canadian people or from other colonies. Great disputes and much bad feeling have been excited by carrying on the discussion upon this point in general and ambiguous terms, and not ascertaining clearly and precisely what the House of Assembly meant to ask, and what the last House of Assembly of Upper Canada also asked, when they demanded the responsibility of the public servants. I believe what they really require is security for good government and that this 578 demand is attainable by their having the power of complaining of the acts of the governor, and also by erecting, what all parties have admitted to be necessary, a court in Canada for the impeachment and trial for misconduct of all public officers subordinate to the governor. For positive misconduct and malversation in office there ought to be some tribunal in Canada before which the public servants may be impeached. In the same manner I do believe that the dispute which has run so high about English and French law, with respect to landed property and feudal tenures, might be arranged. I believe that this dispute is mainly attributable to the general language used. I believe that the English inhabitants have felt, and seriously felt, that there is fault in the French system of law; but I believe on the other hand —indeed, it was admitted last night by my right hon. Friend, the Member for Coventry—that the violent, sweeping, and the rough changes made by the Tenures' Act have occasioned very considerable suffering to the French inhabitants of the colony; and I feel firmly persuaded that if, instead of clamouring on the one side for English law, and on the other side for French law, the two parties would combine and endeavour to concur in adopting some system which will secure the merits and advantages of both laws, providing a simple method for ascertaining to whom landed property belonged, and a cheap and expeditious mode of effecting the transfer of that property, no repugnance would be felt either on the part of the French or the English Canadians. Again, with respect to the civil list and the surrender of the revenues, I think, in spite of all that has taken place, in spite of all the disputes that have arisen as to whether the House of Assembly has fully acted up to what was expected from it when the Act of 1831 was passed, there would be no real indisposition on either side to provide and enact permanent and fixed salaries for the chief officers of the Government, and for giving up the remainder of the revenues to the Canadian legislature. Upon looking back to the history of these transactions, I think I can see causes for the failure of the arrangement proposed to be made in 1831, which are quite consistent with this supposition. I believe there was a misunderstanding on both sides as to what was really intended at that time. if, then, these apparently conflicting interests do admit of a compromise, and I think that 579 such a compromise might be effected, is it not most desirable that such a course of policy should be adopted? I have, perhaps, gone more minutely into these points than some hon. Gentlemen may conceive to be necessary; but I have considered it right to do so, because, in my humble opinion, we are only justified in passing this Bill upon the conviction that there are good grounds for hoping to arrive at that compromise. I have gone into those particulars in order to show that there is nothing irreconcilable in them with practical policy, nothing which can prevent the adverse parties from coming to such a mutual compromise. If, then, such a compromise as this is to be made, the question is how are we to arrive at it? In my opinion the way we can arrive at it, and the only method by which we can do so, is by bringing together—I do not say formally, representatives of the two provinces —I do not contend that by the instructions on the table is meant a full and fair representation of the people of Lower Canada (as was last night supposed to be the case by the right hon. Baronet); but, in my opinion, I repeat, the only practical mode of arriving at such a general adjustment of the disputed questions is to bring together fairly and deliberately, to discuss these matters, a certain number of persons who represent all interests in the two provinces. I believe, under the mediation of the Earl of Durham, who cannot be suspected of having any interest on one side or the other—whose only possible object must be. and is, to do full and fair justice to both parties—that we may be able, by a discussion of that description, and by such persons, to devise a general project for settling all these disputed points, and that a scheme may be drawn up for the consideration of the Imperial Parliament for accomplishing so desirable an object. I do not say that this can be done at the present moment, because there must be time for allowing angry passions to cool and men's minds to subside from the recent excitement; but I do believe that, in a short interval of time such a meeting of persons as is sketched out in the instructions which are before us might lead to the proposition of a general scheme of compromise such as I have ventured to suggest. If that, should be the case, and if a plan of that description should be brought under the notice of Parliament, I cannot for a moment believe that this House would not gladly and unhesitatingly give its authority to a Bill for accomplishing that arrangement. We can 580 have no interest in doing otherwise, and I can assure the right hon. Baronet that it gave me the truest satisfaction to hear this evening the exposition of his opinion as to the terms upon which alone a union between the colonies and the mother country is desirable. I fully and unreservedly subscribe to that opinion, and I believe that upon those terms such a union might last for almost an indefinite series of years; and that when that union should terminate, it would terminate only because, from our being restrained within comparatively small limits, and from the almost boundless space which is left for the increase of the population in Canada, a time must necessarily ultimately arrive when the relative magnitude of the two nations would be altogether changed, and the relation of a mother country and a colony with respect to them would be practically absurd. These are my views, and having stated them, I say that it was not impolitic, that it was not improper, that the instructions addressed to the Earl of Durham should be laid upon the table; because it is not sufficient that the Government should entertain these views, it is not sufficient that you should have liberal intentions towards your Canadian fellow-subjects, but it is necessary when yon are coming forward with a measure which upon the face of it is one of great severity and coercion, that you should with equally public and formal means show, both to the people of this country and of Canada, what are your ultimate views and intentions. The right hon. Baronet has said, that by the instructions on the table my noble Friend, who is going out as the Governor of Canada, will be fettered in the discretion reposed in him. If the right hon. Baronet will more accurately read those instructions, and weigh the expressions in them, I think he will find that the largest and most ample discretion is left to the Earl of Durham. I know this, at least, that it was the intention of the Government, by whom those instructions were issued, that the utmost latitude of discretion should be given to the Governor-general. I may also allude to the objection which has been urged by the hon. and learned Member for Southwark. He says that we fetter the discretion of the governor in another and most material point, and he observes that it may happen that Lord Durham may find things, when he arrives in Canada, in so tranquil a state, that men may have so much recovered from past excitement, that there may be no necessity for adopting an extreme measure 581 of coercion; and therefore it would be better that we should not make it imperative upon him. Now, has the hon. and learned Member considered how ungracious a task he would thus throw on the Earl of Durham? Would it be fully consistent with the nature of the mission that he is going upon? Would it contribute to the success of his high undertaking, that the first act almost on his arrival in the colony should be that of declaring, upon his own opinion and responsibility, the necessity of the suspension of the constitution? I am sure if the hon. and learned Gentleman considers it in this point of view, if he regards how invidious and ungracious a task this would be on the part of a governor sent out on a mission of conciliation, he will not wish the Earl of Durham to be so empowered. But I agree to this extent, however, with the hon. and learned Member, that it is possible, at an earlier period than we anticipate, and before those measures which Parliament may be called upon to effect are passed, for us to return to a constitutional form of government; and with that view, and for that purpose, we had introduced the clause to which the right hon. Baronet has stated his intention of objecting. We proposed that if this fortunate state of things should exist—if contrary, I must admit, to all reasonable expectations, it should be found that the House of Assembly could without danger be called together before Parliament had legislated upon this subject, upon the recommendation of the governor, the Crown and the Privy Council might be able to revive the privileges which are at present to be put in abeyance. This is what we proposed by the bill as it stands: and I must say, after all that has been stated, that I do not conceive that there is anything wrong or unreasonable in the proposition. Parliament has frequently intrusted the Crown with the discretion of adopting a particular line of conduct in the event of a certain contingency arising. I believe even our constitutional jealousy with respect to the power of taxation has not prevented the Parliament from authorising the Crown, in retaliation for acts on the part of foreign powers, to augment the duties on foreign goods and foreign shipping. But, at the same time, though I do not think that there is anything unreasonable or unconstitutional in the proposition we have made, yet I feel that there is so little likelihood of its coming into practical operation—that the chances are so infi- 582 nitely against its being prudent to authorise the meeting of the Canadian legislature until Parliament shall have re-considered the act of 1791—that there is so extremely little probability of this—that I do not think the practical consequence of this clause is at all deserving of consideration. I, therefore, cordially subscribe to the decision of my noble Friend, and I think for the sake of unanimity that the clause should be omitted. I am afraid, Sir, that I have, perhaps, entered into more details than in the present stage of the debate was altogether convenient; but my excuse is, that for many years I have taken the deepest interest in, and watched with the greatest attention, our Canadian colonies. I did so even before I was in office at all; and having for upwards of two years had the pleasure and the happiness to assist in conducting the affairs of the Colonial-office, under my noble Friend, Lord Ripon, my attention was then, of course, more earnestly directed to all our possessions; and I became from this circumstance more strongly interested than before in the welfare of Canada in particular. Perhaps, Sir, I may in consequence have been induced to take a view of the differences which have existed more favourable to the great body of the Canadian people, and I may sympathise more with them than is altogether popular in this country; but, be this as it may, I have thought it right in supporting the views of my noble Friend near me candidly to express my real feelings to the House.
§ Mr. Hume
, after the explanation which had taken place, only wished to state that in the views which the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Peel) had propounded for the first time in that House as to the manner in which Canada should for the future be governed, so far as he understood them, he entirely concurred, and from what he knew of the sentiments of the people of Canada they would be perfectly content with them, and if they were only acted upon he was sure that they would be anxious to preserve the connection with this country, and he was equally satisfied that if they had been only heretofore acted upon the present difficulties never would have arisen. With respect to the noble Lord's (Viscount Howick's) reference to the period when he took an active part in the Colonial-office, he (Mr. Hume) was bound to say, that he had been the means of communicating addresses of thanks to 583 the noble Lord from almost every province in Upper Canada, and that the Canadians only required to be treated upon the principles which had been that night avowed to become willing supporters of the connection with the mother country. He must be permitted to observe also, that the bill which he and some other hon. Members opposed on its first reading was of an entirely different description to that which they were then called upon to discuss. He had on the first introduction of the bill avowed his opinion that such was the state of the colony, that strong measures were absolutely necessary, and that he was most willing to place ample power in the hands of Lord Durham; but he was also anxious that he should not be restricted by any particular instructions from the Colonial-office here. He was satisfied that if the instructions of that office were acted upon, it would be impossible for the noble Lord to carry out the object of his mission to the Canadas with credit to himself or with advantage to this country, for he was convinced that to send out that noble Lord so placed, would be most effectually to tie his hands. By the first bill it was proposed that from its passing till the 1st November, 1840, the Canadian constitution should be entirely suspended, but by the bill then before the House the constitution was not suspended, but a power was given to the governor-general to suspend it if he should think it necessary, being something to the same effect as the power which he had recommended, and which was contained in the Irish Coercion Bill. By the alterations which had been made the object which he had in view had been entirely effected; and he would, therefore, only ask whether it was intended that the powers conferred by the bill as it then stood were to be executed by Sir John Colborne or by Lord Durham only? If they were to be executed, by Lord Durham only, he had only two more words to say, and then he would offer no further objection. In the next to the last clause, where it was stated that this act "shall be proclaimed," he wished that the word "may" should be substituted for "shall," so that it should not be imperative on the governor to make proclamation of the act unless he should,' in his judgment, deem it necessary. But he must again ask the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) whether it were intended that the governor of Canada 584 for the time being should make proclamation of the act? If he rightly understood the powers conferred by that act, the governor need not, in the exercise of the prerogative, call together the Legislative Assembly till May. There was no necessity for great haste, and he should be sorry to see the despotic power granted by that act—for despotic it was in every sense of the word—exercised by any person but Lord-Durham, to whom he had no objection to confide it.
§ Lord John Russell
said, that it was the intention of the Government, if this bill were passed into a law, to enable the lieutenant-governor for the time being to use the powers vested by this bill in the governor. There might be many measures which it would be necessary to take at once in order to secure the peace of the province, and which might render it inexpedient to delay the exercise by the lieutenant-governor of the powers with which he would be invested till the arrival of Lord Durham.
§ Mr. Ward
, having on a former occasion stated his acquiescence in the general principles adopted by her Majesty's Government with respect to the affairs of Canada, would not on the present occasion have troubled the House with any remarks, had he not been particularly referred to by the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel), and the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Coventry (Mr. Ellice), as being one of the Members who had rested their support of this bill upon the principles involved in the words of the preamble then proposed to be omitted. He had certainly attached great importance to those words, because they would go to satisfy the Canadian people that the colony would be governed upon principles worthy of this great country and of an enlightened age. To these sentiments he still adhered; but if, adhering to them, he were asked whether he would object to obtaining the unanimous vote of that House, or would oppose the withdrawal of the words in the preamble he would at once say that he would not; because he believed that the right hon. Baronet was strictly and technically right in the proposal which he had made, and that it was contrary to what was perhaps the wise custom of the Parliament to introduce words into the preamble of a bill which were not followed out by any enacting clause in the body; and in reference to these words 585 of which he approved in the present preamble, there was not any clause in the body of the bill then before the House; but if ever there was a time in which he should have thought that the right hon. Baronet would have waved any objection founded merely on a reference to principles and to form, for the sake of obtaining the unanimous support and concurrence of the House it was the present. He would only add that when he had on a former occasion expressed his concurrence in the general principles acted upon by the Government, he had not seen the bill proposed. Of course, therefore, he did not know the words of the preamble, or what would be the amendment proposed by the right hon. Baronet; he had founded his expression of approbation on the statement made by the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department, which expressed most fully the intention of the Government and of Parliament to redress the grievances of the Canadians, on account of which he waived the objection which he entertained to the harshness and despotism of the provisions of the present bill. He looked to the dictatorship of Lord Durham as the shortest, surest, and safest road to the restoration of peace and tranquillity. He had no wish to prolong the unfortunate state which had arisen in the colonies; he could not without great regret behold the sufferings of the unhappy peasantry, who had been basely deserted by their leaders in the struggle into which they had been betrayed, and who had used marbles against bullets: he could not regard without much feeling the dreadful contest which had been carried on, nor the tyrannical spirit which had been there exhibited by the leaders of the revolt; and he could not, therefore, say, that the dictatorship of Lord Durham would not be of great benefit. He thought that the course which that noble Lord would be compelled to adopt, aided as he would be, if necessary, by the opinions of the colonists assembled in a convention, would be the shortest and the speediest road to produce future happiness to the Canadians.
§ First Clause agreed to. On the second Clause being read,
§ Sir E. B. Sugden
rose to propose an amendment. He thought that it was desirable that the House should know what were the real powers of the Bill. He had understood from his Friends around 586 him that the noble Lord had last night proposed the committal of the Bill pro formâ, merely to introduce some verbal amendments, but he must say, that he never saw a bill come out of a Committee, in which there had been a regular contest, with more extensive or more important Clauses introduced. And he was sure that no person who had not a great legal knowledge was capable to form, on the sudden, an opinion as to the precise operation and the distinct effect of the Bill as it then stood. In the colony, as it at present existed, there was an executive council, as a kind of cabinet or privy council, assisting the Governor; and he (Sir E. Sugden) could see no provision in the present Bill for taking away its powers. The noble Lord was then, by his instructions, to form a sort of convention, to consult and advise with him as to the establishment of a new constitution; and by the clause then under discussion, the Governor was to form what was called a Legislative Council, also for advice. He hoped that the noble Lord was not impatient of advice. The power of the noble Lord was much extended by the alterations which were made last night. As the Bill originally stood, he was not to touch the clergy reserves, nor was he to interfere with the feudal tenures, nor with free and common, soccage; he was to have no power of regulating subjects of such delicacy and difficulty; and he was to have only so much authority as was necessary for the local government of the colony till Ministers had fixed the terms of the new constitution; but as the Bill stood, subsequent to the alteration, the Governor was to assume all those powers. The true rule by which, in his opinion the House ought to be guided, was to exclude from the absolute control of the Governor all those questions, the remedies for which must, from their peculiar nature, be laid upon the table of that House after their adoption; and, if it were necessary to come before the Imperial Parliament at all, they had much better call upon it to legislate directly upon those questions, and that they should not enable the Governor to do anything definitely, except such as was required for the local, urgent, and necessary conduct of the affairs of the colony. He begged the House also to mark well the difference which existed between the present Legislative Council and that, which, by the Bill then before them, it was proposed 587 to adopt. Now, the Crown had power to select the councillors, and their number was confined to seventeen, but by the Bill the number was unlimited; and, instead of the Crown, the Governor would virtually have the power of nomination, for such was the effect of the enactment which enabled "her Majesty by any Commission or Commissions, to be from time to time issued under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom, or by any instructions under her Majesty's signet and sign manual, and with the advice of her privy council, to constitute a Legislative Council for the affairs of Lower Canada, and for that purpose, to appoint or authorise the Governor of that province to appoint such and so many Legislative Councillors as to her Majesty should seem meet, and to make such provisions as to her Majesty should seem meet, for the removal, suspension or resignation of all or any of such councillors." The body thus created would by no means answer the character of a Legislative Council, for its province would be, not to legislate, but only to advise. He did not like to see the name of the Legislative Council continued in the Act as applied to the new body, the character of which was, in fact, entirely different from the council which had hitherto existed. If the constitution of Canada was to be suspended for a time only, he thought it would be better to make the Act providing for the suspension applicable to that time. He should submit, therefore, that it would be advisable to strike out of the Act the name of the Council proposed, as it at present stood, and to substitute for it some other title more applicable to its real character.
§ Mr. Warburton
was of opinion with the right hon. and learned Member, that the designation of the new Council was unfortunately selected, because, first of all he thought that it was likely to create confusion with reference to the Council which had up to this time been in existence; and, secondly, because he thought the name was most unpopular in Canada, if he had been desirous of appointing a body of this description, he would not choose the most unpopular name he could discover to give them.
§ Sir George Grey
would beg, in answer to the observations of the right hon. and learned Member opposite, to state that there had not been any substantial alterations made in the bill last night. With 588 regard to the clause in which the term Legislative Council had been employed as descriptive of the body proposed to be appointed, that term had been used really with the intention of expressing, that the Council should be a Legislative Council, and that its duties should consist in passing laws, and that it should not exercise the functions of au Executive Council. He had no objection whatever that any other word less unpopular, or which might be considered more appropriate should be inserted in the Bill, instead of that which now stood in it. Any observation of the right hon. and learned Member opposite, with regard to the members and functions of the Council was worthy of the attention of the House, and would be extremely useful when the question of the establishment of a permanent council should come to be considered. The new council, however, was an extraordinary one, and it was intended to leave all the responsibility entirely with the Governor-general, the initiative power being reserved to the Governor, as in New South Wales and other important colonies.
§ Lord John Russell
suggested the introduction of the word "special," in lieu of the word "legislative."
The substitution of the word "special" for the word "legislative" was agreed to, and the Clause was ordered to stand a part of the Bill.
said, that before the House went into the consideration of the next clause, he wished to make some objections to its provisions, which were not of a nature so purely verbal and technical as that which had been offered to the section last before the House, and to which he sincerely hoped the Government would be induced to accede. On looking at the Bill as last printed, with reference to the powers given to the Governor-general (it was all very well to talk of the Council, as a matter of courtesy, but in reality everything rested with the Governor, who was dictator) he thought that they were of a nature far too large and comprehensive. The Council was, no doubt, a very decent appanage to pass the laws of the Governor in Canada, but it occurred to him that, as to the House of Assembly, there were other parts of the constitution which should not have been altered by this temporary Act. He had been induced to bring forward this objection because the Bill gave to the Governor 589 and the Council, only the power to make such laws as the ordinary legislation of Canada before allowed, and so far it provided that the Governor should not have greater power than under the ordinary constitution; but it was, in his opinion, open to serious question whether he ought to have the same power. There might be some subjects on which it was proper that the colonial legislation, should agree on the measures to be passed with regard to local affairs, but on which it would be improper to trust a single individual to legislate. It was no answer to say, that the House of Assembly could not pass any Act inconsistent with the Acts of the Imperial Parliament. As a general rule, it was true they could not; and they could not permanently alter the constitution of the colony, or alter the functions of the constitution, many of the great points established by the act of 1791; but there were some provisions in respect of which special power was given to them to act even in reference to the enactments of Parliament itself, and to these he desired to draw the attention of the House; for he took it that the real principle to be adopted, in order to prevent anarchy and confusion in carrying on the government, was, that the governor and his council should not be entitled to make changes in the established law of the colony. There were two or three subjects especially which required consideration. With regard to two of them provision was made by the act of 1791 for the continuance of the rights of the Roman Catholics who were found already established in that religion, pursuant to the treaty; and a provision was then also first made for the protection of the Protestant church in Lower Canada, but authority was given to the Assembly to alter both these provisions under certain restrictions. These restrictions were, that the assent of the governor should be obtained to the Bill, and that copies of it should be transmitted to England, and laid before both Houses of Parliament for thirty days, when, if no address was made to the Crown, the royal assent to it might be obtained. But the third point was one of infinitely greater importance—the tenure of lands, with respect to which there was no such restriction. There had been no question which had excited so much difficulty, and acrimony, and difference of opinion between the different races of the people of Lower 590 Canada, and on which so much jealousy had existed, and on which it was therefore necessary to act with much discretion, as this. By the act of the 1st of William 4th, powers were given to the local administration in Canada, very properly, no doubt, to alter not only the tenures of lands, but also the incidents arising out of them. This might be very desirable for permanent and local legislation, but it was highly improper for a governor sent to the polony for three years only to be empowered to make alterations in the law upon such a subject as that. But yet without regard to this, there was no restriction whatever on the governor; and though he had no wish or intention whatever to throw out any insinuation against Lord Durham, whose conduct he believed would be most just and impartial, yet he could not but think I hat it was going too far to intrust him, a single individual, with powers so extensive and so important, and he thought that no one should have the power by his own mere act and authority to alter the whole of the law affecting real property in one of the most important colonies attached to this country. If ever there was a subject which should not be left open to the entire control of an irresponsible authority, this was one. He was not prepared to suggest any precise form of words to carry this into effect, but he thought that they might easily be supplied, provided the Government would adopt his proposition. His only object was, to restrain the power of the governor and council to alter, repeal, or suspend any provisions of any act of the British Parliament, or any local act; and he thought, that a specific amendment might easily be provided.
§ The Solicitor-General
observed, that the argument of the noble Lord was in effect that it would be dangerous to empower a temporary government to make other than temporary laws; but he would call on the House to consider whether it would not be attended with much more difficulty to themselves to send out a governor with dictatorial powers, and to say that on certain subjects he should have full authority, but that on others they felt they could not trust him, and therefore they must abridge his dominion.
§ Sir W. Follett
did not think, that the learned Solicitor-General had given any answer to the observations of the noble Lord, or that the difficulties which he had 591 suggested ought to have any weight with the House. He understood the objection of the learned Gentleman to be, that the House giving the governor-general dictatorial power must give him the fullest authority on all subjects. But did the act, as it at present stood, do so, or did it not put a restriction on his power? There was now a proviso in the Bill preventing the governor from making any law or ordinance with regard to the constitution of the Legislative Assembly, or with regard to the rights of election. Now, according to the learned Solicitor-General, it was unnecessary that there should be any restriction of the power of the governor, but that did not appear to have been considered in the original Bill. With regard to the alterations which it was alleged had not been made in the Bill, he was prepared to affirm that some most substantial and important changes had been made. Under the Bill which was now lying on the table the governor had the power to make laws upon any subject, and his authority was much more extensive than that which was before proposed to be given to him; and although it was now said that there was no intention to restrict the powers of the governor, yet the proviso said there was. In the original Bill, the governor had no power to repeal or alter any act of the Legislative Council, but now he had the authority to do so; by the original Bill his power was confined to making laws for colonial legislation, but now in certain cases the assent of the Crown was requisite; originally it was proposed that he should have the power, without any check, of legislating for the colony, but now he had that power only joined with the colonial legislature. The provisions of the statute of 1791 required all laws which were made in the colony referring to certain matters to be subjected to certain examinations and tests, by which the whole country would be made aware of their purport; but now they were to be made in secret by the governor, sent home to be submitted o certain tests, it was true, but to such tests as that the Canadians might be in utter ignorance of their purport until they were returned to the colony as laws, and were promulgated to be forthwith put into operation. The question was, then, whether the House would intrust an individual temporary governor only with a power which was, in fact, absolute, but which they had granted to former legisla- 592 tive bodies only accompanied with certain restrictions? The question with regard to the Canada Tenure Act of 1826, was equally important, and the local legislative government had certain powers to alter and amend that statute. Was there any reason why the Governor should have any or either of these powers? He had intended to move an amendment, taking away from the Governor the power of interfering with the laws in any manner whatever, and he thought the simple fact that the laws made by him would be temporary only, was decisive as to those referring to tenures of land, and he could not conceive the reason for which the power of altering the laws on that subject was given to the Governor. It did not fall within the test proposed by the Secretary for the Colonies. It was not a question of local police, or affecting the affairs of the local government. If any alteration in the law of tenures was made it must be permanent, and not such as might be in operation for three years only; and therefore he saw nothing in the Bill or its objects to make it consistent to give the Governor any such power as that proposed. He should, in consequence, move that after the proviso in the clause under consideration there should be introduced the words, "or to repeal, suspend, or alter, any provision or any Act of the Imperial Parliament," and there were other acts to which it should also apply, "or to repeal, alter, or suspend any act or acts of the colonial legislature, or any of the provisions thereof."
Mr. Edward Ellice
agreed with the hon. Member who had just spoken, that it would be unwise to give to the Governor-general of Canada any power to repeal the Acts of the British Parliament, more especially if the laws which he should make were only to remain in force for the three or four years during which he should remain in authority; but he entertained some doubts on the Clause of the Bill now before the House, and thought that care must be taken that, in imposing restrictions on the authority of the Governor, the interests of the country should not be permitted to suffer. The legislation of the colony had hitherto been of a somewhat temporary nature, as, for instance, the Legislative Council had passed a Bill for the registration of deeds under the Tenure Act; but it was for a limited period only, and would shortly expire; and the amend- 593 ment proposed by the hon. Member would not interfere so as to prevent the Governor from making any law by which this act might be continued in operation. At this moment the system of communication through the colony was most defective, and if the present abeyance of the law continued, it must be put an end to, or materially injured. Any one who passed through the states of America must be surprised at the excellent system of communication which existed there, as well by means of railways as other communications; but in passing into Lower Canada they would at once be struck with the contrast between the scenes of activity which presented itself in the former country and the total abeyance of anything like industry in the latter. Now all the laws in Canada were to a certain extent temporary, and he conceived that that was a great fault; and he could not help thinking that what had taken place would induce all parties to concur in taking some step which might lead to the procuring for the colony a permanent institution. If the laws continued in their present position, all endeavours to improve the general condition of the country must cease, and any attempt to obtain permission for the construction of a railroad, which was of the greatest importance, or any other great public work, would be useless. It had occurred to him, therefore, that it was better to permit legislation to go on, however it might be restricted; he had no objection to any restriction and he would be content even if it should be said, that any act to be passed should, before its being carried into effect, be transmitted to this country, and should be on the tables of both Houses for thirty days. When it was necessary to pass an act, he did not see any objection to let it remain in force till it was repealed by the Legislature. If they reserved the control of these knotty points to the Parliament of this country, many difficulties which presented themselves would be facilitated. He feared that if they allowed the objection to remain which he had stated, the people would say, that they were deprived of their Legislature, and they had not the means of carrying out local improvements as the other provinces. He did not, however, intend to propose this to the House as an amendment; he had some doubts on the subject, but it was right that the difficulty should be felt and stated, He 594 only stated the practical grievance that would be felt in the country; and if they passed a Bill which suspended the constitution of the colony, and deprived the local legislature of their powers, they should make some other provision. He knew that this was a subject which would press itself on the consideration of the British inhabitants of Canada. It was a remarkable fact, that while the inhabitants of Upper Canada had improved the navigation of the river St. Lawrence, from the rapids of Niagara to the boundary of the lower province, nothing had been done by the legislature of Lower Canada for that purpose, although they had promised to do something. Certainly works had been commenced for the formation of the harbour of Montreal, and a beautiful quay had been formed on its banks; but this could not be finished for the next four years. The means, however, of carrying on the works were derived from money borrowed by the Legislature of the Lower province, nor could the Governor borrow money to complete it? It would be inconvenient to let the matter stand over, for the proposed new legislative body would for some time have a large mass of matters to legislate on. He had no wish to interfere in any way, or to propose an amendment, but he felt called upon to suggest the propriety of making the restrictions within the narrowest possible limits.
§ Sir G. Grey
admitted, that the difficulties they had to contend with were of considerable magnitude; and with respect to those stated by his right hon. Friend, he regretted that they could not be altogether removed consistently with the object of the Bill. He admitted, that it would be highly inconvenient to let the Governor in Council possess the power of making permanent laws, but it was a difficult thing with regard to local improvements. A distinct provision was made by the Legislature in 1832 for public improvements; he therefore did not think that there was any objection to leaving it to the Governor in Council to make appropriations of the revenue to complete the harbour of Montreal. With respect to the amendment of his hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Exeter, he thought that it was immaterial whether it was adopted or not. If, however, it was thought that the adoption of the amendment was desirable, he should be obliged 595 to his hon. and learned Friend if he would give him his amendment, and he would tell him, in bringing up the Report, whether he would adopt it or not. The only objection was, that he doubted whether it was not too large; but he could not tell until he looked into the local Acts. If the amendment of his hon. and learned Friend only applied to the Acts he had stated, there could be no objection to it; but it might apply to others in such a way as to render its adoption inexpedient.
§ Sir William Follett
stated, that his only object was to exclude from the operation of the clause the laws which he had stated; he had no wish to exclude from the control of the Governor in council any local matters when some legislation was necessary. He, therefore, would adopt the suggestion of his hon. Friend, and hand over his amendment to his control. It was the opinion of every lawyer with whom he had conversed, that as the Bill stood originally it would give to the Governor power without check or limit to legislate to any extent and on any subject. Whatever were the objects of the Bill, he felt bound to say, that a measure of such great consequence, involving the suspension of the constitution of one of our most important colonies—a Bill which had been designated by its introducers as a Bill of pains and penalties, and which gave to the Governor of the province power without check or control—it was impossible that such a measure could be framed with more rash inattention and want of care than was evident in the Bill as originally introduced. He thought, that the House and the country had a right to complain of the manner in which the Bill had been introduced, for the substantial alterations made in the Bill had only been introduced at the present late hour. It would certainly be understood in the colony, that the Bill contained provisions of a very different nature from those which it now contained.
§ The Attorney-General
replied, that the objection of his hon. and learned Friend was rather unprofitable and a waste of time, for, with all submission to his hon. and teamed Friend, the effect of the Bill was the same as it originally stood. They were discussing the Bill as it now stood, and was it a ground of complaint, that they had by certain amendments anticipated some of the objections of his hon. 596 and learned Friend? He would observe, that it seldom happened, that in a Bill of so much importance so few alterations were made in Committee as in that before the House. Since he had been a Member of the House he knew of Bills having been recommitted and reprinted several times. To go back to former times, namely, those of Mr. Pitt, he understood, that three Bills had been recommitted and reprinted so many as seven times. This Bill had only been recommitted and reprinted once, and no substantial alteration had been introduced into it. Under one of the clauses of the Bill as it originally stood, it was enacted, that the Governor in council should have all the power belonging to the local Legislature of Lower Canada, and the alterations introduced into the Bill only went to express more precisely the object in view. As to the amendment of his hon. and learned Friend, there could be no objection to it if it were properly limited.
§ Bill passed through the Committee. The House resumed.