HL Deb 09 May 1837 vol 38 cc707-50
Lord Glenelg

rose to propose the resolutions respecting Lower Canada which had been communicated to their Lordships by the House of Commons; and in offering his remarks upon the motion he must bespeak their kind indulgence, because he was afraid the subject in itself, consisting as it did of various dry details, was not calculated to be interesting. At the same time, though in its details it might be uninteresting, yet in its principles it was one of the most important and interesting subjects that could be submitted to their Lordships' consideration, It possessed, however, one advantage, it was exempt from all party feeling. It was of a national character, and he was persuaded that their Lordships would discuss it upon national and constitutional grounds alone. He felt that he should best show his respect to their Lordships, and his sense of the importance of the duty he had to discharge, by proceeding to it at once, and without further preface. He would first present to their Lordships a short summary of those facts which it was necessary to bear in view in considering this question, and in order to bring before them the situation in which Lower Canada was now placed. It was well known, that the province of Quebec was surrendered by France to this country by the treaty of Utrecht. At first it seemed to have been the object to Anglicise the province; and with that view the law of France was abolished, and the law of England established. Soon after, however, that design seemed to have been changed, and in the year 1774 a Bill was introduced by which the French law was restored to the province in all matters concerning property, and the English law retained with regard to criminal offences. In the year 1791, an Act was passed dividing Quebec into two provinces— Upper and Lower Canada. Lower Canada was assigned to the French, as a reward for their loyalty and attachment to the English Crown, and Upper Canada was assigned to the American loyalists, as a reward for their adherence to this country during the American revolution. It was also then, for the first time, that a colonial constitution was embodied in an Act of Parliament. Till that period the colonies generally derived their charters from the Royal prerogative. This was the first time that an attempt was made in our colonial history to unite legislatorial functions with aristocratical privileges and honours; and a constitution was assigned to Lower Canada comprising three estates —a Government with an Executive Council, a Legislative Council, and a Legislative Assembly. Some time, however, elapsed before this system was carried into execution, and for a certain number of years the Canadians permitted the executive government to control their funds. However, the materials for carrying on a free constitution were then preparing, and as the Assembly, in consequence of the superiority in numbers of the French people, obtained a complete ascendancy, the almost natural consequence was, that the governor sought a refuge from that ascendancy by composing the Legislative Council chiefly of the English, as a sort of antagonist power to the Assembly. An offer was made in 1815 by the Assembly, to take upon itself the whole expenses of Lower Canada, those expenses having previously been contributed by this country. This was at the time declined; but in 1818, when the pressure of affairs at home made it desirable to reduce the public expenditure, that proposition was received by this country, and was acceded to by the Assembly. That was the first step which put the colonial Assembly in possession of a practical power of exercising the constitutional right which they de rived from the Act of 1791. From that period down to the year 1828, the history of Lower Canada was a succession of struggles between the Assembly on the one hand, and the Executive Council, supported by the Legislative Council, on the other. In those struggles the Assembly contended for their privileges and rights, which were fought for step by step, and they generally gained the victory. But the concessions which were extorted did not promote conciliation and contentment. On the one side there was a sense of insult, and a desire to continue an ancient dominion— on the other, a sense of injury that had been triumphant and successful in a dispute against power. These struggles and victories had been most injurious to the peace of the province. One effect, however, of these struggles was, that men belonging to the British party who espoused liberal principles joined the French party against the Government; so that it at length became a struggle between men of liberal and of oppressive principles in politics, which finally led to extreme discontent in the colony. Petitions poured into this country, and at last Mr. Huskisson, in 1823, being at that time at the head of the colonial department, thought it his duty to submit the whole subject to the consideration of Parliament, A Committee of the House of Commons was accordingly appointed. That Committee performed its duty with great discretion, ability, temperance, and moderation. It made a report, which was received with acclamation by the colonists, and pronounced by the Assembly an imperishable monument of the wisdom and justice of its author. Upon that report the people of Canada took their stand as maintaining their constitutional rights. They complained of mal-administration and misconduct on the part of the Government, but not of the constitution, The Committee, in their report, also proceeded on the same principle, They maintained the existence and integrity of the constitution, which at that period was the object of praise and admiration throughout the whole province, The Assembly stated, that the Committee had recommended remedies that would meet all the grievances of which they complained. During the two succeeding years efforts were made by the Government to carry into effect those recommendations; but owing to peculiar circumstances which it was not needful for him to mention, and to the necessity of further inquiry in the provinces, the greater part of those remedies could not be introduced during those two years. Inquiries were instituted in order to enable the Government to act upon the suggestion of the Committee. One great measure— the reform of the representation of the people —was carried into effect. Another great measure was introduced into the House of Commons by the Government at that period, but it was not passed into a law. The measure he alluded to was this:—In the year 1774 an Act was passed for the abolition of certain duties existing from time to time, and for reimposing those duties, and giving the appropriation of them to the home Treasury for Colonial purposes; in other words, giving to the Crown certain revenues which it could dispose of at discretion for Colonial purposes, but over which the Assembly was not to have any control. That was one of the grievances brought before the Committee of 1828: the Committee examined into the subject, and reported that by law the Crown was in possession of those revenues for specified purposes; but they recommended that the Act of 1774 should be repealed, and the whole revenues placed at the disposal of the Assembly, on condition that the Assembly fixed a certain sum, either permanently or for a term of years, for the civil purposes of the colonial government, independently of the Crown revenues in that province. The Government of 1829, introduced a Bill into the House of Commons conformably to that recommendation. But, as he had said before, owing to peculiar circumstances, that Bill did not pass. It fell to the lot of his noble Friend opposite (Earl of Ripon), to carry into effect the recommendation of the Committee of 1828. His noble Friend applied himself to that task with great zeal and energy, and he thought he might say, that his noble Friend accomplished it; at least, the noble Lord who preceded him in the Colonial office had recorded a minute in which he stated, after a minute detail of all the grievances and remedies proposed, that the suggestions of the Committee had been carried into effect. There was one exception which he could not help thinking might be made, although it did not apply to his noble Friend. He did not think that the Legislative Council had been completely reformed in the sense of the recommendation of the Committee. He was aware that his noble Friend asked for information, and for the names of such Members of the Council as were proper to be retained, that those names were transmitted to him, and that accordingly those names were inserted in the Legislative Council. It afterwards, however, appeared, that the information obtained was not so accurate as it ought to have been; but upon this point also, in respect to the Government, every possible effort was made in compliance with the suggestions of the Committee. There was one result which flowed from the measure of his noble Friend, which was, that it detached from the party hostile to the Government those who were the real and honest well-wishers of the province, who had joined the disaffected only because they believed that justice could not otherwise be obtained, but who, on perceiving the firm purpose of the Government to redress real grievances, abandoned them, and placed themselves on the side of the Government, confident that that Government was on the side of liberality and justice. The effect of this was, that the distinction that had previously existed among the people was revived, and the province was now divided between the French party and the British party, and not between the Liberals and Illiberals. But conciliation was not attended with any good effect on the Assembly, for in proportion as concessions were made, the Assembly increased in their demands. He felt bound to say, that up to the year 1828, the Assembly had just cause of complaint, but he was equally bound in justice to say, that subsequently to that year their case was not so good, and not so entitled to consideration. With his noble Friend it remained to repeal the Act of 1774. His noble Friend, believing that the Assembly were cordially disposed to meet the reformed Legislative Council in a conciliatory spirit, introduced a Bill to repeal the Act of 1774; but he thought he might rely on the Assembly to enable him to repeal that Act without imposing any condition on the Assembly to provide for a civil list. Consequently a Bill was passed in September, 1831, placing all the revenues which were then at the disposal of the Crown, by virtue of the Act of 1774, under the control of the Assembly. Much had been said about that Bill, because it had been passed without any condition. It was said that the Bill, being passed without any condition, left the Assembly completely masters of the revenues. It was only a matter of justice for him to observe, that that construction of the transaction was not a correct one. He meant, that it was not to be supposed that his noble Friend, in passing that Bill without condition, did not look forward to the contingency that the Assembly might not perform that part which, nevertheless, it might have been only reasonable to have expected them to do. It was true his noble Friend passed the Bill without condition, but did he keep himself completely in the dark as to what course should be pursued if the Assembly did not provide for the civil list? No: in a paper on their Lordships' Table it was stated by his noble Friend what course it would, under such circumstances, be right to pursue. It was this — that as his Bill did not include the revenues properly belonging to the Crown, his noble Friend asserted, that, in the contingency of the Assembly not fixing upon a civil list, he was prepared himself, on the part of the Crown, to have recourse to those revenues, and carry on the Government of the colony without any regard to the Assembly. But, however, even that concession — the repealing of the Act of 1774 — was not received by the Assembly in the same spirit in which it was made to them. They certainly made no provision for the civil list, but increased in their demands; these were not complied with. In the year 1833 the Assembly met, and proposed a Bill granting a supply conditionally. This was rejected: consequently the supply failed for that year. In 1834 the Assembly met again, and having called upon the Governor for a redress of grievances, and the Governor having refused, they departed without granting any supply. But the House of Assembly, before they separated, adopted hostile measures. They passed resolutions, no less than ninety-two in number, assuming the form of an impeachment of the Governor. In those resolutions they introduced many new grievances, and afterwards transmitted the resolutions to this country, with a deputation of their own body. That was in the year 1834, when Lord Stanley was at the head of the Colonial Department. The resolutions were debated in the House of Commons, and then referred to a Committee. In the course of the debate Lord Stanley announced, that it was his intention to repeal the Act of 1831, introduced by the Earl of Ripon, and thereby replace the revenues created by the Act of 1774 in the hands of the Crown, for the purposes of the colony. The Committee to whom the subject of Canada had been referred having examined into the subject, made their Report; and again withdrawing the subject altogether from the Legislature, recommended that it should be left to the discretion of the Executive Government. In 1835, the Assembly refusing to enter into any business with the Governor, the House separated. It was under these circumstances and at that period that he entered into the office he now held. The supplies had not been granted during three years; but in the year 1834, a certain payment was made from the Crown revenues to the different official servants of the province. The Government had then to consider the rule of policy by which they should be guided in this important and delicate matter. He felt it to be one that required much circumspection and caution, and he thought that the rule of policy by which the Government ought to be guided, and which they ultimately adopted, was this: first, to respect the spirit of the constitution of the province; second, to separate as speedily as possible the really loyal and honest from the factious party in the province, by the redress of all real grievances; third, to institute a searching inquiry into the nature of their complaints; fourthly, to observe especially the disposition of the adjoining British provinces of North America; and in all cases to act in such a manner as should become the honour and dignity of the British Crown and Parliament, not with feelings of vindictiveness, not with haste or intemperance, but in a grave and deliberate spirit, and with a determination to adopt whatever steps the justice of the case should appear to demand. This course of caution and circumspection as regarded Lower Canada, and of vigilant observance of the adjoining provinces was one which necessarily involved delay, and delay, he knew, would expose them (as it had done) to many severe attacks from many ardent spirits in the province, who condemned every species of delay, however necessary or reasonable it might be, and ascribed it not to temperance or forbearance, but to timidity and want of spirit in the Government. But he felt that it would be more becoming on the part of a great nation, in a struggle with a colony, to act with deliberate composure rather than with intemperate haste; and that it would be the better policy to calmly await the crisis rather than rashly to precipitate it. So strongly did he feel the propriety of this course of policy, that even if strong reasons for delay had not at that time existed, he should have felt it his duty to have invented them, and to have devised the means of giving time for inquiry and consideration, rather than prematurely to bring about a crisis, the anticipation of which every one must have regretted, and which no one, he was sure, could wish to accelerate. This was the course, devoid of any expression of resentment, or any desire precipitately or vexatiously to interfere in the affairs of the colony, that he thought it most becoming for this country, conscious of great power and resources, to pursue towards the refractory province. But, he might, perhaps, be asked, whether he was not one of that body who, twelve months before, had concurred in the measure for the repeal of the Act of 1831? It was true that he had been a supporter of that measure, and he supported it because he felt at that time, that the crisis had arrived when such a measure was required; but when he was himself called upon to look into all the details of the subject, and to be himself the adviser upon it, it did not appear to him that the crisis had arrived; but even if he had thought the crisis matured, what was the warning he had received from the proceedings of the year previous? When the measure was introduced into the House of Commons by Lord Stanley, the subject was referred to a Committee, who, after several months of inquiry, made a Report recommending that the matter should be settled by the Executive Government and the colony; thus, in fact, pronouncing a negative upon the measure, which was ultimately dropped. The Government feeling, that further inquiry was necessary, appointed a Commission for that purpose. He confessed he was somewhat surprised to hear from his noble Friend the other night an opinion that further inquiry was not necessary. It seemed to be his noble Friend's opinion, and the same opinion had been stated elsewhere, that there was no necessity for issuing a fresh Commission, that the whole subject had been fully inquired into, and that it was quite impossible for any body of Commissioners to throw a new light upon it. But, admitting for a moment that the subject had been very fully inquired into, did that, under the circumstances which existed, disprove the necessity of appointing another Commission? Admitting the Government to be in possession of ample information upon the subject, was it not necessary that others as well as the Government should be satisfied with the completeness of the inquiry? Was the Government to tell the House of Assembly that it had all the information it required upon the subject, and that it would not inquire further? Would such a course have satisfied the House of Assembly, or would it, indeed, have been consistent with the honour or dignity of the mother country? Admitting that no new fact could be obtained, was it nothing to procure from the Commissioners, after a full and patient inquiry, a solemn assurance that the people of Lower Canada had no new grievance to complain of? Five years had elapsed since the previous inquiry, and during that time, with a rapidly increasing population and a constant infusion of fresh settlers, new events had occurred in the province, new circumstances arisen, new interests taken place. Was not this in itself sufficient ground for further inquiry? Besides, had there been no danger in the position assumed by the House of Assembly? At the commencement of the year 1829, the House of Assembly of Lower Canada congratulated the Home Government upon the course it had pursued, and expressed their full approbation of it. During the three or four subsequent years the Government made every exertion to ascertain the grievances of the colony and to redress them; yet at the end of that time the House of Assembly passed no less than ninety-two resolutions against the conduct of the Government, setting forth new grievances and making new demands, which rested not merely upon the facts of which they had previously complained, but upon the ground that the constitution had not worked well, and required to be changed. Was not that a new feature? Was it not a great phenomenon, and did it not require explanation? Upon the face of such facts, could it be said, that further inquiry was not necessary? It had been said, that the Reports of the Commissioners threw no new light upon the subject. He must be allowed to doubt whether those from whom that assertion came had taken the trouble to read those Reports. They contained, in fact, a mass of the most valuable and most important information; they went into the whole of the subject, and explained in the fullest and most comprehensive manner all the motives, interests, and sentiments, of the people of Lower Canada. From no other source could so comprehensive a view of the subject be obtained. In these reports the fact was clearly explained, a fact which must materially affect all the proceedings of the mother country towards the colony, namely, that the controversy now carried on in Lower Canada was not a controversy between the colonists in general and a particular faction, but between the Canadians of English origin and the Canadians of French origin. This had been denied before by high authorities, but the Reports of the Commissioners established it beyond a doubt. Another important circumstance which the Commissioners brought to light was this: that the English were not represented in the House of Assembly; yet another statement of detail proved that the deficiency was irremediable and that no attempt could be made to correct it without injustice to the other and more numerous party. They proved, further, that the composition of the Legislative Council was imperfect, and required to be corrected; they proved, also, that the Land Company, which was one of the great subjects of dispute, had conferred great benefits upon the province, although it was extremely distasteful to the French party; and, beyond all this, they proved, that the resources of the colony in possession of the Crown were fully adequate, with due economy and care, to defray the expenses of the civil government, without having recourse to the House of Assembly. They had also clearly proved that the emancipation of the town of Montreal from feudal dues had been decidedly beneficial. If, then, they had effected all this, it was surely not necessary for him to enter into all the objections which had been urged against the constitution of that commission. Still he was anxious to say a word or two on that point also. It had been objected to the commission, that it was too numerous —that its duties should have been intrusted to one or two —that its constitution led to discrepancy of sentiment, conflicting ideas, and consequent uncertainty in the result. But those who made that remark proceeded on a misconception of the real nature and object of the commission. One of its objects was, to point out a remedy which Government might adopt, but another was, to put them in possession of the various views in which the same state of affairs struck different minds. And then it was to be kept in mind, that, with all the difference of opinion which might be expected to prevail, the practical measures recommended by the commission met with their united concurrence. It had been said they only agreed on the question of the money; but that was not by any means the case —all their resolutions and recommendations were unanimously agreed to. His noble Friend in another place had also objected that the governor had been made a member of the commission. That he humbly ventured to think was strictly advisable, inasmuch as no person could, in his opinion, be so intimately acquainted with all the circumstances of the province with respect to which the inquiry was to take place. He now came to the events which had taken place after the arrival of the Commissioners in Lower Canada. Lord Gosford, according to the instructions he had received, immediately summoned the House of Assembly, stated the nature of the commission, and the objects of their inquiries, and invited them to pay the arrears, and make provision for the current expenses of the civil government of the province. At first this invitation seemed likely to meet with success, the majorities against Government having greatly diminished; but in consequence of the publication of the instructions of Sir Francis Head, with extracts from those of Lord Gosford, which had been communicated to the Assembly, the leaders of the extreme party availed themselves of that means of irritating the feelings of the House of Assembly, and inducing them to retrace their steps. They availed themselves of those instructions to induce the Assembly to take no notice of the arrears to the civil servants, and passing a six months' supply bill. The Assembly adopted an address to the King desiring the Speaker to communicate their opinions to the other Assemblies in the neighbouring provinces, and call for their concurrence. That was an important document. Although sufficiently respectful in its tone, if mere expressions were considered, yet in spirit and positive declaration it was to inform the King, that having made their demands, and resolved on insisting on certain concessions, they appealed to the King in Parliament not to leave his royal discretion unfettered, but to receive his sanction of those concessions, with nothing less than which would they be satisfied. That address was transmitted to this country, and, at the same time, a Report was received from the Commissioners recommending, as no supplies had been voted, that application should immediately be made to Parliament and the Act of 1831 repealed. On mature consideration it appeared unadvisable to the Government to comply with that suggestion, and he apprehended the events which had then and since taken place in connexion with the state of feeling in the adjoining provinces fully justified their determination. In the first place, there was a certain degree of plausibility in the unfounded pretext of which the leaders of the Assembly had availed themselves, in order to carry their objects; and in the next place the House of Assembly had not in terms refused the supplies, having voted a six months' money bill. It was also important that the great question at issue should be brought out deliberately and distinctly whenever the appeal to Parliament should be made. On those grounds it was thought advisable not to make the appeal to Parliament at that time. Lord Gosford was again directed to summon the Assembly, and announce that his Majesty regretted the communication of partial extracts had induced them to take steps which they would not otherwise in all probability have adopted; he was directed to communicate to them the fullest information, and assure them that there was no ground for the suspicion of a predetermined resolution respecting the result of their inquiries, and they were again invited to vote the supplies. One part of his dispatches to Lord Gosford had been made the ground of a charge against him of want of sympathy for the situation of the civil functionaries in Lower Canada, whose salaries had been so long left unpaid. So far from entertaining any want of sympathy for the situation of those unfortunate persons, he had directed Lord Gosford, if the arrears were not paid by the provincial legislature, to avail himself of all the resources of the Crown that he might have in his possession for that pur- pose; and, so far as they were available, to apply them to the payment of the official servants whose salaries had been left unpaid. The consequence was, that Lord Gosford did advance 50,000l. —being all the money he could command —for the payment of the civil servants, and liquidated the claims of all whose salaries were under 200l. a-year, and a great portion of those whose salaries were of a much higher amount. This was in the year 1836; and at that time, in consequence of the instructions forwarded to Lord Gosford, the civil servants of the Canadian Government were placed in precisely the same situation as that in which they stood when he came into office. After receiving the speech from Lord Gosford, the House of Assembly agreed to another address —not to the King — but to Lord Gosford himself, and this last address was drawn up in a tone of menace and defiance which left no doubt as to the feeling and determination of the body from which it emanated. It reiterated in the strongest possible form the whole of their demands —their unalterable determination to insist on the unconditional repeal of the Tenures Act, the total subversion of the Land Company, a complete control over the executive, and the introduction of the elective principle into the Legislative Council. But further than this, the Assembly proceeded to animadvert on the Commissioners in a tone which was most extraordinary and reprehensible; they poured contempt on their whole proceedings; they said the commission was without law, and against law, and declared that no persons had authority within the provinces except the Houses of Assembly, who were only competent to make demands, and be appealed to, in the name of the province; and they positively placed the colony under an interdict of all legislation. He submitted, then, that the time had at length arrived when Parliament should be called on to interfere. All that was wanting on a former occasion had now been supplied,— the necessity for interference was palpable; and those resolutions having obtained the sanction of the House of Commons, he hoped they would also receive the seal of their Lordships' approbation. The question at issue was no minor grievance, no misconduct or maladministration on the part of the Government; every pretext had vanished; there was no doubt as to the refusal of supplies; legislation was at a stand still, in order to wrest new concessions, which compromised the honour of this country and the sovereignty of the King. At the period when the subject was last before the House was the situation of the adjoining provinces favourable? The House of Assembly of Upper Canada was then in a state of excitement; in fact, they were almost running in rivalry with the House of the adjoining province in the extravagance of their demands. Since the appointment of Sir F. Head to the Governorship of Upper Canada, that province had been enabled to vindicate its character, and the House of Assembly had in a signal manner marked its opinion of the proceedings of the House of Assembly of Lower Canada. Every praise ought to be given to Sir F. Head; but still he thought a little praise was due to the Government who had selected him, and in obedience to whose instructions he had acted. The noble Lord read an extract from the report of a Committee of the honourable House of Assembly of Upper Canada, which condemned in strong terms the course which had been followed in the Lower Province. He would now call the attention of the House to the province of New Brunswick. The House of Assembly of that province had also passed resolutions to address his Majesty, and two members had been deputed to carry that address to this country. That address was couched in the most respectful and moderate terms, and it pointed out certain grievances. Negotiations had taken place on the subject, the result of which had been so satisfactory that the House of Assembly had agreed to resolutions, expressing the most entire satisfaction; and a "deep sense of the high obligations they owe to his Majesty's Government for the promptness with which the representations contained in the address were attended to — the solicitude expressed for a satisfactory settlement of the various matters brought under their consideration— and the results produced by the negotiation carried on between his Majesty's principal Secretary of State for the Colonies and the deputation." The demands of the House of Assembly might be divided into two classes —those which affected the honour and integrity of the country, and those which affected the sovereignty of the King. With respect to those which touched the honour and good faith of the country, they related to the tenures of lands, or rather to the Acts respecting tenures, which involved very many complicated details, with which details, however, he did not consider it was necessary to trouble their Lordships. But the point on which the House of Assembly took their stand was based on the Act of 1791, which provided for the conversion of feudal tenures into tenures free and common soccage; and upon this the question had been raised formerly, whether this conversion of feudal tenures did or did not carry with it the English law of alienations and descents. To solve that doubt an Act was passed in the year 1825, which determined that it should carry with it the English law of alienation and descent. That law, then, was so passed in the year 1825, and yet in all the petitions of 1828 no allusion to, or complaint, was made of that law. Subsequently, however, it was made a grievance, and an imperial Act of Parliament was passed authorising the King, with the local Assembly, to repeal that Act. That point was now established under the authority of an Act of Parliament. Titles, therefore, had been acquired to property, and yet the House of Assembly sought to abolish all the rights acquired under the sanction of that Act of Parliament, to abolish the rights on which the whole of the property in that country depended. This was what they called the simple and unconditional repeal of this Act. He prayed the House not to commit any such breach of faith. So with the case of the Canada Land Company, which had been incorporated by the charter of the King, whose legal right to grant such charter could not be questioned. But as there were in this case certain powers which only an Act of Parliament could effect, an Act was accordingly passed giving those powers. It was necessary, too, that it should be an Act of the Imperial Parliament, because the domicile of the company was in this country. Under the sanction, then, of their charter and this imperial Act, the company had bought lands and sold them, because the whole of their property was thus protected. And yet nothing was to remain safe if the demands of the Assembly were to be acceded to —for they called for the abrogation of this charter. He would say, that both their demands involved a sacrifice of the national faith. But there were other demands which involved the Government of the country, so far as regarded everything which constituted property. The Assembly required the whole disposal of all revenues —not only of those arising out of the department of taxation, which were usually levied by popular assemblies, but also of those revenues which appertained to Crown property. All these claims were made; they demanded the disposal of all Crown property at their own discretion. He need not tell their Lordships that this was a principle which never had been, and never could be, comprised in the constitutional law of property; and nothing was more pleasing to witness — nothing more imposing at the commencement of every new reign —than to observe the compact which was made by the people and the Sovereign respecting their rights of property. But the object of the Assembly was to make the King a mere pensioner. This was one of the claims, nevertheless, on which they insisted. The next claim was, that the Executive Council should be made so responsible to the House of Assembly as to be dismissible at the will and pleasure of the Assembly. If measures considered in a provincial Parliament, and connected with local interests, had nothing external about them, it would be of little consequence if the rule were established. But let it be recollected what must be the situation in which the Executive Council must be thrown by admitting this principle. If the Assembly disapproved of an Act of Parliament, then their councillors would lose their office at the instance of the House of Assembly. What, then, was the course to be pursued? Were the Executive Council under such circumstances to be replaced? If not, what must be the consequence? Why, the Provincial Assembly would decide in matters of foreign policy, and exercise its own judgment, independent of the parent country; and the result would be, that they would have a series of independent states, each exercising independent functions. Then there was the third demand which had been made, that the Legislative Council should be an elective council. The object of this was, that the Executive Council should be identical in its principles with the House of Assembly. In one word, the two houses were to be animated by the same views, influenced by the same constituencies, and by the same career of policy, whatever it might tend to. The result of that would be to place the whole fortunes of the British settlers under the absolute control of the French party. To grant such a power would not be an act of justice to the former, while it would give an unconstitutional right to the latter. Such were the demands which went to affect the sovereignty of the King, and he confidently appealed to their Lordships whether they ought to be acceded to. He might be told, perhaps, that they had resorted to the power of refusing the supplies in order to obtain a redress of their grievances. They certainly had the constitutional right to refuse the supplies; but he presumed that all demands which should be constitutionally made, and of a constitutional character, and that there should be no abrogation of the constitution when the right of withholding the supplies was resorted to. He apprehended that it was the corresponding duty of the Assembly to maintain the conditional principles of that constitution under which it existed. The right to stop the supplies had been exercised in this country only on one occasion, which involved the general overthrow of all rights. He contended that this right was given, not to abuse, not to destroy, but to improve the constitution. So long as it was necessary to keep up the connexion between the parent country and the colony, so long must the constitutional principle be qualified in the case of the colony, and limited by the very principle of its dependence. It was competent for the colonial legislatures to suggest alterations, but not to enforce, in any particulars, the overthrow of the constitution, because this could only be regarded as a lawless abuse of a remedy placed in their hands. It might be said that there were other grievances. What were those grievances? Were they those of 1828? The grievances of 1834 were in course of inquiry, and during that inquiry these unfortunate differences sprung up. But it was said, why have recourse to the resources of the colony? He believed it had been made a matter of taunt in the other House of Parliament that some Members of the Government felt no great regret and reluctance at being compelled to adopt these resolutions. Now, for himself, he would say, that he should be ashamed, if he did not feel the greatest compunction at the necessity to which he was reduced. He knew what constitutional rights were; he knew it was quite impossible for any man not to feel the utmost repugnance when such measures were rendered necessary. The French people of Lower Canada were of most peaceful habits, and were happy until they were roused by those who had taught them to consider their grievances were irremediable; and the French people possessed virtues which exposed them to the machinations of ambitious and designing men. It was then only under the most urgent necessity that he called upon their Lordships to adopt the resolutions which he should submit to their consideration. But look to the case of the public servants who had been deprived of their incomes. If it were said that this was an infraction of a great constitutional right, he would say, the House of Assembly had no right to withhold the salaries of the public servants. He thought it was quite impossible to regard the case of these sufferers without feeling the greatest commiseration for them. He would not take the matter up even on the ground of humanity, but upon that of national justice, because they were not at liberty to trifle with the public servants. The King had called these individuals to their duty, and a compact had been made with the public to remunerate them for their services. They had patiently performed their duties under all circumstances; and again he would say this was not a question of humanity, but it was a solemn debt of justice due from the King and the Canadian people, whom the King had the right to compel to pay their servants out of those revenues from whence they had before been paid. Would this country pay these officers? Did their Lordships think that if they gave their negative to these claims they would obtain a liquidation of these arrears, if on every occasion these claims were treated not only with contempt, but the House of Assembly, moreover, stated their determination as to the disposal of the public men in the province? He knew a plan had been proposed by an hon. and learned Gentleman in another place, which that hon. Gentleman believed would conciliate all parties. That plan involved the important topic of the abolition of the Legislative Council altogether. He (Lord Glenelg) felt he need not argue the question of the proposition itself; but he should like to know on what authority it was asserted that the Assembly would consent to such a proposition, at the same time it was totally inadmissible, because it laid the Government of the whole colony prostrate at the feet of the French House of Assembly. Matters had reached that crisis that further delay in dealing with the evil would be most injurious to the British population in Canada. That people formed the minority; they had watched all these proceedings with intense interest for some time; they had suffered what a minority would be content to suffer; they had borne the efforts of the opposite party to interfere with their interests; their commerce had been deranged, their resources had been narrowed, and their greatest efforts had been weakened. He was not there to defend indiscriminately the conduct or temper which the British population had evinced. He did not mean to express his approbation of the manner in which they had conducted themselves with respect to their French fellow-subjects, but great allowance was to be made for them. But if there was any danger of these animosities and hostilities increasing, it became the duty of the Government to interfere. The French people of Canada were warmly attached to the British Constitution; we had raised them from their small beginning to their present state — we had respected their laws, their Church, and their priests. Unfortunately many speculative notions had been raised by their leaders; but he would call upon them to recollect that the constitution of 1791 had been and was their asylum, and that nothing was so dangerous to them as embarking in theoretical disputes with the present Government. He hoped, however, that the intervention of Parliament would arrest the progress of these animosities, and that the French population would be able to see their true interests. But he might be told that this measure was feeble and inadequate, and that if they did interfere they should interfere effectually — that they should repeal the Act of 1831. As to the principle of the two measures, it was very nearly the same; but he would venture to state the reasons which induced him to think the present the preferable proposition. This proposal of drawing on the resources of the colony was a clear and simple proceeding —it did what it professed, and no more. If they resorted to the repeal of the Act of 1831, they must either do it at the sacrifice of the good faith of the country, or the only reason upon which it could be justified must be, that the Assembly had not performed their part of the contract. Now he believed that the Assembly were open to no charge of breach of faith; they were at perfect liberty, their good faith remaining untouched, to ac precisely as they did. But, supposing that not to be the case, the period had elapsed during which the Act of 1831 ought to be repealed. That Act passed in September, and it contained a provision that it should not come into operation until the July following; and the object of that provision, of course, was to afford an interval during which the Assembly might express its opinion on the measure, and Parliament might again take it into consideration. But that time had been suffered to pass; the Parliament had neglected its duty in that respect; and they had, therefore, no right now to come and call for its repeal. But it was said, that the present proposal was inadequate. Now that proposal was to this effect —that the revenues of the colony should be applied to defray the arrears up to the 10th of April last. They intended, therefore, to draw on the treasury of the colony strictly for that amount, and an order was to be issued that after the 10th of April the Government had resolved to carry on the Government of the colony strictly on its own resources. It appeared from the Reports of the Commissioners that those resources were adequate to the general purposes of the civil government and the administration of justice, if proper economy was used. In what sense, then, could it be said that this scheme was inadequate? If because it did not altogether deprive the Assembly of all power of interference with the Executive Council —if because it was not framed on the principle of placing the Government in such a state of independence as would enable it to carry on the Government without any reference whatever to the feelings or opinions of the Assembly, he must beg to say, that that inadequacy was the very recommendation of the measure. It was required by the principles of the constitution that the representative body should have some influence in the administration of the Government. Much would be done towards harmonising the differences that existed by the declaration of Parliament, and the conduct of the Government would prove how slow they had been in coming to the decision which the necessity of the case had forced them to adopt, and in the execution of their project how respectful they had been to the rights of the constitution. When, however, it was said, that they ought to repeal the Act of 1831 did that, he would ask, answer the meaning of the word "adequate?" That proposal went beyond the necessity of the case, and at the same time did not go far enough in respect of the very grievance that was to be remedied. It went beyond the necessity of the case, because it secured to the Government a large permanent fund; but in another point of view it did not meet that necessity, because when the Bill of 1831 had been repealed, the Assembly would still not be precluded from carrying on a war of annoyance; for 100,000l. per year would still remain in their hands, to be voted in annual supplies. He should state also to their Lordships, that, together with the present proposal, it was the intention of the Government to make every possible improvement in the Legislative and Executive Councils. They intended likewise to take advantage of the tracts of country that were unoccupied, in order to open new outlets for the surplus population of this country. It was their intention to avail themselves of the situation of the country, and to fix the boundary of Lower Canada by the river Saguenay. It had been matter of complaint, and was certainly true, that these populous colonies had hitherto advanced in an insulated manner, each regarding its own local interests, without reference to each other —without mutually leaning on each other. But there could be no doubt that, as they multiplied relations with the parent country, they must multiply relations with each other; and the only danger was, that jealousies and differences might arise amongst them in matters in which in reality they had one common interest. It was necessary then that there should be some presiding power in order to conciliate and harmonise any such differences; and the last of the resolutions which he had to submit to their Lordships was to appoint a Committee for consulting upon their common interests. Looking to Upper Canada, it would be seen she was advancing with gigantic steps, not only by increase of population, but by the influx of strangers. The population in twenty years had increased from 90,000 to 400,000. That province, however, was landlocked, and had no outlet of her own; they could not avail themselves of the St. Lawrence. The people of Upper Canada had prayed to be placed in a more favourable situation, and had begged that Montreal and the town of Montreal should be added to that province. It had been suggested, therefore, that a Committee should be appointed, to be composed of men chosen from each House of Legislature of each province. This would have the effect of diffusing a new influence — of elevating the public mind; whilst measures recommended by such Committee would come with great weight to the different Houses of the Legislature, and would outweigh the obstinacy or ignorance of party, whilst it would enable the parent country to appreciate, and better inform herself of the wants and wishes of the people of the colony. It could not be denied that the time would arrive when the relations between the mother country and her several dependencies might require some modification; and in that case the authority and influence of the body to which he had been adverting, might be most advantageously exercised towards all parties. The noble Lord concluded by moving, that their Lordships concur in the resolutions under their consideration.

The Earl of Ripon

felt himself placed in a peculiar situation, because he was responsible in some respect for the present state of this question, inasmuch as he had proposed the act of 1831. The present state of the question was the effect, not of that act, but of the manner in which the colonists had acted with respect to it. He thought his noble Friend had misunderstood him with respect to the commission. He certainly had on a former occasion said that he entertained considerable doubt of the propriety of sending out that commission, and he saw nothing yet to remove that doubt. It was a remarkable fact, that after the five reports had been published by the Commissioners, one of them, a learned Gentleman of great talent, annexed to the general report which bore his signature a separate report, in which he advanced a great variety of opinions which were not consistent with the general report. No sooner, indeed, had he done that, than a gallant Colleague ranged his batteries against the annexation, and not only poured his broadsides into it, but also into his own works. He did not know how to reconcile such inconsistencies. He believed he must reckon himself amongst the ardent spirits alluded to by the noble Lord, for he was a party in 1834 to deal with the act of 1831 in the way his noble Friend proposed to deal with it, feeling as be did that there was some necessity for a modification of the law. But that course was never properly followed up in consequence of his noble Friend going out of office. He would add, that his noble Friend also did not think a commission necessary; and on the whole, he must say it was rather a dear bargain. He felt no disposition to offer the slightest opposition whatever to the resolutions of the noble Lord, but there were some objections he entertained to the wording of one or two of them; for instance, it was said, that "in the existing state of Lower Canada" it was not advisable to introduce the elective principle into the formation of the Legislative Council; the inference was, that a state of things might arise when it would be considered advisable to do so; but he must say he could not acquiesce at all in the principle under any circumstances he could contemplate. His policy had been to act on two principles — first to abide, as strictly as possible, by the recommendations of the Canada Committee; and in the next place to make the Government of the colony as conformable to the principles and constitution of this country as he possibly could. The noble Lord read an extract from a despatch sent out in 1830, relative to the colonial revenues, he also read several despatches of Lord Aylmer, to show that he had been justified in the course which he adopted in reference to Canada, when Secretary for the Colonies. He had been rather astonished at the new light which had broken in upon the House of Assembly after these despatches respecting the necessity of an elective council. It was quite a new and after-thought, and he was quite justified in saying that all the proceedings of Government at that period had been quite in conformity with the opinions expressed by the Legislative Assembly. It was not reasonable or just, therefore, because individuals had not thought proper to follow their dictation, to impute to them any blame for what had taken place. If their Lordships would take the trouble of reading the despatch of Lord Aylmer of the 7th of July, they would perceive that he had there entered upon every point which formed a subject of grievance, and detailed the remedies to be applied for their removal. On turning, then, to the answer of the House of Assembly, or rather to their resolutions, their Lordships would find a most unequivocal proof of the feeling with which the Assembly had received the noble Lord's address, and how far they conceived his proposed remedies would remove the grievances of which they complained. Their Lordships would, in fact, find that the Assembly had admitted in the strongest manner that they were satisfied with the tone of that document. In reference to the Address of the Assembly, the governor said that he hoped it would be a happy presage of the extinction of all differences between the Executive Government and the House of Assembly. In that manner had the Governor understood the Address of the Assembly, which did not contain one syllable calculated to convey to his mind the impression that they entertained any other feeling than that of the most un-qualified satisfaction at the way in which the question had been disposed of. On the subject of the civil list the Assembly of Upper Canada, whose grievances had not all been remedied at the time, had not hesitated a moment to adopt the proposition which had been submitted to them. They had granted the civil list in compliance with the demand made by his Majesty. The sentiments which had been since expressed by the Assembly of Lower Canada he did not consider to be in accordance with those of the people at large; and although he did not pretend to say what the circumstances were which had led to the expression of those sentiments, yet, in his humble judgment, they were of such a nature as called for the interference of the Imperial Parliament, in order, in the first place, to remedy the evil arising from the non-performance of the legislative functions of that Assembly; and, secondly, to prevent the colony from being left a prey to designing and mischievous men. There was not a place in the civilised world so lightly taxed; its soil was most productive, its commerce was extensive and increasing; everything had been done to extend its connexions with other countries, and, such being the case, he must say, that it was one of the greatest misfortunes that could be inflicted upon a community to have such preposterous demands set up —demands which would undoubtedly interfere with the prosperity of the country, and which had already led to the necessity of legislation in the Imperial Parliament. With regard to the last resolution, he had conceived that it applied solely to certain points connected with the financial interests of Upper and Lower Canada, and the receipts and distribution of taxes received at Quebec; but from what his noble Friend had stated, he perceived that it was to create a Committee, to be formed of delegates from various provinces, a design of much too great a magnitude for him to give an opinion on at present, or, indeed, unless his noble Friend would bring it forward in the shape of a Bill, Under these circumstances, he would wish it to be understood that in voting for the resolution he was not bound to all the points which it embraced.

Lord Brougham

rose with unfeigned pain to offer to their Lordships some observations on the question; not only on account of the thinness of attendance, leading to the presumption that their Lordships took it for granted there was no objection to the resolutions under consideration, but because he was aware of the utter hopelessness, in the temper of all their Lordships, present and absent, of offering any arguments to alter their opinions, or to stay their proceedings on the subject. After, therefore, stating his sentiments on the subject, he would enter his protest on the journals against the decision to which he was quite aware their Lordships would come. In fact he was in some doubt whether to sit down now, or to continue for a short time his address to their Lordships. His noble Friend had expressed a of the labours of the Commissioners, and favourable opinion, no doubt, had rested some of his arguments on the report which they had made. Now, he would not deny that they had performed their duty in an able manner. He had the greatest respect for the Commissioners—he had known one of them long—he had known another for some time—and the third, it was admitted on all hands, had the best possible character. He found, however, whether from the constitution of that Commission, or the variety of labours they had to perform, that the Commissioners differed materially on many important points, and on that account had come to a different conclusion from that adopted by his noble Friend, His noble Friend considered the opinion of the Commissioners the more valuable on account of its discrepancy; and he would agree with him if they had for the same reasons to come to the same conclusion. They had collected abundant evidence, and acquired abundant information on a vast variety of topics; and in the end, though not in a very intelligible way, they had come to nearly the same conclusion; but their reasons were not only different, but totally repugnant to one another. And to such an extent was that carried, that any person who was unfavourable to the line of policy proposed by the Government had only to dip his hand and he would find most satisfactory reasons for differing from that policy, and, in like manner any one who approved of that policy would find in the Report the most satisfactory and irrefragable evidence in support of his views. Now it certainly did diminish the authority of an opinion founded on arguments not only differing in themselves, and not only even the arguments different, but the parties joining in drawing up the report seemed to enter into a sort of conflict, by stating the reasons for the opinions they entertained, and answering the arguments and opinions of their colleagues. His noble Friend had at considerable length endeavoured to show that the Legislature had a right to interfere in consequence of the state of affairs in Lower Canada, and the noble Earl who spoke last had made some remarks about repealing the act of 1791, On that point, however, he would not enter, because he was fully convinced, and he believed it could hardly be denied, that as far as circumstances would allow, making allowance for the difference between a colony and independent state, they ought to give the same constitutional principles of legislation to the provinces that they all admitted were necessary in the mother country. The only difference that ought to be made must arise from the circumstance of the one being, to a certain extent, dependent, and the other independent. The Commons of England had the control over the executive by means of the control they had over the public purse. The Lower Assembly in the colonies had the same control over the executive—they bad control over the public purse as in England; and admitting all that—admitting that the mother country gave them the power of stopping the supplies—yet, notwithstanding that power, the estates of King, Lords and Commons might step in between the parties, and set at nought the control of the representatives of Canada over the purse of their constituents. That, it would be admitted, made the greatest possible difference. Now, so far from not giving them that control, his opinion was quite the contrary, because he thought it only just and fair that they should possess it, inasmuch as their power as regards the Crown would be impotent without it, and it would tend much to place in safe keeping the union of the two parts of the empire, His noble Friend had rested one of his arguments on the great inconsistency of the House of Assembly respecting the proposition for making the Legislative Assembly elective, and had stated that their opinions entirely differed from those which they had put forth on the same subject four years ago. Now there wag nothing extraordinary in that; for the very same circumstance had occurred in this country. It could not be denied, that persons in the United Kingdom felt very deeply interested, and unequivocally expressed their feelings in certain changes in the institutions of the country— in the reform of Parliament, for instance —in what some might call restoration, and others improvement; but call it by what name they pleased, whether improvement, or alteration, or restoration, it was an undoubted fact that there had been substantial changes effected within the last five or six years, and effected, too, with the concurrence of the people of England, Scotland, and Ireland. That the mass of the people were anxiously set on change no one could deny. But it was said, the House of Assembly had changed their opinion about the constitution of the Legislative Assembly; but had not the House of Commons as completely changed? Had not the House of Commons in the first Session of a reformed Parliament, as compared with the last Session of an unreformed Parliament in 1830 or 1829, and still more as compared with preceding Sessions, as much changed as the House of Assembly of Lower Canada respecting its opinions on the constitution of the Legislative Assembly? He was clearly of opinion that the divisions which had taken place in the House of Assembly was as complete and entire a proof as possible of the opinions of the people of Canada, and they also proved, that there was a very strong and an universal feeling in favour of such a change as was embodied in the prayer of the petition presented/to their Lordships' House, and in the resolutions agreed to by the House of Assembly. That appeared to him an important proposition. His noble Friend said, there was a large party in the colony who were opposed to such a change; but certainly no such conclusion could be properly come to from the resolutions passed by a great majority of the representatives of the inhabitants. These resolutions, in his opinion, expressed also the opinions of the people at large. Among the two classes which composed the population of Lower Canada, the French and the English, there, no doubt, were different shades of opinion, and the English generally, it was believed, were less anxious for the change, and some of them had great repugnance to it. The greater portion of those who were averse to the proposed alteration were merchants; but these formed a very small portion of the community, and he might safely assert; that it was nearly the universal opinion, at least the opinion of a very great majority of the inhabitants of the country—he spoke of the great proprietors as well as other inhabitants in general— that some such change as that proposed in the resolutions should take place. These resolutions had been repeatedly carried in the Assembly by majorities of five, six, seven, and eight to one. The Assembly had been dissolved, but when it again met, the majority not only was not diminished, but was greatly increased. But it was said the people were not fairly represented, and the members did not express the sentiments of the community at large. He could not see any weight in such an argument, when it was a fact that these members were returned by forty-shilling freeholders—by persons, in fact, holding land by any tenure—inhabitants of houses rated at 5l. a. year, and that there was a majority of fifty-five to seven in favour of the resolutions in a house composed of members returned by such a constituency. He could not, therefore, conceive it possible that persons so qualified could entertain any other opinions than those expressed by their representatives. With regard to the statement that there were two classes of inhabitants, of different languages and different religion, he thought that was an argument to which they ought to turn a deaf ear, for he did not see how these circumstances ought to interfere with the claims of justice; and if it were adopted as an argument for making a distinction in Canada, why should not the Government lay down the same rule for Ireland as regarded the Protestants and the Catholics—the former preponderating a great deal more in Ireland than those of French descent did in Canada? But it was said there was a division among the Protestants in Ireland, and was there not also the same division among the English in Canada? The French population amounted to about 400,000, and the English to 150,000, and as there was a majority of eight to one in the House of Assembly, he was compelled to come to the conclusion, that though there was great union among the French, some portion of the English must be represented by that body. It was said also by the noble Earl opposite, that no country enjoyed more free institutions than Canada—that they had trial by jury, that they elected their representatives, and enjoyed all the rights of freemen. No doubt they enjoyed personal freedom as much as the people of this country; but that was not the question. The question was as to political independence and political rights, which could not be long disjoined from personal liberty, and that the colonists appeared to understand. The moment political rights and political independence were broken down, it would be folly to talk of security to personal rights. The noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Wellington) said, some years ago that the people of this country were the happiest and the most peaceable in the world; that there was nothing more entire or more unbroken than the peace, the political rights, and prosperity of these happy islands. No doubt there was security for property; they had trial by jury, they had a Parliament, though their voice was not very much heard, yet the noble Duke thought it the best constitution that could possibly be devised, and only wondered how any change should be thought of. The noble Duke might be perfectly consistent in adopting these resolutions, but the people of England then thought, as the people of Canada began to think, that the question was not whether they had trial by jury and a Parliament, but whether they had the means for ensuring a method of good government, and felt assured that the only way to obtain and preserve personal freedom and personal rights was by asserting their political freedom and political independence. It had been said, that there was no other way of governing a people than by conceding every thing they demanded. Now, he could not go so far as to say that there were no other principles of government but that of leaving the people to govern themselves. Far indeed would he be from adopting such a rule of political conduct; but there were others who, it would appear, had considered such government the best, and had quoted an exaggerated speech of Mr. Fox in support of the doctrine. He certainly was surprised to hear that such language had been used, and he had therefore referred to the reported speech, and found there could be no doubt that such language had been used. The words of Mr. Fox alluded to were—"I will concede, and if I find that concession is not sufficient, I will concede more." And it had been inferred from that that the only mode of governing a people was to let them have their own way. He was not induced to go so far; but if that was the principle to be acted on as regarded Ireland, he must totally disapprove of confining it to one country and not extending it to all others, unless it could be shown that there was something in the situation of these countries that could justify a departure from the general law— unless there was a high expediency amounting to state necessity, he never would confine a rule to one country, and exclude it in the management of the affairs of other countries. Now, what were the circumstances which would induce their Lordships to treat one country in one way and another in another?—one on the principle of conciliation and the other on that of harshness. He was sure that the rule was not that the greater the importance the more mildly should the country be dealt with, for that could not be laid down as a rule of justice. For his part he would rather say, look at the less important country, and treat that with kindness and in a spirit of conciliation, and the more so because it was more thrown on your protection. He was equally sure that the proximity of the country or its power could not be adduced as an argument for adopting a one-sided policy. He was quite sure that his noble Friend did not think that a country had a greater claim to justice on account of its great power and weight, and that he would not mete out justice and kindness according to his apprehensions— according to his hopes or his fears. He was quite sure that his noble Friend who had introduced the resolutions would be the very first man to repudiate such a doctrine. It was wholly at variance with the nature of his mind—it was totally at variance with his political feelings and his political conduct on former occasions, as well as his conduct since he had become more immediately connected with the colonies; it was utterly alien to his disposition to mete out one sort of justice to a colony or part of the empire that was near and powerful, and, therefore, not very safe to resist, and mete out another to a country that was more remote and which it would be perfectly safe to resist. He was sure his noble Friend was the last person in the world to adopt such a principle; and yet from the nature of these resolutions he was afraid that a very different sort of policy from that which he knew was congenial with the feelings of his hon. Friend would be adopted. The sum and substance of the argument then was, that they ought to apply to Canada the same principles of conciliation and of kindness, giving the same friendly and attentive ear to their remonstrance, and going as far as they could towards granting their prayers as to their fellow subjects nearer home. The question then arose, should their Lordships sanction the alteration which the Canadians required in their constitution—that was, should the people of Lower Canada have an elective council, or a council for life, as at present constituted? His noble Friend who opened the debate viewed with great repugnance the idea of what he called an organic change in the colonial constitution—an alteration of so violent a nature, that in his apprehension it was capable of totally subverting that system of legislation which he deemed so perfect, and of being fatal in its consequences to the value of that political idea which he attached to an hereditary branch of the Legislature. But the elective principle was not so considered at the time the Canadian constitution was adopted. Men did not shrink with horror at the notion of an Executive Council in those days, yet those were days in which political, he would not say prejudices, but strong political opinions on either side were running pretty nearly as high upon such questions as now. The proposition for making that very Canadian council elective was, in the first instance, brought forward by Mr. Fox, and though not approved of by Mr. Pitt, yet it was to be observed that both Mr. Pitt and Lord Grenville, and all who joined in that Bill of 1791, stated it to be but an experimental measure, and prophesied, in express terms, that a time might be looked forward to when it would become necessary to revise and, possibly, change that measure. His noble Friend had said, if an elective council were established in Lower Canada that difficulty would arise with respect to Upper Canada; but he begged to remind his noble Friend that the avowed object of the measure of 1791 was to separate the two portions of Canada, giving a separate government to Upper Canada, which was almost peopled by English, and also a separate Government to Lower Canada, where the great mass of the people were French. The object was, that the English might continue to enjoy their own laws and institutions, and the French to enjoy, if not institutions, at least their laws—the making the laws coincide with the prejudice and feelings of the people being part of the plan then proposed. So far as high and venerable authorities went, therefore, they were in favour of the propriety of consulting, as far as might be, the wishes and opinions of the people of Lower Canada. The experiment of 1791 had been tried about forty-five years; and could they really say, when they considered what had been the results, that the experiment had altogether succeeded? He thought it would be a strong proposition; nay, that there would be great difficulty in saying that it had not altogether failed as regarded the Legislative Council. The Legislative Council had undoubtedly failed in securing the objects for which it was originally intended; it had met with nothing but heart burnings, jealousies, and disunions among the different parts of the Legislature, and had ended in bringing things to a stand still. That the great objection was that pervading flaw in the original constitution—that prevailing vice in its concoction, which Mr. Fox took the first opportunity of exposing and proposing a remedy for—no man could, whatever opinions he might have in other matters, possibly doubt. He could not help thinking that, as an experiment, the Legislative Council had failed most signally; neither could he the less help thinking that this signal failure afforded some grounds at least for lending a favourable ear, if not for at once acceding to the request of the people of Canada. It was easy to talk as both his noble Friends had done of the necessity of having not only an executive and a representative body in Canada, but also a third body answering to the House of Lords; it was mighty easy to say, because they considered a House of Lords in this country as a necessary component part in the constitution, therefore nothing could give the benefits of a British constitution in Canada unless it had something that might constitute a bad parallel with the House of Lords. But when their Lordships came to consider the nature of the thing, they would find that all they had really got in Canada was the name. The upper House there was only in name and nothing in its nature like the House of Lords, because the constituent parts of such a House existed not, and could not exist, in that country. The best part of the argument, however, in favour of an elective Council was, that by establishing it they would not be departing from what were the intentions of the framers of the original constitution. Those who read the debates of that day would find that it was not to a Legislative Council such as now existed that the original framers of the Canadian constitution looted forward. They were looking forward to a Legislative Council that would gradually form itself into an hereditary body—that would be really something like the House of Lords, and something like an aristocracy. Accordingly one of the provisions of the Act enabled the Crown to grant hereditary power to such persons as the Crown should think fit. What was it that made the House of Lords an important and, as many thought, an essential and indispensable part of the Constitution of this country? Not because it was a second chamber differently composed from the lower House. It was because it consisted of a different body of men —different in their political nature, always sitting, endowed with other qualifications, some of an accidental nature, such as rank and fortune, and wholly independent of the popular choice. That would apply, no doubt, in the case of the Council of Canada, and it was the only one point in which that Council and their Lordships' House could be said to resemble each other. He did not think that it was the qualification belonging to their Lordships of the greatest advantage—it might be all very well—many thought that it was much better for this House than the elective principle or what was called the principle to secure responsibility—a principle which some thought should not in their Lordships' House prevail at all. The bulk of their Lordships were no doubt of that opinion. But it was a different thing to say so of the Upper House in Canada. If the Members of the Upper House in Canada were to have no other qualification for their independence—if they possessed no other qualification by which to command the respect and confidence of their fellow-citizens—then we must take the liberty of saying, that the less they were independent of popular control, and the more they were made responsible in some way to somebody, so much the better. He certainly thought, upon the whole, that if the elective principle were introduced into the Legis- lative Council it would be an improvement. Mr. Fox thought it should be elected by the House of Assembly, but he doubted the wisdom of that system. It had always given rise to very great mischiefs wherever it had existed. It was, however, equally clear that the second chamber ought not to be constituted in the same way as a House of Assembly; the only advantage of which would be the further consideration of the same measures by almost the same body of persons. Why, then, the conclusion was, that the Legislative Council ought to be chosen by a different body of electors, with different qualifications as well in the electors as in the elected, and also for a different period of time. That some such body would answer its purposes better than the Council as it was at present composed, and would produce greater harmony between the different parts of the Government than had hitherto been found to exist, he must say, after the best consideration he could give to the subject, he for one could entertain no manner of doubt. His difficulties were with respect to the details and the mode in which the alteration ought to be made; but that some such alteration would be perfectly desirable was the result of whatever attention he had been able to give to the subject. But that which he considered the vice of this whole question—that which he protested against—that without which, and if it had not been in these resolutions, he should not have felt disposed to trouble their Lordships with any observations, was the proposition in the eighth resolution for taking the money of the colonists and appropriating that money in the teeth of an Act of Parliament solemnly made, voluntarily made, given to them either as a concession of justice to their claim of right, or as a concession of conciliation and of kindness, voluntarily, and without the pretence of force; and in whichever of the two lights he could conceive it, he must regard the proposition embodied in the eighth resolution as wholly unworthy of the people, of the Government, and of the Parliament of this country. The power which it was now proposed to take from the House of Assembly and the people of Canada was given to them by the King, as Lord Aylmer told the Assembly, cordially and of good will to his Canadian subjects— thereby vesting in them absolute control over their own money. With what grace could they now retract it? Nay, it was worse than retraction, for it was not pro- posed to repeal the Act of 1831. No: it was said, "Let that Act continue which makes you independent, but then you have deceived us during these four years, and therefore we will put our hands into your money-chest and apply its contents as we please," It was said that this country had been disappointed; but they had no right to suppose from anything that passed previously to the Act of 1831 being introduced, that it was quite certain that the House of Assembly would grant a civil list. His noble Friend himself had referred to a passage in the correspondence which showed that the Government had been warned, and that it was very possible that the Assembly would not grant a civil list. It was only fair to the House of Assembly to say that they never held out any prospect of the kind upon any occasion; or had done any thing to justify this country to say that the Assembly had deceived us, and induced us to grant them this privilege in the expectation that they would in return provide a civil list. For, in the event of the Assembly not granting a civil list, his noble Friend (the Earl of Ripon) pointed out what Lord Aylmer ought to do, and what, as a constitutional measure, ought to be done; and what was it? Not to lay hold of the money of the people, and apply it as he thought fit. No such thing; that was not the consistent and constitutional course which his noble Friend directed Lord Aylmer to take in the event of the Assembly refusing to grant a civil list; but it was that he should refuse to pass their Bills. Their remedy against him was to refuse supplies; his remedy against them was to refuse the royal assent to their Bills. Without saying, that the Assembly had taken the best course for obtaining their ends, yet he begged to ask for what purpose was it that they valued the power of controlling their own money? Was it that they might grant supplies as a matter of course? Was it that they were vested with the power and discretion of granting or refusing supplies, but that they were to exercise that option in one way only? That they were to have the power to use their money at their own good-will and pleasure, only upon the condition that they should be pleased to use it according to the pleasure of this country? Why, good God, what use was it to give it to them? For what did they value it? For what did they want it? They wanted it—by possibility they could only want it with, one view, namely, that they might have the power of exercising it for a cer a n purpose; and for what purpose in the world but to obtain, from time to time, those measures which they could not obtain without it? Those who granted them that power, did not expect they would so soon exert it. Still, was that a reason for taking it back from them? They wished to have that power, not for a name, not for an ornament, not for a title, but to give them practically a certain weight and influence in the Government of their country. He could not help rather wondering at the noble Lord, who opened the debate dwelling so much upon the other neighbouring provinces, and their late history, as connected with the present subject. That the noble Lord should exult very much at the recent events that had occurred in Upper Canada, he was the less surprised at, because, undoubtedly, a very great change appeared to have been wrought in the sentiments of the Legislative Assembly of that province. Instead of being about two to one, if not more, in favour of something like the changes required by the House of Assembly of Lower Canada, he believed that parties were now pretty nearly balanced, and that the proceedings of the Home Government were regarded with a less distrustful eye. But he thought the noble Lord had not the same reason to rejoice at the state of things in the other provinces. In New Brunswick, as he was informed, many difficulties and much discontent still remained. The state of Nova Scotia was far from being satisfactory, and Newfoundland had only very lately petitioned the British Parliament, complaining grievously of the treatment they had received from the Government. Upon the whole, then, he thought that the noble Lord had not so much ground for rejoicing in the state of the neighbouring provinces, as he would lead the House to believe. He repeated, that he did not expect that there would be any pause in the course they were then pursuing. He should be rejoiced to suppose that his noble Friend meant to be satisfied with passing these resolutions, stopping at them, and bringing in no Bill. It might, perhaps, be holding up the British Parliament in no very dignified attitude, to stop short at that point, as if it did not like to proceed further; nevertheless, anything would be better than to proceed in a course which he was perfectly confident would sooner or later produce mischief. That the colony should take up arms—that it should make overtures to the United States—that it should even desire a separation from this country, and to be wholly independent of it, were expectations that he never would stop to express, nor stop to refute, for they were not worth consideration. He did not expect that even the last and least important of these things was at all likely to happen. He believed that the people of Canada were loyal and attached to this country, and if well treated would continue to be well disposed. He believed that they rejoiced in their connexion with the mother country. He believed that they would dislike a severance from it, and that they would regard as a calamity to themselves, any course of proceeding which should drive them, to adopt any steps that should seem to lead, even remotely, to a separation. That was his firm belief, but, at the same time, he very well knew that things which at first sight appeared exceedingly improbable, especially in contests between two such assemblies as the Parliament of England, and the local Legislatures of a colony, although they might at first excite little regard—although there might be no animosity in England, no ill feeling in Canada —yet he very well knew that the consequence of these contests, and the irritations which necessarily arose from them, was in the long run to produce mischief. That was the case originally with the North American colonies. The contest there began among some of the southern States, who refused to vote a civil list, and the very first coercive measure proposed in Parliament for the purpose of bringing those colonies to a sense, as it was called, of their duty, and of supporting—for that was the very language used then, as well as upon the present occasion—the honour of the mother country, and the dignity and independence of the Sovereign, was carried almost unanimously, there being in neither House of Parliament so much as a division upon the subject. Before another year had elapsed, God knows there were melancholy divisions upon the matter on both sides of the Atlantic, and every one knew the ultimate result. He did not mean to magnify the present question into anything like the same proportion of importance with the matters originally in dispute between this country and the North American colonies, although it was remarkable that the population of those colonies, when the Stamp Act passed in 1765, was not materially greater than the present population of British North Ame- rica. When he threw out any hint of comparison between the state of affairs in America in 1764, and the present state of things in the Canadas, he did so for the purpose, not of predicting that there would be the same course taken—not for the purpose of showing that he was of opinion that England was likely to lose those colonies in the same way as she had lost the provinces of the United States—but to show that mischiefs, which at first no one thought likely to happen, did happen when once a maternal Government deviated from the right course. To treat the colonies well, to do them justice, to measure out to them the same justice, and the same conciliation as had been given, and was still in the course of being given, to the subjects of the Crown nearer at home, was the true, the safe, the honest, and therefore the best course of policy that could be pursued, and he only heartily regretted that he saw so little chance of its being adopted.

The Duke of Wellington

did not intend to offer any opposition to the resolutions, although he did not exactly comprehend what course the noble Lord intended to pursue in consequence of their being adopted. He did not understand whether it was the intention of the Government to bring in any Bill or Bills founded upon the resolutions, or whether, acting upon the 8th resolution alone, it was intended to send out his Majesty's command to seize upon the money in the Canadian treasury, for the purpose of applying it to the payment of the civil list. If the latter were the course intended to be pursued, he must say that he considered it to be extremely-unjust. The resolutions of that House, and of the other House of Parliament, could not give to the Government the power of issuing such a command. On the other hand, he could not understand what Act of Parliament could be brought in to enable the Governor-General of Canada to seize certain sums of money belonging to that province. He confessed he had always been opposed to the system adopted under the Act proposed by his noble Friend (Lord Ripon). He was opposed to that Bill from the commencement, because, in his opinion, the province of Lower Canada never manifested any disposition to make a provision for that which he thought most essential to the good Government and well-being of every society that could be brought together—the due administration of justice by learned and independent men. When his Majesty, under the provisions of the Bill introduced by his noble Friend, resigned certain important branches of revenue into the hands of the Canadian representative assembly, sufficient security was not taken that provision should be made for that service, which he maintained was the most important and most necessary to every society, wherever it might be placed. Upon the present resolutions, and upon the whole speech of the noble Lord, he would observe, that the Assembly of Lower Canada had not manifested any disposition to provide for the independent administration of justice, and that they had allowed those who had well performed those services, and the other services of the civil Government, to go on for between three and four years without providing in any manner for their subsistence. No one could read the history of the sufferings of the officers of the civil government of Lower Canada, without feeling that they reflected the deepest disgrace upon the authors of them. There were some men who had gone out from this country, for the purpose of serving his Majesty as judges in Lower Canada, who were literally starving, and compelled to pawn their books and clothes in order to to obtain a scanty subsistence for themselves and families. Such had been the condition of these men for the last three or four years, although, during the whole of that period, the Crown revenues had been made over to the Assembly of Lower Canada, who, with the money in the treasury, absolutely refused to make any grant to defray the salaries of the civil officers of the Government. Then, again, as regarded these resolutions, he must observe that the House of Assembly made two demands; they refused to provide a civil list, but they made two demands. First, they demanded that the Executive Council should be made responsible to the House of Assembly. In reply to that demand, the 5th resolution then before the House, stated with great propriety, that it was not expedient that the Executive Council should be made responsible to that body. The next demand was, that the Legislative Council should be made responsible to that body. The next demand was, that the Legislative Council should become an elective body. The noble and learned Lord who had just addressed the House, had certainly stated a great many reasons why that demand should be complied with but all these reasons were referable to the wishes of the people. The noble and learned Lord, after stating that the House of Assembly insisted that the Legislative Council should be elected by the people, endeavoured at great length to prove that the House of Assembly, being elected by the people, must speak the voice of the people, and therefore, that it must be the wish of the people that the Legislative Council should be elected by themselves. But had that House, and the other House of Parliament, and his Majesty's Government, no other duty to perform, except to carry on the Government of Canada according to the wishes of the people of Canada, as manifested in the House of Assembly, by whom it was insisted that the government of the province should be made responsible to them, and who would not vote supplies to enable his Majesty to administer justice? Such being the conduct of the House of Assembly, the noble and learned Lord had, nevertheless, come, down and told them that the Legislative Council ought also to be elective, in order to render it quite sure that there should be no independent Government in Lower Canada, but that the whole should be given up without reserve into the hands of these two councils, elected, as the noble and learned Lord proposed, by the people. He (the Duke of Wellington) really must say, that that was a system of Government which he for one could never consent to establish either in Lower Canada, or in any other dependency of the British Crown. What he said was this, that it was essential for the British Parliament to take care that justice should be administered; and, in order to its being well administered, that the judges should be independent, not only of the executive power, but also of the Legislative Councils and Assemblies. He observed, that the 4th resolution stated, "That in the existing state of Lower Canada, it is unadvisable to make the Legislative Council of that province an elective body." He was certain the noble Lord opposite could not intend that any sort of doubt should attach to the meaning of the resolution. In that case, the words in which it was framed were not sufficiently explicit. Ministers, he supposed, either meant, or did not mean, to make the Legislative Council elective. He concluded from the terms of the resolution as it now stood, that they did not intend to make it elective for the present. He did not suppose that they had any design of carrying such a plan into execution hereafter, but the point was left in doubt by the employment of these words, "in the existing state of Lower Canada." Would not the meaning of the Government be expressed as well if they said simply, "it is unadvisable to make the Legislative Council of Lower Canada an elective body," leaving out the words to which he had referred. The concluding words of the resolution might then stand as they were at present expressed—"but it is expedient that measures be adopted for securing to that branch of the Legislature a greater degree of public confidence." That would make the proposition contained in the resolution perfectly clear and intelligible, and not liable to any misconstruction. Whilst it presumed nothing for the future, it would distinctly express the present positive intention of the Government not to make the Legislative Council an elective body. But there was another reason for making the alteration he suggested, and that was the manner in which the same proposition was treated in the 5th resolution. The 5th resolution said, "That while it is expedient to improve the composition of the Executive Council of Lower Canada, it is unadvisable to subject it to the responsibility demanded by the House of Assembly of that province." When the commencing words of the 4th resolution were compared with those he had just read, he thought their Lordships would perceive that they certainly conveyed a meaning which he was sure the noble Lord (Lord Glenelg) did not intend. He agreed with the noble Lord that the Government, in the administration of the affairs of the colonies, should be careful to avoid any acts of an unkind or ungracious character towards the local assemblies of those colonies, but at the same time, it was most desirable that the Government should avoid holding out expectations to them which they did not mean to carry into full execution. He believed it would be very desirable, indeed, to improve as far as possible, the composition of the Legislative Councils in all the British colonies of North America; but when the conduct of the House of Assembly of Lower Canada, in refusing to grant supplies for their own civil Government, and the due administration of justice amongst their own fellow-countrymen was remembered, he was sure their Lordships would feel more and more convinced of the absolute necessity of not subjecting the Government of the province to their control without some check. With these observations he would conclude. It was not his intention to throw any difficulty in the way of the resolutions, but he thought it would be well if the suggestion he had thrown out with respect to the fourth were adopted.

The Earl of Aberdeen

said, he understood it was intended, under the 8th resolution, to replace the 30,000l advanced out of the military chest to provide the means of defraying the colonial expenses. The noble and learned Lord (Brougham), who seemed so much shocked at the notion of interfering with the power of the House of Assembly to refuse the supplies, had himself been a member of that Government which made this advance, for which the House of Assembly prayed that an impeachment might be directed against the noble and learned Lord and his colleagues, for so unconstitutional and monstrous an interference with the power of refusing supplies.

Resolutions agreed to, Lord Brougham alone saying "Not content."

The noble and learned Lord subsequently entered the following

PROTEST on the Lords" Journals against passing the resolutions proposed by Lord Glenelg:—


  1. 1. Because, these resolutions, embracing a great variety of important subjects, upon which different opinions may be entertained by the same persons, were all put to the vote at once, in House consisting of not a tenth part of the Members that frequently attend, when questions affecting the interest of political parties, or even individuals, stand for discussion.
  2. 2. Because, though some of these resolutions are justifiable, there are others, and especially the 8th, which set all considerations of sound policy, of generosity, and of justice at defiance, and will most likely be regarded as indicating a design to crush whatever spirit of opposition to the Executive Government, may at any time or for any cause, show itself in any portion of the North American colonies.
  3. 3. Because, it is the fundamental principle of the British constitution, which was intended to be established in Canada by the Act of 1791, and was finally promulgated in 1831, that no part of the taxes levied on the people shall be applied to any purpose whatever, without the consent of their representatives in Parliament; and this control over the revenue, ought, in a special manner, to be vested in the people of the colonies, seeing that it never can give them the same unlimited influence which it confers on the people of the parent state. For if supplies are withheld by the Commons of England on account of grievances, the Crown has no other resource, and the grievance must be 749 redressed; whereas, if the Commons of the colony withhold supplies for the like reason, the Crown cannot, by this proceeding, be obliged to redress the grievance, as long as the Parliament of the mother country is willing to furnish the funds required.
  4. 4. Because, the taking possession of the money placed by the British Parliament at the disposal of the colonial councils, without their consent, is wholly subversive of the afore-mentioned fundamental principle, and directly contrary to the wise and salutary principles of the Act passed in 1831. Nor does it at all signify that this is said only to be done upon the present occasion, and that the rights of the Colonial Parliament are represented as left unimpaired. The precedent of 1837 will ever after be cited in support of such oppressive proceedings, as often as the Commons of any colony may withhold supplies, how justifiable so ever their refusal may be, or in whatever designs the Executive Government may be engaged.
  5. 5. Because the constitution of the council having been tried for nearly half a century, has not only failed to produce the advantages expected from it, but after occasioning the most serious evils, has ended in bringing the Legislative operations of the Colonial Parliament to a close, and there seems good ground to hope that the evils now complained of may be remedied by introducing the elective principle into the constitution of this body under due modifications. But the 4th resolution seems to pledge Parliament against ever introducing that principle, since it is not possible to conceive any circumstances justifying its introduction, if the existing state of things does not.
  6. 6. Because, the spirit in which these proceedings are conceived, is avowedly adverse to the opinions and desires of a vast majority of the inhabitants of Lower Canada, and the no less plainly avowed object in bringing them forward is, by the authoritative declaration of Parliament to put down the principles and to thwart the inclinations so generally prevailing among the people of that province.
  7. 7. Because, those proceedings, so closely resembling the fatal Measures that severed the United States from Great Britain, have their origin in principles, and derive their support from reasonings, which form a prodigious contrast to the whole grounds, and the only defence of the policy during later years, and so justly and so wisely sanctioned by the Imperial Parliament in administering the affairs of the mother country. Nor is if easy to imagine that the inhabitants of either the American or the European branches of the empire should contemplate so strange a contrast, without drawing inferences there from discreditable to the character of the Legislature, and injurious to the future safety of the state, when they mark with what different measures we mete to 600,000 inhabitants of a remote province unrepresented in Parliament, and to 6,000,000 of our fellow- 750 citizens nearer home, and making themselves heard by their representatives, the reflection will assuredly rise in Canada, and may possibly find its way into Ireland, that the sacred rules of justice, the most worthy feelings of national generosity, and the soundest principles of enlightened policy may be appealed to in vain, if the demands of the suitor be not also supported by personal interests, and party views, and political fears, among those whose aid he seeks; while all men perceiving that many persons have found themselves at liberty to hold a course towards an important but remote province, which their constituents never would suffer to be pursued towards the most inconsiderable burgh of the United Kingdom, an impression will inevitably be propagated most dangerous to the maintenance of colonial dominion, that the people can never safely intrust the powers of government to any supreme authority not residing among themselves. BROUGHAM.

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