[Ed.: With Confederation at an impasse in the aftermath of Tilley’s defeat in the New Brunswick elections, and facing rising anti-Confederation sentiment in his own province, Tupper asks the legislature to authorize renewed talks for Maritime Union. Not daring to seek approval of the plan of union adopted at the Quebec Conference of October 1864, recently endorsed by the Canadian legislature in the Confederation Debates of 1865, Tupper’s gambit avoided risk of a definite defeat for Confederation in Nova Scotia, buying valuable time, and the possibility of a change in political circumstances. By strategic indirection, Tupper went for Maritime Union as a step toward Confederation.
What follows however is a speech not for Maritime Union but for Confederation. For its breadth of vision, its consideration of the issue in all its aspects, the speech compares well with the great set-piece speeches by Macdonald, Cartier, Brown, McGee and Galt which kicked off the Confederation Debates in Canada. Tupper echoes many of the same themes – advantages in trade and commerce, the benefits of a common defence, the merits of balanced federalism with strong central government and responsible local legislatures. From the Nova Scotian point of view, we also hear Tupper defend representation by population – with the province’s portion of seats in the federal House of Commons, and the ability of her representatives, enough in Tupper’s eyes to secure her interests.
Tupper also speaks of the “moral force” which the Union of the provinces and their interests will bring about in forming a new nationality, and the “security for life and property, and personal liberty, which is so desirable in every country.” With the cause of Confederation at its lowest ebb, a more expedient politician might well have bent to public opinion and renounced his support for a wider Union. But this is the speech of a statesman – it is in the broader themes that we see the Nova Scotian speaking truly as a Canadian.]
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TUPPER then rose and addressed the house as follows; Mr. Speaker I beg leave to move the following resolution:-
“Whereas under existing circumstances an immediate Union of the British American Colonies has become impracticable, and whereas a legislative Union of the Maritime Provinces is desirable whether the larger Union be accomplished or not:=
“Therefore, Resolved, that in the opinion of this House the negotiations for the Union of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and P.E. Island should be renewed in accordance with the resolution passed at the last session of the legislature.”
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In moving the resolution, it will be respectful to this house and to the people of this province, that I should explain the proceedings which were taken upon the resolution which was passed at the last session of this Legislature and the various circumstances connected with the events that occurred in the consideration of that resolution.
This house passed a resolution authorizing the appointment of five delegates to confer with others to be appointed by the provinces of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island for the purpose of devising a scheme of Union for these three Maritime Provinces. The government in the discharge of the duty devolving upon them by that resolution, appointed five delegates who attended a conference which was arranged at Charlottetown between the different provinces for the purpose of dealing with that question. Previous, however, to that conference being assembled the Governor General applied to the Lieutenant Governors of the three Maritime Provinces for permission for a deputation of the members of the Canadian government to attend the proposed Conference for the purpose of explaining to them the views and opinions of the government of Canada, and the attitude which that Province held at that time in connection with the question of Colonial Union.
I presume that there is no member in this House who would be disposed to question the entire propriety of these gentlemen being received at that conference of the Maritime Provinces. I presume that when called upon to engage in the consideration of a question so great as a change in the constitution of our country, that no intelligent man can be found within or without those walls who would not consider that a conference of these Maritime Provinces would have been wanting in their duty to the country, if they hesitated for a single moment on such an occasion to avail themselves of every source of information in their power touching the question of colonial Union in British America.
When I had the honor of moving the resolution which received the unanimous concurrence of this House at its last session, I did not disguise for a single moment that whilst I looked upon a Union of the Maritime Provinces as desirable, that the government introduced that scheme to the legislature in the absence of any grounds of hope that the larger and more important Union of British North America was at that time practicable or could be effected. I did not conceal from the house for a single instant the opinions which I conscientiously entertained, that the interests of British America would be largely promoted by a union of Canada with the Maritime Provinces; but I drew the attention of gentlemen on that occasion to the grounds I had for believing that at that time such a union was impracticable. I drew the attention of the house to the difficulties that existed, as I believed, on the part of both Upper and Lower Canada in relation to a union with the Maritime Provinces. I also referred to some of the objections which existed on the part of the Maritime Provinces in relation to a union with Canada, and proposed the resolution already referred to.
Whilst advocating, as zealously as I was able, the advantages that would accrue from the larger union, I proposed that of the Maritime Provinces as the only step that was available to us at that time and a step which, so far from conflicting in the slightest degree with a Union of all British North America, was actually one in that very direction. It will be also recalled that gentlemen on both sides of this house, whilst giving their concurrence and support to the resolution, did not hesitate to express the preference which they had for a union of all British North America, and even went at length into arguments to show that the advantages which were likely to come from a union of the Maritime Provinces were comparatively insignificant with those which would result from the larger scheme. In these sentiments, I entirely and heartily concurred, as will be in the recollection of gentlemen who refer to the Speech which I made on that occasion.
THE QUEBEC CONFERENCE
When the conference which, as I have already stated, met at Charlottetown, they received a deputation of members of the Canadian government for the purpose of giving them an opportunity of placing before us the views and opinions of the government of Canada in relation to this subject. Several meetings took place at which these gentlemen at length explained the position of Canada, and the attitude which she then held on the question of Colonial Union.
I need scarcely remind the House that the only two objections which existed on the part of the Maritime Provinces – the only two points in which I intimated that any hostility might be bound in the Maritime Provinces to the union with Canada, were the large debt which Canada had and the financial condition of that country – that whilst her debt was very much larger than that of the Maritime Provinces, and the government had been obliged to meet the Parliament annually with a large deficit, we were able to exhibit a large surplus revenue.
When we ascertained that a government had been formed in Canada with the avowed and ostensible object of effecting a union of the Maritime Provinces with that country – that both of the great parties which existed in that Province had united upon a common platform with a view of uniting all British America – that the debt of Canada and that of the Maritime Provinces could be arranged in such a manner as to enable all to enter the Confederation on terms of perfect equality, and that Canada was prepared to offer to the Maritime Provinces that for every dollar of less debt that any one of them had relatively to Canada according to population they were prepared to pay to such province interest annually – when we found in addition to that that the financial condition of the country had so improved that instead of closing the financial year with a deficit when was able to show a surplus – when we saw that the prominent objections – those which had been raised here as the only objections that lay in the way of a union of the Maritime Provinces with Canada – had been removed – we felt we might then fairly arrive at the conclusion that we would be consulting not only the interests but the wishes of the respective Legislatures and people we represented, if we entered upon the larger and more important question of a Union of all British North America.
That action has been so strongly challenged upon the part of the press and a number of public men in these various provinces, that I think it right I should detain the house for a few moments whilst I offer to them some of the reasons which the government of this province had for believing that in adjourning the question of a Union of these Provinces, and in taking up the larger question of a confederation of all British North America, they were acting in accordance with the views of the people of this country.
PAST ASPECT OF THE QUESTION OF UNION
I need not go back ten years to remind the House of the position which this question occupied in 1854 when Mr. Johnston, the leader of the Conservative party in this province, moved a resolution proposing a union of British North America or a union of Canada, with the Maritime Provinces; that sentiment, instead of exciting hostility – of meeting with antagonism, received the favourable consideration of the House, and, as far as could be judged, of the people of this province.
At that time, I need hardly remind the House that Mr. Young a prominent member of this legislature, gave in his adherence to the advantages that would be derived from a union of these provinces, and further expressed a strong opinion in favor of a federal union of British America. On that occasion, Mr. Howe, also one of the most prominent members of the legislature, instead of opposing union, placed upon record his opinion during the discussion of the question, that if he were unable to obtain what he considered better, namely representation the Imperial Parliament, he would be prepared to support a federal union of all B.N.A.
But I shall come down to a latter period when I had the honour of delivering a lecture at the opening of the Mechanics Institute at St. John, New Brunswick, in 1860, and I took that opportunity, as a public man, of drawing the attention of these province to the great importance of a union of all British North America, and to the great advantages that would flow from a consolidation of these provinces with Canada. That lecture was repeated in various parts of this province, and I can only say that, testing as I did the public opinion of this country, neither n the press nor by any expression of the public statement in any shape whatever, was I led to believe that the views which I had propounded as a public man did not meet with the entire approval and concurrence of the people of these provinces.
A year afterwards, in 1861, the honourable Mr. Howe, then leader of the government in this province, proposed formally in this Legislature a series of resolutions in which he declared that many and great advantages would result from the union of all the Provinces, and in which he asked the concurrence of this House to just such a conference as was recently held at Quebec for the purpose of examining the question, and ascertaining whether it would be practicable to unite these Provinces under one government. The House is well aware that although this resolution was proposed at a time when party antagonism was as right as at any time in our history – when parties were closely balanced in this house – when a fierce struggle was going on in this Legislature for the government of the country – yet in the presence of that proposal all party hostility gave way, and it met not only with warm support from the opposition benches, but with the entire approval and concurrence of this Legislature. Certainly, there were no grounds for supposing that the public sentiment of this country was not in the highest degree favorable to a union with Canada.
But coming down to a later period, Mr. McGee visited these Provinces and I cannot mention that honourable gentleman’s name without paying at the same time a just tribute to the great claims he has upon the people of British North America. If there is a statesman in British North America of whom our country may be justly proud it is that honourable gentleman, and if he has one claim to the gratitude of the people of these provinces greater than another it is owing to the fact that through his public Provincial career his great intellect, his great powers have been directed towards consolidating all British North America. His great powers have been brought into play earnestly and effectually in removing class, party, and religious antagonism – in fact, every antagonism that could divide the people that inhabit British North America and to direct their mind and attention to the great value of the institutions they possess, and to the best means of consolidating and perpetuating those institutions.
That honourable gentleman, in response to a request made to him, delivered a lecture on the consolidation of British North America, and instead of being met by any demonstration on the part of the people or the press of this country that would lead any public man to suppose that a Union of British North America was not in the highest degree acceptable, he delivered that brilliant oration amid the plaudits of a large, influential and intellectual audience in this city, and at the conclusion a vote of thanks was moved by the honourable Mr. Johnston, and seconded by Mr. Howe.
Challenged as the government have been with having failed in their duty to the people of this country when they permitted the discussion of the question of Union with Canada, it is but right that I should turn to the sentiments not only delivered by leading statesmen of two parties in this country, but delivered in the presence of an influential body of citizens and received and accepted by the intelligent press of the country, as deserving, in the highest degree, of the approval of the people. The honourable Mr. Johnston said in moving a vote of thanks to Mr. McGee:-
“To himself it had been the occasion of peculiar interests, inasmuch as the subject of it was one on which his own mind had been for a long time occupied. He had long been desirous that we would rise above our isolation and littleness, and occupy a position far superior to any we have done.”
“He knew that we have some public men that have become eloquent on the greatness and resources of Nova Scotia; but notwithstanding all that had been said, and it might be natural to say a great deal, he could not avoid coming to the conclusion that we were very small indeed. Why, the entire of the inhabitants of this province would not be more than sufficient to fill a first class city. We have got the elements of greatness and self-government, but on a very small scale. The same may be said of New Brunswick. The latter Province is a noble country; and Canada we know is replete with inexhaustible stores of wealth and greatness. And, looking far back we ask what shall comprise her bounds, broad and unlimited in their expanse?”
“It is, then, our duty not only to the present, but also the succeeding generations, to effect a union of the whole, Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, having one interest and one cause. It has been said by some that we can do little in moulding our future condition; but I say that we can do much, and it is our duty to look into the future and provide for it. We may also waken up to the necessity of giving the question its due importance when, perhaps, it may be somewhat too late.”
Mr. Howe, in seconding that resolution, said:
“Mr. Howe went on to remark that it would be injustice to the lecturer to say more, further than he was with him in all he said. He was for a Union of all the British North American Provinces, but he was for an Intercolonial Railroad first. Then the road would bring about the Union. It would enable the Canadians to see our faces, to become familiar with us, and to see the number of 1,000 ton ships which we are building, which with our other wealth and resources, we are willing to throw into the one great stock. He thought a Union should not be delayed till we had drifted into difficulties. How short sighted were the English statesmen of old who lost them the thirteen States, when the difficulty could have been arraigned in a month, the horrors of the Revolutionary war prevented, and all our race living at peace and harmony at present without bickering and animosity which prevails in their midst. Talk of the fall of Quebec being a source of sorrow to the inhabitants of this Province, it would be more. If the St. Lawrence were in the hand of our enemies, we should be compelled to beg permission to tear down the British flag. What h wished for Nova Scotia was that she may be the frontage of a mighty Colony; upon which it may be truly said the sun never set. No man can look upon Halifax and its environs, its harbor, its citadel, and say it was made for this Province alone.”
“The United States has drifted into a civil war; and we may drift into a tight place from which it will be difficult to extricate ourselves. The States might assault us; but if we had a railway by which troops could be sent from Quebec or other military stations to the threatened point we would be saved. Mr. Howe said that he hoped when Mr. McGee returned to Canada, he would be able to say, ‘I have been down among those people who live on fish and lobsters and there I seen keen politicians bickering upon small topics, but when the great subject of national union was brought before them then all minor difference was disregarded and I found them uniting and pushing and cheering me on in this labor of love.’”
These sentiments were delivered at the lecture of Mr. McGee amid the plaudits of one of the most intelligent audiences in the city, and quoted by the press from one end of the province to the other, and met the hearty approval of this country. I do not make these quotations for the purpose of bringing into question that attitude of any public man in this country. I am now asking this house to consider whether the course the government pursued in appointing delegates to confer upon the question of a Union of British North America was not one that they had a right to suppose would receive the hearty concurrence of this house and meet with the enthusiastic approval of the people of this country.
It is well known that after the resolutions which passed the legislatures of the respective Provinces had been placed upon the journals, the Government of Canada was reorganized by the combination of both parties upon the avowed platform of endeavoring to form a Union of all British North America. When this fact was made known, what did it evoke? A sentiment of hostility on the part of these Provinces? No! Did we who had been suing at the hands of Canada as late as 1861 by the act of this Legislature, and asking, as Mr. Howe did ask, for a conference such as that recently held at Quebec – did the people of these provinces, when they learned that the government of Canada had been reformed and reconstructed upon the basis of endeavoring to bring about a Union of British North America, view that proposition with disfavor?
In the Province of New Brunswick, in the chief city, the citizens came together – the Board of Trade at the head of the movement – and one of the first acts which followed that declaration to the world that the government of Canada was reconstructed upon such a basis as I have stated was an invitation from St. John to the government and the united Legislatures of that country to come down and receive an ovation at their hands. Nor was the city of Halifax slow in following the example, for at a meeting convened by the Mayor upon a public requisition in this city, an invitation was extended by the citizens of Halifax to the Legislature of Canada to come here and receive an ovation also at their hands – indicating, as far as it was possible, that the events which had taken place in Canada entitled the Government and Legislature of that country to courtesies such as had never been extended to them before.
Although the Legislature of Canada was not able formally to accept that invitation, a number of gentlemen connected with various public positions in the country came down to St. John and Halifax. I need hardly tell this House how they were received. So far from having been met with any spirit of hostility, they were received with open arms, and the hospitalities of these two cities in the two provinces extended to them in a manner that was worthy of both.
As late as a year ago, in August 1864, at the public entertainment which was given in this city, and before the Conference had met at Charlottetown – when these gentlemen were received here – a member of the Canadian government, standing at the table, advocated in the most eloquent terms a Union of all British North America. That advocacy was received, as had always been the case in the city of Halifax, by every demonstration of enthusiasm and approval that it was in the power of an intelligent people to give; but more than that, on that occasion, I took the opportunity of observing that when I had moved a resolution for a Union of the Maritime Provinces, I did it with the conviction that an immediate consolidation of all British North America was impracticable – and that I hailed with the utmost satisfaction, the evidence that had been since given that the smaller Union which we contemplated was likely to be merged into a far greater and more comprehensive scheme.
On that occasion, I need not state to gentlemen who are resident in this city, Mr. Howe again responded in the terms which he had always been accustomed to use on this question. He said, although the hour was late it was of little consequence, for his voice had been heard in every chief city, not only of Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, but of Canada, advocating the consolidation of all British North America; and there he committed himself, in the most unqualified manner, in favour of such a union – declaring that it was the dream of his life, and that he would look forward to its realization with the highest satisfaction.
I do not refer to this as attaching any great importance to what may fall from Mr. Howe or myself, but I call attention to these facts to show that when public men in various occasions gave in their hearty adhesions to a proposal to unite Canada with the Maritime Provinces, so far from the sentiment they propounded sinking them in public estimation – so far from the press and people of this country expressing their dissent from the course that was pursued – that in the light of the fact that a Conference was to be held at Charlottetown, and that a deputation of the Canadian Government were to attend this Conference with a view of endeavouring to accomplish the larger Union of British North America, as far as the public men of this or the other provinces are concerned, there was every reason to believe that what was proposed met with the entire approval and the concurrence of the people.
As I have already stated, the Canadian deputation were received – and after much consultation and deliberation, the most prominent men in all these Provinces came to the conclusion that there was a fair and legitimate prospect to believe that at another conference they would be able to devise such measures for a Union as would secure the confidence, co-operation, and assent of all these Provinces. Under these circumstances the Canadian delegates returned home, and the Governor General, acting upon their advice, and under the sanction of the Crown, given in the most emphatic terms, invited the appointment of delegates from the Maritime Provinces for the purpose of taking into consideration the question of the wider Union.
That action has been challenged as an unconstitutional proceeding. I will not, in an assembly like this, attempt any vindication of the strict constitutionality of such a course. Suffice it to say, there stood upon the journals of the legislature not only the approval of such a course as that, but the declaration of the Colonial Secretary that the British government would be ready to pay the utmost deference to any proposal – that might emanate from any scheme that might be agreed upon by the governments of the different provinces, and authorizing a conference to be held.
The resolution which passed the house at its last session provided that whatever agreement was come to should receive the sanction of the different legislatures. No action, therefore, was proposed to be taken by the conference at Quebec which did not involve the same legitimate course to be taken. All that the legislature had demanded – all that the several legislatures and the imperial government as well had demanded – as the necessary constitutional course preliminary to change the constitution, was observed by the Quebec conference, and that was a proposal to arrange the scheme of union for these provinces which should first be submitted to the imperial government, then to the different legislatures of these provinces, previous to an application being made to the imperial authorities to give effect to the scheme by an act passed by the British parliament.
I need not tell the house that a body of public men [then] assembled at Quebec – similar to no other body that ever met together in this or any other country – who not only represented the governments but both leading political parties. The result of their labors was beyond that which the most sanguine person had a right to expect – that in the position which we considered British America to occupy, the different public men representing the different parties and sections into which all British America is divided, were able to devise a common scheme of Union. After the question was fully dealt with, a scheme was presented which, as whole, was accepted by the conference.
THE ADVANTAGES OF LEGISLATIVE UNION
The result of that Conference, it will be now my duty to refer to, for let that scheme occupy what position it may at this hour, no one can hesitant to admit that the interests involved in it are of the most vital consequence. It becomes me as a member of the government of my country – as a public man responsible to the House and the people for the views I entertain upon a question of this kind – that I should have an opportunity of explaining and vindicating as I can, the grounds which led me to concur as I did most heartily in the scheme proposed for the Union of British North America.
I need not tell the House that a great deal of discussion has taken place in times past as to whether a legislative or federal union would be the best mode by which these Provinces could be united, and I believe that I will be able to show this House that whilst a Legislative Union was really not practically before us – for there were difficulties lying in its path such as to render its adoption impossible – yet the Union which was devised by the Quebec Conference, possessed all the advantages of both without the disadvantages that attended each separately.
No person, who is acquainted with the character of Legislative Union, but knows, when it is proposed for a country with the area and extent of territory that British America possesses, its realization is attended with great difficulties, if not with insuperable obstacles. No person, who is acquainted with what has taken place in the Imperial Parliament, but knows that great as that country has become under a Legislative Union, yet the difficulties connected with the Union are such as at this moment to be occupying the attention of the foremost statesmen of Great Britain.
The difficulties in the way of a Legislative Union are that the Legislature has not only to be occupied with the discussion of the great and leading questions which touch the vital interests of every section of the country, but to give its attention largely to matters of merely local concern. At present, the Parliament is obliged to take up and consider from five to six hundred local bills. When we consider that this body of 600 men, – the most influential and important assemblage of statesmen in the world, are called upon to give their attention upon some five hundred bills, which are not of general but of purely local concern, you can imagine the difficulty of carrying on the legislation of such a country. It is not strange that under such circumstances the Parliament is obliged to set eight out of twelve months in order to accomplish the legislation required at their hands.
If a Legislative Union were devised for British North America the people occupying the different sections would not have the guarantee that they have under the scheme devised, that matters of a local character would occupy the attention of the local legislatures, whilst those of a general nature would be entrusted to the General Legislature.
Therefore, the scheme that was devised gave the centralization and consolidation and unity that it was absolutely indispensable should be given. On the other hand, instead of having copied the defects of the federal constitution – instead of having the inherent weakness that must always attend a system where the local legislatures only impart certain powers to the government of the country – quite a different course was pursued, and it was decided to define the questions that should be reserved for the local legislatures, and those great subjects that should be entrusted to the general parliament.
Therefore, whilst the unity and consolidation connected with Legislative Union was obtained on the one hand, due care and attention to the local matters interesting to each Province were provided for by the preservation of local parliaments, and these powers were so arranged as to prevent any conflict or struggle which might lead to any difficulty between the several sections.
OUR CONNECTION WITH GREAT BRITAIN STRENGTHENED
Instead of looking to the Union of British North America as tending to weaken the bond of connection that binds us to the parent state, no one who reads the resolutions of the conference but must see that there was placed in the forefront the principle that that bond should be strengthened, and that we should be connected with the parent state by a more indissoluble tie than ever before existed. I need not tell the house that these results have been submitted to the attention of the Imperial Government, and the statesmen of England have looked upon them not as likely to separate these dependencies, but as the best means of uniting them more indissolubly to the Crown. I need not state that the same bond which exists between Canada and England – between Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and England, was conceived, and that when the scheme contemplated that the Queen should place a Viceroy or Governor-General over these dependencies thus united, the surest guarantee was given that the great object was to preserve the bonds that connect us with the parent state. And that view has been accepted not only by the government but by the people and press of England, and by statesmen in every quarter of the globe.
A great deal of stress has been laid on the fact that whilst the Governor General should be appointed by the Crown, the connection between these Provinces and the British government would be weakened, because it was proposed that the local governors should not be appointed as at present. Those who examine the subject will find very little on which to base that argument. Every person must see that it was important that the local governments in each province should be so united with the general government under the Governor-General as to ensure harmony and co-operation, and that it therefore became necessary that an alteration should be made as to the appointment of the Lieutenant-Governors.
But I would invite the attention of the house to the character of that alteration. What was proposed? That the people of each province should elect their governor? No. Whatever favor that view might have met from some parties, it was not the principle laid down by the conference at Quebec. It will be found that the same means by which the governor is appointed today would exist under the scheme of the conference. Who appoints the Governor General and the Lieutenant Governors at this day? If there is a portion of imperial patronage which is more than another placed within the personal control of the individual who exercises it, it is the appointment of Colonial Governors. In case of a vacancy in any one of these dependencies, the man who fills it up is the Right Honourable Mr. Cardwell sitting in the Colonial office.
I would ask, whether under this scheme, when it has been plainly stated by the British government that it would become necessary that they should supply from the ablest British statesmen a Governor or Viceroy, whether the crown and the people would not have the same guarantee for that influence and control over the appointment of local governors that is exercised now.
The difference would be this: Instead of a Colonial Secretary appointing the Lieutenant Governor, the Queen’s representative sitting at the head of the government of United British America, himself as responsible as a minister of the Crown, would be called upon to discharge that duty, and, at the same time, harmony would be obtained between the local and general government and the influence of the crown would be as effective as it exists at the present moment. The people of British North America would be in a position to exercise an amount of influence in the selection of the local governors which they of course, cannot do under existing circumstances.
POWERS OF GENERAL GOVERNMENT
It was proposed, as I stated before, that all the questions of leading general importance should be entrusted to the general government. There are some thirty-seven in number, but I will only at present draw the attention of the house to some of the more important points:
“The regulation of trade and commerce; the Imposition and Regulation of Excise Duties; the Postal Service; Militia, Military and Naval Service; Currency and Coinage; Criminal law; appointment of Judges of the Supreme Courts.”
POWERS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
To the local governments were reserved powers of an important character, though of a local interest, which could be exercise without any interference whatever with the unity and strength of the central government. The construction of the local governments was to be left to the local legislatures themselves.
The establishment and tenure of Local Offices, and appointment and payment of Local Officers; Education; Sale and Management of Public Lands; Local Works; the Administration of Justice, Property and Civil Rights.
I have only referred to some of the more important powers that would be given to the local and general governments respectively. The local governments would not interfere with the powers of the general government, or weaken its strength and unity of action, but would be able to deal with such questions as touch the local interests of the country – the construction of roads and bridges, public works, civil jurisdiction, &c.
As I stated before the debt of each province was settled upon a principle that I think will commend itself to the approval of every man in British North America, and that is that each province should enter the confederation with precisely the same debt, and if any section was in the position that the construction of local public works did not necessitate the raising of the debt to the same proportionate extent as that of Canada, she should receive from the public revenue the difference. I need not detain the House upon that branch of the subject, for in the first case it gave to New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, a margin to raise their debt to that point which was required to complete their public works, and at the same time left them in the position that if the money was not expended it should be credited to them.
THE QUESTION OF THE SUBSIDY
There is another question that has occupied a great deal of attention, and that is the subsidy. It has been stated that the subsidy was insufficient, and that a great mistake was made by the delegates who placed the amount at 80 cents a head, and based it on the census of 1861, instead of making it a larger sum in the first instance, and allowing it to increase according as the population increased.
If the delegates from the Maritime Provinces did not secure sufficiently good terms, I may say frankly, if we came back not having obtained that fair consideration and justice to the provinces which we had a right to demand at the hands of the conference, the fault was our own. The business of that conference was carried on by vote by provinces, and the maritime colonies, instead of standing in a position to allow Canada to dictate her own terms, and being compelled to accept them, they held a position which gave them a great advantage. The vote upon every question, as I have said, was taken by provinces. Every member of that Conference had it in his power to advocate his individual opinions to the best of his ability; but when it came to a vote, the majority of the delegates from each province decided what its vote should be; and therefore, when it is seen that Canada had only two votes, and that the Maritime Provinces had four, it is evident that if the latter – whose interests were identical – did not receive a fair amount of consideration it was not because they did not stand in a position to obtain it.
I have no hesitation, however, in going further and saying, if there is any fault to be found with the subsidy to carry on the local governments – the amount necessary to supplement the local funds that each province would have at its disposal to carry on the local governments – the blame must rest, in a large degree, upon the delegates from the provinces, for that subsidy was fixed to a large extent upon the requirements or what we believed to be the necessities of Nova Scotia, and arranged upon a basis that we felt was necessary in order to meet local exigencies in this Province.
We felt it was to the advantage of this Province as well as of British North America, that the subsidy should be placed at as low a figure as possible, for the simple reason that 80 cents a head was a tax that would rest upon the people of British North America and upon Nova Scotia in common. To have increased that subsidy to 90 cents would have made a very insignificant difference to be received by the people of this Province, but when applied to the millions of Canada, it would have amounted to a large aggregate to be drawn annually for ever from the general revenue of the whole country in which we would have a common interest. Therefore, it was of the highest importance to the people of this small province with a small population to fix the subsidy at the smallest amount in order to lessen the burthens which the people of British North America, and especially of the lower provinces, would be called upon to sustain.
We felt that the same principle dictated to us as a matter of common prudence that we should fix the subsidy upon the census of 1861. We felt, too, that the population of Upper Canada might be expected to increase in a greater ratio than any other part of British North America, and the result would be that an enormous drain would thus be made upon the general revenue if the subsidy were not stationary. As the population increased it would be but 70 then 60, then 50 cents, instead of fixing forever 80 cents upon the people. We believed, after making a careful calculation, which it will not be necessary to go into at this time, that in fixing the amount at 80 cents, we sufficiently consulted the local interests of the country, and the different services for which it was necessary to provide.
REPRESENTATION BY POPULATION
I must glance now at one or two points that were arranged at that Conference for the government of British North America. The principle of representation by population was adopted, and there have been found people in this Province to question its soundness and judiciousness. It has been said that it is a false principle, and that therefore it should have been repudiated and rejected – that it was not one which Conservatives ought to support.
It will not be necessary to go into any elaborate defence of representation by population, as applied to British America. That principle was approved twenty-five years ago, by a statesman as distinguished as Lord Durham. It was stated by him, in a report which will make his name ever famous in the annals of British America, and I may say Great Britain, that it was the only true and safe principle upon which the Legislatures and Governments could be constructed in British America. That eminent statesman predicted, 25 years ago, in reference to Canada, that if they undertook to ignore the principle of representation by population, the day would come when the county would be rent in twain.
Who does not know the difficulties that arose from the false principle that was applied at the time of the union of the Canadas in order to give the ascendancy to Upper Canada, whose population at the time was less than that of Lower Canada? – Who does not know that the prediction of Earl Durham has been verified? And the time has come when that country has been convulsed, in order to rid themselves of a principle so unsound as that a certain number of people in a certain locality shall have an amount of representation arranged not according to their numbers, but exhibiting a disparity with some other section.
But were we to put ourselves in the position of saying that the intelligence of our people was such – that the want of intellect and ability amongst us was so marked, that, in order to have sufficient influence in a legislative assembly in British North America, we should demand that the principle of representation by population should be ignored?
When it is said that the principle should be discountenanced by Conservatives, I call the attention of the house to the fact that the Quebec scheme has been submitted to the most severe ordeal that any scheme of constitutional government could be subjected to, and to a tribunal perhaps as competent to pass upon it as any in the world - I mean the Government and people of England, as represented by a press which for standing, character, and intelligence is not equalled in any part of the civilized world. I ask any public man to show me, although the scheme has been rigidly examined, a single statement in the press of England, or of any other country, calling into question the soundness of the principle of representation by population, as applied to British North America. I have examined all the criticisms I could have access to, and I have yet to find a single press that has objected to the application of that principle.
It has been said that, assuming the principle to be right, it would nevertheless place these provinces in a position that would jeopardise the interests of the people in connection with this scheme of government. I would ask this house to consider that, in the first place, under that principle Nova Scotia would be entitled to 19 representatives in all in a parliament of 194 members. I would ask this house, when any man ventures to question whether the 19 members or the 47 would not have a fair share of influence in the united parliament, to look at the only criterion by which it is possible to come to any conclusion on the subject. Look across the Atlantic at the parliament of England – at the House of Commons of 600 members – where the parties into which the country are divided, the Liberals and Conservatives, are separated by lines less strong than those which divide Upper and Lower Canada, and must divide them for a century to come. There you will see a dozen independent men controlling parties and influencing the destinies of the country. Is not this evidence that in a British American parliament of 194 members the representatives of the Maritime Provinces would render it impossible for their interests to be ignored or set aside?
It may be said they would not be united – personal antagonism would arise to keep them divided. I grant it. But the moment that parliament would attempt to touch the interests of any part of these Maritime Provinces, would you not see them forced into such a combination as would enable them to dictate to any party that would attempt to override them? Go to Canada and take your illustration there. Not 19, but three or four members only, for years, have dictated which party should control the government of the country.
Therefore, I feel that this principle is not only just in itself but is due that gave to the Maritime Provinces all the control and influence to which they were entitled. Look again at the Parliament of England and you would see, although Ireland has an insignificant number of members – insufficient in a numerical point of view in comparison to what Nova Scotia would send into a British American Parliament – yet for years they have occupied that position that they can dictate to the Parliament which party shall govern the country. But I need not go to Canada, or Ireland, or England, for illustrations to bear out my statement. I have only to look at our own legislature to see the comparatively small island of Cape Breton dictating its terms and policy to the government of the country – all that is necessary is for her small number of representatives to combine upon any question of public policy, and she obtains what she requires.
BOURINOT – Cape Breton was not represented at the conference, and at the present moment she has not a single representative at the Council Board.
TUPPER: The honourable member knows right well that all that is necessary at any time for the members of Cape Breton is to express their wishes on any question and they will receive every consideration. Any government that refused to meet them on their own terms would receive a fatal blow. I confess I would have been ashamed to say in the conference that Nova Scotia’s position was such that in order to have influence and control in a parliament of 194 members she would require to send more than 19 men. Mr. Howe told the people of this country ten years ago that all he required would be two men in the British Parliament in order to have a mining monopoly broken down in a single night’s discussion. Ten years after he made that statement, I would feel that I was occupying a position that my countrymen would never forgive if I said that the intellect of this Province was at so low an ebb that she could not send 19 members that in point of weight and energy and ability would not protect our interests in the general parliament of united British America.
THE REPRESENTATION IN THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
But was our representation in the Commons the only guarantee that our rights would not be trampled upon? It is ample security; but I am ready to show the house that the most extravagant demand that could enter into the mind of any man was conceded in the scheme of government of these Provinces. I need not tell this house of the potent influence that is exercised in legislation by the Legislative Council. We have seen several striking examples of questions on which three fourths of this body concurred, and yet this house did not succeed in attaining its object because it did not meet with the concurrence of the Upper Branch. It requires two to make a bargain and pass a law.
I ask you then, if you wish for a guarantee that the security of the people of the Maritime Provinces will never be ignored, could you have a stronger one than that 600,000 people in these Maritime Provinces should have obtained, under such a constitution, the same representation in the Upper Branch as was given to Upper Canada with 1,400,000, and to Lower Canada with 1,100,000. This we have for all time to come, although Upper Canada may increase to millions of people. Then I would ask the intelligent people of this country if the parties who devised the constitution did not give us all the security that our rights and interests could demand.
THE NECESSITY FOR UNION – A PLEA FOR NATIONALITY
I have glanced at the more leading features connected with the constitution, and it will be perhaps desirable that I should show what necessity there existed, and what ground there was for having this union.
I have already called the attention of the house to the singular fact that rife as party feeling has been in this country – that strong as has been the divisions and lines of demarcation between existing parties – from the time the great question of union was first submitted to the notice of the legislature and people of this country, there has been an amount of unanimity of sentiment among all classes of public men of all parties, such as has never been exhibited on any other question. It is not singular that such should be the case when we look at our present position?
Who is there that does not feel that the first principles of manhood imprinted in the breast of man is that the country with which he is connected should occupy a position of influence of which he need not be ashamed? Who is there with a spark of manliness in his bosom that does not feel that he has a right to be proud of his country in proportion to the position it occupies in the scale of nations?
I need not tell the house that surrounded as we are by many blessings – owing fealty as we do to the first empire in the world – enjoying the protection of one of the greatest powers on the globe – having free institutions in all their entirely – possessing as we do peace and plenty, – that we enjoy advantages for which we ought to be profoundly grateful; but I can discover no other cause why there has been so great a co-operation among all classes of intelligent people of our country in respect to a union of these colonies than the desire that possessing these advantages we should at the same time advance to a more national position and render our institutions more secure.
Who does not feel mortified he takes up the report of the discussion that recently took place in the Commons, and finds that although the subject under debate was the security of British America, yet the only one of the provinces that appeared to be known to British statesmen – that was deemed worthy of their notice – was Canada?
We have had evidence of the most tangible and positive character, both in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, how insignificant is our position in the estimation of the parent state. What was the complaint when the Reciprocity Treaty was submitted to the house, that come from both sides? That the Imperial Parliament, in negotiating that treaty, had not though it necessary to ask the opinion of Nova Scotian statesmen, although the great fisheries that surrounded this country were to be surrendered. Mr. Johnston was invited by the Lieutenant Governor, although in opposition at that time, to go in conjunction with Mr. Young to attend the meeting of delegates, for the purpose of considering the question. He found, however, that he was required to give his assent to what had been done already. – Therefore, in the arrangement of a treaty so intimately affecting our interests, the views of not a single public man in Nova Scotia were considered worthy of attention, and I presume it was the same with New Brunswick.
Where was New Brunswick when a large slice was cut off from her territory – when the whole of British North America was disfigured by the Ashburton Treaty? The opinion of a single statesman in New Brunswick was not asked.
The fact is, if we are known at all across the Atlantic, notwithstanding the immense resources of these Maritime Provinces, it is because we happen to be contiguous to Canada. Everything connected with our interests tells us of the insignificance of our position. Therefore it is not a matter of surprise, in view of these facts and of the position we occupy, that the intelligent men of these provinces have long since come to the conclusion that, if these comparatively small countries are to have any future whatever in connection with the crown of England, it must be found in a consolidation of all British North America. I regret that this harmony does not exist down to the present moment, but I am dealing with the position the question occupied at the time these negotiations were going on.
OUR TRADE WILL BE INCREASED BY UNION
Who do not know that if these Provinces are ever to occupy a position that will increase the wealth of the country, it must be through the expansion of our trade?
What trade, worthy of the name, can a country, so limited in extent and sparsely settled, as our own ever have? When we look across the border and see the great impetus that was given to the trade of the United States when they ceased to become separate provinces and swept away the hostile tariffs that previously confined them, who can doubt that if we adopted a similar policy (but retaining at the same time our connection with the parent state) and became one country, the same great results would accrue? Then, indeed, might we expect to advance the material prosperity and position of all British North America!
The only means by which we can expect an expansion of trade is by striking down these hostile tariffs, and having a common commerce for these provinces. Again you have the difficulties of trade increased in consequence of each province having a currency of its own. If there is anything that would increase the commerce and improve the credits of all British North America, it would be such a union as would bring about such a consolidation of the interests of the country as would lead the world to suppose that our institutions were based upon a stable and firm foundation.
OUR CREDIT WILL BE IMPROVED
There is nothing that lowers the credit of a country more than the insecurity that attends such isolation as these provinces exhibit at the present moment. Who is there that will invest money in a country where he believes, owing to its weakness and isolation, its political condition may become changed in an hour, and that all the security that he would have for the investment might at any moment become entirely worthless? This is not a mere question of theory – we have evidence to guide us. There is the established fact that the moment it was made known on the other side of the Atlantic that the interests of British North America were to be consolidated, and a firm nationality created, the credit of the country immediately improved. We have now all the disadvantages of connection with Canada. We do not know that you cannot have a vote against a Militia measure, or a raid across the border of that country, but it acts upon Nova Scotia, and our funds are affected at once in the market of the world. Yet we may not exercise the slightest influence over that vote, or any other matte which acts so immediately against our own interests. Is it not desirable, then, that these Maritime Provinces should be in a position to exercise some control over acts which so largely affect us, and in reference to which we are now powerless?
OUR GEOGRAPHICAL POSITION
Who is there that looks at the geographical position of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick that does not feel that for us especially Intercolonial Union is a question of the most vital importance! Who is there that looks at this Province, extending into the broad Atlantic same 500 miles nearer to the parent state than any other part of British North America, but must see that it is quite impossible we can ever obtain that position Nature intended we should occupy, except through a Union of British North America, that will make Nova Scotia the great highway between two Continents? Who is there that looks at the magnificent harbors with which the Province is honeycombed, but must feel that they were not intended for a commerce we can now supply but for the trade of a mighty nationality, of which Nova Scotia should be to a large extent the entrepot? Therefore, it is not strange that the public men of B.N.A., in view of facts bearing upon the trade of the country – of the effect that would be produced upon us in virtue of our geographical position – should have combined to bring about a union which must develop the common interests of the country.
OUR GEOLOGICAL ATTRIBUTES
Look again at the geological position of this province, and you find that if Nature has intended anything in the construction of this country, it has been that we should become a great manufacturing people. You find here every mineral and resource in the bowels of the earth that is necessary to place us in that position. You see us, therefore, occupying the same situation that Great Britain occupies on the continent of Europe. Therefore, looking at our geological position, no public man would fail to see that under proper arrangements this province might become a great hive of industry – the great manufactory for all British North America, if not for a much larger country. It is facts like these that brought the public men of Nova Scotia to the conclusion that they would be wanting in their duty to their country if they did not advance by every means in their power so desirable a project.
THE INTERCOLONIAL RAILWAY
Then there is the question of the Intercolonial Railway. If this legislature has ever shown a great desire to accomplish any public work, it has been on the Intercolonial Railway. For twenty years, all parties have been willing to admit that the construction of this work was a matter of the most vital concern to the people of this country. I will not detain the house by going into any elaborate quotations by which the leading men of these provinces have, from time to time, shown that they believed that the question of Intercolonial Railway was fraught with the most important consequences to the advancement of the Province of Nova Scotia, and when I state to the house that after every effort has been tried and failed, this scheme of union accomplished that work on terms such as a no man had ever ventured to ask for this people. I feel that it is not only in the constitution of the House of Assembly and the Legislative Council, but also in respect to this great work, that the delegates from the Maritime Provinces brought back the indisputable evidence of the earnest disposition of Canada to unite their fortunes with our own in a common union which should be beneficial to all.
It is true it was a matter of great importance for Canada to obtain this union – that it opened a door for the removal of the great difficulties that have distracted that country, and whatever may be the extent and resources of Canada – and they are inexhaustible, and I might almost say, illimitable, – it can never occupy the position it should except it has a free outlet to the ocean. Therefore, it is not strange that the delegates from the Maritime Provinces came back not only with the evidence that they would have in the upper lower branch all the guarantees they would require for the advancement of the country, but actually obtained a pledge that New Brunswick and Nova Scotia should secure the construction of the Intercolonial Railway by paying only two-twelfths of the cost instead of seven-twelfths as agreed to by the Legislatures of the two lower provinces.
IMMIGRATION WOULD BE PROMOTED
Can there be a doubt that the Union of British North America, whilst it would promote trade and elevate our credit, would also give an impulse to immigration that we cannot now expect? We are now a field of emigration, instead of one for immigration. Nova Scotia, without trade, and commerce, and manufactures, does not afford a field to our young men. The consequence is, day after day we see our best men going into other countries, where they will occupy a better position, and find an opening for their talents and energies that is denied to them in their native Province. Consolidate British North America, and you will stay and turn back that tide. You will then restore tens of thousands of her expatriated sons, who have gone to other lands to seek their fortunes, and swell the ranks of our rivals, if not fees.
OUR SECURITY WILL BE PROMOTED BY UNION
I will now glance at the most important point of all in connection with this question, namely, the security of the country. It is necessary that our institutions should be placed on a stable basis, if we are to have that security for life and property, and personal liberty, which is so desirable in every country. It is quite impossible to place any country upon a stable and respectable footing where security has not the guarantee of permanency – a guarantee that will inspire confidence in the world. I do not intend on an occasion like this to make any invidious allusions to the great neighboring power near us, but I see events transpiring around us that would make it criminal for any public man to ignore facts which are of the most vital importance to British North America.
THE LESSON OF THE PRESENT
Yesterday, British America bordered upon a country great in its trade and peaceful pursuits – having a commerce second to none on the globe; but you have seen all that changed as it were in a day. Now you see alongside of us one of the most gigantic military and naval powers that the world has ever seen. Therefore, it behoves us to consider whether any public man, in view of the changed attitude of that country, would not be wanting in his duty to the Province if he attempted for a single moment to ignore these circumstances.
I drew the attention of the house at its last session to the fact that British North America had owned a great deal of its security to the existence of slavery in the neighboring republic. Is it not necessary, in the light of events that have come to our knowledge today, we should consider how close may be at hand the termination of the great struggle which has convulsed that great republic with civil war for four years past; but I think we may safely predict that, least the issue of that struggle end in any manner we can possibly conceive, one thing is certain, and that is, that slavery is doomed.
The great slave power, which so long exercise control over the destinies of the States, I have ever looked upon as the best safeguard for British North America, since it was antagonistic to the acquisition of any anti-slavery territory, and consequent increase of influence by the North. Therefore, when we see gigantic republic relieved from that difficulty, and becoming one of the greatest military powers in the world, it is a matter deserving of our most serious deliberation.
I regret to have to say – nor would it be right for me to ignore the fact – that whilst I feel it would be for the interests of British North America to preserve the most amicable relations with the United States, it is impossible for me to shut my eyes to the evidence before me that the tone of that power is decidedly hostile to this country. I deeply deplore that such should be the case; but at the same time, I would be recreant to my duty as a public man if I did not tell this house and explain the amount of influence that those considerations have had upon my own mind. This is known that until recently the most kindly relationship existed between the people of British North America and the United States. Trade was fostered in every way that was possible – everything that would promote harmony and free commercial intercourse was done. But how do we stand today? Whether you regard the public sentiment of that country through the declarations of its Press, its Parliament, or its government, you can arrive at but one conclusion.
(The hon. gentleman then referred, in support of his statements, to the establishment of the passport system between these Provinces and the States, which was a great source of embarrassment to trade and intercourse between the two countries. He then alluded to the fact that the American Congress had made an appropriation for the construction of the Niagara ship canal by which vessels of a large size may be sent through from American waters into the Canadian lakes and for fortifications on the frontier. Again, the treaty under which only a small armament was allowed on the lakes was to be immediately abrogated on the motion of the American Government. Then, again, there was the question that so vitally affected the people of British North America – the Reciprocity Treaty. He then continued in reference to the latter subject).
THE RECIPROCITY TREATY
Under that treaty, whilst the trade of British North America has been increased and improved, it has been infinitely much more beneficial to the commerce of the United States. Under the fostering influence of that treaty, the trade between British America and the States suddenly sprung in four years from fifteen to sixty million of dollars. Whilst it has been in the highest degree useful and advantageous to the commerce and advancement of these British North American Provinces, yet the balance of trade has been largely in favor of the States. And who is there that does not know the great importance that keen and sagacious people attach to anything that will extend their commerce and improve their trade?
But despite all that – although the Boards of Trade at New York, Detroit and elsewhere, have made the most energetic appeals against the abolition of the treaty, the Board of Trade at Detroit actually demonstrating to their government that since the commencement of the treaty the balance of trade has been $162,000,000 in their favor – notwithstanding all that, under the influence of that spirit which I deeply regret to see exhibited, notice for the abolition of the treaty has been given. Not only so, but it is conclusively shown that it is not the intention of the American Government to enter into any negotiations for the continuance of the treaty.
A few days ago, I laid on the table of this house a remarkable document. The treaty provides that there shall be a joint commission under it – yet while the treaty must remain in force for another year, Mr. Seward has demanded that the commission be immediately closed. It is impossible, in the view of such facts, to shut our eyes to the reality that while that great Republic has assumed such gigantic proportions, and at the same time has taken such an attitude in reference to these Provinces, we have a right to come to the conclusion that their determination is to close all communication, instead of fostering those peaceful and commercial relations with us, which in the past have been so remarkably beneficial.
THE DUTY THAT LIES BEFORE US
It has been said that it is impossible for us to put ourselves in an attitude that will improve our position in this respect. I am not wrong in assuming that the desire of every British American is to remain in connection with the people of Great Britain. If there is any sentiment that was ever strong in the breast of our people, it is a disinclination to be separated in any way whatever from the British empire, or to be connected in any manner with the United States of America.
But what is our present position? Isolated and separated as we are now, I ask the house whether all the protection we have is not that which the crawling worm enjoys – and that is, its insignificance is such as to prevent the foot being placed upon it? Does it comport with the position and dignity of freemen that we should have our only guarantee of security and protection in our insignificance?
I feel in our present isolated position, standing in the presence of a power so gigantic and unfriendly that we must take speedy and prompt measures for security. I may be told that four millions of people would still stand in the presence of thirty millions, and that we would be unable to make any resistance that would ensure our safety; but I would ask the house to consider the fact that we have every reason to know – for no one can doubt the declaration of the ministry of England – that the resolve on the part of Great Britain is to stand in all her integrity by British America, provided these provinces assume such an attitude as would enable the power of the pant state to be put forth with a reasonable prospect of success. Although our numbers may be comparatively small, still while we have the good fortune to be a part of the British empire, and know that all that is necessary is for us, by union and consolidation, to take such a position as would give England the guarantee that we are prepared to do our duty, and her power would not be put forth in vain, we need not fear the future.
Every man who wishes to keep the liberties and rights he now possesses as subject to the Crown of England – who values the institutions he now enjoys, must see the necessity of our taking such a course as would guarantee us security in the case of conflict with any power in the world, and what would be even better, the avoidance of conflict which our attitude would accomplish.
SHALL OUR BURDENS BE GREATER?
I may be told, that great as are the advantages of Union, they will be purchased at too great a cost – that there will be an increase in the tariff – that the burdens that will be thrown upon the people will be greater than otherwise they would have been. I do not intend to weary the house with any elaborate statements on this point, except to say that I believe we have every reason to suppose, from the position we occupy in connection with the parent state – from the expansion that would accrue to the trade and commerce of the country – from the development that would be given to manufactures, and the extension of our public works – that our burdens would not be greater than if we remain in our present position.
Are we not desirous at the present moment to extend our public works, and may we not fairly assume that if we were to remain out of Union that the burdens we have to bear would be increased? The time has passed when these Provinces would not have to contribute largely to the defences of the country. Either the fishing grounds, so valuable to us, must be given up without a struggle to the parties who have been accustomed in the neighboring States to use them for years, or the cost of defending them must be largely thrown [upon] these Provinces.
Therefore, I would ask whether, in relation to the protection of our fisheries, which will directly have to engage our attention, it is not desirable to have these Provinces united and consolidated? I may be asked whether Union would increase the number of men or the amount of money. I believe it would. I believe that Union will rapidly increase our population. I believe that the moral force that would be given to the whole of British North America by a common union of her interests, would be such as I have stated before – to ensure not only the safety, but the peace of the country.
Assuming that you are to reject a union on the ground that we are defenceless, what is our position? You are likely to be overwhelmed without a struggle, or, in the language of Mr. Howe – without an Intercolonial Railway, or the means of communication with Quebec, the inhabitants of Nova Scotia would have to beg permission to haul down their own flag. Humiliating as is such a statement, every man knows that it is true, and how useless it would be for Nova Scotia to undertake any resistance. At the present, those who assail Nova Scotia in its isolated position, would only attack 350,000, but with British America united, whoever put a hospital foot upon our 1,000 miles of sea coast would assail nearly four million of freemen, sustained by the mightiest power in the world.
THE POSITION OF THE OPPONENTS OF UNION ON THE DEFENCE QUESTION
I will now turn the attention of the house for a single moment to the fact that, on this question of defence, the opponents of Union have felt that it was so important that questions of tariff and expenditure sank into insignificance, and that it was absolutely necessary that some means should be given to a free and intelligent people, by which their rights and liberties should be secured.
I regret to state that a leading journal in this country changed its opinions and for the first time in the history of the Province, this question of Intercolonial Union was endeavored to be made one of party, and that party influences and prejudices were awakened in order to excite hostility against the Government, and prevent the people of this Province accepting the proposed Union. They felt, however, that it was necessary, on a question so important as that of defence, that we should do something, and accordingly they propounded to the people of this country their scheme, by which they would protect British North America. In the Morning Chronicle of January 18, 1865, you read:
“We would provide for the defence of the Empire by a general tax equally levied by an Imperial statute all over the Empire. This might be either a tax on property, on polls, or on imports, to take precedence, of all other taxes and to be paid into the Imperial treasury. About £28,000,000 are annually required for naval and military expenditure. Taking the population of the Empire, including the Eastern Provinces and dependencies at 300,000,000, 2s. per head sterling would provide the whole sum required. A property tax, if that were preferred, would raise the whole amount. But if it was thought better to collect the £28,000,000 upon imports, the commerce of the Empire would yield the whole without any portion of it feeling the burthen.”
When I am told that our scheme of union would involve increasing the burthens upon the people of this country – that a yard of cotton might cost one cent more than it does now, – and that it was a reason why we should not have union with all its advantages – an Intercolonial Railway, expanded commerce, the development of manufactures, and intercommunication between 4,000,000 of British North Americans –when I am told this, I think I have a right to ask the people of this country to examine this scheme that is propounded on the great question of national defence by the opponents of Confederation and compare it with that offered for your acceptance by the Quebec Conference. Then, I think, you will say that any charge of increased taxation that has been insinuated – the most extravagant estimate made of the cost, the scheme of the Quebec Conference is entirely thrown into the shade.
I need not call attention to the disgraceful proposal that is made to a free people in the article I have just read. If I had not the evidence here, it would have almost seemed incredible that such a proposition could have been made in this century to a free and intelligent people, that any body of loyal men could propound the repetition of a policy that lost England her finest Colonies nearly a century ago. I believe I would be doing a gross injustice to the free spirit of this country if I were to suppose that even connection with the crown of England would be sufficient to induce the people of this country to allow an Imperial Statute to lay an Imperial tax upon us to go into the Imperial treasury. Deeply as the people value their institutions – and greatly attached as they are to the mother country, – yet the free spirit of this country would revolt at such a proposition as led to the independence of the old colonies nearly a hundred years ago. Let me suppose that the independent spirit of the people should be so trampled down as to induce them to submit to taxation by an Imperial statute – what then? This article says:
“A property tax, if that were preferred, would raise the whole amount. But if it was thought better to collect the £28,000,000 upon imports, the commerce of the mire would yield the whole without any portion of it feeling the burthen. Is there a Nova Scotian that would not pay his portion of this tax cheerfully, and turn out, with arms in his hands, to defend the Empire besides? Is there one who will not cheerfully pay pound for pound with the Canadians, or with his fellow subjects in any other part of the Queen’s dominions? Here is a scheme of National Defense, of which a statesman need not be ashamed, and our public men could not be much better employed than in pressing it on the notice of Her Majesty’s Government.”
Here you have the doctrine laid down that we should provide twenty eight million pounds sterling for the maintenance of the Army and Navy of Great Britain. To tax in Halifax or Cape Breton the same that a man in London and Manchester is taxed for the support of an Army and Navy, over whose acts we have no control, and in the imposition of which taxation we have no voice.
But the glaring mistake into which this Mentor of the People of Nova Scotia has fallen, as to the population who would bear this taxation, shows how unfit he is the guide public opinion. It would be difficult to find a Nova Scotian that would consent to so humiliating a proposition as that. The public man who would press it upon the attention of the Imperial Government would soon find himself driven from public life, and bring upon himself the execration of every free man in this country. It would be soliciting the British Government to place us in a position which we should never be placed in; it would be asking the Parliament of England to consent to that which would be only worthy of a century that is past. The person who has ventured to trample down the scheme of the Quebec Conference, and bring forward the plan of the Anti-Unionists, should have better informed himself of the facts as they exist. Did he not know that 180 millions of people in British India could not have a farthing of that tax levied upon them, as they provide now for the defence of the British Empire in the East at an enormous annual cost.
This £36,000,000 currency would, therefore, under this plan require to levied upon about 36,000,000 millions instead of 300,000,000. I will not presume that it was an attempt to mislead, but it is charitable to suppose that the parties who have attempted to instruct the people of this country in opposition to the great scheme of Union, did not know that this £28,000,000 sterling for the Army and Navy was altogether irrespective of the Army and Navy of British India.
Yet is by documents such as these that the people of these Maritime Provinces have been excited to hostility against a scheme which would have made the British American Provinces a great nationality, of which their people might be justly proud; which would have extended our commerce and promoted our wealth and prosperity to an extent that is incalculable, and at the same time connect us more closely with the Parent State; drawing around us that aid and co-operation which would have secured to us and our children after us, to the most remote posterity, that guarantee of peace and safety which every man amongst us feels it ought to be his privilege to enjoy.
COMMERCE AND SHIPPING
I need not allude to the commerce and shipping that British America would enjoy under Union. These statistics were known to all. But when I am asked the question, as to whether British America is in a position to enter into the Union, I reply: Let us compare the position that these provinces now occupy with that which the American colonies had at the time of their independence. We find we have a larger population, and occupy a position in many respects superior to that which they then did. Look at their trade, and you find that they had only one third of what we have now. Their population and revenue were much smaller. In respect, therefore, to trade, population and revenue, upon which the greatness of a country rests, you find the position of British America is one of evident influence. The American colonies, by sweeping away hostile tariffs, and emerging from that position of isolation which they occupied, have attained their present wealth and prosperity. Look at our shipping, and see at this moment the tonnage of British America; amounting to over 900,000 tons occupying a place next to France – the fourth commercial marine in the world. But I need not go into any labored arguments to show that the time has come when we should assume a position of nationality under the aegis of old England.
THE POSITION OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
It has been said that whilst the General Government would possess large powers, with an influential legislature, the local governments and legislatures would sink into contempt. Those who make such a statement must ignore our past history. I would ask gentlemen to look at the history of the past, and see whether there is evidence to sustain the proposition that the governments of these provinces would occupy so contemptible a position that no man of character and influence would be inclined to have anything to do with them. In the first place, the subsidy that this province would receive in connection with the revenue from the mines and minerals would be double the revenue that it had at the time when the men who have made the legislature famous occupied seats within those walls. Not only would we have doubt the amount of revenue, but we would have larger powers and possess more commanding influence in relation to the public affairs of the province than the government and parliament of this province had at the time when Chief Justice Haliburton, the Lord Bishop of Nova Scotia, Judge Bliss, the masters of the Rolls (Archibald and Stewart) occupied seats in this house. Can we say then, when we shall have double the revenue, and a far more influential position, that we will not have men of ability, and intellect to enter our legislative halls?
THE PRESNT ASPECT OF THE QUESTION OF UNION
We do not come to the discussion of this question in the position and attitude that I expected and hoped we should at the time this legislature assembled. We did not come to the discussion with a view to an immediate practical decision upon the question of Confederation, but I would do injustice to what I believe to be the intelligence and patriotism of Nova Scotia if I did not say in my place in parliament, that I am confident that the scheme of intercolonial union which has been devised at Quebec has taken, and will take such a hold on the public mind of all these provinces as to ensure its adoption at an early day in all its entirely. I would be doing injustice to the question and the evidence that exists on every side if I entertained a doubt that when the facts came to be examined and sifted by the intelligence of this province, they will with great unanimity unite in promoting and consummating a scheme which is fraught with such incalculable advantages to the best interests of British North America.
Owing to circumstances over which we have no control, the government of Nova Scotia is placed in a position which renders it useless to bring this scheme down for the decision of the Legislature. Every person who knows the geographical position of the country, with New Brunswick lying between us and Canada, must see that any Union of British America is impracticable unless the latter province is a party to it.
I regret to say that public men in that province have been unpatriotic enough to forget their duty to their country, and to enter into combinations which I regret to say were too successful with those hostile to British North American Union, for the purpose of overthrowing the government, and under these circumstances the question of union of British North America has received a heavy blow and great discouragement; but we would be underrating the patriotism of New Brunswick (as we would that of Nova Scotia), if we doubted that at an early day that province would reverse its decision. I trust we will at an early day see reaction on the part of the public men of that province that will place this question in an entirely different aspect. I believe that this hostile action on the part of New Brunswick is most deeply to be deplored in the interests of all B.N.A.
I regret, however, to add that a large amount of hostility has also been excited in various sections of Nova Scotia in respect to this question, and the petition which are now on the table would render it exceedingly difficult for any government to ask an immediate decision, but whilst there has been a vast amount of energy exhibited – whilst thousands of people have been induced to petition this Legislature on this question of Confederation, a comparatively small number of these petitions have pronounced against Confederation. There are not 3,000 persons in the entire Province who say they are opposed to the proposed Confederation, notwithstanding the scheme has been misrepresented, and arguments of the most fallacious character used against it – and that party influences have been thrown largely into the scale – although the attempt has been made to induce people to oppose it by petitions largely circulated, the majority of the petitioners who are here state that they are not prepared to say whether it would be for good or for evil, that we should have Confederation, and ask the House to pause before irrevocably committing itself to what would be, I believe, for the advantage of the country.
I believe that at early day, these parties having been fully informed on the subject, will be prepared to come hence by tens of thousands, and ask the Legislature to consummate this scheme of Union. I tremble, sir, when I think of the results that the action of these Provinces may have upon the public mind in England – that the steps which are in progress for the security and defence of British North America may be interfered with and the efforts for our protection may be paralyzed by the fact that in presence of a great danger, these Provinces have permitted that isolation to continue which can only lead to connection with the American Republic, and opposed that consolidation which in co-operation with the power which England was prepared to put forth, would give us security and avert the peril that is now so imminent.
The scheme devised at Quebec has passed through the most trying of ordeals triumphantly – after being submitted to the closest examination by the press of England, it has come out with encomiums such as no scheme ever devised by any body of public men has ever received before. It has secured the approbation of the most intelligent and influential section of the press of British America. It has been adopted in Canada by both branches of the Legislature with an unanimity such as reflects the highest honor on the patriotism and the intelligence of that country. In New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia, it has enlisted the support of almost the entire religious press of the country, as also that of the most intelligent and independent of the secular press. Having obtained the support and co-operation of the leading and most influential public men in the different provinces – of the great bulk of the intelligence, wealth, and influence of the country, it is placed in a position which gives to this house and country, and to all British North America, the best guarantee that in a little time, when it has been fully examined and discussed, all classes will vie with each other in bringing about the adoption of a constitutional change so necessary and advantageous to all.
UNION OF THE MARITIME PROVINCES
I have stated in the outset that a Legislative Union of the Maritime Provinces is desirable in case we are Confederated, and still more indispensable in case we are not to be at once united with Canada. Under these circumstances have I moved the resolution which I now hold in my hand. I can only say that if gentlemen will examine the remarks I made in this house last winter they will find that I considered the Union of the Maritime Provinces was one of the most important means to secure a union of all British North America, and most desirable in such a contingency. There are gentlemen present both inside and outside of these benches – who were connected with the delegation to Quebec – who will bear me out in the assertion that I always advocated the lesser union in that light. And at the very moment when I was prepared to concur with the rest of the delegates from the Maritime Provinces in adjourning the question of the smaller union until the larger question had been considered, I advocated the former as almost as essential and important if we remained out. The whole objection that is raised against the diminished importance and expensiveness of the local governments and legislatures would under Confederation be swept away by a union of the Maritime Provinces.
Therefore, instead of bringing forward this question as a counter-proposition to the Confederation of British North America, I regard it tonight as I did a year ago, as an important and great step toward securing that greater union – a means of placing these Maritime Provinces in a united and influential position under Confederation than we would have if we entered it separately. How this proposal may be received by New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, it is not for me to say. I may admit there was no prospect of getting Prince Edward Island into the proposed Legislative Union, even if the Canadian deputation had not attended the conference at Charlottetown. Gratified as I would have been to see Prince Edward Island form a portion of the great Confederation, I did not regard their action either in respect to the small or greater union as a matter of vital concern at all. All that is necessary is that Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, united as they are by every tie of common interests should be in a position to have that union. Even if the larger union were impracticable and could never take place, still it is desirable that New Brunswick and Nova Scotia should be united. It would expand on trade, advance our influence, and accomplish many of the same results and bring about advantages that would be received from the larger scheme of union, only in a smaller degree.
Having trespassed so long upon the patience of the House, I will not occupy the attention of gentlemen longer than to express the hope that this resolution will meet with the concurrence of this Legislature and of the Government of New Brunswick, though on this latter point I am not prepared to express any opinion.
But suppose the government of New Brunswick is not prepared to concur in Union of the Maritime Provinces, it was desirable that that point should be definitely known, and the public mind be no longer distracted with the consideration of that question.
By this resolution, the government will be authorized to open negotiations, and see what prospect there is of obtaining a legislative union with that province. The opponents of Confederation here have professed to be in favour of the Union of the Maritime Provinces, and as far as I have an opportunity of knowing that has been the view of some of the opponents of Confederation in New Brunswick. Whatever view, therefore, this house may take of the larger question of a Union of British North America, I trust they will sustain the resolution now submitted to their consideration.
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