Page images
PDF
EPUB

movement is in any way contemplated. The constitutional reform party of Upper Canada needs no assistance, and we are very sure that any attempt at coalition with Toryism would be fatal to all who touched it. That a reorganization of the liberal party is necessary few will deny ; but that a more progressive policy, a firmer step, and more sympathy within the party than heretofore, would reunite the constitutional portion more heartily than ever, and carry it triumphantly through the elections of 1851, we feel perfectly confident.”

Six months after this article appeared in the Globe, Mr. Brown accepted the nomination of the Liberal Convention for the representation of Haldimand. The following extracts from his address show the grounds on which he sought election :

I adhere to the liberal party because I think that the principles and measures of that party are best adapted to advance the interests of our country. To the reformers, Canada is indebted for the thorough control now exercised by the people over the executive government. To them we owe the enjoyment of religious equality; a national system of education free from sectarian bias ; municipal institutions, simple and efficient; public works, unsurpassed in any country. We are indebted to the liberal party for an amended jury law, an improved assessment system, cheap postage, and many other valuable measures. In matters of commerce and finance they have ever been in advance. To them we are indebted for the present high standing of our public securities, and through their exertions the trade of Canada was freed from British navigation laws and differential duties. During the few years the reform party have enjoyed power very much good has been effected. But there is much to be done ; and I doubt if there ever has been a time when men holding liberal sentiments were more loudly called upon to sink minor differences and stand together on the great questions before the country. I mean not that any one should sacrifice principle for the sake of party, but that in matters of expediency we are bound to yield our opinions to secure the combined action of those holding the same general views.

I am opposed to any connection between church and state, and desire to see all denominations placed on a footing of perfect equality, I am opposed to grants of public money for sectarian purposes, aud I desire to see the clergy reserve lands withdrawn from the object to which they are now applied, and devoted to the general purposes of the province or to education.

I am in favour of national school education free from sectarian teaching, and available without charge to every child in the province. I desire to see efficient grammar schools established in each county; and that the fees of these institutions and of the national university should be placed on such a scale as will bring a high literary and scientific education within the reach of men of talent in any rank of life.

I believe that the material interests of Canada would be best advanced by the adoption of the free trade principle as our commercial policy. By close economy, the judicious management of the public lands, and the rapidly increasing revenue from the canals, the point, it is to be hoped, may be reached when Canada will be enabled to dispense with the whole customs department; and to that end our efforts should, I think, be turned ; meanwhile, I advocate commercial reciprocity with the United States and the British West Indies, and that the trade arrangements now existing between Canada and the other British North American provinces should be sustained and extended.

The usury laws I deem seriously injurious to the best interests of the province, and requiring extensive alteration. Money can seldom be bad in Canada on bond at the legal rate of interest; and the borrower is too often forced to evade the law and pay a much higher rate than the market value of money, as an indemnification to the lender for the risk he runs in taking over six per cent.

I advocate the abolition of the law of primogeniture, and think that the property of a person dying intestate should be equally divided among all his children.

The divisions in the liberal ranks caused his defeat. William Lyon Mackenzie was his principal opponent, but another candidate divided the liberal ranks. There can be no doubt that Mr. Brown was weakened by the support he had almost up to that time given to the liberal administration, though it failed to carry out the policy of the party. There was also a certain amount of sympathy manifested, not unnaturally, with Mr. Mackenzie because of his sufferings in exile, however unwise his ultimate action was in raising the flag of insurrection. It must also be stated that some liberal journals opposed Mr. Brown for no other reason than a feeling of jealousy. The new candidate had overtopped them all as journalist and popular orator, and seemed destined to rise higher, while they, who had borne the burden and heat of the day, were to be left behind. Rather than see Mr. Brown succeed, this class was willing to see the success of the party jeopardized by division. The discussion on the subject of Roman Catholic separate schools and religious corporations also alienated the Roman Catholics from Mr. Brown. It is probably, also, not incorrect to say that the ministers did him what injury they could, notwithstanding his services, as they had no desire to see such a man obtain more influence and power by obtaining a seat in Parliament. The regular nomination he received as the party candidate was not sufficient to save him from defeat, with so many adverse influences ranged against him.

Shortly after this Mr. Brown made up his mind to publicly denounce the ministry as the only course left. The following reasons appeared in an article in the Globe of March 11th, 1851:

The Globe came into existence when the reform party were out of office -when the prospect was black, and the temptations of profit all on the other side. From March, 1844, to March, 1848, while the party were out of power, we “ battled the watch” with an earnest zeal not surpassed, we think, by any of our contemporaries, and we believe contributed our full quota to the change of feeling which sent the reform leaders back to power with overwhelming majorities. The success of his party might have been supposed to give the editor of the Globe some influence with the new government. Did he abuse that possible claim-did he assert it at all ? Of the many lucrative and permanent offices which fell to the disposal of the late government while in power, was he ever an applicant for one for himself, or relative, or personal friend ? Not in one instance : he was too fully alive to the danger of such favours. Let our contemporaries leave vague vituperation for once, and show from facts, if they can, wherein we did wrong as the organ of the late administration. We were not ignorant of their errors, we were not blind to their foibles ; but we are bound to say, now that we are in opposition to most of its members, that our differences with the late government were on matters of high public principle and expediency, and that we know of no jobs, no trickery, which were chargeable upon it. The high personal integrity of Messrs. Baldwin, Lafontaine, Price and Leslie, was ever a protection against such things. Let us hope that one behind the scenes for the next four years, when parted from the actors upon the stage and in opposition to them, may be able to say as much of the present ministry. There were mistakes, there were blunders, there were wrong acts on the part of the Baldwin-Lafontaine ministry, but we are prepared to vindicate them against all comers from the charge of corruption. Nay, more, for all their public acts during the sessions of 1848, 1849 and 1850, while we supported them, we are quite willing to bear full responsibility. Some things we thought wrong, and we said so at the time; others we doubted and held our peace; but their course as a whole we justified then, and we justify now. The causes of our sepa. ration from the late government are to be found in the parliamentary proceedings of the session of 1851.

But what caused the change in 1851 ? Why did we leave the ministry? Why did we join the combinations? Why do we not support the present government? We now go to these points.

The great difficulty in the way of the late ministry and of every liberal ministry in Canada, is the fact that the reformers of Upper Canada have no large party in the Lower Province thoroughly with them. The great causes of political difference in Upper Canada hang upon the question of state-churchism. The Upper Canada reformers are entirely opposed to it in every shape, their allies in Lower Canada are in favour of it.

For some time after the government was formed, it was hoped that the French Canadians would give us their aid in the settlement of the ecclesiastical grievances of Upper Canada, but when the trial came in the session of 1850, it was too evident that our allies were not to be relied upon on these questions. In the debate on Mr. Price's clergy reserve resolutions, Mr. Lafontaine, the leader and exponent of the views of the Lower Canada members, used the following language :

At last a decision was given by the law officers of the Crown in Eng. land.

The true meaning of the Act of 1791 was declared to be that the churches of England and Scotland were entitled to share in the reserves, but no other bodies whatever. That division was kept secret, he had reason to believe, from the members of the Church of Scotland, which was another mistake, as it might have gone far to allay the excitement then prevalent in the province. The two bodies might have shared the lands between them, and set the question at rest. In 1840, the year in which the Act was passed, the opinion of the judges of England was given to the effect that the words protestant clergy in the Constitutional Act, did not mean the Church of England or the Church of Scotland, but all the protestant denominations. This was the decision upon the matter by the judges, and he held that the endowments of that Act must be held sacred, and be carried into effect if practicable.

If some sects refused to take their share, it might be given to others. The French Canadians joined us in the application to the Home Government asking for full power over the reserves, but what they would do with them when that power was received, they had not declared. There was hope yet, and we stuck to the ministry on the strength of that hope. We saw that the reformers of Upper Canada could get their vital question settled more easily and quickly by the assistance of the French if they could be carried right, than by any other process ; and we saw clearly that the policy of the Upper Canada reformers was not to cast loose from them while there was a hope, but to use every means to carry them with us, to use their assistance while we had it, in obtaining other measures necessary to strengthen us in Upper Canada in the event of a separation; and when that separation was inevitable, that it should be made on the clearly defined question of the abolition of all connection between church and state. Again and again, in public and in private, the editor of the Globe, from June, 1850, up to the meeting of parliament in 1851, pressed this policy on the Upper Canada leaders. He insisted with pertinacious earnestness on such a change of the constituencies as would give justice to the large counties, and consequently to the reform party, and on a thorough reform of the franchise ; and, this done, he urged that the Upper Canada members of the government should come to a clear understanding with their Lower Canada colleagues, that they should take their stand on thorough anti-state church principles, and in case of refusal, come out of the government and appeal to the people at the coming election. Occurrences at the time of the Haldimand election and immediately after prepared us for the infidelity of the administration, but certainly not to the extent which we afterwards witnessed. From the commencement of the session, it became too apparent that Mr. Hincks and his colleagues had succumbed to French Canadian influence, and that the ministerial policy was to be in open hostility to the views of the reform party of Upper Canada on the ecclesiastical questions. No bill was proposed to rearrange the constituencies, none to equalize the suffrage ; no action was proposed on the reserves; ecclesiastical corporations were increased; and on the retirement of Mr. Baldwin, and the accession of Mr. Hincks to the leadership, that gentleman announced that he had taken his stand with the French Cana lians, and if his Upper Canadian supporters did not cease their grumbling, he and his Lower Canada friends would coalesce with the Tories ! He said: “I regret to say there have been indications given by a section (the anti-state churchmen) of the party to which I belong, that it will be difficult indeed, unless they change their policy, to preserve the union. I will tell these persons (the anti-state church reformers of Upper Canada) that if the union is not preserved by them, that, as a necessary consequence, other combinations must be formed by which the union may be preserved. I am ready to give my cordial support to any combination of parties by which the union shall be maintained. On this we left the ministry openly and decidedly. We denounced the infidelity of Mr. Hincks and his Upper Canada colleagues, and his indecent attempt to sell the power entrusted to him by the reformers into the hands of the high churchmen. And to show that this was his intention, let us quote an authority which will not now be disputed : the North Amer. ican of 27th June, 1851, says : “ However much old friends of the ministry may be disinclined to credit it, we solemnly assert our belief in movements afoot for the formation of a coalition ministry, and we think that few men who have scanned the political horizon closely for the past three months will doubt the truth of our conjectures."

We spoke out our suspicions plainly, and demanded from the organ of the combination a full explanation of the grounds, the principles, the measures, on which this “consolidation” had been so "successfully and satisfactorily carried out.” But we got no satisfaction. What then was our course? We saw all the danger to the anti-state church cause, which, in fact, is the main cause in jeopardy ; we saw that if Mr. Hincks as Prime Minister carried his own election, and the elections of those who had gone with him through all the passages of 185), with the strength of the French Canadians and the disposition of the conservatives to coalesce with him, the voluntaries of Upper Canada would be completely at his mercy for four years; that he could turn out Dr. Rolph and Mr. Cameron at any time, and laugh at them. We therefore turned all our strength towards this point.

We insisted that the country should be told ere the election what ground the ministry took and were prepared to stand by on the ecclesiastical questions, and we urged on the electors the absolute necessity of their knowing this ere giving their votes. The combination papers denounced us for asking their principles, called us traitor, and cried “Peace, peace,” but not one word of explanation was obtained.

All this added force to our fears and suspicions; but the danger of division in the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a

a

ranks stared us in the face on the eve of an election, and we saw it our duty to support cordially all the reform candidates in the field, with the exception of the ministers, and to endeavour to force them into declarations on the vital questions from which they could not afterwards retract.

Later in the year 1851, he published the series of letters addressed to Mr. Hincks, already quoted from. In the first letter, the following arraignment of ministers was presented : “At last election (1847) the “ reform party occupied a noble position. The country had long “groaned underan irresponsible system of government, from which the “ most grave abuses had resulted. The reformers promised to replace “ that system by one of strict accountability to the people. They “enunciated that the ministry, for the time being, are responsible for “the executive administration of public affairs—that it is the duty “ of the ministry to take in hand and carry out all great legislative

measures affecting the body politic-and that when they fail to carry any such measures through Parliament, or when the opposition carries any vital measure not by them deemed to be demanded by the neces“sities of the country, it is their duty to resign office and transfer the “reins of government to other hands ; and by this rule they promised “ to be guided. The country had long suffered from a most iniquitous " and injurious system of class legislation and executive favouritism, " and especially so in matters of a sectarian character. The reformers

promised that they would remove every ground for contention on “ this score, by sweeping away all state endowments for ecclesiastical

purposes, by placing all denominations on an equal footing, and “ regarding no man or sect in the light of their religious views. The country had long suffered from the old theory, faithfully reduced “ to practice, that colonists were not entitled to self-government, and “that their rulers, whether of imperial or provincial appointment,

were the best judges of what was requisite for the good of the "land. The reformers utterly repudiated such doctrine : they de“clared that the people of Canada knew best what the necessities of “the country required, and they promised that the popular will “should rule the government while they held power, that legislation “should progress with public opinion and never do violence to it. The

country had deeply suffered from the existence in our midst of two “distinct races, with different languages and institutions, and from “the corrupt and injurious system which had grown up of appealing

to the local prejudices and feelings of the two sections for political “ends. The reformers denounced this policy as evil in the extreme ; “ declared they would carry out the union of the provinces in its in

tegrity, and would seek to assimilate the laws and institutions of the "two divisions, and to knit the population together by the bonds of

sympathy and interest. The liberal party had long suffered from the

66

66

66

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »