« PreviousContinue »
his reach can laugh at his professions and sends all his principles to the winds, it strikes at the root of public morality. And, sir, if a member of a responsible ministry can forget the confidential relations in which he stands to his colleagues, and secretly plot their removal and his own aggrandisement, where shall we look for good faith among men? Our constitutional system is placed in jeopardy by exhibitions so improper.
There is no principle in the theory of responsible government more vital to its right working than that parties shall take their stand on the prominent questions of the day, and mount to office or resign it through the success or failure of principles to which they are attached. This is the great safeguard for the public against clap-trap professions, and when strictly enforced it makes men seriously consider ere they commit themselves on leading questions. The conduct of gentlemen on the treasury benches in this view strikes a serious blow at our constitutional system. If a public man can hold one set of principles out of office, another set in office, responsible government is a farce. I readily acknowledge the good service rendered in past years to the cause of ministerial responsibility by the Inspector-General and the Provincial Secretary. But so much the more blamable is their conduct in these transactions. To their hands it was given to guard over it, and they have betrayed that trust. A few such blows and how shall it be upheld? There are two systems of government now being tested on this continent: the United States system of checks and fetters, which no official can overstep, and the British system of balanced power, with little check but that of public opinion. I believe our own system is the best, but high personal honour and a watchful opposition are necessary to its working; and if such things as we have recently witnessed are to be repeated, we will be driven in self-defence to the severe restraints of republican institutions. Either the present ministers came together without any definite understanding, with the single tie of office, or else there is a mystery yet to be explained. The Inspector-General sees nothi strange in the matter; he says advocates of progressive reform, and that is enough.” Where shall we look for proofs of their progression ? Shall we find it in the votes of last session after the consummation of the union? Do we find it in the speech from the throne, now under discussion ? I agree with the honourable member for Frontenac that the suffrage is the only question on which any advance has been made ; and even the suffrage movement, as I understand it, is no change of principle but only an extension of the existing system, by which certain classes now unjustly deprived of the franchise shall have it conveyed to them. It may be that details of measures promised may exhibit evidence of progression, but it is not found in the speech. It may be that the ministerial measures, like the ministerial principles, are in a state of progi ession, and that this debate will help to liberalize them. But on the great question of Upper Canada there is no progression whatever, and there is no likelihood of any.
The Honourable the Inspector-General made an eloquent appeal on the subject of the reserves. He told us he was the warm friend of their secularization, that for twelve years he had always been so, that he had never varied in his views. I believe every word uttered by the honourable gentleman ; but of what avail are his sentiments if we don't get his votes ? How can he reconcile such views with the dark record of last session ?
But perhaps the hon. gentleman can see no discrepancy in the case, for he says he has never varied. Are we then to have this session a repetition of the scenes of the last? But even if the Inspector-General should have changed his views, and be prepared to reverse his votes, what will it avail : The difficulty in the way of the ecclesiastical question was not with him or his Upper Canada colleagues, bnt with the gentlemen from Lower Canada. And after all the loud trumpetings of harmony in the cabinet,
" We are
and promises of united actions on the reserves, what are we told by the Provincial Secretary? That he thinks the present decision of the reserves unfair; that he thinks the present settlement should be broken up ; that he will aid us in getting the control transferred to the provincial parliament; but-and I pray the House to mark it well-he will not say how the lands should be appropriater. And this was coupled with the declaration that he would never interfere with “ acquired rights.” What, then, have these combinations gained for us? Are not the sentiments of Mr. Morin precisely those of Mr. Lafontaine ? Was it not for taking this very position that the late government was "ostracized ?” Was it not for denouncing the faithlessness of the l'pper Canadian ministers, in holding office after such a declaration by their colleague, that the members for Norfolk and Huron forced themselves into power. I call on the honourable gentlemen on the treasury benches to tell us now, if they can, in what manner their combinations have benefited the cause of ecclesiastical reform. I challenge them to show that they have advanced one step beyond the ground of the late administration.
I would have been unjust to my party, faithless to responsible government, and false to the highest interests of the country, had I sat silent on this occasion. The vote that I shall give may appear strange to many; If I rightly understand the practice, by voting against the ministerial address, we declare that we desire to see the cabinet ejected from ottice. Highly improper as I view their proceedings, I confess I am not prepared to say that I would like to see the present ministry out, and the gentlemen opposite in their places. I would try them by their measures. It may be they will take warning by this debate, and yet justify by their action their claim to be advocates of progression. But if they do not-if they trifle with the great questions of Upper Canada-I will not hesitate to prefer an open enemy in power to a faithless friend.
I regretted to hear from gentlemen opposite the allusions to the salary of the highest authority in this province. The appointment of that high authority is the only power which Great Britain yet retains. Frankly and generously she has one by one surrendered all the rights which were once held necessary to the condition of a colony-the patronage of the Crown, the right over the public domain, the civil list, the customs, the post office, have all been relinquished, and the control over the reserves will soon follow with the rest. She guards our coasts, she maintains our troops, she builds our forts, she spends hundreds of thousands among us yearly, and yet the paltry payment to her representative is made a topic of grumbling and popular agitation. I know nothing so contemptible,
However gentlemen opposite may view the matter, I am sure I speak the sentiments of the entire reform party when I say, that as long as we have such governors as the present there would be no grumbling from this side of the House were th tribute double what it is. Unlike other governors whom we have had, the distinguished nobleman who now graces the vice-regal throne has confined himself to the legitimate exercise of his authority, and respected the rights and privileges of the people; and for the stability which his wise rule has given to our constitutional system, when he and those who now bear rule have long passed away from the stage of life, His Excellency will live in the grateful affections of the Canadian people.
INCREASING INFLUENCE.--THE “GLOBE
AS A DAILY. THE
After Mr. Brown's success in parliament, his influence in the country generally increased very much, while the power and influence of the Globe was constantly growing. The ministry was nominally a liberal ministry, though three of its members, besides the premier, never again acted with the reform party. It was still largely supported by western Canada liberals, though very few had any confidence in it. Indeed, Mr. Brown himself, while freely exposing their course to blame, did not feel at liberty to take the position of a regular opposition member.
In a letter, written to a friend just before the election of 1851, he says :
“The ministry is formed. I have no confidence in it, but of course prefer it to the Tories, and if returned will vote with it when
but against it on bad measures, and strive to have it reconstructed on more out-and-out principles. This may change “your ideas in regard to my canditature, and if so, I hope you will “speak plainly.” That reconstruction never came. Three years afterwards there was a reconstruction, but not of reform materials. The Premier and a few of his followers had been consciously drifting to the Tory side during the life of that parliament, and when the election of 1854 developed his weakness in the county, like Burke, he “quit the
camp,” and from thenceforth was identified as having his sympathies with the conservative side. The threatened combinations were made, and when Mr. Hincks (now Sir Francis) returned to Canada, after some years' absence, he found that theunion was not “ maintained;" on the contrary, it was broken up as the result of the triumph of principles he refused to acknowledge, and a fresh union established on a foundation more just to his own province. Sir Francis Hincks appeared again as a colleague of Sir John Macdonald, and curiously enough, issued an address as leader of the reform section of the government appointed by Sir John Macdonald, for which he got well laughed at.
The exigencies of commercial no less than political reasons necessitated the issue of the Globe as a daily paper, and in the autumn of 1853 the publication of the Daily Globe was commenced. A vigorous agitation was maintained in favour of the secularization of the clergy reserves, representation by population, and other measures long demanded by reformers, and the effect of the trenchant articles on these subjects was very great on the public mind.
No progress had been made with the clergy reserve question. In 1850 Mr. Price moved his resolution, and an address founded thereon, praying the passage of an Act by the Imperial Parliament to authorize the Canadian Parliament to deal with the question conditionally. Earl Grey in a formal despatch, early in 1851, advised Lord Elgin that the ministry was compelled to postpone this bill to next session.
A conservative government which succeeded declined to pass the necessary Act, and it was only in the winter of 1853 that the Imperial Act was finally passed. In the meantime a bill had been passed by the Canadian parliament, increasing the number of representatives from 84 to 130, and in this prospective increase the ministers found an excuse for not proceeding with the Clergy Reserve Bill. At the beginning of the session of 1854, a motion was carried by a majority of 13, condemning the government for not introducing a measure for the settlement of the clergy reserves. The conservatives had not obtained a sufficient share in the good things to keep them quiet, and therefore they united with the reformers against the government, and secured its overthrow.
A general election immediately followed the ministerial defeat. Mr. Brown became a candidate for Lambton, which county, under the new law, had a member for itself. He was opposed by the Hon. Malcolm Cameron, Postmaster-General, whom he defeated by a majority of about 200. Many other prominent supporters were defeated, making it tolerably certain that the government could not live. Mr. Brown gave his
support in certain cases to candidates of the conservative type, on the ground that there was nothing to be hoped for from the ministry, and conservatives doubtless led some to believe that they would agree to an immediate settlement of the clergy reserves. Supporting conservative candidates was a perilous experiment which could hardly produce any good, though of course in this case it secured the defeat of the government, and also secured the final settlement of the clergy reserve question, though not exactly as it should have been settled. Mr. Brown was entitled to the chief credit for the anti-ministerial success at the elections ; Mr. Hincks was entitled to the discredit of forming a new combination with the Tories for no apparent reason but to wreak his vengeance on reform opponents. Mr. Hincks did not himself form one of the new government, but he narrates that Sir Allan N. McNab, the new Premier, “opened a negotiation with him, the result of which
that two of the Upper Canada supporters of the late govern“ ment became members of the new ministry,” Messrs. John Ross and Robert Spence being the two members. Mr. Ross had been a member of Mr. Hincks' government for over a year. These gentlemen and some other western reformers who supported the new government never returned to their allegiance to the liberal party. The Lower Canadian
members of Mr. Hincks' government, who joined the so-called coalition government, were Messrs. Taché, Morin, Chabot, Chaveau, and Drummond ; the latter gentleman afterwards acted with the liberal party, and became a member of the Brown-Dorion administration. The other four had been for some time leaning to the conservative camp, and now made it their permanent home. Indeed, Sir Francis Hincks does not refer to those French gentlemen as parties to the coalition, as he does of the two Upper Canadians ; their adhesion was treated of as a matter of course.
The new government was savagely assailed by the Globe. could expect that a governmeut in which the names of J. A. Macdonald, Sir Allan McNab, and Mr. Cayley appeared, could be other than hostile to the determined demands of the Upper Canadian people. They had all declared by speech and vote against any measure secularizing the clergy reserves, and by those who did not know them intimately, it was believed that their principles would compel them to resist any interference with the appropriation of these lands. The possession of office had a mollifying effect on their political consciences, and they yielded their views of public questions or principles to the demands of office and public clamour, as some of them have often done since then. Several conservative candidates had, however, promised at the elections to aid in procuring a settlement of the clergy reserve question according to the popular view. It is not the intention of the writer to discuss the settlement here further than to say that though Mr. Brown and other reformers opposed some provisions of the bill, all were glad to have a troublesome question disposed of. The principle long advocated by him, that no church should have any connection with, or support from, the state, was by that settlement conceded. The concession was largely due to Mr. Brown's exertions in the Globe and his advocacy on the platform. The amount of labour he undertook could be accomplished by few men. His own articles were easily recognized from their trenchant, free, off-hand style. His influence as a popular speaker has never been equalled in Canada. The Globe no doubt circulated largely amongst the presbyterian population, from the very fact that it displaced the Banner, which was a presbyterian organ, but the management of the paper and its views on all ecclesiastical questions also commended it to the intelligence of the Free Church element, whose views harmonized with Mr. Brown's. The high moral tone of the paper, and its growing excellence as a newspaper, did much for its circulation among all classes of the population. George Brown and the Globe became, in fact, convertible terms. Both editor and paper had many opponents, some might be called ene mies, but no man ever had so large a portion of the population ranged on his side as warm devoted friends as had Mr. Brown. Nevertheless,