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"try of Upper Canada.
We have clergy reserve men and anti
clergy reserve men; rectory bill men and rectory lawsuit men ; "sectarian school men and secular school men; sixteen million Trunk
Railway men, and the bitter foes of that precious scheme; . . in "short, the advocates of every conceivable change, and the advocates "of their antipodes. No party supports the ministry . . . its sup"porters are units from all parties, and they are suspicious of their "leaders, but hope they may go right.”
Mr. Brown did not, however, then or at the general election just over, oppose any reformer who was a candidate. The ministry started candidates against himself, Mr. Price and Mr. Morrison, who then sympathized with Mr. Brown's views more or less. In May the Hon. Malcolm Cameron, who had accepted office as President of the Council, appeared in Huron for re-election. He was opposed by Mr. James Brown, and the secretary of that gentleman's committee wrote to Mr. Brown to ask his assistance in the county.
This invitation he declined. In his letter to the secretary, after referring to some objectionable portions of Mr. Cameron's career, he said: "But not withstanding all this, Mr. Cameron is so pledged on the voluntary question that he cannot escape from it. This is probably "the only question on which parties will be in any degree tested in "the present parliament, and if the voluntaries of Huron see proper "to take Mr. Cameron as their candidate, I cannot do anything to "injure the cause which has my warmest sympathy."
The speech from the throne, on August 21st, was singularly barren of committal or reference even to controverted questions, a bare reference to the treatment of the clergy reserve matter in England alone excepted. No promise of any action even on that subject was made. Mr. Brown made his maiden parliamentary speech on the address. It consisted largely of a review of the position of the reform party, and a criticism on the position of ministers in regard to the great questions of the day; in other words, the questions relating to what Mr. Brown was wont to term "state-churchism." He spoke from the ministerial side, but had no hesitation in attacking ministers, especially the Premier and Messrs. Cameron and Rolph, for not boldly moving in these questions as a ministry. It was taken for granted that, as Mr. Brown had denounced ministers at the elections, he would also vote against them in the House. He had, however, to consider who would take their places, before going into an out-and-out opposition; nor did he even then despair of the government taking such action as would enable all reformers to give them a full support. He took advantage of the occasion to lay down the sound constitutional principles on which the ministry were bound to act in regard to great questions
which agitated the whole country, if they intended to follow a proper course in carrying out responsible government.
He pointed out that ministers had no right to rely for parliamentary support on mere general declarations of their liberality, instead of specific statements of their policy on certain great measures on which the people had made up their minds long before. This, however, was precisely what the ministry did, and Mr. Brown dealt plainly and boldly with them and the principles at stake, as he was bound to do by his promises to the electors.
The following extracts from his speech on this occasion, will give some idea of the position of the ministry as well as of Mr. Brown's capacity as a parliamentary orator and leader. In this, his first appearance in parliament, he demonstrated his power as a speaker and thinker, notwithstanding Dr. Rolph's pedantic sneer when he referred to Mr. Brown as "a person of tolerable education." The new minister was soon to learn that the new member must be met, if met at all, with something more than an ill-mannered sneer, as untrue as it was unfair.
Mr. Brown, after referring to various incidents which became public in regard to the formation of the government, said:
But it is in regard to the principles on which the ministry was formed that the total absence of satisfactory explanation must be felt more deeply by the House. The Inspector-General tells us the administration is formed on progressive principles. He said there had been divisions in the reform party, and it was necessary to secure the co-operation of both sections. I was more than surprised to hear the Inspector-General say there had been "no serious differences of opinion." What can possibly be a serious difference of opinion in the eyes of the honorable gentleman?
There is not one principle of constitutional government, not one prominent measure before the country, on which they were not wide as the poles asunder. In the whole history of free institutions, where will a parallel be found for the bitter unscrupulous opposition waged for two years by the present President of the Council and his allies, or the Inspector-General and his colleagues? . . . When parliament last sat they were ranged against each other in fierce battle array; a few months pass, and lo, they sit together in sweetest harmony.
He glanced at the leading incidents of the Metcalfe parliament, acknowledging the firm manner in which Mr. Lafontaine and many members now in the house had stuck to their Upper Canada allies in spite of the seductions of office, and showed how closely the alliance had been cemented by the events of that period. The result of the elections of 1847-8 was the triumphant success of the reform party at the polls, and consequent accession to power of the Baldwin-Lafontaine ministry.
From the very foundation of that ministry, a principle of separation began to show itself in th beral party, which gradually forced a breach in their ranks, and finally broke up the ministry. That principle of separation was found in the difference of opinion as to the employment of public money for sectarian purposes. Our allies in Lower Canada are in favour of a
close connection between church and state, while Upper Canada reformers are opposed to it in every shape. We not only oppose the payment of public money for sectarian purposes, but we say that religion is a matter between each man and his Maker, and that the government has no right to determine for the country what is the truth, but ought to leave a matter so sacred to the conscience of each member of the community. Honourable gentlemen opposite knew well that the division in the reform camp alone gave them a chance at last election; and I hesitate not to affirm that if an appeal should ever be made to the people of Upper Canada on the question of state endowments to the church, it will leave the benches opposite almost vacant. Who could seek a better evidence of the state of feeling in Upper Canada than the election addresses of gentlemen opposite? Did one of them dare to avow the old claim of monopoly for the Church of England?
Will the gallant knight who leads the high church party venture to say that even he could have been returned for the city of Hamilton had his declarations on these questions been of the same old stamp? Will the honourable member for Middlesex say that he could have obtained his seat on high church principles? The people of Upper Canada feel intensely on this question. It has been the grievance of the country for 30 years. And if the gentlemen from Lower Canada could understand how the bitterness which flows from it affects every relation of life, whether social or political, they would not wonder at the eagerness to have it settled for ever.
In this county (Quebec) a large proportion of the people are of one faith, and it appears not so odious to give that church a preference; but I ask them if a sect or two sects, forming a small minority, a mere fraction of the community, engrossed all the honours and emoluments of the state, and asserted a position of dominancy over the majority, whether they would not have united as one man for the overthrow of such a system. This, then, was the question of Upper Canada, and the reform party fully expected that the first act of the Baldwin-Lafontaine ministry would have been to settle it for ever. Unhappily the Rebellion Losses Bill obtained the preference, and the reserve question was set adrift for the session. That bill was introduced into parliament, I am well convinced, without the knowledge or consent of one member of the Upper Canada reform party not in the government. Every one knows the convulsion it produced in the country, and that in standing by their Lower Canada allies upon it, the reformers of Upper Canada were well nigh upset.
I have no doubt whatever, that at that time, and for many months afterwards, the Upper Canada section of the ministry believed, and entertained no doubt, that their Lower Canada colleagues would give them a cordial support, when the day of trial came, on the reserve question. I think it was not until just before the session of 1850 that they found their mistake; and I entertain not the slightest doubt that Messrs. Baldwin, Price and Hincks strove to have the settlement made a ministerial question. When parliament met in May, 1850, it was announced that it was to be an open question, and it was apparent that the other ecclesiastical subjects of dispute in the western province were to be sacrificed to the Lower Canada allies. It might have been a question whether the Upper Canada ministers should not then have resigned, and cast themselves on the country. I confess I was one who then thought that it was not their duty to resign at that moment.
The French Canadians were willing to vote for an address to the Crown, asking the transfer of the control over the reserves to the provincial parliament, and it was well to take their help even to this extent.
But far beyond this was the consideration that if they then resigned and new parties were formed, the unjust arrangement of the constituencies of Upper Canada would be a strong bar in our way at the coming general
election. It was the obvious duty, then, of the Upper Canada ministers to seize the opportunity and prepare for any event by reforming the parliamentary representation; and their neglecting to introduce a bill extinguishing some of the small boroughs and rearranging the countieswhich they had full power to do by a majority vote-excited the first doubt in my mind as to the firmness of the Hon. Inspector-General and his colleagues on these vital questions. Is it to be wondered at that the country was becoming dissatisfied, and that a new party was arising who denounced the ministry as faithless to their trust and to their principles? It matters not now to inquire the motives which originally actuated those who commenced the agitation within the reform party against the leaders of that party. "They saw everything with distorted vision, and
denounced without measure.
The passage which follows recounted the divergence of views of the advanced wing-Cameron, Hopkirk, and others—from those held by Mr. Hincks and his friends, until they united. Reciting extracts from the journals of the House and other documents, Mr. Brown then proceeded:
Here, then, we have an unimpeachable record of the views of the two sections of the reform party; and in the face of all this the Hon. Inspector-General ventures to tell this House that there was no "serious difference of opinion" between them; and, sir, the discordance between them was no less violent than the disagreement as to principles and measures. I hold in my hand extracts from the organs of the new allies of the Inspector-General showing the bitter, the savage hostility with which they regarded that gentleman and his colleagues, using terms towards them which I cannot bring myself to utter. However lax may be the political morality of the Hon. Inspector-General, I gladly disclaim sympathy with such insinuations, and have always been ready to defend him from attacks on his personal integrity, which I believe beyond reproach.
It may be contended that only one member of the administration is identified with the ultra views recorded in our journals; but I contend that to every one of these views the Hon. Commissioner of Crown Lands (Dr. Rolph) is as fully committed as his colleagues. He was the silent instigator and counsel of the new party in its conception he was in public and in private recognized as the leader of that party-as the representative of that party he was elected by the people, and as the representative of these views he was forced into the government. It is true the hon. gentleman has managed with wondrous skill to cover his real sentiments with an impenetrable mask, and to this moment we know nothing of his sentiments; but silence gives consent; and if the hon. gentleman does not hold the views of the member for Huron (Mr. Cameron), the country has been shamefully deceived.
Thus opened the session of 1851, the ministerialists hoping against hope that their leaders would be true to their party and their principles on the great questions of Upper Canada, and the secessionists eager for war. The ministerial policy was too soon developed, and it became apparent that the western members of the ministry had succumbed to their French Canadian allies, and that reserves, rectories-everything-was to be sacrificed to their demands. How the Inspector-General meant to go to the country in the face of such a course was a mystery to every one, but on the retirement of Mr. Baldwin after the Chancery Court division, the secret was discovered.
That event placed the Inspector-General in the leadership of this House, and on the night of his inauguration he used the following language: "I regret to say there have been indications given by a section 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, 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.”
The gallant knight (Sir A. N. McNab) who leads the opposition replied to this overture: "I will only say, and I want it to go over the country, that I will do all I can to prevent a clear grit party rising through the land, and will support any party to prevent that."
SIR ALLAN N. MCNAB: That is correct.
MR. BROWN: Of course it is correct, and the most amiable understanding existed then as now between the high contracting parties.
SIR A. N. MCNAB denied that he had held on any occasion any political conversations with any members of the government at any time except in the House.
MR. BROWN continued: From that day to this not one word of explanation had been given as to the terms of the compromise. Before the general election we strove to get at the secret; not even at the contest was any satisfactory explanation attempted to be offered. The Hon. InspectorGeneral assured his constituents that the composition of the government should be sufficient guarantee to them for the policy to be followed; the Chief Commissioner of Public Works told his constituents that the character of his colleagues must be the guarantee for their measures; and the organ of the union told the country generally that the presence of the members for Norfolk and Huron in the ministry was sufficient guarantee for anything. We were told last session, when we asked for explanations, wait until Mr. Lafontaine resigns; after that event we were told, wait until a full cabinet has met and measures have been discussed; a little later we were told, wait until parliament assembles; and now that parliament has met, we are without a word of explanation.
Sir, I think we should not have been obliged to extort explanation in this way from gentlemen on the treasury benches. I think they should have given them fully and freely long ere this, and I cannot doubt that they will do so without further delay. We have a right to clear information on two points; first, how did two sections from Upper Canada harmonize their antagonistic opinions on so many constitutional questions? and, second, how did these gentlemen overcome the difficulty which the state church principles of the provincial secretary and his country presented to a settlement of the ecclesiastical questions of Upper Canada? Are we to have new constitutions, elective governors, universal suffrage and the political gamut of the hon. member for Huron, or have he and his colleagues sent all these to the winds? Have the lower Canadian portion of the ministry yielded to the just demands of Upper Canada, and agreed to remove every vestige of state-churchism? Or was the assertion that they had done so a delusion, and the position of our allies in this parliament precisely what it was in the last? The country has a right to a clear, unequivocal reply. Such exhibitions as this strike at the root of public morality.
MR. CAMERON : And virtue !
MR. BROWN: Sir, the gentleman may sneer if he likes it, but this is not a matter to be met in such a spirit. If a public man may resign his post in an administration at the risk of breaking up the government; if he can protest before the country that his conscience would not allow him to remain while a useless officer existed; and if he can but a few months later eat up all he said, and that very office, with impunity, the public morals are indeed concerned. If, sir, a public man can avow certain opinions, agitate the country on those opinions, attempt to destroy the government by the influence of those opinions, and the moment office is in