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motive for a dissolution of parliament, and for the retention of the present government at all hazards, if the two points were only conclusively established, that is to say, if it could be shown that the measures likely to be adopted by Mr. Brown and his colleagues were a specific, and that the only specific, for these evils, and that the members of the present council were the only men to allay the jealousies so unhappily existing. It may be that both these propositions are true, but, unless they are established to His Excellency's complete satisfaction, the mere existence of the mischief is not in itself decisive as to the propriety of resorting to a general election at the present moment. The certainty, or at any rate the great probability, of the cure by the course proposed, and by that alone, would require to be also proved. Without this, a great present evil would be voluntarily incurred for the chance of a remote good.
6. It would seem to be the duty of His Excellency to exhaust every possible alternative before subjecting the province for the second time in the same year to the cost, the inconvenience, and the demoralization of such a proceeding.
The Governor-General is by no means satisfied that every alternative has been thus exhausted, or that it would be impossible for him to secure a ministry who would close the business of this session, and carry on the administration of the government during the recess with the confidence of a majority of the Legislative Assembly.
After full and mature deliberation on the arguments submitted to him by word of mouth, and in writing, and with every respect for the opinion of the council, His Excellency declines to dissolve parliament at the present time.
GOVERNMENT HOUSE, TORONTO, C.W.,
Immediately on the receipt of this document, Mr. Brown proceeded to the Government House, and placed in the hands of His Excellency the resignations of himself and colleagues in the following terms:
Mr. Brown has the honour to inform His Excellency the GovernorGeneral that, in consequence of His Excellency's memorandum of this afternoon, declining the advice of the council to prorogue parliament with a view to a dissolution, he has now, on behalf of himself and colleagues, to tender their resignations.
EXECUTIVE COUNCIL CHAMBER, TORONTO,
4th August, 1858.
The course taken by the Governor-General, in accepting the resignation of his ministers and sending for the leader of the opposition to form a new administration, beyond all question did commit him to give Mr. Brown his full confidence. It was open to His Excellency to assume that the vote against the late government was not strictly a party vote, as he afterwards did assume; and that their resignation did not call for his sending for the opposite party leader. He might at once have sent for some other member of the ministerial party, as he afterwards did; or he might have declined to accept the resignation of ministers, on the ground that they still possessed the confidence of the House on general grounds. He chose the other course, and thereby gave Mr. Brown to understand, as plainly as if he had said it
in so many words, that whatever he, Mr. Brown, found it necessary to do he should have his support. No consultation was invited as to the terms on which Mr. Brown would accept the trust imposed upon him. He was simply asked, in His Excellency's letter of Thursday, to "signify such acceptance to him (the Governor-General) in writing, in "order that he may be at once in a position to confer with you as one of his responsible advisers;" and further, "His Excellency's first object will be to consult you as to the names of your future colleagues, and as to the assignment of the offices." In reply, Mr. Brown asked for time to consult his friends. On Saturday, two days after the Governor-General wrote the first letter to Mr. Brown, that gentleman waited on His Excellency with his written acceptance of the offer made him. He had in the meantime seen his friends, and made such arrangements as enabled him to accept the trust. The members of his government were Hon. James Morris, Hon. A. A. Dorion, Hon. O. Mowat, Hon. M. H. Foley, Hon. J. S. Macdonald, Hon. L. T. Drummond, Hon. M. Thibadeau, Hon. L. H. Holton, Hon. M. Laberge, Hon. Dr. Connor and Hon. George Brown.
Then His Excellency informed Mr. Brown that he gave no pledge to dissolve parliament. Hostile writers have assumed that Mr. Brown at his interview attempted to make a bargain with Sir Edmund Head as to granting a dissolution. That this was not the case is perfectly clear, not only from Mr. Brown's narrative but from the Governor's own memorandum, sent to Mr. Brown on Saturday night. Others state that when Mr. Brown was called in the Governor "warned him "that a dissolution would not be granted him."* This is doubly wrong. Mr. Brown was not "warned" until two days after he was called in-until, in fact, he had made his arrangements—and then he was simply told that His Excellency would give no pledge to dissolve. No one asked him to give a pledge of any sort, but every one naturally thought that he would, as a constitutional ruler, give his ministers all his confidence and assistance after inviting them to come to his assistEither the Governor had back stairs advisers, whom he had consulted and whose advice he followed, between the time when he invited Mr. Brown to undertake the formation of a government on Thursday and the interview of Saturday, or he had determined from the first that if Mr. Brown should undertake the task imposed upon him he (the Governor) would prevent him fulfilling the duty, and therefore, two days after his first communication he made the gratuitous statement to Mr. Brown, hoping that it would prevent that gentleman going any further in forming his government. On either ground
"Scot" in British North America, page 569.
the action of the Governor was disgraceful, and manifestly the proceeding of a shameless partisan.
The memorandum sent to Mr. Brown on Sunday evening was seemingly written under the impression that it was desirable to supplement the conversation relative to a dissolution by other conditions, in case Mr. Brown should advise a prorogation. In the memorandum he then proceeds to build up an effectual barrier against prorogation, as follows: "The Governor-General has no objection to "prorogue the parliament," but "if parliament is prorogued, His Excellency would think it very desirable that the Bill for the Registration of Voters, and that containing the prohibition of fraudu"lent assignments and gifts by traders, should be proceeded with "and become law. Besides this, any item of supply absolutely neces
sary should be provided for by a vote of credit, and the money for "repairs of the canals, which cannot be postponed, should be voted." His Excellency afterwards incautiously admitted that "very little "which is absolutely essential for the country remains to be done in "the House." His Excellency can hardly "prorogue until these 66 necessary steps are taken."
Sir Edmund Head knew perfectly well that his ministers could not be in their places in parliament for three weeks; that a majority existed hostile to them in the lower House, which would make it impossible for them, not having a seat in the House, to conduct legislation and vote supplies. Yet these conditions were imposed as the price of prorogation. Every step betrays the head and heart of the conspirator.
On Monday morning Mr. Brown informed the Governor that he had, before receiving his memorandum, "fulfilled the duty entrusted "to him," and would at the appointed hour submit the names of his colleagues. He also informed His Excellency that until they were sworn in as his councillors they would not be in a position to discuss the important matters referred to in his memorandum. It would have been difficult to have given a more correct and dignified rebuke.
At noon on Monday the members of the cabinet were sworn in, and the same evening votes of want of confidence were passed in both Houses. The government at once advised a prorogation, with a view to a dissolution. This was refused after a demand for reasons from the ministers. The reasons given embrace, as will be seen, statements relating to various matters of public policy which called for immediate action, especially some relating to sectional disturbances between Upper and Lower Canada; but the strong reasons urged were, that they accepted office "on His Excellency's invitation after the late "administration had admitted their inability to conduct the affairs "of the country;" that they had a right to claim all the "support
"which His Excellency could constitutionally extend to them." The memorandum concluded with a reference to the "unprecedented and "unparliamentary" course of the House in voting want of confidence in the absence of newly created ministers.
The Governor in his reply enumerates all the reasons he can with the diligence of an extreme party man. He admits being "bound to "deal fairly with all political parties.' He was, however, only called to deal with the men he had himself called to his aid. They were more than a "political party," they were his constitutional advisers. The mere fact that the vote against late ministers did not, as he says, "assert directly any want of confidence in them," was no reason why he should refuse his confidence to the men he had called to fill their places. It might, as has been stated, be a reason why he should call on some one else to form a government. He might have known, and did know, that the elements hostile to Mr. Brown when he asked him to assume the duties of office were strong enough to vote want of confidence in him. It was the duty of His Excellency to see that the action of the House towards the man who had accepted the trust at his hands was contrary to "parliamentary courtesy." He was bound, as a ruler and as an honest man, to see that no impediment should be thrown in the way of his new advisers getting fair play in submitting their policy to the country through the medium of a new election. He does not in a single paragraph discuss his duty as a constitutional governor towards his ministers. On the contrary, he urges that the business is not finished yet; that items of the estimates are not passed; that the Hudson Bay resolutions were not passed; the time of the year inconvenient; pressure of money crisis not passed away; that an election took place only last winter; and the cost and inconvenience of an election.
He then devotes the remainder of his paper to a carping criticism of the ministerial paper. What assurance could he have, he asks, that a new election would in its results differ from the last? He asserts that a general election should be avoided until more stringent laws are made. If it could be "conclusively established," he says, that Mr. Brown's measures respecting the sectional difficulties "between Upper "and Lower Canada would prove a specific." He also wished it conclusively established that the members of the present council were the only men to allay the jealousies so unhappily existing! Imagine a demand from the Crown to "conclusively establish" the exact result of some amendment to the law or constitution at a moment when there was no time to do more than indicate the line to be taken. To be more emphatic, he gravely adds that "the certainty, or at any rate "the great probability, of the cure by the course proposed, and by that
"alone, would require to be proved!" Mr. Brown's reply to this gubernatorial tirade was simple, short, and dignified; he resigned for the reason that the advice of the council was refused.
Many of Mr. Brown's friends considered that the Governor's paper should have been answered in detail, so as to place him clearly and at once in the wrong. There was a great temptation to do so, for a more vulnerable and scandalous state paper it would be difficult to find in modern times. It was not necessary, so far as public opinion was concerned, for the minister to criticise this paper. His Excellency's conduct provoked a feeling of great indignation amongst liberals and lovers of fair play of all shades of opinion, and it was only defended by rabid party organs on his own political side. The transaction will be ever remembered as a shameful violation of constitutional usage on the part of a Governor-General, apparently entered upon for the benefit of the Tory party. The following extract from the Globe of August 5th gives a fair view of the feeling of the people generally regarding the Governor-General's conduct:
Sir Edmund Head has chosen deliberately to place himself in an attitude of hostility towards his advisers and the people. Influenced by the secret counsels of a cabal, he has openly insulted the men to whom he had entrusted the administration of affairs; he has preferred obedience to back stairs dictation to the constitutional requirements of his ministers. The convenient veil of executive neutrality is thrown off at last; and he stands revealed the active and unscrupulous partisan of men who are the convicted apologists of frauds the most gross. The demeanour of His Excellency throughout the ministerial crisis is unintelligible, except on the hypothesis that his determination was to play into the hands of the Macdonald-Cartier alliance. .. Mr. Macdonald was allowed to patch a cabinet and dissolve: Mr. Brown is not permitted to appeal to the people for judgment on a cabinet and a policy entirely new. He has displayed
a contempt for the decency common to gentlemen. We refer to the observance of the sincerity and frankness which are the main strata of honourable conduct. Examine point after point in the transactions of the last eight days, and say whether any other conclusion can be arrived at than that the resignation of Mr. J. A. Macdonald, the sending for Mr. Brown, the refusal of Mr. Brown's constitutional demand, and the final resort to Mr. Galt, are not all parts of a deep laid plot. We think that we are safe in prophesying that the result will be most damaging to the Governor and his allies. Do Sir Edmund Head and his closet conspirators believe that they have strengthened themselves in any respect by the plot they have apparently ended?
It was commonly alleged that Sir Edmund Head was, during these two eventful days, consulting with leading men on the Tory side of party politics. There may be no proof of this available, but it would not be difficult to believe that the man who could act with such perfidy to his own ministers would not hesitate to perpetrate the further crime of consulting their enemies as to the best means of destroying them.