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act to be introduced for this purpose, a provision should be made by which all or any of the other North American colonies should, on the application of their legislatures, and with the consent of Canada be admitted into the Canadian Union. Thus the separation, which Fox thought unwise, was to be abolished; and the Canadas were to be fused into one system, which Lord Durham would have had, a federation. In brief, Lord Durham proposed to make the Canadas self-governing, as regards their internal affairs, and the germ of a federal union.”? The first legislative step towards a Federal union was made by the Parliament of Nova Scotia, in 1861, by a unanimous vote of the Legislative Assembly, which was favorably received by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in a despatch of the 6th July, 1862. The Legislatures of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island appointed delegates, in the beginning of 1864, to meet at Charlottetown, P.E.I., and confer together in reference to a union of these Maritime Provinces. About the same time, the difficulties met by the public men of Canada in carrying out their Government, induced a coalition of the leaders of the two conflicting parties to resort to a Federal system, and a government was formed of these opposite elements, with the following programme: “The government is prepared to pledge themselves to bring in a measure, next session, for the purpose of removing existing difficulties, by introducing the Federal principle in Canada, coupled with such provisions as will permit the Northern Provinces and the North West Territory to be incorporated with the same system of government.” Within a month of the formation of the coalition government of Canada, the Charlottetown Convention was arranged. The delegates of the Maritime Provinces were, as already stated, appointed by their respective Legislatures, and the delegates of Ontario and Quebec by their Government. Newfoundland was not represented. The Convention met on the 1st September, 1864, and re-assembled again on the 10th September, 1864. The meeting was confined to the delegates from the Maritime Provinces. On the 12th September, 1864, the Convention again assembled, the Canadian delegates participating in the business, and all proceedings being conducted with closed doors. Beyond an interchange of sentiments, nothing was done at Charlottetown, except to arrange for another Convention, to be held at Quebec, at the call of the Governor General. The delegates of the Maritime Provinces were only empowered to discuss the propriety of a Legislative union among themselves, while the Canadian delegates were authorized to treat only of a Federal union. The presence of the latter could only be informal, as the possibilities of such a union were neither foreseen nor comprehended by the resolutions of the Maritime Legislatures. The Governor General called together the Intercolonial Convention at Quebec, for the 10th October, 1864. Canada was represented by 12 delegates, 6 for each of the Provinces of Upper Canada and Lower Canada, New Brunswick by 7, Nova Scotia by 5, Prince Edward Island by 7, and Newfoundland by 2. This Convention sat with closed doors, and nothing but the result of the deliberations was known. Seventytwo Resolutions were adopted, by one vote for each Province, after eighteen days debate, and these Resolutions were submitted to the respective Legislatures at the ensuing session. The Canadian Parliament met in January, 1865, and the following Resolution was moved in the two Houses simultaneously, viz.: “That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She may be graciously pleased to cause a measure to be submitted to the Imperial Parliament for the purpose of uniting the Colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island, in one government, with provisions based on certain Resolutions which were adopted at a Conserence of Delegates from the said Colonies, held at the city of Quebec on the 10th October, 1864.” The Address was agreed to in the Legislative Council, on the 20th February, 1865, by a vote of 45 to 15, and in the Assembly, on the 10th March following, by a vote of 91 to 33. In the Maritime Provinces, the plan adopted by the Quebec delegates was not favorably received by the people. In New Brunswick, elections took place in March, 1865, and an anti-confederation House was elected. Some occult influence, however was at the same time quietly working to bring public opinion back to the Quebec scheme. In the session of 1866, the Legislative Council adopted a resolution similar to the one carried in the Canadian Parliament, and the Lieutenant Governor, having replied to the address of the Council favorably to the system of Confederation, and against the known feelings of his Ministry, the Cabinet resigned, a new Ministry was formed of gentlemen known for their desire to forward the cause of Confederation, and new elections took place, and resulted in forming a House in which 31 members were favorable to Confederation against eight, on a test vote. The vacillation of opinion in New Brunswick had its effect on the adjoining Province of Nova Scotia, where the popular feeling fluctuated in rapid waves, pro and con, until 1866, when the House of Assembly resolved, by a vote of 31 to 19, that it was desirable that a Confederation of the British North American Colonies should take place.
This resolution, coupled with the votes of the Canadian Parliament, and the result of the recent elections in New Brunswick, formed the ground work of the British North America Act of 1867, as carried in the British Parliament. The Confederation was limited to the Union of the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada (under the names of Ontario and Quebec), New Brunswick and Nova Scotia each having a separate Government and Legislature; the other Provinces were not considered to have sufficiently manifested their assent to justify the Imperial authorities in including them in the new Constitution.
The Provincial Parliament of Canada has left, in its Debates on Confederation, a useful record for future reference —
On the 3rd February, 1865, Sir John A. Macdonald, Attorney General, in moving an Address to Her Majesty, based on the Quebec Resolutions, said:
“The Resolutions on their face bore evidence of compromise; perhaps not one of the delegates from any of the Provinces would have propounded this scheme as a whole, but, being impressed with the conviction that it was highly desirable, with a view to the maintenance of British power on this continent, that there should be confederation and a junction of all the Provinces, the consideration of the details was entered upon in a spirit of compromise, and, after a full discussion of sixteen days, and after the various details had been voted on, the Resolutions as a whole were agreed to by a unanimous vote.” (Debates on Confederation, p. 15.)
“In the proposed Constitution all matters of general interest are to be dealt with by the General Legislature; while the Local Legislatures will deal with matters of local interest, which do not affect the Confederation as a whole, but are of the greatest importance to their particular sections. By such a division of labor the sittings of the General Legislature would not be so protracted as even those of Canada alone. And so with the Local Legislatures, their attention being confined to subjects pertaining to their own sections, their sessions would be shorter and less expensive. (pp. 30 and 31.)
“Then, when we consider the enormous saving that will be effected in the administration by one general government, when we reflect that each of the five colonies has a government of its own with a complete establishment of public departments, and all the machinery required for the transaction of the business of the country, that each has a separate executive, judicial, and militia system,that each province has a separate ministry, including a Minister of Militia, with a complete Adjutant General's Department, that each has a Finance Minister with a full customs and excise staff, that each colony has as large and complete an administrative organization, with as many executive officers as the general government will have, we can well understand the enormous saving that will result from a union of all the colonies—from their having but one head and one central system. We, in Canada, already know something of the advantages and disadvantages of a Federal Union. Although we have nominally a Legislative Union in Canada, although we sit in one Parliament, supposed constitutionally to represent the people without regard to sections or localities, yet we know, as a matter of fact, that, since the Union in 1841, we have had a Federal Union; that, in matters affecting Upper Canada solely, members from that section claimed, and generally exercised, the right of exclusive legislation, while members from Lower Canada legislated in matters affecting only their own section. We have had a Federal Union in fact, though a Legislative Union in name, and in the hot contests of late years, if, on any occasion a measure affecting any one section was interfered with by the members from the other, if, for instance, a measure locally affecting Upper Canada were carried or defeated against the wishes of its majority, by one from Lower Canada, my Honorable friend the President of the Council and his friends denounced with all their energy and ability such legislation as an infringement of the rights of the Upper Province—just in the same way, if any act concerning Lower Canada were pressed into law, against the wishes of the majority of her representatives, by those from Upper Canada, the Lower Canadians would rise as one man and protest against such a violation of their peculiar rights.” “ * * * (p. 35.)
In conclusion, Sir John A. Macdonald remarked :
“When we think of the representatives of five colonies, all supposed to have different interests, meeting together, charged with the duty of protecting those interests and of pressing the views of their own localities and sections, it must be admitted—had we not met in a spirit of conciliation, and with an anxious desire to promote this union, if we had not been impressed with the idea contained in the words of the Resolution: “that the best interests and present and future prosperity of British North America would be promoted by a Federal Union under the Crown of Great Britain’—all our efforts might have proved to be of no avail.” The Hon. Sir E. P. Taché on the same day moved the Address to Her Majesty in the Legislative Council—then an elective body—and said: “That Lower Canada had constantly refused the demand of Upper Canada for representation according to population, and for the good reason that, as the Union between them would have been legislative, a preponderance of one of the sections would have placed the other at its mercy. It would not be so in a Federal Union, for all questions of a general nature would be reserved for the General Government, and those of a local character to the Local Governments, which would have the power to manage their domestic affairs as they deemed best. If a Federal Union were obtained it would be tantamount to a separation of the provinces, and Lower Canada would thereby preserve its autonomy, together with all the institutions it held so dear, and over which they could exercise the watchfulness and surveillance necessary to preserve them unimpaired.” (p. 9.) The evolutions of public opinion, in given conditions, are more surprising than any change in one single mind on any question of ethics or other subject of more practical concern. Nova Scotia, after pronouncing so decisively through her parliamentary representatives in favor of Confederation, was soon after called upon to express her opinion at the polls. The Confederation Act was passed in England, the new Federal Government was organized, and general elections ensued through the newly Confederated Provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. In the latter Province, 18 out of 19 constituencies elected anti-Union members. Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick having strongly supported the new order of things and the new Government, Nova Scotia found it a
hopeless task to oppose both, and she gradually shaped her course in accordance with the prevailing current of opinion. The Bill for the Union of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick was presented by the Earl of Carnarvon, Secretary of State for the Colonies, in the House of Lords, and read the first time on the 12th February, 1867, without any preface or discussion. On the 19th of the same month the noble Lord, on the order of the day being read for the second reading, explained in general terms the provisions of the Bill, and presented them as a Treaty of Union, agreed upon by the consenting parties, which should not be materially varied or altered. While seeing, in a near future, the agglomeration of all the other provinces, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, the Western Territories, then under the rule of a trading Company, and finally of British Columbia and Vancouver Island, extending thus from the Atlantic to the Pacific,
“Meanwhile let no one think lightly of the present proposed union, curtailed though it beof its original proportions. It will in area comprise some 400,000 square miles, or more than four times the size of England and Scotland; (1) it will in population contain about 4,000,000 souls, of whom 650,000 were, at the last census of 1861, men between 20 and 60 years of age, capable of bearing arms in defence of their country; and in revenue it possesses some £3,000,000.”
The rapid course of the Bill in the two Houses is explained by the presence, in London, of Colonial delegates from the four Provinces, closely watching the proceedings of Parliament, and urgently pressing its passage in their desire to bring back with them the result of their mission. The publication by the daily press of the debates and discussions on the details of the measure, superseded the necessity of a repetition of the same arguments in the House of Commons. The Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Mr. Adderley, had charge of the Bill, and his remarks, as well as those of Mr. Cardwell, who ably supported him, embraced political, economical, and military considerations. In pointing out the advantages of the measure and demonstrating the absurdity of these contiguous Provinces retaining a system of different commercial tariffs, and thereby ruining themselves and depressing their trade, Mr. Adderley stated that the effect of the reciprocity treaty between the United States and Canada, was, to develop the commerce between these countries, in one year, from 2,000,000 to 20,000,000 dollars. That treaty, he added, has now ceased; but surely that is a reason why, at least amongst themselves
(1) When estimating the future area of the Confederation, the noble Lord sets it down at 3,400,000 square miles, and this is considered as quite an accurate estimation of the extent of the Confederation, as now completed.