« ForrigeFortsett »
“Let us now briefly turn our attention to the more difficult question : how these serious defects in our political condition, to which we have adverted, may be removed. Various are the modes which have been suggested at different periods, and a wide diversity of opinion doubtless still prevails as to what constitutional changes would be most advantageous.
“ The day has long since passed when the idea of annexation to our republican neighbours, or the formation of an independent republic, was entertained in any portion of these provinces. We look with mingled pride and admiration to the splendid and enduring institutions of our much-loved Mother Country coming, as they ever do, brighter and purer out of the trying ordeals which have shaken so many other nations to their foundations, prostrating governments and leaving disorder, anarchy, or despotism among their ruins.
“ All classes among us ardently desire that we may be in a position to strengthen the hands of the parent State and share her glories in the cause of human civilisation and progress, continuing no longer a source of weakness, but building up on this side of the Atlantic a powerful confederation which shall be in reality an integral portion of her Empire.
The Earl of Durham delineated his views on this subject twenty years ago in that enduring monument of his perspicuous statesmanship-his Report on the affairs of British North America. With great ability he there adopted and extended the views propounded so early as 1814 by His Royal Highness the late Duke of Kent, urging the importance of a legislative union of these colonies.
“The same principle was ably elaborated in the Assembly of Nova Scotia a few years ago by Mr. Johnstone; and Mr. P. S. Hamilton made it the subject of a very interesting pamphlet in 1855, and more recently brought it under the notice of his Grace the Duke of Newcastle in a more condensed form. Mr. Howe, it is well known, has advocated, with great force and ability, representation for these colonies in the Imperial Parliament; and has urged with his usual vigour and eloquence the advantage of turning to account the information of colonial statesmen, both by appointing them to preside over the colonies and to aid in their management in subordinate offices in Downing Street.
“In Canada, besides the various occasions on which it has been discussed by many of her public men, a project for the federal union of these colonies was proposed to the Legislature in 1858 by that eminent Minister of Finance of the Canadian Government, Mr. Galt, and was subsequently warmly sustained in an able State paper addressed by that gentleman, Mr. Cartier, the Premier of the Canadian Administration, and Mr. Ross, the President of the Executive Council, to the Colonial Secretary. Mr. George Brown, the former leader of the Opposition in Canada, Mr. J. S. Macdonald, and many other Canadian statesmen, have again and again committed themselves to the same views. In 1859 it obtained the eloquent advocacy of the accomplished P. Darcy McGee, one of the members for Montreal, who made it the subject of a forcible address to the Legislature.
“On one point, however, whatever may be the form it may assume, the general opinion seems to
be in favour of the grand principle of union. Some advantage would doubtless ensue from representation in the Imperial Parliament, but that, I conceive, would not be acceptable to the people of these provinces in the only way it could be obtained-accompanied by the taxation borne by those who are thus represented. To occupy the invidious position of sitting in the Commons and speaking on matters of colonial import, but denied the right to vote, would be objectionable to any independent mind, and would be unattended with any substantial advantage.
“Little doubt can be entertained that the selection of colonial governors from among colonists would be followed by highly beneficial results. A career of honourable distinction would thus be opened up which would at the same time attract the services of those who are most capable of serving the State, and ensure due regard to a high-minded and honourable political course of action as most likely to obtain the favour of the Crown, while it secured the confidence of the inhabitants generally throughout the colonies. The temptation to obtain immediate and temporary success at the sacrifice of broad principles would be thus materially diminished. The advantage which would arise from the conviction on the minds of the leading public men in all the provinces that the able discharge of the duties of their respective offices might lead to their elevation to a position affording some adequate reward, and attended by honourable distinction, could hardly be overestimated in its immediate operation upon the condition of the country.
“It would be an insult to the leading men in British North America to inquire whether she possesses those equally well qualified for the position of colonial governors with any that are likely to come from abroad. Infinitely better acquainted with the country and the character of the people and dependent for their promotion not upon the adventitious circumstances of birth or parliamentary connections and influence in Englandthe people would have a much better assurance than at present that their wishes and interests would be regarded. And why should we be called upon to sustain this brand of inferiority upon ourselves at so great a cost both pecuniary and otherwise ? The highest salary paid to a departmental officer in Nova Scotia is $2,800 ; in New Brunswick, $2,600; while we are called upon in each province to pay a gentleman from England—who performs duties not a tithe as arduous as those devolved upon other officials—no less than $15,000 a year as salary, and to contribute a large additional amount towards maintaining his establishment.
“Another important point in connection with this part of our subject, far transcending in importance any question of the amount of salary, is the security which would thus be afforded that in cases of appeal to the Mother Country—and appeals there must be so long as governors are only amenable to Imperial authority–when the governor, in the exercise of his prerogative, acts unconstitutionally and in opposition to the wishes of the people, justice would be done impartially, and a constitutional decision given, which would not be
open to the imputation of party bias from the recollection of past services, or the claims or influence of friends in either the Lords or Commons. This one change in our colonial system would give new life and vigour to our institutions, upon which, under existing circumstances, many have ceased to look hopefully.
“ The more important consideration, undoubtedly, is the union of the provinces. It would be premature to decide definitely on any particular plan by which that might be accomplished until the subject is discussed-as discussed it must be, and that at no distant date-by the leading men of all these provinces, and of all parties, in conclave.
“ The desirability of the union in any form being once arrived at, there is little reason to doubt that it could be arranged in a manner satisfactory to all sections of the confederation, and giving to the whole the advantages of the highest character not now enjoyed, while it would not materially detract from any privileges of a local character at present in their possession.
Without, therefore, entering further at present upon details which it seems premature to discuss, it only remains for us to notice some of the more prominent results likely to flow from a union of the provinces. “ It would give us nationality.
Instead of being Newfoundlanders, Nova Scotians, Prince Edward Islanders, New Brunswickers, and Canadians, often confounded abroad with the inhabitants of Nova Zembla and similarly favoured regions, we should be universally known as British