Joseph Edmund Collins.

Life and times of the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald, premier of the Dominion of Canada online

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Why, it is our due, we are entitled to it, and we must have it from some
one. England refused to ask it for us from the United States, and she
accepted all the responsibility which that refusal involved. She was wise
in accepting that responsibility. She must take the consequences, and
she is willing to do so. But the Canadian government, on the other hand,
were unwilling that the compensation which England thus acknowledged
was due to us by her should take a direct pecuniary form. We were un-
willing that it should be the payment of a certain amount of money, and
there were several strong reasons why we should prefer not to accept re-
paration in that shape. In the first place, if a proposal of that kind were
made, it would cause a discussion as to the amount to be paid by England,


of a most unseemly character. We would have the spectacle of a judge
appointed to examine the claims in detail, with Canada pressing her case
upon his attention, and England probably resisting in some cases, and
putting herself in an antagonistic position which should not be allowed to
occur between the mother country and the colony. It was, therefore, in
the last degree unadvisable, that the relations between Canada and the
mother country, which throughout have been of so friendly and pleasant
a character, should be placed in jeopardy in that way; and accordingly a
suggestion was made by us which, without causing England to expend a

nee, or putting the least additional burden upon her people, would,
if acted upon, do us more good, and prove of infinitely greater advan-
tage, than any amount of mere money compensation we could reasonably

t. This was a mode of disposing of the question in the highest
degree satisfactory to both countries, and one which does not in the least
compromise our dignity or our self-respect. | Hear, hear.) The credit of
Canada, thank God, is well established. Her good faith is known wj
ever she has had financial dealings. Her majesty's government can go to
the li ;niaoiis ;uid ilk WMf authority to guarantee a Canadian loan,

with a well grounded assurance that the people of England will never In-
called upon to put their hands in their pockets, or tax themseh es one

farthing to pay it. At the Munettme, the imperial government,

by giving us tins guarantee, grants us a boon the value of which, in en-
abling us to construct the great works of public improvement we have
Undertaken, wai explained the oihef day so ably, and in a maimer that I

. by my hon. friend, the finance minister.
Besides the double advantage to oursei tting the endorsement of

and without disadvantage to tin RttgHan people, there is to be con-
sidered the great, the enonnom benefit that accrues to Canada from this
i avowal on the part of Kngland of the interest she takes in the success
of our great public enterprises. (Cheers.) No one can say now, when she
is sending out one of her distinguished statesmen to take the place of the
nobleman who now bo worthily represents her majesty in the Dominion —
no one can say when Kngland is aiding us, endorsing a loan spreading over

any years, ami which will not be finally extinguished till most of us

rrow here will have been gathered to our fathers — no one can say, under

ances, that she has any idea of separating herself from us

giving up the colonies. (Cheers.) The solid, substantial advantage
of being able to obtain money on better terms than we could on our own
credit alone, is not the only benefit this guarantee will confer upon us,
for it will put a finish at 0H06 to the hopes of all dreamers or speculators
who desire or believe in the alienation and separation of the colonies from


the mother country. That ia a more incalculable benefit than the mere
advantage of England's guarantee of our financial stability — great and im-
portant as that is. (Loud cheers.) Aye, but it is said that it is a humiliation
to make a bargain of that kind; Why, sir, it was no humiliation in 1841 to
obtain an imperial guarantee for the loan necessary to construct the canals
originally. It was not considered a humiliation to accept a guarantee for
i'l .400,000 in 1805, for the purpose of building fortifications; nor was it a
humiliation to obtain £4,000,000 upon a similar guarantee to construct
the Intercolonial railway. Why is it a humiliation, then, in this case, to
accept the guarantee, when England voluntarily comes forward and accepts
the responsibility for withdrawing our claims in respect to the Fenian
raids ? It waa by no prompting from us that that responsibility was as-
sumed, lot Mr I Gladstone rose of his own motion in the house of commons,
and by accepting tin 'dity, admitted that it should take a tangible

shape. It did take such a shape, and I aay a most satisfactory shape, in
the guarantee of £2,500,000 immediately, and we may say of £4,000,000
in all, ultimately. (Cheers.) But I hear it objected that Canada ought
not to have made a bargain at all. She should have allowed the Fenian
•claims to go, and dealt with the treaty Beparately, accepting or rejecting
it on ita merit8. Sir, Canada did not make a bargain of that kind, but she
went fairly and openly to her majesty's government, and said, "Here is a
treaty that has been negotiated through your influence, and which affects
important commercial interests in this country. It is unpopular in Canada
in its commercial aspect, but is urged on us for imperial causes, and for
Uie Bake of the peace of the empire; but the pecuniary interests of Canada
should, in the opinion of the Canadian government, be considered, and
the undoubted claim of Canada for compensation for these Fenian outrages
haa been set aaide. We may well, therefore, call upon you to strengthen
our handa by ahowingthat you are unwilling to aacrifice Canada altogether
for imperial purpoaea 8olely." Sir, we asked that for Canada, and the
response was immediate and gratifying, except that England did not accept
the whole of the proposition to guarantee a loan of £4,000,000. But I am
a8 certain aa I am atanding in this house (and I am not speaking without
book), that had it not been for the unfortunate cloud that arose between
the United States and England, which threatened to interrupt the friendly
settlement of all questions between them, but which I am now happy to
say is passing away, the difficulty would have been removed by England
permitting us to add to the £2,500,000 the £1,400,000 which she guaran-
teed some years since to be expended on fortifications and other defensive
preparations. That money had not been expended, and there would now
have been no object in applying it for the construction of works which


would have been a standing menace to the United States, and which would
have been altogether out of place immediately after signing a treaty of
peace and amity. I do not hesitate to say, and I repeat, I am not speak-
ing without book, that I believe a proposition of that kind would have
been acceptable to her majesty's government; but when the cloud arose,
when there was a possibility of this treaty being held as a nullity, and
when there was danger of the relations between the two countries return-
ing to the unfortunate position in which they were before, then was not
the time for England to ask, or us to propose, to give up the the idea of
fortifying our frontier and defending our territory. Then was not the
time, either, for the Canadian government to show an unwillingness to
spend money upon these works, or to defend and retain the Dominion a3

endency of the sovereign ol England. (Cheers.) I say, therefore,
that, while we are actually receiving a guarantee of £2,500,000, if the re-
lations of England and the United States are again brought into harmony,
and the lowering cloud which recently sprang up is removed, and removed
in such a way as never to appear again, then it may fairly be thought — it
may reasonably be calculated upon that we will have a guarantee of the
full amount of £4,000,000, in order to carry out the great improvements
we have entered upon. The iinam r has shown you the advan-

tages which will (low from that arrant intent ; audit would be presumption

• to add a word to what he has so well said upon that point, which is
in the highest degree satisfactory to this house, and in the highest degree,

la of this country. (Cheers.) I now move
the tirst reading of this bill, and I shall simply sum up my remarks by

g that, with respect to the treaty, 1 consider that every portion of it
is unobjectionable to the count i y, unless the articles connected with the
fisheries may be considered objectionable. With respect to those articles,
I ask the house fully and calmly to consider the circumstances; and I be-
. I y consider the situation, that they will say it is for the good
of Canada that those articles should be ratified. Reject the treaty, and
you do not get reciprocity. Reject the treaty, and you leave the fisher-
f the maritime provinces at the mercy of the Americans. Reject
the treaty, and } ou will cut the merchants engaged in that trade off from
the A merican market. Reject the treaty, and you will have a large annual
expenditure in keeping up a marine police force to protect those fisheries,
amounting to about $84,000 per annum. Reject the treaty, and you will
have to call upon England to send her fleet, and give you both her moral

physical support, although you will not adopt her policy. Reject the
treaty, and you will find that the bad feeling which formerly, and until
lately, existed in the United States against England, will be transferred

A rr i:\dix.

to Canada; the United States will say, and say justly, " Here, when two
great nations like England and the United States have settled all their
difficulties, all their quarrels, upon a perpetual basis, these happy results
are to be frustrated and endangered by the Canadian people, because they
have not gojt the value of their fish for ten years." (Cheers.) It has been
said by the hon. gentleman <>n my left (Mr. Howe), in his speech to the
young men's christian association, that England had sacrificed the inter-
est* of Canada. If England has sacrificed the interests of Canada, what
sacrifice has she not made herself in the cause of peace ? Has she not, for
the sake of peace betweeu these two great nations, rendered herself liable,
lasting out all indirect claims, to pay millions out of her own treasury ?
ule all this sacrifice, which only Englishmen and English
statesmen can know, lot the sake of peace i And for whose good has she
made it i Has she not made it principally for the sake of Canada i (Loud
chirrs.) Let Canada be severe- 1 from England — let England not be re-
sponsible to us and for us— and what could the I nited States do to England >
Let England withdraw herself into her shell, and what could the United
• s do I England has got the supremacy of the sea. She is impreg-
nable in every point but one, ai:d that point is Canada; and if England
does call upon us to make a financial sacrifice — does find it for the good
of the empire, that we, England's first colony, should sacrifice something
— I say that we would be unworthy of our proud position if we were not
prepared to do so. (Cheers.) I hope to live to see the day, and if I do
not, that my son may be spared to see Canada the right arm of England —
(cheers)— to see Canada a powerful auxiliary to the empire — not, as now,
a cause of anxiety and a source of danger; and I think that, if we are
worthy to hold that position as the right arm of England, we should not
object to a sacrifice of this kind, when so great an object is attained, and
the object is a great and lasting one. It is said that amities between na-
tions cannot be perpetual. I say that this treaty, which has gone through
so many difficulties and dangers, if it is carried into effect, removes almost
all possibility of war. If ever there was an irritating cause of war, it was
from the occurrences arising out of the escape of those vessels; and when
we see the United States people and government forget this irritation,
forget those occurrences, and submit such a question to arbitration —
to the arbitration of a disinterested tribunal, — they have established a
principle which can never be forgotten in this world. No future ques-
tion is ever likely to arise that will cause such great irritation as the es-
cape of the Alabama did, and if they could be got to agree to leave such
a matter to the peaceful arbitrament of a friendly power, what future
cause of quarrel can in the imagination of man occur, that will not bear


the same pacific solution that is sought for in this 1 I believe that this
treaty is an epoch in the history of civilization; that it will set an example
to the wide world that must be followed; and with the growth of this great
Anglo-Saxon family, and with the development of that mighty nation to
the south of us, I believe that the principle of arbitration will be advo-
cated and adopted as the sole principle of the settlement of differences
between the English-speaking peoples, and that it will have a moral in-
fluence in the world; and although it may be opposed to the antecedents
of other nations, that great moral principle which has n< >\v been established
among the Anglo-Saxon family, will spread itself over all the civilised
world. (Cheers.) It is not much to say that it is a great advance in the
history of mankind, and I should be sorry if it were recorded that it was
stopped for a moment by a selfish consideration of the interests of Canada.
Had the government of Canada taken the course which was quite open t<>
them, to recommend parliament to rej »ct these articles, it might have been
a matter of some interest as to what my position would have been. 1 am
. at all events, advocating the ratification of the treaty; and I may say,
ithstanding the taunts of hon. gentlemen opposite, that although 1
Was chosen for the positi mmissioner — certainly because I was a

idian, and presumably because I was a member of the Canadian gov-
ernment — yet my commission was u subject, as it
was b hcote and other members of the commission. I
ngton as a plenipotentiary, as her majesty's servant, and
was bound by her majesty's instructions, and I would have been guilty of
iction <»f duty if I had not carried out those instructions. And, sir,
when I readily joined, under the circumstances, in every word of that
y, with the exception of the fishery articles, and when I succeeded in
having inserted in I tion to the government and people
inada of the full right to aooept or refuse that portion of it, I had no
difficulty as to my course. (Cheers.) I did not hesitate to state that, if
that clause had not been put in. I would have found it necessary to resign
my commission. I was perfectly aware, in taking the course I did of
signing the treaty, that I should be subject to reproach. I wrote to my
friends in Canada, from Washington, that well I knew the storm of oblo-
h;it would meet me on my return; and before even I crossed the
border I was complimented with the names of "Judas Iscariot," u Bene-
dict Arnold, " etc. The whole vocabulary of Billingsgate was opened against
me; but here I am, thank God, to-day, with the conviction that what 1 did
was for the best interests of Canada; and after all the benefits I have re-
ceived at the hands of my countrymen, and after the confidence that has
D accorded me for so many years, I would have been unworthy of that


position and that confidence if I were not able to mset reproach f >;• thu
sake of my country. I have met that reproach, and I have met it in si-
lence. I knew that a premature discussion would only exasperate still
more the feelings of those who were arrayed against me, and of those who
think more of their party than of their country. (Laud cheers. ) I do not
speak particularly of thehon. gentlemen opposite, but I say that the policy
of the opposition is regulated by "a power behind the throne" which dic-
tates what that policy must be. (Loud cheers.) No one ever saw apatri-
v emanate from that source, except on one occasion, and that was
when that source was induced by myself to forget party struggles and party
feeling! fur the OOmmon good of the country. (Loud cheers.) 1 have not
said a word for twelve months; I have kept silence to this day, thinking it

r that the subject should be discussed on its own merits. How eagerly
was 1 watched! If the government should 009M out in favour of the treaty,

it was to be taken as being a betraval of the people of Canada. If
the government should come out against the treaty, then the first minister
was to be charged with opposing the interests of the empire. Whichever
:.; take, they were lying in wait, ready with some mode ,.f
attack. But silence is golden, Mr. Speaker, and I kept silence. I believe
the sober second thought of this country accords with the sober second
th> ught of the government; and we come down here and ask the people of
Canada, through their representatives, to accept this treaty — to accept it
with all its imperfe accept it for the sake of peace, and for the

sake of the great empire of which we form a part. I now 'beg leave to
introduce the bill, and to state that I h ive the permission of his excellency
to do so.

The hon. gentleman resumed his seat, amid loud and continued ap-
plause from all parts of the house, at 9: -45, having spoken for four hours
and a quarter.




The following is the speech delivered by Sir John Macdonald, in reply
to the allegations concerning the pacific railway charter, in the house of
commons, Ottawa, on Monday, Nov. 3rd, 1873. On rising, the honour-
able gentleman was greeted with hearty cheers : —

Mr. Speaker, I had not intended to address you on the two motions now
before the house, and the reason why I did not so intend is that I had al-
ready Lnven my testimony on oath, and in that testimony I had endea-
voured, notwithstanding the statement of the hon. gentleman who has
just taken his seat, to state the whole case as far as I knew it, according
to the best of my conscience, concealing nothing and revealing everything.
I did not think it well, according to the ordinary rule, that I
should attempt in any way to supplement my ittttomenl 00 oath by my
•.noath. (Cheers.) II irever I have been taunted, not in
the house certainly, but I have heard it elsewhere and have seen it in the

n that I have been withholding my statements ; that I have been

ng back, and that I dare not meet the hoOM and the country. Sir,
I dare meet this house and the country. (Ohoere.) I know too well what
the house and the country will do, and what the feeling of the country
will be, when they know all the facts. They know many of them now, and
those they do m>t know I shall endeavour presently to enter upon. I Jut
now I enter up >n tin which is most interesting to this house — the

question whether the government or any members of the government were
in any way implicated in the giving or granting of a charter, or of a privi-
lege of any kind to men for corrupt motives. I shall allude to one or two
subjects which a short time ago assumed prominence in the opinion of the

try, but which in the course of the present debate have almost rank
ice. A short time ago, from the 13th August till now

I nothing else but the unconstitutionality of the prorogation ; nothing
else but that a great wrong had been committed on the privileges of the
house. Although I was here for only a few minutes before the house
was prorogued, if I remember aright, this chamber rung with charges that
the privileges of the house had been invaded. I not only heard the voice
of the hon. member for Chateauguay (Mr. Holton), but I saw his hand



brought down, with the ponderous strength of the hon. gentleman, on his
.desk, when he called " privilege ! " M privilege ! " and all because the re-
presentative of the sovereign bad exercised a prerogative conferred upon
him by law. The hon. gentleman was committing an anachronism. There
were days when the prerogative of the crown and the privileges of the peo-
ple were in opposition. There were days — but they were days long gone
by, and there was no necessity for any attempt to revive them now — days
when the prerogative of the crown was br o ug h t in opposition to the will of
the people, and the representatives of the people; and then, as was
proper, the will of the people was paramount, and when the crown op-
posed it, by prerogative or by excess of prerogative, the head of the sov-
ereign rolled on the scaffold. But, Mr. Speaker, those days do not exist
now, and I am happy to say that at this moment, in this age, the prero-
gative of the crown is a portion of the liberty of the people. (Cheers.) If
we wish to preserve our liberties, if we wish to preserve our present con-
stitution, it we do not wish again to have a long parliament or a rump
parliament, if we do not wish again to have a parliament overriding every
other constitutional authority, we shall preserve the prerogative of the
crown as being a sacred trust, as being a portion of the liberties of the
people. (Cheers.) Centuries ago, as I have said, the time was when the
sovereign could come down with his strong hands and could seize, or at-
tempt at all events to seize, a member of parliament for performing his
duty in his place. The day was once when the sovereign could come
down and could banish and send to the tower, and even as has been known,
could send to the block, members of parliament for defending the privi-
leges of the people. But when the sovereign is no longer a despot, when
the sovereign is a constitutional monarch, when the sovereign takes his
advice from the people, when the sovereign in his act of prerogative takes
his advice from a committee selected from the representatives of the peo.
pie and from the other Chamber, which other chamber has its power rest-
ing upon the basis of the will of the country and the will of the people,
then I say there is no danger of the prerogative being used unconstitution-
ally ; but the great danger of the country here, as in England, is that the
prerogative may not be strong enough to resist the advancing wave of de-
mocracy. (Cheers.) And, sir, when in the undoubted exercise of the pre-
rogative of the crown the representative of the sovereign came not to this
Chamber but to the proper chamber, and announced his will, as the repre-
sentative of the sovereign, that parliament be prorogued, he committed no
breach of the privileges of this house or the other house of parliament, and
made no infringement on the liberties of the people. (Cheers. ) It was
charged that a great breach of the constitution had taken place. True it


is that we heard in a sort of minor key from the Globe, which had some cha-
racter to lose, that although it was very inexpedient, it was no breach of the
constitution. But every other paper, 1 believe, every organ of hon. gen-
tlemen opposite, except the Globe, stated that there had been a great breach
of the constitution and of the privileges of the people on the floor of par-
liament, and they were countenanced by the voice and clamour of hon.
gentlemen opposite. (Cheers.) We might pardon them, perhaps, because
we have seen cases of a similar kind in England, and therefore I can quite
understand it, and I do not much blame them, as showing the momentary
feeling of disappointment at the exercise of the royal prerogative, prevent-
ing the extension of the excitement into debates in a subsequent session.

In L890, at the time of Queen Caroline's trial, while the bill was pending,
when it was resolved to withdraw the bill, and when the motion for the
six months' disposal of that measure was carried, there was an outburst
Ifhen the knock of the usher of the black rod was made at the door — an
m 00 the part of the queen's friends because they hail
no opp arte their feelings against the course which had


lament] however, was prorogued, notwithstanding the

»n that arose at the time. On a still later occasion, at

!brm bill, In remember how the house was

in mutiny.

and how staid gentleman, the Dike of Richmond,

ted h

imself in rebellion against hi- :,. Sir Robert

• ]'V Hi

omeri of the black rod knocked at the door,was

• prorogation for the purpose of dis-

niton. T:.

Online LibraryJoseph Edmund CollinsLife and times of the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald, premier of the Dominion of Canada → online text (page 49 of 57)