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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to a foreign corporation. We were told that we are recreant to our posi-
tion as Canadians, to our position as members of parliament, and guar-
dians of the rights of Canada, and that we had handed over the great
Pacific railway to the Americans. When that broke down, the next
charge was brought up. Hon. gentlemen opposite said, " We know
you did not do that, but you have sold it," and then when that broke
down they came to the last charge, and said : ■ ' Oh, you are guilty of
spending a large sura of money at the elections." There are the three
charges, and with your permission I shall deal with them seriatim. It
has been attempted to show that the first was not a charge. I would
ask the house if it was not so understood in Canada, if it was not so


un Jerstood in England, if it had not rung through the country, that the
government of Canada were so devoid of duty, so devoid of patriotism,
that they sold the charter to the Americans ? I must say that when this
■charge was first made, it roused me. I had thought that I had thwarted
these men in every particular. I had thought that I had excluded them
in every particular. I had thought that I had kept Jay Cooke & Co., and
& Co., and every company in any way connected with the Northern
Pacific railway out of the Canadian Pacific railway. (Cheers.) Mr.
Speaker, if I had not done so ; if I had gone into that moderate system; if
I had allowed the American railway system to go on and be completed,
forever shutting out the opportunity for ours; if I had played the Ameri-
can game; if I had played the game of the hon. gentlemen opposite; if I
had sold the railway; if 1 had sold the interests of Canada, — I would have
the plaudits of hon. gentlemen opposite, instead of now getting their
atabs. (Cheers.) But it is because, from the first to the last, I was a
true Canadian; from the first to the last I stood by Canada; be-
HB the first t<> the last, when they attempted to levy blackmail
Upon me, 1 put it down with a strong hand.- that is why the attack was
made on toe government; that is why the attack was made on me. (Loud

•cheers.) 1 tare no hesil tying that thmoouiee, taken by the hon.

member lot Bneflbld, is governed behind the scenes by a foreign element.
(Cheers.) I do not titlemen by irhom he is surrounded

witli being parties to this, 1-ut I do say that the course of the hon. mem-
ber t i iverned by a foreign element, and I can prove it.
(Cheers.) And if a c anmittes ii granted bo me, I will show that the hon.
gentleman sits here by virtue of alien money and influence; and not only
by virtue of itten influences, but alien railway influences. (Cheers.) 1
can pr >\e it. I am informed, and verily believe, that I can prove it.
(Cheers and laughter.) I have got evidence, and if a committee is given
to me I can prove that the hon. gentleman was elected to his seat in this
house by alien railway influences; and more than that, I can not only prove
that ho was elected by alien railway influences, but by alien railway influ-
DOi urn- :th the Northern Pacific railway. (Loud cheers.)
Mi. Speaker, I have to speak to the specific charges made against
the government. Sir, before the last election took place, I knew what I
had to face. 1 had a great, a strong and united opponent. I had showered
up..n my dev.ted head all kinds of opposition. I had been one of the high
c< •mmissioners, and one of the signers of the treaty of Washington. It was
said that I had betrayed the country, and the hon. gentlemen had described
me in their speeches as across between Benedict Arnold and Judas Iscariot.
But I met parliament, and by a calm explanation of my course I won the


approval of the house. Still the opposition roared. 1 knew that I must
meet with a rtrottg opposition in my native province, from gentlemen of
the opposite party. That province was the only province in the country
that was not a gainer by the treaty, except as it was a gainer by the great
gain which. I think, over-balanced everything — that of a lasting peace be-
tween England sad the United States. (Cheers.) It gave to our children,
and to our children's children, the assurance that we could enjoy our own
comfort, that we could enjoy ourown firesides, that we could sit under our
own tig tree, without the possibility of the war-cloud hanging over us; and
if I was guilty of being ■ party to that treaty, 1 shall be glad to have it
recorded on my t o m bs t one. (L<>ud cheers. We yielded much, we gave
up many things— 1 admit that. I told this house that we had yielded
much — that we had given up many things. But still we see our country
proeperom still we see every interest pOWing (cheers), and now we know
that : ile hand, by no unfriendly, warlike invasion, can the future

be destroyed. (Cheers.) Vet, sir, I went out and submitted my shoulder
to the smiter. I knew how much it would be held out that we had not
got what we ought to have got ; that we had got no reciprocity — that the
wheat of the Western fanner was not exchanged on equal terms with the
wheat of the Americans. But 1 had to meet that, and I met it, Mr.
Speaker, like a man. (Cheers.) I had to meet much more. I had not only
to be told — as I was told at every place that I went to — that T was a traitor
and had sold this country. If Canada is never sold in the future by a
greater traitor than myself, Canada will be a fortunate country. (Loud
cheers.) But I was told also that I had not only sold Canada to the Yan-
kees, but that I had sold Ontario to the other provinces. It was said that
I had not only committed a great breach of international law, but had also
given them more than their rights. On every question of constitutional law
I have had the satisfaction of having the courts — well, not perhaps the
courts, but of those men who make the courts — in my favour, and I have
never made a constitutional or legal proposition in which I have not had
the support of the legal advisers of the crown in England, and in which I
have not been right, and the hon. gentlemen opposite have been wrong.
But with respect to Nova Scotia, we are told, not only that my course was
unconstitutional, but that we had given to Nova Scotia more than they
had a right to have. Perhaps the hon. gentleman opposite would say they
never said so. He had been in the habit of saying so. But the fact could
be proved, that the hon. gentleman took the two grounds — first, that our
action was unconstitutional, and second, that the action was unjust to
Ontario. (Cheers. ) Now I would ask you to speak to every member
from Upper Canada, and ask if they did not find in every election that


said of the government of Canada, and that I, as prime minister, had
granted to Nova Scotia too much, and had thereby increased the taxation
of the people of Ontario ? I have had to tell the people of Ontario, in the
first place, that Nova Scotia only got justice, and in the second, that the
course taken was perfectly constitutional ; and even if we had given Nova
■ a little more than justice, it was well worth the outlay. (Cheers.)
Why, Mr. Speaker, what did we lind at the time of the union I The min-
ister of customs was the first man returned to the house in the elections,
iictly union principles. Consider the position we were in here. We
with a constitution just trembling in the balance, and yet we found
t the most important provinces recalcitrant, threatening independence,
and opposing in every possible way the carrying out of confederation, under
which we now live and flourish. Was I to deal with the question in a
hesitating wa\ r\ It we had given bo Nova Scotia a little more than her
righto, and even as it were a sop, I say it was a statesmanlike act. But,
sir, there were no necessities of that kind. We did them simple justice;
and I will venture to say that any member who will now sit down and read
the discussions and negotiations between Canada and Nova Scotia, will feel
that we did full and ample justice. I am no friend feo doing half justice,
I them DO more than justice. What is the OOnaeqOOnOt I We
■66 the people. I party; wre s.-e every man in Nova Scotia ad-

miring the legislation of parliament introduced by the government, which
has n. ia a part of the Dominion, instead of being a separate

provinot, and has converted it into one of tin- most ardent friends of con-
federation among tin- whole of the different members of the Dominion.
(Cheers.) If it shall happen, sir, as it may happen, that I receive a reverse,
i ii of any particular act of mine, 1 may still appeal, and I do
appeal, to the members for Nova Scotia, who, when their best interests
assailed, and they were brought perforce, fas aut nefax, into confeder-
. they still got ment, got full justice, at our hands; and I

hope to live in the hearts of the Nova Scotians. (Cheers.) While that
was satisfactory to no, I think it was not satisfactory to my friends in On-
tari< ». B very man ■ ho supported me was attacked at the polls with respect to
■ouraction on the Washington treaty, and because it was said we had given too
m uch t< i help the Nova Scotians. So w ith British Columbia. Let me read some
B resolutions with reference to the Pacific railway and British Colum-
bia. Do you suppose, does any man suppose, we could have British Columbia
within the Dominion without a railway \ There must not only be a union
on paper, but a union in fact. Those hon. members of the opposition, by
■every act that they could, in every way that they could, opposed the prac-
tical union of British Columbia with Canada. (Cheers.) They voted against


it, they said it was most outrageous — the plan, the idea of a railway, was
outrageous. (Opposition cries of ' ' hear.") That is the language used by
hon. gentlemen opposite, and I will presently quote terms used. Now let
us look at some of the motions made. The government moved a motion*
to carry out a measure which is now the law. It was moved in amendment
"that the proposed engagement respecting the Pacific railway would, in
the opinion of the house. heavily on the resources of Canada to-

carry out.'' That motion was defeated. (Ministerial cheers.) Then it
was moved, "that in view of the arrangement entered into with British
Columbia at the time of confederation, and the large expenditures neces-
sary for canal improvements and other purposes within the Dominion, this
house is not justified in imposing on the people the enormous burden of
taxation required to construct within ten years a railway to the Pacific, as
proposed by the resolution submitted to this house.'' (Ministerial cheers.)"
I say I might read you a series of resolutions, all made by hon. gentlemen
opposite, and voted for by tin in. showing that in their opinion we had been
axing the resources of the people of Canada. I am now told by the
hon. gentlemen opposite, that, although they opposed that arrangement
with British Columbia, they think they are bound to it now. I am told
that they say, "True, we made an arrangement with British Columbia
which was improvident, extravagant and ruinous, and which could never
be carried out. Y •. I i ing made, we will carry it out." I don't exactly
see the logic of that. If it be ruinous, extravagant and impossible, I really
don't see how it can be carried out now. (Cheers.) But, Mr. Speaker, I
don't believe the policy of the hon. gentlemen opposite is in favour of
that. (Loud cheers.) I know it is opposed to that. (Renewed cheers.)
I know, if this government goes out of office, and another government
comes into power, if it be composed of hon. gentlemen opposite, that it
will oppose our policy in this question. (Ministerial cheers.) Hon. gen-
tlemen opposite dare not deny that the Globe newspaper announces and
directs their policy. We passed a bill the session before last: we granted
a charter for the building of the road, and it was settled and determined
that the Pacific railway should be built, and we were to build it on our
own territory, and not allow the Yankees to come in and assist in building
the road, nor even the friends of the hon. member for Vancouver. Yet,
what was the announcement of the organ of the hon. gentlemen opposite ?
After the legislation of 1872, after we had accepted the arrangement with
British Columbia, after we had brought them into the Dominion on the
pledge of the faith of the government and the country that there would be
a Pacific railway within ten years, after we had made that promise, with
the solemn sanction of the country, what were the remarks of the Globe, the


exponent of the opinions of hon. gentlemen opposite 1 The right hon. gen-
tleman then read an extract from an article, published in the Globe during
1873, wherein the Pacific railway scheme was declared to be financially
ruinous, and politically unpatriotic ; — a scheme which could only be ac-
complished within ten years at an outlay which would cripple Canadian
resources, and lock up the most valuable part of our public domains. The
right hon. gentleman continued: — Now, Mr. Speaker, you see what is to
happen if Canada builds this Canadian Pacific railway. All our resources
are to be crippled by this, the most ruinous and most unpatriotic scheme
ever invented, and this cry I had to meet at the hustings. I have gone
on from one stage to another. I have shown you how I met the cries at
the hustings — that 1 bartered away Canadian rights in the Washington

y; that I had granted too much to Nova Scotia; that I had been guilty
of granting a constitution to a few half-breeds in the North- West country,
;ind had -jiven tin in infinitely more than they had a right to expect; that,
as regards British Columbia, I would throw away the resources of Canada
upon the construction of the Pacific railway, and that I had sold Ontario.
'Ironical cheers from the opposition.) Mind you. Ontario considers itself
the richest province— and no doubt it is— and that any additional charge
placed in the public treasury presses unfavourably on them, because they
pay more in proportion to their wealth than the other provinces of the
Dominion. I know they don't do so, but it has been urged upon them
that they do do so. Then, again, m had to BMtt the continued opposition
of the local government of ( >ntario. I will give the hon. gentlemen proofs
n writing, so that they will not be able to deny the fact — proof that though
that local government had pic U in the most formal manner to be

neutral in thi contest, that they, by every act in their power, and by every
inlluence, direct ami indirect, that they possessed, worked against the
Canadian government. That is the charge, and I can prove it. (Minis-

J cheers.) We know that influences of every kind would be used, and
were mod, which can be proved ; or, as the hon. member from Shefford
would say. " I am credibly informed, and can prove," (laughter) ; and we
believed that the future of Canada much depends upon the continuing in
power of a government that has for its one single aim and object the main-
tenance of the on between Canada and the British empire, and
rotaotion of the development of the Dominion itself. (Cheers.) We
have been met at the polls with sectional cries. If the opposition could
raise a religious cry, it was done. The New Brunswick school question
was brought up, and they got up the cry that we had given too much to
Nova Scotia, and those cries were made to ring at the polls in Western
Canada. The cry that we had given too much to British Columbia was


hammered into 113 at every public meeting in the west, and I say distinctly,
and I repeat it again, that we had the power, influence, and the weight of
the Ontario government against us, contrary to the distinct pledge that
that government would be neutral. (Cheers.) Well, sir, I will state now
what occurred with respect to the Pacific railway. I was at Washington,
bartering my country, as some of the lum. gentlemen say — (laughter) — at-
tending, at all events, to the Washington treaty, when the resolutions were
carried which happily I say for Canada brought British Columbia into the
union of the British North American provinces. (Cheers.) The propo-
sition included the Pacific railway, for British Columbia would not have
come in, unless the terms of union had included a railway. Notwithstanding
great opposition, the resolutions were carried by my late honoured and
lamented colleague, but he only carried them by promising to introduce
itions by which the railway would be built, not by the government
directly, but by private capital, aided by government grants. I would

if 1 had been here, have willingly assented to that proposition, but
though I was not here, yet I am responsible for that act, and I do accept
it as perhaps the best proposition to be had; otherwise, perhaps, the union
would not have been consummated. The resolutions declared that the
railway should be built by a railway company, assisted by government
grants of land and money. The hon. member for Napierville, however,
moved a resolution setting forth that the house did not believe that pri-

capital could be obtained sufficient for the purpose. The whole of
the resolutions moved by hon. gentlemen opposite were more for the pur-
pose of defeating the construction of the Pacific railway ; and when Sir
George Cartier produced his resolutions, and was about to carry them as
prepared, he had to give way to the desire of the house, because even those
who usually supported the government were alarmed by the cry which had
been raised by gentlemen opposite. Thus, if the motion of the hon. mem-
ber for Napierville had been adopted, and Canada was unable to get a
company to build the railway, the bargain with British Columbia would
fall to the ground and be only waste paper, and British Columbia would
sit out shivering in the cold, forever, without a railway. The policy in-
dicated by that resolution of the hon. member for Napierville has been
carried out ever since. In March, long after the legislation had taken
place, by which parliament declared that there should be a Pacific railway
built in some way or other, we find the Globe urging its friends to still
further oppose that scheme; and, sir, we have had arraigned against us
the opposition of those who usually ally themselves against the govern-
ment, supported by those gentlemen of the opposition many of whom owe
their election to sectional cries. (Cheers.) We have met them, and it is


said that we have met them with money. 1 believe that the gentlemen
-?ite spent two pounds to our one. (Opposition cries of u no, no.") I
challenge the hon. gentlemen to have a committee on this subject. Let
us have a committee. (Ministerial cheers.) I read the speech of the hon.
member for South Bruce at London, and he suggested the appointment of
■ statutory committee. In God's name, let us have it ! Let us have a
committee of three, to go from county to county, from constituency to
constituency, and lot them sift these matters to the bottom, and I tell you
on my honour as a man, that 1 believe I can prove that there are more
who owe their elections to money on that side of the house than on this.
I ministerial cheers. If I be challenged, I can go into detail. I can
sh<>w, and I can prove it, that many members owe their election to money,
and to money alone. I challenge the hon. gentlemen to agree to the ap-
pointment of a committee, • statutory committee, as suggested by the
hon. member for South Bruce. Lot us put the names of the judges of all
the provinces into ■ bag, and draw out three nanus, who shall form the
committee. (Cheers.) As I stated in my evidence and 1 hope my evi-
dence has been carefully read by every member of this house — and I say
here, that I tried to be as full and frank as I could well be. I could not
help it if I was not subj. rigid cross-examination. I was e.v

the hon. number for Sheffield should be there to cross-

,:ue me — (cheers) — and 1 would willingly have answered his questions.
1 have little more to say than 1 said then. Sir, there was no sale to Sir

. Allan of any contract M (Cheers.) Consider for one mo-

ment, Mr. Speaker, how the OMettOod. rarliament had passed two acts,
t Canada and one for Lower Canada, and some two or
three subsidiary acts respecting branch lines. But we will leave these
out of the question, and will consider that there were two acts passed
— one for a company having its centre in Montreal, and the other
m Toronto. Now, sir, although there were Ontario gontlemen con-
nected with the Canada Pacific company, and although there were Que-
bec gentlemen d with the Lntorooetniri company, yet they
really acts promoted by men wbo have Ontario and Quebec interests on-
very one saw that th< ssentially sectional. Before parlia-
ment met, and before either act was passed, the cry was got up that the
ic people were desirous of obtaining the control of our rail-
way. At the first, Mr. Speaker, whin the tirst interview took place be-
tween the government and these gentlemen, 1 was very glad to see them.
We had passed in Ik? 1 the act that British Columbia should be a portion cf
the Dominion, and we had passed a resolution by which we wore to build

railway in ten years. It was understood, then, sir, that the whole


matter should stand over until the ensuing session, and that in the mean-
time the government should go on with the survey and be ready in 1872
with the plans. We got through the session of 187- and we commenced,
01 order to keep faith with the British Columbians, the survey, and I
think they will admit, and everyone must admit, that the greatest energy
and the greatest zeal have been exhibited in the survey, and that within two
years there has never been so much work so satisfactorily done as in this
railway survey by Mr. Sanford Fleming. (Cheers.) The survey mi
ing on, and in niidsmnnu'r and in the fall all the members of the govern-
ment were scattered looking after their several affairs, taking their little
holidays, and God knows the public men of this country have little enough
holiday. They were all scattered except Sir Francis Hincks and myself
when Mr. Waddingt<>n called on me. I had known the gentleman before,
and I much respected him. He said to me that there were some Ameri-
can gi d to see us about the railway. I said to him in my way.
" What a fool you were to bring them here. We can do nothing with
them." He was very much distressed, and said to me. " But you will
not refuse to see them." I said certainly not. The gentlemen then came.
and Sir Francis Hincks and 1 met them, and we talked pleasantly, and I
said to them that I was glad to see that American capital was looking for
investment in Canadian enterprises, but that it was altogether premature
as we could not then take any offers or suggestions, or take any action till
after we had met parliament. One of them remarked that they had evi-
dently been brought on a wild-goose errand, and they then went away.
This first brought to my mind very strongly the necessity for Looking oat
for our railway. Parliament had tied down our hands, and the railway
could only be built by a company, and there were no other means of car-
rying out the pledge with British Columbia, and I therefore immediately
addressed myself to the matter. And what did I do ? I spoke to all that
I could, as I have no doubt my colleagues did, and endeavoured to arouse
Canadians in the enterprise. I went to Toronto and saw Messrs. Mac-
pherson, Gzowski, Col. Cumberland, Mr. Howland and his son, and Good-
erham & Worts, and in fact every one, and endeavoured to induce them to
enter into the great enterprise. I told them as Sir Francis Hincks told
Sir Hugh Allan, that by law there was no other way of building the road
but by a company, and that they ought to get up a grand company, get a char-
ter and go to England for any capital they needed. As I went to Toronto,
Sir Francis Hincks went accidentally to Montreal, and told Sir Hugh about
the American gentlemen who had called on us, and the fault I found with
my friend Sir Francis, and which I ventured to tell him when he was a
member of the government was, that while merely attempting to stimu-


late Sir Hugh to go into the work, he had named to him that he had bet-
ter put himself in communication with the American capitalists. That
was the act of Sir Francis Hincks. That was his concern, and I would

Online LibraryJoseph Edmund CollinsLife and times of the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald, premier of the Dominion of Canada → online text (page 52 of 57)