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proper that its effects upon the interest of this
country should be considered. At least we
should have an organized committee that shall
have power to consider its bearing upon our
interests, whether it be for the purpose of making
a protest or for more decided action. It is
necessary that we should ascertain the full effect
of this measure when consummated, and that
it should be understood."

Had the committee been named, Banks would
probably have resumed the position of chairman,
and as such would have been charged with the
duty of drawing up the report, if the Augusta
resolutions had been sent to the committee
with an instruction.

A futile The house, however, took no action in the
move- direction desired by Banks; and in the senate 1

ment in

the sen- an attempt made by Simon Cameron, of Penn-
sylvania, was equally futile. Cameron was
desirous that the committee on foreign relations
should be instructed (i) to inquire "upon the
facts in respect to the design of foreign powers
to impose their systems of monarchical govern-
ment upon the people of this continent; " and (2)
to report "what action, if any, our government
should take to avert the inevitable consequences
of the further prosecution of such designs, and
to maintain for ourselves and for our posterity
the fundamental principles and objects of the

1 March 9.


original settlers of our country and the founders
of the republic."

Cameron also desired that the committee
should be "authorized and empowered to take
such measures as they may judge expedient and
necessary to collect and submit the facts for the
information of the government and the people."

Obviously the senator from Pennsylvania No men-
was anxious for a manifesto against Confed- onfed
eration. Few members of the senate shared eration
Cameron's apprehensions regarding the British !?
North America act; and no new duties were son's
thrown upon the committee on foreign relations annual
as a result of the resolution of which he gave
notice. President Johnson, Lincoln's successor,
did not even mention the Confederation of
Canada in the customary survey of the foreign
relations of the United States in his annual
message to congress on December 3, I86/. 1

These discussions in congress came after the What
British North America bill had been introduced l flu "
in the house of lords, but before it had been Derby
read a third time in the house of commons.
They could not have influenced Derby in offer-
ing the suggestion that the word "dominion"
be substituted for "kingdom" in deference to
American susceptibilities. But Derby and his
son, Lord Stanley, who was secretary of state
for foreign affairs, were only too well aware of

1 Cf. Congressional Globe , March 8 and 9, 1867. James
D. Richardson, Messages of the Presidents, VI, 558-581.



the extreme tension over the Alabama claims,
and of the outbursts it was provoking in the
Dominion United States. So were the Fathers of Con-
>f Canada f e( j erat i on wno na( j carr i e d the bill to London.
They accepted the premier's suggestion made
before the bill was introduced in the house of
lords; 1 and when the Earl of Carnarvon, the
colonial secretary, announced the title of the
new Confederation to the house of lords, at
second reading of the bill, he added, "It is a
designation which is a graceful tribute on the
part of the colonies to the monarchical principle
under which they have lived and prospered,
a principle which they trust to transmit unim-
paired to their children's children." 2

II. The Attitude of Parliament, the Colonial Office,
and the People of Great Britain towards the
New Dominion

Parliament There was no contention over the bill, either
British m t ^ ie nouse f lords where it was introduced, or
North in the house of commons. It was before the

America h ouse Q f J or( J s on l y f our d a y s< 3 Tn e house of

commons spent no longer time on it. 4 Additional
schedules were added by Adderley, under-
secretary for the colonies, when the bill was in
committee. But only one amendment little

1 Cf. George M. Wrong, "The Creation of the Federal
System in Canada," "The Federation of Canada," 22, 23.

2 H. L. Debates, February 19, 1867.

3 February 19, 22, 25, 26. 4 February 27, March 4, 7, 8.



more than a parliamentary draftsman's amend-
ment was made to the bill. This was the only
amendment made in either the lords or the
commons to an act which in the Pickering edition
of the British statutes extends to thirty-three
closely printed pages.

One member of the house of commons, Roebuck, NO
of Sheffield, regretted that the act did not create ^p" 5

. , r . . .. court

a supreme court, with junctions similar to those
of the supreme court at Washington. Cardwell,
who had been secretary for the colonies in the
Whig administration of 1859-1866, and who
from the front opposition bench helped Adderley
to pilot the bill through committee, answered
this objection. "As matters now stand," he
said, "if the legislature acted ultra vires the
question would first be raised in the colonial law
courts, and would ultimately be settled by the
privy council. No doubt it was a defect. But
the point had undergone consideration by the
delegates, who thought it would be better to
leave things in this state." 1

1 H. C. Debates, March 4, 1867. In the early years of
Confederation, when there were many questions at issue
between the dominion government and the governments
of the provinces, there was a movement at Ottawa in favor
of the creation of a supreme court. "It is worthy of con-
sideration," wrote Sir John Young, governor-general from
1868 to 1869, to the Earl of Granville, then secretary of state
for the colonies, "whether it would not be expedient to
establish a tribunal with powers analogous to those of the
supreme court of the United States, for the decision of all



Fathers of

of consti-
given a
free hand

Viscount Monck had succeeded Head in 1866
as governor-general. Monck, like Head, did
all that was constitutionally possible to forward
Confederation, and he has a distinguished place
in Canadian history for his services in the crisis
of 1864-1867. But the task of framing the
resolutions on which the British North America
act was based the task so successfully per-
formed at Quebec in October, 1864 was
achieved by the thirty-three men who in Canada
today are always spoken of with veneration as
the Fathers of Confederation. 1

There was no steering of the Quebec conven-
tion by any representative of the colonial office.
About this time an act was passed by the imperial
parliament empowering all legislatures in colonies
with representative and responsible government
to amend their constitutions as they deemed
expedient. At Westminster, Confederation was
regarded as a matter which concerned the British
North American provinces. Consequently the
questions of constitutional law and conflict of jurisdiction."
"I see no reason," wrote Granville, on May 8, 1869, "for the
establishment of such a tribunal. Any question of this kind
could be entertained and decided by the local courts, subject
to an appeal to the judicial committee of the privy council;
and it does not appear in what respect this mode of determi-
nation is likely to be inadequate or unsatisfactory." Ses-
sional papers of Canada, 1870, No. 35, 4-5.

1 A complete list of the Fathers of Confederation, with the
names of the provinces they represented at the Quebec con-
vention, is given on pages 121-22 of Audet's "Canadian His-
torical Dates and Events."



Fathers of Confederation were given a free hand.
Their mission at Quebec was to agree on a plan
which would bring the provinces into union, and
they went about their great task with the confi-
dent feeling that their plan would be promptly
accepted by the colonial office and by parliament
at Westminster.

At the Quebec convention the United Provinces Fathers
were represented by twelve delegates; Nova f
Scotia by five; New Brunswick by seven; Prince eration
Edward Island by seven; and Newfoundland by who rank

as states-

two. Of these thirty-three delegates, the men
who achieved greatest distinction from their
part in bringing about Confederation, and from
their subsequent careers in the political life of
the Dominion, were Alexander Tulloch Gait,
George Brown, John Alexander Macdonald, and
Oliver Mowat, of Ontario; George Etienne
Cartier and Thomas Darcy McGee, of Quebec;
Charles Tupper, of Nova Scotia; and Samuel
Leonard Tilley, of New Brunswick.

England watched with appreciative interest NO party
the conventions in Charlottetown and Quebec contr -
which led up to Confederation. At Westminster over
the British North America bill aroused no party B> N> A '

* act at

controversies. At this time the people of the West-
United Kingdom were engrossed by the fortunes minster
of the bill of the Derby government extending
the parliamentary franchise in the boroughs,
the first extension of the electoral franchise
since 1832, and, moreover, in 1867 the era of



popular indifference to oversea possessions had
not yet come to an end.

Popular The popular attitude towards Confederation
J^Great was well expressed by the Times, in its survey
Britain of the year. "India and the colonies," reads a
Confe? P ara S ra P n m tms survey, "have enjoyed an
eration unbroken tranquillity. The British provinces of
North America have formally assumed the title
of the Dominion of Canada, and the experiment
of confederation or union promises favorably.
The colonial office, once the most onerous depart-
ment in the imperial government, is now, in
great measure, relieved of its legislative and
administrative functions." l

Confed- How the creation of the Dominion was regarded
by the Derby-Disraeli government may be
point of judged from the queen's speech at the end of
Derby- t ^ ie sess ^ on ^ tne imperial parliament of 1867.
Disraeli "The act for the union of the British North
American provinces," it read, "is the final
accomplishment of a scheme long contemplated,
whereby these colonies, now combined in the
Dominion, may be expected not only to gain
additional strength for the purposes of defense
against external aggression, but may be united
among themselves by fresh ties of mutual interest,
and attached to the mother-country by the only
bonds which can effectually secure important
dependencies, those of loyalty to the crown and
attachment to the British connection." 2

1 Annual Summaries Reprinted from the Times , I, 266.

2 H. L. Debates, August 21, 1867.




/CONFEDERATION involved quite impor- changes
\^4 tant changes in political organization for to lltlcal
the provinces which came under the terms of the organ-
British North America act Ontario, Quebec, *^ n ce f
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward
Island, and British Columbia. These changes
were necessary because each province had thence-
forward to elect two groups of parliamentary
representatives; one for the Dominion house of
commons, and the other for the provincial legisla-
ture; and also because each of the provinces at
Confederation ceded some of its powers to the
Dominion government.

After Confederation the relations of the colonial colonial
office in London were only with the government ^ e
at Ottawa, and not with the five provincial changes
capitals, as in the period from 1846 to 1867. J*^ d
Except for this fact, and for the fact that after eration
1878 an end was made in practice to the reserva-
tion of bills by the governor-general, 1 it cannot be
said that there was any change in the relations
between the government in Canada and the im-
perial government at Westminster.

1 Cf. Z. A. Lash, "The Working of Federal Institutions
in Canada." "The Federation of Canada," 80-85.

[211 ]


Few new Power was given in the British North America
accraeto act to ^ e Dominion parliament to create new
Dominion provinces out of the territories lying between the
Great Lakes and the Rocky Mountains a
power which was exercised in 1870, when Mani-
toba was organized as a province, 1 and again in
1905 when Saskatchewan and Alberta were
created. Otherwise it cannot be said that any
additional freedom or any important new powers
accrued to Canada at Confederation,
why In the period between 1841 and 1867, as has

6 wers W been shown in the preceding pages, the govern-
ment at Whitehall had, sometimes promptly
and cordially, sometimes tardily and grudgingly,
conceded everything that had been asked by the
United Provinces and the Maritime Provinces.
It had conceded so much, and had obtained so
little in return, that in September, 1866, when
the Derby government was faced with the
problem of the defense of the British North
American provinces, Disraeli, who was then
chancellor of the exchequer, deemed that the
time had come for reconsidering the position
of the British government in relation to these
outlying portions of the empire. "We must,"
he wrote to Derby, "consider our Canadian
position, which is most illegitimate. An army

1 Note also an act respecting the establishment of prov-
inces in the Dominion of Canada, which received the royal
assent on June 29, 1871. British Statutes, 34 and 35 Viet.,
c. 7 8.



maintained in a country which does not permit
us even to govern it! What an anomaly!" l

Long before Confederation the British North Auton-

American provinces had secured nearly all the es- om f, of


sentials of autonomy. They had obtained nearly before
all the powers they could ask or expect, if they ^^J"
were to remain of the British Empire and under
the British crown. They all enjoyed representa-
tive and responsible government. Each since 1859
had been almost completely master of its own
fiscal system, although only Ontario and Quebec
had used this power to levy protective duties on
imports from the United Kingdom. All, except
British Columbia, had enjoyed the right of
reciprocal trade with the United States, and had
received from the United States, in return for
adequate concessions made by the United Prov-
inces and the Maritime Provinces, tariff con-
cessions which were denied by the United States
to Great Britain.

The imperial government in 1850-1854 had Partial
greatly exerted itself through its minister at ^^"
Washington, and through Elgin, the governor- power
general, to secure reciprocal trade between the xercl
United States and the United Provinces, the provinces
Maritime Provinces, and Newfoundland. But ta 1854
the terms and conditions of the treaty were left
to the statesmen of the provinces to determine
as seemed best for the interests of the provinces;
and so far as the British government was con-
i Buckle, IV, 476.


cerned the treaty might have been continued
indefinitely so long as the British provinces found
reciprocity to their advantage, as they un-
doubtedly did from 1854 to I866. 1

Fewer All the provinces before Confederation pos-

instmc- sess ed the power to amend their constitutions as

tions to

governors- their legislatures might deem advisable. Before
Ste^Li Confederation there had also been far-reaching
modifications of the instructions given to
governors-general and governors on their appoint-
ment to the capitals of the provinces. These
modifications were necessary owing to the large
measure of home rule enjoyed by all the provinces
between 1841 and 1867.

Fewer The classes of bills that might be reserved for

reserved transmission to the colonial office before approval
by the governor-general, or the governors of
British Columbia, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick,
and Prince Edward Island, had, in consequence
of the larger measure of home rule, also been
much restricted, thereby increasing the powers
of the legislatures and the authority of the
cabinets. There were, therefore, few new powers
to be asked from the imperial government by
the Fathers of Confederation.

Powers The fullness of the concessions to the old
accruing British North American provinces was made
Dominion obvious by half a century's experience of the
IBS? to working of the British North America act.
1914 i Cf p orr itt, "Sixty Years of Protection in Canada,"


[2I 4 ]


From 1867 to the outbreak of the war in 1914,
the imperial government was even more ready
to make concessions than it had been from 1840
to Confederation. The growth and development
of Canada created new needs, needs which had
not existed when there were not more than
two or three million people in all the British
North American provinces. But in these forty-
seven years 1867 to 1914 the Dominion
had sought, had had bestowed on her, or had
asserted, only six rights or powers which had not
been enjoyed by the United Provinces and the
Maritime Provinces between 1859 and 1867.

The rights thus obtained by the Dominion Treaty-
between 1867 and 1914 were (i) the right to "^^
make her own tidewater coastwise navigation fully
laws a right first exercised in 1870; l (2) the ^~ d
right of the Dominion cabinet to veto a nomina- in 1907
tion to the office of governor-general a right
that has existed at least since i882 2 ; (3) the right
of the Dominion to direct representation on the
judicial committee of the privy council at White-
hall a right first exercised in 1897, when Sir
Henry Strong, then chief justice of Canada, took
his seat on the judicial committee; (4) the right
of the Dominion to decide whether it will be a
party to treaties made by Great Britain, a right

1 The United Provinces were conceded the right to make
their own inland coastwise navigation laws in 1847.
8 Cf. Bruce, II, 205.


enjoyed since 1872; l (5) the right of the Dominion
to make her own immigration laws, and to exclude
paupers and other undesirables from the United
Kingdom or elsewhere in the British Empire
a right first asserted and exercised in 1904; and
(6) the right of the Dominion to appoint her own
plenipotentiaries for the negotiation of commercial
treaties and conventions a right partially
conceded as early as 1870, and fully conceded by
the imperial government in 1907 . 2

I. The Cost and Advantages of Federal Union
Mac- The British North America act of 1867 estab-

prefer-' 8 nsne( ^ a federal as distinct from a legislative
ence for union. Macdonald, one of the Fathers of Con-
^deration, who was the first premier of the

1 At the present time the British government never nego-
tiates a treaty without putting in a stipulation that this
treaty does not apply to Canada, or any of the self-governing
dominions, unless they are willing to be bound by it. Speech
by Sir Wilfred Laurier at Simcoe, Ontario, August 15, 1911.

2 It may be briefly noted that growing out of the war, and
out of the prompt and self-sacrificing part that Canada and
the other oversea dominions took in the defense of the empire
and of civilization, the Dominion of Canada, the Common-
wealth of Australia, the Dominion of New Zealand, and the
Union of South Africa were in 1916 claiming a part in formu-
lating the foreign policy of the empire. (Cf. Quarterly Re-
view, July, 1916, 266-282.) It was urged that foreign policy
and imperial defense must no longer be determined by the
cabinet which is chosen only from the British parliament,
and maintained in power by a majority in the house of
commons at Westminster.



Dominion, would have preferred a legislative
union; 1 and Macdonald did not lack support for
this preference in the legislature of the United
Provinces. Most of the advocates of legislative
union urged it on the ground of economy.

Had such a union been possible, economy case
might have resulted; for with nine provincial f *
legislatures, and as many provincial capitals and utive
governments, in addition to the Dominion par- union
liament, the Dominion government, and the
Dominion capital, Canada, on the basis of its
population and its normal expenditures on de-
fence, is the most expensively governed country
in the English-speaking world.

A legislative union might have greatly hin- Eastern
dered the development of political civilization in ^ stera
the newer provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Canada
and Alberta. East and west are even more
accentuated in Canada the difference is more
obvious than in the United States. As regards
political thought and tendencies, a Canadian
from any one of the four provinces east of the
Ottawa River enters into another world when he
crosses the "Bridge," and settles in rural Mani-
toba, Saskatchewan, or Alberta.

1 "Federalism in 1861 had received a staggering blow
by the apparent breakdown of the American union and the
beginning of the civil war. This breakdown so impressed
the mind of Macdonald that he despaired of Federalism,
and had fixed his attention on a unitary system like that
of the United Kingdom." George M. Wrong, "The Crea-
tion of the Federal System in Canada," 14-15.


Peculiar A legislative union with a house of commons

ne airie f anc ^ senate > controlled by majorities from the

provinces five provinces east of the Great Lakes, would have

been a perpetual brake on the three prairie

provinces. It would have been a hindrance for

these provinces, on which in the second decade

of the twentieth century the material prosperity

of all Canada largely depended. 1

Taxation During their rapid development from 1905 to
?on\y Ce I 9 I 4 tne prairie provinces acted on the convic-
functions tion that taxation and police are not the only
ment Ven ~ functions of government. They developed poli-
cies in regard to public utilities grain elevators,
street-car lines, telephone systems, and water,
light, and power undertakings more in accord
with English and Scottish precedents than with
the precedents of eastern Canada or of the United

Federal Federal union has been costly and is still
costly to Canada, in view of its enormous area
its cost to and its comparatively small and scattered popu-
Canada l at i orh Federal union has its inconveniences
arising from some of the direct methods of taxa-
tion in use in the various provinces, and the
lack of uniformity as regards bankruptcy, usury,
and other laws directly affecting commerce. But

1 "The creation of western Canada is the most splendid
achievement of our life since 1867. The hope of that great
lone land has been realized beyond expectation." R. A. Fal-
coner (president of the University of Toronto), "The Quality
of Canadian Life," in "The Federation of Canada," 120.



no student of the political and economic and
social development of Canada since 1867 no
student who can survey the various needs and
economic and social characteristics of the nine
provinces of the Dominion will deny that
federal union has been, and is, worth all that
it has cost, that it is costing, and that it will
cost. Nor will he desire that Macdonald had
carried a union on the lines of his first plan and

A legislative union might today be possible Legisia-
for the prairie provinces, with little interference ^ onsl
with the federal system. A legislative union, Canada
it has long been contended, is possible for the jJ^JJie
Maritime Provinces, and such a union might be
much to their advantage. But experience from
1841 to 1867, and from 1867 to the jubilee year
of Confederation, has shown that a legislative
union was never desirable for the Dominion. 1

1 In the Mail of Toronto, of January 6, 1880, there was
a review of twelve years' working of the system of govern-
ment that was established in 1867. "The local system,"
it read, "has been in existence only twelve years. During
that time it has, on the whole, worked well. Certainly it
will not be contended that the business of the province of
Ontario would have been transacted as well or more cheaply
by a legislative union. The bitter experiences of the politi-
cal vendetta that rent Upper and Lower Canada, and made
the union of 1841 a grim satire on unity, ought to satisfy
every thinking man that such a form of government is not

Online LibraryEdward PorrittEvolution of the Dominion of Canada; its government and its politics → online text (page 14 of 34)