Anti-Confederation Petition
from Nova Scotia

House of Lords, London, England

6 July 1868

“Motion for an Address”

(12,882 words)

Also see:  Anti-Confederation Petition from Nova Scotia
House of Commons, London, England   16 June 1868


Anti-Confederation Petition
from Nova Scotia

          LORD CAMPBELL  My Lords, I have two Petitions – one from the Delegates, one from the Inhabitants of Nova Scotia, both for the same object – namely, the withdrawal

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of that colony from the operation of the recent Act on British North America – a withdrawal which would bring it into the same position as Prince Edward's Island and Newfoundland, since these are both attached to Great Britain as before, and able to join Canada whenever it seems good to them.

          Such is the aim of the Petitioners, but such is not the object of the Motion which I have the honour to submit.  It is for inquiry on the spot into the alleged dissatisfaction of the colony, with a view to avert risks which are not distant but immediate; above all, with a view to save Confederation from the blow which threatens its existence.

          Having last Session taken an humble part in supporting the demand of Nova Scotia for a respite until their General Election had occurred, I have been asked to bring the subject forward.  Delays have taken place for which I am not in any way responsible.  However trying to myself, they have this compensation – that we have still the freedom to deliberate upon the affairs of Nova Scotia; that it is not too late to guard against an error which might have been beyond the power of recalling.

          My Lords, amidst many circumstances of a nature to depress anyone who brings this question under the notice of the House, there is one at least of hope and of encouragement.  It is that no one is committed against the line of action I am going to recommend.  The despatch of the noble Duke the Secretary for the Colonies contains arguments against the Repeal of the Act on British North America, but none against inquiry.

          Neither the late Government nor the present, nor the noble Earl who introduced the Act, nor the noble Marquess who used to govern Nova Scotia, in the debates of last year advanced the startling proposition, that if discontent arose in any part of British North America which had been confederated, it should not be an object of inquiry by Great Britain.

          It is clear that where Confederation leads to discontent, its partizans are rather bound by self-respect to court inquiry than resist it.  Even if some weeks ago the Government concurred in a Vote of the House of Commons to withhold it, the aspect of the subject is now still graver than it was; and the well-known fact that such a Vote has aggravated the bitter feelings which existed in the colony, releases them from any obligation to demand its weak, subservient, and impolitic renewal of your Lordships.

          My Lords, it will greatly

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shorten the task I have before me, and thus diminish the fatigue which might arise from it, to place before the House the real issue in debate, and disengage it from the false issues which are too frequently confounded with it.

          Indeed, were this effectually done, my duty would be over; for if the proper issue is acknowledged, there can hardly remain a doubt as to the answer which it merits.

          My Lords, I therefore anxiously maintain that the issue is not as to whether British North America ought to be confederated.  I am ready to concede anything which noble Lords desire upon the subject.  It may be a sagacious policy to lay materials for balancing excessive power on the other side of the Atlantic.  Such instances as the Achæan League, the Swiss Cantons, the United Provinces of Holland, the great Republic of America, may show that, against considerable risks, a federated system can defend itself.

          As an exit to the difficulties which for some time hung over Canada, within certain limits, no doubt, Confederation is entitled to applause.  And if the object of our statesmanship is to pave the way for independence in British North America, Confederation very likely will accelerate it.  But let not this House be ensnared into a debate upon a question which is not now before them.  So, too, with regard to the preliminary circumstances by which Nova Scotia was included in the measure.  How far their people have been steady in their objects – how far their politicians have been uniform in language – are points just now entirely irrelevant.

          Let it be granted, if you will, that, in the face of a petition from 30,000 men for reference to the opinion of the colony, the Bill was not precipitately carried.  Your Lordships have not met to-day to explore the wisdom of the scheme, or to investigate its origin, or criticize its authors, but to consider how to meet an actual emergency.

          Does the existing discontent of Nova Scotia require conciliatory treatment – not from justice, but from prudence?  If it does, what treatment would be adequate is the only point which comes under the legitimate attention of your Lordships.  It will be incumbent upon me to give proofs of the existing discontent, and to place on a firm ground the necessity of meeting it at present; but it is better first perhaps to answer the question which must occur to every noble Lord – namely, what is the exact danger to be associated with it?

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          The answer to that question is too easy – the discontent points to separation, not from Canada, but from the Empire.

          Supposing that coercion was endorsed by public feeling in Great Britain – supposing it was not actually prohibited in the United States it would be certain to cause a flame of sympathy with the insurgents.  New Brunswick, adjoining Nova Scotia, would be most likely drawn into the current.  Maine is conterminous with the greater portion of New Brunswick.  Irregular support might very quickly pass over the boundary.

          The Government of Washington, however much it is esteemed abroad, at home is far from being omnipotent.  With the best intentions, they may soon become an object of remonstrance.  Remonstrance between Cabinets may end in war, and must in further alienation.

          War with the United States on many grounds is deprecated by Great Britain, but more especially on this one, that, unlike other wars, in whatever manner it results, it can never raise our influence among the countries which surround us.

          But if Nova Scotia is abandoned Halifax is lost.  On its value as a maritime and military post it would be presumptuous on my part to venture an opinion.  But on this vital point I have felt bound to refer to one of the most interesting documents colonial literature furnishes – the Report of the Select Committee on the Defence of the Colonies, appointed by the House of Commons in 1861, and for which the world is indebted to the labours of Mr. Arthur Mills.

          Before that Committee, the most distinguished men, political and military, united in a chorus on the necessity of retaining Halifax; and to that chorus I may give to the noble Earl who generally sits on the cross-Benches (Earl Grey) what may seem in his case the unaccustomed office of a Leader.

          Earl Grey, in his evidence, assigned Halifax to the same category as Malta and Gibraltar, a place important to our naval power, because fleets could be re-fitted there.

          The Duke of Newcastle, who a short time before had travelled in America, regarded it as valuable in the light of a military post, but still more in the light of a naval station, inasmuch as it is one of the finest, if not the finest, harbour in the world.

          Mr. Herman Merivale, whose name has been so long familiar to the public as a great Colonial authority, referred to Halifax as a stronghold for the protection of our commerce, and used that remarkable expression, that he deemed it

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a kind of insurance against war with the United States.

          These are politicians.  But Rear Admiral Erskine held that in the event of war with the United States, Bermuda and Halifax would be both of them essential.

          Rear Admiral Sir Charles Elliot thought Halifax the most important naval station of the Empire.

          Sir John Burgoyne considered the Mauritius, Bermuda, and Halifax, as all essential to our power, and acknowledged the importance which the navy habitually attribute to the latter.

          The loss of Halifax, under embarrassments which tend to involve us with the United States, might fairly be accepted as a second element of danger.

          The third is obvious in a moment.  If Nova Scotia violently left us, and became absorbed into another State, the rest of British America would not be easily defended.  At least Confederation would receive a blow which could not be repaired.  So long as she is yours, she can always form a part of any system you combine; when she has ceased to belong to you the combination cannot be restored, and the disruption is not temporary but eternal.

          My Lords, I have given a rough outline of the hazard we incur should the existing discontent become more serious and active.  I will now attempt to place the discontent beyond the range of incredulity.  The necessity of meeting it in no way depends upon the adequacy or inadequacy of its causes.  But by glancing at them for a moment, the House is better qualified, perhaps, to judge of its importance.  It appears to have arisen partly from these circumstances.

          In 1863, a General Election took place in Nova Scotia, at which the question of confederating British North America was never mentioned on the hustings.  It was understood to be dismissed, and did not therefore challenge any verdict from the Province.  The Assembly, which was thus formed, alone empowered Delegates to come over and assist in London to frame the Act on British North America.

          But the Delegates exceeded their authority when they committed Nova Scotia to a system which Prince Edward's Island and Newfoundland determined not to enter.  Unless supported by these maritime dependencies, Nova Scotia could not join a central body with advantage or with dignity.

          Another fact might by itself create a deep dissatisfaction.  Between 1863 and 1867 an organic change was carried in the right of voting at constituencies.  Organic changes of this kind, adopted after full debate, in

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any country, whether they form a democratic step or one which is not democratic, are an indisputable title to a new election before another great political conclusion is arrived at.

          But all the sanction, if there be sanction which Nova Scotia ever gave to the Act on British America, emerges from a Parliament whose basis was condemned, while the hostility surrounding it proceeds from the new electoral arrangements, which, in spite of a grave demand, we were not willing to refer to.

          As regards Canadian legislation, since the Act has worked, the greatest topic of complaint resides in the ad valorem duties which have been raised to 15 per cent.  Such a measure, however requisite for Canada, whose revenue arises from these sources, is not the less repugnant to a colony, which aspires to Free Trade, which scatters vessels among all the harbours of the world, and which depends on imports and on exports.

          But there is something deeper than commercial regulations to explain the variance we have to deal with at this moment.  To those who have traced its history, however superficially, it is known that Nova Scotia leans towards Great Britain.  From the time of James I the people have been uniformly loyal.  In the war which founded the United States, in that of 1812, in all the Canadian rebellions, they have been unmoveable in their allegiance.

          Not contemplating separate existence, they desire to prolong and strengthen their connection with this country – their views, their objects, and their interests are British.

          If we may judge it by the language of its founders, the new Dominion has an opposite propensity.  If we may judge it by its recent indications, the ties which bind it to this country may dissolve at any moment.  The ideas of a dominion in the ordinary course of things would undermine the faith of a dependency.

          Clinging to the Empire, Nova Scotia cannot easily or quickly be transformed into an harmonious part of an amalgamated whole, which was rather framed to quit, which has not shown at least a disposition to adhere to it.  My Lords, the evidence of discontent may very rapidly be stated.  The only difficulty is in choosing illustrations or deciding which ought to be first presented to the House.  When the Act on British North America was carried, it was necessary to send nineteen Members to the general and thirty-eight to the local Parliament, under the new franchise.  Of these only four support Confederation; the remainder,

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both at Ottawa and Halifax, have actively opposed it.  The debates which took place in the latter town last January are the index of what is felt in Nova Scotia.  No one who has not read can thoroughly appreciate the unanimity, the indignation, and yet the loyal confidence in British justice which pervades there.

          Twenty-eight speeches were pronounced in favour of repeal, and one in answer to them.  The debates led to Resolutions against the Act on British North America, which have been embodied in an Address to the Crown.  They led to the appointment of the Delegates who have been in London since the spring to demand redress for Nova Scotia.

          After referring to these regular and constitutional expressions of opinion, it is superfluous to mention the public meetings which have taken place against Confederation in every county of the Province.  Agitation does little to enhance the facts I have adduced, but it is sufficient proof that the new Parliament has not misrepresented the opinions which surround it.

          The existing sentiment is forcibly betrayed by this remarkable occurrence – the Canadian Government during the present year, are not prepared to call out the Nova Scotian Militia.

          But if your Lordships want a crowning proof of discontent, you have it in this manner.  Although for months the Delegates have been in London, using every effort which was open to them to enlist on the side they were commissioned to espouse, the feelings of this country; although their labours have been known to every man in Nova Scotia no kind of counter delegation, or petition, or voice, or whisper has been heard of, and there has been no attempt to interrupt their progress or to balance their authority.

          By every form of Parliamentary and public demonstration the undivided feeling of the colony has been pronounced against the union with Canada.  But in point of fact, my Lords, the dissatisfaction will not be contested, and there is no occasion to bring it in its full proportions under the notice of the House.  The ground invariably taken by the rash advisers who stand in the way of all conciliation at this moment, is that the feeling which sent the Delegates over the Atlantic will pass away so rapidly that it is useless to allay it.

          No man who is not gifted with the prescience which belongs to the Creator could guarantee such an event, and it would be infatuation therefore, to rely upon it.  But will the House permit me to explain to them with what rapidity the discontent

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must pass away, in order that this arrogant and empty calculation may be a pretext for the conduct it encourages.  The local Parliament of Halifax meets again on the 8th of Angust.  With a view to join its proceedings, the Delegates on Saturday embarked for Nova Scotia.  The same Members will assemble there whose Resolutions led to their appointment.  The twenty-eight speakers, whose language found an echo in the colony, will again be present.

          The Assembly must again consider its position.  It must either turn its back upon conclusions the most solemn, or be forced into reluctant opposition to this country, unless in the meanwhile something has been granted to it.

          The point to be considered is, will the discontent have passed away before the 8th of August if it has not been assuaged?  Will it pass away before that moment, if everything has been done which can be done to aggravate and to embitter it?

          My Lords, this circumstance suffices to establish the urgent and immediate want of some conciliatory measure to guard against irreparable differences, which a few weeks may bring about, whether the discontent is doomed to last, or springs from causes utterly ephemeral and fugitive.  I am not, therefore, bound to measure its duration beyond the moment I have pointed to.  At that moment it may lead to steps which cannot be receded from.

          In the meanwhile we have no neutral path.  We act before the world – 400,000 men are looking to our sentence.  Unless by granting we abate the discontent, we must inflame it by refusing.  It is, therefore, unnecessary to show what I have shown incidentally – that its foundations are rather durable than, transitory.  It is unnecessary to overthrow the idle theory which sciolists have mooted – that populations are always reconciled to unions which they regard with horror; at the outset; a theory which may have been suggested to them by a well-known character of Sheridan, in "The Rivals," – Mrs. Malaprop, – who laid down "That the best marriages were those which began with a little mutual aversion."

          I need not remind the House that in 1830 Holland and Belgium did break loose from one another, and that some centuries before Spain and Portugal were not long combined under one sceptre.

          I need not maintain either what I should maintain without fear were it incumbent on us that the union of States, and federation of dependencies, do not fall under one law and cannot be

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confounded in their probable development.  A mass of argument may be abandoned, which many of your Lordships would have felt bound in my position to adduce, if you will only bear in mind that the Business of the Empire, with a view to its security, is to remove the state of feeling which pourtrayed itself at Halifax, in January, before it has in August the opportunity of ripening to danger.

          Without some conciliatory measure you are not entitled to assume, you have not any shadow of a reason to suppose that it will vanish before August.  What that measure ought to be is the only further point to be determined by your Lordships.

          My Lords, the inquiry which I move for – the repeal which the Petitioners declared are the conciliatory measures which present themselves.

          And, although I will not admit that the withdrawal of Nova Scotia from the union could be attended with any greater disadvantages than attach to the present isolation of Prince Edward's Island and Newfoundland, I will admit that the time has not arrived for altering the Act on British North America, however recklessly adopted.  Canada has sent a representative to deprecate it; to grant nothing to Canadian views might be as far from prudence and reserve, as to grant everything to Canadian views would be remote from magnanimity and justice.

          When two colonial interests are rivals before Parliament it is not desirable that either should be allowed to trample on the other.  To guard as far as possible against Canadian resentment or Canadian embarrassment, inquiry on the spot may be a requisite preliminary to any alteration in the Act on British North America.  We know because the delegates assured us that Nova Scotia would accept it as a guarantee for the removal of the evils under which they labour at this moment.

          Indeed, an instant change in the Act on British North America could not be effected.  It can only be brought about by an Imperial enactment which the present state of Public Business in the Houses would forbid.  Inquiry is therefore the alternative.  But I am far from wishing to contend that inquiry in any shape whatever would be equal to the danger which impends so nearly; or meet the agitated feelings of the colony as a substitute for the repeal which their Petition has demanded.

          An inquiry conducted by a new Governor General of Canada – and something of the kind has been alluded to – passing Halifax upon his route to Ottawa,

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would no doubt be taken rather as a mockery than a concession.  He could only be regarded as the living organ of the power against which Nova Scotia is inflamed.  Whatever labour he employed, he must either come to one conclusion or encounter a resenting interest in Canada, to paralyze the very functions he was sent out to discharge.

          If superhuman virtue rendered him impartial, impartiality would never be ascribed to him.  And supposing him, on just and proper grounds, to hold that Nova Scotia ought not to share the independence of Prince Edward's Island and Newfoundland, his report would simply excite distrust, while our object is not only to arrive at truth, but recommend it to the colony.

          The presence at Halifax of such a man with such a duty would be more likely to accelerate a riot than prevent one.  But a Commission sent out from this country for the bonâ fide purpose of inquiry, and not identified with Canada, would have several distinct effects which ought to be presented to your Lordships.  It would at once create a breathing time and respite.  It would at once suspend the animosity which threatens us.

          We should no longer have to fear a hostile resolution from the Parliament at Halifax, of such a kind as to produce a grave Imperial dilemma.  No disaster could arise until inquiry was exhausted.  So far the Delegates assure us.

          Another practical effect of such a measure would be to draw out, if it exists, from the hiding-places which conceal it, the Nova Scotian party who support Confederation.  The apparent unanimity against it would be severely tested.

          It would also have a salutary influence in Canada.  Whatever can be done by the Canadian Legislature to remedy the discontent of Nova Scotia, would be done with zeal where Great Britain had determined to examine it.

          Inquiry of this nature, therefore, tends at once to disperse the cloud which hangs over a portion of the Empire and to elicit all the agencies by which the Act on British North America may possibly be vindicated.

          The kind of objections with which it has hitherto been met are such as I hope to hear tonight, because objections of a certain character do more than anything to confirm impartial men in favour of the course which they endeavour to disparage.  They are nothing but a delicate avowal of logical resistance in extremes, and rather signals of distress than tokens of hostility.

          It has been said that an inquiry into the discontent

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of Nova Scotia would disturb the Government of Ottawa, and it might have been alleged at the same time, perhaps, the Government of Pekin.  The Government of Ottawa must be frail indeed if such a measure would endanger it.

          The inquiry would first take place in Nova Scotia; it might be useful to extend it to New Brunswick.  Canadian views might be effectually sounded at Toronto and Quebec, and the Commission need not go to Ottawa at all, if it was dreaded as the nurse of factions hostile to the Government.

          It has been said that Great Britain has renounced her title to examine the complaints of her dependencies, even when they call on her to do so; but it has never been pointed out at what time or in what manner to such shadows are men driven when they oppose a course of which they see the policy and justice.

          We are sometimes warned that an inquiry would inflame or agitate the colony as if it could be more unsettled than it is, when all its constitutional authorities protest against the system you impose; and when you cannot arm its population with impunity.

          The most ingenuous and startling objection is that inquiry must lead to the withdrawal of Nova Scotia from the Union.  The supporters of that Union betray a modest estimate of their production, when they avow that the moment you explore, Nova Scotia must be separated from it, and that to probe their wrongs is but another term for acquiescing in their remedy.

          My Lords, I disclaim the admission that repeal would be the unavoidable conclusion of inquiry.  But if it is, what are we to think of those who venture to withhold it, and yet maintain the act they think it certain to expose, so far as it governs the relations of Nova Scotia and Canada?

          What objection can remain, then, to a course so moderate, so constitutional, so necessary?

          Shall we be told it is unprecedented?  I am not quite certain that it is, or that when the troubles of America began between 1765 and 1795 a Commission of some kind was not appointed to compose them.  But if the measure is unprecedented, it is because at that conjuncture it was wanting.

          And ought that to be regarded as a final argument against it?  My Lords, had it been resorted to, blood might never have been shed at Lexington, or Congress met at Philadelphia, or the name of Bunker's Hill have become familiar to the world.  Had it been resorted to, we might not have now observed a stream of bitterness directed

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towards Ireland, a rival on the ocean, and in the torn remnant of our North American possessions a greater source of danger than of power.

          If, indeed, the measure is unprecedented, and if the absence of the precedent has led to these results, what fact could lend a weight more tragic and convincing to the case of those who urged it now upon the Legislature?

          My Lords, I ask your Lordships to adopt it, not because its omission in former times has been the source of griefs impossible to number and evils yet to come, but because it meets the exigency of the moment – because it involves the imminence of action where inaction would be fatal – because you cannot do less to encounter Nova Scotian discontent; and you must do something to encounter it, or be prepared to add the burden of a colonial and international embarrassment to the tasks of an exhausted Government and deeply agitated time.

          Beyond this, I recommend it to your Lordships because, as far as I can judge, you have two objects – to uphold Confederation, to keep Nova Scotia in the Empire; and because it is the single path by which those objects can be compassed.  The noble Lord concluded by moving –

"That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty to appoint a Commission to proceed to Nova Scotia for the Purpose of examining the Causes of the alleged Dissatisfaction, with a View to their Removal." – (The Lord Stratheden.)

          THE DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM My Lords, I cannot refrain from expressing my regret that the Motion of the noble Lord, which has been so long on the Notice Paper of the House, has not been brought to an issue at an earlier period after the discussion on the question in "another place," and before the Delegates from Nova Scotia and the other Provinces, who came over to watch the proceedings in this country on behalf of their respective interests had departed.

          It would have been much better that this question should have been discussed, as I expected it would have been, almost simultaneously in both Houses, rather than that a long time should have been allowed to elapse between the two discussions, and that opportunity should thus have been afforded for the continuance of popular agitation and excitement on the subject.

          But in asking your Lordships to dissent from the Motion and to leave the matter in the hands of the Government my task is rendered

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easier by finding from the speech of the noble Lord that the course which has been taken hitherto by the Government has not been altogether unattended with beneficial results.

          The noble Lord pointed out – and justly pointed out – the danger of any policy which should not be shaped by the policy of conciliation.

          The noble Lord has omitted to point out the only strong demand made in the Petitions laid before the Parliament of this country by the Delegates who came from Nova Scotia to call attention to the injuries they apprehended from the measure of last Session; and the noble Lord, speaking as the advocate of those who placed their case in his hands, admits that the demand for the repeal of the Confederation Act, which alone was asked for in the Petitions first presented to this House, may now be dismissed from consideration.

          The noble Lord says the question is now one of inquiry into the depth, the extent, and the causes of the discontent which now prevails – as I admit it does; but I think the measures to be adopted depend greatly upon the grounds of that discontent and upon the extent of it.

          It seemed to me that the noble Lord avoided pointing out the full state of the case, as regards Nova Scotia.  He omitted to notice a prominent fact which it is right should be brought under your notice.  It is, that many of the grievances which had been anticipated from the union of the Provinces, and which did actually arise from the first action of the Canadian Parliament, and which were strongly dwelt upon in the Petitions first presented to this House, have been entirely removed by the action of the succeeding Parliament.  Some of those who in the recent election for Nova Scotia were returned avowedly to oppose Confederation, yet took a wise and politic course in announcing to their constituents that they would go to Ottawa and sec what the result of Confederation was.

          One grievance strongly dwelt upon was the increase of taxation in Nova Scotia from interference with its revenues; but the noble Lord did not point out that at the time of the Confederation, such was the financial condition of Nova Scotia from the pressure of loans becoming due, that it would have been necessary to increase taxation in order to meet its liabilities quite as much as it had been augmented by the Confederation with Canada.

          Nor has the noble Lord pointed out that the Confederation has resulted in the entire freedom of commerce from lighthouse

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and Customs' duties, and other restrictions to which it was formerly subjected.

          Noble Lords will find that the Parliament of Canada, so far from acting in a spirit of hostility or indifference to the Parliament of Nova Scotia or the maritime Provinces, has, in point of fact, laid down for itself a policy entirely to the contrary effect.  It approached the subject of the Dominion with no indication of a reckless desire to involve itself in a large expenditure for the benefit of Canada alone; but, on the contrary, the policy indicated by the Canadian Parliament was conciliatory to the maritime Provinces, and favourable to the interests of shipping and commerce.

          Indeed it seems to me that Parliament has, as far as it has gone, met the question in a fair and just spirit, and certainly up to the present time there has been no proceeding on its part which would justify the demand in Nova Scotia for inquiry.

          It is said, however, that the whole Province of Nova Scotia now demands an inquiry, and that it did at one time demand repeal of the Confederation.  But this I cannot admit to be the fact.  My judgment on this question is not based merely upon the representations of active and able Delegates, but I have endeavoured to ascertain, as well as I can, the real facts of the case.

          Now, it is a striking fact that, notwithstanding the complaints which have proceeded from Nova Scotia, at the General Election which, occurred after the Confederation had been, entered into, not one half of the votes in the Province of Nova Scotia were given in favour of the repeal of the Confederation.  This circumstance is the more remarkable when it is remembered that there had been a great agitation on the subject going on for a considerable period.  The whole constituency under the limited franchise recently introduced was 48,000 or more, while for the successful candidates who were opposed to Confederation only about 22,500 out of the entire number of 48,000 votes were polled.  Thus, it seems that, although there was a great change in the representation, there are no facts to show that the feeling in the Province against Confederation was by any means unanimous.

          Looking at the nature of the alleged grievances, I think the proper course to pursue was to allow the Canadian Parliament the opportunity of showing their determination to remove any grievances that might exist, and that they duly appreciated the importance to themselves of the hearty co-operation of the

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maritime Provinces, especially Nova Scotia, in establishing the Union.  I believe as time goes on the people of Nova Scotia will themselves doubtless arrive at the conclusion that, under the system of government that has now been inaugurated in regard to every branch of their commerce they are more favourably treated and better off than they would have been had they remained independent, or entered into a separate Confederation with Newfoundland or New Brunswick.

          The noble Lord has referred to a point which I believe was not very strongly dwelt upon by the Delegates themselves – namely, that the authority given to the Delegates by the Province of Nova Scotia, if given at all, was given only in respect of a Confederation in which they were to be one in five, and not one in three.  It is hardly necessary to dwell upon that point, because, whatever may have been the instruction originally given to the Delegates, the Government of Nova Scotia expressed their satisfaction at the Confederation Act after it had been introduced into the Imperial Parliament, knowing of course, that it would effect only a Confederation of a limited kind, in which neither Newfoundland nor Prince Edward's Island was included.

          I understand, however, that the only question now to be decided is what course ought to be pursued in order to allay the discontent which prevails among a large number of the people of Nova Scotia.  Now, under the circumstances I should deprecate such an inquiry as has been proposed by the noble Lord – not because there may not be a precedent for the adoption of such a course or because I am opposed to inquiry into grievances wherever a fair ground for it has been established, but because, in my opinion, the Nova Scotians will find that their true interest lies in their union with Canada, and that they are not suffering from the grievances so strongly set forth in their Petition which was presented at the commencement of this Session.

          The action of the Dominion Parliament will, I think, have very much altered their opinion on this point, and I trust the agitation will to some extent have subsided.  It is most important that the people of Nova Scotia should feel at as early a date as possible the beneficial effect of the various measures of relief passed by the Dominion Parliament.  I cannot but think that a Commission to inquire into these questions now, before any experience has been arrived at of the operation of the measure, would be

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calculated to excite false hopes, and to stimulate that discontent which no doubt exists, but for which, I think, there is no good reason – at all events, on the grounds now put forward.

          There has been another reason alleged why Nova Scotia is an unwilling party to the Confederation – namely, her ancient history and well-known loyalty towards England.  That, no doubt, is a feeling which ought not to be disregarded – a feeling which ought not to be lightly passed over; but in affairs of this kind we must look to the course of events generally.  In that Province the subject of Confederation was mooted several years ago; and her Parliament debated it, and confirmed the scheme of Confederation which was ultimately passed.  I think, therefore, we should pause before we take any steps which would cause hesitation in the minds of persons in Canada or other parts of North America who may be embarking in undertakings in Nova Scotia.  The policy of Her Majesty's Government has been to point out to the Province the various steps that have been taken to meet the grievances which have been alleged.  I cannot but think your Lordships will be of opinion that this is the more prudent course to pursue, and that you will refuse your consent to the Motion of the noble Lord for the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry into those grievances.

          For Her Majesty's Government I can only say that we shall proceed in a spirit of conciliation towards the Province, and use our influence with Canada in favour of a similar policy on the part of the Dominion Government.

          THE EARL OF CARNARVON My Lords, if any special responsibility in so great a measure as this can be said to attach to any individual, I presume that in this case that responsibility would attach to me; because it fell to my lot, when I filled the same position as that which my noble Friend who has just spoken now holds, to negotiate with the Delegates from North America the terms of the Union which was concluded by the Act of Confederation, and to submit that Act for the approval of the Imperial Parliament.

          My Lords, I think I may say there has rarely been any settlement so large in its operation which has more completely commanded the assent of all parties in this country.  The Act passed through both Houses of Parliament – I cannot say without a dissentient voice, but with very few dissentient voices indeed.

          At the same time I cannot

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for a moment allow that it passed without full consideration.  The question had occupied the attention of successive Governments here, as it had been fully discussed in the North American Provinces.

          It is no wonder that this should have been so, because the real question was whether a great country, ruled by the same Sovereign, animated by one feeling of loyalty towards that Sovereign, and – as the noble Duke has remarked – united by natural bonds of interest and designed by nature as one – whether that country should henceforward be consolidated, or should continue to be divided by those artificial divisions which man had set up.

          I hope I never disguised from Parliament that there was a considerable party in Nova Scotia opposed to the Confederation.  I did not conceal anything; I printed every statement on the subject, and even invited the attention of your Lordships to such opposition as did exist.

          What the character and extent of the opposition were was another question.  Parliament, having heard and seen all that had been said on the subject, decided in favour of the measure by no faltering vote; and I think the reasons on which Parliament decided were good and valid reasons.  If your Lordships allow me I will refer to dates in order to make the matter clearer.

          In 1861 – the question had been mooted before then, but I shall not go further back than 1861 – the House of Assembly in Nova Scotia declared in general terms its assent to a scheme of Confederation.

          Two years after, in 1863, a new Parliament was convened; and in the following year, 1864, there was a conference of Delegates.  First, Delegates of all the maritime Provinces met at Charlottetown, in Prince Edward's Island, to consider the question of a union of the maritime Provinces alone.  Subsequently the Canadian Delegates joined in; the conference was transferred to Quebec, and the Quebec Resolutions were the basis on which it was agreed that not one, two, or three, but all the five colonies should be united in a Confederation.

          In two years afterwards – namely, in 1866, the Parliament of Nova Scotia agreed to the Confederation, not in general, but in explicit and precise terms, and sent over Delegates to settle with Her Majesty's Ministers the terms of the Act.  Those Delegates came to this country, and it was my duty to confer with them.  In 1867 I introduced the Bill which your Lordships were pleased to pass, and which received the approval of the House of Commons

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also.  When the Act passed and went out to Nova Scotia, it was solemnly ratified by the Parliament of that Province.

          Immediately, however, on this another disolution took place and another Parliament was convened in Nova Scotia, and it passed Resolutions against the Act – Resolutions on which the Petitions presented by the noble Lord are founded.

          That was the course of proceeding.  But the noble Lord has said this evening, as he said last year, that knowing there was a certain amount of opposition to the measure, though the character and extent of that opposition were unknown, it was our duty to have tested the feeling of the Province by a dissolution.  On constitutional grounds, no doubt, I readily agree that it is never right to take any country or any body by surprise; but I should wholly demur to the doctrine that it is necessary to refer back to the constituencies each particular point, even though important, as it arises.  If that were necessary Members of Parliament would not be representatives of the people; they would be simply delegates.

          This has been repeatedly held by the highest Parliamentary authorities, from Mr. Pitt to Sir Robert Peel.  Parliaments that had sat several years, and had been originally called together for the discussion of other questions passed the Act of Union, Roman Catholic Emancipation, and the Repeal of the Corn Laws.

          But if you look to the peculiar circumstances of these colonies, I think you will find – I say it without any intention of offence – that these changes in public opinion, rapid in all popularly governed countries, are very rapid there; and on no subject have they been more rapid than on this question of Confederation.  In 1864 Newfoundland and Prince Edward's Island were favourable to some Confederation.  They assented to the Quebec Resolutions, which was a practical embodiment of the Confederation scheme, and which afterwards formed the basis of the Act.  Two years later those colonies opposed this principle, to which they had previously declared themselves to be favourable.

          In 1865 the colony of New Brunswick was opposed to Confederation.  In 1866 – the year afterwards – that colony having passed through one of those phases of opinion which frequently set in, was in favour of Confederation, and was incorporated under the Act of last Session.

          Therefore, I say it was not competent for Parliament last year to look behind

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the vote of those authorities who had agreed to the scheme of Confederation; it was not our business to disregard or put on one side the accredited envoys from those colonies to us.

          If there be one thing more than another which representative self-government of the colonies means, it is this – that the Home Government and the Imperial Parliament will only deal with the duly accredited agents of those colonies as representing the local authority, and the adoption of any other principle will lead us into very serious difficulties.

          The position of affairs last year was a very peculiar one.  Your Lordships will, doubtless, remember the Constitution by which Upper and Lower Canada were united.  No doubt, that proved in many respects very successful; but in other respects it had run itself out, and when Parliament passed that Act of last year it was perfectly evident to all parties that a dead-lock had arisen in the legislative machinery which governed the relations of Upper and Lower Canada, and that unless some remedy were applied great inconvenience must result.

          Nor let the House forget that just about the same time there was open and aggressive manifestation of Fenianism upon the border, and that the Fenians had carried fire and sword into an unoffending Province, and were keeping all things in a state of difficulty and disturbance.  And therefore it was that parties within the colony – men of all shades of political opinion, holding the most different views, and who for years, had been opposed upon questions of vital importance, made great sacrifices – sacrifices national, political, even religious in their character – and combined in one general policy which they believed to be for the safety and general welfare of the country.

          I think your Lordships cannot fail to perceive that if at such a moment we had allowed any delay in giving effect to what was the common desire, it must have had the effect of indefinitely postponing any settlement of this question.

          What is the demand put forward by the noble Lord opposite?  The noble Lord says it is the issue of a Commission of Inquiry.  But if your Lordships look at the Resolution of the Nova Scotian Parliament upon which that demand is based, you will see that it goes a long way in the direction of guiding the Commission to a conclusion, and indicates that Nova Scotia will be satisfied with nothing less than the repeal of the Confederation by which they are bound to Canada.

          We must all do justice to the ancient loyalty

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and high feeling of the Nova Scotians.  The noble Duke (the Duke of Buckingham) did no more than justice when he spoke of Nova Scotia as one of our most ancient and valued colonies, whose feelings towards this country have never for a moment been doubted or questioned; and I feel sure that Parliament, in dealing with a question in which their feelings are so deeply interested would wish to deal, not alone in the most kindly, but in the most respectful manner.

          At the same time, the Nova Scotians will well understand that in treating this question and arguing upon it we must deal with them as men of sense – not, I hope, giving them offence, but putting before them those solid arguments upon which the question rests.  Let it not for a moment be supposed that I contemplate the employment of coercion; I hold that such a word has no place whatever in the vocabulary of the relations that should exist between this country and the colonies.

          But, at the same time, speaking with perfect frankness and sincerity, I say that from one point of view the demand is premature, and from another point of view that it comes too late.  It is premature, because the Confederation which is complained of has not yet been in existence for a single twelvemonth, and, as the noble Duke pointed out, not one-half of the total electors have expressed their opinion upon it.  The total constituency amounts to 48,000 electors, and those voting for the repeal of the Confederation only amounted to 22,000 – there being, moreover, a very large minority of not less than 15,000 who threw their votes in favour of the maintenance of the Union.

          No Union, as far as I know, in the history of the world has ever worked quite smoothly in its commencement.  It could not, in the nature of things, be possible that it should do so.  More than once, certainly, after the Union of England and Scotland Motions were made for the repeal of that Union.  Yet no one doubts now with what incalculable blessings that Union was fraught to both countries, or how wise those statesmen were who turned a deaf ear to the temporary desires of the people.

          But in another point of view, this demand comes too late, for the Nova Scotians have elected their Members and sent them to the Parliament at Ottawa, upon a distinct promise that fair play should be given to the new constitutional Act.  It could scarcely be said that fair play had been given to it if, before twelve months are out, you are asked to repeal the measure.

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          And it cannot be forgotten that there would be the most serious practical difficulties in doing anything of the kind.  To begin with, Nova Scotia has already obtained a great many of the advantages of union; and even if she were ready to relinquish these, they are of a kind that cannot easily be put off.

          For instance, a sum of money has been already expended upon public works, not less, I believe, than 30,000 dollars upon the survey and location of the railroad.

          Again, the money securities of Nova Scotia, which before the Union were at a discount, have been so enhanced in value that they now – including discount and premium – equal a total rise of 10 per cent.

          If, then, you attempt to repeal that Act, you at once involve yourself in difficulties of a very serious character.  Again, I say the Nova Scotians must forgive me for speaking with perfect frankness; I do not think that their present demand is a reasonable one.  What is the claim which Nova Scotia and all the British North American colonies have invariably made upon this country?  It is that they shall be viewed and treated as integral parts of this great Empire.  And what has been the answer of one English statesman after another?  They have said to the colonies, "As long as you continue true to your allegiance – as long as you desire to retain your connection with this country – so long will we stand by you; no open aggression shall be made upon you, and not even the breath of insult shall pass over you."

          But, on the other hand, this promise was never made without an implied and tacit understanding on the part of the colonies that they should do their part in the matter; they have been told over and over again that they must organize and place themselves in a position which would be tenable and defensible in case of war.

          Well, what is that position?  All the authorities, military and civilian, are agreed in this – that the best and almost the only military organization which it is possible for these colonies to adopt is Confederation.  If that policy be applicable to any one of the colonies more than another, it is to Nova Scotia, which has been described by one of their own most able advocates as the frontage of the whole British North American Continent, whose harbours, citadel, and arsenal were not made for Nova Scotia alone; but were designed by nature for the common benefit of herself and of her sister Provinces.  But

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I know very well that it is said by some persons in Nova Scotia, "Nova Scotia has a peculiar geographical formation, of which, if she were disposed to take advantage" – I deny that she is disposed to take advantage it – "she could strengthen herself within that peninsula, and remain careless and secure while the lands of her sister colonies were desolated by war."

          I do not believe for one moment that the Nova Scotians – as loyal, as true, and as generous a people as ever lived – would recognize or admit such an argument, still less that they would stoop to so unworthy a policy.  But it is an argument which has been put forward by a narrow section, and it deserves to be met.  There was such a case before in the world's history about 3,000 years ago; it is one of the earliest wars that has been described, but its record still kindles enthusiasm when it is read, When the liberty and the civilization of Greece broke the whole force of the Persian invader, there was a peninsula within which it was proposed by a section, arguing in the same narrow spirit that the section of today argues, to intrench themselves, leaving the remainder of their countrymen to be decimated by war, and their lands to be wasted by a foreign enemy.

          Happily for the liberties of men, that fatal proposal was over-ruled; they fought and they conquered, and whom does history now delight to honour?  Those who made common cause with the rest of Greece and refused to be sharers in an ungenerous, unworthy, and selfish policy, or those whose conduct had then, and has been since, branded as false to the interests of Greece, of liberty, and of civilization? 

          I am satisfied that the same will be the case with Nova Scotia; that selfish considerations will not prevail, and that the arguments of a narrow section will not find favour.  It is unwise, it is unreasonable, for the colonies to expect us to make sacrifices for them if they are prepared in return to make no sacrifices for us.  I was glad to hear what fell from the noble Duke (the Duke of Buckingham) when he told us that the Parliament of Canada have shown every inclination to deal in the most gentle and conciliatory spirit with Nova Scotia.  In my opinion, in so doing they act rightly and wisely.

          Your Lordships and Parliament may do something, but the Canadian Parliament can do a great deal more in this matter.  The burdens they have struck off and the disposition they have shown to make

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allowance for the present feeling and irritation of the Nova Scotians evince a desire to do full justice to all Nova Scotian interests.

          But the question remains for us – can we agree to such a proposition as the noble Baron (Lord Stratheden) has brought forward?  I submit that you cannot do so.  In fairness to the whole Dominion of Canada you cannot re-open at the end of one year a question which would break up the Union.

          In the next place there is no precedent for such a Motion as this.  We are now asked to recommend the issue of a Commission of Inquiry to repeal a great constitutional measure which has not been in existence twelve months.  There is no precedent for this.  More than this, what we are asked to do is to place the Parliament and this country in a position of unparallelled indignity, and to confess that our whole colonial Empire is one gigantic failure.

          Time, which changes so many things, also heals many things, and I trust that it will heal the irritation which is felt in parts of Nova Scotia.  Of one thing I am satisfied, that we cannot take any hasty and precipitate step, and on the other hand, the Nova Scotians must remember that none can be exempt from difficulties, trials, burdens, and sacrifices who desire to maintain their position in that Imperial commonwealth to which they belong, and in the glory of which we are all common sharers.  I hope your Lordships will reject the prayer of this Petition.

          THE MARQUESS OF NORMANBY said, that with the personal feelings he entertained towards Nova Scotia no one could be more ready than himself to adopt any measure calculated to allay the irritation that existed, and to promote the interests of that colony.

          The noble Lord who brought forward the subject (Lord Stratheden) had greatly narrowed it by admitting that the repeal of the Union was not now the question to be discussed; but still he (the Marquess of Normanby) should not be doing his duty if he gave a silent vote on this Motion.

          The Petition was one of so extraordinary a character, having been signed by nearly all the Members of the local Legislature of Nova Scotia, that if he simply considered the interests of the Nova Scotians he should not hesitate, however much he might regret such a decision, to vote for the repeal of the Union.  But it was not the interests of Nova Scotia alone which their Lordships had now to consider, and he believed that the appointment of a Commission would

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only tend to increase the dissatisfaction and irritation now existing in Nova Scotia.

          What he hoped would occur to allay that irritation was a change of opinion on the part of the Nova Scotians themselves.  In small communities, where local interests were concerned, opinions were apt to be taken up suddenly, and these opinions were liable to sudden changes.  The noble Duke (the Duke of Buckingham) had referred to the case of New Brunswick.  The elections in 1855 resulted in an overwhelming majority against the Union; but within a year a large majority was returned in favour of the Union.

          Taking everything into consideration, and knowing the energy shown by the opponents of the Union; and how they had agitated the country from one end to the other – how they had predicted evils of every kind, and declared that the trade of Nova Scotia would be ruined by a hostile tariff, and that their Militia would be moved to the frontiers of Canada, to protect that Province – he was by no means surprised at what had occurred.  But he believed that as soon as the Nova Scotians found that these predictions had not been fulfilled, they would themselves acknowledge the wisdom of their Lordships in rejecting their present demand, and would be thankful for the opportunity of re-considering the matter more calmly.  He believed that the Canadian Parliament would be found willing and ready to redress any grievances of Nova Scotia which might be pointed out.

          He had foundation for this belief; for during the last Session several duties which peculiarly affected Nova Scotia were taken off; the duty on corn was modified, the tonnage dues for lights on the coast, and taxes on all the articles used in shipbuilding were repealed – burdens which affected Nova Scotia as a maritime Province.  Steps had also been taken to encourage the direct trade with the West Indies.

          Seeing what had already occurred in the Canadian Parliament, he was justified in believing that in future the Nova Scotians would be treated with generosity, with justice, and as an integral portion of the Canadian Dominion, and that in a short time they would themselves wonder at the opposition they had offered to the Union.  As in his opinion the issue of a Commission would only aggravate the evil, he should vote against the Motion.

          LORD LYVEDEN said, he in a great measure attributed the discontent that existed to the haste with which the Confederation

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Act was pressed forward by the noble Earl (the Earl of Carnarvon) last year.  Objection had been taken to the Irish Church being dealt with by a moribund Parliament.  Now, it was a moribund Parliament in Nova Scotia which sanctioned Confederation, and he last year pressed upon the noble Earl the important consideration that the elections were just coming on, and that it would be much better to delay the consideration of the subject until the opinions of the constituencies had been ascertained.

          That result proved to be adverse to the measure, but he thought the elections turned less upon Confederation than on another question on which a strong feeling prevailed.  He had always advocated Confederation, but such a measure should be based upon consent, and though he admitted that technically there had been consent, it would have been better to wait for the decision of the new Parliament, which he believed would not in that case have been so adverse.

          The discontent which existed was not to be allayed by telling the colonists that they were in the wrong and that the Canadian Parliament would hereafter grant them everything they required.  In conversation with the Delegates, he found that they complained especially of the want of sympathy manifested by the British Parliament, and he regretted that the noble Duke did not take advantage of their visit to this country to propose an Inquiry by a Committee of this House, for the Delegates would have gone away much better satisfied if their opinions had been put on record.

          They also complained that only ten Peers were present when the Confederation Act passed.  He had no doubt of the loyalty of the Nova Scotians, but he feared that unless they found themselves objects of sympathy and interest on the part of the mother-country they would turn their eyes to the United States.

          Now, while thinking that if our North American colonies chose to separate from us they should be allowed to do so amicably, he had no wish that they should throw themselves into the arms of the United States.  He regretted that the noble Duke had not uttered a word of conciliation.  Had he promised a Committee of Inquiry next Session, or given some assurance that their case would be considered, the colonists would have been move disposed to weigh the points which had been urged by him.

          To look to the Confederate Parliament for redress was the very thing to which they objected; for,

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while not disinclined to Confederation with the maritime Provinces, they protested against union with Canada, on the ground that the interests and feelings of Canada were hostile to their own.

          They held, moreover, that an undue burden would fall upon them with regard to the defence of Canada, which, in case of war, would be the first point of attack.  The experiment of Confederation must now be tried, and he trusted it would succeed; but it would have had a better chance of success had the language, not so much of the noble Duke as of his Under Secretary in the House of Commons, been more sympathetic and conciliatory.

          LORD LYTTELTON said, that bearing in mind the disclosures which had recently been made with regard to the Union with Ireland, and in other similar cases, he could not help suspecting that something occurred during the Session of the colonial Parliament in 1866 of which we were not cognizant.  It would be impossible, however, to inquire into secret proceedings, – if there had been any; and it would be contrary to the principles of our colonial policy to refer the question of Confederation to a Commission at the very commencement of its operation.

          He thought the colonists had cried out before they were hurt, for, with the exception of a slight increase in certain duties, they did not appear to have actually suffered, while they would no doubt be benefited by future legislation.

          As to the argument that the colonial Legislature had no right to overthrow its own Constitution, it did not do so, but simply expressed an opinion in favour of Confederation, while the Imperial Parliament decided upon the measure.  He must again express his regret that sufficient discussion had not taken place before the passing of the Confederation Act, and that a greater desire to conciliate had not been manifested.

          He trusted that every expression of sympathy would be used towards the people of Nova Scotia; and he, for his part, would not say that at no future time and under no possible circumstances should an independent Inquiry be undertaken by this country in the sense the people of Nova Scotia wished.

          He did not see any ground for supposing that the Parliament of Canada would not do justice to Nova Scotia, and therefore he would remit the petitioners to that authority.  As far as expressions of our sympathy went we should give them; but he would say that it was impossible for us at the present moment

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to consent to the prayer of the Petition.

          THE EARL OF AIRLIE said, the noble Lord who had spoken last but one (Lord Lyveden) had blamed his noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Carnarvon) for having been in so great a hurry, and stated that, as far as Nova Scotia was concerned, the Act of Confederation was passed by a moribund Parliament.

          But he begged to point out that the Parliament which had decided on the Act had been elected on a much wider franchise than the Parliament which now existed, and, therefore, as far as a wider franchise was a test, the late Parliament ought to be regarded as a better index of the popular will than the present.  This Act of Confederation had been in force only a few months, and he could not imagine why their Lordships should so stultify themselves as to re-open the whole question, or do that which the Province by its Delegates regarded as a preliminary step to a repeal of the Union.

          There never was an Act of Union which at once satisfied the people affected by it.  Let their Lordships take the Union of Scotland with England, and consider how much opposed to it the most patriotic Scotchmen of the day were.

          The same was the case with the Union of North Germany, which had been the dream of the most patriotic Germans for centuries, but which a great many Germans at present were not satisfied with.

          His noble Friend (Lord Lyveden) said he feared that if their Lordships did not immediately comply with the wishes of the Nova Scotians they would annex themselves to the United States.

          He (the Earl of Airlie) could not conceive that the Nova Scotians would be so blind to their own interests.  Did not his noble Friend know that the Nova Scotians were, above all things, a maritime and commercial people; that the trade of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick was largely a shipbuilding trade; and what was the condition to which those interests were reduced in the United States?  The United States, partly from financial necessity, partly from a sneaking regard for Protection, had piled duty upon duty upon copper, iron, hemp, and everything that enters into the construction of ships?  He believed that in New York there was not a single ship building at present, nor in Massachusetts, nor in almost any part of the Union.  They all knew that at this moment the shipbuilding trade of the United States had been transferred to the maritime Provinces.  Well, then, did his

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noble Friend believe that a people who were so much interested in shipbuilding as the Nova Scotians would annex themselves to the United Sates, and so ruin their trade?

          But it was not shipbuilding only, but almost every kind of manufacture that was in distress in the United States.  The iron manufacture of Pennsylvania, the woollen manufacture and the cotton manufacture of the New England States, were all reduced to the greatest state of depression; and did his noble Friend think that in such circumstances the people of Nova Scotia would throw themselves into the arms of the United States and reduce themselves to ruin?

          He agreed with his noble Friend and all who had spoken on the subject, that it was the duty of the Canadian Government as far as possible to conciliate the people of Nova Scotia.  Her Majesty's Government ought to make them clearly understand that the consolidation of the new Dominion must be the work of the Canadian Government much more than of Her Majesty's Government.  That new Dominion must be consolidated much more by affection from within than by pressure from without.  He hoped the Canadian Government would have the wisdom to see this, and also that if they were to become a great people they must disregard provincial prejudices.

          In London people never thought of inquiring whether a man had been born in Scotland, Ireland, or Wales; so in Ottawa he trusted that, provided a man had sufficient capacity to fill a public office, they would never inquire whether he came from the maritime Provinces or otherwise.  He believed the Canadians had the means of making their position so strong and so powerful as not only to overcome the discontent of Nova Scotia, but even to induce the people of Prince Edward's Island and Newfoundland to gravitate towards the new Dominion.

          THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE said, he should be glad if Nova Scotians would attend to the advice that had been given them by their Lordships, and admit that they were entirely in the wrong; but if the noble Duke the Secretary for the Colonies had read the protest which the Delegates who had lately gone from this country had left behind, he would not think that they would lightly abandon the pretensions which they had put forth.

          His noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Carnarvon) had vindicated his own conduct in passing the measure; but a little delay would probably have been found wiser in

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Anti-Confederation Petition
from Nova Scotia

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the end.  The noble Duke the Secretary for the Colonies had talked a good deal of the good that would hereafter result from Confederation; but neither his noble Friend nor the noble Duke had dealt with the discontent which, notwithstanding all that had been said, was almost universal in Nova Scotia.

          Now, how did they intend to deal with this discontent?  His noble Friend opposite had said, with that wisdom which he possessed in so high a degree, that coercion was a word he did not like to use between England and her colonies.  Both his noble Friend's historical recollections and his own inclinations would have made him averse from employing coercion towards the Nova Scotians; but his noble Friend could not deny that we had in a way coerced them into this union, and that we were now coercing them to remain in it.

          Now there could be no doubt that if anything in addition to the eloquence of noble Lords could convince the Nova Scotians how much they were in the wrong it would be a new inquiry.  The votes of the late elections showed what discontent existed.  Out of thirty-eight persons elected to the Provincial Parliament thirty-six had sent to this country an Address praying, not for inquiry but for repeal; and of the nineteen elected to represent the Province of Canada, seventeen were in favour, at all events, of a suspension of the Act of Confederation.

          Great importance must be attached to the possession of Nova Scotia, not only as a colony, but as containing at Halifax an important naval and military station, and as being, therefore, like Gibraltar and Malta, not a mere territorial possession, but a position essential to the maintenance of our maritime supremacy.

          We should be very cautious how we alienated the affections of these people.  It was very well to lay down what we considered was good for them but the question was rather what they thought was good for themselves.  They believed that this Union would injure them.  They might be excessively foolish in entertaining that idea; but as they did entertain it we should be exceedingly unwise to irritate them by disregarding their opinions.  We might need, sooner than we expected, the help of Nova Scotia in order to maintain our position in North America, and we should take care to retain her good-will and friendship.  In the reign of George III no doubt his Ministers thought the people of Boston unwise in objecting to the imposition of the tea duty; but that was not the way to deal with such a question.

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Anti-Confederation Petition
from Nova Scotia

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          He thought, therefore, that however difficult such an Inquiry as was asked for, it ought to be instituted.  The expense would not be great; and if it were true that the arguments were so strong in favour of Confederation, these would be elicited and would prevail; and we might hope to have a loyal colony instead of a discontented one.

          EARL RUSSELL Feeling that this question is one of the gravest importance, I wish to say a few words respecting it.  It appears to me that whatever mistakes may have been made hitherto – and mistakes there have been – what we have to consider is the present state of affairs, and the best thing to be done upon the noble Lord's Motion.  Now, looking at the facts of the case, I find that in 1863 the House of Assembly of Nova Scotia came to a Resolution that –

In the opinion of this House it is desirable that a Confederation of the British North American Colonies should take place.

          That, of course, implies a Confederation including Canada.  It is, therefore, too late now to say that they objected altogether to union with Canada.  Acting in conformity with precedent and with reason, I cannot say that that Resolution was not sufficient to proceed upon, and that there ought to have been a special Assembly called for the purpose of considering this question.  The Legislative Council were fully entitled to adopt the Resolutions to which they came, and their Resolutions are binding.  But then came a further Resolution, that it is desirable –

To arrange with the Imperial Government a scheme of union which will effectually insure just provision for the rights and interests of this Province.

          The question arises whether we have made sufficient provision for the rights and interests of the Province of Nova Scotia.  The colony has made a representation to the Imperial Parliament – and we all know that this has been an exceedingly loyal colony, and that it had rights and interests which it desired to preserve; and I think we shall all feel also that those rights and interests ought to be effectually provided for.

          The Province of Lower Canada had certain, rights and interests which were guaranteed by the Act of the Imperial Legislature, and these rights and interests were provided for in the Act of Confederation; and, in like manner, the Act of Confederation should have provided, and I trust did provide,

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Anti-Confederation Petition
from Nova Scotia

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for the rights and interests of the people of Nova Scotia.

          But then, when I am asked what is to be the remedy for any grievance which may be felt by the colony, and whether we should ask Her Majesty to send out a Commission for the purpose of inquiring into this matter, I should say that the Confederation having been made under the sanction of the Assembly and Council of Nova Scotia itself, the sending out of a Commission in order to inquire, in effect whether the Act of Confederation should be repealed and the Confederation altogether dissolved, would not be for the benefit of Nova Scotia or for the benefit of any of Her Majesty's subjects in British North America, but would merely be the introduction of new discord and new confusion into the Province.

          If that be the case, the only remedy I can see is that Her Majesty's Government, through the Secretary of State, should inquire most carefully into the complaints that are made by these loyal subjects of the Crown.  I myself have the greatest respect for the people of Nova Scotia.  We have seen how their industry has tended to the prosperity of that colony; we have seen, when parts of Canada were in insurrection, how true and how loyal the people of Nova Scotia were.

          I trust, therefore, that the noble Duke the Secretary for the Colonies will take pains to inquire into all these grievances and into all provisions which the colonists may think injurious to their interests; that having done so he will lay before Parliament the result of the inquiry; that Nova Scotia will understand that, having adopted the Confederation, we cannot depart from it; but that everything which concerns the rights and interests of Nova Scotia shall be abundantly provided for.

          I am sure that the Government, and all parties in this country, sincerely desire the welfare of Nova Scotia.  We desire nothing that can be incompatible or inconconsistent with the prosperity of the colony; our wish is that such grievances as she can show to exist should be speedily and completely redressed; and that Nova Scotia may remain, as she has heretofore been, a loyal and contented Province, a source of strength and an ornament to the Empire.

          LORD CAMPBELL, in reply, said, that as in the course of the debate there had been no arguments adduced against inquiry he had little to reply to.  The noble Earl the former Secretary of State had entered into a defence of what he regarded as his policy.  The only remark which it

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Anti-Confederation Petition
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suggested was, Quis vituperavit Herculem?  The policy of the noble Earl was not the subject which their Lordships were considering.

          The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Normanby) had indeed asserted that a Commission would aggravate the discontent in Nova Scotia.  It became, therefore, a balance between the authority of the noble Marquess and that of the Delegates, who, with local knowledge yet more recent, held an opposite opinion.

          The House had one conclusive reason for acquiescing in the judgment of the Delegates As they were to a great extent the leaders of the colony they had an obviously considerable power to influence its temper and proceedings.  Was it supposed that if their mission was entirely defeated and all their labours scattered to the winds, that power would be strongly exercised in favour of Great Britain, whose decision in the case supposed they could not possibly extenuate.

          At the same time as the Government had determined to oppose the Motion, and as the noble Earl (Earl Russell) had not determined to support it, he (Lord Campbell) did not insist upon dividing.  It might not tend to the solution of the difficulty or the peace of British North America to show that when argument had been entirely on one side, numbers were almost entirely on the other.

Motion (by Leave of the House) withdrawn.

Related Hansard Items

1865 March 23
Pre-Confederation Defence of Canada
House of Commons, London   (36,699 words)

1867 February 19
British North America Bill, Lords 2nd Reading
House of Lords, London   (12,425 words)

1867 February 26
British North America Bill, Lords 3rd Reading
House of Lords, London   (3,926 words)

1867 February 28
British North America Bill, Commons 2nd Reading
House of Commons, London   (13,324 words)

1868 June 16
Anti-Confederation Petition from Nova Scotia
House of Commons, London   (16,637 words)

1868 June 18
Anti-Confederation Petition from Nova Scotia
House of Lords, London   (305 words)

Parliamentary material is reproduced with the permission of
the Controller of HMSO (Her Majesty's Stationery Office)
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Links to Relevant Websites

The Debate: Confederation Rejected, 1864 - 1869 by Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Lévis Forts National Historic Site of Canada by Parks Canada
This line of forts completed the City of Quebec's defence system and was meant to oppose a possible American invasion by land.  In 1861, at the beginning of the American Civil War, the City of Quebec was vulnerable to invasion from the south.  By 1862, all reports were unanimous: Lévis must be fortified.  In 1864, defending Quebec's port was clearly more of an Imperial than a colonial issue.  British authorities wanted to protect the movements of their ships through this port in case of an American invasion.  London therefore sent William Drummond Jervois to the colony to design a new defence strategy.  Convinced that the Yankees were planning to invade Canada, Jervois believed time was running out.  The original plan for the fortifications included four forts, all of which faced towards the United States...


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“Dividing the House”

In parliamentary procedure, there is a lot of significance in a member asking the House "to divide".

In parliamentary procedure, the usual way for a decision to be made by a group of dozens or hundreds of people – for a vote to be taken – is by a simple voice vote, a voting method used by deliberative assemblies (such as parliaments or legislatures) in which a vote is taken on a topic or motion by responding verbally (orally).  Typically the speaker or chair or presiding officer of the assembly will put the question to the assembly, making it clear that the members understand the effect of an "aye" vote and a "no" vote, and will then ask first for all those in favor of the motion to indicate so verbally, and then ask second all those opposed to the motion to indicate so verbally.  A similar procedure is to indicate agreement or disagreement by a show of raised hands; this works well in smaller assemblies such as town councils or school boards, but in larger assemblies such as the House of Commons a show of hands is used rarely or never.

A voice vote can be taken quickly (often it is completed in less than half a minute) compared to the much longer time required for a division – in the House of Commons half an hour for a single division vote is not unusual, and there are historical examples that extended to six hours or more.  Because they can be completed quickly, voice votes are preferred as a way to keep the business of the House moving, but they leave no record of who voted for what.  When a vote is about to be taken, any member who wants a record to be made of the vote numbers on both sides can request that the House be divided, and thus an accurate count can be obtained.

Political strategy can be involved in the method of voting chosen, with unrecorded voice votes preferred when the matter in question is either uncontroversial or paradoxically when the matter at hand is quite controversial and participants wish to enjoy "political cover."

When a vote is taken by division, the numbers of votes for and against are carefully counted and then are entered in the permanent record (Hansard) of the proceedings.  While the numbers for and against are always recorded for division votes, the names of the individual members who voted each way may or may not be recorded.  (In the Hansard record above, no vote was taken.)

Reference:— Division vote by Wikipedia

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