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Opinions of the English press on the British Columbian railway question 1877

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ON TB-fc
1877.  SI
[Pall Mall Gazette, Sept. 22.]
The issues of the controversy between the Dominion of Canada and
British Columbia have been made sufficiently plain to the public; nor is
there any reason to doubt that their gravity has been fully appreciated
by the Colonial Office. At the same time it is evident that the Imperial
Government can only proceed with great caution in urging the Canadians to carry out their pledge to the Pacific Settlements. The Act of
Union of 1867 placed the Dominion in something like the position of an
independent Power, and Canadian politicians are not slow to assert their
right to shape a policy of their own. Only a few months ago Mr. Mackenzie, the Premier of the Dominion, in addressing his constituents at
Sarnia, went out of his way to assert with great clearness and emphasis
the advancement of Canadian pretentions. He said:—| One of our early
struggles in this country was to get Canadian affairs managed by Canadians, and not to have a Colonial Offitte or a Colonial Secretary undertaking to dictate through an irresponsible Council in Canada what laws
should be enacted or what policy should be adopted. That has all been
gained, and so far as the management of our own internal affairs is concerned there is nothing left in dispute." And he went on to claim for
the Ottawa Government a similar independence in the practical if not
the formal conduct of negotiations with the United States, should any
difficulties arise between the Dominion and its neighbors. This part of
policy Mr. Mackenzie asserts, " does not concern any other portion of
the British public;" and he hints that interference on the part of the
mother country would be sharply resented. If we apply the principles
and the sentiments on which Mr. Mackenzie rests his ease to the British
Columbia controversy, it is easy to perceive the obstacles to direct Imperial action for securing the rights of the Pacific colonists are very
formidable. The Act of Union speaks of "Terms and conditions" of
Confederation, but does not provide any machinery for enforcing the
performance of those terms and conditions against the will of the Executive Government of the Dominion and of the majority in the Ottawa
Parliament. Moreover, those agreements generally have reference to
expenditure of money; and appropriations to meet this expenditure must
be granted in the usual way by the House of Commons. Even in this
country, where the Government is in direct relations with the Legislature
the latter might refuse to provide the means for carrying out a public
contract, anol the former could only appeal to the honor of the nation at
large to xoipe away the stain of suck a breach of faith. But the Imperial
(government dealing with a colonial Parliament, has no possibility of (2)
finding such a remedy. When the Canadian Parliament declines to give
effect to the bargain with British Columbia, and the refusal is acquiesced
in by the Dominion Ministry, the mother country cannot even cause the
question to be remitted to the constituencies. The jealousy of Imperial
interference to which Mr. Mackenzie gives such energetic expression
would be aroused, beyond all question, were the Governor-General to
be directed by the Colonial Office to dissolve the House of Commons at
Ottawa against the advice of his "responsible Ministers." Were even
such an expedient—for which there is no recent precedent—possible, it
would fail of attaining its object. It is to be feared that the Canadian
Conservatives are as little prepared as Mr. Mackenzie's followers to do
plain justice to the people of British Columbia, so that a dissolution and
a change of Administration would probably effect no more than an alteration in the methods of evasion. Unfortunately, too, the Senate at
Ottawa, which is the body directly responsible for the rejection of the
'Carnarvon Compromise," consists of members nominated for life, and
•so long as the majority in this branch of the Legislature remains opposed to the execution of the contract the dead-lock will continue..
It is not, therefore, to the direct compulsion of the Imperial Government that British Columbia can look for the removal of the grievances
of which she justly complains, and the text of the address of the Pacific
colonists to Lord Dufferin shows that no such illusion is cherished.
The address summarizes the controversy with Canada; pointing out that
the "many and urgent representations" of British Columbia with respect
to "the unfulfilled terms of Confederation, resulting in certain recommendations by the Earl of Carnarvon, which were accepted by the
Dominion Government as a solution of the difficulty, and that these
recommendations were favorable to the Dominion Government, as they
would, if carried out, have relieved it from those conditions of the original terms of Confederation which were considered by the Dominion
Government impossible of   fulfilment."     But the address   proceeds,
instead of the Dominion of Canada attempting to fulfil these modified
obligations in a bona fide manner, she utterly neglected to do so, and in
lieu thereof offered a pecuniary compensation to this Province in an
ambiguously worded document. This offer was declined by the Provincial Government, and its action was endorsed in the strongest manner
by the people." The danger that a sense of wrong originating in this
repeated breach of faith may lead to serious political consequences is
temperately set forth by the Pacific colonists. It is asserted that "the
action of the Dominion Government in ignoring the Carnarvon settlement has produced a widespread feeling of dissatisfaction towards Confederation, which has been intensified by the utterances of prominent
public men of the Dominion, who apparently look upon this Province as
a source of expense and trouble to the Dominion, and as a Province
whose withdrawal would not bo regretted." This is perfectly true. Mr.
Mackenzie himself has spoken as if the connection with British Columbia were an embarrassing and unprofitable one. Mr. Blake, the present
Minister of Justice, has openly declared that if the Pacific Province will
not be content with what Canada chooses to give her, she had better go
out of the Union; and Sir Alexander Gait, as prominent on the Conservative side as Mr. Blake is among the Liberals, has explicitly endorsed
this policy.    What wonder if the result has folk wed which the address (3)
notes as a warping? If, it is said, the Canadian Government "fail to
take practical steps to carry into effect the terms solemnly accepted by
them, we most, respectfully inform your Excellency that, in the opinion
of a large number of people of this Province, the withdrawal of thid
Province from the Confederaiion will be the inevitable result; and in
such case compensation from the Dominion would be demanded for the
un f ulli led obligations which she undertook. This growing desire for
separation is not held out as a threat, but is simply the expression of a
feeling which is gaining strength every day. The knowledge that
Canada relies on the paucity of our numbers, and her own power to
fulfil or repudiate the terms of the Union as she pleases, oreates a feeling of irritation which is being continually augmented." The Canadians
Tinluckily, do not scruple to say that these small communities must yield
as anti-Unionists of Nova Scotia were forced to yield to the will of the
more powerful provinces. They know that secession from the Union
would leave the Pacific settlers, as the address describes them, in a perilous and painful situation:—" Bounded as this Province is, on the north
and south by United States territories, and without railway connection
with the Dominion of Canada, British Columbia will ever be an isolated,
unprogressive Province. The railway and other facilities of the American people are sapping our trade and directing comm.uvo and population
to their shores." Yet in justice to the loyalty of the British Columbians
it must be said they do not even glance at the possibility of annexation,
though they call Lord Dufferin's attention to the amazing progress made
in the Far West of the Union by the development of the railway
By stem.
Still, although annexation remains a word unspoken, it is not less certainly in men's thoughts, and as a possibility it must enter into the
reckonings of Imperial statesmanship. It is impossible to admit the
pretention of the Dominion Government that this is merely a Canadian
question, and that it must be settled as between the Parliament of Ottawa and a few thousand settlers in British Columbia. The Pacific
Province is equal in area to the German Empire; its ports are upon the
most direot line between -fjlnrope and the Far East, Victoria, the chief
town of Vancouver's Island, is no more than twenty-one days' sail from
Hong Kong, and it has been calculated that, were the Trafts-Continental
Railway opened, the communication between Southampton and the
Chinese ports might be shortened by fifteen or twenty days. At any
rate, the time must come when the trade of these Pacific colonies with
Japan and China will become a most important element in the world's
commerce; and the childish narrow-minded trickery of the Canadians is
unconsciously diverting this future stream of wealth and power from
the British Empire to the American Republic. Isolated and hopeless,
British Columbia would be likely to look to annexation for a new career,
and the Americans who hem in our colony between Oregon and Alaska
may be tempted to accept the invitation of those adventurous spirits who
recognize no established allegiance, and whose fiag is planted for them
by commercial interest. If the Canadians can afford to disregard these
obvious considerations, Imperial statesmanship cannot; and though, as
we have said, the mother country cannot enforce the performance of the
contract by constitutional methods, the power of public opinion, expressed with moderation, but also with firmness, by the Colonial Office, (4)
may bring the Ministers of the Dominion to a sense of their wider and
higher duties. It is not too much to say that if Canada refuses to behave with common honesty in carrying out a clear contract, she will be
guilty of disloyalty to the Empire, as well as of the more vulgar offence
Mr. Mackenzie's Government, says the Standard, must be by this time
convinced that the public opinion of the Mother Country, expressed
with a decision and a unanimity most uncommon upon colonial questions
is opposed to the vacillating and tortuous policy which has been pursued towards British Columbia. It is now more than two years since we
first called attention to the course which the so-called "Liberal" or
"Grit" Ministry were pursuing in regard to the project of the Canadian
Pacific Railway—to the shuffling and time-serving devices which were
being resorted to in order to evade the fulfilment of a bargain to which
the honor of England was pledged, and to delay the execution of a
work absolutely necessary in order to secure the integrity and the
independence of the Dominion. We charged the Mackenzie Ministry
with studying rather their own political convenience in the manner
they make use of Canadian capital and Canadian credit than the welfare of the Confederation and the Imperial interests. We spoke of
their policy as "a challenge to secession," as calculated to "loosen
the newly-formed bonds of Canadian unity, and to injure the Dominion in its relations to the Empire." In return we received a great
deal of bad language, and were told that we were actuated by "Tory
prejudices" against the best of Ministries. We were informed that
the Pacific Railway was being pushed forward as fast as was consistent with political purity in the Dominion, and that if the bargain
with British Columbia could not be literally fulfilled it was because
of its "physical impracticability." Since then the terms of that bargain have been greatly modified. A compromise was agreed to in
1874, at the instance of Lord Carnarvon, by which British Columbia
agreed to waive its demand for a strict performance of the contract
of 1871—the contract on the strength of which she was induced to
enter the Dominion—in consideration of a certain new undertaking
on the part of Canada. The terms of this new compact, as arranged
by Lord  Carnarvon and accepted by  Canada, were ixYe.   The  first ^-k
was that*a railway-between  Esquimalt  harbor and  Nanaimo,    Vancouver Island,   should be   commenced as   soon as possible, and completed with all practicable despatch; the 2nd that the surveys for the
mainland line  should be vigorously  prosecuted; the 3rd  that a waggon-road and telegraph line should be constructed immediately along
the route of the proposed railway;  the 4th that at least two millions
of dollars should be spent every  year within the Province of British
Columbia  from the date when the   surveys should be sufficiently advanced   to admit of that expenditure on the construction of the railway; and  the last that on or before the 31st of December, 1890, the
whole line from the Pacific to the present furthest  western point   of
the Canadian railway system should be completed and open for traffic.     Considering that  according to  the original contract the Pacific
Railway was to have been completed in   1881, it   will be generally allowed that these terms involve a very great relaxation of the bond on
the faith of which British Columbia was tempted to   enter the North
American  Confederation.     To  a certain  extent,   however,   the  pleas
advanced   by  Canada for the non-fulfilment of her bargain were   admitted to be reasonable.    If it was "physically impracticable," as Mr.
Mackenzie urged, to construct the railway within the stipulated term,
there was nothing  more to be said.    No one in this country, nor, as
we believe, in British Columbia, had any idea of  keeping Canada   to
thg strict letter of her bond if the doing so involved the   crippling of
hei* own   finances.      It may be that the   original contract  was somewhat rashly entered  into, and that   Canada,  as   young   countries are
wqpt to do, promised more than she had any reasonable prospect  of
peSorming.      The   construction of a   railway from sea to   sea upon
British territory, however important as a   means of welding the Dominion together, was not the only object to be considered.    If in the
process of cementing the union we ruined its most important member,
thewesult could' hardly be satisfactory   from   an Imperial  point   of
view.    Justice and  good policy alike demanded that the terms of the
contract of 1871 should be liberally interpreted—that  Canada should
not be asked to bear a burden disproportionate to her strength—that
British Columbia should not be forced into a premature development
at the expense of her neighbors.     All these considerationsFwe   cannot
doubt were well weighed by Lord Carnarvon  when  he proposed   the
compromise of 1874.     What we have to complain of  now is, that not
only have the terms even of that modified contract not been complied
with, but that no   attempt  whatever appears   to have been  made  to
comply with them.     While we find the Mackenzie Government energetic enough in pushing forward public works within those Provinces
where, it is most essential that its political interest is to be maintained,
and   prepared to enter into new engagements with the United States,
involving the expenditure of a large sum of money, we do not see any
sign whatever of a desire to  comply with the terms of the  Carnarvon
compromise.    The pretence that the Dominion  Upper House rejected
that   compromise Mr. Mackenzie's own followers can scarcely regard
as serious.     In the majority   of two by which the  bill was   defeated
there-were several of Mr. Mackenzie's own   party, including one   gentleman who had been only made a Senator a few weeks before upon his
nomination.    It is difficult to believe that if the Ministry had   been in
ti. (6)
earnest they could not have carried the measure through both Houses
of the Canadian Parliament. Their recent offer of $750,000 to British
Columbia in lieu of the Carnarvon compromise must convince us, if
there were no other evidence, of the fact that they never meant to
carry out that bargain—that they have been only paltering with their
engagements to the Imperial Government and to the Province. It is absurd to suppose that British Columbia can accept such a sum as payment in full of all her claims. We cannot wonder that there is a very
great discontent throughout the Province—a discontent which it has
been beyond even Lord Dufferin's powers of diplomacy to allay. We
must still hope that the Canadian Government wiU be induced to review its conduct in regard to this transaction, and we cannot doubt
that what influence the Imperial Government possesses will be brought
to bear in order that justice may be done between the Dominion and
the Province of British Columbia.
(From the London Saturday Beview.)
If Lord Dufferin fails in his efforts to adjust the dispute between
Canada and British Columbia, the difficulty may be regarded as insoluble. With the authority and dig-Sty of high office he combines
as fully as any living statesman diplomatic and official experience,
tact, temper, and sound practical judgment. He will offend no prejudices, he will make allowance for personal and local susceptibilities,
and if he cannot overcome unavoidable obstacles, he will not create
artificial impediments to the success of his voluntary mission.
Nevertheless it is but too probable that he will find compromise or
settlement impracticable. It is a grave disadvantage to a negotiator
to know that his principals are in the wrong, and an arbitrator is
embarrassed by inability to rely on the performance by either party
of the conditions of an award. The representative of the Crown will
command a certain respect, but the uncertain and elastic state of
colonial sentiment renders every interference on behalf of the Imperial
Government difficult and possibly ineffective. The loyalty of Canada
is accompanied by an unvarying resolution on the part of the colonists
to have their own way, as often as any difference occurs. The present
case is further complicated by the provincial relation of British
Columbia to Canada. The quarrel affects the validity of the union
which was but recently  with much difficulty accomplished.    The re- (7)
mote settlement on the Pacific coast long hesitated to join the Dominion; and its assent was only granted on definite terms. Sir John
Macdonald and his colleagues undertook, on behalf of the Canadian
Government, to complete within a limited time a railway to connect
the Eastern and Western Provinces. The enterprise was suggested
by the example of the United States in constructing the Pacific
Railway which now extendsr<from the Atlantic coast to San Francisco.
The Canadian Government perhaps scarcely gave- sufficient consideration to the inferiority of colonial resources, to the thinness of population on the proposed route, and to the severe climate of the North.
Even the American Pacific Railway has hitherto failed as a speculation,
ifhough it is both politically and commercially advantageous to the
Union. The construction of the railway was attended by numerous
pecuniary scandals; and the line might figuratively be said to be ballasted with broken reputations. In this respect, if in no other, it was
easy for Canada to imitate a bad example.
The English Government, feeling a strong and legitimate desire for
the Union of all the North American Provinces, undertook to guarantee a loan for a portion of the necessary expenditure. One of the
principal capitalists of Canada was employed in financial negotiations
in London; and, unfortunately, the Canadian Prime Minister and
some of his colleagues became personally compromised in the transactions of their agent. It was found impossible to raise the large sum
which would have been required for the construction of the railway;
and the disclosure of some irregular bargains with the contractor led to
the retirement of Sir John Macdonald and his Ministry from office.
His successor, Mr. Mackenzie, had opposed the project of the railway;
the incoming Government soon announced its intention of abandoning
the enterprise. A distinct breach of contract with British Columbia
could only be excused by the impossibility of completing the bargain.
The Province was naturally slow to admit the necessity of incurring
serious disappointment; but, after long negotiation, Lord Carnarvon induced British Columbia to acquiesce in an alternative and less advantageous plan. The Canadian Government, in consideration of a release
from the obligation of making the railroad, agreed to mak§ a waggon
road for apart of the distance, and to construct a considerable extent
of railroad within the Province. The second arrangement has now
shared the fate of the first, although the Canadian House of Commons
voted the necessary supplies. The bill was, apparently with the con*
nivance of the Ministers, lost in the Council; and now a third offer is
made of a lump sum of a quarter of a million in satisfaction of all the
claims of the Province. There is no security that the damages tendered
will be paid; and, although a money compromise would perhaps not
be expedient, the Legislature and Government of British Columbia regard the Canadian offer as wholly inadequate. They allege that the
railway which the Government of the Dominion undertook to construct would have cost several millions; and that the expenditure of
large sums on labor would have been immediately advantageous to the
district. In default of a more liberal arrangement, British Columbia
claims to be released from the federal connection to which it had assented. The conditions of the original bargain have evidently been
violated, and the contention that the contract is void is therefore plausible, if not convincing. I
According to the analogy of English law, a court would probably hold
that the union was irrevocable, and that the Canadian Government was
bound either to comply with the terms of the contract or to make full
compensation for failure; but English colonies are almost equally independent with sovereign States of coercive jurisdiction. Lord Duffer-
in's task is rather diplomatic than judicial, inasmuch as it is necessary
that both parties should concur in any valid settlement. British Columbia cannot compel Canada to do justice; and, on the other hand, the
Government of the Daminion has no means of enforcing the maintenance of the federal relation. It is alleged, perhaps on insufficient grounds
that the settlers of Upper Canada are not anxious to facilitate by the
construction of roads or railways the passage of European immigrants to
the rich lands of the Pacific coast; but their experience of the competition of the Western States ought to have shown the impossibility of
stopping immigrants on their way to a chosen place of settlement. The
French of Lower Canada are supposed to dislike an increase of the
English and Protestant population; but as long as the Eastern Provinces are only sprinkled with settlers, it seems unreasonable to cultivate a jealousy of the remote districts on the Pacific. It must be
obvious to intelligent colonists that in proportion to its economical
advantages, British Columbia will increase in prosperity and population
with the aid either of Canada or the United States. Patriotism would
suggest the expediency of cultivating the connexion which is one of
the conditions of the future national greatness-of Canada; but it is not
sufficiently active to prevail over petty motives and calculations.
It is for the English Cabinet to determine", if the case unfortunately
arises, whether the consent of the Crown shall be given to the withdrawal of British Columbia from the union with, Canada; but the
decision of a difficult and dangerous question ought, if possible, to be
evaded. Even if the Canadians were previously indifferent to the maintenance of the present connection, they would find a grievance in the
infringement of the integrity of the Dominion. On the other hand,
neither England or Canada nor both together could prevent the secession of British Columbia, either from • the Dominion or from the
Empire. ^According to. the well established policy of England, the
colonies are only retained as long as the connection is voluntary. It
would be absurd, if it were not impossible, to employ for the maintenance of the unity of the Canadian Dominion means which have been by
anticipation renounced as inapplicable to the assertion of the integrity
of the Empire. The independence of British Columbia would be followed after no long interval by annexation to the American Union; ncr
would there be any ground for resenting an arrangement between two
foreign communities. If Lord Dufferin fails to satisfy the inhabitants of
the Province, he may probably be able to secure a reasonable delay before the adoption of any irrevocable measure. On his return to Ottawa
he will have to conduct a negotiation with his own advisers, who still
command the Parliamentary majority by which they have been kept in
power three years. It may be"a question whether their popularity
would not be endangered by any display of indifference to the risk of
mutilating the Dominion. Sir John Macdonald was supported by the
Parliament of his day when he engaged to pay a high price for the adhesion of British  Columbia to the Union.     The same reasons which (9)
then recommended his policy may still influence colonial opinion.
Since the establishment of the novel system of responsible government,
the duties of a Colonial Governor have changed their character. While
an Indian Viceroy or a Governor of a Crown Colony is charged mainly
with administrative functions, a Governor-General of Canada, or the
holder of a similar office in Australia, is something between a constitutional King and a resident Ambassador. Lord Dufferin has at all times
to keep his own Parliament and his Ministers in good humor; and on
on occasions like the present he finds it necessary to patch up their blunders. His prospects of success in the pending negotiation are not
(From the London Standard, October xlth, 1876)
The Earl of Dufferin is a very able man and an eloquent speaker,
who in his important office as Governor-General of Canada, has
more than once done good service to the Empire. H his recent
visit to the Province of British Columbia has been less successful
than some of his former expeditions to distant parts of the Dominion,
it must be admitted that the task which Lord Dufferin had undertaken was one of peculiar difficulty. He had to appear before the
people of British Columbia as the representative not only of the Imperial but of the Dominion Government, and in attempting to sustain the double character of an agent of the Crown and the head of
an independent constitutional system—functions never easily reconciled, but rarely so irreconcilable as at the moment of his visit, it is
no wonder that even so adroit and experienced a diplomatist should
have failed. In spite of the flatteries so judiciously administered to
the self-love of the Province—a form of attention to which young
communities are particularly susceptible—the Governor-General does
not appear to have accomplished that which we may presume to have
been the object of his mission—namely, to obtain the consent of the
British Columbians to the latest of Mr. Mackenzie's many proposals
to evade the Canadian bargain with British Columbia. In vain did
Lord Dufferin tax all his powers of pleasing; in vain did he compliment the colony on its great resources and its amazing loyalty—upon
the idyllic  beauty  of its  scenery, upon its  admirable water ways  and (10)
harbors, upon its stalwart men and comely maidens, upon its wealth
of gold and silver, and its timber so suitable for the largest sized
spars. In vain did he wind up his glowing pictures of the treasures
of British Columbia by declaring it "a glorious Province—a Province which Canada should be proud to possess, and whose association
with the Dominion she ought to regard as the crowning triumph of
Federation." Up to this point Lord Dufferin's hearers were probably
* perfectly well able to agree with him. They never doubted that
they are something which Canada should be proud to possess. They
have been accustomed to regard their union with the Dominion as
the crown of the Federal edifice. If they have complained of anything it is that Canada is not so proud as she should be of this
possession—that she has not exhibited that sense of the stability of
the Federal fabric which might have been desirable in the interests
of its crown.
Although he took special pains to disavow being the bearer of any
message, either from the Imperial or the Dominion Government,
Lord Dufferin did, in fact, devote the principal portion of his speech
to an elaborate exculpation of the Mackenzie Government from the
charge of having failed in its duty to British Columbia. That
was a sufficiently delicate mission for a Governor-General of
Canada to be engaged in, for it was impossible that he could refer to
the subject without investing himself with more or less of a diplomatic character. Such a character Lord Dufforin assumed before the
citizens of Victoria, nor does he or they "seem to have been aware that
such an assumption was at all alien to his office or derogatory from
his position. Declaring that he had come charged with a mission to
testify by his presence that "the entire people of Canada, without distinction of party, are most sincerely desirous of cultivating with the
people of British Columbia those friendly and affectionate relations
upon the existence 6f which must depend the future harmony of the
Dominion," Lord Dufferin went into a minute history of the transactions connected with the Pacific Railway to prove that the present
Canadian Government has behaved with strict fidelity to its engagements. That was a bold thesis for the representative of the Imperial
Government to maintain before the assembled citizens of British
Columbia, seeing that the matter which Lord Dufferin had to press upon
their favorable notice was the compromise of a compromise—the
offer, in fact, of an insolvent Government to pay something like
eighteen pence in the pound to a judgment creditor. Lord Dufferin'
performed his task with great intrepidity. Without denying that
British Columbia has suffered in many ways from the breach of the
treaty of Confederation with Canada, that ner entrance into the Dominion was made conditionally on certain things being done which
have not been done, or even begun to be done, Lord Durferin essayed
to defend the Dominion Government, and especially Mr. Mackenzie,
its Prime Minister, against the charge of having wilfully broken this
bargain. The argument is one with which we have been familiar
from the mouths of the accredited organs of the Canadian "Grit'
party. In the first place, Lord Dufferin contends that the bargain
was entered into without due consideration, at a time when Canada
was more prosperous and enterprising than she is now.    In 1871 her (11)
finances were flourishing, and her imagination flushed by the development of her great domain in the Northwest. Stimulated by the success of the line from New York to San Francisco, and believing that
there was no more obstacles to a trans-continental railway on British
than on American soil, Canada undertook to commence the Pacific
line within two years of the date of the union with British Columbia,
and to complete it in ten. Lord Dufferin repeats Mr. Mackenzie's
words, uttered shortly after that gentleman's accession to office upon
the downfall of the Macdonald Adnistration, to the effect that in doing
this she "pledged herself to what was a physical impossibility." Being
impossible, the performance, Lord Dufferin argues, ought not to be
exacted from Canada. He ingeniously endeavors to throw part of the
blame of the default upon British Columbia herself, by pleading that
the mountains which impeded the enterprise were "their mountains,
and in their own territory." For this reason Lord Dufferin holds that
the British Columbians are not without responsibility for the failure of
the pledge made to them. However, we may pass over this stage of the
transaction. Influenced, doubtless, by the consciousness of this misbehavior of her mountains, British Columbia consented to forego the
literal fulfilment of the original bargain. Then followed "a painful
period" of delay and "frixtion," which Lord Dufferin passes over
lightly; till he comes to what he calls "the new era," when, under the
auspices of Lord Carnarvon, a compromise was arrived at between the
Province and the Dominion. The substance of the terms embodied in
this compromise, Lord Dufferin claims to be Mr. Mackenzie's own; it
was he who suggested the Nanaimo and Esquimalt Railway, the telegraph line, the waggon road, and the annual expenditure. Lord
Carnarvon was only the arbitrator between the two contending parties,
and was not the inventor of the scheme which goes by his name. This,
which Lord Carnarvon seems to put forward as an additional argument
in support of Mr. Mackenzie's good faith, probably appeared to the
citizens of Victoria a somewhat eccentric mode of removing their discontent with the Dominion Government. Had there been any pretext
for saying that Lord Carnarvon was the proposer of the terms of the
compromise there might have been some excuse for Mr. Mackenzie; but
when it is Mr. Mackenzie's own scheme, the fulfilment of which his
Government has evaded, what wonder that there should be that irritation
and those embittered feelings on which Lord Dufferin had to comment!
The case cannot be put more forcibly than by Lord Dufferin himself
against the Dominion Government: "Two years have passed since the
Canadian Government undertook to commence the construction of the
Esquimalt and Nanaimo Raiiway, and the Eesquimalt and Nanaimo
Railway is not even commenced, and, what is more, there is not the remotest prospect of its being commenced." Thus, for the second time
has Canada broken faith with her neighbor. The only consolation
which Lord Dufferin has to offer us is that Mr. Mackenzie has not been
guilty of any base or deceitful conduct, and that the western mountains
were " as full of theodolites and surveyors as they could hold." We
fear this will convey such scant satisfaction to the British Columbians,
who are not so much concerned to know whether Mr. Mackenzie
violated his bargain in good faith or bad faith as interested in learning
that the bargain is violated, and according to Lord Dufferin's own con- (12) •
fe6sion, will never be carried out. Here it is not so much that the thing
is physically impossible as that Canada does not hold it to be desirable.
Mr. Mackenzie is full of the very best intentions, but though he is at the
head of the most powerful party in the Dominion, and presumably
has the confidence of both Houses of Parliament, he cannot unfortunately get the Upper House to pass his British Columbia scheme. In this
predicament he has been compelled once more to offer a compensation
to the creditors of the Dominion, proposing to pay down a sum of
$750,00 in lieu of the Nanaimo and Esquimalt Railway. Lord Dufferin
considers this to be "the most natural solution of the problem," and the
best compensation to the British Columbians for the * 'misadventure"
which has led to the second break down in the contract. That is a
matter which chiefly concerns the people of British Columbia. If they
are willing once more to condone the violation of a bargain made under
the sanction of the Imperial Government, and in consideration of the
new terms offered, no one will have a right to quarrel with them. But
we cannot take leave of the subject without saying that Lord Dufferin
has scarcely done justice either to himself or to his office by appearing
before the people of British Columbia as a broker oil behalf of the
Mackenzie Government. His duty to the Crown must be regarded as
superior to any which he owes to his own Ministry; and whatever he
might feel impelled to do or to say, with the object of retaining the
people of British Columbia in their loyalty, or of recommending to
them any measure emanating from the Imperial Government, certainly
it was no part of his business to negotiate a bargain between the Dominion Government and one of its constituent provinces, still less to
appear as the advocate and apologist of his own Ministry.


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