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Debate on the subject of Confederation with Canada British Columbia. Legislative Council 1912

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Array       BRITISH COLUMBIA.
LEGISLATIVE  COUNCIL.
DEBATE ON THE SUBJECT OF
CONFEDERATION WITH CANADA.
REPRINTED  FROM  THE GOVERNMENT GAZETTE   EXTRAORDINARY
OF  MARCH,   1870.
VICTORIA, B.C.:
Printed by William H. Ctjllin, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty.
1912.  MEMBERS OF THE LEGISLATIVE  COUNCIL.
Session- 1870.
Hon. Philip Hankin, Colonial Secretary and Presiding Member.
Hon. Henby Peking Pellew Cbease, Attorney-General.
Hon. Joseph William Tbutch, Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works.
Hon. Wymond Ogilvy Hamley, Collector of Customs.
Hon. Abthub Thomas Btjshby, Acting Postmaster-General.
Hon. Edwabd Gbaham Alston, J.P.
Hon. Henby Maynabd Ball, J.P.
Hon. Henby Holbbook, J.P.
Hon. Peteb O'Reilly, J.P.
Hon. Augustus Fbedebick Pembebton, J.P.
Hon. Edwabd Howabd Sandebs, J.P.
Hon. Geobge Anthony Walkem, J.P.
Hon. Thomas Lett Wood, J.P. 1
Hon. Fbancis Jones Babnabd, Yale.
Hon. Robebt Wllliam Welb Cabeall, Cariboo.
Hon. Amob DeCosmos, Victoria District. ♦
Hon. Edgab Dewdney, Kootenay.
Hon. Montague William Tybwhitt Dbake, Victoria City.
Hon. John Sebastian Helmcken, Victoria City.
Hon. Thomas Basil Humphbeys, Lillooet.
Hon. David Babington  Ring,  Nanaimo.
Hon. John Robson, New Westminster.  LEGISLATIVE  COUNCIL.
DEBATE   ON   THE   SUBJECT   OF   CONFEDERATION   WITH   CANADA.
Wednesday, 9th March, 1870.
The Hon. ATTORNEY-GENERAL CREASE opened the debate on Confederation, as
follows:—
Mr. President,—I rise to move that this Council do now resolve itself into Committee of
the Whole, fo take into consideration the terms proposed for the Confederation of the Colony
of British Columbia with the Dominion of Canada, in His Excellency's Message to this Council.
In doing so, I am deeply impressed with the momentous character of the discussion into
which we are about to enter, the grave importance of a decision by which the fate of this our
adopted country of British Columbia must be influenced for better, for worse, for all time to
come. And I earnestly hope that our minds.and best energies may be bent to a task which
will tax all our patriotism, all our forbearance, all our abnegation of self, and selfish aims, to
combine all our individual powers into one great, united effort for the common good.
May He who holds the fate of Nations .in the hollow of His hand, and crowns with success,
or brings to naught, the counsels of men, guide all our deliberations to such an issue as shall
promote the peace, honour, and welfare of our Most Gracious Sovereign, and of this and all
other portions of Her extended realm.
And now, Mr. President, I must dwell a few moments on the exact practical import of the
motion before the House, and the issue which is involved in the " Aye " or " No " which each
Honourable Member will be called upon to cast upon the. question which you, Mr. President,
will put to the House in that familiar Parliamentary phrase " That I do now leave the Chair?"
This issue is, Confederation or no Confederation?
The motion assumes that the principle of Confederation has been already fully adopted
by this House—and having so assumed, asks you now to go into Committee of the Whole to
discuss the Terms on which the Colony would be content to be confederated with the Dominion.
Your question, therefore, Mr. President, "That I do now leave the Chair?" means—Will
you refuse Confederation at any price? or, Will you have it on favourable terms?> That is the
issue before us now.
Now, therefore, is the time for those Honourable Members who, notwithstanding the
previous Resolutions of this House so frequently affirming the principle ["No, no," from Dr.
HelmckenJ, still conscientiously object to the principles of Confederation, to come forward and
explain to this Honourable body, and to the country at large, their views,—why they still refuse
to aid in the consolidation of British interests on the North American Continent, by the Confederation of this Colony with the Dominion, and the creation of one homogeneous nationality
from sea to sea.
Some Honourable gentlemen say " No, no " to my statement that the House has affirmed
the principle of Confederation. But I appeal to the Journals of this House, in proof of what
I state. I well remember, on the 19th March, 1867, when the " British North America Act,
1867," was being framed by the Imperial Parliament, this Council, anxious to be embraced
within the purview of its provisions, passed by an unanimous vote the following Resolution:—
"Resolved, That this Council is of opinion that at this juncture of affairs in British North
America, east of the Rocky Mountains, it is very desirable that His Excellency be respectfully
requested to take such steps, without delay, as may be deemed by him best adapted to insure the
admission of British Columbia into the Confederation on fair and equitable terms, this Council being
confident that in advising this step they are expressing the views of the Colonists generally." Confederation Debate.
And more than that, this Resolution was followed up by a deputation of individual members
to Governor Seymour, who at their instance telegraphed to the Secretary of State the purport
of that Resolution; and on the 22nd March, the following Message was sent down to the Council
on the subject:—
" The Governor has received the Resolution of the Legislative Council, dated the 18th instant, in
favour of the admission of British Columbia with the proposed Confederation of the Eastern British
Colonies of North America. He will place himself in communication on the subject with the Secretary
of State, with Viscount Monck, Governor-General of Canada, and with .Sir Edmund Head, Governor
of the Hudson's Bay Company."
Whatever construction may be put upon this Resolution by Honourable Members who have
said "No, no," one thing is certain, it affirmed, in the most distinct manner, by this Council,
the principle of Confederation, the advisability of our joining at some time or other the Dominion
of Canada. That principle has during every subsequent session, down to the present day, been
confirmed, either directly or indirectly, by a specific Resolution of this House ["No, no," from
Dr. Helmcken and Mr. Wood]. Thus, on the 28th April, 1868, a Resolution was passed by this
Council confirming the previous Resolution, in the following terms:—
" That this, Council, while confirming the vote of last /Session in favour of the general principle
of the desirability of the Union of this Colony with the Dominion of 'Canada, to accomplish the
consolidation of British interests and institutions in North America, are still without sufficient
information and experience of the practical working of Confederation in the North American
Provinces, to admit of their defining the terms on which such an Union would be advantageous to
the local interests of British Columbia."
What is that but a confirmation of the principle? Now let us look to the Journals of 1869.
There I see that, on the 17th February, 1869, when, owing to the position of other political
issues then current in the Colony, it would have been easy, had it been so desired, to procure
an adverse verdict on the principle of Confederation, the House, though invited to do so, refused
to go any further than to request Her Majesty's Government (while the North-West Territory
was still out of the Dominion) not to press the present consummation of Union. The word
"present" was an express amendment of my Honourable colleague opposite (Mr. Trutch) and
myself, so as to preserve the principle, and bide our time. The House, therefore, I take it,
has thoroughly and uniformly committed itself to the principle of Confederation, and may
very properly be invited now, setting aside all causes of difference, for the common good,
calmly, frankly, and cordially to enter upon a discussion of the terms. But if any Honourable
Members think the principle has not been decided, now is the time and now the hour to settle
that point (as far as this Session and this present Council is concerned) once and forever.
They are bound, in support of their views, to lay before the Council the reasons for the faith
that is in them, and to explain why we should not consolidate counsels with the Dominion.
And here, Mr. President, let me say a few words upon the position the Official Members of
this Council have occupied throughout the whole of this matter.
Their action has been much misunderstood—I will not say misconstrued—both in England
and at Ottawa.
Until the receipt of Earl Granville's Confederation Despatch of 14th August, 1869, they
did not feel themselves at liberty to go further in the direction of Confederation than to affirm
the general principle of its propriety, carefully abstaining from the expression of opinion on the
merits of any particular mode, details, or time of carrying that principle into practical effect.
That, they considered, could most effectually be done by Her Majesty's Government, an'
Executive peculiarly qualified for the task, this Legislature, and the People of this Colony all
acting in concert together, as it is now proposed to do.
I do not at present intend to enter into the details of what particular terms would or would
not be most advantageous to this Country in any proposal for Confederation.
That will be a question for the House to settle when, if ever, we get into Committee on the
subject; but, inasmuch, as the principle of Confederation means the advisability of consolidating British interests on the North American Continent, it is impossible to lose sight altogether,
in a debate upon the principle, of the general advantages to be derived by British Columbia
from a participation in that great scheme.
I readily confess that there are drawbacks to material union, such as distance, lack of
. communication, and, to some extent, want of identity of interest, which can only—but yet which
can—be removed, either wholly or in a very great degree, by suitable conditions of Union. Confederation Debate.
It is for us to determine those conditions in this House, and, after negotiation upon them
with Canada, to submit them to the decision of the popular vote, the people being the parties
principally affected by the change, who will have to pass in the last resort, once and forever,
upon the whole question.
The circumstances, political, geographical, and social, under which we are at present placed,
compel us to political movement in one direction or another, and the question is now—In what
direction shall we go?
We are sandwiched between United States Territory to the north and south—indeed on
all sides but one, and that one opening towards Canada. Our only option is between remaining
a petty, isolated community 15,000 miles from home, ekeing out a miserable existence on the
crumbs of prosperity our powerful and active Republican neighbours choose to allow us, or,
by taking our place among the comity of nations, become the prosperous western outlet on the
North Pacific of a young and vigorous people, the eastern boundary of whose possessions is
washed by the Atlantic.
This is the only option left to faithful subjects of the British Crown.
Now look at our condition as a Colony, with a climate far finer than any other in the
world, with magnificent harbours, rivers, seas, and waters for inland navigation, with unrivalled
resources of almost every description you can name—coal, lumber, spars, fish, and furs—
mines of gold, silver, copper, lead, cinnabar, tin, and almost every other mineral throughout
the land; with a soil and climate admirably adapted to pastoral and agricultural pursuits—
with almost every natural advantage which the lavish hand of Nature can bestow upon a
country—the undoubted fact remains:—
We are not prosperous.
Population does not increase.
Trade and commerce languish; coal mining does not advance; agriculture, though progressive, does not go forward as it might.
The settlement of the country, though increasing, yet falls short of just expectations.
No public works for opening the country are on hand, and a general lack of progress (that
is, proportioned to the extraordinary resources of the Colony) is everywhere apparent.
And why is this?
It is not, as some allege, because of the particular form of Government we at present enjoy
(if it were, Confederation in that would effect a change).
It has among other things a Public Debt altogether disproportioned to our means.
Our close proximity to an active and powerful neighbour whose interests are foreign to our
own. [" Hear, hear," from Dr. Helmcken.] But the chief reason of all is that policy of isolation which has kept us aloof from the assistance and sympathy of a kindred race, and left us
in the infant state of one of England's youngest Colonies, to support the burdens and responsibilities of a thickly peopled and long settled land.
Do Honourable Members ask what would Confederation do for us?
It would at once relieve us from the most if not all the present ills from which we suffer,
if properly arranged.
For Confederation in some sense means terms.   It would assume our Public Debt.
Greatly increase our Public Credit, and thereby aid in the utilization of our varied resources.
It would leave us a good balance in our Exchequer to carry on all local works and open
out the country.
It would give us a Railroad across the Continent, and a quick and easy access to Ottawa,
New York, and London.
It would cement and strengthen, instead of weaken, our connection with the Mother-land,
and ensure the protection of her Fleet and Army.
It would attract population, ever tending in a continuous wave towards the West.
It would promote the settlement of our Public Lands, and the development of Agriculture.
Under it Trade and Commerce would take a fresh start. It would enlarge, not contract,
our political horizon, and it would infuse new hope and life blood into the whole system of the
Colony, and not leave us a mere detached Municipality, as some suppose, any more than Scotland
is separate from the rest of Great Britain, or the County of Kent from England.
I leave to others to dilate upon the advantages which Canada would derive from the connection, the possession of a Far West (Canada's great want) into which her rapidly increasing
population may pour, instead of going to swell the bulk of the adjoining States. Confederation Debate.
Those gentlemen will be able to show that the ultimate importance—nay possible existence
—of the Dominion as a Nation may hereafter, in some measure, depend upon her Union with
ourselves.
To them, also, I leave the task of dwelling on the healing of old internal feuds of race and
language of which Confederation is the only cure.
If we watch the progress of events, they all point to the same end, to the growth of a new
universal sentiment of nationality in British America.
It is clear that events all gravitate in that direction.
[Mr. DeCosmos—" In the direction of Confederation or Nationality? "]
I say, Sir, that the current of events points to Confederation and ultimately to Nationality.
Confederation is evidently our ultimate destiny—Our own interests—Canadian aspirations
—'and Imperial policy, as enunciated in the Secretary of State's Despatch, all point the same
way.
We shall, therefore, best consult the real interests of the Colony, the sooner bring on a
new era of progress and prosperity in this favoured land, by not delaying to debate and consider
over the advisability of the principle itself, but at once to go into Committee of the Whole, and
there combine all our energies upon the best scheme to be submitted in the last resort to the
decision of the people, for carrying out the principle of Confederation, under God's blessing,
successfully into practical effect.
The motion was seconded by the Hon. the Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works, who
was excused from speaking at this stage of the debate on the ground of indisposition, under
which he was manifestly suffering.
The Hon. Mb. HELMCKEN said:—The subject of Confederation was introduced by His
Excellency the Governor in his Speech, in the following terms:—
"The community is already acquainted with the Despatch which I have recently received from
Her Majesty's Secretary of State on this subject;■ and the careful consideration of it cannot longer
be deferred with courtesy to Her Majesty's Government, or advantage to the Colony. I commend it
to your earnest thought. For my own part I am convinced that on certain terms, which I believe it
would not be difficult to arrange, this Colony may derive substantial benefit from such an Union.
But the only manner in which it can be ascertained whether Canada will agree to such arrangements -as will suit us, is to propose such as we would be ready to accept. With the assistance of
my Council. I have prepared a scheme which I shall cause to be laid before you. Resolutions framed
upon that basis will enable me to communicate with the Government of Canada and ascertain whether
they will be willing to accede to our propositions.
While the views of Her Majesty's Government have been clearly and forcibly expressed upon this
question. T am sure there is no desire to urge the Union, except in accordance with its general
acceptance by British subjects in the Colony. I do not, therefore, propose that any terms agreed upon
by the Government of Canada should be finally accepted, until ratified by the general verdict of the
community, so far as that can be ascertained through another Council, of which the Unofficial Members
shall have been re-elected."
Before proceeding to the consideration of the subject, I will reply in a very few words to
the speech of the Hon. Attorney-General. The Hon. gentleman laid great stress upon the
consolidation of British interests on this coast, but I say, Sir/that however much we are in
favour of consolidating British interests, our own interests must come first; Imperial interests
can well afford to wait. We are invited to settle this question now and for ever, but I say
that we are not called upon to do so; the matter will come before the people after the proposed
terms have been submitted to the Dominion Government, and it will very likely happen that,
if these terms are rejected and others of a mean nature substituted by the Government of
Canada for the consideration of the people of this Colony, other issues may come up at the
polls, and amongst them, the question whether there is no other place to which this Colony
can go but Canada; whatever may be the result of the present vote, it is impossible to deny
the probability of the less being absorbed by the greater; and it cannot be regarded as improbable
that ultimately, not only this Colony, but the whole of the Dominion of Canada will be absorbed
by the United States. The Hon. Attorney-General has not attempted to prove the advantages
which will result from Confederation; he has contented himself with vague assertions of
advantages.
The question is only brought down by the Governor in consequence of the Despatch of
Lord Granville; all we have to do is to agree to a series of resolutions.   It- is not pretended Confederation Debate.
that it is the voice of the people, or the voice of this Council. It is well understood that it is
a Government measure. And we all know what that means—it means that this series of
resolutions is to be passed. And we have it from the Governor that he desires to send these
resolutions to Canada; they will not go, they are not intended to go, as the opinion of the
people, but when certain terms have been agreed upon between the Government of this Colony
and the Dominion Parliament, they will come back to the people for ratification. It remains
then for the people to organize, so as to be ready at the proper time to give their verdict, for
the responsibilities will ultimately rest with the people, and it is for them to say whether they
will have Confederation or not.
I do think, Sir, that the question ought to have been an open one.
Her Majesty's Government ought not to have interfered; they are not justified in interfering
in business which we could very well manage for ourselves.
I feel certain that His Excellency will act uprightly, fairly, honestly, and generously, by,
and for, the Colony [hear, hear] ; and, Sir, I fully believe that if these terms are declined now,
in any future negotiations that may take place, if the people support the Governor, no terms
will be accepted, or ever proposed, which would lead to this Colony being sacrificed to Canada,
and that the people will have every opportunity afforded them to organize for the final vote
when the time arrives for the settlement of this question " finally and forever," as the Honourable Gentleman has put it.
I see no reason, Sir, why Her Majesty's Government should interfere with our affairs; there
is no reason that the Members of this Council shall be coerced.
The desire of Her Majesty's Government is in reality a command to the Executive.
A new election ought to have been called before this question was brought on; but there
is one satisfaction left us, it is that Her Majesty's Government have left the terms to the Colony.
It is for the people to use that power rightly, wisely, and well, to see that Confederation
means the welfare and progress of the Colony.
Now, Sir, in the first place, it is necessary for the people to see that Confederation must
be for the general good of the Colony.
I am opposed to this question being brought down now.
I believe it to be most inopportune. It is believed by most people that this Colony is on
the verge of great changes. That the new gold discoveries will bring a large population to
this Colony, and that the slight despondency which now exists, will be swept away, and that
this Colony will once more enter upon an era of prosperity not inferior to that which belonged
to it a few years ago.
I say, Sir, that this is an inopportune period to bring this question up, because When that
population which is expected arrives, our position to negotiate for terms will be much better,
because with a larger population and greater prosperity, we may demand far better terms than
now; and, Sir, it is my firm conviction that if prosperity comes shortly the people of this
Colony will not desire to change certainty for uncertainty.
Another reason there is that we ought to wait until after 1871. In that year Canada has
to take a census of the population, and when that is taken we shall know the amount of the
debt per head. I have no doubt it is greater now than when Confederation was first inaugurated.   It is increasing, and I believe that instead of 22 cents per head it will now be 25 cents.
I should like, then, to wait until after 1871, because we shall then have a better opportunity
of knowing the financial condition of those with whom we would connect ourselves.
It is inopportune, also, for the reason that the present difficulties in the Red River Settlement are sufficient to cause us great anxiety. I will not take up the time of this House by
inquiring whether the people of that Territory are right or wrong. I know not, and shall not
discuss the question; but this I do know, that if they induce the Indians to join them it will
cause a great delay fn the settlement of that country; and we do not even yet know that the
Red River Settlement will prove so inviting to emigration as is reported. Again, Sir, I may
state that Confederation, so far as it has at present gone, is but a mere experiment. It is
nothing more or less than an experiment. And I believe that considerable dissatisfaction has
resulted from it. If we wait a little longer before seeking to enter within its pale ourselves,
we shall know better about the faults of its machinery, and perhaps be able to learn what are
its drawbacks, and how we can best avoid them. These, Sir, are good and sufficient reasons
for delay.   It is absurd to attempt to ally ourselves with a people 3,000 miles away, without 10
Confederation Debate.
any settlement of the intervening country, with no communication except through the United
States, and with no telegraphic communication. Canada is for all practical purposes further
removed from us to-day than England; we know less about her. When we asked for a copy
of the Canadian Tariff we were told that there was no copy to be had. [" Yes, yes," from Hon.
Members.]    No official copy then.
This, then, shows forcibly the intimate nature of the relations subsisting between us.
When we desire to refer to the Canadian Year Book, a most useful work, which during the
present discussion ought to be in the hands of every member, we find but two copies. This,
again, shows the extent of our communication with Canada. Her Majesty's Government seem
to think that they know best what is for our interest, and it seems much as if they said to us
" You are a Crown Colony, and you ought to remain one. You are not fit to govern yourselves;
we do not want you; we will hand you over to Canada." I would rather that we were governed
from Downing Street. It is not, in my opinion, necessary or desirable that this Colony should
be Confederated with Canada. And now, Sir, let us glance at this Colony. I need not dilate
upon what is known to all. I maintain, Sir, that this Colony is one of the richest portions of
the world's surface; that it has unlimited supplies of lumber and spars; that it possesses coal,
gold, and other minerals in abundance; that her waters teem with fish; that it is rich in everything. Take the climate; it is far better than that of England, far more temperate, far more
bright and sunny, and, I may fairly add, far more healthy.
We are asked by the Honourable the Attorney-General why the country does not get on;
and I will now proceed to tell you, Sir, why the country has not prospered as it ought to have
done. It is because the Government has paid too little attention to the acquisition of population.
One very great drawback to its progress and the settlement of its land, is its proximity to the
United States. That proximity is one of the chief reasons that it has not been peopled as it
would have been. When we look at the energy and enterprise there, and at the field which the
United States offers for emigrants and the enterprising of all nations, how can we wonder that
that country is preferred to ours, and that people when they become dissatisfied here should
leave for the United States. The United States hem us in on every side; it is the Nation by
which we exist; it is the Nation which has made this Colony what it is; but, nevertheless, it
is one of our greatest drawbacks. .We do not enjoy her advantages, nor do we profit much by
them; we do not share her prosperity, and we are far too small to be her rival. The effect
of a large body and a small body being brought into contact, is, that the larger will attract the
smaller, and ultimately absorb it.    ["Yes, yes," aud "No, no."]
[Hod. Member for Kootenay—How about Switzerland?]
I say more, Sir. I say that the United States will probably ultimately absorb both this
Colony and the Dominion of Canada. [" No, no, no," from Mr. Trutch, Mr.' Crease, and others.]
Canada will in all probability find it quite as much to her advantage to join her ultimately,
as we do now to join the Dominion. I say, Sir, that one cause of our want of prosperity has
been the neglect of acquisition of population, and particularly of agricultural population. The
next cause is that we have driven people out of the Colony.
I need only allude to our having deposed the Free Trade system. That deposition took
population out of the Colony which has never been replaced. There was a depopulation of the
cities without any attempt having been made to obtain a substitute rural population. We are
now asked to undergo another revolution which will ruin our farmers, and do no sort of good to
those engaged in commercial.pursuits.
I do not intend, Sir, to follow the details of the proposed terms at present, but there seem
items which I must notice.
I hold in my hands the published returns of the Custom House receipts for last year, and
this document shows plainly, that no less than half a million of dollars are sent out of the
Colony every year for the purchase of agricultural productions—wheat, barley, flour, and cattle
—all of which, considering the fertility of our soil, its abundance, the magnificent, salubrious,
healthy, sunny, and more than temperate climate, we ought to produce ourselves. This Colony
probably raises another half million's worth. If we adopt the Canadian Tariff we shall throw
away this million of dollars; that is, the half million which we raise, and the half million
which can be raised,—and for what? For the sake of problematical benefits which some think
likely to arise from Confederation. If Confederation should come and bring with it the Tariff
of Canada, and it will do so, the great inducements which we now have to attract population, Confederation Debate.
will be taken away. So far from Confederation benefiting the commercial community, I say it
is much rather calculated to do them harm. No doubt if public works are undertaken, as we
are told will be the case under Confederation, employment will be given for a time, but the
supplies required will come from the United States, and our public works will actually be of
more benefit to the United States, during their construction, than to this Colony. What we want,
is an enlarged outlet for our resources. We want markets for our coal and lumber; we want
our local industries fostered; and all of these can be obtained by a judicious arrangement of our
own Tariff. Next, we want agricultural population, and any increase of this kind of population
must depend upon the encouragement given. If our agricultural interests are left without
encouragement, we shall not get an increased agricultural population; and, therefore, the
country will not reap so much benefit from public works, as the supplies will come from the
United States. ^?t«
We shall find it difficult, Sir, to get a Tariff from Canada that will suit us, and I think
that I shall be able to show you, Sir, that Confederation will not produce population. Anything
that deprives this Colony of the power of protecting the local industries and interests of the
Colony, and of regulating and fostering its commerce and trade, cannot be otherwise than
dangerous and injurious to the country.
I feel perfectly sure, Sir. that if Confederation should come, bringing with it the Tariff of
Canada, not only will the farmers be ruined, but our independence will be taken away. It will
deprive our local industries of the protection now afforded them, and will inflict other burdens
upon them. It will not free trade and commerce from the shackles which now bind them, and
will deprive the Government of the power of regulating and encouraging those interests upon
which the prosperity of the Colony depends.
There can be no permanent or lasting union with Canada, unless terms be made to promote
and foster the material and pecuniary interests of this Colony. The only link which binds this
Colony to Canada is Imperial. The people must be better off under Confederation than alone,
or they will not put up with it. We are told, iSir, that public works are to be undertaken.
I answer that they may do good to some, but the supplies both of food and raiment will come
from the United States, who will in reality reap the lion's share of the benefit; and, what is
more, as soon as the money was expended the people would begin to consider whether they
were equally well off under Confederation, as they might be under another Government; and
if a change should be desired, it is perfectly plain that Canada cannot use force to keep the
people of this Colony within the Dominion. They must be better off under Confederation than
alone, or they will not stop in the Confederacy.
Our true course, Sir, judging from the statistics, is not to look to Canada, but to seek to
extend our markets for our natural productions, and to obtain an agricultural productive
population. I say, Sir, that there is no necessity for us to join Canada; we can get on very
well by ourselves at present.
The Hon. Attorney-General says Canada will take over our debts; but I say, Sir, that our
debt in proportion to our population is very little more per head than that of Canada. When
I state this, I mean that Indians are very large consumers and producers, and ought to be
reckoned* with the population. Our expenses will soon be much smaller. What I mean, Sir, is
that at the end of 1871 this Colony will save $50,000, for one of the loans will have expired, •
thus saving us $36,000, and floating loans will be funded, and we shall save ten or twelve
thousand by that.
I shall not go into the question of Canada being able to defend this Colony; I do not
believe, Sir, that Canada is able to defend itself. Great Britain has taken away her standing
army. Canada will very soon be required to pay for the few troops that are left and in the
next place they will be asked to contribute to the expense of keeping up the navy.
Confederation would make the Dominion territorially greater, but would, in case of war,
be a source of weakness. It is people, not territory, that makes a country strong and powerful.
To be strong, the union must be of people, and in my opinion that condition is wanting. I feel
certain that Her Majesty's Government has no wish to be put to the expense of defending the
country; no wish to be involved in quarrels with the United States; no wish to keep Canada
depending upon her support, but rather a wish to force her into independence—to get rid of
her altogether.
I am opposed to Confederation, because it will not serve to promote the industrial interests
of this Colony, but, on the contrary, it will serve to ruin many, and thus be detrimental to the 12
Confederation Debate.
interest and progress of the country. I say that Confederation will be injurious to the farmers,
because protection is necessary to enable them to compete with farmers of the United States.
The Tariff and Excise Laws do not supply that.   They will be inimical to brewers.
Inimical to the Spar Trade;
Inimical to Fisheries;
Inimical to Whaling Pursuits;
Inimical to Spar and Lumber Business.
Turn to the Canadian Tariff'^BS^Pyou will find grain admitted free. I maintain that if the
tariff now imposed upon certain cereals and agricultural produce be taken awa,y, farmers of this
Colony will be brought into competition with the farmers of the United States, and will succumb
[Mr. DeCosmos—Lower Country Farmers.] Yes, and here the Resolutions are silent where they
ought to be loudest.
I shall not attempt to prove that farmers did not prosper under Free Trade; be that as it
may, they are now prosperous and becoming rich. There is no better advertisement for population than the fact of the present prosperity of the farmers. Take away that prosperity, and
you do away with the chief inducement which you have for agricultural population.
I go on to brewers, and these interests, though in point of fact small, are in proportion as
large with us, as larger interests would be to a larger population; moreover, we, having so small
a population, cannot afford to risk a change, because we cannot recuperate quickly. Under the
Canadian law a brewer must take out a brewer's and maltster's license, and has to pay one cent
per pound on all malt made, and as there is an average amount of 1,248,000 pounds of malt
consumed in the year, the average duty would amount to $12,680 per annum, in addition to
which they will have to pay a maltster's and brewer's license. The duty upon that amount of
malt now is $3,750. Confederation therefore will increase the malt duty by nearly $9,000.
Brewers would probably buy all their malt from abroad or cease to brew, especially when we
take into consideration the annoyances connected with the bonding system. You will see, Sir,
that this quantity of malt would take 500 acres of land to raise it, so that in addition to
injuring the brewers, the farmers are also injured.
Under the Canadian Law, salmon must not be taken at the mouth of any river when they
are going up for the purpose of spawning. We all know that they must be taken. If we are
not allowed to catch them as they go up, we should never get them at all. They never come
down again; they go up to die.
Again, according to Canadian Law, whales must not be taken by means of bombs or firearms : and I am told they cannot be taken without firearms in these waters, so that under
Confederation whales would be free to spout as they pleased.
Under Canadian Law, tobacco cannot be grown without excise duty; it has to be bonded,
and its cultivation would be abandoned. Alkaline soil suits the tobacco plant, and I have very
little doubt that tobacco could be grown profitably in many parts of British Columbia [Hon.
Holbrook—It is grown] ; but the excise duty.
When we come to lumber we find that there is an export duty on logs of $1 per 1,000 feet;
this will affect the spar business. [Hon. Barnard—No, it will not affect spars; the duty is
upon logs only, which is cut into lumber, and is a protection to Canadian Lumber Mills.]
I have now, Sir, given you reasons why the general interests of the Colony will not be
promoted. Farmers, Brewers, the Lumber Trade, and the Fisheries will not be benefited; who
will? Canada will take no coal nor lumber from us, and will not increase our trade at all;
but they will take our money, and much of that money derived from the very fact that we
have to pay more for Canadian manufactures than the Eastern Provinces, or rather we are
obliged to pay duties upon foreign articles, simply because we cannot obtain Canadian, and
yet we are told that Confederation will reduce our taxation. Our Tariff is as low as that of
Canada, save upon spirits and tobacco.
It would be absurd for us to sacrifice our interests in order that laws may be made for us
by a people who know little of our condition and wants, and who in fact must necessarily
legislate for the greater number—the people of the Atlantic Provinces. It is dangerous to place
ourselves at the disposal of superior numbers.
I believe, Sir, that we are quite capable of making laws for ourselves.
If we are united, or rather absorbed, everything will centralize in Canada, and the whole
country will be tributary to Canada. The number of Representatives sent to Ottawa from
other places would overwhelm the number sent from British Columbia.    Even in the matter of Confederation Debate.
13
appropriations, where the scramble always is, this Colony would be overborne; we should be
laughed at by the victors for our pretensions. It is the case in all other Colonies, and would
be here.
It is absurd to suppose that the same laws, whether civil, commercial, or industrial will be
found equally advantageous to all parts of this great Continent. It manifestly cannot be so;
the conditions are different. We know what is best for ourselves, and are able to legislate to
effect that.   We have no wish to pay Canada to do our legislation.
No union between this Colony and Canada can permanently exist, unless it be to the material
and pecuniary advantage of this Colony to remain in the union. The sum of the interests of
the inhabitants is the interest of the Colony. "The people of this Colony have, generally speaking, no love for Canada; they care, as a rule, little or nothing about the creation of another .
Empire, Kingdom, or Republic; they have but little' sentimentality, and care little about the
distinctions between the form of Government of Canada and the United States.
Therefore no union on account of love need be looked for. The only bond of union outside
of force—and force the Dominion has not—will be the material advantage of the country and
pecuniary benefit of the inhabitants. Love for Canada has to be acquired by the prosperity of
the country, and from our children.
I say, Sir, it is absurd for us to ally ourselves with a people with whom we have, and
can have, no communication. The Tariff and Excise Laws of Canada will ruin the dominant
interests of this Colony, and we are told that those laws must rule accordingly to the conditions
of " The British North America Act." A Tariff perhaps excellent to the Eastern Provinces, is
ruin to British Columbia. Our Tariff imposes a large duty on spirits, and a duty on agricultural produce. The Canadian Tariff imposes none on agricultural produce, and a small duty
on spirits.
If we are Confederated with Canada we become its tributary, and in all that concerns us
chiefly Canada has to act for us. In all our chief concerns, commerce, shipping, and mercantile
laws, agriculture, trade, navigation, fisheries, currency, banking—Canada rules. She may tax
us to any extent, and in any manner she pleases, so that it is quite possible we may have export
duties on gold and coal.
All such things as require money for their performance are left for the Colony to provide;
those that require intellect are supplied by Canada.
The expense to Canada is constantly decreasing, her revenue constantly increasing. The
expense of the Local Government on the other hand, is constantly increasing, and out of proportion to any increase of its revenue.
Is it necessary that we should pay for the intellect of Canada? Is our own not as good?
Do we not know what is best for ourselves? Cannot we do all as well as they? Cannot we pay
our Colonial intellect to do our business well, instead of theirs to do it badly?
The very means by which we ought to make our roads are taken from us, so that, as time
rolls on, we shall have to provide other taxes, and raise loans for the purpose. The other
countries have gone into Confederation with roads ready made, and large loans and large debts.
It is not fair to put this country upon a footing of its present population; on its present
income; a future income ought to be calculated upon.
I do not think it wise to ruin the present population for the sake of the future.
Remember that to have a population, that population must be able to live. Confederation
will ruin the farmer, and destroy at once the greatest inducement to immigration; will ruin the
brewer and the fisheries; do no good to commerce; afford no larger market for lumber, coal, or
anything else; in fact do a great deal of harm and no good, save that which is problematical
and fanciful.
In conclusion, I have to say that I sincerely trust that our deliberations may result in good,
and that whatever may be the issue of this debate, it may be for the good of the Colony.
I accord most heartily with the learned Attorney-General in the belief that—
" There's a Divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough hew them how we may."
The Hon. Mb. DRAKE, Member for Victoria City, rose and said:—Sir, I will move an amendment to the Resolution of the Hon. Attorney General—" That the consideration of this question
be postponed for six months." I need not state, Sir, that I have always been opposed to Confederation.   I have consistently opposed Confederation on any terms up to the present time, and firim-NiTl
14
Confederation Debate.
I do not see any reason now to change my opinion. I do not say that Confederation must be
bad for all time, the time may come when it will be a benefit or a necessity; but at present I
do not believe that Confederation would be a benefit to British Columbia. The time has not
yet arrived for it. I was sent to this Council as an opponent of Confederation. I oppose it
from conviction, and I shall still continue to oppose it.
The question of Confederation has been advocated by certain parties for some years past,
and why? Because there has been a general feeling of dissatisfaction throughout the Colony,
a general feeling of pressure from heavy taxation on a daily diminishing basis. The people
have been suffering under a desire for change; that is what is at the bottom of this discussion.
Confederation has been discussed outside, in the public press, and in other places, and now,
after years of agitation, by secret and unknown partizans, it has cropped up in this Council as
a Government measure. I know, Sir, that I have no chance of carrying this amendment. I
have not the slightest hope of carrying it, but I move it with the view of bringing the question
fairly before the public. I should deeply regret that this Council should be able to bind the
Colony for ever. The question is one of the greatest magnitude, greater by far than any other
which has ever come before this Legislature. I am glad that it must hereafter be referred to
another Council, the majority of whose members will have to come before the people for election.
I think, however, that it is waste of time to bring this measure before this Council.
There are some points in Confederation, I admit, which are worthy of consideration, or
would be under different circumstances. The idea of consolidating the British Possessions on
this Continent, is an idea which is likely to carry people away. The idea of assisting to found
a large and wide-spreading country might be dazzling to some. But if we are to be turned
over to Canada with no change in our form of Goyernment, no alteration in the management
of our political affairs, where is the advantage of any change. It will simply be a change from
" King Stork " to " King Log." The Officials will be chosen by the Dominion Government instead
of the Crown; we should be transferred from the rule of Statesmen at Downing Street.to that
of Politicians at Ottawa. ["No, no," from Mr. DeCosmos.] All our political rights will be
taken away, the whole of the legislation will pass out of our hands into that of the Dominion
at Ottawa; those laws upon which we shall be entitled to pass an opinion, will be much of the
same nature as those upon which a municipality or vestry may vote; but which are beneath the
dignity of a Colony. All power of raising taxes, except as the Hon. Member for the District
reminds me, for provincial purposes, we shall be subject to the provisions of the Organic Act,
which we have no power to change. Any terms which we can impose, must be subject to the
provisions of " The British North America Act." My position, therefore, is correct, when I say
that our power will not exceed that of a municipality. We are told that we are not fit for
Representative Institutions or Responsible Government. Then we shall go into the Dominion
as a Crown Colony—bound hand and foot. The few Members that will represent us at Ottawa,
will not have the power to do anything for us. I do not trust the Politicians of Ottawa. I do
not desire to give them the power to raise money upon our vast and rich territory, whilst we
should get nothing from Canada in-return. I would rather remain as we are, with some change
and modification in our Government.
I admit that Confederation offers great advantages to those Provinces which are contiguous
to Canada; there they have a mutuality of interests; they are able to use the products of the
Dominion; they have community of interests; and there is no extent of wild, unsettled country
between them and the seat of Government. We are divided by upwards of 4.000 miles from
Halifax, 2,000 of which is an unknown wilderness. Some explorers who have travelled by that
route say, that the greater part of the country is alkaline and unfit for settlement. There is,
no doubt, a large tract of fertile land in the valley of the Saskatchewan, but much of the intervening territory is unknown. I ask, Sir, is not our position as a territory of Great Britain, far
in advance of what it would be as a Province of the Dominion? Will not the change operate
disadvantageously ?
We know that our interests can hardly conflict with those of Great Britain; can we say the
same as regards the Dominion. Canada is hampered by her vast territory, and the larger that
territory becomes, the greater her weakness will be. But, Sir, I ask of what use is this vast
territory, unpeopled and uncultivated. Canada wants population and capital; this Colony wants
the same. Upon looking at the returns of population, I find that two-thirds of the emigrants
go over the border to the United States, and many native-born Canadians go to the United
States, because they find there a more genial climate, and more work to do.   If Canada teemed Confederation Debate.
15
with population like England, where people cannot find work for their hands to do, I could
conceive it likely that we might acquire population through Canada, but.I cannot see how we
can gain population unless a Railway were not only commenced, but in such a state of progress
as to be a means and inducement for population to come into the country, and this is not likely,
in my opinion, to be the case. I have listened to what my Honourable colleague has said about
the agricultural interests, and I entirely coincide with him. Our farmers cannot compete with
the farmers of the United States under the Canadian Tariff. In the United States, farmers
are able to get everything that they want within their own country, whilst here everything
comes from abroad. Until the farmers of this Colony can make everything that they require
for their own use, they cannot compete with those of the United States. We can always import
American goods, even under a heavy duty, cheaper than Canadian goods, and this, Sir, will put
this Province under a different condition as compared with other Provinces.
Let us then suppose this Confederation scheme carried out; we will consider the sacrifice
completed, the victim decorated with the conditions which have been graciously accorded by
the more powerful contracting party. What will become of our farmers? I refer more
particularly to the farmers of the Island and of the Lower Fraser. This class I look upon
as the bone and sinew of the country. They, Sir, I say, will be driven out of their own market
by the cheaper productions of the States. And, I would ask, what industry it is supposed will
take the place of agriculture? Moreover, Sir, I would ask if we be confederated upon these
terms, what guarantee has the Colony that the terms will be carried out? We all know that
when compacts are made between a large and a small power, the larger can break the treaty
with impunity when an emergency arises. Would Canada hesitate, in the event of having to
repel a Fenian invasion, to abandon the Railway? We have no guarantee that the Dominion
will carry out the terms to which her Statesmen may agree. We may be abandoned at any
time. The benefits of the larger Provinces of Canada will always take precedence of those
of British Columbia, whose representatives will be in a small minority. And I would never
consent to Confederation on any terms without an Imperial guarantee that the terms would
be observed and kept. History tells us that in a compact between a larger and smaller country,
the smaller must go to the wall.
I sum up my objections to Confederation in a few words:
At the present time, I think that any terms will be inimical to this Colony, on account of
our distance from Canada; on account of the smallness of our population, for we never can have
an equal vote in the Dominion Parliament with other Provinces; on account of the danger of
our farming interests being killed and crushed^ and on? account of the unsettled state of the
intervening territory; and even if the North-West Territory were confederated, what advantage
would it be to us?
Our Confederation would be a source of weakness to Canada, and to ourselves.
We are so far separated from Canada, that she can only communicate with us by telegraph
through the United States, and by ships round the southern extremity of the American Continent.
We are told that Confederation is an Imperial necessity. We have nothing to do with this.
We must look to our own interests. Confederation is a political idea; it may be part of the
Imperial policy, but what of that? We are told that Great Britain desires to get rid of all
her Colonies.
These are serious matters for consideration, and this question ought not to be dealt with
as a party measure. I offer these remarks in the hope that any legislation which may result
from this debate, after it has received popular sanction, may be enduring and of advantage to
the Colony.
The Hon. Mb. RING, Member for Nanaimo, said:—Mr. President, I rise to second the amendment of the Hon. Member for Victoria, and in doing so I abstain from dealing with the merits
of the question. It appears that the Governor wishes to have a popular vote upon the question
of Confederation. I say, then, let there be an extended suffrage given, so that the voice of the I
people may be heard in this House. I hope that the people will have the opportunity of
expressing their* opinion, Aye or No, whether they will have Confederation. The people should /
not be bound by what occurs in a Council constituted as this is.
I say, Sir, that the material question for decision is not that of terms. The Government,
if this amendment is carried, will have the opportunity of hearing the voice of the people. On
behalf of my constituents, I say they do not want Confederation; they believe that it is undesir- 16
Confederation Debate.
able at present The proper way to find out the opinion of the country is for the Governor
to give us the enlarged representation promised. Let the question come before the people in a
fair way.
I do not desire to go into the general question of terms of Confederation upon this occasion.
But I must say, Sir, that these resolutions are not based upon the minds of the people. I
protest, Sir, against the people's name being mixed up with those resolutions. I reserve what
I have to say on the question of terms, and support the amendment of the Hon. Member for
Victoria, in order that the people may have an opportunity of passing their vote upon the
question of Confederation.
The Hon. Mb. HUMPHREYS, Member for Lillooet, moved the adjournment of the debate.
Withdrawn.
The Hon. Mb. ROBSON, Member for New Westminster, rose and said:—Sir, I had intended
to reserve any remarks that I intended to offer until the terms submitted by the Government
were under debate in Committee, but I have an objection to the adjournment of the debate at
this early hour. I cannot, however, allow certain expressions which have fallen from the
Honourable the senior Member for Victoria City to pass unnoticed. I believe the question for
us to consider is,—Shall we have Confederation, and upon what terms?
I believe this House is ready to say Aye to the first question, and to go into Committee of
the Whole on the second.
I am surprised to find an Honourable Member of this House, who is a Cabinet Minister,
expressing his regret that this measure has come down to this Council as a Government
measure. I think that the freedom of his remarks contradicts the idea that it is a Government measure, in the sense that Government Members must vote for it.
I was also surprised to hear the Honourable Member, who is a Cabinet Minister, say that
Confederation would not be the only issue at the polls, but that there was another place besides
Ottawa to which we could go. I had hoped that all allusion to this matter would have been
kept out of this debate; for I say, Sir, that this vague language can have but one meaning,
particularly when it is added that the United States will ultimately absorb British Columbia,
and Canada as well. The Honourable Member evidently means,—Shall we have Confederation,
or accept, as an alternative, Annexation? As everything that comes from the Honourable
Member is entitled to great weight, and especially as he is a Member of the Government, I
think we have a right to know whether that is really the issue or not. I had hoped that
this debate would have been carried through without the necessity of making use of the word
" Annexation "; but as the subject has been dragged in by a Member of the Government, I trust
I shall be pardoned for alluding to it. I say, Sir, that if the Government really means to ask
whether the people desire Confederation or another union, let us know it. ["No, no," from
the Attorney-General and Mr. Trutch.] I am at a loss to understand the position of the
Honourable Member for Victoria. I am anxious to have it explained. If he has not represented Cabinet views correctly, this House should be set right.
Waiving these matters, and assuming that the Honourable Member will be able to explain
the apparent paradox, I pass on to the objections raised. I find the Honourable Member
distinctly setting himself in opposition to Confederation. I will nofc/follow him for the purpose
of rebutting so-called arguments against Cnofederation.
The Honourable gentleman tells us that Confederation is unnecessary, that.this Colony is
one of the richest spots on the face of the earth, with a climate inferior to no part of the
world,—why should it not go on alone? And he tells us that this view of the question is taken
by the majority of the people of the Colony. Why, Sir, the Colony has had all this opportunity
for fifteen years; and what is the fact? Ten years ago the Colony had a very much larger
population than now, and very much larger commerce. Are we, then, under these circumstances, to ask the people to wait and work out their own salvation? But, Sir, in addition, we
are told in a State paper that we are not to be allowed to hang on the skirts of Great
Britain, like a mendicant's child. I can hardy reconcile the position of manly independence
with the position of hanging on to unwilling Imperial skirts. Rather than that, I would ask
for union with the Sandwich Islands, or with Hindostan. British Columbia has tried long
enough to get on by herself. After fifteen years hard struggle, she finds herself worse off than
she was at the beginning.   Her progress has been like that of the crab—backward. Confederation Debate.
17
She might make progress, but, unfortunately, her form of Government has rendered progress
impossible. I believe that the illiberal form of Government has had much to do with keeping
away population—with driving away population,—and with destroying the spirit of manly
enterprise of those who are here. Apart from its being the policy of the British Government
to unite all the British American Colonies in one great Confederation, if we persist in remaining alone we shall be told by the Imperial Government that we are not fit for liberal institutions,
and not prepared for self-government. We should get no amelioration. Downing Street officials
would say that we are not fit for Responsible Government, and that we ought to confederate.
There is no difficulty in showing that Confederation will be beneficial to British Columbia;
that is to say, Confederation on proper terms. I do not say that Confederation would be entirely
satisfactory on the terms proposed in the Government programme. The terms, although
excellent, do not go far enough; but I can hardly understand any man taking the position that
under those terms, even as they are. Confederation would not be beneficial. The public works
proposed would make the population of the Colony double what it is now. No man can conceal
from himself, looking at the question dispassionately, that the construction of the Railway
alone would bring a very great increase to our labouring and productive population.
We are told that the tariff of the Dominion would crush our farming and industrial
interests. Why, Sir, that tariff is a little more than a third lighter than ours, and would
relieve us of that one-third of present taxation; and our Customs duties, it must be borne in
mind, are taken by the Dominion Government. Although, in its present form, the tariff would
be ill-adapted to some of our local interests which we desire to protect, it should be remembered
that the Canadian tariff is now under revision, as regards the free admission of American"
productions; and under Confederation we shall in all probability have a treaty of reciprocity;
or, if not, certainly a revised tariff which would meet American productions, which now find a
free market in the Dominion, with a protective duty. The argument of the Honourable
Member with regard to tariff and farming interests is then swept away by that fact. [Dr.
Helmcken—" Is it a fact?"]
This subject is one of the greatest importance. All other questions are overshadowed by
it. It is the most important one ever debated on the British Pacific. It has been justly said
it is a step for life, for Better for worse. The question must be approached in a fair spirit, and
in dealing with it we ought to be thoroughly honest with ourselves; and in dealing with facts,
I hope that allowance will be made for what has been said, for I believe that much of the
present opposition arises out of ancient prejudices. Why do we find an Honourable gentleman
who has grown grey in the service of his country, and for whom we have respect amounting
to veneration, talking of centralization of every interest under Confederation at Ottawa? Does
the union of Washington Territory and Oregon with other States of the Great Republic mean
centralization at Washington?    [Dr. Helmcken—"Yes."]
Then, Sir, where would be the advantage of union in that other direction that has been
alluded to? Certain persons are fond of talking about the advantages of Annexation; all
arguments in its favour can be brought with redoubled force in favour of Confederation.
British Columbia as a member of the Union would have a Pacific frontage, but only in common
with other countries of the Union. As a part of the Dominion she would have more, for she -j
would be the only outlet of the British Confederacy on the Pacific Coast.
Exception has been taken by the Honourable gentleman to the fishery laws of the Dominion;
and it is said that the whales and salmon will cry out for Confederation to protect them. If
the Canadian fishery laws were enforced in their present form, it is possible that the salmon
might escape, and the whales might spout with impunity; but we have a right to expect that
the Dominion Parliament will adapt these laws to this Colony, on the representations of the
Members from this Province. It would be absurd to suppose that, if the fishery laws of the
Dominion were inimical to British Columbia, they would be enforced; the nature of the union
will be such as to make the interests of this part of the Dominion identical with other parts.
We cannot suppose that the Dominion Parliament would seek to injure this Province. A man
would not wantonly injure the smallest member of his body. He could not do so without
feeling it. No man can neglect or injure any member of his own body with impunity. If one
member, however humble, suffers, all the members will suffer with it. Community of interest
is the best guarantee for fair play to every section. The Dominion is made up of Provinces, «=
and the prosperity of the Dominion means the prosperity of the Provinces of which it is
composed. 18
Confederation Debate.
If we could believe that the Government of the Dominion were composed of men of so
little wisdom as the opponents of Confederation seem to think, I would say, do not let us join
them. But I believe, Sir, and the Imperial Government believes, and British Columbia believes,
that the Government of the Dominion is composed of statesmen. And I say, Sir, that since
these statesmen have grasped the great idea of Confederation, they have proved themselves
fit to govern an empire. I am surprised to find any Honourable Member venturing to suggest
that Canada either could not, or would not, fulfil her pledges. The Dominion Government is
one and the same in this matter with the Imperial Government. The Imperial Government
stands at the back of the Dominion Government, and will be equally concerned in the fulfilment
of the stipulations in their integrity. It will be time to impugn the honour of Canada when she
refuses to keep the terms. With regard to Nova Scotia, a departure was made from the terms
of union. The Imperial Government, and the Canadian Government, considered that certain
concessions ought to be made, and they were made, but only to add to the terms in favour of
Nova Scotia. British Columbia places herself in a false position before Canada, and before
the world, in saying that there is any doubt as to whether the Dominion would fulfil the
terms.
With regard, again, to the tariff. I think that the only arguments against Confederation J
worthy of consideration, are against the present Canadian Tariff. The Customs Tariff is a
federal matter, and I confess that the arguments against the applicability of the present scale
to British Columbia are entitled to notice; but, Sir, as I said before, I think these arguments
are to a great extent met by the fact that we shall have an amended tariff, or a reciprocity
treaty. But if we could hit upon some scheme that, without infringing the Dominion prerogatives, would meet our requirements, it would be most desirable, and shall have my hearty
support.
In conclusion, Sir, the Government measure shall meet with my hearty support, so far as
it goes.
It affords me unpseakable gratification to find that Government has sent down a measure
for Confederation which can hardly be cavilled at.
While feeling pleasure in giving a hearty general support to this measure, I shall reserve
to myself the right to suggest that other items shall be placed in the list now before the House.
I believe there are terms of the greatest importance which ought to be added. But anything
that can be added will not meet the wishes of the people of this Colony, unless the fundamental
principle of self-government accompanies them. I believe that the Canadians are. a great, a
wise, and a conservative people; but I conceive we should be doing a great wrong to ourselves,
to our children, and to those who are to come after us, if we left out Responsible Government.
Suppose, Sir, the case of three persons forming a partnership; if the third partner, coming
in subsequently, should consent to leave the management of his private affairs to the firm,
he would not only be giving up his own rights, but he would be throwing into the partnership
a great element of discord. I say, then, that while Canada necessarily and properly asks us
to surrender- the larger questions, she does not ask us to relinquish our smaller and local
rights, and if we give them up we shall be doing a wanton thing and a great wrong.
In promising my support, therefore, I make this reservation: That, if this Colony is to
become a Province of Canada, the people of British Columbia shall have the right to manage
their own local affairs, as fully as every other Province has. For, while I agree with the
Honourable Junior Member for Victoria, that the change from Downing Street to Ottawa would
be useless without a change in the system of Government, I say that it would be most
injurious to go into Confederation upon terms which might inaugurate a fresh era of political
agitation, which would probably continue for a series of years.
Hon. Mb. HELMCKEN—Sir, I rise for the purpose of explaining.
I deny that I uttered any such thing as that the choice would be put to the people by the
Government between two issues of Confederation and any other union. But that if the
Canadian Government refuses to agree to terms equivalent to these, but chooses to offer some
mean terms for consideration, when it comes to the polls the people themselves will raise the
issue between Confederation and the only other change which offers itself for consideration.
The debate was here adjourned until Thursday, at 1 o'clock. Confederation Debate. 19
Thubsday, 10th Mabch, 1870.
The debate was resumed by the Hon. Mb. TRUTCH, Chief Commissioner of Lands and
Works, who said:—Mr. President, in rising to renew the debate on the question which has
been brought before the House by the Honourable the Attorney-General, I desire to express
my regret that I was prevented yesterday, by indisposition, from speaking in support of the
motion which I had the honour to second, because I fear that by the delay I may have laid
myself open to the charge of waiting to reply to objections that might be urged against this
motion, instead of at once supporting it upon positive and substantial grounds, as I hold it to
be incumbent on those to do who advocate so important a measure. I must also ask the
indulgence of the House if I find it necessary to follow the Honourable the Attorney-General over
ground already so fully and ably occupied by him, as, rather than leave out anything in the
history of this question which is pertinent to my argument, I will run the risk of laying myself
open to the charge of plagiarism. In the first place, then, I must ask you, Sir, to allow me
to trace the history of Confederation in this Council, as shewn in the debates which have taken
place on the subject. You will find, Sir, that this subject was first introduced into this Council
on the 29th of March, 1867, when a Resolution in favour of the abstract principle of the Confederation of the British Provinces in North America, and expressing the desire that this Colony
should be allowed the opportunity of entering the Dominion upon fair and equitable terms,
at some future time, was unanimously agreed to. I do not quite take the view of the Honourable
the Attorney-General with respect to the discussions that have taken place on this question;
for, Sir, I think that the question is now for the first time brought before this House and the
country in a practical shape, for a full and deliberate expression of opinion. The vote which
was taken-in 1867, according to my understanding of it at that time, went no further than
to express a desire on the part of the Colony to be confederated with Canada, when a favourable
occasion should arrive, and the result of that vote was, I believe, the insertion of the clause in
the " British North America Act," on which the measure we are now discussing is based. Again,
in 1868, when the Honourable Member for District No. 2 introduced a series of Resolutions
setting forth terms on which this Colony should be united with Canada, the sense of the House,
as then expressed, was that we were not possessed of sufficient information to enable us to
come to any practical resolution on the subject; and, Sir, When the terms and conditions then
proposed for the consideration of the House are compared with those now submitted for your
adoption, no words are needed to show that the conclusion then arrived at was judicious.
Last year, again, the subject was introduced by the Hon. Dr. Davie, to a reluctant House. '
We all felt that there were circumstances which rendered its discussion then in this Council
inexpedient, although the question of Confederation was even then occupying public attention
to an absorbing extent, and had in fact been the test question at the elections a short time
previously in the Districts in this part of the Colony. But certain remarks of the Honourable
Member for Cariboo, in reference to the position of Government Members on this question,
compelled the expression of the views of the Council on the subject at that time, in a Resolution
pointing out the practical impossibility of the union of this Colony with Canada, until the North- •
West Territory was amalgamated with the Dominion.
But now Circumstances are entirely changed. The Hudson Bay Company's rights in that
region, known as the North-West Territory, are determined by purchase, and that country is
practically part of' the Dominion of Canada; for the temporary opposition from a certain class
of the population of the Red River Settlement, to the assumption of the Government by the
Canadian authorities, is passing away, if not by the present moment virtually at an end. And
treating that ebullition of feeling resulting from misapprehension of the real intention of the
Dominion Government as passed away, I regard it as an established fact that, as stated in Lord
Granville's despatch, our boundaries are now conterminous with those of Canada.
But not only is Union with Canada now practicable, but, Sir, I regard the present as a most
opportune moment for its consummation. I entirely agree with Honourable Members who say
that this Colony requires a change. In its present depressed state, the Colony needs assistance *
and fresh impetus. There are many causes which combine to contribute to the depression now
observable in the country. It has been attributed to the present form of Government. Take
that as one cause, if you please; but, Sir, I believe it has had very little effect, if any, in pro- 20
Confederation Debate.
ducing this result, and you will find many other and mightier reasons to account for it. Chiefly,
I believe, with the Honourable Attorney-General, that this depression is attributable to the
isolated position of the Colony, and to the cold shade thrown over us by the neighbourhood of
the Territories of the United States, from whom we can never hope for aid in advancing the
interests of this Colony whilst under the British Flag. The desire for some change is urgent,
and if we wait for more prosperous times, under which to claim better financial terms, we may
realize the old proverb of the " Horse starving whilst the grass is growing." Besides, Sir, on
reference to the terms now proposed for the consideration of this House by the Government,
it will be found that they are based not altogether on the present condition of the Colony, but
somewhat on an anticipated increase of population and prosperity; and I suppose we might
wait many years before such a measure of prosperity would accrue to us, as to entitle us to
ask better financial terms than are included in these Resolutions.
I believe the time, then, to be opportune, and I think that there is every reason to suppose
that the present Government of the Dominion is now desirous and ready to grant us fair and
liberal terms.
I believe, Sir, the Canadian Government are favourably disposed towards us, and" prepared
to go to the utmost of their ability in all reasonable matters to enable us to joint the Confederation. The policy and wishes of the Imperial Government, too, in the same direction are clearly
enunciated in Earl Granville's despatch; and we are fortunate in having now at the head of
the Executive a Governor admirably adapted by his ability and experience to take charge, on
our behalf, of negotiations for our union with the Dominion, and to whom the interests of the
community may confidently be entrusted.
And that brings me, Sir, to this point: That in its first introduction into this Council, this
measure must necessarily be a Government measure. The constitution of this House renders
it imperative that the initiatory steps should be taken by the Government, although the final
acceptance of the terms will properly rest with the people. The policy of the Imperial Government has been clearly stated: It encourages us to amalgamate our interests with Canada, and
points out the advantages to be thus obtained, and nothing that I could add would enunciate
more clearly than that document the grounds on which Her Majesty's Government, on behalf
of this Colony, favour Confederation.
This leads me to remark on the part that has been taken in reference to this question by
the Official Members of this House, especially by the Executive Officers. Our position has been
misapprehended—or if not misapprehended, it has been misrepresented—and I feel it my duty to
allude to the false impressions which have been spread abroad on this subject. It has been
stated that the Official Members have been obstructive to Confederation, with regard to their
own official positions and interests. But this is not the fact. On a matter so clearly involving
a question of Imperial policy, we were not at liberty to anticipate the views of the Home
Government, which have now for the first time been distinctly made public. The Hon. Attorney-
General and myself have consistently affirmed the principle of Confederation; and we have
always felt that we could safely confide our personal interests to the care of the Imperial
Government, whose servants we are. To Her Majesty's Government those interests are entrusted
by the Resolutions proposed for your adoption; and, Sir, we are well satisfied that this question
as it affects us personally should so depend. We have been right, Sir, I believe, in not anticipating the views of the Imperial Government, for the terms of union now submitted for your
adoption prove the wisdom of the course which we have pursued; and in the exercise of caution
we have shewn ourselves the truest friends of the Colony, even though we have not appeared
to be the most enthusiastic advocates of Confederation.
This, then, is a Government measure, as the Honourable the senior Member for Victoria
has told you; and as I hold it is of necessity a Government measure. This scheme is propounded
by the Government, as the guardians of the interests of this infant Colony; and I stand here
as a member of the Government to support the Resolutions which are now before you, and I
sincerely trust that they will be adopted by this Council. But His Excellency has told us that
the ultimate acceptance or rejection of the terms of union with Canada, after they have been
submitted to the Dominion Government, shall be left to the popular voice of this country.
I will now, Sir, come to the consideration of what Confederation is in the abstract, as I
understand it. It is the union and consolidation of British interests in British Territory on
this Continent, for the security and advancement of each Province individually, and of the Confederation Debate. 21
whole collectively, under the continued support of the British Flag. A great idea of great
minds, which have thus given a practical refutation to that doctrine of " America for the
United States," known as the " Munro doctrine," held by leading politicians of the States
south of us; and on this account, if on no other grounds, the principle of Confederation deserves
the support of every British heart in the Colony.
I am now brought to a subject which I should not have known how to approach, but for the
bridge thrown over for me by the Honourable Member for Victoria yesterday. By that Honourable Member the suggestion of a closer union with another country—with the United States, in
fact—and the possibility that at the next General Election such an union might be presented as
an alternative to Confederation with Canada, was introduced in so palpable a manner, that I
should feel myself derelict to my duty as a Member of the Executive and as a Member of this
Council if I did not refer to it.
Mr. President, I should do violence to my best feelings were I to refrain from availing
myself of this opportunity of paying my humble tribute of respect and esteem for the people
of that great Republic. [" Hear, hear," from all sides.] No one can better appreciate than I
do the high and eminent qualities which characterise that great Nation, and especially that
national feeling—that love of country, so worthy of our imitation—for which they have made
such sacrifices. It has been my fortune to pass several years in the United States, and to have
formed there some of the most valued friendships of my life, so that my acquaintance with
Americans has led me to form a most appreciative estimate of their social and domestic
relations, of which I can not speak in terms of too much praise. But my experience of the
political institutions of that country only led me to prize our own more highly, and made me
more than ever an Englishman; and I rejoice at the opportunity now afforded me of raising my
voice against any movement tending in the direction of incorporating this country with the
United States.
I must now make passing allusion to a petition gotten up in some mysterious way, looked ,
upon here at first as a mere joke; so insignificant that it would not be worthy of notice but
for the use made of it elsewhere.   It has been represented in other quarters as expressing the
views of a great portion of this community.   It has been so represented in very high quarters,
and I therefore notice it; and in doing so I feel compelled to state that, so far as I could learn,
it was signed by a very small number of people—forty-two, I believe, in all—many of whom were
aliens, and most of whom were foreign-born subjects, and who appear to have been generally
actuated by prejudice, based upon a lack of information respecting Canada and the Canadians,
and not by any regard for the permanent benefit of the community.    But as this petition has
/ been followed up by the publication of letters and by a discussion in the newspapers, which we
cannot blink, as to what has been termed the Annexation of this Colony to the United States;
, and as allusion was made to it, by an innuendo at all events, in this Council yesterday, I feel
f bound to express my opinion of what our position would be under any such union as has been
i hinted at.
If British Columbia were placed in the same position as Washington Territory, we should
be absolutely without representation—for that Territory has one representative in Congress, it
is true, but he has no vote—and all our officials would come from Washington. Annexation to
the United States would also entail on us largely increased taxation, and would most materially
affect an interest which the Honourable Member for Victoria told you would suffer most
from Confederation. Why, Sir, under the union suggested, our farmers would be brought into
direct competition with the farmers of Washington Territory and Oregon, and then our agricultural interests would be indeed annihilated. Again, if this country were American Territory
you would have the whole influence of San Francisco brought to bear against the mercantile
interests of Victoria; no hope could we have of building up a port here to rival San Francisco;
no, Sir, you would never see a foreign vessel in these waters. I see no advantages in the
suggestion; I have heard none pointed out, unless it be the questionable expectation that
American capital might buy up the real estate in and around Victoria, and so give the present
holders the opportunity of realizing their property into money and then leave the country to
its fate. But in this hope, Sir, I believe they would be egregiously disappointed. I will not
pursue the subject any further. Annexation is entirely out of the question, and I should not
have dared to allude to it, but for the introduction of the subject by another Honourable Member
yesterday.   What do these foreign petitioners propose to transfer?   Themselves?   Their own Confederation Debate.
property? No; not themselves, nor that which belongs to them, but the whole Colony, the soil
of this vast domain which belongs to the Crov^n and the people of England. This I regard as
treasonable. In supporting Confederation4! support the flag I serve. I say that loyalty is no
exploded idea; call it a sentiment if you will'1; life is nothing without sentiment. Every one whose
soul is not dead must cling to love of country and attachment to her flag, as one of the most
cherished sentiments of the heart, and I regard loyalty as one of the most deep-rooted and
highly prized treasures of the human breast.    [" Hear, hear," from all sides.]
Bear with me, Sir, while I tell you now what I think Confederation is not. I don't think
it necessarily means Responsible Government, or, as an Honourable Member at the other end
of the House has put it, that it means getting rid of Government Officials. If that Honourable
Member's desire is to be rid of the present incumbents of office so that others may take their
place, I think it probable that his wishes in this respect may be gratified through Confederation;
and in that case I could only hope that the change would be beneficial to the Colony. But I
doubt much if this measure would receive support from this Council on these grounds; and at
all events the Honourable Gentleman cannot expect much sympathy on that score from this side
of the House.
Again, Confederation does not, to my mind, mean Responsible Government, as some Honourable Members hold. British Columbia will assuredly get Responsible Government as soon as
the proper time arrives, as soon, that is to say, as the community is sufficiently advanced in
population, and in other respects, to render such a form of Government practically workable;
sooner, probably, through Confederation than by any other means, and the sooner the better, I
say. But I do not think it desirable to fetter or cumber the proposed terms of union with
anything about Responsible Government, and specially for the reason that we should find it
very difficult to arrive at any conclusion in favour of it. Great difference of opinion exists
upon the subject even around this Council Board, and I am by no means sure that the strongest
opposition to Responsible Government would come from the Government side of the House. It
is easier to change the constitution after Confederation than before. ["No, no."] Under the
Organic Act, this Colony could get Responsible Government. In fact, it is the special prerogative
under this Act of each Province to regulate the constitution of its own Executive Government
and Legislature; and whence this desire to act so prematurely now in this respect?
Another Honourable • Member has told you that in his opinion Confederation means the
terms—means a Railway; but I take it, Sir, that the terms proposed result from Confederation,
and that the Railway is a means to the end, for we cannot have real Confederation without a
Railway. But, Sir, I advocate Confederation on principle; and I believe the terms to be the
natural result of Confederation. They flow from it as a natural consequence, as the effect
proceeds from the cause. I believe that by Confederation we are to gain those advantages
which are set forth in the terms.
If it could be shown that by acceptance of these terms we should in any way sacrifice our
honour—lose any political status that we now enjoy—I would not support Confederation if it
brought a dozen railroads. But I believe that each member of this community will be raised
by the change. We shall have a distinct and very respectable representation in the House of
Commons and Senate. We shall have as representatives there men whose voice will be heard,
men whose duty it will be to speak for us. Far from entertaining the views expressed by the
two Honourable Members for Victoria, I am inclined to think with the Honourable Member for
New Westminster, that this Colony will have its due weight and influence in the Dominion, that
its representatives will be heard and listened to in the Canadian Parliament, and that this will
be a favoured portion of the Confederation, when admitted, on account of its position as the
outlet of Canada on the Pacific. I do not,- then, advocaTe Confederation specially on account
of the terms. I find in its general merits ample grounds for support, and I consider, as I have
said, that the terms follow as a matter of course.
The Honourable Member for Victoria has said that we are bound to prove the benefits. It
is difficult to prove anything to some minds. The benefits of Confederation are among those
things which, being in futurity, we cannot prove. I cannot prove that which has not happened.
We can only rely on human judgment and experience, and argue that such and such things will
occur, as certain causes will produce certain effects. I, and other Official Members of this
Colony, have a considerable interest in this Colony; I have, to a certain extent, identified myself
with it and its concerns for some years past, and speaking as an individual Member of this Confederation Debate.
Council, if I did not believe that Confederation would prove advantageous to this Colony, and
redound to the benefit of our local interests, I should not support it by my voice. I might as
a Government servant vote for it as a Government measure, but I should not be standing here
to speak for it and to advocate it as heartily as I do. It is hardly possible to show where the
Colony will be benefited by Confederation, without discussing the terms, which is not my present
intention to do; but I promise Honourable Members that if these Resolutions get into Committee,
I will fully satisfy them of the local advantages that must accrue to the Colony from union with
Canada, on the terms proposed in these Resolutions.
I believe, Sir, that many of the objections which have been raised to Confederation have
arisen from prejudiced feelings. I have no reason to be prejudiced against or partial to Canada.
I believe that Canadians as a people are no better than others, and no worse. I have no ties
in Canada, no particular reason for entertaining any feeling of affection for Canada; and if
I did not believe that the advance which we make will be met in a becoming spirit, [" Hear,
hear,"] then I should be of opinion that Confederation would be nothing more than an union
on paper, one not beneficial to this Colony or to Canada. There are statesmen there, Sir,
who know that it would be useless to try to beat us down on terms; for what would be the
use of Confederation if it afterwards turned out that this Colony was injured, rather than
benefited, by it.
The Honourable Junior Member for Victoria asks what guarantee have we that the terms
will be carried out. I say at once, Sir, that if the terms are not carried out, if the Canadian
Government repudiate their part of the agreement, we shall be equally at liberty to repudiate
ours. [Dr. Helmcken—"How?"] We should, I maintain, be at liberty to change; but I, for
one, do not approach this subject with any such feeling. [" Hear, hear," from Mr. DeCosmos.]
There are always two sides to a bargain, and if the terms which are frankly and honestly
proposed are not fairly and honourably dealt with, we should, in my opinion, be at perfect liberty
to draw back.
There is, however, one real and practical objection which has always suggested itself to
my mind from the first, and that is, that the same measures.that apply to the circumstances
of Canada, such as tariff, will not apply equally in all respects to this Colony. It will be asked,
then, why is there no suggestion as to some alteration or modification of the tariff in the terms.
The reason is somewhat similar to the reason for the omission of all mention of Responsible
Government. You would find it very difficult to come to any conclusions on this subject in
this Council. It is impracticable to define now positively what precise tariff would best suit
this country. Some favour a free port. I should be inclined to favour it myself if I believed
it practicable. Some, on the other hand, say that we must have protection to agriculture, and
that without it we cannot compete with the farmers of Oregon. This point was fully discussed
in the Executive Council, but it was decided to omit any conditions for the regulation of Customs
dues from these terms; and I do not think that this measure ought to be complicated with the
tariff question. I believe that we may safely trust this people with whom we are about to
negotiate, to do as much for us in this direction as we could do for ourselves; it will be to
their interest to do so. It requires no argument to show that it will be to the interest of
Canada, after Confederation, to advance the prosperity of this country. If it be possible to
adopt a special tariff to this part of the Colony, and I see no reason why it should not be
adopted, I confidently hope to see such a special tariff arranged under Confederation. [" Hear,
hear," from Mr. DeCosmos.] Rely upon it, Sir, that there are statesmen in Canada who have
a far wider and longer political experience than Members of this House, and who would be
able to point out many means of prosperity, for which we are looking with so much anxiety,—
powerful minds, before which I feel humbled,—men who I cannot for a moment suppose would
fail to see as plainly as we do that Confederation would be of no benefit to Canada unless it
redound to the advantage of British Columbia. This requires no argument; it is perfectly
plain common sense.
If we are not to have Confederation, what are we to have? What is the proposition of
those who oppose Confederation? The people of this Colony have been, for a long time past,
asking for a change, and it has been the policy of those who ask for change to throw the blame
of everything upon the Government. The policy of the Imperial Government on this matter
is clearly expressed in Earl Granville's despatch. He does not say you must confederate,
whether you will or not; it is left to the people to decide this question for themselves; but he 24
Confederation Debate.
says, virtually, " You have for years been asking for a change, you complain that your present
form of Government does not suit you; we point out for your consideration Confederation,
which, if it suits you, we favour; the Government of Canada is ready to step in and assist
you to carry out your views for the advancement of your local interests." Now, Sir, I say to
this Council,—If you don't want Confederation, what do you want? To remain as you are?
This I know you are not satisfied to do. What then? Establish a sort of Independent Government of about 6,000 people, connected with nobody, owing allegiance to nobody? The idea is
absurd. There appears, then, to be no alternative to Confederation, but that suggestion which
has been shadowed forth during this debate, and which I, for one, decline to consider as a
possibility.   And so we come to Confederation as our manifest destiny.
To sum up my argument in support of the motion of the Honourable the Attorney-General—
I advocate Confederation because it will secure the continuance of this Colony under the
British Flag, and strengthen British interests on this Continent; and because it will benefit
this community, by lessening taxation and giving increased revenue for local expenditure;
by advancing the political status of the Colony; by securing the practical aid of the Dominion
> Government, who are, I believe, able to—and whose special care it would be to devise and—
carry into effect measures tending to develop the natural resources, and to promote the prosperity of this Colony; and by affording, through a railway, the only means of acquiring a
permanent population, which must come from the east of the Rocky Mountains.
The HOn. Mb. HOLBROOK said:—Sir, In rising to continue this debate, after the able
speech of the Hon. Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works, I feel that there is little left for me
to say, as when we go into Committee I shall have an opportunity of expressing my opinion upon
the terms; and it would be factious to oppose a measure which has to come before the people
, for their decision. The way, Sir, that I understand the question of Confederation to stand at
present, is that it is not a mere abstract question of Confederation with Canada, but a question
of certain terms which have to be laid before the people; therefore, I say that any opposition
against this being done would be factious. As regards myself, I shall abide by such decision,
whatever it may be, as I consider the people themselves are the best judges as to whether they
will benefit, or otherwise, by becoming part and parcel of the Dominion of Canada. This matter
has evidently been well considered by the Executive Council, most of whom are largely interested
in the welfare of the Colony, and several of them have been as much opposed to immediate
Confederation, when the question has been before this Council on other occasions, as I have
been. But having had an opportunity of seeing the documents which have come from the
Imperial Government on the subject, the Executive have arrived at the decision that it is best
for this question to go to the country, upon the assumption that the people will ask for Confederation to be carried out on certain terms; therefore, I say, Sir, let it go to the people and
settlers of the Colony, and by their verdict let it be decided. Earl Granville has sent out a
despatch which states, in pretty plain terms, that we were not able to govern ourselves; and
there was, perhaps, more truth than poetry in this; for we have had the greatest liberty granted
to us, and yet we have not been content. Our Gold Mining Laws have been made by the Mining
Board; we have had the most liberal Land Laws; and if we have had a want that the law
could satisfy, it has been immediately granted.
Our Officials are an honour to the country. As an Englishman, I am proud of them.
Justice has been properly administered in the country; there has been absolutely security to
life and property; so much so that a man can travel in perfect safety from Cariboo to Victoria,
and capital can be safely invested in any part of the Colony.
We have excellent roads, and one of the richest spots on the whole earth for our Colony,
whether as regards mining wealth or agricultural resources; and yet a petition has emanated
from a small body of foreign residents in the City of Victoria, asking to be annexed to the
great Republic adjoining. I am well aware, Sir, that, as has been well said by the Hon. Chief
Commissioner, the petition was paltry and unworthy of notice, and that those who signed it
I were insignificant; and I may be allowed to say that we of the Mainland had no feelings in
common with them. If it were within reason to contemplate the possibility of the occurrence
of such an alternative, it might be worth while to point out its disadvantages, and to show
that under it we should not even have representation, as without a certain population, which
we have not, we could not elect a member, and we should fall back to what Washington Territory
and Oregon were in the days before this City of Victoria was brought forward by the Fleet, Confederation Debate. 25
to the encouragement and development of the neighbouring States, equally, or perhaps in excess
of the interests of our own Colony. We may say that liberty had run wild; people have actually
become dissatisfied because they have had too much of it. I remember a similar discontent
with excess of liberty In Paris, after the Revolution of 1848; the people revelled in excess of
freedom, and from so much liberty they fell into another Revolution. It is only in a country
with such free institutions as England, that such a petition could have been signed with
impunity; for if it mean? anything at all, it did not stop short of treason. In most other
countries the signers would have forfeited their liberty; in some that I have lived in, the
penalty would have been death. Speaking for the Mainland, Sir, and coming from the Royal
Town of New Westminster, I have a right to speak in the name of its loyal inhabitants. I say
that although Confederation with Canada meets with favour in some quarters, the feelings
of the inhabitants are, and ever will be, thoroughly loyal to the glorious flag of Great Britain,
and feel proud of belonging to that flag which represents honour, power, justice, and wealth,
and which is stainless and untarnished, whether unfurled in the face of an enemy and defended
by its sons, or floating in peace over such a Colony as this. We have had our complaints on
the Mainland, and we considered the removal of the Capital and centralization of business at
Victoria an injustice to the rest of the Colony, for the reason, principally, that Victoria, from
its proximity to the United States, draws its supplies thence, instead of from the Mainland,
to the gain of the neighbouring States, and consequent loss to the agricultural districts of the
Mainland of some $10,000 annually, in the article of beef alone; and for the reason that by
the Fleet being placed at Esquimalt, we of the Mainland were not only left without protection,
but that the agricultural interests of Washington Territory and Oregon were being built up
with the money expended by the Fleet in the purchase of supplies, which if spent in the
Valley of the Fraser would, by this time, have given us there a population of some thousands.
The people of my part of the Colony have favoured Confederation, in the belief that the resources
of the Colony would receive some consideration from the Dominion Government.
We all acknowledge that population is required, and I think there is no reason to doubt
that it will come. I do not attribute the depression, as some Hon. Members have done, to
bad Government. We merely followed the course of other gold countries in over trading, and
placed all our dependence upon a single mining district, and when we did not find another
Williams Creek so rapidly as we expected, we became disheartened.
But, Sir, I mean to state, and I do so without fear of contradiction, that our natural
resources are more prosperous to-day than they have ever been before, and I need only point
to the 8,000 acres of land taken up last year as an example of real and solid prosperity. We
shall acquire population from Canada by means of the railroad, and the large amount of money
required for its construction will tend to our prosperity. Our merchants also want something
fixed, that they may not be threatened with constant change, which renders commerce fluctuating
and uncertain.
I consider, Sir, that the time is opportune for Confederation for many reasons, amongst
others, that there is a favourable opportunity for us, with the aid of Canada, to make arrangements for the reception of some of the emigrant poor, who are now being assisted by the
Societies in England to go out to the Colonies. Work could be found for them on the railway,
and by this means much of our valuable agricultural land might be settled up.
I shall reserve to myself the right of opposing some of the terms when they come under
discussion, and of asking that others may be inserted. I should be glad to see inserted in
the terms a clause empowering our Local Government to make her own tariff, so as to protect
our farming interests, in a similar manner as, under the Imperial Government, the Isle of Man
and the Channel Islands have rights reserved; but I am of opinion that the full tariff of the
Dominion should in all cases be charged, and that the Local Government of British Columbia
should have the exclusive benefit of any extra tariff.
The Indians, also, should be secured the same protection that they have under our own
Government. They are now content with us, and with the way in which the laws are administered, and it is quite possible that they may hereafter be a source of great trouble, if they are
not considered as well as white men.
I shall hail with pleasure the salmon laws of Canada, spoken of by one Honourable Member,
which will prevent the placing of salmon traps at the mouth of the Fraser, stopping thereby
the fish from ascending the river, and by that means cutting off the food of the Indians, and 26
Confederation Debate.
taking from them the means of support; but I should much regret to see any laws brought into
operation which would grant monopolies, such, for instance, as in the case of cranberries, whieh
are at present a source of living to many hundreds of Indians.
As regards our defences: we should have the right to have our own forces, as every one
would have to serve in the Militia; but so long as English troops are stationed in Canada, we
ought, when we become an integral part of the Dominion, to have our share of them. And at
no very distant future I trust that the great scheme of Confederation may be carried out,
and that the Dominion may have a Royal Prince at its head, and then may the views of the
great Anglo-Saxon race as regards commerce and trade become enlightened so that English
goods may come into the Dominion duty free.
As we shall, from our position on the Pacific Coast, be the key-stone of Confederation,
I hope we may become the most glorious in the whole structure, and tend to our own and
England's future greatness.
I shall support the motion of the Honourable the Attorney-General.
The. Hon. Mb. WOOD said:—Sir, I rise to support the amendment of the Honourable Junior
Member for Victoria, to postpone the consideration of these Resolutions for six months. I desire,
Sir, to express my unqualified opposition to what is termed the Confederation of this Colony
with the Dominion of Canada on the basis of the Organic Act; and in dealing with the subject
I shall address myself to three several heads of objection:
Firstly, to the principle of the Organic Act of 1867, as applied to the British North American
Provinces;
Secondly, to the special application of the principle to this Colony;
Thirdly, to the mode in which the consent of its adoption is now attempted to be obtained.
Referring for a moment to my own personal position in this Council, I should wish to say
that I feel bound as a non-representative and non-official member to present my own views.
My mouth is not closed by official reticence, nor do I represent any constituency. I am here,
bound by my duty as a Member of this Council, to express my own conscientious views in
respect of the measure in explicit terms, in the interests no less of this Colony-than of Great
Britain, which in this, as in every Colonial question, I cannot but hold to be identical.
With respect to the general principle of Confederation of the British North American
Provinces, it will be remembered that, in 1867, I was one of those Members who did vote
that Confederation, on fair and equitable terms, was desirable. I am of that opinion still;
but my objection is that no terms based on the Organic Act of 1867 can be fair or equitable.
It cannot be denied that the idea of a confederation and general alliance between the
British Colonies in North America is a very captivating idea. The existence of a homogeneous
nation tending to act as a counterpoise to the great Republic to the south of us, is a grand'
political idea, but it is an idea most dangerous and difficult to carry out. When I voted in
1867 for Confederation on fair and equitable terms, I had in my mind Confederation in the
general acceptance of the word as understood by all political writers and by the world in
general— a union of free and self-governed States, united by a federal compact for purposes
of offence and defence, of peace and war, and for the purposes of maintaining and preserving
uniformity in laws and institutions which affect the social and commercial relation of life;
such laws and institutions as criminal law and practice, the general administration of justice,
and the laws regulating commerce and navigation. Such a Confederation I then believed to be
possible. I am foolish enough to believe it to be possible still; but Confederation as understood
by Canadian and Imperial statesmen—Confederation as effected by the Organic Act of 1S67—
is not Confederation at all. I would, indeed, throw the word Confederation to the winds, since
by Confederation is obviously meant union, incorporation, and absorption. The Organic Act
of 1867, provides for the entire transfer of all effective legislative power and control to Ottawa,
as the seat of the Dominion Government, where, owing to the much greater wealth and population
of Canada, the influence and authority of Canada bear all before it. It is a principle too obvious
for proof or dissertation, that Confederation in its proper sense can only thrive where the States
bound together by the federal compact are not only free, but where they are nearly equal.
Excess of power in any one State is fatal to the interests of the rest. No, Sir, the word Confederation has no application to the intended movement. Lord Granville, in his despatch, no
longer calls it by such a term. Union and Incorporation are spoken of, not Confederation, and
the movement realiy is one of incorporation, absorption, and annihilation. Confederation Debate.
Now, Sir, the objections that I raise are objections to the provisions of the Organic Act,
and I find it necessary, for the purposes of my argument, to turn to those provisions. I do not
mean to detain the Council at unnecessary length, but as the question before us is one which
concerns the future of this Colony for all time, r trust that I shall be excused if I dwell for a
few moments upon these points.
If we come into Confederation, we come in, as I understand it, under this Organic Act; and
it is on account of the overwhelming influence of Canada in the joint Legislature of the Dominion,
as given by that Act, that I object to the general principle of the Confederation of the North
American Provinces of Great Britain. I am told I am in error, that profound statesmen in
Great Britain and in Canada have determined otherwise, and that Confederation, on the basis
of the Organic Act of 1867, is the policy of Great Britain.
I regret, Sir, that I cannot be silenced by the weight of such authority. No statesmanship,
no conclusion, is of any value except for the reasoning on which it is founded; and I am ready
to rest the whole matter on simple argument and reason. All States large enough and populous
enough to warrant such privileges, eagerly and passionately desire the power of self-government.
It is the common passion of our race. Formerly, even now, in other places, it is British policy
to give these powers; and as New South Wales has thrown off Victoria and Queensland, so
would it appear to be reasonable to extend the principle to the British Provinces in North
America, rather than to adopt a different policy, for the simple reason that it is in accordance
with the instincts of the Anglo-Saxon race, and the just rights of man.
We want self-government, which means the protection of our own interests, and the establishment of our own welfare in our own way; the passing of our own Estimates in our own way;
the selection of those who rule, and the subsequent meeting of our rulers, face to face, in open
Council, that they may show us the results of their ruling. It means the imposition and collection of our own taxes, fostering our own industries, and the power of the purse. These are the
elements of self-government, and they are reserved to the Dominion Government, and taken from
the Provinces; hence my objections to the Organic Act. For these reasons I say that Confederation—or rather union—with Canada cannot be fair and equal, on account of the overwhelming
influence of Canada in the Dominion Parliament, now and in the future; for it always must be
so. Canada can extend, and will extend, and even of herself would be able to sway the destinies
of the Dominion. And are we to accept this position because we are told that British statesmanship wills it? Statesmanship, Sir, is nothing more than very sound common sense put into
practice—sound common sense, backed by a knowledge of mankind and of the subject-matter to
which that statesmanship is applied. And, although it is not for me to depreciate the renown
of my countrymen, it cannot be disguised that they have not unfrequently gone astray, and been
forced to submit to the control of national interests and national will. It is not difficult to find
instances of error in British statesmanship, as applied to Colonial affairs. The errors of British
Statesmen, with a majority of the House of Commons and the British Nation to back them, cost
Great Britain the thirteen United States. The errors of British Statesmen, with a majority of
the House of Commons and the British Nation to back them, have inflicted wrongs upon Ireland,
which are only now in process of removal; and the policy of British Statesmen, with the British
Nation to back it, has created a difference which has gone far to alienate the affections of the
Colonists of New Zealand.
In this question of Confederation it is impossible not to see the self-interest of Great Britain
underlying the whole matter. England is alarmed at the extent of her Colonial possessions, and
her obligations to protect them by sea and land. Of all h#r possessions, the Dominion of Canada
is the most assailable; and, doubtless, Great Britain stands alarmed at the responsibility and
cost of protecting so enormous a frontier. The question of Confederation is the question of
every tax-paying Englishman, and whatever may be the reasoning put forth, the motive is
economy and security to the tax-paying public of Great Britain. Confederation is, doubtless, /
of value to Great Britain, as establishing a counterpoise to the United States of America, and
probably inducing the Dominion of Canada to ask for and obtain independence, and so relieve
the Mother Country from the cost and duty of defending it. This is, I believe, the entire
statesmanship of the measure—a statesmanship meritorius in English eyes-^but, as I believe,
fraught with extreme danger to British interests in this quarter of the globe.
Turning now to what may be called the argument in favour of Confederation, we have
Lord Granville's despatch.   Lord Granville, it must be admitted, has ably, gracefully, and 28
Confederation Debate.
plausibly put before us the supposed advantages of Confederation:—" Her Majesty's Govern-
" ment believe that a Legislature selected from an extended area, and representing a diversity
" of interests, was more likely to deal more comprehensively with large questions, and more
*' impartially with small questions, and more conclusively with both, than is possible when
" controversies are carried on and decided upon in the comparatively narrow circle in which
■" they arise. Questions of purely local interest would be more carefully and dispassionately
" considered when disengaged from the larger politics of the country, and at the same time
*' would be more sagaciously considered by persons who have had this larger political education.
" Finally, they anticipate that the interests of every Province of British North America
■"would be more advanced by enabling the wealth, credit, and intelligence of the whole to be
" brought to bear on every part, than by encouraging each in the contracted policy of taking
" care of itself, possibly at the expense of its neighbour."
This I understand to be the argument of the Colonial Office in favour of Confederation; and
although I fully admit that it is well put, L_, believe that no argument is more fallacious. It is
delicate ground for me to touch when I presume to differ from what comes from so able a man.
On this point I wish to make myself distinctly understood. I do not profess to be a statesman
or a politician, but as a lawyer of mature age, pretending to a fair share of common sense and
a knowledge of human nature, I will venture to say, that if there is one passion more powerful in
the minds of Colonists of Anglo-Saxon origin than another, it is the passion for self-government;
in all English communities there is an ardent passion for self-government. Colonists here, as
everywhere else, are animated by an intense desire to govern themselves in the way they think
best; and to delegate that power to others is destructive of every feeling of self-respect and of
social and political liberty.
It is not necessary for me to prove that this is the case, it is too notorious for comment;
and as long as the spirit of liberty exists in the British Nation, we shall find that no one Province
will submit to legislation at the hands of a Legislature in which its interests and welfare are
overwhelmed and overborne. To secure submission to a Legislature such as that of the Dominion
of Canada, where the majority of the Canadian Members make the law, uniformity of interest
and feeling is necessary; and not only will the feeling of any separate Province be- wounded by
the consciousness that self-government is withheld from it, but on finding that its interests, or
its feelings, are overwhelmed and subjected to the interests and feelings of a dominant portion,
the sense of discontent and dissatisfaction will become universal and national, hence will ensue
a condition of things most perilous to British interests generally.
The bond of union between Canada and the other Provinces bears no resemblance to the
union between England and her Colonial Possessions. There is no natural love and original
feeling of loyalty. The feeling of loyalty towards England is a feeling blind, instinctive, strong,
born with us and impossible to be «haken off; and I believe it is impossible to transfer a feeling
of loyalty and fealty at* will. The connection between the Mother Country and a Colony—even a
Crown Colony—is well understood in principle and in practice. The Mother Country guarantees
the Colony from enemies abroad, and the entire work of inter-colonial management is, except in
matters of prerogative, left to the Colonists themselves. The Crown pretends to no dictation,
nor has it any interest at variance with the interests of the Colonists. Although in a Crown
Colony the official element is supreme, it is well understood that it is to govern—and public
opinion forces it to govern—according to the well-understood and well-established wishes of
the Colony at large. The Government can not and dare not interfere except to prevent crude,
irrational, or vicious legislation. There is no direct conflict between the Mother Country and
a Colony in these days; but it cannot be supposed that any British Province will submit patiently
to injustice at the hands of a Canadian Ministry or a Canadian House of Commons. If any
scheme has been devised more likely than another to raise and keep alive local irritation it is,
in my judgment, the scheme of Confederation on the basis of the Organic Act of 1867.
What is said by Lord Granville is true in theory, but practically it is opposed to human
nature; and in endeavouring to carry out elaborate and elevated views Great Britain stands a
fair chance of losing the whole of British North America.
Thus far I have treated of the general policy of the Organic Act.
With respect to the applicability of the scheme of Confederation to this Colony I have more
special and particular grounds of objection. I consider such an union inexpedient on several
grounds. Confederation Debate.
First, the remoteness of the Colony from Canada;
Secondly, the comparative insignificance of British Columbia;
And, thirdly, the diversity of its interests from those of Canada.
That these objections specially apply to the extension of the principle to this Colony no "
one can doubt. Lord Granville admits that the distance is an objection, but thinks that a
Railway will annihilate time and space. He thinks that the Government can be carried on at
a distance of 3,000 miles without difficulty. This Railway is to bridge over the vast desert that
intervenes between this Colony and Ottawa. The notion that we can with any effect represent
the interests of this Colony in the Parliament at Ottawa at a distance of 3,000 miles is to me
absurd. With a population such as ours, even if we have the representation suggested by the
terms, with eight Members of Parliament against one hundred and eighty-two, and four Senators
against seventy-two, how can it be supposed to be possible that our voices could be heard?
When Lord Granville spoke of " comprehensiveness " and " impartiality " in a Legislature, surely
he must have lost sight of the constituent elements of a House of Commons. For let us consider,
without any reflection upon the House of Commons at Ottawa, what is the nature of the House
of Commons of England, or of any other assembly of the same nature? Every House of Commons
is but an assemblage of the Members of Parliament pledged to support the material interests of
their constituents, whenever those interests are affected. I never can anticipate anything but
the representation of the views and the material interests of constituents in any House of
Commons. I believe that members would always vote according to the interests of men whose
votes they would have again to solicit, and of whose interests public opinion holds them to be
the acknowledged advocates.
How can we find eight men in a place like this, where at all events the most valuable
members of society are professional and business men, without selecting them from a class who
are politicians by profession? Most men here are workers of some sort, and actively employed
in their several professions and businesses, and we should have extreme difficulty in finding eight
good men who would spare the time and expense to go to Ottawa. What we should want would
be such men as are now at Ottawa, the principal business men, bankers, merchants, and professional men; but time and space will prevent this most valuable class of men from leaving British
Columbia and representing our interests at Ottawa, and we shall be compelled either to retain
the services of Canadian gentlemen, who, living in Canada, would be the British Columbian representatives only in name, or we should have to take eight representatives who will be content to
make politics a profession, and we shall have to pay them for their services. To the insignificance of British Columbia as a Province of the Dominion the same remarks apply.
Difference of interests is a still more material point. Upon this point direct conflict is sure
to arise. Canada belongs to the Atlantic, and looks to the Old World for her markets. We are
a new country, our staples are totally different. Questions »cannot but arise between British
Columbia and Canada—between the East and the West—in which Canadian interests will •
prevail over those of British Columbia; and aggravated by the feeling of wounded pride and
forced insignificance, the Colonists of British Columbia will feel naturally aggrieved.
The Colonial feeling is well known—pride and attachment to the Mother Country and
intense sensitiveness and tenacity where injustice or wrong is done. Once let this feeling be
roused amongst us and it will not be long before British Columbia is clamorous for repeal;
and not obtaining it, the country will be ripe for any other change, however violent.
Now, Sir, with respect to the third head of my objections. With respect to the mode in
which the consent of this Colony is attempted to be obtained, I am sorry to notice what I cannot
but call a spirit of diplomacy, and a spirit of management, characterizing the whole movement
in favour of Confederation on the part of the Imperial Government. It is obvious throughout
that the Imperial Government desires to obtain their end and aim of Confederation in a mercantile spirit of bargain and sale, which jars upon my feelings of right and wrong.
If this Council is properly the Legislature of British Columbia; if we reflect the intelligence,
the substance, and the interests of the Colony, we ought to have originated these Resolutions
ourselves. The matter should have arisen spontaneously amongst us, without any attempt at
leading or forcing. What may be His Excellency's own views upon the subject of Confederation
we cannot tell. I look upon Lord Granville's despatch as a diplomatic order, couched in polite
language, but nevertheless a requirement to the Governor to carry out the will of the Colonial
Office, without reference to his own convictions.   All that we are told by His Excellency upon 30
Confederation Debate.
this subject is that the Colony will derive " material benefit" from Confederation, and the Colony
has been offered by the Executive certain material benefits in the shape of a Railway, a Dock,
cash in hand, and freedom from debt, in return for the transfer of all legislation to the Dominion
of Canada. These " material benefits " being paraded before the eyes of the Colonists, the •
bargain is afterwards to be accepted or refused by a Council composed mainly of Representative
Members. This mode of operation, no less than the bargain itself, is equally objectionable in
my eyes. The material benefits—the Dock, the Railway, the money payments—are in effect
nothing more than bribes to the present generation to forego the rights of self-government.
I have no doubt that the Colony will accept the bargain. The Colony is a small one, the
population not exceeding 6,500 adult white men, and of these many are gentlemen of Canadian
proclivities, Canadians by birth, who are naturally, and I may say patriotically, in favour of a
union with their native country.
There are many, also, who, in the present adverse condition of things in this Colony, are
desirous of change of any kind, and eager for any opportunity of benefiting by operations which
promise to throw population, capital, and enterprise into the Colony. We have suffered much
from pecuniary depression, and when we have an offer from a great country to come and spend
money among us, can you doubt that any one will fail to feel these advantages; while many
more hope for political power and eminence in a system which they expect will carry with it
Representative Institutions, if hot Responsible Government. Can we doubt that the vote will
be in favour of Confederation? The people of this country will sell themselves for the consideration of the present, and posterity will hereafter ask indignantly what right had we to
shackle them, and to deprive them of rights which cannot be sold.
We shall reap the benefit, and those that come after us will reap the disadvantage and
humiliation. It is not in the power of the present generation to dispose of the birthright of
its descendants. Liberty and self-government are inalienable rights. The original vice of the
matter still remains, and when once the material benefits are enjoyed or forgotten, and the
consciousness of disadvantage is apparent, reaction will set in; a party of repudiators and
repealers will arise, who with great show of justice will clamorously demand the reversal of
an organic change, founded on political error and wrong. Although our masters at "Ottawa may
be ever so amiable and ever so pure, the moment we feel the yoke we shall repent; it is not in
the nature of Englishmen to submit to tyranny of any description; and dissent such as our
posterity will express, will be on only too sound grounds. I say, Sir, that this matter ought not
to be brought forward now, when the country is in a state of depression, ready to catch at
anything. Recourse should not be now had to Representative Institutions for the first time,
when the obvious effect is the acceptance by this Colony of a confederation which carries with
it direct immediate, pecuniary gain. Few have the self-denial to reject a, bait so invitingly
. dangled before their eyes. If the Colonists are to be trusted with Representative Institutions,
'for the purpose of effecting so important and radical a constitutional change, why are they not
to be trusted with Representative Institutions altogether? It is notorious that the Colony is,
probably with justice, considered by the Imperial Authorities unfit for full Representative Institutions, and that a Council, with a predominant official element within it, is the only fit body
to deal with important questions. Yet this Council is to be differently constituted, and the
ultimate terms to be accepted by the people alone, for the sole purpose of forwarding the
cause of Confederation. The whole scheme for effecting Confederation is but a scheme of
temptation very difficult to forego, though it must be admitted recourse is not had to actual
or practical force and obligation.
I have delivered my honest opinion on this matter, liberavi animam meam, I fear at great
length. But I have spoken according to my conscientious convictions and a spirit of the truest
loyalty. I am desirous to promote the interests of the British Nation; and I believe the present
movement puts them in great peril. I have given you the best proof of my sincerity. I have
spoken against my own interests. I have material interests in this Colony which will greatly
benefit by the movement which will ensue from the building of a Railroad and a Dock. The
interests of friends and connections who are dear to me will be much benefited; and those who
know the world tell me that it would have been much better for me if I had bent before
the storm which I cannot avoid; that the honours and rewards of my profession are not likely
to be bestowed upon one who is no friend to a popular, an Imperial, and a Canadian movement;
but I cannot act against political conviction. I am here to give honest counsel, and I have done
it, come what may. Confederation Debate.
31
The question has always appeared to me to be this:—Confederation with England, which
we have; Confederation in its truest sense; Confederation with all the security of protection,
and all the pride of self-government, now or hereafter to be, when the Colony shall have
population and wealth sufficient: or Confederation—or, as it should be termed, " Incorporation "—
with Canada. Incorporation with a country to which we are bound by no natural tie of affection
or duty, and remote in geographical position, and opposed to us in material interests. Incorporation with all the humiliation of dependence, and to my mind the certainty of reaction,
agitation, and discontent. Canada can never become the assignee, the official assignee, the
Downing Street official assignee of the affection and loyalty which exists between this dependency and the Mother Country. I am opposed to the political extinction of this Colony, and
its subservience to the will of a majority of the House of Commons at Ottawa, and the administration of its affairs by the "political adherents of Canadian statesmen. And all this for
what? For " material benefits," for a money consideration, in which the ring of the dollar
only faintly conceals the clink of the fetter. I am grieved at the mode in which the change
is sought to be effected, and view the bargain and sale of political independence for ourselves
and our descendants for a few dollars in hand, and a few dollars in the future, as equally
shameful and void.
Railway or no railway—consent or no consent—the transfer of Legislative power to
Ottawa, to a place so remote in distance and in interest, is an injustice and a political
extravagance which time will most surely establish.
The Hon. Mb. DeCOSMOS, Member for Victoria District, then rose and said \—Mr. President,
I congratulate you, Sir, and this House upon the noble work on which we are engaged. We are
engaged, I believe, in Nation-making. For my part I have been engaged in Nation-making for
the last twelve years—ever since I have been engaged in politics in the Colony. {Hon. Registrar-
General—" You have not made a Nation yet."] The Hon. Registrar-General says that I have
not made a Nation yet. I need only, in reply, quote for his enlightenment the old adage " Rome
was not built in a day." [Laughter.] In the humble part that I have taken in politics, I have
ever had one end in view. I have seen three Colonies united on the Pacific Coast. [Hon. Mr.
Helmcken—"Three?"] Yes, three: Stekin, British Columbia, and Vancouver Island; and if
I had had my way, instead of the United States owning Alaska, it would have been British
to-day. I have advocated the union of those three Colonies, and in the union of two of them
particularly I have taken a prominent part. For many years I have regarded the union of
the British Pacific Territories, and of their consolidation under one Government, as one of the
steps preliminary to the grand consolidation of the British Empire in North America: I still
look upon it in this light with the pride and feeling of a native-born British American. From
the time when I first mastered the institutes of physical and political geography I could see
Vancouver Island on the Pacific, from my home on the Atlantic; and I could see a time when
the British Possessions, from the United States boundary to the Arctic Ocean, and extending
from the Atlantic to the Pacific, would be consolidated into one great Nation.
Sir, my political course has been unlike that of most others in this Colony. Allow me to
illustrate my meaning by the use of another old adage. My course has been that of " beating
the bush whilst others caught the bird." My allegiance has been to principle, and the only
reward I have asked or sought has been to see sound political principles in operation. Therefore, Sir, I say again that I congratulate you and this Honourable House on the noble work
on which we are all engaged.
We are here, Sir, laying the corner stone of a great Nation on the Pacific Coast. When
we look at past history, we find some nations that date their origin in the age of fable; some
have been produced by violence, and extended their empire by conquest. But we are engaged
in building up a great Nation in the noon-day light of the nineteenth century, not by violence,
not by wrong, but I hope, Sir, by the exercise of that common sense which the Honourable
gentleman who preceded me called statesmanship.
It was not my intention yesterday to have taken up the attention of this House with any
remarks until we were in Committee of the Whole, although I have taken, for historical
purposes, ample notes of the debate. Allusions have, however, been made during the course of
this debate, amongst others to myself. I am, therefore, compelled to crave the indulgence of
the House for a time to set myself right before this Council and the country, and to add my ^m
wssm
Confederation Debate.
humble opinion to those around me in favour of the consideration of this question in Committee of the Whole. I shall support the general principle of Confederation [Hear, hear], as I
have always done, if we get to the discussion of the terms proposed.
First, Sir, let me allude to some of the statements of the Honourable the Attorney-General
(Mr. Crease) and the Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works (Mr. Trutch), and to the
Honourable Executive Member for Victoria City (Mr. Helmcken). Sir, I know something about
the history of Confederation. Up to the opening of this Session Confederation has been
a subject of agitation. It may properly be divided into several heads: Firstly, agitation; secondly, negotiation; thirdly, inauguration; and fourthly, I hope, successful
operation. Now, Sir, it is apparent that every act of mine in reference to Confederation, up
to the time it was announced in Earl Granville's despatch, up to the time His Excellency the
Governor sent down his Message—every act of mine was in the line of agitation. It was with
the view to bring about the consideration of terms with the Dominion Government; to hear
what they would do; to bring the question before the people, and to canvass its defects and
^advantages, that I for one have agitated the question. In doing so I have come in for blows
from open enemies and treason from false political friends. Sir, the era of agitation has now
passed, and we advance to the era of negotiation.
When I heard the Hon. Attorney-General, yesterday, invoking High Heaven; and when I
heard him explaining the position of Official Members upon this question; when I heard him
state that he was always in favour of Confederation, there flashed across my mind one of the
proverbs of Solomon, which I cannot refrain from repeating: " Such is the way of an'adulterous
woman; she eateth and wipeth her mouth and saith I have done no wickedness." [Laughter.]
Sir, I respect any Honourable Member who will, if he sees reason to change his opinion, come
down and frankly tell the honest truth; but when an Honourable Member tries to make political
capital out of other men's labour, I confess I do not respect him. On the contrary, such men as
the latter, when officers of a Government, remind me of the remark of a celebrated French
philosopher, who said: " That in all the mysterious ways of Providence there is nothing so
inscrutable as his purpose in committing the destiny of nations to such creatures as these."
[Laughter.]
There are men in this Colony entitled to some honour; some men who are entitled to praise
for having brought Confederation to its present stage; but they are not the Honourable gentleman, the Minister of Justice, nor the Honourable the Chief Commissioner.    [Hear, hear.]
Is Earl Granville entitled to the credit of bringing this matter forward? Is Governor
Musgrave, or his Cabinet, or the Officials? No, Sir, I should be doing wrong if I permitted it
to be supposed that the credit was due to any one of them. I have assisted to make history,
and this is a page of it. Let it go forth to the world that the people of this country have
made Confederation the important question that it is to-day.
The Hon. Chief Commissioner, whom we have heard with so much pleasure to-day, made an
allusion to me. He said that when I brought this matter before the Council in 1868, that the
Executive Council opposed Confederation then, and the present terms proved their wisdom in
delaying the question at that time. On that occasion my object was only agitation to open
negotiations. But, Sir, what did I hear at that time? " You pension the officials and we
will all vote for Confederation," and I think I could mention another Executive Councillor who
said: " Do you think we are such fools as to vote for Confederation without being provided for? ""
That was the kind of wisdom in vogue in 1868. Sir, I again object to Hon. Members taking credit .
where no credit is due.    [Hear, hear.]
Let us turn now to the Honourable Member for Victoria City (Dr. Helmcken), once a warm,
and generous friend to Confederation; and what has been the result of his opposition? Impotence. He was impotent to retard the question. He was impotent to advance it. By impotent,
I mean powerless. He was impotent to stem the course of events. He hung out the banner of
Anti-Confederation in Victoria, and won his seat by crying " down with Confederation." Before
he contested the seat with me, I told him that the Canadian Government would not negotiate
until the North-West Territory question was settled. Yet the Hon. Member for Victoria City
charged me with backing down from Confederation.
The Hon. Member for New Westminster, also, denounced me in his elegant English in the
Columbian as giving up the cause of Confederation. But, Sir, why did I say that the
Canadian Government would not enter into negotiations with us?    It was because I had in Confederation Debate. 33
my pocket at the time, a despatch from a Canadian Cabinet Minister, which said that the
Dominion Government would not negotiate until the questions then pending with respect to the
North-West Territory were settled. The Hon. Member for Victoria City held up, however, his
puny arm against Confederation. But has he stopped it? No! Not a day, nor an hour; for as
soon as the North-West Territory question was settled, then came a despatch to the Governor
to push on Confederation. I think I have said enough, Sir, to show that it was the people
who took this matter in hand, and it is the people who will carry it through.    [Hear, hear.]
Although I have risen unprepared to make a set speech, there are still some points raised
in debate which, in my opinion, require attention.
The Hon. Attorney-General, after opening his budget upon Confederation, has referred to
the three courses which these terms had to take:—First, they are to be arranged by this House;
next, to go to the Canadian Government; and, thirdly, to be ratified by the people of this
Colony.
I hope, Sir, that this House will deal with these terms in the interests of Britsih Columbia.
I stand here not as a Canadian, but as a British Columbian; my allegiance is due first to British
Columbia. I sincerely hope that these terms will be dealt with from a British Columbian
point of view [Hear, hear, hear, hear], and first as to the money value of Confederation.
[Hear, hear, from Dr. Helmcken.] It may grate on the ear of the once Solicitor-General (Mr.
Wood) to mention money; but, Sir, I believe in the old adage that: "Money makes the mare
to go." I do not intend to allude to the terms in the Resolutions at present, any further than
to say, that I do not believe in going into Confederation without good terms. I believe that it
would be traitorous to British "Columbia to consent to Confederation without good terms; and
that we would not do our duty if we did not insist upon getting them.
The Hon. Attorney-General asks why we are not prosperous? In my opinion, Sir, the
causes of our want of prosperity are various. They first arose under the administration of
Sir James Douglas in 1858, and have been perpetuated down to the present day. The people
were then almost driven away, and down to the present time the Government have done
nothing comparatively to induce population to settle in the Colony. Another reason is, that
the country is somewhat rugged, and not so attractive for settlement as some others. The
Hon. Member for Victoria City says that it is our proximity to the United States. I most
respectfully deny it. Population would have come if greater efforts had been made to get it.
The Attorney-General is consistent in one thing. He said in 1867, and he says in his
speech now, that British Columbia is of vital importance to Canada. I cannot see it. I
cannot see why the Canadian Railway, if this was a foreign country and our boundary
coterminous with that of Canada, might not have run through to connect with our railway
system, as the French railways connect with those of Belgium.
When sitting in the Vancouver Island House of Assembly, in the place now occupied by
the Hon. Chief Commissioner, I defined British Colonists to be politically, nothing but subordinate Englishmen; and I contend, Sir, that Confederation will give us equal political rights
with the people of Great Britain. In labouring for this cause, Sir, my idea has been and is
to assist in creating a nationality—a sovereign and independent nationality.
Now, I come to the Hon. Member for Victoria City again. I really confess, Mr. President,
that I expected more sterling opposition from that Hon. gentleman. I thought we had here
the modern Charles Martel, the celebrated armed warrior who had gone out to drive the
Saracens—the Canadians—back across the Rocky Mountains. I thought that he would have
protested like Paul the Protestant. [Dr. Helmcken—"What became of St. Paul?"] Paul was
converted, and I hope the Hon. Member may share the same fate. [Laughter.] I expected the
Hon. Member to have delivered a philippic, that would have done honour to Demosthenes when
declaiming against Philip of Macedon. But, I really don't know but what he has been set up
as a target by the Government—a man of straw—to draw the shot of all the Confederate party.
I don't know why he was taken into the Executive Council. I thought that this Council was
an united and impenetrable phalanx, but it seems that it is otherwise. What a happy family
that Executive Council must be! The Member for Cariboo and the Member for the City differ
in their views, and both differ in this House from the Honourable Executive Councillors at
the other end of the table. It is like Barnum's happy family. But the Honourable gentleman
has told us some things which are good, and besides that he is going to raise other issues.
[Dr. Helmcken—" I? "]
3 34
Confederation Debate.
Yes, the Honourable gentleman said that the issue would be raised at the next election,
between going to Canada and going somewhere else.
[Dr. Helmcken—" I said that I thought it very probable if mean terms were proposed by
Canada, the people would raise other issues."]
O! " the people," those much abused words. I believe in the people when they are right.
But the Honourable gentleman did threaten to raise the issue of going somewhere else. Now,
Sir, where else except to Canada could we go? The Honourable Member talks of the agricultural interests. Why, Sir, by going somewhere else, these interests from Comox to Sooke,
and from Soda Creek and Kamloops to the Lower Fraser would be destroyed. The country
would be flooded by produce from the United States. From Comox to Sooke, from the delta of
the Fraser to Cariboo, the farming interests would be destroyed by going somewhere else. If
that question came up, Sir, the farmers would quickly put it down. The Honourable Member
for Victoria City says that the question comes here by desire of Her Majesty's Government.
Sir, I say, again, that it comes here by desire of the people, a large proportion of whom have
asked Her Majesty's Government and the Government at Ottawa to bring it here. I am thankful that the question of Confederation is here. The Honourable gentleman says it is a
Government measure, and that the terms must be passed. I say, again, that I hope terms will
be passed of such a character as will contribute to the prosperity and happiness of this Colony.
The Honourable Executive Councillor says that this is a Government measure, and that it
ought to be an open question. Why does he not retire from his seat then? I would not be
a candidate for his place.
[Dr. Helmcken—" There are no candidates.   The Executive Council are appointed."]
Then I am sorry for the choice that has been made. Why, Sir, the programme settled by
Government would leave it virtually an open question by referring the terms to a popular vote.
I may have something to say upon that hereafter. How patriotic will the Honourable gentleman
be when he goes outside, and says that this nominative Council, presided over by a paid Colonial
Secretary, have done this! How very easy it is for an Honourable gentleman to talk about the
autocracy of Government, when it suits him to do so. Look at his conduct in voting supplies.
When my Honourable friend on my left (the Member for Lillooet) tried to bring in a Bill to
repeal the Crown Salaries Acts, was he not choked off by the Honourable Member for Victoria
City objecting first? But I am only delaying the House. [Hear, hear.] The Honourable
Magisterial Member for Victoria City says "hear, hear." Now, Sir, as far as I am concerned,
the Honourable Member has my full permission to withdraw. [Laughter.] I have always been
ready to take a British subject vote on this question; but the Honourable Member for Victoria
has always dissented from that proposal.
The Honourable Member for Victoria City has a remarkable way of putting things. But a
few days ago he stated m this House, that if the people will only support the Government in
getting the terms proposed, all will be right. I quote from the Colonist newspaper of 20th
February,,1870, in which the Honourable gentleman is made to say, "I hope the people will
support the Government in trying to get terms." He now comes down-here and opposes them.
[Dr. Helmcken—" I don't oppose the terms, I oppose Confederation."] A distinction without
a difference. The Honourable Executive Councillor says the time is inopportune. I say, Sir,
that now is the time. If the new gold discoveries, which have been mentioned in the course of
this debate, really exist, now is the time to confederate, and to take means to attract and retain
population. I, Sir, have spent five years of my life in the mining districts of California, and
have helped to build up town after town; but how are they now? Many of those towns which
had their 5,000 inhabitants have almost none now. It will be the same with our gold-mining
towns. I fear the Honourable gentleman will always say the time is inopportune, not only
before the population arrives, but when it is here, and after it goes. If we can make a good
bargain with Canada, by all means let us make it, and make it now. I like the word bargain,
it sounds like business. What did the Honourable Member for Victoria say at the last election?—
" Don't let us have Confederation, for we shall have a surplus revenue of $100,000 in 1869, and
we will do better without Confederation." Confederation was inopportune then. There was a
large deficit or falling off in the revenue for 1869, and yet he says it is inopportune now. He
; said, yesterday, we shall have a reduction of the public debt in 1873 of about $36,000, and by
j funding the floating debt make another saving of $15,000 per year. So that for a paltry saving
of $50,000 three years hence, the Confederation question is now inopportune.   I am surprised at Confederation Debate.
35
the Honourable gentleman. First, it is inopportune, because of the present depression; second,
inopportune at the last election, because things looked so bright; thirdly, inopportune now,
because we can save $50,000. Your predecessor as. Minister of Finance, Mr. President, promised
great things, but the Governor's Message with the Estimates shows how they have turned out.
I do not deal in prophesy, but in facts. Let any one look at Cariboo. Look at Victoria. If we
wait for the time to be opportune, we may wait until it is too late. Suppose any unforeseen
accident were to happen to our gold mines. If the golden spring is dried up, the golden stream
that now flows from Cariboo to Victoria will be dried up also. We are asked by the Honourable
Member for Victoria to wait for the census of 1871. What has the census of Canada to do with
the question? The basis- of population as set forth in these terms is all fiction. It does not come
up to my idea of nation-making. Why not deal with facts? Why set up some legal fiction of
John Doe and Richard Roe? I want facts, not fiction. Let us base our financial calculations
upon facts, and the rest will work itself out satisfactorily. Much has been said, during the
debate, about the Red River Territory and its settlement. For my part I don't care if the Red
River difficulty is never settled, so far as it bears on the question before the Council. I believe
that the Red River country and the valley of the two Saskatchewan are not so favourable for
L settlement as some amongst us are accustomed to assert. But whether the North-West Territory
is confederated or not, I go in for Confederation, because I believe we can make terms, and
good terms, with Canada. The Honourable Member for Victoria City talks of the drawbacks
to Confederation arising out of the vast extent of country, and our great distance from the seat
of the Federal Government. That will hardly scare anybody, with the example of the United
States before us. Next he says that the Dominion is only an experiment, and that it may break
up. How often have I heard people predict that the United States, as a nation, mpst break up,
as it was only an experiment. Why, Sir, they forget that the States had existed as separate
Governments for one hundred and fifty years before their union. So with the Provinces of the
Dominion of Canada; they existed as separate Governments for the last hundred to two hundred
years, and Confederation is but the application of long-tried principles to a larger territory.
Why did not the Honourable Member for Victoria City, when he said there were defects in the
Confederation machine, tell us what the great defects in the machine were? He has merely
raised up a scarecrow. Then he says it is absurd to ally ourselves to people who were 3,000
miles away ;• but nothing in his argument showed me that the absurdity was proven. I remember, Sir, when the communication between California and Washington was by Panama and
Nicaragua. Was California then less to the United States than now? We now can hold communication with Ottawa by San Francisco and the Pacific Railroad, and will be as near to our
Central Government as Washington Territory. The Honourable Member speaks of people 3,000
miles away being unable to do as well for us as we could do for ourselves. I believe they could
do just as well, so far as some general principles are concerned, if we only settled the conditions
properly. With regard to the States of the neighbouring Republic getting on better than the
Provinces or ourselves, I would ask, where is the progress of Washington Territory, as compared with our own country? [Dr. Helmcken—" It contains a much larger population."] The
population is only five thousand voters!
The Honourable gentleman is pursuing the same devious course as he did in past years,
when he opposed reform, when our Government might have been beneficial to the Colony, had
it been based on the popular will. He says that the deposition of the Free Port drove people
out of the Colony. I take this occasion to state that, in my belief, the deposition of the Free
Port was the commencement of the permanent prosperity of this city, and brought in its train
the dawning of* prosperity throughout the whole district, from Comox to Sooke, which includes
the district which I have the honour to represent, and which now numbers six hundred voters,
all of whom are prosperous. There, Sir, lies the key-stone of Confederation! If the terms
between British Columbia and Canada do not protect the farming interests, the largest and the
only permanent interest in this Colony,- Confederation will do no good. If it does not protect
the farming interest, I vote against Confederation, first, last, and all the time.
It would be most unwise to join Canada without protection. We must have a control over
certain imports in the terms, for a protective tariff is the only inducement to farmers to remain
upon the soil. We depend upon them to build up a permanent interest in the country, that will
last for ever.
We most certainly do want extension of commerce, but the true mode to obtain extension
is to add to its volume internally.   First, I believe in developing internal trade and industry; 1!
36
Confederation Debate.
next, I believe in external trade. Allow these terms as brought down by the Government to
pass, and in a few years you will reduce Victoria to the position of a mere smuggling village.
Protection is a necessity. So long as there are nations and national interests, so long will it be
necessary to have laws to protect those interests. Allow me, Sir, on this point to say that there
is a great revolution in the value of realty, capital, and labour commencing on the Pacific Coast.
The equalization of the value of realty, capital, and labour has commenced. The whole tendency
of events in the countries to the south of us is to equalize the value of labour, of real estate, of
capital, of manufactures, and of produce on this coast with their value on the Atlantic side.
No such revolution in values has ever occurred on the Pacific Coast, except that produced by
the discovery of gold, as has been produced since the opening of the Pacific Railroad. Take off
protection, then, from our farmers, and they are reduced to the condition of agriculturists to the
south of us, who will be reduced to the condition of those in the east. No doubt the prices of
our farmers will be reduced by the revolution that is going on; but give them protection against
foreign competition, and there will still be inducement for them to remain. The Honourable
Chief Commissioner referred to this in a very proper spirit; and the Honourable Member for
New Westminster says that it is one of the most important questions. I hope, therefore, that
the subject will have due weight with them.
The Government of Canada, according to the proposed terms, would give us a surplus revenue
of $200,000. [Dr. Helmcken—" No."] The Honourable Member says no. He may be right. But
upon the calculation that we shall have $200,000 surplus revenue, I say that this subsidy will be
equivalent to four hundred farmers, who earn in the Colony $500 each, annually. By taking
off protection from our farmers, to get the $200,000, we would injure the country instead of
benefiting it. . But get the surplus of $200,000, and at the same time protection for our farmers,
and we will do a prosperous business under Confederation. This is what we have to arrange,
what we have to get into the terms. [Dr. Helmcken—"All right! I will help you."] I would
say that " extremes meet," for I now meet my Honourable friend (I mean political enemy) [" No,
no,"] to secure protection. I do not see, with the Honourable Member for Victoria City, that we
can get all we want without Confederation by a judicious arrangement of our own tariff. I can
show that what we want most in this Colony is population, and that population employed in a
remunerative manner. Isolation will not secure population. Confederation on proper terms will
give us population; will give us means to employ labour remuneratively; win enlarge our commerce, and build up our industry. If it give us public works,—if it give us a railroad from a
point on the Fraser, below Yale, to Savona's Ferry on Lake Kamloops,—and if we connect Lake
Okanagan with the Spel-mah-cheen River, by railway, which is only about thirteen miles,—not
only will the whole country from Osoyoos Lake, on the boundary, behind the Cascades, be
opened up and connected with our chief commercial city, with a cheap and speedy means of
transportation, but all this tract of country traversed by the railways and lake communication
will be utilized in producing wheat and wool, and other articles for exportation. Victoria, then,
will be built up, and will be the chief commercial city of British Columbia, with all other parts
of the Colony tributary to her. This is what Confederation on proper terms will do for us. The
Honourable Member for Victoria said that no lasting union could be maintained, unless the
interests of British Columbia are preserved. If I look (for argument sake) at these things from
a Canadian point of view, I find that by serving the interests of British Columbia, the interests
of Canada will be served. Canada, as well as British Columbia, will benefit by a protective duty
here. Canada will get the revenue under protection, and British Columbia will have its industry
protected from foreign competition. And there is no reason that we should not have our
interests protected. [Dr. Helmcken—" The Organic Act says no."] The Organic Act says no
such thing. Confederation is diversity in unity: really and essentially a general unity, and an
application of law to diverse interests. First,.we find that New Brunswick, under the Organic
Act, gets a temporary subsidy of $63,000 per annum. None of the other Provinces receive any
temporary subsidy under that Act. New Brunswick is allowed to collect export dues on lumber.
All the other Provinces are prohibited from levying dues on lumber. Now, if New Brunswick
gets an additional subsidy, and levies a lumber tax prohibited to the other Provinces, why cannot
British Columbia get exemption from uniformity in her favour? Nova Scotia gets two subsidies,
equal to $160,000, which are not in the Organic Act. The Crown lawyers say that the grant is
not unconstitutional. This is a noted exception, made to satisfy the Nova Scotia repeal party.
Another exception is found in the compulsory provision that appointments to the Judiciary shall
be made from the Bar of the Provinces for which the appointment is made, till the laws and Confederation Debate. 37
practice are assimilated. If the Organic Act is wrong, I say change the Act. But I believe
that I have successfully shown that exceptions have been and can be made under the Organic
Act.
Now, let us see what this horrible Canadian tariff is. It is too high on cattle for us; not
high enough on bacon, butter, cheese, and lard by a few cents; and imposes nothing on hay,
hops, and grain of all kinds. I explained the whole to my constituents, at eleven meetings, and
they said, get these few alterations made to suit us, and we will support Confederation. So we
must have an alteration. Why, Sir, under the English Constitution different tariffs can be
imposed. Look at the difference in the excise spirit duties that were levied formerly in Scotland
and England, for instance. As a lawyer, not as a judge, I give my opinion that we can have one
tariff in British Columbia, and another in the Atlantic Provinces, under the Organic Act; and if
the Act does not allow it, then we must alter it.
I have already given notice of motion respecting protection for our farmers and manufacturers. I desire to add a resolution to the proposed terms, keeping the power.in the hands of
the Local Legislature to impose a tax on certain imports, in case the tariff be too low. With
respect to brewers, the tariff can easily be arranged so as to protect them; and the Honourable
Member for New Westminster has answered the objection to the Dominion fishery laws. As for
commerce, that common sense that the Hon. Mr. Woods calls statesmanship, will settle that;
for if Confederation would injure the commercial interests of British Columbia, it would also
injure the interests of the Dominion.
The Honourable Member for Victoria City has said a great deal about centralization. But
I say, Sir, that there must be a centre somewhere. We cannot have it in British Columbia, and
a centre would be no worse in Ottawa than in Washington. The Pacific Coast, so far as the
United States are concerned, is represented at Washington, which is not so large a city as
New York.
Representation is one of the most important elements in free Governments; and as it has
been urged by the Hon. Mr. Wood and others, that British Columbia would not be heard in the
Canadian Senate or Commons, and that our small delegation would be crushed and out-voted,
I will briefly examine the subject. Now, Sir, the whole of the Pacific States of the United
States have only twelve Representatives in Congress—six in the Senate and six in the House of
Representatives. California has two Senators and three Representatives; Oregon, two Senators
and one Representative; Washington Territory, one Delegate; and Nevada, two Senators and
one Representative. Now, it is proposed in the Resolutions to grant to British Columbia twelve
Members—four in the Senate and eight in the Commons—a number equal to the whole representation of the Pacific States, with 1,000,000 people, in the United States Congress. Again, there
are only five States that have more than twelve Members in Congress. They are New York,
Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Take another glance at the representation of the
States most remote from Washington. Texas has five Members; Florida, three; Maine, seven;
and California, five. Remoteness and small numbers have never caused any of these States to
be treated unfairly. Under the popular system of government there, the small States do not go
to the wall. Has little Delaware gone to the wall? Has Rhode Island gone to the wall? No;
neither would British Columbia go to the wall in the Parliament of Canada. The Government
of Canada is based on the popular will; and that is the highest of guarantee that we shall be
treated fairly by the Dominion.
I have never heard of Scotland being injured because she had a smaller representation in
Parliament than England.
[Hon. Mr. Wood—" Yes, yes.   Two revolutions followed immediately upon union."]
Yes; but that don't affect my proposition. A little blood-letting, however, does no harm
occasionally. I would not object to a little revolution now and again in British Columbia after
Confederation, if we were treated unfairly; for I am one of those who believe that political
hatreds attest the vitality of a State.    [Hear, hear.]
The Honourable and learned Member for Victoria says that all power will be taken away
by Confederation. Why, Sir, the Honourable gentleman cannot have read the Organic Act.
For he will find the exclusive powers of the Dominion and the Provinces clearly set forth in it.
Then, Sir, on the question of guarantee for the fulfilment of the conditions by Canada, there
appears to be some misapprehension in the Honourable gentleman's mind. In point of fact, we
have a guarantee from the Imperial Government. If the Dominion refuse to keep the terms
and repudiate their part of the bargain, we can appeal to the Imperial Government to release us. 38
Confederation Debate.
[Hon. Mr. Wood—" Let us have it in black and white."]
Why, let the Act be repealed and down go the terms. The sovereign power is in the
Parliament of England. It made the Act, and if it is violated without redress, it can repeal
it and the power of Canada ceases.
The Honourable and learned Member for Victoria City has referred to the possibility of
a Fenian invasion, and said what will become of the Railway in such an event. I believe, Sir,
on such an extraordinary occasion, such as invasion, each one in the Colony would be patriotic
enough to do without a few miles of Railway, until the invasion may be put down.
It has been asked what is the gain under Confederation.
At present we have no surplus revenue. But with Confederation on equitable terms, there
will be a clear gain of $384,000 annually from subsidies and reduction of tariff; therefore, as
$384,000 is to nothing, so is Confederation to Isolation. There are a great many points to
which I could allude were I disposed to trespass longer on the time of the Council; but I reserve
them until we go into Committee.
There are, however, some few things to which I will passingly allude. It is important to
British Columbia to know what will be the qualification of Members to the Dominion Parliament
[Hear, hear, from Dr. Helmcken] and the qualification of electors. And with reference to
the Local Constitution, it may be necessary for us to know whether our Governors cannot be
elected as in the United States, instead of being appointed on the English principle; and
whether we may not acquire the right to pass local laws over the veto of the Governor, by a
two-third vote of the Legislature. The usury laws, imprisonment for debt, and many other
matters will require careful consideration and attention. ,
With respect to the main principle, I am in favour of Confederation, provided the financial
terms are right in amount, and if the other terms will contribute to the advancement and
protection of our industry. If we cannot get favourable terms, which I believe we can, it will
then be for the people of this country to say whether we shall remain in isolation or seek some
other more favourable union.
The debate was here adjourned until Friday, at 1 o'clock.
Fbiday, 11th Mabch, 1870.
The debate was resumed by the Hon. Mb. RING, who on rising was greeted with cries of
Spoke, spoke."
Hon. Mr. Ring said:—Sir, I have only spoken to the amendment, and have a right to speak
to the original motion.
Doubts were expressed as to the Hon. gentleman's right to speak a second time, but the
Presiding Member was not called upon to decide, and Mr. Ring proceeded:—
Sir, the Hon. Member for Victoria District commenced by congratulating the Council on
having the grand question of Confederation now before them. He congratulated them on the
great advantage of being able to grapple with a great question like this.
I cannot compliment him on the way in which he introduced his subject. I admire his
perseverance, and confess that on many subjects he enlightens Members on both sides of the
House.
• I lament to find that having alluded to the opening speech of the Attorney-General, he
thought fit to cast unwarrantable imputations upon that gentleman and the members of the
Government. He suddenly turned aside and quoted a text, which he applied to the Official
Members of this Council. He likened one of them to a woman who forgets her modesty and
shame, and goes after lovers for bread; to her who has a harlot's forehead, and refuses to
be ashamed. Sir, I deprecate such allusions; they throw no light upon the subject. I think
that an Honourable and grave body like this, on hearing such charges, should have at once
risen to express their indignation rather than have condoned it by their silence. Nothing is
more easy than to take any one act of a man, or of a body of men, and apply it to a sinister
motive, when it is capable of an honourable one. Sir, I was very glad that the Hon. Attorney-
General had the courage to follow the example of the English House of Commons.   He, finding Confederation Debate.
39
no Chaplain to this House, supplied the defect by invoking the blessing of God, which was
met by a sneer. I say I admire his courage in fronting a godless age, by the invocation of
the blessing of Him in whom we live and move and have our being. He was not ashamed
to acknowledge the controlling power of Heaven over the destinies of this fallen Colony.
Now, Sir, the Attorney-General descanted at great length on the advantages of Union.
He put that as the basis of the Government proposition. There is nothing like Union he
says; this is a noble sentiment which all must join in. Everyone would welcome that comprehensive brotherhood which embraces all civilized Nations. I am sure that when the Hon.
Member for Victoria alluded to the possibility of a prospective union with other Powers, he
did not do so in the idea of this Colony abandoning its allegiance to the Crown; because
he expressed a wish to see the desire of general union spreading, is no reason that he should
desire to shake off his connection with the Mother Country. Had it been otherwise, I should
have deplored the Hon. gentleman's loss of loyalty. Some surprise has existed at the Hon.
Member for Victoria offering suggestions as to the possibility of any other union. Why so?
The Hon. Attorney-General himself gracefully introduced it. Why should not the English-
speaking race live in peace and form one nation? The people of the United States spring
from one common stock with ourselves. I long to see the time when all national sectarianism
shall.be swept away.
My position as Member for Nanaimo has been assailed in a cowardly way by what is
called the Press. I have been accused of shrinking from my duty to my constituents at
Nanaimo, because I echoed their sentiments against Confederation. I ask the indulgence of
the House whilst I allude to what occurred at Nanaimo at the last election. At that time the
question of Confederation was rife throughout the Colony; people's minds were agitated; the
people of Nanaimo were almost unanimous against it In what I said to them during the
progress of the election, and also on the hustings, I told them that I agreed with their views
against Confederation, but that when it came before the Council I should give it my best
attention. It was not made a test question at my election. The people of Nanaimo are still of
their original opinion; and, therefore, I express their opinion now, against this measure; and
say that their convictions are against Confederation, notwithstanding the " No, noes " of certain
Hon. Members. There may be some amongst them, Canadians by birth and principle, who
desire Confederation, who, though they are here, can say with the poet:—
" Where ere I roam, whatever realms I see,
My heart untravelled' fondly turns to thee."
Thus much for Nanaimo.
Now, I say, Sir, that the question of Confederation ought to be fully and amply discussed
in this House, and to do this there should be a full House. I deny that it is the desire of
the people to have Confederation, but I say let the people have an opportunity of expressing
their opinions in this House. Let the disfranchised districts have first restored to them the
rights of which they have been defrauded. The Governor has been betrayed into supposing
that the people want Confederation, and assuming this to be frue, he says I shall now give
the people an opportunity to discuss the terms.
But let the Franchise be restored, then let the general question of Confederation come
before an enlarged representation; and I say that Confederation should be put alone, aye or
no. Shall we have Confederation? and not upon what terms shall we have it. The proper
course is to dissolve the House, issue new writs, and let the people say whether they want
Confederation; and after they have said yes, then descend into the particulars of it. A Government measure is now proposed, we are bound hand and foot, and handed over to Ottawa. I say,
Sir, that being so handed over, we ought to let our masters settle the terms for us.
I, therefore, venture again, Mr. President, to repeat that if it is to go abroad that the
people desire Confederation, then the House should be dissolved, and a fair vote taken.
The Hon. Member for Victoria District puts it as if the voice of the people had been heard.
I ask how? Through newspapers? Conventions? Speeches? I say this is not the proper way.
Let the people speak in this House, through a full body of Representatives of their own choosing.
The question has been amply ventilated in this Council. The Hon. Member for Victoria
City has gone fully into what he considers the difficulties. He has been met on the other side
in a manly and able reply by the Hon. Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works, who has been
again met by the Hon. Mr. Wood. 40
Confederation Debate.
It is not for me to go into the question of terms now; but I deny emphatically that
Confederation is desired by the people. My own constituents are against it; many other
constituencies are, as I believe, against it also.
I ask, then, why should the Government attempt to force these Resolutions upon us, by
means of the Official Members, who are only supreme in numbers?
The people have had no opportunity to express their wish. Difficulties have been presented
by an Hon. Member, arising from the space between British Columbia and Canada—difficulties
arising from the means of transit, and from the means of communication being cut off—difficulties arising from what is at present called the rebellion in the North-West Provinces; that
strife, as I am informed, gathering strength day by day. [" No, no," from Mr. DeCosmos.]
Hon. Members say " No, no." I am so informed. I hope it is not so, but if it be, then under
the name of Union we are called upon to take part in this internecine war.
I long for union as much as any man. In union of good there is strength and victory,
but in union of evil there is defeat and disaster. I shall not occupy the time of this Council5
in adverting to matters which have been amply discussed; in expressing my conscientious
opinion I do my duty. The Hon. Mr. Wood has told us that he counts professional honours
as nought. I say nothing of prior claims to professional honours which I have lost, from, at
all times, conscientiously supporting what I conceived to be right. His Excellency says that
we are not lit for Responsible Government. I want to know on what local data he says so?
Who has tried the people? On the scope of whose mind is it said they are not fit? Who has
examined them?
The Hon. Member for Victoria District has properly said, if Hon. Members were paid for
their attendance in the House, you would soon see whether men were capable or not to enter
upon and fulfil the duties of Responsible Government. Then we should see whether the gentlemen disguised in mean apparel—Graduates of Oxford, Cambridge, and other Universities—who
have cast their lot in this Colony, but are unable to defray their travelling expenses from remote
places to the Capital. We should see, I say, whether they were capable, or not, of enlightening
and controlling by their wisdom the feeble powers of Governmental diplomacy. Sirr by enlarged
representation we shall discover such men. We had one foot forward in the direction of
freedom, it has been forced back. The franchise has been taken away. Sir, I have very feebly
endeavoured to touch upon these subjects. In fine, I affirm that the matter has not been,
discussed fairly. There must be an enlarged representation, that the people may tell the
Government what they want.
Hon. Members who have supported Confederation have failed in showing that this is the
time for it.   They are afraid to ask the people.   They have refused to do so.
Much has been said; more will be said. I have listened, and have heard high-sounding
words, and inflated tautology of this and that Hon. Member, which reminds me of soap-bubbles,
which, though beautiful by the reflection of the sun's prismatic colours, are equally remarkable
for their rotundity and their emptiness.
The Hon. Mb. BARNARD *said:—Sir, in rising to support the motion of the Hon. and
learned Attorney-General, I can but express my feelings of pleasure in being permitted to take
a part in the great work in hand—that of hewing off the rough corners of the block which
has come to us from the hands of the Executive, and which, after receiving the finishing
touch at the hands of the people, will become the key-stone of the great Confederation arch
which will, ere twelve months, extend from ocean to ocean. The terms as sent down by His
Excellency are, I consider, a fair subject of congratulation. The manner in which they have
been received by this House and the people is another subject of congratulation; and the paucity
and utter idleness of the arguments used by the opposition, represented in this House as it is
by the talent of the opposing party in the country, are also subjects of congratulation to His
Excellency, this House, and the country. It is wrong, Mr. President, to charge the desire for
Confederation on the part of its promoters to a desire for change. So far as my constituency
and the adjoining ones on the Mainland are concerned, I may say safely that such was not the
case—we accepted the Organic Act constituting this Council, and agreed to work it out to its
legitimate end; and we have not countenanced nor have we been subjected to the many changes
which other parts of this Colony have. I desire, before going further, to allude to a charge
commonly made against my countrymen—often offensively put—but yesterday put by the Hon Confederation Debate. 41
Mr. Wood, in his usual gentlemanly way. It is that of "Canadian proclivity." As a native-
born Canadian, in common with others, I love the land of my birth. We admire her institutions
and revere her laws; but we never forget the land of our adoption, and we would no more
consent to see her wronged by Canada than would the tens of thousands of Englishmen who
have made Canada their home, permit a wrong to be done her by England.
It is also wrong and contrary to fact that, " so anxious are we for Confederation that we
would accede to any terms proposed." During the past three years, I have been one of the
foremost in advocating the cause of Confederation; and, in so doing, throughout the interior
of the Colony, I am free to confess I never uttered such a sentiment; and, in justice to my
fellow-countrymen in particular, and the advocates of this cause in, general, I will say that
I never heard any one express a desire that this Colony should be confederated, except on
such terms as might, on investigation, be found to be just and beneficial.
We desire Confederation with Canada, because we believe that it will be to the interest
of this Colony to unite with the progressive Colonies to the east. That they are progressive
I assert, and as proof I point to the fact that, previous to Confederation, Canada proper had
expended $184,000,000 on public works, principally in building canals. Up to 1869, $170,000,000
had been expended in railways. She pays to-day $300,000 yearly for her ocean steam mail
service alone, and her enterprise is followed by her people. Her manufactures are increasing
yearly, and even now she is exporting cloths to England, and competing there with cheap
labour. One firm alone, composed of men who landed in Canada penniless, now has $9,000,000
invested in ocean steamers, employing 4,500 men, and thus sustaining 22,000 persons. Among
the objections urged by Hon. Members against Confederation is our proximity to the United
States. This, I hold, is no objection. Canadians are not taught to fear competition with the
United States. The general feeling there is that we can hold our own (except in point of
numbers) with her in any direction whatever. It is to her we look for a great portion of our
trade, and the advantages of such trade are mutual.
The question is often asked: " What are the immediate advantages to be derived by us
from Confederation? " My reply is that in addition to the amount paid us by way of subsidies,
we Will save by a reduction in the tariff and by importing Canadian manufactures, a very
considerable sum, thus reducing our taxation. Next the terms propose that $1,000,000 be spent
on a waggon-road to be commenced immediately and completed in three years, thus causing
over $300,000 a year to be spent.
Hon. gentlemen will recollect that in 1861, 1862, and 1863, immigration poured in on us,
caused by the report of rich discoveries in Cariboo, and by a knowledge on the part of those
coming that the Government was spending large sums on public works, and that those who
failed in the mines might fall back on the roads to replenish their purses; and many who are
now permanent settlers in the interior acknowledge that they made their " farnNstake " there.
How much more is this likely to be the case if the larger works contemplated in theNterms are
carried out. lii^fSi \.
Then, Sir, look at the construction of a Railway. You may judge of the magnitude of the
work by the following figures. There were employed on the Central Pacific at one time 25,000
men and 6,000 teams; 600 tons of material were forwarded daily to the point of construction; }
30 vessels in harbour at one time, loaded with material; the wharves at San Francisco and
Sacramento loaded with railway iron; 70 locomotives landed, and 700 cars built to carry on
the work on construction account; no less than 30 sawmills in operation at one point at one
time. The enterprise that set this enormous trade in motion is not one of greater magnitude
than will be the work undertaken on this side, and if our farmers and population generally do
not profit, and that immediately, by the carrying on of such enterprises as these, let them
succumb, for I know of no state of prosperity that can help them. I contend the benefits
of Confederation, in these respects at least will 1#? immediate. But Hon. Members have said
"the United States will derive the benefit." If that argument holds good, why not tell the
merchants of Wharf Street to close their doors because foreign manufacturers reap a part of
the benefit of their trade. Better, a great deal, for the opponents of this cause to advise the
farmers to cultivate every inch of their farms and garner up their crops, for the day assuredly
will come when they will have ample market for all they can raise.
It has been urged here that Canada cannot retain her population, much less the immigration that comes to her shores.    In this, Sir, there is considerable truth, although the Hon. and 42
Confederation Debate.
learned Member for Victoria has not put the matter fairly before this House. In giving the
number of passengers going from Canada to the United States, he has omitted to give you the
number of those passing from the States into Canada. One reason why Canada has not retained
the whole number of emigrants landed on her shores, is that they find greater attractions in
the treeless prairies of the Western States than in the heavily timbered lands of Canada.
This, Sir, has ever been a serious drawback to her. But now the case is different Having
acquired the vast territories of the great North-West, she will open them to settlement, and
then she will have inducements to offer such as cannot be boasted of by any other country in
the world. Open those millions of acres to the settler, and you will see such a rush of immigration—not only from tjje older countries of Europe, but from the United States—as will
astonish the world, and stand unparalleled in the history of immigration. Canada's hardy sons
who have left their homes for the Western States—allured by the advantages of prairie over
wooded lands—will join in swelling the numbers, and once more plant their feet on British
soil.
The difficulties of defence have been spoken of as a formidable obstacle. Sir, she never
regarded them in any such light Canada has no fears in that direction. She relies on the
thorough good understanding that has existed between herself and the United States for so
long a period, as a guarantee for the future. Their interests are so identical that they cannot
afford to quarrel. The troubles between them heretofore have been on England's account, and
not Canada's, as witness the Trent affair, and the more recent Fenian invasion, which was
rather a stab at England than an attack on Canada. During the recent fratricidal war in
the United States, Canada had a difficult part to play in maintaining strict neutrality, yet she
came out unscathed. It must be remembered, also, that Canada possesses in her canal system
a powerful lever—a guarantee for peace—vastly more potent than fortifications. The great
bulk of the produce of the Western States finds its way to the ocean through Canadian channels,
which could be closed at any moment.
As to that "other issue" (I will not use the word that has been so freely used outside), I
have no fears for Canada or this Colony either. It used to be fashionable here, in early days,
to associate the name of Canada with rebellion. It was the result of prejudice and ignorance,
and was a great mistake.
I recently read, Sir, an account of a meeting held in one of our principal Canadian cities,
on the occasion of a Sabbath school convention. An American gentleman was engaged in
addressing the house, filled to its utmost capacity. In the course of his remarks, having
occasion to refer to Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen, he added:—"American though I
am, I can with all my heart say, ' God bless the Queen.'" Immediately, Sir, without any preconcerted action, the entire audience of men, women, and children rose to their feet and sung
the National Anthem. That gentleman said, that such a spontaneous, hearty, and unanimous
outburst of loyalty was probably never heard before.
Such, Sir, is the kind of loyalty we were taught in Canada; such is the kind that is
being taught to the rising generation of the new Dominion to-day; and I leave it to you as to
whether there is room for that " other issue " or not.
Before concluding, Sir, I would wish to remark with reference to the charge made by the
Hon. Member for Victoria District against the Hon. Attorney-General, that his conversion to
Confederation was late. I know that it is impossible to make some Honourable Members
believe anything good of Officials, whether in respect of Confederation or anything else. But I
simply desire to relate this fact. I had occasion to go into the Hon. Attorney-General's office
in 1867, and he then showed me a letter, written by himself, in favour of Confederation; and
after perusing that letter I felt convinced that when, in his estimation, the proper time arrived,
the cause would have a warm and sincere advocate in the Attorney-General. I mention this
in order to show that the Hon. Member ibr Victoria District has no right to arrogate to
himself that he was the only man who was far-seeing enough to recognize the advantages of
Confederation three years ago, and as a reproof to him for finding fault with the position taken
by Hon. Official Members on this question now.
To sum up. Sir, I say that amongst the statesmen of Canada we may safely look for men
fully competent to control the affairs of a young nation. They are men of as much ambition
and grasp of thought as are the rulers in the adjoining States; and, depend upon it, nothing Confederation Debate. 43
will be left undone to advance the prosperity and well-being of every portion of their vast
Dominion. We may safely repose full confidence in them. England has done so, or she would
never have committed the well-being of four millions of-her subjects to their care.
They can steer the good ship " Dominion" and hold her on her way. She will receive
many a shock, " but 'twill be of the waves, and not the rock."
The Hon. Mb. HUMPHREYS, Member for Lillooet, said:—Mr. President, It is not my
intention to occupy the attention of the House at any great length. I shall pass in review
rapidly the arguments for and against Confederation, as they have been used by Hon.
Members who have spoken during the progress of this debate.
It seems to me, Sir, that the people and their interests have been entirely ignored throughout the discussion of this question, and perhaps intentionally. I refer to the subject of
Responsible Government ["Hear, hear," from Mr. DeCosmos], which has up to this stage been
all but lost sight of.   I, Sir, am one of those men who believe in the people.
I remember that in opening this debate, the Hon. Attorney-General invoked the Divine
blessing upon the work upon which we were then entering. This was high-sounding, and a
very nice picture to look at, but it does not wear well without that strict attention to the
divine rights of the.people, which is inalienable from true political economy.
I have a distinct recollection of most Hon. Members now occupying an official position at
this Council Board, and of the positions which they occupied when first they came to this
Colony. I have often asked myself what entitles these Hon. Members to govern this Colony;
but I have never been able to answer myself satisfactorily. I am perfectly ready to admit the
ability of Executive Members as individuals. The learned eloquence of the Hon. Attorney-
General has always, since I have had the honour to sit at this Council Board, impressed me
with a deep sense of the advantage of thorough forensic training; and the power and force of
the reply of the Hon. the Chief Commissioner has ever and again made me feel with especial
force the utter hopelessness of combating stern official reticence with even the most brilliant
powers of oratory. Yet, Sir, whatever our admiration for individual excellence, however great
our estimation of personal worth, the question has still remained unanswered, and, in my
opinion, unanswerable. What is there in the collective wisdom of these Honourable Official
Members that entitles them to arrogate to themselves the right to rule? Are they, I ask, the
dominant race, and are the people serfs?
We have heard a great deal about absorption, and the danger of the larger body swallowing up the smaller. I think about as much of that danger as I do of the other evil threatened
in such earnest and thrilling language by the Hon. Member for Victoria, namely, that our
salmon would be under Confederation, and the protection from salmon nets that would be
extended to them, increase and multiply to such an extent that they would absorb all the
'smaller fish. I, however, to speak seriously, doubt very much if the Hon. Member can cite
a single example in history of the larger absorbing the lesser, unless the larger possessed
better qualifications, as in the case of the absorption by British Columbia of Vancouver Island.
Sir, we must give up all personal prejudices, and we must bend our minds to the establishment
of a great British Empire upon this Pacific Coast.
Lord Macaulay says that " Governments are made for the people, and not the people for
the Governments." Yet, Sir, how different seems to be the course of reasoning in this Colony.
Here we have a strange compound of sickly representation and unpoular officialdom. The want
of Responsible Government has become intolerable; the people have ceased to respect the
Government and the Government seem to be doing their best to educate the people up to hating
the officials. There is to my mind, Sir, no necessity for the continuance of such a state of
things; only let the people's voice be heard, and there will be a change. The overwhelming
preponderance of the official element in this Council, and the presence in the Legislative body
of officials who are paid by the people, and yet are not responsible to them, is the real cause
of the alienation of the hearts of the people from the Government. The votes of these Hon.
gentlemen must always oscillate between their own interests and what their own consciences
dictate to them as for the good of the country. It is our duty, Sir, to bring back the hearts
of the people. We must have a Government by and for the people. This is what I believe the
people really require, and this and more, if necessary, the Government must be prepared to
give them.   The people of this Colony will consent to no arrangement which has not for its II
44
Confederation Debate.
foundation—'Responsible Government. We must be prepared to pull down and deniolish the
old structure, in order to rear up one that shall endure—as a Government secure in the
affections of the people only can endure. I warn Hon. gentlemen that they must endeavour
to recover the wills of the people; then, and not till then, will return that prosperity which we
all desire to see.
I hope, Sir, that the Executive will not attempt to make any arrangement with the
Dominion Government which does not include popular self-government. The people will never
accept  Confederation  without  Responsible  Government.
We must first get the tree—Responsible Government—and we may afterwards, with some
reason, hope to get the fruit. I say, Sir, that it is a gross libel upon the intelligence of the
people of this Colony, to say that we are not fitted for self-government. In no country can
you find men better capable of governing themselves, and of managing their own affairs, than
in this Colony. I hold, Sir, that the greatest enemies of the people are those who always
endeavour to blazon forth their learning. I am proud to say that I am of the people. My
education, if not of so high a culture as that of some Hon. Members of this House, has at
least enabled me, up to this time, to make my own way in the world, unaided by official pay
and without the assistance of official favour or influence. And When I hear Hon. Members
speaking of the people as a class unfit for self-government, I find it difficult to believe that
such a set of men are the same as have been speaking before, in this House and outside, on
Confederation.
In conclusion, Sir, I say fearlessly that Responsible Government is a sine qua non in the
terms of Confederation. Place what conditions you will before the people, without the condition
of Responsible Government, and Confederation is killed.
Confederation means to Official Members a pension; to the people it means self-government;
and I say, Sir, that above ^.11 things, we must keep in view the absolute necessity of keeping
control of our own local affairs, otherwise Confederation would be useless to the country;
and I warn Hon. Members at the other side of the House, that to exclude Responsible Government from the terms is to ensure defeat for the whole Confederation scheme when it comes
before the people at the polls.
The Hon. Mb. CARRALL, Member for Cariboo, said:—Mr. President, I did not intend to
open my lips during this debate; indeed, I am left with very little to* say by the Honourable
gentlemen who have preceded me. I have taken notes with a view, if those assertions which
were put forth were not answered, of replying to them.
For three days I have sat at this Board and heard discussions pro and con. I have heard
nearly every word; certainly every argument which -Honourable Members on both sides have
adduced; especially have I listened to every argument of those who are in opposition, and I
believe that nothing remains unanswered—in fact, but a few crumbs are left for me. Another
reason why I did not desire to make a speech is that my principles are pretty thoroughly
known, and I deem it almost a work of supererogation to reiterate my sentiments.
But as this debate as to whether we should go into Committee or not has taken such a
serious turn, I think it right and proper to say a few words. Whoever knows me through this
Colony, or through British North America, knows that my principles have never changed on
this great Confederation question. I have always maintained that the fragments of
empire lying loose, so to speak, in British North America, east and west of the Rocky
Mountains, should be united and consolidated under one Government. The question of the
confederation of the whole Colonial Empire of Great Britain is one that has always appeared
to me to be replete with the greatest interest, and I trust that I may be spared to see this
consolidation consummated.
With regard to the advantages that Confederation will bring to British Columbia, it is
almost forbidden ground, for the advantages are in reality part of the Resolutions. If I allude
to them I am forestalling the debate on terms; and as I should not be in a position to prove
anything which is in futurity, I had perhaps better abstain from touching upon the subject.
However, this much I will say, that, after sentiment and loyalty are disposed of, it becomes a
question of advantage.
The terms sent down to this House, in my opinion, warrant our acceptance of them in
their entirety; but if the House think otherwise, I may, I am sure, go so far as to say that Confederation Debate. 45
the Executive are open to receive suggestions, and that there will be no objection to adopt
any suggestions which will not be likely to jeopardize the success of- the whole scheme. In this
conviction, I do not propose to go over the ground that has already been taken up. But I
must allude to what I cannot help calling the feeling of over-care and caution which has been
displayed throughout this debate.
I believe, Mr. President, that you are an Englishman, and as a nation I think you express
too much caution, fear, and anxiety with respect to the course which Canada might pursue.
I do not speak personally, but such appears to me to be the characteristic quality of Englishmen, and it has especially cropped out during this debate. I say that I believe we are treating
with a far-seeing, fair-dealing set of men who would never forfeit their word, statesmen who
would be incapable of offering " mean conditions," even if we of British Columbia would accept
them. They will give us terms to make us happy and contented. Another reason for our feeling confidence in the future is that we shall have under these terms, as the Hon. Member for
Victoria District says, an enormous proportion of Repre