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Baldwin, LaFontaine, Hincks
Chapter IV - Lord Sydenham and Responsible Government


UNDER the Act of 1840 (sec. xxx), the choice of a seat of government for the united provinces was left to the governor-general. In the troubled state of racial feeling, such a selection was naturally a matter of difficulty. While it was clear that the capital city of the country must be chosen in Upper Canada, Sydenham was, nevertheless, anxious to conciliate the French-Canadians as far as might be by appointing a capital neither too remote from their part of the province, nor too little associated with their history. Kingston, situated on the north shore of Lake Ontario, at the point where the lake narrows to the river St. Lawrence, seemed best to fulfil these requirements. The foundation of the settlement antedated by nearly a century the English occupation of Canada, and the fort and trading station then established had been one of the western outposts of the French regime, while its erstwhile name of Frontenac associated the place with the bygone glory of New France. British loyalty, with a characteristic lack of inventiveness, had altered the name of the little town to Kingston. A strong fort built upon the limestone hills that commanded the sheltered harbour, and garrisoned by imperial troops, testified to the military importance of the place. Its central position rendered it at once the key to the navigation of the lake and river, while the construction of the Rideau Canal had placed it i;i control of an inland waterway whose possession minimized the dangers of an American frontier attack. In this favoured situation there had now sprung up a town, of some seven thousand inhabitants, built largely of the limestone on which it stands and patterned upon the now inevitable rectangular plan. At the time of the union Kingston was a town of about a mile and a half in length, with a breadth of three-quarters of a mile.1 It contained six churches, was able to boast of three newspapers, and was, moreover, the seat of a very considerable milling industry, large quantities of grain being brought across the lake to be ground at Kingston and exported thence to Great Britain, thereby enjoying the special tariff preference accorded to colonial products. The one hundred and sixty miles which separated it from Toronto represented in those days a steamboat voyage of about eighteen hours, or in winter time a sleigh-drive, under favourable conditions, of about a day and a night's duration. From Montreal to Kingston, a distance of about one hundred and seventy miles, the journey was accomplished while navigation was open, partly by steamer, partly by stage. A letter of Lord Sydenham's under date of December 3rd. 1839, illustrates the arduousness of travel to and from the new provincial capital. "The journey,'" he writes, "was bad enough. A portage (from Montreal) to Lacliine; then the steamboat to the cascades, twenty-four miles further; then road again (if road it can be called) for sixteen miles; then steam to Cornwall, forty miles ; then road, twelve miles; then by a change of steamers, into Lake Ontario to Kingston." The all-water route by the Rideau Canal, passing through Bytown (now Ottawa) occupied some forty-eight hours. It was in Kingston, then, that Lord Sydenham had summoned the new Canadian legislature to meet on June 14th, 1841, and in the early summer of that year the little town was already astir with sanguine hopes of becoming the metropolis of Canada.

Before, however, the legislature had as yet come together, the governmental problem, which was to be the central feature of the political life of Canada from now until the administration of Lord Elgin, the problem of ministerial responsibility, had already developed itself. Under the new regime it fell to the task of Lord Sydenham to appoint not only the members of the legislative council, which was to form the Upper House of the parliament, but also those of the executive council. These appointments were made a few days after the inauguration of the union (February 13th, 1841). The list of executive councillors was as follows: from Upper Canada, W. H. Draper as attorney-general of Upper Canada; Robert Baldwin Sullivan, president of the council; J. II. Dunn, receiver-general; S. B. Harrison, provincial secretary for Upper Canada; and Robert Baldwin, solicitor-general for that province. The Lower Province was represented in the executive government by C. R. Ogden, attorney-general for Lower Canada ; Dominick Daly, provincial secretary; and C. I). Day as solicitor-general. Mr. H. H. Rillaly was presently added to the ministry (March 17th, 1841), as commissioner of public works. We have already seen that in accepting a seat in the executive council Robert Baldwin had made it abundantly clear that he did so on the presumption that the operation of the incoming government would be based upon the principle of executive responsibility. Beyond this preliminary declaration, however, Baldwin did not think it desirable to take any further action until the election of the assembly and the relative representation of political parties should have given some indication of the standing of the ministry with the country at; large.

The executive council, as thus constituted, was a body of multicoloured complexion and varying views. Ability it undoubtedly possessed, but it represented at the same time so little agreement in political sentiment or conviction, that it might well be doubted whether joint and harmonious action would be possible. Baldwin, as we have seen, was an uncompromising Reformer, devoted to the principles of popular sovereignty and executive responsibility. Sullivan, his cousin, was a man of different temper. Keen in intellect, ready in debate, he brought to the practical business of politics the point of view of the lawyer, the tactician, the man of the world. For abstract principles of government he cared not a brass farthing. It was his wont to say to his colleagues, "Fix on your policy. Take what course you like, and I will find you good reason for doing so."

William Henry Draper, the attorney-general, differed still more radically in his political outlook from Robert Baldwin. Draper, after an adventurous and wandering youth, had come to Canada some twenty years before, had drifted from school-teaching into law and politics, and at this time belonged, Like Baldwin and Sullivan, to the legal fraternity of York. He had sat m the Upper Canadian assembly, been one of the council of Sir Francis Bond Head and had succeeded Christopher Ilager-man in 1840 as attorney-general of Upper Canada. This office he still held in the ministry of the united provinces. Draper was a man of great ability, eloquent and persuasive of speech, skilled as a parliamentary manager and dexterous in the game of politics. He was by principle and temperament a Conservative, and although of undoubted patriotism and devoted to the cause of good government, he viewed with alarm the increasing tendency of his time towards the extension of democratic rule.

Harrison and Killaly were Liberals of a moderate cast. John Henry Dunn has already been noticed as one of Baldwin's colleagues of the short-lived ministry of Sir Francis Head, and may be considered as sharing the opinions of the moderate Reform party. The councillors for Lower Canada could lay but little claim to be representative of the sentiments of that province. Dominick Daly, the provincial secretary', and presently member for Megantic, an Irishman now nearly twenty years in Canada, of an easy and affable personality, was net displeasing to the French-Canadians whose religion he shared. Ogden, a lawyer and a former office-holder in the government of Lower Canada, was identified with the British interests and was unpopular with the French. Day represented the same class. It will be observed that the refusal of LaFontaine to accept office left the French-Canadians wholly without representation in the executive government. y Baldwin appears to have been convinced from the outset that such a ministry would be quite incompatible with any system of government save one under which the governor-general would be the sole motive force of the administration. To his published communication, already' cited, he shortly added a letter to Lord Sydenham (February 19th, 1811) in which he wrote : " With respect to those gentlemen [his fellow-members of the council], Mr. Baldwin has himself an entire want of political confidence in all of them except Mr, Dunn, Mr. Harrison and Mr. Daly. He deems it a duty which he owes to the governor-general, at once to communicate his opinion that such an arrangement will not command the support of parliament." This opinion had been confirmed by the result of the elections and by the correspondence 1 which had ensued between the leaders of the Reform party in the two provinces. In despite of the defeat of LaFontaine, it was plain that the Upper Canadian section of that party would find in Morin, the member for Nicolet, Aylwin of Portneuf, Viger of Richelieu, and others of LaFontaine's party, a group of sympathizers with whom they might enter into a natural and profitable alliance. On the strength of this expectation, Baldwin called together at Kingston, a few days before the opening of the session, a meeting of the Reform party. The attending members, while not agreeing on a decisive line of public policy, expressed themselves as unanimous in their want of confidence in the administration as existing.' Shortly after this meeting, Baldwin addressed to the governor-general (June 12th, 1841) a letter in which he recommended that a reconstruction of the ministry should be made in such a way that the Reform party of French Canada, now prepared to cooperate with their Upper Canadian allies, should be represented in the executive. The Reformers, said Baldwin, could not extend their support to a ministry which Included Messrs. Draper, Sullivan, Ogden and Day, whose views differed so entirely from their own. Lord Sydenham, in answer, drew attention to the fact that such a request, at the Very moment of the assembly of parliament, was inopportune, and that the French-Canadians whom he proposed to substitute for the ministers to be dismissed, had been radical opponents of the very union of which the new government was the embodiment. The governor-general's communication, followed by further correspondence of the same tenor, left Baldwin no choice but to resign his office. His resignation, offered on June 12th (1811), was still awaiting its formal acceptance when the House met on the fourteenth.

The action of Robert Baldwin in this connection has been, as already indicated, roundly censured by Lord Sydenham's biogjapher. "This transaction,"' writes the latter, "looking to the character of the gentleman who was the principal actor in it, and to the manner in which he conducted his negotiation with the representative of the Crown, illustrates more clearly than anything else, the ignorance at that time prevailing, even among the leaders of the political parties in Canada, as to the principles on which a system of responsible government can alone be carried on." The true explanation of the matter is to be found in reality in the uncompromising stand which Robert Baldwin was prepared to take in defence of his "one idea." To have formed part of a ministry which would inevitably find itself voted down in the popular assembly (as Baldwin expected would now be the case), and which would have to rely on the expedients of political management for the conduct of public affairs, would have seemed to him nothing short of trafficking with the fundamental right of the people whom he represented. The error that Baldwin made, speaking from the standpoint of practical politics, lay in his overestimating the union and power of the Reform party. He did not fully realize that the party had as yet but an imperfect basis of organization, that its programme was not one of positive agreement but merely of negative opposition, and that this alone was not calculated to give it the cohesion requisite for its ends. The expectation that the government could be voted out of office and that the system of ministerial responsibility could thereby be forced upon Lord Sydenham, was not borne out by the sequel.

The difficulties, moreover, of establishing at once an operative system of cabinet government is realized when one views the complex character of the party divisions among the newly-elected members of the assembly. One may distinguish among them at least five different groups. There was, first of all, the party pledged to the support of the administration, drawn chiefly from Upper Canada and led by Attorney-General Draper, as member for the county of Russell. To these were closely affiliated the members elected, largely by coercion, Si* the British interest in Lower Canada, among whom was Dr. Mc-Culloch who had defeated LaFontaine in Terrebonne. These two groups numbered together about twenty-four. As an extreme Conservative wing, were the Upper Canadian Tories, the remnant of the days of the Compact, some seven in number. These were under the redoubtable leadership of Sir Allan MacNab, the hero of the "men of Gore" of 1837. by whose direction the Caroline had been sent over Niagara Falls, a feat which had earned him the honour of knighthood, a man of the old school, the sterling qualities of whose character redeemed the rigidity of his intellect. Of quite opposed complexion were the Reformers, a large and somewhat uncertain group including the moderates of both provinces, and shading off into the ultra-Reformers and into the group of French Nationalists who as yet stood in no affiliation to the English party of Reform. The classification thus adopted would indicate in the assembly the following numerical divisions: 1st, the party supporting Lord Sydenham, twenty-four; 2nd, the party of Sir Allan MacNab, seven; 3rd, the moderate Reformers, twenty; 11th, ultra-Reformers, five; 5th, French Nationalists, twenty. There were, in addition to these, eight doubtful members that cannot be classified with any of the groups, making up in all eighty-four members of the assembly. Such classification is, however, too 82 precise to indicate the true state of affairs. Party lines were not as yet drawn with precision. The system of the union being still in its experimental stage, party tradition and parliamentary precedent were absent, and individual members were naturally led to follow the dictates of their own judgment, and voted sometimes with and sometimes against the particular group with which their names were chiefly associated.

Meantime a legislative council of twenty-four members had been appointed (June 9th, 1841) by Lord Sydenham. The French-Canadians were represented by Rene Caron, mayor of Quebec, (a man of liberal views and subsequently a member of LaFontaine's ministry), Bartheldmy, Joliette and six others. Of the sixteen British members of the council, Robert Baldwin Sullivan, Peter McGill of Montreal, William Morris, formerly of the legislative council of tipper Canada and notable as the champion of the Presbyterian Church n the matter of the Clergy Reserves,1 were of especial prominence.

The constitutional history of the first session of the union parliament which now ensued, and n which the first test was made of the operation of the united government, has the appearance of an indecisive battle. The Reform party, anxious to force the issue, endeavoured to obtain an expression of want of confidence sufficiently emphatic to compel the government to resign office. The government, on the other hand, strove to put the question of parliamentary theory in the background by bringing forward a programme of great public ut ility and inviting for its accomplishment a united support. The members of the Reform party found themselves thus placed in addemma. Should they persist in an uncompromising attitude of opposition, they might delay the carrying out of public works of whose urgency they were themselves convinced. Should they break their ranks and vote with the party of the government ,n favour of measures of undoubted utility, they thereby seemed to justify the existence of an administration of which they had at the outset expressed their disapproval. It was, in a word, the oft-recurring dilemma occasioned by the conflicting claims of party policy and public welfare. In a long-established legislature where rival parties of balanced powers alternate in office, such a dilemma presents less difficulty, since, with the defeat of the government, the incoming party is enabled to carry on such part of the programme of its opponents as may enlist its support,. But in the ease of the newly inaugurated government of Canada, both the urgency of the time and the doubtful complexion of the parties themselves seemed to favour individual action as against the claims of party cohesion. It followed as a consequence that the question of responsible government, albeit the real issue of the moment, remained for the time in suspense. Lord Sydenham with his able lieutenant, Attorney-general Draper, was enabled to obtain sufficient support to carry on his government, while the Reformers contrived, nevertheless, to force from the administration a somewhat reluctant assent to the proposition that only this fortuitous support gave them a valid claim to office. It has been necessary to undertake this preliminary explanation in order to make it clear how men, so like-minded in their political views as Hincks and Baldwin, should presently be found voting on opposite sides of the House. But if the state of public affairs at the time is properly understood, it appears but natural that Hincks, as a man of affairs, should have preferred a policy of immediate effectiveness, while Baldwin, of a more theoretical temperament, clung fast to his uncompromising principle.

As already mentioned, the first united parliament met at Kingston on Monday, June 14th, 1841. The place of its meeting was a stone building about a mile to the west of the town, that had been intended to serve as a general hospital, but for the time being was given over for the use of the legislature. The comfort of the members appears to have been well eared for. The halls, both of the council and the assembly, were spacious and well furnished, " with handsome, stuffed arm-chairs of black walnut, covered with green moreen, with a small projection on the side to write upon/' Sydenham himself seems to have been somewhat impressed with the luxurious surroundings of his colonial legislators. "The accommodation," he wrote home to England, "would be thought splendid by our members of the English House of Commons. But these fellowrs in their colonies have been spoilt by all sorts of luxuries,—large arm-chairs, desks with stationery before each man, and Heaven knows what,—so I suppose they will complain."

The governor-general was not present in person at the first meeting of the Houses. In his absence the members were sworn in, and the proclamation convening the parliament read by the clerk of the assembly. After this the assembly addressed itself to the task of electing one of their number as Speaker. Here occurred, iu accordance with a plan prearranged1 by the Reformers, the first passage-at-arms between the government and its opponents. The Reformers had decided to nominate for the speakership a Mr. Cuvillier, member for Huntingdon, a man lluent in both English and French, identified formerly with the popular party in Lower Canada, but moderate2 in his views and acceptable on all sides. It had been hoped by the Reformers that the government might oppose Mr. Cuvillier's nomination, and thus be led to make a trial of strength by which means the election of Mr. Cuvillier would appear as annual defeat of the administration. It seemed, however, as if the administration, either because they considered Mr. Cuvillier well suited to the office or in order to avoid a hostile vote, would allow that gentleman to be elected without opposition. This the Reformers were minded to prevent. "I was determined," wrote Ilincks in a letter to the Examiner in which he described this preliminary onslaught on the government, *that the advisers of His Excellency should swallow the bitter pill by publicly voting for a gentleman who had declared his entire want of confidence in them.'' In order, therefore, to force the government into a corner, Hncks rose and stated that he considered it his duty to his constituents of North Oxford to explain publicly why he supported the nomination of Mr. Culvillier. His reason was, he said, that that gentleman had opposed certain provisions of the Union Bill of which he himself disapproved, notably the provision for a permanent civil list. He was furthermore led to support Mr. Cuvillier because of "his [Mr. Cuvillier's] entire want of confidence in the present administration."

This, of course, was a direct challenge, and left the government and the Tories no choice but to come out and fight. Sir Allan MacNab was proposed as a rival candidate. Aylv, in of Portneuf, Morin and others, followed the lead of Hineks. A heated debate followed, in which Mr. Cuvillier's "want of confidence" did scrvice as an opportune bone of contention. Peace-loving members begged Mr. Cuvillier to state, in the interests of harmony, whether he had. or had not, a "want of confidence." Mr. Cuvillier did not see fit to do so. The situation became somewhat confused. Smith of Frontenac, an over-belligerent friend of the government, attacked the bad taste of the member for North Oxford in trying to force an adverse vote at such a time, and spoke of a dissolution of parliament as the possible outcome of the day's proceedings. The dangerous word "dissolution" brought Attorney-general Draper to his feet with soothing words in the interests of peace. MacNab having meanwhile caused his name to be withdrawn, the discussion subsided, and Mr. Cuvillier was declared unanimously elected. Baldwin, being still technically a member of the government (his resignation awaiting its formal acceptance), took no part in this preliminary discussion.

There was some debate over the question whether, as the governor-general had not come down to parliament on the day for which it was summoned, it could be said, legally, to have met at all. A motion for adjournment was, however, carried, which practically affirmed t he proposition that the House had legally meet.

Next day Lord Sydenham appeared in person, and with no little pomp, in the chamber of the legislative council, and read to the assembled members of the two Houses the speech from the throne. The measures outlined therein showed that the governor and his advisers were prepared to adopt a vigorous forward policy in the administration of the. country. They declared their intention to adopt legislation for "developing the resources of the province by well considered and extensive public works," to obtain a reduction of the rate of postage and a speedier conveyance of letters, and to effect the improvement of the navigation from the shores of Lake Erie and Lake Huron to the ocean. The governor had. moreover, the satisfaction of informing the members of the two Houses that he had received authority from Her Majesty's government to state that they were prepared to call upon the imperial parliament to afford assistance towards these important undertakings. It was announced that the imperial parliament would be asked to guarantee a loan of one and a half million pounds sterling, to be raised for the expenditure on public works in the province. The intention of the government to complete the establishment of representative institutions in Canada by a law providing for municipal self-government was also indicated, and a promise was given of a law for the establishment of a system of common schools.

No practical programme could have been better devised at this juncture for enlisting public support, especially among the people of Upper Canada, in whose division of the country the rapid progress of immigration and settlement called urgently for generous public expenditure. It was part of the shrewdness of the concerted policy of Sydenham and Draper that they sought thus to remove attention from questions of theory to questions of practical utility, while the promise of the imperial government to assist the province by a guaranteed loan and by public aid to immigration into Canada, seemed to hold out a strong inducement towards reconciliation and harmonious action. The Reformers, however, were determined that the question of principle, the question of the constitution itself, should not be forced altogether into the background. Before coming to a vote upon the resolutions on which the address in answer to the speech from the throne was to be framed, they pressed the administration for a definite statement in regard to the all-important subject of responsible government. The House being then in committee of the whole upon the speech from the throne, Malcolm Cameron opened the discussion by declaring that " the dry and parched soil is not more eager for the con ing shower than all the people of this country for the establishment of the administration of the government of this province upon such a basis as will ensure its tranquillity." Mr. Cameron, followed by Buchanan, Hincks and others, urged upon the government the desirability of a definite explanation of principle. The attorney-general, fortified with a budget of manuscript notes whereby he might speak the more accurately, then undertook a formal statement of the principle of colonial government as he conceived it. In the first place, he would declare, he said, for the information both of those who act with him and those who act against him, that so long only as he could give a conscientious support to those measures which the head of the government might deem it his duty to submit to that House, so long only would he continue to hold office under the government.....He would next, he continued, state the views which he entertained respecting the duties of His Excellency: he looked upon the governor as having a mixed character, firstly, as being the representative of royalty; secondly, as being one of the ministers of Her Majesty's government, and responsible to the mother country for the faithful discharge of the duties of his station—a responsibility that he could not avoid by saying that he took the advice of this man or that man. He looked upon it as a necessary consequence of this doctrine, that where there is responsibility there shall be power also. For he could not admit the idea that one man should possess the power, and another be liable for the responsibility. . . . The attorney-general went on to explain that this same doctrine of responsibility corresponding to power, applied not only to the governor but to the ministers below him. " Whenever," he said, " I find the head of the government and the minister of the Crown desirous of propounding measures which I cannot conscientiously support, honour and duty point out but one path, and that is resignation. There are few men who have long acted in a public capacity, who have escaped animadversion and censure, but a man must indeed be hardened ;n sentiment and feeling who does not acknowledge a degree of responsibility to public opinion. ... It is to be desired above all things that between the government and the people there should exist the greatest possible harmony and mutual good understanding. ... It is the duty of the head of the government to preserve that harmony by all the means hi his power. ... If he find that he has been led astray by incapable or dishonest advisers, he may relieve himself of them by their dismissal."

The attorney-general, with his usual persuasiveness of speech, had succeeded in talking all round the question of responsible government without really touching upon it. The blunt question, do the ministers resign when they have no majority behind them, was still left unanswered. Not without cause, indeed, had Draper's oratorical powers earned him the nickname of "Sweet William." In this instance, the Reformers were quick to see the weak side of the attorney-general's presentation. Baldwin, rising to reply, brushed aside the subtleties of the leader of the government and forced the 92 question to a direct issue. lie agreed, lie said, that the head of the government is of a mixed character, and that he is responsible to the home government for the proper administration of the government of the colony. He would admit that, in the administration of the government, questions may arise in which he may not be prepared to adopt the advice which may be tendered to him. But if he (Mr. Baldwin) understood the honourable and learned gentleman aright, that the council of His Excellency are to offer their advice only when it is demanded of them, and on all occasions remain mere passive observers of the measures adopted by the government, he would beg leave from such a system as this entirely to dissent. . . . Such a council would be no council at all. The honourable and learned gentleman, Mr, Baldwin continued, admits that in the event of the administration not retaining the confidence of parliament, they should resign; if he had understood the honourable gentleman aright as intending to go to this extent, then it would seem that the difference between the views of that honourable gentleman and his own amounted only to a difference n terms and not a difference in fact. But should those gentlemen be prepared, notwithstanding a vote of want of confidence should be passed by that House, to retain their seats in the council, then he must say that he entirely dissented from them. ... If the honourable gentleman had ntended to be understood as going to this length, then he would perfectly eon-cur with him.

Baldwin expressed his regret that this important matter had not been made the subject of a distinct communication in the speech from the throne. "It was," he said "a great and important, principle, on the faithful carrying out of which the continuation of the connection with the mother country in great measure depends." The comprehensive refutation of Mr. Draper's position thus made by Mr. Baldwin was followed up by a series of "teasing questions" from other Reformers determined to force the attorney-general to a direct answer to the question whether or not he would resign. Brought to bay finally by these attacks and having in the series of seven speeches which he made during the debate involved the issue in as much intricacy as possible, Mr. Draper admitted that he would resign.

So prolonged, however, had been the debate, and so confused had become the theoretical arguments pro and con, that at the end of it the members seem to have been but little the wiser. Some supposed that responsible government was now a fact, others that it had been merely the subject of a meaningless wrangle. The Montreal IleraJd2 announced that Mr. Draper's final and reluctant "Yes," had been "succeeded by a burst of applause from the House. The cry is, responsible government is come at last." The Kingston Chronicle1 informed its readers that " the great monster, responsible government, was actually ground into nothing," but added in a tone of complacent patronage that this " seeming waste of powder ought not to be considered as altogether unprofitable." The same journal, in its discussion of the great debate, informed its readers that '"the perpetual foaming and puffing of the honourable gentlemen reminded us of a set of small steam engines whose safety valves kept them from actually bursting their boilers oil the floor of the House." Then, as it' apprehensive of the consequences of its own wit, the journal hastened to add: "By this passing remark we do not mean any disrespect to the honourable House, far from it, for we think it altogether the most talented and respectable House of Assembly that ever met in this section of the province."

In despite of the seeming harmony of opinion thus established, the fact remained that the attorney-general had to a large extent come off victorious. His opponents had wished to make the question one of men; Draper had succeeded in making it one of measures. His declaration was ill reality an invitation to the members to judge the programme of the government, upon its merits, and to accord it their support irrespective of any previous confidence, or want of it, in the originators of the programme. Mr. Draper's difficulties were not, however, at an end. The Upper Canada Reform party being for the moment placated, he had yet to deal with the French-Canadian section, whose opposition to the terms of the union itself now sought expression. Neilson of Quebec moved an amendment to the address, to the effect that Y. there are features in the Act now constituting the government of Canada which are inconsistent with justice and the common rights of British subjects." Although the combined Upper Canadian vote easily defeated this amendment, Baldwin, Hineks and four other Upper Canadians voted in favour of it. Hincks spoke at some length in its support. He attacked the provision of the Union Act whereby the imperial parliament fixed a civil list for Canada. He declared that the basis of representation now established was unjust: in Upper Canada there; were forty-two members, twenty-six of whom were returned by constituencies consisting of three hundred and fifty thousand souls, while the remaining sixteen only represented sixty-three thousand. The representation of Lower Canada was equally out of proportion. "It is," he said, "idle to concede responsible government unless there is a fair representation of the people." The suppression of the French language as an official medium, he denounced as an f unjust and cruel provision."

Hincks's speech was, however, but a further "waste of powder."' The amendment was voted down by fifty to twenty-five.

With the termination of this preliminary debate upon responsible government and the rejection of Neilson's amendment, the government had safely passed its initial difficulties, and was free to turn to the work of positive legislation. That the issue involved in the debate was not, however, one of merely abstract interest, amply appears from the correspondence of Lord Sydenham and the view which he took of his constitutional position in the government of Canada. In describing the attempt of the Reform party to " ensure a stormy opening of the parliament, he wrote (June 27th. 184]): "My officers, (ministers !) though the best men, I believe, for their departments that can be found, were, unfortunately, many of them, unpopular from their previous conduct, and none of them sufficiently acquainted with the manner in which a government through parliament should be conducted to render us any assistance in this matter. I had therefore to fight the whole battle myself. . . . The result, however, has been complete success. I have got the large majority of this House ready to support me upon any question that can arise. . . . Except the rump of the old House of Assembly of Lower Canada and two or three ultra-Radicals who have gone over with my solicitor-general, whom I have got rid oj\ every member is cordially with me and with my government."

Thus established ori a fair working basis, with the question of responsible government for the moment set aside, the administration was able to proceed with its programme. In the ensuing session, which lasted until September 17th, 1841, it managed to make good a large part of its promises. A vigorous programme of public works was instituted. Backed by the imperial guarantee of the interest on a -£1,500,000 sterling loan, the province undertook an expenditure of £1,059,082 on works of public utility. The Welland Canal, hitherto in the hands of a private company, was bought up by the government. which spent -£150,000 on its improvement The navigation of the St. Lawrence, which, as has been seen, was still obstructed by intervening rapids, was aided by a vote of-£090,182 for the construction of canals at Cornwall and Lachine; £58,500 was laid out upon deepening the channel in Lake St. Peter; and £25,000 on the construction of roads n the Eastern Townships and in the Baie des Chaleurs district. A sum of £45,000 was devoted to the Burlington Canal. The remainder of the money was appropriated largely to the construction of new roads in Upper Canada. This question of public works introduced serious divisions among the members of the Reform party. Hincks who was, to use his own phrase, a "warm supporter" of public works, voted with the government. The French-Canadians, on the other hand, opposed the policy of public expenditure wherever it seemed, in their opinion, to favour Upper Canada unduly. Baldwin, for the sake of party cohesion, was inclined to side with the French-Canadians, and so preserve a united opposition. Ayl-Av in endeavoured to secure a vote of the House to the effect that no debt should be incurred on public works save with the consent of a majority from tower Canada. Baldwin voted in favour of it, but found only one of his Upper Canadian followers prepared to go to this length. On the matter of road building in western Canada, Baldwin and Hincks again found themselves voting on opposite sides. Thanks to the divisions in the ranks of their opponents, the ministry were enabled to carry on the government with a fair show of support.

Certain other measures of the session were also of considerable importance. The criminal law was modified by measures reducing its severity. The pillory was abolished and the number of capital offences considerably reduced. The provincial tariff was revised, the duties on imported merchandise being advanced from two and one-half to five per cent. A resolution of the House of Assembly affirmed the necessity of abolishing seigniorial tenure in Lower Canada and a commission was appointed for its consideration, A bill in reference to the corrupt practices which had been prevalent in the recent election, excited great public attention and caused more difficulty to the government than any other measure of the session. Petitions had come up to the House from Terrebonne (where LaFontaine had been defeated) and elsewhere praying the assembly to cancel the elections. Technical flaws in the petitions prevented their reception. A bill brought nto the House to overcome the difficulty and permit the reception of the petitions was passed by a large majority, receiving the support, not only of the entire Reform party, but of Sir Allan MacNab and the Upper Canadian Tories. The influence of the government caused the hill to be rejected in the legislative council. This was only one of eighteen measures rejected during the session by the Upper House, a circumstance which served to show that on its present nominated basis it might prove an obstructive influence.

But the measure of the greatest importance adopted during the session was the law in reference to municipal government. As this was a subject with which, in the sequel, the LaFontaine-Baldwin administration was intimately associated, a brief account of the legislation under Lord Sydenham s here necessary. The institution of democratic self-government is nowhere complete until it is accompanied by the establishment of self-governing bodies for local atfairs. Parliamentary reform, therefore, naturally goes hand in hand wi th municipal reform. This had already been seen in England, where the great reform of parliament in 1832 had been followed in 1835 by the introduction of municipal self-government. It was now proposed to take an initial step m this same direction in regard to the local government of Upper Canada. Until this time there existed iti the districts into which Upper Canada was divided, no elective municipal bodies. The justices of the peace, nominated by the Crown, had exercised in their quarter sessions a supervision over local affairs and had levied local taxation. In the Lower Province local taxation had not been raised previous to Lord Sydenham's administration. The latter had sought to insert into the Act of Union provisions for district government but, finding the imperial parliament averse to such detailed legislation, he had, by means of the special council, created in Lower Canada municipal bodies consisting of nominees of the Crown. It was not proposed to alter the system thus established m Lower Canada, where the government still felt apprehensive of giving full play to the principle of election. The bill presented to the united parliament referred, therefore, only to Upper Canada. This occasioned a peculiar difficulty. If the local bodies established were to be entirely elective, the French might with justice complain of the special privileges thus accorded to the British part of the province. If, on the other hand, the municipal institutions of Upper Canada were framed after the model of those already' created by the special council ,n Lower Canada, the British section of the province would cry out against the denial of representative government.

In this delicate situation the government attempted a middle course. The provisions of the hill permitted the inhabitants of the districts of Upper Canada to form themselves into municipal bodies. Councillors were to be elected in each district, but the warden, the treasurer and the clerk, were to be nominated by the Crown. The bill as thus drawn had the disadvantage which attends all measures of compromise; it met with opponents on both sides. Mr. Viger, on behalf of the French-Canadians, entered an energetic protest1 on the ground that Upper Canada was unduly favoured. " 1 will express myself," he said, "as sufficiently selfish to oppose such great advantages being accorded to the Upper Canadians alone." Robert Baldwin and the generality of his following objected, on the ground that the advantages conferred were not sufficiently great and that all the municipal offices ought to be made elective.

Here again Hincks found himself compelled to differ from his leader and, in a speech of considerable power, undertook to defend this course in regard to the bill, and to free himself from the charges of desertion now brought against him by his fellow Reformers. To him it seemed that half a loaf was better than no bread. He would have preferred that local elective government might also have been conceded to Lower Canada, but it this could not be obtained he saw no reason to deny it to Upper Canada on that account. He would have preferred that all the offices should have been elective, but he was willing, in default of this, to accept the modified self-government granted by the hill. "I acknowledge myself," he said, "to be a party man, and that I have ever been most anxious to act ih concert with that political party to which I have been long and zealously attached. ... I have been held up in public prints as having sold myself to the government. From political opponents I can expect nothing else but such attacks, but. sir, I confess I have been pained at the insinuations which have proceeded from other quarters. ... I can assert that my vote in favour of this bill is as conscientious and independent as that of any honourable member on the floor of this House."

Baldwin, in rising to reply, denied that he had had any share in originating, repeating, or sanctioning any insinuations against Mr. Hincks's behaviour towards the party. The means of demonstrating the groundlessness of such insinuations rested with Mr. Hincks himself. He assured the honourable member for Oxford that if a time should come when the political tie which bound them to each other was to be severed forever, it would be to liun by far the most painful event which had occurred in the course of his political life. Nevertheless, in spite of these words of contrition, the temporary breach occasioned by the divergent policy of the leaders of the Upper Canadian Reformers tended to widen. Hincks, with the best of motives, was drawn towards the practical programme of the government. He not only voted with them on the question of public works and municipal institutions, but took issue with his leader also in the votes on the usury laws, the Upper Canadian roads and other matters. His services on the special committee in regard to currency and banking still further commended him to the government as a political expert, of whose services the country ought not to be deprived.

To meet the charges now freely brought against him in the liberal press, Ilincks published in his Examiner a letter (September 15th, 1811) in which he fully explains the motives of Ins conduct. "The formation of a new ministry on the declared principle of acting in concert having failed, all [jar-ties were compelled to look to the measures of the administration, and we can now declare that, previous to the session of parliament, our opinion was given repeatedly and decidedly, that in the event of failure to obtain such an administration as would be entirely satisfactory, the policy of the Reform party was to give to the administration such a support as would enable it to carry out liberal measures which we had no doubt would be brought forward." In the face of so consistent an explanation the charges brought against Hincks of having " sold himself to the government" and of " having ratted from his party fell entirely to the ground. The support of Hincks, and of four French-Canadian members of like mind, enabled the government to carry the municipal bill by a narrow majority. The question of a more extended form of local self-government remained, however, in the foreground of the Reform programme, and received no final settlement until the passage of the statute known as the Baldwin Act in 1849.

The Act for the establishment of a system of common schools passed both Houses of parliament with but little opposition. The people of Upper Canada were firm believers in the advantages of public education. Especially was this the case with those who came of Loyalist stock, and among whom the traditions of New England still survived. Until this period, however, no successful attempt, had been made to establish a general system of elementary schools. The government of the province had committed the mistake of beginning at the wrong end of the scale, and ambitious attempts t o institute grammar schools and secondary colleges had preceded any efforts towards the education of the mass of the people.1 Governor Simcoe, eager to extend to his Loyalist settlers the advantages that their forefathers had enjoyed in Massachusetts or Connecticut, planned the institution of a university at York, with grammar schools at Cornwall, Kingston, Newark and Sandwich, a proposal which failed of adoption, A little later, however, (1807) grammar schools were instituted in each of the eight districts of the province. These were supplemented by private schools, such as those of Dr. Strachan and Dr. Baldwin mentioned above. But to the generality of the people these advanced schools were of no utility, and the settlers were forced to rely on their own efforts and on spontaneous cooperation for the teaching of their children.

Not until 1816 was the attempt made to organize by an Act of the legislature a system of elementary schools. Under this Act the people of any locality might organize themselves for the building and maintenance of a school, for whose management they elected three of their number as trustees. A general grant of funds was made by the legislature in aid of schools thus organized, while in every district a board of education appointed by the lieutenant-governor exercised a general supervision over the trustees of each school. This statute had been supplemented by further legislation in the same direction,1 providing for the institution of a provincial board and for district examination of teachers. The intention of these statutes had been better than their operation. Neither attend' anee at schools nor local taxation in support of them had been made compulsory, and a large majority of the children of the province were still without adequate education. Day, the solicitor-general of Lower Canada, in introducing the measure, stated that not more than one child out of eighteen was in attendance at the existing elementary schools to whose support the government contributed. In Lower Canada the condition of things was still less advanced. There existed as yet "no legal establishment, no provision of the law by which the people could obtain access to education." Such schools as existed were private establishments founded and supported in great measure by the Church. The secondary colleges of this kind were sufficiently numerous and efficient,, but of elementary schools, especially in the rural parts of the country, there was a sad lack.

The present law1 provided an annual grant of two hundred thousand dollars for primary schools, —eighty thousand for Upper Canada, one hundred and twenty thousand for the Lower Province. It enacted that the district, council in each district should act as a board of education, distributing the annual government grant, assessing on the inhabitants of the different school districts the sums necessary for the erection of new schools. Within each of these school areas a board of commissioners was to be elected who should act as the trustees of the school, appointing the teacher and regulating the course of study. A fee of one shilling and three pence per month was to be exacted for each child in attendance, save in cases of extreme poverty. The principal objections raised to the bill as first, drafted turned on the question of religious instruction. A great number of petitions were presented to the assembly praying that the Bible should be adopted as a book of instruction in the elementary school curriculum. To meet the views of the petitioners a separate school clause1 was added to the Act, whereby inhabitants possessing a religious faith different from that of the majority, might establish and maintain a school of their own and receive a proportion of the government grant.

In spite of the success of their practical policy, the session was not destined to end in unqualified victory for the administration. On September 3rd, (1841) Baldwin presented to the assembly a series of resolutions affirming the principle of responsible government. The government succeeded in voting down the resolutions in the form in which they were presented, but only at the price of substituting for them a set of resolutions almost equivalent. These resolutions, hereafter associated with the name of Robert Baldwin, stand as the definite achievement of the United Reformers in their first constitutional struggle under the union. They read as follows:

1. " That the most important, as well as most undoubted, of the political rights of the people of this province is that of having a provincial parliament for the protection of their liberties, for the exercise of a constitutional influence over the executive departments of their government, and for legislation upon all matters of internal government."

2. " That the head of the executive government of the province being, within the limits of his government, the representative of the sovereign, is responsible to the imperial authority alone; but that, nevertheless, the management of our local affairs can only be conducted by him, by and with the assistance, counsel and information of subordinate officers in the province."

3. That in order to preserve between the different branches of the prov incial parliament that harmony which is essential to the peace, welfare and good government of the province, the chief advisers of the representative of the sovereign, constituting a provincial administration under him, ought to be men possessed of the confidence of the representatives of the people, thus affording a guarantee that the well-understood wishes and interests of the people, which our gracious sovereign has declared shall be the rule of the provincial government, will, on all occasions, be faithfully represented and advocated."

4. "That the people of this province, have, moreover, a right to expect from such provincial administration the exertion of their best endeavours that the imperial authority, within its constitutional limits, shall be exercised in the manner most consistent with their wishes and interests.

It is said that the resolutions in their final form were drafted by Lord Sydenham himself. It would be difficult to say just what would have been the scope of their operation had that energetic and purposeful nobleman remained at the head of Canadian affairs. But his melancholy and untimely death, just as the session came to a close, gave a new turn to the current of history and rendered it possible for those who had opposed his administration to put into operation the principles of government whose validity he had conceded. A fall from his horse (September 4th, 1841) resulted in injuries which proved too much for his constitution, already enfeebled by the severity of his labours, to withstand. He lingered for a fortnight, his mind still busied with public cares, worn out with insomnia and racked with unceasing suffering. On the seventeenth of the month, while the governor-general was hovering between life and death, the parliament was prorogued in his name by the officer commanding the forces at Kingston. On Sunday, September 19th, Lord Sydenham breathed his last. His memory has been variously judged. A well-known French-Canadian historian1 has denounced the "political tyranny which he exercised against the Liberals of the population," and has spoken of his "hand of iron" pressed heavily upon French Canada. A British-Canadian historian of prominence2 has called him the "merchant pacificator of Canada," and ranked his achievements with those of Wolfe and Brock. But all are united in testifying to his untiring zeal, his wide range of knowledge and the integrity of his personal character.


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