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Baldwin, LaFontaine, Hincks
Chapter V - The First LaFontaine-Baldwin Ministry


THE sudden death of Lord Sydenham occasioned an interregnum in the government of the province, during which time the administration was carried on under Sir Richard Jackson, commander of Her Majesty's forces in Canada. On October 7th, 1841, a new governor-general was appointed in the person of Sir Charles Bagot, who arrived at Kingston on Monday, January 10th, 1842. The news of his appointment had been the subject of a premature jubilation on the part of the thorough-going Tories of the MacNab faction. The nominee of the Tory government of Sir Robert Peel, and himself known for a Tory of the old school, Sir Charles was expected to restore to Canada an atmosphere of official conservatism which should recall the serener days of the Family Compact. The sequel showed that Sir Charles was prepared to do nothing of the kind. He was, indeed, a Tory, but his long parliamentary and diplomatic training had stood him in good stead. As an undersecretary of state tor foreign affairs and on diplomatic missions at Paris, Washington and St. Petersburg, he had learned the value of the ways of peace. At the Hague, whither he had been sent in connection with the recent disruption of the kingdom of the Netherlands, he had already had to face the problem of rival religions and hostile races. The natural affability and kindness of his temperament, combined with the enlightened wisdom of advancing years, led him to seek rather to conciliate existing differences than to inflame anew the smouldering embers of partisan animosity. Devoid of the personal egotism which had so often converted colonial governors into "domineering proconsuls," Sir Charles was willing to entrust the task of practical government to the hands most able to undertake it. For the role of pacificator, the new governor-general was well suited. His distinguished bearing and upright can; age. and the ease with which he mingled with all classes of colonial society rapidly assured hnn in the province a personal esteem destined greatly to facilitate that conciliation of rival parties which it was his hope to accomplish.

It only remained for Bagot to find, among the political groups which divided his parliament, a party, or a union of parties, strong enough to en able him to carry on the government on these lines. As the parliament was not summoned for eight months after his arrival, Sir Charles had ample time to look about him and to consider the political situation which lie was called upon to face. Visits to Toronto, Montreal and Quebec brought him into contact With the political leaders of the hour, and enabled him to realize that, with the ministry as it at the moment existed, it would not be possible long to carry on the government. Indeed the Draper ministry had owed its continued existence solely to the recognized value of certain of the measures which it had initiated. It had enjoyed a sort of political armistice, at the close of which a renewed and triumphant onslaught of its opponents might naturally be expected. In particular the new governor realized that it would be impossible to carry on the government of the country without an adequate support from the French-Canadians. lie made it, therefore, his aim from the outset to adopt towards them an attitude of friendliness and confidence. Several important appointments to office were made from among their ranks. Judge Vallieres, one of Sir John Colbome's former antagonists, was made chief-iustiee of Montreal; Dr. Meilleur, a French-Canadian scholar of distinction, became superintendent of public instruction. As a result of this policy was greeted in Lower Canada with signal enthusiasm and his memory7 has still an honoured place in the annals of the province.

Meantime it had become evident even to Mr. Draper that some reconstruction of the ministry and some decided modification of its policy were urgently demanded. French Canada was still loud in its complaints against its lack of proper representation in the cabinet, against the injustice of the present electoral divisions, and against local government by appointed officers. "The government," said he Canadian, a leading journal in the Reform interest,, " may keep us in a state of political inferiority, it may rob us, it may oppress us. It has the support of an army and of the whole power of the empire to enable it to do so. But never will we ourselves give it our support in its attempt to enslave and degrade us." The tone of the province was clearly seen in the bye-elections which took place during the recess of parliament. D. B. Papineau, a brother of the ex-led leader, was elected for Ottawa, James Leslie, who had been one of the victims of the election frauds of 1841, was elected for Vercheres. Most significant of all was the return to parliament of Louis Hippolyte IiaFontaine. Baldwin, it will be remembered, had been elected in 1841 for two constituencies, Hastings and the fourth riding of York. He had accepted the seat for Hastings, and the constituency of York was thereby without a representative. He proposed to his constituents that they should bear witness to the reality of the Anglo-French Reform alliance by electing IiaFontaine as their representative. LaFontaine accepted with cordiality the proposal of his ally. "I cannot but regard such a generous and liberal otfer," he wrote in answer to the formal invitation from the Reform committee of the ruling, "as a positive and express condemnation, on the part of the freeholders, of the gross injustice done to several Lower Canadian constituencies, which* in reality, have been deprived of their elective franchise, and which, in consequence of violence, riots and bloodshed, are now represented in the united parliament by men in whom they place no confidence."


Sir Louis H. LaFontaine

To his new constituency LaFontaine issued an address in which he urged the need of cooperation between the French and English parties. "Apart from the considerations of social order, from the love of peace and political freedom, our common interests would alone establish sympathies which, sooner or later, must have rendered the mutual cooperation of the mass of the two populations necessary to the march of government. . . . The political contest commenced at the last session has resulted in a thorough union in parliament between the members who represent the majority of both peoples. That union secures to the provincial government solid support in carrying out those measures which are required to establish peace and contentment." LaFontaine's candidacy was successful and he was elected in September, 1841, by a majority of two hundred and ten votes.

It was the design of Bagot to meet the impending difficulties of the situation, before the meeting of parliament, by such a reconstruction of his ministry as should convert it into a coalition in which all parties might be represented. To men of moderate views, of the type of Sir Charles Bagot, there is an especial fascination in the idea of a political coalition. To subordinate the petty differences of party animosity to the broader considerations of national welfare, is a task so congenial to their own temperament that they do not realize how difficult it is for others. To gather into a single happy family the radical and the reactionary, the clerical and the secularist, is a hope as tempting as it is fatuous. The initial success which had attended Bagot's efforts, the enthusiasm of his reception in French Canada, concealed for the moment the difficulties of the peaceful reunion which he proposed. At Montreal the governor had been received by a "procession upwards of a mile in length, while the hundred banners and flags which fluttered in the gentle breeze, together with the animating strains of martial music, formed a tout ememble which had never before been witnessed in Canada."

"The milleniuin," wrote a British correspondent, a month or two later, "has certainly arrived. Lord Ashburton has settled all difficulties between John Bull and Brother Jonathan, and the lion and the lamb are seen lying down together in Sir Charles Bagot's cabinet." This last allusion referred to the elevation of Franc's Ilincks and Henry Sherwood to executive office. On June 9th, 1842, Hineks was given the post of inspector-general. Previous to the union this position (in each province) had been of a somewhat routine character, the chief duties of its incumbent being to vouch for the correctness of the warrants issued on the receiver-general.1 But even in Sydenham's time it was intended that the office should be converted into what might be called a Ministry of finance, and that the inspector-general should hold a seat in the legislature as the official exponent of the financial policy of the government. The voluntary retirement of the Hon. John Macauley of Kingston, inspector-general for Upper Canada, had made an opening, and Hincks was accordingly given the position of inspector-general of Canada, while the former incumbent of the office in Lower Canada was made deputy-inspector for the united provinces.

It had been charged against Hincks that, even during the preceding session of the parliament, the prospect of this office had been held out as a bait to allure him from his allegiance to the Reformers. But according to his own statement no approaches of this kind were made to him at all during the year 1841. Nor did he intend, in accepting a seat in the executive council, which was to accompany the inspectorship, to forego any of his previous principles. In his address to his Oxford constituents on the occasion of his reelection on appointment to office, he said: "I have accepted office without the slightest compromise of my well-known political principles, and I shall not continue to hold it unless the administration with which I am connected shall be supported by the public opinion of the country." Nevertheless the bitter comments of the rival factions on Hincks's appointment showed already the impossibilities of a general reconciliation. " The appointment of Mr. Hincks to the lucrative and important office of inspector-general," said a contemporary journalist,1 "has been received with strong expressions of disapproval by the great bulk of the loyal party of the province.. . . Mr. Hincks has long conducted a journal which has been accused of ministering sedition to r.ts readers, and at the breaking out of Mackenzie's rebellion he stood with his arms folded, rendering no assistance towards quelling the atrocious attempt of that mountebank. ... It is for these reasons that t he honours now bestowed on him are so objectionable to a great part of the people." It will be noted that both now and later it was an article of faith with the Tories that they were the only loyal part of the population, a fiction which rendered any political compromise with them all the more difficult to effect.

In order to offset the appointment of Hineks, Bagot at the same time offered the post of solicitor*-general for Upper Canada to Cartwright, a leading member of the MacNab party. Cartwright declined the office, and forwarded to Sir Charles Bagot a letter in explanation of his refusal. The recent appointment, he said, had been viewed with disapproval by the Conservative party to which he belonged. He construed it as an evidence that the government was indifferent to the political principles of its supporters, even when their principles were unfriendly to British supremacy. The cry for responsible government was a danger to the country, and was a request incompatible with the position of Canada as a British colony. Of this dangerous movement, Mr. Hincks had been the "apologist." He had been the defender of Papineau and Mackenzie up to the very moment of the rebellion. To go into a government with "this individual" would ruin Mr. Cartwright's character as a public man.1 As Mr. Cartwright's objections appeared invincible, the post was offered to one of his fellow Conservatives, Henry Sherwood, a lawyer of Toronto. Mr. Sherwood, contrary to the expectation of his party, accepted the office, entering upon his duties in July, 1842. The ministry was therefore (in the month of August, 1842) of a decidedly multi-coloured complexion, containing as it did, representatives of the Tories, the Reformers, and of the old council. But it was the intention of Bagot to carry his principle of combination still further, and to enlist, if possible, the services of the two men most influential in the country, Baldwin and LaFontaine. Of LaFontaine's support the governor felt a particular need.

The ministry contained no French-Canadians, and of the special offices which were concerned exclusively with the affairs of Lower Canada, one (the office of solicitor-general) had been rendered vacant by the elevation of Mr. Day to the bench, while the incumbent of another (Ogden, the attorney-general) was absent in England. It was becoming clear that, unless a reconstruction could be effected, the present ministry would be left almost unsupported in the House. Mr. Draper seems to have accepted the situation with philosophic resignation. He was quite ready, if need be, to resign his own place, and he harboured no delusions about his ability to carry on the government with inadequate support. The meeting of parliament at Kingston (September 8th, 1842) was made the occasion of an attempt on the part of the governor to complete his system of coalition. His speech from the throne, while referring to the prosperous financial position of the government and the rapid progress of the public works undertaken, expressed an ardent wish that "a spirit of moderation and harmony might, animate the counsels of the parliament." The debate on the address n answer to the speech was fixed for Friday, September 13th. On that afternoon the governor, who had already been n personal consultation with LaFontaine, wrote to him in the following terms:—

"Having taken into my most earnest and anxious consideration the conversation which passed between us, I find my desire to invite to the aid of, and cordial cooperation Math my government the population of French origin in tins province, unabated. ... I have, therefore, come, not without difficulty, to the conclusion that, for such an object, I will consent to the retirement of the attorney-general, Mr. Ogden, from the office which he now holds, upon its being distinctly understood that a provision will be made for him commensurate with his long and faithful services. Upon his retirement I am prepared to offer to you the situation of attorney-general for Lower Canada with a seat in my executive council. . . .

"Mr. Baldwin's differences with the government have arisen chiefly from his desire to act in concert with the representatives of the French portion of the population, and, as I hope these differences are now happily removed, I shall be willing to avail myself of this service. Mr. Draper has tendered me the resignation of his office. I shall always regret the loss of such assistance as he has uniformly afforded me, and I 'shall feel the imperative obligation of considering his claims upon the government, whenever an opportunity may offer of adequately acknowledging them. . . .

"From, my knowledge of the sentiments entertained by all the gentlemen who now compose my constitutional advisers, I see no reason to doubt that a strong and united council might be formed on the basis of this proposition. In this persuasion I have gone to the utmost length to meet and even to surpass your demands, and i f, after such an overture, I shall find that my efforts to secure the: political tranquillity of the country are unsuccessful, I shall at least have the satisfaction of feeling that I have exhausted all the means which the most anxious desire to accomplish the great obiect has enabled me to devise.

" I have the honour, etc,

"C. Bagot."

The promise was given in the same letter that the position of solicitor-general for Lower Canada should be filled according to LaFontame's nomination, provided only that the person nominated was British. The conimissionership of Crown lands was likewise to be offered to M. Girouard, a former associate and friend of LaFontaine during the constitutional struggle preceding the rebellion. At the same time a pension was to be granted to Mr. Davidson, the previous commissioner, an old servant of the government. That the proposal thus made went a long way towards meeting the demands of the Reform party can be seen by reading the comments on it in the Tory press, when the letter was subsequently read out in the assembly by Mr. Draper as a proof of the intractable attitude of the Reformers. " Incredible and humiliating as it may appear," said the Toronto Church, "it was really written by Sir Charles Bagot to Mr. LaFontaine. ... A Radical ministry cannot last long. Loyal men need not despair; they have G-od on their .tide. We must begin to agitate for a dissolution of the union between Upper and Lower Canada, or a federal union of all the British North American provinces." It will be seen from this that the exasperated Tories claimed a monopoly, not only of loyalty to the Crown, but even of the sheltering protection of Providence.

Flattering as was Sir Charles Bagot's proposal, LaFontaine, after hurried consultation with his future colleague, did not see fit to accept it. It had been the aim of the Reform leaders not merely to obtain office for themselves personally but to force a resignation of the whole ministry, to be followed by a cabinet reconstruction in due form. Even with Draper absent, there were several members of the existing administration, notably Sherwood, the Tory solicitor-general just appointed, with whom they would find it difficult to cooperate. To accept the responsibility of providing pensions for Ogden and Davidson seemed to LaFontaine, wrongly perhaps, a bad constitutional precedent. The suggestion of giving pensions was not indeed without defence, under the circumstances. Davidson was an old public servant who had taken no active part in politics, and who had no wish to continue to hold an office which was now to be made a subject of party appointment and dismissal.1 The office held by Ogden had also been non-political at the time of his assuming it. But a further objection to the proposal lay in the fact that the united Reformers were 5n complete command of the situation, and could afford to insist on better terms of' entry upon office than those offered by Sir Charles Bagot.

Foiled in the plan of friendly reconstruction, there was nothing for it for the government but to fight its way with the address as best it might. The resolutions fox the adoption of a cordial response to the speech from the throne were the signal for a debate of unusual interest and excitement, during which the galleries of the legislative chambers were packed With eager listeners who felt that the fate not only of the government, but of the system of government, hung on the issue. The newspapers of the day testify to the intense interest occasioned by the prospect of the approaching trial of strength. This afternoon," writes the Toronto Herald of September 13th, "the great battle commenced. The war is even now being carried into the enemy's camp—excitement increases—members rave—the people wax furious —and where it will end no one can guess." " The House was so crowded," complained a local journalist, " that we were unable to obtain any space for writing in, and had to rely on our recollection for an abstract of the day's proceedings."

Mr. Draper was too keen a fighter to surrender tamely and without a struggle. He addressed the House in what was called by the Kingston Chronicle, "one of the most splendid and eloquent speeches we have ever heard." He submitted to the consideration of the assembly an account of the unsuccessful attempt to obtain the services of LaFontaine in the government. It had been recognized, he said, that it was absolutely right that the gentlemen representing the population of French Canada should have a share in the administration of affairs. It had not escaped attention that an alliance had been formed between the representatives of French Canada and the honourable member for Hastings. When the government had opened negotiations wit h the honourable member for the fourth riding of York (Mr. LaFontaine), it had appeared that the inclusion of Mr. Baldwin in the government was made a sine qua non. He (Mr. Draper) had felt that he could not remain in the council if Mr. Baldwin were brought into it. It was for this reason that he had tendered his resignation. Mr. Draper then read aloud the governor's letter to LaFontaine. On what grounds His Excellency's proposal had been declined he would leave to the honourable members opposite to explain.

LaFontaine and Baldwin both spoke in answer. LaFontaine spoke in French, At the opening of his speech he was interrupted by a member asking him to speak in English. LaFontaine refused. "Even were I as familiar with the English as with the French language," he said* "I should none the less make my first speech in the language of my French-Canadian compatriots, were it only to enter my solemn protest against the cruel injustice of that part of the Act of Union which seeks to proscribe the mother tongue of half the population of Canada." In the course of his speech I/a Fontaine dwelt upon the unfair position in which French Canada was placed and its lack of representation in the cabinet. He had no wish for office unless his acceptance of it should mean the introduction of a new regime. In default of that, " in the state of enslavement in which the iron hand of Lord Sydenham sought to hold the people of French Canada, in the presence of actual facts which still bespeak that purpose, he had (in refusing), but one duty to fulfil,--that of maintaining that personal honour which has distinguished his compatriots and to which their most embittered enemies are compelled to do homage."'

Baldwin, following LaFontaine with an amendment to the address embodying a declaration of want of confidence, was able to feel that his hour of triumph had come. The government at the close of the last session had acquiesced in the resolutions affirming the principle of responsible 128 government; these they must now repudiate or inevitably find themselves out of office. Baldwin could scarcely be called an eloquent speaker. His language was often cumbrous and was devoid of imagery. But in moments such as the present he was able to present a clear case with overwhelming force. He challenged the government to abide by the principle which they had avowed. In that principle lay the future safety of the imperial connection and the union of the Canadas. "I will never yield my desire," he said, '* to preserve the connection between this and the mother country : and although it is said a period must arrive demanding a separation, I, for my part, with the principle that has now been avowed being acted on, cannot subscribe to that opinion. If a conciliatory policy is adopted towards all the people of this country, such an opinion could have no existence. I was, and still am. an advocate of the union of the provinces, but an advocate not of a union of parchment, but a union of hearts and of free born men."

If, the speaker continued, the ministry believed it but an act of justice to the LowTer Canadians to call some of their representatives to the councils of their sovereign's representative, why had they kept this conviction pent up In their own minds without the manliness to give it effect t They admitted the justice of the principle but had not the manliness to give it effect. Out of their own mouths they stood convicted. Other members joined in the debate. Aylwin denounced the government m unstinted terms. The letter to LaFontaine, he said, was a trick. It was intended to increase discord. Mr. Draper had said that he was unwilling to remain in office as a colleague of Mr. Baldwin. He could not act with the master, but he had no objection to acting with the disciple. This sneering allusion to Hincks provoked from that member an embittered denial of the aptness of the phrase. He had never been, he said, a disciple of Robert Baldwin; the great question on which they had agreed, and for which they had acted together, had been responsible government; that was near settled and conceded. The policy of the administration had been worthy of support, and he had supported it.

The attack thus opened on the government waged hotly through the sitting of the afternoon and evening. Bartlie of Yamaska, Viger and others joined in the onslaught. When the debate was at last adjourned, a little before midnight, it was plain to all that if a vote should be taken on Baldwin's amendment the government must inevitably succumb. It was in vain that Sullivan in the Upper House had undertaken the defence of the government with his usual brilliance and power; in vain that he had tried to show that the Reformers were merely a party of obstruction, bent on impeding the legitimate operation of government for their 130 own selfish ends. "Are we," he cried. "to carry on the government fairly and upon liberal principles, or by dint of miserable majorities,? by the latter or by the united acclamations of the people? We wish to know, in fact, whether there is sufficient patriotism to allow us to work for the good of the people."

The argument against miserable majorities, whatever it might mean to a philosopher, was powerless to meet the situation or to save the government from its imminent defeat, Great, therefore, was the expectation of the public for a renewal of the struggle on the following day. The halls and galleries of the legislature were packed with an expectant audience. All the greater was the surprise of the spectators to find that the storm which had raged so fiercely in the House had now suddenly and entirely subsided. Very obviously something had happened. The members of the assembly, who yesterday had appeared instinct with an eager intentness, now sat with quiet composure in their luxurious chairs of "green moreen," meditating in silence or even chatting and joking with their fellows. There was for a moment a thrill of expectation in the audience when Hineks arose; he, if any one, might be expected, with liis incisive speech and telling directness, to precipitate an encounter. Rut, to the disappointment of the listening crowd n the galleries, the inspector-general merely moved that the debate on Mr. Baldwin's amendment, should be postponed till Friday. The quiet acceptance of this proposal by the House showed that the majority of the members were aware of its meaning. The government, unable to face the rising storm of opposition, had capitulated. Mr. Draper's resignation was again to be handed in, and a general reconstruction of the ministry was to be effected. Some few of the members ventured an immediate protest. Dr. Dunlop, an "independent" member for Huron, known as "Tiger Dunlop," denounced the contemplated adjustment. The political transformation that seemed about to be accomplished would introduce, he said, within a space of twenty.-, four hours, changes as extraordinary as those witnessed by Rip Van Winkle after a lapse of twenty years. The new ministry that was in the making would be as composite as Nebuchadnezzar's dream; he would not be invidious enough to say who would be the head of gold or who the feet of brass, but the greater part of it he feared would be of dirt.

In despite, however, of Dr. Dunlop's sallies and the loud outcry of the Tory press, the proposed arrangement was carried to its completion. Baldwin withdrew his amendment; Mr. Draper resigned, and LaFontaine and his colleague entered upon office. The change effected was not a complete change of cabinet, inasmuch as Hincks, Ivillaly, Sullivan and three others still remained in office. As Ilincks has pointed out, the name, " LaFontaine-Baldwin ministry" commonly applied to the new executive group is therefore inaccurate.1 Sullivan was in reality the senior member of the council. But in the wider sense of the term the designation, "LaFontame-Baldwin ministry." indicates the essential principle of its reconstruction, and, as a matter of historical nomenclature, has long met with a general acceptance. The formation of the ministry involved a certain element of compromise. The disputed question of the pensions was left as a matter of individual voting, and in the sequel was satisfactorily arranged, Ogden being given an imperial appointment and Davidson a collectorship of customs. It was not, according to Hineks,2 definitely and formally stipulated that the ministers left over from the old ministry should retain their seats on condition of conforming to the policy of then' new chiefs. But, with the exception of Sullivan, their known opinions were such as to render this conformity more or less a matter of course. The ministry as finally constituted —the change occupied two or three weeks —was as follows :—

Canada; Robert Baldwin, attorney-general for Upper Canada; R. B. Sullivan, president of the council; J. H. Dunn, receiver-general; Dominick Daly, provincial secretary for Lower Canada; S. B. Harrison, provincial secretary for Upper Canada; II. II. Killaly, president of the department of public works; F. Hincks, inspector-general of public accounts ; T. C. Aylwin, solicitor-general for Lower Canada; J. E. Small, solicitor-general for Upper Canada; A. N. Morin, commissioner of Crown lands. The last named office had been declined by Mr. Girouard, whose name had been mentioned in Sir Charles Bagot's letter, and was, at LaFontaine's suggestion, conferred upon Morin, his most intimate friend and political associate.

The incoming ministers, in accordance with parliamentary practice, now resigned their seats and submitted themselves to their constituents for reelection. The election of LaFontaine in what the Tories called his ''rotten borough" of the fourth riding of York, was an easy matter. Baldwin, on the other hand, encountered a stubborn opposition. The following newspaper extracts (both taken, it need hardly lie said, from journals opposed to the new ministry) may give some idea of the elections of the period and the virulence of the party politics of the day.

"The Hastings election commenced on Monday'. At half past ten the speeches began and lasted till three. Although Mr. Baldwin came in with a large procession and Mr. Murney had none, yet the latter was listened to with extreme attention, and spoke admirably. Mr. Baldwin could not be heard half the time, there was incessant talking while he spoke. At five o'clock 011 Tuesday evening the poll stood thus:—Murney, 130; Baldwin, 124. The poll does not close till Saturday night. Let every loyal man consider that on his single vote the election may depend, and let him immediately hasten and record it for Murney.

"The fourth riding election commenced on Monday. William Roe. Esq., a popular and loyal man. resident at Newmarket, opposes Mr. LaFontaine* The poll is held at David-town (fit place!). By the last accounts the votes stood thus:—LaFontaine, 191 ; Roe, 71. Mr. Roe was recovering his lost ground and will fight manfully to the last. Every out-voter should repair to his aid. Saturday will now be too late."

"The Hastings election has terminated in favour of Mr. Murney. The numbers at the last were:— Murney, 482 ; Baldwin. 433. A number of shanty-men having no votes were hired by Mr. Baldwin's party to create a disturbance. They did so, and ill treated Mr. Murney's supporters. The latter, however, rallied and drove their dastardly assailants from the field. Two companies of the 23rd Regiment were sent from Kingston to keep the peace, and polling was most unjustly discontinued for one day. The returning officer, Mr. Sheriff Moodie, is described to us, on good authority, as having entirely identified himself with the Baldwin party. He has made such a return as will prevent Mr. Murney from taking his seat, and no doubt the tyrannical and anti-British majority in the House will sustain him n any injustice, especially if t be exceedingly glaring."

A less prejudiced journal1 gives the following more impartial account of the same proceedings:— "On Wednesday, (October 5th), t appears that bodies of voters, armed with bludgeons, swords, and firearms, generally consisting of men who had no votes but attached to opposite parties, alternately succeeded in driving the voters of Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Murney from the polls. . . . One man had his arm nearly cut off by a stroke of a sword, and two others are not expected to live from the blows they have received. All the persons injured whom we have mentioned were supporters of Mr. Baldwin, but we understand that the riotous proceedings were about as great on the one side as the other."

Baldwin was of course compelled to seek another constituency! The election n the second riding of York had been declared void and Baldwin was put up as a candidate by well-intentioned friends, in despite of the fact that he had already arranged to offer himself to a Lower Canadian constituency. The upshot was that Baldwin, who made no canvass of the York electors, was again beaten. But his allies m French Canada were now only too anxious to make a fitting return for his action in this respect towards LaFontaine. For the debt of gratitude incurred, an obvious means of repayment suggested itself. Several French-Canadian members offered to make way for the associate of their leader. Baldwin accepted the offer of Mr. Borne, the member for Rimouski, for which constituency he was finally elected (January 30th, 1843), but not until after the session had closed.

The incoming of the first LaFontaine-Baldwin ministry as thus constituted, offers an epoch-making date in the constitutional history of Canada. It may with reason be considered the first Canadian cabinet,1 in which the principle of colonial self-government was embodied. This is not to say that it marks the establishment of responsible government in Canada, for to assign a date to that might be a matter of some controversy. Durham had recommended responsible government; Russell in his celebrated despatch had indicated, somewhat vaguely, perhaps, the sanction of the home government to its adoption; Sydenham had evaded, if not denied, it. Even after this date, as will appear in the sequel, Metcalfe refused to accept it as the fundamental principle of Canadian government. Not until the coming of Lord Elgin can it be said that responsible government was recognized on both sides of the Atlantic as a permanent and essential part of the administration of the province. But it remains true that in this LaForitaiue-Baldwin ministry we find for the first time a cabinet deliberately constituted as the delegates of the representatives of the people, and taking office under a governor willing to accept their advice as his constitutional guide m the government of the country.

The distinct advance that was thus made in the political evolution of the British colonial system becomes more apparent upon a nearer view of the attendant circumstances of the hour. At the present day the people of Britain and the British colonies have become so accustomed to the peaceful operation of cabinet government that they are inclined to take it for granted as an altogether normal phenomenon, the possibility and the utility of which are self-evident. It is no longer realized that responsible government, hke the wider principle of government by majority rule, rests after all upon convention. Unless and until the minority of a country are willing to acquiesce in the control of the majority, the whole system of vote counting and legislation based on it is impossible. In a community where the voters defeated at the polls resort to violence and rebellion, majority rule loses its political significance, for this significance lies in the fact that it has become a general political habit of the community to accept the decision of the majority of themselves. On this presumed consensus, this general agreement to submit if voted down, rests the fabric of modern democratic government, The same is true, also, of the particular form of democratic rule known as cabinet or responsible government: t presupposes that the beaten party recognize the political right of their conquerors to take office; that they will not consider that the whole system of government has broken down merely because they have been voted out of power; nor meditate a resort to violent measures, as if the political victory of their opponents had dissolved the general bonds of allegiance. So much has this party acquiescence become in our day the traditional political habit, that m British, self-governing countries His Majesty's ministers and His Majesty's Opposition circulate n and out of office with decorous alternation, each side recognizing in the other an institution necessary to its own existence. Rut at the period of which we speak the case was different,. To the thorough-going Tories the admission to office of LaFontaine, Baldwin and their adherents seemed a political crime. Loyalty raised its hands in pious horror at the sight of a ministry whom it persisted iii associating with the lost cause of rebellion and sedition, and one of whose two leaders was under the permanent stigma attaching to an alien name and descent. Even the traditional Up service due to colonial governors was forgotten, and the Tory press openly denounced Bagot as a feeble-minded man led astray by a clique of seditious and irresponsible advisers.

The journals of the autumn of 1842 are filled with denunciations of the new government. "If the events of the past few weeks," wrote the Montreal Crazette, "are to be taken as a presage of the future —and who doubts it?—Lower Canada is no longer a place of sojourn for British colonists. A change has come over the spirit of our dream in the last few weeks, so sudden, so passing strange, that we have been scarcely able to comprehend its nature and extent. By degrees, however, the appalling truth develops itself. Every post from Kingston confirms the fact that the British party has been deliberately handed over to the vindictive disposition of a French mob, whose first efforts are directed towards the abrogation of those lawrs which protect property and promote improvement. Every step in the way of legislation since the 8th ultimate, has been a step backward, and the heel falls each time, with insulting ingenuity, on the necks of the British. ' Coming events cast their shadows before.' They are cast broadly and ominously, almost assuming in our sad and most reluctant eyes, the mysterious characters of sacred writ—."

The Montreal Transcript was even more outspoken in its denunciation. "To a governor without any opinion of his own and ready to veer about at every breath of opposition, no worse field could have been presented than Canada. Were Ilis Excellency only resolute, the presence of three or four men in 1 is cabinet could not avail to render him powerless and passive. But from the moment that the patronage of the Crown was surrendered, ui such an unexampled manner, to such men—from the moment a scat in the cabinet was offered and pressed upon a man1 who had fought in open rebellion and faced the fire of British musketry in a mad attempt to carry out his hostility to the government that then was- -from that moment the governor placed himself with his hands tied in the power of his new advisers." Another leading Conservative paper did not scruple to say that the composition of the present cabinet is the germ of colonial separation from the mother country."

One can understand how great must have been the difficulties of Bagot's situation. It was not possible for him merely to fold his hands and to announce himself, with general approval, as the long-desired constitutional governor. If he attempted to actually govern, the Reformers would be up in arms; if he left the government to his ministers, he must face tin: outcry of the Tory faction. The ideal of one party was the abomination of the other. The French press was of course loud in its praise of the new policy. "To-day," said Iinerve, in speaking of the formation of the ministry, " commences a new era, and one which will be signalized by the administration of equal justice towards all our fellow-citizens and the return of popular confidence in the government." "The great principle of responsibility," said the same journal, "is thus formally and solemnly recognized by the representative of the Crown, and sealed with the approbation of the assembly. From this epoch dates a revolution, effected without blood or slaughter, but none the less glorious." But the more the French press praised Bagot's action, the more did the " loyal" newspapers denounce it, subjecting the governor to personal criticism and abuse entirely out of keeping with the system he laboured to introduce. "To hear the stupid Aurore and the venomous Minerve lauding a British governor," declared the Toronto Patriot, "is surely proof plain that he is not what he might be; that he is a changed man and not worthy of the cordial sympathy of the Conservative and loyal press of Canada." It is small wonder that Bagot's health began to suffer severely from the anxiety and distress of mind occasioned by these malignant attacks upon his character.

A proper appreciation of the state of public feeling evidenced by such extracts renders clear the great significance of the LaFontaine-Baldwin alliance in the history of Canada. Its importance is of a double character. It afforded, in the first place, an object lesson in the principle of responsible government; for it showed in actual operation a group of ministers united in policy, backed by an overwhelming majority in the popular branch of the legislature, and receiving the constitutional approval of the governor, of whom they were the advisers. Henceforth responsible government, the "one idea" of Robert Baldwin, was no longer merely an "idea"; it was a known and tried system whose actual operation had proved its possibility. Its trial, indeed, in the present case was but brief, yet brief as it was, it remained as an ensample for future effort. But the new government had a furt her significance. It indicated the only possible policy by which the racial problem in the political life of Canada could find an adequate solution. To the old-time Tory the absorption, suppression, or at any rate the subordination of French Canada seemed the natural, one might; say the truly British and loyal, method of governing the united country. From now on a new path of national development is indicated in the alliance and cooperation of the two races, each contributing its distinctive share to the political life of the country, and each finding in the other a healthful stimulus and support. This is the principle, entirely contrary to the doctrines of the older school, first introduced by the alliance of Baldwin and LaFontame, which has since governed the destinies of Canada. On the validity of this principle the future of the country has been staked.

If we pass from the general consideration of the ministry before us to the legislative history of its first session, there is but little to record. The session was but of a month's duration (September 8th to October 12th. 1842), the new ministers during the first part of it were still seeking reelection, and time was lacking for a wide programme of reform. Such measures as were carried, however, indicated clearly the policy which it proposed to follow: to conciliate the people of French Canada by removing some of the more burdensome restrictions imposed by the special council and to make at least a beginning of a programme of reform, was the cardinal aim of the government. The first law placed upon the statute-book for the session—the law in regard to elections —evinced this latter purpose. The elections of the day were notoriously corrupt, Fraud and violence had been the rule rather than the exception. Under the existing system there was but a single polling place for each constituency, an arrangement which favoured riotous proceedings and the assemblage of tumultuous crowds. The new election law1 provided that there should be a separate polling place in each township or ward of every constituency, and that each elector should vote at the polling place of the district where his property was situated. Electors might be put on oath as to whether they had already voted. The polls were to stay open only two days. An oath in denial of bribery could be imposed on any voter, if it were demanded by two electors. Firearms and other weapons might be confiscated by the returning officer, under penalty, in case of resistance, of fine and imprisonment. Under similar penalties it was forbidden to make use of ensigns, standards or flags, "as party flags," to distinguish the supporters of a particular candidate, either on election day or for a fortnight before or after; a similar prohibition was laid down against "ribbons," "labels" and "favours" used as party badges. These last clauses offered an easy mark for the raillery of the Conservative press, and offered a favourable opportunity for wilful misinterpretation by pressing into service the never-tailing Union Jack and British loyalty. The Patriot of Toronto speaks as follows of the tyranny of the election law:—

"This law also prohibits, under penalties of fines of fifty pounds, and imprisonment for six months, or both, the exhibiting of any ensign, standard, colour, flag, ribbon, label or favour, whatever, or for any reason whatsoever, at any election or on any election day. or within a fortnight before or after such a day!!! So that any body of honest electors who for a fortnight before or after an election (being a period of one month), shall dare to hoist the Union Jack of Old England, or wear a green or blue ribbon m the button-hole, shall be fined fifty pounds or irnprisont*! six months, or both, under Mr. Baldwin's election bill. We defy the whole world to match this bill for grinding and insupportable tyranny. Verily, Messrs. LaFontaine and Baldwin, ye use your victory over the poo>\ loyal serfs of Canada with most honourable moderation! How long this Algerme Act will be allowed to pollute our statute-book remains yet to be seen."

Another statute2 of the session undertook to remedy the injustice done by Lord Sydenham towards the city constituencies of Montreal and Quebec. He had used the power conferred upon ham under the Act of Union3 to reconstruct these constituencies by separating the cities from the suburbs1; under the present statute the "ancient boundaries and limits " of the cities were restored. A further reversal of Lord Sydenham's policy was seen in the repeal* of a series of ordinances by which the special council had undertaken to alter the system of law courts in Lower Canada. Sydenham's Act in reference to winter roads in Lower Canada, a needlessly officious piece of legislation, was also partially repealed.1 A special duty of three shillings a quarter was imposed upon wheat from the United States; a loan of one million, five hundred thousand pounds sterling was authorized, and the sum of eighty-three thousand, three hundred and six pounds was voted for the civil list. A resolution was, moreover, passed by a large majority of the assembly (forty against twenty) declaring that Kingston was not suitable to be the scat of government. The session came to an end on October 12th, 1842. A useful beginning had been made but no legislation of a sweeping character had been passed. The adversaries of the government did not hesitate to taunt the ministry with having promised much and done little. "After all the rumpus about responsible government," said the Woodstock Herald, " the session is over, and we are all just as we were— waiting for something, we scarcely know what. But we all know that the parliament has shown itself nothing but a debating club."

At the time of their first ministry both LaFontaine and Baldwin may be said to have been entering upon the prime of life. Baldwin was thirty-eight years old, LaFontame only thirty-four. In personal appearance they presented in many ways a contrast. LaFontaine was a man of striking presence, of more than ordinary stature, and robust and powerful frame. His massive brow and regular features, the thoughtful east of his countenance and the firm fines of the mouth, offered an almost exact resemblance to the face of the Emperor Napoleon. On his visiting the Invalides in Paris, LaFontaine was surrounded by the veterans of Napoleon's guard, who are said to have thrilled with emotion at seeing among them the walking image of their dead emperor. When Lady Mary Bagot, who remembered the emperor, saw LaFontaine for the first time she could not repress an exclamation of astonishment, "I was not certain that he is dead," she cried, "I should say it was Napoleon." The habitual gravity of LaFontaine's manner and the dignity of his address enhanced still further the impression of power conveyed by his firm features and steady eye. His colleague was a man of different type and less striking in general appearance. In stature Baldwin stood rather above the average, being about five feet ten inches in height, though his heavy frame and the slight stoop of his broad shoulders prevented him from appearing a tall man. His eyes were grey and his hair of a dark brown, as yet untinged with grey. The features were lacking n mobility7 and the habitual expression of his face was that of serious thought, but the extreme kindliness of his heart and the truthfulness of his whole being, coupled with a manner that was unassuming and free from conceit, lent to his address a suggestion of rugged honesty and force and extreme 148 gentleness, that won him the unfailing affection of those about him.

As the autumn progressed, disquieting rumours began to prevail in regard to the state of the governor-generals health. It is a strange thing that thrice running the destinies of Canada should have been profoundly affected by the premature death of those sent out to administer its government. "Canada has been too much for him," John Stuart Mill had said of Lord Durham. With equal truth might it be said that Canada had proved too much for Sir Charles Bagot. The governor had come to the country in excellent health. The firm and vigorous tone in which he had read his first and only speech from the throne had been the subject of general remark, and had seemed to indicate that Bagot was destined for a vigorous old age. But the cares of office weighed heavily upon him. He had not anticipated that his policy of good-will and conciliation would have exposed him to the bitter attacks of the discomfited Tories; still less had he expected that his conduct, as appears to have been the case, would have been an object of censure at the hands of the home government. It is undoubted that the symptoms of heart trouble and general decline which now began to appear were aggravated by the governor's sense of the failure of his mission as peacemaker, and by the distress caused by the crude brutality of his critics.

The autumn months of 1842 must indeed have been full of bitterness to Bagot. The opposition to his administration had assumed a personal note, for which the rectitude of his intentions gave no warrant. Organizations called Constitutional Societies, :n remembrance of Tory loyalty before the rebellion, had sprung nto new life. The parent society at Toronto was reproduced in organizations in the country districts. The "anti-British policy of Sir Charles Bagot" was denounced in the plainest terms. His ministry was openly branded as a ministry of traitors and rebels. The influence of Edward Gibbon Wakefield and other private advisers was made a salient point of attack, and the governor was represented as surrounded by a group of counsellors—"the Hinckses, the Wake-fields and the Girouards, remarkable for nothing but bitter hatred to monarchical and loyal institutions." The press of the mother country joined in the outcry. The Times undertook to demonstrate the folly of admitting to the ministry a man like LaFontaine, "who," it asserted, "had had a price set upon his head." The Morning Her aid'2 went still further; it declared the whole system of representative institutions m Lower Canada a mistake. That province, it said, needed "despotic government, strong, hist and good- administered by a governor-general responsible to parliament." " If Sir Charles Bagot be right," it argued, "then Lord Gosford and Sir Francis Head must have been wrong," which evidently was absurd.

In how far the British government itself joined in these censorious attacks cannot accurately be told, but Bagot had certainly received from Lord Stanley, the colonial secretary, letters condemning the policy he had seen fit to adopt. The Duke of Wellington had denounced the acceptance of the new Canadian ministry by the governor as surrendering to a party still affected with treason. "The Duke of Wellington," wrote Sir Robert Peel, " has been thunderstruck by the news from Canada. He considers what has happened as likely to be fatal to the connection with England. . . Yesterday he read to me all the despatches, and commented on them most unreservedly. He perpetually said, 'What a fool the man [Bagot] must have been, to act as he has done 1 and what stuff and nonsense he has written ! and what a bother he makes about his policy and his measures, when there are 110 measures but rolling himself and his country in the mire!'" Even Peel himself felt by no means easy about the situation, nor did he accept the absolute validity of the constitutional principle as applied to Canadian government. " I would not," he wrote to Stanley, "voluntarily throw myself into the hands of the French party through fear of being in a minority. ... I would not allow the French party to dictate the appointment of men tainted by charges, or vehement suspicion, of sedition or disaffection to British authority, to be ministers."

As the winter drew on it was evident that Sir Charles could no longer adequately fulfil his duties. He was obliged to postpone the meeting of the parliament which was to have taken place in November. His physicians urgently recommended that he should relinquish his office, and the oncoming of a winter of unwonted severity still further taxed his fading strength. He forwarded to the borne government a request for his recall. In view of his enfeebled condition-, the government was able to grant his prayer without seeming to reflect upon the character of his administration. But Bagot was not dest ined to see England again. Though released from office 011 March 30th, 1843, the day on which he yielded place to Sir Charles Metcalfe, he was no longer in a condition to undertake the homeward voyage, and was compelled to remain at Alw ington House, in Kingston. Six weeks later, (May 19th. 1843), his illness terminated in death. Before going out of office he had uttered a wish to his assembled ministers that they would be mindful to defend his memory. The prayer was not unnecessary, for the bitter 1nvective of his foes was not hushed even in the presence of death.

"Even when Sir Charles Bagot breathed his last," says a chronicler of the time, himself a Tory and a disappointed place-hunter, " such was the exasperation of the public mind, that they (sic) scarcely accorded to him the common sentiments of regret which the departure of a human being from among his fellow-men occasions. . . . The Toronto Patriot in particular, the deadly and uncompromising enemy of the administration of the day, hesitated not to proclaim that the head of the government was an imbecile and a slave, while other journals, even less guarded in their language, boldly pronounced a wish that his death might free the country from the state of thraldom into which it was reduced."1 Every good cause has its martyrs. The governor-general had played his part honestly and without self-interest, and when the list of those is written who have upbuilt the fabric of British colonial government, the name of Bagot should find an honoured place among their number.


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