11 Matching Annotations
  1. Oct 2018
    1. It will form. a subject for mature deliberation whether the powers of the Federal Government should be confined to the points named, or should be extended to all matters not specially entrusted to the Local Legislatures.

      §.91(29) of the Constitution Act, 1867.

  2. Sep 2018
    1. In order to protect local interests, and to prevent sectional jealousies, it was found requisite that the three great divisions into which British North America is separated, should be represented in the Upper House on the principle of equality. There are three great sections, having different interests, in this proposed Confederation.
    2. To the Upper House is to be confided the protection of sectional interests ; therefore is it that the three great divisions are there equally represented, for the purpose of defending such interests against the combinations of majorities in the Assembly.
    1. But the very essence of our compact is that the union shall be federal and not legislative. Our Lower Canada friends have agreed to give us representation by population in the Lower House, on the express condition that they shall have equality in the Upper House. On no other condition could we have advanced a step ; and, for my part, I am quite willing they should have it. In maintaining the existing sectional boundaries and handing over the control of local matters to local bodies, we recognize, to a certain extent, a diversity of interests ; and it was quite natural that the protection for those interests, by equality in the Upper Chamber, should be demanded by the less numerous provinces.
    1. Some hon. gentlemen have told us that this was not a Federal union—that the project before you, hon. gentlemen, was in point of fact a project for a Legislative union. One hon. gentleman who took this view read the 29th section, in order to show that the General Government, if it chose, could repeal any of the local acts of the different local legislatures—that the General Government, for instance, could do away with our religious and benevolent corporations, or deprive them of their property. I think the honorable gentleman must have been rather short-sighted when he read the 29th resolution, for he omitted a very important part of it ; and, if he had not omitted that part, I do not think he would have said that this Federal scheme was really a scheme for a Legislative union. I have no doubt my honorable friend acted in good faith ; but being rather short-sighted, he did not read the whole clause ; otherwise he must have arrived at a different conclusion. The 29th section says : ” The General Parliament shall have power to make laws for the peace, welfare and good government of the Federated Provinces (saving the sovereignty of England), and especially laws respecting the following subjects.” Then follows a list of all the subjects committed to the General Government. But the resolution does not finish there. There is something that comes after all that, and it is this : ” And generally respecting all matters of a general character, not specially and exclusively reserved for the local governments and legislatures.” Now I would ask honorable gentlemen if an act incorporating a religious body or benevolent society here in Lower Canada is a subject of a general character ; is it not a subject purely local ? (Hear, hear.) Take, for instance, the sisters of charity. Could the General Government, under this clause, interfere with the privileges of those ladies ? I say they could not. I suppose the honorable gentleman who used the argument advanced it conscientiously and in good faith. But I think it is quite evident from a reading of the resolution that, if Confederation takes place, the General Government will have no power to interfere with such matters. (Hear, hear.) I must say positively, if I am competent to draw any conclusion at all from what I read, that the General Government will have no right to meddle at all with those religious and benevolent corporations, none in the world. (Hear, hear.)

      §.91(29) of the Constitution Act, 1867.

    1. And the forty-fifth resolution says :—” In regard to all subjects over which jurisdiction belongs to the general and local legislatures, the laws of the General Parliament shall control and supersede those made by the Local Legislature, and the latter shall be void so far as they are repugnant to or inconsistent with the former.” What will be the operation of this provision ? The Local Legislature will pass a law which will then go to the General Government ; the latter will put its veto upon it, and if that does not answer, it will pass a law contrary to it, and you have at once a conflict.

      §.91(29) of the Constitution Act, 1867.

  3. Aug 2018
    1. The 29th section of the scheme submitted to us says : ” The Federal Parliament shall have the power of making laws for the peace, the well-being, and the good government of the Confederate provinces, and in particular in respect of the following matters.” The powers of the Federal Government will be in reality unlimited. The fact of the enumeration of these thirty-seven heads does not in the least restrain the power of the Federal Government from legislating on everything. The exceptions are few. I would ask the Honorable Premier, for instance, whether the Federal Government has not the power to enact that marriage is a civil contract ? He cannot deny it, and I do not believe that that clause will in any way suit Lower Canada. In a matter of divorce, I consider that the power of legislating upon it ought to be vested in the Federal Government ; but as to the passing of a marriage act, we have the authority of the past to convince us that Lower Canada will never be satisfied with what is proposed in the plan of Confederation. On a former occasion, when a member of the Parliament of Canada moved to enact that marriage should be made a civil contract, all the members for Lower Canada voted against the motion, and the whole country was opposed to it. I shall also inquire whether the Federal Government will not have the right to enact that religious corporations shall no longer exist in the country, or that they shall not be allowed to hold real property, except what is absolutely necessary for their lodging accommodation. According to the resolutions which have been submitted to us, the Federal Government would certainly have this right. It has been said that article 15 of the 43rd resolution replies to this objection, but I can see nothing in that article which restricts the right of the Federal Government to legislate on this matter. The 43rd resolution defines the powers of the local governments, and article 15 of that resolution declares that they may make laws respecting ” property and civil rights, excepting those portions thereof assigned to the General Parliament.” That article reserves to the local legislatures nothing relative to religious corporations, and the Federal Government would have full power to decree that those corporations shall not hold immovable property. The supreme power is that which has the right to legislate upon, and regulate the existence of, the corporations in question, and they can only possess civil rights so long as the Government permits them to exist. The same might be said of most of the institutions to which Lower Canada is attached. I am therefore right in saying that, so far as those things which Lower Canada most holds to are concerned, Confederation is in fact a Legislative union, because upon the Federal Government is conferred the right of legislating upon those subjects which Lower Canada holds most dear.

      Preamble and §§.91(26)(29), 92(11)(12)(13), and 93 of the Constitution Act, 1867.

    1. It is said they have not [Page 89] the power. But what is to prevent them from enforcing it? Suppose we had a conservative majority here, and a reform majority above— or a conservative majority above and a reform majority here—all elected under party obligations,—- what is to prevent a dead-lock between the chambers ? It may be called unconstitutional—- but what is to prevent the Councillors (especially if they feel that in the dispute of the hour they have the country at their back) from practically exercising all the powers that belong to us ? They might amend our money bills, they might throw out all our bills if they liked, and bring to a stop the whole machinery of government. And what could we do to prevent them ? But, even supposing this were not the case, and that the elective Upper House continued to be guided by that discretion which has heretofore actuated its proceedings,—still, I think, we must all feel that the election of members for such enormous districts as form the constituencies of the Upper House has become a great practical inconvenience. I say this from personal experience, having long taken an active interest in the electoral contests in Upper Canada. We have found greater difficulty in inducing candidates to offer for seats in the Upper House, than in getting ten times the number for the Lower House. The constituencies are so vast, that it is difficult to find gentlemen who have the will to incur the labor of such a contest, who are sufficiently known and popular enough throughout districts so wide, and who have money enough — (hear) — to pay the enormous bills, not incurred in any corrupt way,—do not fancy that I mean that for a moment—but the bills that are sent in after the contest is over, and which the candidates are compelled to pay if they ever hope to present themselves for re-election. (Hear, hear.) But honorable gentlemen say—” This is all very well, but you are taking an important power out of the hands of the people, which they now possess.” Now this is a mistake. We do not propose to do anything of the sort. What we propose is, that the Upper House shall be appointed from the best men of the country by those holding the confidence of the representatives of the people in this Chamber. It is proposed that the Government of the day, which only lives by the approval of this Chamber, shall make the appointments, and be responsible to the people for the selections they shall make. (Hear, hear.) Not a single appointment could be made, with regard to which the Government would not be open to censure, and which the representatives of the people, in this House, would not have an opportunity “of condemning. For myself, I have maintained the appointed principle, as in opposition to the elective, ever since I came into public life, and have never hesitated, when before the people, to state my opinions in the broadest manner ; and yet not in a single instance have I ever found a constituency in Upper Canada, or a public meeting declaring its disapproval of appointment by the Crown and its desire for election by the people at large. When the change was made in 1855 there was not a single petition from the people asking for it—-it was in a manner forced on the Legislature. The real reason for the change was, that before Responsible Government was introduced into this country, while the old oligarchical system existed, the Upper House continuously and systematically was at war with the popular branch, and threw out every measure of a liberal tendency. The result was, that in the famous ninety-two resolutions the introduction of the elective principle into the Upper House was declared to be indispensable. So long as Mr. ROBERT BALDWIN remained in public life, the thing could not be done ; but when he left, the deed was consummated. But it is said, that if the members are to be appointed for life, the number should be unlimited— that, in the event of a dead lock arising between that chamber and this, there should be power to overcome the difficulty by the appointment of more members. Well, under the British system, in the case of a legislative union, that might be a legitimate provision. But honorable gentlemen must see that the limitation of the numbers in the Upper House lies at the base of the whole compact on which this scheme rests. (Hear, hear.) It is perfectly clear, as was contended by those who represented Lower Canada in the Conference, that if the number of the Legislative Councillors was made capable of increase, you would thereby sweep away the whole protection they had from the Upper Chamber. But it has been said that, though you may not give the power to the Executive to increase the numbers of the Upper House, in the event of a dead-lock, you might limit the term for which the members are appointed. I was myself in favor of that proposition. I thought it would be well to provide for a more frequent change in the composition of the Upper House, and lessen the danger of the chamber being largely composed of gentlemen whose advanced years might forbid the punctual and vigorous discharge of their public [Page 90] duties. Still, the objection made to this was very strong. It was said : ” Suppose you appoint them for nine years, what will be the effect ? For the last three or four years of their term they would be anticipating its expiry, and anxiously looking to the Administration of the day for re-appointment ; and the consequence would be that a third of the members would be under the influence of the Executive.” The desire was to render the Upper House a thoroughly independent body—one that would be in the best position to canvass dispassionately the measures of this House, and stand up for the public interests in opposition to hasty or partisan legislation. It was contended that there is no fear of a dead-lock. We were reminded how the system of appointing for life had worked in past years, since Responsible Government was introduced ; we were told that the complaint was not then, that the Upper Chamber had been too obstructive a body—not that it had sought to restrain the popular will, but that it had too faithfully reflected the popular will. Undoubtedly that was the complaint formerly pressed upon us—{hear, hear)—and I readily admit that if ever there was a body to whom we could safely entrust the power which by this measure we propose to confer on the members of the Upper Chamber, it is the body of gentlemen who at this moment compose the Legislative Council of Canada. The forty-eight Councillors for Canada are to be chosen from the present chamber. There are now thirty-four members from the one section, and thirty-five from the other. I believe that of the sixty-nine, some will not desire to make their appearance here again, others, unhappily, from years and infirmity, may not have strength to do so ; and there may be others who will not desire to qualify under the Statute. It is quite clear that when twenty-four are selected for Upper Canada and twenty-four for Lower Canada, very few indeed of the present House will be excluded from the Federal Chamber ; and I confess I am not without hope that there may be some way yet found of providing for all who desire it, an honorable position in the Legislature of the country. (Hear, hear.) And, after all, is it not an imaginary fear—that of a dead-lock ? Is it at all probable that any body of gentlemen who may compose the Upper House, appointed as they will be for life, acting as they will do on personal and not party responsibility, possessing as they must, a deep stake in the welfare of the country, and desirous as they must be of holding the esteem of their fellow-subjects— would take so unreasonable a course as to imperil the whole political fabric ? The British House of Peers itself does not venture, à l’outrance, to resist the popular will, and can it be anticipated that our Upper Chamber would set itself rashly against the popular will? If any fear is to be entertained in the matter, is it not rather that the Councillors will be found too thoroughly in harmony with the popular feeling of the day ? And we have this satisfaction at any rate, that, so far as its first formation is concerned—so far as the present question is concerned—we shall have a body of gentlemen in whom every confidence may be placed.

      §§.24, 26, and 29 of the Constitution Act, 1867.

    1. The Members of the Legislative Council shall be appointed by the Crown under the Great Seal of the General Government, and shall hold office during life

      §.29 of the Constitution Act, 1867.

  4. Mar 2018
    1. In fact he might say that lines of telegraph, railways, etc., and all works of an essentially general character, as distinguished from those merely local, were intended to be under the control of the General Government who would administer them for the common Interest. They would be put beyond the power of any local government to obstruct or interfere with, they being a means by which the trade and industry of the country at large would benefit. It would not be found possible in any part of the united ter- [Page 12] ritory to offer objection to that which was in the common interest, simply on account of its being situated in any particular locality.

      §.91(29) of the Constitution Act, 1867.