Confederation examined in the light of reason and common sense
It is my purpose, in the following pages, to expose the fallacies of a Pamphlet on Confederation, “by a Nova Scotian,” which has been widely circulated, and, though shallow in the extreme, is calculated to mislead the unwary. It bears strong evidence, of being the work of one of the unauthorized individuals, who pretend to have visited London, clothed with authority, to overturn all our political institutions.
Although the author complains, in reference to imputations cast on their spotless reputations, that “no one ventures under his signature in open day to prefer a charge, &c,” he has not mustered courage to put his own name to this tissue of mere sophistries. When the delegates returned to the Province they did not meet with a very flattering reception. They had no ovation; and no illuminations, bonfires, and other demonstrations of felicitous welcome hailed their return. They were not escorted to their homes with torches and banners, and through triumphal arches ; no cannon thundered forth a noisy welcome. They were received in solemn, sullen, and ominous silence. No happy smiles greeted them; but they entered the Province as into the house of mourning.
Conscious that they had forfeited the confidence of their fellow subjects, they found it necessary to solicit approbation, and have put forth this pamphlet; but not one of them dared to put his name to the tricky and deceitful electioneering manifesto.
It is well known that they had no part in the preparation of the scheme of Confederation which was manufactured in Canada; for D’Arcy McGee, at a public dinner at Kingston, with imprudent candor, probably under the inspiration of champagne and claret, boasted that it was the work of John A. McDonald, the Canadian Attorney General. ‘The whole plot was contrived in Canada, the Nova Scotia Delegates are rot entitled to the unenviable merit of the least participation in its composition, and it is but charity to suppose that they bad not even sense enough to understand it
It would therefore scarcely do for one of the political adventurers to present himself to the people, in person, and ask them “one and all to hail it as they would a deliverer, and to close with it as a boon of priceless value, and to feel that a debt of gratitude is due to the men whose untiring efforts at length secured it, and handed over to their country an enduring proof of their ability, and pledge Of their patriotism.”
As the author of this attempt to procure approval under false pretenses comes begging for favor anonymously, I will, for the sake of convenience, call him Lazarus, the most characteristic name I can think of. He opens with a rodomontading homily on union. The old hackneyed truism “union is strength” is the text. Every social and political beatitude is made to flow from union. There would be no civilization without union, and we have any amount of philosophical twaddle on this indispensable principle in human affairs. Well, we are ready to admit that men could not get along very well without union; for, indeed, and it is a wonder his sagacity had not detected the curious fact, we should have had no human family at all if it had not been for the union of Adam and Eve. But I can scarcely admit that all social and political unions are conducive to peace and happiness. When a tender, confiding girl gives her affections to a man, and they marry; is this social union necessarily productive of happiness? What if he should turn out a very brute in his conduct, and treat her with every species of cruelty and inhumanity? Has this social union produced the peace and happiness she anticipated?
In like manner, if a small Colony of a few hundred thousand people enters into a political marriage with one or two larger Colonies, having millions of people, does it necessarily follow that this union must produce peace and happiness? What if the larger Colonies should combine to rob the small one of her independence, should tyrannize over her, and trample on her rights and liberties: how much has the suffering Colony gained by this union?
Union may be good, or it may be evil, profitable or unprofitable. The elements of union may be beneficent or malevolent. There may be a union of angels, and there may be a union of devils. To which of these classes shall we refer that ill-fated or auspicious union, as it may hereafter prove, between the leaders of our Government and the leaders of the Opposition, which has excited the admiration of the Province ? Was this union angelical or diabolical ? Was it like the noble friendship of Brutus and Cassius, inspired by an undying love of country, or was it like the selfish, crafty and ambitious conspiracy of Anthony, Lepidus, and Augustus, against the life of Rome?
There is nothing like union! Men, he says, unite to make railroads, telegraphs, and steam navigation. So we would remind him, they sometimes unite to rob, to defraud, and to betray. Nations also, like individuals, may unite for good, or they may unite for evil. They may unite to defend, or they may unite to destroy, the liberty of their neighbors. England, Russia, Prussia, and Austria united, to preserve the liberty of the European nations from the ambitious grasp of Napoleon. Russia, Austria, and Prussia united to rob the Poles, and divide their country among themselves ; and if we allow them, Ontario and Quebec will unite to rob and oppress Nova Scotia.
I will not fellow the example of Lazarus, and deal in mere declamation, but will establish the following propositions, by arguments logical, conclusive, and irrefragable.
That the Colonies were sufficiently united, and that, if a closer political connection was desirable. Confederation is the worst system by which they can be combined.
That the Constitution provided for the Colonies by the British North American Act, would, if adopted, rob Nova Scotia of every particle of independence, and reduce her to the degraded position of a dependency of Canada.
That the British North American Act is unconstitutional and void, and until it is ratified by a Provincial Statute, in no manner binds Nova Scotia.
That the Province, under Confederation, would, in a financial point of view, be reduced to ruin. That the Canadas would dispose of our fisheries to obtain commercial advantages to themselves from the United States.
That the Canadas, if Confederation be accepted by Nova Scotia, will sell our Railroads to pay off our public debt, and will keep our money into the bargain.
That Confederation is a Canadian Scheme, carefully prepared for the subjugation of Nova Scotia, and adopted by our Delegates ‘ from motives of personal interest.
That the delegates had not a shadow of authority from the Legislature, to procure an English Statute, for the Confederation of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and that what little; authority they had, they most grossly abused.
That the people have it in their power to reject Confederation in a constitutional manner, and that whether it is accepted or rejected, depends on their own conduct, at the next general election.
Wilkins, Martin I., “Confederation examined in the light of reason and common sense, and the British N.A. Act shewn to be unconstitutional”. Halifax, N.S. : Z.S. Hall, 1867. https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.23420