Reports of meetings held in the province of Nova Scotia, to consider a repeal of the “British North America Act, 1867”
At a meeting of the Members of the House of Assembly, in the Assembly Room, in the Provincial Building at Halifax, on the 7th day of November, 1867, the following Declaration was unanimously agreed to, and ordered to be published:—
We, the representatives of Nova Scotia, having assembled for the purpose of constructing an Administration, and having effected that object, cannot separate without making known to our constituents our unanimous and unalterable determination to use every lawful and constitutional means to extricate this Province from the operation of the British North America Act, the passage of which, in the Imperial Legislature, was obtained by falsehood, fraud, and deception.
We shall take the earliest opportunity of informing the Queen and her Parliament that the people of Nova Scotia were systematically and perseveringly prevented from expressing their will on the subject of Confederation until after the Imperial statute was enacted, and we shall respectfully insist that the Act is invalid as to this Province, because it subjects her people, without their consent and against their will, to a Legislature on which it assumes to confer a power of taxation which the Imperial Parliament itself does not constitutionally possess.
We shall, in the name and on behalf of the people, firmly reject Confederation, and we entertain no apprehension that the Imperial authorities will attempt, or even desire, to coerce the loyal people of Nova Scotia into a political alliance to which they have manifested an invincible repugnance.
We have observed with indignation the insult offered to the people, by the ex-Lieutenant-Governor, Sir W.F. Williams, with a Council, who never possessed the confidence of the people, whose policy was emphatically condemned at the recent elections, whose enforced resignations had been tendered, and who were simply holding office until the nomination of their successors, in having gazetted a number of appointments to the Legislative Council, as the pretended testamentary, or posthumous, work, of a former defunct Administration.
This extraordinary step must have been taken under the authority of the Canadian Executive, as the moribund Administration of Nova Scotia would not have dared, on their own responsibility, to perpetrate such an outrage on the rights of the people. We consider these irregular and insulting appointments an act of tyranny, and an earnest of the kind of respect that would be paid to the wishes and feelings of Nova Scotia, were they weak enough to suffer themselves to be defrauded of their constitutional rights, forced into an unjust Confederation, and subjected to the oligarchical despotism of an irresponsible Executive Council in Canada.
It is our desire that the new Administration shall immediately communicate, to the Imperial authorities, the facts and details of this offensive proceeding, and respectfully demand its reversal, and the dismissal from the Council, of men, who have obviously been selected for the express purpose of obstructing the People’s house, in their efforts to reject Confederation, by creating discord between the upper and lower branches of the Legislature.
We in no way impeach the prudence or patriotism of the Members elect in having resolved to attend in the Dominion Parliament; but while we have confidence that they will not designedly compromise the rights of the people of Nova Scotia, we nevertheless feel bound to protest against their acceptance of their seats, or any action they may take, in that Legislature, being in any manner construed into an acquiescence, on the part of this Province, in the obligatory force of the British North America Act, as regards the rights of the people.
In conclusion, we recommend the Executive Council to advise an early meeting of the Legislature, in order that no time may be lost in disposing of Confederation and restoring the constitution of the Province to its former efficiency.
By order of the meeting.
Meeting in Town of Dartmouth:
On Friday evening, Dec. 27, 1867, a very large gathering was held at the Mechanics Institute, Dartmouth, in accordance with the notice given by N. Russell, Esq., in response to a requisition of the inhabitants of that town, who desired to express their views on the great question of Repeal.
Shortly after seven o’clock Mr. Russell called the meeting to order and stated briefly its objects. Jos. H. Weeks, Esq., was chosen Secretary.
Alexander James, Esq., moved the first resolution, which runs as follows:—
“Resolved, That we, the electors and others, residents and tax-payers in this district, opposed to a Union with Canada, feeling deeply aggrieved by the oppressive and injurious Act of Union, inasmuch as we are made thereby the victims of an intolerable and ruinous taxation, hereby resolve to use all peaceable and lawful means to obtain a repeal of the aforesaid most obnoxious enactment.”
“And be it further resolved, That we, the said electors and others of this district, opposed to a Union with Canada, petition the Local Legislature of Nova Scotia for redress and that the following be the petition for that purpose : —
“To the Honorable the House of Assembly of Nova Scotia :
“The Petition of the Electors and others, inhabitants of Dartmouth and neighborhood,
“That your Petitioners, feeling deeply aggrieved and concerned by the present aspect of public affairs in this Province, beg respectfully to bring the same to the notice of your Honorable House for the following reasons:—
“First—That by legislation, adopted in England by a Parliament in which we had no representation, we have been forced into a Union with other Provinces in British America, without our sanction or consent—a Union which is not only repulsive to our feelings as the FREE subjects of our most Gracious Queen, but destructive and injurious to our best interests as citizens of this Province;
“Second—That your Petitioners, not only being dissatisfied and disgusted with the mode in which Confederation was carried, and with the gross and wilful misrepresentation used for that purpose, the worst fears of your Petitioners are more than realized by every act of the Dominion Parliament at Ottawa—acts which have already proved fatal to the happiness and prosperity of the people of the Province generally.
“Third—That this so-called Union with Canada has been accomplished by means and measures which a very large majority of the people of this Province consider unconstitutional and illegal, not only because it is subversive of their just rights as citizens of this Province, but as attempting to establish a precedent and principle which any loyal British subject feels keenly and holds in utter detestation.
“Fourth —That your Petitioners consider the British American Confederation Act most debasing in its character and operation, inasmuch as it places the loyal citizens of Nova Scotia on a lower and MORE DEGRADED political level than other British subjects in any part of the world.
“Fifth—That your Petitioners all along protested against a Union with Canada, and they will continue to do so until fully relieved from what appears to them, after six months’ experience to be little short of Egyptian tyranny and bondage; Canada having already shown by its superior numbers in the Dominion Parliament that we are to be governed and taxed solely for Canadian purposes, totally irrespective of our own wishes, feelings, and interests.
“Sixth—Under these circumstances, and seeing it would be utterly vain to appeal to the Dominion Parliament for redress, your Petitioners resolved to submit .their complaints to the Local Legislature of Nova Scotia, and to respectfully urge upon that Honorable Assembly the absolute necessity for immediate measures being taken to bring in its legislative capacity this gross oppression and Injustice, of which we have been the victims, to the notice of Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen, and the Imperial Parliament.
“Your Petitioners are satisfied that if your Honorable House will timeously and firmly appeal to the British Parliament, the people of this Province will soon be relieved from the operation of the aforesaid most injurious and obnoxious Act of Confederation.
“May it, therefore, please your Honorable House to consider the foregoing statements, and in respect thereto, and of the urgency and importance of the question at issue, to spare no efforts until you obtain a total Repeal of the obnoxious measure of Confederation, in so far as Nova Scotia is concerned; and your Petitioners pledge to you their steady and unwavering support. Your petitioners behoove that this object can be accomplished by peaceable means, and a steady and determined resolve on the part of your Honorable House, supported as you will be by a vast majority of the loyal and intelligent people of this Province,
“And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.”
James W. Turner, Esq., seconded the resolution, which was carried unanimously by acclamation.
Jos. H. Weeks, Esq., then moved the following resolution :
” Resolved, That inasmuch as all efforts for redress from the Parliament at Ottawa are quite useless, the superior number of members representing Canada and Canadian interests being far more than sufficient, as has been shown by the votes on the Tariff, and other measures, to neutralize all efforts on the part of the members from Nova Scotia in the said Parliament at Ottawa, to obtain redress; it is, therefore, the opinion of this meeting that the members from Nova Scotia to the Dominion Parliament should not again return to that Parliament, until every means for a Repeal of the Union be exhausted.”
The resolution was seconded by J. Fuller, Esq., and carried unanimously.
Donald Ross, Esq., then moved the following resolution :
“Resolved, That we cordially approve of the proceedings of our representatives to the Dominion and local Parliaments; and have the utmost confidence that they will continue their efforts to relieve this Province from the unfortunate position in which it has been placed by the Act of Confederation.”
T. A. Bauer, Esq., seconded the resolution, which was carried unanimously. The meeting then closed, the expression of feeling having been most enthusiastic throughout.
N. RUSSELL, Chairman.
JOS. H. WEEKS, Secretary.
Dartmouth, December 27, 1867.