Subversion of the Constitution of Nova Scotia

“Subversion of the Constitution of Nova Scotia”
“A fraud upon the Imperial Parliament”

Nova Scotia’s third attempt to try and redress the slavery and serfdom that was “confederation” – Dartmouth being central to the effort to repeal Confederation.

What happened to Nova Scotia in the context of Canada is exactly what happened to Dartmouth in the context of Halifax County; a structural, constitutional flaw that has only gained steam (and any number of unseemly future possibilities) since.

“The petition which I presented to the House makes what to all Englishmen must or ought to be considered a very serious complaint. It complains that the Parliament of this country, by an Act passed in the last Session, overthrew the constitution of the colony of Nova Scotia, and destroyed a description—nay, in fact, a reality—of independence which had existed in that colony for nearly 100 years; that it handed over the Government and the destiny of the colony mainly to another colony—namely, that of Canada; and, taking from the people of Nova Scotia the management of their own affairs, the appointment of their own officials, the collection and expenditure of their own revenues, transferred the whole of these to a Parliament created by the Bill, which was to sit at Ottawa, distant not less than 800 miles from Nova Scotia. Now the petition declares—and I think it is capable of proof—that the House of Commons and the Parliament of the United Kingdom did all they could, not only without the consent of the colonists of Nova Scotia, but directly in the face of their pronounced disapproval; and I think it would be easy to show that what has been done was in reality done as a great surprise to the people of Nova Scotia, and that it was in some degree—though I am afraid to use a word that may seem harsh—a fraud upon the Imperial Parliament.”

“The Bill that passed last year did not include the colonies of Prince Edward’s Island and Newfoundland and for a very good reason, but for only one reason—namely, that the people of those two colonies did not take part in the discussion on this matter, and refused to be united to the other British North American Provinces. A clause was inserted in the Bill which would enable them at any future time to enter on its consideration—a clause which was perfectly wise, and would have been still better if it had included Nova Scotia.”

“Out of nineteen Members who were elected last September to represent the Province of Nova Scotia in the Parliament at Ottawa, seventeen Members had given their assent to the petition, and had declared themselves opposed to the Confederation. But of the thirty-eight Members elected last September to the Nova Scotian Parliament or House of Assembly, not fewer than thirty-six have signed the petition. I think that if 640 or 650 out of the Members of this House signed a declaration on some great public question, it would be difficult to say, especially if it were a question of subverting our Constitution, and handing us over to somebody else, that that was not a very fair, satisfactory, and complete expression of the will of the people of the United Kingdom in regard to that matter.”

“I am not arguing for or against Confederation as a principle—their legislation did not subvert their Constitution, and they are free as they were before. But there came to England whilst this question was under discussion a counter delegation sent by the people—not the Assembly—of Nova Scotia. The delegates from the people brought a petition signed, not in favour of Confederation, by 31,000 male inhabitants of Nova Scotia, protesting against the Imperial Parliament giving its assistance to the subversion of the Constitution of Nova Scotia and to uniting that colony to Canada, and till the people should have had an opportunity of declaring their opinion upon that proposal at the General Elections in the Colony. “

“The House elected last September met in February of this year, and immediately turned their attention to the question of the destruction of their Constitution and their forced union with Canada; and they sent delegates to England to ask for the restoration of the Constitution as it existed previously to the passing of the British North American Confederation Act, and they instructed their delegates they were not to accept any alteration or amendment of that Act. I do not say this for the purpose of saying I agree with or approve of it, or that I think it absolutely necessary for them to stand by those words. I state it for the sake of showing what at the present moment is the unanimous judgment of the whole local Legislature of Nova Scotia. In the eighteen counties of the colony great public meetings were held, and one was held in Halifax, the capital city, and under the eye of the Government. They say the Act of Union has no claim upon the loyalty of the people of Nova Scotia, and that any obedience to it is a matter of coercion, and not given by a free people. There are 48,000 electors in Nova Scotia, and I think only 13,000 voted for the Confederation candidates, with all the influence that could be brought to bear upon them. “

“…the present aspect of affairs in Nova Scotia is perilous. In Canada, I am told, the Canadian oath has been altered, because it will not be taken by the people of Nova Scotia. They were required to take an oath that they would defend their dominions. The people of Nova Scotia were not prepared to take the oath, and it was therefore altered. More than that, I believe the Nova Scotia Militia will not be called out for drill this year, because it is felt that the people of Nova Scotia are unwilling to do anything that will put them into action with, or independence upon, or in submission to the Government of Canada. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adderley) will tell the House—I wish I could say what he will doubtless say—that the whole thing will blow over. Well, some things do blow over; some do not: and if they do, it is only with a very rough blast. “