Constitutional Questions in Nova Scotia. The Attorney-General of Nova Scotia v. The Legislative Council of Nova Scotia

This argument, cost, which has manifested itself over time as a perpetual amorphous “efficiency” to be imposed on all levels of government, represents an unending centralization — it’s been used in addition to another argument, that asserts the Federal government took all powers “of significance” at the BNA and so there was no need for an upper house to provide a check on the lower, in relation to provincial affairs, and otherwise as regards the “intergovernmental interface”.

Since that time, with (what used to be municipal and are now) provincial responsibilities like education and health being the main drivers of provincial budgets, as well as being on the receiving end of an unending volley of constitutional impositions from Ottawa for what are now clearly ideological reasons, totalitarian in nature — having a house of sober second thought could’ve helped prevent the implementation of so many of these successive impositions on behalf of the legislature, not to mention the need to help prevent the absurd scenarios recently brought forward by the courts, which in many cases act as little more than a political arm of “Ottawa” to legitimize their political aims.

“All Articles of the Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Provinces”, Section 121 of the BNA is very clear, yet the decision in R v Comeau is proof that nothing is sacred or insulated from perpetual de-evolution at the highest levels of Canadian courts.

Provincially there’s Gee and Grabher, but there are others: the former ruled that a person doesn’t have the right to inspect a product they can otherwise legally procure, previous to its purchase — the latter being that an anonymous complainant, who perhaps purposefully misunderstood the sprit of a personalized license plate because of political orientation, should have the right to force the forfeiture of the license plate from its holder, primacy given to the complainants subjective aggrievement, without any consideration of the fact the term in question is the last name of the individual who holds the personalized license plate.

At the municipal level was the somewhat recent introduction of a smoking by-law which seems to have brought about or reinforced the constitutional predicate required for spatial, geographical restrictions on freedom of movement, enabling illegal parks as well as restrictions on inter and intra-county travel within the province that came about during the pandemic. The criminalization of riding a bicycle without a helmet has been another imposition, in conflict with what I would assert is a natural right to determine one’s risk if they’re to be considered a sentient human being. Many of these may be the manifestation of a significant disease process, a parasite on our local self government, that of a monopoly health insurance concern, itself part of an omnipotent eugenics monopoly at the Provincial level.

All this without getting into the clear de-evolutions in other areas — in regards to the centralization of healthcare administration and provision in general, the courts in terms of dominion government interference through political appointments, their reorganization without the Sessions (which became the municipal courts at Dartmouth’s incorporation), the Grand Jury (another power bestowed on Dartmouth at incorporation, an institution at the very center of Howe’s acquittal), School districts and boards (another municipal concern), let alone what passes for a municipal container itself in terms of what one finds in “HRM” — all of this has occurred thanks to the constitutional impositions brought forth by the Charter in 1982.

I’m of the opinion we need bicameral house, both provincially and federally, with the Senate being appointed by the elected legislature as it was in the United States previous to the 17th amendment, as it was in Nova Scotia previous to its own Senate’s dissolution in 1929. The founders were right to use the Senate as a kind of amelioration of the directly democratic, to help insulate the second chamber from popular feeling in order to steady the course of governance overall, including through its use of staggered six year terms.

This serves as a middle ground between the entirely democratic and the present intolerable Canadian circumstance of a federal only Senate, full of appointees whose grace we suffer until they reach age of 75, appointed by an irresponsible executive — now full of his supposed “independents” — a purposefully weak upper house which is at the same time completely insulated from the people, seemingly designed to enable its dissolution altogether in a not too distant future in a kind of repeat of the Nova Scotia template set down almost a century earlier.

What happened to Nova Scotia with the dissolution of its Legislative Council has led us down a road to nowhere, we’re hopelessly lost in the woods always further from where we started, supposed evolutions that are in fact digging us a deeper grave on a daily basis. If we are to advance a great awakening — the spirit shown in Alberta, as monarchical as it may be could be the impetus for a reawakening of spirit all across Canada, and allow the opportunity for a rethink — we should study the Northwest Ordinance as a bridge, a guide to format our institutions, a roadmap to a Republic where “the people” are represented in a way that allows a proper check within the Constitution.

If we are for some reason forced to stay within the confines of the current constitutional environment we must endeavor to cut down the Federal government to as thin of a wedge as possible, both in terms of the financial as well as cultural. Defense, international trade, minting coin, the census, the post office, otherwise starve the beast, nullify Ottawa as much as possible. Bring back some semblance of the province as body politic, the people as its actuators, ancient concepts foundational to our constitution essentially erased by the BNA and the way it was imposed, further polluted by the Charter in a similar manner.

The Maritimes should “amalgamate” our landmass and provincial governments. Using the Congressional Apportionment Amendment of the US Constitution as a guide we could create a legislature based on a formula of one representative for every 40,000 residents, this would net us a lower house of 49 representatives, I suggest an upper house of one third that number, 16. This would create a check that reflects “land” and localities in terms of counties, in the way the US Constitution does for its States, some portion of which could be representatives chosen by Indigenous nations themselves.

For those whose priority is “efficiency” this would cut the number of districts in total between the three provinces by more than half, from 131 to 65. I argue reinstating a second chamber and reorganizing representation in regards to the urban rural fringe similar to Florida‘s recent efforts would improve representation, especially if protections for local government are enshrined along with what would otherwise be contained within in a written constitution like a Bill of Rights.

New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island both have strong protections for local government, something Nova Scotia has decided to unilaterally and purposefully erase, which we could adopt back in some way in union. A capital at Moncton makes sense, both geographically and culturally between the three provinces. The provinces together could accelerate the acquisition of the link to Prince Edward Island from the dominion government as local infrastructure.

We could implement official languages in the same way Alaska does, recognizing English, French, Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Peskotomuhkati as official — if Gaelic is to be considered so too should be German — to implement that process interrupted by “Confederation” and its subsequent de-evolution, a Maritime Union, Nova Scotia’s ancient form under a number of names over time.

It’s my hope we could consider the US Constitution as our crown, not “Ottawa” or any of its many supranational tentacles — or perhaps more accurately, the tentacles of its various supranational masters, perhaps the source of what is seen as “arbitrary” by those stuck underneath. The status of US Territory gets us there, it would afford powers of self-government far beyond the status quo of forever childhood imposed on “the people” by Canada, though perhaps it wouldn’t be as much of a boon for “the province” in terms of resource development, hence I assume, the posture of Alberta.

How can we ensure the development of natural resources aren’t used as a political football and ideological cudgel, as they are now, but instead recognized as the blessing they are in terms of security and prosperity, while respecting conservation and the environment along with Indigenous rights? I contend “public lands” point the way forward in contrast to those of a crown.

Wrong turn at Albuquerque

After more than 150 years of wrong turns the road map currently points to a Canadian unitary state at Ottawa, a de-facto government of various foreign actors. This is in most cases our present and most certainly, in an ever increasing fashion, our future — unending impositions on behalf of the members of a crown adjacent uni-party with supranational ties, who will never bring about a balanced Constitution that recognizes the popular sovereignty of “the people” as a unit in combination with that of the provinces and the Federal government.

“I think I’m lost… Wow. First I passed the BNA, then I passed the Charter, then I passed amalgamation…”

The past provides the road signs and the framework to create a better future for all, not only for the aristocratic and “the crown”, the latter of which I assert is to be found in the US Constitution, but most certainly that of the people. A new deal is required.

What we need is not free money, but a free country — one which has “equality” and “we the people” at its root, not “equity”, not “we the vassals” and most certainly not “we the various intersectionalities, where some are more equal than others, in whatever way power can use us as a tool of forever divide and conquer”, which is the ultimate de-evolution and a recipe for disaster.

“At Confederation the Conservative Government then in power in Nova Scotia had filled all the vacancies in the [Legislative] Council (of which there were a number), occasioned not only by natural causes but by the appointment of a number of Councillors to the newly formed Senate of Canada; so that the Liberals who were returned in September of 1867 were in a minority in the Council.”

“As to the practical reasons behind this determined attempt to get rid of the [Legislative] Council-three main arguments are usually advanced. First: That it is obsolete and unnecessary and that all the other Provinces in Canada, except Quebec, carry on their affairs without an Upper House. Second: That it tends to become an obstructionist body when made up of an opposition majority, and that this obstruction is political and is not in the best interests of the Province. Third: That it is an unnecessary expenditure of money-the total yearly budget for the Council being at least $20,000 to $25,000.

On the other hand, there are all the arguments usually advanced in favour of a Second Chamber, i.e. that it is a necessary guarantee of good, safe government.”

MacKenzie, Norman. Constitutional Questions in Nova Scotia. The Attorney-General of Nova Scotia v. The Legislative Council of Nova Scotia. Journal of Comparative Legislation and International Law Vol. 11, No. 1 (1929)

Ottawa’s a Hard Road to Travel

Oh listen to the East! oh listen to the West!
Oh listen to the fifing and the drumming!
The heart of Nova Scotia beats happy in her breast,
For HOWE and the people are coming!
Take off the coat boys, roll up the sleeve,
Howe and the people are a-coming!
Take off the coat boys, roll up the sleeve,
Howe and the people are a-coming I believe

The people cannot rest, they see the land opprest
With Tupper’s cruel nightmare “Botheration,”
And Johnathan’s warhorse tramples down our rights by force,
Till the people cry “confound Confederation.”
Take off the coat boys, roll up the sleeve,
Ottawa’s a hard road to travel,
Take off the coat boys, roll up the sleeve,
Howe and the people are a-coming I believe.

Tupper and McCully try to bluster and bully,
And never let the people put a word in;
But we’ll teach the tricky knaves that we were not born their slaves,
When we drive them to the other side of Jordan!
Woe to the turncoats who laugh in their sleeve,
We’ll give them a hard road to travel,
Woe to the turncoats who laugh in their sleeve,
For Howe and them people are a-coming I believe

Halifax Citizen, May 22, 1866. Page 1, Column 6.

Anti-Confederate Petition

We publish today another installment of over 500 names of respectable citizens of Halifax, against the Quebec project of Confederation. This swells the list, of from the capital alone, to over 1500 names already published, and we have no doubt that there are still numbers in Halifax who would have signed the petition, but have not yet had the opportunity of doing so. The lists, however, will remain open for some days yet.


Halifax Citizen, Aug 2, 1866. Page 2, Column 3.

Halifax Sun and Advertiser, Wed, Apr 12, 1865


House of Assembly – Monday, April 10.

In the evening, when the house resumed, Dr. Tupper’s resolution on “a Union of the Maritime Provinces” was taken up. The hon. gentleman went into an explanation of former attempts at Union, and its necessities, -the action last year in reference to a union of the maritime provinces, and the subsequent delegation to Quebec, after, as he said, the union first contemplated was found impactable. He then branched out on the beauties and particulars of the Quebec scheme, and for about two hours and a half travelled over pretty much the same ground as those in favor of the measure have taken, in the press and on the platform, over and over again. One thing the Dr. was honest enough to state, viz: that if the bargain was not a better one than it is for the lower provinces, “it was the fault of their own delegates.” He said “he did not come to the discussion of the present question supposing it would have any particular effect.” In this we agree with him, -it was moved to give him and others an opportunity, in a safe way, to get the Quebec scheme opened up to discussion. He expressed his belief “that that scheme had taken such a root in the country that it would soon be secured in all its entirety; and that, holding such view, was his excuse for trespassing so long on the House.” We cannot but think that in this the Dr. is most egregiously mistaken. He stated that out of the large amount of patriots presented against the scheme, the signatures to which had been obtained by all manner of means, there were not 3000 who had expressed against union, but rather for delays, &c.

The Dr. endeavored to impress on his hearers the great danger there was of being overrun by the Americans, -and the security we would have though Confederation.

The grounds of his arguments for apprehending hostilities by the Americans, were: the Repeal of the Reciprocity Treaty, -the termination of the Lake Treaty, -the Passport System, and the temper of the press of the States; all these went to show that the disposition of our neighbors was to close up all avenues of communication. -The speaker did not, in the slightest degree, refer to any of the causes which have produced unkind feelings, although he was perfectly well aware of them.

We believe, if as much time and attention had been given to the cultivation of friendly feelings and the extension of our commercial relations with the United States, as has been devoted to their annoyance, by acts and language, our position today would be much more agreeable.

At the close of his speech there was a slight expression of applause in one of the galleries, -on which, Mr. Miller remarked – if such conduct as repeated he should use his privilege of clearing the galleries. The noise made scarcely warranted the threat.

Mr. LeVesconte said he merely rose to correct one part of the Prov. Sec’s speech. In his county he did not believe there could be found 25 persons in favor of Confederation.

Mr. Locke spoke somewhat similar in reference to Shelburne.

Mr. Bourinot said he could readily understand applause from the people of Halifax, as they only were to be benefitted by the Union. But he would tell the hon. Prov. Sec. that so great a change in the constitution of the country would never be permitted without an appeal to the people.

The Prov. Sec. admitted that Richmond was an exception, that County had declared against Union; yet he was correct that there was not 3000 of petitioners who had stated their views.

Mr. Killam asked the Pro. Sec. if he was so confident of the feelings of the people, why it was that he was so afraid to go to the country?

After one or two other observations the debate was adjourned.

Halifax Morning Sun, April 12, 1865. Page 3 Column 4.

The Confederation Fenians

[From L’Union Nationale, Montreal, May 25th.]

Nous tenons de source absolument certaine que les journaux du government ne font courir des bruits de saise d’armes feniennes e d’attaques dans les provinces maritimes, que pour avoir l’occasion de tenir en eches les patriotes qui veulent lutter constitutionellement contre le projet de confederation. Il n’y a rien a craindre des fenians pour ce qui regarde le Canada, nouse pouvons en donner l’assurance positive.



We have it from an absolutely certain source that the Government Journals (of Canada) set rumors afloat of the seizure of Fenian arms, and attacks, in the Maritime Provinces, only to get a chance of checking the Patriots there who are struggling constitutionally against Confederation. We can give the most positive assurance that as regards Canada there is nothing to fear from the Fenians.

Halifax Citizen, June 2, 1866. Page 4 Column 2.

Halifax Citizen, Feb 3, 1866


The proceedings of the political meeting in Yarmouth, called by requisition to the Sheriff on the 29th ult, are fully reported in the Tribune of Wednesday. They were of such a character as to show that the Government have few friends in that township. Thomas Killam, Esq., M.P.P., and the Hon. Stayley Brown both spoke very decidedly against the general policy of the Government, not on Confederation alone, but with reference to the School bill, Retrenchment, and every other feature of Tupper’s policy. The former gentleman said, “Our alienation from our friends was accomplished step by step, as we saw one measure after another to which we were conscientiously opposed brought forward by them – sad principles to which we stood pledged deliberately abandoned.” Only two persons in the meeting, which was both numerous and respectable, opposed the resolution, which we published on Tuesday, and these explained their position by saying that they “did not wish to tie up the hands of the future member, and make him a mere tool.” Although no candidate was brought out at the meeting, John K. Ryerson, Esq., was named on the following day, and his card appears in the Tribune. He pledges himself to oppose Confederation, to endeavor to remove the political School Bill from the Statute Book, to effect a modification in the Militia Law, and to press for liberal aid to steam communication between Halifax and Yarmouth, and Yarmouth and Boston. The card closes with the final paragraph :-

“Finally, I pledge myself, if elected, to use my best endeavors to hurl the Tupper Government from the position they have disgraced by the infamous enactments of the [past two Sessions, under the operation of which the country is now suffering.”


The Confederation journals of New Brunswick, despairing of advancing the Quebec scheme on its own merits, seem to be trying to promote it by raising an Anti-Catholic cry. They are willing to get the assistance of the Catholics of Nova Scotia and of Lower Canada to carry the measure; but if they can divide the Protestant and Catholic anti-Confederate majority of New Brunswick by a cry of creeds, they appear to think that the Canadian end will justify the extraordinary means.

Halifax Citizen, February 3, 1866. Page 1 Column 1

Halifax Sun and Advertiser, Wed, April 12, 1865


While perusing the abominable misrepresentations and absurd charges which the chief Confederationists indulge in, in striving to support a scheme which has been virtually knocked on the head, for a time at least, one hardly knows whether to smile at their folly or frown at their mendacity. Every one who has raised his voice in opposition to the proposed annexation to (falsely called union with) Canada, has had to take a share of personal abuse, while those who have given it their sanction are all wisdom patriotism and moral worth!

The good things which Canada had in store for us, and the unselfish liberality with which she offered to take charge of our revenues, were portrayed in the most attractive hues; and the happiness of our existence under such an arrangement was to equal the halcyon years of the Millennium. All this was very fine, and with but one drawback, videlicet: There was not a word of truth in the whole of it! The people suspected the scheme, detected its imposition, and overthrew it. Cajolery, humbug, intimidation, were successively tried in vain, and now in their battled pique most of the delegates heap obloquy and insult upon all who contributed to trip them up and expose their trickery. They say that the opponents to this Federation are hatching treason in the shape of annexation to the United States – that it was they who gave a death blow to the Reciprocity Treaty – imperiled us with America and several other equally absurd accusations. The annexation twaddle may be at aside when we call to mind that some of the most prominent and influential opposers of the Confederation scheme were also strong opposers to a reconstruction of the American Union: therefore not at all likely to advocate giving their native province to the control of the Federal Government.

We Anti-Unionists have brought about the repeal of Reciprocity Treaty, have we? The editor of the Unionist knows that for three years an American Committee has been appointed to report on its working with an eye to its abrogation, as Canada was accused of acting unfairly, in placing almost prohibitory taxes on goods not specified in the Treaty. Then came the culminating point when the sworn foes of the United States, making dens for themselves upon the Canadian shore, issued from thence upon their murderous and thievish errands, and returning found shelter and comfort upon British soil – a soil supposed to be a friendly and a brotherly one to the American people. Had the Canadian government not at once repudiated the last villainous act, wild and frightened would have been the wail upon her invaded borders; what what it cost Canada by way of cure had been better expended in prevention. Even yet, they are not guarded, their folly may find them out.

Nova Scotia, especially Halifax, has contributed her full share of insult and provocation, which we fear will be long remembered by those who are only too able, when they have the will, to retaliate. And a greater part of the press, instead of teaching a liberal and friendly spirit, was either filled with gross abuse and the most bare-faced libels, or else threw covert sneers or detracting paragraphs against a people with whom the prosperity of our country is so inseparably united.

Of the first, the Journal made itself superlatively vile and obnoxious. Its late puny editor, a Yankee retrograde, threw in his poison and his gall, and made himself conspicuous above all others in the intensity of his hate. Fortunately he could do no great harm at the worst. Since then it has changed its name and editor. The Unionist has more talent guiding it now, but no more truth. Me. McCully says the Chronicle has suddenly fallen in love with American institutions, and speaks differently from what it did formerly. The editor at the time alluded to was not the same who now speaks through its columns, and shows a spirit of manliness and fair play towards old friends. All that has been said by the press or politicians of the Provinces cannot hard the United States one jot; but it may bring trouble upon themselves. There are many of the American editors who inveigh bitterly against Britain and her “neutrality;” but if they have no more weight than Bennett of the Herald, their opinions will go exactly for what they are worth. We are bound to respect the law of England and stand by her in need; and if every one in British North America had obeyed the laws of their sovereign the Reciprocity Treaty might not have been repealed, the Americans would have respected us as they did before the war, and the timid to-day have had no fear of an invasion.

If fate have in store for us such a great calamity, would we be safer by Confederation? Far from it. Our 30,000 hardy seamen, which in the programme were to go man Canadian gunboats, and our brave militia, too, might have to leave our coasts bare to the ravages of the invader, without those able hands to shelter or protect the helpless ones at home!

But what do our patriotic delegates care if they but carry their point, and rise another step in the ladder of their ambition? Nothing. They are ready to toady to the future masters they would give to us – hold the candle to their steps that their way may be bright and glorious. Faugh! the gorge of every honest man should rise at the servility and treason which would thus sell our birthright.

And independent people spurn the thought
And claim the liberty for which their brave forefathers fought.

Halifax Sun and Advertiser, April 12, 1865. Page 3 Column 1.

Halifax Citizen, Tuesday May 16, 1865

Another fine illustration of the integrity of Canadian politicians, has been recently given to the public in the correspondence on Confederation submitted to the Legislature at Fredericton. In a despatch dated the 4th inst, Governor Gordon of New Brunswick calls Lord Monck’s attention to the fact that the Canadian government had altered an important clause in the Quebec convention report, so as to give it a meaning entirely different from that it was intended to bear. Clause 24 of the report reads as follows :-

24. The local Legislatures of each Province may from time to time alter the Electoral Districts for the purpose of Representation in the House of Commons, and distribute the Representatives to which the Province is entitled in any manner such Legislature may think fit.

That is the version certified by Sir E.P. Tache, as “a true copy,” and in that shape it was not only sent to the legislatures of the Maritime Provinces, but was also laid before both Houses of the Imperial Parliament. In the copy of the report and resolutions submitted to the Canadian Parliament, however, the text is altered by changing three words and interpolating four others:

24. The local Legislature of each Province may from time to time alter the Electoral Districts for the purpose of Representation in such Legislature, and distribute the Representatives to which the Province is entitled in such local Legislature in any manner such Legislature may see fit.

This alteration is of vital importance. The resolution as it originally stood, gave the several Provinces the right to arrange or alter the constituencies for the election of representatives to the federal House of Commons; as surreptitiously altered by the Canadians, it restricts this power to the making of alterations in the constituencies electing members of the local legislature only. Governor Gordon asked Lord Monck for an explanation of the discrepancy, but no reply to the request has been vouchsafed. The alteration in the text of this resolution, is one of those curious things that could not possibly be the result of accident. The words must have been interpolated by design, but what the design was, we must leave to some one more skilled in the mysteries of Canadian intrigue and dishonesty than ourselves to decide.

Halifax Sun and Advertiser, April 12, 1865. Page 1 Column 1.

Halifax Citizen, Tuesday April 3, 1866

Many persons have wondered why it was that the Confederationists — the Advocates of the Quebec scheme — were so persistent in their endeavour to get an expression in favor of Union on any grounds, from the legislators of Newfoundland and New Brunswick. While still holding to the Quebec scheme, they were found advocating resolutions that condemned to that scheme, and merely recognized the principle of Union in the abstract; and they hailed the passing of such a resolution in Newfoundland as a signal triumph. The reason of this apparent change of policy is fully explained in an article in a recent number of the Quebec daily news from which we clip the following extract:—

It has been currently rumoured during the past few weeks, that in the event of the Maritime Provinces affirming the principle of colonial Union, an attempt will be made to alter the terms of the Quebec scheme in order to meet the views of each province and its opposition to the details of the plan of Confederation adopted by the Delegates in the fall of 1864. The modus operandi is stated to be another conference composed of Delegates from each Province, who will repair to England during this year, and place themselves in direct communication with Her Majesty’s ministers. It is further stated that the members of the new Conference will seek powers from the Legislatures of the respective Provinces, in virtue of which they may finally conclude upon a scheme of Confederation without being expected to reconsult those Legislatures, and that a bill based upon the result of their deliberations will be proposed and passed through the Imperial Parliament during its present session, which is expected to last till August.

There is good reason to believe that the plan of operations here outlined is official and authentic; because it squares and every particular with the plan of a new Convention as talked of in this city for the last month, and that is generally understood to have been explained to the Anti-Confederates in a very high quarter, and pressed upon their acceptance with all the art that diplomacy and flattery could command. It is cunningly invented trap; but like all such dangerous contrivances, it is only necessary that it be exposed and understood, to render it harmless. Part of the plan is said to be, that in this new convention, the anti-Confederates are to be fairly represented. This is an idea easier to propose then to accomplish; for it is not easy to understand how Anti-Confederates could be a party to the arrangement in any shape. There are some persons, however, in New Brunswick and Newfoundland who while firmly opposed to the Quebec scheme, would not object to an intercolonial Union if a plan that would be Equitable and fair to all Provinces could be devised; and it is this section of the anti-Confederate party that the schemers hope to entrap with the new convention dodge. If there are any of this class in Nova Scotia, we ask them to consider well the the proposal as above detailed, before assenting to it. A more Insidious and dangerous piece diplomatic art has not been produced by Canadian politicians for half a century. Suppose this class of the anti-Confederates were admitted to the new convention, they would certainly be in a minority, and therefore powerless. Even with the fullest understanding amongst themselves as to the line of policy they were to adopt — the concessions from the old scheme they were to demand —they would still be outvoted by the Canadians and the Tupper, Pope and the Tilly brigade of the Maritime Provinces. To object to Brown’s pet project of “Rep. by pop.,” or to Cartier’s plan of Federal instead of Legislative Union, or to Galt’s financial platform of eighty cents per head, would be wholly vain in the face of such odds. Under these circumstances the only thing left for them to do, would be to withdraw from the convention or to protest against his decisions, only to have their protest laughed at by the men who had duped them into a position so false to themselves and so fatal to their policy. The act of the majority would be the act of the Convention; and let it not be forgotten that the decision of this Convention, if ever it assembles, is to be final. There is to be no reference of the subject to the Provincial Legislatures. The schemers will take care that their ambitious project will not again be thwarted  by the interference of the people’s representatives. The consent of the several Legislatures to the Convention being assembled, will be assumed to be a consent to the decision of the Convention, whatever it may be; and the British Parliament will speedily give effect to that decision, without regard to the wishes or welfare of the people whose industrial interests would be perilled and political institutions destroyed by its consummation. To consent, therefore, to a new Convention on the terms proposed, while the Canadian Coalition lasts, and Mr. Cardwell sits in Downing Street, will be to accept the Quebec scheme in all its iniquity, without one jot or tittle of change, except such as the Canadians in their condescension may choose to permit; or may find it to their own advantage to adopt. It need, therefore, be no longer a matter of surprise that the Confederates were so anxious to have “the principle of Union” affirmed, even though the Quebec scheme might be condemned by the Legislatures while affirming the general principle.

The statement of the news an attempt will be made to alter the terms at the Quebec scheme to meet the views of each province, is evidently intended to imply that the proposal comes from the province’s dissenting from that scheme. There is, however, no foundation for such a belief. The plan is wholly Canadian, as the first convention was; and the delusive prospect of a possible change in the Quebec scheme is held out to deceive the Anti-Confederates if any among them are weak enough to be deceived by a ruse so ridiculously transparent.

Fortunately there seems to be small prospect at present of “the Maritime Provinces affirming the principle of Union”, which is a necessary Prelude to the new Convention. Newfoundland has already withdrawn from the position of half recognition that she assumed at the opening of the present session. In New Brunswick the opposition have not dared even to mention it in the want of confidence motion they have moved in the House; and the stability of the anti-Confederate Government in that Province is now beyond doubt. In Nova Scotia the ranks of the Anti-Confederate party remain as firm and unbroken today as they were twelve months ago; and with the developments we now have before us of the new Convention policy, the attitude of the party is not likely to be changed. It may well, however, to remind the members of the legislature, and the people of the country at large, that if under any sort of specious pretense a resolution can be smuggled through the House of Assembly this winter, “affirming the principle of colonial union,” even though it may condemn the Quebec scheme, it will give the Canadians the advantage they desire — the scheme of Confederation will be accomplished before August, and the session now in progress will be the last session of a free Parliament that Nova Scotia will ever be privileged to witness.

“The wild geese have passed over — a sure harbinger of the breaking up of winter. A great goose weighing ten pounds was shot at Mill Cove, Lunenburg, last week —yesterday’s Unionist.

It’s a bad place for “a great goose” to go to is Lunenburg. The people there do not appreciate such visitors. Last December a “great goose” from the Unionist office and a “quack-quack” from the Government side flew down to Lunenburg on nomination day — but the first volley sent the old grey gander back with feathers rumpled and badly scared, while his “quack” companion came tumbling heavily home with wounded wings shortly afterwards — a dejected witness of Lunenburg’s dislike of “great geese” and Confederation canards.


Halifax Citizen, April 3, 1866. Page 1 Column 1-2.

A new Confederation argument


Our citizens in Halifax, and fellow colonists in Nova Scotia, who will not be frightened into Confederation, are now, it appears, to be beaten into it by any bludgeon carrier whom Dr. Tupper may declare “The most respectable and intelligent in the city” because he belongs to the Union League. The Union procession on Thursday night was believed to be intended as an intimidation to the opponents of Confederation, and we now learn that a most respectable, inoffensive officer of the corporation was beaten in a most cowardly brutal manner by one of the most active agents of the League, that night. Mr. Craigen, a gentleman widely respected in this community was beaten so badly by Mr. William Townshend, that he cannot move from his house. Had any of the young men in the street that night, struck a blow, Mr. Townsend would have been loud against the act. But it is such as he who actively promote these political processions in displays, and then disgrace their cause by rowdyism that deserve reprobation. We tell the Union League that they will go down before the force of public opinion if their agents are thus to break the law and draw blood in the interests of Confederation. We do not envy the feelings of his Worship the Mayor who lent himself and his Civic dignity to a political demonstration, and who took a place he should have left to the chairman of the League, when learning that the demonstration led to a breach of the peace, and the injury of a valued officer of the Corporation. Had the city of Halifax no more taxpayers than those whose political misrepresentations he read out in the Hall, neither the honor nor the salary would have been worth His Worship’s notice.

Halifax Citizen, April 15, 1865. Page 1 Column 7.

“The Dominion of Canada; a study of annexation”

“The Canadian colonies have always been deprived of representation in the Imperial government, and, until the recent Dominion Constitution, prescribed by act of the British Parliament in 1867, they had few privileges of self-government. The colonial government given to Canada after the fall of the French power was not even as liberal as that under which the New England colonies had struggled. The home government understood the peculiar nature of its subjects and established a strong and almost tyrannical colonial administration, while the Canadians were content to be ruled by a Governor and Council, since they knew no government better than that of Louis XV., and did not desire self government and legislation according to the constitutional system of a governor and two branches or houses. The several Colonial Secretaries who were appointed do not seem to have worked for the best interests of the colonies, since their terms of office were dependent upon the success of their party. Each secretary understood the peculiar policy pursued by his party toward Canadian affairs and made it his custom not to acquire a suitable knowledge of the needs of his people, but to study how he might retain his place and salary. Thus, while the leading features of the Canadian policy were changing often with party movements, the details of carrying out that policy were in the hands of irresponsible agents who sat in their high seats in England.

The government established by the Constitutional Act of 1791 did not avert the abuses and misgovernment which resulted from differences in party politics. The province was divided into Upper and Lower Canada with a separate legislature in each, composed of a Council and Assembly. The executive power was vested in a Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada and a Governor of Lower Canada, who had also a certain control over the Upper province. There was an Executive Council, composed of officers of the Crown, presiding over both provinces. These provinces were then, as now, essentially different in ethnical character and political knowledge. The colonies were satisfied for years afterward with the rule of England; but when the increased population became fused with English and American settlers, it began to feel its strength, and appreciating the rights conferred by the Constitution of 1791 to desire their substantial exercise and further extension. Dissatisfaction naturally commenced in Lower Canada, the most powerful and progressive of the six colonies, and spread to the others. The question of becoming independent often agitated the minds of the Canadians, and after the triumphs of the revolutionary principle in Europe during the ten years preceding 1840, the excitement of the people was strongly in favor of a government similar to that “composing the industrious, moral and prosperous confederations of the United States.” The Assembly of Lower Canada, in 1834, passed a set of resolutions, asking for a Legislative Council chosen by the people, instead of by the Crown, and the power of revising the constitution. They declared that by this measure the British Parliament “would preserve a friendly intercourse between Great Britain and this province, as her colony, as long as the tie between us shall continue, and as her ally whenever the course of events may change our relative position.”

The sentiment of the people as represented in the lower house became so strong for reform of existing government or entire independence, that they “Resolved, that the neighbouring states have a form of government very fit to prevent abuses of power, and very effective in repressing them ; that the reverse of this order of things has always prevailed in Canada under the present form of government; that there exists in the neighbouring states a stronger and more general attachment to the national institutions than in any other country, and that there exists also in those states a guarantee for the progressive advance of their political institutions toward perfection, in the revision of the same at short and determinate intervals, by conventions of the people, in order that they may without shock or violence be adapted to the actual state of things.” Not content with these bold, and, as the British thought, treasonable expressions, they added that ” the institutions of Great Britain are altogether different from our own,” and ” that the unanimous consent with which all American States have adopted and extended the elective system, shows that it is adapted to the wishes, manners, and social state of the inhabitants of this continent. These numerous petitions, complaints and demands for redress of grievances were caused by the desire of the French Canadians to keep alive their nationality, the influence of American agitators, and the conflict of the two races arising out of those land grants which we have already investigated, as well as those made to the British-American Land Company, which increased the influence of the mother country. It is not necessary to trace the history of this agitation onward through its various stages. The people demanded:

  1. An Elective Council.
  2. The repeal of the Tenures Act, and the act creating the British-American Land Company.
  3. Complete Parliamentary control over the whole of the lands belonging to the colony.
  4. Complete control over revenue and expenditures.

The clamor for an elective legislative body was made by the French element, which was opposed to the English, and desired authority over the immediate representatives of the Crown. The Assembly withheld the supplies, and there followed acts of disorder, causing the rebellion of 1837-8 for national independence which was soon put down by those who were loyal to England and desired her supremacy. The leader of the revolt was Louis Joseph Papineau an ambitious French Canadian of mild manners, but possessing a discontented mind filled with theories for the advancement of the people of his nationality. He thought that by causing the Canadians to revolt he might gain the independence of Canada, with himself as Dictator, after the manner of the revolutionary leaders of France. The constitution of Lower Canada was suspended, and Lord Durham, who was appointed to administer the provisionary government, made a report on the conditions and needs of the province in which he recommended the restrictions of the French language and the union of the British North American possesions because “it would enable the province to cooperate for all common purposes, and above all, it would form a great and powerful people, possessing the means of securing good and responsible government for itself, and which, under the protection of the British Empire, might in some measure, counterbalance the preponderous and increasing influence of the United States on the American continent.”

The result was a bill brought forward by Lord John Russel, during the session of 1839, providing for a new constitution. The debates that followed were interesting and important, and local and responsible government received full consideration. Lord John Russel did not want separation, but said that the interference of the Imperial Parliament in affairs of colonial government ought to be confined to extreme cases. Therefore, by the constitution of 1840, the two provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, which had been separate since 1791, were united, and a government established whereby England removed the management of local affairs from the combinations and agitations in home politics, and permitted Canada to approach nearer the ideal self-government system of Teutonic states. Representation was divided equally between the two provinces, although Lower Canada was more populous. Lord Syndenham, who came out as Governor, succeeded, during his short term of office, in counteracting the French-Canadian influence by procuring an Anglo-Canadian majority in both Houses of the Parliament of the united province. This caused a feeling of security for a time in the country, since legislation was toward securing titles to real property and the abolition of the feudal system. One of the most successful arguments to excite rebellion had been that the inhabitants would free themselves from seignioral dues. The political movements of the times succeeding, were the endeavors of the “Liberals” and “Conservatives” to get the upper hand, and of the Governors to please both elements of the population. The Liberals had in their party the French-Canadian faction, headed by Mr. Papineau, who had been conspicuous in the late rebellion. They frequently agitated the subject of annexation or independence, and were encouraged by American speculators and those who had strong democratic ideas. It was through their maneuvering that the Rebellion Losses Indemnity Bill was passed through both Houses and received, from Lord Elgin, his sanction and recommendation to the home government. Annexation associations were formed in a few places, but the movement was confined to no particular party. It was noticeable that persons of the most opposite political views on domestic questions forgot their differences and united in their advocacy of this great scheme. The annexation manifestoes were approved by many who thought that England’s policy at that time was in favor of getting rid of her colonies. The position taken by many of the leading London papers, for example, the Times, was such as to convey this impression. It is likely that some decisive action would have been taken but for the internal disturbances in the United States which preceded the Civil War. Opposed to the Annexationists was a strong party consisting of the Roman Catholic clergy, with their French-Canadian followers, and the Conservatives. The latter, after the passage of the Rebellion Losses Indemnity Bill, had banded themselves into a ” British American League,” which was loyal to England and instrumental in restoring peace and order. The Conservative party began to lose power, and there was a movement in all parties toward reform. That part of Canada known as the maritime provinces does not need as much attention in a constitutional history, inasmuch as it has not been subject to the French influence. It was originally Acadie, but in the year 1749 England colonized it and gave it the name Nova Scotia (–not exactly…), including the provinces of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The latter was constituted a distinct province in 1770, and the former in 1784.

These provinces were colonized by English, Scotch and U. E. Loyalists, and, therefore, remained in sympathy with British institutions. Their government was more responsible than that of French Canada and freer from great internal dissensions. It was quite natural, therefore, that Nova Scotia should take the first step toward forming a confederation of the provinces on the plan of responsible government so often proposed in political crises. This province, with that of New Brunswick, urged the union, and there resulted a conference of delegates from all the provinces at Quebec, October 10th, 1865, in which was formed the foundation of the present constitution and government. The Fenian movement against Canada in June, 1866, did not arise from a desire for annexation, but was planned by the leader, O’Neil, and his American followers, through sympathy for Irish independence. Their intention was to injure England and help Ireland gain its freedom. The government of Canada soon restored peace ; the United States then, as in the subsequent raid of 1869 by the same leader, giving assistance. The British North American Act federally united the provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and made provisions for the admission of other parts of British North America. The province of Canada was divided into the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, having their territories co-extensive with the old provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. Provincial constitutions were given to these provinces according to the constitutions existing before the Union Act of 1840. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick retained the same boundaries and provincial constitutions. Before entering on the discussion of the constitution it would be well to speak of the provinces lately admitted into the Dominion of Canada.

Manitoba was part of the territory granted to the Hudson Bay Company by Charles II. In 1811 the Earl of Selkirk, who owned stock in the company, purchased a large tract of country covering what is now Manitoba, and established a colony of Scotch, which was unsuccessful. The company bought it back in 1835 and established a government with a Governor and Council. Legislation over Rupert’s Land and the Northwest Territories was vested in the Dominion in 1868, when a provisional government was established, but owing to the consequent conflicting rights of the company and the government, a rebellion arose among the French [Metis] led by Louis Riel, which resulted in the immediate establishment and entrance into the Dominion, in 1870, of the province of Manitoba. Its government is vested in a Lieutenant-Governor and Executive Council, and a Legislative Assembly. The Saskatchewan rebellion, in 1882, also led by Louis Riel, caused the formation of the provisional districts of Assinboia, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Athabasca, of the Northwest Territories, with a Lieutenant Governor and Council. British Columbia was also a part of the Hudson Bay Company’s territory, but at the time of the “gold fever” of 1858, it received distinct territorial government. Vancouvers Island was united with it in 1860. In 1871 it entered the Dominion with a constitution consisting of a Lieutenant-Governor, an Executive Council and a Legislative Assembly. Prince Edward Island entered in 1873, and has a legislature consisting of a Lieutenant-Governor, a Legislative Council and an Assembly. The Canadian constitution is based upon the English, although in many respects it borrowed from the American.

The Imperial Parliament does not allow local jurisdiction over those matters which regard imperial interests and honor, but maintains a large amount of control over the Dominion government, especially by reserving to England the rights of appointing the Governor-general, of making treaties and of disallowing acts not affecting trade and commerce. The Dominion can alter its constitution only through the Imperial Parliament and not, as in the United States, through the ratification by three-fourths of the states, of amendments proposed by a convention called by Congress or proposed by two-thirds of both Houses of that body. The local self-government system is in many respects directly the reverse of that in the United States. The provinces possess only the power of legislating on those matters allowed by the Dominion constitution. The government at Washington, on the other hand, is limited in its functions under the constitution by the rights of the several states. Here we find the distinction between “states” and “provinces.”

Imperial control in all matters can be traced to the fountainhead in the will of the sovereign prerogative. For the purpose of examining the constitution and comparing it with that of the United States let us glance briefly at the legislative powers, subject to the Imperial Parliament as embodied in the Governor General, Senate and House of Commons in the central government, and the legislatures in the provinces. The Governor-General, who represents the dignity of sovereignty is appointed by the Crown, and can be removed at pleasure. He appoints the member of the Senate from the provinces, and the Lieutenant- Generals. The members of the Senate hold office for life, and are of the aristocratic class. They therefore vote down all measures that may tend to diminish the power of the Crown or undermine their secure and lofty positions. The lack of real interest for local affairs in the provinces from which they are appointed gives them little support in the popular feeling, since their motives are not always for the best interest of the people. Canadian Senators do not fear the loss of votes at a re-election, and therefore do not have that incentive which spurs on the American Senator to advance the power of his state according to the idea of his constituents. The members of the House of Commons are chosen by the people and represent the true democratic ideas of government. Since 1885 the franchise in Canada has been uniform and based on ownership, occupation or income. The right to vote is given to all who possess the following qualifications:

  1. The ownership or occupation for at least one year of premises of the value of $300, in cities; $200 in towns, and $150 in other places.
  2. An income of $300 a year or an annuity of $100, provided there has existed a residence of one year.
  3. The father’s ownership or occupation, as required gives the franchise to the sons.
  4. Possession of fishing outfits to the value of $300.

This law regarding electors seems to be an improvement on the too liberal granting of the franchise practiced in many of our states. The government of Canada is in three branches, decidedly unlike the three powers in the United States, where there is a balance of power, each branch being able to veto the acts of the other two, and each receiving its authority from the people. Each state, in exercising those attributes not relegated to the central government under the federal constitution, is a commonwealth enjoying domestic sovereignty. By an admirable method adopted by the framers of the constitution the representation at Washington of states unequal in areas and populations is provided. The Senate is composed of two members from each state, who compose the Federal or Upper House, while in the Lower or National House the members are in proportion to the population of each state. In Canada, the Upper House and the Governor-General, though the latter is usually careful with his veto, work for the interests of the Crown, and the voice of the people can only be heard in the Lower House and the Privy Council of the Governor-General, according to the plan of responsible government.

There is no equality among the provinces; each is only a part of the whole Dominion. They are represented in the Senate as follows:

  1. Ontario, 24 members
  2. Quebec, 24
  3. Nova Scotia, 10
  4. New Brunswick, 10
  5. Manitoba, 3
  6. British Columbia, 3
  7. Prince Edward Island, 4
  8. Northwest Territories, 2.

The House of Commons consists of 215 members, representing the provinces as follows:

  1. Ontario, 92 members, representing a population of 20,904 to each.
  2. Quebec, 65 members, representing a population of 20,908 to each.
  3. Nova Scotia, 21 members representing a population of 20,979 to each.
  4. New Brunswick, 16 members, representing a population of 20,077 to each.
  5. Manitoba, 5 members, representing a population of 21,728 to each.
  6. British Columbia, 6 members, representing a population of 8,243 to each.
  7. Prince Edward Island, 6 members, representing a population of 18,148 to each.
  8. The Territories, 4 members, representing a population of 12,090 to each.

The number of 65 members for the province of Quebec was fixed, as it was thought that the population was of a permanent character, upon which the representation from the other provinces could be based. For each of the other provinces the members are in such proportion to the population, as ascertained every ten years, as the number 65 bears to the number of the population of Quebec. Thus it may be noticed that in the two provinces especially subject to the French and Catholic influence, the representation in the Dominion Parliament is greater than in the other provinces and sufficient to have a preponderating weight in all matters that come before it. The Queen has concurrent power over all matters within the legislative jurisdiction of the Dominion government, since she is not divested of her prerogative powers, and the Dominion government, in turn, over matters in the Provincial government. But within certain limits each legislature is supreme. The people of Canada are thus subject to the mother country through three legislative bodies.  The lowest body is that of the province, headed by a Lieutenant Governor, whose acts can be vetoed by the higher bodies. England, therefore, has great power over Canada, for although she allows the government to regulate all matters between the provinces, as well as those pertaining to its own internal affairs, she will treat with the provinces only through the Dominion Parliament, which in turn must direct its communications to the Crown through the Colonial Office. If the present status of Canada should change, it is generally agreed upon that it will take one of these three destinies

  1. Imperial Federation.
  2. Independence and a new American Republic.
  3. Annexation to the United States.

Imperial Federation

The tendency of colonies has been to overcome their sense of inferiority by resenting the legal exercise of imperial powers. After attaining a mature growth, like the child become a man, they desire to leave the protection of the mother country and assume sovereign powers. To counteract this tendency, and secure a closer political union between England and her colonies, statesmen have long advocated a plan of Imperial Federation. By this system they propose to establish on a firm basis the relation which a dependency bears to the centre of power in the empire, and so define and regulate reciprocal obligations that distant and powerful colonies can be maintained as parts of one great empire. Thus, as the force of gravitation can hold the far off planets in subjection to the sun as the centre of one system, this Imperial Federation would unite states independent in their internal affairs into one great nation. A new body would be formed for imperial matters, and the colonies would enjoy independent legislative powers in all matters of self-government. The colonies would be on the same footing and free to act within the scope of their prescribed powers, but all subject to the decision of a common supreme tribunal. They would be immediately interested in all international affairs and have a power of voting on all such questions. War, therefore, could not be declared by England without the consent of her colonies, thus avoiding the often repeated complaint of colonies that they are compelled to assist in wars in which they have no interest. England could not impose taxes without their consent. Imperial rights would be exercised to maintain the unity of the empire, and promote the common interests of all its widespread possessions. There would be an universal military organization, and an universal commercial union establishing free trade between distant parts of the empire.

This theory of Imperial Federation is not one peculiar to modern colonial reformers, but is the outcome of ideas long cherished by those who believe in self-government. If we trace back through the events of colonial history of the United States, and examine carefully the charters granting lands in America, we shall see that the colonies enjoyed local autonomy subject to the sovereignty of the Crown. In the event of Imperial Federation the present colonies would tend to become sovereignties, and representatives in the federal congress would be partly ambassadorial. The representation from distant states with democratic ideas would tend to abolish the English hereditary nobility. Thus it is a question whether England would lose or gain power by this scheme. The advocates of this system belong to both parties in England, and for the purpose of discussing its practicability, are bound together in a society called the Federation League. Sir John Macdonald, the Premier of Canada, is a member, and has for his associates a wealthy class who think that by this method the annexation or independence of Canada would be retarded. The Marquis of Lome, in a work entitled “Imperial Federation,” says “Does not disintegration loom in the future, and is not the independence of Australia, and the annexation of Canada, a result sure to follow the local freedom practiced throughout the Anglo-Saxon Empire ?”


The recent growth of nations has been toward democracy. In former times the people never conceived the idea of a social condition different from that in which they were born, but as intelligence spread and knowledge became general, the principles of action in economics, education and religion advanced toward democracy. The people have gradually learned -that they are sovereign and constitute the state. Political independence, therefore, has raised itself from the relics of religious superstition and feudalism. Since the separation of the American colonies from the mother country in which Canada refused to join, struggling nations have turned to the example of the North American Republic for political reform. England may expect the separation of all her colonies. Her course in regard to them has been a beneficial one, but not made for ever.

The people of the colonies can move an overwhelming preponderance of power against existing institutions. They are thousands of miles from the mother country and almost independent in their self-government. Thus the only tie that binds is the military and diplomatic protection of England. Does Canada need this protection? The confederation has proved of great benefit to the country in creating an almost national existence, and was brought about by Canadian statesmen. It was a step toward Imperial Federation, since in all matters concerning their interests England consults Canada, and has appointed on such commissions, as that of the fisheries men who were especially interested in the promotion of Canadian affairs. Then, the idea of federation has been, in a small degree, carried out by Canada having a resident in London, known as High Commissioner, who acts in accordance with his instructions from the Dominion government. The first commissioner was Sir Alexander Gait, who was followed by Sir Charles Tupper. England has often assured Canada that she will protect its interests in the negotiations of all treaties, and has evinced a desire to retain only the treaty-making power. This, then, is intended as a link of connection whereby England, through honor and affection may continue her protection, at the same time allowing the Dominion Parliament almost sovereign powers. Canada has passed through the stages of development usual in all nations from the despotism under the old regime to the constitutional period, when the struggle between the monarch and the people took place, which led to the present self-government. It is but a short step forward to complete independence. Whether this will occur in the near future is a question which must be determined by the majority of the Canadian people, but political sentiment is divided between the Conservatives, Liberals and French Nationalists. The Conservatives are the old Canadians who still cling to the British flag, because under its protection they feel secure. They are the wealthier class of the population and compose the society immediately outside of the royal and aristocratic retinue attached to the Governor-General. He is the representative of royalty and in his person brings forcibly to the minds of the Conservatives their allegiance to the English Crown, which he represents. The Conservatives, headed by the old and beloved Premier, Sir John Macdonald, hold the most important offices, and therefore do not want the present condition of affairs disturbed. The Orangemen must also be classed in this party, although many of them since the allowance of the Jesuits’ Estates Bill have gone over to the Liberals. The Liberals comprise the “Young Canada” element of the population, and instead of being British colonists, would prefer to say: “We are Canadians” or possibly, “We are Americans.” There is no aristocracy in Canada that is regarded by the people as constituting their natural superiors and rulers, and the Liberals are asking the question

“Why not elect our own Governor and Senators?” Expressions are now frequently used which would have been regarded as high treason before the Union Act. The desire for independence or a national change has been admitted, even by those newspapers which work in the interest of the government. The London Free Press, the Windsor Review, the St. Catharine Star, the Toronto Mail and numerous other papers see indications of independence. Since the organization of a national party, whose motto was “Canada First,” the spirit of national independence has rapidly increased. The young Liberal Clubs in all parts of the Dominion are increasing their memberships even from the ranks of the Conservatives. The issue of independence has been frequently brought forward, and elections have taken place of candidates who were in favor of independence. There has been exhibited in Windsor, Ontario, a proposed Canadian flag of dark blue with a red square in the corner, in which is displayed a white beaver representing the Northwest territories, while in the blue field are seven stars representing the provinces.

The French Nationalists constitute a third and independent party, and side with that party in all political questions who will enable them to retain their ethnic and confessional autonomy. Those misunderstandings and differences which the inhabitants of Quebec have had so long with the Anglo-Canadians have not been dispelled by confederation. The growth of empire in the Northwest, and the ethnic influence which always existed in their favor among [Metis] has raised new hopes. They have long maintained a French Catholic province on an English Protestant continent, and hope ere long to see it promoted into a nation. The leading papers in Quebec have frequently expressed this desire of the French Canadians, and in a recent article La Verite says: “Let us say it boldly—the ideal of the ‘French Canadian people is not the ideal of the other races which today inhabit the land our fathers subdued for Christian civilization. Our ideal is the formation here, in this corner of the earth watered by the blood of our heroes, of a nation which shall perform on this continent, the part France has played so long in Europe. Our aspiration is to found a nation which, socially, shall profess the Catholic faith and speak the French language. That is not and cannot be the aspiration of the other races. To say, then, that all the groups which constitute confederation are animated by one and the same aspiration is to utter a sounding phrase without political or historical meaning. For us the present form of government is not and cannot be the last word of our national existence. It is merely a road toward the goal we have in view. Let us never lose sight of our national destiny; rather let us constantly prepare ourselves to fulfill it worthily at the hour decreed by Providence, which circumstances shall reveal to us.”

On the other hand, the Anglo-Canadians see that if they would establish a great nation they must abolish French institutions, the levying of tithes, and the maintenance of parochial schools by public money. These ethnic and religious differences retard the growth of independence and act as a drawback to annexation, for annexation is not likely to take place until after independence. Since Brazil has changed its government, and its de-facto existence has been acknowledged, British America is the only country on the hemisphere not a republic. England’s right to govern Canada is based wholly on the presumption that it is not able to govern itself. Is it not proper, then, that she should cease to play the part of a parent, by withdrawing that protection for which Ireland as well as Great Britain must pay? Her indirect liabilities through keeping the Canadian connection are enormous, since their commercial policies are at right angles, and England is prevented from entering into whatever relations she pleases with the United States. When Canada is free and exists under a policy of peace and free commerce it will be a matter of history as to her ultimate destiny. But we can only conjecture that, after the French influence has been over- come by an increased population, the greater nation will absorb the smaller on the North American continent.


Although Canada is practically sovereign—a “semi-sovereignty”—it has not the power to discharge external functions, and is not a state in an international position. Therefore, in exercising power given by the constitution, whereby “new states may be admitted by the Congress into the Union,” it is necessary for us to consider our international relations with England. The methods by which annexation may be brought about are

  1. Conquest by the United States.
  2. Independence of Canada and cession of its territory by its people.
  3. Cession of Canada by its people with the consent of Parliament and the Crown.
  4. Treaty arrangement between Great Britain and the United States, and the consent of the Canadian people.

Behind the constitution there is a right to acquire territory by conquest, which is “an incident of sovereignty.” This is a power that has always existed, but in the present, development of international law and human rights, it is only exercised in the subjection of uncivilized people and semi-states. The interference of the United States in Canadian affairs would probably bring about a war with England, but other nations would not be likely to interfere in a movement in which they are not concerned, whereby the United States would prepare the way for that certain future advance in population and national prosperity. If it had been our policy to conquor, Canada would have belonged to the United States long ago, since statesmen have often referred to the advisability of annexation.

Mr. Clay, in a speech on the occupation of West Florida, said: “I am not, sir, in favor of cherishing the passion of conquest, but I must be permitted to conclude by declaring my hope to see, ere long, the New United States (if you will allow me the expression), embracing not only the old thirteen states but the entire country east of the Mississippi, including East Florida, and some of the territories to the north of us also.” It is the peculiar duty of a Republic to recognize the rights of other peoples, and so endeavor to maintain them. The second method is very simple, for as an independent state, Canada could rightfully cede her whole territory and unite her government with us without the interference of any foreign power. In treating the third method by which annexation might be accomplished, we must consider that Canada has not the power of making treaties with foreign states, which is an incident to sovereignty. But it might appoint a committee to treat with the United States, with the positive or tacit consent of the mother country, the conclusions of which might be accepted by the sovereign through a treaty.

This method would depend upon the willingness of England to permit Canada to go forth from her protection, and differs from the fourth method in the source from which the proposals for annexation seem to eminate. It is founded on the theory that the people constitute the state and that from them must proceed any desire for a change. The negotiation of treaties between sovereigns, is a usual method of annexation, as was demonstrated in the annexation of Schleswig-Holstein to Prussia, of the Neopolitan Provinces to Italy, and of Savoy and Nice to France.   ̶I̶n̶ ̶a̶l̶l̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶s̶e̶ ̶c̶a̶s̶e̶s̶  The plebiscite of the people  ̶w̶a̶s̶  should be obtained before the cession ̶s̶  is  ̶w̶e̶r̶e̶  completed.

If England had the power to barter or give Canada without the will of the people, she might cede the territory to China or Russia; and thus a great social disturbance would occur through difference in unities. Whereas the United States is the only country to which Canada could properly be annexed. Now, as to the organization of the new government and relations. It would not be necessary to obtain the consent of each state in the Union for the admission of Canada, as long as there were a majority in Congress in favor of the union. This was demonstrated in the annexation of Texas. On the other hand, the Dominion could not cede the territory without the consent of the people of each province, for this would be a violation of the principle which we have just seen. For the same reason, England has been unable to join Newfoundland to the Dominion. Therefore, any province might declare its independence and unite its government with us; but it would be a violation of de jure rights under the Dominion, as the provinces have not sovereignty or the power to secede.

This has been clearly demonstrated by the uneasiness of Nova Scotia since confederation. This province was the first to propose the new government, but it soon desired to withdraw from a union with its undesirable neighbors—a procedure which it found impossible. Lately this desire for a change has clearly shown itself, nor would it be surprising if a proposition for annexation should come from this English province. The inhabitants of the ceded territory would be admitted according to the principle of our federal constitution, into all the rights of citizens of the United States. The rights and obligations which belonged to each province before the union would be binding upon them or the government at Washington. Thus the debt of Canada would be assumed by the federal government, apportioned among the provinces as it was before the Dominion Act, or divided according to relative population. The annexed territory would retain all its private rights of property in the soil, and the public buildings would belong to the province in which they are situated.

Having discussed the methods of annexation the next question is its practicability. On casting a retrospective eye on the progress of Canada we cannot but be struck with the difficulties it has had to encounter before attaining its present position on the threshold of a new existence. It is governed by institutions and laws similar to our own, and inhabited by a people, many of whom have a like origin, education and religion with ourselves. But we have seen differences between the populations which can only be gradually eliminated by social fusion. The question of religion in state and common schools would be a source of discussion and controversy, since we are apt to maintain our belief in non-sectarianism as a policy superior to that of Canada. We must not look to the provinces of Quebec, Ontario and those on the Atlantic, whose future can only be prophesied by the historic past, for a beneficial union with us, but to the wonderfully fertile and sparsely populated country extending to the Pacific. The west and northwest are receiving a tide of immigration which must, through similarity in ethnical character, develop social institutions suitable for an intimate alliance with us. The territory of the Dominion is contiguous, and annexation, if not necessary, would at least permit the extension of our commerce with perfect freedom and security. Its numerous harbors, large rivers and communications connect its people with our own, and, by the representative system and the avoidance of sectional prejudices and factions, the United States though of vast extent, might with perfect harmony and security expand into an entire North American Republic.”


Aitken, William Benford. “The Dominion of Canada; a study of annexation”, New York, H. K. Van Sielen, 1890.

Speech on the union of the colonies, Debates, 1865

“It has been argued that we are so small a territory, that we should endeavor to unite with some larger country, in order to enlarge our scope for action… Turn to the American States, and contrast the size of Nova Scotia with some States there, and from which we have heard no talk of forming any union with any other State, in order to increase their importance in the Union. There are the States of New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, &c- all very much smaller in area than Nova Scotia, and yet from these we hear of no Union being formed among them, in order that the citizens may have more area or room for development. Nova Scotia contains 20,436 square miles; New Hampshire 9,280; Vermont 9,056; Connecticut 4,730; Massachusetts, that occupies so conspicuous a position in the American nation, 7,800. Yet Nova Scotia, that our statesmen look down upon with contempt, is larger than any two of the States I have named; and where we find the Americans perfectly satisfied with the proportions these States occupy in the American nation, we should also be content, that whilst we are Nova Scotia’s, we are at the same time citizens of the British Empire, with all the room and scope which it affords for development.”

“We are told by the Provincial Secretary of the government they proposed to constitute a Federation of British North America. -It appears to me that in the very outset, in the second resolution of this report, they have given the evidence which shows that this Federal Union cannot be stable under the circumstances. They allude there to the “diversity of the interests of the several Provinces.” The fact that the interests of the Provinces are so diversified that each has its own interests, and its center of interest within itself- precludes the possibility of a Federal Union being formed to work harmoniously.”

“Upper and Lower Canada may have disputes at times too, but whenever the Lower provinces come in, they will unite as one province against us.”

Nova Scotia. House of Assembly, and A. W. (Archibald Woodbury) McLelan. Speech On the Union of the Colonies. Halifax, N.S.: Printed at the “Morning Chronicle” Office, 1865.

Confederation Considered On Its Merits: Being an Examination Into the Principle, Capabilities, And Terms of Union, As Applicable to Nova Scotia

“We have witnessed the tremendous struggle and sacrifice made by our Republican neighbors, rather than suffer the disintegration of their common country.”

“Nova Scotia, then, is a British Province, enjoying the priceless privilege of British laws, British connection, and a free Constitution.”

“The consequence has been that our progress has been one incessant struggle, and the youth of our population, unable to find employment at home, have been obliged to seek it in a foreign country.”

“It may be asked, in what respect will confederation affect this for the better? …It will strike down forever all inter-Provincial tariffs; every port in all the Provinces will admit productions of each, free of duty. An esprit, or pride of country, will be created.”

The port of Halifax will be the great point of entry for the Confederacy. It will be connected with every part of the continent by railway; it will be the efflux and influx of an ever growing trade and commerce.

“If then there are such prospects before us, why, it may be asked, is it that so many men of large means, and of high intelligence, look upon the approach of Confederation with undisguised apprehension?”

Marshall, John G. (John George), 1789-1880. Confederation Considered On Its Merits: Being an Examination Into the Principle, Capabilities, And Terms of Union, As Applicable to Nova Scotia. Halifax: R.T. Muir, 1867.

To the electors of the county of Halifax

“Much misrepresentation has been indulged in concerning the increased debt of the Dominion, and comparisons made between it and the federal debt of the United States most unfair to Canada… the different purposes for which the two debts were incurred are also kept out of sight ,- that of Canada having been for valuable public works, from which the country will forever derive increasing advantages, while that of the United States is wholly for an unfortunate war.”

“On the question of repeal we dissent entirely from the position taken by our opponents… If elected we shall advocate all measures calculated to make Halifax the winter port of Canada – to hasten the extension of the C.P.R. by means of the short line to Halifax Harbor… to secure the best solution of the Nova Scotia railway problem that can be found in the interest of Halifax and the Province.”

Stairs, J. F, and T. E Kenny. To the Electors of the County of Halifax. [Halifax, N.S.?: s.n., 1887.

Dr. Tupper’s Letter

(To the Editor of the Star).
SIR,-Although I have not yet seen the pamphlet published by Mr. Howe, in opposition to the proposed confederation of the British North American Provinces, you will, I hope, permit me to correct several misstatements of facts into which you have inadvertently been betrayed, by the perusal of Mr. Howe’s brochure, in your article in the “Star” of the 21st inst., upon a question involving the most important consequences, both to British North America and the Parent State.

A scheme of confederation, providing for the Union of the British North American provinces under one Government and Legislature, was arranged at Quebec in 1864, by delegates representing all sections and parties in the Colonies, appointed by the Governor-General and the Lieutenant-Governors of the Provinces. Both Houses of the Parliament of Canada carried by very large majorities an address to Her Majesty the Queen, praying that an Act of the Imperial Parliament might be passed by which the proposed union should be consumated.

The Legislators of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have also authorized the Lieutenant-Governors of those provinces to appoint delegates, clothed with plenary powers, to arrange with delegates from Canada and with Her Majesty’s Government here a plan of union to be submitted to the Imperial Parliament. The co-operation of the Island of Newfoundland and Prince Edward, although desirable, is by no means essential as to render the Union of Upper and Lower Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick – possessing an area of 400,000 square miles, and a population of nearly four millions under a United Government “a lame and impotent conclusion.”

You will, I think, scarcely regard the statement as accurate that “by extreme pressure on the part of the Executive the Legislatures of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick agreed to send delegates to a conference to be held in London,” when the fact is stated that in New Brunswick an appeal to the electors upon this question resulted in the return of thirty-three members, pledged to support Confederation, while but eight members opposed to that policy could obtain seats in the Legislative Assembly; that in the Legislative Council in that province the Confederation Policy was affirmed by a majority of thirteen to five, and that in Nova Scotia the motion to authorize the appointment of delegates with plenary powers to settle the question of union was carried by a majority of thirty to eighteen and in the Legislative Council by a majority of thirteen to five.

As the leader of the Government of Nova Scotia I can confidently assert that no executive pressure was attempted, and that both branches of the legislature will represent the education, intelligence, property and industry of the colony. The statement that the Hon. Joseph Howe is “a distinguished member of the Legislature of Nova Scotia” is inaccurate. Mr. Howe, as leader of the Government, sustained an overwhelming defeat at the last general election in that Province in 1863. But thirteen members out of a house of fifty-five were returned to support his Government. The constituency to whom he offered his services rejected him by a majority of over five hundred. And Mr. Howe has not since obtained a seat in the Legislature.

The readers of the “star” will be surprised to learn that Mr. Howe denies the right of the Legislature of the colony to change the constitution of the country with the concurrence of the Imperial Government, when they are told that the last act of the Government was to introduce a measure to disenfranchise more than one quarter of the electors who had elected the Parliament in which he was then sitting. You will probably be equally astonished when you are informed that “serious are are the geographical difficulties of a Confederation as put by Mr. Howe,” and “certain to infuse new elements of discord into the already seething chaos of Canadian politics,” as he now asserts, that gentleman, when leader of the Government of Nova Scotia in 1861, proposed to the Legislature a resolution, which was carried unanimously, declaring that “many advantages may be secured by such a union” of the British North American provinces, and authorizing the appointment of delegates to promote that object.

Notwithstanding the inaccuracies in your leader to which I have ventured to call your attention I do not know that I would have troubled you with any remarks but the following passage:-“The intimacy and inclination of the maritime provinces is not towards Canada, but towards Maine and Massachusetts; and though the men of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are proud of their independence they would probably prefer annexation to the United States if it could be peaceably effected to any Confederation scheme”.

Although I am quite ready to admit that a number of interested bankers and political agitators have excited a great deal of prejudice against the proposed Confederation, I am bold to assert that a more unfounded imputation upon the loyalty of the people of the maritime provinces of all classes could not be published than is contained in the paragraph just quoted. That there are individual traitors in the pay and interest of American annexationists, endeavoring to subvert British institutions in the maritime provinces, is quite possible; but that even an insignificant portion of any class of the people could be induced to prefer connection to the United States to a union of British America I most emphatically deny.

The mischievous influence of such a misconception of the sentiments of the British colonists at the present moment cannot be overrated. The annexationists in the United States who are endeavoring to accomplish the acquisition of British America by political means are stimulated by such statements to persevere in the policy which has already caused the abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty, while to the same cause may be traced the mad designs of the Fenians upon the British Provinces. Can you then, sir, wonder that I should feel indignant at the publication of an unfounded imputation upon the loyalty of my countrymen, especially when it is calculated to encourage the ravages of invasion and waste the blood and treasure both of British America and the parent State?

Feeling assured that you will willingly give insertion to these corrections of statements calculated to produce very erroneous impressions upon an important question, I remain, sir, your obedient servant,

Prime Minister of Nova Scotia
Alexandria Hotel, Sept. 22

The Newfoundlander – Oct 22, 1866

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