« ZurückWeiter »
others by the English, and that another, but he wished the British subjects in Ca. had declared he neither knew nor cared nada to enjoy the Habeas Corpus Act as what the law was; there was no necessity a matter of right, as we did at home, and for his knowing it, he should always de- / not as a matter of favour, revocable at the cide according to his conscience. No will of the Crown. These were the chief country could be said to be well regulated points that he wished the Committee to that was suffered to remain in such a con- take into their consideration.-He next dition. The next question was, what recapitulated the circumstances that had ought to be done to cure these evils, to occurred on the subject, since the province introduce order, and render the rules of of Canada was first ceded to Great Bri. legal decision regular and uniform ? It tain. He stated the reasons assigned for required only a communication of those not before settling a regular form of goprivileges which were the birth-right of vernment, and the manner in which the every subject of the realm. If the inha- parties petitioning had noticed them. bitants of the province of Canada were They had been aware that, during a long unworthy of those laws, let the grounds war, it was impracticable; the period of of that unworthiness be stated; but no war was now over, and peace had been man, surely, could controvert the reason, established for five years. The parties the propriety, the necessity of admitting had the satisfaction also to see in places the inbabitants of a British province to a of the highest authority those persons to full and free participation of the blessings whom they owed gratitude for past favours, of English laws. Another material object and to whom thev looked for future supnecessary to be regulated would be the port. The Committee well knew the giving the judges a greater degree of in- ground on which the motion which he dependence, and lessening the servility and made in 1786 was negatived. Ministers dependence of the superior officers. had told the House they meant to send But a principal point among all the con- out full instructions for an inquiry in siderations was, the giving the province a Canada, in order to procure the neces-. house of assembly. What danger was sary information, and promised to lay the there in following the examples this coun- | result before the House. Lord Dorches-try had recently set in the colonies of ter went out in 1786, and, as soon as he Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Did arrived, he summoned the legislative counthey imagine the ancient Canadians had cil, communicated his instructions, and still any violent prepossession for their directed them to institute an inquiry. To own laws, or were disloyal? If they were aid them in that inquiry the assistance of well affected and loyal, they ought to be a committee of merchants was called in. ' suffered to enjoy the blessings of our li Such committees were institated both in berty, and feel the happiness of our secu the districts of Montreal and Quebec. rity. – Another consideration was, how They made a report which was read in a far the institution of a House of Assembly full assembly of old and new subjects, was an object of revenue? Was the pro- without one dissenting voice. If the ine vince of Canada always meant to be sup formation that had been in consequence : ported upon the bounty of this kingdom? | transmitted to England, was not deemed If not, why should not the province of a sufficient body of information to ground Canada tax themselves, and thus provide a parliamentary proceeding upon, he for the expenses of their own government? begged to know what would be so conThe inhabitants had strongly stated their sidered, and what farther information that ability, and their readiness to pay. Mr. House was to look for? He spoke of the Powys pointed out the distinction between character of lord Dorchester, and said, be this country attempting to tax its pro highly esteemed him in every capacity vinces, a power which that House had re- but that of a legislator, and therefore his nounced, and suffering a province to tax own private opinion would be to him, of itself, for the purpose of defraying its own less consequence than tbat of any other internal charges of civil government. It individual conversant with the subject. was true ministers had advised his Majesty | The business had been taken up by merto command an ordinance to be published | chants of the first character here and in at Quebec, giving the inhabitants the be Canada. It deserved every attention from nefit of the Habeas Corpus Act, for two the House, and more so, as it was, in his years, and at the expiration of that period opinion, their peculiar duty to look to it had been continued for two years longer; / those parts of the empire which were not (VOL. XXVII.]
represented in parliament. The petitioners | any material purpose, he admitted it were respectable and loyal subjects, the should be early made an object of attenpetitions were decent and reasonable, and tion. He wished to know, before he prothe information before the Committee was ceeded farther, if the hon. gentleman was sufficient to justify them at least in com- prepared to state to the Committee any mencing an investigation as the ground of idea as to what point the present motion a subsequent proceeding. After an apo- was to lead. logy for undertaking an office more pro- Mr. Powys said, he had not the smallest perly the office of his Majesty's ministers, difficulty in declaring, that provided the Mr. Powys concluded with moving, “ That present motion should be adopted, he it is the opinion of this Committee, that meant to follow it up by calling the atten. the said petitions deserve the immediate tion of the House, seriatim, to each dis. and serious consideration of parliament.” tinct object which he bad enumerated ;
Sir M. W. Ridley conceived, that no the rendering the writ of Habeas Corpus man would deny that the inhabitants of a matter of right, the granting indepenCanada were obedient subjects, and that dence to the judges, the lessening the serit ought to be the constant principle of vility and dependence of the superior government, equally attaching upon the officers of justice, and the establishing an · governors and the governed, that the laws House of Assembly. Having moved reought to state and define the extent of solutions upon each, as grounds of a bill, ebedience required from the subjects, and if the right hon. gentleman should not be the degree of protection to which they able in the course of that session to carry had a claim. In respect to the province the bill through, the resolutions would con. of Canada, the laws were so totally mis- vince the inhabitants of Canada, that the understood, that each judge governed House had attended to their petitions, and himself by the rule of law most agreeable would teach them what they were to ex. to his own mind, and no man was able to pect. say whether he acted rightly or not. If a Mr. Pitt said, that he did not dispute colony, earned at the expense of so much the principle of thus desiring the attention treasure, and gained by the loss of some of the Committee to the several points of the best blood, and of the bravest lives stated by the hon. gentleman, which he in the service of the country, was worth took to be the institution of an House of maintaining, there could not be a doubt of Assembly in Canada, a new regulation re. the necessity of establishing some regular lative to the situation of the merchants system of government, under which the there, an alteration relative to the superior security of personal liberty and personal officers, and lastly an increase of the indeproperty should depend, on known, dependence of the judges. All these points. fined, intelligible, and established laws. he owned, were important, and in respect He mentioned the peculiar circumstance to most of them, generally speaking, his of the natives having been formerly the opinion coincided with that of the hon. subjects of a different government, and gentleman; but he would not then go into thence drew an argument to prove the their discussion, because he was convinced necessity of attaching them to the British that the consideration could not pos. government by acts of friendship and sibly come on during the present session. favour, stating that they came to the bar And when he made this declaration, he humbly and respectfully, and appealing to begged not to be understood as advancing the good sense as well as justice of the it, because he did not think the subject an Committee, whether they should not hold object of importance, nor because, when out to them some hope, that if they could it did come on, that he should vote against not then, they would shortly afford them it, though he did not say he should vote the relief they required.
for it; but because they wanted more Mr. Pitt said, that unless he greatly information than ministers had yet been · misunderstood the case, the hon, mover able to obtain, and which they were likely
and he differed so little in general upon to receive against the next session; and the present subject, that he should feel because he wished that, whatever decisive himself sorry to dissent from him as to the step should be taken under the present cirtime most fit for the discussion of the re- cumstances, it might not, as it probably solutions, that the motion must necessarily would, provę deserving of the description be followed up with. If they had, at that which the hon. gentleman had given of the time, the means of deciding upon it to Quebec Bill, and be found " a rash and
fatal measure." When the circumstances, the benefits and blessings they would comof any colony would permit, it was his municate to those to whom their operation decided opinion that they ought to extend was extended. But if he were asked, if to it as much of the English laws as they he thought that precipitately pushing on could with propriety, but he was far from the discussion of the subject then, without thinking that any well-digested proposal full information, would answer the purpose could be brought forward at that period of even of the hon. gentleman himself, who, the session. With respect to the House he was persuaded, had brought on the disof Assembly, two years ago the hon. gen- cussion from the best and most honourtleman had himself said, the subject was able motives, he was compelled to say, he so delicate that he was not prepared to thought it would not. It was true, they propose it; and at present, the deciding had some information before them, that upon the measure was infinitely more deli- afforded them considerable light upon the cate and difficult. The province was, ac subject, but not all the information necescording to the last advices, divided into sary; and, therefore, to bring forward any parties of disputants, on the question, of proposition, that although, it promised to which was the mode of government most be beneficial to the province, when it fit to be adopted. To give Canada an could not be fully considered, was likely House of Assembly, therefore, under the to lead to a system that might effectuaily present circumstances, would be to change destroy the position laid down by the hon. à solid blessing into a substantial curse, gentleman himself,was so preposterous, that and to entail endless controversy and disa he declared he felt himself obliged to move, pute, by erecting a seat for contest. As “ That the chairman do leave the chair." to what the hon. gentleman had said of Mr. For said, that he could not advert, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, those without astonishment, to the circumstance colonies bore not the most distant analogy of the King's minister having risen in that to that of the province of Canada. With House, without shame to bimself, to say regard to the Habeas Corpus Act, it could he was waiting for more information, and pot surely be urged, that there was much was not prepared to meet the motion; a pressure in point of time in respect to motion, the propriety of which he comthat, because it had been admitted by the mended in general terms, and every one of hon. gentleman, that in consequence of an the objects of which he appeared to apordinance, Canada was already in posses- prove. The right hon. gentleman had sion of that benefit, but not exactly in the told them that he was waiting for the manner stated by the hon. gentleman, be- opinion of lord Dorchester. No man res. cause ministers had not recently sent out pected the noble lord's character as an orders to grant them the benefit of the officer more than he did. This country Habeas Corpus Act, but it had been long owed him much, but the Committee knew since granted, and the ordinance was that the whole of his evidence on the almost an exact transcript of the act of Quebec Bill contained opinions wholly foCharles 2. It might possibly be con- reign to the spirit, and uncongenial with tended, that the Habeas Corpus Act so the nature of the English constitution. granted, might be repealed at his Majesty's Lord Dorchester, therefore, was the last discretion. It was undoubtedly true, but man living whose opinion he would wish did any man seriously suspect that there to receive upon the subject. Two years was any danger of his Majesty's ministers | ago his hon. friend had brought forward depriving the Canadians of the benefit of the question, and the right hon. gentlethe Habeas Corpus Act? As to the neces- man had the said, that he was waiting for sity of applying English laws generally to information ; two years had since elapsed; the province, he could only say, that lord and had not two years been sufficient to Dorchester had sent over to his Majesty obtain the necessary information ? What two counter-petitions from most respecto better period could occur for discussing able persons, expressly deprecating the the subject than at that moment? The extension of the English laws to Canada, petitions on the table gave them all the and praying the direct contrary from the necessary information, and they ought to object prayed for by the petitions on the proceed so as to prevent the possibility of table. As far as his opinion went, Mr. receiving more petitions. Would that Pitt said, he wished for the introduction Committee endure to be told, at a subse. of English laws as extensively as possible, quent time, that ministers were still waitbeing perfectly convinced of the value of |ing for information, and yet, from any
thing which the hon. gentleman had | answerable for the whole twenty-five years urged, they might be so told, year after that had elapsed since the province of year, for ten or twenty years to come. Quebec had been in our hands; but let He begged the Committee to consider them consider what had passed in the that it was no new subject, and that it was time previous to their coming into office, two years since it had been last agitated, and they would not surely have the confiand fourteen years since the Quebec Act dence to insinuate, that since they had had passed. Had the excuse been, that been in office, they had not had leisure the minister wanted time to attend to the sufficient to prepare for the discussion of subject, he should have thought it a the present question. A declaration of miserable plea, but miserable as it would this nature would amount to a confession, have proved, it was a better excuse than that they were not fit for the situation the pretence resorted to. They had upon which they filled. Mr. Fox contended, their table petitions from persons of weight that the House could have no better inforand distinction in Canada. Whatever mation before them than what was on the right hon. gentleman might say of their table, and maintained, that there was counter-petitions, the Committee knew not a pretence for them to say out of of none." If the right hon. gentleman was doors, that they were not competent to in possession of any, why did he not lay decide on a question, which had been for them on the table, and inus avoid putting fourteen years depending. a member of parliament to the difficulty of Mr. Pitt could not avoid acknowledging arguing upon petitions, of the contents of that the right hop. gentleman had at least which the Committee were ignorant? With taken an open part, since it was manifest, regard to the points suggested by his hon. from the whole of his speech, that he ,friend, he knew not to what circumstances rather wished to show his opposition to the of a colony they were applicable, if not to king's government, than to evince any those of Quebec; non could he conceive a sincere desire to accelerate the object of possible objection to the House's coming, the motion, or serve the cause of Canada. that session, or that day, to every one of The right hon. gentleman had accused him the resolutions that had been suggested ''with having dealt in general propositions, by his hon friend, and giving the province, and said, that ministers were holding a a permanent Habeas Corpus Act, an language not to be endured. What! was House of Assembly, independent judges, it not to be endured, that he had stated and fixed and known laws. It was, he his generál wishes towards the estabshould ever contend, the serious duty of lishment of a settled government in Canada, every governing country, to show its atten- but had assigned the reasons why he was tion to the governed, and to give to the persuaded no effectual proposition for that subjects all the advantages they enjoyed purpose could be agitated with success themselves, as far as they could do so with that session: Ought he to be ashamed propriety. If ever the parliamentary of stating that ministers sent out lord pbrase of " not being ripe for the discus. Dorchester, as soon as they could, with sion,” was ridiculous, it was truly so then, instructions to institute the necessary inwhen, after five-and-twenty years (for so quiries, and send home intelligence; that long it was, since Canada came into our ministers declared they were waiting for hands) it was to be said we were not ripe that intelligence when the subject was for the discussion of what was the sort of last agitated ; that when the returns came, government proper for the province. The they were found not to be sufficiently Quebec Bill, had by his hon. friend been complete, and that more information was termed“ a rash and fatal measure;" but necessary, which there was every reason surely not in the sense in which the right to expect, would arrive before the next hon. gentleman had used those epithets ; session commenced ? Could tlie right hon, he had made “ rash” and. “ precipitate" | gentleman say that the inhabitants of the synonimous, and bad applied them under I province were generally desirous of havthat construction to the Quebec Bill, / ing the English laws extended to them? which in that House deserved neither Would he tell that Committee that there epithet, since, whatever were its other existed a great majority for those laws faults, it had not been brought in till in the country? Mr. Pitt declared, that so eleven years after we had been in posses- far from this, the inhabitants of the prosion of the province of Canada. It was vince did not wish for the extension of true, his Majesty's ministers were not British laws to Canada ; but, on the con, trary, they deprecated any such extension, I would relish English laws. He denied and begged to have their own laws .con- that he had aimed at fixing a stigma on tinued in force, which they described as ministers, rather than seriously urging an peculiarly applicable to commercial litiga- early discussion of the question, reminding tions. Lord Dorchester was sent out to the Committee, that he had expressly ascertain these important facts. What, stated, that having the information before then, ought he to be ashamed of? With them that was upon their table, they were regard to the House of Assembly, it was competent to proceed immediaiely to a a subject of peculiar delicacy and diffi- decision of the question, and that he knew, culty. Let it be recollected, that it was that a majority of the inhabitants of the such an House of Assembly as scarcely province were for the English laws, and ever had existed ; an Assembly in which for the House of Assembly. When the Catholics were to sit equally with Protes. House had so much authentic information tants, and to enjoy the same powers. before them, ministers ought to produce Would the right hon. gentleman say, that the counter information that they talked such a matter was universally desired? If of, to enable them to decide by comparison he thought it expedient to refer to arith- which of the two was 'actually the most metic, he wished him to be a little more important. correct when he entered upon his calcula- | Mr. Marsham would do his Majesty's tions. He had ventured on the declaration ministers the justice to say, he did not that we had been in possession of Canada believe there was any idea of taking away twenty-five years, and that fourteen years the benefit of the Habeas Corpus Act from had elapsed since the passing of the the province of Canada; but as a member Quebec Act. Let him remember that, of Parliament, he must deem it his duty to since the peace, the province had changed declare, that he did not like any descripits character most essentially, and was notion of British subjects holding that as the longer the same Canada that it had been will of the crown, which they ought to before. Loyalists, Englishmen, and a possess as their own right. He wished, variety of persons had taken refuge there, therefore, a bill was immediately brought and the population was not only materially in to give the Canadians a permanent increased, but the sentiments of the inhabi- ! possession of the Habeas Corpus Act. tants, from commixture, essentially altered. This would operate as an assurance of farDid not the province of Canada, therefore, ther advantage. He reminded Mr. Pitt so changed, require a very different system of his argument on a preceding day, relaof government from Canada as it stood tive to the Slave Trade, when he had before the war? And if a fit system of himself proposed, as the House could not government had not been hit upon since conveniently discuss the subject, on ac1774, and previous to 1784, were ministers count of the lateness of the present session, much to blame, that after having sent that they should, by a resolution, pledge out lord Dorchester with instructions to themselves to take up the subject: early collect the necessary information in the in the course of the next. He therelatter end of 1786, they were not prepared fore had the sanction of the right hon. to propose a system of government for gentleman's authority for saying, that Canada, for the good effects of which they a similar step ought to be taken with were ready to hold themselves responsible, regard to the Canadians. in the month of May 1788 ? He stated Mr. Powys said, that should his present the probable loss by the trilling delay, motion unfortunately be lost, he meant to occasioned by waiting till the ensuing move that the House would early in the session, and opposed to it the certain gain, next session take the subject into their inferring that the amount of the latter so most serious consideration. The Chanfar overbalanced the former, that there cellor of the Exchequer had observed, that ought not to exist a doubt whether the when he brought the subject forward two consideration of the question should be years ago, he (Mr. Powys) was not predeserted.
pared to state whether a house of assem. · Mr. Fox answered, that the fact of the bly would be acceptable to the general province of Quebec baving become more wishes of the inhabitants of Canada or not. populous since the peace, proved that it The right hon. gentleman was mistaken; was the more necessary early to give the he had only said, that he was not prepared province a settled system of government, to state in what manner the House of and the more likely that its inhabitants | Assembly ought to be constituted. It was