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Enclosure No. 2. in Lord Aberdeen's Dis
patch to Lord Amherst, dated 2d April. No. II. Commons Paper, 113, 1836, p. 36.
A Minute shewing in what manner the Recommendations of
the Canada Committee of 1828 have been carried into execution by His Majesty's Government.
In the following pages, Lord Aberdeen will attempt to shew that there was sufficient reason to anticipate the entire conciliation of Lower Canada from the accomplishment of the Resolutions of the Canada Committee, and that to the utmost of the power of the Crown, those Resolutions were, in fact, carried into execution.
The appointment of the Canada Committee of 1828, was, on every account, an important proceeding. The redress of grievances had been demanded, not by an isolated party, but by both of those great bodies which divide between them the wealth and political authority of the Province. With views essentially dissimilar, or rather hostile, they had concurred in an appeal to the Metropolitan Government.
By each body of Petitioners were deputed agents authorised to interpret their wishes, and to enforce their claims. The Committee itself was certainly not composed of gentlemen unfavourable to the views of the great numerical majority of the House of Assembly. They pro
secuted the enquiry with great diligence and zeal. They examined the agents of both parties, and every other person capable of throwing light on the subject referred to them. None of the questions brought under their notice, either by the Petitioners or by the witnesses, was unexplored ; and, in the result, a report was made, in which with an explanation of every known or supposed grievance, were combined suggestions for the guidance of the Executive Government in applying the appropriate remedies.
The House of Assembly in Lower Canada in their answer to the address with which the Administrator of the Government opened the session of the Provincial Parlia- . ment in the winter of 1828, characterised this Report in terms which may be transcribed as expressing, on the highest local authority, the claims of that document to respect, as affording a guide at once to the Canadian Assembly, and to the Ministers of the Crown, of the rights to be asserted by the one, and conceded by the other. “ The charges and well founded complaints (observed the “ House) of the Canadians before that august Senate were “ referred to a Committee of the House of Commons, in“dicated by the colonial minister, that Committee exhibiting “ a striking combination of talent and patriotism, uniting a
general knowledge of public and constitutional law to a “ particular acquaintance with the state of both the Ca. “ nadas, formally applauded almost all the reforms which “ the Canadian people and their representatives demanded “ and still demand. After a solemn investigation, after “ deep and prolonged deliberation, the Committee made a “ Report, an imperishable monument of their justice and
profound wisdom, an authentic testimonial of the reality “ of our grievances, and of the justice of our complaints, “ faithfully interpreting our wishes and our wants. Through “ this Report, so honourable to its authors, his Majesty's “ Government has become better than ever acquainted “ with the true situation of this Province, and can better “ than ever, remedy existing grievances and obviate diffi“ culties for the future.” Language more comprehensive or emphatic, could not have been found, in which to record the acceptance by the House of Assembly, of the Report of 1828, as the basis on which they were content to proceed for the adjustment of all differences. The questions in debate became thenceforth, by the common consent of both parties, reducible to the simple enquiry whether the British Government had, to the fullest extent of their lawful authority, faithfully carried the recommendations of the Committee of 1828 into execution.
On a review of all the subsequent correspondence, Lord Aberdeen finds himself entitled to state that, in conformity with the express injunctions, and the paternal wishes of the King, his Majesty's confidential advisers have carried into complete effect every suggestion offered for their guidance by the Committee of the House of Commons.
It is necessary to verify this statement by a careful and minute comparison between the advice received, and the measures adopted. To avoid the possibility of error, the successive recommendations of the Committee of 1828 shall be transcribed at length, with no other deviation than that of changing the order in which the topics are successively arranged in their Report, an order dictated by considerations of an accidental and temporary nature, but otherwise inconvenient, as postponing many of the weightier topics to some of comparatively light importance.
First, then, the Report of 1828, contains the following advice of the Canada Committee on the subject of finance
“ Although from the opinion given by the Law Officers “ of the Crown, your Committee must conclude that the
legal right of appropriating the revenues arising from the " act of 1774 is vested in the Crown, they are prepared to
say that the real interests of the Provinces would be “ best promoted by placing the receipt and expenditure of “ the whole public revenue under the superintendence and
control of the House of Assembly.” “If the officers “ above enumerated are placed on the footing recom
“mended,” (that is, in a state of pecuniary independence on the Assembly) “your Committee are of opinion that “ all the revenues of the Province, except the territorial " and hereditary revenues, should be placed under the con“ trol and direction of the Legislative Assembly.”
The strict legal right of the Crown to appropriate the proceeds of the statute 14 G. 3. c. 88., being thus directly maintained, the renunciation of that right was recommended, on condition that “the Governor, the members, “ of the Executive Council and the Judges should be made “ independent of the annual votes of the House of As“sembly for their respective salaries.” What then has been the result? His Majesty has renounced these his acknowledged legal rights, but has not stipulated for the performance, on the part of the Assembly, of the condition thus imposed upon them, and, to the present moment, that condition remains unfulfilled. By the British statute 1 & 2 W. 4. c. 73., which was introduced into Parliament by his Majesty's then confidential advisers, the appropriation of the revenues of the 14th G. 3. is transferred to the Assembly absolutely, and without either that qualification which the Committee proposed, or any other. Here, then, it cannot be denied that their advice has been followed, not only with implicit deference, but in a spirit of concession which they did not contemplate.
Secondly. On the subject of the Representation of the people in Lower Canada, the opinion of the Committee was expressed in the following terms:-“ Your Committee “ are now desirous of adverting to the representative
system of Lower Canada, with respect to which, all
parties seem to agree that some change should take “ place.” After detailing the various causes which had led to an inequality in the number of the members of the Assembly in favour of the French inhabitants of the Seigniories, and therefore to the prejudice of the inhabitants of English origin in the townships, the Committee passed from the subject with the following general remark. . “ In providing a 'representative system for the « inhabitants of a country which is gradually compre
herding within its limits newly peopled and extensive “ districts, great imperfections must necessarily arise from
proceeding in the first instance on the basis of popu“ lation only. In Upper Canada, a representative system “ has been founded on the compound basis of territory and “
population. This principle, we think, might be advantageously adopted in Lower Canada.”
It was with the entire concurrence of his Majesty's Government, that the legislature of Lower Canada assumed to themselves the duty of giving effect to this part of the advice of the Committee. That Report had laid down the general principle that, with one exception, “all changes, '“ if possible, be carried into effect by the local Legislature “ themselves;" and to that principle the Ministers of the Crown adhered, even in a case where the dominant majority of the Assembly had an interest directly opposed to that of the great body of English inhabitants, for whose special relief the new Representation Bill was to be enacted. Such a Bill was accordingly passed, and was reserved for the signification of his Majesty's pleasure. It actually received the Royal Assent, and is, at this day, the law of the Province.
In this case, also, the concessions made to the Canadian inhabitants of French origin, were far greater than the authors of the Report of 1828 could have had in contemplation. The Upper Canadian principle of combining territory and population, as the basis of elective franchise, was not adopted in Lower Canada: the Assembly substituted for it a new division of the country, of which the effect has been to increase rather than to diminish the disproportion between the number of members returned by the English and those representing the French Canadian interest. This result of the Bill was distinctly foreseen by the official advisers of the Crown, and it became the subject of grave deliberation whether his Majesty