Toronto Daily Leader 13th March 1854
Politics in Halton
Demonstration at Georgetown in favor of Mr. White
CALUMNIES REFUTED – LIBELLERS TO BE BROUGHT INTO COURT
Great Unanimity among Reformers – HALTON SAFE
On Thursday the 9th instant the Reformers of Esquesing and neighborhood honored their representative, Mr. White, with their attendance at a public dinner held in the Temperance Hall, Georgetown. The dinner was supplied by the liberality of George Kennedy, Esq., after whose first name Georgetown is called. The opportunity was gladly embraced by 200 sterling Reformers of that class who are the bone and sinew of the country to do honor to their representative. The Temperance Hall – the largest building in town – was so crowded that it was found necessary to reject all who had not tickets; and many would gladly have purchased admission at any price. Among the prominent Reformers present we noticed – Jas. W. Barber, James Hume, Sen., John Freeman, Alex McNaughton, Allen McPherson, F.W. Watkins, Jas. Menzes, Caleb Griffin, Malcolm McFarlane, Thos. Donaldson, Charles Williams, David Williams, Geo. Dayfoot, Nevins Jones, John Hunter, J. McNaughton, James Hume, jun., Laughlin McDonald, Alex Grant, Angus Kennedy, Charles Hill, Robert Hill, Robert Atkinson, John McKinnon, Elijah Levens, John Dolson, John Quinlin, Sam. Fenton, Ephraim Moore, Jas. Robinson, James Freeman, Geo. C. Kennedy, Michael Laughlin, John Foreman, John Wilson, H. Grass, J. Van Vlack, Emery Kennedy, George Van Holland, David Williams, Mr. Dunbar, Joseph Barber, James Viace, Elijah Williams, Samuel Clarke, Wm. G. Lyons, Samuel Morse, Wm. Colville, John Jarvis, David Jarvis, John McClain, David Duff, Caleb Griffin, Malcolm McFarlane, Robert Reid, Wm. Beaty, jun., Thomas Donaldson.
Philo Dayfoot, Esq., occupied the chair.
The toasts were drank in pure water, the place in which the dinner was held forbidding the use of champagne, sherry, and kindred beverages. The materiel at the dinner was everything that could be desired.
It required some determination to induce persons to attend a public dinner, in the state of weather that prevailed during the afternoon. For two or three hours before the time of meeting sleet had been constantly falling; rendering traveling a very uncomfortable business.
The Georgetown Brass Band was in attendance and during the evening discoursed very pleasant music.
The dinner over and the cloth having been withdrawn.
The CHAIRMAN said he felt the honor of the position he filled; and he wished he had abilities to do it justice: but as this was the first time he had presided at such a meeting, he hoped all shortcomings would be overlooked.
Letters of apology were read from Mr. Freeman, of Hamilton, and Mr. Donlevy, of Toronto, excusing their non-attendance.
The CHAIRMAN then gave:
“The Queen.” Band – “God save the Queen.”
“Our present Governor-General.” Band – “Rob Roy.”
The CHAIRMAN said, the toast he was about to propose – Our Guest – was one he was sure would be received with general approbation. The numbers met to do him honor proved that he still had the undiminished confidence of his constituents, and he regarded it as an earnest that they would give a decided proof of their continued confidence at the next general election. Mr. White had raised himself from the condition of a poor boy to that of a wealthy individual, and to the highest position in the gift of the people of the United Counties of Halton and Wentworth. That position was, however, not altogether an enviable one; seeing that it subjected him to the attacks of unprincipled and disappointed politicians. He had been requested by several gentlemen present to ask Mr. White to reply to an accusation that had been made against him in one of the public prints; an accusation which, he had no doubt, would be successfully met – it was that touching the sale of the Port Dover Harbor. He (the Chairman) had often been asked if he would vote for a Tory candidate who should pledge himself to the secularization of the Reserves and the abolition of the Rectories. No; he would not permit a Tory to ride into Parliament on one of the planks of our platform. He concluded by giving:
“Our Guest” – which was received with great enthusiasm Band – “Rory O’Moore.”
Mr. White expressed the satisfaction that he felt in meeting here so many of the Reformers of Halton. He had an unpleasant duty to perform in having to meet the attacks that had been made upon him in one of the public prints, especially that damning charge in regard to the Port Dover Harbor. If the statement were true, it would show him to be a man not worthy of confidence. If he were guilty of the act, he would not ask the people of Halton to continue their confidence in him. In that case he would not dare to meet his constituents. The facts regarding his connection with that property were these: He bought the Harbor from Government in 1849, under the statue for the sale of such works, and he sold it again, as he had a right to sell any property honestly acquired, to the Woodstock and Lake Erie Railroad Company. It was out of this sale that the Globe manufactured a charge of corruption against him, of having sold his vote and betrayed the confidence reposed in him by the electors of Halton. The first accusation appeared in the Globe of the 23rd February last, in reply to an article in his (Mr. W’s) favor in the North American, and it was subsequently repeated in a fuller and more specific form. The first charge ran thus:
“And moreover the American can bring Mr. Street and Mr. Farmer under the screws of the Court of Chancery, we apprehend that he may hear something of the same sale of the Port Dover harbor, quite as damaging to his friend, Mr. White, as the bill to seize shipping. The less said on that subject the better.”
This insinuations was followed up by a distinct charge of corruption; appearing in the Globe of the 1st March, in the shape of a report of a meeting held by him (Mr. W.) at Acton – which report in almost every other respect was a misrepresentation of what took place (a statement we have heard corroborated by several other persons who were present). He would premise that Mr.Gordon Brown was present at the Acton meeting, and that before it took place he (Mr. B.) employed himself in assuring the people whom he met that he (Mr. White) was not a good Protestant (Laughter). If Protestantism meant liberality, he claimed to be a better Protestant than Mr. Brown. At the Acton meeting Mr. Gordon Brown asked several questions, and made several charges against him (Mr. W.) which were untrue; and he would read the accusation that he had sold his vote for money from the Globe’s report of that meeting. The charge of corruption was in these distinct and pointed terms.
“Mr. White then went on to say, that allusion had been made to his conduct in the matter of the Port Dover Harbor, and desired now that Mr. Gordon Brown should state specifically the charge made against him. He would sit down and wait a reply. Mr. Brown rose immediately and stated the M. John White had bought, in connection with Mr. Cotton, the Port Dover Harbor from theGovernment. The Woodstock and Lake Erie Railway Company desired a charter from Parliament to run their road near Port Dover, but there was a keen opposition from many parties against it, and it was almost certain that their demand would be refused. Under these circumstances, Mr.John White went to the promoters of the railway and showed them a list of nine members, who would vote with him upon the charter, and offered, if they would buy his interest in the harbor, to secure the votes and pass the bill. They asked Mr. White what he would take for his share. He mentioned the sum of pounds 1250 advance on the price he had paid the Government as he (Mr. Brown) thought, but was not certain as to the exact amount, and the parties then communicated with Mr. Cotton, to ascertain what he considered the value of his interest. Mr. Cotton mentioned pounds 2,500 as his price and Mr. White immediately said that he would not take less than his partner. The bargain was then struck, a bond was drawn up and placed in the hand of a third party Mr. Street, member for Welland, by which Mr. White and Mr. Cotton were to receive pounds 5,000 after the passage of the charter and not before. The Act passed the House, Mr.White received the money, and in so doing, sold the trust committed to him by the people of Halton. Mr. White probably thought that he had concealed the affair so successfully, that no distinct charge could be made, and appeared non-plussed at its fullness. He hesitated and then said that it was true that he had sold the harbor to the Railway Company, that a bond had been drawn up and lodged in the hands of a third party, but all the rest was untrue. He had sold the harbor before the charter of the Company had passed. – He asked if there was anything wrong in his disposing of his property, and proceeded to blame Mr. Brown for bringing his private affairs before the public. Mr. Brown said that if this Port Dover Harbor job had been a private matter, he would never have mentioned it, but it was not. Mr. White had sold his vote for money, and that was a public matter, which interested every person present and every elector of Halton. In fact, Mr. John White was fairly caught and did not know what to say. The facts of his infamous job are well known to very many persons all over the country, and he did not dare give them more than a general denial.”
On receiving the Globe of the 23rd February, containing the insinuation of improper conduct on his part, which preceded the accusation of actual corruption, he at once wrote to the gentlemen who were pointed to as able to become witnesses in the case – witnesses on behalf of the accuser and against the accused – Mr. Street and Mr. Farmer on the subject; and he had received from them replies which he would read to the meeting. Mr. Street is a member of Parliament for the County of Welland, opposed to him (Mr. W.) in politics; but he believed a man of strict personal integrity. Mr. Farmer is a son-in-law of the Hon. Mr. De Blacquiere, also a political opponent, and a man of strict integrity. Mr. White then read the following letters:
Palermo, 24th February, 1854
Mr dear Sir, – I take from the Globe newspaper of yesterday the following extract:
“And, moreover, if the American can bring Mr. Street and Mr. Farmer under the screws of the Court of Chancery, we apprehend he may hear something of the same sale of the Port Dover Harbor, quite as damaging to his friend, Mr. White, as the bill to seize shipping.”
You will oblige me, if you know anything connected with the sale of the Port Dover Harbor to Mr. Farmer that you believe to be “damaging” to me, to state it, or on the contrary. Your replyby return of mail will oblige.
Niagara Falls, Chippawa , March 2nd, 1854
John White, Esq., Palermo;
Dear Sir, – My absence from home has prevented an earlier reply to your favor of the 24th ultimo requesting me to state if there were anything in your sale of the Port Dover Harbor to Mr. Farmer which I believed to be “damaging” to you.
I am not acquainted with the precise nature of the negotiations between you and Mr. Farmer. I was requested to act as a friend of both, and to hold for your reference certain papers and writings the result of your negotiations; and so far as I am aware, there was nothing in the bargain or the mode of dealing with Mr. Farmer which I should consider at all damaging to you.
THOMAS C. STREET
Palermo, 24th February, 1854
To, A.A. Farmer, Esq, Woodstock;
My dear Sir,- In the Globe of yesterday I find the following; and my object in writing you is to know if you are prepared to justify the insinuation which it is intended to convey. I copy the paragraph:
“And, moreover the American can bring Mr. Street and Mr. Farmer under the screws of the Court of Chancery, we apprehend he may hear something of the same sale of the Port Dover Harbor, quite as damaging to his friend, Mr. White, as the bill to seize shipping.”
I shall feel obliged if you will send me the date of the agreement for the sale of the Harbour which took place at Quebec.
Woodstock & Lake Erie Railway and Harbor Company – Woodstock, March 8th, 1854
To John White, Esq.,
My dear Sir,- Your letter was a long time on the road; owing to that and to my absence from home you will have had to wait some time for my answer. My agreement with you for the purchase of the Port Dover Harbor was dated the 13th day of May.
I see by a report in the Globe newspaper that at a meeting held in your County, you were assailed by Mr. Gordon Brown with a most extraordinary version of the sale of the Port Dover Harbor. The only fact of the Globe’s that was true was the price paid.
It was not true that the company had no charter – they had a charter to run to Port Dover, and they were seeking an extension eastwards. So far from you or your friends opposing it, you were strongly in favor of it.
It was true that the purchase money was not to be paid for three months, but that is the usual time given railway companies to complete their purchases of real estate.
Any further statements you may require I shall be most happy to furnish, as I consider the attack upon you to be a most unfair one.
Yours very faithfully,
ARTHUR A. FARMER
Such was the evidence of the witnesses referred to by the Globe as capable of proving the transaction to be dishonorable to him (Mr. W.) These witnesses declare that they consider the transaction to be strictly correct. Whether this be satisfactory it was not for him to say: the meeting must be the judge on that point. He should not deprive Mr. Brown of an opportunity of proving his charges. He felt it due not to himself only but also to the party with which he had had the honor to be connected ever since he knew right from wrong to bring the matter before the tribunals. The charge was of a nature that no man was required to sit under without bringing his accusers to account. He had already given instructions to his solicitor to commence proceedings for libel against the Globe; and he should not stay these proceedings till the case had been fully cleared up; and the accusations sifted to the bottom. A jury of their countrymen would show whether he or Mr. Brown was right. At the Acton meeting Mr. Gordon Brown of the Globe made it a charge against him (Mr. W.) that he had voted for the supplementary school Bill of Upper Canada, when he turned up the journal and disproved the statement on the spot; but this fact did not find its way into the grossly inaccurate report of that meeting given by his accuser. He (Mr. W.) was in favor of general education, free from sectarianism. The next accusation was that he had voted for Mr. Drummond’s charitable and education bill. It was true that he had voted for that bill; and he was still in favor of the principle it contained: the principle of regulating such matters by general laws, which place all upon an equal footing and shut out the possibility of favoritism, which would be sought by parties asking special acts of incorporation for such purposes. He did not however agree with all the details of that bill: but these might have been remedied by amendments. It had been stated that this bill permitted the corporations that might be formed under it to hold property to the value of $5,000 a year; but the truth was that no amount was stated in the bill at all. A blank was left for the amount to be put in committee of thewhole, had the measure been carried to that stage. He pleaded guilty to the charge that he had supported the government in carrying many good measures. He had supported the County Courts Amendment bill, by which the jurisdiction of these tribunals, which were emphatically the poorman’s court, was much enlarged. Equitable powers were also conferred upon them in numerous ases. He had also supported the currency bill, the assessment bill, the customs reduction bill, and several other valuable measures. Mr. White here enumerated the reductions made by the customs’ amendment bill, and referred to the excise duties surrendered to the municipalities. The representation bill was among the government measures which had his support. Representation according to population he considered the best principle; but it was well known that under the Union Act it was impossible to give Upper Canada a greater representation than Lower Canada. Under the circumstances the bill was the best that could have been obtained; and it was a great improvement on any of the numerous bills proposed in the late parliament. It had been laid to hischarge that he had supported the establishment of an Agricultural Bureau, which had been denounced as a humbug, and declared unfit to serve any other purpose than the increase of the public expenditure. He believed that the interests of the farmer – the great interest of the county -would be subserved by this measure; and as to the additional expense which it was said it would create, the only addition to the number of persons employed was one or two messengers. Another charge was that he had supported the Grand Trunk Railway bill. This was held by some to be a great grievance. He however felt convinced that if the bill was fairly carried out it would be a great advantage to the country. The people of this neighborhood saw something of its effects in what was going on at Georgetown. The provincial guarantee was a perfectly safe investment; for while the Province had an interest in the work to the extent of pounds 3,000 sterling a mile, it had ample security in the shape of a first lien on the road. He had also voted for the address to the imperial government in favor of elective legislative council; another government measure. It was one of the greatest importance; but it had its opponents, and among them Mr.Brown, who argued against the elective principle as applicable to that House. On this, as on many other questions, Mr. Brown was not and never had been with the reformers. The old Council had proved utterly useless; and some change must take place. He believed that as a result of the action taken by the House, the subject was now engaging the attention of the Imperial Government. He had also voted for the extension of political power, as effected by the elective franchise bill. This was a measure of first importance; but even it did not escape the opposition of a professed reformer. Mr. White then contrasted the state of the country at present with its condition in 1846; calling attention to the fact that, a couple of years after that period government had found itself in so great a financial strait as to be obliged to issue ship plasters to pay the school teachers of Upper Canada. Now the public treasury was well supplied: and the country enjoyed a high state of prosperity. Last year the customs and public works revenue was greater by pounds 276,696 14s than in 1852. He was one of those who had always held that the proper way to approach the Clergy Reserves question was by address to the Imperial Government. And even Mr. Brown, his present assailant, had himself a short time ago advocated the same course. In confirmation of this statement, Mr. White read from Mr. Brown’s address to the electors of Haldimand, April 7, 1851, as follows:
“Mr. McKenzie knows well that the Canadian Legislature had no power to alienate the Clergy Reserves from their present use; he knows that the Provincial Government referred the question for settlement to the Imperial Government – that the Imperial Parliament thereupon passed an Act for the settlement – and that until that Act was abrogated by the Imperial Parliament, the Provincial Legislature could not act on the question. True, our Parliament might have passed a Bill – in spite of the Imperial Parliament, as Mr. McKenzie says – and carried it out whether they liked it or not. But this would have bought us into direct collision with the Home Government, and would have probably ended in just such another explosion as that of 1837. Mr. McKenzie professes that he is an altered man – that he now “desires not change through violence” – but his avowed views of action towards the Home Government in this matter, show that he is the same hot-headed violent person he ever was.”
The plan of proceeding by Address had vindicated itself – it had been successful. The Province now possesses entire control over the reserves. That was the position to which the successful address had brought the matter. On the whole, the country had made more real progress in useful and liberal legislation last session than during any five previous sessions, (et voce “ten”) well, there might be a difference of opinion on that point, but he felt safe in saying five. As to the resolution of the Government to postpone final legislation on the subject, till after the general election, no one regretted that determination more than he did. Nor had he supported the Government on all questions. He had opposed them whenever he conceived their policy to be wrong. He opposed their announced retaliatory policy, on which Mr. Young resigned. He also opposed the supplementary school bill; and contended for the ballot in opposition to the Government. He was asked at the Acton meeting whether he would vote a want of confidence in the Government if they refused to carry a measure of secularization next session. He had answered that he would take the course for securing the most speedy secularization which the party with whom he acted might deem best when the time came. This was the answer he gave; but it had been suppressed in the report of that meeting to which he had before referred. A personal reference had been made to himself. It had been remarked that he came here a poor boy. It was true that he had not much wealth at that time; nor had he a great deal yet; but he had had the honor to be a co-laborer in the cause of reform for years with the liberals of this country, many of whom were present. What changes had taken place since then in the political condition of the country! He had worked side by side with the reformers of the country at a time when to be a liberal was to incur the imputation of being a rebel. If we went but fifteen years, in the political history of Canada we found that the country did not then enjoy the advantages of local self-government. It was since then that the principle had been conceded; and it was the only one on which this great and rising country could be successfully governed. (Cheers) Many of those present recollected the opposition that principle encountered; but now the force of opinion wascompelling even these parties to affect the acceptance of liberal views. The secularization of the Reserves and the abolition of the Rectories were imperatively required. Many Conservatives were now found professing a desire for secularization; but they did so only because the force of opinion was so strong they had no hope on any other grounds. But their profession came too late to be entitled to that respect for sincerity which is due to honest conviction. He then thanked theaudience for the patient hearing they had given him, and sat down, amidst the applause of the assembly.
“The Agriculturists of Halton”
JOSEPH CLARKE, Esq. responded. Never but once before had he occupied so proud a position among his brother farmers; and that was when he sat near the Governor General at the Agricultural dinner at Hamilton. He was glad that the toast to which he was called to speak had nothing to do with politics. (Laughter) He then related the rise and progress of Esquesing:describing its wilderness condition 30 years ago; and contrasting it with its present state of advancement and prosperity. The Globe had given the most garbled and untrue reports of the Acton meeting that he had ever seen. It had made him (Mr. C.) say that he had cleared 800 acres of land; which was an entirely incorrect representation. In other respects the report in question was equally false. He had known Mr. White, the representative whom they this night met to honor, ever since he first came here when a boy. He had seen him for years assisting to fight the battles of reform. During all that time Mr. White’s conduct had been such as to gain him the confidence of the Reformers of the county; and with his whole political life before them, if they could not put confidences in Mr. White they could not have confidence in any body. He then related numerous instances of Mr. White’s great exertions in the cause of Reform. He believed that Mr. White was the man that Halton ought to support at this time: (cheers) and he thought he saw in the enthusiasm of this meeting an unerring indication that their present representative would be triumphantly returned at the next general election. (Applause) – He appealed toReformers not to allow the exertions of designing and factious individuals to divide them, at a period when the necessity of union was so great. (Cheers)
The VICE PRESIDENT then proposed:
“Our Manufacturing Interests: to foster these is not to injur but to help the farmer.”
Mr. BARBER, the enterprising woolen manufacturer of Georgetown, was called on to reply; but he had left the room, from a dislike, as we afterwards learned, to make any attempt to speak in public. Mr. Quinlin was then called upon and made some very witty and happy remarks, including taking the duty and advantages of study and attention of their business on the part of young mechanics and manufacturers; citing the cases of Paxton, Dargan and others to show that it was the only road to true greatness and distinction open to such persons.
The VICE CHAIRMAN then proposed:
“The Merchants of Halton.”
JAS. YOUNG, Esq., of Georgetown, responded. Merchants, he said, were regarded by some as a useless class; but this was an erroneous idea. If there were no merchants, the farmer would have to export his own produce; and this would entail upon him great trouble and expense. He announced that another arrival from Europe brought to him and the farmers welcome intelligence of an advance in the price of breadstuffs.
“The Grand Trunk Railway: may we not be disappointed in the benefits many expect to obtain from it.”
Band – “The Railroad Galop.”
MR. BEATTY, of Toronto, was then called upon, but did not come forward.
“Civil and Religious Equality: the absolute secularization of the Clergy Reserves by the Bill at the next Session of Parliament, with a suspending clause that it take effect after it has been ratified bya popular vote; also the abolition of the Rectories.”
The VICE-CHAIRMAN, after some retrospective remarks, said, this was the question on which the Reform party seemed in danger of being split to pieces. Some Reformers supported theGovernment policy of delaying legislations till after the next election; while others opposed it. He thought Parliament should have been dissolved after the passing of the Representation Act. A Bill with a suspending clause would permit the country to see the character of the measure intended to be carried, and show the electors what they had to contend for.
MR. MCDOUGALL, of Toronto, after some introductory remarks, which want of space compels us to omit, said that if the plan of secularization proposed in the toast were carried out the difficulty would be met, and the country satisfied. Let the Ministry pass, if they can, the Bill which they tell us they mean to introduce, and let there be a clause or proviso that at the next general election every voter, as he comes to the poll shall be asked to say Yes or No, to the question, “Do you approve of this Bill?” If a majority say Yes, let it be forthwith proclaimed a law. (Cheers) There could be no fairer plan than this, and none that would so fully and so unquestionably ascertain the opinion of the majority. He would not then repeat the objections he had elsewhere urged against the policy of the present Government. He believed some of its members were not quite satisfied that it was the best either for the question or for their own popularity. Here was a course which would enable them to prove to the country that their constitutional difficulties were not a pretext, a sham. It might be said that this was a new way to pass a law, that it is not according to British practice. The objection did not lie in the mouth of those who cavilled at the present House, and professed so much anxiety for a full and unmistakable expression of public opinion. No other mode would so speedily and so infallibly demonstrate that opinion. The friends of Secularization are quite willing to make the appeal and to abide by it. But the plan was not new. We had already recognized its constitutionality and fairness. We had adopted the principle in the municipal laws under which money may be granted for Railroads and other public improvements, in the Excise law of last Session, and in other cases. The practice, whether British or not, was a good practice and was already engrafted upon our institutions. There was one other point he would take that opportunity to present for their consideration. What is meant by Secularization, and what is our security that we shall not be cheated in the end? (Hear, hear.) He feared that many Reformers were under a delusion on this subject. Their enemies had adopted new tactics; they had, as the Chairman remarked, stolen a plank from our platform. He believed their respected member Mr. White, was to be opposed by a gentleman of the new school, one of the Globe’s Tory combinationists, and from this party we are told we shall obtain the Secularization of the Clergy Reserves. But what will follow? Give these gentlemen the opportunity and as soon as they have secularized the Reserves, that is, placed the fund in the general Revenue, they will introduce a measure to endow out of the revenue, all the Sectarian Colleges and Literary Institutions in the country. (Hear, hear, and “that’s the dodge.”) He would ask, what was the difference in principle between the endowment of sectarianism through synods and conferences, and through denominational colleges? (Cries of “none.”) It has been said that many Reformers, and even some members of the present Ministry, are not disinclined to vote the public money for the support of sectarian colleges and schools in which, of course, the dogmas and theological view of each would be taught. He hoped that a different policy would be adopted, but Reformers must not allow themselves to be cajoled or humbugged with a mere word – to be satisfied with a cry while they lose the thing itself. Mr. McD. then alluded to the Rectories, and declared that the Government or Counsel entrusted with the case, had been guilty of a great dereliction of duty. We had been told of the great improvement in the Court of Chancery, especially, at the despatch which now characterized its proceedings. But this question had been some two years before the Court, and he could not learn that any hearing had yet been had. As to the mode of proceeding, he had no hesitation in saying that the legal tribunals of the country afforded the proper, constitutional means to deal with the Rectories as they now stand. He had examined the question with some care, and had no doubt that the patents were granted without sufficient authority and were void. The best legal opinions in England as well as in this country have pronounced them void. It was a pure question of law and he was opposed to the dangerous expedient of deciding questions of law in the first instance, by an arbitrary vote of the Legislature. If the Court were not honest and impartial, that was a reason why they should be swept away: not a reason why we should go behind them, and determine the rights of litigants by Act of Parliament. As the gentleman called upon to respond to the toast on the Grand Trunk Railway had thought proper to remain silent, he would make one remark. Mr. White had told them truly that if the plan pointed out in the Bill- If the conditions imposed upon the Company, and the securities and safeguards provided in the Act, were strictly carried out, the Railway would prove a great boon to the country. But if these were recklessly …aside: if the Government neglected to execute those trusts which Parliament had imposed upon it for our protection; then we should find ourselves loaded with an enormous debt, which the Railway would never pay. Mr.White had spoken of Ecclesiastical Corporations, and the charges brought against him in connection with Mr. Drummonds Incorporation Bill of last Session. There was … fact of which he was personally cognizant that felt it due to Mr. White to mention on this occasion. While Mr. Drummond’s Bill was under discussion he was at Quebec and had some conversation with Messrs. White, Christie and others, in regard to it. He contended then, as he contended now, that Mr. Drummond’s measure was not an Ecclesiastical Corporation – Bill at all. If Blackstone … any authority on such a subject, the corporation authorized by the Bill were lay, and not Ecclesiastical. A College for secular education, although the teachers might all be clergymen, was not thereby an Ecclesiastical Corporation: nor was a hospital, nor the trustees of a burving ground, nor any of the corporations authorized by Mr. Drummond’s Bill. They were all lay, because their objects were secular. But to make the matter plain, he (Mr. McD.) drew up an amendment which provides that a “no Ecclesiastical corporation should be authorized or established under or by virtue of this Act.” This was approved of by Mr. White, and he agreed to move it in Committee and would have been supported by many if not a majority of the members from Upper Canada. Mr. McD. then defended the principle of general laws for all private undertakings to which they could be applied. They were necessary to secure equal rights to all, and would save an immense expenditure. Half the time of the Legislature was occupied with private business which ought never to come before it. He said Mr. Brown, the assailant of Mr. White, was the only man whohad introduced a General Incorporation Bill for all Ecclesiastical bodies, and read from the Journals (handed to him by Mr. White) the notice of Mr. Brown’s Bill. It was introduced and read a first time. After warning the people not to be lead astray by the claptrap promises and malicious falsehoods of those who only sought for an opportunity to sell them, he sat down amidst applause.
“The Press: if honest and independent, it is the guardian of our liberties.”
Mr. Smith, of Guelph, replied on behalf of the Press. He reviewed the position of the Press and the reform party. What had passed at this dinner had sufficiently shown the power of the press. The reference so frequently made to one individual was due to his connection with the press. Without that connection he would speedily sink to the position of being in a minority of one in the House, and not unfrequently to about a similar position in the country. Such accusations as had been referred to to-night showed that if the Press was independent it was not always honest. For his (Mr. S) part, he held many of the principles which the journalist in question professed to advocate, but in reality tried to defeat. If all the members of Parliament were to act upon the principle of opposing every measure which they considered as falling short of absolute perfection: if the representative of Halton, who desired representation based upon population, had joined others in opposing the representation bill because it was not absolutely perfect, we should have obtained no amelioration of our defective representative system. To demand absolute perfection was to reject all progress. So it was with a ministry. If reformers insisted on absolute perfection in a ministry, the result would be that we should have no government at all on reform principles. In the present state of the liberal party great discretion on the part of the press and great prudence on the part of the people were required; not a discretion and a prudence to be exercised at the expense of principle and honesty. There was much cause to bear and forbear. After touching on several other topics. Mr. Smith concluded by returning thanks on behalf of the Press.
SAMUEL CLARKE, Esq, volunteered,
“The Reformers of Lower Canada” –
which was received with great enthusiasm.
JOHN MCNAB, Esq, of Toronto, being called on to reply, said that passing down the room, he heard some one remark that he wondered how the Reformers of Lower Canada would like it if they knew that their health was being drank in cold water. The truth was there’s no beverage which the Lower Canadians would prefer their health drunk to than cold water. The Lower Canada Reformers would always be found ready to do their duty. The past clearly proved this. But good and true Reformers as they were, he did not believe that they would agree with the proposal to which the meeting had given its assent regarding a Reserves Bill with a suspending clause. Such a course as that proposed would, he believed be entirely without precedent, either in Great Britain or any of her possessions. Submission of questions to the people for a special vote thereon was un British. The practice, under British institutions, is to vest the representative with certain power and to hold him responsible for his acts. If all important questions had to be submitted to the people for a special vote before they could become law, the wheels of legislation would cease; or the country would be thrown into a perpetual turmoil of politics; for ever distracted with a requisition to attend the polls to vote on this or that question. It may be said that this would not be necessary; that you propose to confine your new principle to this particular case; but if you once admit the introduction of that principle; if you once sanction its application,what guarantee have you that special appeals and popular submissions in legislation will not become epidemic. Such a plan would be tantamount to a declaration that the office of the representative is next to useless; and the whole duty of the legislature would come to consist in the preparation of measures to be submitted to the people. To perform this duty it would not be necessary to have many persons: a number equal to that of ministry would be sufficient; or even it might come to be devolved upon one man. A great deal of the time had been spent in refuting the misstatements in a report of a previous meeting in the county; but he felt from the unanimity displayed to night that there would be no complaints of misrepresentation. People living at a distance might be apt to suppose that this was an outlandish sort of place; but Esquesing was one of the most advanced townships in the Province. For instance, it contained ten Post Offices which was more than any other township east or west contains: and it was in part supplied by other offices immediately on its border. The people read as many newspapers as those of any other township: they were consequently well posted up on all the questions of the day; and could not easily be misled by the misrepresentation of any party.
Mr. BEATY, of Toronto, said as a remark had been made that if the Clergy Reserves were secularized, there would still be danger that the good work might be undone, he would like to hear the opinion of the legal gentlemen who had spoken as to the course to be pursued to prevent such a calamity.
Mr. MCDOUGALL said he saw no other way to prevent it, than for the reformers, at all times, to maintain a majority, as at present.
The thanks of the meeting having been given to the chairman, the company separated about eleven o’clock.