Resolutions of the Berthier Meeting
The following was resolutions appeared in La Minerve on June 22, 1837 and were reproduced in the book Assemblées publiques, résolutions et déclarations de 1837-1838, texts collected and presented by Jean-Paul Bertrand, Montréal, VLB Éditeur et l'Union des écrivains québécois, 1988, 304 p. ISBN 2-89005-313-X. Translated by Meir Avidor in July 2007.
On the motion of Alexis Mousseau, Esq., MPP, seconded by M. Joseph Beaupré of La Valtrie.
Resolved, 1: That the general meeting of this county was convoked in order to demonstrate our solemn and universal protest against the unconstitutional and tyrannical measures recently carried against us by the ministers of the Crown before the Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland, where they were supported by large Whig and Tory majorities, who we see tightly leagued in an unnatural alliance for the destruction of the sure and consecrated colonial rights consecrated by the letter of the declaratory statute of the 18th year of George III. That these measures, if they are persisted in and if the people were to submit to them in a servile manner, would ruin and reduce to a shameful slavery first this colony, but would soon after extend their destructive ravages to all the other British colonies if at any time or in any circumstances their representatives were to dare have recourse to the legitimate power that up till now had been recognized to be theirs, to maintain the granting of subsidies and to assure the reform of recognized and flagrant abuses.
On the motion of Norbert Eno, Esq., MPP, seconded by D.M. Armstrong, Esq.
Resolved, 2: That this meeting maintains that the representatives of this province should be de facto, as they are de jure, in the same relation to the provincial executive concerning objects of legislation as that of the Commons with the people and government of Great Britain and Ireland. That in matters of money and revenues withdrawn from the colony and their appropriation, they have as absolute a control as that of the Commons on those of Great Britain and Ireland, without which nothing would be left to us that we could call our own: the fruits of our labors and industry would not be our property. Rather we would have but a precarious and degrading enjoyment of them, revocable at the will of the British parliament, in which we are not and cannot be represented. That the attempt by the power to appropriate our revenues is every bit as immoral as would be that of our representatives to appropriate the revenues of the English people, there being no difference in the reasoning that could be made in support of the one or the other measure except that of the brute force by which the ministry claims to support its usurpation.
On the motion of Cat. Paquet, of Berthier, seconded by Isaie Fauteux, Esq. Of St. Barthelemie.
Resolved, 3: That the axiom that was formerly repeated with confidence and satisfaction by English subjects in the colonies, as well as at the seat of the general government of the Empire, that the power to establish taxes and to appropriate them was inseparable from the right to consent to them solely through one’s own representatives, clearly appears to not be the sentiment of the current ministry and the accommodating majorities in its service, who take this to be insignificant political lie, as can be seen by their despoiling of the property of the inhabitants of this province, which very much resembles past attempts, and which were justly denounced as being England’s folly and the ruin of America, and which nevertheless led to that just resistance followed by success which gave birth to those free and happy political institutions that so rapidly carried our next door neighbors in the United States to the highest points of might and liberty and whose prosperous lot is such that the statesmen of the metropole, from the highest to the lowest, from the best to the worst, from Fox to Stanley, have recognized that England could only retain the Canadas by a fragile and precarious tie if it didn’t govern them in such a way that they had little to envy republican America.
On the motion of M Jan-Bte. Chennevert, pere, of St. Cuthbert, seconded by Captain Destrampes.
Resolved, 4: That far from enjoying a free and well-regulated government analogous to that of liberated and free America, a good government chosen and accepted by the people, yet periodically subject to revision at conventions wisely foreseen and indicated in advance at certain fixed periods and charged with the sole concern of, if necessary, examining and reforming their political institutions, we suffer from the countless ills that flow from faulty institutions faultily administered, as was recognized by a committee of the House of Commons almost ten years ago. That the people and its representatives, in a common accord of which history offers few examples, have insisted and demanded, in a proportion of nine tenths of the population, that the most faulty part of these institutions be altered by the suppression of the current legislative council, which has been nothing but a disastrous experiment, as was admitted by its author Mr. Pitt, which should be later altered if it doesn’t answer to the ends for which it was created; which has constantly been an obstacle to the peace, the order, and the good government of this province, and which is nevertheless preserved and defended by those who, though sometimes liberal in words, have always been tyrants in their conduct towards this province.
On the motion of M. Pierre Eustache Destallaire of Berthier, seconded by M. Henri Fisette of St. Cuthbert.
Resolved, 5: That we sincerely thank that great majority of our representatives who have inflexibly insisted, in order for peace and content to return to this province, on the absolute necessity to suppress and do away with the current legislative council and to replace it with an elective council. That we applaud the measures they have taken to obtain the rectification of the former and the most serious of the grievances afflicting this province, such as the refusal of subsidies and the refusal to sit with this body, which almost invariably accepts only those bills that increase the power, the patronage, and the emoluments of the executive and its henchmen, and rejects most of those that are sent to them so as to procure for the country a more impartial and less costly administration of justice, to facilitate the extension of enlightenment and for the advantage of society, for rendering general elementary instruction, assuring the administration of common property and the local interests of the people of the counties, cities, parishes, and townships by means of officers of their own choice and elective corporations, and all the other laws that will advance the moral and physical welfare of the mass of the population, without distinction of class, belief or origins.
On the motion of Capt. F. Olivier of Berthier, seconded by Master Jean-Baptiste Chenevert,NP, of St. Cuthbert.
Resolved, 6: That we strongly recommend to our representatives that they on all occasions maintain the principles spelled out in the 92 Resolutions originally adopted by the House of Assembly, then sanctioned by the results of the general elections that closely followed their adoption, and since then by the requests of the vast majority of the people of the province to the British Parliament, and the consequences that flow from this. That these widely supported demands were recently rejected by ministers and a parliament misguided by counsels as unenlightened and marked with hatred and prejudice towards the people and the representatives of the province as those given by the three Royal commissioners, who with rare presumption, after having justly condemned the policy followed from the beginning to refuse the representatives the influence they should have over the country, having censured all the provincial authorities, having choked off all the preceding administrations, having attacked both the current representation and the council, have at the same time demonstrated the most blatant inability in not suggesting any measure of liberality or justice in order to remedy the abuses they uncover and denounce, but on the contract have worked to ensure their increase by suggesting iniquitous coercive measures adopted by the ministry with persecution in sight, doubtless based on their false assurances that the people will bow before them and acquiesce if they are supported by large majorities in the House of Commons.
On the motion of Captain Francois Genereux, seconded by M. Louis Marion of Lanoraie.
Resolved, 7: That we don’t count the votes, but we weigh the reasons that were given in the houses of Parliament for and against the iniquitous projects of the ministry. That we are proud and grateful to have enjoyed the sympathy and the invincible reasoning of those durable and high reputations, of those indefatigable defenders of the people’s rights throughout the Empire, Brougham, O’Connell, Hume, our equally zealous and enlightened agent, and of the honest and brilliant minority which has so powerfully supported them with the weight of good reasons; and that as much as the latter have the right to our respect, our gratitude, and our sincere thanks, as well as to the artisan’s association of London and other portions of the people of the three kingdoms who have demanded justice for us, who are their brothers, and protection for our invaded rights and liberties which are their threatened rights and liberties, to just that degree our profound contempt and unalterable hatred are owed to our persecutors. That these being our sentiments we no longer address ourselves to the British Parliament to ask of it the justice it refuses us. That we do not acquiesce in the dilapidation of our revenue if they sanction it, but that, inseparably rallying to the majority of our fellow-citizens who, in the counties of Richelieu, Montreal, Vercheres, Deux Montagnes, Chambly,Terrebonne, and in the city and suburbs of Quebec, have already demonstrated noble sentiments of attachment to public freedoms; we approve their acts and ask our fellow-citizens on the other counties to do no less. We will discourage the consumption of imported articles that could be replaced by ours, as much to destroy our oppressors coercive powers as to encourage the mean of our own protection; that as for spirits and other sugars, we will preferentially use those made in the country over those imported; that consequently we recommend the establishment of breweries and principally the cultivation of flax and the multiplication of sheep so as to encourage and sustain the domestic manufacture of cloth, wool, and especially cotton, and to stimulate industry and labor; that we collaborate in the adoption of a petition to the Congress of the United States of America for the soliciting the suppression of customs duties at their frontiers upon the entry of Canadian products and for rendering freer and more extensive a commerce between these two countries with common borders that can only be advantageous to their mutual interests.
On the motion of Mr. Louis Dubord, called Lafontaine de Lanoraie, seconded by M. Michel Grand’Pré of St. Cuthbert
Resolved, 8: That a county central committee, with the power to add such additional numbers as they wish, be named, charged with corresponding with the representatives of this county during parliamentary session or in convention, with similar authorities in other counties of the province and to act in concert with them; authorized to again convoke this county if circumstances lead them to wish for such a meeting; to organize sub-committees in the parishes and townships so as to assist in, facilitate, and execute the different measures adopted in this meeting and for any other objects of public utility. These stormy times make necessary the constant and vigilant attention of those who, honored with public confidence, should give more of their time and concern to overseeing the common interests than would be necessary in happier times; that the members of the committee already nominates to a preceding general meeting of the county form said county committee. That in addition the following gentlemen, viz., Messieurs Hercule Olivier, M.D. Armstrong, G. Mercure, and Jean-Baptiste Lafontaine be the deputies named by this meeting to the convention that will later meet in this province in conformity with the resolutions already adopted in other counties and that said gentlemen will also be members of the county committee.
On the motion of D.M. Armstrong, Esq., seconded by Dr. Voyer de la Valtrie
Resolved, 9: That the thanks of this meeting are due and voted to the chairman, for the able manner in which he has acted and for his patriotism, of which he has given new proofs on this occasion.
June 22, 1837