The Ninety-Two Resolutions of the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada
These resolutions were introduced in the House of Assembly of Lower Canada by Elzéar Bédard, Member of Parliament for Montmorency, first and former mayor of Quebec City. Once adopted, the resolutions were embedded in an address to Governor General Matthew Whitworth-Aylmer, 5th Baron Aylmer and later forwarded to England. John Arthur Roebuck, Member of Parliament for Bath, agent of the House of Assembly of Lower Canada since 1833, introduced the resolutions in the British House of Commons.
1. Resolved, That His Majesty's loyal subjects, the people of this province of Lower Canada, have shown the strongest attachment to the British Empire, of which they are a portion; that they have repeatedly defended it with courage in time of war; that at the period which preceded the Independence of the late British colonies of this continent, they resisted the appeal made to them by those colonies to join their confederation.
2. Resolved, That the people of this province have at all times manifested their confidence in His Majesty's Government, even under circumstances of the greatest difficulty, and when the government of the province has been administered by men who trampled under foot the rights and feelings dearest to British subjects; and that these sentiments of the people of this province remain unchanged.
3. Resolved, That the people of this province have always shown themselves ready to welcome and to receive brethren, those of their fellow-subjects who, having quitted the United Kingdom or its dependencies, have chosen this province as their home, and have earnestly endeavoured (as far as on them depended) to afford every facility to their participating in the political advantages, and in the means of rendering their industry available, which the people of this province enjoy; and to remove for them the difficulties arising from the vicious system adopted by those who have administered the government of this province, with regard to those portions of the country in which the new-comer have generally chosen to settle.
4. Resolved, That this House, as representing the people of this province, has shown an earnest zeal to advance the general prosperity of the country, by securing the peace and content of all classes of its inhabitants, without any distinction of origin or creed, and upon the solid and durable basis of unity of interest, and equal confidence in the protection of the mother country.
5. Resolved, That this House has seized every occasion to adopt, and firmly to establish by law in this province, not only the Constitutional and Parliamentary law of England, which is necessary to carry the Government into operation, but also such parts of the public law of the United Kingdom as have appeared to this House adapted to promote the welfare and safety of the people, and to be conformable to their wishes and their wants; and that this House has, in like manner, wisely endeavoured so to regulate its proceedings as to render them, as closely as the circumstances of this colony permits, analogous to the practice of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.
6. Resolved, That that in the year 1827, the great majority of the people of this province complained, in petitions signed by 87,000 persons1, of serious and numerous abuses which then prevailed, many of which had then existed for a great number of years, and of which the greater part still exist without correction or mitigation.
Resolved, That the complaints aforesaid, and the grievance which gave rise to them, being submitted to the consideration of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, occasioned the appointment of a Committee of the House of Commons2, of which the Honourable Edward Geoffrey Stanley, now His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, and several others who are now Member of His Majesty's Government, formed part; and that after a careful investigation and due deliberation, the said Committee, on the 18th of July 1828, came to the following very just conclusions:
- 1stly. "That the embarrassments and discontents that had long prevailed in the Canadas had arisen from serious defects in the system of laws and the constitutions established in those colonies."
- 2ndly. "That these embarrassments were in a great measure to be attributed to the manner in which the existing system had been administered."
- 3rdly. "That they had a complete conviction that neither the suggestions which they had made, nor any other improvements in the law and constitutions of the Canadas, will be attended with the desired effect, unless an impartial, conciliating and constitutional system of government were observed in these loyal and important colonies."
8. Resolved, That since the period aforesaid, the constitution of this province, with its serious defects, has continued to be administered in a manner calculated to multiply the embarrassments and discontents which have long prevailed; and that the recommendations of the Committee of the House of Commons have not been followed by effective measures of a nature to produce the desired effect.
Resolved, That the most serious defect in the Constitutional Act, its radical fault, the most active principle of evil and discontent in the province; the most powerful and most frequent cause of abuses of power; of the infraction of the laws; of the waste of the public revenue and property, accompanied by impunity to the governing party, and the oppression and consequent resentment of the governed, is that injudicious enactment, the fatal result of which were foretold by the Honourable Charles James Fox at the time of its adoption, which invests the Crown with that exorbitant power (incompatible with any government duly balanced, and founded on law and justice, and not on force and coercion) of selecting and composing without any rule or limitation, or any predetermined qualification, an entire branch of the legislature, supposed from the nature of its attributions to be independent, but inevitably the servile tool of the authority which creates, composes and decomposes it, and can on any day modify it to suit the interests or the passions of the moment.
10. Resolved, That with the possession of a power so unlimited, the abuse of it is inseparably connected; and that it has always been so exercised in the selection of the Members of the Legislative Council of this province, as to favour the spirit of monopoly and despotism in the executive, judicial, and administrative departments of the government, and never in the favour of the public interest.
11. Resolved, That the effectual remedy for this evil was judiciously foreseen and pointed out by the Committee of the House of Commons, who asked John Neilson, esquire, (one of the agents who had carried to England the Petition of the 87,000 inhabitants of Lower Canada) whether he had turned in his mind any plan by which he conceived the Legislative Council might be better composed in Lower Canada; whether he thought it possible that the said body could command the confidence and respect of the people, or go in harmony with the House of Assembly, unless the principles of election were introduced into its composition in some manner or other; and also, whether he thought that the colony could have any security that the Legislative Council would be properly and independently composed, unless the principle of election were introduced into it in some manner or other; and received from the said John Neilson answers, in which (among other reflections) he said in substance, that there were two modes in which the composition of the Legislative Council might be bettered; the one by appointing men who were independent of the executive, (but that to judge from experience there would be no security that this would be done,) and that if this mode were found impracticable, the other would be to render the Legislative Council elective.
12. Resolved, That judging from experience, this House likewise believes that there would be no security in the first mentioned mode, the course of events having but too amply proved what was then foreseen; and that this House approves all the inferences drawn by the said John Neilson from experience and facts; but that with regard to his suggestion that a class of electors of a higher qualification should be established, or a qualification in property fixed for those persons who might sit in the Council, this House have, in their Address to His Most Gracious Majesty, dated the 20th of March 1833, declared in what manner this principle could, in their opinion, be rendered tolerable in Canada, by restraining it within certain bounds, which should in no case be passed.
13. Resolved, That even in defining bounds of this nature, and requiring the possession of real property as a condition of eligibility to a Legislative Council, chosen by the people, which most wisely and happily has not been made a condition of eligibility to the House of Assembly, this House seems rather to have sought to avoid shocking received opinions in Europe, where custom and the law have given so many artificial privileges and advantages to birth and rank and fortune, than to consult the opinions generally received in America, where the influence of birth is nothing, an where, notwithstanding the importance which fortune must always naturally confer, the artificial introduction of great political privileges in favour of the possessors of large property, could not long resist the preference given at free elections to virtue, talents and information, which fortune does not exclude but can never purchase, and which may be the portion of honest, contented and and devoted men, whom the people ought to have the power of calling and consecrating to the public service, in preference to richer men, of whom they may think less highly.
14. Resolved, That this House is nowise disposed to admit the excellence of the present Constitution of Canada, although His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies has unreasonably and erroneously asserted, that it has conferred on the two Canadas the institutions of the Great Britain; nor to reject the principle of extending the system of frequent elections much further than it is at present carried; and that this system ought especially to be extended to the Legislative Council; although it may be considered by the Colonial Secretary incompatible with British government, which he calls a monarchical government, or too analogous to the institutions which the several States, composing the industrious, moral and prosperous confederation of the United States of America, have adopted for themselves.
15. Resolved, That in a despatch, of which the date is unknown, and of which a part only was communicated to this House by the Governor-in-chief on the 14th January, 1834, His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, (this House having no certain knowledge whether the said despatch is from the present Colonial Secretary of from his predecessor) says, that an examination of the composition of the Legislative Council at that period (namely, at the time when its composition was was so justly censured by a Committee of the House of Commons) and at the present, will sufficiently show in what spirit His Majesty's Government has endeavoured to carry the wishes of the Parliament into effect.
16. Resolved, That this House receives with gratitude this assurance of the just and benevolent intentions, with which, in the performance of their duty, His Majesty's Ministers have endeavoured to give effect to the wishes of Parliament.
17. Resolved, That unhappily it was left to the principal agent of His Majesty's Government in this Province to carry the wishes of the Imperial Parliament into effect; but that he has destroyed the hope which His Majesty's faithful subjects had conceived of seeing the Legislative Council reformed and ameliorated, and has confirmed them in the opinion that the only possible mode of giving to that body the weight and respectability which it ought to possess, is to introduce into it the principle of election.
18. Resolved, That the Legislative Council, strengthened by a majority inimical to the rights of this House and to the people whom it represents, has received new and more powerful means than it before possessed of perpetuating and of rendering more offensive and more hurtful to the country the system of abuses of which the people of this province has up to this day ineffectually complained, and which up to this day, Parliament and His Majesty's Government in England have ineffectually sought to correct.
19. Resolved, That since its pretended reform the Legislative Council has, in a manner more calculated to alarm the inhabitants of this province, and more particularly in its address to His Majesty of the 1st of April 1833, renewed its pretension of being specially appointed to protect one class of His Majesty's subjects in this province, as supposing them to have interests which could not be sufficiently represented in the Assembly, seven-eighths of the Members of which are by the said most erroneously stated to be of French origin and speak the French language: that this pretension is a violation of the constitution, and is of a nature to excite and perpetuate among the several classes of the inhabitants of this province, mutual distrust and national distinctions and animosities, and to give one portion of the people an unjust and factious superiority over the other, and the hope of domination and undue preference.
20. Resolved, That by such claim the Legislative Council after a reform which was help up as one adapted to unite it more closely with the interests of the colony in conformity with the wishes of the Parliament, calls down, as one of its first acts, the prejudices and severity of His Majesty's Government, upon the people of this province, and upon the representative branch of the Legislature thereof; and that by this conduct the Legislative Council has destroyed amongst the people all hope which was left them of seeing the said Council, so long as it shall remain constituted as it now is, act in harmony with the House of Assembly.
21. Resolved, That the Legislative Council of this Province has never been anything else but and impotent screen between the Governor and the people, which by enabling the one to maintain a conflict with the other, has served to perpetuate a system of discord and contention; that it has unceasingly acted with avowed hostility to the sentiments of the people as constitutionally expressed by the House of Assembly; that it is not right under the name of a Legislative Council to impose an aristocracy on a country which contains no natural materials for the composition of a such a body; that the Parliament of the United Kingdom in granting to His Majesty's Canadian subjects the power of revising the Constitution under which they hold their dearest rights, would adopt a liberal policy, free from all considerations of former interests and of existing prejudices; and that by this measure, equally consistent with a wise and sound policy, and with the most liberal and extended views, the Parliament of the United Kingdom would enter into a noble rivalry with the United States of America, would prevent His Majesty's subjects from seeing anything to envy there; and would reserve a friendly intercourse between Great Britain and this province, as her colony, so long as the tie between us shall continue, and as her ally, whenever the course of events may change our relative position.
22. Resolved, That this House so much the more confidently emits the opinions expressed in the preceding resolution, because, if any faith is to be placed in the published reports, they were at no distant period emitted with other remarks in the same spirit, in the Commons House of the United Kingdom, by the Right Honourable Edward Geoffrey Stanley, now His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, and by several other enlightened and distinguished Members, some of whom are among the number of His Majesty's present Ministers; and because the conduct of the Legislative Council since its pretended reform demonstrates that the said opinions are in nowise rendered less applicable or less correct by its present composition.
23. Resolved, That the Legislative Council has at the present time less community of interest with the province than at any former period; that its present composition, instead of being calculated ot change the character of the body, to put an end to complaints, and to bring about that co-operation of the two Houses of the Legislature which is no necessary to the welfare of the country, is such as to destroy all hope that the said Council will adopt opinions and sentiments of the people of this province and of this House with regard to the inalienable right of the later to the full and entire control of the whole revenue raised in the province, with regard to the necessity under which this House has found itself (for the purpose of effecting the reformation which it has so long and so vainly demanded of existing abuses) to provide for the expenses of the Civil Government by annual appropriations only, as well as with regard to a variety of other questions of the public interest, concerning which the Executive Government, and the Legislative Council which it has selected and created, differ diametrically from the people of this province, and from this House.
24. Resolved, That such of the recently appointed councillors as were take from the majority of the Assembly, and had entertained the hope that a sufficient number of the independent men, holding opinions in unison with those of the majority of the people and of their Representatives, would be associated with them, must now feel that they are overwhelmed by a majority hostile to the country, and composed of men who have irretrievably lost the public confidence, by showing themselves the blind and passionate partisans of all abuses of power, by encouraging all the acts of violence committed under the administration of Lord Dalhousie, by having on all occasions outraged the representatives of the people of the country; of men, unknown in the country until with a few years, without landed property or having very little, most of whom have never been returned to the Assembly (some of them having even been refused by the people), and who have never given any proofs of their fitness for performing the functions of Legislators, but merely of their hatred to the country; and who, by reason of their community of sentiment with him, have found themselves, by the partiality of the Governor-in-Chief, suddenly raised to a station in which they have the power of exerting during life an influence over the legislation and over the fate of this province, the laws and institutions of which have ever been the objects of their dislike.
25. Resolved, That in manifest violation of the Constitution, there are among the persons last mentioned several who were born citizens of the United States, or are native of other foreign countries, and who at the time of their appointment had not been naturalized by Acts of the British Parliament; that the residence of one of these persons (Horatio Gates) in this country during the last war with the United States was only tolerated; he refused to take up arms for the defence of the country in which he remained merely for the sake of lucre; and after these previous facts, took his seat in the Legislative Council on the 16th March, 1833; and 15 days afterwards, to wit, on the 1st April, voted for the address before mentioned, censuring those who during the last war were under arms on the frontiers to repulse the attacks of the American armies and of the fellow-citizens of the said Horatio Gates: that another (James Baxter) was resident during the said late war within the United States, and was bound by the laws of the country of his birth, under certain circumstances, forcibly to invade this province, to pursue, destroy and capture, if possible, His Majesty's armies, and such of his Canadian subject as were in arms upon the frontiers to repulse the attacks of the American armies, and of the said James Baxter, who (being at the same time but slightly qualified as far as property is concerned) became, by the nomination of the Governor-in-Chief, a Legislator for life in Lower Canada, on the 22nd of March, 1833; and eight days afterwards, on the 1st of April aforesaid, voted that very address which contained the calumnious and insulting accusation which called for the expression of His Majesty's just regret, "that any word had been introduced which should have the appearance of ascribing to a class of his subjects of one origin, views at variance with the allegiance which they owe to His Majesty."
26. Resolved, That it was in the power of the present Governor-in-Chief, more than in that of any of his predecessors (by reason of the latitude allowed him as to the number and the selection of the persons whom he might nominate to be Members of the Legislative Council) to allay, for a time at least, the intestine divisions which rend this colony, and to advance some steps towards the accomplishment of the wishes of Parliament, by inducing a community of interest between the said Council and the people, and by giving the former a more independent character by judicious nominations.
27. Resolved, That although 16 persons have been nominated in less than two years by the present Governor to be Members of the said Council (a number greater than that afforded by any period of 10 years under any other administration), and notwithstanding the wishes of Parliament, and the instructions given by His Majesty's Government for the removal of the grievances of which the people had complained, the same malign influence which has been exerted to perpetuate in the country a system of irresponsibility in favour of public functionaries, has prevailed to such an extent as to render the majority of the Legislative Council more inimical to the country than at any former period; and that this fact confirms with irresistible force the justice of the censure passed by the Committee of the House of Commons on the constitution of the Legislative Council as it had theretofore existed, and the correctness of the opinion of those Members of the said Committee who thought that the said body could never command the respect of the people, nor be in harmony with the House of Assembly, unless the principle of election was introduced into it.
28. Resolved, That even if the present Governor-in-Chief had, by making a more judicious selection, succeeded in quieting the alarm and allaying for a time the profound discontent which then prevailed, that form of government would not be less essentially vicious which makes the happiness or misery of a country depend on an Executive over which the people of that country have no influence, and which has no permanent interest in the country, or in common with its inhabitants; and that the extension of the elective principle is the only measure which appears to this House to afford any prospect of equal and sufficient protection in future to all the inhabitants of the province, without distinction.
29. Resolved, That the accusations preferred against the House of Assembly by the Legislative Council, as recomposed by the present Governor-in-Chief, would be criminal and seditious, if their very nature did not render them harmless, since they go to assert, that if in its liberality and justice the Parliament of the United Kingdom had granted the earnest prayer of this House in behalf of the province (and which this House at this solemn moment, after weighing the Despatches of the Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, and on the eve of a general election, now repeats and renews), that the constitution of the Legislative Council may be altered by rendering it elective, the result of this act of Justice and benevolence would have been to inundate the country with blood.
30. Resolved, That by the said Address to His Majesty, dated the 1st of April last, the Legislative Council charges this House with having calumniously accused the King's Representative of partiality and injustice in the exercise of the powers of his office, and with deliberately calumniating His Majesty's officers, both civil and military, as a faction induced by interest alone to contend for the support of a government inimical to the rights, and opposed to the wishes of the people: with reference to which this House declares, that the accusations preferred by it have never been calumnious, but are true and well founded, and that a faithful picture of the Executive Government of this province in all its parts is drawn by the Legislative Council in this passage of its address.
31. Resolved, That if, as this House is found of believing, His Majesty's Government in England does not wish systematically to nourish civil discord in this colony, the contradictory allegations thus made by the two Houses, make it imperative on it to become better acquainted with the state of the province than it now appears to be, if we judge from its long tolerance of the abuses which its agents commit with impunity; that it ought not to trust to the self praise of those who have the management of the affairs of the colony, passing, according to them, into a state of anarchy; that it ought to be convinced, that if its protection of public functionaries, accused by a competent authority (that is to say by this House, in the name of the people), could for a time by force and intimidation aggravate, in favour of those functionaries and against the rights and interests of the people, the system of insult and oppression which they impatiently bear, the result must be to weaken our confidence in, and our attachment to His Majesty's Government, and to give deep roots to the discontent and insurmountable disgust which have been excited by administrations deplorably vicious, and which are now excited by the majority of the public functionaries of the colony, combined as a faction, and induced by interest alone to contend for the support of a corrupt Government, inimical to the rights and opposed to the wishes of the people.
32. Resolved, That in addition to its wicked and calumnious address of the 1st April, 1833, the Legislative Council, as recomposed by the present Governor-in-chief, has proved how little community of interest it has with the colony, by the fact, that out of sixty-four Bills which were sent up to it, twenty-eight were rejected by it, or amended in a manner contrary to their spirit and essence; that the same unanimity which had attended the passing of the greater part of the Bills in the Assembly, accompanied their rejection by the Legislative Council, and that an opposition so violent shows clearly that the provincial executive and the council of its choice, in league together against the representative body, do not, or will not, consider it as the faithful interpreter and the equitable judge of the wants and wishes of the people, nor as fit to propose laws conformable to the public will; and that under such circumstances, it would have been the duty of the head of the Executive to appeal to the people, by dissolving the Provincial Parliament, had there been any analogy between the institutions of Great Britain and those of this province.
33. Resolved, That the Legislative Council as recomposed by the present Governor-in-chief must be considered as embodying the sentiments of the colonial executive Government, and that from the moment it was so recomposed, the two authorities seem to have bound and leagued themselves together for the purpose of proclaiming principles subversives of all harmony in the province, and of governing and domineering in a spirit of blind and invidious national antipathy.
34. Resolved, That the address voted unanimously on the 1st April, 1833, by the Legislative Council, as recomposed by the present Governor-in-chief, was concurred in the the Honourable the Chief Justice of the province, Jonathan Sewell, to which the Right Honourable Lord Viscount Goderich, in his Despatch, communicated to the House on the 25th November, 1831, recommended "a cautious abstinence from all proceedings by which he might be involved in any contention of a party nature;" by John Hale, the present Receiver-General, who, in violation of the laws, and of the trust reposed in him, and upon illegal warrants issued by the Governor, has paid away large sums of the public money, without any regard to the obedience which is always due to the law; by Sir John Caldwell, baronet, the late Receiver-General, a peculator, who has been condemned to pay nearly L100,000, to reimburse a like sum levied upon the people of this province, and granted by law to His Majesty, His heirs and successors, for the public use of the province, and for the support of His Majesty's Government therein, and who has diverted the greater part of the said sum from the purposes to which it was destined, and appropriated it to his private use; by Mathew Bell, a grantee of the Crown, who has been unduly and illegally favoured by the Executive, in the lease of the forges of St. Maurice, in the grant of large tracts of waste lands, and in the lease of large tracts of land formerly belonging to the order of Jesuits; by John Stewart, an Executive Councillor, commissioner of the Jesuits' estates, and the incumbent of other lucrative offices: all of whom are placed by their pecuniary and personal interests under the influence of the Executive; and by the Honourable
George Moffatt, Peter McGill, John Molson, Horatio Gates, Robert Jones, and James Baxter, all of whom, as well as those before mentioned, were, with two exceptions, born out of the country, and all of whom, except one, who for a number of years was a member of the Assembly, and has extensive landed property, are but slightly qualified in that respect, and had not been sufficiently engaged in public life to afford a presumption that they were fit to perform the functions of legislators for life; and by Antoine Gaspard Couillard, the only native of the country, of French origin, who stooped to concur in the address, and who also had never been engaged in public life, and is but very moderately qualified with respect to real property, and who, after his appointment to the council, and before the said 1st of April, rendered himself dependent on the Executive by soliciting a paltry and subordinate place of profit.
35. Resolved, That the said address, voted by seven councillors, under the influence of the present head of the Executive, and by five others of his appointment, (one only of the six others who voted it, the Hon. George Moffatt, having been appointed under his predecessor,) is the work of the present administration of this province, the expression of its sentiments, the key to its acts, and the proclamation of the iniquitous and arbitrary principles, which are to form its rule of conduct for the future.
36. Resolved, That the said address is not less injurious to the small number of Members of the Legislative Council who are independent, and attached to the interests and honour of the country, who have been Members of the Assembly, and are known as having partaken its opinions and seconded its efforts, to obtain for it the entire control and disposal of the public revenue; as having approved the wholesome, constitutional, and not, as styled by the Council, the daring step taken by this House of praying by address to His Majesty that the Legislative Council might be rendered elective; as condemning the scheme for the creation of an extensive monopoly of lands in favour of the speculators residing out of the country; as believing that they could not have been appointed to the Council with a view to increase the constitutional weight and efficacy of that body, in which they find themselves opposed to a majority hostile to their principles and their country; as believing that the interests and wishes of the people are faithfully represented by their representatives, and that the connexion between this country and the parent state will be durable in proportion to the direct influence exercised by the people in the enactment of laws adapted to ensure their welfare; and as being of opinion, that His Majesty's subjects recently settled in this country will share in all the advantages of the free institutions and of the improvements which would be rapidly developed, if, by means of the extension of the elective system, the administration were prevented from creating a monopoly of power and profit in favour of the minority who are of one origin, and to the prejudice of the majority who are of another, and from buying, corrupting and exciting a portion of this minority in such a manner as to give to all discussions of local interest the alarming character of strife and national antipathy; and that the independent Members of the Legislative Council, indubitably convinced of the tendency of that body, and undeceived as to the motives which led to their appointment as members of it, now refrain from attending the sittings of the said Council, in which they despair of being able to effect anything for the good of the country.
37. Resolved, That the political world in Europe is at this moment agitated by two great parties, who in different countries appear under the several names of Serviles, Royalists, Tories, and Conservatives, on the one side, and of Liberals, Constitutionals, Republicans, Whigs, Reformers, Radicals, and similar appellations on the other; that the former party is, on this continent, without any weight or influence, except what it derives from its European supporters, and from a trifling number of persons who become their dependants for the sake of personal gain, and of others who from age or habit cling to opinions which are not partaken by any numerous class; while the second party overspreads all America; and that the Colonial Secretary is mistaken, if he believes that the exclusion of a few salaried Officers from the Legislative Council could suffice to make it harmonize with the wants, wishes, and opinions of the People, as long as the Colonial Governors retain the power of preserve in it a majority of Members rendered servile by their antipathy to every liberal idea.
38. Resolved, That this vicious system, which has been carefully maintained, has given to the Legislative Council a great character of animosity to the country than it had at any former period, and is as contrary to the wishes of Parliament, as that which, in order to resist the wishes of the people of England for the Parliamentary Reform, should have called into the House of Lords a number of men notorious for their factious and violent opposition to that great measure.
39. Resolved, That the Legislative Council, representing merely the personal opinions of certain members of a body so strongly accused at a recent period by the people of this Province, and so justly censured by the Report of the Committee of the House of Commons, is not an authority competent to demand alterations in the constitutional Act of the 31st Geo. 3, c. 31, and that the said Act ought not to be and cannot be altered, except at such time and in such manner as may be wished by the people of this Province, whose sentiments this House is alone competent to represent; that no interference on that part of the British Legislature with the laws and constitution of this province, which should not be founded on the wishes of the people, freely expressed either through this House or in any other constitutional manner, could in anywise tend to settle any of the difficulties which exist in this province, but, on the contrary, would only aggravate them and prolong their continuance.
40. Resolved, That this House expects from the justice of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, that no measure of the nature aforesaid, founded on the false representations of the Legislative Council and of the members and tools of the Colonial Administration, all interested in perpetuating the existing abuses, will be adopted to the prejudice of the rights, liberties and welfare of the people of this province; but that on the contrary, the Imperial Legislature will comply with the wishes of the people and of this province; but that on the contrary, the Imperial Legislature will comply with the wishes of the people and of this House, and will provide the most effectual remedy for all evils present and future, either by rendering the Legislative Council elective in the manner mentioned in the Address of this House to His most gracious Majesty, of the 20th March, 1833, or by enabling the people to express still more directly their opinions as to the measures to be adopted in that behalf, and with regard to such other modifications of the constitution as the wants of the people and the interests of His Majesty's Government in the province may require; and that this House perseveres in the said Address;
41. Resolved, That His Majesty’s Secretary of State for the Colonial Department has acknowledged in his despatches, that it has frequently been admitted that the People of Canada ought to see nothing in the institutions of the neighbouring States which they could regard with envy, and that he has yet to learn that any such feeling now exists among His Majesty’s subjects in Canada; to which this House answers, 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 towards perfection, in the revision of the same at short and determinate intervals, by conventions of the People, in order that they may, without any shock or violence, be adapted to the actual state of things.
42. Resolved, That it was in consequence of a correct idea of the state of the country, and of society generally in America, that the Committee of the House of Commons asked, whether there was not in the two Canadas a growing inclination to see the institutions become more and more popular, and in that respect more and more like those of the United States; and that John Neilson, esquire, one of the agents sent from this country, answered, that the fondness for popular institutions had made great progress in the two Canadas; and that the same agent was asked, whether he did not think that it would be wise that the object of every change made in the institutions of the province should be to comply more and more with the wishes of the people, and to render the said institutions extremely popular: to which question this House for an in the name of the people whom it represents, answers, solemnly and deliberately, "Yes, it would be wise; it would be excellent."
43. Resolved, That the constitution and form of government which would best suit this colony are not to be sought solely in the analogies offered by the institutions of Great Britain, where the state of society is altogether different from our own; and that it would be wise to turn to profit by the information to be gained by observing the effects produced by the different and infinitely varied constitutions which the Kings and Parliament of England have granted to the several plantations and colonies in America, and by studying the way in which virtuous and enlightened men have modified such colonial institutions when it could be done with the assent of the parties interested.
44. Resolved, That the unanimous consent with which all the 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; that this system prevails among those of British and those of Spanish origin, although the latter, during the continuance of their colonial state, had been under the calamitous yoke of ignorance and absolutism; and that we do not hesitate to ask from a Prince of the House of Brunswick, and a reformed Parliament, all the freedom and political powers which the Princes of the House of Stuart and their Parliaments granted to the most favoured of the Plantations formed at a period when such grants must have been less favourably regarded than they would now be.
45. Resolved, That it was not the best and most free systems of colonial government which tended most to hasten the independence of the old English colonies; since the Province of New York, in which the institutions were most monarchical in the sense which that word appears to bear in the despatch of the Colonial Secretary, was the first to refuse obedience to an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain; and that the colonies of Connecticut and Rhode Island, which though closely and affectionately connected with the mother country for a long course of years, enjoyed constitutions purely democratic, were the last to enter into a confederation rendered necessary by the conduct of bad servants of the Crown, who called in the supreme authority of the Parliament, and the British Constitution to aid them to govern arbitrarily, listening rather to the governors and their advisers than to the people and their representatives, and shielding with the protection those who consumed the taxes rather than those who paid them.
46. Resolved, That with a view to the introduction of whatever the institutions of the neighbouring States offered that was good and applicable to the state of the province, this House had among other measures passed, during many years, a Bill founded on the principle of proportioning arithmetically the number of Representatives to the population of each place represented; and that if by the pressure of circumstances and the urgent necessity which existed that the number of Representatives should be increased, it has been compelled to assent to amendments which violate that principle, by giving to several counties containing a population of little more than 4,000 souls, the same number of Representatives as to several others of which the population is five times as great, this disproportion is in the opinion of this House an act of injustice, for which it ought to seek a remedy: and that in the new countries where the population increases rapidly, and tends to create new settlements, it is wise and equitable that by a frequent and periodical census, such increase, and the manner in which it is distributed, should be ascertained, principally for the purpose of settling the representation of the province on an equitable basis.
47. Resolved, That the fidelity of the People and the protection of the Government are correlative obligations, of which the one cannot long subsist without the other; that, by reason of the defects which exist in the Laws and constitution of this province, and of the manner in which those laws and that constitution have been administered, the people of this province are not sufficiently protected in their lives, their property and their honour; and the long series of acts of injustice and oppression of which they have to complain, have increased with alarming rapidity in violence and in number, under the present administration.
48. Resolved, That in the midst of these disorders and sufferings, this House and the people whom it represents, had always cherished the hope and expressed their faith that His Majesty's Government in England did not knowingly and wilfully participate in the political immorality of its colonial agents and officers; and that it is with astonishment and grief that they have seen in the extract from the despatches of the Colonial Secretary, communicated to this House by the Governor-in-chief during the present session, that one at least of the members of His Majesty's Government entertains towards them feelings of prejudice and animosity, and inclines to favour plans of oppression and revenge, ill adapted to change a system of abuses, the continuance of which would altogether discourage the people, extinguish in them the legitimate hope of happiness which, as British subjects, they entertained, and would leave them only the hard alternative of submitting to an ignominious bondage, or of seeing those ties endangered which unite them to the mother country.
49. Resolved, That this House and the people whom it represents do not wish or intend to convey any threat; but that, relying as they do upon the principles of law and justice, they are and ought to be politically strong enough not to be exposed to receive insult from any man whomsoever, or bound to suffer it in silence; that the style of the said extracts from the despatches of the Colonial Secretary, as communicated to this House, is insulting and inconsiderate to such a degree that no legally constituted body, although its functions were infinitely subordinate to those of the legislation, could or ought to tolerate them; that no similar example can be found even in the despatches of those of his predecessors in office least favourable to the rights of the colonies; that the tenor of the said despatches is incompatible with the rights and privileges of this House, which ought not to be called in question or defined by the Colonial Secretary, but which as occasion may require, will be successively promulgated and enforced by this House.
50 Resolved, That with regard to the following expressions in one of the said Despatches, "should events unhappily force upon Parliament the exercise of its supreme authority to compose the internal dissension of the Colonies, it would be my object and my duty, as a servant of the Crown, to submit to Parliament such modifications of the Charter of the Canadas as should tend, not to the introduction of institutions inconsistent with monarchical government, but to maintaining and strengthening the connexion with the mother country, by a close adherence to the spirit of the British constitution, and by preserving in their proper place and within their due limits the mutual rights and privileges of all classes of His Majesty's subjects;" -- if they are to be understood as containing a threat to introduce into the constitution any other modifications than such as are asked for by the majority of the people of this province, whose sentiments cannot be legitimately expressed by any other authority than its representatives, this House would esteem itself wanting in candour to the people of England, if it hesitated to call their attention to the fact that in less than 20 years the population of the United States of America will be as great or greater than that of Great Britain, and that of British America will be as great of greater than that of the former English Colonies was when the latter deemed that the time was come to decide that the inappreciable advantage of governing themselves instead of being governed, ought to engage them to repudiate a system of Colonial Government which was, generally speaking, much better than that of British America now is.
51. Resolved, That the approbation expressed by the Colonial Secretary, in his said despatch, of the present composition of the Legislative Council, whose acts, since its pretended reform, have been marked by party spirit and by invidious national distinctions and preferences, is a subject of just alarm to His Majesty's Canadian subjects in general, and more particularly to the great majority of them, who have not yielded at any time to any other class of the inhabitants of this province in their attachment to His Majesty's Government, in their love of peace and order, in respect for the laws, and in their wish to effect that union among the whole people which is no much to be desired, to the end that all may enjoy freely and equally the rights and advantages of British subjects, and of the institutions which have been guaranteed to and are dear to the country; that the distinctions and preferences aforesaid have almost constantly been used and taken advantages of by the Colonial Administration of this Province, and the majority of the Legislative Councillors, Executive councillors, Judges and other functionaries dependent upon it; and that nothing but the spirit of union among the several classes of the people, and their conviction that their interests are the same, could have prevented collisions incompatible with the prosperity and safety of the province.
52. Resolved, That since a circumstance, which did not depend upon choice of the majority of the people, their French origin and their use of the French language, has been made by the colonial authorities a pretext for abuse, for exclusion, for political inferiority, for a separation of the rights and interests; this House now appeals to the justice of His Majesty's Government and of Parliament, and to the honour of the people of England; that the majority of the inhabitants of this country are in nowise disposed to repudiate any on of the advantages they derive from their origin and from their descent from the French nation, which, with regard to the progress of which it has been the cause in civilization, in the sciences, in letters, and the arts, has never been behind the British nation, and is now the worthy rival of the latter in the advancement of the cause of liberty and of the science of Government; from which this country derives the greater portion of its civil and ecclesiastical law, and of its scholastic and charitable institutions, and of the religion, language, habits, manners and customs of the great majority of its inhabitants.
53. Resolved, That our fellow-subjects, of British origin, in this province, came to settle themselves in a country, "the inhabitants whereof, professing the religion of the Church of Rome, enjoyed an established form of constitution and system of laws, by which their persons and their property had been protected, governed and ordered, during a long series of years, from the first establishment of the province of Canada;" that, prompted by these considerations, and guided by the rules of justice and of the law of nations, the British Parliament enacted that, "in all matters of controversy, relative to property and civil rights, resort should be had to the laws of Canada;" that when Parliament afterwards departed from the principle thus recognised, firstly, by the introduction of the English criminal law, and afterwards by that of the representative system, with all the constitutional and parliamentary law necessary to its perfect action, it did so in conformity to the sufficiently expression wish of the Canadian people; and that every attempt on the part of public functionaries or of other persons (who on coming to settle in the province, made their condition their own voluntary act) against the existence of any portion of the laws and institutions peculiar to the country, and any preponderance given to such persons in the Legislative and Executive Councils, in the courts of law, or in other departments, are contrary to the engagements of the British Parliament, and to the rights guaranteed to His Majesty's Canadian subjects, on the faith of the national honour of England, and on that of capitulations and treaties.
54. Resolved, That any combination, whether effected by means of Acts of the British Parliament, obtained in contravention to its former engagements, or by means of the partial and corrupt administration of the present constitution and system of law, would be a violation of those rights, and would, as long as it should exist, be obeyed by the people from motives of fear and constraint, and not from choice and affection; that the conduct of the Colonial Administrations and of their agents and instruments in this colony, has for the most part been of a nature unjustly to create apprehensions as to the views of the people and government of the mother country, and to endanger the confidence and content of the inhabitants of this province, which can only be secured by equal laws, and by the observance of equal justice, as the rule of conduct in all the departments of the Government.
55. Resolved, That whether the number of the class of His Majesty's subjects in this province, who are of British origin, be that mentioned in the said address of the Legislative Council, of whether (as the truth is) it amounts to less than half that number, the wishes and interests of the majority of them are common to them and to their fellow-subjects of French origin, and speaking the French language; that the one class love the country of their birth, the other that of their adoption; that the greater portion of the latter have acknowledged the generally beneficial tendency of the laws and institutions of the country, and have laboured, in concert with the former, to introduce into them gradually, and by the authority of the Provincial Parliament, the improvements of which they have, from time to time, appeared susceptible, and have resisted the confusion which it has been endeavoured to introduce into them in favour of schemes of monopoly and abuse, and that all without distinction wish anxiously for an impartial and protecting Government.
56. Resolved, That in addition to the administrative and judicial abuses which have had an injurious effect upon the public welfare and confidence, attempts have been made, from time to time, to induce the Parliament of the United Kingdom, by deceiving its justice and abusing its benevolent intentions, to adopt measures calculated to bring abut combinations of the nature above mentioned, and to pass Acts of internal legislation for this province, having the same tendency, and with regard to which the people of the country had not been consulted; that, unhappily, the attempts to obtain the passing of some of these measures were successful, especially that of the Act of the 6 Geo. 4, c. 59, commonly called the "Tenures Act," the repeal of which was unanimously demanded by all classes of the people, without distinction, through their representatives, a very short time after the number of the latter was increased; and that this House has not yet been able to obtain from His Majesty's Representative in this province, of from any other source, any information as to the views of His Majesty's Government in England with regard to the repeal of the said Act.
57. Resolved, That the object of the said Act was, according to the benevolent intentions of Parliament, and as the title of the Act sets forth, the extinction of feudal and seigniorial rights and dues on lands held en fief and à cens in this province, with the intention of favouring the great body of the inhabitants of the country, and protecting them against the said dues, which were regarded as burdensome; but that the provisions of the said Act, far from having the effect aforesaid, afford facilities to seigniors to become, in opposition to the interests of their censitaires, the absolute proprietors of the extensive tracts of unconceded lands which, by the law of the country, they held only for the benefit of the inhabitants thereof, to whom they were bound to concede them in consideration of certain limited dues; that the said Act, if generally acted upon, would shut out the mass of the permanent inhabitants of the country from the vacant lands in the seigniories, while at the same time they have been constantly prevented from settling on the waste lands of the Crown on easy and liberal terms, and under a tenure adapted to the laws of the country, by the partial, secret and vicious manner in which the Crown Land department has been managed, and by the provisions of the Act aforesaid, with regard to the laws applicable to the lands in question; and that the application made by certain seigniors for a change of tenure, under the authority of the said Act, appears to prove the correctness of the view which this House has taken of its practical effect.
58. Resolved, That it was only in consequence of an erroneous supposition that feudal charges were inherent in the law of this country, as far as the possession and transmission of real property and the tenures recognised by that law were concerned, that it was enacted in the said Act that the lands with regard to which a change of tenure should be effected, should thereafter be held under the tenure of free and common soccage; that the seigniorial charges have been found burdensome in certain cases, chiefly by reason of the want of adequate means of obtaining the interference of the Colonial Government and of the court of law, to enforce the ancient law of the country in that behalf, and that the Provincial Legislature was, moreover, fully competent to pass laws providing for the redemption of the said charges in a manner which should be in accordance with the interests of all parties, and for the introduction of the free tenures recognised by the laws of the country; that the House of Assembly has been repeatedly occupied, and now is occupied about this important subject; but that the said Tenures Act, insufficient of itself to effect equitably the purpose for which it was passed, is of a nature to embarrass and create obstacles to the effectual measures which the legislature of the country, with a full knowledge of the subject, might be disposed to adopt; and that the application thus made (to the exclusion of the Provincial Legislature) to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which was far less competent to make equitable enactments on a subject so complicated in its nature, could only have been made with a view to unlawful speculations and the subversion of the laws of the country.
59. Resolved, That, independently of its many other serious imperfections, the said Act does not appear to have been founded on a sufficient knowledge of the laws which govern persons and property in this country, when it declares the laws of Great Britain to be applicable to certain incidents to real property therein enumerated; and that it has only served to augment the confusion and doubt which had prevailed in the courts of law, and in private transactions with regard to the law which applied to lands previously granted in free and common soccage.
60. Resolved, That the provision of the said Act which has excited the greatest alarm, and which is most at variance with the rights of the people of the country, and with those of the Provincial Parliament, is that which enacts that lands previously held en fief or en censive shall, after a change of tenure shall have been effected with regard to them, be held in free and common soccage, and thereby become subject to the laws of Great Britain, under the several circumstances therein mentioned and enumerated; that besides being insufficient in itself, this provision is of a nature to bring into collision, in the old settlements, at multiplied points of contiguity, who opposite systems of laws, one of which is entirely unknown to this country, in which it is impossible to carry it into effect; that from the feeling manifested by the colonial authorities and their partisans towards the inhabitants of the country, the latter have just reason to fear that the enactment in question is only the prelude to the final subversion, by Acts of Parliament of Great Britain, fraudulently obtained in violation of its former engagements, of the system of laws by which the persons and property of the people of this province were so long happily governed.
61. Resolved, That the inhabitants of this country have just reason to fear that the claims made to the property of the seminary of St. Sulpice, at Montreal, are attributable to the desire of the colonial administration, and its agents and tools, to hasten this deplorable state of things; and that His Majesty's Government in England would , by re-assuring His faithful subjects on this point, dissipate them alarm felt by the clergy, and by the whole people without distinction, and merit their sincere gratitude.
62. Resolved, That it is the duty of this House to persist in asking for the absolute repeal of the said Tenures Act, and until such repeal shall be effected, to propose to the other branches of the Provincial Parliament such measures as may be adapted to weaken the pernicious effects of the said Act.
63. Resolved, That this House has learned with regret, from one of the said despatches of the Colonial Secretary, that His Majesty has been advised to interfere in a matter which concerns the privileges of this House; that in the case there alluded to, this House exercised a privilege solemnly established by the House of Commons, before the principle on which it rests became the law of the land; that this privilege is essential to the independence of this House, and to the freedom of its votes and proceedings; that the resolutions passed by this House, on the 15th of February, 1831, are constitutional and well-founded, and are supported by the example of the Commons of Great Britain; that this house has repeatedly passed bills for giving effect to the said principle, but that these bills failed to become law, at first from the obstacles opposed to them in another branch of the Provincial Legislature, and subsequently by reason of the reservation of the last of the said bills for the signification of His Majesty's pleasure in England, when it has not yet been sent back; that until some bill to the same effect shall become law, this House persists in the said resolutions; and that the refusal of his Excellency, the present Governor-in-chief, to sign a writ for the election of a knight representative for the county of Montreal, in the place of Dominique Mondelet, esquire, whose seat had been declared vacant, is a grievance og which this House is entitled to obtain the redress, and one which would alone have sufficed to put an end to all intercourse between it and the Colonial Executive, if the circumstances of the country had not offered an infinite number of other abuses and grievances against which it is urgently necessary to remonstrate.
64. Resolved, That the claim which have for many years been set up by the Executive Government to that control over and power of appropriating a great portion of the revenues levied in this province, which belong of right to this House, are contrary to the rights and to the constitution of the country; and that with regard to the said claims, this House persists in the declarations it has heretofore made.
65. Resolved, That the said claims of the Executive have been vague and varying; that the documents relative to the said claims, and the accounts and estimates of expenses laid before this House, have likewise been varying and irregular, and insufficient to enable this House to proceed with a full understanding of the subject on the matters to which they related; that important heads of the public revenue of the Province, collected either under the provisions of the law or under arbitrary regulations, made by the Executive, have been omitted in the said accounts; that numerous items have been paid out of the public revenue without the authority of this House, or any acknowledgement of its control over them, as salaries for sinecure offices, which are not recognized by this House, and even for other objects for which, after mature deliberation, it had not deemed it expedient to appropriate any portion of the public revenue; and t hat no accounts of the sums so expended have been laid before this House.
66. Resolved, That the Executive Government has endeavoured by means of the arbitrary regulations aforesaid, and particularly by the sale of the waste lands of the Crown, and of timber on the same, to create for itself out of the revenue which this House only has the right of appropriating, resources independent of the control of the representatives of the people; and that the result has been a diminution of the wholesome influence which the people have constitutionally the right of exercising over the administrative branch of the Government, and over the spirit and tendency of its measures.
67. Resolved, That this House having, from time to time, with a view to proceed by bill, to restore regularity to the financial system of the province, and to provide, for the expenses of the administration of justice and of His Majesty's Civil Government therein, asked the Provincial Government by address for divers documents and accounts relating to financial matters, and to abuses connected with them, has met with repeated refusals, more especially during the present session and the preceding one; that divers subordinate public functionaries, summoned to appear before committees of this House to give information on the said subject, have refused to do so in pursuance of the said claim set up by the Provincial Administration to withdraw a large portion of the public income and expenditure from the control and even from the knowledge of this House; that during the present session one of the said subordinate functionaries of the Executive being called upon to produce the originals of sundry registers of warrants and reports, which it was important to this House to cause to be examined, insisted on being present at the deliberations of the committee appointed by the House for that purpose; and that the head of the administration being informed of the fact, refrained from interfering, although in conformity to Parliamentary usage, this House had pledged itself that the said documents should be returned, and although the Governor-in-chief had himself promised communication of them.
68. Resolved, That the result of the secret and unlawful distribution of a large portion of the public revenue of the province has been, that the Executive Government has always, except with regard to appropriations for objects of a local nature, considered itself bound to account for public money to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury in England, and not to this House, nor according to its votes, or even in conformity to the laws passed by the Provincial Legislature; and that the accounts and statements laid before this House from time to time have never assumed the shape of a regular system of balanced accounts, but have been drawn up, one after another, with such alterations and irregularities as it pleased the administration of the day to introduce into them, from the accounts kept with the Lords of the Treasury, in which the whole public money received was included, as well as all the items of expenditure, whether authorized or unauthorized by the Provincial Legislature.
69. Resolved, That the pretensions and abuses aforesaid have taken away from this House even the shadow of control over the public revenue of the province, and have rendered it impossible for it to ascertain at any time the amount of revenue collected, the disposable amount of the same, and the sums required for the public service; and that the House having during many years passed bills, of which the models are to be found in the Statute-book of Great Britain, to establish a regular system of accountability and responsibility in the department connected with the receipt and expenditure of revenue, these bills have failed in the Legislative Council.
70. Resolved, That since the last session of the Provincial Parliament, the Governor-in-chief of the Province, and the members of his Executive Government, relying on the pretensions above mentioned, have without any lawful authority paid large sums out of the public revenue, subject to the control of this House; and that the said sums were divided according to their pleasure, and even in contradiction to the voted of this House, as incorporated in the Supply Bill passed by it during the last session, and rejected by the Legislative Council.
71. Resolved, That this House will hold responsible for all monies which have been, or may hereafter be paid, otherwise than under the authority of an Act of the Legislature, or upon an address of this House, out of the public revenue of the province, all those who may be authorized such payments, or participated therein, until the said sums shall have been reimbursed, or a bill or bills of indemnity freely passed by this House shall have become law.
72. Resolved, That the course adopted by this House in the Supply Bill, passed during the last session, of attaching certain conditions to certain votes, for the purpose of preventing the accumulation of incompatible offices in the same persons, and of obtaining the redress of certain abuses and grievances, is wise and constitutional, and has frequently been adopted by the House of Commons, under analogous circumstances; and that if the Commons of England do not now so frequently recur to it, it is because they have happily obtained the entire control of the revenue of the nation, and because the respect shown to their opinions with regard to the redress of grievances and abuses, by the other constituted authorities, has regulated the working of the constitution in a manner equally adapted to give stability to His Majesty's Government and to protect the interests of the people.
73. Resolved, That it was anciently the practice of the House of Commons, to withhold supplies until grievances were redressed; and that in following this course in the present conjuncture, we are warranted in our proceedings, as well by the most approved precedents as by the spirit of the constitution itself.
74. Resolved, That if hereafter, when the redress of all grievances and abuses shall have been effected, this House should deem it fit and expedient to grant supplies, it ought not to do so otherwise than in the manner mentioned in its fifth and sixth resolutions of the 16 March, 1833, and by appropriating by its votes in an especial manner, and in the order in which they are enumerated in the said resolutions, the full amount of those heads of revenue, to the right of appropriating which claims have been set up by the Executive Government.
75. Resolved, That the number of the Inhabitants of the country being about 600,000, those of French origin are about 525,000, and those of British or other origin 75,000; and that the establishment of the civil government of Lower Canada, for the year 1832, accordingly to the yearly returns made by the Provincial Administration, for the information of the British Parliament, contained the names of 157 officers and others receiving salaries, who are apparently of British or foreign origin and the names of 47 who are, apparently, natives of the country, of French origin; that this statement does not exhibit the whole disproportion which exists in the distribution of the public money and power, the latter class being, for the most part, appointed to the inferior and less lucrative offices, and most frequently only obtaining even them, by becoming the dependent of those who hold the higher and the more lucrative offices; that the accumulation of many of the best paid and most influential, and at the same time incompatible, offices in the same person, which is forbidden by the laws and by sound policy, exists especially for the benefit of the former class; and that two-thirds of the persons included in the last commission of the peace issued in the province, are apparently of British or foreign origin, and one-third only of French origin.
76. Resolved, That this partial and abusive practice of bestowing the great majority of official places in the province on those only who are least connected with its permanent interests, and with the mass of its inhabitants, has been most especially remarkable in the judicial department, the judges for the three great districts having, with the exception of one only in each, been systematically chosen from that class of persons, who, being born out of the country, are the least versed in its laws, and in the language and usages of the majority of its inhabitants; that the result of their intermeddling in the politics of the country, of their connexion with Members of the Colonial Administration, and of their prejudices in favour of institutions foreign to and at variance with those of the country, is that the majority of the said judges have introduced great irregularity into the general system of our jurisprudence, by neglecting to ground their decisions on its recognized principles; and that the claim laid by the said judges to the power of regulating the forms of legal proceedings in a manner contrary to the laws, and without the interference of legislature, has frequently been extended to the fundamental rules of the law and of practice; and that in consequence of the same system, the administration of the criminal law is partial and uncertain, and such as to afford but little protection to the subject, and has failed to inspire that confidence which ought to be its inseparable companion.
77. Resolved, That in consequence of their connexion with the members of the Provincial Administrations, and of their antipathy to the country, some of the said judges have, in violation of the laws, attempted to abolish the use in the courts of law of the language spoken by the majority of the inhabitants of the country, which is necessary to the free action of the laws, and forms a portion of the usages guaranteed to them in the most solemn manner by the law of nations and by statutes of the British Parliament.
78. Resolved, That some of the said judges, through partiality for political purposes, and in violation of the criminal law of England as established in this country, of their duty and of their oath, have connived with divers law officers of the Crown, acting in the interest of the Provincial Administration, to allow the latter to engross and monopolize all criminal prosecutions of what nature soever, without allowing the private prosecutor to intervene or be heard, or any advocate to express his opinion as amicus curiae, when the Crown officers opposed it; that in consequence of this, numerous prosecutions of a political nature have been brought in the courts of law by the Crown officers against those whose opinions were unfavourable to the Administration for the time being; while it was impossible for the very numerous class of His Majesty's subjects to which the latter belonged to commence with the slightest confidence any prosecution against those who, being protected by the Administration, and having countenanced its acts of violence, had been guilty of crimes or misdemeanors; that the tribunals aforesaid have, as far as the persons composing them are concerned, undergone no modification whatever, and inspire the same fears for the future.
79. Resolved, That this House, as representing the people of this province, possesses of right, and has exercised within this province when occasion has required it, all the powers, privileges and immunities claimed and possessed by the Commons House of Parliament in the kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
80. Resolved, That it is one of the undoubted privileges of this House to send for all persons, papers and records, and to command the attendance of all persons, civil or military, resident within the province, as witnesses in all investigations which this House may deem it expedient to institute; and to require such witnesses to produce all papers and records in their keeping, whenever it shall deem it conducive to the public good to do so.
81. Resolved, That as the grand inquest of the province, it is the duty of this House to inquire concerning all grievances, and all circumstances which may endanger the general welfare of the inhabitants of the province, or be of a nature to excite alarm in them with regard to their lives, their liberty, and their property, to the end that such representations may be made to our Most Gracious Sovereign, or such legislative measures introduced, as may lead to the redress of such grievances, or tend to allay such alarm; and that far from having a right to impede the exercise of these rights and privileges, the Governor-in-chief is deputed by his Sovereign, is invested with great powers, and receives a large salary, as much for defending the rights of the subject and facilitating the exercise of this House, and of all constituted bodies, as for maintaining the prerogatives of the Crown.
82. Resolved, That since the commencement of the present session, a great number of petitions relating to the infinite variety of objects connected with the public welfare, have been presented to this House, and many messages and important communications received by it, both from His Majesty's Government in England and from His Majesty's Provincial Government; that many bills have been introduced in this House, and many important inquiries ordered by it, in several of which the Governor-in-chief is personally and deeply implicated; that the said petitions from our constituents, the people of all parts of this province; that the said communications from His Majesty's Government in England and from the Provincial Government; the said bills already introduced or in preparation; the said inquiries commenced and intended to be diligently prosecuted, may and must necessitate the presence of numerous witnesses, the production of numerous papers, the employment of numerous clerks, messengers and assistants, and much printing, and lead to inevitable and daily disbursements, forming the contingent expenses of this House.
83. Resolved, That from the year 1792 to the present, advances had constantly been made to meet these expenses, on addresses similar to that presented this year by this House to the Governor-in-chief, according to the practice adopted by the House of Commons; that an address of this kind is the most solemn vote of credit which this House can pass, and that almost the whole amount of a sum exceeding L227,000 has been advanced on such votes by the predecessors of his Excellency the Governor-in-chief, and by himself (as he acknowledges by his message of the 18th January, 1834), without any risk having ever been incurred by any other governor on account of any such advances, although several of them have had differences, attended by violence and injustice of their part, with the House of Assembly, and without their apprehending that the then next Parliament would not be disposed to make good the engagements of the House of Assembly for the time being; and that this refusal of the Governor-in-chief, in the present instance, essentially impeded the despatch of the business for which the Parliament was called together, is derogatory to the rights and honour of this House, and forms another grievance for which the present administration of this province is responsible.
84. Resolved, That besides the grievances and abuses beforementioned, there exist in this province a great number of others, (a part of which existed before the commencement of the present Administration, which has maintained them, and is the author of a portion of them) with regard to which this house reserves to itself the right of complaining and demanding reparation, and the number of which is too great to allow of their being enumerated here: that this House points out as among that number:
- 1stly. The vicious composition and the irresponsibility of the Executive Council, and the secrecy with which not only the functions, but even the names of the members of that body haven been kept from the knowledge of this House, when inquiries have been instituted by it on the subject.
- 2ndly. The exorbitant fees illegally exacted in certain of the public offices, and in others connected with the judicial department, under regulations made by the Executive Council, by the judges, and by other functionaries usurping the powers of the legislature.
- 3rdly. The practice of illegally calling upon the judges, to give their opinions secretly on questions which may be afterwards publicly and contradictorily argued before them; and the opinions themselves so given by the said judges, as political partisans, in oppositions to the laws, but in favour of the administration for the time being.
- 4thly. The cumulation of public places and offices in the same persons, and the efforts made by a number of families connected with the administration, to perpetuate this state of things for their own advantage, and for the sake of domineering for ever, with interested views and in the spirit of party, over the people and their representatives.
- 5thly. The intermeddling of members of the Legislative Councils in the elections of the representatives of the people, for the purpose of influencing and controlling them by force; and the selection frequently made of returning officers for the purpose of securing the same partial and corrupt ends; the interference of the present Governor-in-chief himself in the said elections; his approval of the intermeddling of the said Legislative councillors in the said elections; the partiality with which he intervened in the judicial proceedings connected with the said elections, for the purpose of influencing the said proceedings in a manner favourable to the military power, and contrary to the independence of the judicial power; and the applause which, as commander of the forces, he bestowed upon the sanguinary execution of the citizens by the soldiery.
- 6thly. The interference of the armed military force at such elections, through which three peaceable citizens, whose exertions were necessary to the support of their families, and who were strangers to the agitation of the election, were shot dead in the streets: the applause bestowed by the Governor-in-chief and commander of the Forces on the authors of this sanguinary military execution (who had not been acquitted by a petty jury) for the firmness and discipline displayed by them on that occasion.
- 7thly. The various faulty and partial systems which have been followed ever since the passing of the Constitutional Act, with regard to the management of the waste lands in this province, and have rendered it impossible for the great majority of the people of the country to settle on the said lands; the fraudulent and illegal manner in which, contrary to His Majesty's instructions, Governors, Legislative and Executive Councillors, Judges and subordinate officers have appropriated to themselves large tracts of the said lands; the monopoly of an extensive portion of the said lands in the hands of speculators residing in England with which the province is now threatened; and the alarm generally felt therein with regard to the alleged participation of His Majesty's Government in this scheme, without its having deigned to re-assure his faithful subjects on this head, or to reply to the humble address to His Majesty adopted by this House during the last session.
- 8thly. The increase of the expenses of the Government without the authority of the Legislature, and the disproportion of the salaries paid to public functionaries for the services performed by them, to the rent of real property, and to the ordinary commanded by the exertions of persons possessing talent, industry and economy equal to, or greater than those of the said functionaries.
- 9thly. The want of all recourse in the courts of law on the part of those who have just and legal claims on the Government.
- 10thly. The too frequent reservation of bills for the signification of His Majesty's pleasure, and the neglect of the Colonial office to consider such bills, a great number of which have never been sent back to the province, and some of which have even been returned so late that doubts may be entertained as to the validity of the sanction given to them; a circumstance which has introduced irregularity and uncertainty into the legislation of the province, and is felt by this House as an impediment to the re-introduction of the bills reserved during the then preceding session.
- 11thly. The neglect on the part of the Colonial office to give any answer to certain addresses transmitted by this House on important subjects; the practice followed by the administration of communicating in an incomplete manner, and by extracts, and frequently without giving their dates, the despatches received from time to time on subjects which have engaged the attention of this House; and the too frequent references to the opinion of His Majesty's Ministers in England, on the part of the provincial administration, upon points which it is in their power and within their province to decide.
- 12thly. The unjust retention of the college at Quebec, which forms par of the estates of the late Order of Jesuits, and which from a college has been transformed into a barrack for soldiers; the renewal of the lease of a considerable portion of the same estates, by the provincial executive, in favour of a member of the Legislative Council, since those estates were returned to the Legislature, and in opposition to the prayer of this House, and to the known wishes of a great number of His Majesty's subjects to obtain lands there, and to settle them; and the refusal of the said executive to communicate the said lease, and other information on the subject, to this House.
- 13thly. The obstacles unjustly opposed by the executive, friendly to abuses and to ignorance, to the establishment of colleges endowed by virtuous and disinterested men, for the purpose of meeting the growing desires of the people for the careful education of their children.
- 14thly. The refusal of justice with regard to the accusations brought by this House, in the name of the people, against judges, for flagrant acts of malversation, and for ignorance and violation of the law.
- 15thly. The refusals on the part of the governors, and more especially of the present Governor-in-chief, to communicate to this House the information asked for by it, from time to time, and which it had a right to obtain, on a great number of subjects connected with the public business of the province.
- 16thly. The refusal of His Majesty's Government to reimburse to the province the amount for which the late Receiver-general was defaulter, and its neglect to enforce the recourse which the province was entitled to against the property and person of the late Receiver-general.
85. Resolved, That the facts mentioned in the foregoing resolutions, demonstrate that the laws and constitutions of the province have not, at any period, been administered in a manner more contrary to the interests of His Majesty's Government, and to the rights of the people of this province, than under the present administration, and render it necessary that his Excellency Matthew Lord Aylmer, of Balrath, the present Governor-in-chief of this province, be formally accused by this House, of having, while acting as Governor, in contradiction to the wishes of the Imperial Parliament, and to the instructions he many have received, and against the honour and dignity of the Crown, and the rights and privileges of this House and the people whom it represents, so recomposed the Legislative Council as to augment the dissensions which rend this colony; of having seriously impeded the labours of this House, acting as the grand inquest of the country; of having disposed of the public revenue of the province, against the consent of the Representatives of the people, and in violation of the law and constitution; of having maintained existing abuses, and created new ones; of having refused to sign a writ for the election of a representative to fill a vacancy which had happened in this House, and to complete the number of representatives established by law for this province; and that this House expects from the honour, patriotism and justice of the reformed Parliament of the United Kingdom, that the Commons of the said Parliament will bring impeachments, and will support such impeachments before the House of Lords against the said Matthew Lord Aylmer, for his illegal, unjust and unconstitutional administration of the government of this province; and against such of the wicked and perverse advisers who have misled him, as this House may hereafter accuse, if there be no means of obtaining justice against them in the province, or at the hands of His Majesty's Executive Government in England.
86. Resolved, That this House hopes and believes, that the independent members of both Houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom will be disposed, both from inclination and from sense of duty, to support the accusations brought by this House, to watch over the preservation of its rights and privileges which have been so frequently and violently attacked, more especially by the present administration; and so to act, that the people of this province many not be forced by oppression to regret their dependence on the British Empire, and to seek elsewhere remedy for their afflictions.
87. Resolved, That this House learned, with gratitude, that Daniel O'Connell, Esq., had given notice in the House of Commons in July last, that during the present Session of the Imperial Parliament, he would call its attention to the necessity of reforming the Legislative and Executive Councils in the two Canadas; and that the interest thus shown for our own fate by him whom the gratitude and blessings of his countrymen have, with the applause of the whole civilized world, proclaimed Great and Liberator, and of whom our fellow-countrymen entertain corresponding sentiments, keeps alive in us the hope that through the goodness of our cause and the services of such a friend, the British Parliament will not permit a minister, deceived by the interested representations of the provincial administration and its creatures and tools, to exert (as there is reason from his despatches to apprehend that he may attempt to do,) the highest degree of oppression, in favour of a system which in better times he characterized as faulty, and against subjects of His Majesty who are apparently only known to him by the great patience with which they have waited in vain for promised reforms.
88. Resolved, That this House has the same confidence in Joseph Hume, Esq., and feels the same gratitude for this anxiety which he has repeatedly shown for the good government of these colonies, and the amelioration of their laws and constitutions, and calls upon the said Daniel O'Connell and Joseph Hume, Esqrs., whose constant devotedness was, even under a tory ministry, and before the reform of Parliament, partially successful in the emancipation of Ireland, from the same bondage and the same political inferiority with which the communications received from the Colonial Secretary during the present session menace the people of Lower Canada, to use their efforts that the laws and constitution of this province may be amended in the manner demanded by the people thereof; that the abuses and grievances of which the latter have to complain may be fully and entirely redressed; and that the laws and constitution may be hereafter administered in a manner consonant with justice, with the honour of the Crown and of the people of England, and with the rights, liberties and privileges of the people of this province, and of this House by which they are represented.
89. Resolved, That this House invited the members of the minority of the Legislative Council who partake the opinions of the people, the present members of the House of Assembly, until the next general election, and afterwards all the members then elected, and such other persons as they may associate with them, to form one committee or two committees of correspondence, to sit at Quebec and Montreal in the first instance, and afterwards at such place as they shall think proper; the said committees to communicate with each other, and with the several local committees which may be formed in different parts of the province, and to enter into correspondence with the Hon. Denis Benjamin Viger, the agent of this province in England, with the said Daniel O'Connell and Joseph Hume, Esqrs., and with such other members of the House of Lords or of the House of Commons, and such other persons in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, as they may deem expedient, for the purpose of supporting the claims of the people of this province and of this House; of furnishing such information, documents and opinions as they may think adapted to make known the state, wishes and wants of the province; the said committees also to correspond with such persons as they shall think proper in the other British colonies, which are all interested, that the most populous of their sister colonies do not sink under the violent attempt to perpetuate the abuses and evils which result as well from the vices of its constitution as from the combined malversation of the administrative, legislative and judicial departments, out of which have sprung insult and oppression for the people, and, by a necessary consequence, hatred and contempt on their part for the provincial government.
90. Resolved, That the Honourable Denis Benjamin Viger be requested to remain at the seat of His Majesty's Government, at least during the present session of the Imperial Parliament, to continue to watch over the interests of the province with the same zeal and the same devotedness as heretofore, without suffering himself to be discouraged by mere formal objections on the part of those who are unwilling to listen to the complaints of the country.
91. Resolved, That the fair and reasonable expenses of the said two Committees of Correspondence, incurred by them in the performance of the duties entrusted to them by this House, are a debt which it contracts towards them; and that the representatives of the people are bound in honour to use all constitutional means to reimburse such expenses to the said Committee, or to such persons as may advance money to them for the purpose above mentioned.
92. Resolved, That the message from his Excellency the Governor-in-chief, received on the 13th of January last, and relating to the writ of election for the county of Montreal, with the extract from a despatch which accompanied it, the message from the same, received the same day, and relating to the Supply Bill, and the message from the same, received on the 14th January last, with the extract from a despatch which accompanied it, be expunged from the journals of this House.
2. This is a reference to the Select Committee of the House of Commons on the Civil Government of Canada established on May 2, 1828.
A copy of The Ninety-Two Resolutions of 1834 is available from Early Canadiana Online
- Resolutions intended to be proposed by Lord John Russell, in a committee of the whole house, relative to the affairs of Canada
- List of the public meetings held in Lower Canada between May and November 1837
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