next moved, "That 8,229l. be granted, to defray the charge of the Civil Establishment of Upper Canada, for the year 1824;" which, he said, was 4,000l. less than the sum voted last year.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that Upper Canada was only separated by an ideal line from the colonies of the United States, which not only paid the whole expenses of their civil, but their military establishments. It was extremely unfair and unjust, that the people of England should be called upon to pay the expenses of the civil as well as the military establishments of her colonies. Before the people of England were taxed, for the purpose of maintaining a civil establishment in Upper Canada, it was fitting that at least they should know of what that establishment consisted. It appeared to him a most improper appropriation of the public money. The people of Canada should provide for their own establishments. If all the officers who were kept there were useful, let their maintenance be provided for by the legislative assembly; but if, as he believed, they were considered unnecessary, why then let them at once be discharged. But, he believed, the people of Canada would throw upon the shoulders of the people of England, all these burthens (and naturally enough too), if the people of England were weak enough to submit to it. For instance, here we find two she riffs. Now what had we to do with these sheriffs? Why should we pay the sheriffs of Canada for duties performed there? He should be glad to know, whether they received no fees. If he were rightly informed, they had a very 956 ample income. Again, we had a secretary and a registrar to provide for. He should be glad to know what duties they performed. Did they send home any accounts to this country? Next came a clerk of the council, an officer appointed for the assistance of the local government. Then we find a surveyor-general of the land. Why, what became of all the money which was received for the sale of land? The United States derived a revenue of some millions a year from the sale of land; and if the British government would begin to sell the lands near the presidencies and the large towns, those lands would become productive. He had expected, after all the information which the hon. secretary opposite had received—after what had been clearly stated by Mr. Gourlay, an eye-witness, as to the capability of those colonies to defray their own expenses—that the House would not now be called upon to pass such an heavy item. He found, too, 100l. for a naval officer. Did he reside in England? He believed that the people of England were called upon to pay him his salary for doing nothing. These naval officers were appointed when there were no collectors of customs, and they had been continued ever since. The people of England had no more to do with these officers than the inhabitants of Ceylon or Calcutta. Then there was an agent, with a salary of 200l. a year. He should be glad to know what he had to do, or where he resided? In fact, he looked upon all these items as objectionable; and if the committee would only agree to refuse this vote, they would find that a proposition would be submitted to the legislative assembly, to make provision for their chief justice, their attorney-general, and other officers, if they considered their maintenance necessary; and there could be no question that they would reply, "we have a necessity for these officers, but there are others with whom we can dispense, and we will keep those we most want." He should therefore feel it his duty to take the sense of the Committee upon this item, on the ground, that we had no right to defray the expenses of a colony, which was as rich as the United States, and better able to bear their own burthens than the people of England.
Mr. Wilmot Horton
said, that the hon. gentleman rested his opposition to this vote upon the ground, that the people of 957 England were called upon to defray the expenses of useless offices. Now, this was a perfectly incorrect statement of the case. Up to the year 1816, all the expenses of that colony were borne by this country. Was it fair to compare with the United States a colony which had not an existence in the year 1790, and which was capable of conferring great benefits upon this country? The whole argument of the hon. gentleman might be resolved into this simple question—"Is there any office in the colony that ought to be abolished?" Now two-thirds of the expenses were raised by the colony itself. The aggregate expenditure amounted to 30,000l., of which sum 20.000l. were furnished by the colony; and he thought it would be unjust in their present condition to call upon them to supply more. Last year, when a proposition had been submitted to the House to unite the two Canadas, which measure, if carried into execution, would have completely done away with the separate expenditure, the hon. gentleman was one of the first to oppose it. If the hon. gentleman meant to lay down the principle, that the colonies were no advantage to the mother country, that would let into the consideration of the House a very extensive and important question; namely, the propriety of abandoning those colonies; but that was a subject quite foreign to the object now before the House, which was the consideration of the colonial estimates. The hon. gentleman had talked of the profits arising from the sale of lands; but, was he ignorant, that these lands produced no pecuniary value, but were granted to those who would undertake their cultivation? The question which the House had to look at, was the total expense of the civil establishment of Upper Canada, viewed in relation to her resources and the necessity of maintaining a local government. Now, was the general expense of the colony more than should be borne? Was it more than the mother country should contribute to a colony, as yet in an infant state? The hon. member had asked, what advantage we derived from this colony? This was not the question which the House had to discuss; but, if the hon. member would give notice of a motion, having for its object the abandonment of these colonies, he would soon see the kind of feeling it would produce throughout the country. It was difficult to estimate the value which 958 the country derived from her colonies. The hon. member for Aberdeen seemed to think that there could be no advantages produced, unless they could be shewn to him arithmetically on a balance sheet. But, in speaking of our colonial system, he always felt that he was speaking of the wealth, the power, and the commercial resources of the empire; and he was persuaded that, enlightened as the country now was by sound and rational principles of political science, the nation would be able to appreciate her colonial advantages, even though their precise pecuniary value could not be demonstrated on a balance sheet. These were the real principles by which the extensive interests of a country like this ought to be estimated; and the hon. member would perhaps do better to consider the subject in that point of view, than in dealing in generalities, or pinning his faith on the information of Mr. Gourlay. However, agreeing with the hon. gentleman in the principle, that the first object of the government should be to diminish the expense of our colonies, but denying the wisdom of withdrawing our support from them whilst in a state of infancy, it would be sufficient for him to say, that it was the determination of the government to support every plan by which their improvement could be promoted. If the House should refuse the present vote, they would inflict incalculable evil. Every effort should be made to promote the prosperity of these colonies, and that could only be done by affording them present assistance.
§ Mr. Grey Bennet
said, it would be well for the House to examine the system that was acted upon in the settlements of the United States of America. They defrayed the expenses of their own establishments, and all that his hon. friend had proposed was, that the people of Canada should follow the example of their neighbours, and consent to pay for the protection of those laws which they enjoyed. They should at least pay, as their neighbours paid, for a government which was respected and beloved by the people. For a good and sound government, such as their neighbours had the happiness to enjoy, they would most cheerfully contribute. But when they saw the enormous church establishment, which they were called upon to support; when they saw the great anxiety which prevailed to introduce into the new world all the fol- 959 lies and curses of the old; they were naturally disinclined to advance their money for such purposes. Instead of tithes, the clergy were allowed land; and he understood that in Canada all the lands attached to the church remained untouched, whilst all around were in a state of cultivation. Such a system called for immediate investigation. Whether his hon. friend was quite right in attempting to put down the system at once, was another question; but he was sure that it was the only way to make the government do any thing; for, year after year, the same system was going on. The precedent of this year would be of longer standing in the next; it would then become sanctioned as a custom to maintain establishments, of which our great grandchildren might not see the termination.
Mr. Wilmot Horton
said, that the hon. member seemed to have forgotten one very essential circumstance; namely, the war in Canada, and the militia pensions which it necessarily created. Was it not fair and just that this country should continue to defray these expenses for some time longer? He was confident that in the course of a very few years, this country would be relieved from the necessity of defraying the expenses of Upper Canada, as the resources of that country were rapidly increasing.
§ Mr. Bright
said, he approved of the vote, and was of opinion, that the colony ought to be encouraged, since it might become, in our possession, a counterpoise to the power of the United States. With respect to the sale of lands he did not know that any revenue derived from such a source would go into the pockets of the people. He took it that the proceeds would go to the Crown, and not be disposable by parliament. But, without entering into that question at present, suffice it to say, that it was clearly the policy of this country to advance money at present to the support of this colony.
§ Mr. Hume
said, that if so great an improvement was going forward in this colony as had been stated, surely they would not require so large a sum to defray the expenses of their establishments. He was of opinion, that the best policy which this country could pursue with regard to the Canadas, would be, to render them independent at the end of ten years, by which we should be relieved from a large annual expense, and avoid the probability of being drawn into a war with the United 960 States on their account, which might cost us millions. "But," said the hon. secretary—"you do not act fairly; I wish to give this colony good laws, and then leave them to themselves. You opposed the measure of the union." It was true he had done so, and he was proud to acknowledge it; because he conceived that nothing could have been more unjust than to have united Upper and Lower Canada without their consent. He considered it a disgraceful attempt to cheat these colonies [hear!]. Yes, he repeated, "cheat them." It was a disgraceful attempt to do that which he doubted very much whether the House had the power to do; namely, to establish a union between these two provinces without their sanction or knowledge. Was it not the duty of government to ascertain whether Lower Canada had paid to Upper the money which was due? If that had been done, no assistance could be required from us; but he clearly saw the more that was given, the more would be demanded. The people of this country were taxed to support the civil and military establishments of these colonies; but let the House refuse the money, and government would soon make a reduction, and the legislative assembly would resort to their own resources. If the government persisted in sending them out servants which they did not want, the extravagant expenditure would continue; and upon these grounds, he should feel it his duty to take the sense of the House upon the vote. He regretted the necessity he was under of dividing the Committee to see how many would support him, but he should feel it necessary to do so, unless some hope were held out by the government, of a diminished estimate in the following year.
said, he could not support his hon. friend, and was therefore anxious to say a few words to explain the reasons which induced him to vote against those with whom he generally acted. You cannot lay down a principle by which you can regulate, whether colonies should be compelled to maintain themselves, or should receive assistance from the mother country. If this country had been too extravagant in her colonial expenditure—a proposition which he was disposed to admit—that was not the place to examine the subject. The expenses could only be examined by a committee up stairs; with any hope at least of arriving at a 961 satisfactory conclusion. It appeared to him rather hard, that the hon. secretary should be called upon, unprepared, to go through the details of the expenditure; and, even if he were prepared, he doubted whether the House would feel disposed to listen to them. With respect to Upper Canada, it happened accidentally to him, to have been made acquainted with the establishment in that country; and from the information he then bad obtained, he would say, that nothing could have been more deplorable than the state of the administration of justice at one period. This arose from various reasons; partly from the great extent of territory, the paucity of inhabitants compared with that extent, and the violent fends which arose, in consequence of the formation of the Hudson's Bay and Selkirk companies. Surely, then, it would be most unwise to diminish the civil establishments of that country. On the contrary, a clear case of necessity had, bethought, been made out for the government to step in and make up that deficiency, which, under the present state of things, it was impossible for Upper Canada to supply. A time, he hoped, would soon arrive, when that colony would be able to maintain her own establishments; but, until then, it would be most imprudent in us to withhold our assistance. Other topics had been touched upon not connected with the subject, and one in particular of great importance; namely, what place Upper Canada would hold in case of another dispute between this country and America. But, surely this was not a time to enter upon the discussion of one of the most important subjects which could come under the consideration of government, and respecting which ministers would incur a fearful responsibility, if they took a single step without maturely weighing all the consequences. For the reasons he had stated, if his hon. friend should persevere in his determination of taking the sense of the committee, he must be under the necessity of voting against him.
§ Mr. Bennet
suggested to his hon. friend, the propriety of withdrawing for the present his opposition to the vote.
§ Mr. Hume
said, his hon. and learned friend seemed to suppose, that he wished to deprive the colony of Upper Canada of justice. Now, such was not his intention; but his object was, to make them shake off those officers whose services were not required, in order to enable them to main- 962 tain those who were necessary. His friends around him seemed to entertain a hope that a reduction would be made in the establishment. He confessed he had no such expectation. However, he would not divide the committee on the present occasion.