« PoprzedniaDalej »
to Canada with his parents in 1820 and was educated at the Royal Grammar School, Kingston. He then studied law, was admitted to the bar of Upper Canada in 1836, and soon attained a high place in his profession, his command of criminal and commercial law being especially noteworthy, while his abilities as a pleader were of no ordinary character. In 1844 he entered the Canada Assembly as member for Kingston, his position being that of a progressive Conservative as distinguished from a purely Tory attitude, and from 1856 until his death he was the leader of the Canadian Conservatives. He entered the cabinet as receiver-general in 1847, and was attorney-general 1854-62, resigning in the latter year only to resume the position in 1864. Macdonald, more than any other person, was instrumental in bringing about the union of the Provinces in 1867, in which year he received the honor of knighthood. He was the first minister of public affairs and attorney-general of the Dominion, and in 1869 became prime minister, his ministry remaining in power until November, 1873, when it fell on the question of the Pacific Railroad charges. For the next six years Macdonald led the Conservative Opposition, but in 1878 came once more into power as prime minister, retaining this ofice continuously until his death at Ottawa, June 6, 1891. In 1880 he signed the contract for constructing the Canadian Pacific Railway, the most important act of his administration, the railway being completed in June, 1886. As a public speaker Macdonald displayed signal ability, and while frequently visiting England and other countries on diplomatic errands performed his various missions with skill and diplomatic finesse. He was sometimes styled the Canadian Disraeli,” in allusion to his personal likeness to the English statesman, whom he resembled to some extent in the character of his statesmanship. Among the many measures of importance successfully carried out by him were the improvement of the Canadian criminal laws, the extension of the municipal system, military organization, extension of the franchise, ratification of the Washington treaty, and the extension and consolidation of the Dominion. He had a profound knowledge of human nature and was often able to carry his point without antagonizing his opponents.
SPEECH ON CONFEDERATION
DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, FEBRUARY, 1865
[The Dominion of Canada was born July 1, 1867. In February, 1865, the proposed union was discussed in the Parliament of Canada. Sir E. P. Taché moved a series of resolutions in the Legislative Council, while Attorney-General Macdonald (afterward Sir John) moved a resolution in
the Legislative Assembly to the effect that the colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island should be united in one government, with provisions based on certain resolutions which were adopted at a conference of delegates from the said colonies, held at the city of Quebec on the 10th of October, 1864. In moving this resolution Mr. Macdonald made what is possibly his most famous speech.]
R. SPEAKER, -In fulfilment of the promise made
by the government to Parliament at its last session,
I have moved this resolution. I have had the honor of being charged, on behalf of the government, to submit a scheme for the confederation of all the British North American Provinces,- a scheme which has been received, I am glad to say, with general if not universal approbation in Canada. The scheme, as propounded through the press, has received almost no opposition. While there may be occasionally, here and there, expressions of dissent from some of the details, yet the scheme as a whole has met with almost universal approval, and the government has the greatest satisfaction in presenting it to this House.
This subject, which now absorbs the attention of the people of Canada and of the whole of British North America, is not
For years it has more or less attracted the attention of every statesman and politician in these provinces, and has been looked upon by many far-seeing politicians as being eventually the means of deciding and settling very many of the vexed questions which have retarded the prosperity of the colonies as a whole, and particularly the prosperity of Canada. The subject was pressed upon the public attention by a great many writers and politicians; but I believe the attention of the legislature was first formally called to it by my honorable friend the Minister of Finance. Some years ago, in an elaborate speech, my honorable friend, while an independent member of Parliament, before being con
a new one.
nected with any government, pressed his views on the legislature at great length and with his usual force. But the subject was not taken up by any party as a branch of their policy until the formation of the Cartier-Macdonald administration in 1858, when the confederation of the colonies was announced as one of the measures which they pledged themselves to attempt, if possible, to bring to a satisfactory conclusion. In pursuance of that promise the letter or despatch which has been so much and so freely commented upon in the press and in this House was addressed by three of the members of that administration to the Colonial Office.
The subject, however, though looked upon with favor by the country, and though there were no distinct expressions of opposition to it from any party, did not begin to assume its present proportions until last session. Then men of all parties and all shades of politics became alarmed at the aspect of affairs. They found that such was the opposition between the two sections of the Province, such was the danger of impending anarchy in consequence of the irreconcilabie differences of opinion with respect to representation by population between Upper and Lower Canada, that unless some solution of the difficulty was arrived at we would suffer under a succession of weak governments,— weak in numerical support, weak in force, and weak in power of doing good. alarmed at this state of affairs. We had election after election, we had ministry after ministry, with the same result. Parties were so equally balanced that the vote of one member might decide the fate of the administration and the course of legislation for a year or a series of years.
This condition of things was well calculated to arouse the earnest consideration of every lover of his country, and I am happy to say it had that effect.
it had that effect. None were more impressed
by this momentous state of affairs, and the grave apprehensions that existed of a state of anarchy destroying our credit, destroying our prosperity, destroying our progress, than were the members of this present House; and the leading statesmen on both sides seemed to have come to the common conclusion that some step must be taken to relieve the country from the deadlock and impending anarchy that hung over us. With that view my colleague, the President of the Council, made a motion founded on the despatch addressed to the Colonial Minister, to which I have referred, and a committee was struck, composed of gentlemen of both sides of the House, of all shades of political opinion, without any reference to whether they were supporters of the Administration of the day or belonged to the Opposition, for the purpose of taking into calm and full deliberation the evils which threatened the future of Canada.
That motion of my honorable friend resulted most happily. The committee, by a wise provision - and in order that each member of the committee might have an opportunity of expressing his opinions without being in any way compromised before the public or with his party in regard either to his political friends or to his political foes - agreed that the discussion should be freely entered upon without reference to the political antecedents of any of them, and that they should sit with closed doors, so that they might be able to approach the subject frankly and in a spirit of compromise. The committee included most of the leading members of the House, I had the honor myself to be one of the number; and the result was that there was found an ardent desire
a creditable desire I must say - displayed by all the members of the committee to approach the subject honestly, and to attempt to work out some solution which might relieve Canada from
the evils under which she labored. The report of that committee was laid before the House, and then came the political action of the leading men of the two parties in this House, which ended in the formation of the present government. The principle upon which that government was formed has been announced and is known to all. It was formed for the very purpose of carrying out the object which has now received to a certain degree its completion, by the resolutions I have had the honor to place in your hands.
As has been stated, it was not without a great deal of difficulty and reluctance that that government was formed. The gentlemen who compose this government had for many years been engaged in political hostilities to such an extent that it affected even their social relations. But the crisis was great, the danger was imminent, and the gentlemen who now form the present administration found it to be their duty to lay aside all personal feelings, to sacrifice in some degree their position, and even to run the risk of having their motives impugned, for the sake of arriving at some conclusion that would be satisfactory to the country in general. The present resolutions were the result. And, as I said before, I am proud to believe that the country has sanctioned, as I trust that the representatives of the people in this House will sanction, the scheme which is now submitted for the future government of British North America.
Everything seemed to favor the project, and everything seemed to show that the present was the time, if ever, when this great union between all her Majesty's subjects dwelling in British North America should be carried out. When the government was formed it was felt that the difficulties in the way of effecting a union between all the British North American colonies were great — so great as almost, in the opinion of