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"Nous avons l'avantage, profitons-en!" the French Canadians turned the divisions among Upper Canadians to their own advantage in every possible way. Unjust and injurious legislation, waste and extravagance in every public department, increased debt and heavier taxation, were the speedy consequences, until the credit of the country was seriously imperilled.
A remedy had to be applied to this state of things; and it had to be such a remedy as would overthrow the unjust dominancy of the Lower Canadians over Upper Canada affairs, and remove from the public arena as far as possible all such questions as excited strife and heartburning among our own people. That remedy was believed to be found, first, in the adoption of population as the basis of parliamentary representation, thereby securing to Upper Canada her just influence in the legislature; and, second, in the entire separation of church and state, placing all denominations on a like footing, and leaving each to support its own religious establishments from the funds of its own people. The reform party became strongly impressed with the conviction that until these measures of reform were obtained, good government was impossible, and sectional and sectarian strife would continue to afflict the country. They as heartily believed that if legislation and the control over the public expenditures were placed by just representation in the hands of those who paid the taxes, and if the state were debarred from regarding the people in their sectarian character, but treated all alike without regard to their religious opinions, a day of solid prosperity and internal peace would dawn on Canada such as had not before been witnessed.
Acting on these strong convictions, and in the conscientious belief (rightly or wrongly entertained) that by no other measures could the end sought be permanently secured the reform party entered on an organized agitation for a reformed system of representation, and for the sweeping away from the public arena of all sectarian issues. The men who led in that agitation fully comprehended the gravity of the responsibility they assumed, and the painful separations that it must entail; but they were upheld by earnest belief in the absolute necessity of the course they were taking and they looked forward with hope and pleasure to the day when their policy would be vindicated by the results it would achieve. In parliament and out of it, the agitation was prosecuted with all vigour. The injustice of the existing system of representation was attacked on all occasions, and the practical evils flowing from it were pressed on the public mind; petitions for its reform were poured into parliament, and at every election throughout the land the hustings was made a battle-field for the promotion of the great end sought. At the same time, the most determined efforts were put forth for the final but just settlement of all those vexed questions by which religious sects were arrayed against each other, clergymen dragged as combatants into the political arena, religion brought into contempt, and opportunity presented to our French Canadian friends to rule us through our own dissensions. The clergy reserve injustice was assailed, the 57 rectories were exposed, the impolicy of separating the youth of our country, and studding the land with sectarian schools, was strongly enforced; and the waste and impolicy of using the public funds for sectarian uses was firmly maintained and enforced. On all these and many similar questions we were met by the French Canadian phalanx in hostile array; our whole policy was denounced in language of the strongest character, and the men who upheld it were assailed as the basest of mankind. We on our side were not slow in returning blow for blow, and feelings were excited among the catholics of Upper Canada that estranged the great bulk of them from our ranks.
But the cause advanced. Our annual motions for reformed representation got a stronger support every session, until hardly a candidate dared present himself for election without pledging himself to go for it. Our anti-sectarian motions were still more successful. The justice of them
commended itself to the public mind, and one after another all these vexed questions found permanent solution and disappeared from parliamentary discussion. And I call your attention to this fact, that settled though some of these questions were in a very unsatisfactory fashion, the day of their settlement was the last of their existence as topics of debate. Not in a single instance was it proposed to rake their ashes from the tomb, or make the mode of their settlement, after the event, the subject of party warfare.
Need I remind you how, year after year, the reform party stuck to their great purpose; and how, at last, by a party sacrifice having few parallels in party history, they won for the people, of Upper Canadaprotestant and catholic alike-that great measure of justice embodied in the Act of 1867. Under that Act the people of Ontario enjoy representation according to population; they have entire control over their own local affairs; and the last remnant of the sectarian warfare-the separate school question was settled forever by a compromise that was accepted as final by all parties concerned.
I deny not that in this protracted contest words were spoken and lines were penned that had been better clothed in more courteous guise. But when men go to war they are apt to take their gloves off; and assuredly if one side struck hard blows the other was not slow in returning them. And looking back on the whole contest, and the ends it has already accomplished, I do think every dispassionate person must confess that had the battle been ten times fiercer than it was, and the words spoken ten times more bitter than they were, the triumphant success that has attended the long agitation would have sunk all the evils attending it into utter insignificance. We have obtained our just share in the administration of the affairs of the Dominion; we have obtained exclusive control over our provincial affairs; we have banished sectarian discord from our legislative and executive chambers; and we enjoy a degree of material prosperity, and have a degree of consideration for the religious views and feelings of each other, that no living man ever witnessed in Canada till now.
I claim that to accomplish these great ends was, all through our agitation, the avowed object for which we fought. I claim that the principles involved in our agitation were precisely those that the catholics of Canada held and firmly contended for in the olden time when they worked cordially in the liberal ranks. I repeat my conviction that, had it not been for the intrusion of French Canadian dictation in our affairs, the reform party might have remained intact until this day. And I ask those of you who can do so, to carry your minds back to the position held by catholics in times gone by, and say whether any other section of the people of Upper Canada has such good reason to rejoice in the banishment of sectarian issues from the political arena, and the perfect equality of all denominations now so firmly and so happily enjoyed, as have the catholics of Ontario.
There are tens of thousands of catholics throughout the province who can well remember the days when protestant and catholic reformers acted cordially together. They have had fifteen years trial of alliance with our opponents, and I ask them to say frankly how the position they have held, as hewers of wood and drawers of water for the high church and state Anglican party, compares with the just consideration they received when allied with us? How many Irish catholics have been elected for conservative constituencies? How much of the enormous patronage of the Crown in the past fifteen years has fallen into catholic hands? What pretence of consideration has been shown to the prominent catholics of the province, except the honour of marching up to the polls and voting for Tory candidates? Ay, and what disadvantages might not the catholics to this hour have been labouring under, had protestant reformers left them to the tender mercies of the men whom they are now striving to bolster up?
As I have already said, I am in no official position to entitle me to speak for the reformers of Ontario; but thirty years of journalism in close connection with that party, and many years of leadership in parliament, have given me a thorough knowledge of their principles, and feelings, and opinions; and I am persuaded I shall not err when I say that protestant reformers, with very trifling exceptions, would welcome with gladness the return of catholic reformers to their party, and that as they were treated in the olden time, so they would be treated now. All the vexed questions that caused the separation have been settled and swept away, and now all are free to act together for the advancement and prosperity of our country, and to treat all men alike, without regard to their religious opinions.
I believe it is the universal feeling of protestant reformers throughout Ontario, now that French Canadian interference in our affairs has been brought to an end-now that the protestant majority is completely dominant in our province, and the catholics placed by their scattered position at disadvantage that it is the incumbent duty of the reform party, dictated as well by their most cherished principles as by justice and good policy, that a full share of parliamentary representation according to their numbers, and generous consideration in all public matters, should be awarded to the catholic minority. And they have shown their sincerity by placing Irish catholic reformers-not because they are catholics, but because they are good men and true all of them as candidates for seats in the assembly in four most important constituencies, and with every prospect of success --with certainty of success should their fellow-catholic electors cast their votes in their favour. This the reform party has done voluntarily, gladly, without condition, although a vast preponderance of the catholic electors will in all probability cast their votes in the coming contest in favour of our opponents and against our candidates. I leave you to judge from this, how different your position as catholics would have been to-day, had we been able to bring forward liberal candidates in other constituencies where, from the strength of the catholic vote and its opposition to our candidates, we have been unable to make a move. In the position you now occupy, you get but the little you can extort from the fears of those you serve : but as members of the liberal party you would have all the influence and all the advantages that perfect equality and common interests can secure.
Now, don't mistake the drift of this paper. I am not assuming to advise catholic reformers as to the course they should pursue in public affairs. That is for them alone to judge and decide. Neither am I seeking to cloak over past feuds or apologize for past occurrences. The principles and measures my party contended for in the past I contend for still. I glory in the justice and soundness of those principles and measures. am proud of the men who, amid long and bitter discouragement, stuck to the good cause until they carried it to victory-and I point with glad thankfulness to the banishment of religious jealousy and discord that so long rent our country, and to the peace and prosperity that now reign amongst us, as the undeniable fruits of the twenty years' conflict of the great reform party of Upper Canada.
I have written as I have done simply to show catholic reformers in plain language, from a reform point of view, how the separation between protestant and catholic liberals arose; the great ends for which the agitation was carried on; the signal success that has attended it; and the entire settlement and removal by it of all these questions that barred the way to a reunion of the old reform party. All I ask is that they shall forget for a few minutes whose name is attached to this paper, and read calmly what is written. Let them blaze away at George Brown afterwards as vigorously as they please, but let not their old feuds with him close their eyes to the interests of their country, and their own interests as a powerful section of the body politic. I am no longer in parliamentary life, and have no public favours to ask of anybody; but I confess it is with no slight
satisfaction I entertain the conviction that the day is near at hand, if indeed it has not already come, when even our catholic fellow-citizens will be ready to admit that the wisdom and patriotism of the policy of the reform party from 1854 to 1867 has been amply justified by the great results it has brought about: I remain, Gentlemen, yours truly,
GLOBE OFFICE, Toronto, 9th March, 1871.
MR. SANDFIELD MACDONALD'S "PATENT COMBINATION."-THE ELECTIONS OF 1872.--MR. BROWN AND MR. JUSTICE WILSON.
At the general election for the Ontario House of Assembly in March, 1871, as well as in the election for the Dominion in 1872, Mr. Brown devoted himself by pen and voice to advancing the interests of the liberal party with great success. The result of the election for the Ontario House was the defeat of the coalition government under Mr. Sandfield Macdonald, in spite of the strenuous support given that gentleman from his allies at Ottawa. It may here be stated that when Mr. Sandfield Macdonald was intrusted with the formation of the first Ontario administration Mr. Brown waited on him and assured him of the hearty support of the liberals if he formed a liberal government. It would appear he was not at liberty to do this by his Ottawa arrangements. Mr. Brown and the Globe therefore very properly vigorously opposed the small coalition as he opposed the larger one. The same principle was at stake in the existence of the one as in the other.
At no time was there any personal feeling existing between Mr. Brown and Mr. Macdonald, although the latter gentleman, to use his own words, had a crow to pluck with Mr. Brown because he had opposed the Macdonald-Dorion government in 1862. Mr. Macdonald imagined that he had, by taking conservatives into his government, for ever secured the adherence of that party to his standard. He was soon to be undeceived; immediately after the first decisive vote was recorded against him in the assembly, "they all forsook him and "fled." This ingratitude touched the fallen minister to the quick. Without him they never could have held the government; by adhering to him in his adversity they would have shown they had more than office in view; instead of this, "they all began with one consent "to make excuse. Mr. Brown, like many another opponent of Mr. Macdonald's, had a liking for his brusque and honest character, and many a set-to they had at chance meetings, half in jest half in earnest, about current events, and particularly about Mr. Macdonald becoming a Tory, as Mr. Brown would put it. The Ontario Premier invariably denied vehemently that he joined the Tories, and claimed that they joined him to form not a coalition but a "patent combina"tion." (The phrase belonged to Mr. Hincks.)