2009-03-22

John A. MacDonald Was Against Having Provinces

John A. Macdonald: 
The third and only means of solution for our difficulties was the junction of the provinces either in a Federal or a Legislative Union. Now as regards the comparative advantages of a Legislative and a Federal Union, I have never hesitated to state my own opinions. I have again and again stated in the House that if practicable I thought a Legislative Union would be preferable. I have always contended that if we could agree to have one government and one parliament legislating for the whole of these peoples, it would be the best, the cheapest, the most vigorous and the strongest system of government we could adopt. But on looking at the subject in the Conference and discussing the matter as we did most unreservedly and with a desire to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion, we found that such a system was impracticable. In the first place it would not meet the assent of the people of Lower Canada because they felt that in their peculiar position being in a minority with a different language, nationality and religion from the majority in case of a junction with the other provinces their institutions and their laws might be assailed and their ancestral associations on which they prided themselves attacked and prejudiced, it was found that any proposition which involved the absorption of the individuality of Lower Canada, if I may use the expression, would not be received with favor by her people. We found too that there was as great a disinclination on the part of the various Maritime Provinces to lose their individuality as separate political organizations as we observed in the case of Lower Canada herself. Therefore, we were forced to the conclusion that we must either abandon the idea of union altogether or devise a system of union in which the separate provincial organizations would be in some degree preserved. So that those who were like myself in favor of a Legislative Union were obliged to modify their views and accept the project of a Federal Union as the only scheme practicable even for the Maritime Provinces . Because, although the law of those provinces is founded on the common law of England, yet every one of them has a large amount of law of its own colonial law framed by itself and affecting every relation of life such as the laws of property, municipal and assessment, laws relating to the liberty of the subject and to all the great interests contemplated in legislation, we found in short that the statutory law of the different provinces was so varied diversified that it was almost impossible to weld them into a Legislative Union at once. I am happy to state and indeed it appears on the face of the Resolutions themselves that as regards the Lower Provinces a desire was evinced for the final assimilation of our laws. One of resolutions provides that an attempt shall be made to assimilate laws of the Maritime Provinces and those of Upper Canada for purpose of eventually establishing one body of statutory law on the common law of England the parent of the laws of all provinces.

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