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it may, I must go on a little further. I have proceeded so far in drawing a portrait of Canada, that I should be sorry to omit any feature which might leave the resemblance doubtful. It would be more correct, were I to say the outlines of a portrait, for it is devoid of colouring and of ornament; yet I think it will be recognized by those who know the original.
I have, in a former letter, made some remarks on the government of Canada; but I have not said any thing, either as to the precise nature of the constitution, or the exact boundaries of the country. Several points connected with these objects demand attention, particularly the state of the public mind, in so far as regards the connexion with, and dependance on, Great Britain.
By the act of parliament, passed in 1791, it is enacted, "That there shall be, within each of the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, a legislative council, and house of assembly, who, with the consent of the governor, appointed by the king, shall have power to make laws."—Bills, though they have passed both the assembly and the council, may, by the governor, be referred to the king, and do not become laws till his assent is procured. When the governor assents for his Majesty, the bill becomes a law: but copies of such laws are sent home to the Secretary of State, and his Majesty may declare his dissatisfaction at any time within two years.
The legislative council is to consist of not less than seven members for Upper Canada, and fifteen for Lower Canada, to be summoned by the governor. The members are to hold their seats for life, unless forfeited by four years continued absence, or by swearing allegiance to some foreign power. The king may grant hereditary titles, by letters patent; with a right of sitting as legislative counsellors. But this right of creating a Canadian nobility has not as yet been exercised.
The house of assembly is to consist of not less than sixteen members for Upper Canada; and not less than fifty members for Lower Canada; to be chosen by the freeholders in the several towns and counties. The members for the counties are chosen by those who possess real pro
perty of the yearly value of 40s. The voters for the towns must possess a house, or land, of the yearly value of 51. sterling; or have been residents a year, and paid 101. a year rent. The council and assembly are to be called together at least once a year; and every assembly is to continue four years, unless sooner dissolved, which it is in the power of the governor to do, as soon, and as often, as he pleases. Every voter must, if called upon, take an oath that he is qualified to vote according to law. The governors of the two provinces are perfectly independent of each other in their civil capacity. In military affairs, the governor of Lower Canada takes precedence, as he is usually created Captain General of his Majesty's forces in North America.
By an act passed in the parliament of Great Britain, in the 18th year of his present Majesty, intituled, " An act for removing all doubts and apprehensions concerning taxations by the parliament of Great Britain, in the colonies, provinces, and plantations in North America, and the West Indies," &c. Parliament restrained restrained itself for ever, from imposing taxes or duties in the colonies, except for the regulation of trade; the produce of such taxes or duties to be disposed of by the provincial legislature.
Whether the British government did right in giving Canada a provincial assembly, has been frequently a subject of discussion here. Much, of course, may be said on both sides: for my own part, I have no hesitation in saying, that, in my opinion, it was premature.
An infant colony is something like an infant child, and should be treated in the same manner. It would be considered extremely unwise to put a very young man, of large fortune, in possession of his estates, and allow him to have the management of them. The most promising youth would not be trusted to such an extent: but if he was known to possess strong passions, and, instead of being well grounded in his education, he had been neglected,— his mind uncultivated, bad habits acquired, strong prejudices and antipathies against his guardians imbibed, with every wish to be troublesome to them, every desire' to throw off their superintending care, and either to take the reins into his own unsteady, feeble hands, or invite to his aid the greatest enemies the guardians have, would not the guardians be justly accused of acting a foolish part, were they, notwithstanding all this, to put it in the power of the young man to accomplish his wishes either in whole or in part?
This is precisely the case of the British government and Canada. The comparison I have made between the Canadians and an ignorant headstrong youth, will no doubt be deemed by them highly AntiCanadian, yet 1 think it will hold good in every point.
They will pretend to be indignant at the idea of their having a wish to throw off the superintending care of Britain, and to give a preference to France; and I do believe that a great many of them would be sincere in their indignation,because prudential considerations might predominate with these; or they may have reasoned themselves into the conviction that any change must be for the worse: but I would not do the great body of the people the in