To the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty
Journals of the House of Assembly of Nova Scotia - Thursday, March 26, 1840
THE HUMBLE ADDRESS OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF THE PROVINCE OF NOVA SCOTIA
May it please Your Majesty :
We, Your Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, the Representatives of your loyal Province of Nova Scotia, are reluctantly compelled again to approach Your Majesty with a statement of grievances, which, while they have been annually, during the last three years, laid at the foot of the Throne, still remain unredressed.
The chief cause of all the evils of which the British North American Colonies have complained, has been the want of harmony between the Executive and Representative Branches of the Government. The state to which this Province has been brought by the Official Compact, who had, for many years, monopolized all the power and patronage within it, was fully disclosed by this House in 1837. Your Majesty at once recognized the justice of our complaints, and gave positive orders to your Representative in this Colony to obviate the possibility of their recurrence, by calling around him, into the Executive and Legislative Councils, those who possessed the confidence of the country.
Had this been done, and had Your Majesty's commands, conveyed in the Despatches of Lord Glenelg, been executed by the Lieutenant-Governor, the hopes they raised among a loyal and intelligent population would have been realised, and Your Majesty would not have been, at this time, called upon to vindicate your high authority, and do justice to your People, between whom and your Royal favour subordinate functionaries have hitherto interposed.
In almost every essential particular the principles laid down by Lord Glenelg, in 1837, were violated by Sir Colin Campbell ; and directions, too plainly. expressed to admit of their being misunderstood, were either overlooked, or so perverted as to strengthen and consolidate the power of the small and exclusive party, of whose acts, and dangerous ascendancy, the Representatives of the People had complained.
This Assembly, being most anxious to avoid any appearance of disrespect to Your Majesty's Representative, did not, in their subsequent remonstrances, venture to attribute this daring violation of Your Majesty's express commands to His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor. They charged it, as they, conceived they had a right to do, upon his advisers; and they sympathised -.with an Officer, surrounded by a Council and Heads of Departments, who, their tenure of office being permanent, under the Colonial Constitutions as then understood, had nothing to fear and every thing to hope, from sacrificing his reputation to protect their own emoluments and power.
Your Majesty will, therefore, readily conceive with what delight and satisfaction this House read the Despatch of Lord John Russell, of the 16th October, by which the power was given to the Lieutenant-Governor to shake himself free of the influences by which he had been tramelled. They recognized, in that document, no new and dangerous experiment, but a recurrence to the only principles upon which Colonial Governments can be safely carried on. They saw that while great powers were to be confided-while an unlimited range of selection was to be given to the Lieutenant-Governor, in order to make the exercise of the Prerogative most beneficial and satisfactory to the People, he was to be held responsible to the Sovereign for the tranquillity of the Colony committed to his charge, and for the harmonious action of the Executive and Legislative Branches of the Government. In order, therefore, that His Excellency Sir Colin Campbell might, without unnecessary delay, exercise the powers confided, for the redress of grievances of which this House had so frequently complained, we passed, on the 5th February last, the following Resolutions which were presented to His Excellency on the 10th of the same month :
" Resolved, That for many years the best interests of this Province have been jeopardized, and its progress retarded, by the want of harmony between the different Branches of the Government ; and the absence of that cordial co-operation between the Representatives of the People and those who conducted the local administration, which, in the view of this Committee, is highly desirable, if not indispensable, in every British Colony, to which a Constitution, modelled after that of the Mother Country, has been granted by the Crown.
Resolved, That during the struggle, which, since 1837, this House has maintained, with a view to reduce the expenses, improve the Institutions, and purify the Administration of the Country, it has been met at every step by an influence, which while it was beyond the control of this Assembly, has wielded the whole power and patronage of the Government, to baffle its efforts, and thwart-the wise and benevolent policy avowed by Her Majesty's Ministers.
Resolved, That in approaching many of the important questions to be disposed of in the present Session, the House of Assembly feels embarrassment and difficulty, which it would be unwise to conceal, either from the Government or the Country at large ; and that it can anticipate no satisfactory settlement of those questions, until the Executive Council is so remodelled, as to secure to the House of Assembly, the aid of the local Administration in carrying out the views of the Assembly and in facilitating any negociations which it may be necessary to conduct with Her Majesty's Government :
Therefore resolved, That the House of Assembly, after mature and' calm deliberation, weary of seeing the Revenues of the 'Country and the time of its Representatives toasted, the People of.Nova Scotia misrepresented to the Sovereign, and the gracious boons of the Sovereign marred in their transmission to the People, do now solemnly declare that the Executive Council, as' at present constituted, does not enjoy the confidence of the Commons."
The following Answer was returned:
". Mr.. Speaker, and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly,
The subject you have presented to my consideration in this Address, has in all essential respects been already brought under the notice of Her Majesty's Government, in Re-solutions of the House of Assembly passed in its-last Session.
Her Majesty's Ministers, after full consideration of the subject, and personal conference with Delegates; from your body authorized to advocate your views, have expressed, in the Despatch which, by Her Majesty's command, I recently laid before you, the judgment to which they had come, on the matters of your complaints.
Having no reason to-believe that any alteration has taken place in the sentiments of Her Majesty's Government in this respect, I do not feel myself at liberty to adopt any other course, than to refer you to the Despatch already alluded to, as containing their decision. Justice, however, to the Executive Council, leads me to say, that I have had every reason to be satisfied with the advice and assistance which they have at all times afforded me.
It has ever been, and shall continue to be, my earnest desire to concur in every measure which appears to me to be conducive to the best interests of this Province."
Astonished and grieved, that, while no notice had been taken by His Excellency of Lord John Russell's Despatch, or of other public Documents, illustrative of the wise policy announced by the new Colonial Secretary, reference only had been made to a Despatch of a prior date, breathing a different spirit, and written by a nobleman who had retired from the Colonial Office, this House called His Excellency's attention to those important State Papers in the following Address:
TO HIS EXCELLENCY LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIR COLIN CAMPBELL
Knight Commander of the Most Honorable Military Order of the Bath, Lieutenant-Governor and Commander in Chief in and over Her Majesty's Province of Nova-Scotia, and its Dependencies
THE HUMBLE ADDRESS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY:
May it please your Excellency,
We, Her Majesty's dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Representatives of the Province of Nova-Scotia, cannot but express our unfeigned regret at the tenor of the reply, made by your Excellency to the Resolutions, passed by a large majority of this House, on the 5th instant.
It is true that some of the complaints, urged in those Resolutions, had been pressed upon the attention of Her Majesty's Government in former communications,-but we humbly conceive that the Despatch of Lord John Russell, dated 16th October, and not that of his predecessor in Office, dated 31st of August, to which Your Excellency refers, is the one by which all parties in the Colonies, now and hereafter, are to be governed. We believe that that Despatch, not only gives to Your Excellency the power to re-model the Executive Council, but makes such changes as are required to ensure harmony between the Executive and Legislative Branches of the Government, imperative.
This House are at a loss to conceive any "motives of public policy" more " sufficient" to render an application of the principles of that Despatch to this Province advisable, than the facts, that a majority of thirty to twelve of the Members of the Representative Branch have avowed their want of confidence in Officers, expressly referred to by the Colonial Secretary,-that they have declared it impossible to deal wisely with measures of great importance to the Government and the Country, until confidence between the Executive and the Legislature be established,-and that, while the only efficient Representative of the Local Government, in this House, has resigned his seat, no man of any influence in this Assembly can be found to devote his talents to the service of the Government, while 'a majority of the Executive Council persist in retaining their seats, and Your Excellency declines to exercise the powers confided by Lord John Russell's Despatch.
It is to this House a subject of deep mortification, that while, in a neighbouring Province, His Excellency Sir John Harvey recognizes the Despatch of the 16th October, as conferring a new and improved Constitution on the Colonies, and has expressed his determination to act upon it,-while in Canada the Governor General declares, that "he-has received Her Majesty's commands to administer the Government of these Provinces, in accordance with the well understood wishes and interests of the People, and to pay to their feelings, as expressed through their Representatives, the deference that is justly doe to them," that the people of Nova-Scotia are to be treated worse than the people of New Brunswick ; and that, under cover of a Despatch, written before the new policy was ;adopted, by .a Nobleman who no longer presides over the Colonies, principles are to be applied to Nova-Scotia; whose allegiance is unsullied, less. in accordance with the spirit and practice of the British Constitution, than those which have been promulgated for the Government of a Province but recently agitated by disaffection and rebellion:
Should your Excellency, upon re: considering this subject-upon 'referring to the Governor General's Message of the 14th January, in which he declares "bis earnest, and anxious desire to discharge the trust committed to him in accordance with the principles" announced, still feel compelled to disappoint the just hopes of the people of Nova-Scotia, this House will feel unfeigned sorrow ; but, in the meantime, they trust they need not assure your Excellency of their desire to preserve the tranquillity of the Province, and to ensure the harmonious action of the different branches of the Government."
The following Answer was given :
Mr. Speaker and Gentlemen of the House of Assembly---
I have given to this Address the deep consideration to which the opinion of the Representatives of the People is justly entitled.
By adopting the course you suggest, I should practically recognize a fundamental change in the Colonial Constitution, which I cannot certainly discover to have been designed by the Despatch of the, Right Hon. the Secretary of State for the Colonies, of the 16th October, in the manner and to the extent supposed by you.
In exercising the solemn trust committed to me by my Sovereign, I feel it my duty not to establish a principle involving consequences of deep moment, on which any uncertainty rests, until Her Majesty's Ministers shall have been consulted, and the judgment of the Queen ascertained.
It is, therefore, my intention, immediately to bring to the notice of Her Majesty's Government, the. Address and Resolutions you have lately passed on the subject.
In the meantime, I shall be constantly ready ,to yield my concurrence to any measures you may adopt, which, in my judgment, are calculated to promote the welfare of Her Majesty's loyal subjects, the People of this Province, whom you represent."
This Reply, the Assembly are most reluctant to avow, withered all the hopes which they had cherished. It told them that the Officer who had violated the plain letter and spirit of Lord' Glenelg's Despatches in 1837, was determined either not to understand, or not to act on, the Despatch of Lord John Russell, and convinced them that the views of your Majesty's Government would never be carried out by Officers. hostile to its policy, and who, when commanded to call around them those who possessed the confidence of the People, were determined to persist in governing by the aid of those in whom the People had no confidence.
If, up to the period when their final remonstrance was made to Sir Colin Campbell, this House conceived that there was reason for dissatisfaction and distrust, the recent appointments to the Legislative and Executive' Councils, have_ furnished further evidence of a determination to perpetuate the system, of which this House has so frequently complained. To some of these 'appointments to, the Legislative Council, grave objections might be urged ; while, in the appointment to the Executive Council, the House recognize a studious determination to pass over every man possessing influence, and enjoying the confidence of. the people, to do honor to an individual, .of whose political conduct this House will not trust it-self to speak, but who certainly cannot bring 'to the aid of a Government, which has been for years inn minority; the smallest portion of influence in the Commons.
This House, notwithstanding these gross violations of the sound principles laid down by Your Majesty, for the. government of British North America, have made ample provision for all branches,of the public service, and for carrying out what they believe to be the, policy .of the ' Imperial Parliament, in order to bind in closer connection-with each other, and with the Parent State, Your Majesty's Colonies on this' Continent. They have not even declined-to grant a sum, drawn in violation of their privileges, by Your Majestty's Representative. But these supplies have been voted because the Representatives .of the people of Nova Scotia confidently relied upon the justice and. firmness of their Sovereign. This House are most reluctant to believe that Your Majesty will turn a deaf ear to the complaints of your people-that, while the Governor General has been told that there is " no. surer way of earning the approbation of the Queen, than by maintaining the harmony of the Executive with the Legislative authorities"-a different rule will be permitted to prevail in. Nova Scotia; or that the favour of the Crown will be extended; in one Province, to policy the very reverse of that laid down for the government of another.
It is true, that Nova-Scotia is a small Colony, and that your Majesty may, if you see fit, govern it by the strong hand of power, relying, in no degree, upon the affectionate attachment of its inhabitants-but it is also, true, that in no portion of your Majesty's dominions, are the powers of the Crown and the rights of the People better understood; and in none is there a more determined spirit of resistance, by all constitutional means, to a system of Government founded on mere favoritism or injustice. From the position the people of Nova-Scotia occupy in the centre of the lower Colonies, and availing themselves, of the influence which their loyalty, their intelligence, their firmness and their moderation; have acquired for them among the population of British North America, they will never cease to appeal to the public opinion around them-to contend against that system,-and to vindicate and assert, by every means in their power, their rights as British subjects.
That your Majesty will join with this House in obviating the necessity for such appeals -that you will repress these absurd attempts to govern Provinces by the aid and for the exclusive benefit of minorities, this Assembly confidently believe-and, in asking your Majesty to remove Sir Colin Campbell, and send to Nova-Scotia a Governor who will not only represent the Crown, but carry out its policy with firmness and good faith, the Representatives of Nova-Scotia perform a painful duty to their Sovereign, and to their Constituents-but recommend the only remedy which, they fear, can now be applied to establish harmony between the Executive and Legislature of this Province.
Resolved; That the foregoing Address be signed by Mr. Speaker, and be by him transmitted in duplicate to the Right Honorable Her Majesty's Secretary of State, for the Colonies, to be laid at the foot of the Throne.
Resolved, That a Committee be appointed to communicate a Copy of said Address to' His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor.
Ordered, That Mr. Howe, Mr. DesBarres, Mr. McDougall, Mr. Holland and Mr. Lewis,. be a Committee for that purpose.