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Lettre aux électeurs, 1851

Friends and Fellow Countrymen:

The celebrated Boyle Roche once said, that "nobody, but a Bird, could be in two places at once."  As I am not a bird, and as I am busy with the humbugs and obstructives of Cumberland, and may not be able to visit some of the counties where I should much like to be just now, I think it best to address this letter to you, hoping it may reach you in time to enable you to laugh at and put to shame the humbugs and obstructives that I know will be busy in other places.

I have been fourteen years in the House of Assembly, and during that time have seen four General Elections.  At every one but the first, a set of miserable obstructives and alarmists have raised fearful outcries to terrify the people.

Down to 1843, the usual cries used to be that Howe and his friends were going to

  • Pull down the Church.
  • Overturn the institutions of the Country.
  • Haul down the British flag, drive the Province into Rebellion, and hoist the Stars and Stripes.

At the Election of 1843 the cry was -

  • That Howe and his friends were enemies to Education - were going to destroy Acadia College, and triumph over the Baptists.

At the Election of 1847 the cries were -

  • That Howe and his friends were going to wrest the prerogative from the Governor
  • - to ruin the Revenue
    - to establish Pensions and expensive Departments
    - to burthen the country with a heavy Civil List, and to establish Catholic ascendancy.

Now, my friends, you will all remember that every one of these mischievous and wicked lies were from time to time, as occasion served, published in the newspapers, retailed about the country, and circulated through remote settlements in slips and hand-bills.  The miserable creatures who invented and propagated these slanders have lived to be proved fools and liars by the peaceful, orderly, and valuable labors of the men whose acts it gives me pleasure, at this moment, when some of them will stand before you for re-election, to vindicate.

Not one of all these things that the obstructives prophesied would surely happen, ever did happen, nor can they, at this moment, put their fingers on one act of Howe and his associates that has not done good to Nova Scotia.  What have we done, my friends? Let me group together some of the results of our labors. We

  • Opened the Council doors, and separated the Legislative from the Executive Council.
  • Removed the Judges from Politics - made them independent, and only removable from office by addresses from both branches of the Legislature.
  • Reduced the number of Judges from eleven to six.
  • Passed the Quadrennial Bill, by which the right was secured to you of electing members every FOUR years, instead of once in SEVEN.
  • Passed the Qualification Act, by which a man owning property in any county, could be elected in all the others.
  • Passed the Civil List, by which the expenses of Government were largely reduced.
  • Passed the Registry Bill, by which the expenses of recording Deeds is reduced one-half in all the counties.
  • Passed the Post Office Act, by which the whole Department was transferred from the Imperial to the Provincial Government, and the rates of Postage, varying from 9d. to 2s. 1d., were reduced to a uniform rate of 3d. all over British America.
  • Passed the new School Act, by which a Superintendent of Education was appointed to visit and inspect the Schools, and by which Libraries, open to the whole body of the people, will be established in all villages.
  • Passed Laws, combining the two Revenue Departments into one - saving time to the merchant and expense to the Province.
  • Opened fifteen or twenty new Ports for the convenience of Trade and Commerce.
  • Passed the Departmental Bill, and so arranged the Financial business of the country that while there is an accurate inspection of Accounts, a Farmer coming for Road or School money is paid in a few minutes, instead of having to dance attendance for hours, with his team waiting in the street.
  • Passed the Law, by which every man who has paid taxes or voted at an election, can plead in any of Her Majesty's Courts for himself or his neighbour.
  • Established a Commission, by which all the Laws of the Province have been simplified and consolidated, and will be published this year in a cheap single volume, costing 7s 6p, that every body can read and understand.
  • Passed the Law, by which Halifax was incorporated and invested with all the privileges, of an English city.
  • Build the Electric Telegraph across Nova Scotia, by which instantaneous communications has been established with all the cities of the American continent.
  • Passed the Law, by which every man who pays rates is entitled to vote at Elections.
  • Established Responsible Government, by which a majority of the People's Representatives can turn out a bad Government whenever they have lost the confidence of the country.

These, my fellow countrymen, are some of the things which my friends and myself have done, for the elevation and improvement of Nova Scotia, during the fourteen years that I have been in the Legislature.

You were told that we would establish Pensions! Not one is enjoyed by the Liberals - those that exist are all held by our political opponents.

You were told that we would burthen the Country with High Salaries!! Between 1847 and 1850, the expenses of the Government have been reduced £8000 per annum.

You were told that we would destroy the Revenue!!! The Revenue increased in 1849 £4000 over 1848.  In 1850 it increased £15,000 over the previous year.  This year it will be £10,000 over 1850.  Total increase, since my friends and I came into office - £29,000. 

You were told that the Baptists would be "trampled on."  The Baptists are in the enjoyment of all their civil rights, and of their own free will have separated Acadia College from all connexion with the State.

You were told that the Catholic Ascendancy would be established, and the throats of all Protestants would be cut.  The Protestants are all alive and kicking - the Catholics have no more privileges than other people - and the only harm that they have done, will be found in Mr. Doyle's Bill, by which Catholic and Protestant Rate Payers are allowed to vote.

We are now, my friends, approaching another Election, which comes off on the 28th of August, and the Obstructives of Cumberland have already covered this County with lies, and prognostications of various kinds.  These I am laughing out of the County, and will beat their inventors handsomely.  The same game will be played elsewhere.  Handbills and slips, full of lies and nonsense will be circulated in other Counties.  This Letter will enable you to estimate them at their proper value, and to laugh their inventors to scorn.

You are aware that I am now labouring to give you the benefit of a great system of Inter-Colonial Rail Roads - that I have spent nearly a year laboring with this object steadily in view - that I have compassed Sea and Land, travelling thousands of miles, and spending months away from my family, to ripen a great scheme of North American elevation and improvement.  Let us see what has been done.

  • 1st - The attention of the Government and People of England has been turned to the importance and value of these Colonies, and have consented to lend them Seven Millions of Pounds Sterling at 5 1/2 per cent, to make their Rail Roads.
  • 2nd - The Provinces have become alive to their own importance - confident in their own resources, and united in a common policy for their own mutual benefit. Canada has already voted Sixteen Millions of Dollars. New Brunswick will call her legislature to make her appropriations as soon as we are ready.
  • 3d. Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova-Scotia, have determined to construct 1600 miles of Railroad, which will connect Halifax, through Portland, with 8000 miles of Railroads, already formed, and all the large cities of the United States - make the capital of our country the terminus of Ocean Steam Navigation, and connect it with the St. Lawrence, the Great Lakes, and the Wheat growing Countries of the Far West at all seasons of the year.
These great works are to made by the three Provinces in these proportions:
New Brunswick,
1000 miles
400 "
200 "

Nova-Scotia will be the common terminus of the whole sixteen hundred miles, which, like two mighty Rivers, will bring the traffic and wealth of half a Continent into her bosom.  One would suppose that, in presence of such mighty and sublime objects, the voice of faction would be hushed, and that the Obstructives would, for once, get out of the way, and crawl into their holes.  Not so, now the cry is  - "Oh!  Howe is going to ruin the country, by making Railroads.  He is going to lay on heavy permanent taxes to pay interest and sinking funds, and make Railroads in New Brunswick."  This is the last wretched shift of a beaten and disappointed faction, who, having neither the brains nor the industry to do any good for Nova-Scotia themselves, are envious of every body who tries to do any good.

My answers to these people are very simple.  Here they are:
Nova-Scotia cannot be taxed, by building Railroads, because they will be productive and pay for themselves.

  • 1st. Because the English Railroads, upon which millions have been spent, are productive.
  • 2d. Because all the Railroads of the United States, though built with money costing from 7 to 12 per cent. pay.
  • 3d. Because the only Railroads yet built in this Province pay; and
  • 4th. Because the Railroads already made in Canada pay.

But, if the Railroads should not pay for a few years we have ample sources, from which to meet the deficiency.

  • First. - From the proceeds of 3,000,000 of acres of Crown Lands which Canada and New Brunswick hand over to the Joint Commissioners. These lands, sold at from $1 to $10 an acre as the Railroads go through them, will pay all the interest required for a few years should the roads not pay.
  • Secondly. - From the sums already saved, and the increase of Revenue Since 1848.

 Annual Saving,
Increase of Revenue,
Total £8,000

This would pay the whole amount of interest on One Million Currency, which we require, to make our portion of the Railroads, being at 3 1/2 per cent. just £35,000.

  • Thirdly. - The increase of population will give us increase of Revenue. Our People now number 300,000. They double in 20 years. In 5 years, during which the Railroads will be in course of construction, we shall have 15,000 a year, or 75,000 in all added to our inhabitants. These, at 10 per cent. per head, will give us the interest on a million, without increasing the [t]axes one shilling.
  • Fourthly. - If it should be necessary to raise a few thousand pounds, we can easily do it without taxing the people. Our Tariff is one of the lowest in the world. Canada imposes 12 1/2 per cent. on imposts. Nova-Scotia only 6 1/4 per cent.
  • Fifthly. - Twenty years ago we had £120,000 of Province paper afloat. Now we have but £40,000. If we issue £10,000 a year, for eight years, to meet this interest, we could easily do it, and have no more afloat in 1860 than we had twenty years ago.

So much for the taxes and the interest.  A word about the Sinking Fund : When an honest man borrows money he provides for the interest and for the ultimate payment of the principal.

The Obstructives are trying to terrify the people with the notion that they will have the Interest and Sinking Fund to pay at once.  This is a mistake.  We shall have 3 1/2 per cent. only to pay until the Railroads are productive.  When they are, we shall pay 6 1/2 per cent. out of the earnings of the Railroads, for 22 years, and that will extinguish the whole debt, principal and interest.

We run no risk, then my friends, and, on the whole cost of the Railroads, will save £175,000 a year by the generous aid of the British Government.

But it is said - Governments ought not to construct Public Works. My answer is look at all Belgium, where the Government controls the Railroads, where the Tolls are the lowest in Europe, and where, upon great national festivals, the People are carried for nothing.

Look at New York, where the Government constructed the Erie Canal, the Revenues of which have educated the children of the State, and produced great public prosperity.

But, I must close, my friends. I have but a few words more to say : think of the past, look hopefully at the future. Providence has blessed our labours heretofore, and will again.  I have never deceived - never deserted you. You will stand by me now in this last effort to improve our country, elevate these noble Provinces, and form them into a Nation. A noble heart is beating beneath the giant ribs of North America now. See that you do not, by apathy or indifference, depress its healthy pulsations.

Amherst, August, 15, 1851. Very sincerely Yours,