No. 20
23rd February 1870
My Lord,
In the Message with which I caused the Legislative Session to be opened on the 15th instant, Your Lordship will observe that I stated it to be my intention to recommend such a modification of thepresentManuscript image present Legislative Constitution as would permit a majority of the Members of the Council to be formally returned for Electoral Districts. Such a course seems to me to be unavoidable if any suitable arrangements are to be made for the local Government under Confederation with Canada; and many reasons seem to render it expedient that the change should precede any finalarrangementManuscript image arrangement of terms of Union. Pressure is being made to introduce Responsible Government, for which the Community is not fit. That pressure will be more easily resisted now, than subsequently to Confederation. The existing form of Government as a Crown Colony could not continue in a Confederated Province and it would be unwise in my estimation to leave itinManuscript image in existence so long as to oblige a dangerous change immediately after Union. In time to come no doubt "Responsible Government" will be developed; but the leap from a Crown Council of Nominees to that first and most easily abused of all forms of representative administration, it would be well I think to render less sudden by the introduction of some intermediate modification.
modificationManuscript image
2. I therefore submit for Your Lordship's consideration the propriety of furnishing me with the necessary authority by Order in Council for carrying into effect such changes as may be determined upon. I am advised by the Attorney General that the Council as at present established has no power to pass any Ordinance to alter itsownManuscript image own constitution. I confess I should not have been of this opinion, though I am aware that any such Bill must have been specially reserved for Her Majesty's decision. But his view of the case prevents my introducing any measure for discussion, and I can only present for your consideration my own opinion and what I believe will upon the wholegiveManuscript image give satisfaction.
3. The Council at present consists of twenty two Members of whom nine are appointed "in deference to the expressed wishes of the people." The result is that de facto but not de jure they are elected for different Districts. All the disadvantages, if any, of legal election are suffered, and more, for aliens and transient residents who are notBritishManuscript image British subjects have been allowed to vote, and there has not latterly been any attempt to recognize any franchise, though formerly there was a Franchise established by Law in Vancouver Island. I do not see any advantage in retaining what may be termed a hybrid Legislative body which is neither a true Crown Council, nor an Assembly partlyrepresentativeManuscript image representative such as I desire to see established. Of the other thirteen Members of the Council eleven are paid Officers of the Government. It will thus be seen that there is not a majority at the absolute command of the Government unless the Governor presides himself which has not been usual. But of course when the Officers of Government vote compactly together under direction the result is notoftenManuscript image often doubtful, and the fact that the Governor may interpose his casting voice, if he chooses, enables it to be said that the form of government is practically a denial of representative Institutions. Now, I, for my own part believe that measures for which the government altogether fail to obtain any unofficial support in such a community as this whichisManuscript image is very dissimilar in character from other Crown Colonies, can scarcely be such as it is desirable to pass. With two unofficial Members in the Executive Council as the Governors advisers, I should not be afraid of the consequences of allowing the representative Members to have a majority of seats in a mixed Legislative Council; while that arrangement confers an appearance ofliberalityManuscript image liberality which is not without its advantages.
4. The present body moreover is numerically larger than is necessary now, or would be desirable after Confederation—and there is some inconvenience arising from the attendance of the Magistrates belonging to the Country Districts who are nominee Members.
5. What I propose therefore is the substitutionofManuscript image of a Council of fifteen Members of whom six should be appointed by the Crown—The Colonial Secretary, Attorney General, and Chief Commissioner of Lands and Words, being ex officio three of those six—and that the other nine Members should be formally and legally elected for the Districts at present designated, of which the limits may require some more precisedefinitionManuscript image definition.
6. With such a Legislature I believe that the government would morally be stronger and practically exercise quite as much control, indeed, would receive more assistance, in the conduct of public affairs than has hitherto been the case. The five Official members of the Executive Council can always be members oftheManuscript image the Legislative body—three of them ex officio—and with the two unofficial members making seven,
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But it is proposed to have only 6 non elective.
they in case of concerted measures, would only require the adhesion of one more member to secure a majority. It is hard to believe that upon any point the government should be so wrong as to be unable to obtain that one vote among eight members entertaining probablydifferentManuscript image different opinions upon most points.
7. The names of the Districts in which there is now a quasi election are
Victoria (Town) 2 Members
Victoria (District) 1 "
Nanaimo 1 "
Yale-Lytton-Clinton 1 "
Lilloett 1 "
Columbia & Kootenay 1 "
Cariboo 1 "
8. I would suggestthatManuscript image that power might be given in the Order in Council to settle the limits of these Districts by Proclamation.
9. As regards a franchise, none is possible, throughout the largest part of the Colony. We must be content with universalsuffrageManuscript image suffrage limited to British subjects. Hitherto practically the members for the districts have been elected by universal suffrage including foreigners. A system which I think it was dangerous to introduce, and which, if allowed to continue would very probably defeat Confederation.
10. In conclusion I should observe that I think it desirable that a change should be made in the constitution so as to enable reelection before finally deciding upon any terms of Union; because I doubtthatManuscript image that the true wishes of the Community can be represented by the present Council. The unofficial Members are equally divided so far as I know. And the Officials if left altogether to their own discretion in the matter would upon the whole prefer to leave things as they are. I think it would be undesirable that so great a change should be carried into effect byanManuscript image an enforced official vote. Reaction would be sure to follow which would give trouble. While if the question is put fairly to the Community, my present impression is that a large majority of British subjects will be in favor of Union with Canada on advantageous terms.
I have the honor to be,
My Lord,
Your most obedient
humble Servant
A. Musgrave
Minutes by CO staff
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Sir F. Rogers
Mr Musgrave proposes a reconstitution of the Legislative Council—that is to make it partly nominated & partly really elected—with a preponderance of the latter.
As to the power of the present Legislative Council to effect this themselves Mr Musgrave apparently has not been made acquainted with Lord Granville's despatch of the 6th March 1869 (1273).Manuscript image As regards reconstitution I would call to your recollection your minutes on Gov. 6951/68 & 539/61.
CC 1/April
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I would adopt Govr Musgraves proposals. Mr Holland could, if so, be good enough to examine whether this can be done by Order in C. or whether a short Act of Parlt wd be necessary.
FR 1/4
WM 4/4
G 6/4
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Sir F. Rogers
By 21 & 22 Vict. c. 99 Her Majesty was empowered by Order in Council to constitute a Legislature, and by Order in Council of 11 June 1863 the present Legislative Council was constituted.
By 26 & 27 Vict. c. 83 the former Act was continued until December 1863 & no longer.
The powers of HM therefore ceased in Dec/63, & the sixth section of 29 & 30 Vict. c. 67 only kept alive powers whichManuscript image were exerciseable by HM at the time of the passing of the Act.
I am of opinion that a short Act of Parliament must be passed, and upon the whole it seems best by such Act to enable H Majesty by Order in Council to constitute a new Legislative Council composed according to the suggestions of Govr Musgrave.
When this Representative Council has been constituted, it will have full power under 28 & 29 Vict. c. 63 to change its form &c.
I have drafted a Bill & Order in Council & send them on.
HTH 13.4.70
Other documents included in the file
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Holland to Secretary to the Treasury, 3 May 1870, forwarding extracts of the despatch along with a copy of a bill drafted to effect the desired constitutional changes for the consideration of Mr. Thring.
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Handwritten draft, "Bill to make further provision for the Government of British Columbia," no date; extensive revisions.
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Printed copy of draft bill as noted above, 18 April 1870.
Minutes by CO staff
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Sir F. Rogers
If you approve, this might be at once brought in. Qy House of Lords or Commons. With Govr 20/70/3412.
HTH 23.4.70
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Mr Holland
Need we go to Mr Thring. If not proceed.
FR 27/4
Other documents included in the file
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Printed copy, "Chap. 66. An Act to make further provision for the Government of British Columbia," 9 August 1870.
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Draft reply, Granville to Musgrave, no date, marked "Another copy substituted."
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Holland
I would propose to substitute this for the first 2 1/2 pages of your draft. It is a rearrangement of the same ideas.
HTH 18/8
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Granville to Musgrave, no date, marked "Fair copy substituted" (extensive revisions).
Minutes by CO staff
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Too late I think to "acknowledge."
Other documents included in the file
*
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Draft reply, Granville to Musgrave, No. 11, 22 August 1870.
Musgrave, Anthony to Leveson-Gower, Granville George 23 February 1870, CO 60:38, no. 3412, 179. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/B70020.html.

Last modified: 2020-12-02 13:40:34 -0800 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020) (SVN revision: 5008)