No. 13
18th February 1871
My Lord,
I have the honor to forward to Your Lordship an authenticated, and two plain copies of an Act entitled— An Act to alter and amend the Constitution of this Colony. The usual Report from theAttorneyManuscript image Attorney General is annexed.
2. I acquainted Your Lordship in my Despatch No 163, of the 22nd December, last that I was aware of a very strong and general popular feeling in favor of the introduction of Responsible Government on the Union of this Colony with Canada, and that after an Address to the Queen for this purpose should have beenpassedManuscript image passed I should think it expedient to introduce a Bill to effect such enlargement and modification of the present Legislative body as would permit the introduction of the desired system. In my Speech on the opening of the Legislative Session, transmitted in my Despatch No 1 of the 11th January, I referred to this subject for the purpose of ascertaining the formalopinionManuscript image opinion of the Legislative Council upon the question. And in reply a Resolution was transmitted to me requesting that I would submit a Bill "to enlarge the number of representative Members, excluding nominated Members from the Council, so as to enable a new Legislative body, and the form of administration known asResponsibleManuscript image Responsible Government to come into operation at the first Session of the Legislature subsequently to the Union of the Colony with Canada."
3. The Executive Council agreed with me that it was desirable to introduce this measure, and that the concession now of what is desired, and would certainly be successfully striven for afterUnionManuscript image Union if now withheld, would conduce much to the future tranquillity of the Colony, and facilitate the working of other impending changes by removing causes of agitation and political dissatisfaction. I still believe that the system of Responsible Government is in advance of the development of the Colony, and that the existing LegislativeConstitutionManuscript image Constitution would be sufficient for all local purposes after Union if it were allowed to work without factious opposition. But, on the other hand, that opposition would be instant and incessant, and no cordial support would be rendered outside of the Official circles. And, moreover, after the concession of so free and full a system of self-government to the ProvinceofManuscript image of Manitoba as that bestowed by the Canadian Act of 32 & 33 Victoria Chap. 3 it would scarcely be possible to withhold the same confidence from the people of this Colony.
4. The Act which I now transmit was very carefully prepared by the Attorney General in conference with myself, and considered in Executive Council.ItManuscript image It has given almost universal satisfaction and has induced a state of general political tranquillity even among the busiest of the political agitators. Another measure is intended to accompany this for the regulation of Elections, in which will be contained provisions for the qualification of Voters, Registration,andManuscript image and other arrangements which would be necessary in any case, even if the present Council were to be retained. And this latter enactment I hope to forward by the next Mail.
5. In selecting the new form of Constitution I have preferred as a model that of Ontario, namely a single Legislative Assembly. AccordingtoManuscript image to my experience a Legislative Council as a second Chamber answers few useful purposes in a small community, and none that counterbalance the disadvantages attaching to risk of collision between the two branches, and to the withdrawal of many influential members of the Community from seats in the lower House, which they would otherwise probably holdwithManuscript image with greater public advantage, as the real political work will always have to be accomplished in the lower Chamber whether the Members of the second are elected or nominated.
6. The number of Representatives has been fixed at Twenty-five, as the largest which can reasonably be taken in so small a population. A fewernumberManuscript image number is not desirable for the system it is intended to set in motion, as in proportion to their fewness will be the probability of decisions upon public affairs being influenced by personal feelings and corrupt combinations.
7. The representation I have divided as equally as possible between the Mainland and Vancouver Island, giving theTwenty-fifthManuscript image Twenty-fifth member to the Mainland, which I believe to be the fair arrangement for the present at all events, although an attempt was made in the Legislative Council to secure a larger number of seats for the Mainland. But, in fact, if representation were to be based strictly on population I believe the Population of Vancouver Island now to be more numerousthanManuscript image than that of the rest of the United Colony. Although probably that will be more immediately increased by any stimulus to prosperity which may follow from Confederation, the employment afforded by the public works which are proposed, and any development of new Gold fields of which there is now some promise.
8. The Act contains animportantManuscript image important provision for the constitution of the Executive Council (Sec. 3) which would have to be made in some other manner in the absence of this measure. At present this body is constituted by the Governor's Commission and the Royal Instructions, of which the provisions though still operative in the cases of Colonies likeNewfoundlandManuscript image Newfoundland remaining in direct communication with the Colonial Office, will not be applicable after the Union of British Columbia with Canada. The arrangement for the already united Provinces have been made in the Imperial Act of Union, and those for Ontario and Quebec (Sec. 63) have now been followed andadaptedManuscript image adapted to this Colony by this local Act, which will continue in operation on the Union by the effect of the 14th Article of the terms of Union.
9. Sections 38 & 39 contain provisions for a pecuniary allowance to Members of the Legislative Council during their attendance, and for paymentofManuscript image of their travelling expenses. No doubt the cost of Government will thus be largely increased, but I regard the expenditure as necessary. The provision is made in all the other North American Provinces and can scarcely be avoided here, where indeed it will be more required in order to induce eligible persons to come forward as representatives of distantdistrictsManuscript image districts who would otherwise be deterred by the expense of travelling and residence at the Seat of Government during the Session being added to the inconvenience of absence from their usual places of business and abode.
10. Your Lordship will not fail to observe that this Act contains a suspending clause(Sec.Manuscript image (Sec. 47) which provides that it shall not come into operation until Her Majesty's assent has been given, nor then until a date to be fixed by the Governor by proclamation. But this date must be one prior to that of the Union in order that the Act should form part of the Law of the Colony at the time of admission. It is not intended,orManuscript image or desirable that the Queen's assent should be given unless the Union of the Colony with Canada has become certain within a specified time. In the very improbable event of the occurrence in Canada, or in England of any obstacle to the speedy accomplishment of the Union, I do not recommend this Act for confirmation, anditManuscript image it can be laid aside until the time is right for its application.
I have the honor to be,
My Lord,
Your most obedient
Humble Servant
A. Musgrave
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Dealtry
Pray pass on with observations you may have [to] make. B. Columbia will now soon pass from my hands to yours.
Mr Holland
The Legislature of B. Columbia have passed an Act—it has a suspending Clause—for the introduction of Responsible Govt—which however it is not proposed should have effect except the Union with the Dominion of Canada should take place.
I pass this on without any observations as you may suppose, not having had any acquaintance with the proceedings connected with the union of the North American Provinces.
See minutes on 1207.
CC 12 April
WD 13/4
Sir F. Rogers
I do not see any objection to the provisions ofManuscript image this Act, but I think it ought to be sent to Lord Lisgar & to be brought under the consideration of his Ministers, so that we may be sure that no objection will be raised by them. The preamble of the Act—reciting one of the Forms agreed upon—shews that it was not expected by Canada that Responsible Govt would be introduced before the Union & though there is nothing in the actual wording of the Address to prevent this change being carried out, it might be said to be against the spirit of the Address to effect such a change just before the Union.
It would perhaps be sufficient to telegraph to Lord Lisgar that an Act had been passed in B. Columbia establishing responsible Govt there, similar to that in Ontario. The Act to be construed after the Union as subject to the provisions of the B.N. America Act and ask him to telegraph back whether his ministers object to the confirmation of this Act.
HTH 14/4
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This Act is not intended to be brought into operation unless the Union takes effect. The confirmation therefore does not press.
If the B. Columbians had desired that it should be confirmed at once, it seems to me that this might properly have been done witht consulting Canada, seeing that Canada expresses herself ready to acquiesce to responsible Govt when it is desired. But as the matter is necessarily delayed I should send a copy to Lord Lisgar stating that Lord K proposes to advise the confirmation of the Act so soon as the terms of Union are finally arranged but that he will delay this step until there is time to receive a telegraphic answer to this dph, in case the Canadian Govt should have any objection to make to the confirmation.
FR 15/4
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Three printed copies of act not on microfilm.
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George Phillippo, Attorney General, to Musgrave, 22 February 1871, reporting on the act as per despatch.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Kimberley to Lisgar, Canada, No. 393, 20 April 1871.
Minutes by CO staff
A mail goes to Canada this Thursday. I have therefore drafted for consideration. See minutes on 3467.
HTH 17/4
Would it not be safest to ask Lord Lisgar by telegraph whether the Canadian Govt have any objection to confirmation?
Other documents included in the file
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Telegram, Lisgar to Kimberley, registered 5 May 1871, advising there was no objection to the act.
Minutes by CO staff
EB 6.5.71
CC 6 May
Other documents included in the file
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Kimberley to The Lord President, 12 May 1871, forwarding copy of the act and recommending that it be submitted to the Queen in Council for confirmation.