No. 16, Separate
21st March 1865
1. I have deferred replying to that part of your Despatch No 2 dated 30th April 1864 on the proposed union of Vancouver Island with British Columbia until I could report some definite action of the Legislature of this Colony on the subject.
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2. After various abortive proceedings (the details of which I need not trouble you with) the Resolutions communicated in my Despatch No 14 of this date were adopted by the Legislative Assembly on the 27th January 1865.
3. These Resolutions coupled with those of the Chamber of Commerce transmitted in my Despatch No 15, also of this date, will enable you to judge of the public feeling on the subject.
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4. I took an early opportunity after the expression of opinion by the Legislative Assembly to have a personal consultation with Governor Seymour, and concluded our conference by addressing to him a confidential letter on the 27th February 1865, the copy of which I enclose, and to which I have not yet received a reply.
5. A year's experience and close observation in this ColonyhaveManuscript image have led me to adopt a very decided opinion of the expediency—I might almost say, necessity—(for to that I think it must come) of uniting British Columbia and Vancouver Island under one Governor, one Legislature, and equal Laws.
6. The proposal of my Predecessor adverted to in your Despatch, that there should be one Governor, "that the colonies should each have its separateLegislatureManuscript image Legislature, make its own Laws, raise and apply its own Revenue as at present for its individual benefit," seems to me to be surrounded by difficulties, and fraught with the elements of dissolution and discord.
7. The difficulty of one Governor administering two neighbouring governments conducted upon different and antagonistic commercial principals, as theyexistManuscript image exist at present, seems to me insuperable.
8. If these Colonies progress (as it is hoped) the Ports of one being free, and the other levying import duties, it would ultimately require a large portion of the Revenue of the one to suppress smuggling from the other—a fact well illustrated by the contraband trade at present carred on with Vancouvers Island and theneighbouringManuscript image neighbouring American Territory between which similar conditions at present exist.
9. As regards the control and management of the Indian population (which is a most important subject of consideration) who migrate between the two Colonies, the necessity of uniform legislation and policy are I think self evident.
10. A uniform Postal system and all other subjects on whichunitedManuscript image united action are necessary could hardly be carried out or at best would be weakened by separate Legislatures.
11. The population of each Colony is and will long continue to be too small for healthy political action.
12. All the advantages derivable from mutual aid and cooperation would be lost and a bitter and senseless rivalry (as at present growing up) engendered in their stead.
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13. I think it would be difficult to find two Colonies or communities who are so necessarily dependent on each other for progress and support.
14. The readiness of the Legislative Assembly of this Colony, to abandon the Free Port of Victoria, at once removes the only serious difficulty which has hitherto beset this question, a course of action approved of by an overwhelmingmajorityManuscript image majority of their constituents.
15. The separate existence and possibly hostile legislation of these Colonies affords a bad public example, and must continue to be an increasing embarrassment to Her Majesty's Government.
He probably refers to a new tariff of B.C. which has not reached us officially.
ABd 16 May
16. I will not enter upon the question of relative gain of each colony in the event of union beyond expressing my opinion that the resources of this colony by means of directtaxationManuscript image taxation alone are ample to defray the expense of government with the maintenance if necessary of it. Free Port, and that its financial condition on the whole is quite as satisfactory as that of British Columbia
17. The form of Government under which these United Colonies could be most easily and successfully governed is an important subject for consideration.
18. The form of Government at present existing in this Colony,namelyManuscript image namely, an Elective Assembly of 15 Members, and a nominated Legislative Council, does not, and in my opinion never can work satisfactorily. There is no medium, or connecting link between the Governor and the Assembly, and the time of the Legislative Council (which comprises the principal executive officers) is mainly occupied in the correction of mistakes or undoing the crude legislation of the lower House who havenotManuscript image not and cannot be expected to have the practical experience or available time necessary for the successful conduct of public affairs. On financial subjects they are always greatly at fault.
19. I would therefore recommend (should the opportunity for remodelling the form of Government occur) that there should be one Chamber only,
I am also of this opinion; but unless the Legre of V.C.I. should come to a dead lock it would be difficult to deprive the Colony of its present Constitution & form of Govt. The policy of giving a miniature English Parlt to a place numbering less that 8000 persons—smaller than many of our parishes—who have neither time to devote to Legislation nor capacity for so great an act has always appeared to me to be an overstraining of a good thing.
I have always thought so.
composed of elective Members as at present with the additionofManuscript image of nominees of the Crown in the proportion of one third with power to resolve itself into two separate Chambers when the state of the population would justify or render it necessary, a contingency which I think far distant.
20. I believe that this change would find favour with the intelligent portion of the public and a large number, if not a majority of the present Assembly whose constitutionitManuscript image it would affect.
21. I have abstained from expressing any public opinion, or exercising any influence I may possess in encouraging this movement, but I have no doubt that the expression of the former, and legitimate use of the latter if acquiesced in by Governor Seymour would immediately remove all serious opposition to a union of these colonies which I consider a matter of great Imperial as well asColonialManuscript image Colonial interest.
I have the honor to be,
Your most obedient Servant
A.E. Kennedy
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
You are aware that the Legislature of British Columbia has rejected the idea of union with Van C. Isld, and that Mr Seymour has accepted that decision of his Legislature as conclusive. His reasons are contained in his despatches of the 1 June and 20 Decr/64. In the former despatch (7592) he says (P. 7) The strong opinion I have to express is that it is simply impossible in my opinion, to govern satisfactorily the district of Cariboo from Van Couver Island. Victoria cannot, in my opinion, ever again be the seat of Govt for theManuscript image Territory of B. Columbia. To his Legre, on prorogation, Mr Seymour has said (7592) B.C. has grown too large for a return to the old system to be possible. Whether Union under other conditions might hereafter be acceptable, I am at present unable to say. I wd, however, observe that from my short experience, I am inclined to think that an efficient administration of the affairs of B.C. alone, would be enough to engross the whole attention of a Governor." On opening the L.C. on the 12 Dec/64 the Governor (1384) again said You are probably aware that the House of Assembly of a neighbouring Colony has passed certain Resolutions in favor of a conditional Union with B.C. under one Governor. Without entering into details it may perhaps be convenient that I should at once express my opinion on the subject. I think that it would be better for Imperial interests that Gt Britain should not be represented by more than one Governor to the Westward of the Rocky Mountains, and I can imagine cases in which both the Governors, as well as the Officer inManuscript image command of H.M.'s Naval forces, might be considerably embarrassed by the present state of things. But the unaided power of the prerogative is fully able to remove the present inconvenience to H.M.'s service if it be found considerable, and I advise you merely to consult your local interests. I do not see at present how British Columbia would gain by the suggested change, and I am rather disposed to think that a longer separation is necessary before a satisfactory re-union could take place. Let time remove the impression which exists in some minds that the resources of the one Colony have not yet been fully developed, while the prosperity of the other has been somewhat artificially stimulated. In answer to these observations the Legve Council stated We see no reason for changing the opinion, deliberately and unanimously expressed by the late Council in the Resolution of the last Session, transmitted to H.M.'s Govt, that an Union with the neighboring Colony would be inexpedient, & disadvantagous to B.C.; a view in which we are glad to see yourManuscript image Excellency concurs. Further in Governor Seymour's address to the B. Columbia Legre (which you will find with this despatch 4 Feby/65 No 8 (4582) he says Your reply to the address with which I opened the late Session has convinced me that it is unnecessary for me to moot the question again now. I regret that the interests of two Colonies, so near each other and so remote from the Mother Country, should be in some respects antagonistic; but my duty to B.C. is paramount & I accept your decision. I trust that the entire separation which now takes place may ultimately lead to a desire for the most intimate relations and probably for a Union…which, in some respects I cannot but consider to be desirable.
For the sake of convenience I have thus quoted the opinion of Govr Seymour & his L. Council in order thatManuscript image they may be contrasted with the reasons adduced by Governor Kennedy and the Inhabitants of V.C.I for a Union with British Columbia. To me it appears that there is a great deal of force in the arguments of V.C.I.; & it would probably be much to the advantage of that Community, as well as to its pride, if B. Columbia could be subordinated to V.C.I. as it was in the time of Sir Jas Douglas. On the other hand there is much strength in what the Governor of B. Columbia says that that Colony is grown too large for a return to the old system, and that the affairs of the Colony are enough to engross the undivided attention of a single Governor. There is every probability moreover that as the Country advances in prosperity the business of administration will increase still more. If this should prove to be the case, a community very hostile to Union, and a GovernorManuscript image likewise unfavorable will make it difficult to put the two Colonies under one Governor. If the Duke of Newcastle, when deliberating on this subject, considered it expedient to establish only one Governor, or even to fix a Governor in Chief at VanCouver Isld, with a Lt Governor at New Westminster, it will be more difficult now to make any alteration after so short an experience of the working of the measure and with one of the Colonies protesting vigorously against incorporation. Potential Imperial reasons might suffice to override the wishes of the B.C. Colonists, but it would be at the risk of a great deal of dissatisfaction and clamor: and much as V.C. Isld may wish for the Union I doubt if the time has arrived for the Accomplishment of any such measure.
ABd 16 May/65
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Mr Fortescue
I have had these papers by me some time. In the height of the Session, with Conferences going on with theManuscript image Canadian Ministers—and an inquiry before a Committee of the House of Commons into the West Coast of Africa—it could hardly be expected that you or Mr Cardwell could undertake to go into so large a Question as that of the Union of Vancouver with British Columbia, or a remodelling of the Constitution. But I now send on the papers for inspection. Mr Blackwood furnishes an account of what has gone before, and suggests the main points that will hereafter require Consideration.
TFE 12 June
CF July 4
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Kennedy to Seymour, Confidential, 27 February 1865, expressing his opinion in favour of union, and explaining in detail the course he intended to follow.