16th December 1865
Referring to my Despatch No 97 of this date and in view of the probability of the future form of Government of these Colonies either separately or united being under your consideration, I deem it my duty to bring to your notice a remarkable Debate in the Legislative Assembly of Vancouver Island on the subject of an amended "FranchiseActManuscript image Act."
I enclose copies of the two daily papers, the "Colonist" and "Chronicle" of this date, which are violently opposed to each other in general politics. The latter is understood to be the exponent of the Speaker's (Dr Helmcken) views and policy and the report of his speech may therefore be accepted as correct.
If the anti-national views attributed to Dr Helmcken and to Tolmie had been expressed by any characterless political adventurers (and such there are)inManuscript image in the Assembly, I would have deemed them unworthy of notice, but emanating from the two most influential men in that Assembly they assume a grave complexion.
Dr Helmcken is Speaker of the House and son-in-law to Sir James Douglas, and Dr Tolmie is the princpal officer of the Hudson Bay Company resident here, both gentlemen exercising great influence over the principal constituencies.
This is not I regret to say the first occasion on which theseGentlemenManuscript image Gentlemen have enunciated anti-national views, and I much fear that an uninterrupted residence of 30 or 40 years in these Colonies has obliterated any line of demarcation between English and American nationality which may have at one time existed in their minds.
These Gentlemen have a considerable following in the House, and are energetic and successful in returning Members holding their own views.
AManuscript image
A measure such as that proposed by Dr Helmcken could not at present possibly pass the Legislative Council, but if the desire of the Assembly to "make the official heads of Departments responsible to the people" (i.e. the Assembly) were acceded to, the safeguard would cease to exist and British rule become impossible.
I think it unnecessary to offer further comment upon this debate beyond expressing my opinion that it is the natural fruit of the seedthatManuscript image that has been sown by a policy which has tended to make Vancouver Island an American Settlement rather than a British Colony.
I would in conclusion refer you to my Despatches No 27, 4th May 1865 paragraphs 17, 18, and 19, and No 73 24th August 1865, paragraphs 13, 14, 15, 16, and 18 which bear upon this subject.
I have the honor to be,
Your most obedient Servant
A.E. Kennedy
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
The Assembly is composed of half Yankees; Canadians, & Hudson's Bay Co servants. The pure British element is very small.
ABd 14 Feby
Mr Forster
The other despatch referred to by the Governor was sent on yesterday. "Responsible Govt" in a littleManuscript image Community like Vancouver would be a mockery and a scramble, it seems to me.
TFE 14/2
(The other despatch has just come back, & is annexed).
WEF 15/2
EC 16
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Newspaper clippings, The British Colonist and The Daily Chronicle, 16 December 1865, reporting on the debate in the House of Assembly over a bill to amend the Franchise Act.