No. 15
Downing Street
31 October 1866
I have received from time to time a considerable number of Despatches and other communications as noted below,
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No. 44—22nd June—1866
" 48—26th " "
" 60— 8th August "
" 61— 8th " "
" 62—17th " "
Telegram from the Assembly
20th June 1866
Telegram from Governor
24th June 1866
relating to the consititution of Vancouver Island, and to the Union which has long been proposed between that Colony and British Columbia. In acknowledging them I thinkitManuscript image it advisable to place on record in some degree, the motives by which Her Majesty's Government have been actuated in taking steps for the complete Union of the Colonies.
So long ago as the 15th of June 1863, I observe that the Duke of Newcastle expressed his conviction that the Colonies ought to form one Government. But this course was open to three strong objections.
First it was opposed to the prevalent feeling on the spot.
Secondly—The formalGrantManuscript image Grant of Representative Institutions was impossible in British Columbia, while they already existed in and could not be withdrawn from Vancouver Island except by a strong exercise of Parlimentary power or by an intimation on the part of that Colony that it was willing to place itself in the hands of Her Majesty's Government.
Thirdly—the Commercial policy of Vancouver Island was opposed to the imposition of Import Duties on which the Government of British Columbia was obliged to rely for it's Revenue.
ButManuscript image
But for these objections the Duke of Newcastle considered, and indeed no reasonable person could doubt, that the interest of the Colonies, whether in point of economy or in point of Administrative efficiency, required that they should be consolidated under one Legislative and Executive Government.
Such were the views of the Home Government in 1863. On the 2nd March 1865 the difficulty hitherto existing was disposed of by the Assembly of Vancouver Island declaring by Resolution that The immediateUnionManuscript image Union of this Colony with British Columbia under such Constitution as Her Majesty may be pleased to grant is the means best adapted to prevent permanent caused of depression as well as to stimulate Trade, foster industry, develop our resources, augment our population and increase our permanent prosperity.
Later, on the 13th of December 1865 the same Assembly "endorsed" these Resolutions, but while expressing their preference for Representative Institutions, and apparently for what is called ResponsibleGovernmentManuscript image Government, repeated their conviction that the immediate Union of Vancouver Island and British Columbia was necessary beyond any other measure to impart confidence to the public mind, and to place both Colonies on a prosperous footing. They also referred to the willingness which they had already shown to accept whatever Constitution Her Majesty's Government might be pleased to grant.
These Addresses adopted by the Legislature, at an interval of nearly a year, must plainly be taken as representing thedeliberateManuscript image deliberate opinion of the Community in favor of Union, even at the sacrifice of their Representative Institutions. And though it is true that certain of the inhabitants of Vancouver Island were evidently opposed to the imposition of Import Duties in that Island, yet it is evident that if Union was to be effected the imposition or removal of those Dduties must remain a question for the decision of the United Legislature. It must be supposed that the Assembly accepted this obvious consequence of their own request.
Thus the difficultiesofManuscript image of consolidation as far as regards Vancouver Island were wholly removed, and on terms to which no reasonable objection could be raised on the part of British Columbia. Under these circumstances Her Majesty's late Government introduced a Bill into Parliament with that object, and that Bill was subsequently adopted and carried on by me. When that Bill was passing through Parliament some Resolutions, (unaccompanied by any Report from the Governor of the Colony), were received by Telegraph which had been passed in the monthofManuscript image of June by the House of Assembly and which though they reasserted the vital necessity of Union, prayed that this Union might take place under a certain Constitution which would be Representative in it's general character, but the terms and conditions of which were very loosely specified. The Assembly however did not specifically withdraw the original pledges of January and December 1865, and they impressed on the Secretary of State the injury which was inflicted on both Colonies by the then existing state ofuncertaintyManuscript image uncertainty.
Even in the absence of explanations from the Governor it was evident that these expressions of opinion did not justify Her Majesty's Government in delaying for another year the Union which the Assembly had consistently, and, in the opinion of successive Secretaries of State, correctly pronounced indispensable, and in protracting the uncertainty which they had declared to be injurious.
The Bill therefore was carried through Parliament, and may perhaps have resulted intheManuscript image the Union of the two Colonies before this Despatch can reach it's destination.
That Union will render it unnecessary from me to enter on a variety of subjects which are treated of in the Despatches and letters now under acknowledgment. But I have thought it necessary to furnish you with this explanation of the proceedings of Her Majesty's Government lest they should be thought to involve any want of consideration for the then existing Legislature of Vancouver Island, or should be attributedtoManuscript image to any other motive than the desire to complete with promptitude an arrangment which I believe to be not more in accordance with the main interests of the two Colonies than with their wishes, and to terminate a state of uncertainty of which I am convinced the mischief is not overstated by the Assembly of Vancouver Island.
I have the honor to be
Your most obedient
humble Servant