OF CANADIAN FEDERALISM
Political and Social Affairs Division
THE INTENT OF CONFEDERATION
AND THE CONFEDERATION PROPOSAL
AND THE CRITIQUE
OF THE CONFEDERATION
MOTIVES FOR CONFEDERATION
OF CANADIAN FEDERALISM
Change in art is not like
change in law; for law has no strength with respect to obedience apart
from habit, and this is not created except over a period of time. Hence
the easy alteration of existing laws in favour of new and different
ones weakens the power of law itself.
Politics, Book IV, Ch. II
Aristotle well understood
that the fundamental laws of the polity should not be tampered with lightly.
is not like the other arts where better knowledge
leads automatically to better results."(1)
Political institutions do not easily lend themselves to rational manipulation
and, as Burke warned, visionary schemes may often lead to worse excesses
than those they are meant to cure. More often than not, reverence for
the law is less the consequence of enlightened reason than of "prejudice."
We would, therefore, not quarrel with Madison when he observed that "
a nation of philosophers is as little to be expected as the philosophical
race of kings wished for by Plato. And in every other nation, the most
rational government will not find it a superfluous advantage to have the
prejudices of the community on its side."(2)
Canada has recently undergone
major constitutional change and, with the Meech Lake agreement, may do
so again. However, in order fully to understand the present state of union,
we need to come to terms with the intentions of its founders. It is during
times of crisis and rapid change that we often return to an examination
of original intentions, for it is the original "intent" that
goes a long way in determining the unfolding of the political process.
Confederation "not only represented the compromises arrived at by
a political elite in such areas as culture, politics, economics, and external
relations, but these initial founding decisions largely set the parameters
in which these problem areas have continued to be debated."(3)
Some might be inclined to
view our examination of first principles as little more than the treading
of well worn ground. Yet we cannot fully appreciate the present without
an understanding of the past and must recognize that the success of any
political programme will depend on the soundness of its foundation. What
we find in the humanities is that solutions to problems are as often as
not arrived at via critical reflection and the examination of first principles
rather than through the discovery of new evidence. This is not to say
that new evidence is not welcome but simply to assert that moments of
reflection are of equal importance for, after all, the most important
methodological tool to which we have access lies between our ears. Those
recognizing the importance of such reflection, and who often find themselves
defending it against the data gatherers and methodological purists, may
find some solace in the following observation.
cannot be a science. It can only be an industry, an art, and a philosophy
an industry by ferreting out the facts, an art by establishing
a meaningful order in the chaos of materials, a philosophy by seeking
perspective and enlightenment. The present is the past rolled up for
action, and the past is the present unrolled for understanding.(4)
INTENT OF CONFEDERATION
The importance of intent
in the development of Canadian federalism was clearly seen by Donald Creighton
in a piece entitled "The Use and Abuse of History."(5)
According to Creighton, much of the contemporary malaise concerning federalism
is due to our ignorance of the original intentions of the founding fathers.
This repudiation and distortion of the past has put the very future of
federalism into jeopardy for Canadians no longer have a sound basis from
which to take action. As Creighton argues:
They are confused and
uncertain about the direction they should be taking, partly because
they do not know whence they have come, or by what route, or with what
aims and ideals as guides for the journey. Ignorance readily accepts
myth and is vulnerable before propaganda.(6)
However, despite challenges
and reinterpretations, the original intentions continue to play an important
The past is not dead.
It stands at bay, confronting the revolution with its legal barriers,
historical memories, and inherited convictions; and if the revolutionaries
are to succeed, they must overcome these obstacles, silence these fears,
eradicate these inhibitions.(7)
For a conservative like
Creighton, federalism can survive only if it remains true to its founding
principles. Once the original intentions are abandoned and wholesale change
is attempted, destabilization will set in. If Canadian federalism is to
endure, its original intention needs to be clearly understood and continually
recaptured. According to Creighton, there is nothing inevitable about
the increasing decentralization of the federal system except insofar as
certain agencies have consciously pursued this end in the fulfilment of
their own interests.
History must be defended
against attempts to abuse it in the cause of change; we should constantly
be on our guard against theories which either dismiss the past or give
it a drastically new interpretation. Such theories are likely to abound
in an age of doubt and uncertainty about the future; and most of them,
whether consciously or unconsciously, have been developed to serve the
radical programs of the moment. From this, the path to historical propaganda
is short and easy
A nation that repudiates or distorts its past
runs a grave danger of forfeiting its future.(8)
The distortions concerning
the original intentions of the architects of Confederation cannot be ascribed
to any lack of historical evidence. Their intentions were clearly stated
in a variety of speeches prior to Confederation and even a casual reading
of these should suffice to establish the original purpose of Confederation.
The ultimate aim was to found a transcontinental nation "in the form
of a constitutional monarchy under the British Crown."(9) The monarchical principle was never seriously
challenged and a model based upon the American precedent was not to be
considered. A strong central government was desired and if a legislative
union was impossible because of the peculiarities of Quebec and its desire
to retain these, then a strong and highly centralized federal union would
be the answer. As John A. Macdonald argued:
The fratricidal conflict
now unhappily raging in the United States shows us the superiority of
our institutions, and of the principle on which they are based. Long
may that principle the Monarchical principle prevail in
this land. Let there be no looking to Washington
but let the
cry, with the moderate party, be "Canada United as One Province,
and under One Sovereign."(10)
The Americans had made the
mistake of investing the states with too much power. This was an error
that Macdonald was not about to make and in 1861, while discussing the
American problem, we already find him enunciating the principles that
would be applied in 1867.
let it be a warning
to ourselves that we do not split on the same rock which they had done.
The fatal error which they had committed and it was perhaps unavoidable
from the state of the colonies at the time of the revolution
was in making each state a distinct sovereignty, and giving to each
a distinct sovereign power, except in those instances where they were
specially reserved by the Constitution and conferred upon the general
government. The true principle of a confederation lay in giving to the
general government all the principles and powers of sovereignty and
that the subordinate or individual States should have no powers but
those expressly bestowed on them. We should thus have a powerful Central
Government a powerful Central Legislature, and a powerful decentralized
system of minor legislatures for local purposes.(11)
The importance of the British
connection was also stressed by the French Canadian delegates. It was
the British Crown and British parliamentary institutions that would continue
to afford French Canadians those rights necessary for their cultural survival.
Of paramount importance to this survival was the continuance of the Catholic
clergy in Lower Canada and this was something Britain had permitted. There
was also no desire on the part of the French Canadian elite to further
the cause of "republican democracy" and an adherence to monarchical
principles was one way of staving off any such trend. According to Cartier,
the French Canadians understood that:
If they had their institutions,
their language and their religion intact today, it was precisely because
of their adherence to the British Crown.(12)
Whereas the Americans had
sought purely democratic institutions, the principle behind the federal
program, according to Cartier, was that of perpetuating the "monarchical
element." It was only by ensuring the continuance of this institution
and its principles that one could prevent the unfortunate train of events
that had overtaken the American experiment. Though Cartier offered an
overly simplistic analysis of the American situation, the basic elements
of the theme were reiterated by others.
They had founded Federation
for the purpose of carrying out and perpetuating democracy on this continent;
but we who had the benefit of being able to contemplate republicanism
in action during a period of eighty years, saw its defects, and felt
convinced that purely democratic institutions could not be conducive
to the peace and prosperity of nations
Our attempt was for the
purpose of forming a Federation with a view of perpetuating the monarchical
element. The distinction, therefore, between ourselves and our neighbours
was just this: In our Federation, the monarchical principle would form
the leading feature, while on the other side of the lines, judging by
the past history and present condition of the country, the ruling power
was the will of the mob, the rule of the populace.(13)
More often than not, the
notion of the monarchical principle comes to entail the idea of a limited
franchise exclusive to the property-holding elite. By "legitimate
authority," not only was parliamentary rule to be understood but
also the limiting of participation in government to those deemed worthy.
As Cartier went on to argue:
Every person who had conversed
with the most intelligent American statesmen and writers must have learned
that they all admitted that the governmental process had become too
extended, owing to the introduction of universal suffrage, and mob rule
had consequently supplanted legitimate authority; and we now saw the
sad spectacle of a country torn by civil war.(14)
Similar sentiments were
to be found in Macdonalds attitude toward the franchise. Despite
the fact that the eventual legislation (1885) helped to widen the franchise
considerably, the property qualification remained an important aspect
thereof. The main principles underlying the Act were "a uniformity
of the suffrage, and the recognition of a property qualification as determining
the right to vote." According to Pope, the property qualification
was "intended to be a barrier against the domination of a mere mechanical
majority." Macdonald, he goes on to note, was of the opinion that
"no man who advocated universal suffrage had any right to call himself
Macdonalds opinion on the matter had remained consistent from as
far back as 1861.
Experience has shown that
(universal suffrage) leaves a nation weak and leads it towards anarchy
and despotism. Unless there is a middle power, unless property is protected
and made one of the principles on which representation is based, they
might perhaps have a people altogether equal, but they will soon cease
to have a people altogether free.(16)
Despite Cartiers confidence
in the practicability of the federation scheme and its appropriateness
for ensuring French Canadian cultural survival, there were those who disagreed.
Joly, for example, felt that the establishment of a strong central government
would do little more than sound the death knell for French Canadians.
The very principle of "Confederation" would be contradicted
by such a provision. Under such a condition, the provinces would have
increasingly to obey the bidding of the central authorities. Federalism,
he argued, is a principle properly suited for strong independent states
that find it necessary to come together to meet certain exigencies that
they could not otherwise deal with defence being the obvious example.
For Joly, the Confederation proposal was a disguised attempt at legislative
union and such a union could not be in the interests of Lower Canada.
A strong central government would mean that the arrangement
will no longer
be a Confederation; it will be a legislative union a union which
the most zealous advocates of Confederation reject as incompatible with
the various interests of the different provinces
the latter will
no longer have an exclusive existence; they will become the authorized
delegates of the central power, their offices and every vestige of confederation
will disappear from your constitution
The weakness of the central
power is not the fruit of the federal system; it is its root, it is
itself. This is the reason why states which are perfectly independent
of each other adopt the federal principle solely as a means of defence
against foreigners, because the central power in a confederation cannot
be other than weak.(17)
In the case of Canada, there
already existed an authority which could deal with the problem of defence,
and that was Great Britain. By retaining close ties with Britain, Canadas
sovereignty would be guaranteed and the question of Confederation, at
least for Joly, would become redundant.
We already possess under
our present Constitution, and without confederation, a central power
stronger than any power which you can create, and to which we submit
without complaint, because it is perfectly compatible with the exercise
of our local powers I mean the power of England.(18)
Among the French Canadians,
there were, then, two schools of thought concerning the benefits of Confederation.
Those who sided with Cartier were convinced that the pluralism of a federal
system could best serve the interests of the French Canadians in the long
run. It was generally agreed that the basic rights of minorities had been
well protected by the British and would continue to be respected if the
British tradition in Canada and close links with Britain were maintained.
Federalism would further provide the appropriate amount of local power
to ensure that French Canadian culture continued to thrive.(19)
The other group, largely
arguing for the maintenance of the status quo, were not so trusting
when it came to British and Upper Canadian motives. According to these
delegates, the rights enjoyed by the French Canadians had not been easily
won and needed to be jealously guarded. Rather than viewing Britain as
the magnanimous guarantor of minority rights, this group believed that
these rights "had to be extracted from the British, and then only
when there were threatening outside forces or internal rebellion."
Federalism, in turn, was seen as little more than a veiled attempt to
bring about an eventual legislative union and representation by population.(20)
As Dorion argued:
The British Government
is ready to grant a federal union at once, and when that is accomplished
the French element will be completely overwhelmed by the majority of
British representatives. What, then, would prevent the federal government
from passing a set of resolutions in a similar way to those we are called
upon to pass, without submitting them to the people, calling upon the
Imperial Government to set aside the federal form of government and
give a legislative union instead of it.(21)
In a similar vein, Perrault
the scheme of Confederation
is not expedient. But even if the scheme of Confederation was expedient,
I maintain that the object of it is hostile. I gave an historical sketch
of the encroaching spirit of the English race on the two continents.
I pointed out the incessant antagonism existing between it and the French
race. Our past recalled to us the constant struggle which we had to
keep up in order to resist the aggression and the exclusiveness of the
English element in Canada. It was only through heroic resistance and
a happy combination of circumstances that we succeeded in obtaining
the political rights which are secured to us by the present Constitution.
The scheme of Confederation has no other object than to deprive us of
the most previous of those rights, by substituting for them a political
organization which is eminently hostile to us.(22)
THE CONFEDERATION PROPOSAL
Perhaps the most eloquent
statement on behalf of Confederation was made by its chief architect,
John A. Macdonald. If there has been one term consistently used to describe
Macdonalds approach to politics, it is "pragmatic." Indeed,
this is not an unfair characterization for in political matters his tendency
was to proceed cautiously, always paying due heed to circumstance. However,
to suggest from this, as some have, that Macdonald "was not a man
of ideas at all" would be to do him an injustice.(23)
It may be, as MacDermott charges, that Macdonald was not overly reflective
but then he was a political practitioner and not a political philosopher.
Macdonald accepted the dominant ideological principles of the system in
which he was working and never felt any need to transcend them. This unquestioning
acceptance no doubt helped in establishing his reputation as a pragmatic
political actor and may also have been one of the reasons why Macdonald
never felt it necessary to go out of his way to enunciate a "systematic
corpus of political principles." We must be careful not to equate
his acceptance of the dominant ideology and existing social structure
with a lack of "ideas." Macdonald was a "conservative-liberal,"
that is, a conservative in the Burkean tradition of English conservatism.
Macdonald summarized his approach to politics rather well in 1865:
I am satisfied
to confine myself to practical things to the securing of such
practical measures as the country really wants. I am satisfied not to
have a reputation for indulging in imaginary schemes and harbouring
visionary ideas that may end sometimes in an annexation movement, sometimes
in federation and sometimes in a legislative union, but always utopian
and never practical.(24)
Macdonald is here not objecting
to the adherence to a set of political principles or ideas but rather
to the pursuit of goals set in an a priori manner. The opposition
is not to political philosophy but to visionary schemes. Solutions to
political problems were to have the same basis for Macdonald as they did
for Burke. The best or most appropriate solution would be one based upon
the traditions of the policy and not on rational precept. Macdonald was
not one to raise issues before their time. However, once public opinion
was such that reform became desirable or necessary, he would be more than
willing to proceed. A change of stance on a particular matter can be other
than the result of mere opportunism. In typically Burkean fashion, Macdonald
recognized the dangers inherent in raising fundamental and quarrelsome
issues before their time. In 1853, he argued that:
If there is one thing
to be avoided, it is meddling with the constitution of the country,
which should not be altered till it is evident that the people are suffering
from the effects of that constitution as it actually exists.(25)
A rather overly sympathetic
biographer of Macdonald made a similar observation about his willingness
to change position on a given issue. In discussing Macdonalds attitude
towards the question of vote by ballot, Biggar notes that:
The question of vote by
ballot was now coming and it is worthy of remark that John A. Macdonald
is found opposing it, as in after years we will find that he opposed
more than one reform, which, however, he would subsequently help to
shape and carry out when he found that public opinion demanded it. The
reason he gave against vote by ballot now was that "the people
in Canada had no one exercising an illegitimate influence over them
as in England and European countries."(26)
Unless circumstance required
it, there was no reason for bringing about reform. In this instance, the
situation, in Macdonalds eyes at least, had not reached a point
where reform was necessary. To bring in vote by ballot because it was
intellectually appealing, because some thought it was a good idea, or
because it was being carried out elsewhere was not sufficient reason.
If reform was in fact required, then it was best that it be moderate and
well thought out for it is such reform that has lasting value. As Pope
noted of Macdonald:
He preferred, as a general
rule, to "hasten slowly," to weigh well all the circumstances,
to keep his hand free as long as possible, and to act only in the light
of the fullest knowledge he could gather. Such a course, he has observed,
often saved him from the disastrous consequences of hasty and ill-considered
action. He was a firm believer in the efficacy of time as a solvent
of many difficulties which beset his path, and his wisdom in this regard
has time and again been exemplified.(27)
Thus, when Waite approvingly
quotes MacDermotts characterization of Macdonald as "an empiricist
through and through," he is not doing him an injustice. He is also
quite right in pointing to the fact that Macdonald "would adjust
his views and policies to the temper of the time, abandoning cheerfully,
though cautiously, any policy that seemed outdated or impossible to work."(28)
This is not to suggest, though Waite might be inclined to do so, that
Macdonald changed his fundamental principles in the same way as a chameleon
changes colours, but only that he was well aware of the fact that one
cannot begin with a set of a priori principles and mould ones
environment according to their dictates. Like Burke, he was not in favour
of rationalist-deductive models. Again, Waite goes on to note that Macdonald
distrusted the "reforming temperament; he distrusted that view of
society which sees in changes of institutions or of laws the panacea for
the problems of human society."(29) Once more, Macdonald was here
being quite consistent with respect to conservative principle. In the
case of conservative doctrine, the statesman is properly concerned with
situations and objectives in regard to which he can act. His good is a
concrete good and not the abstract good of the philosopher.
Waite attributes Macdonalds
rather cynical approach to politics to his equally cynical view of human
nature. Macdonald had no illusion concerning the innate virtue of the
human animal; "he never shared that sublime belief in the perfectability
of man which was the great inheritance of the dissenting churches."(30)
Macdonalds attitude should come as no surprise. A fundamental belief
in the perfectability of man has never been a part of conservative teaching.
Whereas the "revolutionists" of the eighteenth century may have
"expressed confidence in the moral goodness of men in general, and
in their intellectual competence to select measures dictated by science
and reason," Burke continued to remain sceptical. According to him,
our "naked and shivering human nature" would always need the
support of the "established traditions of an old society."(31) Faith in the virtues and benefits of progressive
reform is often accompanied by a belief in the essential goodness and
perfectability of man. Many a reformer has been disillusioned on this
score as have those who have been subject to the so-called altruism of
What is disturbing about
Waites analysis is that, having discerned the foregoing characteristics
of Macdonalds approach to politics, he still goes on to conclude
that Macdonald was a man devoid of ideas. In fact, on the basis of Waites
own analysis, it becomes quite clear that Macdonald fits well within the
conservative tradition. It is difficult to know what Waite would consider
as evidence for the influence of ideas or what, according to him, a man
of ideas is. He addresses neither of these questions directly and simply
concludes that because Macdonald was pragmatic and paid due attention
to circumstance, his thought and action could not possibly have had a
consistent philosophical or ideological basis. Waite seems to imply that
to act on the basis of ideological conviction necessarily entails an attempt
to reshape or transcend ones immediate environment. However, this
is not something that one should expect from a conservative and Macdonald
did not exhibit any such tendency in either his thinking or in his political
If there was one question
on which Macdonald expressed himself in typically conservative fashion,
it was that of representation. The role of the representative must never
be reduced to that of a mere delegate. Nor did Macdonald ever entertain
the notion that the general population might from time to time be invited
directly to participate in matters of legislation. Democracy according
to plebiscite or referendum was complete anathema to British constitutional
practice as understood by Macdonald. When the question of putting the
matter of Confederation to the people came up, Macdonald responded in
By what contrivance known
to our Constitution could we take such a vote? There is none such. There
is no means, no system, by which we could make an appeal of that kind,
and in order to do it we should have to subvert the principles of the
we in this House are representatives of
the people, and not mere delegates
position is quite consistent with conservative doctrine, we must also
recognize that, like most successful politicians, he was not about to
suffer too dearly at the hands of principle. Had the question of Confederation
been put to a public vote, there is the distinct possibility that it would
have been defeated and along with it Macdonalds vision of a united
Canada. It would nevertheless be unfair to suggest that Macdonalds
stand was one of mere opportunism. The independence of the representative
was an essential ingredient of the democratic process. Popular despotism
the tyranny of the majority was as undesirable as the despotism
of the tyrant. The former might, in fact, lead to or at least help in
the maintenance and legitimation of the latter. By putting major issues
of legislation to the consideration of the general population, one might
only be providing or sanctioning "the means by which a despot
may get that popular confirmation and approval which he desires for the
laws necessary to the support and continuation of his usurpation."(33)
There is little doubt that Macdonald overstated his case and that a responsible
use of the plebiscite can indeed be an effective aspect of democratic
government; but this would not be accepted by someone with the conservatives
suspicion of popular rule. One might also note that at various points
throughout the debate, Macdonald used the term "conservative principles"
and came to equate it with traditional British constitutional practice.
The principle of "representation"
was an important ingredient of constitutional practice and it was believed
that propertied men of "good character" could be relied upon
to make sober political judgments. While Macdonald believed this to be
true, he also recognized that principle and good conscience were in themselves
not enough. Like any good conservative, he was no democrat and felt that
the principle of representation also required its checks. Representation
needed to be balanced by hierarchy and structure. In support of this argument,
Macdonald approvingly quoted a speech by the British parliamentarian,
It is the essence of representative
government that the electing class, which is analogous to the class
paying rates, shall possess no direct legislative power; and the principle
of parliamentary representation is that not even the representative
principle shall alone legislate. We have taken the caution to protect
the rights and property of Englishmen by the prerogatives of the Crown,
the privileges of the Lords, and the authority of a representative assembly.
All these constitute the threefold and invaluable shelter which we have
raised over the rights and property of the meanest subject of the realm.(34)
Macdonald summed up the
importance of Leathams argument with a typically Burkean aphorism:
speech contains very shortly the wisdom of ages."(35)
For Macdonald, the rights
and property of Canadian constituents were to be protected by essentially
the same measures that Leatham had considered so important for Britain,
albeit with certain unavoidable modifications. As we have already noted,
the monarchical principle was to be retained as were the closest possible
ties with Britain. The new union was one which was to ensure "British
laws, British connection, and British freedom."(36)
The monarchy was an important
part of tradition and beyond partisan politics. In light of the latter
consideration, it would be able to provide the appropriate symbolic vehicle
behind which disparate elements could unite. Macdonald considered the
absence of such a non-partisan unifying symbol to be a serious drawback
of the American system. The president, although being both the symbolic
and political head of state, could really never be more than the "successful
leader of a party." He could never be looked up to by all as "the
head and front of the nation" because partisan politics dictated
that in reality he was only the representative of a part of the nation.
The monarchical principle, Macdonald believed, provided for a different
set of circumstances. Here one had a Sovereign,
who is placed above the
region of party to whom all parties look up who is not
elevated by the action of another, who is the common head and sovereign
With modifications and due
consideration of local circumstance, the "privileges of the Lords"
could also be transplanted. A replica of the British Upper House was not
possible in Canada for here there was no landed aristocracy, there were
no "men of large territorial positions no class separated
from the mass of the people." The best practical solution and the
one most "in accordance with the British system" that circumstance
would permit was to confer the power of appointment on the Crown and to
make appointments tenable for life. The Senate was to provide for an effective
check on the Lower House, particularly in those instances where the latter
might exhibit too much democratic or egalitarian exuberance. In the words
It would be of no value
whatever were it a mere chamber for registering the decrees of the Lower
House. It must be an independent House, having a free action of its
own, for it is only valuable as being a regulatory body, calmly considering
the legislation initiated by the popular branch, and preventing any
hasty or ill considered legislation which may come from that body
The principle of a representative
assembly based upon British precedent would also require some adjustment.
Although Macdonald preferred the British model of a legislative union,
the necessity of appeasing provincial demands precluded such a move and
the best that could be hoped for was a federal union. Macdonald clearly
realized that he would have to assuage Upper Canadas desire for
representation by population, provide for Quebecs demands of cultural
autonomy, and permit the Maritime provinces to retain a certain level
of political identity. A federal union emerged as the logical choice.
Such an arrangement would provide for equitable representation in the
national parliament, allow Quebec to see to its cultural matters, and
grant the Maritimes enough local power to retain their political identity.
While certain concessions may have been made, there was little doubt that
the central authority was to be the dominant one. As Macdonald was quick
to point out:
In the proposed Constitution,
all matters of general interest are to be dealt with by the General
Legislature, while the local legislature will deal with matters of local
interest, which do not affect the Confederation as a whole, but are
of the greatest importance to their particular sections.(39)
The overriding interest
was to be the national interest. Here Macdonalds thinking is once
more quite consistent with that of Burke.
Although Macdonald may not
have written a treatise, or even a series of pamphlets, there can be little
doubt that his political actions were guided by a set of consistent principles
of which he had a good understanding. Macdonald was conscious of the ideas
upon which he based his actions and therefore his pragmatism was a philosophical
pragmatism and not merely the kind that is founded upon opportunism
though this is not to suggest that opportunism did not play a significant
role. However, to reduce the motivation of political actors to pragmatism
and opportunism would give us an inaccurate picture.
AND THE CRITIQUE
OF THE CONFEDERATION
for the proposed federation carried the day, although this is not to say
that it did so without opposition and scrutiny. The most eloquent attack
against the proposed plan came from the independent, though ideologically
conservative, Christopher Dunkin of Lower Canada. Dunkin may not have
shared Macdonalds enthusiasm for the proposals under consideration,
but he did share Macdonalds reverence for tradition and distrust
I have no fancy for democratic
or republican forms or institutions, or indeed for revolutionary or
political novelties of any sort. The phrase of "political creation"
is no phrase of mine
All we can do is to attend to and develop
the ordinary growth of our institutions; and this growth, if it is to
be healthy at all, must be slow
I do not believe in any of those
violent and sudden changes which have for their object the creation
of something entirely new.(40)
His general criticism of
the proposed constitution was that it had been hastily constructed. Rather
than paying due deference to traditional practices, it was in fact a new
and previously untried form of government. Dunkin gave no credence to
the claim that the new constitution was equal to, if not better than,
that of either Britain or the United States.(41) Not enough attention had been paid, he felt,
to detail and the fundamental impossibility of the scheme lay in its attempt
to combine a "federal" form of government with the British cabinet
system.(42) Despite the fact that Dunkin was in favour
of a legislative union and no friend of republican institutions, his admiration
of the American founders was genuine. They had been men confronted with
major issues and had taken great care in considering the best possible
alternatives. Whereas the Canadian experiment had "a character of
hurry"(43) about it,
the American had been carefully and judiciously considered. As Dunkin
The framers of the Constitution
of the United States were, indeed, great men living in, and the
product of a great age, who had passed through a great ordeal and been
brought up to the level of their work by great events in which they
had been leading actors; and their work was a great work, which cost
much time and much discussion, and underwent long and painstaking revision
of all sorts, in all quarters, before it was adopted. Yet we are called
upon to admit now, and to admit it without examination, that this work
of thirty-three gentlemen, done in seventeen days, is a much better
work than that; and not only so, but that it is even better for our
people and situation than the time-honoured Constitution of our Mother
Land; that it combines essentially the advantages of both, with the
disadvantages of neither.(44)
In certain respects, Dunkins
criticisms were not only valid but turned out to be somewhat prophetic.
By trying to arrive at an expedient compromise, the framers had granted
the provinces certain prerogatives but had at the same time left the overall
"style and rank" of the state that was to be created in "most
delightful ambiguity."(45) "The game of all things to all men,"
Dunkin observed, "is a game that cannot be played with success in
the long run."(46) Dunkins prediction has
been all too frequently confirmed in the continuing rounds of federal-provincial
bickering. One of the more important sources of ambiguity was the central
governments power of disallowance. Dunkin argued that, on the one
hand, the provision was presented as a real power with which to control
local legislatures, thereby satisfying those who preferred a legislative
union; on the other hand, it was presented as a provision which, although
helping to enhance the central authority, would never be used, thereby
satisfying those who preferred a federal union. When it came to the protection
of minority rights, Dunkin was again not impressed. For example, the general
nature of educational guarantees for minorities in Upper and Lower Canada
would only lead to future misinterpretations, ambiguities and the potential
denial of those very rights.(47)
were not about the expressed intentions and general principles of the
constitutional proposals. The intention of providing for a strong central
government was one which he supported wholeheartedly. His grievance was
with the provisions that were to ensure that the intention would be carried
out. There was no disagreement with the "ideological" principles
that provided the overall justification of the plan; but Dunkin realized
that principle was not enough. Careful attention would also have to be
paid to detail, or the whole exercise might well prove to be for naught
in the long run.
We have to deal with no
mere question of a nationality, or of union or disunion, or of a federal
as opposed to a legislative union. It is idle to talk vaguely about
the maintenance of British connection, or to go into magnificent speculations
about the probable results of independence, or blindly to urge this
scheme as a sure preventative of annexation to the United States. These
cheap and easy generalities are thoroughly unreliable. The only question
is, how is this plan, in its entirety, going to work? And this question
is one which is not easy to answer, and is one requiring much patience,
and a close examination of details.(48)
This is not to suggest that
Dunkin was not concerned about maintaining close ties with Britain or
with preventing annexation to the United States. These were matters of
great concern to him, but he believed that the proposals presented could
not ensure the former nor prevent the latter. Dunkins call for a
consideration of detail did not stem from any rationalist premise but
rather from the belief that by merely debating vague generalities and
hastily considering a series of rapidly drawn up proposals, those traditions
upon which the constitution was to be based and which it was to maintain
would be lost. According to him, the framers of the constitutional proposals
had not even had the foresight to provide for a clear distinction between
the functions of the central and provincial governments something
which would no doubt create problems in the future.
We have not even an intelligible
statement as to what powers are to be exercised by the general, and
what by the local legislatures and governments. Several subjects are
specifically given to both; many others are confusedly left in doubt
between them; and there is the strange and anomalous provision that
not only can the general government disallow the acts of the provincial
legislatures, and control and hamper and fetter provincial action in
more ways than one, but that wherever any federal legislation contravenes
or in any way clashes with provincial legislation, as to any matter
at all common between them, such federal legislation shall override
it, and take its place.(49)
If the division of powers
was deserving of criticism, then so were the other major features of the
new constitution. The House of Commons, which was presented as a model
faithful to the British Commons, was, Dunkin argued, nothing of the kind.
Its representative function was more akin to that of the American House
of Representatives. Dunkins main objection was to the shifting nature
of the electoral districts that was guaranteed to occur after each decennial
census. For representation to be effective, it needed a continuing and
steady influence. The provision suggested would bring together "electors
who have not been in the habit of acting with each other."(50)
The prospect of frequently redrawing electoral boundaries would tempt
the party in power to use the provision to its advantage. Whereas the
British system ensured, at least so Dunkin argued, that all representatives
be considered "members of the one House of Commons" with a view
to the national interest, the Canadian system, with its shifting electoral
boundaries, and with those boundaries lying exclusively within provincial
borders, ran the risk of becoming little more than a forum for provincial
grievances. The Canadian situation seemed here more like the American
than the British and could very well prove to be detrimental to the future
prospects of union.
The House of Representatives
is an aggregate of state delegations, and our mock House of Commons
is to be an aggregate of provincial delegations. Each man is to come
ticketed as an Upper or Lower Canadian, a New Brunswicker, a Nova Scotian,
a Newfoundlander, a Prince Edward Islander, or what not. These distinctions,
which, if we are to be a united people, we had better try to sink, we
are to keep up and exaggerate.(51)
Dunkin also had little hope
for the effectiveness of the Senate. In response to the claim that the
Senate was to represent the federal element of the constitution, he retorted
that "there is not a particle of the federal principle about it."(52)
Nor did he feel that it in any way approximated the virtues of the House
of Lords but rather regarded it as a pale copy of the United States Senate,
with none of that bodys more important powers. The American Senate
had the "important judicial function of impeachment" whereby
even the actions of the President came under its scrutiny. Along with
this, it was given the executive power to examine and disallow treaties
and certain presidential appointments. With the House of Representatives,
the Senate also exercised "coordinate legislative functions, as to
expenditure and taxation."(53) Compared to this, the role
of the Canadian Senate was indeed small. Canadian Senators were to be
chosen neither by the legislatures of the provinces nor by the people
in general. As a result, Dunkin argued that the Senate could not be regarded
as representing a federal element in any true sense of the term. The Canadian
Senate, he commented:
differently from the Senate of the United States, presided over by a
functionary to be nominated by the General Government; having no such
functions of a judicial or executive character as attached to that body,
and cut off from that minute oversight of the finances which attaches
to the Senate of the United States; although it may be a first-rate
deadlock; although it may be able to interpose an absolute veto, for
no one can say how long, on all legislation, would be no Federal check
In Dunkins opinion,
the Canadian Senate was "a very near approach to the worst system
which could be devised in legislation."(55)
The Cabinet, in Dunkins
evaluation, fared no better than the Senate as a bastardization of British
constitutional practice. Insofar as the provinces were not "really
represented to any Federal intent" in the Senate, they would have
to be represented elsewhere. The federal check which was provided by the
Senate in the United States, "as an integral part of the Executive
Government" would have to be performed in Canada by the Cabinet;
the Cabinet would have to take on the character of "federal composition"
and be made the "representative of the provinces." Dunkin considered
such a prospect completely contradictory to British practice.
I must say that
this sort of thing is utterly variant from, and inconsistent with British
practice and British principle; with the constitutional system which
makes the whole Cabinet responsible for every act of government. The
British Cabinet is no Cabinet of sections, but a unit.(56)
Dunkin was then primarily
concerned with the structural defects of the constitution and not with
its intention. It was these structural defects that would, however, not
permit the realization of the intention of bringing in a highly centralized
form of government. In trying to accommodate various federal elements,
so his argument went, the framers of the constitutional package had in
fact woven in the seeds of its future destruction. When compared to either
the avowedly federal constitution of the United States or the centralized
constitution of Great Britain, the Canadian constitution emerged as a
deficient compromise between the two. Dunkins response to the constitutional
question was a consistently conservative one. Whereas Macdonald had been
willing to compromise on certain aspects in order to deal with local circumstances,
Dunkin was not. Yet both were ideologically conservative and used conservative
precepts to justify their positions. Both recognized the importance of
tradition, were anti-democratic, favoured slow imperceptible growth in
a societys development, and both believed that the rights of the
individual could best be guaranteed by inherited custom and practice.
At no point during the Confederation Debates was there a call for the
protection of the "abstract" rights of the individual, nor was
it ever suggested that these be enshrined in a bill of rights. On this
question, the approach was once more empirical and characteristically
conservative. As Creighton notes:
In general, the liberties
of the subject are assumed as part of the unwritten constitution inherited
from Great Britain; and it is only in a few particular cases that the
act concerns itself with rights or liberties, and then in a characteristically
practical and empirical fashion. It provides safeguards for the distinctive
Civil Code of the Province of Quebec, for the already established sectarian
schools of religious minorities, and for the use of the English and
French languages in the Parliament and courts of Canada, and in the
legislature and courts of the Province of Quebec.(57)
There was no motion whatsoever
of making Canada a bilingual or bicultural nation; in fact, the "modern
use of the latter term was unknown in 1867." The use of the French
language was granted only in those parts of Canada in which it "had
already been established by law of convention."(58) Had anyone at the time thought
that the provinces were to achieve their present status, they might well
have heeded Dunkins warnings and proceeded more cautiously.
Thus, the intention of the
framers of the constitution was to provide for a strong central government
where the provinces would play only a minor role; their purpose was to
provide for those conditions in which the "inherited" social
and constitutional (political) practices of the British tradition could
In determining the motives
behind Confederation, we can delineate three major areas of concern. First,
there were those internal difficulties stemming from the 1841 Act of
Union and Quebecs desire to preserve its French culture. Second,
there was the problem of defence arising from the perceived threat of
American aggression. Third, were a variety of economic considerations.
With respect to the first,
it quickly became apparent that the effort to govern both ethnic groups
under the purview of a unitary, "or at least quasi-unitary state,"
would prove to be difficult at best. A variety of solutions were tried
in the attempt to stave off disintegration. Quebec was permitted to retain
its civil law, the status of the French language was eventually recognized
despite initial attempts based on Durhams recommendations
to make unilingualism the order of the day, and cabinets were constructed
so as to include representation from both cultural groups. In addition,
Quebec governments were headed by two party leaders, one from each section,
rather than by a single Prime Minister, and separate attorneys-general
were also provided. In order to permit "matters such as education
and municipal affairs" to be dealt with differently in the two sections,
"some of the legislation adopted by the provincial Parliament applied
only to one of the sections, with parallel but distinct legislation applying
to the other."(59) Despite these provisions,
the solution did not work. As Stevenson has argued:
Each section of the province
harboured the belief that it was being constrained and dictated to by
the other. Since they were of roughly equal size and had equal representation
in the Parliament, such a belief was equally plausible on both sides.
Legislation could be adopted pertaining to either section without the
support of a majority of its representatives. The equal representation
of the two sections was discovered by residents of the western half
to be an intolerable affront to liberal principles once the western
half became the more populous, although the injustice of it had somehow
managed to escape their notice when they were a minority of the total
population. Ethnic and religious antagonisms were exacerbated by many
of the issues which came before the legislature, and were reinforced
by divergencies of economic interest between the sections. Farmers and
manufacturers in the western part of the province, like their counterparts
in the larger western hinterland of a later date, resented the commercial
hegemony of Montreal and the measures that were taken with the aim of
funnelling their commerce through that city.(60)
It is small wonder that
the status quo could not continue long. A variety of solutions
were proposed, but each suffered from major defects. Representation by
population would have left the Lower Canada minority in a subordinate
position to Upper Canada. The provision for double majority would have
made it virtually impossible to form a government at all while a federation
between the two major provinces meant that each of the parts could very
well have emerged as more powerful than the central authority. The option
of granting the sections independence would have ensured the destruction
of the "economic and commercial unity of the St. Lawrence system."(61)
These internal difficulties provided a strong motive for finding some
As already noted, the problem
of defence also occupied the attention of many of the delegates. Thus,
"the perceived hostility of the United States as exemplified by the
Trent Affair, the Alabama Claims, border incidents, and New York editorialists
promoting northern expansion, formed the backdrop for speeches which concentrated
on defence policy, possible annexation to the United States, need for
Canadian western development and Canadas place within the British
Imperial defence system."(62)
With the expectation that
the United States would abrogate its reciprocal trade agreement with the
colonies, as it actually did in 1866, the provinces were presented with
a strong economic motive for Confederation. Trade would now have to be
re-oriented on an east-west basis and the Maritimes were confronted with
the added burden of defending their coastline and fishing rights.(63) The various economic benefits
were stressed by Alexander Galt, the then Minister of Finance. Galt argued
that one of the chief benefits of Confederation would be an economy that
did not have to rely on any one industry alone. With the addition of the
Maritimes, Canada had the potential of becoming a seafaring power and
with the removal of tariff barriers, provinces would benefit from the
resulting increase in trade and would no longer be dependent on the threatened
There were, of course, also
those who considered the economic benefits of Confederation as less than
certain. J.B.E. Dorion could not see any particular advantage in having
the Maritimes as a trading partner in that their products were similar
to those of central Canada. As he argued, "What trade could there
be between two farmers who produce nothing but oats?
stand and stare at each other with their oats before them, without ever
being able to trade together; they would require a third person
a purchaser."(65) According to Dorion, any trading
advantages could just as well be obtained without union. For some, the
entire Confederation scheme was "nothing more than a machination
to further the interest of the Grand Trunk Railway."(66)
However, despite criticisms
and reservations, it was the recommendations of the "chief architect,"
Macdonald, and his supporters that prevailed. In view of the motivating
factors and the response to these given by Macdonald and others, there
can be little doubt that there was an important ideological element to
the debate with Macdonald emerging as a consistent conservative-liberal.
Other solutions to the constitutional problem could have been entertained
and provided. A more "republican" form of government would just
as well have provided for an effective union and could just as easily
have enjoyed the protection of Britain in matters of defence. The rights
of citizens and minorities could have been enshrined in a bill of rights.
Neither of the foregoing came to pass.
Macdonald did not approach
the question of constitutional reform in a merely reactive or incrementalist
manner; nor were the ideas upon which he based his actions mere rationalizations
of what had been brought about by independent forces. The confederation
proposal shows a definite connection to a set of ideas and values. There
is no doubt that in both tone and content, the "formal" constitution
emerged as a very "practical" document,(67) but to infer from this that it formalized
an expedient political compromise is to do it an injustice. The B.N.A.
Act did not seek to advance any new principles or rights, but it did
seek consciously to preserve the inherited rights and freedoms of a particular
tradition and Macdonald showed a good understanding of the philosophical
ideas which underlay that tradition.
The present condition of
the Canadian nation is certainly not that envisioned by the founding Fathers.
Their intention of providing for a strong central authority where the
provinces would be subordinate to the national interest has not been realized.
During one round of federal-provincial constitutional wrangling, the Premier
of Newfoundland, Mr. Peckford, even went so far as to suggest that the
real purpose of Confederation had been to set up a central government
whose function was to provide for the interests of the provinces and to
act at their behest! As well, Quebec has ceased to be a province with
a few peculiarities and has come to define itself as a completely distinct
entity deserving of special status. The contemporary situation is one
in which "the balance of power between federal and provincial governments,
which the Fathers believed should incline decisively toward the Dominion,
has now fallen sharply towards the provinces."(68) The federal authority is not the only one
to have suffered a decline. The role of Parliament as a legislative decision
and law-making body has also suffered shrinkage and come to be assumed
by the executive, bureaucracy and federal provincial bargaining units.
The devolution of the central
authority is now often attributed to the economic and social developments
which took place subsequent to Confederation. As a result of these developments,
it is argued, the intentions of the Fathers of Confederation have become
largely irrelevant and their plan obsolete. Those who support this argument
contend that the founders did not foresee the inevitable growth of the
state with its attendant responsibilities. Thus, they did not envision
"the tremendous expansion of education, or the coming of the welfare
state, with its pensions, family allowances, medical care, and various
forms of insurance." Compounding this lack of foresight was the equally
shortsighted assignment of natural resources to the provinces, which deprived
the federal government of a potentially important source of revenue. The
Fathers were further remiss in their "expectation that the great
public improvements of the future would be federal enterprises such as
transcontinental railways" rather than those areas of contemporary
public enterprise such as schools, universities, roads and hospitals,
which were assigned to the provinces. As a result, "the whole trend
of modern development has placed more power and responsibility in the
hands of the provinces, and this inevitably means such a large degree
of decentralization as to make the centralist scheme of the Fathers seem
The second line of revisionism
deals with the cultural aspect of the Confederation agreement. Here it
is argued that Confederation was in fact a union, or agreement, "between
two cultures or nations" rather than a union of provinces. Even though
there is no substantial evidence to support this thesis in the pre-Confederation
conferences and debates, so the argument goes, the agreement was of an
extra-legal nature, "an unspoken moral commitment, which was meant
to inform the whole union with its spirit." As evidence, the "historical
revisionists" point to the fact that the first "Conservative
government gave legal status to the French language in Manitoba and the
first Liberal government after Confederation did the same for the Northwest
Territories." The argument goes on to conclude that this unwritten
agreement between the two cultures has not been adequately lived up to
and that therefore "substantial amends must now be made."(70)
Creighton quarrels with
these arguments not simply because he considers them historically inaccurate,
but also because of the subtle attempts on the part of their protagonists
to rewrite history to suit their objectives. As noted earlier, both history
and the intentions of the founding Fathers stand as limitations in any
attempt to alter fundamentally the provisions of Canadian federalism.
Thus, any attempt to bring about significant changes can more easily succeed
if it is accompanied by an interpretation of history which favours it.
The argument presented for the natural devolution of the central authority
claims that the founders were shortsighted in their provision for future
contingencies and did not invest the federal government with enough authority
to prevent decentralization. At the same time, too much responsibility
was given to the provinces. As a consequence, the centralist thesis no
longer holds and the provinces should therefore be granted those powers
necessary to carry out their responsibilities effectively. The cultural
argument calls for a fundamental reconsideration and re-interpretation
of the assumptions upon which Confederation was based. If the argument
is that union was indeed a cultural compact, instead of merely the coming
together of provinces, then the claims for special status for Quebec
one that would be more representative of the French fact in federal institutions,
with the right to negotiate international treaties, etc. take on
a new light. Indeed, the argument can be taken so far as to claim that
Quebec should be treated as an equal partner vis-à-vis the rest of Canada,
despite its numerical inferiority.
According to Creighton,
the argument of inevitable decentralization is not one that bears up well
under scrutiny. Decentralization was not due to any lack of foresight
on the part of the founding Fathers, nor was it the inevitable consequence
of socio-economic evolution and change. The major factor which furthered
and initiated the trend towards decentralization was human intervention.
the Fathers did
make ample provision by founding a strong central government which could
have coped very effectively with modern social and economic problems.
And the fact that it is not now capable of playing the role which the
Fathers intended it to play is not the result simply of natural social
evolution and economic change, but also, and more importantly, of arbitrary
human intervention of the decisions of the courts and the arrangements
of politicians. The British North American Act
often been formally amended, but its whole character has been drastically
changed, and, indeed, almost exactly reversed, by the decisions of the
courts, and particularly of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council,
which in effect has transferred residuary authority from the central
government, where it was intended to lie, to the provinces, which were
never meant to have it. There was nothing natural or inevitable about
this at all; it might, it ought, to have happened the other way.(71)
Although the courts were
responsible for initiating and furthering the process of decentralization,
the politicians were not blameless. Whereas the courts transferred "powers
and responsibilities" to the provinces, the politicians "continued
and hastened" the process by transferring large sums of money. As
Creighton again argues:
During the depression
of the 1930s and 1940s, the Dominion government still maintained its
dominating economic and financial control, but since then provincial
pressures and federal concessions have altered this state of affairs,
and with accelerating rapidity
financial agreements between the
provinces and the Dominion have steadily increased the provincial share
of the Canadian tax dollar.(72)
When confronted by historical
fact, the assumptions of the two-nation theory fare no better than the
theory of inevitable decentralization. According to Creighton, "the
Manitoba Act of 1870, which gave provincial status, the French language,
and sectarian schools to the first prairie province of Canada, was not
at all the original intention of the Fathers of Confederation." Rather,
that intention had been expressed in an Act passed the previous year and
little remembered by historians the Act for the Provisional
Government of Ruperts Land. This "gave the northwest the government
of a territory, not of a province, and made no mention of language or
schools." The original plan had to be abandoned with the advent of
the Riel Rebellion of 1869-70. As a result of the rebellion and its attendant
problems, the institutions of Manitoba were set up prematurely.
It was Louis Riel, backed
by five thousand Métis, the partial support of the Red River community,
together with British pressure and Anglo-Canadian fears of American
intervention in the north-west, which compelled the Fathers of Confederation
to fix the institutions of Manitoba prematurely, before the true character
of the province had declared itself.(73)
The actions of the legislators
were here motivated by considerations other than the desire to fulfill
a bicultural agreement or understanding. Despite the provisions of the
Manitoba Act, there was no subsequent concerted effort on the part
of either party to provide for a bicultural West. The North-West Territories
Act of 1875, "which first set up a territorial government for
the prairies beyond Manitoba, made no mention whatever of language rights."
The 1877 amendment to the Act, "which gave the French language legal
status in the territories, was proposed, not by the Liberal government
of the day, but by a private member in the Senate." The amendment
was not welcomed by the then Minister of the Interior, David Mills, and
was only grudgingly conceded to by the government in order that the revised
bill be passed before the end of the session.(74)
The problematic character
of Canadian federalism is one that will likely remain with us for some
time. Even given patriation, provincial and federal claims will continue
to clash, and competing social and political groups will attempt to rewrite
history to suit their own purposes. It is during times of such fundamental
questioning as we are now experiencing that Creightons warning becomes
particularly important. One must always try to ensure that the interpretive
understanding of history is not confused with conscious distortion. Creighton
rightly recognizes that if solutions to political problems are to be effective,
they must be arrived at with a view to, and an understanding of, history.
Biggar, E.B. Anecdotal
Life of Sir John Macdonald. John Lovell and Son, Montreal, 1891.
Bredvold, Louis and R. Rose,
eds. The Philosophy of Edmund Burke. The University of Michigan
Press, Ann Arbor, 1977.
Creighton, Donald. "The
Use and Abuse of History." Towards the Discovery of Canada.
Macmillan of Canada, Toronto, 1972.
Durant, W. and A. The
Lessons of History. Simon and Schuster, New York, 1968.
MacDermott, T.W.L. "The
Political Ideas of John A. Macdonald." Canadian Historical Review,
No. XIV, 1933.
Macdonald Papers. Public
Archives of Canada, Vol. 158.
Morton, W.L. The Kingdom
of Canada. McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, 1968.
Nelson, R., R. Wagenberg
and W. Soderland. "The Political Thought of the Fathers of Confederation."
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Political Science
Association, University of New Brunswick, June 1977.
on the Subject of the Confederation of the British North American Provinces.
Hunter and Rose and Co., Quebec, 1865.
Pope, Sir J. Memoirs
of the Right Honourable Sir John Alexander Macdonald. Oxford University
Press, Toronto, 1930.
Rhoads, Steven E. The
Economists View of the World. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,
Stevenson, G. Unfulfilled
Union. Macmillan of Canada, Toronto, 1979.
Waite, P.B., ed. The
Confederation Debates in the Province of Canada, 1865. Carleton Library
Series No. 2, McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, 1963.
Waite, P.B. "The Political
Ideas of John A. Macdonald." The Political Ideas of the Prime
Ministers of Canada. M. Hamelin, ed. Les Éditions de lUniversité
dOttawa, Ottawa, 1969.
Wright, Benjamin, ed. "Federalist
Paper No. 49." The Federalist. Harvard University Press,
(1) Steven E. Rhoads, The Economists
View of the World, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1985, p. 195.
Benjamin Wright, ed., "Federalist Paper No. 49," The
Federalist, Harvard University Press, Massachusetts, 1961, p. 347-351.
R. Nelson, R. Wagenberg and W. Soderland, "The Political Thought
of the Fathers of Confederation," Paper presented at the annual meeting
of the Canadian Political Science Association, University of New Brunswick,
W. and A. Durant, The Lessons of History, Simon and Schuster, New
York, 1968, p. 12.
Donald Creighton, "The Use and Abuse of History," in Towards
the Discovery of Canada, Macmillan of Canada, Toronto, 1972, p. 65-84.
Ibid., p. 69.
Ibid., p. 83.
Ibid., p. 69.
Macdonald Papers, Public Archives of Canada, Vol. 158, p. 64011-64012
(Speech delivered at Kingston, 1861).
Ibid., p. 64121 (Speech delivered in the Legislative Assembly,
Parliamentary Debates on the Subject of the Confederation of the British
North American Provinces, Hunter and Rose and Co., Quebec, 1865, p. 59
Ibid., p. 838.
Sir J. Pope, Memoirs of the Right Honourable Sir John Alexander Macdonald,
Oxford University Press, Toronto, 1930, p. 616.
Macdonald Papers, Public Archives of Canada, Vol. 158, p. 64123
(Speech delivered in the Legislative Assembly, 1861).
Parliamentary Debates (1865), p. 350.
Nelson et al., p. 6-7.
Ibid., p. 5-6. See also Parliamentary Debates, p. 585-626.
P.B. Waite (ed.), The Confederation Debates in the Province of Canada,
1865, Carleton Library Series No. 2, McLelland and Stewart, Toronto,
1963, p. 95.
Ibid., p. 128.
See P.B. Waite, "The Political Ideas of John A. Macdonald,"
in M. Hamelin (ed.), The Political Ideas of the Prime Ministers of
Canada, Les Éditions de lUniversité dOttawa, Ottawa, 1969.
Also, T.W.L. MacDermott, "The Political Ideas of John A. Macdonald,"
Canadian Historical Review, No. XIV, 1933. Macdonald came
to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland, at the age of five. His family settled
in Kingston, where the future Sir John received his early education and
where he later practised law. He remained in the practice of law throughout
his life with a series of partners, in Kingston until 1874 and then in
Toronto. His firm engaged primarily in commercial law; his most valued
clients were established businessmen or corporations. Macdonald first
entered politics at the municipal level, serving as alderman in Kingston,
1843-46. In 1844, at the age of 29, he was elected for Kingston to the
Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada. (For a good biographical
account, see The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2nd Edition,
Vol. II, p. 1260-1261.)
Parliamentary Debates, p. 1002.
Globe, 12 April 1853.
E.B. Biggar, Anecdotal Life of Sir John Macdonald, John Lovell
and Son, Montreal, 1891, p. 64.
Pope (1930), p. 653.
Waite (1969), p. 52.
Ibid., p. 53.
Ibid., p. 54.
Louis Bredvold and R. Rose, eds., The Philosophy of Edmund Burke,
The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1977, p. 156.
Parliamentary Debates, p. 1004.
Ibid., p. 1004-1005.
Ibid., p. 1005.
Ibid., p. 1006.
Ibid., p. 31.
Ibid., p. 33.
Ibid., p. 35-36.
Ibid., p. 30.
Ibid., p. 486.
Ibid., p. 487.
Ibid., p. 497.
Ibid., p. 482.
Ibid., p. 490-491.
Ibid., p. 488.
Ibid., p. 489.
Ibid., p. 490.
Ibid., p. 483.
Ibid., p. 514.
Ibid., p. 492.
Ibid., p. 493.
Ibid., p. 494.
Ibid., p. 495.
Ibid., p. 497.
Creighton (1972), p. 72.
Ibid., p. 72-73.
G. Stevenson, Unfulfilled Union, Macmillan of Canada, Toronto,
1979, p. 28-29.
Ibid., p. 29-30.
Ibid., p. 40.
Nelson et al. (1977), p. 37.
Stevenson (1979), p. 34.
Nelson et al. (1977), p. 26.
Parliamentary Debates, p. 862. Quoted in Nelson et al.,
Nelson et al. (1977), p. 29-30.
W.L. Morton, The Kingdom of Canada, McClelland and Stewart, Toronto,
1968, p. 320.
Creighton (1972), p. 74.
Ibid., p. 77.
Ibid., p. 77-78.
Ibid., p. 79.
Ibid., p. 80.
Ibid., p. 80-81.