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« disorder, which has directly tended to weaken and o embarrass the administration of Your Majesty's Govern“ ment in this Province ; so that it cannot be expected to “extricate itself from its present state, until the Pro“vincial Legislature be regenerated upon a more extensive “ system.
“ In the Bill for uniting the Provinces, which Your “ Majesty's servants have introduced for the consideration “ of the Imperial Parliament, we see no real cause of “ alarm. In every essential point, our Constitution, “ though enlarged, will remain inviolate; Your Majesty's “ authority will regain its constitutional ascendancy; “ Your Majesty's subjects in both Provinces will heartily “ concur in upholding it for their common advantage and “ security ; and those prejudices which are purposely “ entertained amongst the ignorant and unwary, against “ their fellow-subjects of British birth or origin, must “ necessarily be dispelled upon a more intimate acquaint“ ance with each other.
“ We pray Your Majesty to believe that a Legislature “constituted in conformity with the liberal views of your “ ministers, as disclosed in the bill alluded to, could not “ do otherwise than hold sacred the laws, the civil and “ religious institutions, of either Province, however essen“ tially different they might be ; and, finally, that such “ ill-founded disquietudes as have been stirred up with “ respect to the proposed Union of these Provinces, with “ respect to its operation upon those laws and institutions, " as well as all sinister doubts respecting the future lot of " these Colonies, would give way to an increased con“ fidence of the people in the wisdom and energy of Your “ Majesty's Government, which could not fail still more to “ strengthen the bonds which so strongly attach them to " the mother-country.”
Mr. Speaker declined receiving the said Motion in Amendment,- giving for reason, that it was in direct
opposition to the Resolutions taken by this House on Tuesday the twenty-first instant, and tended to annul them.
Mr. Ogden appealed to the House, and the question being put, upon Mr. Speaker's decision, the House divided :
The question being then put upon Mr. Viger’s Motion, the House again divided ; and the names being called for, they were taken down, as followeth :
Yeas. Messieurs Dessaulles, Bélanger, A. Perrault, Rochon, Prevost, Dumont, Fortin, Heney, Franchire, Fournier, Proult, Moussaux, Robitaille, Déligny, Bourdages, Langevin, Davidson, Clouet, Arcand, Quesnel, Picötte, Taschereau, Cuvillier, Viger, J. Perrault, Taché, L. Lagueux, Badeaux, Aniot, E. C. Lagueux, and Quirouet.
The occurrences of the last half year, connected with the trial of controverted elections of members of the House of Commons, have been such as to diminish the confidence of the people in the integrity of their representatives, without which there is no defence for liberty. Before the meeting of Parliament, each of the extreme parties in the state had formed an association, and provided by subscription cousiderable sums of money, for the purpose of supporting the members of the association in prosecuting election petitions or defending their seats ; and there were such indications that the proceedings would not be regulated merely by considerations of law or justice, that moderate men were very generally convinced it would be necessary, for the trial of such questions, to erect some new tribunal, which should be steadfast amidst the waves of politics ; whilst other persons, less moderate, thought that an opportunity presented itself of throwing into the hands of the factions to which they belonged additional means of biassing and of deciding contested elections. Mr. Charles Buller brought a bill into the House of Commons, almost at the beginning of the session; and Mr. O'Connell proposed a committee of inquiry, with the avowed desire to have the facts, in cases of controverted elections, decided by juries in the vicinage of the places of election, and the questions of law determined by the superior courts at Westminster or Dublin. Sir Robert Peel has since announced, in debate, a plan, which he is anxious should be understood to be the produce of his own reflections; and Lord Mahon has given notice of his opinion, that it is desirable to obtain an impartial tribunal, apart from the House of Commons, and not dependent on it.
In the mean time, many circumstances have taken place, relating to the trial of controverted elections, which have been disgraceful and afflicting, and destructive of the respect of the people for their representatives. According to all notions of a fair trial, and according to the standing orders of the House of Commons, it would be a serious offence for any individual to obtain a promise or understanding of favour from any one of the members, and then to solicit his attendance at the ballot for a committee on his own election or petition. Yet each of the great parties in the House openly urges the individuals of which it is composed to assemble upon every ballot; and there are such concomitant circumstances as to make the public fully aware that, if each party does not avow that it is expected of its adherents that they should maintain the elections or petitions of their comrades, these parties do at least mutually accuse each other of acting on this rule. At the ballots, each party has regularly mustered its strength ; and as the names are called by the Speaker, an anxious account is kept to see whether there are more Conservatives or Reformers amongst the first thirty-three who answer. The members of the committee advance to the table, and, in the presence of the elect aristocracy of the commoners of the United Kingdom, take the oath which, like that of the juryman upon trials for crimes, or of questions of property, adjures them to give a true judgment according to the evidence; yet not the less confidently do the more candid of the party which has obtained the majority on the committee predict a successful issue ; whilst the equally ingenuous of the opposite party, which is in the minority on the committee, resign themselves to defeat. The newspapers have teemed with reproach and accusation of unfairness in the proceedings of the committees; and one of the members of the House denounced at a tavern-dinner the perjury which he affirined to be general and habitual in them. He is reprimanded by the Speaker, and in the face of the whole House he reiterates the declaration; and four or five other members rise and proclaim that they participate in his opinions, and uphold the assertions he has made. Another member points his accusation of political bias and a disregard of the oath against a particular committee; and in the name of the House, and at the bar of the House, he is almost implored to recall the imputation, which he declines to do, and is discharged. In several instances, the notes of the proceedings before the committees have been called for by members who impugn them; and the production of these notes has been sanctioned and ordered by the House; which has thus opened a career of debate upon proceedings and decisions which a statute of the realm declares to be final.
Of the proposals which have been distinctly announced for a remedy of this intolerable state of things, Sir Robert Peel’s is certainly that in which the fewest obvious faults present themselves. He proposes that the Speaker should appoint a standing committee of about six members of the House. That this committee should appoint as many subordinate committees as there may be election petitions to be tried; that the petitions should be distributed amongst these subordinate committees by the superior committee, or by lot; that each subordinate committee should consist of six or seven ; and that the superior committee should appoint annually a sufficient number of paid assessors to supply always one to each of the subordinate committees; and that on points of law there should be an appeal to the whole body of assessors.
Though there are fewer prominent objections to this