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William Lyon MacKenzie
Chapter VI - Enters Parliament


BEFORE the commencement of 1828, Mackenzie was a declared candidate for a seat in the next House of Assembly; and it is not impossible that he already aimed at attaining to the leadership. Speaking of this House as a body, in a letter to Earl Dalhousie, he said: "Many of these legislators are qualified to sign their names; but, as to framing and carrying through a bill on any subject whatever, the half of them wisely never attempted such a herculean task." And in the same letter he expressed undisguised contempt for the whole sham of colonial legislatures then in vogue. "I have long been satisfied," he said, "that if the North American colonies were rid of these inferior and subordinate legislatures, which are, and must ever be, insufficient for the purposes for which they were intended, and allowed instead a due weight in both branches of the British parliament, it would prove the foundation of their permanent and true happiness." The difficulty was that these representative assemblies were mocked with a semblance of that legislative power with the substantial possession of which they were never endowed. Even the Reformers had only an imperfect conception of the true remedy. The ministry might be subjected to a succession of defeats in the assembly without raising a question of resignation ; and the Reform journals very seldom undertook to deal with the question of ministerial responsibility. Mackenzie was the "advocate of such a change in the mode of administering the government as would give the people an effectual control over the actions of their representatives, and through them over the actions of the executive." Most of those who essayed to effect reforms, contented themselves with encountering abuses in detail, a mode of warfare which left untouched a radically defective system of administration.

When we look back upon the system that existed, the mind is filled with astonishment that it should have enjoyed such comparative immunity from attack. A party triumph at the polls carried hardly any of the advantages of victory into the legislature. The members of the executive belonged to the minority. The majority might pass bills in the assembly, but, unless they pleased the ruling party, they were rejected by the Crown-nominated chamber. There was no general separation of legislative and judicial functions; and when the assembly, in 1826, addressed the imperial government to remove the chief justice from the sphere of politics, the answer was that the governor had profited greatly by his advice, and that there was nothing in the circumstances of the colony to render a change of system desirable. The judiciary and the members of the executive received their appointments, and the greater part of their pay, from revenues belonging to England, on which they were largely dependent When the House presented an address to the king praying that the bounty lands, which had been withheld from those officers of the militia who attended a convention on the grievances of the colony in 1818, should be given to them, Governor Maitland, by the command of His Majesty, replied that when they expressed " deep contrition " for presuming to ask for a redress of grievances, the lands would be granted to these erring militiamen of 1812. The system reacted upon itself; the bad advice sent by irresponsible ministers from this side came back across the Atlantic matured into the commands of the sovereign; and the name and the authority of England suffered, while the real culprits escaped the merited punishment of ejection from office by the votes of a majority of the people's representatives.

It is not surprising, under these circumstances, that a scheme so impracticable as colonial representation in the imperial parliament should have been turned to, in despair, by Mackenzie. A union of the colonies, which he had often advocated, would have necessitated a change of system, if it was to be an effective remedy for the glaring defects of administration which then existed.

In the commencement of 1828, while advocating a responsible executive, Mackenzie disclaimed all " intention or desire to assist in cutting any colony adrift from its parent state." He confesses, however, that his proposal for representation in the imperial parliament had not met universal approbation. The ruling faction desired to have things their own way; and so comfortable were existing arrangements that they were afraid of the effects of a change. The people were unfortunately becoming suspicious of the external influence that sustained the oligarchy ; and were wisely disinclined to listen to a scheme of representation in a distant parliament, where their feeble voice must have been drowned in the clangour of over six hundred representatives.

At the close of 1827, Mackenzie's pecuniary circumstances had greatly improved. In a letter written previous to the election, he gives us some information on this point: " By an unwearied application to business, I am now again an unencumbered freeholder of Upper Canada, to more than thrice the amount required by law as a parliamentary qualification, besides being possessed of nearly as much more lands, with good bonds for deeds. I have also valuable personal property, including a business which nothing but the actual knowledge of the election of a bad parliament, in aid of the present corrupt administration, would induce me to quit. Being, therefore, easy in my circumstances, entirely freed from the terrors 148 of litigation, prosperous in my business, in good health, and owing very few debts, I have applied to the people of the most populous county in Upper Canada for the highest honour in their gift, the surest token of their esteem and confidence."

Having once resolved to seek a seat in the legislature of his adopted country, Mackenzie waited for no deputations to solicit him to become a candidate; he submitted his claims to no clique of election managers, and heeded not their voluntary resolves. Months before the election was to take place, he issued an address to the electors of the county of York. James E. Small had been Mackenzie's solicitor in the famous type case; but he was astonished at the temerity of his late client in venturing, unasked, to declare himself a candidate for the representation of the most populous county in Upper Canada. It so happened that Small was to be a candidate for the same county. Jesse Ketchum and William Roe were the choice of a convention, but Mackenzie declared himself a candidate and thus announced himself:—

"I have attended two public meetings, but it is not my intention to go to any more until I meet the people at the hustings; it is a needless waste of time, and benefits nobody but the tavern-keeper. If I go into the legislature, it must be in my own way, or not at all. For I mean to break through all the old established usages, to keep no open houses, administer to the wants of no publican, hire no vehicles to trundle freemen to the hustings to serve themselves, nor to court the favour of those leading men who have so powerfully-influenced former elections. I will not lessen my own resources for maintaining independence by spending at the outset, as was done by others four years ago, a sum sufficient to maintain my large household for a twelvemonth; but, if I shall become one of the stewards of the province, I hope I shall be found not only faithful, but also fully competent to discharge the duties of a representative in such a way as ought to secure for me the confidence of an intelligent community." His first election cost £500.

Opposed by the administration and its organs from political reasons, Mackenzie's candidature was contested even by professed Liberal journals, from a business jealousy that derived its venom from the circumstance of his own paper having a circulation larger than any rival in Upper Canada. Assailed by every newspaper in York, except his own; libelled in pamphlets, and slandered in posters, he pursued the even tenor of his way, and managed to find time for the preparation of electioneering documents calculated to influence not merely the county of York but the whole province. The result showed that Small had miscalculated the relative influence of himself and his opponent. Ketchum and Mackenzie were elected.

The first session in which Mackenzie had a seat in the legislative assembly opened inauspiciously for the advisers by whom Sir John Colborne was surrounded. Having been convened on January 8th, 1829, it soon gave proof of its hostility to the administration. The vote on the speakership, which stood twenty-one for Willson, the late Speaker, and twenty-four for Bidwell, did not at all indicate the strength of parties; for, while Willson received the support of the government, the division showed that he still retained many friends among the opposition. The address in reply to the speech from the throne, founded on resolutions framed by Rolph and containing the strongest expressions of a want of confidence in the advisers of the governor, was carried with the nearest possible approach to unanimity: thirty-seven against one. In those days a unanimous vote of censure on the governor's advisers produced no change of ministry. The assembly complained of the government, when they ought to have struck a blow at the system which rendered it possible for a party, who could command only a small minority in the popular branch of the legislature, to continue their grasp on the reins of power. Such was the House in which Mackenzie first held a seat; such the practice of the government when he first entered public life.

During this session an event occurred that brought him into collision with two members of the legislature who were afterwards active in his expulsion from the House. The new governor, Sir John Colborne, had been exhibited in effigy at Hamilton, and a rumour had found currency that there was a conspiracy to liberate Collins from gaol by force. Whatever connection these two subjects may have had, they were jointly referred to a special committee of inquiry. Gurnett had stated in his newspapers, that the intention of certain petitioners for the release of Collins was to liberate him by force, if necessary. On January 29th, Rolph moved that Gurnett be brought to the bar of the House to be interrogated touching this statement. When he came he refused to answer, on the ground that his evidence would implicate himself. Allan MacNab (afterwards Sir Allan) was among the witnesses called, and he refused to answer the questions put to him. On motion of Dr. Baldwin, he was declared guilty of a high breach and contempt of the privileges of the House. Being taken into custody by the sergeant-at-arms, and brought a prisoner to the bar of the House, he complained of having been tried and convicted without a hearing. His defence was not satisfactory to the House, and, on motion of Mackenzie, he was committed to the York gaol, under the warrant of the Speaker, during the pleasure of the House. Solicitor-General Boulton was also called as a witness. He, too, thought himself entitled to refuse to answer the questions of the committee, and, for this contempt and breach of privilege, was let off with a reprimand.

Mackenzie in the assembly soon became one of its most active members. He commenced as he ended, by asking for information and probing to the bottom questions of great public interest. In the committee-room he made his mark, during the first session, not less distinctly than in the House. As chairman of the select committee to inquire into the state of the post-office department in Upper Canada, he drew up a comprehensive report replete with the most valuable information and suggestions. The mail service was miserably performed ; and matters were so managed as to leave a considerable surplus profit which failed to find its way into the provincial exchequer. Not a mile of new post-road could be opened, or a single post-office established, without the authority of the postmaster-general in England, who was necessarily destitute of the minute local information necessary for the correct determination of such questions. The postage on a letter between England and Canada ranged from five shillings to seven shillings and six pence. The tri-weekly mail between Montreal and the present city of Toronto was slowly dragged over roads that were all but impassable; and it was a standing wonder how the mail-carriers were enabled to perform their duties westward. Mackenzie recommended, as the beginning of all efficient reform, that the department should be placed under the control of the local authorities. He also laid it down as a principle that no attempt should be made to draw a revenue from the post-office ; but that the entire receipts shoilld be devoted to the securing of additional postal facilities. Complaints had been made, in previous sessions, that the colonists were taxed, without their consent, through the post-office department, and that the surplus revenue was never accounted for, a complaint which had been met by Attorney-General Robinson by a reference to Dr. Franklin, who was said not to have regarded postage in the light of taxation.

Nor was this the only committee of which Mackenzie was chairman. In that capacity he made a report on the privileges of the House and the conduct of returning officers at the recent election, and he afterwards carried, on a vote of twenty-seven against five, a resolution that the chief clerk, with the approbation of the Speaker, should appoint the subordinate officers of the House, except the sergeant-at-arms and any others appointed under the existing law.

During this session, Mackenzie carried various other motions and addresses to the government. On nearly every vote he was sustained by immense majorities. When certain powerful interests were interfered with, his success was not so marked; and on a few occasions he failed to obtain a majority. In those days, the assembly counted a chaplain among its servants, and in accordance with the attempt, which had not yet been abandoned, to give the Church of England a position of ascendency in Upper Canada, he was a member of that Church. On a vote of eighteen against fourteen, Mackenzie carried a resolution which struck at this exclusiveness by declaring that, during the remainder of the session, the clergy of the town generally be invited to officiate, in turn, as chaplain, and that their services be paid out of the contingent fund.

But the government was so fenced in that it could exist in the face of any amount of opposition. During this session it was entirely independent of the House for the means of carrying on the government. No money grant was asked; and the House was officially informed that it would not be expected to trouble itself with the matter. The Crown revenue, which came into its hands under an imperial statute of 1774, sufficed to defray the expenses of the government and of the administration of justice'; and any bills passed by the House, which did not meet with the sanction of the government, could be easily disposed of in the council.

In this session he brought before the House a series of thirty-one resolutions—a moderate number compared with the celebrated ninety-two of Lower Canada—on the state of the province. He therein took a position far in advance of the times. Contending for that right of local self-government of which the constitution contained the guarantee, he asserted the right of the House to control the entire revenue arising within the province; complained that money voted for the civil service had been applied to the pensioning of individuals in sums of from £500 to £1,000 a year; denounced the favours shown to a particular Church, pensions, monopolies, and ex-officio and criminal informations, at the instance of the Crown, for political libels. The necessity of making the Canadian judges independent was asserted in opposition to opinions expressed in high quarters in England. The unlimited power of sheriffs holding office during pleasure was declared to be dangerous to public liberty, especially as the office was often filled by persons of neither weight nor responsibility. The patronage exercised by the Crown or its agent, the governor, in the province, was asserted to be at variance with sound policy and good government. Though the importance of Canada to England as a nursery for her seamen and as a country consuming a larger quantity of British goods in proportion to the population, was insisted on, it was alleged that the discontent arising from the abuse of power was one of the causes that led to the invasion of the province in the War of 1812; the resulting losses suffered by the most active friends of the British power, and falling most heavily on the Niagara district, ought, it was contended, to be made good out of the territorial revenue of the Crown instead of being left unliquidated or allowed to fall on a poor province. The appointment of an accredited agent at the seat of the imperial government, was declared to be desirable. The resolutions constituted a budget of grievances, most of which have been not only redressed but forgotten.

The arrival in the province of Sir John Colborne, in the capacity of lieutenant-governor, had been hailed as the sure promise of a new era. The illusion had vanished before the close of the session, during which an executive council, which found ^ itself in a permanent minority in the popular branch of the legislature, had been kept in office.1 Mackenzie, who -had been elated by hopes which were destined not to be realized, now uttered complaints where he had before been disposed to bestow praise. He had gone into the legislature with a desire to point out, and, if possible, remedy, what he believed to be great abuses in the government.

In the spring of 1829,-Mackenzie visited New York, Washington, Philadelphia, and other places in the United States, with a disposition to view everything he saw there in coleur de rose. The alarming sound of a threatened dissolution of the union even then fell upon his ears; he could detect in it nothing but the complaints of disappointed faction. While on this visit he wrote a long letter on the political condition of Canada to the editor of the National Gazette. The authorship was not avowed, and though various conjectures were hazarded on the subject, it is difficult to see how it could have been a question at all. The letter bore the strongest internal evidence of its authorship, and was, besides, little more than an amplification of the thirty-one resolutions he had brought before the legislature in the previous session.

The contrasts made between the government of Canada, as then administered, and that of Washington, could hardly be otherwise <than of a dangerous tendency. An English statesman might make them with impunity; but if a Canadian followed his example, his motives would not fail to be impugned. So it was with Mackenzie, who claimed to be, in English politics, neither more nor less than a Whig. These contrasts obtruded themselves by the propinquity of the two countries; and there is no reason to suppose that, in Mackenzie's case, they at this time implied any disloyalty to England.

During the parliamentary recess, a vacancy having occurred in the representation of York by the appointment of Attorney-General Robinson to the chief justiceship of the Court of King's Bench, the vacant seat was contested between Robert Baldwin, whose father was then a member of the House, and James E. Small. Mackenzie supported the former, who obtained ninety-two votes against fifty-one given to his opponent. Taking the assembly for our guide, it would be difficult to imagine a government administered in more direct defiance of the public will than that of Canada in 1830. The legislative session opened on January 8th; and in the address in reply to the speech of the governor, the House was unanimous in demanding the dismissal of the executive council. " We feel unabated solicitude," said the representatives of the people, "about the administration of public justice, and entertain a settled conviction that the continuance about your Excellency of those advisers, who, from the unhappy policy they have pursued in the late them by the publication of a letter he received from the chief clerk of the Department of State, dated Washington, Julv 28th, 1830, which concludes as follows: "I have just received a letter from Mr. Van Buren, the secretary, dated at Albany, the 23d of this month, expressly authorizing me to deny all knowledge of or belief, on his part, in the revolutionary designs imputed to you, as I now have the honour of doing, and to state, moreover, that he has not the smallest ground for believing that your visit had anything political for its object. He directs me also to add that, if the president were not likewise absent from the seat of government, he is well persuaded he would readily concur in the declaration which I have thus had the honour of making in his behalf." administration, have long deservedly lost the confidence of the country, is highly inexpedient, and calculated seriously to weaken the expectations of the people from the impartial and disinterested justice of His Majesty's government." The House was unanimous in desiring the removal of the advisers of the governor; but a discussion arose upon the proper method of accomplishing that object. Mackenzie hit upon the true remedy. "I would," he said, "candidly inform His Majesty's ministers that they do wrong to encourage and support in authority an organized body of men in direct opposition to the wishes of the people of the country." If there was any hope of making the wishes of the House prevail, it was by an appeal to England. The governor had, in the previous session, been appealed to by an almost unanimous vote of the House to remove his advisers; but he had felt himself at liberty to ignore the wishes of the people's representatives. On a direct vote of a want of confidence, the government had, in the previous session, been able to muster one vote out of thirty-eight; now their solitary supporter had deserted them. By the personal favour of the governor, they were still retained in office.

The governor received the address of the House with a curtness that revealed a petulant sullenness bordering on insult: " I return you my thanks for your address," was all he condescended to say. That it might not appear invidious, he used the same formula in receiving the echo address of the legislative council.

No member of the House had the same knowledge of financial matters, revenue, banking, and currency, as Mackenzie. There were more finished scholars, and more brilliant, though not more powerful, orators than he; but in his knowledge of the mysteries of accounts he was unrivalled. At the commencement of the session, he concluded an able speech on the currency by moving for a committee of inquiry. Of this committee he was chairman; and in that capacity made an elaborate report on banking and currency.

"The system of banking," said the report, "in most general use in the United States, and which may with propriety be termed 4 the American banking system,' is carried on by joint stock companies, in which the stockholders are authorized to issue notes to a certain extent beyond the amount of their capital, while their persons are privileged from paying the debts of the institution, in the event of a failure of its funds to meet its engagements." On this system, which had found its way into Canada, Mackenzie was anxious that no more banks should be chartered; but, in case the House resolved upon that course, he recommended the following precautions as likely to afford some security to the bill-holders: "(1) That a refusal to redeem their paper should amount to a dissolution of their charter. (2) That the dividends be made out of the actual bona fide profits only. (3) That stock should not be received in pledge for discounts. (4) That stockholders, resident within the district in which any bank is situated, should not vote by proxy. (5) That either branch of the legislature should have the power to appoint proper persons to ascertain the solvency of the bank, or detect mismanagement, if they should see fit to institute an inquiry.

(6) It should be stipulated that any Act of the legislature prohibiting the circulation of bills under five dollars, shall not be considered an infringement of the charter. (7) The book or books of the company in which the transfer of stock shall be registered, and the books containing the names of the stockholders, shall be open to the examination of every stockholder, in business hours, for thirty days previous to any election of directors. (8) Full, true, and particular statements should be periodically required, after a form to be determined on, and which will exhibit to the country the actual condition of the bank to be chartered."

He moved an address for detailed accounts of the different branches of the public revenue; introduced a bill—which passed unanimously at its final stage—providing that the publication of truth, unless with malicious intent, should not be a libel; and that the defendant in an action for libel should be entitled to plead truth in justification and to produce his proofs. This bill was rejected by the legislative council in company with more than forty others.

As in the previous session, Mackenzie brought forward resolutions directed against the practice of filling the legislative council with dependent placemen ; but they were not pressed on either occasion. If this point had been insisted upon by the House, which showed an inexplicable backwardness in dealing with it, there is reason to believe that it would have been conceded by the imperial government.1

After the close of the session of 1830, the belief seems to have generally prevailed that the executive government would dissolve a House which had been unanimous in asking the governor to dismiss his advisers. The death of the king, George IV, settled all doubts that might have existed on this head. But before the intelligence of this event reached Upper Canada, the battlecry of party had been raised in anticipation of a dissolution of the new House. In the month of July, Mackenzie addressed a series of very long letters to Sir John Colborne, apparently intended to influence the constituencies. Several columns of the first letter were devoted to a complaint founded on the accusations brought by the government press against the loyalty of the assembly, and abuse of its members. These attacks followed closely upon the publication of a despatch from Sir George Murray, colonial secretary, to Sir James Kempt, lieutenant-governor of Lower Canada, in which the imperial minister inculcated "the necessity of cultivating a spirit of conciliation towards the House of Assembly"— plainly showing the feelings of the British government on the subject. After collecting a long list of accusations against the dominant party in the assembly, he met the charge of disloyalty brought against the assembly and the Reform party in direct terms. " The people of this province," he said, " neither desire to break up their ancient connection with Great Britain, nor are they anxious to become members of the North American confederation; all they want is a cheap, frugal, domestic government, to be exercised for their benefit and controlled by their own fixed land-marks; they seek a system by which to insure justice, protect property, establish domestic tranquillity, and afford a reasonable prospect that civil and religious liberty will be perpetuated, and the safety and happiness of society effected."

It was one of Mackenzie's complaints that the members of the executive government were not responsible to the people of Canada through their representatives ; and that there was no way of bringing them to account for their conduct. When the election contest approached more nearly, he put forward responsible government as a principle of vital importance. As a needful reform, he placed it on a level with the necessity of purging the legislative council of the sworn dependents of the executive, who comprised the great majority. Of Upper Canada politicians, we are entitled to place Mackenzie among the very earliest advocates of responsible government. It is doubtless true that others afterwards made the attainment of this principle of administration more of a specialty than he did; for where abuses grew up with rank luxuriance, he could not help pausing to cut them down in detail. The independence of the judiciary, for which he persistently contended, has been, like responsible government, long since attained.

His letters to Sir John Colborne are not free from remarks to which a general consent would not now be given. In drawing up an indictment containing a hundred counts against the administration, the constitution was not always spared ; but the system of administration then pursued would now find no supporters in this province; and if we were obliged to believe that it was constitutional to sustain in power a ministry condemned by the unanimous voice of the people's representatives, the necessity for constitutional reform would be universally insisted on. If the British government, and even the British constitution, came in for a share of condemnation, it must be remembered that the oligarchical system, which reduced the the following five things are essential :

"1. The entire control of the whole provincial revenues is required to be vested in the legislature—the territorial and hereditary revenues excepted.

"2. The independence of-the judges; or their removal to take place only upon a joint address of the two Houses, and their appointment from among men who have not embarked in the political business of the province.

"3. A reform in the legislative council, which is now an assembly chiefly composed of persons wholly or partly dependent upon the executive government for their support.

"4. An administration or executive government responsible to the province for its conduct.

"5. Equal rights to each religious denomination, and an exclusion of every sect-from a participation in temporal power." popular branch of the legislature to a nullity, was sustained by the imperial government, and that the Reform Bill of Lord John Russell had not yet been passed.

The letters to the governor were immediately followed by "An Appeal to the people of Upper Canada from the judgments of British and colonial governments." This "Appeal" was one of the mildest productions Mackenzie ever wrote. Free from personalities, it consisted entirely of an appeal to the reason and the better feelings of the people, and can be fairly judged from an extract addressed to the agricultural classes :—

"A kind Providence hath cast your lot in a highly favoured land, where, blessed with luxuriant harvests and a healthful climate, you are enabled to look back without regret upon the opulent nations of Europe, where the unbounded wealth of one class, and the degrading poverty of another, afford melancholy proofs of the tyranny which prevails in their governments. Compare your situation with that of Russia, an empire embracing one-half of the habitable globe, the population of which are slaves attached to the soil, and transferable to any purchaser; or with Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, where human beings are born and die under the same degrading vassalage. Traverse the wide world and what will you find ? In one place, a privation of liberty; in another, incapacity to make use of its possession ; here, ignorance, vice, and political 168 misrule ; there, an immense number of your fellow-men forced from their peaceful homes and occupations 'to fight battles in the issue of which they have no interest, to increase a domain in the possession of which they have no share.' Contrast their situation with yours, and let the peaceful plains, the fertile valleys of Canada, your homes, the homes of your wives and children, be still more dear to you. Agriculture, the most innocent, happy, and important of all human pursuits, is your chief employment; your farms are your own; you have obtained a competence, seek therewith to be content."

Mackenzie's re-election for York was opposed by nearly every newspaper in the country; and the few that did not oppose remained silent. Some carried the virulence of personal abuse to an extent that caused him to complain of injustice; but he would neither condescend to reply nor to meet his assailants with their own weapons. The county of York returned two members. In the Reform interest stood Mackenzie and Jesse Ketchum ; opposed to them were Simon Washburn and Thorne. So far did Mackenzie carry his sense of fairness that he publicly announced that he would " abstain from using the press as a medium of injuring, in the public estimation," those who might be opposed to him as candidates. The result was Ketchum, 616; Mackenzie, 570; Washburn, 425; Thorne, 243. The new House met on January 7th, 1831. No previous assembly had committed half as many follies as the one that now met for the first time was to perpetrate.

The first trial of party strength showed that the majority had passed to the official side. Archibald McLean became the new Speaker on a vote of twenty-six against fourteen. He was the first native Canadian elected to the chair of the Upper Canada assembly. His father had emigrated from Argyle-shire, Scotland; and the son had, in previous local parliaments, allied himself with the official, or Family Compact, party. Personally, he was not obnoxious, even to the opposition ; and his pleasing address was much in his favour. But his election indicated a complete change in the politics of the House; and the party now dominant in both branches of the legislature, as well as in the government, was subject to no check whatever. The way in which it abused its power will hereafter be seen.

It is impossible to note the change in the char" reasons," occupying four newspaper columns, " why the farmers and mechanics should keep a sharp look-out upon the Bank [of Upper Canada] and its managers." These reasons were based upon the refusal of the officers of the bank, in the previous session, to answer the inquiries, on numerous points, of a parliamentary committee; on the statement, in the evidence of Robert Baldwin, that notes had been discounted and refused discount from political reasons ; on the palpable defects which then existed in the charter, defects which were such as even then no economist or good business man in Europe would have thought of defending. In order to exclude Mackenzie from the last annual meeting proxies had been refused.

The Character of the House produced by the election of 1830, without inquiring to what possible causes so extraordinary a party revolution was attributable. The enigma seems to be not wholly incapable of solution. The opposition to the executive, in the previous House, had gone far to abolish all party lines. Very few members who served from 1828 to 1830 had any serious political sins to answer for in respect to that period. The purse-strings were held by the executive. Holding the Crown revenues independent of the legislature, it could wield the influence which money gives; and, in a young colony, poor and struggling, this was necessarily considerable. The state of the representation was, in some respects, worse than that in the unreformed House of Commons. The session was not very old when Mackenzie moved for a committee of inquiry on the subject. On a vote of twenty-eight against eleven the House granted the committee; and after two attempts on the part of the officials and their friends to break the force of the conclusion arrived at, Mackenzie got a committee of his own nomination.

It had already become evident that, even in the present House, Mackenzie would frequently get his own way, and that he would give no end of trouble to the official party. He brought forward motions which the House, in spite of. its adverse composition, did not venture to reject, and they were sometimes accepted without opposition. He carried a motion of inquiry into the fees, salaries, pensions, and rewards, paid out of that portion of the revenue which was not at the disposal of the legislature, as well as a motion for a return of all sums paid out of the same source to religious denominations. He made strong efforts to effect a reform in the very defective system of banking which then prevailed. The friends of bank mystery had been obliged to give way, and to allow regular returns of the Bank of Upper Canada to be made to the government. On this subject Mackenzie did not carry his motion, but he compelled those who opposed him to yield much of what he contended for.

If a member who gave the official party so much trouble could be got rid of, how smoothly things might be expected to glide along in the House as at present constituted. Could a vote of expulsion not be carried? Previous to the general election, Mackenzie had distributed, at his own expense, several copies of the journals of the House, unaccompanied by comment and precisely in the shape in which they were printed by the House. The declared object of the distribution was to give the voters in different places the means of referring to the official record of the votes and proceedings of the House, in order that they might be able to trace every vote, motion, and resolution of their late representatives, and to ascertain when they were absent and when present; and also whether their votes were acceptable or not. It appears that it had been decided at a private party meeting, at which several of the leading officials are said to have been present, that this should be treated as a breach of privilege, and be made the ground of a motion to expel the member guilty of it. For this purpose the aid of a committee of inquiry was obtained consisting of Attorney-General Boulton, MacNab, Willson, Samson and William Robinson. MacNab was selected as the minister of vengeance; and it may be presumed that he performed his task con amore, since he had an old grudge to settle with the member on whose motion he had, in a previous session, been sent to prison for refusing to answer the inquiries of a committee of the House. MacNab based his complaint chiefly upon the fact that the journals had been distributed without the appendix. If the appendix had gone too, he owned "that he should not so readily have made up his mind on the question of privilege." The motion was that, upon a report of a select committee, Mackenzie had abused the trust imposed on him— to print the journals—by publishing portions of them, and distributing the same for political purposes, "thereby committing a breach of the privileges of this House." The solicitor-general (Hagerman) made no hesitation in denouncing the circulation of the journals as " altogether disgraceful, and a high breach of the privileges of the House." He deemed it monstrous to circulate them "without the consent or approbation of the House," and for the shameful purpose of letting the constituencies know how their members had voted. Attorney-General Boulton said the question was, whether, for this "bad purpose, any portion of the journals of the House could be published;" and he answered it by unhesitatingly declaring his " opinion, as a lawyer, that such a publication was a breach of parliamentary privileges, whether done with an evil intent or for a praiseworthy purpose." Mr. Dalton had, in the previous session, published portions of the proceedings of the House in his journal, The Patriot; and if Mackenzie was liable to be punished, so was he. Every newspaper publisher was equally guilty.

Mackenzie had a clear appreciation of the effect which such an ill-advised movement would produce on the public mind. "If," he said, "the object of this resolution is to do me injury, it is but another proof of the incapacity and folly of the advisers of this government, who could not have better displayed their weakness of intellect and unfitness for office, than by bringing me before the public as a guilty person, on an accusation against which the whole country, from one end to the other, will cry out, 4 Shame !' If I have done wrong, every newspaper editor in London, in Lower Canada, and in this province, is deserving of punishment."

Nothing could be plainer than that the charge on which it was sought to justify the motion for expulsion was a mere pretext. These considerations must have flashed upon the House; and in spite of its subserviency to the administration, and in spite of the desire to get rid of Mackenzie's active opposition by removing his presence from the House, a majority, fearing the effect of the proceeding upon the constituencies, shrank from sustaining MacNab's motion. The vote stood fifteen against twenty; the names of the attorney-general and the solicitor-general figured in the minority.

Baffled for a time, but resolved not to forego their purpose of getting rid of a troublesome opponent, a new pretext was soon invented. It was pretended that Mackenzie had printed a libel upon the House. Before, however, the time came for the second motion for expulsion, the House had entered on another session; and in the interval Mackenzie was far from having done anything to conciliate the dominant faction. On March 16th, 1831, the committee on the state of the representation, of which he was chairman, reported. It condemned the practice of crowding the House with placemen ; showed that the legislative council had repeatedly thrown out bills for allowing the same indemnity to members for towns as was paid to those for counties; recommended the modification of that provision of the law which gave a representative to every town having one thousand inhabitants, so as to include a portion of the adjoining country sufficient to give the constituency four thousand inhabitants ; an approach to the equalization of constituencies, in other cases, was recommended in detail. It Was shown that the executive had exerted undue influence on placemen who held seats in the legislative council; and had compelled them to change their tone and vote in direct opposition to their convictions previously expressed in their places. A few had had spirit enough to protest; but submission had been the rule.

The recess was of less than ordinary length, the parliament, prorogued on March 16th, 1831, having been again convened on November 17th. But the period had been long enough for Mackenzie to arouse an agitation which shook Upper Canada throughout its whole extent. Nothing like it had ever before been witnessed in the Upper Province. In the middle of July, he issued, in temperate language, a call for public meetings to appeal to the king and the imperial parliament against the abuses of power by the local authorities. He did not mistrust the justice or the good intentions of the sovereign. On the contrary, he showed the people that there were substantial reasons for believing in the good intentions of the king towards the province. "If," he said, in a public address, "you can agree upon general principles to be maintained by the agents you may appoint in London, I am well satisfied that His Majesty's government will exert its utmost powers to fulfil your just and reasonable requests; your king's noble efforts on behalf of your brethren in England, Ireland, and Scotland, are an earnest that you have in him a firm and powerful friend." In these public meetings, York led off; and was followed by responsive movements throughout the province. Mackenzie was present at many of the meetings, and even in such places as Brockville and Cornwall he carried everything as he wished. Each petition adopted by those meetings was an echo of the other ; and many appear to have been exact copies of one another. To produce a certified copy of the proceedings of the York meeting was sure to obtain assent to what it had done. A distinct demand for a responsible government found a place in these petitions. The king was asked " to cause the same constitutional principle which has called your present ministers to office to be fully recognized and uniformly acted upon in Upper Canada; so that we may see only those who possess the confidence of the people composing the executive council of your Majesty's representative." Representative reform, which then occupied so much attention in England was demanded. The control of all the revenue raised in the province was asked to be placed in the assembly; the disposal of the public lands to be regulated by law; the secularization of the Clergy Reserves; the establishment of municipal councils which should have the control of local assessments; the abolition of exclusive privileges conferred upon particular religious denominations; law reform; provision for impeaching public servants who betrayed their trust; the exclusion of judges and ministers of the Gospel from the executive council and the legislature; the abolition of the right of primogeniture—these items completed the list of those grievances of which redress was asked.

Mackenzie afterwards became the bearer of these petitions to England. The aggregate number of signatures appended to them was over twenty-four thousand five hundred. In spite of counter-petitions numerously signed, his mission, as we shall see, was far from being barren of results.

During the spring of 1831, Mackenzie made a journey to Quebec to pay a visit to some of the leading politicians of Lower Canada. He took passage at Montreal, in the steamer Waterloo, for Quebec. While on her way down the vessel was wrecked early on the morning of April 13th, opposite St. Nicholas, and the passengers had a narrow escape across the ice-jam for their lives. The vessel went down in deep water. The accident arose from the supposition that the ice-bridge at Cap Rouge had given way, and left the channel clear.

There is one incident connected with the landing of the passengers, which Mackenzie often related. A poor woman whom he overtook, in company with Mr. Lyman, making her way to shore, was unable to jump from one piece of ice to another, or was afraid to venture. Mackenzie threw himself across the breach, and she walked over upon his body.


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