(A) The Durham Report (1839)

Report on the affairs of British North America from the earl of Durham.[1] ... The preceding pages have sufficiently pointed out the nature of those evils to the extensive operation of which I attribute the various practical grievances and the present unsatisfactory condition of the North American colonies. It is not by weakening but strengthening the influence of the people on its government, by confining within much narrower bounds than those hitherto allotted to it, and not by extending the interference of the imperial authorities in the details of colonial affairs, that I believe that harmony is to be restored where dissension has so long prevailed, and a regularity and vigour, hitherto unknown, introduced into the administration of these provinces. It needs no change in the principles of government, no invention of a new constitutional theory, to supply the remedy which would, in my opinion, completely remove the existing political disorders. It needs but to follow out consistently the principles of the British constitution and introduce into the government of these great colonies those wise provisions by which alone the working of the representative system can in any country be rendered harmonious and efficient. We are not now to consider the policy of establishing representative government in the North American colonies. That has been irrevocably done, and the experiment of depriving the people of their present constitutional power is not to be thought of. To conduct their government harmoniously in accordance with its established principles is now the business of its rulers and I know not how it is possible to secure that harmony in any other way than by administering the government on those principles which have been found perfectly efficacious in Great Britain. I would not impair a single prerogative of the crown; on the contrary, I believe that the interests of the people of these colonies require the protection of prerogatives which have not hitherto been exercised. But the crown must, on the other hand, submit to the necessary consequences of representative institutions; and, if it has to carry on the government in unison with a representative body, it must consent to carry it on by means of those in whom that representative body has confidence....

An elective executive council would not only be utterly inconsistent with monarchical government, but would really, under the nominal authority of the crown, deprive the community of one of the great advantages of an hereditary monarchy. Every purpose of popular control might be combined with every advantage of vesting the immediate choice of advisers in the crown, were the colonial governor to be instructed to secure the co-operation of the assembly in his policy by entrusting its administration to such men as could command a majority, and if he were given to understand that he need count on no aid from home in any difference with the assembly that should not directly involve the relations between the mother country and the colony. This change might be effected by a single dispatch containing such instructions; or, if any legal enactment were requisite, it would only be one that would render it necessary that the official acts of the governor should be countersigned by some public functionary. This would induce responsibility for every act of the government; and, as a natural consequence, it would necessitate the substitution of a system of administration by means of competent heads of departments for the present rude machinery of an executive council. The governor, if he wished to retain advisers not possessing the confidence of the existing assembly, might rely on the effect of an appeal to the people, and, if unsuccessful, he might be coerced by a refusal of supplies, or his advisers might be terrified by the prospect of impeachment. But there can be no reason for apprehending that either party would enter on a contest when each would find its interest in the maintenance of harmony, and the abuse of the powers which each would constitutionally possess would cease when the struggle for larger powers became unnecessary. Nor can I conceive that it would be found impossible or difficult to conduct a colonial government with precisely that limitation of the respective powers which has been so long and so easily maintained in Great Britain.

I know that it has been urged that the principles which are productive of harmony and good government in the mother country are by no means applicable to a colonial dependency. It is said that it is necessary that the administration of a colony should be carried on by persons nominated without any reference to the wishes of its people; that they have to carry into effect the policy, not of that people, but of the authorities at home; and that a colony which should name all its own administrative functionaries would, in fact, cease to be dependent. I admit that the system which I propose would, in fact, place the internal government of the colony in the hands of the colonists themselves, and that we should thus leave to them the execution of the laws of which we have long entrusted the making solely to them. Perfectly aware of the value of our colonial possessions, and strongly impressed with the necessity of maintaining our connection with them, I know not in what respect it can be desirable that we should interfere with their internal legislation in matters which do not affect their relations with the mother country. The matters which so concern us are very few. The constitution of the form of government, the regulation of foreign relations and of trade with the mother country, the other British colonies, and foreign nations, and the disposal of the public lands are the only points on which the mother country requires a control. This control is now sufficiently secured by the authority of the imperial legislature, by the protection which the colony derives from us against foreign enemies, by the beneficial terms which our laws secure to its trade, and by its share of the reciprocal benefits which would be conferred by a wise system of colonization. A perfect subordination on the part of the colony on these points is secured by the advantages which it finds in the continuance of its connections with the empire. It certainly is not strengthened, but greatly weakened, by a vexatious interference on the part of the home government with the enactment of laws for regulating the internal concerns of the colony, or in the selection of the persons entrusted with their execution. The colonists may not always know what laws are best for them, or which of their countrymen are the fittest for conducting their affairs; but, at least, they have a greater interest in coming to a right judgment on these points, and will take greater pains to do so, than those whose welfare is very remotely and slightly affected by the good or bad legislation of these portions of the empire. If the colonists make bad laws and select improper persons to conduct their affairs, they will generally be the only, always the greatest, sufferers; and, like the people of other countries, they must bear the ills which they bring on themselves until they choose to apply the remedy. But it surely cannot be the duty or the interest of Great Britain to keep a most expensive military possession of these colonies in order that a governor or secretary of state may be able to confer colonial appointments on one rather than another set of persons in the colonies. For this is really the only question at issue....

A plan by which it is proposed to insure the tranquil government of Lower Canada must include in itself the means of putting an end to the agitation of national disputes in the legislature, by settling at once and forever the national character of the province. I entertain no doubts as to the national character which must be given to Lower Canada; it must be that of the British Empire, that of the majority of the population of British America, that of the great race which must, in the lapse of no long period of time, be predominant over the whole North American continent. Without effecting the change so rapidly or so roughly as to shock the feelings and trample on the welfare of the existing generation, it must henceforth be the first and steady purpose of the British government to establish an English population, with English laws and language, in this province, and to trust its government to none but a decidedly English legislature....

I am far from wishing to encourage indiscriminately these pretensions to superiority on the part of any particular race; but while the greater part of every portion of the American continent is still uncleared and unoccupied, and while the English exhibit such constant and marked activity in colonization, so long will it be idle to imagine that there is any portion of that continent into which that race will not penetrate, or in which, when it has penetrated, it will not predominate. It is but a question of time and mode; it is but to determine whether the small number of French who now inhabit Lower Canada shall be made English, under a government which can protect them, or whether the process shall be delayed until a much larger number shall have to undergo, at the rude hands of its uncontrolled rivals, the extinction of a nationality strengthened and embittered by continuance....

Parliamentary Papers, 1839, no. 3, pp. I, 100 f.

(B) Letter of Howe to Russell. (18 September 1839)[2]

The [Durham] report has circulated for some months in the colonies, and I feel it a duty to state the grounds of my belief that his lordship, in attributing many if not all of our colonial evils and disputes to the absence of responsibility in our rulers to those whom they are called to govern, is entirely warranted by the knowledge of every intelligent colonist; that the remedy pointed out, while it possesses the merits of being extremely simple and eminently British — making them so responsible — is the only cure for those evils short of arrant quackery, the only secure foundation upon which the power of the crown can be established on this continent, so as to defy internal machination and foreign assault.

It appears to me that a very absurd opinion has long prevailed among many worthy people on both sides of the Atlantic, that the selection of an executive council, who upon most points of domestic policy will differ from the great body of the inhabitants and the majority of their representatives, is indispensable to the very existence of colonial constitutions; and that, if it were otherwise, the colony would fly off, by the operation of some latent principle of mischief which I have never seen very clearly defined. By those who entertain this view, it is assumed that Great Britain is indebted for the preservation of her colonies, not to the natural affection of their inhabitants — to their pride in her history, to their participation in the benefit of her warlike, scientific, or literary achievements — but to the disinterested patriotism of a dozen or two persons, whose names are scarcely known in England, except by the clerks in Downing Street; who are remarkable for nothing above their neighbours in the colony, except perhaps the enjoyment of offices too richly endowed, or their zealous efforts to annoy, by the distribution of patronage and the management of public affairs, the great body of inhabitants, whose sentiments they cannot change.

I have ever held, my lord, and still hold to the belief that the population of British North America are sincerely attached to the parent state; that they are proud of their origin, deeply interested in the integrity of the empire and not anxious for the establishment of any other form of government here than that which you enjoy at home — which, while it has stood the test of ages and purified itself by successive peaceful revolutions, has so developed the intellectual, moral, and natural resources of two small islands as to enable a people, once comparatively far behind their neighbours in influence and improvement, to combine and wield the energies of a dominion more vast in extent and complicated in all its relations than any other in ancient or modern times. Why should we desire a severance of old ties that are more honourable than any new ones we can form? Why should we covet institutions more perfect than those which have worked so well and produced such admirable results? Until it can be shown that there are forms of government, combining stronger executive power with more of individual liberty — offering nobler incitements to honourable ambition and more security to unaspiring ease and humble industry — why should it be taken for granted, either by our friends in England or our enemies elsewhere, that we are panting for new experiments; or are disposed to repudiate and cast aside the principles of that excellent constitution, cemented by the blood and the long experience of our fathers, and upon which the vigorous energies of our brethren, driven to apply new principles to a field of boundless resources, have failed to improve? This suspicion is a libel upon the colonist and upon the constitution he claims as his inheritance, and the principles of which he believes to be as applicable to all the exigencies of the country where he resides as they have proved to be to those of the fortunate islands in which they were first developed....

Chisholm, Speeches and Letters of Joseph Howe, I, 223.

(C) Dispatches of Russell to Poulett Thomson (1839)[3]

[14 October.] Sir: it appears from Sir George Arthur's dispatches that you may encounter much difficulty in subduing the excitement which prevails on the question of what is called "responsible government." I have to instruct you, however, to refuse any explanation which may be construed to imply an acquiescence in the petitions and addresses upon this subject....

It does not appear, indeed, that any very definite meaning is generally agreed upon by those who call themselves the advocates of this principle; but its very vagueness is a source of delusion and, if at all encouraged, would prove the cause of embarrassment and danger. The constitution of England, after long struggles and alternate success, has settled into a form of government in which the prerogative of the crown is undisputed, but is never exercised without advice. Hence the exercise only is questioned and, however the use of the authority may be condemned, the authority itself remains untouched. This is the practical solution of a great problem, the result of a contest which from 1640 to 1690 shook the monarchy and disturbed the peace of the country. But if we seek to apply such a practice to a colony, we shall at once find ourselves at fault. The power for which a minister is responsible in England is not his own power, but the power of the crown of which he is for the time the organ. It is obvious that the executive councillor of a colony is in a situation totally different. The governor, under whom he serves, receives his orders from the crown of England. But can the colonial council be the advisers of the crown of England? Evidently not, for the crown has other advisers for the same functions, and with superior authority. It may happen, therefore, that the governor receives at one and the same time instructions from the queen, and advice from his executive council, totally at variance with each other. If he is to obey his instructions from England, the parallel of constitutional responsibility entirely fails; if, on the other hand, he is to follow the advice of his council, he is no longer a subordinate officer, but an independent sovereign.

There are some cases in which the force of these objections is so manifest that those who at first made no distinction between the constitution of the united kingdom and that of the colonists admit their strength. I allude to the questions of foreign war and international relations, whether of trade or diplomacy. It is now said that internal government is alone intended. But there are some cases of internal government in which the honour of the crown, or the faith of parliament, or the safety of the state, are so seriously involved that it would not be possible for her majesty to delegate her authority to a ministry in a colony....

While I thus see insuperable objections to the adoption of the principle as it has been stated, I see little or none to the practical views of colonial government recommended by Lord Durham, as 1 understand them. The queen's government have no desire to thwart the representative assemblies of British North America in their measures of reform and improvement. They have no wish to make those provinces the resource for patronage at home. They arc earnestly intent on giving to the talent and character of leading persons in the colonies advantages similar to those which talent and character, employed in the public service, obtain in the united kingdom. Her majesty has no desire to maintain any system of policy among her North American subjects which opinion condemns. In receiving the queen's commands, therefore, to protest against any declaration at variance with the honour of the crown and the unity of the empire, you are at the same time instructed to announce her majesty's gracious intention to look to the affectionate attachment of her people in North America, as the best security for permanent dominion.

It is necessary for this purpose that no official misconduct should be screened by her majesty's representative in the provinces; and that no private interests should be allowed to compete with the general good. Your excellency is fully in possession of the principles which have guided her majesty's advisers on this subject; and you must be aware that there is no surer way of earning the approbation of the queen, than by maintaining the harmony of the executive with the legislative authorities.

While I have thus cautioned you against any declaration from which dangerous consequences might hereafter flow, and instructed you as to the general line of your conduct, it may be said that I have not drawn any specific line beyond which the power of the governor on the one hand, and the privileges of the assembly on the other, ought not to extend. But this must be the case in any mixed government. Every political constitution in which different bodies share the supreme power is only enabled to exist by the forbearance of those among whom this power is distributed. In this respect the example of England may well be imitated. The sovereign using the prerogative of the crown to the utmost extent, and the house of commons exerting its power of the purse to carry all its resolutions into immediate effect, would produce confusion in the country in less than a twelvemonth. So in a colony: the governor thwarting every legitimate proposition of the assembly, and the assembly continually recurring to its power of refusing supplies, can but disturb all political relations, embarrass trade, and retard the prosperity of the people. Each must exercise a wise moderation. The governor must only oppose the wishes of the assembly where the honour of the crown or the interests of the empire are deeply concerned, and the assembly must be ready to modify some of its measures for the sake of harmony and from a reverent attachment to the authority of Great Britain....

[16 October.] Sir: I am desirous of directing your attention to the tenure on which public offices in the gift of the crown appear to be held throughout the British colonies. I find that the governor himself and every person serving under him are appointed during the royal pleasure, but with this important difference. The governor's commission is, in fact, revoked whenever the interests of the public service are supposed to require such a change in the administration of local affairs. But the commissions of all other public officers are very rarely indeed recalled, except for positive misconduct.... This system of converting a tenure at pleasure into a tenure for life originated probably in the practice, which formerly prevailed, of selecting all the higher class of colonial functionaries from persons who at the time of their appointment were resident in this country.... But the habit, which has obtained of late years, of preferring as far as possible, for places of trust in the colonies, persons resident there has taken away the strongest motive which could thus be alleged in favour of a practice to which there are many objections of the greatest weight. It is time, therefore, that a different course should be followed; and the object of my present communication is to announce to you the rules which will be hereafter observed on this subject in the province of Lower Canada.

You will understand, and will cause it to be made generally known, that hereafter the tenure of colonial offices held during her majesty's pleasure will not be regarded as equivalent to a tenure during good behaviour; but that not only will such officers be called upon to retire from the public service as often as any sufficient motives of public policy may suggest the expediency of that measure, but that a change in the person of the governor will be considered as a sufficient reason for any alterations which his successor may deem it expedient to make in the list of public functionaries, subject of course to the future confirmation of the sovereign.

These remarks do not extend to judicial offices, nor are they meant to apply to places which are altogether ministerial and which do not devolve upon the holders of them duties in the right discharge of which the character and policy of the government are directly involved. They are intended to apply rather to the heads of departments than to persons serving as clerks or in similar capacities under them. Neither do they extend to officers in the service of the lords commissioners of the treasury. The functionaries who will be chiefly though not exclusively affected by them are the colonial secretary, the treasurer or receiver general, the surveyor general, the attorney and solicitor general, the sheriff or provost marshal, and other officers who, under different designations from these, are entrusted with the same or similar duties. To this list must also be added the members of the council, especially in those colonies in which the legislative and executive councils are distinct bodies....

Parliamentary Papers, 1847-48, no. 621, pp. 3-5.

(D) Dispatch of Stanley to Bagot (8 October 1841)[4]

... You cannot too early and too distinctly give it to be understood that you enter the province with the determination to know no distinctions of national origin or religious creed; to consult in your legislative capacity the happiness, and — so far as may be consistent with your duty to your sovereign and your responsibility to her constitutional advisers — the wishes of the mass of the community; and in your executive capacity to administer the laws firmly, moderately, and impartially. You will invite to aid you, in your labours for the welfare of the province, all classes of the inhabitants; you will consider it your bounden duty to be accessible to the representations, and prepared to listen to the complaints, or the statements of the views, of all; and the only passports to your favour will be loyalty to the queen, attachment to British connection, and an efficient and faithful discharge of public duty.

You will give every encouragement in your power to the extension, within the province, of religious education and of secular instruction. And you will not fail to bear in mind that the habits and opinions of the people of Canada are, in the main, averse from the absolute predominance of any single church; and that, while the Churches of England and of Scotland are by law established and endowed and must be steadily upheld and anxiously cherished, the Church of Rome also, to which a large portion of the population belongs, is recognized by the law and secured in the enjoyment of rights, which you will be bound to protect; and that the co-operation of Wesleyan Methodists and Protestant dissenters is not to be refused or discouraged by the executive.

In civil matters it must be your policy to seek to withdraw the legislature, and the population generally, from the discussion of abstract and theoretical questions — by which the government of Canada in former times has been too often and too seriously embarrassed — to the calm and dispassionate consideration of practical measures for the improvement and advancement of the internal prosperity of the province. In maturing measures of this description, you will endeavour to avail yourself of the advice and services of the ablest men without reference to distinctions of local party, which upon every occasion you will do your utmost to discourage; and, in framing them for the consideration of the provincial legislature, you will endeavour to present them in the form in which they are most likely to be favourably received by the house of assembly.

I do not, of course, intend to institute a precise analogy between the functions of that house and those of the house of commons; but I should strongly impress upon you my opinion that, on matters purely domestic, or where you are not bound either by absolute instructions or by a sense of the paramount duty which you owe to imperial interests, it would be matter of great regret that measures should be repeatedly and deliberately affirmed by large majorities of the assembly and subsequently rejected by the legislative council. Your efforts will, on all occasions, be directed to promoting and maintaining harmonious action between the two branches of the legislature. Questions may undoubtedly arise on which you may feel it absolutely inconsistent with your duty to sanction measures approved by one or even by both houses; but I would hope that they may be of very rare occurrence and that, when they arise, you may be enabled temperately and firmly to reconcile the performance of your duty, upon your responsibility to the crown, with that respect which, I am sure, you will be on all occasions desirous of showing to the expressed wishes of the representatives of the people....

Bell and Morrell, Select Documents, pp. 45 f.

(E) Dispatch of Metcalfe to Stanley (5 August 1843)[5]

... My objects are to govern the country for its own welfare and to engage its attachment to the parent state. For these purposes it is my wish to conciliate all parties; and, although this might be difficult, I do not perceive that it would be impracticable, if the governor were free to act thoroughly in that spirit. But the accomplishment of that wish seems almost impossible when the governor is trammelled with a council deeming it necessary for their existence that their own party alone should be considered. Sooner than abandon myself as a partisan to such a course, I would dismiss the council and take the consequences; but it is scarcely possible to avoid the influence of party spirit in an administration in which every adviser and every executive officer is guided by it; and the chief difficulty of my position, I conceive, is to act according to my own sense of what is right and in opposition to this party spirit, without thereby breaking with the council and the majority that at present support them. The form of administration adopted by Lord Sydenham appears to me to have put heavy shackles on any governor who means to act with prudence and would not recklessly incur the consequences of a rupture with the majority in the popular assembly. The meeting of the legislature will probably enable me to see my position more clearly. It is at present far from certain that a change of councillors would produce any beneficial alteration in respect to the difficulty noticed; for any council appointed on the principle of Canada responsible government would most probably have similar party views and the same pressure on them from their partisans....

It becomes a question whether party government can be avoided. The experiment of responsible government in this colony hitherto would indicate that it cannot. It seems to be inevitable in free and independent states where responsible government exists, and the same causes are likely to produce similar effects everywhere; but there is a wide difference between an independent state and a colony. In an independent state all parties must generally desire the welfare of the state. In a colony subordinate to an imperial government, it may happen that the predominant party is hostile in its feelings to the mother country or has ulterior views inconsistent with her interests. In such a case, to be obliged to co-operate with that party and to permit party government to crush those who are best affected, would be a strange position for the mother country to be placed in and a strange part for her to act. This ought to have been well considered before the particular system which has obtained the name of responsible government was established. It is now, perhaps, too late to remedy the evil....

Kaye, Papers of Lord Metcalfe, pp. 411-18.

(F) Dispatches of Grey to Harvey (1846-47)[6]

[3 November 1846.] ... Of whatsoever party your council may be composed, it will be your duty to act strictly upon the principle you have yourself laid down in the memorandum delivered to the gentlemen with whom you have communicated — that, namely, "of not identifying yourself with any one party," but, instead of this, "making yourself both a mediator and a moderator between the influential of all parties." In giving, therefore, all fair and proper support to your council for the time being, you will carefully avoid any acts which can possibly be supposed to imply the slightest personal objection to their opponents, and also refuse to assent to any measures which may be proposed to you by your council, which may appear to you to involve an improper exercise of the authority of the crown for party rather than for public objects. In exercising, however, this power of refusing to sanction measures which may be submitted to you by your council, you must recollect that this power of opposing a check upon extreme measures proposed by the party for the time in the government depends entirely for its efficacy upon its being used sparingly and with the greatest possible discretion. A refusal to accept advice tendered to you by your council is a legitimate ground for its members to tender to you their resignations — a course they would doubtless adopt, should they feel that the subject on which a difference had arisen between you and themselves was one upon which public opinion would be in their favour. Should it prove to be so, concession to their views must sooner or later become inevitable; since it cannot be too distinctly acknowledged that it is neither possible nor desirable to carry on the government of any of the British provinces in North America in opposition to the opinion of the inhabitants.

Clearly understanding, therefore, that refusing to accede to the advice of your council for the time being, upon a point on which they consider it their duty to insist, must lead to the question at issue being brought ultimately under the decision of public opinion, you will carefully avoid allowing any matter not of very grave concern, or upon which you cannot reasonably calculate upon being in the end supported by that opinion, to be made the subject of such a difference. And if, unfortunately, such a difference should arise, you will take equal care that its cause and the grounds of your own decision are made clearly to appear in written documents capable of being publicly quoted.

The adoption of this principle of action by no means involves the necessity of a blind obedience to the wishes and opinions of the members of your council. On the contrary, I have no doubt that, if they see clearly that your conduct is guided, not by personal favour to any particular men or party, but by a sincere desire to promote the public good, your objections to any measures proposed will have great weight with the council — or, should they prove unreasonable, with the assembly, or in last resort with the public. Such are the general principles upon which the constitutions granted to the North American colonies render it necessary that their government should be conducted....

[31 March 1847.] ... There is scarcely any part of the system of government in this country which I consider of greater value than that which — though not enforced by any written law, but deriving its authority from usage and public opinion — makes the tenure of the great majority of officers in the public service to depend upon good behaviour. Although, with the exception of those who hold the higher judicial situations or situations in which judicial independence has been considered necessary, the whole body of public servants in the united kingdom hold their offices technically during the pleasure of the crown, in practice all but the very small proportion of offices which are distinguished as political are held independently of party changes. Nor are those who have once been appointed to them ever in point of fact removed except in consequence of very obvious misconduct or unfitness. Thus, in fact, though the legal tenure "during good behaviour" is rare, tenure during good behaviour, in the popular sense of the term, may be said to be the general rule of our public service.

The exception is in the case of those high public servants whom it is necessary to invest with such discretion as really to leave in their hands the whole direction of the policy of the empire in all its various departments. Such power must, with a representative government, be subject to constant control by parliament, and is therefore administered only by such persons as from time to time enjoy the confidence of parliament as well as of the crown. These heads of departments or ministers, together with their immediate subordinates who are required to represent or support them in parliament, are almost invariably members of one or other house and hold their offices only as long as they enjoy the confidence of parliament....

The system with regard to the tenure of office, which has been found to work so well here, seems well worthy of imitation in the British American colonies; and the small population and limited revenue of Nova Scotia, as well as the general occupation and social state of the community, are in my opinion additional reasons for abstaining, so far as regards that province, from going further than can be avoided, without giving up the principle of executive responsibility, in making the tenure of offices in the public service dependent upon the result of party contests. In order to keep the executive government in harmony with the legislature, it is doubtless necessary that the direction of the internal policy of the colony should be entrusted to those who enjoy the confidence of the provincial parliament; but it is of great moment not to carry the practice of changing public officers further than is absolutely necessary for the attainment of that end, lest the administration of public affairs should be deranged by increasing the bitterness of party spirit and subjecting the whole machinery of government to perpetual change and uncertainty....

The question how many of the public officers in Nova Scotia ought to be regarded as political is one to be determined on the general principles I have before laid down.... The practical end of responsible government would be satisfied by the removability of a single public officer, provided that through him public opinion could influence the general administration of affairs. Without quite assenting to the too modest estimate, which your present council have given, of the resources of the province, I admit that the smallness of the community, its want of wealth, and the comparative deficiency of a class possessing leisure and independent incomes preclude it from at present enjoying a very perfect division of public employments. Small and poor communities must be content to have their work cheaply and somewhat roughly done. Of the present members of your council, the attorney general and provincial secretary, to whom the solicitor general should perhaps be added, appear to me sufficient to constitute the responsible advisers of the governor. The holders of these offices should henceforth regard them as held on a political tenure. And with a view to that end, the provincial secretary should be prepared, in the event of any change, to disconnect from his office that of the clerkship of the council, which seems to be one that should on every account be held on a more permanent tenure....

You will observe that in the preceding observations I have assumed that those only of the public servants who are to be regarded as removable on losing the confidence of the public legislature are to be members of the executive council. This I consider to follow from the principles I have laid down. Those public servants who hold their offices permanently must, upon that very ground, be regarded as subordinate, and ought not to be members of either house of the legislature — by which they would necessarily be more or less mixed up in party struggles. And, on the other hand, those who are to have the general direction of affairs exercise that function by virtue of their responsibility to the legislature — which implies their being removable from office, and also that they should be members either of the assembly or of the legislative council. But this general direction of affairs and the control of all subordinate officers it is the duty of the governor to exercise through the executive council. Hence the seats in that council must be considered as in the nature of political offices and, if held in connection with other offices, must give to these also a political character....

Parliamentary Papers, 1847-48, no. 621, pp. 7 f., 29 f.

(G) Dispatch of Elgin to Grey (1847)[7]

... My course ... is, I think, clear and plain. It may be somewhat difficult to follow occasionally, but I feel no doubt as to the direction in which it lies. I give to my ministers all constitutional support frankly and without reserve, and the benefit of the best advice that I can afford them in their difficulties. In return for this I expect that they will, in so far as it is possible for them to do so, carry out my views for the maintenance of the connection with Great Britain and the advancement of the interests of the province. On this tacit understanding we have acted together harmoniously up to this time, although I have never concealed from them that I intend to do nothing which may prevent me from working cordially with their opponents, if they are forced upon me. That ministries and oppositions should occasionally change places is of the very essence of our constitutional system, and it is probably the most conservative element which it contains. By subjecting all sections of politicians in their turn to official responsibilities, it obliges heated partisans to place some restraint on passion and to confine within the bounds of decency the patriotic zeal with which, when out of place, they are wont to be animated. In order, however, to secure these advantages, it is indispensable that the head of the government should show that he has confidence in the loyalty of all the influential parties with which he has to deal, and that he should have no personal antipathies to prevent him from acting with leading men.

I feel very strongly that a governor general, by acting upon these views with tact and firmness, may hope to establish a moral influence in the province, which will go far to compensate for the loss of power consequent on the surrender of patronage to an executive responsible to the local parliament. Until, however, the functions of his office, under our amended colonial constitution, are more clearly defined — until that middle term which shall reconcile the faithful discharge of his responsibility to the imperial government and the province with the maintenance of the quasi-monarchical relation in which he now stands towards the community over which he presides be discovered and agreed upon — he must be content to tread along a path which is somewhat narrow and slippery, and to find that incessant watchfulness and some dexterity are requisite to prevent him from falling, on the one side into the néant of mock sovereignty, or on the other into the dirt and confusion of local factions.

Walrond, Letters of Elgin, pp. 40 f.

(H) Letter of Grey to Elgin (22 February 1848)

... I can have no doubt that you must accept such a council as the newly elected parliament will support and that, however unwise as relates to the real interests of Canada their measures may be, they must be acquiesced in, until it shall pretty clearly appear that public opinion will support a resistance to them. There is no middle course between this line of policy and that which involves in the last resort an appeal to parliament to overrule the wishes of the Canadians — and this I agree with both Gladstone and Stanley in thinking impracticable. If we overrule the local legislature, we must be prepared to support our authority by force; and, in the present state of the world and of Canada, he must in my opinion be an insane politician who would think of doing so. It does not, however, follow that you are by any means powerless; if your advisers insist upon an improper course of proceeding, the line to take is freely to place before them the objections of it, but to yield if they insist up to the point when they have put themselves so clearly in the wrong that public opinion will support you in resistance, taking the greatest care to carry concession to them as far as possible.

Bell and Morrell, Select Documents, p. 107.

(I) Dispatch of Elgin to Newcastle (26 March 1853)[8]

... It is argued that, by the severance of the connection, British statesmen would be relieved of an onerous responsibility for colonial acts of which they cannot otherwise rid themselves. Is there not, however, some fallacy in this? If, by conceding absolute independence, the British parliament can acquit itself of the obligation to impose its will upon the colonists in the matter, for instance, of a church establishment, can it not attain the same end by declaring that, as respects such local questions, the colonists are free to judge for themselves? How can it be justifiable to adopt the former of these expedients, and so sacrilegious to act upon the latter?

The true policy, in my humble judgment, is to throw the whole weight of responsibility on those who exercise the real power — for, after all, the sense of responsibility is the best security against the abuse of power — and, as respects the connection, to act and speak on this hypothesis, that there is nothing in it to check the development of healthy national life in these young communities. I believe that this policy will be found to be not only the safest, but also — an important consideration in these days — the most economical....

Walrond, Letters of Elgin, pp. 121 f.

(J) The Galt Memorandum (1859)[9]

Report of the Rt. Hon. A. T. Gait to the duke of Newcastle. The minister of finance has the honour respectfully to submit certain remarks and statements upon the dispatch of his grace the duke of Newcastle, dated 13 August, and upon the memorial of the chamber of commerce of Sheffield, dated I August transmitted therewith.

It is to be deeply regretted that his grace should have given to so great a degree the weight of his sanction to the statements in the memorial, without having previously afforded to the government of Canada the opportunity of explaining the fiscal policy of the province and the grounds upon which it rests. The representations upon which his grace appears to have formed his opinions are those of a provincial town in England, professedly actuated by selfish motives; and it may fairly be claimed for Canada that the deliberate acts of its legislature, representing nearly three millions of people, should not have been condemned by the imperial government on such authority until the fullest opportunity of explanation had been afforded. It is believed that nothing in the legislation of Canada warrants the expressions of disapproval which are contained in the dispatch of his grace, but that on the contrary due regard has been had to the welfare and prosperity of her majesty's Canadian subjects.

From expressions used by his grace in reference to the sanction of the Provincial Customs Act, it would appear that he had even entertained the suggestion of its disallowance. And though happily her majesty has not been so advised, yet — the question having been thus raised, and the consequences of such a step, if ever adopted, being of the most serious character — it becomes the duty of the provincial government distinctly to state what they consider to be the position and rights of the Canadian legislature.

Respect to the imperial government must always dictate the desire to satisfy them that the policy of this country is neither hastily nor unwisely formed, and that due regard is had to the interests of the mother country as well as of the province. But the government of Canada acting for its legislature and people cannot, through those feelings of deference which they owe to the imperial authorities, in any manner waive or diminish the right of the people of Canada to decide for themselves both as to the mode and extent to which taxation shall be imposed. The provincial ministry are at all times ready to afford explanations in regard to the acts of the legislature to which they are party; but, subject to their duty and allegiance to her majesty, their responsibility in all general questions of policy must be to the provincial parliament, by whose confidence they administer the affairs of the country. And in the imposition of taxation it is so plainly necessary that the administration and the people should be in accord, that the former cannot admit responsibility or require approval beyond that of the local legislature. Self-government would be utterly annihilated if the views of the imperial government were to be preferred to those of the people of Canada. It is, therefore, the duty of the present government distinctly to affirm the right of the Canadian legislature to adjust the taxation of the people in the way they deem best, even if it should unfortunately happen to meet the disapproval of the imperial ministry. Her majesty cannot be advised to disallow such acts, unless her advisers are prepared to assume the administration of the affairs of the colony irrespective of the views of its inhabitants.

The imperial government are not responsible for the debts and engagements of Canada. They do not maintain its judicial, educational, or civil service; they contribute nothing to the internal government of the country; and the provincial legislature, acting through a ministry directly responsible to it, has to make provision for all these wants. They must necessarily claim and exercise the widest latitude as to the nature and extent of the burdens to be placed upon the industry of the people. The provincial government believes that his grace must share their own convictions on this important subject; but, as serious evil would have resulted had his grace taken a different course, it is wiser to prevent future complication by distinctly stating the position that must be maintained by every Canadian administration....

Parliamentary Papers, 1864, no. 400, pp. 11 f.

[1] Lord Durham, a Radical Whig and the son-in-law of Earl Grey, was sent to Canada in 1838 to investigate the conditions that had given rise to the rebellion of the previous year.

[2] Written from Halifax by Joseph Howe, a prominent citizen of Nova Scotia, to Lord John Russell, secretary of state for war and the colonies.

[3] Sir Charles Poulett Thomson, later Lord Sydenham, was at this time governor general of Canada. On the importance of this and the following dispatch, see P. Knaplund in the Canadian Historical Review, V, 26 f.

[4] Lord Stanley was secretary of state for war and the colonies; Sir Charles Bagot was governor general of Canada (1841-43).

[5] Sir Charles Metcalfe was governor general of Canada (1843-45).

[6] Earl Grey was secretary of state for war and the colonies; Sir John Harvey was lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia. On the significance of this and the following dispatch, see Chester Martin, "Nova Scotian and Canadian Reformers of 1848," in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, Third Series, XXIII, sect, ii, 1-16.

[7] Lord Elgin was governor general of Canada (1847-54).

[8] The duke of Newcastle was secretary of state for war and the colonies.

[9] Sir Alexander Galt, minister of finance in the Canadian government, here answers a British protest against the tariff bill prepared by him and recently passed by the Canadian parliament.