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Canada and the United States
From the Scottish Review (1890)


This paper contains the material parts of a series of lectures delivered at Harvard and Johns Hopkins' Universities, in the United States, and at Trinity University, Toronto, in the month of November last, and is now printed in full for the first time.

THOUGH Canada contains only a small population and still -L occupies a relatively unimportant position among the peoples of the world compared with the great American Republic on her borders, yet there are many features of her political development which cannot fail to be deeply interesting and instructive to the- student of political science. Within a very few years she has made remarkable strides in the path of national progress through the influence of a political system eminently adapted to stimulate the best energies and expand the thought and intellect of her people. Indeed, the prominence Canada has suddenly attained can be seen from the attention that is now being directed to her affairs and her future destiny. It would seem, in fact, that her industrial prosperity and political development have evoked so much interest in the minds of the politicians and journalists of the United States, that they are now considering whether a country which has evidently so noble a future before it should not be gently cozened into giving up all her dreams of ambition and be drawn as soon as possible into the seductive embrace of a nation which, with a curious oblivion of geography, lies generally claimed the exclusive right to be called 'American.' Having a contemporaneous history on this continent, lying contiguous to one another from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, the two countries naturally offer many points of comparison worthy of the close contemplation of students and statesmen. Their political systems especially afford many materials for reflection, which, studied in a scientific and impartial spirit, may be made profitable to them both. The Canadian Dominion and the United States Commonwealths trace most of the political institutions they possess to the great British mother of all free governments, though in the course of many years diversities have grown up in the working out of those institutions, so that a mere ordinary observer is apt to forget their true origin and nature. But whatever divergencies there may be in the systems of the two countries, we can see after a little thought and study that they have arisen chiefly from the fact that Canada has remained a dependency of Great Britain, and consequently followed closely the constitutional practices of the parent state, while the United States, having long ago become a national sovereignty, has raised on the foundations of a constitution, based itself on principles drawn largely from those of the British constitution, a great structure which has in the course of years undergone many modifications in the working-out of the original plans, in order to adapt it to the practical needs of the people and the conditions of a purely democratic government. The architecture may now be considered of a political composite order, in which we see that, though the design of the original founders has been varied in many respects, yet after all the very pillars that support the noble dome that crowns the edifice rise from the foundations of the common law, and of that parliamentary system which have enabled Britain, as well as the United States, to attain the furemost position among the nations of the world. It has been the good fortune of Canada to develop slowly under the fostering care of Britain, and to have been able to survey at a reasonable distance the details of the structure raised by her neighbours; and consequently, when her statesmen came a quarter of a century ago to enlarge the political sphere of the provinces of British North America, and to give greater expansion to the energies of her people in the organization of a federal union, they were able to base it on those principles which the experience of the mother country and of their great neighbour showed them was best adapted to give strength and harmony to all the political parts, and enable them as a whole to work out successfully their experiment of government on the northern half of this continent.

It is not necessary to make any comparisons between the constitutional and political systems of Canada and the United States before 1867, when the provinces were isolated communities, offering many points of comparison with the old confederated colonies previous to the adoption of the present constitution. It is the Union of 1867 that now makes such comparisons possible, for then was adopted a federal system resembling in certain important features that of the United States, but, at the same time, continuing in the government of the country all the essential features of the British constitution. The two systems of government have each a central authority, and so many local organizations, known respectively as states and provinces. This central government possesses under the constitution control over all those objects of national import, which are essential to the security and integrity of a federal state. Canada, however, being still a mere dependency, is not sovereign in the legal sense of the term, since it cannot declare war or make treaties, those being powers reserved to the imperial authority of Great Britain, from which it derives its constitution, and which alone can change that fundamental law. The constitution of the United States places many difficulties in the way or amending that instrument, and it is only three-fourths of the states that can exercise such a power in the end. To-morrow the British Parliament might change or revoke the constitution of Canada, just as in 1838 it made the statute giving a legislative system to Quebec, then called Lower Canada. Such a thing would be legal, although it is not probable or even possible. The British Government never moved in the matter of the present Union, until the several legislative bodies approached it formally by address, and asked that it should be conceded; and now should any change be necessary, it would be done only in the same formal manner, through the action of the Federal Parliament in the first place. The people speak only through their legislative bodies, and such a thing as a plebiscite or a popular convention on any proposed amendment is unknown to the constitution of the Dominion. The federation was brought about by the agency of legislatures, which were elected without any reference to this great constitutional change, and it was only in one province, New Brunswick, that the question came directly before the people at the polls.

Still while Canada is in this respect subject to the Imperial Government and cannot adopt any legislation that is incompatible with imperial enactments, or in antagonism to imperial obligations, yet it has sovereign powers within its own constitutional sphere. Its powers as enumerated in the law are large, and give it control over militia and defence, taxation on imports, foreign or British, and the jurisdiction over territories equal in area to the half of Europe. There is this important distinction, too, between the powers given to the Central Government of Canada and those placed by the constitution of the United States under the jurisdiction of the federal authority. The powers of the Dominion Government cover all those not expressly given by the constitutional act to the provinces—the very reverse of the principle at the basis of the United States instrument, which enumerates the powers of the federal state, and leaves in the states all those not so expressly given to the central authority. These enumerated powers of the Washington Government have confessedly been greatly enlarged by judicial decisions which have recognized the necessity of 'implied powers' in the grant of powers expressly given by the constitution of the federal state. A similar recognition has been given by the Canadian Courts which have laid down the principle practically that the central authority in the working out of a power given it by the fundamental law may trench upon powers granted to the provinces—upon property and civil rights for instance, which are among the most important powers of these .organizations. As in all written constitutions conflicts of authority are constantly arising in Canada between the respective legislative jurisdictions which have to be decided by the Courts, and already there are several volumes containing judicial decisions interpreting the law, and now practically become part of the constitutional system. There is one federal court, resembling the supreme court of the United States, but there are no federal courts in the provinces as in the states. The courts of the provinces decide on all constitutional eases brought before them, and there is no limitation placed on their jurisdiction over such matters, but there is an appeal to the federal Supreme Court or to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council of Great Britain. The federal and the provincial courts do not interfere in any way with the exercise of the political power of the government. The judges of our courts are men of undoubted learning and of the strictest integrity, and their decisions are treated with the greatest respect.

If we come now to compare the systems of government possessed by the two countries we find that while both rest on the basis of the principles of the British constitution, yet there are very remarkable differences which have grown out of the diverse circumstances under which Canada and the United States adopted their fundamental law. The United States have now as an Executive a President elected by the people in all the states for a term of four years. He has the right to appoint heads of certain departments to which collectively the name of Cabinet has been given in the course of time by general consent, although the constitution does not provide for a Cabinet in the British constitutional sense of the word. Its members are not responsible to Congress, although they can be called upon to report to that body at any time, and be examined before its committees on matters respecting their respective departments. In reality they are dependent only on the Executive who appoints and removes them, and responsible to him alone for the satisfactory performance of their duties. The power given to the President—generally called the 'veto'—was borrowed from an old prerogative of the Crown which has now fallen into disuse, and the exercise of it in these times would create a revolution in Britain; but at. the time of the formation of the constitution it was believed to be necessary as a check upon the power of Congress, and was given to the President as one of the most useful adjuncts of his executive authority. On the other hand the Governor-General of Canada, who is appointed to represent the Queen— the head of the Executive by the constitution—does not exercise the veto, although he possesses the legal right to refuse his assent to any bill. Here we have an illustration of the tenacity with which Britain and her colonies keep to the old forms which have practically fallen into disuse in the practical operation of their constitutional system. It is one of the results of parliamentary government which makes the advisers of the Queen or of the Governor-General responsible for all legislation. To call upon the Governor-General to exercise the veto after a measure has passed both houses would be practically a confession that his advisers did not possess the confidence of the legislature ; it would bring into contempt that principle of ministerial responsibility to parliament which is the very essence and life of parliamentary government. It is a curious thing, however, that some lieutenant-governors of the provinces, in all of which parliamentary government exists in the full sense of the term,^. have more than once exercised the veto in the case of clearly unconstitutional legislation, but this has been done only in the smaller provinces, and it would be impossible to suppose it in the larger arena of the Dominion or of its great prototype, the Imperial Parliament. One explanation of the exercise of it in the small provinces is, that the lieutenant-governors are, in a manner, officers of the Dominion Government, and may assume to exercise the veto in cases where there is a clear infraction of the federal authority; but this is hardly a sufficient reason in the face of the fact that the constitution plainly provides for reserving such legislation for the consideration of the Dominion Government itself, which should alone consider its bearing and effect, and disallow it If necessary under the fundamental law giving them such a power. Here I may conveniently refer to the fact, that the Governor-General, in the exercise of his authority as the head of the Executive in the dominion, has the right to disallow the acts of any provincial legislature—a power not given to the President—but it is a power he exercises only on the advice of his official advisers and not on his own responsibility. This question of disallowance, I have shown elsewhere,3 is one of the subjects which have evoked much discussion since the adoption of the constitution. It is a power clearly to be exercised with great discretion, since the acts of political bodies are always regarded with more or less suspicion by those whom they affect. It is one of the features of the Canadian constitution that are viewed with doubt by many thoughtful statesmen and publicists in Canada, and there is a growing consensus of opinion that the more frequently all cases of constitutional difficulty are left to the courts, the greater will be the harmony and stability of the whole federal union.

In a brief summary I can, perhaps, best show the important distinctions between the respective systems of the government of the two countries. The American Federal State is governed by the following authorities :—

A President, elected by the people in the several states for four years, irremovable except by impeachment, exercising among the most important of his powers the right to refuse to approve of bills passed by the two Houses, which can only over-ride his decision by a majority two-thirds in whose body; having the power to remit fines, reprieve and pardon for offences against the United States except in cases of impeachment, and the right to make treaties and appoint public officials subject to the ratification and confirmation of the Senate.

A Cabinet popularly so-called, consisting, strictly speaking, of heads of eight executive departments, without seats in congress, appointed by and responsible to the president, and without control over congressional legislation.

A Congress composed of two Houses—a Senate and a House of Representatives—called together at fixed dates under the constitution, but liable to be convened on extraordinary occasions by the President, not to be dissolved by the executive. The Senate is elected for six years, not by the people directly, but by the legislatures of the states which are equally represented,—one-third being renewed or changed every two years; having co-ordinate powers of legislation with the House of Representatives except as to the initiation of revenue bills, which, however, they can amend ; having the right to ratify treaties presented by the President, and to confirm nominations to office made by the executive. The House of Representatives is composed of 330 members (including the new states), chosen every second year by the people of the several states, elected under the same franchises which elect members to the popular house of the state legislatures.

A Federal Judiciary, composed of a supreme court of nine members, of nine circuit courts, of fifty-eight district judges, of a court of claims, and of territorial courts—the judges being appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the senate, removable only for cause assigned and subject to impeachment.

A Civil Service, composed of officers ^of various grades, appointed generally by the president, whose nominations on certain cases require to be ratified by the senate—the tenure of office being still uncertain in consequence of the political difficulties that stand in the way of carrying out the Pendleton Act, which was the first practical move in the direction of a wise reform.

In Canada, on the other hand, the Dominion Government may be divided into the following departments:—

The Queen, legally the Executive, but represented for all governmental purposes by a Governor-General, appointed by her Majesty in council during pleasure, though practically irremovable except for cause during his term of office, responsible to the Imperial Government as an imperial officer, having the right to pardon for all offences, but exercising this and all executive powers under the advice and consent of a responsible ministry.

A Cabinet composed of thirteen or more privy councillors, having seats in the two houses of the parliament, requiring to be elected by the people of their respective constituencies in case of the acceptance of office, acting as a council of advice to the Governor-General, responsible to parliament for all legislation and administration, holding office only whilst in a majority of the popular branch.

A Senate composed of 78 members, with a representation of 24 for the Maritime provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island), Quebec and Ontario respectively, and the remaining members scattered over the other provinces and the territories, appointed by the Crown for life, though removable by the house for bankruptcy or crime, having coordinate powers of legislation with the House of Commons except in the case of money or tax bills, having no power to try impeachments.

A House of Commons of 215 members, elected for five years on a very liberal franchise and in electoral districts in every province, fixed in both cases by the Dominion Parliament, liable to be prorogued and dissolved at any time by the governor-general on the advice of his council, and having alone the right to initiate money and tax bills.

A Supreme Court of Canada, composed of a chief justice and five judges, acting as a court of appeal for all the provincial courts, but subject to have its judgments reversed on appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in England, irremovable except on the address of the two houses to the governor-general.

A Civil Service, appointed by the governor-general on the advice of his council—that is, practically by the government of the day,—irremovable except for cause, governed by statutes providing in specified cases for examinations and promotions, certain important positions being still political appointments but not subject to removal in case of a change of parties.

Coming now to the various State and Provincial organizations we find that in the several states, generally speaking, the government is distributed as follows :—

A Governor elected directly by the people for a term of office varying from four years to one, and exercising in all the states except four a veto over the acts of the legislature which, however, can over-ride his determination by a majority varying in the different states. Four states place all legislative authority in the legislature alone. Generally in the states the governor has the pardoning power within certain limitations.

A Lieutenant-Governor elected by the people of the state at the same time as the governor, exercising no special functions except what arise from his position as a presiding officer of the senate, filling the place of the governor in case of death or incapacity.

Executive Councils in only three states, which practically represent an advisory cabinet; in the others, there are certain executive officials elected by the people for terms varying in the different states, having no seats in the legislature, and not exercising any control over its legislation.

A Legislature composed of two Houses in every state of the union. First, a Senate chosen by popular vote, generally in districts larger than those of the house, having a term varying from four years in the majority of cases, in others from three to one, half the members going out on the completion of their term and a new half being chosen. In all the states except one it is a tribunal of impeachment for certain officials, including governors.

A House of Representatives, or an assembly, or house of delegates in a few states, chosen by popular vote in the states, generally manhood suffrage, only limited by certain disqualifications of crime or bribery—the number varying from 21 to 321. Both houses have equal rights of legislation, except that the house of representatives in certain states can alone originate money bills.

A Judiciary elected by the people in the majority of states, in a few by the legislature, in others appointed by the governor, subject to confirmation by the houses or by the council, as in Massachusetts, holding office for a term on the average varying from eight to ten years, except in four states where the British system of life tenure exists.

A Civil Service, small in numbers and poorly paid, elected by the people generally, holding their positions on the uncertain tenure of political success and popular caprice.

The several Provinces of Canada have a system similar to that of the Federal Government, which may be generally distributed into parts as follows :—

A Lieutenant-Governor, appointed by the governor-general in council practically for five years, removable by the same authority for cause which must be communicated to parliament, exercising all the political powers and responsibilities of the governor-general under the system of responsible or parliamentary government, having no right to reprieve or pardon criminals.

A Cabinet composed of certain heads of departments varying from twelve to five in the provinces, called to office by the lieutenant-governor, having seats in either branch of the legislature, holding their positions as long as they have the confidence of the majority of the people's representatives, responsible for and directing legislation, and conducting generally the administration of public affairs in accordance with the law and the conventions of the constitution.

A Legislature composed of two houses — a Legislative Council and a House of Assembly or Legislative Assembly—in four provinces, and of only oue house, an elected body, in three provinces. The legislative councillors are appointed for life by the lieutenant-governor in council removable for same reasons as senators, must have a property qualification except in Prince Edward Island, where the upper house is elective ; like the senate, the councils cannot initiate revenue or money bills, but otherwise have the same legislative powers as the lower houses. They have no right to sit as courts of impeachment.

The Legislative Assemblies are elected for four years (except in Quebec, where the term is five), but are liable to be dissolved at any time by the lieutenant-governor, acting under the advice of his council; elected on a franchise which is manhood suffrage in the largest and most populous province of Ontario, and practically the same in the smallest—Prince Edward Island—the suffrage being most liberal in the other sections, though generally based on property and incomes.

A Judiciary appointed by the governor-general in council —stipendiary magistrates, justices of the peace, and judges of probate being provincial nominees—only removable on the address of the two houses of the Dominion Parliament, except in the case of county judges, who may be removed by order in council for cause.

A Civil Service appointed by the lieutenant-governor in council, nominees in the first instance of the political party in power, but once appointed irremovable except for sufficient reasons.

As we compare these respective systems we can trace t hroughout, as I have already observed, the principles of the British constitution, an Executive, a Legislature of two houses, and a Judiciary. The application of the elective principle to the judiciary is a grave departure from the British principle, which Canada has carefully avoided, with most decided advantage to the administration of justice. The upper houses appointed by the Crown are less effective as legislative authorities than the senates, which have larger powers, and are in a more complete sense co-ordinate authorities in the legislative system. But the most remarkable example of divergence from the British system of government on the one side and of adherence to it on the other, is seen in the relations of the Executive in the two countries towards the Mature. In the United States, the Executive exercises no direct control over the Legislature through a Cabinet, and if it were not for the veto Congress would be practically uncontrolled in its legislation. In Canada, on the other hand, the Executive is practically the Cabinet or Ministry, who direct and supervise all legislation, as well as the administration of public affairs.

In the United States, when the constitution was formed, Parliamentary government, as it is now understood in Britain and her self-governing dependencies, was not understood in its complete significance ; and this is not strange when we consider that in those days the King appeared all-powerful— he did not merely reign, but governed—and his councils were so many advisers always ready to obey his wishes. Ministerial responsibility to Parliament was still, relatively speaking, an experiment in constitutional government—its leading principles having been first outlined in the days of William the Third. The framers of the American constitution saw only two prominent powers, the King and Parliament, and their object was to impose a system of checks and balances which would restrain the authority of each, and prevent any one dominating in the nation. It is true, in the course of time, this system has become in a measure ideal, since Congress has practically established a supremacy, though the powerful influence exercised by the President at times can be seen from the great number of vetoes successfully given by Mr. Cleveland. In Canada, responsible or parliamentary government dates back to less than half a century ago, and was won only after years of contest with the parent state. Since the British system has been introduced into the provinces of the Dominion, there has been practically no friction between the different branches of government, but the wheels of the political machinery run with ease and safety.

The comparisons that have been drawn with such singular ability by Professor Woodrow Wilson and Professor Bryce between 'the systems of Congressional and Parliamentary government, show clearly in favour of the British system, and it is not necessary that I should do more than refer as briefly as possible to the subject. Under the American system, the executive and legislative authorities may be constantly at variance, and there is little possibility on all occasions of that harmonious legislative action which is necessary to effective legislation. The President may strongly recommend certain changes in the tariff, or in other matters of wide public import; but unless there is in the house a decided majority of the same political opinions as his own, there is little prospect of his recommendations being carried out. Indeed, even if there is such a majority, it is quite possible that his views are not in entire accord with all sections of his party, and the leading men of that party in Congress may be themselves looking to a presidential succession, and may not be prepared to strengthen the position of the present incumbent of the executive chair. This nominal cabinet can and do give information to Congress and its committees on matters relating to their respective departments, but they are powerless to initiate or promote important legislation directly, and if they succeed in having bills passed, it is only through the agency of, and after many interviews with, the chairmen of the committees having control of such matters. If Congress wishes for information from day to day on public matters, it can only obtain it by the inconvenient method of communicating by messages with the departments. No minister is present to explain in a minute or two some interesting question on which the public wishes to receive immediate information, or to state the views of the administration on some matter of public policy. There is no leader present to whom the whole party looks for guidance in the conduct of public affairs. The President, it is true, is elected by the Republican or Democratic party, as the case may be ; but the moment he becomes the Executive he is practically powerless to promote effectively the views of the people who elected him through the instrumentality of Ministers who speak his opinions authoritatively on the floor of Congress. His messages are generally so many words, forgotten too often as soon as they have been read. His influence constitutionally is negative—the veto—not the all-important one of initiating and directing legislation, like a

Premier in Canada. The committees of Congress, which are the governing bodies, may stifle the most useful legislation; while the house itself is able, through its too rigid rules, only to give a modicum of time to the consideration of public measures, except they happen to be money or revenue bills. The Speaker himself is the leader of his party so far as he has influence over the composition of the committees, but he cannot directly initiate or control legislation. Under all the circumstances, it is easy to understand that when the Executive is not immediately responsible for legislation, and there is no section or committee of the house bound to initiate and direct it, it must be too often ill-digested, defective in essential respects, and ill-adapted to the public necessities. On this point, a judicious writer says:—'This absence of responsibility as to public legislation, and the promotion of such legislation exclusively by individual action, have created a degree of mischief quite beyond computation.' And again:—'There is not a state in the union in which the complaint is not well grounded, that the laws passed by the legislative bodies are slipshod in expression, are inharmonious in their nature, are not subjected to proper revision before their passage, are hurriedly passed, and impose upon the governors of states a duty not intended originally to be exercised by them, that of using the veto power in lieu of a board of revision for the legislative body; and so badly is the gubernatorial office organized for any such purpose, that the best intentioned governor is compelled to permit annually a vast body of legislation to be put upon the statute book, which is either unnecessary, in conflict with laws not intended to be interfered with, or passed for some sinister and personal ends.

Compare this state of things with the machinery of administration in Canada or Great Britain, and you will at once see that the results appear to be greatly to the advantage of Canada. Long before Parliament is called together by proclamation by the governor-genera], there are frequent Cabinet meetings held for the purpose of considering the matters to be submitted to that body. Each minister in due order brings before his colleagues the measures that he considers necessary for the efficient administration of his department. Changes in the tariff are carefully discussed, and all other matters of public policy that require legislation in order to meet the public demands. Bills that are to be presented to parliament are drafted by competent draughtsmen under the direction of the department they affect, and, having been confidentially printed, are submitted to the whole Cabinet, where they are revised and fully discussed in all cases involving large considerations of public policy. The governor-general does not sit in executive session with his cabinet, but is kept accurately informed by the premier of all matters which -require his consent or signature. When parliament meets he reads to the two Houses a speech containing only a few paragraphs but still outlining with sufficient clearness the principal measures that the government intend to introduce in the course of the session. The minister in charge of a particular measure presents it with such remarks as are intended to show its purport. Then it is printed in the two languages, and when it comes up for a second reading a debate takes place on the principle, and the government are able to ascertain the views of the House generally on the question. Sufficient time is always given between important stages of measures of large public import to ascertain the feeling of the country. In case of measures affecting the tariff, insolvency, banking, and the financial or commercial interests of the Dominion, the bills are printed in large numbers so as to allow leading men in the important centres to understand their details. In committee of the whole the bill is discussed clause by clause, and days will frequently elapse before a bill passes this crucial stage. Then after it is reported from committee, it will be often reprinted if it contains material amendments. When the House has the bill again before it, further amendments may be made. Even on the third reading it may be fully debated and referred back to committee of the whole for additional changes. At no stage of its progress is there any limitation of debate in the Canadian House. At the various readings a man may only speak once on the same question, but there is no limit to the length of his speech, except what good taste and the patience of the House impose upon him. In committee there is no limit to the number of speeches on every part of the bill, but as a matter of fact the remarks are generally short and practical, unless there should be a bill under consideration, to which there is a violent party antagonism, and a disposition is shown to speak against time and weary the government into making concessions or even withdrawing the objectionable features of the measure. When the bill has passed the House then it has to undergo the ordeal of the Senate, and pass through similar stages, but this is not, as 'a rule, a very difficult matter, as the Upper House is generally very reluctant to make many modifications in government measures. If the bill is amended, then the amendments must be considered by the House, which may be an occasion for further debate. Then having passed the two Houses, it receives the assent of the governor-general and becomes law. Under modern constitutional usage he does not refuse his assent to a measure which may immediately affect imperial interests and obligations, but simply ' reserves ' it for the consideration of the imperial authorities, who must within two years allow or disallow it in conformity with statute. If the government, should be unable to pass a bill of their own involving great questions of public policy, it would be their duty to resign, and then another ministry would be called upon to direct the administration of public affairs. Or they might ask for a dissolution, and an appeal to the people on the question at issue. At any rate, the people make their influence felt all the while in the progress of legislation. It is not as in Congress, where the debates are relatively unimportant, and not fully reported in the public press, and bills find their fate in secret committees. As the press of Canada is fully alive to the progress of every public measure, and the committee meetings are open to the public, all important discussions find their way from one end of the country to the other. Every opportunity is given for a full expression of public opinion, by means of petitions, public meetings, delegations to the ministers, and representations to the members of each constituency. The government feel the full sense of their responsibility all the while, for on the popularity of their measures depends their political existence. An unfavourable vote in the House may at any moment send them back to the people.

In the case of other public measures which are not initiated by themselves, the government exercise a careful supervision, and no bill is allowed to become law unless it meets with their appioval. The same scrutiny is exercised over private or local legislation—that is, bills asking for the incorporation of banking, railways, insurance and other companies for numerous objects, affecting private and public interests in every community. This class of bills falls under the denomination of local or private, as distinguished from those involving questions of general or public policy. In the United States Congress and State Legislatures, the absence of a methodical supervision by responsible or official authorities, has led to grave abuses in connection with such legislation. The ' lobby ' has been able to exercise its baneful influence in a way that would not be possible in Canada where, as in Britain, there are rules governing the introduction and passage of such legislation, with a view of protecting the public, and at the same time giving full information to all interests that may be affected, and enable them to be represented before the legislative committee. We are told on the same authority from which I have already quoted, that ' the influence of the lobby has proved so formidable an evil that many states of the' Union have, within a decade, by acts of constitutional convention, or by regular amendments to their organic law, prevented their legislative bodies from enacting special laws in a variety of cases.' ' But,' it is emphatically added, ' the limitation of the power to enact private or special legislation has created in its turn an evil far greater than that which it was intended to stay.' The result is that the whole body of general legislation 'is thrown into the arena of special interests, to be changed, modified, or destroyed, where interests may dictate.'

In Canada, there are general laws respecting railways, banking, and other great interests, and companies seeking incorporation must conform to them. The changing of a general law to meet a special case is carefully avoided. As in the parent state, there are special rules methodizing private legislation, and bringing it under strict legislative control. In the case of railway charters—very common of late years— there are ' model' bills which every company must follow. If any persons wish to obtain a charter for a private or local object—a railway, a bank, or a toll bridge, or other matter involving local interests and private gain—they must first of all give due notice of their intention in the Official Gazette, and in the papers of the locality interested, two months before the bill can be introduced. The time is limited when such matters can be brought up in the legislature. Petitions must be presented within a certain time, stating the nature of the application to the legislative branches; and when they have been received, they are referred to a committee, which investigates their contents and finds whether the rules respecting notice have been complied with. If the committee report favourably, then the bill, which must be first printed in the two languages, is introduced, and after its second reading, when the principle may be discussed if necessary—a formality, however, not generally followed in the case of private bills— it is sent to a select committee having jurisdiction over this class of measures. Before it can be considered in this committee all fees must be paid to the accountant of the House. Then, after due notice of a week and more has been given of the consideration of the bill in committee, it is taken up and fully discussed. All parties interested may now appear by themselves or counsel, and oppose or support the measure. Here the committee acts in a judicial capacity, and hears testimony when necessary. Ministers of the Crown have seats on these private bill committees, to watch over the public interests, for they never individually act as promoters of such bills. If the bill passes successfully through this ordeal, it comes again before the House for consideration in committee of the whole. At this stage, and on the third reading, amendments may be proposed after notice has been given of their nature. When it has passed the House where it originated, it is subject again to a similar course of procedure in the other branch; and hardly a session passes but a private bill, which has evoked strong opposition, is thrown out at these last stages. From the initiation to the passage of the bill, it is subject to the scrutiny of the legal officers of the department, whose duty it is at the last to revise and print it as passed. The lobby, as it is known in the United States, is not heard of, though there may be at critical times a little canvassing among members by those interested in the measure. The committees are so large — some of them two-thirds of the whole house—that a lobbyist would find it practically useless to practise his arts. Happily for the reputation of the country, the Canadian legislative assemblies stand very high compared with the majority of similar bodies in the American republic.

But it is not merely to the machinery of administration and legislation that Canadians direct the attention of their neighbours. The various statutes which regulate the election of members also seem well calculated to subserve political morality.

When Ave come now to sum up the results of the comparisons that I have been briefly making between the political systems of the two countries, I think Canadians may fairly claim that they possess institutions worthy the study of their neighbours.

We acknowledge that in the constitution of the upper houses, in the existence of the political veto, in the financial dependence of the provinces to a large extent on the Dominion exchequer, there is room for doubt whether the constitution of Canada does not exhibit elements of weakness. The Senate of the United States is a body of great power and varied ability to which the people may refer with pride and gratulation. The reference to the courts of all cases involving points of constitutional interpretation has also worked to the advantage of the Union. On the other hand, Canadians call attention to the following features of their system as worthy the serious consideration of their co-workers in the cause of good and efficient government on this continent:

An executive working in unison with and dependent on parliament, its members being present in both branches, and ready to inform the House and country on all matters of administration, holding office by the will of the people's representatives, initiating and controlling all measures of public policy, and directing generally private legislation.

An effective and methodical system regulating and controlling all legislation of a private or special nature, so as to protect vested rights, and the public interests.

A judiciary not dependent on popular caprice, but holding-office during good behaviour, and only removable by the joint action of the two Houses and the executive of the federal state.

A large and efficient body of public servants whose members hold office, not on an uncertain political tenure, but as long as they are able to perform their duties satisfactorily, and who have always before them the prospect of a competency in old age at the close of a career of public usefulness.

A system of voting at elections which practically secures the secrecy and purity of the ballot, effectually guards the voter 'against ticket-pedlers, election workers, and spies, and takes the monopoly of nominations out of the hands of the professional politicians, and removes the main pretext for assessments upon candidates which now prevent honest poor men from running for office.

The jurisdiction possessed In the courts of trying all cases of bribery and corruption at elections, and giving judgments on the facts before them, in this way relieving the legislature of a duty which could not, as experience bad shown, be satisfactorily performed by a political body influenced too often by impulses of party ambition.

The placing by the constitution of the jurisdiction over divorce in the parliament of the Dominion, and not in the legislatures of the provinces—the upper house being now, by usage, the court for the trial of cases of this kind, except in the small maritime provinces which had courts of this character previous to the federal union. The effect of the careful regard entertained for the marriage tie ma}7 be estimated from the fact that from 1867 to 1886 there were only 116 divorces granted in Canada against 328,613 in the various states of the Union.

The differences that I have shown to exist between the political systems of the two countries are of so important a character as to exercise a very decided influence on the political and social conditions of each. Allied to a great respect for law—which, I admit, is also a distinguishing feature of the American people, as of all communities of the Anglo-Saxon race—they form the basis of the present happiness and prosperity of the people of the Dominion, and of their future national greatness. It was to be expected that two peoples lying alongside each other since the commencement of their history, and developing governmental institutions drawn from the same tap-root of British law and constitutional usages, should exhibit many points of similarity in their respective systems and in their capacity for self-government. But it is noteworthy that their close neighbourhood, their means of rapid communication with one another, the constant social and commercial intercourse that has been going on for years, especially for the past forty years, have not made a deeper impress upon the political institutions of the Canadian people, who, being very much smaller in numbers, wealth, and national importance, might be expected to gravitate in many respects towards a nation whose industrial, social, and political development is one of the marvels of the age. Canada, however, has shown a spirit of self-reliance, independence of thought and action, in all matters affecting the public welfare, which is certainly one of the best evidences of the political steadiness of her people. At the same time, she is always ready to copy, whenever necessary or practicable, such institutions of her neighbours as commend themselves to the sound judgment of her statesmen. Twenty-five years ago, at Quebec, they adapted certain features of the Federal system of the States to their own condition, and in the nature of things they must, continue to refer constantly to the working of that constitution for their own guidance and instruction.

The questions will now probably occur to many—What will be the future of this country? Is it annexation to the United States? Is it national independence? Or is it a continuance of the present position of dependence on the parent state, or some condition of closer union with all sections of the Empire which will give greater strength to them all, and at the same time enable Canada to have more weight in Imperial councils? I do not wish to be drawn into the misty realm of speculative politics, but I think I can in a few words give an answer which will in a measure dispose of queries which may naturally occur to a student of our political growth.

The comparisons I have made between the two systems of government, if carefully reviewed, ought, I submit, to show that Canada has been steadily working out her own destiny on well-defined principles, and has in no wise shown an inclination to make the United States her model of imitation. I know of no political body in Canada—indeed, of no man of widespread influence, who openly avows himself a believer in annexation to the great United States Commonwealths. It is quite clear that the Canadian people, who have achieved a decided success so far in working out their plan of federal union on well-defined lines of action—in consolidating the union of the old provinces, in founding new provinces and opening up a vast territory to settlement—in covering every section of their domain with a network of railways—in showing their ability to put down dissension and rebellion in their midst—I think they are not ready, in view of such achievements, to confess failure, an absence of spirit of self-dependence, want of courage and national ambition, or incapacity for self-government, nor to look forward to annexation to the American republic as their ' manifest destiny.'

But if annexation is impossible, it is very unwise to continue the strained relations that have too long existed between the two countries. I should briefly sum up the feeling of the people of Canada on the several questions that have been matters of discussion for some time past in this wise:

Annexation to the United States is a measure generally and unequivocally disavowed by all classes of the people as contrary to the temper and interest of Canadians who are working out their destiny on well marked lines of difference from their neighbours.

The settlement of the Fishery difficulty is desired on such terms as will show that the people of the United States acknowledge the legal and equitable claims of Canada, and that the Canadians themselves are willing to meet their neighbours in a spirit of fair dealing and compromise.

Such a measure of Reciprocal Trade as will increase the commerce in certain natural products between the two countries would be popular on the whole—no political party in the Dominion being, apparently, ready to support any measure that will throw down customs' barriers, and practically form a commercial barrier, since it would in the opinion of all thoughtful Canadians mean the first step towards political absorption into the United States.

A complete Extradition Treaty is required between the two countries, which will deal effectually with all the 'boodlers' and other criminal classes whose presence in either country is not desirable; Canada having already shown her practical aud prompt interest in such matters by passing a measure a year ago which is now under the consideration of the Imperial authorities, who in this respect have full control over the dependencies of the Empire.

All the people would welcome the placing of the bonding system beyond the danger of all aggressive measures in Congress who, by the passing of the Retaliatory Act towards the end of Mr. Cleveland's administration, threatened for a while the commercial and political relations of the two countries, as much to the injury of the United States as of the Dominion.

The opening up of all the canals and of the coasting trade of the United States to the Canadians is regarded as a measure tending to the consolidation of their commercial interests, and giving each of them a greater guarantee for friendly and uninterrupted intercourse.

The dream of the Imperial Federalists is a grand conception which was imagined by Otis and Shirley even in the middle of the eighteenth century. Already in Canada, as in the parent state, leagues have been formed in all the principal centres of thought to promote this great imperial scheme, and it is interesting to note that they comprise many men of standing, as writers, speakers, and thinkers. The idea of an imperial conference of representatives from all sections of the empire is now under consideration, and, ere many months pass, in all probability we shall see what immediate prospect there is of reconciling the diverse opinions on the subject, and suggesting some common basis of action. With the progress of self-government in Canada and the Australasian Colonies, the people of those countries have commenced to see that although they form part of the empire, and participate in all the advantages that can be derived from its obligations to assist in their defence, yet they have not attained the full dignity of citizenship—that they have not the same rights as the humblest voters in a county of England, Scotland, or Ireland, who can exercise an immediate influence on the complexion of the national Parliament, which has under its control the destinies of the whole Empire.

The question of national independence is practically connected with this federation idea. It is an argument of its advocates, that sooner or later the Empire will fall to pieces and the Colonies become independent nations unless they are given a voice in imperial airs and all sections united on a basis which will preserve the system of local self-government which each community possesses, all of them at the same time receiving the rights of full citizenship, and enabled to unite together for defensive and commercial purposes. No one who studies the history of the great colonies, especially of Australia and of Canada, but will see that there has been, for many years, a steady political development which has at last placed them in the position of semi-independent nations. The word ' national' is now commonly applied in the Dominion to all great measures affecting Canada generally as a self-governing community, and seems to show the tendency of political events for many years past. It is to direct the current of this political development towards Imperial consolidation that the Imperial Federalists are now so earnestly and ably working in all sections of the Empire.

It may be said—indeed I have myself heard it urged by Mr. Gold win Smith, a gloomy thinker it is true, but worthy of attention in this connection since he appears to voice the opinions of a few others beside himself—that Canada can never form a united people, and agree as such in favour of a federation of the Empire, or become an independent nation. One staple argument of these pessimistic writers is the existence of a distinct French nationality, increasing rapidly in numbers, and exercising now, even more than in the past, a powerful influence on the political fortunes of the whole country. The history of this French race, who still remain to attest the ambitious designs of France on this continent, is deeply interesting to the political and historical student, but the fortunes of the peoples who inhabit the valleys of the Mississippi and St. Lawrence have been very different. A number of French still live on the banks of the Mississippi and' its devious bayous; a few acred farmers,' who speak a French patois, still live by the lakes of the Atchafalaya, or 'On the Acadian coast and the prairies of fair Opelousas.'"

And the old city of New Orleans has a Creole quarter, where the curious stranger can see quaint, balconied houses and many other objects of interest; but the remnant of the old French population of Louisiana cannot be said to exercise any influence on the political institutions of the state, and it seems likely in the nature of things that the French language will eventually disappear in a great measure from the country and few evidences remain of the old regime. But in the Dominion the picturesque banks of the St. Lawrence and its tributaries are the home of a million and a quarter of people, still speaking the French language, professing the Roman Catholic religion, and adhering with remarkable tenacity to the main features of the civil law, aud to other institutions of the land of their origin. The history of this French population proves very clearly the beneficent operation of the liberal system of government which Canada has now enjoyed for nearly half a century. French Canada now occupies a prominent place among the communities of the continent, and many of her sons have been able to win for themselves a conspicuous place in the administration of public affairs, in education, in literature, in art and in other pursuits of life. They have thoroughly identified themselves with every movement to make the confederation a success. The influence of this people can be seen in the constitution and laws that govern the country. It is not strange that jealousies and rivalries at times arise between the two races that inhabit Canada, but the time is past, I certainly would fain believe, when the difference of race and religion can be stimulated into the bitterness of word and deed that existed previous to 1840, which was a turning point in the history of Canada; for from the moment Canadians, irrespective of nationality, were granted a full measure of self-government, and the French Canadian felt he had all the rights of manhood, the statesmen of all races and sects and opinions have laboured to build up a new England on this continent, with a sincerity and zeal that has already produced the most precious fruit. The existence of a federal union has given the French Canadians complete control of their own province, and the right to maintain their special institutions, and is the best possible guarantee for 4he harmony and integrity of the Dominion. Their best men believe that absorption into the United States would be a death blow to their influence as a French Canadian people, and the history of their compatriots in Louisiana would be eventually reproduced in their own case. They are ready to work out their own destiny in unison with their British co-workers in the Dominion, and no influential man amongst them openly asserts so impossible and suicidal a scheme as the foundation of an independent French nationality on the banks of the St. Lawrence. The brilliant leader of the opposition in parliament only voiced the sentiments of his compatriots, conservative as well as liberal, when he said quite recently, in the face of a large British audience, in a western city: ' If there are any amongst my fellow-countrymen who have ever dreamed of closing themselves into a small community of Frenchmen on the banks of the St. Lawrence, I am not one of them. It would be an act of black ingratitude if, after we had sought from Britain the privileges and rights of British subjects, we were now to reject the responsibilities of subjects; if having sought the protection of Britain to grow strong, we were, when strong enough, to attempt to stab the friendly hand, and to refuse to cast in our lot with those who are fellow-countrymen of ours, and whose birthright we claim as our inheritance. When confederation was established, it was not intended that it should be based upon the humiliation of any one race ; that any one should give up its characteristics; but it was expected that though every nationality might retain its individuality, yet that all would be actuated by one aspiration and would endeavour to form one nation.'

But whatever may be the destiny of this youthful and energetic community, it is the earnest wish of every Canadian that, while the political fortunes of Canada and the United States may never be united, yet each will endeavour to maintain that friendly, social, and commercial intercourse which should naturally exist between peoples allied to each other by ties of a common neighbourhood and a common interest, and that the only rivalry between them will be that which should prevail among countries equally interested in peopling this continent from north to south, from east to west, and in extending the blessings of free institutions, respect for law, public morality, electoral purity, free thought, the sanctity of the home, and intellectual culture.

Full of the vigour of early manhood, conscious of the success which has already crowned her achievements in the contest for national life, possessed of self-reliance and confidence to hold her own on this continent, Canada looks forward to the future in the hope that the destiny which is now shaping her ends must sooner or later give her a higher position among the communities of the world.

"Awake, my country, the hour of dreams is done!
Doubt not, nor dread the greatness of thy fate,
Tho' faint souls fear the keen, confronting sun,
And fain would bid the morn of splendour wait;
Tho' dreamers, rapt in starry visions, cry,
Lo, yon thy future, yon thy faith, thy fame!
And stretch vain hands to stars, thy fame is nigh,
Here in Canadian hearth, and home, and name ;—
This name which yet shall grow
Till all the nations know
Us for a patriot people, heart and hand,
Loyal to our native earth; our own Canadian land!

Jno. Geo. Bourinot.


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