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HISTORY OF CANADA.   101

of expediency to conciliate the Canadian majority. The British parliament, at all events, was not aiixious to create in Canada an assembly to be composed of those who were suspected of favoring the claims of the older provinces.

A legislative council only was therefore provided. Its members were to be appointed by the Crown from persons resident in the province. In numbers it was not to exceed twenty-three nor to be less than seventeen. This council was evidently intended to be but a temporary contrivance until affairs in North America should become more settled. Its powers of legislation were limited. The right to levy taxes was withheld, with this exception, however, that the towns of the province might be allowed to tax themselves for purposes of local improvement. To defray the expense of governing the colony, the old French duties were abolished and in their place duties were imposed upon spirits and molasses imported into the province. License fees were also collected from persons keeping taverns or houses of public entertainment. No ordinance of the council touching religion was to be valid until assented to in England. Other limitations, too, indicated that for the present the British parliament desired to retain a large measure of control over the province.

(4) Religion. The Quebec Act further provided for the free exercise of their religion by those adhering to the Church of Rome. The Roman Catholic clergy were authorized to collect "their accustomed dues and rights " from members of that Church. This of course refers to the system of tithes. A few years later the Bishop of Quebec wrote that in Canada tithes were never so rigorously exacted as in Europe. They consisted of the one-twenty-sixth of wheat, pease and oats—direct annual products of the soil. What were known as mixed tithes (on milk, wool, hogs) and personal tithes (on the products of purely manual labor, fishing and the like) were not collected. By the Act Roman Catholics were also relieved from taking certain oaths required of those who held public positions in England ; and by this means it became possible for Canadian seigneurs to accept office in the legislative council, and a number of them were at once appointed. Their right to share in the administration of public affairs being thus admitted, the Canadian noblesse stood firm in their allegiance to British rule during the American revolution.


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