Previous The History of the Dominion of Canada (1897) Next

 

190   HISTORY OF CANADA.

the sale of lands, mining royalties, fees of office, fines and the like; (2) duties payable under Imperial statutes upon goods imported into the colonies ; and (3) duties levied and moneys collected under Acts of the provincial parliaments. The salaries of the majority of the officials were paid out of the first and second classes, and over these the assemblies had no control whatever. The " Civil List," as the officials' pay-roll was called, was settled in England. All the assembly could do, if they thought the salaries too high, was to complain to the colonial office in Downing Street. They could, of course, pass Acts granting moneys for road-making, bridge-building, and other public works, and could control the raising and spending of such moneys. These formed the third class above mentioned. To " withhold supplies," therefore, might inflict great injury upon the country by stopping public improvements ; it could not affect the officials. They held their positions and drew their salaries regardless of the censure of the people's representatives in the assembly.

Election Laws Favor the Family Compact.—Even in the composition of the legislative assemblies there was much which tended to give undue weight to the wishes of the official class. The towns, in which that class was the predominant element, were allowed representation in the assemblies out of all proportion to their population. Placemen also were eligible to seats in the assembly. Many of them held official positions which brought them into close contact with the people in the different towns and counties. It was in the power of the government to advance or retard progress in any particular region, and the individual settler, too, could be helped or hindered by government officials, who frequently used their powers, with little scruple, to secure their own election to the provincial assembly. Every effort to effect reform in this direction was in every province long frustrated by the legislative councils.

Control Through the Legislative Council.—It was in the composition of the legislative council that the hand of the Family Compact was most apparent. It was essential that this branch of the provincial parliament should be secured for the ruling faction. It would have been well-nigh impossible to prevent the legislative redress of grievances had the two branches concurred in passing bills for that purpose. The governor, no matter how


Previous The History of the Dominion of Canada (1897) Next