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212   HISTORY OF CANADA.

who desired to change the tenure of their lands from the seigneurial to the English freehold system, and to this end the rights of the Crown in seigneurial estates should be relinquished. At the same time, the committee strongly disapproved of all attempts to deprive Canadians of French extraction of their laws and privileges, as secured to them by British Acts of parliament.

Representation.—Upon the question of representation in the assembly, the committee reported in favor of the petitions from the Eastern Townships. The double basis, of population and territory, was, in their opinion, best suited to a young country where various districts, as yet sparsely settled, were being rapidly filled up. They pointed out that this system was in operation in Upper Canada, and worked well there, as it gave the new settlers a larger voice in public affairs.

Roads.—In reference to the complaint as to roads, the committee supported the provincial assembly. Large tracts of land in the Eastern Townships had been granted to officials in the province, who had bound themselves to provide for their cultivation, but had entirely neglected to do so. The legislative council had persistently rejected bills passed by the assembly to lay a tax on these lands to aid road-making in the townships. The assembly had, in fact, Neilson said, voted nearly £;100,tN$) since the war of 1812 for road improvement, but "it all did no good." "The road commissioners," he added, "constructed useless roads, all since grown over, and roads to benefit their own large grants. The executive had the spending of the money, and no account was properly kept. Some of these roads back into the townships might have clone some good had it not been for the reserves and the absentee owners preventing settlement." Neilson somewhat warmly denied that the assembly desired to prevent British subjects from settling in the province.

Charges against the Family Compact. — The other petitions were signed by about eighty-seven thousand persons, resident in the seigneurias—largely, of course, French-Canadian, though by no means entirely so. They complained of the arbitrary conduct of the governor, of his having applied 'public money without legal appropriation, and of his violent prorogations and dissolutions of the assembly. Above all, they complained that the Family Compact of Lower Canada had, through the legislative


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