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inquiry has pointed out as existing in every institution, in the constitutions, and in the very composition of society throughout a great part of these provinces, I almost shrink from the apparent presumption of grappling with these gigantic difficulties. Nor shall I attempt to do so in detail. I rely on the efficacy of reform in the constitutional system by which these colonies are governed, for the removal of every abuse in their administration which defective institutions have engendered. If a system can be devised which shall lay in these countries the foundation of an efficient and popular government, insure harmony, in place of collision, between the various powers of the State, and bring the influence of a vigorous public opinion to bear on every detail of public affairs, we may rely on sufficient remedies being found for the present vices of the administrative system.
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.
II. 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 vigor 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.
In England this principle has been so long considered an indisputable and essential part of our constitution, that it has really hardly ever been found necessary to inquire into the means by which its observance is enforced. When a ministry ceases to command a majority in Parliament on great questions of policy, its doom is immediately sealed; and it would appear to us as strange to attempt, for any time, to carry on a government by means of ministers perpetually in a minority, as it would be to pass laws with a majority of votes against them. The ancient constitutional remedies, by impeachment and a stoppage of the supplies, have never, since the reign of William III, been brought into operation for the purpose of removing a ministry. They have never been called for, because, in fact, it has been the habit of ministers rather to anticipate the occurrence of an absolutely hostile vote, and to retire, when supported only by a bare and uncertain majority. If colonial legislatures have frequently stopped the supplies, if they have harassed public servants by unjust or harsh impeachments, it was because the removal of an unpopular administration could not be effected in the colonies by those milder indications of a want of confidence which have always sufficed to attain the end in the mother country.
III. The means which have occasionally been proposed in the colonies themselves appear to me by no means calculated to attain the desired end in the best way. These proposals indicate such a want of reliance on the willingness of the imperial government to acquiesce in the adoption of a better system, as, if warranted, would render an harmonious adjustment of the different powers of the State utterly hopeless. 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 coöperation of the assembly in his policy, by intrusting 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.
IV. 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 intrusted 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 connection 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 intrusted 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.
V. But while I convince myself that such desirable ends would
1 Lord Durham then went on to urge that the Canadian government should be British, and that the numerical superiority of the French in Lower Canada might be overcome by a legislative union of Upper Canada and Lower Canada, which would give an English-speaking majority,
be secured by a legislative union of the two provinces, I am inclined to go further, and inquire whether all these objects would not more surely be attained by extending this legislative union over all the British provinces in North America; and whether the advantages which I anticipate for two of them, might not, and should not, in justice be extended over all. Such an union would at once decisively settle the question of races; it would enable all the provinces to cooperate for all common purposes; and, above all, it would form a great and powerful people, possessing the means of securing good and responsible government for itself, and which, under the protection of the British Empire, might in some measure counterbalance the preponderant and increasing influence of the United States on the American continent. I do not anticipate that a colonial legislature thus strong and thus self-governing would desire to abandon the connection with Great Britain. On the contrary, I believe that the practical relief from undue interference, which would be the result of such a change, would strengthen the present bond of feelings and interests; and that the connection would only become more durable and advantageous by having more of equality, of freedom, and of local independence. But, at any rate, our first duty is to secure the well-being of our colonial countrymen; and if in the hidden decrees of that wisdom by which this world is ruled it is written that these countries are not forever to remain portions of the empire, we owe it to our honor to take good care that, when they separate from us, they should not be the only countries on the American continent in which the Anglo-Saxon race shall be found unfit to govern itself.
VI. I am, in truth, so far from believing that the increased power and weight that would be given to these colonies by union would endanger their connection with the empire, that I look to it as the only means of fostering such a national feeling throughout them as would effectually counterbalance whatever tendencies may now exist toward separation. No large community of free and intelligent men will long feel contented with a political system which places them, because it places their country, in a position of inferiority to their neighbors. The colonist of Great Britain is linked, it is true, to a mighty empire; and the glories of its history, the visible signs of its present power, and the civilization of its people are calculated to raise and gratify his national pride. But he feels, also, that his link to that empire is one of remote dependence; he catches but passing and inadequate glimpses of its power and prosperity; he knows that