Election Speeches, 1869
Extracts from a Speech by C.F. Bennett at Placentia. Colonial Office Records, series 194, Vol. 178 (CO 194/178) Public Record Office, London

[Bennett was leader of the Anti-Confederate Party and a candidate for the district of Placentia-St. Mary's.]

MY FRIENDS -

The object of my visit to you, is to give you a little information on the subject of CONFEDERATION, for there are yet many among you who yet ask the question - What does it mean? I tell you, that it is parting with the powers of governing yourselves through the medium of your own Representatives ... and transferring the powers of Legislation and Taxation, and that without any limitation, to the people of Canada..

The men who advocate this wicked measure are 1awyers, and a few other persons who compose the present government, their subordinate officials, the paid members of the press, and the seekers after office. The men who oppose it are yourselves, and with few exceptions, the merchants, the shopkeepers, the traders, the mechanics and others who have been supporting those state paupers.....

The Confederates in their hypocrisy, cry out to the people, "free imports of Pork, Butter, Flour, &c." Who was it, the year before last, that put the taxes upon the food of the poor which had previously been admitted duty free? It was the Confederates, those Lawyers and other loafers, who compose the present Government, men who are now striving by the grossest untruths to induce the electors to put them again into the Legislature, that they may continue to fatten on the taxes they unmercilessly wring from your hard toil, and keep you ... in poverty and wretchedness. .... It was these same Confederates who put the tax on salt, lines, twines, hooks, and every other thing necessary for the fisheries .... These men now tell you that under Canadian rule all these things will be admitted duty free !! This is a wilful untruth. Yes, the dearer the flour and the dearer clothing from Canada, will be admitted duty free; but the cheaper flour, pork, butter and other food from America, and the cheaper clothing and manufactured goods from England and elsewhere, will be heavily taxed to compel you to buy the dearer goods, their homespuns, from Canada. What has Canada ever done for Newfoundland to entitle her to this privilege?

The Confederates do not tell you of the bribes they are to receive in good fat offices for their lives.....

If the Electors and more especially the natives of the country, are inclined to think so meanly of themselves and their fellow-colonists as to believe that they are a degenerated race, and that they have not among them persons of sufficient talent and honesty to manage their public affairs and must employ strangers, would it not, I ask you, be far better for them to return to the good and generous old mother country, Great Britain, and restore to her the precious jewel that KING WILLIAM, ... at their request granted them? namely, the liberty of self-government - and not disgrace themselves ... by selling that jewel, themselves and their children to the feeble, impracticable, and contemptible newly-born monstrosity the Dominion of Canada, who covets your alliance only for the money it can wring from you ....

"No Militia Laws for the Young Men," say those hypocrites. What Militia laws have we ever had in Newfoundland, I ask you? None, whatever, and none required.... But these poltroon Confederates approach the Election with their crocodile cry, "No Militia laws for our young men"; whilst they know right well that, under Canadian 1aws, every man in Newfoundland between the ages of 18 and 6O, would be liable to serve as a soldier, whether in the Volunteers, or the Militia, or be subjected to be drafted into the regular army, and as such to be sent to Canada or to any other part of the world that the War Minister of Canada might direct ..... What say the mothers, wives and sweethearts of our men to this? ....

These same fat officials, the Confederates, attempt to delude the people by telling them that "they cannot be worse off than they are at present!" Will you believe them? Will you not be worse off when you lose forever the control of your own taxation.....? Is it no grievance that our population should be taxed thirty shillings a head .... and receive back four shillings a head only. There is no Colony .... that has within itself greater sources of wealth than has this Colony in her extensive fisheries, her minerals, her lands, and even her timber. Are the people of Newfoundland insensible to these facts? Can they be so insensible to their own interests; to their ability in legislation and in finance, to permit their revenue .... to be sent out of this country to Canada, and to receive back four shillings only per head out of thirty, leaving twenty-six shillings per head ... to be expended in the making of the Canadian roads, canals, fortifications, to aid in the payment of her army and navy, her ships of war, and the interest of her immense debt? Shall we not be worse off when Canada imposes a tax upon our exports, a property tax, an income tax, a tax on our profits by trade, and possess besides the power of taxing us "BY ALL AND EVERY MODE OR SYSTEM OF TAXATION"- those are the words of the Act. Shall we not be worse off, when so taxed by the Dominion, and our four shillings a head be found inadequate to the support of our local corporation ... to provide for our own poor ... to provide for education, for the making and repairing of our roads, our constabulary, our tax gatherers and other requirements, to have to raise this deficiency by taxes on property? ... I again ask you, shall we not be worse off then? What will you say? ...

What consideration is £37,500 Canadian depreciated currency, per annum, for all our lands, mines, minerals and other public property? ....

The people of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick ... are groaning under the increased taxation and tyranny of Canada, as every man thence testifies. The French in Lower Canada are dissatisfied, Prince Edward's Island has had the good sense to keep out.... What strength and what advantage would accrue to Newfoundland from joining the Union? -No one single benefit has been offered or pointed out to us save vague and utopian chimeras ....

The Confederates, forgetting you have British blood in your veins, threaten you that the British Government will force you into Confederation, whether you like it or not - I tell you that the British Government will not do any such thing....

Those persons in England who favour this matter are the London great money dealers...; and these men want a better security from Canada for the immense debt she owes them..... Hence the reason that Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, by the greatest bribery, chicanery and corruption, were forced into the Union by their Parliaments against the voice of the people ....

... Beware of your plausible, smooth-tongued Judases, who have accepted the bribes Canada, through her hirelings, has tendered them - use your own brains - look to your own interests and to those of your young and growing families, and let common sense guard you from the traitors to their country who would lead you by the nose as they would a calf to be slaughtered, or a donkey to his oppressive and unbearable burden.

II

Election Address by Frederic Carter, October 1869, The Newfoundlander, November 5, 1869

[Carter was leader of the Confederate party, and a candidate for the district of Burin]

To the Independent Electors of the District of Burin

I am so well known in your important District, as are my political opinions throughout the country, that I did not at first deem it necessary to trouble you with an address, but as so many abominable falsehoods are paraded by my opponents, I think it is well that I should dispel any effect they may possibly have for want of due information on some points connected with the great. subject of our Union with the Dominion of Canada, which is no engaging the attention of all intelligent persons in the country.

Four years ago, when you did me the honour, in conjunction with your well tried old Representative, Mr. Evans; to elect us as your Representatives in the Assembly, we both declared ourselves favourable to this Union, on fair terms ....

I assured the people that they should have the ultimate decision of this subject, and that assurance has been held sacred, although it suited my enemies constantly to accuse me of an intention to violate it. I did not deceive you in this nor shall I in any one particular.

You are told that by this Union we are separating from the Queen's Government and that it is the work of a few interested persons. Now the leading principle in the Imperial Act of 1867 ... is a "federal union into one Dominion under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, with a constitution similar in principle to that of the United Kingdom."

There, then, is a sure guarantee that we shall ever be under the old Flag, and with all the right, liberties, and privileges of British subjects, infinitely more precious to us than we could acquire by annexation with the United States, which is one of the objects aimed at by many of the Anti-confederates. Every day is making this more apparent.

That you may not be mistaken as to the opinions of the Queen's Government, I shall give you extracts from two Despatches .... [There follow extracts from Colonial Office despatches expressing the hope that Newfoundland will join Canada.]

These should be sufficient to convince every man that in advocating Union we are only doing our part as loyal subjects, in carrying out the wishes of our Gracious Queen, and that if we oppose these wishes we shall unquestionably lose advantages that we now possess' and be regarded with disfavour.

Until lately the principle was conceded, and all rested on the terms. When these were passed by the Assembly and Council, it was generally admitted by the most rabid Antis that if the Dominion Government acceded to theme we should not longer hesitate. Now beyond the expectations of most, we did succeed....

It cannot be gainsaid that the terms secured are highly advantageous, but the fact is that, for selfish reasons, our opponents are seeking to have the Government in their own hands; and after some jobbery is disposed of, such as the nefarious grant, and the Royalties, &c., and bringing the country into anarchy and confusion, then they will pretend that as loyal subjects they must submit to the Queen! This should be evident to every man of ordinary intel1igence, and it does not need a "Ghost from the grave" to tell us who will have the helm if our opponents succeed, when we find that men have been thrust upon the constituencies who have not had a day's political experience. The St. John's clique have been nominating, and then withdrawing candidates to oppose your faithful and experienced old members. They are not certain even now who will be their nominees, but they appear to think that any one of their pets is good enough for Burin, and that you must obey their commands ! I am sure you will duly appreciate such an insult. You may be certain they have politics enough for the big grant of a million acres, including all mines and minerals in the district of Burin, with the greater parts of the Districts of Placentia and Fortune Bay, which Mr. Bennett gave himself against the 1aw, when in Government, and for the remission of the Royalties on the Tilt Cove Mine, at 2 ½ per cent on the gross produce , payable next year, and secured by the terms with the Dominion for our local purposes

I don't require here to vindicate the Government, as I could easily do, from the false and gratuitous attack of Mr. Bennett in the speech prepared and printed in St. John's, but said to have been delivered in Placentia, and which he has circulated in your District. That is the speech of our enemies, with Mr. Bennett's name signed to it, and of itself it is sufficient to indicate that he wants the men to do his work in the Government, by changing the present. He does not relish the Lawyers as they discovered the flaw in the big grant. I shall not imitate him in abuse, and I deeply regret that a gentleman whom I am disposed to respect should have gone so far to forfeit the esteem of, his old friends by his recent associations, and from motives that all must admit to be so transparent.

You and the people of the Colony should understand that before we unite with the other Provinces, an Address must go from our Legislature, and if there be any error in the terms it will be corrected.

I can have no sinister object in advocating union. I have no intention of leaving this Colony, and the Dominion can put me in no position eqjua1 to my present ....

.... In the meantime let me tell you, as one with authority to do so, and who sincerely believed in the truth of it, that if we enter the Dominion as proposed - Taxation will be greatly reduced - Fishery and Shipbuilding articles will be duty free, as will also the prime-necessities of life - there will be no tax on land or property by the Dominion - there will be the same privilege as ever to the inhabitants to cut wood free of charge - a larger sum than we ever had or could have for public improvements - efficient steam communication - no Militia laws to- require us or our sons to leave the old Island, and no drafting as our enemies falsely tell you - free trade and commerce with all the Provinces, and no light dues - Reciprocity with the United States on equitable terms ..... - Capital to work our mines and minerals ... no export duties on Fish and Oil, the acknowledged policy of the leading Antis - the public creditor better secured .... remunerative employment for our females, who are leaving us by ship-loads.

. . . The Antis say we are selling the Colony. We are doing only what the United States did after their independence, and which has made them a powerful nation. There is no parallel between this and the union of Ireland and England; and it is from mere ignorance or deception that anyone should say so. The desire of the Queen is to consolidate British interests from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans ..... Our resident Merchants are with us - those who live in the country in which they made their capital. The intelligence and loyalty of the country are with us. and I have no doubt that the District of Burin will return its old Members, and confide in them....

F.B.T. CARTER

St. John's, October 20, 1869.

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