F.B.T. Carter's Pro-Confederate Speech, 1865
Extracts from Speech by F.B.T. Carter (Conservative, District of Burin), House of Assembly Debate, January 27, 1865. The Newfoundlander, February 2, 1865

He expected to spend his life in the country, and he did not anticipate any personal advantages from the proposed federation, farther than it would promote the prosperity of the land of his nativity and the home of his children. It was said they were giving away the fisheries. Now those who said so knew it was not true. They knew that the people of all British North America had the same interest in the fisheries as we have.. Again, it was said we were destroying the liberties of the people. Would any person have his liberty curtailed by taking up his residence in Great Britain, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, or Canada? .... [I]t was the very first decision come to at the Conference that.... the model of the British government would be followed, so far as circumstances would permit .... Our British connection would be guaranteed by an Act of the Imperial Parliament..... Would not our liberties be as well secured as at present, and our British connection perpetuated for ages to come? .... How could we have a militia force in this Colony. Our fishermen9 from the very nature of their occupation, could not be organised into a militia.. There might be some legislation with respect to the Volunteers, but he was certain that Britain would continue to use the protection of her troops, and that the navy would not be withdrawn. But it was said "you are going to bind us to Canada". Now we had heard that said by people who had never seen Canada, who had never been out of this Colony; and perhaps it would be as well for some of them to travel a little and visit that magnificent province, as well as Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, which were advancing so rapidly in material prosperity, and in all that tended to make a people great and respected. .... These countries were all more prosperous than we are, for it must be admitted that we are at the lowest point of depression.... But the union was objected to on the plea of increased taxation. Could any honourable member recollect when, a few years ago, the great leader of the opposition to this confederation proposed to lay an export duty on fish and oil? And now he came forward, as the professed friend of the fisherman, to oppose the union on the plea of increased taxation.... Did not the fishermen at present get flour imported, duty free, under the reciprocity treaty, and was there any reduction in their accounts in consequence? But we must bear in mind that a notice has been given to abrogate the reciprocity treaty, and with it we should lose our free trade with the other colonies, for we could not expect, if we refused to join in this confederation, that the other provinces would continue the admission of our produce duty free. But under this confederation, not only the products of the fisheries and of agriculture, but also the manufactures of the several provinces would pass duty free from one to the other.... Let this convention be carried out, and food and clothing for our fishermen would be brought in duty free from the neighbouring provinces. Again, they should support this confederation on account of their children ..... What future was there for any young man brought up in this country? If his object was to engage in commercial pursuits, where was he to get his training? .... Our young men could apply to these members, whose interest would be made available to forward their views.... Then were we not in a state of the deepest depression? And what would raise us from it so effectually as union...? ... The financial arrangements entered into would give a better revenue than we had on the average of the last ten years.... We would also be provided with direct steam communication at the expense of the Federal Government, as well as steam communication with Canada, which, no doubt, would induce the visits of capitalists, and stimulate enterprise, leading to competition, which, while it would benefit the community, was not, perhaps, desired by some. But although it might be the means of reducing profits, anything that would promote employment must prove beneficial to the working classes. It was said they were giving away the Crown lands the minerals of the island. From the clamour raised by some gentlemen on this subject, one would imagine that the Canadians were to send down a number of vessels with pickaxes and shovels to carry away the land .... But what did we want? What had we been wishing for years? Did we not want our wild lands improved? Who was to do it? Was it not well to induce the people who were willing to pay so handsomely for them to improve them....? .... there would be no interference with local enterprise, for the lands we as available to us as to any other portion of the Confederation, and local capitalists had greater facilities than those who came from a distance. But our own capitalists, with the exception of Mr. Bennett; had hitherto shown no desire to engage in mining operations .... Now the Confederation would provide four millions of consumers; a number which was rapidly increasing and with our extensive water power and cheap labour we could offer inducements to enterprising capitalists to establish manufactures, once free access to the British American market was opened up by the Confederation .... If Confederation was carried out it would be the means of depriving some of our local politicians of the positions they had occupied for some years past; and we all know how difficult it was for small politicians to give up that from which they derived a certain local importance . They knew how difficult it was for those who traded on the passions and prejudices of the people to submit to an arrange- ment by which their occupations would be gone. They did not like the prospect of it, and therefore they pretended great zeal for the interests of the people....Another beneficial result of Confederation would be that the acerbity of feeling which had marked our political contests would be done away with. For a long time past there had been a constant struggle for power between the two religious parties into which our population is divided, and election after election was sought to be carried by means which we all deprecated. With Confederation the effort would be to return to the federal House of Commons the ablest men .... irrespective of creed. Did hon. gentlemen want to see election riots again? Confederation would bring larger questions to occupy the attention of politicians ....There was much unreasonable clamour on the subject of taxation, as if wealthy and populous Canada desired to get this impoverished Colony to squeeze out of us the means of augmenting her own large revenue. The very same parties who said this were those who opposed the establishment of constitutional government here ....But he was satisfied that under confederation we should find such progress as no person at present contemplated. We would be relieved from that isolation which had so long retarded our progress....


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