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"The Bribe"

The following article is from:
The Herald (Charlottetown) Wednesday, November 14, 1866

"The Bribe" Knocked into a Cocked Hat:
A Regular Break-down!
The Quebec Scheme Unalterable!!

The Islander and the Royal Gazette of last week at length contain the bogus proposition of the delegates, together with the dispatches and correspondence thereon; and the upshot of the matter is that the Canadians repudiate the proposition. The Colonial Secretary, in transmitting the offer to Viscount Monck, concludes his dispatch in the following cautious, non-commital [sic] style:

"I have taken this course in order to give effect to the wishes of the Delegates now in England; but it must be understood that I do so without expressing any opinion of my own on the subject, as this would be premature at the present stage of the question."

The Colonial Secretary cannot fail to meet the warm approbation of the people of the Maritime Provinces by his judicious and statesmanlike dealing with the question of Confederation. The contrast between him and his bungling predecessor is as great as is the estimate in which both are held in the Provinces. As much curiosity doubtlessly exists to know the real nature of the offer of the Maritime Province Delegates, we give it in full: --

(COPY.)

At a meeting of the Delegates from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, held at the Alexandra Hotel, London, on the 22nd day of September 1866, all being present except the Hon. Mr. Wilmot, it was unanimously resolved that inasmuch as the co-operation of Prince Edward Island, though not indispensable to a union of the other British North American Provinces, is, on many accounts, very desirable; and as the settlement of the land question, which has so long and so injuriously agitated that colony, would be attended with great benefit, and at the same time place the local Government of the Island, by the possession of the proprietary lands, now on a footing with the other Provinces, which have crown lands and minerals as a source of local revenue.

Therefore Resolved--
That, in case the Legislature of the Island should authorize the appointment of Delegates to act in conjunction with those from the other Provinces, in arranging a plan of co-operation, prior to the meeting of the Imperial Parliament, the delegates from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are hereby pledged to support the policy of providing such an amount as may be necessary for the purchase of the proprietary rights, but not to exceed $800,000.

(Signed) Charles Tupper
S.L. Tilley.

The Canadian government, after discussing the proposition, state that they "do not consider that they have any power or right to consent to the payment of that, or any sum, without the previous consent of the Canadian Parliament, and they, therefore, cannot confer upon their delegates power which they do not themselves possess." Individually, however, they are prepared to make "a strong representation to the first Government and Parliament of the United Provinces, in favor of their granting the compensation agreed upon" by the Delegates. This conclusion proves what we asserted all along, that the Quebec scheme is unalterable. We are glad that the Canadians have squarely met the proposition by a direct refusal, for Her Majesty's Government will now plainly see that Prince Edward Island has good reason for declining to enter the Confederacy. When her reasonable demands are met with denial previous to union, her chances of obtaining justice afterwards are slim indeed. The Canadian Government, more, we fancy, for the purpose of humbugging than for remedying the evil, admit that a grant of $800,000 over and above what is allowed by the Quebec scheme, is nothing but just and fair to this Colony, from its insular position and land difficulty. We have no hesitation in expressing our belief that if the offer were assented to by Canada and the money tendered to this Island as the price of its adhesion to Confederation, a majority might be found to accept it; and should Her Majesty's Government be anxious for all those Provinces to form themselves into a Confederacy, we have no doubt the $800,000, and even a larger sum, will yet be offered to smooth the difficulties in the way of an harmonious union. We have no fear that the expectation of the Canadian Government, as shadowed forth by one of its organs -- the Leader -- from which we quoted last week, when it says that, without the $800,000, Prince Edward Island will soon be drawn unto the Union, "in spite of herself," will ever be realized. The political axiom which the Leader seeks to establish from physical science is rather a dangerous experiment; for if it be true that the attraction of the greater body is more than a match for the power of resistance of the smaller body, then we must admit that annexation is inevitable. "It is a queer rule that won't work both ways."

It is amusing to observe the effect which the dissent of Canada has upon the editor of the Islander. His lower jaw hangs down at once, and in the most savage mood he snaps and bites in all directions. No wonder; for he has worked himself out of office -- he has played his last trump and lost; but if he imagines he is going to improve his condition by slanderous and ill-natured remarks, he is very much mistaken. He asserts that the recent offer could not bribe this Island. Let him be consoled; for we again repeat our belief that if Her Majesty's Government desires this Colony to unite with her sister Provinces, and, as a compensation for her exceptional position, guarantees good terms, the proposition will be received by a majority of its inhabitants. After indulging in some gloomy apprehensions that no delegation will be sent down from this Colony to the London Conference, and treating us to a homily upon loyalty, the editor of the Islander, somewhat after the fashion of "Lord Lovell," gives three kicks, a groan, then blows his nose, and gives up the ghost in the following manner:

"We feel that we have discharged our duty to the people -- that we have fairly placed the subject before them, and we shall henceforth refrain from the advocacy of a measure which, notwithstanding its importance, is regarded by the mass of the people as one which render them and their children slaves to Canada."

This confession and resolution of amendment is like that of a culprit detected in the act of perpetrating some crime and, if allowed to escape, immediately pursues his former evil courses. All the Confederates, now that their schemes are detected, and that a general election is at hand, are prepared to pledge themselves to abandon their pet measure; but how long does the simple leader imagine are they going to adhere to such pledges? Just until after they secure their election; and it therefore behooves the people to select wisely those whom they shall return to Parliament as their representatives. The necessity is greater now than at any time formerly to elect men who are honestly opposed to Confederation, for we believe that, if Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick choose to unite, the Confederate Government will be so mean as to attempt, by annoying and hostile legislation, to coerce this Colony into Confederation; and, therefore, those who will be at the head of affairs require to be men who will thwart such legislation, instead of coinciding in it as was done by the existing Government in the case of surrendering the fisheries, and taxing American flour. Whatever turn the political wheel may take, we trust Messrs. Palmer, Coles, and those other tried men who have stood by their country in time of trial and danger, will not be overlooked or forgotten. They deserve well of their country, and their country should not be slow to recognize their services.