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cheapest, the most vigorous and the strongest system. But on looking at the subject in conference with the other provinces, they found that such a system was impracticable.
It would not meet with the assent of Lower Canada, because they felt that in their peculiar position-being in a minority, with a different language, nationality, and religion from the majority—in case of a junction with the other provinces, their institutions and their laws might be assailed, and their ancestral associations, on which they prided themselves, attacked and prejudiced. There was also as great a disinclination on the part of the maritime provinces to lose their individuality as separate political organisations. Accordingly it was decided to proceed on the basis of a federal union. Sir John Macdonald pointed out that although they had nominally a legislative union in Canada, yet as a matter of fact they had a federal union : that in matters affecting Upper Canada solely, members for that section claimed and generally exercised the right of exclusive legislation ; while members from Lower Canada legislated on matters affecting only their own section. In this respect, he said, the relations of England and Scotland were very similar, for the Act of Union between them provided that the law of Scotland could not be altered except for the manifest advantage of Scotland; and the stipulation had been held to be so obligatory on the Legislature of Great Britain, that no measure affecting the law of Scotland is passed unless it receives the sanction of a majority of the Scottish members in Parliament.
The scheme of constitution adopted by the Premier of Canada was based, then, on the federal principle. It bore on its face the marks of a compromise. There was much mutual concession. It was framed largely on the model of the United States Constitution, but differed in some very important respects.
The constitutional relation of the province to the central Government of Canada is the reverse of that of the American States to the Union. The Canadian statesmen avoided what they considered the errors into which the framers of the American Constitution bad fallen. Instead of defining strictly the powers and functions of the central Government, and reserving all others to the separate States, the Canadian Constitution defines and limits the powers of the provincial Governments, and reserves all others for the central Dominion Government, so as to make it impossible for any local Parliament to interfere with the central power in a manner detrimental to the interests of the whole. The interpretation of the provisions giving power to the provincial Governments rests necessarily with the courts of law, from which there is an appeal to the Privy Council of England.
In the American Union, the separate States elect their own
governors, in whom is vested all administrative power and authority not reserved to the President of the Union, the maintenance of order, the control of the police. In the Canadian Dominion, the governors of provinces are nominated by the central Government for five years, a provision which was intended to establish connection of authority between the central power and the different provinces.
A most important provision of the Canadian Constitution is that which reserves a veto to the Dominion Government in respect of legislation of the local Parliaments. This power is not reserved to the President or Government of the United States in respect of State legislation. The State Governor has the right to veto the legislation of the State ; but he derives his authority from the same electors of the State as do the State Legislatures ; and the only effective power over State legislation is the Supreme Court of Justice, and then only in respect of matters where legislation is unconstitutional. other hand, there is no such provision in the Canadian Constitution as that forbidding interference with contracts. The veto of the central Government is apparently a substitute for it.
Among the subjects reserved for the provincial legislatures are: direct taxation within the limits of the province, loans on the credit of the province, administration of public lands belonging to the province, prisons, hospitals, licensing laws, municipal institutions within the provinces, local works, marriage laws, property and civil rights, the administration of justice, the organisation of courts of law with civil and criminal jurisdiction, the infliction of penalties for the purpose of compelling the execution of provincial laws, and generally all matters of a purely local and private pature. Education is also confided to the local Legislatures. Apparently, the claims of minorities to schools of a denominational kind were the cause of great dificulty; and the Constitution accordingly contains a compromise on this point, to the effect that nothing shall prejudice any right or privilege confirmed pending the Union by the laws to any particular class of persons for denominational schools, and further that all privileges given in Upper Canada to separate schools and Catholic schools shall be extended to the Protestants and Catholics in the province of Quebec. Everything not thus specified is reserved for the central Government–including public debt and customs, postal service, the militia, trade and navigation, fisheries, currency, patents, copyright, &c. &c.
The local Legislatures were not constituted on the same model in all the provinces. In Upper Canada, one assembly only was established, consisting of eighty-two members. In Quebec two chambers were instituted : a Legislative Council or Upper House, consisting of twentyfour members, to be nominated by the Lieutenant-Governor for life;
and a Lower House or Legislative Assembly, to consist of sixty-five members.
It is not necessary to describe further this Constitution. It derives its authority from the Imperial Parliament, to whom whatever powers are not expressly conceded are reserved. It is scarcely necessary
to add that the Constitution has been an eminent
The deadlock which existed between Upper and Lower Canada, which was the main cause of the movement in favour of federation, has been completely removed. The separate national and historical traditions of the French population of Lower Canada have been conciliated by the concession of autonomy within limits which include whatever they value most in their separate institutions; while the central Government has most important functions, and is not wanting in control over the provinces.
Reverting to Europe, the chief exemplar of Federal union is that of the German Empire, constituted in 1871, immediately after the great military defeat of France. By this Constitution the various Germanic States, 27 in number, formerly forming part of the very weak and loosely connected Confederation, where there was no central authority and no real power or control, were united together in a federal system under the presidency of the King of Prussia, as Emperor. The Emperor represents the Federation in all its international relations, has alone the power of declaring war and of making alliances and other conventions with foreign states, and of accrediting and receiving diplomatic envoys. The legislative power of the empire is exercised by a Federal Council, consisting of fifty-eight members, nominated in a fixed proportion by the different states, Prussia, including Hanover, Hesse, and Holstein, having seventeen members; and by the Reichstag, consisting of 397 members, elected by universal suffrage. The administrative powers of the Empire are vested in the Federal Council, which is divided into seven permanent commissions for this purpose, dealing with the various subjects reserved for it: namely, the army, navy, customs, commerce, railways, postal and telegraph service, justice, &c. There is, bowever, nothing in the nature of ministerial responsibility to the Reichstag. Cabinet Government such as we have is unknown. The Federal Council is practically under the control of the King of Prussia, and his personal will, guided by Prince Bismarck, is the guiding spirit of the Federation.
It will be seen that the various states—whose autonomy is preserved for many important purposes, and whose separate Courts and representative institutions are retained-are reduced to the position of members of a federation, not dissimilar to that of the United States of America. Their reserved powers are not more important than those of the separate States of the Union; while
the Emperor may be properly described as occupying a position not different from that of the President of the United States, save that his position is permanent and hereditary, in lieu of being elected every four years.
Prussia, it will be seen, largely predominates in the Empire. It is many times larger than any of the other states. It is composed itself of many disjecta membra of the old Germanic Confederation, having formerly a separate existence, with the addition of provinces obtained by conquest or fraud, such as Silesia, Posen, and Holstein. It has found it necessary to concede local representative institutions to these provinces : to the Rhine provinces, to Westphalia, to Hanover, and to others. No such local institutions, however, have been accorded to the Polish province of Posen. The Poles are represented in the Prussian Landtag, where in the popular chamber their members form a discordant element, not dissimilar, in their spirit of hostility to the Prussian Government, to the Irish Nationalist members in the British House of Commons. The power of the Prussian Government over its Polish province, and its methods of dealing with a dependent nationality, are best evidenced by its recent measures, banishing from the territory many thousands of Poles who were not actually natives of the province, and replacing them by Germans who are under the obligation to intermarry only with people of their own race. Since the plantation of Ulster, there has been nothing in Europe to which such action can be compared.
The position of Alsace and Lorraine is a somewhat peculiar one. Since their conquest from France they have formed a part of the German Empire, and are represented in the Reichstag, but not in the Federal Council. The government, administrative and legislative, of this province was committed to the Emperor, controlled, however, in respect of matters reserved by the Constitution of the Empire, by the Federal Council. In 1877 and 1879 an attempt was made to give something of autonomy to the province. The Emperor was empowered to delegate his authority to a governor. A local Council of State was instituted, consisting of certain State functionaries, and of eight or ten other members, three of whom are elected by the delegates of the province, and the others nominated by the Emperor. The Delegation, consisting of fifty-eight members elected by the people, is limited to the right of suggesting legislation for the province which does not infringe on the powers of the Federal Council, and of forwarding to the Ministers any petitions which may be addressed to it. A certain advance has therefore been made to autonomy, which, considering the hostile attitude of its population to Germany, is significant. The position of the province seems to be not dissimilar to that of Ireland before 1782.
When we turn to Austria we find the same practical results arrived
at from a different starting-point. The movement of the present century has been of a centrifugal character. The Austro-Hungarian Empire consists, it need scarcely be remarked, of the most varied and heterogeneous collection of nationalities and populations, of different races, religions, habits, and traditions, which could possibly be gathered together. This composite empire, held together so long by force, was aggregated not so much by conquest as by the fortunate alliances of the Hapsburg family and by skilful diplomacy. The titles of the Emperor indicate the many sources of his sovereignty. He is King of Hungary, and as such King of Croatia and Transylvania ; be is King of Bohemia, Dalmatia and Galicia; Archduke of Austria and Cracow; Duke of Styria, Silesia, Carinthia, Saltzburg and Bukowine; Margrave of Moravia and Istria ; Count of the Tyrol, Gortz and Gradevia; and each of these titles represents some merged or suppressed state formerly independent, and with separate traditions, and often of distinct race.
The natural impulse of a power thus constituted and held together by military force, controlled and guided by a dominant race such as the Germans, was towards despotism and centralisation. The various component parts of the Empire bad, previous to their incorporation, separate and generally national administrations, and distinctive laws. Where the union was effected by conquest the separate administration was naturally incompatible with the new condition. In all, the separate institutions were discouraged, and were allowed to fall into decay; and every effort was made by the central power, with the best of motives, to assimilate the laws of the various provinces, to centralise powers, and to suppress national and indigenous institutions, which were held to be opposed to the existence and safety of the empire. This method was only in accord with the tendencies which everywhere existed in Europe at the time, and for which the example had been set by the centralising policy through centuries of the French monarchy. The Empress Maria Theresa and Joseph the Second pursued these objects with great activity. The Austrian statesmen hoped to force the union of their dependent Czechs, Sclovaks, Ruthenes, Poles, Magyars, Croats, Roumanians, and Italians, in the same manner as the French had done in the case of Normans, Bretons, Burgundians, and Provençals.
From the union of Hungary with Austria, in 1526, a continuous effort was made to reduce the former to the position of a mere province of the empire. The Hungarian Constitution was one of the most ancient in Europe, dating back from 1222, six years later only than the Magna Charta of England. In support of this Constitution and of their national institutions the Hungarians opposed a stubborn resistance, which in 1848 broke out into open rebellion against the empire.