1828-debartzch-1

DEBARTZCH, Pierre-Dominique, 1782-1846, lawyer, seigneur and politician, took part in the battle of Châteauguay in 1813; at the battle of St-Charles, during the 1837 rebellion, his manor served as a fortress to the Patriotes.  D.s., at Montreal, October 1828. Manuscript 1 p. elephant folio, on vellum (77.5 x 67.5 cm.), text occupying upper half, title dust-soiled on top margin. Also signed by Jean-Baptiste Dumouchel, 1784-1844, merchant, major of militia, judge and leader of the Patriotes at Saint-Benoît.
To John Neilson, Denis Benjamin Viger and Austin Cuvillier, esquires, members of the Provincial Parliament of Lower Canada, agents appointed by the inhabitants of the province to take their claims to His Majesty and before the Imperial Parliament. Certificate stating they have served the country, and have saved the colony from imminent dangers [etc.]. Debartzch signs in his quality of Vice-president of the Committee of Petitioners in Richelieu county; Dumouchel as vice-president for York county.
“The petitions of the rival factions in Lower Canada brought the Canadian question in definite form before the British parliament. Huskisson asked for the appointment of a special committee of the house to investigate fully the government of Canada. The occasion was significant in representing an honest endeavour to face a problem in colonial government now regarded as serious, and involving the fundamental issues in the relationship between the mother country and a dependency. The advantage of retaining Canada was freely questioned. To Huskisson the desertion of Canada would have been a crime against the honour of Britain. ‘Whether Canada is to remain for ever dependent on England, or it to become an independent state – not, I trust, by hostile reparation, but by amicable arrangement – it is still the duty and interest of this country to imbue it with English feeling, and benefit it with English laws and institutions.’ As a solution of the specific question in dispute, Huskisson proposed a division in the bontrol of the public revenue. The executive should retain direction of the funds necessary to supply the civil list, while the assembly should appropriate the money necessary for internal improvements. In its investigation into the affairs of Lower Canada the parliamentary committee received the evidence of Samuel Gale, the agent of the English inhabitants; of Edward Ellice, an English seigneur; of John Neilson, Denis Benjamin Viger and Augustin Cuvillier, agents of the French Canadians, and of James Stephen and Wilmot Horton of the Colonial Office. The value of the committee’s report may be judged from two features – its diagnosis of the case and its remedy. While serious defects in the constitution of the colony were found, the committee was of opinion that the prevailing evils were to be attributed mainly to the manner in which the system of government had been administered. No amendment of the written constitution was suggested; union was definitely rejected as unpractical and impolitic. … In the opinion of the committee none of the improvements which they suggested would be effective ‘unless an impartial, conciliatory and constitutional system of government be observed in these loyal and important colonies.’
The report of the Canada Committee was a well-intentioned but utterly inane endeavour to reconcile colonial self-government with an irresponsible executive. The fundamental causes and the real significance of the disturbance in Canadian government were not discovered. For this reason the remedies suggested were inadequate. Had the policy outlined been suggested twenty years earlier, it might have been effective in reconciling French Canada to the irresponsible rule of a British governor. Now that French-Canadian nationalism had been transformed into a party creed, and had been given an instrument with which to assert its domination, the day for superficial measures had passed.” (Shortt & Doughty, ‘Canada and its Provinces’, v. III, p. 305-307).

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