A History of Nova Scotia Page

Book #3: TOC
The Road To Being Canada
Chapter 32, Elections

In 1818, there was a general election in Britain. Following along, on May 11, in Nova Scotia, a writ was taken out with a view to sending a new slate of elected members to the house by October. And had we been at the court house at Horton, King's county, we would have heard a Mr. Hunt who held himself out as a candidate:

"[After thirty prosperous years (years of war) the province found itself] without resources - not a dollar to be had, nor a friend to be found who has it. In such a time as this, is it right that we should be sued, and put to unjust cost. Gentlemen, the giant, Oppression, appears; he rises in full view. It is the overflow of law and oppressive cost that is ruining this country. We see nothing - we hear nothing but of law and lawyers in the house of assembly, and in the country. They are rising like locusts in the land of Egypt. ... It is a time of peace and scarcity. Reform and retrenchment ought to be our motto, not only in our public expenditure, but within ourselves. Let us turn our thoughts to agriculture and manufactures, and study to obtain a free and unshackled commerce; let us not imitate the ridiculous policy of the United States, by laying on prohibitory taxes, or to enact counter laws against all countries. That commonwealth, the only one in all the world, is now becoming inflated with her own greatness, and setting examples it would be dangerous to follow. - But it is the misfortune of all republics, violence and party spirit must prevail under such a government."1
This problem of government's unaccountably was one that existed for a couple of decades, yet. I quote David Sutherland, in his contribution to the DCB on the life of Richard Tremain:
"The episode occurred during the mid 1830s, at a time of business recession and rising taxes. The board of magistrates which presided over Halifax’s internal affairs aroused increasing ire among ratepayers by refusing to account for public expenditure and by ignoring calls from the grand jury for the reform of its financial administration. Public dissatisfaction led to the publication in January 1835 of a letter in Howe’s newspaper the Novascotian or Colonial Herald, wherein the anonymous author accused the magistrates of being arrogant, incompetent, and corrupt. Singled out for particular criticism were those magistrates who also served as commissioners of the poor-house. They, it was alleged, employed the institutionalized poor as unpaid servants and fed them with inferior flour purchased at high prices from stores owned by the commissioners. This practice, which could be variously interpreted as either illegal or simply indiscreet, immediately became the focus of a major confrontation between Howe and the champions of oligarchy."

NEXT: [Chapter 33, The Chartist Movement]


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Peter Landry