THE NEW PLAN OF CAMPAIGN
Mr. Michael McDade Unfolds the Scheme to Remedy the Decline of Catholic Influence in New Brunswick. His Noble Tribute to the Late Honorable Michael Adams Whole He Styles “The Greatest Irish Public Man New Brunswick Has Yet Produced” and to Whom he Credits His Proposed Plan. The North Shore Statesman Spoke Words of Prophesy in 1886.
To THE EDITOR OF THE FREEMAN,
Sir: I would like to make other extracts from Dr. Hannay's "Life and Times of Sir Leonard Tilley" to show further how race and religious questions entered into the politics of New Brunswick from the establishment of the province in 1784 down to the time of Confederation in 1867. I feel, however, “that I am already open to the charge of having been too long "beating about the bush" that I should come to the point earlier—(but every mind has Its own method) so I will no longer delay telling your renders how in my opinion the rights of Catholics—particularly Irish Catholics—may be reasonably recognized In municipal, civic, provincial and federal matters. One other word before entering upon my task. The editor of the Chatham World, violates his own declaration of principles—be always fair—largely, I think, because of his too generous nature towards myself; and falls into the mistake of supposing Catholics want recognition simply because they are Catholics, while in point of fact their only request—I should say demand—is that they shall not be denied recognition because they are Catholics. They want nothing because of their religion, but they do wan, and have a right to expect, that their claims upon their party shall not be ignored because of their religion. But what is the remedy for the present troubles? Not to make it possible for any great political party to feel that the Catholics of the province are opposed to it as a party? But how is that to be done? Let me try to answer this question in my own way.
Thirty-one years ago a St. John boy 10 years of age, a Roman Catholic, of Irish Catholic parents, tried to obtain work in the office of the Freeman newspaper, owned and edited by one of the ablest Irish Catholics of the last century. He failed for the reason that Mr. Anglin at the time had all the boys in his employ that he required. Thanks to Mr. James A S. Mott, the boy obtained a place in the Morning News, then owned by Messrs. Willis and Davis and later by Messrs. Willis and Mott. Thirty years ago Mr. Willis, always a leading orange-man, and later the Grand Master of the orange order in New Brunswick for many years, on the recommendation of Mr. John March sent the boy to Fredericton to take his first lessons in parliamentary reporting. The boy was not in the reporters gallery of the House of Assembly very long until he found his ideal politician in the person of Mr. Michael Adams then a very young man, elected as one of the members from Northumberland county. They became great personal friends and their close friendship continued till a short time before Mr. Adams' death. For a little time there was an estrangement. Then followed satisfactory explanations on both sides, but broken friendships cannot be completely mended in a way and two afterwards were friends at a distance.
In I886 the boy of 15 years before became the official reporter of the House of Assembly and that was Mr. Adam’s last session in the provincial parliament. Although he opposed to each other politically both in local and federal fields Mr. Adams and the reporter spent nearly all their spare time together during that session. It was from Mr. Adams that year that the reporter got each one of the ideas which he will present in this present letter. Indeed, Mr. Adams' exact words will be followed as far as the reports can remember them. If the proposed plan of campaign accomplishes any good let it be regarded as a tribute to the memory of the greatest Irish Catholic public man this province has yet produced- the late Honorable Michael Adams- and if it fails in its purpose the reporter will be willing to submit to all reasonable criticism.
Mr. Adams and the reporter always met in the formers room in the Barker House, Fredericton, and their serious chats were nearly always on the subject Mr. Adams had most at heart-how to best advance the interests of the Catholics of the province more particularly those of the Irish Catholics. Like the other few persons who have got near to the heart of the reporter Mr. Adams made the mistake that “ the boy," as he always called him, had more than average ability, and hence no doubt his reason for seeking to impress his views upon him.
"It is 16 years since I was first elected to the legislature in 1870," said Mr. Adams in 1886, "and for five of the years I was a member of the Government of the province from 1878 to 1883, my colleagues most of the time being Hon. Mr. Fraser, Hon. Robt. Young Hon. Mr. Wedderburn, Hon. P. A. Landry, Hon Messrs Perley, Crawford, Hanington and Marshall. My experience has taught me that there is no race or religious bigotry among the better classes of the province either among Catholics or non-Catholics. My reading of political history however leaves no doubt in my mind that matters of race and religion have affected political progress ever since the establishment of the province over a hundred year ago. The battle of responsible government was as much a battle against the idea that members of the Church of England should have a monopoly of all the gifts under the Crown and that they were the only persons entitled to social recognition as it was against the mismanagement of the casual and territorial revenues race and religious liberty and social recognition to all denominations but Roman Catholics have not taken their places either in the government of the country or in social circle all over the province as they should have done. Is that the fault of the Protestant people of the province? Most decidedly not, although of course there is always to be found a handful of non-Catholics ready to act on the "principle that the Catholics were made of an inferior quality of clay. It was not today or yesterday that I learned the truth of Lord Dufferin's statement that most cherished prizes of ambition are open to all Canadians irrespective of class, race, or creed, and that the Queen of England does not stop to inquire in the distribution of imperial honors whether a deserving citizen is an Australian or a Canadian, or a Scotchman or an Irishman or an Englishman; it is enough that he should have rendered, the state good service and this in his title to her favor and reward. You have a great Churchman in St. John in the person of His lordship Bishop Sweeny; but our bishop on the North (illegible) Right Hon. Dr. Rodgers is not only a great churchman, but also a great statesman and while he has not interfered directly in politics his influence for the political and social advancement of the Catholics of the Northern Counties has had a very marked effect. This good influence has extended into counties beyond the control of His Lordship Bishop Rodger-; and the result is that it is largely in what are known as the river counties where Catholics have not benefitted as have other religious bodies by the victory of responsible government. Another reason for the condition of things in the river counties was the feeling of jealousy among his opponents towards Honorable Timothy Warren Anglin Head and shoulders over his opponents in ability and knowing that he had at least his co-religionists of the river counties at his back his opponents when they could not defeat him in any other way, generally raised the religious cry, and almost always the appeal to passion and prejudice succeeded. That cry, assisted by the Fenian Raid did more to carry Confederation in this province than all other factors. The cry was a great factor in carrying the school question in 1871, and the prejudices then aroused remained alive for many years. It was to try and remove those prejudices—a thousand times more than to advance our own political fortunes—that Mr. Landry and myself entered the government in 1878. We are now out of power: and I foresee the danger that threatens the Catholics of the province, both Irish and French; if the day ever comes—and I predict that it will come —when the Catholics of New Brunswick will be continuously, almost to a man, supporting one political party whether that party be provincial or federal. That will be a sorrowful day both for the Catholics themselves and for the party they support, particularly if that party be in power. Their united support will be a menace to the party in power by inviting some strong protestant to at any time raise the religious cry; and Catholics, because of having preserved to them their religious rights, which as a matter of fact are guaranteed to them by the Treaty of Paris and B.N A. Act, will be expected to have their rights as party men entirely ignored and have to listen continually to the cry that they are expecting recognition simply because they are Catholics when they will want nothing except on their merits and as god party men. When that day arrives so-called Protestant leaders will declare to you that they are not going to be coerced into doing anything for a man because of his religion, as though you or I, or any other Catholic would ever be fool enough to ask to have a co-religiousness appointed to position on any such grounds. The fact that no considerable number of Catholics will be appointed will show one of two things; either that the so called protestant leaders are not living up to their alleged principles to know no man by his religion, or that there are no Catholics to positions of importance’.
Asked what was the remedy for this evil which he predicted with such a feeling of certainty, Mr. Adams said; “There are many cures, the chief one being to adopt in New Brunswick the principle laid down by one of the greatest lights in the Catholic church in America—Bishop [now Arch-Bishop] Ireland—for the guidance of Catholics in the United States. He is on record essaying that no greater calamity could happen lo the Catholics of the United States than that there should be even reasonable grounds for suspicion that they were opposed to this or that great political party—that in matters political it was their duty to assimilate with the other great religious bodies of the United States—that wherein matters of faith they were Catholic brat, in mallei's of politics Catholics and non-Catholics were citizens alike of their common country and should not be divided on lines of class, race, creed or color. If we had in Canada a Bishop Ireland, it would not require an ultra-protestant to raise the race cry of French domination. He would see the ultimate danger of having under the same big a people supposed to be and desiring to be -a united people, yet speaking two entirely different languages. I make this prediction in this year of Our Lord, 1886; that before a dozen of years more have passed a French premier will rule over Canada; and whilst I am no prophet of evil, boy, I tell you that unless the leading men of both political parties follow a course that will not result in the French of the Dominion being all on one aide there will be a serious war of races, before another dozen of years, and unless the efforts of a few incendiaries that are at work trying to make it appear that Irish Catholics are the enemies of the French, are exposed, the Irish Catholics will be with the other English speaking people who will in all their might declare against French domination. I declined to go into the government of the province in 1878 unless Mr. Landry also went in. That was not because of my desire to run the government on race and religious grounds, but the French and Irish Catholics of the province being an important element in the province their needs could not be so well under understood unless there were both a French and an Irish Catholic in the Executive."
"Then if I understand you correctly your plan would be that Catholics should not belong to any particular party," the reporter suggested.
“As Catholics they should not—they should assimilate with the general public: then they would be able to put up candidates on either side when they had the right men to nominate, not as French or Irish Catholics not as members of the particular party to which they belonged. There is no more reason why Catholics' in New Brunswick should be all for or all against the federal government than that the Catholic church should declare that only one form of government whether that be a republic or a monarchy— should be adopted by every nation In the world. As the fame great Catholic authority which I have already mentioned points out the choice of constitutions and of rulers lies with the people. Whether they will have an empire, a monarchy or a republic it is their own privilege to decide according as their needs may suggest or their desires may lead. The Church is from her own principles without a voice in this matter. This is the emphatic declaration of Pope Leo in his Encyclical of June 1881. It is for the people to speak; for the church to consecrate and enforce their will. When the people have under due conditions constituted a government over themselves, whatever form in itself legitimate this government may have, the church commands obedience to it. It is the Catholic doctrine that in Canada loyalty to the British Crown is a divine virtue and resistance to its laws a sin crying to heaven for vengeance. The choice of governments the church leaves to nations, and as in all questions left to free discussion, men differ; they judge from experiences near to them; they may too be influenced by public opinion or prejudices in their several countries, Canada is a world in a smaller sense; and the province of New Brunswick is also a world in a still more limited degree. That being so why should Catholics in the Dominion or in the province be all supporting or all opposing this or that government? Let the Catholics (illegible) divide the party lines as do the people of other denominations, and the so-called religions prejudices, which are really political prejudices, will soon disappear altogether and Catholics will get their rewards as other party workers are supposed to get theirs-on their merits as party men. No man should be nominated for office simply because- he is a Catholic, but if he has fitness and claims upon his party the fact of his being a Catholic should not lie a bar to his nomination, and it never would be – if there was no reasonable belief that Catholic were opposed to some one particular party.
“Catholic advancement in New Brunswick also includes the matters of higher education, particularly for boys, and social recognition. You will perhaps remember the words of Lord Dufferin when addressing the people of St. John in presence of thousands of school children with regard to the benefit of the best possible education. His Excellency told the children if only they will do their best, to do justice to those talents which such opportunities have been afforded to cultivate them to every one of them there will be open a prospect of attaining a position in the social scale higher than that from which he started. Not only so, but it will be in the power of each one of them to aspire to the highest grades in their country's service; and that there is no prize open to human ambition which is not permitted them to pursue?
“While I appreciate the splendid educational work done in St. John by the Sisters of Charity and other Catholic lady teachers as well as the work done by the male teachers in St. Malachi's Carleton and St. Peter's school, I make this prediction: that Bishop Sweeney's successor will lie a great statesman as well as a great churchman, and that one of his early acts will be to provide a higher class of education, particularly for boys, and that when they have finished, their studies they will be head and shoulders over the products of all other schools In the province; that when they graduate they will be highly cultured and polished Catholic gentlemen and that the highest social and other positions will be open to them. I predict, too, that Lordship Bishop Sweeney's Successor will by his attitude towards his own people show that hundreds of them are worthy of that social standing that Bishop Rodgers' influence has given to Catholics of the North; that without courting it, he will take advantage of going into society himself; and that, whenever the opportunity offers, he will not hesitate to explain to our non-Catholic friends that the church is the support of just government; that in the eyes of the church loyalty to country is loyalty to God; that patriotism is a heavenly virtue, a high form of holy obedience; that the patriot dying for his country wears the halo of the martyr; that the church commands, blesses, consecrates patriotism; that the true Catholic must needs be the true patriot."
When I look hock on these chats with Mr. Adams, I cannot but feel that his words of 15 years ago were prophetic in many respects concerning affairs of state. It might be bad taste on my part to express any opinion as to his prediction regarding affairs of the church. After my own 10 years of experience "behind the scenes' I am fully convinced that Mr. Adams' plan of campaign is the only proper one for Catholics in New Brunswick follow. Although dead himself his influence for good re-mains and with a better understanding of his ideas his influence will take root among Catholics generally-- regardless of whether they are French or Irish Catholics.
In another I may attempt, to (illegible) successfully worked out. In the meantime kindly remember that 'I do not consider myself a teacher, but a companion in the struggle of thought.''
Yours very truly,