Reform in Upper Canada
It has been already mentioned that Governor Maitland, on opening the session of the Legislature of Upper Canada, recommended that measures should be taken to prevent the meeting of delegates for obtaining reform in Upper Canada. Accounts from Quebec and Montreal, dated the end of November, state, that in pursuance of this recommendation, the Legislature, on one of the first days of its meeting, appointed a Committee to inquire into the subject, who almost instantly came to the following resolution
Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Committee that some such legislative provision should be enacted as the wisdom of the Imperial Parliament has found it proper to provide to meet similar occasions, to put it out of the power of any designing persons to organize discontent.
The proceeding appears to have raised the indignation of the Gourlay or reforming party in Upper Canada, as will be seen by the following extract :–
Montreal, November 21. This legislative provision, it will be immediately perceived, is the suspension of the Habeas Corpus act, for that was the course pursued in England. We do not believe that there is the most remote necessity for such a measure. We do not hesitate to say, that the members have not spoken the sentiments of heir constituents, in their echo of Sir P. Maitland’s speech, with the most humiliating servility ; and we feel convinced that it will not be borne with by the people, while they have the control in any way of their representatives. The sentiment therein attempted to be disseminated is an libel on the truly loyal people of Upper Canada. It would sound in our ears like the knell of their liberty, if we were not persuaded, that its adoption would provoke a spirit of resistance, not corporal, but mental ; not secret and illegal, but open and legitimate, which (if the Administration do not take the decision of the question from the people by force, and we believe they cannot nor dare not) will serve to purge the constitution of the united province from the injury which it has received by mal-administration.
Citation: Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh, United Kingdom), 04 January 1819, available at the Scissors and Paste Database, http://www.scissorsandpaste.net/136.