Page 41 - The Separatist Movement in Cape Breton
ISSUE : Issue 27
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1980/12/1
don't start collecting that duty again, I'm going to dismiss you. So Cossit backs off and starts collecting again. But there is a period when the duty wasn't collected. And the Governor says, I want that duty collected. And the people who owed the most were the people who were running the coal mines--because rum played an impor? tant role in running the coal mines. They try to collect that back duty--and the peo? ple running the mines say. No. Governor Ainslie says. In that case, you have to go to court. So the mine operators go to Gib? bons to defend them. Gibbons takes it to court--the grounds being that the tax was illegal. Chief Justice A. C. Dodd says, Yes, the tax is illegal because there is no House of Assembly. So with that, the tax money was all cut off. And in effect, the colony is bankrupt. Gibbons hoped the crisis would force the Colonial Office to call the House of As? sembly. This is 1816. There is a big spate of letters to Britain saying. We're in trouble now, what are we going to do? How are we going to get money? And the Coloni? al Office has to make a decision. They come to the conclusion, on very little knowledge as to what was happening in Cape Breton--Govemor Ainslie hated the people here, had nothing good to say about them, called them the "refuse of the three king? doms," England, Ireland, and Scotland--the Colonial Office decided that these people must have representation. But, instead of calling their own House of Assembly, it de? cided to annex Cape Breton to Nova Scotia. Then they'll have representation, they'll be able to get taxes--and this is what is done. Cape Breton is annexed to Nova Sco? tia by proclamation. But the thing is--it's not legal. It's a long involved case, but when Cape Breton was conquered by the British after the fall of Louisbourg, the island was like booty for the King. The King could do what? ever he wanted with it. What he eventually did was to make it a colony, and give it a House of Assembly. Once he had done that, he could do no more with it. It's a lim? ited monarchy. In other words, he's given them a constitution. Once he's done that, the only one that can change that is the House of Parliament, the elected represent? atives of the people in England. But this annexation in 1820 was done only by the Crown--never went to Parliament, and con? sequently, it's illegal. And this annexation, to the people on the left, looking for their own House of As? sembly- -this was a terrible slap in the face. They became the focus toward a re? instatement of our separate status. They were the separatists. And this fight went on way into the 1840s. And it was largely supported by the merchants here in Sydney and Louisbourg. They felt that (a) they were losing government income, salaries, and (b) if we had a separate colony, these businessmen would probably be making de? cisions. You also get people of principle like Richard Gibbons, who wouldn't have much to gain from it personally. There are rallies and many petitions over the years are sent to Great Britain--and very large numbers of people favour separation in this end of the island. And their attempt is to try to convince people in Isle Ma? dame and later in the Inverness area--they are always sending letters over to try to get them involved. But they are unsuccess? ful. Out in the countryside, the only peo? ple other than the merchants who will have any influence are the Roman Catholic priests--and these priests were taking or? ders from Antigonish. If there was separa? tion, they would break away from Antigon_-_ Treat your Feet to an Experience they'll Love and Understand: Take them to a Performance of The Flo6r Show. Your Feet will love you for it--So will your Wallet and Eyes. Carpet and Vinyl Sales The Floor Show Installations and Service Playing at 316 Granville Street, Port Hawkesbury 625-3583 J#'%k 1(8S' The CBC in Cape Breton " NATIONALLY • RB3IO'W?Y • nROVI'K)IAIXY • lJ0CAIX' CBfT TELEVISION Chamels 2.5'73,10.12, and 13 n'MTS TO ZB .,#' II ..' CBI RADIO 1140on your Dial INFORMATION ENTERTAINMENTBCIQHTENMENT (41)
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