A Progression of Judges: A History of the Supreme Court of British Columbia

By David R. Verchere | Go to book overview

FIVE
The Union of the Courts

Before Needham's words were written, much had happened in the political, and hence the judicial, life of both Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia. On the island, Governor Kennedy continued his struggle with the Legislative Assembly over finances; but because Viscount Cardwell, who had succeeded the Duke of Newcastle as colonial secretary in 1864, considered that the merger of the two colonies was inevitable, the official attitude in England was not disposed to do much to relieve the governor's situation. Union with the mainland was widely considered the only real solution to the island's economic problems. Although some favoured the idea of a federation, with the capital of the new entity at Victoria, a resolution favouring unconditional union was passed by the Legislative Assembly on 27 January 1865 by a vote of eight to four. The abstention of three members gave rise to the assertion that the result did not fairly represent public opinion, but after a by-election brought on by the resignation of both Victoria members, Kennedy reported to London that the majority "in favour of union with British Columbia is now 11 to 4." 1

On the mainland, the question of union also occupied the attention of that colony's leaders. Governor Seymour left New Westminster in September 1865 for England to be married, and while he was honeymooning in Paris, he sent his famous "Paris Dispatch" to Cardwell on 17 February 1866. 2 In it, he described how his legislature of fifteen members was constituted and how it was partly appointed by him and partly elected by the

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