MF – 1866.01.23 – Fenians – Catholics – #132 – F12251

The press of the Canadian party like to stir up ill-feeling, create false impressions in the country, “set class against class.” persuade their more ignorant readers that somehow or other the present Government, elected by two-thirds of the people themselves, are identified with Fenianism, and that to prevent a Fenian invasion, or to repel it successfully, it is necessary that the Confederation scheme should be carried, but above all that the present Government should be overthrown. All this they do, not by direct charges, the falsehood of which could at once be clearly and conclusively demonstrated, but by [inuendoes] and insinuations very contemptible and disgusting in the eyes of every intelligent, honorable man, but well calculated to create a feeling of uneasiness and distrust amongst the ignorant to whom they are addressed. But those papers do not at all like to be held accountable for such base conduct. – The News, for instance, says that as far as the News is concerned, the charge is false, and it asks:

“Was there ever a greater piece of effrontery perpetrated? If to condemn Fenianism and Fenian apologists, be an insult to Catholics, then do we insult them, but not otherwise; and this the Freeman, who has the impudence to make the above assertion, knows right well.”

Yet any one who has read the News for the last six months, knows that one of its chief efforts has been to excite the apprehension of the Protestant public, and cause them to regard the Catholics of the Province as sympathizing with the Fenians, and the Anti-Confederates, the majority of whom are the Protestant people of the Province, themselves as relying on Fenian support or aiding Fenian designs. – Whenever and wherever a Fenian orator made a foolish speech about these Provinces, it was quoted exulting as proof that the Fenians and Anti-Confederates were one in purpose. Even on Monday the Journal, in reply to a very able and temperate letter of its correspondent “Rusticus,” said:

“Yet we cannot but apply the terms ‘anti-British’ and ‘Annexationist’ to journals which argue for annexation, oppose what ‘Rusticus’ admits is the British policy, one of whose editors declares we must either be annexed or united among ourselves, and who yet opposes Union; whose principal allies in Canada are Fenian sympathisers, and ‘Sons of Liberty’ who denounce Confederation as the last scheme of ‘British ambition’ – all these parties are the allies of ‘Rusticus’ in opposing Confederation. He can reflect on the company which a loyal New Brunswicker has chosen, and ask himself if it be such as to give him entire satisfaction. How is it that such a man has the heart to do battle for the anti-British annexationist press?”

To condemn Fenians and Fenian apologists, is not to insult Catholics; but it is a gross insult to the loyal Catholics of this Province to labor, as the News, the Journal, and its fellows do to create the impression that they are Fenians, or that they have any other object in view than the welfare and prosperity of the Province. The means they employed to “set class against class,” and to misrepresent the Catholics of the Province, were such that the Lieut. Governor himself felt it to be his duty to his Royal Mistress to make those speeches at St. Stephen and Woodstock, and neutralise, as far as was in his power, the malignant efforts of those unprincipled writers. And yet the News now declares that it is effrontery to even hint that its conduct has been what it has been.

The News concludes by telling us that:

“Catholics in the Provinces have as much freedom as other people, and so long as they use the privileges they enjoy according to the dictates of their own conscience, there will be no need of Freeman apprehension on their account.”

Happily, Catholics in the Province do not enjoy freedom by permission of the Canadian faction – if they did, it would be a short-lived possession indeed – and it is not at all probable that even those Catholics who are so mistaken as to favour the Quebec Scheme, will consent that the Scribes or Pharisees of the Canadian party shall be the keepers of their consciences, or shall have the power to determine whether, having “used the privileges they enjoy according to the dictates of their own consciences,” they shall be permitted to enjoy those privileges longer. They will not consent to hold their privileges on sufferance or on any conditions different from those which attach to the like privileges when enjoyed by the Canadian party themselves or by any other class of the community.