House of Commons, 15 April 1889, Canadian Confederation with Alberta and Saskatchewan



Mr. DEWDNEY moved for leave to introduce Bill (No. 136) to consolidate and amend the North-West Territories Acts. He said: This Bill preposes to consolidate the three Acts on our Statute-book in reference to the North West Territories, chapter 50 of the Revised Statutes, the short Act passed in 1887, and the Act of last Session constituting the Legislative Assembly for the Territories. The Bill is substantially for the consolidation of the present law, and proposes to give enlarged powers to the Legislative Assembly. That is the principal amendment. There is also an amendment giving the Legislative Assembly power to deal with the question of the sale of liquor to the same extent as the Local Houses in other Provinces, and retaining until the new Legislature meets, the present liquor law.
Mr. LAURIER. I protest most emphatically against the introduction of such a Bill at this period. The hon. gentleman cannot expect the House now to go into the subject of consolidation. If there are urgent amendments required in the North-West Territories, I am not prepared to say that we should not grant these amendments, but it is impossible at this late period to give the Bill the hen. gentleman proposes to introduce, the attention it requires, and, as far as this side of the House is concerned, we will not consent to legislation of this kind at present.
Mr. DAVIN. From the explanation given by the hon. Minister of the Interior, it seems to me that the amendments are so simple and so obviously needed—
Mr. LAURIER. I say nothing as to the amendments, but the hon. gentleman said he was going to consolidate the whole legislation. This is what I object to. As to the amendments, we shall deal with them when they are brought down; but my hon. friend must admit that it is impossible at this time of the Session to take up an Act consolidating the whole legislation of the North-West Territories.
Mr. DAVIN. I cannot agree with my hon. friend, because the amendments, after all, as I understand them, are of such a nature that the consolidation will not be an elaborate affair. The North-West Territories Acts which require consolidation are not numerous, and I hope that the leader of the Opposition will not take an attitude so hostile to the interests of the North West as he has suggested it is his intention to take.
Mr. MILLS (Bothwell). If the Government had any important legislation to present in regard to the North West Territories, it ought to have been before the House a long time ago. We have been in Session two and a half months. The hon. gentleman expected to bring the Session to a close within the week, and, at the last week, he proposes to introduce a Bill for the first time. Surely the officers of the hon. gentleman's department, if the legislation were necessary, must have informed him of its necessity long ago; and if they failed in their duty in that respect the measure can stand over until another Session. It is a most monstrous proceeding that would not be tolerated by the strongest Government that ever sat in England—the introduction, at the last moment of a Session, of a measure for the consideration of the House. I have called the attention of the House over and over again, to the fact that during the last, fifty years every important measure of an English Administration, whether Tory or Reform, was introduced the first 1889. COMMONS DEBATES. 1263 month of the Session, although their Sessions last seven months. Yet the hon. gentleman proposes, the last week of the Session, to introduce a measure for the first time. Such a proceeding is intolerable. The hon. gentleman treats the House as if its business were simply to record whatever the Government chooses to submit to it, without any serious consideration. I do not believe hon. gentlemen on this side are prepared to so interpret their duties.
Mr. MACDOWALL. I should be sorry to see this Bill withdrawn. There are certain matters that need attention, and although the hon. gentleman who has just spoken may not have a long time to look over the Bill before it comes up for discussion, still, with his knowledge of the country, he will be ready promptly to grasp the questions touched upon, and I am sure it will be a great benefit to the North- West that the Bill should he proceeded with.
Sir RICHARD CARTWRIGHT. Whether a benefit or not, it was the duty of the Government to inform themselves that this was an important measure, and to bring it down at the proper time. I do not think it is possible that sufficient consideration can be given to the Bill, unless the Government are prepared to keep the House sitting for a very much longer time than now anticipated; and, in any case, the practice of bringing down a Government Bill four days before the time the Government declare it was their desire to adjourn is a practice which cannot be defended on any precedent or ground whatever, except that of extreme urgency, in which case we would not desire to fetter the hands of the Government.
Sir JOHN THOMPSON. It is not usual to oppose a Bill on the first reading; and I think my hon. friends opposite have been unduly alarmed at the word "consolidation" which my hon. colleague used in presenting this Bill. The fact is that the amendments he proposes to make in the North-West Territories Act are few and simple. He stated them. I think, as being only three. It will be desirable to have the three Acts relating to the North-West Territories—not the whole legislation, as the hon. gentleman for Quebec (Mr. Laurier) has said, relating to the North- West—consolidated, as they would be by passing this Bill, because that would avoid an incoherent kind of legislation which it would be very difficult for the North West Legislature to administer. But, as I have said, the amendments are very simple, and I think, when the Bill is printed and laid before hon. gentlemen, they will not find it so formidable or requiring so much attention as the word " consolidation "seems to lead them to imagine. I do not think we are open to the reproach of delaying this Bill until within the last four days of the Session. There is not, on either side, the slightest idea that the House will close before the end of next week at the earliest, and, if the task of consolidating these three Statutes is too formidable a one, it may be thought desirable that legislation should be confined to the amendment of the Acts at this Session. I think, however, that the Bill should be new advanced a stage, and laid before the House, so that it may see whether it is of such a formidable character as is supposed.
Motion agreed to, and Bill read the first time.


Canada. House of Commons Debates, 1875-1949. Provided by the Library of Parliament.



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