House of Commons, 20 March 1894, Canadian Confederation with Alberta and Saskatchewan

[MARCH 20,1394] 138


Mr. McCARTHY moved for leave to introduce Bill (No. 10) further to amend the Act respecting the North-west Territories. He said : I may explain that this is the Bill which I introduced last year. It deals with two subjects. It proposes to repeal the clause in the North-west Territories Act by which separate schools are imposed upon the Territories, and by which no discretion is given to the Council of the North-west Territories respecting education, and in place of that clause to give the power to deal with the subject of education untrammelled and uncontrolled, and as the North-west Council may see fit. It also proposes to do away with the remnant of what is known as the dual language clause. It will be in the remembrance of members of this House who sat in the fast Parliament of 1890 that a discussion took place with respect to the repeal of the clause as it then stood, and the result of the discussion was a compromise, by which a portion of the clause was repealed, or rather power was given to the Council of the North-west Territories to repeal a portion of the clause, but the remaining portion stands as it was in the original Act. The original section inposed duality in language in four matters : first, with respect to publication of the laws ; second, with respect to proceedings in the courts ; third, with respect to proceedings in the Council ; and fourth, with respect to the printing and publishing of those proceedings. As to the proceedings in the Council, this power was given by the Act of 1891, in pursuance of the arrangement made across the floor in the preceding session ; provided, however, that after the next general election for the Legislative Assembly such Assembly may, by ordinance or otherwise, regulate its proceedings in the matter of recording and publishing the same, and the said regulation shall be embodied in the proceedings which shall be forthwith published by the Lieutenant Governor, in conformity with the law, and shall afterward have full force and effect. The House will observe that the power given to the Legislative Assembly was merely with respect to its own proceedings, and the other portion of the law still remained in force : first, that proceedings in the courts might be conducted in either language, and, second, that the ordinances, passed under this provision, shall be published in both languages. As I have often said before in making this motion, or in bringing in a bill to repeal this clause, I do not do it with any feeling of hostility to my French-Canadian fellow-subjects. I believe, Sir, that the interests of this country will be best served, when the distinction between these nationalities is done away with : at all events, that so far as the North-west is concerned, we certainly should not introduce a measure which is calculated and ap 139 [COMMONS] 140 parently designed, to perpetuate that race distinction which unhappily exists in one of the older provinces.
Mr. DEVLIN. Which one ?
Mr. McCARTHY. In the province of Quebec. If the hon. gentleman wants to know, we have no difficulty in answering that question.
Mr. DEVLIN. We will tell you about the other one by and by.
Mr. McCARTHY. With regard to the subject of education, I think that the House and the country must be satisfied just now, that an attempt to interfere with a province in the North-west, or the territories in the North- west on the subject of education, is calculated to cause a great deal of trouble. We have had the Manitoba School question up, by reason of an attempt that was made in the constitution of Manitoba, to fetter or control that province on the subject of education, and recently, I think the Government have found some little difficulty in dealing with a cognate question which came from the North-west Territories. The sooner we realize that the people of Manitoba, as well as the people of the Northwest, are perfectly competent to manage their educational affairs themselves, without any control from this Parliament, the better it will be for the peace and welfare of this country. I, therefore, have pleasure in introducing to the House a Bill which will take away that limitation which the Act intends to impose, which the Act does impose, with regard to education, and which will remove the last vestige of the dual language clause so far as the North-west is concerned.
Mr. DEVLIN. Mr. Speaker, I certainly did not expect to speak upon this question at the present time, but I wish to answer one statement which was made bv the hon. gentleman who has just resumed his seat (Mr. McCarthy). He says that the province of Quebec is responsible for the hard feeling that to-day exists in the Dominion of Canada ; and I answer that by saying : He is the one. He is the one who is responsible for the hard feeling that exists in the Dominion of Canada. We have had that hon. gentleman here year after year since 1887; with what ? With a project of law, the intention of which is to close the North-west Territories and the province of Manitoba against the Catholics of the province of Quebec ; a project of law wich tells them that if they wish to go to that province or to those territories, they must remember that there—if his views can be carried out —their language will be prescribed, and their rights will be trampled upon. Why, Mr. Speaker, it was only last night that there was in this city another effusion on this same subject. I do not see the Controller of Customs in his seat at this moment, and I regret that he is not. But we are beginning to be accustomed to these insults coming from those gentlemen whose only political stock is this one theme: their hatred of their Roman Catholic fellow-citizens. What does the hon. gentleman expect to gain by all this agitation ? Does he imagine for a moment that we from the province of Quebec fear him? Does he imagine for one moment that the province of Quebec is going to submit to all his dictates ? His object, no doubt, is to attain to a position which, by reason of his alliance with the party with which he is so long connected, he could not attain. He wanted, no doubt, to enter the Cabinet. I beliele that was his object. Now, finding that he could not enter the Cabinet, finding that he would not be taken into the Cabinet, he is trying by this other means, to attain to the position of leader of the Govrenment in this country. He would like to form a solely Protestant population in this country. He would like to form solely, and to constitute solely, Protestant schools in this country. He would stand up in this House and tell a province which sends sixty-five representatives here, that they shall not speak the language which they learned from their parents. From the very beginning of the time in which this animosity took root in his heart, from that moment to this, every political question of any importance to the country at large has been 1eft aside by him, simply that he might speak his hatred against the Catholics of Canada, and in palticular against the French- Canadians of the province of Quebec. He has met with very little success so far. He speaks of the province of Quebec as one in which there is hatred. Let me tell him—
Mr. McCARTHY. The hon. gentleman will allow me to interrupt him. I did not at all use the expression he thinks. I never referred to the province of Quebec as having hatred.
Mr. DEVLIN. Would the hon. gentleman tell us exactly what he did say ?
Mr. MCCARTHY. What I said was : That I trusted we were not going to perpetuate in the North-west the racial divisions which unhappily existed in the province of Quebec. I never said "hatred " at all.
Mr. DEVLIN. Very well, then. I will immediately give the hon. gentleman an instance of some of the divisions which exist in the province of Quebec. In the counties of that province which are largely Catholic in some of such counties the representative is Protestant. I will take the county which I represent in this House. The overwhelming majority of that county is Roman Catholic, yet I am the first Catholic member that ever sat for Ottawa county in this House. A Protestant gentleman represented that county for thirty years. To give the hon. member (Mr. McCarthy) a further instance 141 [MARCH 20, 1894] 142 of the same generosity, I may state that the county of Ottawa was represented in the Local House by a Protestant member for years. The warden of that county was a Protestant ; for years the Mayor of the most Catholic city in the whole province of Quebec -the city of Hull-was a Protestant, and so I could name a good many other counties with a similar record. I could name the county of Lotbinière, which is almost exclusively French-Canadian and Catholic, and that county sent a Protestant representative to this House. More than that, it sent to the Quebec Parliament-a Catholic Parliament-a Protestant gentleman to represent it. I tell the hon. member that there is no spirit of intolerance in the province of Quebec ; there is no bigotry in the province of Quebec. There is certainly a spirit of disgust, but that disgust is entirely due to the miserable attempt of the hon. gentleman to fasten against them this charge of bigotry. Does he claim that the French-Canadian people have no rights in this Dominion of Canada ? He tells us here plainly that the object is to do away with their language. Have they not as much right to speak the French language as he has to speak the English language? What is the object of all his hostility against the French language ? What is the object of all his hostility against institutions which have been established in this country, and which have been found to work successfully here ? Does he mean to say that a population of nearly two millions shall have no right in the Dominion of Canada ? Sir, I tell the hon. member that every time he stands up in this House to attack us as he has done today, there are nearly two millions of Roman Catholics in this country who mock at him, who laugh at him, who treat him with contempt ; and here in this House what is his following ? One lone gentleman ; that is the following he has here, after all these years of agitation against the Catholics. I tell the hon. gentleman that the Catholic element in Canada has been truer, and a better friend of the Dominion than ever the hon. gentleman was. What has he done for the country ? Let us examine his career from the beginning to this moment. Let us examine what he was outside the House ; let us examine what he has been inside the House. What has he done after all these years to promote the prosperity of his country, or good feeling amongst our people ? Nothing, nothing, but a few mean, despicable attempts at imposing a peculiar kind of legislation on this country. He spoke of the Manitoba School Act ; he no doubt means to say it is a success. I would like to ask the hon. gentleman, does he mean to say that public schools or Protestant schools exist to-day in the province of Manitoba ? The hon. gentleman who introduced the School Act is in this House to-day, and he is able to speak for himself on the subject. The Protestants in the pro vince of Manitoba, who are in a majority, abolished the Catholic schools under the pretense of establishing public schools. Are public schools in existence in the province of Manitoba to-day ? No, there are no public schools in the province of Manitoba. I said so last session ; I said so the session before. The schools which exist to-day in the province of Manitoba, to which we Catholics are obliged to subscribe, are purely Protestant schools.
An hon. MEMBER. No.
Mr. DEVLIN. I beg pardon, yes. The best authority on that subject is the gentleman who introduced those schools, and I will quote his own words. The hon. member for Winnipeg (Mr. Martin), speaking a short time ago, said:
He was himself not satisfied with the School Act and had never been so. He had made a strong effort to have the public schools controlled by the Government really made national schools, with religion obliterated. And he was now more convinced than ever that that was the only school which could be justified as constitutional. They said that the state had no right to interfere in the matter of religion, but he contended that they could not do the one without the other. It had been urged by satistied supporters of the Act that none could complain of the devotional element introduced, as it was of the broadest nature, but they found that the Roman Catholics had the very greatest objection to this provision of the Act, and is was dissatisfied himself and was glad many Protestants shared his objections. It had been said that in the event of his opinions being adopted our public schools would he Godless schools, but by many staunch sup orters of the School Act it had been privately admitted to him that the religious exercises practiced in the Schools at that time were without value * *. The Roman Catholics had honestly stated that in their belief the two forms of education should go together. The Protestants admitted, on the other hand. that it was impossible to have religious training in schools, and only asked that it be recognized, insisting, however, on imposing their views on others in that respect. Rather than that small amount of religious training should be done away with in the schools, the Protestants said they would prefer the old state of affairs. He would leave it to his audience to determine which was the more honest stand of the two.
And, Sir, documents have recently been put into the possession of every reader in this country by the Venerable Archbishop of St. Boniface—documents which we will quote further on in the debate on this Bill— showing conclusively that the schools which exist to-day in Manitoba are not public schools, but simply and purely Protestant schools. I have quoted from the hon. gentleman who introduced this villainous School Act in the province of Manitoba to the effect that the schools there are Protestant schools. And this is your great generosity towards the Catholics of Manitoba. You wanted public schools, you said, on the broad grounds of 143 [COMMONS] 144 the young nationality growing up in that province. See the result : you have turned the strong Protestant element of that province against the poor, struggling Catholic minority. You have not succeeded even in establishing the public schools that you pretended by this Bill you were going to establish. You have established Protestant schools ; you maintain them ; and you wish to do the same in the North-west. Mr. Speaker, last night the hon. Controller of Customs—and I just quote this as evidence of the spirit of the Bill and the spirit of the hon. member who has introduced it—referred ' to our Church as the " Romish Church ": he spoke next. of its efforts to obtain state recognition in the North-west ; he next said that the Archbishop had been foiled in his attempt to secure ascendancy in the province of Manitoba ; and. finally, he went on to speak of the loyalty of the Orangemen, leaving the inference to be drawn that the Catholics were not loyal. The hon. gentleman uttered three insults in that speech : first, against the Church, by speaking of it in an offensive way as the " Romish Church." In the second place, against the Archbishop of Manitoba in saying what was untrue, that the Archbishop tried to secure ascendancy. The Archbishop did nothing of the kind. He simply asked for the restoration of those rights which, up to 1890, the Catholics of Manitoba enjoyed. Finally, against the loyalty of the Orangemen, and of the lack of loyalty on the part of others, I will say that he speaks the truth if he refers to their loyalty to persecution from the beginning to the end of the history of the Order. These are some of the results due to the mean spirit of hostility manifested towards the Catholics of this country by the hon. member for North Simcoe (Mr. McCarthy), by the Controller of Customs, a gentleman paid by the Catholics—
Mr. SPEAKER. Order. I think the hon. gentleman should not indulge in remarks of that kind.
Mr. DEVLIN. Perhaps I should not indulge in the truth, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. SPEAKER. I think the hon. member had better take the advice of the Chair, and not indulge in the language he is using—
Mr. DEVLIN. Against the Controller ?
Mr. SPEAKER—with regard to hon. members of the House.
Mr. DEVLIN. I was merely quoting the Controller's language from an organ of the Government.'
Mr. SPEAKER. The hon. gentleman. in saying that these hon. gentlemen, were actuated by a mean spirit, is indulging in language which he, as an old member of this House, will, I think, admit is not in accordance with parliamentary usage.
Mr. DEVLIN. Very well, Mr. Speaker, when the question is up again, I will refer to the lovely spirit, the generous, broad spirit, actuating these gentlemen—the magnificent spirit which has for its object the destruction of a language and the deprivation of a people of its rights.
Mr. TARTE. (Translation.) Mr. Speaker, although we are not used, at the first reading of a Bill, to consider its worth and bearing, I cannot let this opportunity pass without registering my protest against this measure.
Hon. MEMBERS. Oh ! oh!
Mr. TARTE. By the noise made, it will appear as if there were on the other side of the House, hon. members who wish to abolish i the French language immediately.
Mr. TARTE. (Translation.) I have only two words to say, Mr. Speaker. and I am determined to say them in French. I was just stating, when I was interrupted, that, although it is not according to the practice followed in this House to consider at this stage the worth and bearing of a Bill, I nevertheless deem it my duty to avail myself of this opportunity to record my protest against this proposed legislation. The hon. member for North Simcoe (Mr. McCarthy), whom I consider one of the most intelligent and enlightened members of this House, might have used, and might use in the future, his abilities and the power of his mind in a much more useful way for the general interests of the country. We will consider, later on, the merit of the arguments with which he brought before this House the child which seems so dear to him. At present, I am inclined to let his measure be introduced by simply stating : " on division," for I think the country is enormously interested in that the stand taken by him should be well and clearly defined. If we are to continue to sit together, French and English members, in this House, it is well that we should know once for all on what ground we will stand in relation of one to another. If we are called upon to form a nation in this country, it is better for us to just now lay the grounds on which that nation will stand later on. Consequently, Mr. Speaker, I will resume my seat after recording my most solemn and energetic protest against the measure brought in by the hon. member for North Simcoe (Mr. McCarthy).
Motion agreed to, and Bill read the first time (on a division).


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



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