House of Commons, 9 March 1905, Canadian Confederation with Alberta and Saskatchewan

[...] from Toronto to Sudbury with the Department of Railways ?
2. If so, does such map show the line to run on the east side of Lake Couchiching, or the west of said lake ?
3. Has the minister finally approved of the route ?
4. Has the company filed plans for a deviation, and has the department considered the same ?
Hon. H. R. EMMERSON (Minister of Railways and Canals) :
1. No. They have filed the route map from Toronto to Parry Sound.
2. To the east of Lake Couchiching.
3. Yes.
4. No.


Mr. BENNETT—by Mr. Taylor—asked :
1. Who is the contractor for carrying the mail from the railway station to the post oflice at Victoria Harbour ?
2. Were tenders asked for such service? It so, when ?
3. When does such contract expire ?
Hon. Sir WILLIAM MULOCK (Postmaster General):
1. Mark Vasey.
2 and 3. In December 1896 tenders for this service were invited ; only one, that of Mark Vasey was received being at the price of $120.80, and was accepted. The contract was renewed at $128.80 a year in 1901 with the same contractor and was further renewed in 1905 at the same price. It expires on the 31st of December, 1908.


Mr. BARKER—by Mr. Taylor—asked :
1. In six months ended 3lst December, 1904, how many tons of coal were accepted from the Joggins, Strathcona, Kimberley, and Chignecto mines, respectively, for the government railways ?
2. What were the prices for the several mines, and qualities ?
3. What were the respective places of delivery at the prices ?
Hon. H. R. EMMERSON (Minister of Railways and Canals :
1. Joggins mines, 15,084 tons ; Strathcona mines, 5,160 tons ; Chignecto mines, 14,820 tons ; Kimberly mine, 'nil.'
2. The price paid to each of the several mines was $3.25 a ton of 2,240 pounds, and the quality of coal supplied by each of them was generally satisfactory.
3. The place of delivery at the above price was for all the mines at Maccan station of the Intercolonial Railway.


Mr. BARKER—by Mr. Taylor—asked :
1. Is Seymour Woodill employed on the Intercolonial Railway at Halifax or elsewhere ? It so, in what capacity, and on what terms ?
2. Was he previously employed in the Post Office Department or any other department ? If so, where, and in what capacity ?
3. Was his employment or service discontinued ? If so, when and why ?
Hon. H. R. EMMERSON (Minister of Railways and Canals) :
1. Yes. As clerk at a salary of $55 per month.
2. So far as can be ascertained he was not previously employed in the Post Office Department or any other department.
3. He is still in the employ of the Intercolonial Railway.


Mr. KEMP asked:
1. To whom in the city of Ottawa was coal transported free in the year 1902—3 over the Intercolonial Railway ?
2. Was it for government use ?
3. It not, for whose use was it ?
Hon. H. R. EMMERSON (Minister of Rail ways and Canals) : '
1. The corporation of the city of Ottawa.
2. No.
3. It is understood it was sold by the corporation to those wishing to purchase it.


Mr. R. L. BORDEN (Carleton, Ont.). Before the Orders of the Day are called, I shall make a few remarks with respect to a matter which I have informed my right hon. friend the Prime Minister I would speak upon to—day. My remarks will be very brief. They are in connection with the introduction of the Bills for the establishment of new provinces in the Northwest Territories. I do not of course propose to discuss the merits of these measures—the rules of the House would not permit me to do so. and even if they would, that course is not advisable at the present moment, when, as I understand, certain questions in connection with these Bills are under consideration by the government. However, if I were disposed to enter into a discussion of the merits, I would be unable to do so on account of the very well known rules of the House which do not seem to be thoroughly understood in some quarters throughout the country. The particular matter to which I desire to call attention is : that the Prime Minister introduced this legislation, as a measure concurred in by all the members of the administration, whereas we discovered afterwards that this was not the fact. My right hon. friend has always vaunted himself as a strict follower of constitutional usage—he has sometimes done more than that, because some ten years ago he claimed for himself the attributes of foresight and of courage when a somewhat similar question as that which arises to-day 2193 MARCH 9, 1905 was to a certain extent agitating the parliament and the people of this country. My right hon. friend then said:
My courage is not to make hasty promises and then to ignominously break them. My courage is to speak slowly, but once I have spoken I will stand or fall by my words.
I mention that, because my right hon. friend though he may have shown a great deal of courage in his action with regard to this measure, does not at least seem to have combined foresight with strict regard for constitutional usage. It is beyond all doubt that this House is entitled to regard every measure brought down by the Prime Minister, or by any other member of the cabinet, as a government measure, which is the result of the collective wisdom of the cabinet. I need not cite authority for that, to those who are at all familiar with the usage as laid down by recognized constitutional authorities ; let me, however, quote two or three words from volume II of Todd on parliamentary government in England where it is thus laid down :
Except in the case of an admitted open question, it must be taken for granted that the whole cabinet have assented to the ministerial policy as officially presented or propounded by any minister acting or speaking on their behalf.
Words could not be plainer. We have the absolute right to regard the measure brought down by the Prime Minister on the 2lst day of February last, as a measure in respect of which every member of the cabinet had been consulted, and which, whatever differences of opinion might originally have existed with regards to its terms, was in the end concurred in by all the members of the cabinet, and had the support of each of them. Now, it has turned out since the introduction of the measure, that the hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Sifton), until recently the Minister of the Interior, was not consulted about that measure at all. I do not know how it may be with regard to other members of the cabinet ; we have no information with respect to that. We do not know whether or not the Minister of Finance was consulted with regard to the clauses which did not meet with the approval of the Minister of the Interior, nor do we know to what extent, if any, the Minister of Finance was consulted with regard to the financial terms embodied in this measure. But we have this peculiar circumstance, at least, that the measure was brought down two or three days before the return of the Minister of the Interior. Naturally we would not be led to suppose that a measure of this importance, with the terms of which the Minister of the Interior is so intimately connected, would be brought down within two or three days of his return to Ottawa, without his having had an opportunity to become ac 2194quainted with its terms. Nor is it to be supposed. in view of the fact that the Minister of Finance had sailed about a week before from Europe to this country, that legislation of so great importance as the financial clauses of this Bill, would be introduced into this House on the eve of his return, without his having any opportunity to advise with regard to them, or to give his colleagues the benefit of the wisdom and experience which of course he must possess after occupying for some eight or nine years the position which he now holds. Under these circumstances, I think we might well call for an explanation from the right hon. gentleman who leads the House as to why it was he brought down this measure without vouchsafing to the House the explanation that two members of his cabinet had not been consulted at all with regard to its provisions, and that, so far as they were concerned, this was not the act of the government.
But I need not go to Todd or to any other authority on parliamentary government in regard to this matter. This administration has laid down a rule, peculiar, as it is declared, to the form of government which we enjoy in this country. What was the position of affairs ? The Minister of the Interior represented in the cabinet the great west of Canada—represented more than any other member of the cabinet that portion of this country which is now being created into two new provinces. Further than that, owing to his experience of some eight years in the position of Minister of the Interior, he might be supposed to possess a more intimate knowledge of the needs and requirements of that country than any other member of the cabinet. And yet the Minister of the Interior was not consulted with regard to this measure, and that in the face of the most explicit declaration made by this administration no further back than the 14th of June, 1904, that he was the man above all others who should be consulted on this question. When Lord Dundonald was dismissed from his position as General Officer Commanding in this country, the government passed an Order in Council which was laid upon the table of the House, and in which the action of the administration in that regard was justified upon certain grounds; and one of the reasons put forward by the administration for the interference by the Minister of Agriculture in a department with which otherwise he had no concern whatever, indeed, the only justification for that interference, was expressed in that Order in Council in these words :-
In the case of members of the cabinet, while all have an equal degree of responsibility in a constitutional sense, yet in the practical working out of responsible government, in a country of such vast extent as Canada, it is found necessary to attach special responsibility to 2195 COMMONS each minister for the public affairs of the province or district with which he has close political connection, and with which his colleagues may not be so well acquainted.
Well, I would submit to my right hon. friend that, taking his own standard of ministerial responsibility thus expressed in this Order in Council, the Minister of the Interior was in this case the minister above all others who should have been consulted in the first instance about those very provisions which at the present time are causing some discussion in the country, and, if we may believe all we hear, some dissension on the other side of the House ; and I would like to know from the right hon. gentleman how it was that after having delayed some two years before taking up the question at all, the minister who, under the constitutional rule laid down by the government itself, was most to be consulted with regard to the terms of the measure, was not consulted at all, although the measure was introduced within three days of his return to Ottawa. My right hon. friend has been a very strict stickler for constitutional usage in some of his dealings with his ministers in days gone by. I will advert to only one case. We remember that the right hon. gentleman felt himself constrained to ask for the portfolio of Public Works at that time held by the Hon. J. I. Tarte, because Mr. Tarte had seen fit, in the words of the Prime Minister, to advocate a policy which had not yet been adopted by the government. Well, if that be a just reason, have not the colleagues of the right hon. gentleman a right to demand his portfolio at the present time, because he has seen fit not only to advocate, but to place before parliament and the country, a measure to which his colleagues have not all agreed. I do not know on what ground the right hon. gentleman can justify himself in this regard, because it seems to me that it is not treating the House of Commons with due respect to bring down a measure of this kind as one which is concurred in by every member of the administration, and afterwards to acquaint the House, as we are now acquainted, with the fact that certain members at least were not consulted.
Have we not the right under the circumstances to inquire respectfully of the First Minister whether there are any other members of his cabinet outside the member for Brandon, lately Minister of the Interior, and the Minister of Finance who were not consulted with regard to the terms of this measure. The right hon. gentleman has adverted to the aid which he obtained from members of the Executive Council of the Northwest Territories. May we not also respectfully inquire whether all the provisions of this measure were considered at the conferences which took place between the members of the cabinet and the members 2196 of the Executive Council of the Territories. There is some further desirable information, if the right hon. gentleman will not regard my curiosity as fastidious—because that is the term he usually applies when any question is in the least degree awkward—might I ask whether or not any conculsion has been arrived at with regard to the filling of the position made vacant by the resignation of the Minister of the Interior. I would also respectfully inquire of the right hon. gentleman regarding another matter which I mentioned the other day, namely, whether or not changes in the proposed Bills creating the new provinces are under consideration by the government ? We of course, do not seek to concern ourselves with any differences which may have occurred in the ranks of the hon. gentlemen opposite, but the shape in which these measures shall eventually come before parliament is a matter in which we are legitimately concerned and as to which we have a reasonable right to inquire. It is said over and over again in the organs supposed to have the confidence of the government—for example in the very last issue of that newspaper which is supposed to be the organ of the Minister of Agriculture ; it is stated not only that these matters are being discussed within the cabinet and in the ranks of the hon. gentleman opposite, but that certain conclusions have already been arrived at and will be announced in due course. I suggested to my hon. friend only the other day that as soon as those changes—if any are contemplated—be agreed upon, they should be announced to the House in order that we may have them under consideration before the time arrives for discussing them in parliament. I venture to bring this matter before the government to-day. The right hon. gentleman told us some ten years ago, when matters of this kind were discussed in parliament and the country, that he was not in the battle ' No,' he said : 'The battle is there ; there is the seat of contest ; there is the raging confiict.' I do not want to make any special application of those words today ; but I do think that as soon as the differences are amicably adjusted, we should have a statement from the Prime Minister as to the form this measure will eventually take when it comes before parliament.
Sir WILFRID LAURIER. I am sorry to say that I have very little to tell my hon. friend of which he is not already aware. He is too old a parliamentarian not to know the answer I must give him. My hon. friend knows well, none better, that the deliberations of cabinets are secret, that all the members of a cabinet are sworn to secrecy. and that solidarity exists among them until one of them chooses to express his dissent because he finds he cannot support any longer the policy of the government. When such a thing occurs, it becomes the duty of the government to inform parliament of the 2197 MARCH 9, 1905 causes of the differences which have arisen between the dissenting member and his colleagues. My hon. friend knows that in every government, it must always be presumed that there will be some diflerences of opinion among the members composing it. It is not to be supposed that in a cabinet composed of 13 or 14 members, all the ministers are of one mind upon all questions. It must be expected that there will be some differences among them. It is not in human nature that they should agree on all matters, and therefore some latitude must be allowed the individual members, and this latitude is always extended until it becomes impossible for one of the members of the administration to agree with his colleagues. Let me quote Todd :
Upon the formation of a ministry which embraces men of different shades of political opinion, it necessarily follows that there must be, to a greater or less extent, mutual concessions and compromises. But with the rare exception of certain questions, which by previous consent it is agreed shall be considered as 'open,' it is an admitted principle that all the responsible ministers of the crown are bound to unite in furthering the measures of government through parliament, and in otherwise carrying out the policy which has been agreed upon by the cabinet. This policy is framed in the first instance by the prime minister in accordance with the principle of the party to which he belongs. It then forms the basis of negotiation between himself and those whom he may invite to assist him in carrying on the Queen's government.
All members of the cabinet should agree on questions of policy, but if there should be a disappointment, if, as in the case of the hon. member for Brandon, there should be a difference of opinion, then either a compromise must be reached or the dissenting colleague resigns from the cabinet. In the latter case it is the duty of the First Minister to give the House information of the causes which led to this unhappy result just as an explanation of the policies of the government is due to the House when the government is formed. But does my hon. friend expect the government to give to the House all the different conversations or deliberations which may have taken place in council—everything which passed either in writing or by word of mouth ? If he so expects, his expectation is not borne out by the authorities on the subject.
It will be sufficient for me to quote to him the author from whom he himself has quoted, who is recognized as the standard authority upon these subjects. I quote from Todd, Vol. 2, page 487. After having stated that the House is entitled to have full explanation on the formation of a government, Todd goes on to say:
But the House has no right to ask for more than a general exposition of the main principles on which a government is formed. It has no right to inquire into all the conditions which may have taken place between the several 2198 members of the government. Any arrangements, however, which have been specially referred to in debate by new ministers as the stipulations and conditions upon which they agreed to accept office, may be suitably inquired into by other members.
And this rule that is laid down for the formation of a government is exactly the rule laid down, as I understand the constitutional authorities on the point, in relation to giving information concerning a government that, instead of being formed is, to some extent disrupted. A few days ago, it was my duty—my painful duty—to communicate to the House the reasons which had brought about the rupture between the hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Sifton) and the government. I do not know that the House in entitled to more information than I gave them. There are the facts, and the matter has been brought before the House. My hon. friend (Mr. R. L. Borden) has taken exception, and when the time comes to discuss the matter, he will be able to give whatever explanation he thinks it well to give. Until that time, the House must rest content with the explanation given. The hon. gentleman has not stated whether, in this matter, he refers to the Bill in toto, or simply to the educational clauses. It will be open to him to tell the House to what extent he refers to the Bill as a whole or to what extent he refers to in toto. Up to this time, I do not think the House is entitled to more information from us than that which has already been imparted.
My hon. friend asks a second question. He wants to know whether any action is to be taken to fill the vacancy in the portfolio of the Interior- caused by the resignation of my hon. friend from Brandon (Mr. Sifton). He is entitled to a full and categorical answer. No action has been taken, and it is not my intention now to take any action in the way of filling that portfolio.
And my hon. friend asks still another question. He wants to know if any changes are contemplated in the Bill. Really, the hon. gentleman is very inquisitive. I said the other day—and I think my hon. friend will agree with me—that I am not aware of any measure of any great importance, and I am aware of very few measures even of little importance, that have ever gone over that table without having changes made in them ; and I shall be much surprised if this Bill, which is of such great importance runs the gauntlet of this House without fault being found with it—perhaps by my hon. friend the leader of the opposition (Mr. R. L. Borden) ; perhaps by my hon. friend who sits next to him (Mr. Foster) ; perhaps by my hon. friend who sits behind him (Mr. Monk), or, perhaps by my hon. friend who sits at his right hand (Mr. Sproule). Perhaps fault will be found on one hand, perhaps on many. Therefore, I cannot see how it is possible to gratify my hon. friend and say anything as to changes being contem2199 COMMONS plated. But I must say that I can understand that my hon. friend is very anxious to know in advance if there are to be any changes made in the Bill. I think, judging from past experience, my hon. friend will think it important to know in advance what is to be the precise character of the Bill when it shall come to the second reading. I presume—and in so presuming, I think I do not state anything that is not in accordance with the truth ; if I do, he will correct me—and I have reason to believe, that he is preparing some batteries to attack this Bill ; and, perhaps it is important for him to know at this time whether he should place his batteries on a certain hill or place them on another hill. I can understand that my hon. friend is anxious to know whether or not the Bill is to be as it is. If there are to be other provisions, as a matter of tactics he would like to be in a position to judge whether his batteries should be placed in one place or in another. But I can hardly give myself the pleasure of coming to the rescue of my hon. friend by giving him today information to which, in due time, he will be entitled.
Mr. R. L. BORDEN. May I say one word to my right hon. friend (Sir Wilfrid Laurier): Whatever else I do I shall not retire within the lines of Torres Vedras. Might I respectfully suggest to him that he has not at all answered the question which I put to him, namely : Why did he so far violate constitutional usage as to bring down a Bill as the act of the administration when two members, who were on the eve of return, had not been consulted in regard to it. That is the point, the chief point, of my remarks.
Mr. W. F. MACLEAN (South York). The right hon. gentleman (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) has given no explanation as to the questions put to him.
Mr. W. F. MACLEAN. I intend to move the adjournment-
Sir WILFRID LAURIER. The House is to be moved in supply in a moment, and that will give the hon. gentleman (Mr. W. F. Maclean) an opportunity to speak.
Mr. W. F. MACLEAN The right hon. gentleman had the opportunity to speak, and so had the leader of the opposition (Mr. R. L. Borden) and I claim the same privilege of discussing the matter at the present stage.
Some hon. MEMBERS. Oh, oh.
Mr. W. F. MACLEAN. In order to keep myself within the rules of the House, I intend to conclude with a motion. The right hon. gentleman (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) has made a statement that does not meet the point that has been raised. He has been asked to explain why he introduced legislation in this House dealing with the auto 2200nomy of the Northwest without having the approval of his colleagues. And he tells us that he does not intend to appoint another Minister of the Interior at the present stage and to consult that minister in regard to these Bills. We heard the other day about autocracy in this House ; but what about the autocrat of the present occasion ? Not only has he got rid of one minister, but he intends to go on with this question without calling to his cabinet a new Minister of the Interior. Apparently, he does not care to consult the opinion of the west in regard to these things. But surely the west is worth consulting. Surely the new provinces of the west are just as well entitled to be consulted in this matter as are some other provinces. But every stage of the right hon. gentleman's conduct is on unconstitutional lines. I think the Prime Minister is constitutionally bound to tell us whether one of his colleagues had not objections to the finnancial phase of the Bill that has been brought before the House. We are supposed to have a Minister of the Interior especially charged with the affairs of the west. We have a Minister of Finance who is especially responsible for the financial program of the government. Yet we have this autonomy measure involving grave financial charges, and giving reason to all the other provinces for demanding better terms, and the Finance Minister (Mr. Fielding) so far as we can gather, has not even been consulted, as the Minister of the Interior was not consulted. Where are we to end, if these things continue ? And let us refer to another minister. I spoke of this matter the other day, but it should be mentioned in this connection also. We have a gentleman acting as Minister of Public Works who is putting through estimates for $10,000,000, and will probably have supplementary estimates for $3,000,000 more. The amount will depend on the political exigencies of hon. gentlemen opposite. Last session this gentleman was in the same unconstitutional position, and then put through estimates of about $10,000,000. And yet this unconstitutional method is to be continued, and when explanations are asked none are forthcoming. There are more governments in trouble than this one. If you read the papers to-day, you see that nearly every government in Europe is in trouble for some reason. But there is a cure ; there is a solvent for these difficulties ; and that is to consult the people. If the right hon. gentleman (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) believes in the principle professed by his party, he will not carry on the negotiations that are now going on in the way of fights and bickerings in his own cabinet, but he will do the constitutional thing and go back to the country and submit this question to the people. He has confessed to-day that he is afraid to open the constituency of London, in Ontario ; he is afraid to open a constituency in Manitoba, and bring in a 2201 MARCH 9, 1905 Minister of the Interior. On such unconstitutional lines he has carried his course for a good many years. Take for instance, his Grand Trunk Pacific Bill. He did not go to the people with that before he introduced it here? He carried it through two sessions and then went to the country with it. Sir John A. Macdonald, when he introduced the national policy, first went to the people, and got the approval of the people. The right hon. gentleman was afraid to go before the people of this country in the last election on the Autonomy Bill, and he brings it down in the first session in order to escape responsibility for it. Now, if he is in trouble, as he is in trouble, if he has trouble, if the Minister of the Interior--
Some hon. MEMBERS. No, no.
Mr. W. F. MACLEAN. Do hon. gentlemen opposite mean to say that the Minister of Justice has not thrown all the members from the Northwest into fits? There is trouble. I will tell you why the right hon. gentleman will not appoint a Minister of the Interior ; it is because if he gets a Minister of the Interior to consent to these modifications he proposes, he will have an other province on his hands, another rebellion to quell ; and, being in that position, he cannot resort to the straight constitutional method of solving these questions. He should not have introduced this Bill without having had the consent and advice of the members from the Northwest ; and on behalf of the province of Manitoba to-day I ask the hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Sifton), I ask the hon. member for Lisgar (Mr. Greenway), I ask all the delegation from the west, whether they approve of this legislation having been introduced without their representatives in the cabinet being consulted, and whether they propose to submit any longer to this legislation being proceeded with without having a minister in the cabinet representing them and representing the west. It is not constitutional. It may be justified, but it will end in disaster, it cannot end in anything else. Now, if the right hon. gentleman fixes up his fences as far as Manitoba is concerned, he will find them down in Nova Scotia, and as soon as he fixes them up in regard to Nova Scotia and the Northwest, he will find them down in the province of Quebec ; and, being in that position, he has to resort to all these tricks. He is afraid of trusting the people to-day, he is afraid of the good old principle he laid down years ago of provincial rights. Now, I want to tell him in regard to this education problem, that he can patch it up as much as he likes, he can hold what caucuses he likes, he can fix up his fences in this direction and in that direction ; but there is only one thing that will satisfy the provinces of Canada to-day, and that is complete autonomy for the Northwest provinces. the right of the people of the west to settle their own educational affairs. They 2202 wish to be free to settle this question ; they don't want all these bickerings in the cabinet. They want to be treated as freemen, with the right to settle their own educational questions ; and it is because they dared to assert their freedom in this House, because they had a minister in the government who was prepared to assert that right, that that minister has been put out, and they are to-day to be treated as slaves. Again I tell the right hon. gentleman that he must have more respect for the constitution. So far he professes to be upholding the constitution. But everything he does is irregular—his relations with his ministers, these negotiations that are going on to-day, all these things that we hear of, and many other things that don't get into the press, but that we know are going on, with no peace in prospect, continued bickerings are in store for us. Again I say he is on the wrong line, and he must retrace his steps. He has spoken to—day of the retreat of the late Minister of the Interior. There was no retreat on the part of the late Minister of the Interior in standing up for the rights of the new provinces. He was maintaining what I call good doctrine in regard to provincial rights. Yet, because he took that position in this House, the First Minister says he is retreating. Well, the right hon. gentleman may say it is a retreat, but I say, No. Once again, in the name of the people of the great Northwest, I ask the government to keep their hands off these new provinces in regard to education. Let the people up there settle these questions themselves. They are well competent to do it ; they know what they want without any advice from any other province, I do not care which. Al lthey ask is that they be permitted to settle their own affairs. I do not care what batteries may be placed in this House, on the one side or the other. There is no service in this House but the one service—the public service. I want to tell the right hon. gentleman this, that it may take much longer than he counts on to put this session through. I do not see why the right hon. gentleman should get one dollar of supplies while he has no minister of the Interior to take the part of Manitoba. I do not see why he should get any legislation through this House until he comes forward with a complete ministry, until he comes forward with a man representing that portion of the country—if the government believe in geographical representation—with a man from that portion of the country prepared to assume the responsibilities of this government in connection with their programme in dealing with the autonomy of the west.
Mr. SPEAKER. The hon. gentleman did not conclude with a motion.
Mr. W. F. MACLEAN. I beg to move that the House do now adjourn.
Mr. SPEAKER. In making a motion the hon. gentleman should rise.


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



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