House of Commons, 13 March 1905, Canadian Confederation with Alberta and Saskatchewan

2405 MARCH 13, 1905
[...] telegraphed to the United States and to European countries in order to create the impression that if people come to Canada they will not find freedom here. There is nothing to justify such a statement from the hon. gentleman. I had hoped that some of his own friends would take him to task for it ; I had hoped that representatives of the Conservative party would correct the impression that might have been made by his statement, occupying as he does the prominent position in that party. I hope they will yet avail themselves of the earliest oppormnity to say that so far as they are concerned they are not willing that the impression should go forth that this is the opinion of the Conservative party. That is not the opinion of the Liberal party. Long before the Liberal party came to power in Canada they were striving to bring about freedom of the very best kind, and the best order in this great country. But how is it with the Conservative party ? In their press from end to end of Canada, prominent newspapers have undertaken to preach the same doctrine propounded by the member for Victoria and Haliburton. If he is desirous that peace and harmony should reign in Canada, let him address himself to the newspapers of his own party, and ask them to take the lesson that he attempts to preach to hon. gentlemen on this side of the House. There are many other things that have been spoken during the course of this debate that I would like to comment upon, but I will not detain the House longer. I did not intend to say all that I have said. I rose for the sole purpose of doing justice to my hon. friend from Vancouver (Mr. Macpherson) who spoke before six o'clock, and I have done so. I have now to ask the hon. member for Victoria and Haliburton to say if he can that he never authorized this interview with the 'Montreal Gazette,' and if he can say that, he will do much to remove an unfortunate impression that has been caused by that interview.
Mr. T. S. SPROULE (East Grey). The hon. member for Cape Breton (Mr. A. Johnston) generally contents himself when he rises to ask a question. But to-night he is playing a different role. As a general thing this House recognizes the fact that no man requires information worse than he does, and the House takes him good naturedly and endeavours to satisfy his curiosity. But sometimes he gets beyond bounds, as he has done to-night in attacking my hon. friend from Victoria and Haliburton (Mr. Sam. Hughes). It is not my purpose to defend my hon. friend, he is quite capable of taking care of himself. I would not have risen to speak at all were it not that the hon. member for Cape Breton unnecessarily, unreasonably, improperly, and I was going to say, untruthfully, made a statement with regard to myself that I had endeavoured to arouse passion among the people of this 2406 country, that I appealed to a certain class of people.
An hon. MEMBER. Hear, hear.
Mr. SPROULE. Who is the hon. gentleman that said hear, hear ? It is the cigarette smoker. Of course he is entitled to special consideration. He requires that we give him two kinds of pardon–I will not tell him what they are.
Mr. ARMAND LAVERGNE. He does not write circulars to the papers.
Mr. SPROULE. Since the hon. gentleman has come into this House he has received courtesy from this side of the House, though his conduct at times has not invited courtesy ; but if he does not conduct himself with a little more decorum, he will not receive as much in the future as he has done in the past. Now, with regard to the question before the House, the hon. member for Cape Breton says that the member for East Grey has endeavoured to arouse passions and create discord. Upon what authority does he make that statement ? Is it upon the authority of the petition that I sent out to the general community in accordance with the right of every British subject to petition parliament to do a certain thing that he thought was right ? Is that not my right and the right of every British subject under the Crown? It is recognized in parliament and out of parliament to be the highest right of a British subject. I was availing myself of that right, and I was quite within my right. I shall read the letter so that there may be no mistake as to what it contains, and if the careful examiner finds that I have done a very improper thing I shall be greatly surprised. In view of this important question that was coming up and was likely to create discord—and let me remind the hon. gentleman that it was his leader who brought it into the arena and not mine, and that upon this question one of the most important ministers resigned, and in doing so he was quite within his rights—it was in the endeavour to prevent the calamity and the political trouble that I foresaw that I adopted the measures that I did. What did I do ? I addressed to a society to which I belonged, which is a law-abiding society, no matter what part of the country it is in, composed of tolerant, respectable citizens.
Mr. L. P. DEMERS. Tolerant ?
Mr. SPROULE. Yes, tolerant. I addressed them in the following language :
Ottawa, February 16th, 1905.
Dear Sir and Brother,-
We believe an effort is about to be made to impose separate schools for all time on the people of the new provinces, now being established in the Northwest Territories. It behooves every lover of liberty, and especially every Orangeman, to lend a helping hand, to prevent this injustice being perpetrated on a liberty- 2407 COMMONS loving people. Being comparatively weak and helpless, they must largely depend on others to fight their battles for them.
The effort made in 1896 to compel Manitoba to grant separate schools nearly drove the people of that province into rebellion, and had it not been abandoned, would doubtless have resulted in serious consequences. In view of this, is it not little short of criminal folly to attempt to deprive the people of these new provinces of the right to control their own educational affairs as to them seems best. I would suggest that every member of our order lend a helping hand to prevent this outrage by writing or wiring and getting others to do so as well, the member for his constituency to oppose any legislation or enactment for that purpose. If we speak out freely and do our duty no government would dare to disobey our request. Brethren, let us do our duty ; also get accompanying blank petitions signed by all friendly to our cause, giving name and occupation in every case, and forward to me to House of Commons post office, Ottawa, at earliest possible date.
And here is the petition that accompanied it :
To the Honourable the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, in parliament assembled:
We, the undersigned electors of the electoral division of [blank] do pray that in granting provincial autonomy to the Northwest Territories the Dominion parliament will not by any enactment or otherwise withhold from the newly created provinces full and unrestricted freedom of action in all matters affecting the establishment, maintenance and administration of schools-
Is there anything improper in that ? Is there any appeal to race prejudice, or to passion, or to creed ? Is there anything but the most respectful prayer that could be presented to parliament by any British subject in the country, and that for the purpose of preventing the importing into the political arena of Canada at the present time of one of those vexed questions that would result in arousing a great deal of feeling and doing a great deal of injury ? Was I within my rights or was I doing an improper thing when I did this ? If I was wrong in asking parliament to do that, the Minister of the Interior must have been wrong in resigning. Who induced me to do this, who compelled me ? The very acts of the Prime Minister himself by the introduction of this Bill induced me to do it. Then who is responsible for it ? Is it I who was trying to prevent it being done or the party who was importing the element of discord into this House and into the country at large, that element which had created so much bitter feeling in the past, and which experience has told us we had better avoid if possible in the future ? Which one was doing the proper thing ? In view of that, does the hon. member who has just taken his seat think he was justified in his endeavour to castigate the member for East Grey in the peculiar 2408 fish-wife style to which some speakers are so admirably adapted ?
Some hon. MEMBERS. Order.
Mr. SPROULE. Does he think that he was within his rights and doing the highest type of parliamentary duty when he gave vent to the utterances which we have heard to-night ? If I was wrong in petitioning in the direction I did what has the hon. gentleman to say for himself and his leader and his friends, who have addressed petition to their confrères in Quebec, copies of which are being presented at the present time, some of which were presented to-day, against the very petition I have read ?
Mr. JACQUES BUREAU (Three Rivers). I am glad my hon. friend from East Grey (Mr. Sproule) has put the question. I will continue the history of these petitions. There is in Montreal a club called Le Club Jacques Cartier. I think the hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) and the leader of the opposition (Mr. R. L. Borden) know the place well. In that club was drafted, I understand by a man who has been very notorious of late as being the distributor of the tory corruption fund in the Sault Ste. Marie election, the petitions which I hold in my hand, Le Club Jacques Cartier is the head of the organization of the Tory party in Quebec. This petition which I hold in my hand was sent to the various Catholic organizations in Quebec, or at least in the constituency of Three Rivers, but luckily in my district they were not taken up as the hon. gentlemen expected. Some of them have been sent here to be presented to this House, and I am credibly informed, and have reason to believe, that it is a continuation of the game started by the hon. member for East Grey. In Ontario and the western provinces the cry is : Let us Tories take the lead and not permit this legislation to be carried, it is against provincial autonomy ; but in Quebec we will present the other side of the medal, and we will tell the people to present petitions to the Prime Minister and the House. I notice that these petitions were taken to the Prime Minister and by him sent back to the members for the different ridings in which they were signed. They are worded :
(Translation.) Whereas in the Bill to establish and provide for two new provinces in the Northwest Territories, the following provisions are to be found, namely :
16. The provisions of section 93 of the British North America Act, 1867, shall apply to the said province as if, at the date upon which this Act comes into force, the territory comprised therein were already a province, the expression ' the union ' in the said section being taken to mean the said date.
2. Subject to the provisions of the said section 93, and in continuance of the principles heretofore sanctioned under the Northwest Territories Act, it is enacted that the legislature of the said province shall pass all necessary laws in respect of education, and that it shall 2409 March 13, 1905 therein always be provided (a) that a majority of the ratepayers of any district or portion of the said province or of any less portion or subdivision thereof, by whatever name it is known, may establish such schools therein as they think fit, and make the necessary assessments and collection of rates therefor, and (b) that the minority of the ratepayers therein, whether Protestant or Roman Catholic, may establish, separate schools therein, and make the necessary assessment and collection of rates therefor, and (c) that in such case the ratepayers establishing such Protestant or Roman Catholic separate schools shall be liable only to assessment of such rates as they impose upon themselves with respect thereto.
3. In the appropriation of public moneys by the legislature in aid of education, and in the distribution of any moneys paid to the government of the said province arising from the school fund established by the Dominion Lands Act, there shall be no discrimination between the public schools and the separate schools, and such moneys shall be applied to the support of public and separate schools in equitable shares or proportion.
Whereas in the above mentioned provisions, the vested rights of the minorities in both those provinces are sanctioned and provided for ;
Whereas said provisions are agreeable to the spirit of the constitution which governs the Dominion of Canada ;
Whereas the reasons set forth by the right hon. the Prime Minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, in support of said provisions, on the 21st of February, 1905, meet with the entire approval of the undersigned petitioners, irrespective of party affiliations ;
Whereas efforts are being put forth to have this legislation amended or withdrawn ;
We, the undersigned petitioners, do emphatically protest against such unfair an attempt, and respectfully beg that the above mentioned provisions be passed into law, during this session and maintained in their whole tenor as they now stand, as a full measure of fair-play and justice.
And we beg the right hon. the Prime Minister to lay down this petition on the table of the House of Commons.
And your petitioners will ever pray.
For the benefit of my colleagues who do not understand the French language, let me state that they are asking that separate schools be established in the Northwest Territories and that we do not legislate otherwise than in that direction. I am an admirer of the hon. member for Victoria (Mr. Hughes) but I certainly do not share his views and especially so when he talks as he did in that Toronto interview.
Mr. SPROULE. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Bureau) says there was one petition distributed in the west, and a different one in Quebec.
Some hon. MEMBERS. Yes.
Mr. SPROULE. Permit me to say that I distributed this petition through the province of Quebec the same as in other provinces, and it has been signed by the electors of that province and I presented 2410 several petitions from the province of Quebec to the House.
Mr. BUREAU. I ask my hon. friend (Mr. Sproule) who is one of the leaders of the party if any of these petitions which I hold in my hand were distributed in Ontario.
Mr. SPROULE. I never saw them before.
Mr. FIELDING. I am afraid we are getting perilously near losing sight of the motion in question before the House.
Mr. MONK. I rise to make a personal explanation because my hon. friend (Mr. Bureau) has referred to me by name. For the first time to-night I have heard of these petitions. I have not been to Montreal for quite a time ; I do not think I have been in the Jacques Cartier Club since the beginning of the session, and I know nothing whatever of these petitions. I am sure there is not a member in this House from the province of Quebec who would lend himself for a single moment to the ignoble role which has been suggested by my hon. friend.
Mr. A. B. INGRAM (East Elgin). Mr. Speaker, this is the outcome of allowing too much latitude in debate. If members were to confine themselves to the actual question before the House, probably you, Sir, would have less difficulty in controlling the House, and probably it would be more creditable to members on both sides. A good deal has been said about the legality of these petitions, and I take it that probably there are Conservatives throughout the Dominion who are in favour of the legislation as well as those who are opposed to it, and both sides have a right to petition this House so long as as they do so in proper form. The hon. member for Victoria (Mr. Sam. Hughes) may have made some statements of a controversial character but I do not think he went to the extent which my hon. friend from Cape Breton (Mr. A. Johnston) charges him with going. If the hon. member (Mr. A. Johnston) wants to evince a disposition to allay strife and ill feeling in this country I can assure him that he has taken the wrong method to-night.
Mr. J. B. MORIN (Dorchester). The hon. member for Cape Breton (Mr. A. Johnston) referred to the member who was sitting near the leader of the opposition, and I want to know if he alluded to me ?
Mr. A. JOHNSTON. Most certainly not.
Mr. MORIN. I am told he mentioned the member for Dorchester.
Mr. A. JOHNSTON. I made no reference to my hon. friend (Mr. Morin) when I spoke of the gentleman who sat beside the leader of the opposition.
Mr. MORIN. I am told you spoke of the member for Dorchester and if you did I am the man.


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



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