Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, 06 April 1868, Prince Edward Island Confederation with Canada.

Mr. McNEILL.-- Mr. Chairman, it is rather un-
It will not be denied that some of the people then broke the law, though in only trifling matters' but the organs of the Opposition magnified the matter, and endeavored to prove that the country was in a state of rebellion. What was the reason the association was denounced by these organs? Because it had opposed Confederation. If it had not been for the influence of the Tenant Union we would probably have been in Confederation to-day; if we had not opposed the latter vigorously, we might have been pushed into it. The tenantry were blamed for burning barns and houses, and for threatening to take the lives of their neighbours, because they opposed the proprietry system and Confederation. The Posse Commissions was turned out to assist the Sheriff, and a splenind affair it was. But there was no man who did not beleive that the late Government had some other and in view, when they endeavored to make matters appear a thousand times worse than they really were.
That Government must have known that they could not stifle public opinion by bringing the troops here; but we must make some allowance for the hon. member for Murray Harbor, as he had been brought up under strong descipline. He should remember that there is no simile between this Island and the antipodes, and that the spirit of British Americans cannot be kept down and trodden upon like that of Europeans. As the Tenant League was crushed, the people waited patiently till the next election came round, and then displaced the party that had trampled upon them. There was a great cause for the formation of this association, for it would be impossible to get up such an organization as this without a reason why. Why did not the Confederate party who were high in office under the late Government, get up an association for the purpose of furthering their object? Simply because that object was unjust and unreasonable. The Conservatives when in power, could not be mistaken as to the condition of the country, for even the Spy in his report showed the stated of the people, and the effects of the rent-paying system. When we reflect that to man was given dominion over the creatures, and that no man has a right to claim exclusive right to the lands of any country, is it any wonder that the law was broken in this instance? The troops were brought here to damage the character of the people of this Island as much as possible —to create the impression in the Mother Country that we were not worthy or capable of governing ourselves; and thereby to get this Colony forced into Confederation against the consent of its inhabitants. But I do not say that all the members of the late Government had this object in view. Such despotic measures and foul schemes had never been resorted to, even in unhappy Ireland on the eve of its union with Great Britain. I believe the hon. Leader of the Opposition was favorable to Confederation because he thought it would be a benefit to his country; since the people were opposed to it, he thought it no harm to do evil that good might come. We know that Brutus said that he killed his best friend for the good of Rome; but I shall say no more about the hon. Leader of the Opposition, as he is not in his place. What had those members of the late Government who were opposed to Confederation in view; They must have had some object before them, because any person who raises his voice in favor of the people is put down by these hon. members as a political demagogue, and as one who wishes to make political capital; or, as the hon. member for Charlottetown calls it, political dishonesty. If the members of any other part had acted in the same manner, that hon. member would say that they were political scoundrels.
Hon. ATTORNEY GENERAL —No. We know that in this Island every teacher who received a license had to speak the English language, and the French teachers who qualified themselves for that office had to first learn the English language. This resolution provides that any teacher who will qualify himself to teach the French language, and who can obtain a certificate to that effect, shall be entitled to receive £5 additional salary from the Treasury, provided the district will make up the same amount. The French language is regarded as the best, and many consider it well worth learning, and no scholar feels that his education is complete without he knows it. If we should happen to be driven into the Dominion, and any hon. members from this House should go there, they would find it would be an advantage to understand it. I believe all Ambassadors of the Crown require to understand French, and that their correspondence is carried on in that language.
Mr. BRECKEN.— Mr. Chairman, no doubt any education is incomplete without a knowledge of French, but I do not agree with the learned Attorney General that it is the best language, although I admit that in Europe every person is expected to know it. I doubt whether instruction in French, as spoken here, would be understood or regarded as French by good scholars in that language, for there cannot be any doubt but that, owing to the isolation of those who speak that language here. it must have lost among them much of its original purity. I am rather surprised to hear Confederation referred to as an argument in favor of the resolution, for, on that ground alone, some might object to it. But we may yet be brought into contact with our neighbors in Canada, and, if so, it would be well for our people to be acquainted with the French language. if it is intended as an encouragement for the cultivation of that language in its purity, it would be money well appropriated ; but it would be well to know if it is wholly intended for the few French teachers of the Island.
Hon. Mr. HENDERSON.— I have no objection to do full justice to the French people, but I doubt the utility of teaching that language in our common schools, or that a large number will ever be required to go from here to represent us in the New Dominion. You know , Sir, as well as I do, that the French teachers, before they can now receive a License, have to first learn a language that is not their vernacular, and the Gaelic, people have to graft the English upon their mother tongue before they can become teachers, and these people love their Gaelic just as much as it is possible for any people to esteem a language. If this resolution is to be carried, I would like to introduce a similar one in favor of the Gaelic speaking people of this Island. for I think it will be admitted that they were on a par with those who have to graft the native Saxon upon their French. One thing I have observed is, that the French people of this Island use more words of broken English than the same class do in Lower Canada, or did when I was among them. The Gaelic speaking people are entitled to the same privileges that the French are.
Mr. ARSENAULT.— Mr. Chairman, the hon. member for Charlottotown (Mr. B ) is doubtful whether the French language spoken in this Island is French at all, and is doubtful if it is as good as that which is spoken in France or Canada. Well I do not know much about the French language as spoken in France, as I have never been there, but I presume it is the same language as is contained in books written in French and when we use these same books in our schools I do not see why we should learn good French ; and as to Canada I believe the French inhabitants of this Island speak the language PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER. 143 as well as they do in Canada. In the second place he asks if this privilege is intended for French teachers only, but, Sir, the resolution does not apply any more to French teachers than to any other, so far as I understand, but simply to those teachers who will qualify themselves to teach the French language, and shall teach a class of not less than ten pupils in his or her school. Now, I   ask is there anything unfair when it is intended to apply to all alike ? or even if the Government allowance was given to teachers teaching the French language only to the French speaking people of this Island, when their teachers are as well qualified in the French language, as the English speaking teachers are in the English language, that there would be anything unfair in it. But when all  that is asked for in the resolution is a small allowance for an encouragement to teach the French language, I do not think any liberal minded gentleman will refuse it. The hon member for Murray Harbor asks what is the utility of the French language on this Island? and asks why not encourage the Gaelic as well? I will somply say this, that we sometimes hear French phrases used in this hon. House, and I am frequently amused at the awkward pronunciation given to them (laughter) for instead of pronouncing them with that soft accent with which they should be pronounced, they always use the hard, sharp English pronunciation. A to the Gaelic, we never hear   a word of it. If we go to the other side of this building,   where all the big volumes are kept, we will find among them a good many in French, but none in Gaelic.  Al-  though I am not an admirer of Confederation, yet, what do we know but at some future time we may form a part of the New Dominion, and I ask in what position would any of our Island delegates to Ottawa find themselves in if they did not understand the French language. When  a speech in that language would be delivered, no doubt they would like to be able to understand the language then. I feel pleased that this small encouragement is proposed to be given to encourage the study of that language, and only regret the number of whom it is proposed to be given is limited to twenty. I would prefer  that all our teachers would qualify themselves to teach that language, and thereby diffuse a knowledge of it throughout the Island.


The Parliamentary Reporter of Debates and Proceedings of the House of Assembly. Charlottetown: The Examiner, 1868. Microfilm copies provided by the Prince Edward Island Libraries and Archives.



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