May 8, 1901

CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLANCY.

Will the hon. gentleman permit me to ask him who was the moving spirit in that conference ? Was it not Mr. Mercier ?

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX.

The Hon. Mr. Mercier, I must say with pride, was the moving spirit, but he was helped by such sterling men as Sir Oliver Mowat, the Hon. Mr. Norquay, leader of the then Conservative government of Manitoba, the Hon. Mr. Fielding, now Minister of Finance, the Hon. Mr. Blair, premier of New Brunswick, and I think the Hon. Mr. Ross, then Treasurer of the province of Ontario. At that conference all the provinces were represented. The best-spirited public men of the different provinces were there, and passed resolutions which were adopted by each local legislature, and I have in my hands the declaration of the legislative assembly of Ontario, and the resolutions of the interprovincial conference at Quebec were embodied in the journals of the House. They were adopted by that legislature, and in those resolutions I find it stated :

That this conference is of opinion that a basis for a final and unalterable settlement of the amounts to be yearly paid by the Dominion to the several provinces for their local purposes, and the support of their governments and legislatures may be found in the proposal following, that Is to say

Then, axe recited the different grievances and the schedule of yearly payments that should be added to the provincial subsidies. This only goes to show that this claim for the readjustment of provincial subsidies, or what some federalists call raids on the Federal exchequer, did not come from the 'province of Quebec. Such questions are discussed in the province of Quebec just as well as in the other provinces ; and when I find that the province of Ontario adopted the resolutions of the interprovincial conference, I am inclined to say that surely this question must be a very important one, worthy of the consideration of this House and country. Why should we avoid a discussion of such an interesting question ? It is well known to-day that the circumstances under which the provinces joined confederation are no longer the same. We receive, as the hon. member for Halton (Mr. Henderson) said, a moment ago, a yearly subvention of 80 cents per head, based on the census of 1861. Well, at the time that this amount was granted to the provinces, it was considered that it would be sufficient to meet the cost of the administration of justice and the maintenance of jails and other services. But it is fairly demonstrated to-day that the population has increased considerably, especially in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The circumstances have completely changed, and as the old English proverb puts it, 'Circumstances alter cases.' This question can very fairly be considered, I repeat. Every true friend of this confederation and of the Dominion parliament should be in sympathy with provincial sentiments and aspirations. The provinces were constituted to live and not to die, and it is the duty of the Federal government to protect them. It has been said that they have gone deeply into debt. To a certain extent that may be true. True

it is that in Quebec we have a large debt of about .$25,000,000 or $30,000,000 ; but, as the hon. Minister of Public Works has said, if we have a large public debt, the interest on it is regularly paid, and it is a debt which the financiers of London were pleased to increase when we made a call on them. It must not be forgotten also that we have in the province of Quebec practically no municipal debt, which cannot be said of some of the other provinces. The province of Quebec has taken hold of certain public works, which the other provinces would not undertake, but left them to be done by the municipalities. Those were outside the ordinary administration of our affairs, with respect to which we stand on an equal footing as compared with the other provinces. I did not intend to make a speech this evening on a readjustment of the subsidies, but I say that we should not be afraid to face that question fairly. It is an open question, and one which it is fitting we should discuss, because the provinces are entitled to some consideration in this compact of confederation. I repeat that the claim of Prince Edward Island has been well established, and if the reasons given by the members of this administration are not considered sufficient by some hon. gentlemen opposite, let me tell them that if they are as loyal as they pretend to be, and I have no doubt they are, they should take the advice of the home authorities. They should take the advice of Lord Granville, who suggested to the Prince Edward Island delegation, that the Federal government of that day-some ten or fifteen years ago-should give that little province a tunnel in order that it might have direct communication with the mainland.

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CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLANCY.

It was an extravagant suggestion.

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX.

It was not. I think the case was well put; and if an arbitration had taken place, the result would have been in favour of Prince Edward Island. But perhaps I may say that while I speak for my own county, I would not like to bring such a petty question as its claim to consideration into a debate of this magnitude. But although I would not urge the Federal government to give a tunnel to the Magdalen Islands in order that they might have continuous communication with the mainland, I think I am entitled to ask the Minister of Marine, who is so well disposed in favour of Prince Edward Island, to give the Magdalen Islands, which are closed during six months of the year, a little help in this way.

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CON

Matthew Henry Cochrane

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCHRANE.

I suppose you got that promise before the elections ?

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX.

No, I never made any such promise. The people voted with pleasure for the present government and sustained it by a very large majority.

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LIB
CON

Matthew Henry Cochrane

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCHRANE.

With the expectation of getting something.

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX.

No, I would not ask for anything unreasonable. I would not ask the Minister of Marine and Fisheries to give us continuous winter communication, but I would point out to him that if that old steamer, the Stanley, is no longer fit to keep up continuous communication between Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, the Magdalen Islands should get the benefit of that steamer for a few trips during the winter months.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

If the Minister of Public Works was right when he stated that we might find some newspapers declaring that a raid was being intended by the province of Quebec upon the Dominion treasury, I am afraid that we may possibly see in tomorrow's papers in the province of Quebec or at any rate in some of them, the statement that the hon. member for GaspS has been defending his province most eloquently against attacks upon it from this side, and I do not think that that would be justifiable. I heard my hon. friend from East York (Mr. Maclean) warn the government that there was danger in the granting of the claim-and I do not for a moment pronounce on the merits of the scheme under discussion-but I did not hear him intimate that we had anything to fear from the province of Quebec. I heard the hon. member for Lanark (Mr. Haggart) say that his own province had claims to urge against the government, but I did not hear him say anything that would lead us to believe that we had anything to fear from the province of Quebec. I heard the hon. member for Halton speak in the same sense, and I do not know where the Minister of Public Works or the hon. member for Gaspe could find any insinuation in his remarks that any raid was contemplated by the province of Quebec.

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX.

I did not hear any hon. gentleman speak of a raid from the province on the Dominion exchequer, but I was just referring to what some papers would say.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

When the hon. members on this side spoke, they did not say anything of the kind. Each of them was preaching for his own province. It has been said that the province of Quebec is in a flourishing condition. I believe that we are well able to meet our liabilities and that though our debt may appear large, for the reasons that were indicated by the Minister of Public Works, it is no larger, proportionately, than that of the other provinces. But I think that, as has been said, you must not look a gift horse in the mouth, and, if distribution is to be made among the provinces, I do not know any man in Quebec who would object to his province getting its share. My hon. friend the Min-

4733 MAY 8, 1901 4734

ister of Public Works (Mr. Tarte) was not in the House when the hon. member for Labelle (Mr. Bourassa) went hack a good many years and pointed out a claim which X think is an equitable claim against the Dominion government. We have a claim arising out of subsidy, and have had it for a long time. That is a question which should be once more examined. I am astonished to hear the right hon. Prime Minister state that there is at present no claim of any kind from the province of Quebec before this government. The PRIME MINISTER. What claim is it? Mr. MONK. I believe that there are claims before this government- The PRIME MINISTER. What claims? Mr. MONK. The right hon. gentleman knows better than I do whether there are any. If there are none, I think it is time for us to make up some claims. I believe that upon this award which was rendered in the province of Nova Scotia, we have a most legitimate claim against the Dominion arising out of the purchase by this government of the Drummond County Railway and the subsidies paid to that railway before this bargain was made. But what I rose for was to point out that I do not believe that the province of Quebec has been singled out in any way as being a province that might make a raid upon the Dominion treasury. But, if there is going to be a raid, and that founded upon a species of right, I would like my own province to be in with the crowd. Mr. CLANCY. I do not think that the hon. member for GaspS (Mr. Lemieux) was quite disinterested in making a claim for Prince Edward Island. I am sure the House was amused to find the hon. gentleman concluding his speech with a claim for the county of GaspS. He recounted with some accuracy, I think, the stages of the proposed raid upon the Dominion treasury. But he will remember that in 1887, when this movement was put on foot, it was purely a party matter-the Liberal party trying to make a raid upon the Dominion treasury because their friends were not in office. Mr. LEMIEUX. Will my hon. friend (Mr. Clancy) allow me? Is he aware that the government of Manitoba was a Conservative government and was represented by its premier of that time, the late Mr. Norquay? Mr. CLANCY. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Lemieux) is able to name one Conservative out of seven, that is all. He knows that the matter was brought up in the province of Ontario and the resolution in favour of the conference was passed, but so strong was public sentiment that the then and now existing Liberal government dare not go a step further with the matter. Who were the men who initiated this movement ? Mr. Mercier was the leader. He sent out the invitations, and even asked the Dominion government to send a representative. But the hon. gentleman knows that the Dominion refused to attend the conference or to have anything to do with it. It was a movement put on foot by the Liberal party of the day, who wished to better their own provinces. What was the contention of the Treasurer of Ontario ? Why, Mr. Ross declared that Quebec was constantly making raids on the Dominion treasury, and that Nova Scotia also was coming forward with claims on every possible pretext. Reference has been made to the amount of municipal taxation. There is no province in the Dominion that has the municipal taxation that Ontario has. In Prince Edward Island they do not know what municipal institutions are. Mr. TALBOT. Oh, oh. Mr. CLANCY. An hon. gentleman laughs, but it is not a laugh of intelligence. If the hon. gentleman will examine the case, he will find that the services borne in the province of Ontario, and largely in his own province, by the municipalities are borne entirely by the provincial treasury in Prince Edward Island. I do not think that in Prince Edward Island they have any municipal elections as we understand them in Ontario. One thing is perfectly certain, and that is, that in other provinces the provincial treasury has contributed to education, roads and bridges and other services that are largely or wholly paid for in Ontario by the municipalities. They say that they have direct taxation in Prince Edward Island. Why, they do not know what direct taxation is. I believe that Prince Edward Island has in the neighbourhood of 150,000 inhabitants. The whole sum collected in 1897 by way of land tax- and I believe that is the only direct tax- was something like $30,000. In the single judicial county of Kent in Ontario more than that is collected for county purposes, to say nothing of the amounts collected by the municipalities that compose the county. I venture to say that five counties in the province of Ontario pay more direct taxation than the whole of Prince Edward Island-yes, two or three of them would pay more. I do not propose to discuss the matter further. I referred to it because the member for GaspS was trying to make out that the province of Ontario shared in a movement for an increase of subsidies. So far as the Liberal party is concerned, this may be true, but it never was shared by both parties. If the hon. gentleman would turn to the very journal from which he read, he will see that there was a division in the legislature and that every Con-

servative in the House voted against the proposition. As to this vote of $30,000 a year being a subsidy, there can be no doubt that it is a subsidy. The government of the day have taken upon themselves the responsibility of saying to Prince Edward Island: We owe you practically $1,000,000 ; for $30,000 a year is the interest, at 3 per cent, on $1,000,000. I will not discuss the claim on its merits, but what I wish to say is that if this is not a subsidy, hon. gentlemen opposite should have the courage and the fairness to face the people of this country and declare that they are going to give Prince Edward Island $1,000,000 and pay it out of the funds at their control rather than load upon the people for all time the payment of this sum yearly. I say it is not a fair thing. If it is to be a subsidy it is the proper way of paying subsidies ; but if it is not a subsidy, the hon. gentleman and those who are behind him are bound to come down and make provision to pay that over to Prince Edward Island now. It is all very well for hon. gentlemen to unload on posterity by these means. If the provinces come for a readjustment later on, we need not be astonished. The Minister of Finance did attend that conference for an increase of the subsidies, but the hon. gentleman was guarded also. He was not quite certain whether he would remain in, the confederation just then. He put a rider on the resolution passed by Nova Scotia, that this was not to stand in the way at least of a dissolution of the partnership later on if it was thought proper. However, we are told by the Minister of Public Works that Quebec wants no more, that she is self-sustaining. I would like to ask the hon. gentleman if Ontario should start out with an agitation for an increase, If every one of the other provinces should start out for an increase, as Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have done, and I hear one is coming from New Brunswick

The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND

CANALS. Yes, a real solid one.

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CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLANCY.

No doubt it will be a real solid one. No man will prefer a claim which he will not declare to be a solid one, beyond all possible doubt. But I appeal to the Minister of Public Works that if this is to be an all-round pressure, will he still maintain that the province of Quebec wants no more and is able to take care of itself ? Unless there are some rational means adopted for dealing with matters of this kind, I would like to know where it is going to lead us.

I am prepared to deal fairly with the weaker provinces. Circumstances may have so changed that the arrangement of subsidies in the early history of confederation might not apply now. If that he so, I think this country is big enough to deal fairly with the smaller provinces. But let us not conceal our action under all sorts of pretexts.

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CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHANCY.

Let us meet the question fairly and squarely. If we are to have a readjustment of subsidies, let us say so. But when hon. gentlemen say this is not a subsidy, then I say that no readjustment could be made in which hon. gentlemen would not have just as good a right to say it was not a subsidy. Hon. gentlemen ought to take the responsibility of their own acts. I do not propose to enter into the merits of this question, I only enter my objection that hon. gentlemen have no right, by calling it a name that has no significance, to pay this money on the ground on which subsidies are paid. If it is an equitable claim it is not a subsidy, if it is not an equitable claim, it should not be paid at all.

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The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS.

The government takes the responsibility of the policy that is now before the committee. I would like to know what is the policy of my hon. friends opposite.

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CON

Matthew Henry Cochrane

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCHRANE.

We will let you know our policy when we get in.

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

And not before ?

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The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS.

It will take some time, then, before we know it. The ex-Minister of Railways and Canals, who I am sorry to see is not in his seat, made a speech in which he said that perhaps Ontario should ask for better terms. I would like very much to know what is the policy of hon. gentlemen opposite on this point. If they have a policy let us know It. If they are prepared to ask the Federal parliament to vote additional amounts to the provinces, it is time for them to say so. The hon. gentleman who has just taken his seat (Mr. Clancy) seems to be ready to enter upon such a policy.

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CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLANCY.

My hon. friend is mistaken. I did not propose that, I said if such a policy was to be entered upon, let us do so with our eyes open, and upon some rational basis.

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The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS.

I am glad to hear the hon. gentleman say that he is not prepared to take the responsibility of such a policy ; and I apprehend that the leader of the opposition and those near him on the front benches will not take that position. Now, our position is clear. We have stated that we are not giving any subsidy. I say without hesitation that if I had believed for a moment that in giving this $30,000 a year we were opening the door for a readjustment of the provincial subsidy, I would not have consented for a moment to make this grant.

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May 8, 1901