March 12, 1902

LIB
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I think our own is the same as the English one.

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LIB

Benjamin Russell

Liberal

Mr. RUSSELL.

Perhaps I may be allowed to mention that I pointed out the difficulty in the way of such a course. Each province would think it was able to do a little better than the British parliament.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I understand that there is that difficulty. We have passed also an Act relating to conveyances by married women, a Joint Stock Company's Act, and an Act relating to factors and agents, all based on English measures, I think. Then, there is the Judicature Act and rules which are in force in our province. These are practically the same as the English, and they have been enacted, practically in the same form in Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba, as I understand. There are also various other measures which have been taken from recent English legislation. Now, the fact that these measures have been passed in my own province, and some, I believe, in other provinces, may lead to a certain uniformity of the statute law in the different provinces, which, will have the same practical effect in some measure as the legislative union which my hon. friend has so ably advocated this afternoon. In this connection, Mr. Speaker, I might say that any person who is interested in the question of codification, either in this country or the mother country can gain a great deal of information from the recent work of Sir Courtenay Ilbert, which describes the difficulties that have accompanied any progress in regard to this matter in the mother country. In mentioning this work, I might say, as a very practical matter, that the attention of my hon. friend the Minister of Justice might very well be directed towards a better and more perfect system of drafting statutes in this country. It is supposed by a great many people that any gentleman who is well versed in the laws of this country, and who is engaged in practising in the courts, is, by the very nature of his experience, capable of properly drafting a statute. We who have investigated the subject know that that is a very great fallacy indeed. A lawyer, even a lawyer of great eminence, is often a very poor person to whom to entrust the drafting of a statute. That work requires one who

is not only familar -with the laws of the : country hut who, by training, experience and the bent of his intellect is specially 1 fitted for work of that kind. Without de- i siring to cast the slightest reflection upon the condition of affairs under the present administration, without seeking to make it appear that the work done under this administration is different from that under any former administration, I venture to say that the drafting of the statutes in Canada for the past thirty years has not been at all up to the mark. I believe that this matter might well engage the attention of the government, and particularly the attention of the Minister of Justice. I think also that, as a practical matter for this parliament and this government, the attention of the government and especially of the Department of Justice might well be turned to the framing of general laws, more particularly with regard to companies.

I have in mind especially legislation with regard to railway companies. A great deal of the time of this House both in committee and in the House itself is now spent in dealing with matters that might well be governed by general provisions. With such general provisions enacted, the time of parliament could he more profitably employed in dealing with more important matters. Now, just one further remark T have to make with regard to the codification which has been spoken of by my hon. friend from Hants. I appreciate everything that the hon. gentleman has said with regard to the advantages of having codification. But I must point out to him that, under the English system, no matter how clear and definite a code may be made, it must follow from the very nature of our judicial system that that code will, from time to time, be overgrown. We cannot remove all the difficulties that will meet us by simply framing a code. The constitution of this country, the British North America Act, is in the form of a code, yet I venture to say that no lawyer in the House will disagree with me when I state that more than the half of the British North America Act, so far as any provisions which require construction at the present time are concerned, is in the shape of the decisions of the court, and not in the British North America Act itself. We may make codes in this country as long as we like, but we cannot get rid of the difficulty that these codes will become overgrown with legal decisions. Therefore, the making of a code once is not enough; the code when made must be revised from time to time; and the decisions passed upon it will require to be embodied in the new Act. if we wish to bring about the state of things that my hon. friend from Hants so much desires to see. I am in sympathy with the motive which he had in view in addressing the House to-day; but at the same time I venture to think that any action which will be productive of de-Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

finite results must come from the provinces themselves, and that the only effect of my learned friend's motion to-day will be to arouse the attention of the different provinces in pointing out to them the good results which might follow if a measure such as proposed were eventually passed by this parliament and by the legislatures of the different provinces.

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The MINISTER OF JUSTICE (Hon. Charles Fitzpatrick).

With what has fallen from the lips of the leader of the opposition with respect to drafting, I agree entirely.

I think it is an absolute necessity that we should endeavour to have better drafting in connection with our statutes. I firmly believe in the statement which I think was made by Lord Chief Justice Fitzjames Stephens, at the time he prepared the Evidence Act in England-that it is as impossible for a committee of men to draft a law as it is impossible for a committee of artists to paint a picture. There must be unity so far as possible, and when our statutes go through committees it is important that they should pass into the hands of a competent draftsman so as to be put in proper shape before finally becoming law.

With what has been said on the subject of codes, I cannot of course be expected to agree. I myself come from the land of codes, from the province of Quebec, where we have a civil code, and where we have a code of procedure; and I believe myself in the words of the quotation that Smith adopted in relation to his volume of leading cases. ' Melius est petere fontes quam sectare rivulos.' Now, we must bear in mind that all the laws which have ever survived in this world are those that took the form of codes. To-day the Roman empire has passed away, but the Institutes of Justinian are a living force in all civilized countries. The name of Napoleon is growing more and more to be a tradition, but the Napoleonic Code is a necessity in all civilized countries.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

My hon. friend should not understand that I was opposed to codification. I was only pointing out the result of the codification of statutes in England and in Nova Scotia, with which I am ' more particularly familiar, respecting a body ; of judicial decisions.

: The MINISTER OF JUSTICE. Of course,

notwithstanding that we in Quebec have our code. That code is construed by the i courts, and the construction put upon i articles of the code by the courts ought 5 naturally to have great force with us. They l have not force of law, but they certainly t have force of reason. Now, let us come l to the motion my hon. friend has pro-l posed. My hon. friend from Yarmouth (Mr. 1 Flint) said that this motion is not one of t verv great importance. I am disposed to t think myself that the subject is one rather - of academical importance than of .real prac-

tical importance. But my learned friend asks us by his motion to declare that the time has arrived when we should have uniformity of legislation in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Ontario. Now, I think this motion is not of very great importance because, as pointed out by the leader of the opposition, section 94 of the British North America Act provides that before legislation which would be passed here could become operative as a law, it would be necessary for us to have that legislation approved by the local legislatures. Therefore, I think that the practical way to proceed in this matter would be to ask the local legislatures how soon they are going to be disposed to commit suicide, because the effect of this legislation would be to deprive them of power to legislate with respect to those subjects which warrants their continued existence. If yon take from out of the jurisdiction of the local legislatures the laws affecting property and civil rights, then you have taken from them all those subjects which make their continued existence justifiable.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

So much the better.

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The MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

I am glad to hear my hon. friend say so much the better, because he evidently agrees with the hon. member for Lanark (Mr. Ilaggart). The hon. member for Lanark says that the intention of the fathers of confederation was that we should have, not a federal but a legislative union. Now, if he will pardon me for saying so, I think he is entirely mistaken in making that statement. Undoubtedly the intention of Sir John A. Macdonald and of those who followed him at that time was to have legislative union. But if he will read the speech made by George Brown, which he will find reported in the debates on confederation, if he will read the speech made by D'Arcy McGee-and I claim that no man took a greater part nor contributed in larger measure to bring about confederation than D'Arcy McGee-if my hon. friend will read the speeches made by George Brown and D'Arcy McGee, he will find that they both declared at that time- and they were not French Canadians, Brown was not from the province of Quebec-that they were in favour of a Federal union. It is, however, well for us to know that Sir John A. Macdonald desired to have a legislative union; and it is also well for us to note the admissions that fell from the hon. member for Lanark, to the effect that, having failed to get the principle of legislative union consecrated by the British North America Act, Sir John still fondly hoped that he might rely upon the Supreme Court, and upon the Privy Council, to defeat the intentions of those who brought about confederation, and to bring about a legislative union by means of judicial construction, It is well we should know that, and while I admit with the hon. member for Yarmouth that the debate is in itself not very important, the admissions which we have from the trusted lieutenant of Sir John A. Macdonald are exceedingly important.

Speaking now, not as a representative from the province of Quebec, but merely as a Liberal, I say that I stand for local selfgovernment. My hon. friend from Hants (Mr. Russell) says we all stand for local selfgovernment. He stands for local self-government, and he preaches legislative union; because after all, as I said a moment ago, if you take away from the provinces the power to deal with these questions of property and civil rights, you are taking away from them all those things which have been assigned to them as subjects of legislation and without which they would no longer have any reason to exist. Therefore, I say as a Liberal that I stand for local self-government, and I will tell you why. I remember reading not many years ago a speech of Mr. Gladstone in which he said, speaking to a meeting of Liberals, that we should cherish municipal, local and even parochial liberties, not only as nursery grounds for the production here and there of able men, but for the general training of public virtue and independent spirit. Those should be the views and the desire of the Liberal party. We do not want centralization, because centralization leads to paternalism in government. We want decentralization, because we want the development of the individual. I say more, we want our laws made by those men who are immediately under the control of public opinion, of the public opinion of the localities to be affected by those laws. In a country of this sort, where we have got a variety of races, with such a variety of interests, with such a variety of climatic conditions, laws affecting property and civil rights which, in the maritime provinces or in Ontario, would be acceptable, could not be made applicable in the altered conditions which exist in British Columbia and Manitoba. So I say it is in the interests of the people themselves that they should have local legislatures working under their immediate control, in order that the members of those legislatures may be in closer touch with public opinion and more amenable to that public opinion.

Now I do not know that it is necessary for me to have made this digression. But perhaps I ought to mention that this is not a new movement. When the hon. member for Lanark said that it was the intention of Sir John Macdonald to have a legislative union, and also that he hoped that the courts would help him to defeat the object of the fathers of confederation when they gave their assent to a federal union, he omitted to tell us that before the Supreme Court was established he had attempted that which the hon. member for Hants says we ought to do to-day. As far back as 1868, Col. Gray, then a member of this House, representing the city of St. John,

was requested by Sir John Macdonald to make a report on the condition of the existing laws in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario, in order to see how far it would be possible to bring about that which my hon. friend says is so desirable-that is to say, to provide uniformity in legislation. I remember reading in a book published by Col. Gray, a great many of the arguments-I do not say they were in the same form, and I do not suggest at all that they came from the same source as that from which my hon. friend drew his arguments- but they were on a line with a great many of the contentions we heard to-day. They were arguments to show the advantages of uniformity of legislation. But, when the question came up in this House, and was discussed here, Dorion, Blake, Mills, and other leading men of the day were found opposing the proposed motion, and as a result the whole matter was allowed to drop. The debates of that day do not contain any reference to what took place in the House. There was then no ' Hansard,' and I have had but a few moments to look through what is known as the scrap book ' Hansard ' of the time and I have found no reference to the debate. But, the matter may be found discussed editox-ially in the newspapers of the day. Now, I am not speaking now as coming from the province of Quebec, but I say it is impossible for a Liberal to favour action of this sort, because the necessary tendency is to break down those barriers which are essential to the maintenance of a federal union. At the present time there can be no reason why we should move in that direction. We have had a good many years experience of the British North America Act, which would enable us to point out any inconveniences that might result from the operation of that Act, but, to-day we have had very few instances of such inconveniences pointed out to us. But, I would like to draw my hon. friend's attention to this, that after the experience we have had, and after the experience that they have had in the United States, we find the Australian Commonwealth not only asking for legislation on the lines of our Federation Act, but going farther in the direction of decentralization, in the direction of giving power to the provinces, or to the states as they are called. You will find that under the Act adopted by the Australian Commonwealth, the residuary power is in the states. Let me say in conclusion, that I want to put it again to the House that I do not speak as a member coming from the province of Quebec. But of course, I cannot help feeling that this action would be a menace in so far as Quebec is concerned. We are happy in the possession ^and enjoyment of privileges which we cherish, and I say here and now that in so far as the province of Quebec is concerned, we have to realize that those privileges that we enjoy came to us through the Bri-Hon. Mr. FITZPATRICK.

tish North America Act, which was enacted by the Imperial legislature; and that the people of that province should bear in mind, as I am sure they do bear in mind, that they must look for the maintenance of these privileges to the Imperial connection, and the more we realize that here, the better it will be for ourselves. So long as we maintain the British connection, so long as we maintain our right to go to His Majesty, to the foot of the Throne, to maintain those privileges, so long will they be respected. I say this Confederation Act is a covenant between the British people and the people of Canada, that the British people respect their covenants, and that any lessening of the tie between us and Great Britain must be detrimental to the province of Quebec, in a greater degree than to any of the other provinces of the Dominion.

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The SOLICITOR GENERAL (Hon. H. G. Carroll).

Mr. Speaker, I would not have considered it necessary to address the House on the subject now under discussion if it had not been for the remarks of the hon. member for Lanark (Hon. Mr. Haggart) and for the interjection of the hon. member for Last York (Mr. Maclean). Those who carried out the idea of the union of the provinces, thought that a day would come, perhaps, when it would be desirable to make uniform the civil laws of the three provinces, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, which were then coming into the union, and section 94 of the British North America Act was enacted. I need not quote the whole of the clause, but I shall quote the concluding part:

But any Act of the parliament of Canada, making provision for such uniformity, shall not have effect in any province unless it is adopted and enacted as law by the legislature thereof.

I wish to draw attention to the last part of this clause, ' unless it is adopted and . enacted as law by the legislature thereof.' This shows us what the intention of the fathers of confederation was; it was that the questions relating to property and civil rights were within the domain of the provinces and that it was only with the consent of such provinces that these laws could be changed or modified. This being so, what is the position to-day ? Each one of these three provinces has since its very inception, preserved its civil laws, with the addition of the amendments made thereto by the legislatures. I will ask this question of the hon. member : Is there

a real and serious grievance existing now which would necessitate the intervention of the Federal parliament in order to make uniform these laws ? In a country like ours where so many important questions occupy the attention of the Federal parliament, the latter would not be justified in interfering unless it was at the formal request of each of the provinces. If the grievances are well founded, how is it that the

voice of the legislatures has not been heard? It strikes me that they would be the first to interfere, and it has not been shown in any way that it was the wish of the provinces to change the actual state of tilings. It is said thgt there is no difference between these three provinces. They use the same language, have the same customs and the same aspirations, and as this, to a certain extent, is true, the proposed reform offers fewer obstacles than would result in an attempt to legislate for a class of people who, by their temperament, their customs, their habits, their tendencies and aspirations differ from others; but the question here is to change a system which has been tested by the experience of time and against which there is no serious complaints. If the grievances are well founded, there is a very simple way to apply a remedy. Let the local legislatures undertake themselves the task of making these laws uniform, and let them agree between themselves, in order that the various dispositions of their laws be made uniform. The hon. gentleman has enumerated what subjects could be made uniform, but I submit that these could be remedied by an understanding between the different legislatures. The resolution which the hon. member has moved, has a tint of centralization, which may have serious' consequences. It is asked that the parliament of Canada should intervene to make laws uniform in these various provinces; but, then it will be necessary to leave a gap between Ontario and New Brunswick, and agitators will ask the question, why this break in the continuity from the Ottawa river to the limits of the lower provinces, and then men not so well advised as the hon. member is, will ask why not uniformity in the laws of the whole Dominion. But the hon. gentleman will answer that there is our constitutional charter. Well it is better not to lay temptations in the way of those who are susceptible of yielding to temptation.

Though I entertain these views, I would not oppose the motion of the hon. gentleman (Mr. Russell) if it were proven that it was the wish of these three provinces that their laws be made uniform, because section 94 forms part of our constitution and that constitution we have Accepted and are ready to abide by it. This is not the first time that this question has been agitated. During the Quebec Conference, as the hon. member (Hon. Mr. Haggart)has said, the question was at issue. It was agitated in this parliament during the discussion on confederation. It was agitated in 1871, and as the Minister of Justice has said, parliament voted an appropriation, and the Hon. J. H. Gray was entrusted with the task of making a preliminary report to the then Minister of Justice. What was the conclusion of that report ?

Hon! Mr. IIAGGART. Does the hon. Solicitor General think that I ever argued that

we could pass a law here which would be effectual, without the consent of the provinces ?

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The SOLICITOR GENERAL.

I am not saying that at all. Here is the conclusion of the report of the Hon. J. H. Gray in 1871:

But there can be no doubt that an excellent practical coda of law, simple in its language, easily understood, expeditious and economical in Its administration, could be found by a judicious selection of the best of the laws of each of the provinces, by men who were severally acquainted with them.'

In this preliminary report to the then Minister of Justice, Mr. Gray sets forth the essential differences which exist between the statutory laws of these three provinces-The hon. gentleman who has moved this resolution has expressed his surprise that since that date no serious effort has been made to bring about uniformity, and he attributes that-not in this House, but in a lecture he delivered before the Dominion Bar Association-he attributes that to what he calls the vis inertiae of our parliamentary system. I would attribute it rather to the fact that no serious inconvenience, no real grievance existed. When I use the word ' grievance,' I do not mean the embarrassment which must result to the members of the Bar in the exercise of their profession, but I refer to grievances which result to the provinces themselves. I am confident that those provinces are jealous of their civil laws, and rightly so. They form part of the customs of the people, aud as the Minister of Justice has said, if any legislation would give over to this parliament the control of the civil laws in the provinces,'then the usefulness of the provinces would be at an end.

There is another consideration. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Russell) has said that section 94 would apply only to the provinces of Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Therefore, if the other provinces did not come under the provisions of section 94, we would have the western provinces, Manitoba and British Columbia-and later on the North-west Territories-and we would have in the east Prince Edward Island and Quebec with their different laws. Therefore, from a geographical point of view, at any rate, the uniformity which the hon. gentleman aims at could not be obtained. There is a still further consideration. Supposing that the parliament of Canada would enact uniform laws for these three provinces and that the provinces would sanction these laws, then the local requirements in each province would require amendments to be made. These amendments may meet the requirements of one province only and not of the other two provinces. What would the parliament of Canada then do, and what would become of the uniformity of civil laws in the three provinces of Ontario, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. The hon. gen-

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. W. F. MACLEAN (East York).

The Minister of Justice when he addressed the Iiouse, professed to be a Liberal and he held up Mr. Gladstone-as his colleagues always do-as the great type of a Liberal. But if Mr. Gladstone was anything he was an advocate of the doctrine of British constitutional progress. He believed that the constitution had not come to an end ; he believed that it could develop ; and if there is anything that places the British constitution before every other constitution in the world it is, that it has not become stereotyped, and it does grow and does progress, and under it they have the best laws in the world. Let me say that while I accept the Federal constitution as it exists, I am sorry we have it. 1 would very much prefer the government of Canada to be a free parliamentary one, as in England, with power to make a uniform law for this country from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The trouble with the Federal constitution of the United States is, that under it they have not got uniform laws, and so there is a strong agitation in the United States for uniformity, even if the constitution has to be revised. I am free to say that I am enough of a liberal and enough of a progressist to be in favour of constitutional revision, and I am sorry to hear hon. gentlemen on the other side say that the constitution of Canada is absolutely perfect and must for ever remain as it is. As was pointed out by the hon. member for Hants (Mr. Russell) there is even under the constitution as we have it, provision for constitutional progress in Hon. Mr. CARROLL.

this respect, and if so the motion of the hon. gentleman is a constitutional one, and it does away in no sense with the laws of the provinces. Speaking of the provinces, I have not a moment's hesitation in saying that the result of provincial government in Canada has been del rimental to the progress of the country. I say that the interpretation of the law that has been given by the English Privy Council in regard to the distribution of rights as between the provinces and the Federal power, has been against the interests of the country as a whole. That I regret. I agree with the hon. member for Lanark (Hon. Mr. Haggart) that some day we will have the whole jurisdiction in this parliament, and in some way we will work it out, and in some way we will increase the Federal power and wipe out gradually the provincial power. I take issue directly with hon. gentlemen who oppose that view. I say that provincial government, and the enlargement of provincial rights, has not been in the interest of this country, and I say that Sir John A. Macdonald was right, and was a most farseeing statesman if he believed in a legislative union and desired it carried out in this country.

We can say that without for one moment being chargeable with trying in any way to destroy the rights of the province of Quebec, I respect whatever rights that province has; but there is in our constitution as we have it to-day provision for constitutional progress and a unification of our laws; and notwithstanding what the Solicitor General says, the initiation of that matter is in this parliament more than in the provincial legislatures. Hon. gentlemen opposite say that they are Liberals. Are they '! I have heard their leaders say that there is nothing to reform in this country. There is reform possible under that very British North America Act, as was pointed out by the hon. member for Hants (Mr. Russell) to-day, and his statement has not been contradicted ; and there is need of reform on the lines pointed out by the hon. leader of the opposition. Yet we are told that there is no hope of progress, that the main thing ds to uphold local rights. That is the doctrine of the Minister of Justice of Canada. I take issue with him there. The thing which the Conservative party of this country committed itself to was to build up a nation, with a unification of laws, if that was possible, and that this country should in some way try to recover the federal power which has been lost to the provinces in the last few years. Although the Solicitor General quoted the instance of Australia, which has adopted a federal constitution, I say that federal constitutions have not justified themselves in the way the free parliamentary system of Great Britain has justified itself. England today, by reason of her free parliament, can do anything, and can deal with any question, and deal with it immediately in one week. In the United States, under their federal sys-

tem, where they are governed by men who have been In tfce cemetery over a hundred years, they can do nothing, and they have a multiplicity of laws that are directly against the public interest. The two great questions in the United States are how to secure a uniformity of laws and how to handle the great trusts which have grown up, and which the lack of federal law seems to prevent them dealing with effectually. So that what has been said on the other' side of the House to-day in regard to constitutions, is not borne out by the facts. The federal system, as we know, is not perfect, and it is the duty of a parliament to try to be progressive and to try to improve things. There is in our constitution, as we have it, room for progressive legislation on the lines suggested by the bon. member for Hants, and I hope that hon. gentleman will be more than academic, and will bring forward a measure in that direction. If he does, I will give him my support. That, is a much better way of dealing with questions of this kind than discussing them in an academic way. At the same time, I compliment the hon. gentleman on the step he has taken. For one thing, he has raised the question in the public mind, and has shown that constitutional revision is a live question in this country. I am not afraid to say that I am ready to see the constitution of this country revised. It has got to be revised; it is over thirty years of age. The British constitution changes every day. The time has arrived when public attention must be directed to this subject, and when it cannot be dismissed as hon. gentlemen opposite have tried to dismiss it to-day ; and the proof is that an hon. gentleman who is a supporter of the government has brought it up. The question being up, it will not down; and one reason is that the constitution may be strained too much in the province of Quebec. I say that in all friendliness-and perhaps it is being too much strained to-day by a Bill which has been introduced in regard to the Supreme Court.

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The MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

Which Bill was introduced in 1880 by one of the present judges of the Supreme Court.

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William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

I am not disputing that; but I say it is an argument for constitutional revision coming from the province of Quebec. Does the Minister of Justice deny that ?

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The MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

Not at all. The Bill is on the lines of what was suggested at the time the Supreme Court Act was introduced.

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William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

It is a straining of the constitution under the British North America Act. But the question of constitutional revision is in the air, and it must be settled in some way, and cannot be dismissed by saying that we have a stereotyped constitution. Above all things, men who call themselves Liberals and say they are living under a British constitutional system entirely ignore the spirit of that constitution when they ignore its progressive character.

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LIB

Louis Philippe Demers

Liberal

Mr. L. P. DEMERS (St. John and Iberville).

(Translation.) Mr. Speaker, according to the hon. gentleman (Mr. Maclean), who has just spoken, our constitution, which is hardly thirty years old, is in sore need of being revised. Why, Sir, one would think from what he said that he was just hailing from France, where they talk of nothing else but constitutional revision.

I think that if there is anything which places the British constitution before every other constitution in the world, it is that it progresses very little and in an almost imperceptible way. Clearly, my hon. friend from East York (Mr. Maclean) does not share on that point the ideas of the great English parliamentarians. But it seems he would fain import his ideas from France, a country whose law-makers, when they are not busy with framing a new constitution, which occurs every twenty years, make up for it by agitating every year the question of constitutional revision, so as to keep abreast of the times.

The hon. member from East York (Mr. Maclean) in his comments upon the Bill I have introduced this afternoon, stated that I was aiming at the overthrow of our constitution. The hon. gentleman may rest assured that I have no such ambition, as I am perfectly satisfied with the constitution as it is now. This Bill aims at restricting appeals to federal matters. The constitution provides for the constitution of a Court of Appeal and of lower courts for construing the laws of Canada.

All legal authorities agree that it was open to doubt whether, under our constitution appeals could be heard by the Supreme Court in matters coming under provincial civil law ; and yet, that point was decided in the affirmative by the Supreme Court.

The object of the Bill which I have introduced is not to amend the constitution, but merely to constitute the Supreme Court into an exclusively federal court ; or in other words, as a tribunal which would pronounce judgments on all matters except such as did not come under the civil laws of the provinces. In all cases where the Dominion government or the provincial legislatures, or again, private individuals bringing an action against a province were the interested parties, this- court could hear such appeals. Therefore it is not contemplated by this Bill to change the constitution of Canada.

The hon. member for East York lias made references which are far from bolstering up his claims. There was a time when people used to sneer at the United States. And no less an authority than the illustrious Joseph de Maistre once said that the United States of America was yet a child in swaddling

clothes, and that it must be allowed to grow and develop, before pronouncing upon the merits of its constitution. But later events have given the lie to Joseph de Maistre, and all the European powers agree that the American Republic is now occupying one of strongest positions in the eyes of the world. Through their federal system of government, and through their own exertions, they have reached one of the proudest positions as a nation, not only in the new world, but in the whole world.

My hon. friend has also scornfully referred to federation. Why, Sir, does the hon. gentleman forget that the Imperial parliament, which is the embodiment of the ideas and feelings of the English people, which is perhaps the most practical and the wisest of all peoples, has just granted to the Australian colonies a federative constitution, and that parliament did so, in the light of the experience of the working of the Canadian constitution ? And yet, the nation they had to deal with was a perfectly homogeneous people. Unless you should pretend that we are to be treated as outlanders in this country of ours, you will agree that it is necessary that our laws should not be interfered with.

But, Sir, England is not the only country in Europe from which we may take an object lesson in this matter. And that lessou, we learn it from a country which successfully competes with the United States and Great Britain herself ; a country, I say, that has taken the lead in literature, in science, in political economy, and that country, Sir, is Germany. Since Germany has evolved into a confederation, she has reached the status of one of the greatest world-powers. From the example of Germany we may gather that the fate of Canada is not so much to be pitied after all, and that there is no reason why we should hasten to do away with the covenant entered into by our fathers in 1867, by which the French minority has been guaranteed the rights secured under the treaties.

At six o'clock House took recess.

After Eecess.

House resumed at eight o'clock.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   PROPERTY AND CIVIL RIGHTS.
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CONSIDERED IN COMMITTEE-THIRD READINGS.


Bill (No. 12) An Act respecting the Edmonton and Slave Lake Railway Company.- Hon. Mr. Costigan. Bill (No. 10) An Act respecting the Orford Mountain Railway Company (as amended by Select Standing Committee on Railways, Canals and Telegraph Lines).-Mr. Parmelee. On motion of the Prime Minister, House adjourned at 8.20 p.m.


LIB

Louis Philippe Demers

Liberal

Mr. DEMERS (St. John & Iberville).

Thursday, Jfcirch 13, 1902.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   CONSIDERED IN COMMITTEE-THIRD READINGS.
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March 12, 1902