March 1, 1905


Right Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, G.C.M.G., Ottawa. To this I answered yesterday in the following terms : Ottawa, February 28, 1905. My dear Sifton,-I received yesterday your letter of same date, whereby you tender me your resignation as a member of the government. Thhre is no alternative to me, but to accept it, and with much regret, it will be my duty to place it in the hands of His Excellency. After our conversation of the other day, I had left you with the Impression that the differences between us were more of words than of substance, and until I received your letter, I had cherished the hope that it would he possible ere this to find a comparatively easy solution. Whilst I feel more regret than I can express , at this termination of our official relations, let' me assure you that should our old friendship be ever impaired, the fault will not be mine. Yours very sincerely, WILFRID LAURIER. The Hon. Clifford Sifton, Ottawa. Tlio resignation has been placed in the hands of His Excellency, who lias been pleased to accept it.


LIB

Clifford Sifton

Liberal

Hon. CLIFFORD SIFTON.

Tlie statement made by the right bon. the Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) necessitates a very short explanation to the House on my part. When it was determined that during this session of parliament legislation should be introduced creating new provinces out of a portion of the Northwest Territories, I felt called upon, in view of the history of Mr. HYMAN.

the educational question in Canada, to give very serious consideration to the position which I should take with regard to the legislative power to be conferred upon the provinces in regard to the subject of education. It was necessary that conferences should take place with members of parliament representing the Northwest Territories and with the representatives of the Territorial government, upon the subject of education and other subjects involved in the Bill. These conferences were unavoidably postponed until after the beginning of the new year, by reason of the absence of the Prime Minister, who, after the general election, was compelled to take a short rest, and was therefore absent from the country. Shortly before the time fixed for bolding these conferences I was compelled by my own state of health to leave Ottawa, and was therefore unable to be present at the discussions which took place. Before leaving I discussed with the Prime Minister most of the subjects that necessarily required to lie dealt with in the Bill which was to be introduced, and so far as I was able to do so at that time, I communicate(i my views to him upon the various subjects. I may say that when I went away I did not anticipate that it would be considered necessary to introduce the Bill for creating the new provinces, before I returned. As members of tlie House are aware, I returned to the capital on Thursday afternoon. I immediately took occasion to read carefully the speech which the right bon. the Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) had delivered in introducing the Bill. I regretted that in the right lion, gentleman's address I found some principles enunciated with which I am unable to agree. On Friday, the next day after I returned, at the earliest possible moment, I procured a copy of the educational clause of the Bill which my leader had introduced. That clause is as follows :

16. The provisions of section 93 of the British North America Act. 1867, shall apply to the said provinces 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 therein always he 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 assess-

ment 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, aud in the distribution of any moneys paid to the government of the said province arising from the school fund established by the Dominion Lauds 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.

That is the clause which is contained in the Bill which was introduced by the leader of the government. Between Friday, when . I procured a copy of the clause, and Monday morning I gave the subject my best consideration, aud I had the privilege in the meantime of having an interview with the Prime Minister on the subject. As the result of such consideration X determined that I could not endorse or support the principle of the educational clauses. Under these circumstances, Mr. Speaker, my duty became perfectly clear, and on Monday morning I wrote to the Prime Minister tendering my resignation as a member of the cabinet. Subsequently, I expressed the desire that my resignation should be acted upon at once and to that wish the Prime Minister has now assented.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, not intending and not considering it proper at this time to enter into a discussion of the merits of the matter which has caused the difference between myself and my leader, I have only to add my regret that circumstances have compelled the severance of my official relations with my leader and with my colleagues with whom my relations have always been of the most harmonious and pleasant character, and with whom upon other questions I am in entire accord. The circumstances. however, in my judgment, make my duty perfectly clear-, and it does not seem possible for me to properly consider anything except the principles which are involved.

Topic:   CLIFFORD SIFTON.
Permalink
CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. GEO. E. FOSTER (North Toronto).

Mr. Speaker, I quite agree with the hon. gentleman, the retiring minister (Hon. Mr. Sifton) that this is not the time to undertake the discussion of the principles involved in the Bill. But, with the two statements which have been read and with the reading of the statements and the causes which make the reading of the statements necessary this afternoon, we alone have to deal and with these I shall deal for a moment with your kindly permission. It did not come as a matter of surprise to this side of the House that the Minister of the Interior should at some early period read liis letter of resignation, or give his reasons for resigning to this House, nor do I think it came as a matter of surprise to hon. gentlemen who are within the secrets of the party on the other side of the House. We all remember the peculiar circumstances under which this Bill appears to have been

framed and to have been rushed before the House. It did seem an odd and almost unexplainable thing that a Bill of such importance should be framed in the absence of two of the most responsible ministers in the House as regards the country and the scope of territory in which that Bill was to be operative, and having respect to the declaration of policy which I think a year or two ago was made in this House when, with some new idea of a division of ministerial responsibility, it was announced that certain ministers were to be held more or less accountable for the particular provinces or sections from which they came. This was exemplied in the case of the hon. Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Fisher) in his intermeddling with the militia matters of this country. During the last few weeks this important Bill has been framed and has been laid before the House in the absence of the hon. Minister of the Interior, who was especially charged with the supervision of and the responsibility for the Northwest Territories and the west generally. AVe were led to think that possibly the second chapter of what took place' on an almost similar line a year or two ago was being prepared for the House and the country. It is well known that at that time a most important railway Bill was conceived and formed and was almost, if not quite, presented to this House behind the back of the responsible Minister of Railways and Canals, whose office it should have been to have aided in the consideration and preparation of that Bill. We were of late led still more to suppose this from a remark which fell casually, but rather acridly, from the lips of the right hon. Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) himself, who, when, not long ago, asked about the time when we might expect the introduction of the Bill, gave as his answer that it would probably be introduced at a certain time, and when some inquiring mind of the many inquiring minds on this side of the House put the question to the right hon. Prime Minister as to whether the hon. the Minister of the Interior would be back by that time, the right hon. Prime Minister, as I say, rather sharply retorted that he did not know whether lie would or not, but that he, the Prime Minister, would be here. Taking all this with the history of this Bill into consideration it did not come as a surprise to this part of the House, and I doubt very much if it fell as much of a surprise upon hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House. But, it is a still stranger thing that the hon. Minister of the Interior, a most important member of the cabinet at any time and a specially important member of the cabinet as regards the conception and arrangement of this Bill, did not actually know, although it is supposed that telegraph wires stretch from here to almost all parts of the United States of America in some particular portion of which the hon.

Minister of the Interior has been for the past number of weeks, of the educational clauses of this Bill until after he had returned to this city and to this House when he obtained a copy of the clause. One would have thought that on the general theory of responsible government, of a cabinet acting unitedly, of a cabinet acting wisely, consulting with every unit of the cabinet, as, I think it is in duty bound to do, in order to secure the united wisdom of the whole of the cabinet, that the hon. Minister of the Interior would have been consulted with, not even by telegraph or letter does it seem that the hon. Minster of the Interior was apprised of the one prominent clause in the Bill in which it would be supposed naturally that he would be very much interested.

The excuse, the reason, is given to-day- and we are bound to take the reason in a parliamentary sense-that the hon. gentleman is retiring because he could not find it consistent with his principles to accede to that particular clause in the Autonomy Bill, but from what I have stated and from what we have seen, it would be easily inferred, I think, by any member of this House that there is a reasonable doubt as to whether or not that was the cause of the resignation, as to whether the deliberate actions of the Prime Minister and the rest of the Cabinet heretofore have not made it quite abundantly apparent that it was the intention to get rid of the hon. gentleman whether he got out on this particular clause of the Bill or on some other. The Prime Minister has not quite satisfied the curiosity of the House. Outside of the information which was conveyed to us by the bulletin boards there are other rumours which are abroad in the corridors of this House, abroad on the streets of the city and, I dare say, are tingling the wires, which stretch from Ottawa to different parts of this country even now while we are speaking. And why? It is stated that another important minister, another important member of the cabinet of the right hon. gentleman, is deliberating as to whether he shall not follow in the tracks-no, I would not put it that way-but follow, at least, the example of the hon. the Minister of the Interior who has retired, in also expressing his formal and unqualified dissent from this Bill. There might be some reasons which would impose on us the idea that there is truth in that. I could hardly reconcile to my own mind the idea of a Prime Minister and a cabinet undertaking to frame and to put before the country so important a Bill as this, involving no trivial and unimportant financial burdens, but involving very onerous and continuous and growing financial burdens upon this country, I cannot, I say, understand how a Bill of that kind could be conceived, put into form and introduce'd into this House in the absence of the Minister of Finance, who is responsible, if any man in the cabinet is responsible, for the Mr. FOSTER.

financial interests of this country. Was he also altogether and entirely in the dark with reference to this Bill? Did he know the clauses, financial or otherwise, before he came back to Ottawa and ascertained what they were by asking for a copy of the Bill? Was there such an urgent necessity for the introduction of the Bill that a delay of at least two or three days could not have been given until both the-Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Finance should have had opportunity to meet their colleagues in Council and by word of mouth and interchange of ideas, see if an amicable and united conclusion could not be had? Now, we would be very loath to lose the Minister of Finance.

Topic:   CLIFFORD SIFTON.
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Hear, hear.

Topic:   CLIFFORD SIFTON.
Permalink
CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

His pleasant countenance is always an inspiration to us-when it is not the opposite, and it is not often it is the opposite. But we would like to have this set at rest and to hear the Prime Minister state whether there is any truth in the rumour which is persistent that the Minister of Finance, not having been consulted, is not altogether at one with the rest of the cabinet in relation to this Bill. We must bid adieu to the Minister of the Interior with varying feelings. We do it some with sympathy ; some will say he has fought the fight and finished the course-I am not going to say how good a course it was-and he has entered into his reward. Probably he has had his reward before; possibly, like the late Minister of Railways and Canals, there is some glorious future awaiting him in some of the large official charges of this country. Anyway, if he leaves us as Minister of the Interior, he has not stated that he is going to leave us as member and we will still have him with us to remonstrate with and to counsel and as far as we can abiding iu good will and friendship.

Topic:   CLIFFORD SIFTON.
Permalink
IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, partly as a question of privilege I desire to refer now to the question before the House, and I would ask the right hon. gentleman, who lives in the ramshackle house now, and who is the Samson who has pushed down the pillars and has the roof upon him and his co-ministers in the government? The other day the right hon. gentleman said I was quixotic. Well, there is this at least to be said about Don Quixote, that he was a country gentleman, a man of high honour and that he died with good Christian burial. If I must search for a historical reference to the hon. gentleman after what has happened here to-day, I could think of no one else than one of these autocratic Russian grand dukes of whom we hear at the present time. He has confessed here and the late Minister of the Interior has confessed here that in this House on Monday of this week when I asked where was the Minister of the Interior and the right hon. gentleman said it was for me to have him here, that he

knew then, as the House knows now, that he was not in his cabinet and was not in his administration. What is the reason of all this ? This autocratic Prime Minister that we have in this country eight years ago using the words of Bismarck said: We

shall not go to Canossa. The right hon. gentleman has been to Three Rivers; he has made the treaty of Three Rivers, and in pursuance of that treaty he has chosen in his autocratic way to bring down a Bill dealing with the great questions now at issue without consulting his colleagues. It is said that in the preparation of this Bill he consulted only three of his ministers, of whom two came from his own province of Quebec. I do not propose to discuss the Bill, but I know now why the Minister of the Interior has left the government; it is now known that it is on the school question and it is on the land question as I said on Monday-* but it is more. The right hon. gentleman in introducing a certain measure in this House argued on three grounds, the constitutional ground, the ground of policy, and he argued for separate schools per se and it is because the proposition is for separate schools per se that the late Minister of the Interior has had to leave the administration.

Topic:   CLIFFORD SIFTON.
Permalink
LIB

Robert Franklin Sutherland (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

I presume the hon. gentleman (Mr. W. P. Maclean) intends to conclude with a motion)

Topic:   CLIFFORD SIFTON.
Permalink
IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr W. E. MACLEAN.

Yes, I have certainly the right to speak somewhat from the standpoint of privilege, but I intend to conclude with a motion. There is another thing in regard to this question. There is a good old verse in the Bible which says that all they who take to the sword shall perish by the sword; and I say that all those who take to provincial rights and school questions will die by provincial rights and school questions. The handwriting is on the wall.

Topic:   CLIFFORD SIFTON.
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Oh, oh.

Topic:   CLIFFORD SIFTON.
Permalink
IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. W. P. MACLEAN.

Yes, and the right hon. gentleman has lost not only his Minister of the Interior, the Napoleon of the West, but that panegyrist of his, who set the right hon. gentleman up as the greatest statesman we have ever had in this country, and who glorified the late Minister of the Interior as the Napoleon of the West. The two of them are now joined together against the right hon. gentleman. He has lost his chief organ, the Toronto ' Globe,' or this question ; he has lost the Montreal * Witness,' another of his organs ; and I am afraid that he is now about to repudiate the last organ he appears to have left, ' Le Soleil,' that organ which, in its pontifical way, said the other day: 'We are the

organ of Sir Wilfrid, and every one must take note of it and govern themselves accordingly.'

I now come to the question of the school lands and the way little Manitoba is treat-59

ed ; and again I call the attention of the hon. member for Lisgar (Mr. Greenway), wdio is now in his place, to this declaration of the leading organ of the right hon. gentleman, that it was the intention to punish Manitoba because she had vindicated provincial rights in connection with educational matters. The province of Manitoba has an area of only 74,000 square miles, while the proposed provinces are to have an area of nearly 300,000 square miles each. But the province of Manitoba happens to be in favour of public education, and she is to be punished ; and now the House and the country will be able to see how all this came about. If you extended the limits of the province of Manitoba to the west, the result would be that the portion of territory to the east would have the right to regulate its own educational affairs, while the other portion of the same territory would be shackled. That is the reason wThy Manitoba is being punished. And so it turns out, after all the taunts that I was met with here on Monday, that I was right when I said that Manitoba was being punished, and that the Dominion Lands Act would have to be changed in order to carry out the proposal made in the Bill. I was given what was called a categorical denial ; but to-day I have received a categorical affirmation from the late Minister of the Interior, I warn the right hon. gentleman that he is engaged in a quixotic career if he fancies that he and his party, which claims to be the party of provincial rights, can shackle the two new provinces of the west and impose a separate school system upon them without consulting the people. He does not consult his own ministers- the confession is made to-day. And what is to be the fate of that minister who today declares that he has not been consulted? He is to be Tartified and Blairified, like the other ministers w ho have resigned ; and the same fate awaits any one else who chooses not to come under this new czardom which we have in this country, under which not even a cabinet minister is to be consulted in regard to public policy ; under which that great free west, which feels more keenly on these great public questions than we do in the east, is not to be consulted through its recognized minister, but this hasty and ill-advised proposal is to be introduced into this House in >his absence.

I congratulate the late Minister of the Interior upon having the courage to come cut. I can say this at least of him, that he has justified to-day that mission which he made several years ago into my own province, into the county of Haldimand, to say that he came to the province of Ontario to ask for our sympathy because it was proposed to put shackles upon his province ; because, he said, if the province of Manitoba is shackled to-day, the time wriil come when the greater provinces to

the west will be treated in the same way. It turns out now that this treatment is being meted out by the czar of the Liberal party without consulting his colleagues. And this man of autocratic tendencies gets up In this House and reads us a lecture and calls us all kinds of nameo; and yet, within less than forty-eight hours of his lecture to me, everything I said has been justified and proved true. The right hon. gentleman to-day stands discredited in this House. He stands discredited of his own colleagues; he stands discredited in the different provinces, especially in the province of Ontario, and by his own newspaper, the ' Globe.' The right hon. gentleman quot-*ed George Brown. The right hon. gentleman actually read into the constitution the utterances of George Brown's newspaper and George Brown's speeches, in justification of this proposal of his to shackle these great new provinces of the west. The right hon. gentleman has failed. He has no justification for his proposal except as a matter of policy. But he has not made it a question of policy. He made a bogus constitutional argument, and then he made a moral argument, and that moral argument was what ? Many a time in this House the right hon. gentleman has read us a lesson about respect for our neighbours ; but there never was a more insulting statement made to the people of the United States than that statement of his that they were immoral, that divorces, lynchings and murders prevailed in their country, and that the reason of Canada's superiority in this respect was that dogma was taught in our public schools.

Topic:   CLIFFORD SIFTON.
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Order.

Topic:   CLIFFORD SIFTON.
Permalink
IND
?

An hon. MEMBER.

Thank you.

Topic:   CLIFFORD SIFTON.
Permalink
IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. W. F. MACLEAN.

Nay, more ; I go further and say, I for one would not lift my hand to prevent the people of these western provinces having separate schools if they desire them. But my plea is that the question must be left to them-that we must not impose these schools upon them. I am ready to declare here or anywhere else -shall I say as a radical or a democrat ?- for the principle of the entire separation of church and state, so far as our constitution will permit it. The right hon. gentleman is in this House to-day as the champion of a new alliance between church and state, Again I warn him that he is on dangerous ground. Again I tell him that he who takes to the sword shall perish by the *sword. He who apparently, a few weeks ago, entered on a long career of office, is today face to face with the handwriting on the wall. I would like to see the right hon.

Topic:   CLIFFORD SIFTON.
Permalink
IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. W. F. MACLEAN.

gentleman introduce great measures into this House, and not bring up questions of this kind. I do not want to say anything against my hon. friend who has retired from office to-day ; but if there is one thing he can recall, it is this : He came in on that wave ; he goes out on that wave; whither it will carry him I leave him to find out in his own experience.

Topic:   CLIFFORD SIFTON.
Permalink
IND
LIB

Robert Franklin Sutherland (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

There is still no question before the House.

Topic:   CLIFFORD SIFTON.
Permalink
IND
IND

Leighton Goldie McCarthy

Independent

Mr. LEIGHTON G. MCCARTHY.

The hon. member for South York (Mr. W. F. Maclean) has referred to matters which, perhaps should not have been referred to in discussing the question before the House. But, lest my silence should be misconstrued,

I desire to make a short statement. I occupy, on this question, a much different position from that occupied, probably, by any other member in this House. My hon. friend from South York refers to the campaign of some ten years ago in the county of Haldimand. The fact was referred to that, 011 that occasion, the ex-Miuister of the Interior (Mr. Sifton) and myself stood on the same platform when we were fighting the men who are now calling in question the actions which have taken place and have caused that hon. gentleman's (Mr. Sifton's) retirement. Therefore, for the last ten years, my position on the school question lias been defined. I also fought on the school question in 1895 in Cardwell, and again in June 1896 was the school question fought out in my riding. From that day to this, I have remained firm and free, so far as my constituency was concerned, upon this question, and I have been thrice endorsed upon it. Therefore, I simply rise to announce to this House as I announced the fust time I spoke in the House and as I have previously announced to individual members, that I am, like the ex-Minister of the Interior, absolutely opposed to the education clauses as submitted in the Autonomy Bills ; that I will oppose them and oppose them unalterably.

Topic:   CLIFFORD SIFTON.
Permalink
CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. S. SPROULE (East Grey).

I do not rise to anticipate the discussion on the Bill that will shortly be before us or to explain to the House where I stand on the question-I think my position is pretty well known. But I rise merely to say that, so far as the Prime Minister has given this House his confidence, and so far as he has explained the position, all is well. But some of us thought he might well have gone a little further. Perhaps to expect that would be to ask him to anticipate events. He did not indicate in any way who is to be the incumbent of the office

which has just been made vacant. However, that is something that concerns him more than it does us on this side of the House. But, in view of the loss from the cabinet of the representative of Manitoba and the Northwest,-and a man regarded by many as one of the ablest members of the cabinet to which he belonged, I wish to ask the Prime Minister if he does not think that it would be well to tell this House that he is prepared to drop that clause of the Bill ? I wish also to congratulate the hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Sifton) who has just resigned, and to congratulate ourselves who are opposed to this feature of the Bill upon the acquisition by our ranks of that hon. gentleman and also of the hon. member for North Simcoe (Mr. L. G. McCarthy).

Topic:   CLIFFORD SIFTON.
Permalink

March 1, 1905