It is my duty to deal with a government measure and with the government behind that measure, and with Mr SPROULE.
the principles of constitutional government, one of which is that a cabinet shall not be divided in presenting a measure to the House. Yet these hon. gentlemen are divided to-day. I need not ask the Minister of Finance how long he has taken to analyze this Bill and reach the conclusion he has reached? We were told he did not see in the light in which he now sees it until a short time ago. He may claim to be excused on that ground for not having a very definite knowledge of the measure. But the father of the Bill says, that the constitution compels him to do what he now proposes. Now, to satisfy myself I thought I would apply to an authority whose opinion would be respected in this House, one who I have heard the right hon. Prime Minister and other hon. members on the other side quote approvingly more than once. I say this because the contention was set up that on account of separate schools being there today, we were not free, in giving the provinces provincial autonomy, to ignore those schools and allow the provinces to legislate according to their own judgment. I submitted the question to Mr. Christopher Robinson, K.C., who is well known I think, as high a constitutional lawyer as can be found in this country. I submitted several questions which were embraced in the speech of the First Minister, and I wish to read his opinion, because it is in my judgment in accord with the opinion announced by the leader of the opposition yesterday, and buttressed by many citations of constitutional authorities. Mr. Robinson says :
The right of the Dominion parliament to impose restrictions upon the provinces about to be formed in dealing with the subject of education and separate schools, is, I think, not beyond question.
They have the right to do it.
This would require more consideration than I have been able yet to give to it, and must ultimately be settled by judicial decision.
Remember, it is not the question whether we have any power to interfere with the province at all, it is a question of whether this parliament must do it, not whether we have power to do it.
I am asked, however, whether parliament is constitutionally bound
The First Minister says : I am constitutionally bound.
I am asked whether parliament is constitutionally bound to impose any such restriction, or whether it exists otherwise, and I am of opinion in the negative.
Now I am not directing this to the Minister of Finance, because he does not hold that opinion, but I am directing it to his premier who does hold it, with a view to getting the different' members of the cabinet in accord.
It must be borne in mind that I am concerned only with the question of legal obligation. What the parliament ought to do or should do in the exercise of any power which they possess, is not within the province of counsel.
He does not pretend to give advice on that point. [DOT]
Such a restriction, I apprehend, must exist or may be imposed, if at all, under the provisions of section 93 of the British North America Act. 1867, and on the ground of their application to the provinces now to be formed. If that section applies
He seems to be in doubt.
If that section applies, it would seem to require no enactment of .our parliament to give it effect
Now is that not the contention of the leader of the opposition ? If that power exists it does not require any enactment to give it effect.
and if not, no such enactment, so far as I
am aware, is otherwise made necessary. Upon the whole I am of opinion that section 93 does appear to me to be intended for, and confined to, the then province, and to the union formed in 3867.
Then 'if it does not apply, the responsibility rests with the right hon. gentleman and his friends forcing an educational system on the people out there that they think should not be forced upon them. If its provisions are confined to the then provinces and to the union formed in 1867, the authority given them in the Act of 1875, and under which by their ordinances they have established separate schools, could not apply at all, because that was not the date of the union. The date of the union was antecedent, in 1867, according to Mr. Robinson's judgment; therefore there was no power in the land to give separate schools, and they had no separate schools then.
There is not in any part of the Northwest Territories as a province any right or privihe be good enough to lay on the table the questions that he put to Mr. Robinson along with the answer ? Because we have had a running comment on the answer.