March 30, 1905

CON

Richard Stuart Lake

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LAKE.

And I am opposed to a purely sectarian education. That is my own personal opinion, and I believe that l am as well entitled to hold that opinion and state it in the House as any other gentleman. In the public school system of the Northwest Territories provision is made to allow of religious teaching, as has been frequently stated in this House. But the impression which has been conveyed by many of the speeches that this religious teaching is the regular rule, is an erroneous one. It is not, as a matter of fact, the general 1 rule. In fact, I do not know personally of

one particular instance in which religious teaching is given during that last half hour, But it is open, under the ordinances, to any and every denomination to teach religious doctrine in the same school during the last half hour in the afternoon if they desire to do so and can obtain the consent of the parents and the trustees. If they do not do so it is the fault of the people themselves ; it means that they do not wish it, and I take the ground that they should not be forced to have it. The separate school system in its practical working out means a hardship in the case of any Roman Catholic who prefers a public school education in the Northwest Territories, and I would say again that there are many Roman Catholics in that country who do prefer a public school education.

Topic:   EDUCATION.
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LIB

Armand Renaud La Vergne

Liberal

Mr. A. LAVERGNE.

Is it not a fact that in the school districts where the Catholics are in the majority they have not the choice, but are obliged to go to the public schools, because they cannot form separate schools ? Under the ordinance, in every school district where the Catholics are in a majority they cannot form a separate school, but have to go to the public school t

Topic:   EDUCATION.
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CON

Richard Stuart Lake

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LAKE.

That is quite true. But they would control the teachers and, of course, they could have religious instruction for the last half hour of the afternoon. That is quite the case, and the hon. gentleman has stated what is really a very good case in favour of our national school system as it exists. I do not think you need go further than Ottawa to find gentlemen of that faith who believe in the public school system of education as contrasted with the separate school system.

I would like to know what the educational clauses, as at present embodied in the Bill, really mean. In a House where there are so many lawyers we laymen might have expected to get a clear answer to this question : What do these clauses really embody: what do they really mean ? But we find that legal opinions differ in regard to this as widely ns the poles, and I am inclined, after hearing a good many of the speeches pro and con, to believe that they mean just about the same thing as the original clauses.

Now, let us trace this question up ; let us consider the way in whieh the original clauses were arrived at, and the way in which these substituted clauses were arrived at. A sub-committee of the Privy Council was appointed to deal with this question ; it was composed of four gentlemen of the legal profession, all men of repute-the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice, the Secretary of State and the Postmaster General ; the three first of these were gentlemen who belonged to the Roman Catholic faith and were gentlemen who are avowedly in favour of separate schools. They took the unusual course of issuing a pamphlet and distributing amongst the members of this

House what purported to be a brief history, from official sources, of the legislation with respect to separate schools since 1863. At the end of that pamphlet they went beyond the bounds of history, and made a distinct appeal on the subject. They said that ' it would be a breach of faith and a violation of the British North America Act to disturb now rights and privileges granted thirty years ago '-aviolation of the British North America Act; and I would like, by the way, to ask who it is that now proposes to violate the British North America Act ? But the pamphlet did not rest at this. The rights and privileges granted thirty years ago were defined in another part of this pamphlet as ' the same system as prevailed in Ontario and Quebec.' After issuing this pamphlet, in which this strong appeal is made for separate schools, they proceeded to draw up a set of clauses. To provide for what ? According to the Prime Minister in his speech on the introduction of the Bill, it was to enable the minority to establish their own schools and to share in the public moneys as the law is to-day. A similar statement was made a few days later by the Minister of Justice, that they drew up these clauses to give effect to the provisions of the Act of 1875 and the conditions that are now in force in the Northwest Territories. Now, we are told by the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Customs, the member for Brandon (Mr. Sifton) and many others that the ordinances now in force in the Northwest Territories, for all practical purposes, simply provide for a national school system, and not for a separate school system in its recognized sense-that is, in the sense in which it prevails in Ontario and Quebec.

So we have this position, that, after issuing a pamphlet in favour of separate schools, they drew up a clause which did not provide for separate schools as they understood them, but simply provided for what was in practice a national school system. These four legal gentlemen drew up this clause which the Minister of Justice said was drawn up designedly to be ' so clear and simple that any man might understand it;' those were his very words. But a revelation came a few days later. The hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Sifton) returns and tells us that those clear and simple words have a deeper meaning, that they actually do provide for the same system as prevails in Ontario and Quebec, and in addition give, for the support of separate schools, a share of a $50,000,000 endowment which had been specially held in trust for public schools.

And these four legal gentlemen apparently never saw what they were embodying in this clause ! They believed all the time they were simply perpetuating the law as it exists at present. For the last three or four weeks there have been anxious ne-Mr. LAKE.

gotiations on the other side of the House, and they have finally agreed to lay the -blame on the poor draughtsman. These four gentlemen then took back the clauses they had drafted originally, and provided a substitute which in the opinion of the member for Brandon really does provide for the schools now in existence and nothing more. The Prime Minister in introducing the amended clauses explained that the objections to the original clauses were that they were ' too broad and too vague, and if adopted would create confusion instead of certainty.' Remember these were the very clauses which we were told were to be so clear and simple that any man could understand them. The Prime Minister told us that the amended clauses simply embody the law of the country which has been in force for thirteen or fourteen years ; but I would remind the House that the right hon. gentleman said the same thing in reference to the original clauses. The Minister of Finance says that the present clauses continue for ever the school system which now exists, and the Minister of Customs explained how simple it all was, and he told us which of the different clauses of the territorial ordinances were affected by this Bill. If the Minister of Customs were a lawyer he would have been a little more careful, but having had experience of the difficulties of four of the leading legal gentlemen of the cabinet, some of us began to think a layman's opinion might throw some light upon the question. However that may be, the member for Calgary (Mr. M. S. McCarthy) showed us pretty conclusively the other day that there is more behind this matter than we have been led to believe, and that the separate school clause of 1875 is re-enacted in its entirety by the present legislation, and that for all practical purposes the substituted clauses are just the same as the original. Is it any wonder that parliament and the country are extremely suspicious as to what there is underlying all this, and that we want to know distinctly and definitely what this proposal really does mean ? We find the very peculiar circumstance that the most violent advocates of separate schools as well as the most violent opponents of separate schools on the other side of the House, are, one and all of them urging us to accept these educational clauses. We are told by one set of these gentlemen that they strongly approved of these clauses because they would tend to disminish the number of separate schools and I suppose, finally do away with them altogether. By another set we are urged in impassioned language to vote for the clauses and give the Roman Catholic minority their rights ; we are told that there is a religious principle at stake and that no country can be great and can endure without separate schoole. Why all this flood of eloqu-

ence if the Bill does not provide for separate schools as the people of Quebec understand them ? Why is it necessary to change the British North America Act to curtail the liberties of a free people, if we are only contending for a shadow ? It seems to me to be an extraordinarily foolish thing to invade provincial rights and to create so much ill-feeling if it is only for a shadow. Mr. Speaper, it is not yet too late for the government to retrace its steps. I trust that the Prime Minister and his government will withdraw these objectionable educational clauses and leave this matter in the hands of the people of the Northwest. I can assure the right hon. gentleman that he will make no mistake in trusting to the generosity of the people of the new provinces. The gentlemen on the Treasury benches and their supporters have been mistaken in their estimate of the character of the people of the Territories. I can tell them that the people of the Northwest are a just and broadminded people ; I can tell them that the free air of the prairies has inspired the people with as great or a greater love for freedom than possibly exists down here. The people of the Territories will not be driven, and will not be coerced. It is foolish to try to coerce them ; trust them and they will show a gentle and a generous spirit in those matters.

It is a most extraordinary thing that the member for Brandon should have been ignorant of the proposed action of the government in regard to the educational clauses of the Bill. No man has occupied a more prominent position than he on the question of separate schools. It is incredible that he did not have this matter under his close attention and consideration or that he did not take steps to keep the Prime Minister well informed as to his views. However, he appears not only to have been kept in ignorance of the whole thing, but to have kept himself in blissful ignorance too. The reference of the member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster) to the bolting of the government supporters on this question and his comparison of it to the bolting of a flock of sheep reminds me of the experience of an old friend of mine who was taking his flock to a new ground where the pasturage was exceptionally good. The shepherd found he had to take his sheep through a narrow and difficult passage right in the centre of which was a large boulder. The sheep took alarm at the boulder and began to bolt in every direction. The shepherd had however a very sagacious old bell-wether in his flock and a brilliant idea struck him. He gave the bell-whether a kick behind and sent him off with the rest. When the sheep got well away he rolled the stone over so that it did not look the same as before. The plan answered to perfection, he soon got the flock together again and they safely

negotiated this difficult place led by the old bell-wether. iBut, Mr. Speaker, it was just the same old boulder which he had simply rolled over and changed in appearance.

It was argued th other day by the member lor Brandon that it would be a breach of faith with the people who come into this country expecting a separate school system if this remedial legislation were not passed in advance, so to speak ; and if a law were not put on the statute-book to retain a separate school system in this country for ail time to come. The Minister of the Interior is responsible for the immigration pamphlets which are issued by his department. I have here one of those pamphlets, and I am told there are others, in which the system of education which exists in the Northwest Territories is set forth as entirely different from what he stated it to be. Further than that, I believe he has induced to come into this country a very large number of settlers from the United States, in the belief that they were coming into a country where a public school system existed. These are the words of one of these pamplets : * The

schools are non-sectarian and are national in character.' How about the rights of those people whom the Minister of the Interior has induced to come into this country upon such a definite promise as that ?

Mr. Speaker, I am afraid that I'have already occupied the time of the House at far too great a length. I appeal to this House to endorse the amendment which has been moved by the leader-of the opposition, and to subscribe to the principle stated therein, which is the very principle upon which confederation was accomplished. That resolution sets forth that ' subject to and in accordance with the provisions of the British North America Acts, 1867 to 1886, the legislatures of the new provinces are entitled to and should enjoy full powers of provincial self-government, including the power to exclusively make laws in relation to education.' If this principle is not embodied in the legislation now before the House, and if the rights of the new provinces are restricted and limited, then I wish to say, so far as I am concerned, and I believe so far as the Northwest is concerned, that the question is not settled finally. We shall take such further action, constitutional action, as we see tit ; and I am mistaken in the spirit of the men of the Northwest if they do not finally secure their full rights in this matter. The Prime Minister in his speech has appealed to precedent in regard to education and in regard to public lands. In each case the precedent which he has selected has been the exception to the general rule. He proposes to use these precedents to curtail the rights of the people of the new provinces. In British history, Mr. Speaker, it was not for such a purpose that precedent was ever quoted. Let me remind the right hon. gentleman of some lines of Tennyson,

which give the true meaning of precedent, and let me ask him to apply them to this great and progressive Canada, with its future to a great extent what he now chooses to make it :

A land of settled government,

A land of just and old renown,

Where freedom broadens slowly down Prom precedent to precedent.

Canada cannot achieve the great destiny before her unless all her provinces are on an equality, unless all her people have equal rights and equal privileges. Do we appeal in vain to the former champions of provincial rights?

Mr. WALTER SCOTT moved the adjournment of the debate.

Topic:   EDUCATION.
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Motion agreed to. On motion of Mr. Fielding, House adjourned at 12.25 a.m., Friday.



Fkiday, March 31, 1905.


March 30, 1905