March 31, 1905

?

Mr. SPROTJDE@

What were the present purposes ?

Mr. SCOTT, (reading).

We have been created what I may be allowed to call a political entity.

Of course that is for present purposes.

Topic:   PROVINCIAL AUTONOMY IN THE NORTHWEST.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

I have no doubt he was speaking of rights which were quite within their power and which they were entitled to exercise ; for present purposes they were to all intents and purposes a province, but that would not give them the same rights as if they were really provinces.

Topic:   PROVINCIAL AUTONOMY IN THE NORTHWEST.
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LIB

Thomas Walter Scott

Liberal

Mr. SCOTT.

As I have something more to say on this point later on I will not take up further time at this moment.

A great deal of discussion has taken place throughout the country and I am afraid there has been a good deal of misconception with regard to this school matter. I am afraid that some of it has not been entirely honest misconception. I am afraid that some public journals in this country are not very careful to create a proper conception with regard to this subject. In one paper we have a motto appearing day after day.

Topic:   PROVINCIAL AUTONOMY IN THE NORTHWEST.
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A FREE WEST, A COMMON SCHOOL, PROVINCIAL RIGHTS AND RELIGIOUS EQUALITY.


Articles and inflammatory cartoons under that motto have led the innocent citizen to believe that the proposals of the government are entirely in the teeth of this motto. I say that every item proposed by the government is in strict observance of these principles. Where is there to be found any religious inequality in the proposition of the government. Read over the resolutions; are Roman Catholic minorities especially singled out ? The protection is for Protestant as well as for Roman Catholic. It may be that the Roman Catholics as a. whole in the Northwest are in the minority but that is not the interpretation of this section ; it is the minority in each public school district that is concerned. It may be that in time to come there will be-there may be now for all .J know-as many Protestant minorities as Catholic minorities in the two provinces. At the present moment I believe the majority of the Roman Catholics in the country are in groups. They do not constitute minorities. Provincial rights, as I have already said, Mr. SCOTT. is a comparative term. I believe-and the large majority of the people in the Northwest Territories that I have heard from since these proposals were brought down also believe-that provincial rights are being granted to them in the fullest sense in which they are enjoyed by any other province of Canada. A common school-that is just what we are asked to vote for in this proposition; a non-sectarian school, absolutely under state control. A free west-that is, a reasonably free west; just as free as Ontario. Talk about throttling the west ! Then two-thirds of the people of this Dominion live in provinces which are throttled, are they feeling very badly? They have in Ontario, I understand, What are called church schools, and I believe they have church schools in Quebec also. Are they feeling badly ? If this proposition were placing a severe hardship on the people of the west, it is not as severe a hardship as has been placed on the people of these other provinces, because it is giving the west, not an ecclesiastical school, not a church school, but a free common school under state control. At all events, two-tliirds of the people of this Dominion are living in provinces not more free, not so free,-provinces that have always been looked upon as being autonomous provinces, and apparently doing very well. The Bill, I believe to be in strict harmony with that motto: 'A free west, a common school, provincial rights and religious equality.' These provinces will be as free as any other province if we are to regard and apply the principles of the British North America Act-I for one believe more free, because, by section 16 of the Bill, we restrict and diminish the full and complete application of section 93 of the British North America Act. Autonomy, as I said before, is a comparative term. As was pointed out very well by the hon. Postmaster General last evening, there are no two provinces of Canada with the same constitution. I venture to say that the average citizen of the Territory, if he had been asked if he would accept the autonomy that British Columbia has would have said: No, the limit of population would not suit either of these new provinces, if asked if he would accept the autonomy that Manitoba has, he would say certainly not, notwithstanding that Manitoba is absolutely free in regard to the school matter, because the financial terms given to Manitoba would be entirely unsatisfactory to the new provinces. For the same reason as in the case of British Columbia he would not be prepared to accept the autonomy which the maritime provinces possess. Make the suggestion to him that he accept the autonomy which Quebec has, and what would he say? Quebec is limited in the matter of language; it is obliged to recognize officially two languages, and it is ' limited in other respects. He would not ac- cept that. The average citizen of the Territories, if asked to accept the autonomy of the province of Ontario, would at first hlush say yes; but some of us on inquiring a little further would say: Certainly not; there is a limitation in Ontario with regard to schools which we do not want to apply in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and in these Bills it is not applied.


CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

Might I ask the hon. gentleman one question? I understood him to say that the Northwest provinces are getting exactly the same provincial autonomy as the other provinces. Is it not a fact that every province in confederation today, except Ontario and Quebec, has the absolute right to legislate with regard to education?

Topic:   A FREE WEST, A COMMON SCHOOL, PROVINCIAL RIGHTS AND RELIGIOUS EQUALITY.
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LIB

Thomas Walter Scott

Liberal

Mr. SCOTT.

I have endeavoured to explain to the House very clearly my position on that point-that there are no two provinces in Canada with exactly the same measure of autonomy, and probably the people of the Northwest Territories would not be willing to accept the exact position occupied by any other single province in Canada. I believe that the provisions of these Bills will place the Northwest Territories in a position as nearly as possible of absolute and satisfactory average equality with the other provinces of Canada. I know that the hon. member for East Grey, in the depth of . his sincerity, would like to have a contrary impression created. I said a moment ago that there were some misconceptions prevailing, and we have heard some of them voiced in this House. I am going to read to the House a communication which I have received which puts those misconceptions a little more bluntly than we hear them put in this House, but it expresses the same spirit. This letter reached me this week. To satisfy my hon. friend from East Grey, I will say at the beginning that I am not going to give the name.

Topic:   A FREE WEST, A COMMON SCHOOL, PROVINCIAL RIGHTS AND RELIGIOUS EQUALITY.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

Then you should not read it. If a letter is quoted in this House it should be laid on the table. I appeal to the Speaker if I am not correct.

Topic:   A FREE WEST, A COMMON SCHOOL, PROVINCIAL RIGHTS AND RELIGIOUS EQUALITY.
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LIB

Louis-Philippe Brodeur (Minister of Inland Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. BRODEUR.

The hon. gentleman is entirely mistaken. It is only official documents which are to be laid on the table, not private letters of members.

Topic:   A FREE WEST, A COMMON SCHOOL, PROVINCIAL RIGHTS AND RELIGIOUS EQUALITY.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

A member has no right to quote anything in this House that he is not willing to give the authorship of.

Topic:   A FREE WEST, A COMMON SCHOOL, PROVINCIAL RIGHTS AND RELIGIOUS EQUALITY.
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LIB

Thomas Walter Scott

Liberal

Mr. SCOTT.

In this particular case there need be no dispute, because there was no name on the letter. It was signed 'A Lover of Freedom,' and is as follows:

Walter Scott, Esq., M.P.,

Ottawa.

Dear Sir,-It is with a feeling of shame I read your letter from a clipping sent me from Ontario addressed to A. Banner, of Maple Creek,

and I must say I feel ashamed of those representatives of the citizens of Canada who purpose voting for such an infamous measure as the separate school clause makes, of the Autonomy Bill, with which it is the purpose of the Laurier government to shackle for all time to come the new provinces of Canada. Rather than vote for such a measure I would drown myself or commit suicide in some way, or See to some place of exile or desert island where no self-respecting man could look me in the face. Have you no eyes ? Have you never read history ? Are you not conversant with the current newspaper news-

The writer, I suppose, must have been reading the Toronto 'News.'

-or have you not any conscience, that for the sake of party-politics or for the sake of the emoluments and patronage of the party in power, you propose to shackle the poor ignorant Roman Catholics of these new provinces with the fetters of Romish priesthood, and keep them in ignorance for all time to come ? Look at the peasants of Russia, and of Spain and of Italy and Mexico and Cuba, and all the petty republics of South America where the hierarchy of Rome have the ruling of the people. Look even at your own province of Quebec, and at Manitoba, before it was set free by the Liberal party ; and behold the result of the power of Rome in educational matters; and with all that before your eyes, yon still declare that, as far as your vote will do so, you will put shackles on the Catholic element who do not know enough to resist, an well as the coming generations of Catholics for all time to come, in a territory ruled by British freemen, and in extent nearly half a continent.

Topic:   A FREE WEST, A COMMON SCHOOL, PROVINCIAL RIGHTS AND RELIGIOUS EQUALITY.
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?

An hon. MEMBER.

That sounds like Sproule.

Topic:   A FREE WEST, A COMMON SCHOOL, PROVINCIAL RIGHTS AND RELIGIOUS EQUALITY.
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LIB

A LOVER OF FREEDOM.

L-C
LIB

Thomas Walter Scott

Liberal

Mr. SCOTT.

I am proud indeed to say that that letter was not posted from my constituency, and for the benefit of my hon. friend from East Grey (Mr. Sproule), I will add that I absolve him entirely from any connection with that letter, I merely give it as an expression of a spirit which unfortunately is evident sometimes in this

House, though not quite so plainly expressed as it is in this communication, and as a proof of the entire ignorance and misconception under which are labouring the people who are complaining against this measure. What we are legislating for is a common school-not a church or ecclesiastical school-but a common school system to be entirely governed and controlled by the people of those provinces through their legislatures and administrations. I have received a very large number of communications, petitions and protests ol various sorts in connection with this measure, from which I ask permission to read just two or three extracts. Here is a resolution which came to me from the Orangemen of Maple Creek :

That the Orangemen of Maple Creek feel it incumbent upon them to protest In the most earnest manner against any question of separate schools being established in the Territories, and, believing that the great majority of the population of the Territories are against the idea, earnestly entreat the premier of the Northwest assembly and his co-delegate at Ottawa, and also the members of the Dominion parliament for the Territories to fight the introduction of separate schools even to the refusal of provincial autonomy with that as a condition thereof.

But, Mr. Speaker, we are not proposing t.o introduce separate schools. Wbat we are proposing to do is to perpetuate conditions which exist in that area at present, and which have given, and are giving, entire satisfaction to practically everybody in that country. I have a communication from an important body, the Baptist Convention of Manitoba and the Territories, the third clause of which is as follows :

This is a scheme which will provoke discord and defeat one of the main purposes of public school education, which is the unification of all classes. A confederation cannot be sound in which the elements lack the first essential of harmony.

Well, this system which we are perpetuating by the proposed legislation is one which has been in force in the Territories for fourteen years, and I have yet to learn that it has caused any discord. The first essential of harmony therefore must be in that system, or discord would have broken out under its administration at some time or other during the fourteen years it has been in force. Another petition very largely signed contains the following :

We, the undersigned citizens, respectfully nrge you to use all influence you may have against the separate school clause in the Bill now before parliament.

The majority of these petitions are directed against the original clauses, which some of us, at all events, claim were not identical with those now before the House. In a petition, dated March 7th, from the Ministerial Association of Winnipeg, the second clause reads as follows :

Topic:   A LOVER OF FREEDOM.
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LIB

Thomas Walter Scott

Liberal

Mr. SCOTT.

Whereas, the rights of the minority are sufficiently protected by the British North America Act in any particular case.

But we are certaiuly not increasing that protection by this measure. If we should let the British North America Act, section 93, apply mechanically or automatically, we would not be giving any less protection to tlie rights of the minorities, but would leave the matter in a position of uncertainty, and there can be no doubt that where you leave uncertainty you give opportunities to agitate, and you create, not only the possibility, but the strongest likelihood, that the first years of the new provinces, when the attention of their legislatures should be directed to more profitable things, will be misused in an agitation which my hon. friend from East Grey might take some opportunity in helping to raise for the abolition of that remnant of the separate school which does exist in the Territories.

Topic:   A LOVER OF FREEDOM.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

I should think that the statement I made would have exonerated me from any such charge. What I asked was that the right be left with the provinces to deal with the school question as they saw fit. I did not ask that they should do away with separate schools or introduce separate schools, but be left free to deal with them as a matter pertaining to themselves, about which we are not concerned, and iu which I do not propose to meddle.

Topic:   A LOVER OF FREEDOM.
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LIB

Thomas Walter Scott

Liberal

Mr. SCOTT.

I do not know that it will be possible for me to arrive at an exact understanding with my hon. friend from East Grey (Mr. Sproule).

Topic:   A LOVER OF FREEDOM.
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CON

March 31, 1905