March 31, 1905

LIB

Thomas Walter Scott

Liberal

Mr. SCOTT.

It is subsequent to the revised Bill-I think it is March 15 :-

If the news from Ottawa that there is to he no interference with the present educational system of the west is true, the agitation which has arisen, mainly in Ontario, will in all probability subside. A creed disturbance is always of a most rancorous kind-it spreads like a prairie fire and in its train leaves a bitterness where harmony prevailed. Sir Wilfrid's decision is sure to be regarded with strong favour throughout the west.

With regal'd to the existing separate schools the Calgary ' Herald ' goes on to say :-

All regulations have been made by the Regina government, and he must be blind indeed who cannot see that even if separate schools were detrimental to the country's true interests, all objectionable features have been clipped off. Harmony prevails : why disturb it ? It is

worth repeating that the west is glad that the federal premier has changed his mind.

I have here an expression of opinion of a member of the Northwest legislature, a gentleman who voted for Mr. Haul tain's draft Bill. I withhold the name. This letter was written on March 25 :-

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I must congratulate you on the Autonomy Bill. It is almost impossible to find a person here who is dissatisfied with it. Of course, some people, for political reasons probably, are very sorry that the public lands have not been given us, that Canadian Pacific Railway exemptions are to be allowed to remain, and that the separate school question has been forced upon us, but their opposition is so very faint that no one has for one instant any idea hut that everybody is more than pleased with the way things have been managed by our representatives, and the generous treatment we have received from the Ottawa government. As far as I can see we have got everything that we hoped for and a good deal more than we expected, and I think the sentiments I express are only those of the people at large throughout the country.

One of the newspapers of the Northwest Territories which took strong ground against tlie original section 16, the Medicine Hat ' News,' speaks as follows :-

A general feeling of relief and pleasure is being experienced throughout the Territories by reason of the announcement that the Autonomy Bill has been re-introduced with the educational clauses modiSeil to meet the wishes of the people principally concerned and their representatives in parliament. The provisions affecting the school question are now so framed as to maintain in the west the same system which has been in vogue in the past and under the conditions of which educational matters were conducted most harmoniously. The amended clauses have already met with the endorsation of the leading papers in the Territories, including the Calgary ' Herald ' and others which were greatly concerned as to the effect which would be the outcome of the clause as originally presented.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

May I ask if the hon. gentleman (Mr. Scott) was present when the hon. member (Mr. Lake) who spoke last night read the account of the meeting of the Reform party convened at Indian Head, which passed a strong resolution against interference with the Territories.

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LIB

Thomas Walter Scott

Liberal

Mr. SCOTT.

My hon. friend (Mr. Sproule) surely understands that you will never get unanimity,of opinion over a great area like this. The people in some quarters hold a contrary opinion to that of the government, sometimes a contrary opinion from that of their neighbours. The Reform party has always been specifically a party in which divergence of opinion has existed and is not only permitted but expected.

Mr. .1. J. Young, who is a Conservative member of the legislature for Calgary, and the proprietor of the Calgary 'Herald,' made a statement immediately after the introduction of the original Bills, in the course of which he said :

As to the school question, the present arrangement is working satisfactorily, and as long as the federal authorities leave things as they are, I apprehend that there will be no serious opposition from the intelligent portion of the electorate.

The Toronto ' Globe ' had a correspondent in the west at the time these Bills were in-

trod need. Mr. Ewan. In one of his letters he stated :

Their attitude towards the school question is similar. Without exception all those I have spoken to have no apprehensions with regard to that feature of the settlement. They know by experience the system they have got. They are perfectly satisfied with it, and if its continuance is a part of the settlement there will be no objection from the people of the Territories. The Catholic portion of the population have at times exhibited dissatisfaction, but it has never been very serious, and the general expression is that if the present system is continued, practically everybody will be satisfied.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

I would ask the hon. gentleman if he read the last letter in the series, the one written from Moosejaw V In summing up the situation he declared emphatically that the sentiment of the people was against it. I think that was written by Mr. Thompson.

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LIB

Thomas Walter Scott

Liberal

Mr. SCOTT.

I have a large number of friends in Moosejaw, and I have heard from numbers of them since the modifications were made to these Bills, and I think I may say that they are quite satisfied witli the modified Bill. Moosejaw is in my own constituency. Now take the expression of opinion at Regina, my own town. When the Bills were first introduced and it was thought that the school clause would continue the present situation, the Winnipeg [DOT] Free Press ' the next morning contained the following despatch from Regina :

Now that, the people of Regina have had an opportunity of studying full details of the autonomy measures, the approval is even more pronounced than was expressed over the forecasts. The final terms are accepted on all hands as not only satisfactory but generous, in fact one and all regard the terms as much more favourable than could reasonably have been expected. So far your correspondent has not heard one word expressed that was not in praise of the measures submitted to parliament by Sir Wilfrid Laurier yesterday.

In last evening's Toronto ' Globe ' there was an account of a protesting meeting in Toronto.

Rev. Dr. Chown said he was in Regina when the news of the details of the Autonomy Bills arrived. Every detail of these Bills was talked about except the school clauses, and the same was the ease in other parts of the west.

In Rethbridge there is a Conservative paper called the ' News,' which stated on March 16 :

The separate school question in respect to the new Northwest provinces continues to exercise politicians in the east, and to read some of the articles published, one would be led to conceive the idea that people in the west were violently opposed to a continuation of the system that has been in existence since the opening up of the country, which, in fact, has given such general satisfaction that but few people have ever been induced to inquire into the basis on which separate schools in the west Mr. SCOTT.

were founded. These people in the east who are doing their best to stir up religious strife are no friends of the west, which is wide enough in area, aspirations and religious toleration, to permit a system of schools which are a concession to religious views without being a detriment to the educational standard adopted for the country and inflicting no injustice on any one in the community.

It concludes with the statement :

It is stated that the Northwest members will give unanimous support to a clause continuing the present privileges, but no more, and in taking this stand we believe they are fairly representing the feelings of the people as a whole.

I have another expression of opinion from the Calgary ' Herald,' with particular reference to a gentleman in Toronto who is so much exercised on this question-the Calgary * Herald ' is a Conservative journal :

A few journalistic firebrands in Ontario are as busy these days as hens in the month of April. The basis of their activity is to be found in a pathetic anxiety for the educational fate of the new northwestern provinces. We have not asked them to be anxious, we are not in fear ourselves, and yet they worry dreadfully lest his Holiness whose home is on the banks of the Tiber jollies or jockies or lobbies us into something really very awful.

One of the most distracted of these gentlemen is J. S. Willison, who moulds public opinion down east through the medium of the Toronto ' News.' Prior to January 25 last, he was engaged in a long and most strenuous effort to oust Mr. Ross & Co., and with the incidental assistance of tens upon tens of thousands of intelligent voters he won a victory over his foes somewhat in the style in which Bill Adams put Napoleon to flight at Waterloo. The ' News ' had then a just and sensible cause to advocate and success is as easy under such circumstances as taking candy from a child.

Exhiliarated by his recent victory Mr. Willison has again removed his coat and has constituted himself the champion of a cause which affects people two thousand miles from the sanctum where he wields his anti-papal pen. He is determined that come what may Willison and not the Pope is to be the educational dictator of the western provinces. The hierarchy are to be made to run away back and sit down.

Unasked advice is seldom enjoyed. Newspaper blatherskites two thousand miles away should be heavily discounted. There is no room for any religious clash out here. We have more important duties to perform.

That is from the chief Conservative paper in the Territories. Then a letter from Medicine Hat :

All are pretty well satisfied with the school law in the Territories, and that is what is going to be continued as I understand it.

A gentleman in Regina writing on February 27 :

As to the Autonomy Bill, the satisfaction is very great, the dissatisfaction not visible to the naked eye.

Another gentleman from Regina with regard to the schools :

Prior to the reading of the Bill every one I spoke to was perfectly agreeable and satisfied, so long as the present school law was not changed.

Another gentleman from Yellow Grass, for many years a school teacher :

First let me say that the provisions of the Autonomy Bill were better than X expected from a financial standpoint. I must express my satisfaction with the terms secured by the Northwest. The result is all that could have been expected. As regards the educational clauses, I am prepared to accept the old law. I am not competent to judge of how far the proposed clauses exceed the clauses in the Northwest Territories Act, but where they do I believe Sifton and others are justified in opposing them. But I prefer that this question as an issue be removed from the provincial field. So long as the assembly retains control and enforces uniformity of teachers' qualifications, books, curricula and inspection, we have nothing to dread from the ' narrow and illiterate ' separate school products. In fact I feel that we lose sight of our main privilege that we may always, when we so desire, act in unity and harmony with our Catholic neighbours, and my experience with the Catholic laity is that they will meet us half way.

I cannot but commend the unselfish interest of the Toronto * News,' Sam. Hughes and others in our education. As for the position taken by Sifton, X hope he is prepared- to agree to the re-enactment of the old law. I could not follow him further than that. I do not think there would be any difficulty in justifying before the electorate an adherence to the Northwest Territories Act. To so many of us the matter does not appeal, as the Catholic population in most settlements is so small as to'have no power ; in other settlements so largely in the majority that the question is unimportant. In no case have I known of a duplication of schools when not required. Considered on its merits from a practical view-point and leaving sentiment aside the question is unimportant so long as uniformity is maintained in the course of studies and general efficiency.

I think my hon. friend referred to a meeting held at Medicine Hat where some resolutions were adopted. A gentlemen writing from Medicine Hat says :

You will get a copy of them, hut don't think they express the true opinion of the people of Medicine Hat or even of the meeting, for they don't.

So, Mr. Speaker, I think we are justified in concluding that these measures in all respects are eminently satisfactory to the people who are mainly concerned. X promised to give the hon. member for East Grey some further information In regard to petitions. I believe It is a fact as I have stated, that the majority of the signatures in the Northwest Teritories to those petitions against this legislation, were given against the interpretation placed upon the original section 16, either that or they were given under an absolute misapprehension. A gentleman writes me from Moosejaw :

Moosejaw, N.W.T.,

March 20, 1905.

Walter Scott, Esq., M.P.,

Ottawa.

Dear Sir,-I take the liberty to write you for the purpose of finding out a little more than I know at present concerning the school question. Now, Sir, I am an Orangeman ; in fact I hold the position of master in our lodge. I have already signed a petition against the government's imposing a separate school law upon the two new provinces. But this was before I stopped to consider the matter carefully. I read a letter written by you to the Maple Creek Orange lodge secretary, which puts a different light on the subject. If this is straight, which I have every reason to believe it is, we are harping about a thing which has been in our midst for years and not a new thing at all as has been represented to us here. ... If you have time I want you to answer and let me know in brief the real meaning of the situation in this separate school matter.

I believe that expression represents the views of most of the people who have been signing these protests and petitions. I believe that practically everybody in the Territories, ninety-nine people out of a hundred, would prefer to have these schools continued in the same way as they have been carried on for the last fourteen years.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

In reply to that statement, may I ask the hon. gentleman this question : I understood him to say that

these people were directing their attention to the original clause 16 and were not aware of the modification, or otherwise they would be satisfied. Is it not a fact that most of the petitions only expressed the hope that the government would not, by any enactment or otherwise interfere with the freedom of the provinces in legislating in regard to education ?

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LIB

Thomas Walter Scott

Liberal

Mr. SCOTT.

I venture to say that every one of these petitions originated in Ontario.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

That is about as nearly correct as the other statement.

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LIB

Thomas Walter Scott

Liberal

Mr. SCOTT.

I venture to state again that most of the people who signed these ixetitions will later on express themselves as entirely satisfied with the school constitution. I say again that the proposition in the Bills is not a compromise to me at all. It is purely and exactly what I myself, and I believe the majority of the members from the Northwest Territories, wanted placed in the Bills. We have in the Northwest Territories in this very delicate and difficult matter of religion in connection with education reached a solution which has been in effect for fourteen years, which has no superior in any province of Canada, not excluding the province of Manitoba, not excluding the province of Nova Scotia or any other province. We have the most satisfactory solution of this difficult subject that is to be found anywhere in Canada, and why should we take away the advantages

of that solution from the people in the initiation of these new provinces ? Why should we endanger the future prosperity of these provinces by subjecting them to the possibility of an agitation over this difficult and delicate matter ? The proposition which is contained in these Bills is the most successful and satisfactory proposition that could be devised in respect to this subject. Yet there can be no doubt about the disturbed state of feeling existing in various other parts of the country-a disturbance fraught with exceeding danger. There are two men in this country who could in a day settle all further difficulty in this matter. There is practically a unanimity of opinion on this side of the House and amongst all Liberals throughout Canada on this question. There are two men who could in a day take all possible further danger out of this question. These two men are Mr. Haul-tain, who, notwithstanding the fact that he lacks the constitutional position to enable him to represent the Northwest Territories, is still bound to be held by a great many people as being in a sense the representative of the Territories in this matter. If Mr. Haultain and the hon. leader of the opposition together could bring themselves to the plane that was adopted by the hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) in this House, entirely above party politics and take a patriotic stand, I say that we would come to a satisfactory settlement in regard to this question in a day or a week, and that we would hear no more about this difficulty in connection with the Northwest Autonomy Bills. If the hon. member for North Toronto were here, I would like to quote to him some very admirable words to which he gave voice in 1896 :

Let us plant our feet in the firm path of constitutional compact and agreement, of good faith, and of honest, fair dealing. Let us take and pass on that gleaming torch of prudent compromise under whose kindly light the fathers of the confederation marched safely through in times far more troublous and far less advanced than ours, into an era of harmony and continued peace.

The hon. member for North Toronto made a very excellent speech in 1896, which would apply with far greater and more proper force to the present situation than it did to the suggested legislation of that time : and if he were here, I would say to him that X think that if ten years from this he reads both of these speeches-the speech of 1896 and the speech of 1905-he will be far prouder of his 1896 speech than he will he of the speech which he delivered two days ago in this House.

I repeat, in conclusion, that I am satisfied with the propositions contained in these Bills and that they are the most important that ever have been presented to this parliament nobody disputes. I am

satisfied that they will result not only in the immediate future, but in the inter-Mr. SCOTT.

mediate future as well as in the far future, in the existence of two provinces in no sense inferior to, in every way equal with, their sister provinces-enjoying absolute religious equality, full provincial rights, an efficient free public or common, non-see-tarian school system controlled by the state and on a plan guaranteeing the perfect autonomy of every conscience and scruple -in a word, enjoying freedom in every .reasonable and British sense of the term and that the provisions of these Bills will enable the people of these new provinces to carry on their great work and fulfil the duties that fall upon them as self-governing provinces in this Dominion with every measure of success. When I remember that this government and this parliament are undertaking, in addition to the generous terms which I have already described, to bear the cost of the land's administration, that they are undertaking to continue the free homesteading policy, that they are undertaking to continue to maintain an active immigration policy, that they are undertaking to continue the Northwest Mounted Police in that country for some time and that they are aiding and continuing to aid great railway projects in these new provinces, I say, and I am sure that iu so saying I voice the sentiment of the Northwest people, that these measures are based upon those principles of justice, equality and above these, generosity, the observance of which in his whole public life has contributed to the position which my right hon. friend the leader of the government holds in the confidence and affection of the people of Canada.

I trust, that, notwithstanding the threats that were made this afternoon across the floor of the House, the 1st of July next, the 38th anniversary of the birth of confederation, will witness the admission of these twin provinces into the full sisterhood of the provincial communion to continue in a path of development already well started and which each and every one of us may hope will lead as the years go by to greater and greater magnitude and perfection-helping to make in still more pronounced degree this fair Dominion of Canada the proudest gem in the great galaxy of nations forming the British Empire.

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Mr. W. J.@

ROCHE moved the adjournment of the debate.

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Motion agreed to. On motion of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, House adjourned at 11.05 p.m.



Monday, April 3, 1905.


March 31, 1905