I said that a lot of these foreigners, Russians, were men who were hard to identify. Those are the words I used. I did not say that all the electors of Edmonton were that kind, and the hon. gentleman should not try to misrepresent me.
I should be very sorry to misrepresent the hon. gentleman. The statement made as I understood it, was that fifty-one per cent of the electors of Edmonton were foreigners who were like a lot of Chinamen.
I assume that the hon. gentleman (Mr. D. Ross) does not wish to misrepresent me.
I read a statement from the papers showing the composition of the electorate of Edmonton, and I said that a great many of these electors were Russians, foreigners, whom in case of an election it was hard to identify.
No, ' Hansard ' will show what I stated. Now, I feel that, for this country at least, church and state should be kept entirely separated. I do not believe it is right that the church and the state should have any connection whatever with each other. The country should be run entirely independent of the church, and the church should be allowed to manage its own affairs. And in thus speaking I do not refer to any particular church. As far as my constituency is concerned, we had no trouble with the separate school question. Mine is an Ontario constituency, and in the province of Ontario the school question has been settled since confederation, and we have had no trouble. Concessions have been made in the Separate School Act by the provincial government from time to time, though the government always has a majority of Protestants. I believe they have always done what is fair to the minority, and I believe that in the great province of Ontario, where the majority is Protestant, they will always do what is fair and right to the minority. And I have the same faith in the Northwest Territories and the new governments to be established. Even if there is a Protestant majority, they will do what is fair and right to the minority. Should there be a Roman Catholic majority in the new provinces, I should have the same faith in their willingness to do justice to the minority. I believe that if the matter is left entirely in the hands of provincial authority the minority can trust them without fear.
I have not seen that statement published as having been made by any member of the Manitoba government, though I have read in' the newspapers that such a thing might be done. This, however, may be mere newspaper agitation. On the other hand, I believe the present government of Manitoba have been doing their best to make things satisfactory for the minority. And I believe that from time to time they will help the minority if they find it necessary. And I also believe that so far as any provincial government throughout the Dominion is concerned, be it Protestant or Catholic, the same thing is true. So believing, and also believing that this measure will be injurious to immigration and that will still create an agitation that
would not be in the best interest of the country, and believing that we should stand by the British North America Act as it is,
I shall vote for the amendment of the leader of the opposition and shall hope and trust that it will be carried and that we may have peace and prosperity from this time forth.
Mr. Speaker, though an old member of this House, both in years and in service here I have never accustomed myself to addressing the House. Therefore, I claim from my confreres here an unusual degree of leniency and kindness. I ask them to overlook any mistakes I may make, assuring them that those mistakes will be of the head not of the heart. Before I go further, I appeal to ion. members for consideration especially upon one point. I would ask an avoidance of interruptions such as we have just heard. If any statements I make are such as hon. members cannot agree with, they will have their opportunity to reply. I 'would ask, therefore, that I be spared interruption of the few remarks I am to make and I know that my friends on both sides will treat me in accordance with my desire. Even in so important a question as the one now before us, were I left to my own choice. I would not speak. But I feel that I have behind me a constituency that should be heard on the floor of this House on this momentous question. But, if against my own will, I occupy the time of the House,
I can assure hon. members'that it will not be for long.
The question before us has been discussed threadbare. A man wTould need to be heaven-born, or at least heaven-inspired, to And anything new to say upon this subject. Everything that can be thought of by the human mind has been thought of already, and everything that can be said has been said. I shall not even attempt anything of an original nature. Among the drawbacks to parliamentary life is the fact that we are called upon to hear again and again the same things said until they grow wearisome and make one look back to private life with longing.
I said that I am here to speak, not in my individual capacity, but as representing the sentiments of the people in my constituency. The whole Dominion of Canada, I believe, is in favour of the establishment of the new i provinces in the Northwest. I think there 1 is no difference of opinion on that matter. But I think the government should have taken the people into their confidence before taking a step of such grave import. Had they done so we would not have seen so much difference as has been in evidence on the part of our hon. friends of the Liberal party. The premier, when he brought in this measure, said that he would stand or fall by it. Well, we all know that he took four or five weeks to amend his measure, owing to
the difference of opinion that existed in the ranks of his own party. I think that time was not lost. I think every moment of those four or five weeks could have been used to the great profit of the country. I think it was a great mistake to introduce legislation so important as this after a general election in which the subject of such legislation had scarcely been mentioned. The government should have given the people an opportunity of expressing their opinion on this legislation before it was introduced. But the government did not see fit to do so, and consequently this legislation has been brought before a House elected, in my humble judgment, without any warrant to deal with the question. Had the boundaries of the new provinces been known to the people of the Northwest, I think the result of the election would have been very different in the Northwest Territories. Had the proposed boundaries been known, would Manitoba have given this government one supporter? Would the men from the Territories have sent the same contingent had it been known that the control of the lands was to be wrested from their possession ? I pause for a reply. Would they have been satisfied ? I say unhesitatingly that defeat would have overtaken the government had mis Bill been in question at the last general election. I think that Manitoba has been treated with extreme injustice in leaving that province with an area only one-third that of each of the new provinces. There must be a. mystery attached to such an apportionment. Can the government defy or set aside the will of an entire province ? A new province bereft of the control of its lands is little more independent than the Indian reserve. I think that the local government is in a better position to dqal with the lands of the province than is the federal government. They are on the spot, they are more directly in touch with everything concerning those lands than is the federal government situated at Ottawa. Another objection I have to federal control of these lands is the temptation to spoliation offered to the Dominion government. I do not refer to this government any more than to any other government that might be in power at Ottawa. I think there is less liability to act unfairly in regard to the disposition of those lands when they are left to the local authorities than when they are left to the Dominion authorities.
Now, Mr. Speaker, in regard to the discussion of the educational clauses, I think this House is* to be congratulated upon the fairness and upon the freedom from disagreeable language with which the discussion has been conducted. There has been little or no acrimony. I have not attended the House all the time, but I have been here a good deal, I have heard a great many of the speeches, but I have heard none of an acrimonious nature. It may have occurred
without my being present to hear it. I think it is very much to the credit of this parliament that such should be the case.
I think that the new provinces should be free to choose their own educational system. The Protestant majorities will give, I feel confident, their Roman Catholic fellow citizens even-handed justice. No reasonable argument can be presented by any member in this House to lead us to believe that such will not be the case. I come from a province where we have free schools, where the people. Roman Catholic and Protestant, get on in perfect harmony. There is no jar. The Catholic people of that country educate their children according to their own religious beliefs, especially in the large centres of population. I recollect when what is called the free non-sectarian school was first established there was a little friction but it soon became a matter of compromise. There was a desire on the part of the people to get on harmoniously with their neigubours and everything went on as our best citizens could desire. So, it has continued. '
Now, Mr. Speaker, I will refer in a few words to my position, and also to my position on the Remedial Bill when it was before the House. I happened to be a member at that time, and I voted in favour of the Bill.
I voted in support of the government. X was nine years younger in age then, and I had nine years less experience than I have now.
I voted largely from party exigencies. I am frank in saying so, and I think I will have many* sympathizers amongst my friends who are supporting this measure on this occasion. I acknowledge that I made a mistake. I now, before this IXouse and the country, disavow my action at that time. And why ? I found that when I went to my people, when I went to my Roman Catholic citizens and supporters, after voting in favour of the Remedial Bill, in the interest of that church and in the interest of the minority of Manitoba, they would have none of it. I found that they were frank, honest, open and above-board. When X went to them I told them, and they knew as well as I could tell them, the position that I occupied. They were frank, open and square, and they told me they would not vote for me, that they were supporters of the Liberal party, and although they did not tell me so, I inferred that, inasmuch as the Right Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier was the leader of that party, it was particularly attractive to them. They received me in the most hospitable manner and spoke to me in pleasant terms, but vote for me they would not. Of course, this is a personal matter, but it has* some bearing on my action on the Remedial Bill. At the close of the poll in the election of 1896, in one of the most populous Irish Catholic districts, it was reported to me by a very intelligent supporter of mine, an active man engaged in the election, that out of 98 votes in that section I had received 3. That legislation was in the interest of the minority in Mr. WILMOT.
Manitoba, and it would naturally be supposed that Sir Wilfrid, being a co-religion-lst of the minority, would have stood by them. Did he do so ? No. Had he done so the Conservative party would have remained in power. Had he done so the Liberal party would have continued to remain in opposition, and therefore I was led, as any reasonable man would have been led, to the natural conclusion that the course adopted by the Liberal party at that time was adopted for party reasons arid party reasons alone. Because of the manner in which my Catholic constituents, my fellow-citizens, treated me, and because of the manner in which the people of the Dominion of Canada treated Sir Charles Tupper, I felt absolved from any obligation to continue my support to any such legislation. Therefore, I say now before you, Mr. Speaker, and this House, that I took the course I did, and that I regret the vote I gave on that occasion. Had I voted against the government at that time it was a moral certainty that I would have been successful in my appeal to my constituents. I was defeated only by a comparatively small majority. My Protestant friends I found were very much dissatisfied with the course I had taken. However, that is all past and gone. But my position I feel in duty bound to clearly define. I know that my fellow-members will bear with me, for I do not pretend to be a speaker. I wish a few minutes more, and then I will give them relief. I remember, Mr. Speaker, it was stated at the time of the Manitoba agitation that certain agreements had been arrived at and put in shape. At that time, as you all know, there was a territorial government established to rule that country. Certain agreements had been entered into regarding schools by a few scattered people in that vast country in conjunction with the good Christian missionaries of the Catholic Church, and all praise and credit should be given to these pioneers of religion and morals in that great country.
Certain agreements were entered into with these people at that time, and the question arises whether it is reasonable to suppose that such agreements should be carried out for all time. These good people, on one part poor ignorant half-breeds, honest and good as they were, in conjunction with these worthy pioneers of the Catholic Church were then the only people living in that eountrv, and I ask in all fairness and sincerity whether it can be considered reasonable that the future generations in that country which will be populated by millions. should be restricted in their social and political and educational life by such an agreement. Personally I do not think so ; I cannot make myself believe any such proposition as that would be reasonable. It has been said that this is not a question of sectarian against national schools, but that it is a constitutional question. Well, the I good God in Heaven if he heard this dis-
-cussion, and no doubt he did, would doubt- ! less be able to decide from it what the ! constitution is, but I am forced to say that so far as I am concerned, the more talk I have heard as to what the constitution really is the worse I am confounded. I have had no legal training, and I am not in a position to form a legal opinion, but I am able to exercise whatever intelligence is given to me. My constituents represent a fair average of the intelligence of this Dominion, and I do not claim any greater intelligence than the average elector in my constituency, and if I cannot form an opinion as to what is constitutional and what is not, then the majority of my constituents must be in the same predicament. This all tends to show that there is such division of opinion on this important question, the results of which may be likely to cause unrest and friction between different religions that it would have been far better in the interests of Canada had the government before proceeding so hastily, taken the people into their confidence and submitted this measure to them. We hear that the voice of the people is the voice of God, and that being so the government would have made no mistake had they submitted this measure to the electorate. I may say frankly, Mr. Speaker, that had the government consulted the people of Canada, I do not believe the people would have approved of this measure. There is a good old proverb which says : It is never too late to mend, and I do not think it is yet too late for the government to take the people into their confidence. I know that hon. gentlemen on the opposite side of the House would feel more comfortable individually and collectively, if they knew that they had the approval of their constituents in this matter, so that the government in the interests of their own friends should have taken the course which I now suggest. Just fancy that great Northwest country, comprising hundreds of millions of acres, being disposed of and divided and re-arranged without consulting the people. We should transact the public business as we manage our own private affairs, but in this case a most important Bill has been launched on the country without consulting the people directly interested, and that Bill will no doubt be passed by a great majority in this House. Of course it will remain to be seen whether in the end it will be approved by the people. We are told by hon. gentlemen on the other side that when the Bill passes the House, the whole question will be settled. I am afraid that the government and its supporters are living in a fool's paradise if they believe that. It is said, and I believe correctly said, that the schools at present existing in the Northwest Territories are second to none in this broad Dominion. If so, why does not this government leave the school system alone;
j why do they not let that school system ! prevail ?
The people who are mdst directly concerned are those which should control their own educational affairs. I do not know why the people of the great Northwest should be treated by this government after such a fashion. I cannot understand why the people of the Northwest were not consulted by the government on this question. why had not the government sufficient confidence in the people of the west to say to them : You are intelligent people, you are fit to manage you own affairs and we want your opinion on this measure. If that had been done by the government, it would have been the best course to adopt, and it would have avoided a great deal of trouble in the future.
New Brunswick is already settled for. We are told that this is a question of constitution and not a question of schools ; but I must say that while the constitutional view is one thing, the schools are a very large incident. In comparing separate schools with free schools, I have some figures which have been taken from the Statistical Year-book covering the years from 1891 to 1900, and they show the following results :
- Average Population for 10 Years. A verage Number Convicted Yearly. Per- centage. 1 in every
Ontario 2,148,634 2,594 827Quebec 1,568,716 1,536 1,021Public School Pro- vinces- P. E. Island. .. 106,178 32 3,318New Brunswick.. 326,151 112 2,900