There is no denominational school law for them. I am speaking of the law of 1S75, interpreting that law, and I say the law of 1875 as well as the Confederation Act, 1867, did not assume to Ixither itself with any other religious sect but these two. That is my argument. I may be wrong, but surely that is very plain.
Suppose for example you had in a school section 1,000 Roman Catholics, 500 Protestants, and 2.000 Mormons. In my hon. friend's view of the law the 1,000 Roman Catholics would be the majority mentioned in section 11. He would disregard the Mormons or the Jews altogether.
Certainly. That is my view, and that seems to have been at all' times in our history the only view which received the consideration of parliament. In 1867, at the time of the Confederation Act, we were not worried over any class but Roman Catholics and Protestants. There was no attempt made at that time, and so far as I know there has been no attempt made at any time or anywhere in Canada, to pass legislation conferring any special right on any other religious denomination than those two.
That is a fact which must be apparent to everybody. Legislatures have never at any time in Canada provided for separate education except t\ ith reference to these two denominations ; and if we bear that in mind, we must come to the conclusion that the only object of section 11 of the Act of 1875 was to make legislation to cover those two cases. Now, v hat does the law say ? It says that the majority in a district may establish such schools therein as they think fit. Take the esse submitted to me by the hon. leader of the opposition. If there are 1,000 Roman Catholics and 500 Protestants in a district -I take no note of the others, because it seems to me they do not enter into the ac-count-the 1,000 Catholics who are in the majority will establish such schools as they think fit. The next paragraph of the same section provides for the establishment of a Protestant separate school. It may be said that this interpretation would be in conflict with the power conferred upon the legislature of the territory to make regulations and ordinances in respect to education. That is an objection which evidently must be met, and the way in which i meet that objection is this. I
say that the Act of 1875 intended that there should be a dual system of schools in the Northwest Territories, either Catholic or Protestant, and that the legislature should be given the power to make necessary ordinances in respect to education, subject to and within the other provisions of section 11. That is, where a majoritv of Catholics wish to establish a school of their own, the ordinances and regulations which the legislature of the territory is given the power to make, would have* to be consonant with the religious belief Of that majority. That that was what was intended is evidenced by the fact that the first legislation which was passed by the Northwest Territories _ to put the law of 1875 into operation established a dual board, having control, one of Roman Catholic schools and the other of Protestant schools. It seems to me that we are beside the question when we import into the interpretation of section 11, elements which at that time did not enter into the contemplation of parliament, and which should not to-day. Now. my hon. friend the leader of the opposition argued this afternoon that we on this side of the House were wrong in assuming that section 11 created an obligation which ought to be respected today. My hon. friend argued that because in 1886 we who speak French and who want
to continue to speak French had allowed (but not without protest) the abolition of the French language in the Northwest Territories, we should be willing to-day to consent to the abolition of religious instruction in the schools. I think that my bon. friend will on reflection admit that that is a rather curious argument. Is it because the Roman Catholic French Canadians of the Northwest have been deprived of the right to teach French in their schools that they must also be deprived of the right to have religious instruction in their schools ? Is it because the lamb lias been shorn of half his wool, that he must be compelled to give up the rest ? That is a curious sort of argument. So far as I am concerned. I have no hesitation whatever in adopting the interpretation put on section 11 by the Minister of Justice to-day. I say that under the Act of 1S75 the majority in the Northwest Territories, whether Catholic or Protestant, had the right to establish their own schools as they might think fit; and that there was to all intents and purposes established by that Act in the Territories a dual system of schools, to the same extent and in the same manner that that system was ..established in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec before confederation and as they now then exist and are maintained. If I am right in my interpretation of section 11, it follows as a necessary corollary, that the distinction between clause 16, No. 1 and clause 16, No. 2 is very evident. It is quite plain to me, speaking as a Roman Catholic and a French Canadian, that by clause 16. No. 2 we have given up something which we certainly were' entitled to under the original clause 16, No. 1 and under the Act of 1875. If the Act of 1875 is still law to-day, and I believe it is, we are entitled in the Northwest Territories to a system of separate schools as a matter of right, not merely for the purpose of giving half an hour or an hour of religious instruction, but we are entitled to the absolute control of our schools. I submit that not only parliament, but even any court of justice should give that interpretation to the Act of 1875. So far as parliament is concerned, I think we have something more to do than to give a narrow and contracted interpretation to that Act. I think it is the duty of every member of this House to inquire and find out for himself what was the intention of parliament at that time-to look at the extraneous and surrounding circumstances in order to determine what that intention was and what the interpretation should be. I do uot think it should be circumscribed or narrowed down to the circumstances which exist to-day ; but we should go back to the circumstances as they existed at the time the Act of 1S75 was passed and interpret the law accordingly.
My hon. friend who has just taken his seat has given expression to some views with respect to interpretation which have somewhat astonished me. Section 11 of the Act of 1875 says that the majority of the ratepayers of any district or portion of the Northwest Territories may establish schools. As I understand the interpretation put upon that by my hon. friend, you have to eliminate from these words ' the majority of the ratepayers,' ail who cannot properly come under the denomination of Protestants or Roman Catholics ; therefore Doukhobors, Jews, Galicians and Mormons would not he included in that category. I think that is the argument of my hon. friend.
Then, if we have a district in which the people are all Jews, for instance, the parliament of this country must entirely ignore that class of people, and you cannot have any education there. Under the argument of my hon. friend you cannot institute a school system.
That is not the argument of my hon. friend. He said that the majority means either Protestant or Roman Catholic, and that you could not establish a public school except by a majority which should be Roman Catholic or Protestant.