April 19, 1910

LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

My hon. friend (Mr. Doherty) remembers the line of Tennyson as applied to the British constitution about broadening * slowly down from precedent to precedent.' We have several precedents in dealing with this business, and I feel that we cannot do better than adopt the language used by parliament when it last dealt with this question.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY.

It has been suggested that the weakness of this idea of broadening down from precedent to precedent is that, sometimes-in fact, the present is an instance-the principle is quoted in support of the idea that when you have once done wrong, you have for ever forfeited your right to do right.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. W. F. MACLEAN.

Is it not good practice to regard the constitution as something progressive? There is nothing wrong in Canadians suggesting in their parliament the right to limit the prerogatives of the Crown. If Canada is similar in constitution to Great Britain, and if the parliament of Britain can limit the prerogatives of the Crown, is it wrong for Canadians to assert the same power? I, for one, am not afraid to take that view. I prefer to see a constant assertion, in all these constitutional provisions, more and more of the right of Canada to equality in legislation with the mother country. ' If the mother country has greater freedom than we have in regard to this question or any question, I say that, as a daughter state, we ought to assert that right, maintain it and achieve it. And I take it that these changes are in Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

the line of constitutional progress and in the line of asserting the right to control and responsibility in these matters.

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CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. A. CURRIE.

Constitutional progress is one of the questions that we should gravely consider when we are dealing with a great national question of this kind. Any one who knows anything about our constitution and the circumstances surrounding its creation, knows that it was a creature of circumstances, and it was sought by it to amalgamate into a whole certain interests of a deep national character, and certain guarantees were given. Now, whenever I see a Bill introduced into this House which attempts to vary the prerogative or rights of the King, or which attempts to decide questions in this House which might pertain for instance to the rights of minorities, it is time for us to take careful heed whither we are going. There is no question but that this Naval Bill, as has been plainly stated, is intended to set up what is practicallv a purely local force for Canada, and every clause throughout this Bill attempts, and does it successfully, to limit the prerogative of the Crown to any control over this local force. I can foresee a time, perhaps it may be not far in the future, when a majority in this House having control of this iron flail in the shape of a navy, may use it as a whip to force a minority into submission along certain lines which that minority might not consider constitutional. For that reason we should endeavour in every way to safeguard the rights that are guaranteed under the British North America Act, and not set up another empire within an empire with an armed force at its disposal, when thati armed force which would be entirely under the control or under the command of a single man, the premier in this country. That is a danger which I see in this Bill, and it is a very serious, one. Under this Bill, the proposed navy will be entirely under the command of the premier for the time being.

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LIB
CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. A. CURRIE.

I wish the premier to understand that I see a grave constitutional danger in permitting any premier of Canada to have the right to use an armed force in this country over and above the right of the King. The King has always been the guardian, the safeguard and the buckler of minorities, not only in this country, but in other countries of the empire. The King has invariably stood between the people and injustice, between the people and their governors, as is shown by the history of the mother country for three or four hundred years. Now, this danger arises under this clause, in this very Act, and under it there is no guarantee but that a a Prime Minister, with a brute majority at)

his back, may at some future date cast to the winds every principle of the British North America Act, and use this navy as a weapon to drive minorities into doing! something against their will and against the guarantees that they have by the constitution. I think minorities would be safe if the Bill followed the words of Sir George E. fcartier. That gentleman had sustained great struggles, and had fought great battles on behalf of certain interests in this country. When the right hon. leader of this House proposes to remove any of those safeguards, I say he is not doing justice to every section of the community. While there may be no danger, whilst he is Prime Minister, still no man can be assured of a long tenure of life, nor can he expect to rule forever, and the danger may come after be has gone. [DOT]

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I am glad the hon. gentleman recognizes that so long as I am Prime Minister he will not have reason to deplore the evils which he sees coming on. But I must say that in thi$ matter we do not depart from the language of Sir George E. Cartier; on the contrary,! it is a fact that the language in this clause! is in accordance with the best traditions of Sir George E. Cartier, and with his language also. 1

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CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. A. CURRIE.

Why not then follow the exact words of Sir George E. Cartier?

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

I want to ask the First Minister a question; there may be something in it and there may not be. Does he maintain that this parliament has the right to create a navy independent of the imperial navy for war purposes? I am free to admit that this parliament has conferred upon it by the British North America Act power to recognize a Canadian militia, which, of course, would be controlled by; parliament. But when it comes to creating a navy which means a force to take part, in war against a foreign nation, does thq First Minister maintain that this parliament has authority to create a Canadian navy?

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

That is my pretention, and I think that has been the pretention from the first day of confederation.

Section 4 agreed to.

. Sir WILFRID LAURIER. I now move the amendment of which I gave notice this morning about the organization of the department :

Section 4a, There shall be a department of the government of Canada which shall be called the Department of the Naval Service, over which the Minister of Marine and Fisheries for the time being shall preside, and shall be the Minister of the Naval Service.

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Amendment agreed to.


LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I now move the following as section 4b:

Section 4b. The Governor in Council may also appoint an officer who shall be called the deputy minister of the naval service, who shall be the deputy head of the department, and may also appoint such other officers and clerks as are requisite for the due administration of the business of the department, each of which shall hold office during pleasure.

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Amendment agreed to. On section 6,


CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

I would like to get some information as to the construction and purchase of the vessels that are contemplated. I would like to know where they are to be built, and when; also, what is to be the character of the plant, where the guns and arms are to be manufactured, and generally some information respecting matters that have not been touched upon to any extent so far.

S'ir WILFRID LAURIER. I stated in the debate which took place on the second reading, that it was the intention of the government, if at all practicable, to have these ships built in Canada. I cannot speak definitely upon that because this is a matter which. I think, cannot be definitely determined to-day, but it is our intention to ask for tenders, and we will be guided by the tenders which we receive as to whether or not they shall be built in Canada or whether we shall build them abroad.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

There is no determination yet?

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LIB
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

The government has no definite idea as to what place within Canada it will select?

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I do not think it will be possible to make any selection to-day. That would depend on whether the tenders we receive are satisfactory.

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CON

John Waterhouse Daniel

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DANIEL.

Where will the headquarters of these vessels be when they are purchased or built?

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

The headquarters of these vessels will depend upon their distribution. I stated this morning that at the present time we have several ships which are doing protective service in connection with fisheries. I have no doubt that in the course of time these ships will be superseded by the ships we are going to build. Some of these ships are doing duty on the shores of Nova Scotia, and one is in the Bav of Fundy. It would not be possible to determine their headquarters at the present time.

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April 19, 1910