Sir WILFRID LAURIER:
(Mr. ROBB: Now, Sir, I am not going
to discuss this from a legal or a constitutional point of view. I am not a lawyer. I want to discuss it from an experience of 40 years in a bilingual community, where the people live together and try to respect each other's principles' and prejudices. We hear many people in Canada who say that we should have but one language and one school. But when you ask them what language or what school, invariably they say: " Our language." Now, I want to speak frankly, in the few observations I have to make, to my friends from the great province of Ontario; what would be the position of the English-speaking minority in the province of Quebec if the influence and example of the English-speaking majority in the sister provinces should appeal to the
French-speaking majority of the province of Quebec, and they should start in to hamper and to hinder the education of the English-speaking minority of that province? This school trouble, so acute in Ontario, is largely between the Irish or Englishspeaking Catholics and the French-speaking Catholics. I, a Protestant, a Presbyterian, want to appeal to my English-speaking Roman Catholic friends of the province of Ontario, I want them to remember that in the province of Quebec there is an English-speaking minority, where in many places the English-speaking and the French Catholics are about evenly divided. I want to ask them if they expect that their compatriots, the English-speaking Catholics in the province of Quebec, can hope for any better 'treatment from the French-speaking majority of that province than is given to their compatriots, the French-speaking minority in the province of Ontario?
The census of 1911 gives Ontario a population of 212,442 French-speaking citizens. They are the descendants of the pioneers of civilization in this country. When the redman roamed at will, did as he liked, for the redman's law at that time was might is right, I want my friends to remember that many of the French Canadian missionaries sacrificed their lives because they were freely offering education to the redman, who had as little regard for education as he had for life. In the opinion of the red man, I repeat, might was right. Unfortunately, that theory is not yet altogether extinct as we have witnessed in Alsace-Lorraine, and in Poland, where the Germans, as well as the Russians, have deprived the people of those countries of their rights, their liberties, and their language. It is because we do not believe in that theory or principle because our British ideals are those of freedom and liberty that we are to-day at war, and that 300,000 Canadians, representing the best blood of our nation, are to-day in arms ready to sacrifice their lives that they may restore to Belgium, to France, and to Alsace their rights and their liberties. Can we who remain at home here in Canada not do as much? Can we who remain at home here not give and take? Is it not possible for sober-minded.citizens to sit down together and settle this acute difficulty which, as one speaker has said, might break out into rebellion. I think our French Canadian citizens have presented their claims very moderately. As a liberal and a supporter of the Liberal party, I stand upon
this issue exactly where my distinguished leader stands; where the Liberal party stood in 1896. We stand for provincial rights. As a citizen of the province of Quebec I have no right, nor do I desire, to dictate to the province of Ontario, or to meddle at all in the domestic affairs of that province. But, as a representative of the English-speaking Protestant minority of Quebec, I wish to appeal to my English speaking fellow-citizens in the province of Ontario. I wish them to remember that we, who are the great majority in the province of Ontario, are but a minority in the province of Quebec. Can we hope to expect any better treatment for our children from the Fiench speaking majority in the province of Quebec than we, who are the English speaking majority in the province of Ontario, are ready to give to our French speaking fellow-citizens who go to that province? I am encouraged by the debate here to-day to hope that the people will take a sober view of this trouble, and that before this Parliament meets again this subject will be settled to the satisfaction of all interests. Let us remember, we who are the majority in the Dominion of Canada, the golden rule, and do to others as you would that others should do to you. Those who say that there should be but one language will remember that the Book of Genesis tells us that at one time in the history of the world, after the flood, there was but one language and one speech throughout the earth. Was the world any better then? Is it a disadvantage for men to have two languages? Happily, here in Canada, we have the English language which is the language of commerce, and the French language, which is the language of diplomacy.
I appeal to this Parliament, to men upon both sides, to English-speaking people and French-speaking people, to cease our bickerings. Let us take an example from our brothers who have gone to fight the battles of freedom and liberty. Each day the casualty list that comes to this country registers the names of Englishspeaking Canadians and French-speaking Canadians who have given their lives for freedom and liberty. Let us take an example from those men who are standing shoulder to shoulder for these principles. Let us try to sit down together and see if we cannot settle once and for all this question, and do away with this language agitation which surely is not to the benefit of this country.
Mr. Oliver (Edmonton) and Mr. Mac-donell (South Toronto) rising together,
Subtopic: THE BILINGUAL QUESTION.