April 5, 1918

UNION

Henry Herbert Stevens

Unionist

Mr. H. H. STEVENS (Centre Vancouver):

Mr. Speaker, I noted the words' of caution which fell from your lips when this resolution was introduced, and 1 am conscious at this time that one perhaps lays himself open to a measure of criticism in bringing up this question or discussing it on the floor of this House. There are those in the House and out of it who think perhaps it should not have been done. On the other hand, Sir, if we are not to be permitted to discuss a matter of this kind, or kindred matters, on the floor of the House where, within the confines of Canada, will we find a more appropriate or fitting place? As I conceive my duty as the representative of a constituency in this country, it is to endeavour to properly present to1 my colleagues in the House the views of those whom I represent.

We ,are told by some who think that perhaps this question should not have been brought up that we should have more consideration for our fellow citizens in the province of Quebec, because they have a, unique character, because they are distinct from the rest of Canada, and because they have traditions and customs -which we must observe and respect. To a large degree I frankly acknowledge that that is,the case, and it i6 not my intention to-day to violate in any iway the opinions o-r-feelings of my fellow citizens in the province of Quebec, but I desire to remind you, iSir, and this House that the citizens of the rest of Canada have rights just as well as the citizens of Canada in the province of Quebec. Throughout the length and breadth of this country we have families who have sent two, three, four or five sons to the front. My attention was brought to one in my own city-the fifth son gone to the front, three dead and one lying in a hospital in England. Families such as that have some claim to the attention of the administrators of the law in this country.

It has been rumoured that the -second class was About to Ibe called up. I wish to say with the utmost frankness, and -with all respect and consideration for what the -words may mean, that I think the Government

would be exceedingly ill-advised in calling up the second class until adequate and definite efforts had been made, -and successfully made, to exhaust those who come under the first class-.

British law, Mr. Speaker, is fundamentally rooted in the principles of impartiality, firmness of application, and persistence. I am reminded of the- long trip of several thousand -miles made into the Arctic regions a oo-uple of years ago by two or three Mounted Police officers to apprehend two murderers. After sixteen, months they brought these two murderers from the Arctic circle to Edmonton and. they were there tried. That is simply an, illustration of the administration- of British law wherever the- British flag flies. I am reminded of the famous- CamieTon -case in Abyssinia, and there are many others- that might be called to mind. But twe have this condition in Canada, to-day, that with the -same law and with the same constitution of courts we have entirely diverse interpretations of this Act of Parliament. In one province it is viewed from one standpoint and you have a certain application of it. In eight provinces we find a directly opposite interpretation, and application. It must be apparent to every man of commonsense that one of two things is wrong, and perhaps the two things are wrong-either that the law itself is faulty and needs amendment or correction or strengthening, or else that there is a tendency on the part of one section of the community to disregard the -law. It must be one of these two things,, or perhaps in a measure it may be the two, and what I wish to draw to the attention of the House is that it cannot and must not -be allowed to continue. The law must be impartially administered in all sections of the * country. We had the assurance of the right hon. the Prime Minister the other day that it would be so, and I must say that I am willing to admit, and to frankly and cheerfully admit, that I trust in the good faith, of the Prime Minister. But, Sir, in my province, in the Western Provinces and in Ontario, you find tribunals constituted under this Act

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

I am reluctant to interrupt the hon. member but in so far as I have been able to follow the discussion he has been confining himself entirely to the Military Service Act. Tihe resolution deals with rioting in Quebec.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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UNION

Henry Herbert Stevens

Unionist

Mr. STEVENS:

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

Perhaps it is inevitably that reference must be made to the Military Service Act in connection with the riots in Quebec. At the same time it is not competent for any hon. member to confine his discussion to the Military Service Act.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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UNION

Henry Herbert Stevens

Unionist

Mr. STEVENS:

I was not intending to do so, but I was asking the question: Why did these riots occur in the province of Quebec? By the evidence laid on the Table officially by the Prime Minister we find that these riots were directly the result of the effort to administer the Military Service Act. In the administration of the Military Service Act in the province of Quebec and in the rest of Canada we see a distinct difference. I am willing, Mr. Speaker, to submit to your ruling, but I was going on to say when you stopped me, in explanation of the point I am making, that in all sections of the country outside of the province of Quebec the tribunals administered the Act without the assistance or appearance of lawyers or anybody representing those who appeared or appealed. There was a summary administration of the Act. Generally speaking, the public accepted the Act in that spirit and from that standpoint. In the province of Quebec we find that the administration of the same law and with substantially the same machinery, endless technical appeals did occur so that there are practically no results from the Act in that province.

Now then, we are brought face to face with the question: Why this failure in that one province when apparently there was success in the other provinces? That brings me to this point and I wish to make it the chief point in my remarks. I do not think that we will evade trouble in the province of Quebec such as unfortunately occurred last week, I do not think that the Military Service Act will be successfully administered so long as it is placed under the Justice Department of this Government. I say that advisedly, and with no desire to cast reflections personally upon the Minister of Justice. He is placed in a most awkward position, a minister of the Crown charged with certain duties, but a citizen of a province whose practically unanimous opinion was against this law, and in which province there exisis a large section of the

community bitterly opposed even to the administration of the law now that it is enacted. Let me make myself clear on that point by disclaiming any charge of a wholesale character against the province of Quebec, because in the last week I have met many citizens from Quebec, representing a large section of that province, who say that they wish the law to be enforced; and still we are bound to admit, if we are frank at all, that a large section of the province is determined to oppose the administration of the law to the limit of their ability.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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L LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

No.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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UNION

Henry Herbert Stevens

Unionist

Mr. STEVENS:

The right hon. gentleman says "No." I would be very glad when he comes to speak, if he should give, the House some assurance that he speaks wTith authority as representing a section of his own constituency which acted as they did in the most unfortunate manner the other day.

Some hon. MEMBER'S: Hear, hear.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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UNION

Henry Herbert Stevens

Unionist

Mr. STEVENS:

And I might also suggest to the right hon. gentleman, and I do it with all respect, that perhaps his own presence in the city of Quebec might have had a better effect than leaving interven-vention to Armand Lavergne, or other members of that particular class and kind.

I say that I do not think the Act can be properly administered in that province by the Minister of Justice, or the Justice Department, so as to avoid a recurrence of these troubles, and I think it is desirable that these gentlemen should take into consideration the possibility of such recurrence. The Justice Department has been known, I think, to all the former members of this House as a sort of embalming emporium to which is committed all knotty and embarrassing questions by the Government. If it is desired to bury a question so that it will not see the light of day again for any considerable period it is usually handed to the Justice Department. I might say that in a sense perhaps that is a useful function, because very often the Government is confronted with embarrassing questions; but, Mr. Speaker, this was an Act that demanded the utmost expedition in its application. We were told last summer, and told repeatedly in this House, that it was absolutely necessary to pass this Act in order to keep faith with t'he boys at the front. We went before the people of Canada with that cry, and they sent us back here almost solid from every province of the country, except one province, with

the mandate that this Act should be enforced, and enforced impartially and swiftly; and yet, we cannot say for one moment, by the widest stretch of imagination that the Minister of Justice, or his department, has enforced it with any degree of expedition.

There is one other phase of this question to which I wish to refer, and to add my voice to that of the mover of the resolution, and it is to make a definite protest against any further toleration of the doctrines preached by Bourassa and Lavergne in Quebec.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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UNION

Henry Herbert Stevens

Unionist

Mr. STEVENS:

In my city, Mr. Speaker, a man simply refused to report-he was guilty of no violation of the law, but simply refused to report. He was seized, and he is now serving a term of two years in a penitentiary, and he was not even allowed to see his friends. I made no complaint, and I make no complaint, but I cannot see why an English-speaking man in one section of the country should get two years in a penitentiary for simply passive objection, and the conduct of others should be winked at, year in and year out, who are guilty of the utmost sedition and most violent opposition to the law of the country.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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UNION

Henry Herbert Stevens

Unionist

Mr. STEVENS:

The Order in Council brought down by the Prime Minister is, without question, a decided advance beyond what we have seen in the past in an effort to administer this law; but there is one weakness in it. Before that Order in Council will become effective in the application of military authority there must have been a violation of the law in the form of an outbreak. What we are up against, Mr. Speaker, and the underlying cause of these riots, is the passive resistance to this Act, through the technical medium of the courts, the pettifogging legal technicalities against its enforcement. That is a point the Government must remedy. Until the Government remedies that point, until it so amends this Act that it can be enforced in the province of Quebec, as in other sections of the country, impartially and firmly and without any hesitation or delay -until that is done I say there will be a great deal of dissatisfaction in other parts of Canada as well. I was told by an exmember of this House the day before yesterday, something of a surprising character. He represented in this House for some years a constituency, one-half English-speaking and the other half French-speaking. He

said the members of the tribunals in the constituency were French-speaking, and that if an English-speaking applicant came before the tribunal he was promptly enrolled and not 'allowed exemption.

Some hon. MEMBERS : Oh ! Oh !

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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UNION

Henry Herbert Stevens

Unionist

Mr. STEVENS:

When a French speaking .applicant came before the tribunal he was allowed exemption.

Mr. P. R. DuTREMBLAY: The hon. gentleman should give uis the name of the tribunal in question.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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UNION

Henry Herbert Stevens

Unionist

Mr. STEVENS:

My hon, friend will have to accept my word that the information came from an ex-member of this House, and I do not want to expose him to possible indignities by giving his name.

The point, Mr. Speaker, is this: That

there seems to be a passive, shall I say defiance of this law in one province, while there is a rigid enforcement of it in the other provinces. The causes to. my mind are those that I have pointed out, first, and before all, the agitation and sedition preached for yeans by Bourassa, Lavergne and those associated with them, and, secondly, the slow, cumbersome, involved administration of this law by the Justice Department.

Right hon. Sir WILFRID LAURIE R: The mover of this motion was hind enough in his remarks to say that at one time fee had some regard for me hut that I have sadly fallen from grace in bis eyes. Mla.y I say to him that on the present occasion the hon. gentleman has sadly disappointed me. I thought fee moved his motion in order to discuss the riots and disturbances which took place recently in the city of Quebec, but be discussed altogether another question. He discussed the enforcement of the Act and the -action of the exemption tribunals, hut as to the riots in the city of Quebec he hardly said a word.

Sonne hon. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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L LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

insisted on (bringing the man to the station. A squabble ensued, and this was the origin of the trouble. Now, Sir, I do not at all intend to excuse the squabble (which ensued in which there was a free fight between the Dominion police, the men I have just mentioned, and the crowd. Violence is always to be deprecated and must be condemned whenever it occurs. But, after all, there is some excuse to ibe given for a man who is provoked into violence. I believe that if nothing else had followed in the succeeding days there would have been peace in Quebec. This was the first act of the drama; this was the origin of the squaJbble on the 28th of March.

The following day the disturbance continued and on a far greater scale. I must say that upon this, my conclusion is-after having investigated the matter for my own sake, and having been in communication with my friends and my constituents in the city of Quebec, that the trouble which took place on Friday the 29th of March was caused by a secret association of some kind. What it is, I do not know. I am sure of one thing. The origin of that association is not in the city of Quebec. The instigators of the trouble are not Quebec men.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
L LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

They are not Quebec men. I asked my friends and constituents to tell me who were the leaders of these riots, and one and all tell me that they did not know them. It is known as a fact, that on that Friday evening there was a motor car in which there were four persons who appeared to be the leaders of the movement, and so far as my information goes at the present time, those four persons do not (belong to the city of Quebec. Who are those men? That the movement was organized is undoubted. Who were behind .it? My impression is-I have no information upon this, but I will give my reasons for believing what I am going to say-that it i6 the same gang which attempted to terrorize the city of Montreal last summer.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
L LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

company also. Mr. Lavergne was a candidate in Montmagny in the last election, but the young man who was elected in that county with my support, sits in this House to-day behind me. The views of Bourassa and Lavergne are not my views. The separation is not of to-day only; it goes, back to the years 1910 and 1911, when I was opposed by Bourassa and his friends. And upon what ground? I took the stand that it was within the power of the Parliament of Canada to decree whether or not we should take part in the wars of Great Britain. Bourassa and Lavergne held that under no circumstances should we take part in the wars of Great Britain. For this difference of opinion 1 incurred their enmity, and they fought for the Conservative party; and my hon. friend (Mr. Currie) sitting there amongst the large majority in this House, owes a deep debt of gratitude to Mr. Bourassa.

He may ask me, why did I oppose the policy of conscription? I will answer him. I opposed the policy of conscription because I am a man of common sense; because I know human nature; because I know the conditions in this country. I knew that compulsory service would not bring the same results as the voluntary system. My hon. friend has alluded to the fact that the province of Quebec has not done as much as it should have done. I agree; I wish it had done more. But there is one way and one way only to deal with my fellow-countrymen. If you attempt to coerce them, they have too much of the Celtic blood not to resent it; but appeal to their heart and their imagination, and you will find them responsive. If that had been done, there would have been very different results.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. J. A. CURRIE:

Then why did not the hon. gentleman, as the representative of the French Canadian race, speak to his French Canadians in that way?

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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April 5, 1918