Imp Conference-Mr. Edwards (Frontenac)
it was not amusing to the order of which I have the honour to be the head. We did not see anything funny in a woman fighting for rights, fighting for her honour, and fighting to prevent people branding her as an adultress and her children as bastards. It was amusing to the hon. member for Labelle, but not to us. We did raise money and sent it over, in order to assist in obtaining justice for that woman who had not the means herself to put up for the defence of her honour. Yes, we have used our money for other purposes too. May I tell some hon. members on the other side of the chamber that our Orange lodges were not only recruiting centres for enlisting men to go to the war, but hundreds of them were collecting agencies and collected money and material which were sent overseas for the relief of the Roman Catholic refugees who were driven out of Belgium by the friends of the hon. member for Labelle. They had no claim upon us from the standpoint of creed, but they had a claim upon us and the order to which I belong responded nobly. I should like to tell my hon. friends further in regard to that order to which he has referred that we are to-day maintaining orphanages in nearly all of the provinces, taking care of, clothing and bringing up as good citizens children who have been deprived of the care and protection of their natural protectors. I desire to say also-and I say it with pride- that the order which only elicits a sneer from the hon. member for Labelle, enlisted some forty or fifty thousand soldiers and sent' them overseas. Thousands of them are sleeping in soldiers' graves in Flanders to-day. While my hon. friend during his lifetime, or the greater part of it, has devoted his talents and his energies in trying to lessen respect for British institutions and for everything British, I want to tell him and hon. members of this House that the Orange order in the hundred years of its existence in Canada has, in every crisis of our country's history, proved itself to be a hundred per cent dependably British. An institution which has done that, which has played the game as this order has done, is a real asset to this or any other country, and I do not propose to sit here and allow the hon. member for Labelle or any other member to cast any slurs or sneers at that institution.
The hon. member brought my name into his speech and asked, "does the leader of the opposition, or any other defender of minority rights, beginning with the hon. member for Frontenac-Addington, claim that the King of England can send a regiment from England to force Catholic schools upon the province
of Manitoba?" It was a very silly question to ask of any member of the House. Why, certainly not, but allow me to state in that connection that the hon. member for Fron-tenac-Addington does stand for and is willing and ready at all times to defend, minority rights and majority rights as well. There is such a thing as the rights of majorities in this country, and there is such a thing as responsibilities of minorities as well as the responsibility of majorities, and so far as his reference to Catholic schools is concerned, I will say-and again my attitude is in strong contrast with his-that so far as the schools are concerned-and I speak not merely for myself but for the order of which I am the head -let any province of the west establish as many kinds of schools as they want. That is their business. It is not my business, neither is it the business of the hon. member for Labelle. If the province of Alberta or the province of Saskatchewan see fit to establish separate schools, I repeat that is their business and any attempt on the part of this parliament to prevent Saskatchewan or Alberta or any other province from establishing separate schools will be resented, and I will be among the first on my feet to put up a fight against that attempt. That is the position I take in regard to these schools. I say the provinces are entitled to handle those matters themselves. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec have that right. How long would we in the province of Ontario submit to this parliament attempting to pass legislation telling us what schools we should have? How long would the province of Quebec submit to this parliament undertaking to dictate to them the kind of educational system they should have? The first to protest against such interference would be the hon. member for Labelle. Yet that is what he wants to have imposed on the provinces of the west. He talks about imperialism! When he gets on that subject he fairly froths at the mouth because of his hatred of anything imperialistic, of anything British. He cannot talk on that subject for five minutes without having a brainstorm-at least I have never heard him without noticing that peculiar result. Imperialism! Always respresenting that we are being throttled and shackled by some power in England. That is what he has tried to make the people of Canada believe. And yet this gentleman who is so deadly opposed to anything along imperialistic lines, to any interference from the outside, does not scruple to adopt the imperialistic principle of putting shackles on the free citizens of the provinces of the west.
Imp. Conference-Mr. Edwards (Frontenac)
I am not very greatly concerned about changes in the constitution. It does not seem to me to be reasonable to suppose that a constitution laid down sixty years ago, with the very best intention in the light that they had a*t that time, with such vision of the future as they possessed at that time, and which was no doubt the right thing at that time,-I say it does not appear to me to be logical that that constitution should be continued without changing it one jot or tittle in any respect in order that it may apply to the changed conditions of this day or some future time. I believe that some changes should be made. But I want to say this, Mr. Speaker. If I understand correctly this report and some of the speeches that have been made in this House, and if the intention is to sever our connection with the mother country and allow the Dominion to change its constitution at will, I warn hon. members that when all restraints are taken off there will be an agitation throughout this country that will stir it as it has never been stirred since confederation. And that agitation will not be confined to any one province; it will be just as marked in the west as in some parts of the east.
As to minorities, I have less reason to be concerned than have hon. gentlemen sitting opposite. Why? I would ask them to take the official figures of the census of 1911 and of 1921, when they will find that the percentage of the total population of French origin in 1911 was 28.52, and in 1921 27.91. I would remind them that in the province of Ontario in those ten years the population of British origin increased by 1.4 per cent, those of French origin by .4 per cent; in the province of Quebec the population of British origin decreased by .6 per cent, those of French origin by 1.2 per cent; in New Brunswick the population of British origin decreased by .1 per cent, while those of French origin increased by C.2 per cent; in Nova Scotia the population of British origin increased by .9 per cent, those of French origin by .3 per cent; in Prince Edward Island the population of British origin increased by 1.1 per cent while those of French origin decreased by .5 per cent; in Manitoba the population of British origin decreased by .9 per cent, those of French origin by .1 per cent; in Saskatchewan the population of British origin increased by 1.9 per cent, those of French origin by .8 per cent; in Alberta the population of British origin increased by 8.3 per cent, while those of French origin neither increased nor decreased in percentage; in British Columbia
the population of British origin increased 9.5 per cent, while those of French origin decreased .1 per cent. In other words, in four provinces there has been a decrease in the population of French origin, in four provinces an increase, and in one province neither an increase nor a decrease; whereas in regard to the population of British origin, in six provinces there has been an increase in percentage and in three a decrease. So having regard to the fact that in the Dominion as a whole in 1901 the population of French origin represented 30.7 per cent, in 1911 28.52 per cent and in 1921 27.91 per cent-a steady decrease-my hon. friends opposite if they have any concern for minorities, should be more concerned than I. I believe that with a proper system of immigration the percentage of our population of British origin will be very greatly increased as compared with those of French origin in the next ten or twenty years.
I repeat, Sir, the protection of minorities should not wholly engage our attention; we should also concern ourselves with the protection of majorities in this country. In other words, while we have the privilege of sitting in this House we should do our part to safeguard the future of the Dominion in every respect so far as the rights of all classes of the people are concerned, and we are doing less than our duty if we do not do All in our power to safeguard those rights.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I could give to this House many more arresting facts regarding the career of the hon. member for Labelle, but he is a never-failing source of interest himself. I think it would be a very sad thing indeed for this country if we hastily decided to do away with the right of appeal to the Privy Council. Just so long as we have men in this country like the hon. member for Labelle, who shows a disposition to ride roughshod over the rights of the people as he did with the people of the west; so long as we have men of that kind exercising their influence along that line, I say we should stick to our safeguard and retain the right of appeal to an independent tribunal, the Privy Council.