March 31, 1927

IND

Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa

Independent

Mr. BOURASSA:

I was in Paris on the 31st of July.

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Mr. EDW ARDS@Frontenac

At all events I am giving my authority for this statement, and I think I am right in saying that this statement was not contradicted in the columns of the hon. gentleman's paper.

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IND

Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa

Independent

Mr. BOURASSA:

I never care to contradict things. I do not contradict the hon. gentleman. Let him go. I am simply saying it is a falsehood; that is all.

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CON

Alexander McKay Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS (Frontenac):

May I remark that the mere fact of the hon. member for Labelle calling a thing a falsehood does not make it a falsehood.

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IND

Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa

Independent

Mr. BOURASSA:

But the fact that the hon. member for Frontenac-Addington says something does not make it a verity.

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CON

Alexander McKay Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS (Frontenac):

I am going to say some more things, and may I say with all due respect to this Napoleon of journalism and of everything else connected with public affairs, the hon. member for Labelle,

I will accept, and I believe most of the people of this country will accept the statement of La Patrie before they will that of the hon. member for Labelle. The statement continues:

What could he be doing in Germany at that particular moment when the central powers were busy launching throughout the world a host of secret agents thoroughly equipped with instructions for propaganda and a most efficient spying service? We do not know. Mr. Bourassa, in any event, displayed remarkable agita-

Imp. Conference-Mr. Edwards (Frontenac)

tion at that time, when he hastily traversed France and the Atlantic to re-enter Canada- glad indeed to avail himself of the protection of the British flag, against which he has been raging since then. He arrived in Montreal August 21st.

I do not suppose that even the hon. member for Labelle will have the hardihood to say that he has not raged both before and ever since against the British flag and everything British.

Now we will take another date, October 12th, where in the same paper I find this:

On July 30, 1914, when hostilities had already been declared between Austria and Serbia, the general conflagration appeared inevitable to all; Russia and France were rapidly mobilizing their armies and Germany's forces were already in line. Mr. Henri Bourassa was at Colmar in Alsace, therefore on German territory. Colmar is twenty-five or thirty miles from the French frontier, where Mr. Bourassa, of French origin and a British subject, as he so loudly proclaimed a few days later, could have passed without any trouble had he so desired. But Mr. Bourassa did not turn his steps towards the French frontier. He left for Strasbourg, where he was July 31st. Strasbourg, one of Germany's strongest bases along the western frontier, a stronghold maintained to defend, when occasion arose, the provinces taken from France in 1871, was evidently on that date under military authority. Is it not strange that Mr. Bourassa should head straight for the enemy's citadel-as declaration of war against England was imminent at the time-instead of for France? Mr. Bourassa, however, elected to go to Strasbourg, and to our knowledge, he was not molested by the Prussian soldiery, although to the latter every traveler had to show a clean slate, and women were undressed under the pretence that this was necessary as a protection against spies.

I read also this:

If the Bodies let Mr. Bourassa through so easily, why did they detain Doctor Belaud so long-a Frenchman and a British subject, just like the Nationalist boss?

That is, in that respect, but not in any other. Why did they keep Doctor Beland? They kept Doctor Beland because they believed he was a real British subject, and they thought it would be better for Germany to keep him in prison than to let him go back to Canada to use his influence, as he would have done had he been here, in helping Canada to do her part in the war. You may infer, then, why they let Mr. Bourassa go. Whether or not the Germans knew what the hon. member for Labelle would do when he got back to Canada, I do not know, of course; but the fact is there, that while all that western frontier was bristling with German bayonets and all the preparations for war, the one Canadian, Doctor Beland, was shut up in a prison, and the other one was allowed to go freely wherever he liked,

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REVISED


travelling up and down, wending his way amongst his friends the Huns, going where he chose without let or hindrance, and then he comes back to Canada, and as soon as he gets back here, and all the time during the war that he was in Canada-he will not deny this; he cannot deny it-he used his voice and pen from the time he arrived in Canada until the war was over, and since, in doing all he could to give encouragement to our enemies, the Germans, during the great crisis of the war, doing all he could to break down respect for Britain and British institutions, discouraging as far as he could the Canadian boys from doing their duty in that war. The hon. member for Labelle does not care very much for what I say, I know. In that respect may I tell him that I care just as little what he says. The hon. member for Labelle enjoyed himself the other night in making his speech. He enjoyed himself, as he always does, in attacking everything British and throwing his slurs and sneers at everything British. But he did not stop at that. He made some reference to a divorce or marriage case in the province of Quebec. I might ask the hon. gentleman opposite what that has to do with the Imperial conference? He was perfectly willing to listen #to talk about the Tremblay and Depatie marriage case. He was not concerned about the Imperial conference then. Not at all. But since the hon. member referred to that case- and of course he misrepresented the facts in referring to it-may I be permitted to say a word in that regard? He found fault with the Orange order because he said the lodges of that order collected money to carry this case to the Privy Council. Yes, we did. It cost us thousands of dollars. May I tell some hon. members opposite it would be no use foi me to tell it to the hon. member for Labelle- but I still think there is an element of fail play in most of the hon. members opposite- that members of the Orange order are obligated just as much to defend a Roman Catholic in his or her constitutional rights as they are to defend a Protestant. Well, that is amusing, of course. I am not surprised at the hon. member for Labelle treating that as something amusing. He said the fight that this woman was putting up to defend her rights and her honour was a funny thing. Those are the words he used-a very funny thing. He also made the woman a party to the appeal to the canonical tribunal, which was not true. She was not a party to it. The poor woman had not the money to fight for her rights and honour. This may be very amusing to my hon. friend from Labelle, but.


EDITION


1750 COMMONS 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 32649-mi 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.


LIB

Joseph Thorarinn Thorson

Liberal

Mr. J. T. THORSON (Winnipeg South Centre):

Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to take as much of the time of the House on this debate as previous speakers have taken. The essence of the report made by the committee on inter-imperial relations to the Imperial conference, which was unanimously adopted by the conference, is found on page 12 of the

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Imperial Conference-Mr. Thorson

report. I refer to the definition of the relationship which exists or is alleged to exist between Great Britain and the dominions:

They are autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the crown, and freely associated as members of the British commonwealth of nations.

I propose to confine mysellf to a discussion of this definition in so far as it deals with the autonomy of Canada in her domestic affairs. Within that sphere I feel that a great forward step has been taken, that this declaration of equality is perhaps the most important constitutional pronouncement made since confederation, and that it is pregnant with great possibilities for Canadian national development.

There has been much criticism of this definition, much debate as to its meaning and much misunderstanding of its implications. There are those who say on the one hand that it marks the end of the British Empire as we have known it, or at any rate the commencement of a new British Empire essentially and fundamentally different from the old. On the other hand there are those who say that no change whatever has resulted, that the definition is merely a statement of the constitutional status which has already been acquired in practice although not hitherto universally recognized. Possibly there is a great deal of truth in both these statements, yet in my opinion neither is strictly accurate. With all due respect to those who have expressed these various views as to the work of the Imperial conference and the results achieved, I prefer to regard this definition not so much a statement of existing fact as a declaration of what ought to be; not so much a declaration of equality as a promise of equality. Everyone must remember that until legal effect is given to that declaration we do not legally possess 'that equality.

In order that we may arrive at an appreciation of this definition I think it essential that we attempt to analyse the actual status of Canada both from the strictly legal point of view and from the point of view of constitutional development and practice. By so doing we may perhaps be able to view the definition in the light of existing facts and so better understand its implications and the consequences resulting therefrom. I shall endeavour to be as brief as possible. If I should present for the consideration of this House a point of view which is to a large extent that of a lawyer, I crave the indulgence

of the House. I shall attempt to put the legal position as baldly and as briefly as possible.

The Dominion of Canada owes its existence as a legal entity to the British North America Act, a statute passed by the parliament of Great Britain. That statute is the charter of Canada, beyond which Canadian legislatures, whether they be federal or provincial, cannot validly go. In law the parliament of Canada is subordinate and inferior to the parliament of Great Britain; as a legal proposition that is not open to dispute and we must remember that in law that inferiority exists. This legislative inferiority of the parliament of Canada is of two kinds; first, that which results naturally from the fact that the parliament of Canada was created by the parliament of Great Britain, is bound by the terms of the charter which created it and is therefore inherently dependent. In the second place there is that inferiority which results from the fact that the parliament of Canada is still in law subject to the paramount legislative authority of the parliament of Great Britain which alone has power to change the terms of the British North America Act and, either by an amendment to that act or by the enactment of some other act, to enlarge or abridge the measure of self-government which we now enjoy.

As to the first heading of inferiority, that which is inherent in the parliament of Canada and in the Dominion of Canada as a dependency of the parliament of Great Britain which created it, it has been held, for example, by the Privy Council that it does not lie within the legislative competence of a self-governing dominion such as Canada to pass legislation affixing penal consequences in Canada to acts committed outside of Canada. In that view of the law it would not be possible for Canada to punish persons for offences such as murder, arson, theft or bigamy committed outside of Canada. It has been argued that the powers of self-government possessed by Canada must be confined to matters or things within the territorial limits of Canada; in other words, that Canada has no power to pass legislation having an extra-territorial operation or effect. No such limitation exists on the powers of the parliament of Great Britain, because the British parliament is sovereign, and the Canadian parliament is not. On two occasions the parliament of Canada has passed resolutions on this subject for an address to the British parliament asking for an amendment to the British North America Act to remove this anomaly, once in 1920 and again in 1924,

Imperial Conference-Mr. Thorson

but although both houses of parliament passed these resolutions unanimously on both occasions, no action has yet been taken by the British parliament.

The second aspect of subordination lies in the fact that Canada is still subject, notwithstanding the terms of the British North America Act, to the legislative authority of the parliament of Great Britain, the only sovereign legislature in the British Empire. It is quite true that a very large measure of autonomy and self-government was conferred upon Canada by the British North America Act, but that self-government is subject to limitation and supervision by the British North America Act itself, and by other acts of the parliament of Great Britain extending to Canada.

The British North America Act set up an elaborate system of checks and balances. Certain spheres of jurisdiction were assigned to the provinces, and in order that there should be a check upon the powers of the provinces the Dominion government was given the right to disallow provincial legislation if it thought it necessary to do so in the interests of Canada. The remainder of the legislative field was assigned to the Dominion parliament, and similar checks on Dominion legislation were provided by sections 55, 56 and 57 of the British North America Act. These sections have already been discussed, and I shall therefore deal with them very briefly.

Section 56 deals with the right of the government of Great Britain,-not the parliament of Great Britain,-to disallow legislation even although it has passed both houses of parliament, has received the royal assent and has actually gone into operation. Every act passed by this parliament must be sent to one of the secretaries of state in Great Britain, and remain subject to disallowance for a period of two years from the time the act was received by the Secretary of State. If this right of disallowance had been regularly or frequently exercised it would no doubt have given rise to great irritation and great annoyance, but the right has not been exercised. As far as I am aware the right of disallowance given by the British North America Act to the British government has been exercised only once, namely, in 1873, some fifty-four years ago. Section 56 still remains intact in the British North America Act, and the present practice in regard to that section is that all acts passed by this parliament are sent every year to London, and it is intimated through the Secretary for Dominion Affairs that "His Majesty will not be advised to exercise his powers of disallowance" in regard thereto.

Sections 55 and 57 deal with another right of supervision, niamely, the right of the Governor General to withhold the royal assent from a bill even although it has passed both houses of parliament, or to reserve the bill for the signification of His Majesty's pleasure. I am not greatly concerned with the exercise of the veto power which is conferred upon the Governor General by section 55, for I am convinced that constitutional practice will provide for its proper use. I do not believe it is any more likely that the Canadian Governor General would exercise his right of veto in Canada in respect of Canadian legislation, than that His Majesty the King would exercise that right in Great Britain in respect of British legislation. I think that that is particularly true since the recent declaration, which merely crystallizes the idea already developed with regard to the position of the Governor General in Canada. I believe that this definition of the Governor General's position in Canada as the representative of the crown marks a great step in the direction of equality of status, and I would suggest that steps be taken to change the title of His Majesty's representative in Canada from that of "Governor General" to that of "Viceroy", in order to indicate more truly the actual position which His Majesty's representative now occupies.

With regard to the right of reservation of bills for the signification of His Majesty's pleasure, I wish to point out that this right was fairly frequently exercised at the time of confederation and for some time subsequent thereto. The royal instructions to the Canadian Governor General at that time expressly required the Governor General to reserve in all cases for Her Majesty's pleasure, certain well defined classes of bills. This right of reservation was exercised prior to 1890 on some fifteen occasions, although as a matter of fact the royal assent was refused only in one case. In 1876 Mr. Edward Blake, then Minister of Justice, protested against the regular exercise of this right of reservation. He contended that the proper practice to follow should be to allow the bills to become acts of parliament, and go effectively into operation, and rely solely upon the right of disallowance if it were the opinion of the British government that such legislation was objectionable. He realized of course that the British government would hesitate very much more to exercise its right of disallowance in respect of an act that had already gone into operation, than to exercise its right of reservation. As a result of Mr. Edward Blake's protest the royal instructions were changed

1754 COMMONS

Imperial Conference-Mr. Thorson

in order to omit any mention of special classes of bills. It was intimated, however, very clearly at that time that the right of reservation was not given tip, but that its exercise as a regular practice was abandoned, and the maintenance of the right is expressly referred to in the report of the Imperial conference. I agree with most of the hon. members who have spoken on this subject that these statutory rights of supervision and disallowance, in view of the constitutional practice that is followed, do not constitute any serious limitation of Canadian autonomy. It has been said that these rights are, in practice, constitutionally dead. Since these rights are constitutionally obsolete no useful purpose is served by the retention of sections 55, 56 and 57 in the British North America Act, and in my opinion they should be repealed. It is inconsistent with the declaration of equality of status which we are discussing that they should be retained. If our legislation is ultra vires, the courts which are constituted for that purpose will so find. If our legislation is within the legislative competence of our parliament then we are the best judges of the wisdom and the expediency of such legislation, and it should not be subject even to nominal review.

The Dominion power of self-government is further restricted by virtue of the Colonial Laws Validity Act of 1865, and that is a very serious limitation. Section 2 of that important act provides as follows:

Any colonial law which is or shall be in any respect repugnant to the provisions of any act of parliament extending to the colony to which such law may relate, or repugnant to any order or regulation made under authority of such act of parliament, or having in the colony the force and effect of such act, shall be read subject to such act, order or regulation, and shall, to the extent of such repugnancy but not otherwise, be and remain absolutely void and inoperative.

This statute affirms the right of the parliament of Great Britain to legislate for the colonies, and in law Canada comes within that category for the purposes of this act. Just as the parliament of Great Britain by the British North America Act conferred powers upon the Dominion of Canada, so it can increase or diminish those powers as it sees fit, and it has done so. In law two propositions are perfectly clear. First, the Dominion parliament has no power to pass legislation which runs counter to any act of the parliament of Great Britain extending to Canada, and with all due deference to the hon. leader of the opposition, I say that it cannot even now amend the British North America Act or pass legislation that is repugnant to it. Second, the parliament of Great Britain is under no legal

IMr. Thorson.]

restriction whatever. It may pass any legislation it sees fit and no court will declare that legislation ultra vires. It may make such legislation applicable to the Dominion of Canada if it chooses to do so, and so legislate for the people of Canada without obtaining their approval. In practice the British parliament does not generally do so, but since confederation it has done so in several cases, for example; the Extradition Act, 1870; the Foreign Enlistment Act. 1870; the Fugitive Offenders' Act, 1881; and the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, regarding which we heard this afternoon. This power of the British parliament is not constitutionally dead, and as long as this distinction exists, it is absurd to speak of absolute equality of status.

I have endeavoured to set out the inequalities of legislative power between the parliament of Canada on the one hand and that of Great Britain on the other. It is obvious and undisputed in spite of constitutional development and practice. The Imperial conference itself recognized the existence of the inequalities to which I have referred and thereby admitted that the definition of equality which they arrive at must not be taken literally. The conference recommended that steps should be taken by Great Britain and the dominions to set up a committee :

To inquire into, report upon, and make recommendations concerning-

(i) Existing statutory provisions requiring reservation of Dominion legislation for the assent of His Majesty or authorizing the disallowance of such legislation.

(ii) (a) The present position as to the competence of dominion parliaments to give their legislation extra-territorial operation.

(b) The practicability and most convenient method of giving effect to the principle that each dominion parliament should have power to give extra-territorial operation to its legislation in all cases where such operation is ancillary to provision for the peace, order, and good government of the Dominion.

(iii) The principles embodied in or underlying the Colonial Laws Validity Act, 1865, and the extent to which any provisions of that act ought to be repealed, amended, or modified in the light of the existing relations between the various members of the British commonwealth of nations as described in this report.

With that recommendation of the conference I heartily concur.

There is one other aspect in which inferiority exists, and the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) referred to it in the brilliant and masterly address which he delivered yesterday in this House. While it is within the power of Great Britain to decide for herself how her laws shall be administered, no similar right is given to Canada. Even if Canada should

Imperial Conference-Mr. Thorson

desire to prohibit appeals to the Privy Council, she has no power to do so. Her lack of rights in that respect has been settled on two occasions. In 1875 when a bill was introduced in this parliament to create a supreme court for the Dominion, it was the expressed intention of the ministers to prohibit appeals to Her Majesty's Privy Council. They were however notified by the government of Great Britain that the bill could not be sanctioned unless the royal prerogative to hear appeals was preserved. Accordingly a saving clause was inserted in the bill and the bill received the royal assent. In 1888, some thirteen years afterwards, an attempt was again made, this time in criminal 'cases, to prohibit appeals to the Privy Council. Section 1025 of the Canadian Criminal Code seeks to accomplish that purpose. Since 1888 many applications for leave to appeal in criminal cases have been made to the Privy Council; but in every case the application for leave to appeal has been refused, thus showing that the Privy Council believes that we administer our criminal laws in a just manner. Year after year the Privy Council has refrained from discussing the validity of the section which I have mentioned, but in 1926 it settled the question in- the famous case of Rex versus Nadan, a liquor conviction case from Alberta. There was no greater reason inherent in the case itself for deciding the constitutional question in that case than in the other cases which had come before that body, and in fact there was less. It was widely suggested at the time in London that there were special reasons why the point should now be settled, namely that it was desirable to have a precedent established in case the Irish Free State should desire to prohibit appeals to the Privy Council. The constitution of the Irish Free State is declared to be similar to that of Canada. If Canada cannot prohibit appeals to the Privy Council, then neither can the Irish Free State. The leader of the opposition in the course of his address on Tuesday last stated that we now have the right to abolish appeals to the Privy Council. The Privy Council disagrees with him. In the Nadan case it held that section 1025 of the Canadian Criminal Code was ultra vires and that Canada could not effectively prohibit the appeals to the Privy Council, because of the British statutes of 1833 and 1844 relating to appeals and because of section 2 of the Colonial Laws Validity Act. I am not concerned with the reason for the decision, but I am concerned with the decision itself that Canada has no right to decide for herself whether her judicial system shall be self-contained or not.

This then is the legal and constitutional relation of Canada and Great Britain in regard to legislative power-Great Britain free and unrestricted in all her legislative functions- Canada limited in power and subject to supervision and control in such power as she possesses. How can there literally be equality of status under such circumstances? In my opinion Canada does not possess -complete autonomy; she is not equal in status, to Great Britain and this parliament is still, as it always has -been, subordinate to that of Great Britain. I am not complaining of that inequality, for whether Canada is equal to Great Britain or not, I would rather live in Canada than in any other land under the sun. I am not contending that Canada is suffering any great hardship from that inequality, and I am not desirous of stirring up any agitation whatsoever, but I see no useful purpose in attempting to conceal from ourselves the true, actual state of affairs. The Imperial [DOT] conference attempted to reconcile in one definition equality of status and the maintenance of the empire. The phrase, "equality of status, within the empire", is, in my opinion, in law a contradiction of terms.

What then does this declaration of equality mean, since it does not accurately set out the true state of affairs and is manifestly contradictory in its terms? Why should we be so pleased with it in Canada? It has been hailed as a great charter of liberty, and, in my opinion, rightly so. Notwithstanding its inaccuracies, notwithstanding its contradictions, it marks a new era in empire development and promises new life to the Canadian nation. What is the effect of such a declaration of equality made between Great Britain on the one hand, and Canada on the other, between a superior and an inferior? The declaration does not imply independence. It is not tantamount to a declaration of independence, for the very terms of the definition hold the various constituent parts of the empire within the empire and presuppose the continued existence of the empire. The declaration in my opinion, if any meaning can be given to it, involves and implies two things: first, an implied agreement by Great Britain that she will not exercise the sovereign powers which she legally possesses except at the request and with the concurrence of the dominions; it is simply a -crystallization of the constitutional practice that has gradually developed; and secondly, and this is very important, there is an implied -promise by Great Britain that she will place the dominions in a position as near to equality as is consistent with the maintenance of the

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Imperial Conference-Mr. Thorson

empire. In this view the declaration, involves, on the one hand, a renunciation of powers by Great Britain, the superior, and on the other hand, a granting of powers to the dominions, the inferiors, in order that their status may approximate to equality as closely as possible. May I interpret the declaration also, not as a statement of existing facts, but rather as an ideal to be aimed at, and may I repeat the statement which I made at the outset, that the declaration is a promise of equality? In my opinion the declaration is tantamount to a statement by Great Britain, which was a party to it, that Canada and the other self-governing dominions are now entitled to the maximum amount of autonomy and the maximum amount of self-government that is consistent with the maintenance of the empire.

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UFA

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. COOTE:

I wonder if the hon. member would be good enough at this point to elaborate just what he means by the maximum amount of autonomy which we might have consistent with the maintenance of the empire?

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LIB

Joseph Thorarinn Thorson

Liberal

Mr. THORSON:

I am coming to that. I have already indicated in the course of my remarks the various respects in which Canada falls short of that maximum amount of autonomy and that maximum amount of selfgovernment but let me enumerate them again:

1. Complete freedom from the supervision and control of our legislation by the government of Great Britain, even although that control and supervision be nominal.

2. The right to pass legislation having an extra-territorial effect if we deem it desirable in the interests of Canada to do so.

3. The right to decide for ourselves how we shall administer our laws, and to prohibit appeals to the Privy Council if we so desire.

4. The right to amend our constitution as we may deem it necessary without the intervention of the parliament of Great Britain.

This, Mr. Speaker, is the new charter which Great Britain is prepared to grant to Canada when Canada is prepared to receive it.

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LAB

Herbert Bealey Adshead

Labour

Mr. ADSHEAD:

If Great Britain goes

to war without our consent, are we not involved in the war whether we will or no?

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LIB

Joseph Thorarinn Thorson

Liberal

Mr. THORSON:

I made the statement at the outset that I proposed to confine my discussion solely to autonomy in so far as the domestic affairs of Canada are concerned.

This, Mr. Speaker, I repeat, is the new charter which Great Britain is prepared to give to Canada as soon as Canada is ready

to accept it. Even if no legislative action is taken by the parliament of Great Britain then, although no great change of status will have taken place by virtue of the declaration of the Imperial conference, nevertheless a portion of that charter has been conferred upon us because the constitutional practice of Great Britain not to interfere in Canadian affairs has been crystallized. But in order that the promise of increased autonomy and increased rights of self-government should be fully implemented, more is required than the mere declaration of an imperial conference, for we must never'lose sight of the fact that the imperial conference is a conference solely, and that it has no legislative authority whatsoever. If we are to get that increase of autonomy and that increase in our right of self-government, then it will be necessary to pass appropriate legislation, and that legislation must come from the parliament of Great Britain. No court of law in this country or elsewhere would pay the slightest attention to the declarations of such a body as the Imperial conference in so far as its legislative authority is concerned. We must remember this, Mr. Speaker, and I give this as a reason for laying such stress upon the legal aspects of the question. After all, our autonomy is measured by our power and by our right to translate our wishes into binding law. I do not imagine for a moment that this grant of further autonomy will be conferred upon us immediately, or will be conferred upon us against our will. There is a peculiar elasticity about the British constitution, for legal sanction very rarely precedes constitutional development. Great Britain will not make the grant until Canada is ready to receive it. Perhaps Canada is not yet ready to receive that grant, but that day, in my opinion, is not far distant.

What are the implications involved in the acceptance of this grant by the Dominion of Canada? If the grant is made, and it will not be made unless we are prepared to accept it, then we shall have the right to control entirely our judicial system, and to abolish appeals to the Privy Council if we so desire. We shall have the right to control entirely our constitution in so far as our internal affairs are concerned and we shall have power to amend the British North America Act as we deem necessary. We shall be complete masters in all those matters which concern ourselves alone. Why should we not have that right? Are we who are British subjects in Canada less entitled to complete autonomy and less entitled to the fullest right of selfgovernment, than those British subjects who

Imperial Conference-Mr. Woodsworth

reside in Great Britain? Are we less competent to manage and control our own affairs? Are we less worthy of trust? It has been suggested repeatedly iby many speakers-and the hon. leader of the opposition has not been without guilt in that respect-that the guarantee of Great Britain to protect minorities by the exercise of her right of disallowance and her paramount legislative authority has been withdrawn by virtue of this declaration of equality of the Imperial conference, that a great blow has been struck at the rights of minorities and that these rights are in great danger. This suggestion-and in my opinion it is not a worthy one-has been made soldly for the purpose of alarming our fellow citizens whose language is French and whose religion is Roman Catholic. In answer to that suggestion I say that even if the declaration of the Imperial conference does involve, by implication, a renunciation on the part of Great Britain of her powers of control and supervision over Canada, there is no danger whatsoever to the rights of minorities. If the guarantee of Great Britain has by implication been withdrawn then the guarantee of Canada still remains intact. Is our bond worth less than that of Great Britain in a matter that is so vital to national unity and so essential to the continued existence of Canada? If any power of amending our constitution is to be conferred upon us-and in my opinion it ought to be conferred-then that power of amending our constitution must be subject to two things and two important principles must be kept in mind. Firstly, the power of amending our constitution mugt be elastic enough to-provide for sound national development, so that we may be permitted to dream of a day when we shall cease to be a group of warring provinces, jealous of one another's rights, and become in very truth a united nation. Secondly, the power of amending our constitution must be subject to the rights which our fellow-Canadians enjoy, both in respect of language and religion. We must be willing, if it is necessary, to renew oursdlves in the name of the people of Canada the guarantees in that respect given at confederation. They were our guarantees then. They have been our guarantees in reality ever since, and they must remain our guarantees in the future. I have no doubt that the genius of Canadian statesmanship will make it possible to devise some machinery for amending our constitution that will preserve those two great principles that I have enunciated, provided the task of budding that machinery is approached in the proper spirit of mutual trust and confidence, and unless we develop that spirit of mutual

trust and confidence in our national affairs there is really no purpose in attempting to build a nation in this land of ours, for a nation that is not based upon these fundamental principles cannot endure.

The Imperial conference regarded the report which it submitted as the foundation for the work of subsequent conferences. So, Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to accept, and I do so gladly, the declaration of the Imperial conference, in so far as it relates to autonomy in our domestic affairs, as a foundation upon which to build this land of ours, as a starting point from which we shall march along the pathway that destiny has marked out for us, content with the present and absolutely fearless of the future, confident in the realization that a great heritage has 'been bestowed upon us, conscious of our growing national strength and power and hopeful that we shall become in time a united nation, imbued with the great principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. Upon the bedrock of these great principles we shall continue to build the nation which is in the process of construction, liberty of self-development-, equality of language and religion, united in the fraternity of a common love of Canada; for that common love of Canada, that common devotion to the country which gave us birth and will receive our ashes, is after all the real test of a true Canadian.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. J. S. WOODSWORTH (Winnipeg North Centre):

A good deal has been said in this debate, Mr. Speaker, with regard to the -legal points at issue. Perhaps I may be permitted to emphasize the more practical aspects of the question before us. The most-important question, it seems to me, with regard to the Imperial conference is this: Is Canada bound by the decisions and recommendations of the conference? The Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) says " not unless these are ratified by parliament ". Yet curiously enough the government has made no effort whatever to have these decisions and recommendations ratified. The question comes before us, as we know, in a way that-makes it extremely difficult for us to give expression by vote to our approval or disapproval of the various measures proposed. I take it then that unless there -is ratification by this House, for which no provision is being made, Canada is not bound by the recommendations or suggestions of this report. It is commonly said by the press gallery, after a debate on a private member's motion, that the discussion " was academic ". I fancy that the best that can be said with regard to our discussion in this House during the

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Imperial Conference-Mr. Woodsworth

last two or three days is that it is largely academic in character. Perhaps after all, at least from the standpoint of those of us who cannot endorse all the recommendations, it is just as well that we should not pass resolutions with regard to this report. It at least leaves Canada free from some of the obligations which might otherwise be entailed.

Was anything, then, really accomplished by the conference? Immediately after the conference we were inclined to think that it marked a new era, that all the high tributes paid by the member for Winnipeg South Centre (Mr. Thorson) were true, and that we were being given a charter of new and enlarged liberty. In the course of this debate it would seem that really this so-called new and enlarged liberty does not amount to anything. Perhaps the truth will be found somewhere in between. Personally I think the conference meant a good deal. Probably the greatest accomplishment is that we can now claim autonomy without being charged with disloyalty.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

That is something.

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PRO

John Evans

Progressive

Mr. JOHN EVANS (Rosetown):

I have

listened, Mr. Speaker, with some interest to the speeches which have already been made, and I would like to refer to one in particular, namely, that of the hon. member for Labelle (Mr. Bourassa). I must say that that hon. member never speaks in this chamber without engendering some heat, not only on his own part but on the part of some of the others who listen to him. The hon. member asked some very pertinent questions regarding our connection with the rest of the empire. Why, he asked, should we partake in Britain's wars brought on by a policy in the making of which we had no share? On the face of it, answering that question, I would say we should not be held responsible and should not be obliged to furnish men and money to fight any other nation's enemy which is not an enemy of ours. But somehow in the past we have been a part of this empire, whatever we shall be in the future, and I have never been able yet to separate myself as a Canadian from responsibility for empire matters, seeing that we ourselves are a world-trading nation. Our greatest customer in the past has been Great Britain, and no doubt she will be for some time to come. But our commerce has gone throughout the whole world, over the seven seas, in safety, as free as Britain's own commerce, practically without 32649-112

any effort on our part or any expense to this Dominion. I am sure, Sir, that had we not a friendly country to the south of us in the United States we would have appreciated the connection with Great Britain in the past far more than we have done.

The hon. member for Labelle denounces imperialism. He is scandalized that the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) should quote even Lord Balfour, and he uses the word "colonials" in a derisive sense to show the attitude of British statesmen 'towards the representatives of the Dominion. In reply to this, I should like to say that Britain has sought for many years to get the Dominion to take a greater share and assume more responsibility in the forming of her foreign policy. For many years it has been shown that the difficulty in this connection arises from the world-wide extent of the British Empire, making almost impossible an adequate means of conference on all international matters requiring prompt decision. Canada no doubt has felt this to some extent, but she has felt it a thousand times less than Great Britain. It was that feeling which in the end led us to appoint a representative- a minister or plenipotentiary-to Washington. If it can be said that Britain has not appreciated our problems on this hemisphere, much more might the same be said of the Dominion regarding international affairs. Whatever may be our status henceforth, I hope we shall still cooperate and share each other's burdens as a commonwealth so far as such cooperation may be found practicable.

As for myself, Mr. Speaker, I am British born, and I am proud so to declare to-night. Indeed, Sir, if there was any inclination on my part or on the part of many of my friends in this corner of the House to forget it, we are promptly reminded that we are simply "imported" Canadians. I question if in any country in the world to-day there can be found more men imbued with tihe spirit of rabid imperialism than in Canada, and I include in this category my hon. friend1 from Labelle and many who sit on the same side of the House with him. The principle of cooperation of the overseas dominions with the motherland has been due to that equality of freedom and status enjoyed by each part, and our Canadian imperialists to-day-I say this in all seriousness-might well take a lesson to heart from this fact. It is because of the very freedom that has been allowed each part that the different races that compose the population of Great Britain are loyal to a central authority to which they each in turn contribute.

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It will be remembered1 that at the last session of parliament an agreement was entered into by the government with Alberta to give that province control of its natural resources. The agreement was laid on the table of this House. The bill in its original form was unobjectionable, but when the hon. member for Labelle examined it 'his imperialistic spirit burst forth in all its fury, and he threatened a revolt unless the bill was amended so as to bind the province to maintain separate schools for all lime to come. Imperialism! We need to examine ourselves even to be honest in argument. The very spirit that prompted the speech of my hon. friend is exactly the same spirit that sent the French army into the .Ruhr. The spirit that demanded a contract of Alberta in those terms is exactly the same spirit that dominated France when she repudiated her obligations to her chief ally and saviour in the Great war, and instead of reimbursing Britain as she should have done, she kept her factories going night and day to furnish twenty million rifles and other munitions of war to Poland-all actuated by that spirit of domination. The same arrogant spirit of domination of one part of this Dominion is dictating to some of the other provinces how they shall administer their internal aflairs, particularly education. That to me would indicate a desire to teach our children loyalty and subserviency to ideas contrary to the considered welfare of the people themselves.

The Dominion government has assumed to itself the imperialistic power of dictating to the provinces, and I say frankly that I am still looking to the Privy Council as a possible means of securing the rights to which we are entitled in the western provinces. Because of . this I am in accord with the spirit of the amendment ; and so far as I can learn from the remarks of the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) the government itself is going to accept the amendment, for he has already said that no changes can be made in the constitution-he goes even further than the amendment-without the consent of the provinces. I am glad he has laid down that principle as a guide for the future.

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March 31, 1927