I am not trying to get ahead of anyone. I did not understand him to say so. But what does it mean? It means that the Commons of parliament has supreme authority and is in a position to exclude the Senate from legislative action in respect of important measures affecting the life and property of the people of this country. That is what it means. It means a violation of the express provisions of our own British North America Act, that legislation shall be enacted by the two houses of parliament, and that they alone can grant authority to the government. They alone have authority to enact and apply legislation to the whole dominion.
Now this order in council is a precedent. In my lifetime, which is short, it may not cause grave difficulties in Canada. It may not do so within a year or two, but I am convinced as I stand here to-night, with eternity in front of me, that the time will come when that precedent will be regarded by the people of the country as a whole as a most violent disruption or attempt to disrupt the whole constitution of Canada as at present expressed in our British North America acts, and as expressed in the com-
Succession to the Throne-Mr. Cahan
plementary legislation which parliament has passed by virtue of the authority of those acts.
I have an entirely different theory. I may be wrong, but I doubt whether section 4 of the Statute of Westminster applied to this condition at all. I doubt whether it applied to the abdication of King Edward VIII. I doubt whether legislation should have been passed under that section, because, no constituted parliament or government of any dominion had the legislative jurisdiction to deal with an act of abdication. We are circumscribed within the four corners of the British North America Act. Do you find there any authority for the parliament or Canada to change the succession or to deal with the accession of a new king, or to exclude a former king and the heirs of his body from the succession? Do you find that anywhere in the British North America Act? That is one of the subjects which have never been vested by the imperial parliament in any dominion of the commonwealth. It never was vested in Canada. Therefore, when we dealt with that matter, the imperial parliament was unwilling and regarded it as imprudent to divest itself of its exclusive authority to deal by legislation with such matters.
The right hon. gentleman read the provision :
. . . that any alteration in the law touching the succession to the throne or the royal style and titles shall hereafter require the assent as well of the parliaments of all the dominions as of the parliament of the United Kingdom.
That was not placed in one of the enacting clauses of the Statute of Westminster and in the deliberations of the several imperial conferences attention was directed to that fact. The Minister of Justice has subscribed his name to at least two reports which I remember, in which it is expressly stated that the placing of such a clause in the preamble to the Statute of Westminster was a mere convention, that it simply stated expressly what were the conventions then existing which had grown out of the use and custom of the United Kingdom in its relations to the dominions and others. And it was said that if that clause were inserted in the statute as one of its enacting clauses of the Statute of Westminster it would effect such rigidity as would render it almost inapplicable to cases of exigency and crisis which might hereafter arise. Therefore that clause was placed in the preamble where it has no effective legal binding authority or obligation.
But in dealing with that clause the various conferences or parliaments considering the
matter never suggested that the assent of the government of this dominion might be required. It was not left open to the suggestion that following some precedent of some despotic country the government or the despotic head of that government, without statutory authority from its parliament, could deal with such an important matter without consulting the popular assembly if such existed. But this preamble has no legal or [DOT]binding authority; it is inserted by way of advice as to the constitutional procedure that should be followed. It says:
And whereas it is meet and proper to set out by way of preamble to this act that, inasmuch as the crown is the symbol of the free association of the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and as they are united by a common allegiance to the crown, it would be-*
It does not say it is.
it would be in accord with the established constitutional position of all the members of the commonwealth in relation to one another that any alteration in the law touching the succession to the throne or the royal style and titles shall hereafter require the assent-
Of whom? Of the governor general in council? Of the Minister of Justice? Of the Prime Minister? No. It expressly states:
-shall hereafter require the assent as well of the parliaments of all the dominions as of the parliament of the United Kingdom.
Yet the right hon. gentleman goes to another section and says that because the word* " Dominion of Canada " are there mentioned it is left perfectly free for the governor in council without statutory authority to assume that position and to fulfil that definite requirement of constitutional custom and procedure.
I have taken a good deal of time. I have a number of authorities; I do not intend to cite them, but when this matter was before the imperial conference of 1930, at which Canada was represented by the present leader of the opposition, it was made clear on page 18 of the British report-I have not the Canadian report at hand-as follows:
To this end it seemed desirable to place on record the view that the sections of the statute relating to the Colonial Laws Validity Act should be so drafted as not to extend to Canada unless the statute was enacted in response to such requests as are appropriate to an amendment of the British North America Act. It also seemed desirable to place on record the view that the sections should not subsequently be extended to Canada except by an act of the parliament of the United Kingdom enacted in response to such requests as are appropriate to an amendment of the British North America Act.
That paragraph clearly indicates the nature of the request which was to be made by or
Succession to the Throne-Mr. Cahan
on behalf of Canada in order that an imperial enactment might hereafter extend to Canada as a part of the law of Canada.
Now I ask the right hon. gentleman what is the real significance of this bill which he proposes to enact? The bill contains certain recitals by way of preamble, and then goes on to say:
1. The alteration in the law touching the succession to the throne set forth in the act of the parliament of the United Kingdom intituled "His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936" is hereby assented to.
What is the recital? The recital is:
Now, therefore, His Majesty by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada enacts as follows:
Who is "His Majesty"? His Majesty King George VI, if you please. He is the king to whom we owe allegiance. It in fact recites:
Now therefore His Majesty King George VI, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows.
It proceeds to enact a ratification, or purports to enact a ratification, of the abdication of his predecessor, which was already ratified and confirmed only with the assent of his predecessor; it ratifies and enacts that his own succession to the throne is confirmed and made regular, and that the heirs of the body of the late king shall no longer be entitled to assume the office of sovereign of the empire. And that we, the parliament of Canada duly assembled should now pretend to enact such a statute as that with the consent of his present majesty, appears to me to be the most ridiculous suggestion that I have heard in my time.
Subtopic: ALTERATION IN THE LAW TOUCHING THE SUCCESSION TO THE THRONE