That is just another foolish question like the hon. member for Regina City (Mr. Ellis) always asks. He seems to have his mind short-circuited. He never can ask an intelligent question on the floor of the house and has not done so since coming here. I had been discussing and urging the advisability of helping people to become university graduates. I was at the moment, however, mentioning graduates of certain universities who are trained to believe in socialist thinking. You will find it manifested in everything they undertake to do.
As to how the money is to be given to the provinces, personally I think that a grant based upon need, population and various other factors which I will not go into at the present time, is probably the best way of approaching the problem; and then the provinces should be free to spend this money in the way they see fit. Let the people of the provinces hold their governments responsible for the way in which they spend the money, just as they do with respect to the revenues that the provinces have at the present time.
So I do not hesitate to urge that the federal government take steps at the very earliest moment to provide assistance to the provinces, every one of them, on a basis which will give the less favoured provinces such
as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and the others an opportunity to give their boys and girls something like a similar chance for education to that which the boys and girls of other provinces enjoy. I urge upon the government that they take that step, and I urge that we do not have to have another debate on this question of assistance to education but that something be done about it soon.
Topic: EQUALIZING OF OPPORTUNITY
Subtopic: ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
Mr. Maurice Breton (Jolieiie-L'Assompiion-Montcalm):
Mr. Speaker, I would like to say a few words on the constitutional aspect of the resolution moved by the hon. member for Saskatoon (Mr. Knight). I shall readily show that although the resolution now before the house seems to overcome the obstacle of provincial autonomy, it does not do so at all, and that we must oppose the resolution to safeguard provincial rights in matters of education.
Last year, during debates on constitutional matters, I held that the federal government and the provincial governments should stick to their constitutional rights. I added that although some of my compatriots in the province of Quebec had taken a different position on this problem, I deemed it my duty, as a member of parliament, to defend the rights of the federal government when they were attacked; I now feel I must defend provincial rights when they are attacked.
I am of the opinion that the province of Quebec has shown in the past, and will continue to show, that it is willing to co-operate with the federal government in solving many problems. As regards the tax problem, so much discussed in our province and in all others in the past few months, I feel that Quebec is like any other province, but that it is altogether different from an educational point of view. And this point of view must be respected.
Mr. Speaker, section 91 of the British North America Act reads as follows:
It shall be lawful for the Queen, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons, to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Canada, in relation to all matters not coming within the classes of subjects by this act assigned exclusively to the legislatures of the provinces.
In other words, it will be possible for the federal government to legislate in the above mentioned fields which are not specifically reserved.
Section 93, on the other hand, reads as follows:
. . . the legislature may exclusively make laws in relation to education, subject and according to the following provisions.
As drafted, this resolution would have us understand that in calling upon the federal government to make unconditional grants for educational purposes, it would not cause it to infringe upon provincial rights in this field. But this is counter to section 92 of the British North America Act, which states:
In each province the legislature may exclusively make laws in relation to matters coming within the classes of subjects next hereinafter enumerated, that is to say,-
Please note the expression "may exclusively make laws". Then, in paragraph 2:
Direct taxation within the province in order to the raising of a revenue for provincial purposes.
Therefore, if the federal government were to use its revenue and redistribute part of it to the provinces, under the pretence of assistance to education, it is my opinion that the moneys thus raised within the provinces would be collected against the rights of the provinces to raise by themselves the revenue required for provincial purposes. The federal government would therefore infringe directly upon provincial rights. Consequently, the province of Quebec has the right to cling to this prerogative, for the reason which in fact directed the preparation of the Canadian constitution in the form of a federation is precisely the point of view of education. Other provinces also insist that their rights in the field of education be respected, as has been seen recently in this house, in debates dealing with the problem of minorities.
True it is that the problem of minorities is not one to be dealt with by the constitution but by principles which are the foundation of democracy, principles which need not be expressed in a bill of rights, because they are respected quite naturally by those who believe in liberty, in equality and in everything that makes a democratic constitution today.
But that, Mr. Speaker, is not quite the point that was brought up today. I realize that a motion of a general character has been used to try to get around the constitution which guards the infrangible rights of the province of Quebec. If constitutional amendments were moved in other fields-and I believe there are many fields where the constitution of 1867 should be changed for it is out of date-the province of Quebec would readily endorse such changes.
Amendments are needed in the fiscal field as well as in the highway and the public health fields. We find a juxtaposition of new problems which have come up since the last two wars and which conflict with our rigid constitution; these problems call for amendments which could be supported by the prov-
ince of Quebec. But, in the matter of education, I know that the province of Quebec will always be opposed to it.
When I heard the honourable representative of the Conservative party say that a dominion-provincial conference should be called in order to study the problem of educational grants, I thought it would be useless to hold such a conference, because the province of Quebec will always be formally opposed to such an idea.
Though we are willing to co-operate with every political party in view of Canadian unity, especially in the taxation field, we do not, where education is concerned, want to witness the disappearance of our own particular ways, nor do we want to see them attacked. And if the provinces were subsidized with regard to elementary and higher education, there would naturally be some conditions attached to the grants, so that there should be no more obstacles to a uniform standard of education.
This is precisely the reason why, at the time the Canadian constitution was drafted, the province of Quebec asked that a federal
system be provided in preference to a unitary system.
That is all I wanted to say in opposition to those who are inclined to think that the constitution can be circumvented by more or less elastic means and that it is possible to tamper with the inviolability of provincial rights in the field of education. Those who represent the province of Quebec and who believe that a Canadian confederation is a necessity must safeguard our special way of life, so that we may develop in variety and diversity.
Topic: EQUALIZING OF OPPORTUNITY
Subtopic: ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES