July 18, 1959

LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Official Opposition House Leader; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

May I ask the minister a question? Why then in his table on page

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2410 did he not make the distinction which he is apparently making now?

Topic:   SUMMARY OF FEDERAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PROVINCES FOR THE FISCAL YEARS 1949-50 TO 1959-60
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming (Eglinton):

I am not making any new distinction. I placed the matter firmly on the record of Hansard at page 2410 and these two matters were described under the caption to which I have referred. The matter is perfectly plain. There is no new distinction being drawn. It was placed there in the budget speech on April 9. I say that any suggestion that there is any thought of making federal contributions to primary and secondary education is far removed from the mind of anyone in this chamber.

Let me deal with this subject of university grants. University grants were first introduced by the former government and came into effect in the fiscal year 1951-52. The basis of these grants, while it has changed in amount, has not changed greatly in another sense. They began on the basis of 50 cents per capita of population in the country. They were raised subsequently to $1 per capita and then a year ago were advanced to $1.50. The original scheme contemplated the division of the total federal grant among the provinces on the basis of the respective populations of the provinces, and then within the province the basis of allocation was in relation to university population. The division, therefore, was within the defined institutions of higher learning within the province in proportion to their registration of students who came within the definition in the regulations.

At the beginning there was provision made for distribution within the provinces by a so-called dominion-provincial allocation board, and in the one year in which the universities of the province of Quebec accepted these grants the division in that province was made by a committee or panel composed of the then minister of finance, Mr. Abbott, and the then provincial treasurer of Quebec, Mr. Gagnon. But that was the only year in which the universities of the province of Quebec accepted their share of this provision.

Topic:   SUMMARY OF FEDERAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PROVINCES FOR THE FISCAL YEARS 1949-50 TO 1959-60
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Official Opposition House Leader; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

That was 1951-52.

Topic:   SUMMARY OF FEDERAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PROVINCES FOR THE FISCAL YEARS 1949-50 TO 1959-60
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming (Eglinton):

Yes, 1951-52, and consistently in the years since the universities of the province of Quebec have declined to participate in these grants.

Topic:   SUMMARY OF FEDERAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PROVINCES FOR THE FISCAL YEARS 1949-50 TO 1959-60
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L L

William Moore Benidickson

Liberal Labour

Mr. Benidickson:

What is the amount standing to their credit?

Topic:   SUMMARY OF FEDERAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PROVINCES FOR THE FISCAL YEARS 1949-50 TO 1959-60
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming (Eglinton):

Topic:   SUMMARY OF FEDERAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PROVINCES FOR THE FISCAL YEARS 1949-50 TO 1959-60
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Official Opposition House Leader; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

May I be allowed just one or two questions following what the minister has said? I have listened with great care to what the minister has said and, in some respects, I must say that I cannot find myself in disagreement with him, other than with reference to some of the suggestions which I made earlier. But I am impressed by the fact that the minister confirms the statements which I made earlier that the present position is a serious one and cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely.

Then, it occurs to me to ask him this, but before I ask the question I may say I appreciate what he has said with reference to the fact that he respects the constitutional position of the provinces in so far as education is concerned and that no proposal having been made to him from the province he feels he should take no further action. Notwithstanding that, the question I now ask him is this. Has any modification of the present formula been considered by the minister or his officials.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming (Eglinton):

Yes. This subject naturally has been given very careful consideration within the Department of Finance.

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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Official Opposition House Leader; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Is it the intention, in the light of what the minister has said, to continue the same formula as has been established earlier and has been put into effect by the minister since his party has been in office?

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Topic:   SUMMARY OF FEDERAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PROVINCES FOR THE FISCAL YEARS 1949-50 TO 1959-60
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming (Eglinion):

Item 124 contains its own formula, that is to say, distribution at the first stage among the provinces on the basis of population and then, second, within the provinces on the basis of registration at institutions which qualify. There is not any modification that has been developed yet that seems to meet the need or to supply a solution. Therefore I have said that while there is no modification proposed in this item at the present time or no amendment nevertheless parliament still reserves its jurisdiction over the subject.

These sums are paid over to and held by what was formerly known as the national conference of Canadian universities but is now the Canadian Universities Foundation as trustees. Then as to those amounts that are not claimed by or accepted by the institutions which qualify, they are held by the trustee subject to the directions of parliament. Therefore, parliament still retains control obviously over any unclaimed balance and that unclaimed balance will, if there is no change in attitude, rise this year. That is why I have emphasized the fact that 1 think that is a situation to which parliament can no longer close its eyes. I repeat my own assurance that that is a situation to which I personally am giving the best study of which I am capable.

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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Official Opposition House Leader; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

May I ask this final question? The minister did not seem to view too sympathetically the suggestion I made in connection with the modification of the arrangement made between the Minister of Finance and the national conference of Canadian universities which was that the money be made payable to the provincial conference of universities. If that modification were acceptable to the universities of the province of Quebec would the minister then be disposed to accept it?

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming (Eglinion):

We may be proceeding on a hypothetical basis here, but I indicated that from what I know of the attitude of the province of Quebec, the suggestion that the hon. gentleman put forward would not, as I understand the view in Quebec, be an acceptable solution. I pointed to what happened back in the early days of these grants when there was a dominion-provincial board that made the allocations within the province of Quebec. But here, Mr. Chairman, for the full understanding of the attitude of the province of Quebec, I think one must also have regard to the source of the money. Here the view is taken by Quebec that money that is intended for educational purposes should be raised by the province. Here is a problem of very serious difficulty. That is why, as I presently understand the

[Mr. Chevrier.1

situation, I am very doubtful whether the suggestion put forward by the hon. member will provide an acceptable solution in the province of Quebec.

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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Official Opposition House Leader; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Does the minister's answer mean that even if the universities were willing to accept such a modification of the formula as between him and them, he would still not be prepared to amend it in accordance with the suggestion which was made?

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming (Eglinton):

I have learned long since-the same as did my hon. friend-not to attempt to give answers to hypothetical questions. I am afraid that at the moment we have gone as far on this subject as we can go because what my hon. friend is putting to me is so clearly a hypothetical question that, frankly, I would not wish to be drawn into an answer on it. We have had no indication at all that the proposal he is making would provide a solution acceptable in Quebec.

Topic:   SUMMARY OF FEDERAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PROVINCES FOR THE FISCAL YEARS 1949-50 TO 1959-60
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L L

William Moore Benidickson

Liberal Labour

Mr. Benidickson:

In this context I wonder whether I could ask the minister, as chairman of the treasury board, whether or not he could report to this house any developments in connection with a proposal that was made by our late lamented secretary of state for external affairs, Hon. Sidney Smith, with regard to scholarships. I calculated that this proposal would probably involve $25 million. The proposal came after a suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition in the same election campaign. I wonder, having regard to our discussion, he thinks there are involved constitutional difficulties similar to those we have been discussing.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming (Eglinton):

I am not aware of any such question being before treasury board, that is to say any question of federal scholarships to university students. I am, of course, aware that through the Department of Labour there are some provisions made for joint dominion-provincial scholarships. Of course they have been in effect for some years. The federal government has made contributions for some years to them. But apart from them, no project of the kind the hon. member described, of which I am aware, has been before the treasury board.

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L L

William Moore Benidickson

Liberal Labour

Mr. Benidickson:

The minister is, of course, familiar with the constitutional position of cabinet solidarity. The late secretary of state for external affairs in the last election campaign advanced a proposal for a large increase in scholarships contributed to by the federal treasury. As I say, that proposal came after a similar proposal from the

Leader of the Opposition. Has this proposal not come to the minister's attention as chairman of the treasury board?

Topic:   SUMMARY OF FEDERAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PROVINCES FOR THE FISCAL YEARS 1949-50 TO 1959-60
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming (Eglinlon):

No, Mr. Chairman. (Translation):

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PC

Jacques Flynn

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Flynn:

Mr. Chairman it will come as no surprise to the committee to see me rise following the speech of the hon. member for Laurier (Mr. Chevrier). The member for Laurier never fails to interest me, especially when he speaks for the province of Quebec, a somewhat new role for him. I must say that I do have a peculiar feeling when he says: "We from Quebec, we ask and we say-" Everybody knows, Mr. Chairman, that by far the great majority of Conservative members from Quebec hold university grants to be unconstitutional. The hon. member for Joliette - l'Assomption - Montcalm had expressed his view on this subject last year, as we were reminded by the member for Laurier. The hon. member for Bellechasse (Mr. Dorion) and from Sherbrooke (Mr. Allard) spoke along the same lines. The hon. member for Laurier reminded us also of other statements attributed to me by the press, last September. In this connection, Mr. Chairman, I would like to make a correction right away. What I have said-and this was in a telephone conversation-boils down simply to this: that most Conservative members from the province of Quebec were opposed to grants to universities and that, further, thought was being given to a solution of some kind, grants earmarked for research purposes, for instance. I did not voice this opinion as being my own but as being that entertained by some of my colleagues who were looking for a solution. In this respect I have always believed-and I still believe-that federal grants to universities are unconstitutional.

That is why, after the speech made by the hon. member for Laurier, I deem it necessary to explain my views which may coincide with those of many of my colleagues.

First, there is section 93 of our constitution which gives provinces exclusive jurisdiction over education. Universities are certainly an essential part of our education system. Nobody ever questioned this fact, and jurisprudence, in its interpretation of the word education, upholds this view.

The hon. member for Megantic (Mr. Roberge) who boldly said that the fathers of confederation did not perhaps think of the

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universities when they drafted section 93 because, at that time, Canada had no state university, does not agree with this. His was an extraordinary statement, because, even if no state university existed at that time, at least there were private ones, that is Laval and McGill universities. Anyhow, as the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fleming) stressed earlier today, when the time came to establish universities in this country, they were established by provincial authorities.

Indeed, we should not forget that section 93 has a particular significance for the province of Quebec. It is recognized that when confederation was being prepared, French-speaking Canadians of Lower Canada considered section 93 essential for the preservation of their culture, their language and their own individuality. They looked upon that constitutional structure as the essence of their survival. At that time, the province of Quebec was the only French-speaking of the four confederated provinces. Today, while it is the only one in ten, it considers absolute control in this field as more than ever necessary, as an essential guarantee for the preservation of its own individuality, which it believes should be preserved and cultivated for the benefit of Canada as a whole seeing, in short, French culture as serving the Canadian nation.

Mr. Chairman, I am otherwise aware it has been said that we could give grants to universities because nothing in the constitution prevents us from taking out amounts of the consolidated revenue fund in order to make donations to universities.

In that connection, it was recalled that the province of Quebec had made gifts to Toronto and Ottawa universities.

I admit that a genuine gift is constitutional. However, I believe that regular, annual grants do not constitute gifts; they are annuities paid to universities. Moreover, when grants are voted each year, it is just as if some legislation were voted which would establish them on a permanent basis. That which cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly. If parliament introduced some legislation about permanent grants to universities, I would argue that they are illegal. And it is not an annual vote which would change the problem.

Mr. Chairman, reference was also made to a moral obligation on the part of the federal government, because universities are rendering great services to the state. In my opinion, there is no moral obligation in constitutional

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law, when the legal obligation is fully met. And if universities do not receive from the provinces the money they need, it is perhaps because provinces cannot afford to give it to them. Consequently, must we not come to the conclusion that the federal government is taxing more than it should, and ought to hand back to the provinces higher taxation powers?

Others have claimed that it was a purely technical objection. "Those gifts or grants", they say, "are unconditional. What are you worrying about?"

What have we to worry about, Mr. Chairman? Well, for one thing, the future. If universities get into the habit of receiving those grants, they will not be able to refuse them, should our government be run, for instance, by our leftist friends, and if conditions were imposed on grants to universities- grants which the Quebec province cannot accept. There is no threat from that direction at the present time, I agree; such a danger perhaps did not exist under the former government, but to overlook the dangers which may be in store for the future would be a sign of an almost unbelievable lack of foresight.

For that reason, we consider it essential to find a solution which could be acceptable to the public of Quebec. It is for that reason that the statement of the Minister of Finance is welcome. It is also for that reason that we are confident that this government will find an adequate solution. This is the situation which has been inherited. The hon. member for Laurier who, a moment ago, criticized the government, and tried to interpret the meaning given to such grants by the Minister of Finance, would do well to read again what was said in 1951 by the former prime minister, Mr. St. Laurent, when these grants were instituted.

He stated at the time that these grants were merely supplementary to provincial grants. It is clear, therefore, that the government's intention was to help education. The principle laid down thereby was extremely dangerous, but I am confident that the present government will certainly find that solution which it is sincerely looking for.

As long as I am convinced that this government is looking for this solution, I will continue to have faith in it. My confidence extends also, in this respect, to the Prime Minister, to the Minister of Finance and all other members of the cabinet.

In principle, I hold these grants to be unconstitutional, though, in practice, I have every confidence in the government. I am

convinced that, next year, it will come forward with a solution which will be approved by the province of Quebec. The province of Quebec will recognize thereby that, in the present government, there are men capable of recognizing its legitimate aspirations and of understanding why it is so convinced of its exclusive rights in respect of education.

Topic:   SUMMARY OF FEDERAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PROVINCES FOR THE FISCAL YEARS 1949-50 TO 1959-60
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Official Opposition House Leader; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Mr. Chairman, will the hon. member permit a question?

Topic:   SUMMARY OF FEDERAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PROVINCES FOR THE FISCAL YEARS 1949-50 TO 1959-60
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July 18, 1959