March 1, 1905 (10th Parliament, 1st Session)


Clifford Sifton



Tlie statement made by the right bon. the Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) necessitates a very short explanation to the House on my part. When it was determined that during this session of parliament legislation should be introduced creating new provinces out of a portion of the Northwest Territories, I felt called upon, in view of the history of Mr. HYMAN.
the educational question in Canada, to give very serious consideration to the position which I should take with regard to the legislative power to be conferred upon the provinces in regard to the subject of education. It was necessary that conferences should take place with members of parliament representing the Northwest Territories and with the representatives of the Territorial government, upon the subject of education and other subjects involved in the Bill. These conferences were unavoidably postponed until after the beginning of the new year, by reason of the absence of the Prime Minister, who, after the general election, was compelled to take a short rest, and was therefore absent from the country. Shortly before the time fixed for bolding these conferences I was compelled by my own state of health to leave Ottawa, and was therefore unable to be present at the discussions which took place. Before leaving I discussed with the Prime Minister most of the subjects that necessarily required to lie dealt with in the Bill which was to be introduced, and so far as I was able to do so at that time, I communicate(i my views to him upon the various subjects. I may say that when I went away I did not anticipate that it would be considered necessary to introduce the Bill for creating the new provinces, before I returned. As members of tlie House are aware, I returned to the capital on Thursday afternoon. I immediately took occasion to read carefully the speech which the right bon. the Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) had delivered in introducing the Bill. I regretted that in the right lion, gentleman's address I found some principles enunciated with which I am unable to agree. On Friday, the next day after I returned, at the earliest possible moment, I procured a copy of the educational clause of the Bill which my leader had introduced. That clause is as follows :
16. The provisions of section 93 of the British North America Act. 1867, shall apply to the said provinces as if, at the date upon which this Act comes into force, the territory comprised therein were already a province, the expression ' the union ' in the said section being taken to mean the said date.
2. Subject to the provisions of the said section 93, and in continuance of the principles heretofore sanctioned under the Northwest Territories Act, it is enacted that the legislature of the said province shall pass all necessary laws in respect of education, and that it shall therein always he provided (a) that a majority of the ratepayers of any district or portion of the said province or of any less portion or subdivision thereof, by whatever name it is known may establish such schools therein as they think fit, and make the necessary assessments and collection of rates therefor, and (b) that the minority of the ratepayers therein whether Protestant or Roman Catholic, may establish separate schools therein, and make the necessary assessment and collection of rates therefor, and (c) that in such case the ratepayers establishing such Protestant or Roman Catholic separate schools shall be liable only to assess-

ment of such rates as they impose upon themselves with respect thereto.
3. In the appropriation of public moneys by the legislature in aid of education, aud in the distribution of any moneys paid to the government of the said province arising from the school fund established by the Dominion Lauds Act, there shall be no discrimination between the public schools and the separate schools, and such moneys shall be applied to the support of public and separate schools in equitable shares or proportion.
That is the clause which is contained in the Bill which was introduced by the leader of the government. Between Friday, when . I procured a copy of the clause, and Monday morning I gave the subject my best consideration, aud I had the privilege in the meantime of having an interview with the Prime Minister on the subject. As the result of such consideration X determined that I could not endorse or support the principle of the educational clauses. Under these circumstances, Mr. Speaker, my duty became perfectly clear, and on Monday morning I wrote to the Prime Minister tendering my resignation as a member of the cabinet. Subsequently, I expressed the desire that my resignation should be acted upon at once and to that wish the Prime Minister has now assented.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, not intending and not considering it proper at this time to enter into a discussion of the merits of the matter which has caused the difference between myself and my leader, I have only to add my regret that circumstances have compelled the severance of my official relations with my leader and with my colleagues with whom my relations have always been of the most harmonious and pleasant character, and with whom upon other questions I am in entire accord. The circumstances. however, in my judgment, make my duty perfectly clear-, and it does not seem possible for me to properly consider anything except the principles which are involved.

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