March 30, 1905 (10th Parliament, 1st Session)

LIB

Louis Philippe Demers

Liberal

Mr. L. P. DEMERS.

1 read the following in the American and English Encyclopaedia of Language :
' The teritories are as much a part of the United States as are the states. The ultimate purpose is that they shall, as soon as practicable be organized into states, which shall take equal place or part in the union.'
As to the term ' date of union', its meaning for the four provinces is the first of July. 1867. For the others, it means the date of their admission into the Dominion.
*Section 109 shows this. Although that section mentions the three provinces of *Canada, Nova Scotia, and New* Brunswick, the Privy Council has decided that it applies to all the provinces. It will not be contended by any one after this that the words ' at the date of union ' mean in this ease the first of July, 1867.
*ilr. Speaker, in voting for the Bill which is now* submitted by the government, we' are not, as I am aware, granting very much to the minority in the provinces of the Northwest. We are only confirming the present state of things. That state of things may not be very satisfactory ; but legislators are often obliged to take circumstances into account. To those who may taunt him for not granting any more, the Prime Minister may say, like Solon : I have not given them the best taws, but I, have given them the best laws they were capable of standing. Mr. Speaker, since the outset of this debate, we have had surprise after surprise. Hon. _ gentlemen on the other side are not generally very well disposed towards the provinces. w*hile the-Liberal party has always upheld their authority and sought to vindicate their- rights. The other day, the hon. member for South York, (Mr. Maclean) assailed the right lion. Prime Minister, called him a tyrant and what not. It is not many years since I entered this House, but I have in the meantime became acquainted with the true inwardness of the feeling of hon. members on tlie other side as regards provincial rights. In 1902, in the course of a debate, the hon. member for South York spoke as follows :
I say that the interpretation of th-e law that has been given by the English Privy Council in regard to the distribution of rights as between the provinces, and the federal power, has been against the interest of the country as a whole. That I regret, I agree with the honourable member for Lanark (Hon. Mr. Hag-gart) that some day we will have the whole jurisdiction in this parliament and in some way we will work it out, and In some way we will increase the federal power and wipe out gradually the provincial power. I take issue directly with the honourable gentlemen who oppose that view, I say that provincial government and the enlargement of provincial rights has not been in the interest of this country, and I say that Sir John A. Macdonald was right, and was a most far-seeing statesman if he believed in a * legislative union and desired it carried out in this country.
Such are the feelings expressed by the lion.

member oil behalf of jirovincial autonomy ; such are his tender mercies towards the provinces.
There is also the question of vested rights. In 1875, parliament passed a law granting a temporary constitution to the Northwest Territories, and by that constitution parliament declared that certain rights granted to the minority would be for ever assured to them. The rights of the Catholic minority were recognized by representatives of a different religious belief, and it was Mr. Blake himself who brought up the question. That same policy was confirmed, in 1880, by the Conservative government of the time. It was enacted once more that the Catholic population would have their separate schools, and parliament is to-day bound in honour to continue that system. The government itself through its officers has declared that the Dominion of Canada had guaranteed that right to the minority. I find the proof of this in a pamphlet published by the Department of Agriculture for the information of those who wish to settle in the west. The following is au extract :

Topic:   PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT IN THE NORTHWEST.
Full View