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


Joseph Gédéon Horace Bergeron

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. G. H. BERGERON (Beauharnois).

Mr. Speaker, I have listened with pleasure to the argument of my hon. friend (Mr. COMMONS
D P. Demers) who has just taken his seat; and although I would be very happy to address the House in the beautiful language in which he has done, I crave the indulgence of my colleagues if I speak the language of the majority. In listening to tny hon. friend I have been astonished to observe the conclusions at which he has arrived. My hon. friend has discussed only one phase of the measure now before the House, which indicates, I suppose, the great interest that is taken in the clause respecting the schools, while as a matter of fact there are other things to be considered. My hon. friend commenced his remarks by casting reflections upon those who preceded him. He endeavoured to make political party capital of the question which is now being debated in parliament. It is true, it is a political question ; but we were toid, at the commencement of the discussion o! this measure, that we had to stand upon very high ground, because it was a very important and very dangerous question to discuss. My hon. friend, in the beginning of his remarks referred to the educational system in the republic to the south of us ; he then spoke about the Educational Act of Manitoba ; he went on to say that this was a question of justice ; and, after speaking on the interpretation of our constitution, he concluded by saying that he would not be able, by the vote which he intends to give, to render to those who are interested in this measure, ail that he would like to give them, but that he would do the best he could. My hon. friend, in speaking about the constitution, reminded me of an old saying of an American politician, that patriotism is the refuge of scoundrels. Here I am afraid we have been playing a great deal with the British North America Act. Although my right hon. friend the leader of the government stood upon the rock of the constitution when he spoke on the 21st of February, and although my hon. friend the leader of the opposition also stands on the rock of the constitution, to my mind that rock is not very solid ; and since 1896, the Jess \ve speak about the British North America Act the better. To show how little we can depend upon the rules which were laid down at the time the British North America Act was passed, my hon. friend from St. John and Iberville (Mr. Demers) said a few moments ago that you would find in that Act that In the province of Quebec there must for ever be twelve counties represented by Protestants.

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