March 31, 1905 (10th Parliament, 1st Session)


Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs; President of the Privy Council)



Yes, and this is a reason why, in my estimation, instead of pressing the matter, we should exercise a little delay. This Bill cannot be postponed if we intend to have these provinces begin operations on the 1st of July next. There are many reasons why this should be done, the people expect it, and therefore we cannot delay the prosecution of the Bill. But the hon. gentleman wants us at the same time to proceed with the Bill and to proceed with an election in the Northwest Territories, or somewhere else. I do not think, under the circumstances, we can do anything else than to proceed, as governments have always proceeded in these matters, and to take time to consider who is the best man to seek to fill this position. There are numerous precedents, of which I will refer to a few. There has been a vacancy before in the portfolio on the Interior. For instance, the Department of the Interior had been filled by a very able man. the Hon. Thomas White, from the 5th of August, 1885, to the 21st April, 1888, and then a vacancy occurred through the death of that gentleman. That vacancy remained from the 21st April to the 3rd August, 1S88, not one month, not two months, not three months, but more than three months elapsed before the vacancy was filled. This occurred during a session of parliament, and I do not remember that any word of criticism was made against the government because they did not proceed immediately to fill that portfolio. But that is not all. I would call attention to another important department of the government, the Department of Railways. That department was created on the 20th of May, 1879, it was filled by Sir Charles Tupper, who occupied the position until the 23rd of May, 1SS4, *when the position became vacant and remained vacant-how long ? To the 25th of September, 1884 ? No, but until the 25th of September, 1885, nearly a year and four months. But that is not all. The Hon. John Henry Pope occupied the portfolio from September 25, 1885, to April 1, 1889, when a vacancy again occurred by the death of Mr. Pope, and the portfolio remained vacant until the 28th of November. 1889, when it was filled by Sir John A. Macdonald. He occupied the post of Minister of Railways until the 6th of June, 1891, when the portfolio became vacant and remained so until thd 11th of January, 1892, when it was filled by the hon. member for Lanark
(Mr. Haggart). Yet there was not. so far as I remember, much criticism on the fact of these vacancies remaining so long, one of them for a year and four months. On the present occasion, a vacancy has occurred in the portfolio of the Interior, but it will not remain vacant for one year and four months, not even for four months, not even for three months, but in due time, and before long, I shall give my hon. friend the fullest satisfaction that he desires to have on this question.

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