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

LIB

Thomas Walter Scott

Liberal

Mr. SCOTT.

That is just exactly Mr. Foster's statement. This was the original resolution adopted in Quebec :
Saving the rights and privileges which Catholic or Protestant minorities in both Canadas may possess.
And he went on to say that the change which took place in the clause was this, that instead of its being confined to both the Canadas, it was broadened to include all the provinces that might enter confederation. Of the fact, therefore, that this provision was inserted for Protestant interests, and not for Roman Catholic interests, there cannot be any successful dispute. It was not inserted for the Protestants of Quebec alone, but it was inserted for what was expected to be the Protestant minority in the territory lying west of the great lakes. Parliament, in 1870, in creating the province of Manitoba, provided for minority rights in separate schools, not for Catholic interests in Manitoba, but for what were believed to be Protestant interests. There was just as much expectation that the minority in Manitoba would be a Protestant minority as that it would be a Roman Catholic minority. Let any gentleman read the 1875 debates, read the debate that took place when the Northwest Territories' Act was passed, and it must be plain to him, if he has an open, impartial mind, that the parliament of Canada in 1875 provided, not specially for Ro man Catholic minorities, but provided for expected Protestant minorities in the North west Territories. At all events, let any gentleman read these 1875 debates impartially, and he cannot possibly deny that Blake, Mackenzie, Sir John Macdonald and Sir Alexander Campbell

I believe that none of these gentlemen was a Roman Catholic ; each one of them hears an honoured name, and each one of them was a Protestant-supported the separate school clause in the Northwest Territories' Act,

having clearly in mind that he was legislating, not temporarily, but for all time to come.
And George Brown who did not support the legislation ; what did he say ?
The moment this Act passed and the Northwest became part of the union, they came under the Union Act, and under the provisions with regard to separate schools.
In the face of that language if the late Mr. Brown were still alive and had a seat in this House and were confronting the legislation which we have before us, what would he do ? Support the protection to minority rights ? Certainly. That therefore should I do even though I be as violent an opponent of the separate school as was Mr. Brown.
Take the late Mr. JDalton McCarthy ; he proposed in the year 1894 in this House to do what was the duty of any one who had a seat in this House, and believed that the separate school in the Northwest Territories was an iniquity, an impropriety or an injury to the Northwest Territories. He proposed that they should be abolished so far as this House was concerned. He proposed to leave the people of the Northwest Territories free to abolish separate schools if they wished to do so, and one of the very reasons he urged was that if the separate school provision was not abolished until the moment when the Territories entered the union as provinces then it would be impossible ever to abolish separate schools iii that Territory.
But looking at the whole history of the matter, we must remember that it "was for Protestant minorities as well as for Roman Catholic minorities that this protection was placed in the British North America Act. I want to speak with perfect sincerity. This is a serious question especially for "those of us who come from the Norihwest Territories. I want to say, speaking as a Protestant, not as a member of the minority, that in view of the history of this matter I would be ashamed of myself as a Protestant and ashamed of the Protestant majority if we would wish now, merely because we have the power and because it iis no longer our rights that will be affected, to use that power, to deny the very thing which we as Protestants stood out for when a Protest-'ant minority was affected. The principle is there clear and distinct to me, as I think it must be to every man with an impartial mind.
. It is urged against the Liberal party to-day that they are taking a course contrary to their course in 1896 in the Manitoba case. I do not think so. In 1896, as the right hon. gentleman who to-day fills the position as leader of this House expressed it :
The government is proposing a course *which is a violent wrench of the principles on which our constitution is based.
Was he speaking truly or falsely ? Was the course proposed in 1895 and 1896 a violent wrench ? I think that nobody who understands the situation, especially nobody living in the country west of the great lakes and familiar with the sentiment of Manitoba, could deny that he was telling the truth. It was such a violent wrench that if that action had not been prevented by the right hon. gentleman (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) the chances are that confederation would have been split into its original fragments. The hon. gentlemen opposite were taking a different course from what they are taking to-day, but then as now they were forgetting that constitutions are made for the provinces, not provinces for the constitution. The right hon. gentleman who now leads the House (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) was standing then for respect for established rights, the established right of the people of the province to have such a school system as they saw fit to have within its constitution. He is doing the same to-day, he is standing to-day for respect for the established rights of minorities in that area of country which is going to constitute these new provinces. Is he proposing any wrench of the principle of the constitution as the government of 1896 did ? Why Sir, he is proposing the very opposite as has been conclusively proven by the extracts from specehes which I have read to the House. The principle of protection for minority rights is there in the constitution, and no impartial man, no man who wishes to be fair, can disregard the existence of that principle in the constitution ; whether it is there by letter of law, whether the letter of the constitution would bear this interpretation, or not, there can be no successful denial of the fact that in providing as these Bills do, for the continuation to the minorities of exactly the rights they are enjoying when they enter this confederation as provinces, the government is purely and simply regarding the spirit of the Confederation Act.
There has been a good deal of cavil upon the point as to whether that area should be considered as a province before its entry or as a Territory. No person will deny or seek to deny that it is only a Territory but after all the human beings on the areas out there are just the same as they would be if they were in provinces, and their interests and conditions are practically not different at all from the conditions under the same institutions if the areas were provinces instead of being territories. On this point perhaps it will not be out of place for me to quote from a gentleman whose authority is very considerably respected at least by the hon. member for East Grey (Mr. iSproule). Mr. Ilaultain said, speaking in the legislature at Regina in 1900 :
We have been created what I may be allowed to call a political entity. We are for purposes

ot' self-government as separate a part of the Dominion as any of the provinces. We have a legislature and form of government bearing a very close analogy to that which exists in the provinces, and in every respect, therefore, except in respect of the necessary means for carrying on those institutions, -we stand in very much the same position as a province, and we may for present purposes be fairly called * an integral part of the Dominion

Topic:   PROVINCIAL AUTONOMY IN THE NORTHWEST.
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