April 17, 1905 (10th Parliament, 1st Session)


Edward Guss Porter

Conservative (1867-1942)


Now, I venture to think that no such condition of religious bigotry or party spirit exists in any portion of this country as to warrant any section of the people in asking for separate schools to protect them from injustice and oppression. These being the grounds upon which separate schools were originally established, and there being no such condition of affairs existing in this country, I argue that it is not in the best interest of the country as a whole that that system should be continued or that we should enact laws to force such a system upon these new provinces.
There is an additional reason. I put it as matter of time. When you come to look at the time devoted to secular education and tlie time allowed for religious education, what do you find? You find that in the school week of five days there is a total of thirty hours, cut down by daily recesses to say 27i hours. On the other hand, if you allow ten hours a day for sleep, you have seventy-one hours still left for religious instruction. If 27i hours is sufficient for secular education, surely 71 hours is sufficient for religious instruction. Or carry it a step further and make the comparison on the basis of a year. We find that the school year, taking out vacations and holidays, including Saturdays and Sundays, is about 1,100 hours. 'This is the time allowed in a year for secular education. And upon the same basis as before what are you allowed for religious instruction? Seven thousand hours-over six times as much time as is allowed for secular education. Booking at the fact that ninety-seven per cent of the children never get beyond the common school, and of that proportion a large number attend school for only a short time, is it not manifestly unfair that the time these young people have to prepare themselves for the battle of life should be cut down by even half an hour a day? Would it not be better that the time for secular education should even be increased rather than diminished? That is why I should say it would be an injustice to the youth to impose this system upon them. We must recognize that there is a duty resting upon the parents and pastors as well as upon the state. The state has recognized very clearly and specifically parental duty. The state, for instance, does not furnish food and clothing for the children, but that leaves that for the parents to do. So, I think, the state should recognize the duty and obligation upon the parent to provide for the religious education of the child. And if the religious education of the child is deficient or wanting in any respect the blame rests upon the parent and upon the pastor-it does not in any way, to my mind, rest upon the state. It seems to me that it would be a very bad position for this country to occupy to make itself the tax-gatherer for the church. In all countries where that has been the case we know the result. The result has been that the people have attained no efficiency in matters of education. It is

a matter of history that in the countries where such an idea has prevailed, the people have grown up in ignorance, and where there is ignorance there is a corresponding amount of slavery. We ought not to impose such conditions upon this new country in the Northwest or any portion of it. I apologize to the House for occupying so much time at this hour of the night, even though I was not allowed to postpone speaking. I shall vote against the educational clause of the Bill. I had hoped that there would have been such amendments that I should have been afforded the pleasure of voting in favour of this measure to establish autonomy for the Northwest, but under the circumstances I cannot do otherwise than vote against it, and so I shall with pleasure support the amendment of the leader of the opposition.

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