June 7, 1905 (10th Parliament, 1st Session)

LIB

Armand Renaud La Vergne

Liberal

Mr. A. LAVERGNE.

If I may be allowed to interject a few remarks into this hair splitting controversy which we are now having, I might remind my hon. friend that the courts interpret statutes liberally according to the intention of the legislature, and I might refer my hon. friend to the decisions of the courts on the law of patents. I am not surprised that my hon. friend did not understand the argument of the hon. member for Ottawa (Mr. Belcourt) because it took him two hours this afternoon to understand the argument of the Minister of Justice, who repeated the same thing that he had said a couple of weeks ago, and it was only on a third repetition of the argument for his own benefit that myhon. friend understood it. My hon.
friend has taken under his wing the Jews and all those who do not fall under the denomination of Catholic or Protestant. Well, it is quite clear, both by the law of 1875 and the British North America Act, that denominational or separate schools, which are synonymous in the law, apply only to the dual system of Catholics or Protestants. and that the Jews or the Mormons-the latter of whom seem to be the favourite proteges of our hon, friends on the other side-if they want schools of their own, must choose between the Catholic and the Protestant system, as they do in the province of Quebec, where we have the most perfect system of separate schools In confederation. That therefore is not an Mr. BELCOURT.
argument which my hon. friend can bring against section 11 of the law of 1875. This is the first time in the history of Canada that the interpretation given to that section by the leader of the opposition has been given to it. On every occasion before, when we have had a debate on the question of separate schools, the interpretation we, on this side, have given of this law has never been questioned. ,
It is quite clear, and if my hon. friend takes the trouble to read it over once more, he will see that the adjective 1 Protestant ' and ' Roman Catholic ' is applied, and that when it speaks of the majority, that is only as co-relative of the rights given to the minority. Of course, the rights given to the majority must be the same as those given to the minority-you cannot deprive the great number of rights that are given 'to the few. So. I think that it is only hair-splitting that wTe have been given tonight. As to section 16, No. 2. it deprives the Catholics of the Northwest not only of the right to have their schools where they are a majority, but of a great many things they would have had under section 16, No. 1. I do not wish to go into the merits of the difference between these two proposed sections-that will come later on. But, if there are any people interested in the rights of the Catholic minority in the Northwest they are the bishops of the Northwest. And we have heard their opinion. And if there is a man who desires to see that minority deprived of its rights, it is the hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Sif-ton). And that hon. gentleman has come back to the support of the government because section 16, No. 2, deprived them of *rights which section 16, No. 1, would have given them. These things, I think, he no doubt knew as to the relative meaning of the two sections.

Topic:   JT7NE 8. 1905
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