June 4, 1908 (10th Parliament, 4th Session)


Angus Alexander McLean

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. A. A. McLEAN.

The hon. gentleman may not look for it now, but, perhaps, in the course of ten or fifteen years he may be glad to be clear of running around the country at election time. The constitution of this country, like the constitution of the United States, is quite different from what it was originally. Take the amendments to our constitution made since 1867-the amendments of 1871 and those following- and you will find that the changes made have been very important indeed. The constitution of the United States to-day you would not know to be the same as that which was passed by the first federal congress. The conditions changed and it became necessary to change the constitution to meet the new state of affairs. In the same way, it is necessary in the interest of the maritime provinces that, if the constitution allows their part of their representation to be taken away, the constitution should be changed so as to put them in the same position as that in which they were before. Prince Edward Island entered the confe-

deration in 3873/ That province would not enter in 1867, because the terms proposed for the admission to the union did not meet with the approval of its people, and so they kept out of confederation for nine years after the first proposals were made. And on what ground ? The ground was this very principle of representation by population, which they were not prepared to accept. They told the other provinces that they would not accept that proposition. The resolution which was adopted at Quebec by the conference based the representation in the House of Commons on the population as determined by the official census every ten years. It says :
The basis of representation in the House of Commons should be population as determined by the official census every ten years; and the number of members at first should be 194, distributed as follows:
Upper Canada 82
Lower Canada 65
Nova Scotia 19
New Brunswick 15
Newfoundland 8
Prince Edward Island 5
Now, the imperial government was very anxious that Prince Edward Island should come into the union, and despatches passed between the provincial government and imperial government with reference to the matter. The government of the Prince Edward Island informed the imperial government that they would not accept these clauses of the resolutions passed at the Quebec conference. The imperial government, being anxious, sent despatches to the government of Prince Edward Island, and, at the session of 1865 of the legislature of that province, the matter was threshed out carefully. The legislature, in the first place, passed a resolution which reads as follows :
18. Until the official census of 1871 should be made up, there shall be no change in the number of representatives from the several sections.
19. Immediately after the completion of the census of 1871, and immediately after every decennial census thereafter, the representation from each section n the House of Commons shall be readjusted ou the basis of population.
20. Por the purpose of such re-adjustments, Lower Canad-a shall always be assigned sixty-five members, and each of the other sections shall at each re-adjustment receive, for the ten years then next succeeding, the number of members to which it will be entitled on the same ratio of representation to population as Lower Canada will enjoy according to the census last taken by having sixty-five members.
21. No reduction shall be made in the number of members returned by any section unless its population shall have decreased relatively to the population of the whole union to the extent of five per centum.

Full View