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


Alfred Alexander Lefurgey

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. A. A. LEFURGEY (Prince Edward Island).

Mr. Speaker, after the very exhaustive discussion of the subject to which we have listened, by the hon. gentlemen who have preceded me, I do not propose to occupy very much of the time of the House. I Was here in 1903 when this question of representation was before the House and I at that time made as strenuous objection as I was capable of against the treatment which was being accorded Prince Edward Island in again reducing her representation to four members. It was objected by the government and by the right hon. first minister (Sir Wilfrd Laurier) that, as on several other occasions, we had allowed our representation to be reduced without any
apparent objection from the then members of Prince Edward Island, there could be no valid reason why it should not again be reduced upon that occasion. In so far as that 'argument is concerned it has very little weight. In 1882, when Prince Edward Island was entitled to only five representatives in the House, according to the unit of population, we were accorded our six representatives. Why was it that 'at that time the interpretation as to representation by population, within the strict letter of the terms of union, was not insisted upon ? Was not that a sufficient precedent that the terms upon which Prince Edward Island came into confederation were not to be interpreted in the manner in which they have been, but were to be interpreted in the manner that I have contended for ever since I have been a member of this House ?! Because representatives from Prince Ed-: ward Island and members of the legislature! of Prince Edward Island saw fit not to! protest against a reduction of representation is no reason whv the wrong which was done should not be rectified at the present time. The legislature of Prince Edward Island had presented to it a statement in the speech of His Honour the Lieu tenan't Governor dated March 19, 1903, in reference to this matter of representation in the following terms :
At the opening of the provincial legislature on March 19, 1903, the lieutenant governor referred to this matter of representation as follows :
The claims of this province that its representation under British North America Act, in the Dominion House of Commons should not be reduced below the number of members conceded to it at the time of our entry into confederation, have been pressed upon the federal government by my premier and representatives of my administration, and I feel confident that the province will be given an opportunity to establish its rights in this respect.
And the mover of the address in reply to the speech from the Throne spoke strongly on this matter. His opening remarks were :
We now come to the question of representation, this is to-day a most important question. In the very near future the Dominion parliament will be called upon to discuss a Redistribution Bill, and the House would be derelict in its duty if it should allow the central government to perpetrate another such error as inflicted on this province in 1891 without the strongest protests.
A false intei'pretation was put on our terms of union by the Dominion government, the words: 'the representation to be re-adjusted from time to time under the provisions of the British North America Act, 1867 ' were torn from their contest and made to do duty as law. Mr Speaker, these words do not apply and never have applied to this province by right-it was an iniquity and we should deny it and defy it.
What, Sir, are the principles laid down in the various Acts of confederation; is there one

essential principle or are there two distinct standards of representation, let us see. In 1861 a basis of confederation was adopted by the Quebec conference, in which the principle of representation was laid down, that principle was accepted after a time by the province of Ontario. Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, but it was not accepted- by us. We stood out for another standard and after a long fight we succeeded in securing a representation of six members for 95,000 of a population, this Sir, is quite another rule, and it is a rule of principle that has been acknowledged, accepted and applied to other provinces before and since that time, notably to Manitoba and British Columbia. One of the greatest obstacles to the scheme of confederation with this island was the insistence of the Canadian statesmen that representation by population should be part of the terms, while our people were quite as insistent of having not less than six members regardless of population.
Here was a protest from the provincial legislature at that time, and because other provincial legislatures had not seen fit to protest against the wrongs done to our province under the previous redistributions is Jio argument to be used by the right hon. first minister that they had acquiesced in it. In fact, we could not acquiesce in a situation of that kind without passing an Act in this House, in the provincial legislature and in the imperial parliament as we did In the ease of the subsidies. In the case of the subsidies it was put up to us in the opposite way because the representatives of Prince Edward Island had accepted the resolutions regarding the subsidies, therefore it was not in the mouths of the representatives of Prince Edward Island in this House to protest. The hon. Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) speaking with regard to the increase in the subsidy, said that because the representatives from Prince Edward Island at tihe conference had accepted the terms, we, therefore, 'as representatives of that province in the Dominion House of Commons, have no word to say about it. Of course it was, to my mind, a most ludicrous position in which to place the members of this House. What was the attitude of the right hon. first minister when a question of this kind was up jin 1892 with regard to the province of British Columbia ? At that time there was some grave doubt expressed as to the interpretation of the clause under which British Columbia came into confederation, as to whether or not she retained the representation that was given to her when she entered confederation. What do we find the right hon. first minister saying in 1892 upon that occasion when he was plain Mr. Laurier and when he was standing up for fair play to tihe smaller provinces of the Dominion ? We find that it was then a different story altogether. Speaking with reference to the reduction of representation with regard to British Columbia he said.:
But at the same time I am taken by surprise by the objection raised, for it has always been 'Mr. LEFUR.GEY.
understood that British Columbia was entitled to six members.
Further on he says :
I have always understood that British Columbia was entitled to six members until such time as she was entitled to a larger number, but that she should never have a smaller number than six. For my part I would be very sorry to come * to any conclusion which would deprive British Columbia of that which the people supposed themselves to be their right.
Now. the case of British Columbia is on all fours with the case of Prince Edward Island, and if the right hon. gentleman wanted to treat this 'as a matter of fair play and justice he had only to refer ' back to the words he uttered in 1892 and if, to use his own words, he had given to the people of Prince Edward Island ' that which the people supposed themselves to be their right ' the case would have been easily settled. The whole history of the case, the speeches made at the conference, the speeches which have been made in the House of Commons by the representatives of Prince Edward Island, the speeches which have been made in the local legislature of Prince Edward Island and all the evidence we can get as bearing upon the terms of confederation go to show that the representatives at the conference at that time were absolutely convinced that they had six members |u perpetuity, We have had several expressions from the right hon. first minister and also from the Minister of Justice that would lead us to believe that in their opinion, while the representatives of Prince Edward Island expected that they were getting six members at that time, they did not have it in their minds that they were going to get them for 'all time to come. The Minister of Justice, speaking on this question in 1906-7, at page 2100 of ' Hansard ' sad :
The contrast between the language I have read in regard to Prince Edward Island and that which had been used- in the case of British Columbia only two years before, coupled with the circumstance that at that time Prince Edward Island was not, upon the strict basis of population, entitled to six members, but barely to five, makes it to my mind irresistible that the thing about which they were stipulating, and about which alone the parties then negotiating were thinking, was the population at that time, and the representation at that time and the number of representatives in this House with which the island should enter the union.
I do not for a moment mean to suggest that there was at that time present in the mind of the representatives of Prince Edward' Island the expectation that the island would 20 or 30 years later find itself in the position it is in to-day.
Well, I will endeavour to show that it was in the minds of the representatives of Prince Edward Island and very distinctly

in their minds, that in time to come the increased unit of representation in Quebec would be such that Prince Edward Island would be practically without representation in this House. The strong appeal made against the island going into confederation was based on the question of its not receiving six members in perpetuity. Sir Wilfrid Laurier apparently had the same idea as the Minister of Justice for on page 2196 of 'Hansard' 1906-1907, he said:
One thing is plain and that is that when the lathers of confederation framed the British North America Act they never contemplated there should he any discrepancy in the future career of the several provinces. They were of opinion that the provinces would march forward with equal pace and that as decade after decade passed the rate of progress would be found to be about the same in all.
That was not the case in connection with the entrance of Prince Edward Island into the union, and if the right hon. gentleman would familiarize himself with the language used by the Prince Edward Island representatives at the conference he will find they never contemplated that the island would go forward decade after decade in the same ratio of population as the pivotal province of Quebec. Speaking on a resolution introduced by the leader of the government, the Hon. J. C. Pope, against confederation and the terms of the statute, Mr. Duncan said:
Nothing could be more unjust to Prince Edward Island than representation on the basis of population as laid down by that scheme according to which Canada would have 100 representatives in the House of Commons more than the aggregate of all the colonies; the number assigned to us being only five Kepresentation on that basis might do well enough for Canada but as respects Prince Edward Island it would be nothing other than mere mockery.
The right hon. gentleman will find that Mr. Duncan did not contemplate that in the thirty years after confederation Prince Edward Island would go forward in the same ratio as Quebec and the other larger provinces. Does any one suppose that these representatives of Prince Edward Island were contending for representation only until the next decennial census ? Were they not contending for the broad principle, that for all time to come Prince Edward Island would have a representation of six members in the House of Commons. Every thing in connection with the history of the entrance of Prince Edward Island into confederation points to the fact that her representatives were contending for the broad principle of six members in perpetuity. It is not comprehensible that the island would have stayed out of confederation from 1867 to 1873 upon this one point, if the people of the island expected that 312
the population of their province would increase in the same ratio as that of the other provinces. They felt that in the following thirty years their representation would be decreased to five members, and eventually to four, and that is why they contended for a fixed representation of six members. It is only reasonable to suppose that these gentlemen foresaw what would happen and that they were endeavouring to safeguard the position of their province for all time to come. Mr. Pope used these words :
Among these objections I may mention the principle of representation by population. The statistics of Quebec warrant the belief that in a few years the population will be so increased by the introduction of the tide of immigration that the island would lose in the halls of confederation even the small voice * it raised at its entrance to the union.
Do you think that a man of Mr. Pope's ability would view the horizon in the limited scope that the right hon. gentlemen, the Prime Minister seems to think. These men knew that the population of the island would not increase in the same ratio as the population of the other provinces and they supposed they were protecting the is-island in her representation for all time to come. Mr. Howlan said :
The fact is best shown by illustration. Prince Edward Island with a population of say 85,000 it is said to have five representatives at the start. Suppose she increases at the rate of 20 per cent each 10 years, at the end of 20 years the population would be 126 000, but at the same rate of progress the population of Lower Canada would be 1,596,000 which divided by 65 would give one representative to every 2i,550 people, so that the island would not be able to claim an increased membership.
Here Mr. Howlan prophesied what actually has taken place. The unit of representation at the last decennial census was a little over 25,000 and Mr. Howlan in the speech he made before confederation pointed out exactly what has occurred. There is no doubt in the world that up to the very last moment the contention of the representatives of Prince Edward Island was that their province should have a fixed representation of six members in perpetuity. The whole history of the entrance of Prince Edward Island into the union goes to show that the construction placed upon the terms of the union by the House and by the Supreme Court and by the Privy Council, was not the construction the people of Prince Edward Island intended should be placed on these terms. I tell the right hon. gentleman that the case of Prince Edward Island should never have gone beyond the walls of this parliament, and that the right hon. gentleman was not fair to the province of Prince Edward Island when he sent the case to

the Supreme Court and the Privy Council. He was no more justified in doing that than he would in referring the question of provincial subsidies or any other alteration of the terms of the British North America Act to the courts, and declined to leave the responsibility with this parliament. This clause in the Act of union with Prince Edward Island should have been interpreted by this parliament But the Prime Minister, because Prince Edward Island is a small province and has not the same strength in this House as the larger provinces, referred the case to the law courts, whereas if a more powerful province were interested he would have left this parliament to decide. Had a case arisen where there was any ambiguity or doubt as to the interpretation of a similar clause with regard to the larger provinces of the Dominion, the case would never have gone outside this parliament, and the right hon. gentleman and his supporters would have interpreted it, as he has declared such cases should be interpreted according to the intention of the province at the time of entrance into confederation. A few years ago the Minister of Justice speaking in this House compared the case of British Columbia as being on all fours with the case of Prince Edward Island, except that in the British Columbia Act the word * increased ' was used while in the Prince Edward Island Act the word used was ' readjusted '. I submit to the good sense of the House, the Prime Minister should have applied to Prince Edward Island the principle he enunciated when he said in referring to British Columbia in 1892 : For my part I would be sorry to come to any conclusion to deprive British Columbia of that which the people supposed to be right. In the light of all the evidence, the case of Prince Edward Island should have been settled in this House when the right hon. gentleman was leader of the government in 1903, on the same principle as he declared should be the case when defending British Columbia in 1892. When negotiations for a number of years had failed to bring about the entrance of Prince Edward Island into confederation, there was a conference, and a number of messages were exchanged between the representative of the province at Ottawa and the lieutenant governor and the local government in Prince Edward Island, and I probably cannot do better than read those telegrams. On the 26th of February Mr. Haythorne, who was the representative of Prince Edward Island sent this message to the Lientenant Governor of Prince Edward Island :
Probably yield six representatives.
The matter was then under consideration. On the 6th of March this telegram was sent by Mr. Haythorne :

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