February 5, 1909 (11th Parliament, 1st Session)


Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)


With respect to the dispatch which was read in the House yesterday by my right hon. friend the Prime Minister, from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, I wish to make a few observations: The dispatch is as follows:
London, January 29, 1909.
I am in receipt of your telegram of January 28, and from your telegram of January 9, I gather that your responsible advisers have the full text of the treaty before them.
According to press reports there seems to be some misunderstanding as to the presentation of the treaty to the Dominion parliament.
this country the treaty-making power is with the Ring, acting on the advice of his responsible ministers, who in cases of treaties which affect the Dominion, acts of course in full consultation and accord with the government of the_ Dominion concerned.
In the United States the treaty-making power is with the advice and consent of the Senate, and until the Senate of the United States of America approve of any treaty it is not the practice to publish or present to parliament either in this country or in Canada, or to publish in the United States or to present to congress. The fact that the Senate ot the United States see the treaty before the parliament of the Dominion, but not before government of the Dominion, is therefore en-tireiy due to the terms of the constitution of the United States.
I am in hopes that your responsible advisers will clearly exMain this to parliament, and will point out that the relation between the parliament of the Dominion and the government of the Dominion in this respect is practically analogous to that between the Imperial parliament and the government of His Majesty the King.
(Sgd.) CREWE.
There seems to have been a misconception created m Great Britain, and evidently the same impression is in the mind of the Colonial Secretary, that some remarks which have been made in this House were directed against the action of the imperial authorities, and that the government of Canada was not held responsible by this- parliament tor any action taken in connection with this treaty, bo far as any remarks of mine may have created any such impression, I desire to say that they have been absolutely misunderstood. In respect of a question of this character, I hold the government of Canada responsible to the parliament of Canada for its policy and action, whether in relation to negotiations with the United States or in relation to upholding the rights of this country m any communication or negotiation between the government of Canada and that ot Great Britain.
I appreciate what the Secretary of State for the Colonies has said resrard-ing the practice by which the Senate of the United States deals with treaties in secret session. Before the arrival of his dispatch I looked at the United States authorities and I found that the practice in the United States is exactly as he states. But it is only a practice. I have under my hand the constitution of the United States, and that constitution imposes no obligation on the Senate of the United States to deal with treaties in secret session:
Art. 2. Sec. 2 of the Constitution of the United States, as contained in the Principles of Constitutional Law by Principal Cooley, is as follows:-
The presidents have the power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make

liament of these four treaties in 1865, in 1870, in 1871 and in 1873 ? Mr. Todd does not point out that any unfortunate results were observed as arising from the communication of those treaties to parliament on those occasions. I venture to think that the communication of this treaty to parliament in the meantime would have been attended with no detriment' to the public interest, and no embarrassment to the executive, and would have been a more desirable course to follow than that which has been pursued. I sincerely trust that the treaty may be laid upon the table of parliament at a very early day. I do not know what length of time may elapse before the Senate of the United States may come to a conclusion upon the subject. So far as my information goes they have not yet ratified the treaty. Am I right in that understanding ?

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