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


Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)



I have no fault to find with the remarks of my hon. friend, nor with the spirit which has inspired them. In my opinion, however, he has not rightly anprehended the spirit of the communication which I laid before the House yesterday, coming from the Earl of Crewe, the Colonial Secretary. The spirit of the communication is not to make it clear to this country that the Canadian government ought to be held responsible to the people, and that they are either to be blamed or commended for the treaty they have negotiated. That responsibility we Mr. R. L. BORDEN.
fully assume. The Canadian government was represented in the negotiation of that treaty by a gentleman appointed by ourselves as one of the commissioners, namely, Mr. Gibbons, of London, who has been for some years chairman of the Waterways Commission, and whom we considered, from his experience in that capacity, was eminently qualified to look after Canadian interests. I may say at once that we accept full responsibility for the treaty. If blame is to be attached to it, we would be responsible; if credit is to be attached to it, we should be equally the beneficiaries. The despatch of the Earl of Crewe was the result of an inquiry made by His Excellency the Governor General to have the treaty placed at once before parliament, and therefore before the Canadian people. The answer of the Earl of Crewe has been commented upon by my hon. friend a moment ago. My hon. friend has, I think, brought in soms matters which are not immediately connected with the subject in hand. He has, for instance, suggested the question whether the treaty-making power in this instance should be supplemented by the parliament of Canada, or whether in such a matter the prerogative of the Crown is paramount. My interpretation of parliamentary law in this matter has always been, that in all treaties except treaties of commerce and treaties affecting the revenue, the paramount treatymaking power is vested in His Majesty.

Full View