February 17, 1910 (11th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Samuel Hughes



Following that came the Constitutional Act of 1791. I have not a word to say against the passage of that Act, only that our French-Canadian fellow countrymen did not ask it, it was given them by .the English speaking people there, many of whom had lived under responsible government in England. They had heard the name and they wanted a Constitutional Act passed in Quebec whereby they would have self-government. They got self-government, in other words representative government, the control of their own assembly, but had not control of the appointment of the ministry.
In 1783, owing to the fact that the Yankees gained their independence, the states that they had won from France, formerly, that is Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, part of Minnesota and Michigan, they again took back and they took them back from Britain and from Quebec. They then were parts of the American union, so in 1791 the province of Quebec was curtailed and was divided into upper and lower Canada. But from that time on a small party in Quebec, active until the present hour, began an agitation to sever that province from the British Crown. For a few years after they got the Constitutional Act passed, there was hardly a Britisher, only three or four, to be found in the whole assembly. British immigrants were practically forbidden to enter the province and were treated as foreigners, and when the settlers came in from the United States and colonized the eastern townships, the opposition was so strong that they would hardly build a road in there. The statement was then made: We must preserve the land for our own people, and the statement has been made in a Montreal paper within a week from to-day that we must have this province our own and must join the French-Canadian fellow countrymen of the New England states with the French-Canadians of the province of Quebec. Fortunately these views are not held by many in Quebec and they have thus far fallen on unsympathetic ears. The chief agitations were against British immigrants, English, Irish and Scotch. They also demanded that they should have an elective legislative council, and in the province of Quebec to-day they have not an elective legislative council. I believe that legislative councils and senates should not be elective for a Short term, they should hold office for life or a very long period. They also demanded control of the revenues from timber, from minerals, from forests and the lands.

Then followed the rebellion of 1837 and 1838, in Ontario, in Upper Canada led by a mountebank agitator, who had been a man of no character in his own country, Scotland, and had come out here. He had heard of responsible government in the old land, he did not know anything about the constitutional methods to be pursued, he gathered a few innocent people near Toronto, and the muskets being short-ranged in those days, the bullets could hardly reach them, they ran so fast.
In Quebec another man, clever and brilliant in many ways, but a man fitted for anything in the world almost rather than for leadership, gathered together a lot of poor, innocent fellows from various parts of the province and they met with disaster also. But history records that not one of the solitary grievances has ever been put in type that could not have been settled infinitely better by constitutional means as the hon. member for Pictou (Mr. Macdonald) pointed out the other night that Nova Scotia settled her grievances without much fuss-a gentle hint to those so-called heroes of 1837 and 1838 in Ontario and Quebec that they were wrong in their agitation was all that was necessary. The aim in both provinces was independence. But, we have heard of other grievances. I can well remember the time when I sat in this House long years ago, and when gentlemen who occupy seats in the Senate, and who were appointed before they had ceased for a year to be members of parliament, stood up at these desks and declared that a law should be passed making it illegal for a member of parliament to hold a seat in the Senate, or a position anywhere else under the government, within a year after his retirement from the House. They demanded that the land should be kept for the settler in the Northwest. They said that we should have free trade in this new land of Canada, and they declaimed against robbers great and robbers small up and down the country. They also demanded that the Senate should be reformed. Most of them are in there now and it is pretty well reformed. They demanded rigid economy. There was almost a rebellion in the country because the Conservative party had an expenditure below $40,000,000, while these gentlemen have run it up to over $120,000,000. They demanded that we should have purity in public life and we have a splendid illustration of it in the government of the day. They also demanded that the question of prohibition should be placed before the public, that the people should vote on it and that' it should be carried, but their voices are dumb to-day on that question and we hear no more about it. Then we have this laudation of rebellion, but as that has been referred to before, I will not take any more time discussing it. All I will say is this, that the right
hon. the First Minister and his colleagues who are ever prone to glorify the so-called patriots of 1837-38, both of Upper and Lower Canada, are the men who forced upon a free people, people accustomed to responsible government, which the people of 1837-38 were not, upon the free men of Saskatchewan and Alberta, in 1905, an iniquitous measure which should have brought about rebellion among free men in that country if anything could have done so. What was the policy of the right hon. gentleman and his colleagues in that regard? One of the demands in 1837-38 was that the assembly should have control of the revenues from the land, timber, mines and water-powers. The chief thing that the government restrained the people of Saskatchewan and Alberta from was the exercise of their rights with regard to the control of the land, mines, timber or water-powers. In 1837-38 it was right to rebel because the assembly, composed of men in both provinces who did not understand responsible government, were not given absolute control of these natural resources, while it was wrong in 1905 with a free people skilled in government. They took their rights away from them and they doled them out a pittance every year the same as a remittance man here receives from his father in the old country. Under the constitution. education belongs to the provinces, and yet this government that pretends to be Liberal, took from the people of these two provinces, in 1905, the right to control their education. Yet they will talk of the heroes of 1837-38 who had not one ground upon which to base any objection to the legislation of the time, and they will preach autonomy and responsible government. I have often thought that in their hearts they must despise these free men of Alberta and Saskatchewan for tamely submitting to these iniquities, while being ready to glorify the men of 1837.
I have not heard either of the last two speakers indulge in this criticism-perhaps the hon. Minister of Public Works (Mr. Pugsley) will when he goes away down alone by the sea-but the criticism has been made of the Conservative party that we joined hand in hand with the hon. gentlemen opposite in passing the
resolution one year ago and then have gone back upon it. Such is the language of the First Minister. Let us examine it man to man and see what we have done. The resolution reads:
This House fully recognizes the duty of the people of Canada, as they increase in numbers and wealth, to assume in larger measure the responsibilities of national defence.
Have we gone back on that? We are standing by it to-day.
2. That this House reaffirms the opinion, repeatedly expressed by representatives of Canada, that under the present constitutional

relations between the mother country and the self-governing dominions the payment of any stated contribution to the imperial treasury for naval and military purposes would not, in so far as Canada is concerned, be a satisfactory solution of the question of defence.
We stand to it to-day. We do not believe in paying regularly and periodically a contribution to the motherland. We are in favour of paying an emergency contribution to-day to keep our flag flying because it is better to be sure than sorry, in the meantime and how cheaply we would all feel if the British fleet should happen to be defeated for lack of the two Dreadnoughts which Canada could have supplied. That is the policy we favour to-day. We are not in favour though of paying that regularly because before many years shall have elapsed some systematic form of naval assistance will have been devised.
3. This House will cordially approve of any necessary expenditure designed to promote the organization of a Canadian naval service.
Does the government provide a speedy service? How can they have the hardihood to ask hon. gentlemen on this side of the House to support such a resolution? There is no speedy contribution about it. We are standing by the resolution. We want something done 'speedy*.

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