Mr. E. PAQUET (L'lslet).
(Translation). Mr. Speaker, my first thought is to congratulate my congenial and eloquent friend the member for Dorchester (Mr. Roy), on his success, on the ability and zeal with which he has acquitted himself. I shall endeavour to do my best towards answering him in the course of the few remarks I am about to make.
The Bill relative to the building of a war navy is, to my mind, the most momentous of all those that have been brought to the
attention of the government of parliament and of the Canadian people, since the day of confederation. I intend considering that social, economical and political problem from the standpoint of national interests, from the standpoint of the constitution, and lastly, from the standpoint of the rights of the electorate.
In considering that important subject, I intend taking as guide a principle inscribed in the works of the fathers of confederation: ' Canada for the Canadians, under the folds of the British flag.' I intend looking into that problem with a mind .unbiased by party interest. I was elected after stating to the electors of the county of l'lslet that, on all national issues, I would place myself above party considerations. I have not as long a parliamentary experience as most of my colleagues of the province of Quebec who occupy seats on your right, Mr. Speaker. Accordingly, at this late stage of a memorable debate, the representative of the county of l'lslet craves the indulgence and courtesy which have always been extended to him when addressing the House to defend his opinions or expound his views.
Fortunately, we are not called upon just now to deal with a question of race or religion; we are endeavouring to find out a means of settlement of a social problem which is of interest to all the provinces. I am not going to consider that question from the standpoint of race, religion or language; but entirely from the national standpoint, the Canadian standpoint, and I am glad to be in sympathy with the workingmen and a large number of English speaking farmers, who are of opinion that the government should not decide to build a war navy before consulting the people.
Previous speakers have thought proper to question the loyalty of some distinguished men of my nationality.
I am not called upon to defend these gentlemen here; but I have suffered so much from these appeals to race prejudices at the hands of my opponents that I must repudiate with all the energy that is in me those malignant attacks, directed against the Conservative and the Liberal leaders of French Canadian origin.
This Bill is of the greatest moment from a financial standpoint, and I cannot undertake to vote such large sums without first consulting my constitutents. On the same grounds, I am bound to refuse to acquiesce in the policy of the leader of the Conservative party. Without a mandate from the people, I should think I was failing in my duty and betraying the interests of my constituents in denying my cordial support to the policy advocated by the hon. member for Jacques Cartier.