March 3, 1910 (11th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Eugène Paquet

Conservative (1867-1942)


friend (Mr. Monk) remains true to Conservative traditions, to those traditions . handed down to us by the fathers of confederation and also true to the teachings of that great English Liberal school which, in the last century, advocated the consolidation of the empire with free, independent self-governing colonies. The men to whom is entrusted the leadership in both political parties share other views in political economy, but I hope that they will acknowledge the necessity of consulting the people before embarking the country in a new policy the consequences of which affect our autonomy. .
I am asked, in the name of the laws of evolution, to subscribe to the programme of participation in the wars of the empire. We have made satisfactory progress by remaining true to our traditions, and we may grow and prosper, without embodying in our statute-book the banefhl section which violates our most sacred rights.
I bow to the hon. member for Jacques Cartier, as to one of the conspicuous figures in Canadian history. Rising above mere party considerations, he personifies the aspirations of the native land. We all remember that never to be forgotten sitting of the 3rd February, when we saw .the hon. member (Mr. Monk), with a voice shattered by physical pain, standing up with difficulty, but patriotically, and protesting against the statesmen who are parcelling out our autonomy, a sacred inheritance and the. fruit of so many heroic sacrifices.
The hon. gentleman (Mr. Monk), sticks by the traditions handed down to us by Cartier and Macdonald. Let us turn over a page of our history.
In 1885, General Laurie and Colonel Williams proposed to raise two regiments and asked that the government bear part of the expenditure. Sir John A. Macdonald, after being consulted by Lord Lansdowne, wrote that Canada could not contribute to the wars of the empire. Never did Sir. George E. Cartier recommend to the Canadian people to participate in the wars of the empire. Therefore, I want to remain true to the great British principle: 'No
taxation without representation.' We cannot be taxed without being represented. The voting of money and the control of public expenditures constitute the essence, of the parliamentary regime. We are going to participate in the wars of the empire, and we are denied the privilege of having a voice in the councils of the empire. We are not entitled to express our opinion on such matters as the treaties entered into by England, her alliances, her foreign policy, the justice or the opportunity of her wars; and yet, this legislation will make us responsible for her policy.
We have no voice in the councils of the empire, and to-morrow we may be called upon to pay, -to shed our blood on the
MARCH 3, 19iu
battle fields of the empire; to-morrow, I say, our fellow-countrymen may be sent to China, to Australia, to India. I cannot subscribe to such a policy.
The report of the last imperial conference is luminous., but it fills me with fear for the future. Read that report carefully; everything in it tends to deprive the colonies of their autonomy. They are trying to place our militia under the control of the imperial authorities. Let us read the following extract from that report (page 36):
Under the existing Militia and Defence Acts of the various Dominions their governments have no power to employ military forces outside their territories in furtherance of imperial interests.
Moreover, the forces raised over-seas are maintained on a militia basis. They have been so raised and organized in order to provide economically for the local defence of young nations whose development would be retarded by the much higher cost of maintaining regular forces. Citizen .forces so constituted usually undertake responsibility for home defence only, but it is hoped that it may be within the power of the self-governing Dominions so to organize their forces as not only to provide for local defence, but also to be in a position to share to the extent of their will and resources in the defence of the empire as a whole.
It is confidently anticipated that co-operation will be forthcoming from all parts of the empire in the time of need. But, in order to utilize these resources from over-seas to the best advantage, it is urged that the arrangements for organizing, training, and mobilizing the troops of the over-sea Dominions, while primarily directed to local defence, should also include the possibility of the employment of a portion of such troops in a wider sphere.
That vast schemes of co-operation of the naval and military forces of the empire can hardly be acceptable to those who are anxious to safeguard our autonomy.
But it is claimed that the hon. member for Jacques Cartier and his friends are not the true expositors of the traditions of the French Canadian Conservatives of the province of Quebec. After listening to the speech of the hon. Postmaster General, I glanced at the monument raised to the memory of Sir George E. Cartier, at a stone's throw from these buildings. In his left hand, Cartier holds the constitution of our country; with his left hand he points out that constitution to the Canadian people. What does that constitution say? What does the British North America Act say? Let me read section 91: 'It shall be lawful for the Queen, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons, to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Canada.
Further on, under subsection 7, it. is enacted ' It shall be lawful for the Dominion parliament to make laws respecting militia, military and naval service and defence.'
I remain true to the great principle laid down by Sir George E. Cartier, in our Canadian charter.
We have power to create a naval service for the defence of Canada; but, unless we ask the British parliament to amend our constitution, we cannot create a navy, in order that Canada may participate in the wars of the empire. Moreover, Cartier took good care to embody the principle we advocate in the Militia Act of 1868.
In 1870, Lord Granville, the colonial secretary, informed the Canadian government that henceforth they w-ould have to provide for the defence of the country, in time of peace.
On the 19th of May, 1870, Cartier laid before the Governor General in Council, a protest which was sent over to London.
Cartier's fundamental idea, the cardinal principle of his administration is embodied not only in the charter of 1867, but in the Militia and Defence Act of Canada.
The Governor in Council may place the militia, or any part thereof, on active service anywhere in Canada, and also beyond Canada j for the defence thereof at any time when it appears advisable to do so by reason of emergency.
On the 1st of August, 1904, Sir Frederick Borden brought irrefutable arguments in favour of the Act respecting national defence. Here are his very words:
The very fundamental idea of a militia force always lias been and is now home defence. In every portion of the British empire, without any exception, the same principle is laid down which is found in the bill before the House-that the militia of that particular part of the British empire, including the British islands themselves, shall be 1L"rnited in their service to the particular part of the empire in which they five. I have taken the trouble to examine the old militia laws of the different provinces which made up the Dominion of Canada, and in every one of those provinces we find the same limitation. It has always existed. Under these circumstances it is absurd to talk about service abroad. The words ' for the defence of Canada have been added in order to show that our militia cannot be sent on active service outside Canada except for the defence of Canada.
According to the great leader of the Conservative party, Sir George E. Cartier, our militia, in time of need, or during an emergency can be called out on active service only for the defence of Canada.
According to the leader of the Liberal party, our navy, in time of need, may be placed at the disposal of His Majesty for general service in the Royal Navy. Sir George E. Cartier created our militia for the defence of the country. Sir Wilfrid Laurier is going to build a fleet which may

participate in the wars of the empire. And let us not forget these words of the British admiralty: ' It has been recognized by the colonial governments that in time of wrar the local naval forces should come under the general directions of the admiralty.1 In time of war, Canada keeps the control of her land army; in time of war, our navy will be under the control of the British admiralty.
We cannot, without amending Cartier's Act, send our troops to fight in Europe, in Asia, in Africa and in Australia. Our navy may make W'ar and fight battles on all the seas. It is essentially destined to take part in all the battles of the empire. We are taking the first step in a very dangerous direction. It is impossible to foretell the evils which will result from this legislation for our people.
Let war be declared between England and a foreign power or a colony like India, and then the Canadian government, under this legislation, will be bound to place its navy at the disposal of the British admiralty.
A proclamation shall immediately issue for the meeting of parliament, and our hon. friends opposite try to shelter themselves behind the intervention of parliament. Yet, parliament will have a very modest part, to play. .Will parliament be consulted as to the calling back of our ships? The ships might, perhaps, have begun action. They might, perhaps, have been destroyed. Shall we then ask His Majesty to send us back the ships placed at his disposal? Such a supposition is out of the question. Parliament will be summoned in order to vote the necessary money for the sending and the maintenance of the troops. But I am told that similar provisions are to be found in the Militia Act. Very well, but in that case parliament is not called upon to play the same part. Our militia is not under the control of the King of England [DOT] it is under the absolute control of parliament and the latter may give orders to the militia. There is no parity between the two cases.
I, am ready, Sir, to assume the responsibility of our military and naval defence.
I fully recognize all my obligations as a Canadian citizen and as a loyal subject of His Majesty; but, as Sir Wilfrid, in 1907.
I am not ready to assume the responsibilitv of a legislation entailing the evils of militarism, and which encroaches on our autonomy without even consulting the people.
To quote the remark of a writer: ' Were England not sure of our readiness to approve of all her wars, she would be the first to insist on the statu quo.'
In case of an emergency, we lose the control of our navy. Before adopting a permanent. policy, the government should inquire into the part we are going to play Mr. PAQTTET.
within the empire. We are not bound by the facts to take action definitively at such a short date. The right hon. the Prime Minister, owes it to his position in this country and in the empire to ground his statements upon well established facts. He delights us when he says that no danger is to be apprehended for Great Britain, and that he lias no reason to suppose that Germany is_ organizing her fleet with any intention of attacking England, or that England is increasing her navv with the intention of taking the offensive On the 3rd of February, Sir Wilfrid said: 'What will be the position of things in 1912? The figures of comparison between the German and British navies will be as follows: the total tonnage of displacement of the British navy will be 20,000,000 tons, and that of the German navy 890,000 tons, a difference of
1,100.000 tons. Under such circumstances danger is not to be apprehended.'
^ A few weeks ago, Lloyd George said:
' Should ever the German fleet attack England, it would be sunk in a few hours, and lie at the bottom of the North Sea.'
Mr. Asquith said, during the electoral campaign: 'To-day there is no menace
of an Anglo-German war; let no power ground its policy on the hypothesis of a war.'
There is no danger from Germany. But I may be told that all the South American republics have a navy, and then why should Canada not have a navy of her own? The South American states all are independent and we are a colony. Those countries have a navy in order to defend the integrity of their territory. They have a national navy, an independent navy. The government is very far from asking for the creation of a navy under similar conditions. Besides, I do not long for those wars that have stained with blood the South American republics, and we should be guilty of a national crime in walking in the'footsteps of those nations. I cannot but protest when I see Canada entering into the lists with the nations of the old continent, crushed down under the burdens of militarism.
French Canadians are sometimes charged with giving expression to feelings at variance with loyalty and fidelity to the empire. I may perhaps be charged with being an enemy of the empire. It is allovved, even in this House, to insult the patriots of 1837. Besides, we are not ripe for independence. Mr. Edmond de Nevers, in his masterly work entitled, ' L'avenir du peuple canadien-frangais,' says: 'We cannot aspire to independence so long as a spirit liberal and broad enough to insure the respect of all our liberties, will not have taken root in the seven provinces.'
Personally, I desire to see Canadians, and especially French Canadians in the future as in the past, add to our history some

more pages bearing the stamp of loyalty. Ever since the cession of Canada to England, the French Canadians have been, so to say, the champions of British domination on Canadian soil, whenever our neighbours attempted to take away Canada from England. Lower Canada proved the bulwark of the mother country. In the darkest hours of our history, the French Canadians, without being bound by any such legislation as the one now under discussion, did loyally and generously fight for the British Crown. They have shed their blood for the glory of the empire. During the war of independence of the United States our militia fell in under the orders of the British Governor and saved Canada to England.
From 1760 to 1840 the English bureaucrats, through their persecutions impeded the progress of agriculture, paralyzed trade and commerce in the province of Quebec. Still, the loyalty of our forefathers remained unalterable. And when the United States, in the second decade of the 19th century, tried to get hold of Canada, our troops, under the command of M. de Sala-berry, repelled the invader. As soon as the empire is threatened by some danger on Canadian soil, the scattered energies of our peoples form into a solid block, in order to defend the integrity of the soil and of the empire. .
The other day the hon. member for Hnli-burton and Victoria, made a disagreeable reference, to say the least, to the heroes of 18.37. The fiery colonel justifies the revolt of the American colonists against England, but he finds nothing but reproaches and bitter words for the patriots of 1837. I do not wish to go into review of the conduct of. the. American colonists and of the patriots of 1837.
Let me, however, quote an extract from the ' Life of Papineau,' by Mr. A. D. DeCelles:
Such a seizure, so to say, of the public domain of tlie province of Quebec, was in our opinion a most crying abuse of power and one against which the House should never have ceased protesting; the American colonies had risen in arms against the mother country for a much less serious encroachment upon their rights. What was lord North's claim to tax the colonists of New England without tlieir consent, compared to that unheard of spoliation of the public domain, against the will of the representatives of the people?
On the 3rd of February, the lion. Postmaster General said:
Sir, if we were to follow the advice of my hon. friend from .lacques Cartier we would have the province of Quebec in the position in which my hon. friend from North Toronto (Mr. Foster), a few years ago, said the British empire was in; we would have tlie province of Quebec in this confederation, where the majority of all the English sneaking
provinces is a unit on this question; although differing in details, we would have the province of Quebec and the French Canadian race in a position of a splendid isolation.
Mr. Speaker, I am against the splendid isolation of tlie French Canadian race. I say to my hon. friend as regards his attitude on the question and as regards the attitude of his ally, the ex-member for Labelle, Mr. Bourassa, one of the most talented men that the French Canadian race ever produced, that in propounding this xiolicy of splendid isolation for the French Canadian in this confederation of ours, they are not true to the traditions of their race.
Does the hon. Postmaster General really know the feeling, the opinion of the Canadian people on the Bill providing for the creation of a navy for the defence of Canada and of the empire? How can you speak of the isolation of the province of Quebec, when the electorate of the other provinces has had no opportunity to give tlieir verdict on the question? Consult the people by way of a plebiscite and from the Atlantic to the Pacific, you will hear thousands and thousands of workingmen condemning the construction of a fleet for imperial purposes. I believe, in concert with the labouring classes, with the ' Grange ' of Ontario, with the western ' grain growers,' that the policy of the government does not fall in with the aspirations of the Canadian people.
The hon. Postmaster General is naturally anxious to have that measure approved by the French Canadian element. Hence the efforts he has put forth to show how liberal, how generous England is to Canada. In return, the French Canadians, if we are to believe the minister should outdo the others in approving a Bill which aims at defending and protecting England.
The hon. gentleman has evoked the memory of the British parliamentarians who granted us the charter of 1774, when England was about to lose her American colonies. I am happy to pay a debt of gi'atitude to the British parliament- of 1774, and I know how to appreciate the value of the liberties, the rights and privileges which they granted to us.
Those memorable struggles, those heroic battles were fought by the people, by its representatives, by the clergy, by a few seigneurs, at the cost of great sacrifices, at the cost of blood spilled on battlefields and even of death on the scaffold. God forbid that I should seek to diminish the respect of my fellow- countrymen for England; but the eloquent page of history written on tlie 3rd of February, 1910, by the hon. minister would Teally be incomplete. He has done homage to the British parliamentarians of 1774, but he forgot to mention the 'famous charter granted to Canada in 1840 by British parliamentarians. That charter was the offspring of injustice and despotism;

it stands to this very day in history as a monument of hatred and hostility towards our race.
' The statements made by the hon. minister warrant my completing that page of history, in order to show that the French Canadians, under such painful circumstances, did really .win their liberties at the cost of heroic struggles.
The British parliament of 1840 deprived us of the rightful number of our representatives and abolished, proscribed the use of the French language in the Canadian parliament. Then it was that began the memorable constitutional battle, under Lafontaine'-s enlightened, calm and energetic leadership. The moderation, the conciliatory spirit of that eminent statesman are referred to. In the eyes of tire historian, he appears under the striking features of the uncompromising Canadian, when the rights of minorities are at stake, when the French language is to be saved from shipwreck. To quote Mr. DeCelles: ' Interested with the mission of claiming the rights of a people, Lafontaine repels any semi-measure of justice; lie is satisfied with nothing but a full remedial measure, and the uplifting of his fellow countrymen so long relegated to the lowest rungs of the political leader.'
During the session of 1842, Lafontaine is seen violating the constitution granted by the British parliament; he is seen addressing the House in French, in order to affirm as emphatically as possible the right we had of using our own idiom- and at the same time to protest against the clause of the constitution which deprived us of that right.
In 1905, the hon. member for Jacques Cartier proved true to the traditions of Lafontaine, when he stood up and moved for the restoration of the rights to- the use of the French tongue in the legislatures of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
I do not want the French Canadian people to be isolated. Still, I bless Lafontaine's memory; I owe him a debt of gratitude tor declining to accept the position of Solicitor General, at the hands of those who wished to cover him with glory, instead of doing^ justice to his fellow-countrymen, Lafontaine denied his co-operation to Governor Thompson; he was loath to give his support to the -policy of the Governor and of the British government, at a time when from the province of Quebec arose violent -protests against the British authorities. Lafontaine declined to accept personal honours. As a Canadian he claimed equal rights for all races and creeds.
Let us be fair to England and to Canada. Let us give England due credit for her work in the history of civilization and for the liberties she granted us. But let us not forget the memorable strugles of our Mr. PAQTJET.
forefathers in order to secure to us the rights guaranteed by the treaties and by the constitution.
The hon. member for Jacques Cartier has also referred to Louisiana. He seemed to say to the French Canadians: ' The French in Louisiana have lost the official use of their language, under the star-bespangled banner; you have secured that right, under the British flag; it behooves you to make sacrifices in order to save the prestige of the empire.'
In 1803, the President of the United States negotiated, through Napoleon, the purchase of ' Louisiana.' The latter was to be provided with a constitution embodying the fundamental principles of civil and religious liberty. The official use of the French tongue was maintained up to 1898. It was not abolished by congress, but by the legislature of the State of Louisiana, on May 12, 1898, without a protest in congress or in the state legislature. It was through their own fault that the French-speaking people of Louisiana were deprived of the official use of their tongue. Our countrymen in the west have lost the right to the official use of their tongue, in spite of our interference. Are they disposed to find fault with British institutions?
I shall wind up that page of history by asking this question: What would be the status of the French tongue in this Dominion parliament, had not Lafontaine protested with all his might against the constitution of 1840, granted to Canada by the British parliament? Should we feel thankful to Great Britain only for having obtained the official use of our tongue, or rather Should we not bless the memory of our ancestors for having secured to us that privilege?
It is just possible that we are witnessing one of the most mournful pages of our history in the making. In my humble opinion, the government policy will lead Canada to militarism, conscription, and possibly the disruption of the colonial ties. Accordingly, I suggest that the government should consult the people through a plebiscite. Is not the right of the British subject to being consulted most generally recognized? I object to seeing violated one of the cardinal principles ofour constitution, whereby parliament is not allowed to impose on the people a most serious departure from that constitution without having first obtained the consent of the people to such a change.
It is not that I wish to appeal to the feelings or prejudices of the electorate to bring about the rejection of such a measure; no, I have a loftier conception of my parliamentary duties; but it is of the very essence of British institutions that the will of the people should be consulted before effecting any fundamental change in the system of government. The mem-

bers of the Labour Conference, held at Quebec on September 23, 1909, with my hon. friend from Maisonneuve as chairman, plainly stated their wish that the government should consult the people through a plebiscite before complying with the views expressed at the last imperial conference.
A body of workingmen belonging to all races, to all churches, should command attention. I was glad to hear the hon. member for Jacques Cartier strongly vindicate the rights of workingmen who demand a plebiscite. The plebiscite idea has not yet commended itself to all classes of society in Great Britain, but the British Prime Minister has referred in a favourable way to the proposal of a referendum. The plebiscite idea which has been put into practice in Belgium and Switzerland should be resorted to more and more in our country. As a matter of fact, that system seems to work well as regards municipal matters. I quote the following from a newspaper:
The time is at hand when, for all civilized nations, the public undertakings, budgets, political, economical, social, and military questions which have to be solved, are of such importance, and of such a novel character, that governments will no longer be willing to take the responsibility of solving them, and must, from sheer necessity, resort to a consultation of the popular will.
In 1907, the Swiss authorities, previous to reorganizing the party, had recourse to a referendum. The outcome of the Canadian plebiscite of 1898, on the question of prohibition of the liquor traffic, has been satisfactory. In suggesting a plebiscite, I am in accord with the labouring classes, the independent press, the agricultural press of Ontario and the west, with prominent farmers of Ontario, the ' Weekly Sun ' of Toronto ' The Farmer's Advocate,' and the most active agricultural societies. That plebiscite idea had its origin in the great sister province of Ontario and in western Canada.
I may be allowed to quote the following lines from the resolution pased by the farmers of Ontario:-
who sacrificed their all to maintain the supremacy of Great Britain. How can it be contended that the French people stand alone, when the most worthy offspring of the Anglo-Saxon race are taking the lead in this movement and opposing the policy of the government? I shall quote from the utterances of Dr. Goldwin Smith, the oracle of the Liberal party:-
No parliament elected at a time when the question, of the building of a navy was not even mentioned, has the right to force on the country such a novel policy.
On the other hand the farmers of Alberta demand that the government should consult the people. And what were the views expressed by the hon. member from Digby (Mr. Jameson) on January 12th:
By their policy of to-day they propose to bind the people of this country, without asking leave or opinion. They propose to spend the money of men who must man the ships and pay the bills without deigning to consult them. They are denying the people their right to speak as to the government's action in disregarding the advice of naval experts; they are refusing to let their voice be heard as to the old policy of one empire, one navy. I do not think the administration or this House possess that right, and I submit, with all due deference, that this question should be referred to the people of Canada by means of a plebiscite before the adoption of a permanent naval policy upon the lines proposed by the government.
Let me quote the words of an Anglo-Saxon, Mr. Smith, editor of the ' Weekly Sun,' Toronto:
What then is our first duty?
Our first duty is to ask that before irremediably tying down the country to the building of a Canadian navy, the whole question be submitted to the verdict of the Canadian! people. It is monstrous that two hundred stray men, elected at a time when the matter was not even mentioned, should attempt to bind us to such a policy. Then the people should be consulted, and I trust that from this constituency there will come a cry which will be heard in Ottawa demanding that the whole electorate be called upon to express its opinion.
Your committee is of opinion that the whole influence of Canada should be exerted in favour of any movement making for peace. That is why they are suspicious of the proposal for the building of a Canadian navy, a departure which instead of favouring peace, might lead to war. Therefore, we pray respectfully, but earnestly, the Dominion government not to adopt that policy before the question has been thoroughly discussed by the Canadian people, and before the latter have expressly declared themselves favourable to the plan, at a poll held especially for that object.
These fellow-citizens of ours, who ask that the people be consulted, are the descendants in large numbers of the loyalists
Professor Marshall, of Queens, is opposed to the building of a war navy, and contends that as a result of a plebiscite, the naval policy of the government would be defeated. I have done my duty in asking for a plebiscite, the effect of which cannot be to bring about a change of government. If the government and parliament imperil or violate our autonomy, if we are thrown in the vortex of militarism and imperialism, I do not wish to be held responsible for this invasion and spoliation of the rights secured at the price of the blood of our progenitors.
Should that unhappy proposal become law, ' there shall be,' in accordance with

section 40, ' an institution for the purpose of imparting a complete education in all branches of naval science and tactics, a. naval college.' I trust the government will not forget to grant to the French language a fair and large place in the curriculum and examination papers.

Full View