March 5, 1902 (9th Parliament, 2nd Session)


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



But the parliament of Canada will not be surprised if I say that this is a matter with which we have experienced a great deal of difficulty. The United States government is of all governments the one the most difficult with which to carry on international negotiations, owing to their peculiar constitution, which makes the Senate the treaty-ratifying power. Therefore the Senate has all along to be kept more or less advised- if not the whole Senate, leading members of it. For this reason we have not been able, even after years of persevering and continuous effort, to bring the matter to such a point as to enable me-what otherwise I should be only too happy to do-to gratify the legitimate curiosity of hon. gentlemen opposite to have the full particulars laid before them.
My hon. friend has referred to certain statements which have been made by my hon. friend from Labelle (Mr. Bourassa) outside the House. I might suggest to my hon. friend that it would have been perhaps more appropriate, when he lectured my hon. friend a few days ago on a question much akin to this one, to have brought up the references which he has made to-day. But at all events I _ never understood my hon. friend from Labelle to make any statement except by way of argument, that we had not pressed sufficiently the claims of Canada upon the British government in connection with the modification of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty. He was only acting upon his own inferences. He had no data to go by. As to the fact that he was connected with the Joint Commission, I do not know that that is relevant at all. As to the other fact, that he alluded to certain statements which have not been made, but which Sir Louis Davies is reported to have made, I have in my hand a letter from Sir Louis Davies denying that he made any such statements. I do not intend, to read the letter to-day, because the hon. member for Labelle is not in his seat, but I intend to do so at the earliest moment.

Full View