April 19, 1910 (11th Parliament, 2nd Session)

CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

The hon. member for Yukon (Mr. Congdon) is to be congratulated on his frankness in stating the issue. I agree that the issue is as he has stated. I do not agree that we have the right to practically amend the British North America Act. I have said what I thought about this matter on the second reading, of the Bill, and I am confirmed m my opinion and strengthened in it since, and have discussed it with gentlemen more learned than I am, and I have no doubt the latter part of section 4 is ultra vires of this government, and the British government would have a perfect right, and it would be their duty to the empire, to disallow that section. We have a constitution in this country which gives us full

power in domestic matters, but we have no constitution that allows us to butt in, so to speak, upon imperial matters. We have been politely told by the imperial government, when we undertook to suggest what they should do in respect to the government of Ireland, that we had better mind our own business, and we were told so correctly. We are now here to-day undertaking to say that the British North America Act should practically have words in it that it does not contain. The British North America Act is similar to clause 4 of this Bill, if you stop at the word King,' but we undertake to add that the command m chief of the naval forces shall be invested in and exercised by His Majesty, or by the Governor in Council, as his representative. We have no right to say that as loyal citizens of the empire- and I make no insinuation against the loyalty of any one who thinks we have such a right. But, speaking for myself, I dare not do it; we dare not do it, because we have no authority to put into the hands of the government of this country a right to do something which the British North America Act never said they should have a right to do as loyal citizens of that great empire. I cannot agree with the conclusion of the hon. member for Yukon (Mr. Congdon) who frankly says what _ he believes, and says that tnis is the issue before the country to-day I agree with him that it is the issue but I take strong grounds that we have no legal right under the British North America Act, outside of any question of loyalty to the United Kingdom, to say that that Act puts a prerogative in the Governor General of this country as dis-tmguished from the imperial government.
At one o'clock, committee took recess
Committee resumed at three o'clock.

Topic:   M. J. A. CURRIE.
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