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


John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)


Constitutional progress is one of the questions that we should gravely consider when we are dealing with a great national question of this kind. Any one who knows anything about our constitution and the circumstances surrounding its creation, knows that it was a creature of circumstances, and it was sought by it to amalgamate into a whole certain interests of a deep national character, and certain guarantees were given. Now, whenever I see a Bill introduced into this House which attempts to vary the prerogative or rights of the King, or which attempts to decide questions in this House which might pertain for instance to the rights of minorities, it is time for us to take careful heed whither we are going. There is no question but that this Naval Bill, as has been plainly stated, is intended to set up what is practicallv a purely local force for Canada, and every clause throughout this Bill attempts, and does it successfully, to limit the prerogative of the Crown to any control over this local force. I can foresee a time, perhaps it may be not far in the future, when a majority in this House having control of this iron flail in the shape of a navy, may use it as a whip to force a minority into submission along certain lines which that minority might not consider constitutional. For that reason we should endeavour in every way to safeguard the rights that are guaranteed under the British North America Act, and not set up another empire within an empire with an armed force at its disposal, when thati armed force which would be entirely under the control or under the command of a single man, the premier in this country. That is a danger which I see in this Bill, and it is a very serious, one. Under this Bill, the proposed navy will be entirely under the command of the premier for the time being.

Topic:   M. J. A. CURRIE.
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