March 12, 1902 (9th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. B. L. BOBDEN (Halifax).

I have not very much to add to what has been said with regard to this subject this afternoon, except to say that the movement seems to me one, which, in order to be successful, must emanate from the provinces themselves. The parliament of Canada has the right, under section 94. to pass laws relating to property and civil rights, for the purpose of obtaining uniformity with regard to this subject in the three provinces that have been named. But, as has beeu pointed out by previous

speakers, these laws cannot come into force until they have been passed by the legislatures of the several provinces. It seems to me it would be idle for this parliament to undertake a work of that kind until the provinces had got together and ascertained whether there was any basis upon which they could agree on any subject coming within the definition of property and civil rights. And until that is done, any work that this House might perform in that direction would not be of much account. I do not wish to deny the ability that my hon. friend from Hants (Mr. Russell) and my hon, friend from Yarmouth (Mr. Flint) have shown in presenting this subject to the House and to the country at this time. But I would like to suggest that not only the Supreme Court of Canada, but the Privy Council as well have had a great deal of difficulty in the past in exactly defining what is intended by the expression 'property and civil rights ' in the British North America Act, and we might have difficulty in framing legislation which would come within the 94th section. We have had various opinions and speculations in the Privy Council and the Supreme Court as to whether this or that subject came within the description of property and civil rights, or of some other subject as to which the provincial legislatures have jurisdiction under the British North America Act.
As far as the question of legislative union of the maritime provinces is concerned, I should say to my hon. friend from Lanark (Hon. Mr. Haggart) that that is a subject which, from time to time during the last thirty years, has engaged public attention in the maritime provinces. At times, there has been a very strong feeling in the province of Nova Scotia, and, I believe, in some other provinces, in favour of that union. I believe that, on some occasions there have even been conferences between the public men of the different provinces looking to the union of that kind. At the present time, however, I think there is no agitation in any of the provinces for that purpose, and the accomplishment of maritime union seems to be as far from realization as ever. There is another suggestion which my hon. friend from Hants made, and it is an important suggestion. He says that if what he suggests were accomplished, it might lead to the enactment in this country of measures which have been placed in the form of a code in the mother country, and might, in that way, simplify the law of the provinces which would be made subject to such an Act. X do not think that the provinces really need a measure of that kind for the purpose of enabling them to adopt British legislation-and I do not think that my hon. friend intends that. But I would like to make the suggestion to him that the very aim he has in view, might, to- some extent, be furthered by the fact that, in many of the provinces of Canada at this time, measures of that kind 35*
passed in England are being enacted by the legislatures of the several provinces with such alterations as the circumstances of each province demand. For example, while listenig to my hon. friend, I looked over the statutes of my own province, and I see that we have enacted in Nova Scotia many measures which have been enacted in the form of a code in England during the last ten, fifteen or twenty years. We have the Arbitration Act, the Married Woman's Property Act

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