June 29, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)

LIB

Georges Henri Boivin

Liberal

Mr. BOIVIN:

All I can say is that it was a very queer way of favouring the French Canadian minority.
The hon. member for Kamouraska (Mr. Ernest Lapointe) seeing the condition of affairs, moved the following resolution in this House on May 9, 1916:
That it has long been the settled policy of Great Britain whenever a country passed under the sovereignty of the Crown by treaty or otherwise, to respect the religion, usages and language of the inhabitants who thus become British subjects :
That His Majesty's subjects of French origin in the province of Ontario complain that by recent legislation they have been to a large extent deprived of the privilege which they and their fathers have always enjoyed since Canada passed under the sovereignty of the British Crown, of having their children taught in French.
That this House especially at this time of universal sacrifice and anxiety, when all energies should be concentrated on the winning of the war, would, while fully recognizing the principle of provincial rights and the necessity of every child being given a thorough English education, respectfully suggest to the Legislative Assembly the wisdom of making it clear that the privilege of the children of French parentage of being taught in their mother tongue be not interfered with.
This was not a want of confidence motion. It had nothing to do with the policy of this Government. Still it was bitterly opposed by those same members who to-day claim that the province of Quebec is not doing its duty. It was voted upon on May 11, 1916, and defeated by a vote of 107 to 60. Do you not think, Mr. Speaker, that a united appeal from the Parliament to the legislature of Ontario would have had some weight with the Government of that province? If every one had said: this request is consistent with British liberty and British democracy; do you not think that such an appeal would have had its effect upon recruiting in Quebec? Instead, however, we were told by members on the otner side of this House that the French Canadians had no rights outside the province of Quebec. The member for North Perth (Mr. Morphy) said:
It is absolutely admitted by the speakers on both sides of the House that there can be no just claim by the French Canadian people of Ontario to any legal right to the use of their language in the school system of that province.
The member for Bonaventure (Mr. Mar-cil) put the following question to the member for South Toronto (Mr. Macdonell):
Is the descendant of a Frenchman whose family has lived in the Detroit river settlement for a hundred and fifty years a newcomer to Ontario?
To which the member for South Toronto replied:
He is entitled to only such rights and privileges as the constitution as the province of Ontario allows him.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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