May 31, 1921 (13th Parliament, 5th Session)


Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal


Certainly; it is far
better to smile than to look cross. A spirit of accommodation is something that we should all earnestly strive for. We have the best authority for that doctrine, and the Government would enormously improve its position in dealing with this situation if, at this stage, it refused to follow the line of force and tried the sunny ways of conciliation and an attempt to reach an agreement. The Government will say: What if we fail? Shall we not have lost time? Some time, I grant, might be lost; but the sacrifice is W'ell worth the benefit whicn will accrue if the attempt at conciliation and agreement is successful. I say that if they are unsuccessful in arriving at an agreement with the province of Ontario, then a Bill might be brought in, not similar to the second Bill but to the first, which was the basis of the original agreement. Do not bring it in at the tail end of the session, but let us have it early. Refer it to a committee so that evidence might be heard, and we might get all the facts. We really cannot judge of the real facts of this case from hearing, first of all, the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Keefer), the member for Provencher (Mr. Molloy), and other members who take different sides on this important question. Let us exhaust the subject and get at the facts, and let legislation not precede but follow information as to the real facts of the case. What means it if the Government refuse to accept this advice offered in all sincerity? The Government runs the risk of infringing provincial rights. I grant that there must be joint control over these great potential water powers, partly within one province, and partly within the other. There must be joint control, but let it be decided by agreement, not by one party imposing its will on the other. To infringe provincial rights is to break the bargain of Confedera-

tion, because, after all, th' rights of the provinces were acquired through our British North America Act, which was the legislative sanction of the bargain made at Confederation. And if there is one thing necessary to preserve harmony and promote peace, progress, and prosperity in this country, it is that the Confederation pact should be honoured, not merely in the letter, but in the spirit as well. I urge that fact upon members of the committee. After all, sanctity of contract is the basis, not only of our own Confederation, but, to a large extent, of our modern civilization. I therefore press this point upon the Government and ask them at this late date to reconsider the matter, and see whether they cannot arrive at an agreement with the province of Ontario.
"O, it is excellent to have a giant's strength, but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant."

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