April 2, 1901 (9th Parliament, 1st Session)



The criticism of my hon. friend (Mr. Borden) would not, I think, apply. Of course, the principle of our confederation is that the administration of justice lies with the provinces. We pass all criminal laws; that is our jurisdiction, but the application of these laws is within the jurisdiction of the provinces and it is the Attorney General of every province who has to enforce them. When, in 1897, we took the power to ourselves to authorize the enforcement of the Act it was in derogation of the well-known principle which pervades our whole system. We are going back to it now. I see the force of the hon. gentleman's contention that if the troubles which are contemplated are of an international character it should be preferable to leave the law as it is and that the discretion which is vested in an officer of the law should be vested in the Attorney General of Canada rather than in the Attorneys General of the provinces. WTe have considered all that, but since we propose to make it an offence to import under contract alien labour, we have thought, after the experience we have had, that we had better leave the administration, as far as possible, with the officers of the provinces rather than with the Attorney General of Canada.

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