Mr. G. A. TURCOTTE (Nicolet).
(Translation.) Mr, Speaker, I wrould not venture to take up at this moment the valuable time of the House, of which others might make a better use, were it not for the constant feeling that I owe to my constituents, to my political associates, and to the country in general, some explanation as to the vote I intend to give on the question now engrossing to such a degree the Canadian public mind.
Last year, when the government submitted their resolution of March 29, a; regards the part Canada should take towards the defence of the empire, I was well aware of the responsibility incurred by those who would openly state their outspoken opinion under the circumstances.
I knew that the whole Canadian people were awaiting with anxiety the verdict of their representatives on this question of the navy, one of the most burning and momentous in its consequences. And above all, I knew that in opening my mouth in this House to express conscientiously and openly an opinion adverse to the resolution, at any rate as a matter of expediency,
I was running the risk of being made a [DOT] target for the protests and sharp criticisms of those whose minds are overheated bv imperialism. However, being anxious of fulfilling my duty and relying on the unalienable right of the man who under such solemn circumstances hies to the voice of his conscience, I stood up for the first time
in this Canadian parliament and stated that at the present juncture, in a young country such as ours, we should ajrply our energy to other purposes than the creation of a navy, that we had other struggles to enter into than those settled by means of powder and guns. For human activity, constantly developing, requires from civilized nations numerous and violent efforts towards higher destinies, great and further sacrifices towards attaining their full development.
Those statements have been construed as an expression of opinion adverse to the establishment of a war navy. Mow. sir, I repudiate that charge, and I say that never have I expressed such an opinion, neither in my speech of March 29, neither in private conversation; I merely questioned tiie desirability of creating such a navy at a time when our national expansion was only in its incipient stage and when so many gigantic undertakings, which cannot be dispensed with, were awaiting for their carrying out strenuous efforts on the part of the Canadian people. I believed and still believe that, the wave of feverish patriotism, swollen by chimerical fears within the empire, and which has swept over our peaceful country, would pass away and that very soon .the minds of the people, having recovered their composure, we would be at liberty to resume the race towards progress and development, without the burden of militarism which is weighing so heavily on the nations of Europe, and I might say on the whole world.
The imperial conference has taken place, and two Canadian ministers, whose high ability and attainments I have pleasure in recognizing, represented our country and vindicated the rights of the Dominion with a talent and energy worthy of admiration under circumstances so difficult and ticklish. As a result of that conference it was decided that Canada would build a navy to help in the defence of our coasts and the protection of our fisheries, that such navy, while autonomous and exclusively Canadian in its creation, armament and object, would co-operate with the British fleet whenever the people of this country deemed it desirable.
Mr. Speaker, I am in no way receding from the position that it would have been of more advantage to the country, and, in my humble opinion, more in harmony with the great principles of the Liberal party, to defer for some time yet the building of such a navy. I say in all seriousness that I would have felt a patriotic joy at seeing the people's money used foT some other purpose. I would have rejoiced at seeing the Liberal party continue favouring the marvellous power of expansion with which the Canadian nation is endowed, continue developing the im-Mr. TTFRCOTTE.
mense resources of the country, continue guiding and helping on the people on the safe way to moral and material progress, and maintaining harmony, concord and peace, sure pledges of prosperity and happiness.
However, since the question is to-day on the point of taking a new turn, and the proposal of a navy on the point of being carried out, the issue assumes still greater importance, and it is incumbent on us, representatives of the people, to take a decided and firm attitude and give or refuse our consent to the measure. In certain quarters, and from motives of de spicable party interests, it is loudly proclaimed that the province of Quebec is altogether opposed ,to the establishment of a navy, and our accusers even go so far as to charge us with disloyalty. I am bound to protest and to protest energetically against such vile and unfounded aspersions cast upon the French people of Canada. Do those who launch such charges ignore how deeply is rooted in the French heart those feelings of honour which manifest themselves when occasion requires by deeds of uprightness, bravery and loyalty? The loyalty of the French Canadians to the British Crown needs no further proof, and the heroic deeds which they accomplished in the service of the foster motherland fill the pages of our history. These words, I rest assured, will find an echo in the hearts of my fellow-citizens who occupy seats around me in this House, and those unfair and foolish clamours, intended as, an insult to the French Canadian name, will be met with universal scorn.
I. have then no hesitation in saying that the French Canadians are primarily loyal to the country they live in, to the land of their birth, and wherein they labour and earn their families' livelihood. More than anything else, they have at- heart the interests and greatness of their country; and I believe I am the faithful interpreter of the feelings of my fellow-citizens at this juncture, and that I am stating an actual fact when I say that this question of the navy interests them almost wholly from the view-point of Canada's interests and future. In agreeing to the proposal now before the House, they are desirous of protecting their own homes, safeguarding our rights, and the honour of the Canadian, flag. Who will say that is criminal? In loving and defending Canada, is it not a part of the empire that they are loving and defending?
I intend supporting the present policy of the government, because the more, in my humbe opinion, we assert our national existence, the more we approach the state of national perfection and the closer we get to the status of independence. And I trust that such a status will be conceded to us while we continue to enjoy the present
political system, the most perfect to my mind.
. Timorous or narrow-minded men, blinded by an unconquerable fanatacism will possibly take exception to such an expression of opinion; but to set their mind at ease,
I beg of them to listen to a few words of explanation, and, in the first place, .to remember that a rather small group of English-speaking people settled on this American continent one day wished to be free, gloriously shook off her yoke and broke by the force of arms the ties which united them to the mother country, England.
The hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster) in one of his outpours of sarcasm, taunted the right hon. leader of the Liberal party for having in bygone days advocated independence for Canada. I fail to see there anything objectionable, anything which could justify the taunts of the deputy leader of the opposition. Is it not proper and fair to acknowledge that the Canadian people gravitates towards and aspires after a state of perfect development, complete maturity, which cannot be. after all, anything but independence, if not annexation. Has not that Dominion of Canada, with her great natural resources, her railways, her canals, her numerous manufactures and her traffic, her fine merchant navy, her intelligent population, sprung from the two finest races in the world, has not that Dominion, I say, enough reliance in the vitality, the energy of her people, in their intelligence and morality, in the strength of her judicial and parliamentary institutions, in her leaders to wish for and obtain a political status more perfect and more in harmony with the aspirations of her citizens?
Do we not read in the annals of the world that colonies of great nations, after attaining their perfect development have separated from the mother country, and become independent nations? Do we not see the same thing going on in the family, which is a complete social organism by itself. Nay, does not nature itself make it the law of being deprived of reason? The people of the United States, in an outburst of admirable philanthropy-a fact worthy of being inscribed in golden letters on the tablets of history-have given proof of their greatness and loftiness of mind, of their moral and intellectual progress, by conceding to the Spanish colonies their independence, thereby proclaming to the civilized world that independence is the supreme privilege of a nation.
Let me quote as regards that question of the independence of Canada, the opinion of men whose ability and experience in political matters compare favourably with those of the fiery tribune of the opposition, the hon. member or North Toronto:
The Montreal ' Post5 on independence.- There is no use in disguising the matter. The time has come, if not for Canadian independence, at least for full and free discussion on a subject fraught with so much that is important to Canada. It cannot be frowned down; its advocates must be heard, and heard with the same amount of attention bestowed on the statesmen, who, in their generation, were instrumental in bringing about such changes as those involved in the abolition of the seigniorial tenure, secularization of the clergy reserves, confederation and the national policy.
If leading journals such as the ' London. Times,' ' Daily News,' ' Standard,' and ' Pall Mall Gazette,' thought fit to discuss the question of Canadian independence, why should Canadian organs of public opinion who are much more interested in the matter-who are vitally interested in the matter-be debarred from following their example? And here may be the proper place to remark that -while not one public man in Canaa mat -we know of, and certainly not of any newspaper of any influence, has suggested the advisability of annexation to the United States-a great many of them favour independence. The late hon. Mr. Howe, of Nova Scotia, Sir A. T. Galt, the hon. Mr. Huntington, the hon. Wm. Mc-Dougall and many others of our most distinguished men have at different times pronounced themselves in favour of Canadian independence, but none of them ventured to pronounce the word annexation.
Canadian Emancipation 1880.
We know that Mr. Gladstone, in 1870, advocated the separation of the colonies from the empire, and at the same time the right hon. W. E. Foster said: 'The common belief is that Canada must some day become independent. This common idea will become one of those which realize themselves.' Now we do not believe that those men changed their sentiments since then.
Leading British statesmen favour Canadian independence.-Mr. Huskisson, colonial secretary, said: ' He thought the time had come
for the separation of Canada from the mother country, and an assumption of an independent state.'
Lord Howick said: ' There could be no
doubt that in time all our foreign colonies would become independent of the mother country. Such an event was certain, and we ought in time to prepare for the separation not by fortifying Canada, but by preparing her to become independent.'
Mr. Cobden said: ' There will be no repetition on our part of the policy of 1776 to prevent our North American colonies from pursuing interests in their own way. The Bari of Ellenborough said: ' He hoped the government would communicate with the North American colonies with the view to separation.'
Lord Brougham: ' He was one of those who desired a separation of Canada from the mother country. The idea was not novel; it had been entertained and pressed by many eminent men. It was an opinion shared in by Lord Ashburton and Lord St. Vincent.
A member of the House of Commons on a recent occasion declared: ' that the relation between Canada and Britain was rotten and
mutually deceptive/ A cabinet minister said: ' He looked forward without apprehension and without regret to the separation of Canada from England/ In 1864 Lord Derby, a former leader of the great Conservative party in England, said: * In British North America there is a strong movement in progress in favour of federation, or, rather, union of some shape. We know that these countries must before long, be independent states/
Mr. Gladstone, when leader of the British government, in 1870, in advocating the separation of these colonies from the empire said that: 'The present government do not claim the credit of adopting or introducing any new policy, and persons of authority of every shade of politics have adopted it.'
Mr. Lowe in a recent speech in parliament said: ' We should represent to Canada that it is perfectly open to her to establish herself as an independent republic; it is our duty, too, to represent to her that if, after well-weighed consideration, she thinks it more to her interests to join the great American republic itself, it is the duty of Canada to deliberate for her own interests and happiness.
Lord Grey in the House of Lords in 1870, said: ' The principles laid down by succesive colonial secretaries must necessarily lead to a dissolution of the British empire/
TIord Russell said: ' If the North American colonies felt themselves able to stand alone, and showed their anxiety either to form themselves into an independent country, or even to amalgamate with the United States, he did not think it would be wise to resist that desire/
Hon. Joseph Howe, when in England, heard a noble marquis say: ' Those British Americans may go and set up for themselves to the United States, and no power will be used to prevent them/ ' Not a man rose to contradict this statement/
Lord Monck, our late Governor General, said, from his place in the House of Lords: ' It is in the interests of the mother country that Canada should be taught to look forward to independence. He believed that the policy of the government tended towards such independence, and it was on that account that he gave the government his support/ He alleged that the tie which connects Canada with Britain was a mere sentimental one, that the connection had ceased its uses, and that the colonial relations to Britain were dissolved when the confederation was consummated, and that the true mission of Canada was to proclaim its independence.
Sir George Campbell said : ' Canada has grown to maturity. I would let it go free without more delay, and would relieve this country of the many embarrassments to which the connection may give rise. Canada, I believe to be, under present arrangements, a burden and a risk to us.'