Wilfrid LAURIER

LAURIER, The Right Hon. Sir Wilfrid, P.C., G.C.M.G., K.C., B.C.L., D.C.L., LL.D., Litt.D.

Personal Data

Party
Laurier Liberal
Constituency
Quebec East (Quebec)
Birth Date
November 20, 1841
Deceased Date
February 17, 1919
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilfrid_Laurier
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=e2f3ce71-bd81-4d34-8a08-56a140552231&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
lawyer

Parliamentary Career

January 22, 1874 - October 7, 1877
LIB
  Drummond--Arthabaska (Quebec)
October 8, 1877 - August 16, 1878
LIB
  Drummond--Arthabaska (Quebec)
  • Minister of Inland Revenue (October 8, 1877 - October 8, 1878)
November 28, 1877 - August 16, 1878
LIB
  Quebec East (Quebec)
  • Minister of Inland Revenue (October 8, 1877 - October 8, 1878)
September 17, 1878 - May 18, 1882
LIB
  Quebec East (Quebec)
  • Minister of Inland Revenue (October 8, 1877 - October 8, 1878)
June 20, 1882 - January 15, 1887
LIB
  Quebec East (Quebec)
February 22, 1887 - February 3, 1891
LIB
  Quebec East (Quebec)
  • Leader of the Official Opposition (June 23, 1887 - July 10, 1896)
March 5, 1891 - April 24, 1896
LIB
  Quebec East (Quebec)
  • Leader of the Official Opposition (June 23, 1887 - July 10, 1896)
June 23, 1896 - July 10, 1896
LIB
  Quebec East (Quebec)
  • Leader of the Official Opposition (June 23, 1887 - July 10, 1896)
July 11, 1896 - October 9, 1900
LIB
  Quebec East (Quebec)
  • President of the Privy Council (July 11, 1896 - October 6, 1911)
  • Prime Minister (July 11, 1896 - October 6, 1911)
July 30, 1896 - October 9, 1900
LIB
  Quebec East (Quebec)
  • President of the Privy Council (July 11, 1896 - October 6, 1911)
  • Prime Minister (July 11, 1896 - October 6, 1911)
November 7, 1900 - September 29, 1904
LIB
  Quebec East (Quebec)
  • President of the Privy Council (July 11, 1896 - October 6, 1911)
  • Prime Minister (July 11, 1896 - October 6, 1911)
November 3, 1904 - September 17, 1908
LIB
  Wright (Quebec)
  • President of the Privy Council (July 11, 1896 - October 6, 1911)
  • Prime Minister (July 11, 1896 - October 6, 1911)
  • Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs (March 13, 1905 - April 7, 1905)
  • Minister of the Interior (March 13, 1905 - April 7, 1905)
  • Minister of Marine and Fisheries (January 6, 1906 - February 5, 1906)
October 26, 1908 - July 29, 1911
LIB
  Quebec East (Quebec)
  • President of the Privy Council (July 11, 1896 - October 6, 1911)
  • Prime Minister (July 11, 1896 - October 6, 1911)
September 21, 1911 - October 6, 1917
LIB
  Soulanges (Quebec)
  • President of the Privy Council (July 11, 1896 - October 6, 1911)
  • Prime Minister (July 11, 1896 - October 6, 1911)
  • Leader of the Official Opposition (October 10, 1911 - February 17, 1919)
December 17, 1917 - February 17, 1919
L LIB
  Quebec East (Quebec)
  • Leader of the Official Opposition (October 10, 1911 - February 17, 1919)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1742 of 1744)


April 1, 1901

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

tion. If this motion is passed there will be no opportunity to get the information. There are some notices on the Order paper which have not been moved, owing to the necessary absence of members. My hon. friend from Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) has a motion to which he would have spoken were it not for his absence on account of domestic affliction. I would suggest to my right hon. friend that perhaps it might be as well not to include the first Wednesday in this motion, but to make it apply after that.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE.
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March 18, 1901

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

me to tax my food for your benefit, but you are not prepared to exempt my products from taxation for my benefit; you want me to allow you to smite me on the right cheek and then have me turn the other cheek to be smitten also. Such a policy would not be received in Great Britain- it is not to be taken seriously.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
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March 18, 1901

Sir WILFRID LADRIER.

but, again I repeat, the difference that exists between us and gentlemen on the other side is this. Our first consideration, in imposing duties, is to produce revenue and if, as an incident, the manufacturers derive advantage, they are welcome to it. But gentlemen on the other side imposed duties not with the view of levying a revenue and putting money into the treasury, but of putting money in the pockets of private individuals. There is the difference between the two policies. Which of these policies is to prevail in this country ? Is it the policy of protection pure and simple of hon. gentlemen opposite ?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
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March 13, 1901

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE LAW OF DIVORCE.
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March 12, 1901

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

As to the first conclusion of this proposition, that there is no necessity of sending Canadian troops to South Africa, I must say I altogether agree with my hon. friend -not for the same reasons that have prompted him, but for the reason that the war is at an end. There may be still some guerilla warfare, there may still be some brigandage under the name of war, but the war is no longer at issue. Though my hon. friend pretends to be very much in doubt as to the issue of the war, for my part I am ready to leave the issue in the hands of the men who have it in hand now, and to say, with my hon. friend, that there is no necessity for sending Canadian troops to South Africa. As to the other portion of the conclusion that enlistment of recruits for the South African constabulary should not be allowed to take place in Canada, I ask my hon. friend what reason can there be why the enlistment of men for this force should be put to an end in Canada ? If there are men in Canada who-I care not for what motive, whether high or low, whether dignified or undignified, whether because they desire to get a living, or 'from a spirit of adventure, or from the nobler impulse of fighting for their sovereign- wish to take service in the South African constabulary, on what principle should a Canadian government interfere to prevent their liberty being so exercised ? My hon. friend has spoken well and eloquently upon the cause of liberty, on which he has constituted himself the champion in this House, and almost alone; but I must ask him, what kind of liberty is it which will not permit a British subject, if he so chooses, to offer his King to serve him, no matter in what capacity ? I am a Liberal as my hon. friend declares himself to be, but my idea of liberty does not agree with one that will not allow that freedom to every British subject in Canada. But, Sir, the gi*st of the motion of my hon. friend is in the last paragraph but one, which reads in this way :

This House therefore expresses the hope and desire that His Majesty's government will endeavour to conclude in South Africa an honourable peace, founded upon the law of nations, which guarantees independence to all civilized peoples, and upon the true British traditions of respect to all national and religious convictions and to the spirit of colonial autonomy.

If this means anything, it means that we are to invite the British authorities to restore to the two republics, the South African republic and the Orange Free State their independence. My hon. friend will not deny that this is the meaning that he has in his mind, but, strange to say, he never said a word as to that proposition. I would have expected him to deal at length with this point which, after all, was a noble subject to consider, and one which might invite discussion. I would have expected him to give his reasons and arguments why the

British authorities should he invited by the Canadian parliament to undo what they have done and to restore to the two republics the independence which they forfeited on the 9th October, 1899. My hon. friend did not speak a word upon that subject.

Sir, perhaps I might sit down here. And I would do so, and not utter another syllable upon the subject, were it not for the fact that my hon. friend, in some of his arguments has been so unjust, so unfair, to the British government, that I feel constrained to place before the House the other side of this question. My hon. friend, if he means anything, means this, that the two republics, the republic of South Africa and the republic of the state of Orange, should be restored to their independence, should be restored to the position which they occupied on the 9th of October, 1899 ; that the supreme arbitrament of war which they themselves invoked should be set aside ; that all the blood which has been shed should count for nothing ; that all the suffering which has been endured should be forgotten ; and that Mr. Kruger and Mr. Steyn should be restored to the positions of which they made such an abuse.

My hon. friend spoke eloquently of the miseries of war, of the destruction of farms, of the burning of houses, and I agree with him, I take no exception to what he said in that respect. Miserable indeed is the [DOT]condition to-day of the once proud South African republic, miserable by reason of its ruined farms, its closed mines, its cities arrested in their growth, its people impoverished, and its aged president a fugitive in Europe, a fugitive from the misery which he brought upon his own country. Miserable indeed is the condition of the once bappy state of Orange, which had no quarrel with Great Britain, but which was precipitated into the horrors of war and of invasion by the man to whom it had entrusted its destinies, himself to-day a selfconstituted outlaw in his own country. These men appealed to the God of battles, and the God of battles has pronounced against them. They invaded British territory, their territory was invaded in turn, and it was annexed to the British domain in consequence of the terrible logic of war.

If I understand my hon. friend aright to-day, he would have the government and parliament of Great Britain undo what has been done and bring the rebellious Boers back to the position which they occupied on the 9tli of October, 1899. and which they had forfeited. My answer to the hon. gentleman is a very simple one. Whether he will agree with me or not, I am sure everybody else will agree that in the terrible uncertainties of war, in the series of successes and reverses which generally make up the history of war. the leader of the defeated people has no right to complain if he receives from his victorious opponent the

same treatment which he had previously applied to liis opponent in the hour of victory. Now, the hon. gentleman knows very well that when Lord Roberts invaded the state of Orange and raised the British 1 flag in Bloemfontein, when subsequently he invaded the Transvaal and raised the British flag in Pretoria, and when he annexed the state of Orange and the Transvaal to the British dominions, the hon. gentleman knows very well that Lord Roberts then and there applied to the vanquished the very same law which had been proclaimed as a law of war by the Boers, in the first stages of that war. Sir, my hon. friend is aware of the insolent ultimatum by which President Kruger went to war with such a light heart on the 9tli of October, 1899, he is aware that the following day the state of Orange, which had no quarrel with England, joined hands with the Transvaal Republic, and that President Steyn called upon the Eree State burghers to stand shoulder to shoulder against what he called the oppressor; my hon. friend is aware that that very same day the Boers invaded the British colony at Natal; that within the following-week they invaded several other places, they 1 invaded Newcastle, Laing's Nek and Harry-spruit. My hon. friend is aware also that within a week of that time the Free State burghers invaded the British colony of the cape, that they occupied no less important a place than the district of Kimberley; and that by a series of proclamations, which I have here, from the commandants of the invading army, they annexed the district of Kimberley and the state of Orange. Well, Sir, those things took place in the beginning of the war. My hon. friend pities to-day and laments the condition of the Dutch citizens. Sir, I have here in my hand the evidence of British subjects in the district of Kimberley, who were forced to serve in the Dutch army, and when they appealed to President Kruger were told that the district of Kimberley henceforth would be part of the state of Orange.- I will quote for the information of the House upon this subject a most suggestive affidavit which has appeared in the last blue-book on this subject, and which 1 think my hon. friend will agree with me affords a justification to the British government for ail that they have done :

Stephen Strydom, sworn, states

I am field cornet for ward No. 4, Albert district, and reside at Leeuwplaats. I remember the Free Staters entering Burghersdorp about the middle of -November last. About three days after this I received orders from Landdrost Rens-burg to report myself the following day at the Landdrost's office. I came to Burghersdorp and saw Rensburg. He said to me, ' We want you to commandeer the people in your ward.' I understood him to mean he wanted me to commandeer men to take up arms. I said, ' I don't understand this thing,' and told him I was a field cornet under the British, and had taken the oath of allegiance. This conversation took place in the Landdrost's office. He told me

to go outside and read the proclamation on the blackboard in front of the office. I went out and saw a proclamation, signed by Commandant Swanepoel, of the Free State, declaring the district of Albert Free State territory. I again saw Rensburg and said that I still did not understand. He said, ' This is Free State territory, and you are a subject of the Free State. After further conversation, I refused to have anything to do with them. The same day my assistant field cornet, Jan Hendrik Coetzee, of Nooitgedaeht, commandeered me to go to the front. I refused to go and returned to my car. In January I was again commandeered by Jan H. Coetzee. I refused to go. I then made up my mind to go to Bloemfontein and interview President Steyn on the subject. About the 10th of January I obtained a pass to go to Bloemfontein. I was accompanied by Geo. Aldrich, of Groot Vley. We arrrived at Bloemfontein and met President Steyn in his office. I told him that I had been commandeered to go to the front. I also told him that I was a British subject and a field cornet under the colonial government, and that I had taken the oath of allegiance, and I explained to him about the commandeering in my ward. I asked him for protection, as Commandant Grobler had promised all British subjects protection. He said, ' You are not a British subject any more or a field cornet or justice of the peace, but a private burgher of the Free State.' I told him that Albert had been declared Free State territory. I asked him if annexing the district and commandeering the people was according to international law. He said it. was, and that precisely the same thing had taken place in the Franco-Prussian war. '

Well, Sir, those were the first stages of the war. But the tide turned. The Boers who invaded British territory were repulsed, and their own territory was invaded and annexed to the British territory. They again invaded British territory and were again repulsed. Now, X ask my hon. friend what injustice can the Boers urge against the British government, when the British government treated them exactly as they had treated British subjects and British territory. What injustice can they urge in receiving exactly the same treatment as they had meted out to their opponents when they were in the ascendant ? Mr. Speaker, I believe that there was logic in the method followed by the burghers. In the opening stages of tlie war they laid down the principle that South Africa had to be either Dutch or British, and the verdict of the God of armies has been that it should not be Dutch, but that it should be British.

I could go on multiplying these examples. Let me give another argument. If I understood my hon. friend aright, and I think I did in that respect, he would like the British government to go back to the policy of Mr. Gladstone in 1881. Mr. Gladstone was magnanimous towards the Boers in 1881, magnanimous, perhaps, to a fault. When he had the Boers in his power he treated them with the greatest generosity, expecting that when they had British subjects in their power they would treat them with the same generosity. That was a mistake, he Sir WILFRID LAURTER.

measured the men with whom he had to deal with the measure of his own great soul. If magnanimity be a fault, and if that was a fault with.Mr.-Gladstone, everybody must admit that magnanimity has never been a fault of Mr. Kruger. If Mr. Kruger had had the slightest touch of the magnanimity of Mr. Gladstone, there would have been no war ; if Mr. Kruger had shown towards British subjects the elementary piinciples of justice there would have been no war ; if Mr. Kruger had simply kept his pledge towards Mr. Gladstone and his commissioner, there would have been no war.

What are the facts upon this question ? They must be recalled in the face of the speech we have heard to-day from the hon. member for Labelle. In 1881, when the Boers had gone to war against England and after their ephemeral success at Majuba Hill, the government of Mr. Gladstone filled the country with British troops. Lord Roberts was ready to take the field and the issue could not have been in doubt, but Mr. Gladstone, in his great soul, resolved to give the Boers another chance, to give them their independence, retaining only the British Crown suzerainty. Commissioners were appointed to settle the terms of peace. The commissioners were Sir Hercules Robinson, Chief Justice de Villiers, a Boer, of French descent, like my hon. friend and myself. He is of Huguenot descent. The third commissioner was Sir Evelyn Wood. This commission had to settle the terms of peace, and the terms of peace implied the independence of the Transvaal, and the independence of the Transvaal implied that there were British subjects who would become Dutch citizens. Naturally, the commissioners were anxious as to what should be the position of these British subjects under the new regime, and naturally, the British commissioners negotiated upon this point. There were negotiations, and Mr. Kruger was questioned as to what would be the fate of the British subjects who then became Dutch citizens, and here is the answer which was given by Mr.. Kruger. Sir Hercules Robinson, addressing himself to Mr. Kruger, said :

Before annexation had British subjects complete freedom of trade throughout the Transvaal? Were they on the same footing as citizens of the Transvaal?

Mr. Kruger-They were on the same footing as the burghers; there was not the slightest difference, in accordance with the Sand River Convention.

Sir Hercules Robinson-I presume you will not object to that continuing?

Mr. Kruger-No;, there will be equal protection for everybody.

Sir Evelyn Wood-And equal privileges?

Mr. Kruger-We make no difference as far as burgher rights are concerned. There may, perhaps, be some slight difference in the case of a young person who has just come into the country.

That was on the 10th May, 1881, and a few

days later, on the 26th May, Dr. Jorissen explained what was meant by a young person.

According to our law a new-comer has not his burgher rights immediately. The words ' young person ' do not refer to age, but to the time of residence in the republic. According to our old Grondwet, you had to reside a year in the country.

There you see all the rights of citizenship were reserved for British subjects and a residence of one year was enough to entitle them to these rights. But, my hon. friend knows that this pledge given by Mr. Kruger was not kept, that the rights of British subjects were abridged, that the period of probation which prevailed at that time was extended from one year to five years, from five years to ten years and from ten years to fourteen years. Naturally, this caused a great deal of comment and of complaint on the .part of the men who had gone into the Transvaal at the instance, afterwards, of Mr. Kruger, to develop the country, who were taxed mercilessly, who founded cities over which they had no control whatever, and who, when they asked for the privileges of citizenship, were told that they could not have any. It is no wonder that the best men in the Transvaal and in South Africa protested against that treatment. My hon. friend has laid the blame of the war upon Mr. Chamberlain and the British government. It is not part of my duty to defend Mr. Chamberlain, who has shown that he can take care of himself upon every occasion It is not part of my duty to defend the British government, but I may say to my hon. friend with all frankness-and he knows the great friendship that I have for him-that, notwithstanding that friendship, the attitude which he has taken is so unfair and unjust to the British government that I deem it my duty to place the facts, which he had left to oblivion when he had brought that question up, before the House. Who is responsible for the war ? I deplore it as much as he does, but, I ask him again : Who is responsible for the war ? Is it the government of Great Britain ? Sir, the man who is responsible for the war is Mr. Kruger himself. He was the president of the South African republic. A great deal of light has been shed upon the Transvaal question by the correspondence found at Pretoria after its occupation by Lord Roberts. Amongst the ablest men in South Africa today is Sir Henry de Villiers, chief justice of Cape Colony. Amongst this correspondence letters written by Sir Henry de Villiers proved that in the summer of 1899, when negotiations were going on between Mr. Kruger and Mr. Chamberlain, Sir Henry de Villiers went almost on his knees to Mr. Kruger to induce him to make concessions to the Outlanders. Here is a letter which he wrote on the 21st May, 1899, addressed to Mr. Steyn, President of the Orange Free State :

I sometimes despair of peace in South Africa when I see how irritating and unjust the press is on the one side and how stubborn the Transvaal government is on the other. On my recent visit to Pretoria I did not visit the president, as I considered it hopeless to think of making any impression on him, but I saw Reitz, Smuts and Schalk, burghers, who, I thought, would be amenable to argument, but I fear that either my advice had no effect on them, or else there opinion had no weight with the president. I urged upon them to advise the president to open the Volksraad with promises of a liberal franchise and drastic reforms. It would have been so much better if these had come voluntarily from the government instead of being gradually forced from them. In the former case, they would rally the greater number of the- malcontents around them; in the latter case, no gratitude will he felt to the republic for any concessions made by it. Besides, there can be no doubt that as the alien population increases, as it undoubtedly will, their demands will increase with their discontent, and ultimately a great deal more will have to be conceded than will now satisfy them. The franchise proposal made by the president seems to be simply ridiculous.

He goes on to say, and I call the attention of the House to this further part of Sir Henry de Villiers' letter :

I am quite certain that if in 1881 -it had been known to my fellow-commissioners that the president would adopt his retrogressive policy, neither President Brand (Orange Free State) nor I would ever have induced them to consent to sign the convention. They would have advised the Secretary of State to let matters revert to the condition in which they were before peace was concluded; in other words, to recommence the war.

I ask the hon. member for Labelle to-day : Is not the conduct of the British government justified when Chief Justice de Villiers, himself a Boer, told President Steyn, in 1899, that, if he had conceived when he was acting as peace commissioner in 1881, that Mr. Kruger would so abuse the power vested in him, that, instead of advising the independence of the Transvaal, he would have advised the British government to go_ to war again ? There never was a greater justification of the policy maintained by the British government than this letter of Chief Justice de Villiers. I could go on multiplying these letters. There are four or five published in the same book which I have now in my hands, but I will give simply the letters of a man who is a friend of the Boers, Mr. Merriman, a member of the government of Mr. Schreiner, himself an Afrikander of extreme views. In 1888, Mr. Merriman wrote to President Steyn in these words :

One cannot conceal the' fact that the greatest danger to the future lies in the attitude of the president, Kruger, and his vain hope of building up a state on the foundation of a narrow, unenlightened minority, and his obstinate rejection of all prospects of using the materials which lie ready to his hand to establish a true republic on a broad, liberal basis. The report of recent discussions in the Volksraad on his

finances and their mismanagement fill one with apprehension. Such a state of affairs cannot last; it must break down from inhereift rottenness, and it will be well if the fall does not sweep away the freedom of all of us.

In another letter, written on the 1st of January, 1899, and addressed to President Steyn, again Mr. Merriman uses this very singular language :

I had the opportunity the other day of a long talk, or rather several talks, with Lippert about the Transvaal. He takes a very sane view of matters there, and is very hopeless. He represents Kruger-as others describe him-as more dogged and bigoted than ever, and surrounded by a crew of self-seekers who prevent him from seeing straight. He has no one to whom he turns for advice, and he is so inflated as to have the crazy belief that he (Kruger) is born to bring about peace between Germany and France. If he falls or dies, who have we to look to? All this plays the game of Rhodes and his brother capitalists.

In the last letter written just after the outbreak of hostilities, on November It. 1899, to Mr. Piet De Wet, who was a member of the Cape legislature, Mr. Merriman said :

If the republics had not made the fatal mistake of sending the ultimatum when they did, things would have gone differently; but it is of no use going back on what might have been. There was the mistake. It was the sending of this fatal ultimatum which brought all these calamities upon the Boers which the hon. gentleman (Mr. Bourassa) deplores now. Let me tell the hon. gentleman that the responsibility for this does not lie upon any other head than on the head of the late president of the Transvaal republic, who has himself been the first victim of his own doings. And notwithstanding all his faults, and notwithstanding that he has brought all this on his own head, considering his great age, I cannot help feeling for Mr. Kruger a great deal of sympathy. My hon. friend (Mr. Bourassa) deprecates the war. I do not deprecate it to the same extent that he does ; but I do believe that it is, perhaps, the greatest calamity which has befallen England within the last forty years, because it places on England the burden and the duty of governing South Africa, with its two races estranged, perhaps for generations, by the cruel memories of war. But, Sir, even so, we must take the situation as it is. The problem of South Africa is this : That you have in that country two races *so mixed and so intermingled that it is not possible to separate them. These two races must be governed by the same power and the same authority, and that power has either to be the power of England or tin' power of the Dutch. It has either to bo the liberal and enlightened civilization of England of to-day. or the old bigoted and narrow civilization of the Dutch of two hundred years ago.

Let my hon. friend (Mr. Bourassa) forget for the moment that he and I are British Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

subjects ; and in the name of civilization, in the name of humanity, I ask him which is the power that ought to govern in that distant land. Is it the enlightened power of England, or is it the semi-barbarous civilization of the Dutch

Topic:   190L
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