And this bishop claims the right, as a Presbyterian bishop, to be heard upon this subject, and, perhaps, so far as learning is concerned, he would be able to say as much, and to as good purpose as many of the politicians who have spoken.
I rise simply to state that I deeply regretted and felt deeply anxious over the whole question, from the time notice was given of this motion by the hon. member for Victoria, N.B., (Hon. Mr. Costigan). I regret the discussion of to-day for various reasons, and especially on account of the precedent which this House has set to-day for discussions of this kind. I certainly desire to follow my hon. friend from the west who has just spoken, and to say that I hope it will not be repeated. I think the politicians are bad theologians, and if I wished to study theology I would never come to the House of Commons to do so. Now, as a Presbyterian, I regret that the creeds of the church which I represent, and of the Church of England, which I so much respect, should be hauled before this House in the unceremonious way that we have to-day witnessed. I can respect the opinions of those who proposed the standards of the church, simply because I appreciate their historical benefit in the church to-day. I know that these men were men of God, were men of knowledge, were men of culture, were men who had the best interest of church and state at heart, and if they gave expression to strong views it was becaiise they were surrounded by strong circumstances, because they were surrounded by oppression and wrongs inflicted upon them. These were the circumstances that brought into life these strong declarations in reference to matters of faith and practice. That is why these creeds have come down to us with such a history, and when we, in the beginning of the twentieth century, speak in the freedom and liberty which we enjoy, we are apt to look upon them as being extremely odious and, perhaps, objectionable. But we need to put them back into their historical setting, and then we will see the wisdom, the tact, the ability, the piety and the prudence of such statements and such declarations.
Now, though I am a member of the Presbyterian Church, and for forty-five years a minister and a religious teacher in that church, and hold to-day my full standing, I claim that I am no bigot, that I sympathize with religious toleration, and that I am quite willing to accord to my fellow-citizens of the Roman Catholic religion in this country every benefit, and every privilege and liberty which I claim as an individual, and would be willing to sustain any movement in that direction. Yet, after all, I deprecate that this matter was brought up for discussion, not only because it will give rise to endless discussions throughout the country, but because it will give to bigots an opportunity to make speeches, semi-political, it may be, and semi-religious, and men who are not reasonable will seek to make capital from this text that we have given them. It would have been better for this government, it would have been a great deal better for this parliament, a great deal better for this country, both religiously and politically, if this discussion had never taken place. I want to say further, that I had the honour in India not many years ago of being present when religious toleration was pro claimed by the Empress of India to the people of India, and the resolution which we now propose is in keeping with the spirit of that declaration. I was opposed to the resolution as it was first introduced, and had made up my mind that I would vote against it. But now that the mover has accepted an amendment which largely changes the nature of the resolution and its bearings, my mind is largely relieved on that score, and I can support the amendment. In questions of this kind it does not do to be too specific, my objection was that the resolution was too specific, and that the whole thing could be better summed up in a single sentence or two, which should contain a general principle without bringing in either the Roman Catholic or any other sect. But I hold that this declaration should be purged of anything that is offensive, in the broadest sense, to any British subject in the empire, and with that in view I am prepared to support the amendment.
I rise to make an explanation. I am sure my hon. friend from Pictou (Sir Charles Hibbert Tupper) must have misapprehended what I stated this evening with reference to himself. I did make a reference to the fact that the member for Halifax had shown him a lack of sympathy with reference to the very excellent points which he had made. There was a lack of sympathy from those around him, but I referred to the member for Pictou as_ apparently being the only one who had given any applause to the remarks uttered by the hon. member for West York (Mr. Wallace). ,
I have not taken up any time so far in the discussion of this matter, and I crave the indulgence of the House for a few minutes. I confess to some embarrassment in view of the amendment which has been suggested to meet the objections which were raised to the resolution presented by the member for Victoria, N.B., (Hon. Mr. Cos-tigan). For my part, I have no fault whatever to find with the remarks with which the hon. gentleman presented his resolution to the House. But, in common with many other hon. members, I think I have good ground to find fault with the manner in which this resolution has been presented. The hon. gentleman desires us to believe that he is actuated solely with a view to secure for those for whom he says lie speaks, those whom he represents, an amelioration of the declaration which is now made by the sovereign of this empire. I think that a matter affecting the rights and liberties of any class or section of His Majesty's subjects is a matter in itself of sufficient importance to justify even sucli a representative member as the hon. gentleman claims to be in asking the co-operation and support of every member of this House. I think if he desired to secure the greatest possible benefit for those whom he represents, before he introduced this resolution it was his duty to see if there was any divergence of opinion, and what that divergence was, between himself and! others as to the terms of his resolution. ' But, instead of pursuing that course, as a man actuated wholly by the desire to benefit his co-religionists might be expected to do, he took the opportunity of moving under the forms of the House when a motion was made to go into Committee of Supply, so that his resolution could not be amended in any way. He made the resolution as stiff and as strong as it was possible for him to make it; and it is only after the resolution has been debated for some nine or ten hours that a slight amendment has been suggested, and I believe has been accepted by the hon. gentleman and hon. members on both sides of the House. I stand here to-night as one who believes from the very bottom of my soul in the principle of civil and religions liberty. I believe also in absolute equality before the law. and I desire that any disability under which Roman Catholics exist, either in this or any other part of the British Empire, shall be removed at once and for ever. That is my confession of faith, and I am not ashamed to make it here. I have made it many times
before, and as long as I am spared I shall continue to make that my confession of faith and of doctrine which I most firmly believe. But, the hon. gentleman, as I have already said, did not ask the co-operation or support of those who differ from him in these matters as to the framing of his resolution, or as to the time and manner of its introduction. If he consulted any person in connection with this matter, he consulted the right hon. Prime Minister, and when, at an earlier stage in this debate, the suggestion was made to the right hon. gentleman by the hon. member for East York (Mr. Maclean) that the debate be adjourned so that an opportunity might be given to the hon. gentlemen who, believing in equality, desired to frame a resolution that could be passed unanimously by this House, that reasonable request on the part of the hon. member for East York was absolutely refused. We are kept here until one o'clock in the morning trying to reach a conclusion that will do honour to the Commons of Canada and reflect the voice and opinions of those whom we represent. I say it is a most unreasonable proposition that an amendment to a motion of this kind should be presented to us at this stage of the debate, and that we should be asked to decide at once upon it. As I understand the amendment, it reads as follows. I have only been able to get it into my hands within the past few minutes :
That all the words on the second page of the resolution introduced by the hon. member for Victoria be struck out, and the following substituted : That in the opinion of this House
the declaration referred to in the above-mentioned Act of Settlement should be amended by eliminating therefrom all those expressions which are especially offensive to the religious belief of any subjects of the British empire.
The amendment goes a considerable distance to mitigate the objections I have to the resolution, but it does not go far enough; and desirous as I am of seeing the resolution carried out, unless an addition is made to the amendment I shall have to vote against it. Being a layman I do not profess to know what the exact meaning of the amendment is. but the suggestion I would make is that there should be added the following words : ' so long as the distinctively Protestant character of the declaration is maintained.' It seems to me that this is not an unreasonable proposition. It has been conceded by hon. gentlemen who have spoken on both sides of the House, that it is an absolute prerequisite that he or she who is the- sovereign of the British empire shall be a Protestant. That condition being admitted and agreed to, if the parliament of Canada memorializes the Imperial parliament, or the Crown, to have an amendment made to the declaration. I think it is not an unreasonable proposition to suggest that when we are ask-26 .
ing for changes in the declaration, when we ask that the words which have been objected to, and which are offensive to our Homan Catholic fellow-subjects, should be-eliminated, we should still preserve the feature of the declaration which has been taken by the sovereigns of Great Britain for the past 200 years-that they shall continue to make a declaration in which the Protestant features in the present declaration shall be maintained and continued. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is the view which I desire to present, and I have tried to do it as briefly as I could. Let me say two or three words more. I dispute the contention with all respect and humility which has been presented here again and again, that it is the duty of this parliament to pass a resolution of this kind or a memorial of this kind at any stage of its proceedings. The Prime Minister stated this afternoon in the course of the debate that the resolution which was passed unanimously by this House last year, endorsing the position and action which the Imperial authorities took respecting the - Transvaal, had been graciously received and acknowledged by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. It is quite true ; but if my memory serves me right, the resolution which was passed by this House unanimously endorsed the position which the government of Great Britain took respecting the Transvaal, because that government was acting with the desire and with the object to secure for British subjects who resided in that part of the empire the same religious and civil liberty that we enjoy, and which British subjects enjoy in every portion of the empire ; and the reply which was received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies was a reply to an address which expressed satisfaction with the action of the Imperial authorities in their efforts to secure equal rights and liberties to all classes of Her Majesty's subjects. If there was any class of Her Majesty's subjects which did not enjoy equal civil and religious liberty, I would be one of the first to advocate that any disability under which they laboured should be removed. For the past 200 years the declaration has been subscribed to by those who have occupied the position of sovereign of Great Britain, and the British Empire. The declaration was imposed upon them, but why ? Because the framers of that declaration were smarting under a series of the most intolerable wrongs and Injustice which alone could justify the use of such language. The hon.
member for Victoria speaks as one representing a certain class of this community. He has a right to speak as the representative of that class if he pleases, but I would ask him and the people whom he represents if the church to whieh they owe allegiance has changed any of its canon law which obtained 200 years ago,
or if its authorities liave acknowledged any abbreviation of the rights and privileges and powers which that church claimed belonged to it 200 years ago ? Two hundred years ago the head of the Roman Catholic Church-I do not desire to speak with anything but the greatest respect of that august ecclesiastic-claimed the power to depose and absolve. Has he relinquished that power ? Does he claim the right to exercise that power and jurisdiction to-day ? If he does, not one jot or tittle of the declaration which Her Majesty subscribed to, and which His Majesty subscribed to, should be removed. The foundation which was laid 200 years ago by those who framed this declaration was laid broad and deep and strong. A stately and superb edifice has been erected on this foundation in 200 years. Every man who is a British subject has now the fullest measure of civil and religious liberty accorded to him under the constitution which was then firmly established, and which has been growing steadily in power, up to the present time, and Roman Catholics experience only disabilities that are common to their Protestant fellow-subjects. I think, therefore, that we should be very chary of inviting the Imperial parliament to amend the declaration which was found to be so essential when it was passed. The Prime Minister of England, Lord Salisbury, has made a statement respecting this matter. His attention has been drawn to it by some eminent Roman Catholic peers whose loyalty is above suspicion. Lord Salisbury has pointed to the condition of things which existed when the declaration was placed on the statute-books, and he has referred to the fact that that condition is happily passing away. Sir, the liberties of the Roman Catholics of the United Kingdom and of every other part of the British Empire are perfectly safe in the keeping of the parliament of Great Britain and Ireland. That parliament will, I have no doubt, and I hope very speedily, amend the wording of the declaration that is complained of, and wipe out any portion of it which is especially offensive to any section or creed in this empire. The parliament of Great Britain is charged with that jurisdiction, and in view of the responses which were received from the Imperial authorities when resolutions were passed by this House and by other legislatures in Canada, respecting matters over which we had no jurisdiction, I think we are justified in asking that great care and deliberation should be exercised now before we place ourselves in a position to receive another rebuff. It has been said by the hon. gentleman from Victoria, N.B. (Mr. Costigan) and others, that no special sentence or paragraph in the declaration is offensive to any other class or creed of His Majesty's subjects. That may be quite true, but surely we do not overlook the
fact that when the declaration was framed it was framed because of the condition of things that then existed. It was framed because of the machinations of foreign potentates against the liberties of the people of England, and it was framed in the only language that could be found at that time which would give that security, freedom and liberty to the English people which they desired. I wish to express my regret that this resolution has been introduced at all into the parliament of Canada. It deals with a question belonging to the parliament of England, that mother of parliaments, that parliament which has always been in the van in promoting the interests of all races and creeds of British subjects. That parliament is seized with the power of amending the declaration, and I repeat that the liberty of all classes and creeds of His Majesty's subjects is perfectly safe in the keeping of that parliament. I do not desire personally to see a division in the House on this question, but if the amendment which has been suggested-and which I believe has been accepted by hon. gentlemen on both sides-is further amended by the addition of the words which 1 have jotted down, I shall deem it my duty, so far as I am concerned, to support it, and will not take up the time by a division of the House. One word before I sit down. The hon. gentleman who introduced the resolution (Mr. Costigan) and the hon. member for Cornwall (Mr. Pringle) have quoted from the Guardian newspaper which is published in London, Eng. They quoted from the edition of February 13. I would not like to do either of the hon. gentlemen an injustice, but I think they left the impression on the House that the views they were quoting were the views of the journal itself. I draw the attention of those hon. gentlemen to the fact, if I am correct in my premises, that the opinions they quoted were merely the opinions of a correspondent, and the editor is very careful to say in the journal :
Opinions expressed in signed articles, or in articles marked communicated, or from correspondents, are not necessarily those of the Guardian. The appearance of those articles only implies that the editor thinks they are of such interest as to justify their publication.
The appearance of such a communication in a journal of this kind is in itself an evidence that the people of Great Britain and Ireland are becoming alive to the inequalities which may exist in the declaration; that they are discussing the question of its amendment, and >I repeat with all humility and with the greatest possible respect, that the parliament of Canada ought to leave this matter to the authority to which it properly belongs. We have no jurisdiction over it in this parliament, but if we pass a resolution by a divided vote, _ the force of that resolution will be materially weakened. I
should hope that even at this late hour it might be possible to so further amend this proposition of the hon. gentleman from Victoria (Mr. Costigan) as to have it meet with the unanimous approval of the House so that it might be sent across the ocean as the undivided opinion of the parliament of Canada. I apologize, Mr. Speaker, for taking up so much of the time of the House, but I felt it incumbent upon me to say at least these few words before the debate closed and the division was taken.
That an humble address be voted to His Excellency the Governor General praying him to transmit the address of this House to His Majesty in such manner as to His Excellency may seem fit, in order that the same may be laid at the foot of the Throne.
I ask leave to lay on the Table a copy of an agreement between the colony of New South Wales and the Eastern Telegraph Company. I do so now in order that the papers may be looked at by any hon. gentlemen who take an interest in the
matter, so that we may be prepared to proceed with the resolution on Tuesday next.
Topic: SUPPLY-THE CORONATION OATH.
Subtopic: THE PACIFIC CABLE.