Bill (No. 50) respecting the British Columbia Southern Railway.-Mr. Morrison.
Bill (No. 51) to incorporate the North-west Bank of Canada.-Mr. Scott.
Bill (No. 52) to incorporate the Joliette and Lake Manuan Colonization Railway Company.-Mr. Demers (St. Jean-Iberville).
Mr. F. D.@
MONK (Jacques Cartier) moved for leave to introduce Bill (No. 53) respecting Insolvency. He said : I may say at
once to the House that this is the same Bill that was introduced in 1898 by Mr. Fortin, the former member for Laval, now judge of the Superior Court. At that time I took some interest in the measure, and was a member of the committee that was struck for the purpose of studying it and making a report upon it. I think it would be a pity that the measure should fall, for the reason principally that it was submitted to all the boards of trade of this country, and was approved by them all with the exception of the board of trade of Winnipeg, which for some reason or other refrained from giving the Bill its express approbation. Under these circumstances, the Bill, as framed at that time, met the requirements of all the different provinces of the Dominion. At the present moment there is a great demand for uniform legislation throughout the Dominion on this important subject, and it is with that view that 1 am re-introducing the Bill. I will give further explanations when it comes up for its second reading.
Mr. Speaker, before tlie Orders of the Day are proceeded with, I desire to direct the attention of the House to the present situation in Ontario ; and, in order that I may put myself within the rules of the House, I intend to conclude with a motion. In the Canada ' Gazette ' of Saturday, the following announcement occurs :
Department of the Secretary of State of
His Excellency the Governor General has been pleased to make the following appointments. viz.:
March 26, 1903.
The Honourable Charles Moss, Chief Justice of Ontario, to be the administrator of the province of Ontario for the purpose of assenting to such bills as may be required during the present session of the legislature of Ontario, of assenting to the Bills passed by such legislature at the close of the session ; and of proroguing the present session of the legislative assembly of Ontario.
I take this opportunity of asking the right lion, gentleman who leads the House to state to whom has been assigned the other high duties that are attached to the office of Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. The Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, like all other lieutenant governors, exercises other prerogatives of the Crown than those mentioned in the ' Gazette,' and so far as we know, they are left to some one else. Now, I believe that the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario is very ill, and somebody must be discharging those other duties. Let me point out from one of the authorities what is included in the other duties of the lieutenaut governor. At page 30 of 'Confederation Law of Canada,' by Wheeler, it is stated :
The Executive Council of Ontario and of Quebec shall be composed of such persons as the Lieutenant Governor from time to time thinks fit.
and so on. A serious political crisis exists in the province of Ontario ; grave charges have been made against ministers of the Crown and are now under discussion in the Ontario legislature ; and in view of the fact that the government have confessed that the lieutenant governor is unable to discharge three of his duties, and have appointed somebody else to discharge them, I want to know who is discharging these other duties, and passing upon the fitness of the ministers of the Crown. Let me quote another authority, Mr. Goldwin Smith, who the other day made the following statement :
Mr. Ross, it has always been maintained in these columns, had much better after the general election have met without delay the legislature which he had called, taken a decisive vote, and thereupon made up his mind whether he was in a position to carry on the government. He preferred, as a matter of party tactics, to fight the battle out In tbe elec-
tion courts, and in such by-elections as might ensue. He thereby manifestly exposed the province to a reign of intrigue and corruption, as well as to an extraordinary outburst of party rancour. He now sees the result. It is much worse for him than even a defeat upon an appeal to the legislature would have been. In that case he would at all events have retained the confidence and support of a united party. As it is, he is threatened with total wreck.
I am not raising a political question, but I want to show what Mr. Goldwin Smith's position is. He goes on to say :
The proper arbiter of the course to be taken by the ministers in such circumstances as these is the lieutenant governor. By him the ministers are appointed, and he is responsible to the province for their integrity. It is very unfortunate if, as is stated, he is incapacitated by sickness for the performance of his functions.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I think I have made out that the lieutenant governor has been considered by the Governor in Council here to he incompetent to discharge certain of his functions, and that there are other high functions which require to be discharged at this moment; and I take this opportunity of asking the right hon. First Minister whether these other functions have been assigned to any one. I have not the slightest intention to reflect on his honour the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. I have the highest respect for him. I am rising here solely from a conception of my public duty. I think I speak for the people of Ontario, for constitutional practice, and for a majority of the members from Ontario of this House, without claiming to speak for them from a party point of view ; and I ask the Prime Minister to tell the House and the country what he is doing in connection with the present serious situation in the province of Ontario. I move that the House do now adjourn.
The PRIME MINISTER (lit. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier).
Some few minutes ago, Mr. Speaker, myi hon. friend sent me word that he intended to bring before the House the condition of the health of his honour the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. I would have much preferred that my hon. friend had agreed to the suggestion I made in reply, that he would defer doing so until tomorrow, on the motion to go into Committee of Supply. However, for reasons I shall not discuss, he did not see fit to accede to my request. One of the reasons which induced me ^o ask my hon. friend not to bring the question before the House at this moment was that if he had granted me the privilege I asked, I would have written at once to Sir Oliver Mowat for permission to read to the House a letter which I received from him, and which was the cause of the recommendation I made a few days ago to His Excellency to appoint an administrator for certain purposes. In the absence of such permission, there are in this letter some personal matters which I would
not like to bring before the House, but if I may speak of the general tenor of the letter, it was a request for the appointment by His Excellency the Governor General of an administrator, who would give the necessary sanction to certain Bills this session and who would also prorogue parliament. My hon. friend (Mr. Maclean) asked me who is administering the other duties of the Lieutenant Governor. It seems to me there was no need for him to put such a question. Sir Oliver Mowat is the Lieutenant Governor of the province, and is administering all the duties of the office except those which he himself has asked to be assigned to another person. The reason why Sir Oliver Mowat asks that an administrator be appointed to give the sanction of the Lieutenant Governor to the Bills passed during the session and prorogue the session, which is not expected to last very long, is that he has been incapacitated by an accident, which he met with some days ago, which confines him to his room. Otherwise he is in good health and qui^e able to discharge, and is now discharging, the duties of his office. My hon. friend says that Sir Oliver Mowat is not able to discharge the duties of his office, that his health has incapacitated him from doing so. That is the language which my hon. friend used a moment ago, and I suppose he still stands by it. Well, I have the word of Sir Oliver Mowat himself, for whom my hon. friend says he has very great respect, that he is quite able to discharge all the duties of his office except those I have stated, and the inability to perform which is due solely to physical incapacity. Sir Oliver says that he is otherwise in good health. My hon. friend has told us that- and; in this he voiced the opinion not only of the people of Ontario but of every Canadian that he has the greatest respect for Sir Oliver Mowat. We all have the same respect and when a man of the authority of Sir Oliver Mowat, when a man who commends to such a high degree the respect, confidence and admiration of the whole com munity, says he is quite able to administer all the duties of the office, it seems to me my hon. friend has in that statement an answer to the doubt he has expressed, and ought not to go any further, if indeed he has the respect for Sir Oliver Mowat which he professes to have. It seems to me that my hon. friend ought not to insist that Sir Oliver Mowat is not able to discharge the duties of his office, when he has the assurance of Sir Oliver himself that he considers himself quite able in every respect to discharge all the duties of his office except those which call for such physical exercise as to require him to move from one place to another.
I really do not recollect, but it is within the last ten days. I am sorry that I have not the privilege of
bringing it to the attention of the House, but if I remember aright, it was written within the past ten days. Under the circumstances what more can be said ? Sir Oliver Mowat had, a fall on the stairs which injured his leg so that he cannot walk, and is therefore not in a condition to go to the House and sanction Bills or prorogue the House. That is why we appointed an administrator. Let me go further. This is the third time this matter lias been brought to the attention of the House. Sir Oliver Mowat is Lieutenant Governor by virtue of the commission issued to him on the proper authority, that of the Dominion government. He can be removed to-day at will, but until last November he could not be removed except for cause. Had we renewed his commission, he would be in the same position. My hon. friend need not go far back for a precedent to which no objection was taken. Some few years ago, we objected to lieutenant governors being kept in office year after year without any renewal of their commissions, but no fault waS ever found when a lieutenant governor was kept in office for some months longer than his actual term. Some few years ago, the late Sir Geocge Kirkpatrick was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. He was sworn in on the 13th of May, 1892, and his five years term expired on the 13th of May, 1897. But he remained in office during the term of his natural life, or some six or seven months after his commission had expired. He was in very poor health, had undergone an operation, and it was well known he could not live much longer, but we did not chose to disturb him and left him in the enjoyment of the office which he held with the concurrence and respect of everybody in the province of Ontario. I would like to know why a different rule should be applied to Sir Oliver Mowat. Does he not enjoy to as high an extent the confidence of the people of Ontario as did his predecessor ? For all these reasons it seems to me that my hon. friend is not playing the best part he could. If I judge rightly the trend of public opinion, I am warranted in saying that if there is a man in whom the people of Ontario, at this moment have confidence to guide them through the political crisis there existing, it is the man who has for so many years enjoyed to the fullest extent the confidence of that province.
This side of the House, Mr. Speaker, as well as the other side, are extremely gratified to learn that the only reason for the appointment of an administrator for the province of Ontario are those assigned in the Canada * Gazette.' If an administrator be required on account of the physical condition of his honour the Lieutenant Governor, the government were perfectly justified in acceding to Sir Oliver Mowat's request. We are all glad to learn from the right hon. gentleman that the alarming reports as to the mental
and physical condition of his honour are incorrect and that he is only suffering at present from the physical disabilities which require the appointment of an administrator.
I have just heard my right hon. friend (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier) say that my hon. friend from East York (Mr. Maclean) is playing a part in the representations he has thought fit to make to the House and the government. Well, I have listened to my hon. friend from East York each time he has referred to this matter, and I am not aware of any remark he has made that would justify the right hon leader of the House in claiming that in the language used by my hon. friend (Mr. Maclean) there was the slightest tinge of disrespect to the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. He took occasion to call attention to the inability of the Lieutenant Governor to fulfil the functions of his office at the present moment. On the last occasion, the Prime Minister contended that there was no such inability. But, as a matter of fact, all the remarks of my hon. friend from East York have been fully justified by the Order in Council which appeared in the Canada ' Gazette ' last Saturday. What the hon. gentleman stated was absolutely true ; it is impossible for the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, at this moment to fulfil some of the functions assigned to him, as shown by the fact that it has been found necessary to assign those functions to somebody else. Thus the stand taken by my hon. friend from East York is amply justified. What I wished particularly to point out, is this-that there seems to be, in my humble estimation, a mistake in this Order in Council. The government, if it had any authority for it's action, must find that authority in section 67 of the Confederation Act, which says :
The Governor General in Council may from time to time appoint an administrator to execute the office and functions as lieutenant governor during his absence, illness, or other inability.
Now, what I submit to you, Sir, is this- that under that section, which must be construed strictly, the only thing which the Governor General of the Dominion can do is to appoint some one to fulfil the office of lieutenant governor. This gives pertinence to the remarks of my hon. friend from East York. It is within the power of this government to appoint somebody to fulfil the office of lieutenant governor entirely, and I question very much if, having complied with that section, the lieutenant governor himself can proceed in the execution of any of the duties assigned to him. Once the government of the Dominion has judged that there is in the case of a lieutenant governor, illness, absence, or other inability, this government may appoint some body to fulfil the office; but nobody, I think, will contend that it was possible for this government to appoint somebody under Hon. Mr. HAGGART.
this section 67, which is the only one that applies, somebody, for instance, with power to dissolve the local legislature, of or somebody with power merely to give assent to Bills or to prorogue the legislature. Now, in this Order in Council, as I read it, there is an appointment made, not of somebody to fulfil the office of lieutenant governor in conformity of the terms of section 67, on account of the illness of the lieutenant governor, but there is only the appointment of somebody for the purpose of giving assent to Bills during the present session, of giving assent to Bills at the close of the session, and of proroguing of the present session. So that, really, the act of this government amounts to this-that the office of lieutenant governor is divided. There is a fragmentary authority left in the hands of the lieutenant governor and power is given to the chief justice to fulfil some of the functions of the lieutenant governor. I have not given the matter very careful consideration, but I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, and to this House that this action is, ultra vires of the government of the Dominion. The only power they have is, in three specified cases mentioned in section 67, to vest, so to speak the office of lieutenant governor in some other person. But they cannot give to another person a portion of the authority of the lieutenant governor and leave him with his other attributes. I think ample authority can be found for that; and I think it is clear, at first sight, that this government has exercised a power which it has not.
If I may be permitted, the point taken by my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) is one in which, I am bound to say there is some reason. But we were guided by the precedent created by Sir John Abbott in the case of Sir Alexander Campbell, who was incapacitated from performing certain duties. After communications between Sir John Abbott and Sir Oliver Mowat, then Prime Minister of Ontario, certain powers were given to administrators for certain limited purposes. We followed that precedent.