ORIENTAL IMMIGRATION INTO BRITISH COLUMBIA. THE FRENCH TREATY.
Before the orders of the day are called, might I ask the Finance Minister when we may expect the revised French treaty to be brought down?
I could bring down the treaty itself immediately, but as it has been in substance already communicated to the public the treaty itself would add nothing to the store of information, and as there is considerable correspondence connected with it, I thought it would be more convenient to have the correspondence and the treaty brought down together. I will try to have them brought down within a day or two.
LEVEL RAILWAY CROSSINGS.
Can the Minister of Railways inform the House when we shall probably have legislation introduced dealing with railway grossings. The minister, I presume, is working on it, and it is important that we should have it as soon as possible. I would like also to call the attention of the minister to a minor point. In answering questions yesterday he said [DOT]
I am not prepared to say how many crossings the Grand Trunk Railway Company have in Canada.
I would like to call the attention of the minister to the fact that in a return brought down on the 15th or 16th of February last it was stated that the total number of level crossings in Canada was 14,999, and that some 3,000 of these are protected. Mr. Hays is reported to have made the statement, which may have been incorrectly reported in the press, that they have 50,000 crossings on their lines. In one or two papers it is stated that he said 3,000, which is probably in the neighbourhood of the right number. If the minister has the total number of crossings on all the railways in Canada, it seems to me that he could give the information I ask-how many are on the Grand Trunk system and how many of these are protected. I am anxious to have that information for this reason: Mr. Hays estimates the cost of carrying out
on the Grand Trunk system the suggestion made in parliament at $50,000,000, which means $16,000 odd for every crossing on their system.
My hon. friend will note that I laid on the table a memorandum of the engineer of the Railway Commission, so that when I used the pronoun T it was his 'I' and not mine. I will make inquiry again. As to the introduction of * legislation, it is not any easy problem to work out. I expect to introduce something of the kind in a very few days.
INQUIRIES FOR RETURNS.
On the 1st day of February I obtained an order of the House for information as to how much money the Manitoba ' Free Press ' had received from the government in a number of years, and I have heard nothing of it since.
Hon. CHAS. MURPHY.
Instructions were given to prepare that information. I will see that it is brought down at the earliest possible moment.
I wish to ask the Minister of the Interior if he will kindly expedite a return which was ordered by this House on my motion on the 22nd of February relative to the areas of certain coal and timber lands in the prairie provinces and other information in that respect.
DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS.
MURPHY (Secretary of State) moved that the House go into committee to consider the following proposed resolution:
Resolved, that it is expedient that there should he a department of the civil service of Canada to be called the Department of External Affairs, over which the Secretary of State of Canada shall preside, and that the Governor in Council may appoint an officer to be the deputy head of such department at a salary of $5,000 per annum, and such other officers and olerks as may be requisite for the due administration of such department at such salaries as, under the Civil Service Amendment Act, 1908, are appropriate to the divisions and subdivisions of the service to which such officers and clerks may be assigned.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I desire to say
that the Bill to be founded on this resolution does not involve any serious constitutional change. It aims merely at an improvement in the administration of that class of public affairs which relate to matters other than those of purely internal concern. As the House is aware the Government of Canada holds all its official communications extending beyond the bounds of the Dominion, whether with the Secretary of State for the Colonies, with the various sister dominions, or with His Majesty's
ambassadors to foreign countries, through His Excellency the Governor General; and I might say for the information of the House that it is not proposed to effect any change in this regard by the legislation that is now proposed.
The House is also, I take it, aware, that despatches bearing on all questions of an external character come through His Excellency the Governor General. They are by His Excellency referred to the Privy Council and by the Privy Council they are in turn referred to the particular department which is supposed to be specially concerned with the subject matter of the communication. In due course the minister at the head of that department reports on these despatches to the Governor General in Council and that report, if agreed to by council and approved by His Excellency, is transmitted as the answer of his government. Now, this plan looks simple and in the early days of the Dominion it may have worked satisfactorily. These days however are passed, and with the development of the country and the increase in the number and complexity of its international relations it is felt that the old system is inadequate to meet the existing requirements. Those members of the House who are also members of the Privy Council know that official correspondence does not always lend itself to the simple treatment I have outlined. Sometimes it is difficult to tell at first sight to what department a despatch may relate; sometimes a despatch may relate partly to one department and partly to another or to several departments ; and it frequently happens that where despatches of a series are referred to a particular department others of the same series may later on find their way to another department which having no knowledge of the earlier correspondence will be at a loss to decide what shall be done. The government feel that it would be a great advantage if all such communications were sent to a common centre where they could be dealt with according to a uniform system; where there would be a small staff of officials trained in the study of these questions, and where at all times it would be possible to ascertain not only the present position of a question but its history from the very beginning. It is with the object of attaining these results that the present resolution is submitted to the House and that the Bill to be founded upon it later will be introduced.
Mr. R. L. BORDEN.
The Secretary of State has not made one thing manifest to my mind, and that is the most important thing of all: Why is it that the Department of the Secretary of State cannot be the common centre to which the hon. gentleman alludes; why cannot that department do all
the work that has been outlined in the very brief remarks of the Secretary of State ?
Rt. Hon. Sir WILFRID LAURIER
(Prime Minister). The Secretary of State has I think given the reasons why it is deemed advisable at this stage of our national development to have a department of external affairs. All governments have found it necessary to have a department whose only business shall be to deal with relations with foreign countries, and in our judgment Canada has reached a period in her history when we should follow the example of other countries in that respect, as, for example, the Commonwealth of Australia. In the Department of the Interior we have a department which deals with interior affairs and we have also a department which deals with Indian Affairs alone, it having been found long ago that the dealings with our aborigines required the attention of one department. So it is in the Department of Marine and Fisheries where we have practically one department dealing with marine affairs and another dealing with questions appertaining to our fisheries. I suggest to my hon. friend (Mr. R.
L. Borden) that we have now reached a standard as a nation which necessitates the establishment of a Department of External Affairs. It is not unnatural that the hon. gentleman should ask, why the machinery of the Department of the Secretary of State is not sufficient for the purpose. We have given this matter a good deal of consideration and the conclusion we have_ arrived at is that the foreign affairs with which Canada has to deal are becoming of such absorbing moment as to necessitate special machinery. Look at the volume of business of an external character which has been transacted during the past year. We had the French treaty negotiated by us, of course with the concurrence and approval of the imperial authorities; we had another treaty dealing with the long pending question of the interpretation of the treaty of 1818 in relation to our Atlantic fisheries. For the last forty or fifty years this has been a source of contention between the United States and Great Britain although luckily during the last ten or twelve years we have had no serious difficulty with our neighbours in regard to it. However, our fellow subjects in Newfoundland have not been so fortunate and as we know they have had during the last four or five years some very acute differences with the American authorities on the subject of the interpretation of the treaty of 1818. .
And, as a consequence, an arbitration has been determined upon to settle the points of difference between Newfoundland and the American authorities. We have been drawn into this contest; we have gone into it, not because we had any controver-
sy of our own, but simply because our fellow-subjects in Newfoundland were in it, an<^+i!'re bought it our duty to give them all the assistance we could in their difficulty. then, we have had another treatv. also negotiated at Washington, with reference to the fisheries in the inland waters. We have another treaty to mark again the boundaries between Canada and the United btates,-not to create any new boundary, but simply to place new land marks to show plainly where the boundary is. Then, wehave had another and most important treaty which is now engaging the attention of the American Senate, which, I hope, will come before the Canadian parliament before many days are over, that is, a treaty to in a friendly spirit all difficulties which may arise in the boundary waters between Canada and the United States. Then, the House is aware that, from time to time, we have had informal negotiations with Germany in relation to the tariff difficulty we have had with that country. Now-this alone will show to the House that Canada has reached a position where foreign relations have assumed a very important character. That is not surprising. We have now a population which cannot be less than six millions and is probably more; we have an annual revenue of $80,000,000 and more; our trade last year grew to the very large figure of $600,000,000. Under such circumstances, I repeat, it is not extraordinary that the volume of foreign affairs has assumed such proportions as to make it indispensable that we should have officers, trained for the purpose, whose business shall be to deal with such questions and such questions alone. Let me call the attention of the House to the character of the communications we received and whicji are to be classed as belonging to foreign relations. All our communications pass through the colonial office or the ambassador of His Majesty at Washington or elsewhere, and then come to the Governor General. From the Governor General, they are sent to the Privy Council-
The Secretary of State is it not?
Sir WILFRID LAURIER.
No, to the Privy Council. It is not our intention to disturb that. It is better that the representative of the Sovereign should receive all communications relating to foreign affairs, and it is natural that by him they should be sent to the Privy Council. At present, from the Privy Council, they are sent to the department to which they relate.
How is that distribution made? Through the Secretary of State?