Mr. D. KING HAZEN (St. John-Albert):
Mr. Speaker, I have no prepared address to deliver to the house this evening, and in consequence I shall not detain hon. members for any great length of time. However, I do not want this important resolution to pass without placing myself on record about it. I should like to point out that the membership of this House of Commons is based upon the principle of representation by population; yet as a matter of fact this principle has not been lived up to. Indeed, many of our principles and many of our sayings, while they sound well, have to be departed from in one respect or another. It is all very well to talk about representation by population or to say that all men are born free and equal, but as a matter of fact we know that such is not the case. .
The principle of representation in this house by population has been departed from in several instances. For example section 51 (4), about which there has been so much discussion, provides for a departure from this principle. The act passed in 1915, which provided that the number of representatives in this house from the maritime provinces, as well as from the other provinces of Canada, should never be less than the number of representatives those provinces have in the senate, was another departure from that principle. The fact that we have a member from the YTikon is a further departure. If the amendment proposed in this resolution becomes law, we shall still not have representation by population, for it provides that the maritime provinces and the other provinces shall have at least as many representatives in this house as they have in the senate, and that representation from the Yukon shall be continued.
As a matter of fact, our representation is based upon other considerations besides that of population. We have, as I say, a member from the Yukon. The hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) this afternoon suggested that we should have one from the Northwest I smtories. I remember last session, or the i *. ssion before, when this matter was being considered, that the hon. member for Rosthern (Mr. Tucker) speaking of repre-
sentation from Saskatchewan, suggested the principle that there should be not only representation by population but representation by areas or extent of territory. The hon. member who preceded me in the debate this evening, the hon. member for North Battleford (Mr. Townley-Smith), made a similar suggestion.
My reaction to this resolution, when I read it, was disquieting. It was disquieting for me to think that when the government comes face to face with a political difficulty it has to perform a major operation on the British North America Act, which is the foundation-stone of our constitution, in order to remedy that difficulty. Surely there must be some safer way, and therefore some better way of solving this difficulty.
If the government of the day-and it matters not what government it may be-comes up against a difficulty of this kind, and says to itself, "We will amend the British North America Act, and fix it up in that way," what foundation have we, or what feeling of security can we have in this country? It seems to me that every avenue should have been explored before taking such a drastic measure as that proposed in the resolution introduced into the house.
I support the view held by the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker), that the British North America Act should not be changed without consultation with the provinces, or without the provinces being first consulted. That opinion, as the hon. member for Lake Centre pointed out, was the opinion expressed by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, by Sir Robert Borden, by the Right Hon. Ernest Lapointe and by many other prominent Canadians who have given careful consideration to the subject. The hon. member quoted several statements by these eminent men, and it seems to me they are food for serious consideration.
I hold in my hand, and I intend to quote it, a statement made in the debates of 1943 by an hon. member who at one time occupied a prominent place in the government of this country. I refer to the hon. member for Richelieu-Vercheres (Mr. Cardin). This is what he said at page 4356 of Hansard for 1943:
Mr. Speaker, the resolution now being considered by the house contains in my humble judgment, a dangerous procedure to which the House of Commons should give serious consideration before adopting it in the form in which it has been couched on the order paper. For a number of years it has been admitted in all branches of public opinion that no serious change should be made in the British North America Act without the consent and approval of the parties to the contract. I admit that in the past the federal parliament has been dealing from the point of view of its own authority, and
has been amending the British North America Act, without consulting the provinces, which are a party to that contract. -But I repeat that at least within the last few years the opinion has developed throughout Canada that the British North America Act should be considered as a sacred contract among associates, those associates being the provinces, and that nothing should be done to modify it without the approval of the contracting parties.
I think it is quite clear that whatever powers the dominion government possesses were given it by the provinces. Perhaps I should modify . that statement because we have an unwritten as well as a written constitution. But I can say that a great many of the powers the dominion government possesses were given it by the provinces, and that the dominion has no right to change the constitution without consulting the provinces.
Reference has been made in this debate to the Quebec conference and the Quebec resolutions of 1864, which followed the Charlottetown conference. To keep the-record straight, and perhaps for historical reasons, I should like to point out that in 1865 the people of New Brunswick rejected the Quebec resolutions of 1864 at the polls by a very large majority. In the same year the province of Canada sent a delegation to London to ask the British government to force New Brunswick and Nova Scotia into a union with her based on the Quebec resolutions, which the British government refused to do and replied in effect that it would not sanction a union unless the provinces first arranged a properly authorized agreement of union.
In 1866 the newly elected legislature of New' Brunswick passed a resolution authorizing the appointment of delegates to arrange a union under terms and conditions which would protect the rights and interests of that province with special reference to the Intercolonial railway. In the same year the legislature of Nova Scotia passed a similar resolution without reference to the Intercolonial railway. In December of the same year delegates of the four provinces met at the Westminster Palace hotel, London, came to a properly authorized interprovincial agreement and sent this agreement to the colonial secretary with the request for a conference with him.
Early in 1867 this joint conference was held with Lord Carnarvon as chairman, Lord Tring drafting the necessary legislation. In the same year the British North America Act 1867 and the Canadian Railway Loan Act 1867 were passed by the British parliament to give effect to the interprovincial agreement 1866-not the Quebec agreement, but the London agreement
-and at its first session the federal parliament, passed the Parliament of Canada Act and the Intercolonial Railway Act, and by so doing undertook its obligations to carry out the interprovincial agreement of 1866, also not to legislate in any manner that is inconsistent with or repugnant to what is written in the 1866 agreement and the imperial legislation that gives effect to it.
I would point out that the proposed amendment of the British North America Act is not in the interests of the maritime provinces. We have twenty-six members from the maritime provinces in this house out of a total of 245. If this resolution carries we shall have in the next house twenty-seven members out of a total membership of 255. I should like to draw the attention of the Minister of Justice to section 52 of the British North America Act, which reads:
The number of members of the House of Commons may be from time to time increased by the parliament of Canada, provided the proportionate representation of the provinces prescribed by this act is not thereby disturbed.
I contend that if this resolution goes into effect it will disturb the present proportionate representation of the maritime provinces in this house. At the present time the maritime provinces have twenty-six members out of 245, and if we are to have only twenty-seven out of 255 when this resolution becomes law then the proportionate representation is being changed and section 52 is violated. Not only only that, as time goes on our representation will change even more. It will be only a matter of time, I believe, before the province of Nova Scotia will have as its representation in this house only the number of representatives it has in the senate. That will probably be the result should this resolution carry because of the increase in population that will take place in other parts of Canada. Nova Scotia would then find itself in the same position as Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. I think we are going beyond the provisions of section 52 of the British North America Act in proposing the amendment contained in this resolution.
I want to see Quebec have the representation it is entitled to, and I want to see the other provinces fairly represented. Under the present set-up and with the conditions that prevail at the present time, the representation appears to be unfair. When the minister introduced the resolution he said that up until the turn of the century everything went all right, that it was only since the turn of the century that any discrepancy or unfairness had crept in. This thought has occurred to me. Were not the fathers of confederation right? If we take a long-range view of it, may not the*
present arrangement work out all right in the end? The London resolution and the B.N.A. Act were intended to last more than a genera-* tion. The act worked all right prior to 1900; may it not work all right again?
In any event, I want to see Quebec fairly represented in this house; I do not want to see any province unfairly represented, or have more members than it is entitled to. I submit, as I have already submitted, that this proposed amendment is violating section 52 of the British North America Act.
Sub-subtopic: AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION