April 6, 1905 (10th Parliament, 1st Session)


Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN (Carleton, Ont.).

Mr. Speaker, before the Orders of the Day are called, I would like to say a few words with respect to a matter that was mentioned in the House yesterday. Let me, in the first place, speak of the letter of February 23rd, which evidently was not received by the Prime Minister. May I be permitted to say that I understood from the remarks of the Prime Minister yesterday that there was rather a reflection on Mr. Rogers in the suggestion that the letter had not been received. I rather gathered that the Prime Minister had some doubts as to whether or not the letter was written. Perhaps I misunderstood the right hon. gentleman, but it is, I think, right to say that very ample evidence was forthcoming of the writing and of the sending of the letter, and while we at once accept most unreservedly the statement of the Prime Minister that he did not receive it, still I would think that, under the circumstances, it would be a perfectly proper thing to include that letter in the correspondence which is about to be printed.
Since the discussion of yesterday a statement has been made by His Excellency Monseigneur Sbarretti. I will come to that a little later on. Let me say that I know nothing of the circumstances under which a delegate of the Holy See was in the first place brought to this country beyond what has been stated by gentlemen on the other side of the House, who are well qualified to make such statements, because they have personal knowledge of that which they state.
As I gather from them the Delegate Apostolic came to this country in 1897, not at the Instance of the bishops of the Roman Catholic church in Canada, but at the instance of some forty Liberal members of parliament who are members of the Roman Catholic church. I understand that there was no demand for the appointment of a delegate by the bishops or clergy. In making that statement, of course, I rely entirely

on wliat lias been said by lion, gentlemen on the other side, by the right lion. Prime Minister, by the hon. member for La-belle (Mr. Bourassa) and others who have very frankly stated the position of affairs in that regard. The delegate came to this country, as the hon. member for babelle has stated, because there was a certain misunderstanding between the laity and the clergy of the church. I understood him to say that the difference arose in connection with the Manitoba school question, which was made a political question. Thus, 1 venture to suggest, not on my own authority at all, but from what has been said by hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House, that the delegate came to this country in the first place on account of a political question which arose in this country and that his functions have been to some extent at least political and perhaps more political than ecclesiastical.
Now tlie right hon. gentleman has laid a great deal of stress upon the fact that no communication from the executive of Manitoba in regard to the boundary question had come to this government before the month of January last. But, my hon. friend was not unaware that that question had been brought up in the Manitoba legislature. He was not unaware that resolutions, unanimously concurred in by his own political friends in Manitoba, had been passed by the legislature of that province ; and when he sent his letter into the Northwest in the month of September last announcing that new provinces would be created in the Northwest Territories, lie knew perfectly well that the question would be to the fore as soou as the Bill was introduced for the purpose of creating those provinces. Therefore, the boundary question was to all intents and purposes to the fore, and very much to the fore, during the present year in connection with the legislation which is now before the House for discussion and in connection with the distribution of territory attending the creation of these provinces. It lias been very much to the fore during the last few months especially.
I referred yesterday to certain press comments on the subject, but I did not refer to them very fully. I will take the opportunity of mentioning them again, because they are significant. I have here an article which appeared in the ' Northwest Review published in the city of Winnipeg. I am not familiar with the ' Northwest Review ;
I have no knowledge except what is stated in the press in regard to it. Other hon. gentlemen who are more fanyliar with that publication can speak better in that regard. I am about to read a statement which would attract attention coming from any responsible source in this country, and I understand that the source to which I refer is a very responsible one in that regard. The word's of the [DOT] Northwest Review ' are as follows : Mr. R. L. BORDEN.
Two days after the ' Telegram ' had trumpeted abroad the Hon. Robert Rogers' great hopes for the western extension of Manitoba, the same wise and prophetic journal deplores the fact that there will be no such extension in any direction. But it omits to give the reason thereof. The only obstacle to the territorial expansion of our province is its iniquitous and cruel school system. Not even the wildest corner of any unorganized territory will consent to saddle itself with such a tyranny. Manitoba must be content to remain small and mean so long as it maintains its small and mean school policy.
Let me say in passing that that small and mean school policy was hailed by my right hon. friend the leader of the government in a speech in this House in 1897, as a happy solution of a very difficult question and one which he pronounced to be perfectly satisfactory to the people of his own province. He said in regard to it :
The only thing I care for is that, whereas, under the Act, 1890, they had not the privilege of teaching their own religion in the schools, by the concessions which have been made, whether they are concessions of new rights or a restoration of old rights, they will have the right hereafter of teaching their own religion in the province of Manitoba.
Further ou:
Well, the moment I found that the people of Manitoba was ready to make concessions which practically restored to the Catholics the right of teaching the French language and of teaching their own religion in the schools, I submitted to my fellow countrymen in the province of Quebec that it was far better to obtain those concessions by negotiation than to endeavour to obtain them by means of coercion.
Further on:
And I venture at this moment to say that there is not a man in the province of Quebec, there is not a man in this country, who, looking at the settlement unbiassed and unprejudiced, will not come to the conclusion that it was a happy solution of a very difficult situation indeed.
I hardly think that the words which I have quoted from the ' Northwest Review ' are applicable to the happy solution of a very difficult situation which was referred to by my right hon. friend on that occasion. I may say in this connection that some criticism was directed against my hon. friend from North Toronto (Mr. Foster) ou account of his statement respecting the confirmation or approval by the people of this country of that settlement in the elections of 1900 and 1904. Why, Sir, my right hon. friend the leader of the government, in 1897, in the same speech to which I have referred, declared that there was ample approval and confirmation of the settlement by the three by-elections which had taken place before the time at which he spoke. Surely, if in the opinion of my right hon. friend three by-elections were a sufficient approval of that

settlement so auspiciously made, my hon. friend from North Toronto did not go too far the other day when he made the remarks to which attention has been drawn m this House. Well, what further V The 'Northwest Review ' is not, so
far as I am aware, under the control or direction of the government or any member thereof, but there is a newspaper in the province of Quebec which declares itself to be the organ of the Liberal party and to be under the direction and control of my right hon. friend the leader of the government. I quote from an editorial statement ot the 11th of February last in that journal. [DOT]Le Solely published in the city of Quebec:
We declare once for all that ' Le Soleil ' is the organ of the Liberal party, and by that fact is under the direction and absolute control of Sir Wilfrid. The supporters of Sir Wilfrid and those who affirm themselves to be such, are begged to take notice of the present declaration.
Now, it will be interesting to know whether or not that is a plain, clear, unvarnished falsehood or whether there is any foundation for the statement made editorially in the columns of that newspaper. It has been stated, and stated without contradiction in this House so far as I am aware-ancl I speak under correction from the hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House who know more of this matter than I do-that the editorial management of that journal was controlled by my hon. friend the Minister of Justice (Mr Fitzpatrick). Further than that, it is stated that now the control of that journal has passed into the hands of Mr. Choquette, a gentleman who, iii the first place, was a follower of my right hon. friend the leader of the government in this House, who, in the uext place, was appointed by my right hon. friend to an important .judicial position in the province of Quebec and who. immediately before the last election campaign, descended from the bench for the purpose of becoming the organizer of my right hon. friend in the province of Quebec. There is an editorial article in this newspaper, 'Le Soleil,' of 4th of April which I will translate for the purpose of reading:
The 1 L'Evenement ' announced yesterday afternoon that ' Le Soleil ' had been bought by the Gouin-Turgeon faction. Our contemporary made a mistake ; it often makes mistakes. The purchase of a certain number of shares in the ' Le Soleil ' Publishing Company by the Hon. Senator Choquette is only an ordinary transaction such as takes place every day in the affairs of every company. As to our journal, it remains as it has always been, the organ -of the Liberal party, and in the future as in the past it will defend the policy and the interests of the Liberal party.
Having defined as far as we can define with the information at our hand, the position of ' Le Soleil ' and its relation to the i
Liberal party in this country, and especially to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice, let us observe what that journal has said with regard to this boundary question, because it is sometimes important to consider the utterances of great political organs upon political questions. It is desirable in the present instance to do so, in order to lead up to the incident to which attention has been drawn only yesterday. On the 17th of February ' Le Soleil' editorially made the remarks, which have been translated as follows :
In proportion to her big sisters Manitoba will count as little more than a large county.
This is one of the reasons invoked by Manitoba's delegates to obtain an enlargement ' of her territory.
There is another. Quebec and Ontario have extended their limits, the one to the west, the other to the east, to attain on the north the shores of James bay.
Manitoba aspires to the shores of Hudson bay, on the northeast. It would be necessary to withdraw" her boundaries several hundred miles towards the north, to cut the district of Saskatchewan and Athabaska, and encircle that,of Keewatin.
Manitoba is asking for treble her existing territory.
This enlargement is hardly possible.
The district of Saskatchewan opposes it, at least the part directly interested.
The finances of Manitoba in their actual state are not made to attract the free residents ot the districts. Manitoba has a debt of $4,000,000. The school legislation of the little province is not of a nature to attract the immigrants who people the districts. The Northwest has its separate schools. Manitoba has abolished them.
Every good act has its reward, every bad act its chastisement.
Manitoba will remain lowest with her pretentious law.
Those, it seems to me, Mr. Speaker, are very significant words coining from a journal which claims to be under the actual control and direction of the right hon. gentleman. and which .is said-and without contradiction up to the present time-which is said to have been at the moment of these editorial utterances, under the direct control of the Minister of Justice.
Under these circumstances, what took place ? The delegates from Manitoba arrived in Ottawa on the 16th day of February. They came here for the express purpose of discussing with the government the extension of the boundaries of Manitoba ; they met the right hon. gentleman and the Postmaster General, and perhaps some other members of the cabinet. According to their statement, they were told by the right hon. gentleman that if they would remain a few days in Ottawa he would send for them again, and perhaps be prepared to give them an answer. They were not sent for by the right hon. gentleman again although they remained in the city of Ottawa until the 23rd day of February. I do not know whether the exact date has

been given, but before they left Ottawa, and some time between the 20th and the 23rd of February, they received a letter from His Excellency, Monseigneur Sbarretti. I make no criticism upon His Excellency in extending to them that invitation; I make no criticism upon them for courteously accepting that invitation. Let us consider, however, how far the situation had developed up to that time. Legislation in regard to the schools in the Northwest was about being brought down; it even then had just been brought down by the administration- or at least by a portion of the administration, because two members of the administration had not been consulted. I will correct myself and say that legislation had been brought down by the Prime Minister in the name of the whole administration, but with the authority of only a part of the administration. It is true that we had very direct avowals from the Minister of Agriculture and from the Postmaster General yesterday, that they were thoroughly familiar with the terms of the legislation as originally brought down and that they thoroughly approved of it as ox'iginaliy brought down. I am making no criticism so far as they are concerned, because the Prime Minister certainly had their approval and the approval of the Minister of Customs, but he had not the approval of the Minister of Finance nor of the Minister of the Interior.
I do not know to what extent any consultations had been had with His Excellency in regard to the terms of this legislation. The statement has been made in the public press-I called my right hon. friend's attention to it yesterday, I invited him to make some explanation with regard to it-and the statement has been made across the floor of the House, that His Excellency had been consulted with regard to the terms of this legislation. I am not at present making any criticism about that; I am only mentioning it to lead up to what follows, because, educational matters in the Northwest Territories were considered, if in these consultations it is a little difficult to believe that the schools of Manitoba were absolutely ignored in these discussions and that the boundaries of Manitoba were never mentioned. What follows ? The interview took place. I made no comment yesterday with regard to that, because I thought it [DOT]was not advisable for me to do so, as we had not yet the version of His Excellency before us, and I thought we were entitled to have his version of what took place before we should make much comment upon this particular incident. Last night, His Excellency, I believe, gave out an interview which has been published in the newspapers of today, and I will follow the example of my right hon. friend yesterday, by placing the whole of that interview on ' Hansard,' in order that we may have the full benefit of the explanation that has been given.

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