April 18, 1905 (10th Parliament, 1st Session)


David Wesley Bole



Mr. Speaker, when you left the chair at six o'clock I was proceeding to give expression to the views which influence my opinion on the important subject which is engaging the attention of the House. My own position briefly stated is : that in view of the conflicting opinions expressed by eminent lawyers both inside and outside of the House with respect to the application of clause 93 and other clauses of the British North America Act, it is the duty of this parliament to interpret these clauses into the Bill, in line with the spirit of the constitution, and give to the new provinces a constitutional certainty without which it is impossible to expect satisfactory social and educational progress. What are the propositions now before the House ? We have in the first place the amended clause introduced by the right hon. the Prime Minister, confirming to the new provinces that system of education which is at present enjoyed by the people of the Territories. We have in the second place, the amendment of the leader of the opposition which provides that the people of the new provinces shall have a free hand subject to and in accordance with the provisions of the British North America Act. We have later on, the proposition in embryo of the hon. member for North Simcoe (Mr. Leighton McCarthy) which in effect is that the new provinces shall have unreservedly the right to legislate with respect to matters of education. I shall very briefly state my position with respect to these three propositions, and I shall give my reasons for approving of one and rejecting the others. In the first place, I claim that the amended clause as proposed by the leader of the government contains an element of certainty, is in line with the spirit of the constitution, and is acceptable to the great majority of the people of the Territories. On the other hand, the proposal of the leader of the opposition is not certain ; it invites litigation and it promises to have imposed upon the people of the new provinces by the courts a constitution with respect to educational matters which might tie the hands of the new provinces, thereby defeating the aim and purpose of that amendment. The third proposal made by the member for North Si.mcoe (Mr. L. G. McCarthy) is not yet crystallized in the shape of a resolution, but so far as I can understand it is objec-

tionable in that it makes an invidious distinction, not contemplated by and contrary to the spirit of the constitution.
Now, is the present system of schools in the Northwest Territories acceptable to the people ? I think it is. I feel that I am quite safe in stating that the present educational system in the Territories if continued would be acceptable to at least 90 per cent of the people there. I have some knowledge of the conditions as they exist. I lived many years in the Northwest Territories and just before I came to take my seat in the House, I made a trip through that country, so that I think I am able to speak with some little authority on the subject. Premier Haultain has told us that if he were dictator to-morrow he would continue in the new provinces the present system of schools, and that being so, is it not fair to assume that the present system is satisfactory to the people, else why should he or any other dictator impose upon the people a system to which they object. We have in addition the fact that two years ago the government of the Northwest Territories of their own accord sat down and framed an autonomy Hill, and that Bill contained the principle that the present system of schools should continue. Remember, that is two years ago, when it was impossible to anticipate the difference of opinion that now has arisen on the subject. It was at a time when the government of the Territories sat down with a cool head and I hope a patriotic heart to draft a constitution for their own people, and which I have no doubt they believed would be conducive to their ' continued happiness and prosperity. This is very fan-evidence that the system of schools at present in the Northwest Territories is not onlv satisfactory to the people, but that it is just exactly what they want. Again, the seven Liberal members in this House representing the Northwest Territories have expressed themselves as satisfied that the present school system should be continued in the new provinces, and I have not heard from the three Conservative members from the Northwest Territories the expression of any unfavourable opinion against that system. Of course, it may be said that members occupying a seat in this House have their political prejudices and that their opinion and their vote may be biased accordingly, but it is also true that the people who sent these representatives here have their own political prejudices and are biased when they cast their votes. Is it a fact that the seven Liberal members from the Territories do reflect the opinion of the people there ? I think they do I am somewhat acquainted with the condition of affairs as they exist in the Territories, and I am quite sure that 90 per cent of the inhabitants of that country, irrespective of party, are perfectly satisfied that the present "conditions should continue. The hon. * member for West Assiniboia quoted rather copi-

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