April 25, 1905 (10th Parliament, 1st Session)


Charles Henry Parmelee



There are some things in this debate that I deplore, and that, I hope, the great majority of the people of this country deplore. Appeals have been made calculated to stir up angry passions, to pit creed against creed, to wound the feelings of the people instead of establishing peace and promoting unity. Every man who has the welfare of Canada at heart must deplore the use of such appeals in connection with this debate. Why, the hon. member for East Grey (Mr. Sproule) even dragged in here a quotation which credited the Roman Catholic church with making France a nation of atheists and illiterates. I do not suppose he did that to promote good relations between the different elements of our population ; I do not suppose he did it as holding out the olive branch to those who differ from him in religion. I fancy he did it for party purposes, that he did it with a view to making party capital. This afternoon that hon. gentleman denied the imputation that he had done anything to set the heather on fire. In accounting for his knowledge of the Bill in advance of its presentation to the House, he said that a little bird had whispered that something of this sort was likely to be introduced, that this parliament would stand by the pledges it had given the people of the Northwest and would enact legislation that would guarantee equal rights to the people of that great country. And at once he tells us, he saw that something was going to happen, that feeling was going to be stirred up, and so he sent out a warning to the people of Canada to look out, for passions were going to be stirred up. This, the hon. gentleman assures us, he was not trying to do, in fact he was trying to prevent it. But, I think, that with all the facts before us, perhaps, we should take that statement with a grain of salt. The hon. gentleman sent out a manifesto addressed to the members of this House-a manifesto in the interest of peace, as he said, to bring the people closer together, to make us better friends. And he winds up with these words-that is, the order which sent it out with his approval winds up wdth these words :
We, the members ot the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ontario West, composed of men of various nationalities and different shades of political opinion, unanimously pledge ourselves to use every legitimate means to drive from public (life any and every member of parliament who votes for this objectionable measure.
They pledge themselves to use every legitimate means to drive the hon. member for Cornwuill and Stormont (Mr. Pringle) from public life because he has dared to stand up for what he believes to be right. They pledge themselves to use every legitimate means to drive the hon. member for St. Antoine division (Mr. Ames) from public life, an hon. gentleman of the very highest standing in his own province, and, as he has shown himself, a man who is able, when

occasion requires, to rebuke some of the sentiments which have been given utterance to by the members on his own side of the House. They pledge themselves to use every legitimate means to drive the kon. member from Sherbrooke (Mr. Worthington) from public life, and my hon. friend from Argenteuil (Mr. Perley), if they venture to vote against the amendment. And this is to be the issue in this country,-creed against creed, and political parties are to divide on a cleavage of that kind. And the gentleman who must acknowledge thp paternity of this sort of thing stands up in the House and says he wants peace, and blames us for setting the heather afire, for stirring up passion and creating bad blood among the people. And then there was the appeal made by the hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster). I was simply astonished at the audacity of his ground and lofty tumbling the other day. In 189G he was the most eloquent champion of minority rights, not merely because they were guaranteed by the constitution, but because they ware right and because majorities should be fair and just to minorities. He made one of the most moving and eloquent speeches ever delivered in this House along those lines. If those principles were sound then they are right to-day. But the hon. gentleman (Mr. Foster) had the audacity to rise in his place in this House and say : Well, the elections of 1896 took place and the Liberals were returned to power, so, my arguments do not seem to have had the effect they ought to have had with the people ; and the same was repeated in 1900 and again in 1904 ; and therefore I am going to swallow my principles, I am going over to the other side. Well, if that logic were sound, the hon. gentleman ought to come clean over to this side of the House and not divide opinion with us on this question alone. The hon. gentleman knew, perfectly well, when he spoke, that the elections of 1896 were not decided on the Manitoba school question. He knew, that for years the people of Canada groaned under a bad policy and a worse administration. He knew that four or five years before 1896, the people of Canada had made up their minds that at the first opportunity they would change rulers and change methods of government in this country ; had made up their minds that they would put men in office pledged to an entirely different policy in the administration of affairs. He knew that the Manitoba school question had little to do with the verdict of the people. And he ought to have known that again in 1900, after four years' experience of Liberal policy and Liberal rule, moderate protection and progressive administration, the country had gone ahead by leaps and bounds, and that the people were satisfied. Yet the hon. gentleman stands up in the House and says that in 1900 the people of Canada voted against separate schools, and therefore he hastens to abandon the defence of minority rights on the ground that they were right and to get over to what he conceives to be the strong side. Mr. Speaker, that seems to me a simply awful position for a leading public man in this country to take. I do not wish to follow the hon. gentleman or to imitate the kind of language he has -indulged in, but on two occasions in this House upon a question germane to this he made what I consider a straight appeal to the prejudices of the people. Well, speaking about prejudices it is not for me to advise the great Conservative party, though it has gone back upon every principle that its great leaders laid down

Topic:   APBIL 25, 1905 48S2
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