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


Charles Henry Parmelee



Upon every occasion in the past when this question came before parliament, every Conservative leader worthy of the name has taken much the position of the Liberal party under the leadership of the right hon. Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) is taking to-day. Everybody who is familiar with the history of this country knows that to be the case. But, as I say, it is not for me to advise them- this is their funeral. But I do say that in a country situated as this is, no man can rise to the highest position in the councils of the nation unless he is broad enough to stand up in this House and everywhere and plead for equal rights for all the people.
Now, I promised to be brief, and I have already spoken longer than I intended. But, before I sit down, I would like to make one appeal in contrast and in contradistinction to some of the appeals that have been made. I would appeal to the sense of fairness of the Protestant people of Canada. As one of themselves and as representing an element treated most generously by a Catholic and French Canadian majority, I would like to ask them if we should be outdone in the desire to live and let live, if we should be outdone in the desire to manifest Christian charity and Christian toleration, which, after all, are the best justification for the Protestant religion. I would like to ask them, with all these facts before them, if they are going to be scared, and if they are going to have their prejudices aroused, and if they are going to refuse to do what is right simply because for partisan purposes the Conservative party chooses to make sectarian appeals and stir up sectional strife. Well, I do not know that I should say for party purposes for one can hardly know -which is the party, and which is the rump.
At any rate, what stands for the great Conservative party to-day, for the sake of making a little political capital, takes its stand against a proposition so eminently fair which is based upon the constitution and upon inherent rights. Now it seems to me that they are barking up the wrong tree. Prejudices may be aroused for a little time,

passions may bo excited temporarily, but they will soon pass away. There is a saving" remnant of common sense, a saving remnant of fairness in the hearts and minds of the people of this country ; and after this discussion is over, after these Bills have passed and have become law, after the provinces have been created and have set out for themselves, the people of Canada, Protestants as well as Catholics, will not be kept apart by reason of anything that has been said which ought not to have been said during the course of this debate. Now, Sir, if I were to attempt to give a word of advice to the people of these new provinces -and perhaps I may venture to do so with the experience we have had in the province of Quebec-it is this, that if they wish to promote the best interests of those great provinces, if they wish to have a happy, united and contented people, let them imitate the action of the people of the province of Quebec, let them be just to the minority, and give all classes reason to feel that they are safe in the enjoyment of perfect civil and religious liberty, and of equal rights for all time. If the people of these new provinces do that, they will lay the foundation of their great communities upon a solid basis, one which will ensure their lasting prosperity, and help to build up this' great Canada of ours.
Now, Sir, some things have been said, in the press perhaps more than in this House, reflecting upon the right lion, the Prime Minister. Statements have been made tending to create the impression that in this instance he has been influenced by the fact that he is a Roman Catholic In religion and a French Canadian by birth. Now surely, any one who is acquainted with the recent political history of this country, must know that attacks of that kind have no foundation in fact, that they are most unfair and unjust, and can be made with no other purpose than to destroy the splendid reputation the right lion, gentleman has made in this country, not only by his executive and administrative ability, but from the fact that no public man in this country-every one knows it, it is recognized everywhere -no public man in this country has ever done so much as he has done to make the people of this country a united people. He has consecrated his life to the great aim of dispelling prejudices which are calculated to do harm in a country with a mixed population like ours. Canada is a difficult country to govern in any case, and for Heaven's sake, don't let us make it more difficult by accentuating these differences of race and creed. Let us rather imitate the noble example of the Prime Minister who has devoted his life to the single purpose of bringing the people together and uniting them in heart and sympathy. No public man in this country, no newspaper can cite a single instance where his con-Mr. PARMELEE. *
duct has not been influenced by the highest conception of what is absolutely right and true and just. I would like to see liis course followed by other public men in this country. There is my hon. friend the leader of the opposition, who has not quite made up his mind whether he is for or against separate schools, he seems to be on the fence, so to speak ; and I am sorry to think that he has lost one of the best opportunities a public man ever had of rising above these latent prejudices, which I am happy to see, aud every man ill Canada must be happy to see, are gradually disappearing. I think after this question is once settled, after the rights of the minority are guaranteed in the Northwest provinces, we may hope to have heard the last of questions of this kind, and posterity will wonder how it was that we fought, and squabbled and assailed each other over questions of this nature.

Topic:   APBIL 25, 1905 48S2
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