April 26, 1905 (10th Parliament, 1st Session)


Albert Edward Kemp

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. A. E. KEMP (East Toronto).

Mr. Speaker, in continuing this debate I feel somewhat relieved when I realize that I am not a member of the legal profession, and therefore I shall not be expected to give any legal opinion in respect to the constitutional aspect of this question relating to the autonomy of the Northwest Territories. I intend to deal more particularly, and briefly, with that portion of this Bill having reference to educational matters ; and the stand which I intend to take is that there is no practical difference between ithe original clause dealing with the educational question and the amendment thereto, of which notice has been given in this House ; that, in substance and in principle, they are practically the same. I say that I do not intend to deal with the constitutional aspect of these clauses, because I intend to rest my position upon the argument put forward in this House by the leader of the opposition, a gentleman in whom, I think, we all have confidence, and especially do we have confidence in his legal opinions ; therefore,
I feel satisfied to rest my case in respect to this feature of the Bill upon his judgment. Sir, my premises will be that this parliament is not called upon to make what I believe to be an amendment to the constitution by forcing these educational clauses upon these provinces, and in that respect creating a constitution for them. I say that this parliament is not called upon to legislate in this manner, and that it is pursuing an unconstitutional course in doing so.
In discussing this Bill, many questions have been introduced which have no bearing upon the issues before us. The Quebec situation has been more than once, more than twice, more than a hundred times, referred to anfi dwelt upon by members of this House, sometimes in order, and sometimes out of order, I think. In dealing briefly with this matter, I would refer in passing to the speech of the hon. member for Labelie (Mr. Bourassa), a speech which I could not but regard as inflammatory and as one which does not correctly represent the views of the people whose cause the hon. gentleman pro-

fessed to champion. I do not find in the speech of the hon. member for Labelle one generous word with respect to those who differ with him on this question : 1 cannot discover that he exercised any restraint in the sentiments he put forth,' though they differed very much from the sentiments of a majority of his colleagues from the province of Quebec. While he was speaking, I felt that the cause of those on whose behalf he spoke was not safe in his hands. His course was a heedless course, an extreme course, and one which I am certain will be barren of good results. In discussing this question both the hon. member for Labelle (Mr. Bourassa)
and the Solicitor General (Mr. Lemieux) referred to events in this country over a hundred years ago, they referred to what happened in the year 1774 and also in 1812. I am not referring to this matter for the purpose of criticising the utterances of those hon, gentlemen, but for the purpose of agreeing with a great deal of what they said. I do not see, however, that this part of the speeches of those hon. gentlemen had any bearing upon the issues now before us. My only reason for referring to the matter at all, is that these hon. gentlemen brought it forward in the course of this debate. They reminded the House of what happened during the war of the American revolution, how emissaries came to this country from the revolted Protestant colonies to the south. These emissaries came to the French Canadian priests and the French Canadian people and invited Canadians to throw in their lot with the revolution. These hon. gentlemen reminded us how both the French Canadian priests and the French Canadian people scorned the advances made to them in 1774 to join a rebellion against Great Britain and in 1812 to give sympathy and aid to those who were at war with Great Britain. These people decided to remain British citizens and they were loyal and sincere in the stand they took. I agree with all that and I am proud of the stand taken by the French Canadians on those occasions as are these hon. gentlemen themselves. But I should have been glad had these hon. gentlemen gone further and explained-in order that we might understand the point that they were making-what other position these people could have taken. Had they pursued any other course than the one they did, they would have lost British citizenship, and that they did not want to do. They preferred to be British citizens rather than become citizens of a country in which they could not have maintained the privileges guaranteed by the settlement of 1759. I would like to have had these hon. gentlemen go a little further, and explain to me what object the French Canadians of those days could have had in joining the United .States. These hon. gentlemen are protesting against the establishment here of the kind of schools such as they have in Mr. KEMP.
the United States. Had the French Canadians joined the United States, would not that race by this time have become assimilated with the Americans ? Would not those who joined the United States and their offspring have been educated in the public schools which were spoken of in such a disparaging way by the Prime Minister? Considering these things, I cannot see what point these hon. gentlemen sought to make in referring to these old events in their speeches in this debate.
A good deal has been said about the Quebec minority ; and I also propose to deal with that matter, as coming from the province of Ontario. I wish to deal with "it in a way that will not be offensive, I am sure, to my fellow-countrymen in that province. I do not propose to criticise the Quebec educational system. In that province, the public school system, which is Catholic, appears to suit our fellow-countrymen of French origin. These schools have been instrumental in preserving the French language, and in keeping the religious observations of the church uppermost in the minds of the people. The schools are practically a part of the church. And through the devotion of the clergy to the object in view, there is in Quebec a devout people, who have a great reverence for the Christian religion, as it has been taught to them. And I believe that nowhere in Canada does there exist a better living people than the people of the province of Quebec. So far as the Catholics of that province are concerned education is a union of church and state-such a close union as it is not possible to achieve in any other part of Canada.
The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Fisher) referred at some length to the situation in the province of Quebec. He was well informed on the subject because he not only represents that province as a minister of the Crown, but he has lived in that province probably all his life. But I think, Sir, that the Minister of Agriculture was most unfair in the way he handled this question and in the charges he made against members on this side of the House and against the Conservative party throughout the country. Standing in his place and speaking as a minister of the Crown, in which capacity he has charge of an important department of our affairs in every province of the Dominion from the Atlantic to the Pacific, he made the charge that the Conservatives were endeavouring at the present time to do away with separate schools in every province of this country. Here is what this hon. gentleman said :
We find the Tories now wedded to the idea of the right of the majority, the absolute right of that majority, which they say demands that in Canada there shall be no separate schools, and that the Catholic. people of this country shall not be given consideration for their cherished principles and cherished feelings. Sir, I do not wonder at this.

Now, Sir, what authority had the Minister of Agriculture to make such a statement in this House, a statement that will be sent broadcast throughout the country ? What he has said is utterly without foundation. There has been no attempt in this House, nor have I heard of any movement in this country which would justify any one in coming to the conclusion that we desire to do away with separate schools in Canada. I would like to have the minister furnish even one particle of truth to substantiate this statement. Are the members of the Conservative party trying to do away with separate schools in Ontario or in Quebec where the separate schools are guaranteed under the constitution ? Or are they trying to do away with separate schools in any other province ? Not a bit of it, and I regret That a minister of the Crown charged with the great responsibilities that the hou. Min-of Agriculture is charged with should have made such a statement and that it should have been spread broadcast in the way it has been over this country.
In discussing this question, as I have said, the situation in the province of Quebec has been brought into the debates on many occasions. The situation in the province of Quebec is unique. It is entirely different from the situation in any other province in this country. We have, in the province of Quebec, an almost solid French Canadian population which is Catholic and there is no mixture of Protestants and Catholics in the greater portion of that province. There is a mixture of Protestants and Catholics in the Eastern townships, but, so far as the great majority of the people are concerned, there is a solid Catholic and French population, and it is very easy in that province to regulate these matters. In making comparisons and in illustrating the situation I do not see how we can compare the situation in the province of Quebec with the situation which will exist and which does exist in the Northwest Territories or in any other province in this country.
I regret that this question has been brought into the arena of federal politics again. I regret that some means have not been taken of overcoming the difficulty in some other manner. We have before us the example of Manitoba. We know what happened in Manitoba only a few years ago and did not that illustration show us how impossible it was for this parliament to legislate with respect to this question without creating the greatest amount of friction and without leading to the debate and the agitation that we are experiencing in this country? Would it not have been better that the matter should have been left to the provinces the same as it was left to the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island and could we not reasonably hope that our Roman Catholic fellow-citizens would have fared
better if the question had been dealt with in that way? The lion. Minister of Agriculture, in the course of his speech, said that he had no fear for the minority in the province of Quebec and I agree with him entirely in respect to that. I have no fear for the minority in the province of Quebee,
I have no fear that any privileges or rights in respect to education which they enjoy at the present time will be withdrawn from them, and that is not because, in the British North America Act, there are certain references to the question of education in Ontario and Quebec. It is because the people of the province of Quebec are dealing with the question in a reasonable and sensible manner. It is because the government of Quebec knows better how to deal with that question than this federal parliament. But, what would be the position supposing the minority in the province of Quebec were interfered with? How would the children of the minority be educated? How could they be educated? I will take this question up for a moment in order to reason it out with my fellow-countrymen in the province of Quebec whose views perhaps differ from mine, yet whose views I respect, and to point out the different position that exists in the province of Quebec from that which exists ,in other portions of Canada. In the province of Quebec the schools which are Catholic and which are suitable to the conditions which exist there are religious schools. I have here some extracts from the regulations of the governing committee of the council of public instruction of that province, and I will read one or two of them.
Religious instruction is the most important of the subjects of the course of study, and it shall be taught in every school. In answering questions in the catechism, pupils shall give the exact words of the book, in sacred history lessons this is not necessary. The teacher shall follow the advice of the cure in [DOT]all that concerns the moral and religious conduct of the pupils.
Elsewhere in the same set of rules we read:
Religion shall hold the first place among the subjects of the course of study and it shall be taught in all the schools. .
I want to say again that I have no word of criticism to offer with respect to the regulations of the council of public instruction in the province of Quebec. I am not citing them for the purpose of criticising them, but I am citing them, because, in the discussion that has taken place, the position of the minority has been referred to so frequently and the question which I ask is : What would the minority do if the privileges which they now enjoy were taken away from the n? How could their privileges he taken away from them? If their privileges were taken away from tnem

how coukl tlieir children be educated? Could we expect the children of the minority to go to schools regulated by the regulations which I have just read? No one would expect that, no government in Quebec would legislate in any such way, and neither would this parliament in any shape or form attempt to interfere with the privileges of the minority in Quebec. Why, Sir, it would be just as unreasonable to interfere with the privileges of the minority in Quebec, to take away those privileges and force the children of the minority into the Catholic schools as it would be for the province of Ontario to attempt to enact a law forcing Catholic children to go to Presbyterian Sunday schools. One would be just as ridiculous as the other.
We have heard a good deal of boasting in the speeches of the hon. Minister of Agriculture and the hon. Minister of Finance in reference to the great majority that is going to be rolled up when this Bill tomes to the vote. I had no doubt at all when I heard the hon. Minister of Finance announce the great majority that would be rolled up, and when i heard him tell how the party were united that there would be a great majority. I look forward to a great majority. The government have made this a party issue. They have required all their supporters to come to their assistance.

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