May 23, 1901 (9th Parliament, 1st Session)

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The PRIME MINISTER.

I would not say a buffoon. The hon. gentleman spoke very well, but if the expression is parliamentary I would say that he was a buffer between the Minister of Railways and the member for South Lanark i.Hou. Mr. Haggart). My hon. friend the Minister of Railways expected the announced attack from the hon. member (Hon. Mr. Haggart) and was prepared to answer it, and it was quite proper for him to ignore the minor guns of the opposition and to reserve his artillery for the big guns of the opposition. Especially is that so because the debate took place with the Speaker in the Chair and the Minister of Railways could only have spoken once, so that it was quite proper for him to wait until such time as the opposition chose to deliver the big attack which they had announced with such a flourish of trumpets for weeks and .months before.
Coming now to the question which has been put to me as to the Joint High Commission. My hon. friend (Mr. Borden, Halifax), has very fairly asked if it is expected that this commission should resume its sittings at an early date. I may say that is our expectation. We must do something to bring this commission to an issue of some kind. If we cannot agree with our friends on the other side of the line with regard to the question that has been referred to, we must know it and see What action we shall adopt otherwise. I have reason to believe-I may say the reasons I have are of a private nature and therefore I cannot give them to the House-I have reason to believe that the commission will resume its sitting at an early date. One of the questions to be taken into consideration, the most important perhaps, is the question of the Alaskan boundary. My hon. friend (Mr. Borden) asked if this question had been eliminated from the programme of the commission. Far from it; it is the very forefront of the commission. I may say, before I proceed any further, that in justice to ourselves and in justice to the sister colony of Newfoundland, which is represented, as we are, on the commission ; it is necessary the commission should resume Its sitting and that there should be a conclusion. If we fail to reach any conclusion ; if we fail to settle the questions which are referred to the commission, or some of them at all events ; then we shall have to revise Sir WILFRID LAURIER.
our relations with our sister colony of Newfoundland. That is all the more reason why the commission should be asked to meet again at an early date.
With regard to the Alaskan boundary, I have nothing more to say than I have already stated many and many a time. It is a question which ought to be settled, and settled promptly. It is of the greatest possible moment, not only for Canada but for the United States and Great Britain as well, that the question should be definitely settled as to what the boundary is between Alaska and Canada. The House is aware that we have not been able to come to any understanding on that, and there is only one thing that can be done under such circumstances between two such civilized nations as Great Britain and the United States, and especially between two such nations related as they are to each other by so many ties, not only of interest, but of blood. It is of the greatest moment that this question should be settled promptly. I am sorry to say that the contentions of the United States and our own contentions are so far apart that it may not be possible that each party may succeed In upholding its own pretensions. If we cannot succeed in that way we must succeed in some other. There are two other ways which are always open to honourable nations such as Great Britain and the United States and Canada, and if we cannot succeed in the first way by a fair compromise, then we must succeed in the other way, by arbitration. If we cannot settle the question between ourselves, we must hope that our friends, the American nation will agree to call in a third party, who will give us the best judgment he can under the circumstances.

Topic:   SUPPLY BILL.
Subtopic:   DEBATES IN THE HOUSE.
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