March 1, 1901 (9th Parliament, 1st Session)


John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. JOHN HAGGART (South Lanark).

Before giving my vote on this question, I would like to offer a few remarks to the House. I listened with pleasure to the speech of the hon. member for Victoria, N.B., (Mr. Costigan) in introducing his resolution. He introduced it in a modest manner, and a style which was not in the slightest degree objectionable. I also listened with pleasure to the speech of the right hon. leader of the government, and to the sentiments he expressed, I could scarcely find any objection. I listened also with a good deal of interest to the remarks of my hon. friend from West York (Mr. Wallace), and was particularly pleased to hear him read from the Confession of Faith. Perhaps it is a long time since I have read it, and it reminded me of my early days when, between my meals of oatmeal porridge, X was brought up principally on the shorter catechism and the confession of faith. I am not like my hon. friend from Norfolk (Mr. Charlton), who states that that 24
faith is under the process of revision at present, and consequently is uncertain in his views. I stick to it in its entirety. And I must remind my hon. friend from West York, that there are no dignitaries in the Presbyterian Church, and when he asserts that the hon. member for North Norfolk (Mr. Charlton) is a dignitary in that church, I must take objection to his statement. It is a church which sticks to its faith, and 1 hold to the confession of faith and the short catechism on which I was bred and educated. With reference to the question before the House and the sentiments expressed toy the hon. gentleman who introduced it, although perfectly agreeing with him, I must draw his attention to the resolution, which is entirely a different thing. I must remind him that in all the debates in the House of Lords, and in the House of Commons, I never heard of any fault found with the declaration of the King.
The debate turned simply upon a criticism of tlie coronation oath, as to how it affected the legislative and executive action of the King himself ; because the declaration does not affect it in any way. There are two things required by the Settlement Act. The first of these is the coronation oath. If it were confined to that, any man, even a Roman Catholic could take that oath and be the sovereign of Great Britain. There is a prerequisite declaration besides the oath. I agree with the right hon. the premier, that the declaration consists of two parts, one in reference to transubstantiation, the other in reference to the worship of the Virgin Mary, and the saints-two parts that are contrary to the belief, and objectionable to the feelings of every Roman Catholic. But he must remember that, in the clause of the petition he proposes to send to the old country, in seeking to eliminate these two objectionable parts, he does not substitute any declaration at all. And I venture to say that there is not any other person who does not believe and maintain that the sovereign of the British Empire should make a declaration that he belongs to the Protestant religion. That is a pre-requisite along with the coronation oath. You do away witli that declaration.

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