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


Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. E. F. CLARKE (West Toronto).

I have not taken up any time so far in the discussion of this matter, and I crave the indulgence of the House for a few minutes. I confess to some embarrassment in view of the amendment which has been suggested to meet the objections which were raised to the resolution presented by the member for Victoria, N.B., (Hon. Mr. Cos-tigan). For my part, I have no fault whatever to find with the remarks with which the hon. gentleman presented his resolution to the House. But, in common with many other hon. members, I think I have good ground to find fault with the manner in which this resolution has been presented. The hon. gentleman desires us to believe that he is actuated solely with a view to secure for those for whom he says lie speaks, those whom he represents, an amelioration of the declaration which is now made by the sovereign of this empire. I think that a matter affecting the rights and liberties of any class or section of His Majesty's subjects is a matter in itself of sufficient importance to justify even sucli a representative member as the hon. gentleman claims to be in asking the co-operation and support of every member of this House. I think if he desired to secure the greatest possible benefit for those whom he represents, before he introduced this resolution it was his duty to see if there was any divergence of opinion, and what that divergence was, between himself and! others as to the terms of his resolution. ' But, instead of pursuing that course, as a man actuated wholly by the desire to benefit his co-religionists might be expected to do, he took the opportunity of moving under the forms of the House when a motion was made to go into Committee of Supply, so that his resolution could not be amended in any way. He made the resolution as stiff and as strong as it was possible for him to make it; and it is only after the resolution has been debated for some nine or ten hours that a slight amendment has been suggested, and I believe has been accepted by the hon. gentleman and hon. members on both sides of the House. I stand here to-night as one who believes from the very bottom of my soul in the principle of civil and religions liberty. I believe also in absolute equality before the law. and I desire that any disability under which Roman Catholics exist, either in this or any other part of the British Empire, shall be removed at once and for ever. That is my confession of faith, and I am not ashamed to make it here. I have made it many times

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