March 18, 1903 (9th Parliament, 3rd Session)


William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative


The lieutenant governor of Manitoba has for sometime occupied his position by sufferance of the administration, and not by his commission upon which he was appointed. He can be dismissed to morrow and a successor can be appointed to him the day after to-morrow. He may be retained for one day or for one year, just as suits the convenience of the party in power. I ask the Minister of Justice, is that a practice which should be tolerated ? The hon. gentleman says that so far no evil has flown from this, but does my hon. friend argue that because no evil results follow from the breaking of a law, that it is right and proper that the law should be broken ? Will he maintain that because no evil results have followed that therefore we should go on without any rules whatever. If the provision of the constitution which says that the lieutenant governor shall be appointed for a term of years by commission, can be violated with impunity, and if no evil results flow from such violation of the law, the law might as well be dispensed with at once. But Sir, laws exist in all cases because if there are no laws, abuses may result, and I call the attention of my hon. friend that he has given no reasons whatever why such a practice should be defended. Indeed he has not defended it. His only argument is that no evil results have flown from it and I submit that is no argument at all.
Mr. McCarthy spoke, and X am going to quote a couple of sentences from him :-
It may be felt that when it was brought to our notice that lieutenant governors have been permitted to hold office, after their terms have expired, and during pleasure, and subject to removal of course without notice,; that we did not think it of sufficient moment to give it any attention. I therefore desire to say that I believe it to be a matter of the very gravest importance that this provision of the statute should be definitely adhered to. It does not prevent a gentleman who is lieutenant governor being reappointed, for we know that in the case of Sir Leonard Tilley that was done twice or thrice, but what is calculated to degrade the high and important office of the representative of the Crown in the provinces is that he should be in the position that he could at any moment be recalled ; and that in that sense he is put in a position to perhaps obey directions from the central body, which in his duty to his province ho should wholly and absolutely disregard. The case that has been referred to in the province of Manitoba is a very striking one, and one which exposes the mischief and danger to follow from a continuance of this practice. We are told in this House and we have been told elsewhere, that the gentleman who holds the office is most anxious for reappointment.
I wonder if there is any anxiety in this special case for reappointment.
We were told not very long ago that this gentleman had come to Ottawa for the purpose of trying to be continued in his office and was willing under these circumstances to bargain away his functions and the rights of his province. I do not know' whether these charges are true, but this I do know ; that the fact that these charges could be made tend to degrade and lower the dignity of the high office which the lieutenant governors occupy. For that reason, and that alone, I think that we should require that the statute should be

adhered to, and that the abuse should not be allowed to continue to exist.
Sill Richard Cartwright continued the debate. Let us read a few sentences from his speech [DOT]
In particular I thought that the Minister of Finance, who admitted substantially the correctness of my hon. friend's position, was exceedingly weak when he contended that no man's impartiality, no man's independence was liable to be impaired by the fact that he was a mere occupant at pleasure.
And then
There can be nothing more calculated to degrade the office of lieutenant governor than to allow those who hold that office to remain there at the mere pleasure of the ministry of the day. And I am very far indeed from believing that no evils have arisen when ministers, as we have seen on various occasions, hold their office to a certain extent at the mercy of the lieutenant governor, who in turn holds his absolutely at the mercy of the government here. Because no evil has been stated to have occurred, it does not follow that no evil has occurred. . . . Under circumstances such as are occurring to-day in Manitoba to keep in office a gentleman who holds it absolutely and mainly at their pleasure, they will expose themselves very justly to the charge of having interpreted for purposes of their own, the plain intent and spirit of the British North America Act in a manner in no way contemplated by the constitution, and utterly repugnant to the spirit of the constitution ; and their action may produce very grave and mischievous results. . . .
If it is of any use to have lieutenant governors-a thing which may be doubted and which is under discussion at present-if these officers are of any value, if it is desirable that they should be continued, if it is desirable that these petty mock courts should be maintained at considerable cost to the country, then at least the men who preside over them should be independent of the government here, or at any rate only subject to removal under such circumstances as the constitution prescribes. It is an evil-and one which may prove a serious one before we meet again-that the governor of one of our provinces should be ifi a position entirely fatal to independence ; and this parliament will be false to its duty unless it expresses a strong opinion as to the inexpediency of allowing such a state of things to continue for one hour.
The vote was taken. Among those who voted in favour of Mr. Mill's motion were Borden, Cartwright, Charlton, Laurier, Mulock and Sutherland. Mr. Speaker, I intend to hold these gentlemen to their vote on that occasion. They laid down a certain doctrine in regard to the lieutenant governors, yet, now that they are in power, and the terms of office of their first hatch of lieutenant governors are running out-the terms of two or more of them are running out-we find those gentlemen still continuing lieutenant governors in their places under conditions which these gentlemen on a motion of a want of confidence in this House declared were disgraceful. Now what does the right hon. gentleman (Rt.
Hon. Sir Wilfz'id Laurier) intend to say ?
X am not here to say anything against the character of Sir Oliver Mowat. I respect his character as I do that of any other man. He has a great record ; and I am not here to throw dirt upon it in any sense. But I am here to say something for the people of this country and for my own constituents, and to demand the vindication of the constitution. And am I to be insulted in this House, when I but ask that the constitution shall be maintained ? Am I to be told that I am going out of my way to make an attack upon the holder of a high office ? Why, those who make such an attack upon me are not defending the constitution ; they are defending the office holder. There is a lust of power in the Liberal party that is something alarming, and the condition of affairs that now exists in Ontario is due to this lust of power and of office. I am well within my rights as I stand here, and I repudiate the Prime Minister rising in this House and saying to me, even though I am a private member, that when I attempt to defend the constitution

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