George Davidson GRANT

GRANT, George Davidson

Personal Data

Ontario North (Ontario)
Birth Date
June 25, 1870
Deceased Date
March 17, 1915

Parliamentary Career

March 10, 1903 - September 29, 1904
  Ontario North (Ontario)
November 3, 1904 - September 17, 1908
  Ontario North (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 13)

May 30, 1905


Will the hon. gentleman pardon me interrupting him ? I said the suggestion was thrown out ; I read it from Unrevised ' Hansard,' page 6718.

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May 19, 1905


Would my hon. friend give us a statement of the amount of notes in circulation and the value to the government of having these notes, what the interest amounts to ?

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April 17, 1905


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April 17, 1905

Mr. GEO. D. GRANT (North Ontario).

Some few weeks ago, Mr. Speaker, at the beginning of the discussion on tills Bill, my hon. friend from Leeds (Mr. Taylor), Mr. GALLIHER

who is not now in his seat, I am sorry to say, was good enough to say that he would like to have an expression of opinion on this Bill from the member for North Ontario. In the course of his remarks on that occasion, my hon. friend referred to a by-election which took place in my riding some two or three years ago, the contestants in which were the hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster) and myself. The hon. gentleman said that the Manitoba Remedial Bill was one of the issues, if not the principal issue, in that campaign. Now, I cannot let that statement go entirely unchallenged. Necessarily I took considerable interest in that by-election, and therefore must be supposed to know what the issues in it were, and I have this to say that not only was the Manitoba Remedial Bill and the action of the late Conservative government in reference thereto and the action of the ex-Finance Minister (Air. Foster), then a candidate, in the same connection- not only were all these matters not principal issues but they were not issues at all. Furthermore I do not think that the Manitoba Remedial Bill or the Manitoba school question has been at all an issue in the province of Ontario since the general election of 1896. I am much afraid, Mr. Speaker, that the memory of my hon. friend from Leeds (Mr. Taylor) is not at all dependable; I am afraid his memory plays pranks with him. And in this fear I am rather confirmed by what fell from the lips of his late leader, Sir Mackenzie Bowell, who spoke in another place on the 1st of March last. Speaking of the hon. gentleman (Mr. Taylor) in relation to another matter then under discussion, Sir Mackenzie Bowell said :

I am utterly at a loss to know or understand how Mr. Taylor could have given utterance to such a statement, unless it be that he talked it over so often with others that he finally believed it himself. That is an idiosyncrasy of some people, as we know.

Well, in the best of good nature, I rather think that in his recollection of what took place in the election in North Ontario that idiosyncrasy of my hon. friend from Leeds has shown itself.

The hon. member for St. Antoine, Montreal (Mr. Ames), who preceded me in this debate on Thursday last, made, in my judgment, a very moderate, calm and dignified statement of the case. He told how generously, how very well indeed, the Protestant minority of Quebec were treated by the Catholic majority of that province. But I rather think, in fact I am strongly of opinion, that the hon. gentleman marred it forceful and eloquent speech by the reference he made to the attitude of hon. members on this side of the House who support the government on this question. On more than one occasion, more frequently than was necessary to my mind, the hon. member for St. Antoine thanked ids

pleader for the freedom of action which bad been given to individual members of tbe opposition on this question. He seemed indeed very grateful that freedom of action bad been granted. In fact, he said, if not in so many words, yet in ,effect, that had it not been for that freedom of action given by tbe leader of tbe opposition to bis followers, be doubted whether be would take tbe position which be is taking upon the Bill. I have nothing to quarrel with in that attitude of tbe lion, gentleman. But be went on to express bis great sympathy for members on tbe government side who, be seemed to think, were bound to stand by the government-bound in what way I do not know-in its proposed legislation in regard to the Northwest. I must say to the bon. gentleman that we cannot accept his sympathy on this side-we do not want it. And I take strong exception to the innuendo in his remarks as to the attitude of government members iii supporting this Bill. I cannot understand him. Surely tbe bon. gentleman will not say that tbe same arguments for toleration, for respect for tbe rights of a minority, which appeal to him may not also appeal to individual members on tbe government side. Tbe boil, gentleman said-and I think it is not beside tbe question for me to refer to bis words and to clear up these points before entering upon the consideration of tbe main part of tbe issue-that bis leader-

has told them that they shall one and all

consult their constituents and their conscience and shall then vote as they see fit upon this Bill.

I want to tell tbe bon. gentleman that no instructions, no advice, different from that has emanated from the right bon. gentleman (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) who leads tbe government to his followers.

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April 17, 1905


I wish to repeat that, so far as I am aware-and I think I know pretty well what goes on-there has beef! no indication, either from tbe right hon. gentleman (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) who leads tbe government or any member of the cabinet, to any private member supporting tbe government, as to the attitude be should take upon this Bill. Now, tbe bon. member for St. Antoine went on to say :

and, unless I am greatly mistaken, there

are many members on the other side of ttte House who would have been glad enough if their leader had made the same declaration. X think there are quite a few in that solidly united party of which we heard this afternoon, and of which we have heard on many previous occasions, who v'ould be glad enough if they might he allowed to vote as their own conscience dictated, and as their constituents demanded,-

Note tbe words-

at this time.

I want to tell my bon. friend that, at least so far as I am concerned, and so far iis my knowledge extends to other members oil this side, we are voting and acting upon this measure as our consciences dictate. And I regret that the bon. member for St. Antoine, who, I must say again, made a judicious, a moderate and a well-argued speech, saw fit to mar that speech by the reference that be has made to tbe attitude taken by government supporters in regard to this question. And again I ask if be supposes that the same principle of toleration and respect for the rights of the minor ity that appeal to himself do not appeal also to tbe members supporting tbe government ?

But on tbe same line, I read in tbe Ottawa ' Citizen,' the main organ of bis party in Eastern Ontario, as late as last Saturday, tbe following paragraph :-

There are several Conservative members voting for the Autonomy Bills not because they personally approve of the principle, but because they believe it to be their duty to represent the feeling of a majority of their constituents. On the Liberal benches the members do not appear to be afflicted with any concern as to how the majority of their constituents view the matter.

I think that was a very unkind, reflection for tlie chief organ of tbe Conservative party in Eastern Ontario to make upon gentlemen opposite who support this Bill. Boiled down, what does it mean ? It means, if it means anything, that these bon. gentlemen are trying to save their parliamentary hides by this vote. I think that a very jioor compliment to pay to these gentlemen. I do not believe that to be tbe reason actuating such members as tbe bon. and learned members for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk), Beauliarnois (Mr. Bergeron) and Stormont (Mr. Pringle). I give it as my opin-

ion that these hon. gentlemen, in acting' as they are doing, while, in one sense, they may he acting against their own feelings, yet, in another, are acting according to the dictates of high duty. And, Sir, why cannot credit for acting from conviction and from a high sense of duty be given to hon. gentlemen on this side of the House who are supporting the same proposals ? I plead for nothing else than this, Mr. Speaker, both from the newspaper press and from hon. gentlemen on both sides of this House, that they shall not impute unworthy motives to any member of this House, no matter how he speaks or how he votes on this measure. It is, I hope, to be taken for granted that no matter what position a member may take in regard to these Northwest Autonomy Bills, he is actuated in taking that position by a sense of duty, both to his constituency and to the country at large.

It has occurred to me that if a citizen of some foreign country were visiting Canada and her capital now for the first time for the purpose of inquiring into our legislative methods and ascertaining how we conduct public business, he would be curiously impressed by our treatment of these autonomy Bills ; he would be curiously impressed not only by the course of the debate in this House but also by the newspaper discussion throughout the country. Two large provinces are to be added to this Dominion of Canada, two provinces mighty in area, rich in resource and rich in future promise. The enacting legislation is under advisement, the proposals of the government in reference thereto, the terms and conditions of the entry into confederation of these provinces are now before us. Surely our visitor from abroad would say : The members of the legislature considering this question will discuss large issues, such as the adjustment o'f the public lands, and the settlement of these mighty areas in the west. Surely such large questions as these, the conditions under which these new provinces shall enter the union, will be well pondered and considered. However, one topic alone to the exclusion of other topics in my judgment much more important, seems to be monopolizing the attention both of parliament and of the country. And what is that question ? Stripped of all legal and mystifying verbiage, that question is : Shall the' people of these territories, in entering. the confederation as provinces, be allowed to maintain a certain school system that has been in force for more than a quarter of a century and which they themselves have moulded and formed. 1 think I am putting the case fairly when I am putting it thus. I say, Sir, that our visitor from abroad would surely be surprised at what I might term this phenomenon, and if he were of an inquiring and observing turn of mind he would seek some reason for the same, and I think, Mr. Speaker, he would not have far to seek ; he Mr. GRANT.

would not need much knowledge of Cana-x dian history to answer this question, he would not need any profound insight into our institutions to satisfy his mind and his curiosity as to why this one issue was monopolizing attention in this debate. He would find by a very superficial knowledge of Canadian history that agitations such as this in the past history of Canada have almost rent our country asunder ; he would find that the progress and the growth of Canada has been retarded and stunted in times past by agitations arising from questions similar to this, and he would, I think, conclude and rightly conclude that those people are indeed poor friends of Canada who would lightly make a political football of an issue of this soi;t. And, Mr. Speaker, poor friends of Canada indeed they are.

I venture to remark that in no other country where representative institutions obtain, certainly in no other part of the British empire, would such an outcry and such a commotion over a matter so comparatively trifling ever occur. When I style the issue as unimportant, I do not wish to be taken to say that the matter of education in and for these new provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan is at all a trifling matter, but I do say that the aspect of the education question as presented to us is not of paramount concern, and I deal now with the practical aspect of the matter. I find in fact existing in those western territories a school system built up practically by the people themselves. I find that the local council and the territorial legislature have perfected a system that seems1 to meet the requirements and conditions of the west. I find that the premier of these territories has said that it is a satisfactory system, he has said that his constituents, if they had the power, would not change it to-morrow. I find that a great majority of the representatives of that western territory in this House expressed themselves in unmistakable language, is favour of its perpetutation in these two territories. I find that public opinion in the west is overwhelmingly in favour of the present system.

I shall not trouble the House by reading any long quotations but I would like to quote from a gentleman who for many years was superintendent of education in these Territories, Dr. Goggin. On the 23rd of February, speaking to an interviewer in Toronto, Dr. Goggin made certain statements as to the schools of the Northwest. He said :

The separate school in the Territories, Catholic or Protestant, is a minority school. Its course of study till 3 o'clock is identical with that in the public school. Its text books-readers in the first two classes excepted-are identical. Its teachers have the same academic standing, have undergone the same professional training as the teachers in the public school. It is subject to the same inspection and examination. It receives legislative grants on the same basis as the public school.

In the course of the same interview lie says :

The Territories had arrived at a working arrangement, and should-be left in charge of the


Precisely what we propose doing by this Bill, Mr. Speaker. Later on he says :

Their experience

That is, the experience of the Territories.

Referring to tbe attitude of tlie people of Regina.

towards the school question is similar.

Without exception all those I have spoken to have no apprehensions with regard to that feature of the settlement. They know by experience the system they have got. They are perfectly satisfied with it, and if its continuance is a part of the settlement there will be no objection from the /people of the Territories. The Catholic portion of the population have at times exhibited dissatisfaction, but it has never been very serious, and the general expression is that if the present system is continued, practically everybody will be satisfied.

That is a statement of tlie opinion of the citizens of Regina as gathered by the1' Globe' correspondent who, as I have said, is not favourable to this legislation. Furthermore this 1 Globe ' correspondent went to Medicine Hat, farther west, I believe, in the Territories and this, as far as be could gather, was the view o>f tbe citizens of that enterprising western town :

The separate school is sometimes inferior to the public school from the point of view of what is regarded as its main purpose, namely, to impart secular education. But this is regarded with some placidity for two reasons : first, because there is the feeling that those who prefer the separate school are getting what they want, and, in the next place, that the provincial authorities hold the master key to the situation in possessing the right to inspect and approve or disapprove of the way a school is fulfilling the great end of its existence__

If a separate school in Ontario is inferior in any way there is really no effective means of compelling it to come up to the requirements. It is not so with the western separate school. It is as completely within the control of the Department of Education as what are called public schools.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I regret to have occupied so much time in quoting these op-

.inions, but it occurred to me that it might relieve to a large extent the impression *which exists in the province of Ontario as to the nature of the schools which we propose by this Bill to perpetuate in the west. For days and weeks some of the members of this House, assisted by a section of the public press, have delayed the despatch of public business, and are promoting an injurious agitation throughout the Dominion over this educational question, and why ? What prompts them to do it ? Surely it cannot be anything else but the knowledge that in the past discussions on matters of this kind stirred up ill-feeling in this country have stirred up sectarian strife and commotion and that the stirring up of strife and commotion may bring about political results unobtainable by methods more honourable and more patriotic. In the main this commotion has been confined to the province of Ontario. I do not know that that should afford me, coming from that province, any very great satisfaction ; rather the reverse, but it is quite true that this commotion has been confined to Ontario and to one section of Ontario. It is also a fact that the head and front of this agitation is the newspaper press of the city of Toronto, and this very fact may induce lion, gentlemen here coming from other provinces in the Dominion to conclude that tlie population of Ontario as a whole is convulsed over this matter and that the people of Ontario are sitting up all night devising ways and means of combatting fliis legislation. By no means. Let me assure my fellow-members from other provinces that such is not the case. The only part of our population in the province of Ontario that is really excited over these Bills is the city of Toronto. Toronto newspaper-dom particularity is working overtime in the effort to create and fan into flame those slumbering passions that it might be well to let lie. But, let me assure my hou. friends, and particularly my hon. friends from the province of Quebec, that Toronto is not Ontario and that the voice of Toronto is not the voice of Ontario. It has been said in times of crises that Paris was accustomed to speak for all France. Toronto has no such authority to speak for the province of Ontario. We of the province of Ontario, let me say, are profoundly thankful too that such is the case. Let me assure my hon. friends from the province of Quebec" and from the maritime provinces that there is a large silent, solid section of the province of Ontario, particularly in the rural parts, who are not of the mind of Toronto in this matter and not only in this but in many other matters too. I say from positive knowledge having visited several parts of Ontario since this trouble, if I may so term it, began, that the thinking men and the sober minded citizens of the province, having been correctly informed of the facts-and it is Mr. GRANT.

very difficult to get the truth through our Toronto press-have come to the conclusion that the government have grappled in a wise and statesmanlike way with a very difficult and delicate subject. Therefore, I ask my hon. friends from other provinces not to do us the injustice of thinking that the blatant mob of Toronto speaks for the whole province of Ontario. The incendiary daily cartoons that appeared in the Toronto ' News ' and other sheets published in that city were at first deplored by the good people of the province of Ontario, and now, I may tell you they are laughed at. The editor of the Toronto ' News ' occupied at one time a very honourable place as a publicist in our province, but, Sir, since he apparently has come to the conclusion that to be strong in Ontario he must be unjust and offensive to his fellow-citizens in other parts of the Dominion, he has lost the esteem of the self-respecting and the thinking and the solid people of Ontario.

Now, the policy of the Toronto ' News ' as outlined day after day on its front page is for a common school ; for a national school. I say that these Bills when passed will give to the Northwest Territories a common, a national school in all its essential and integral features. The Toronto 'News' at the inception of this trouble made a great deal of the constitutional point ; spoke a great deal about the shackling of the West, as it termed the educational clauses. If ou reference to the Judicial Committee W the Privy Council it were held-and it might well he held-that the minority of the Territories is entitled to a full system of separate schools .under the legislation of 1875, and the British North America Act. what becomes then, I want to know, of the contention for a common and a national school ? Is it to be a national school, constitution or no constitution, judicial decision perhaps to the contrary notwithstanding ? Is that the position assumed by the Toronto ' News ' and assumed by other opponents of the government in this regard ? I can readily understand a member of this House taking this or that view of the legal question and taking his stand and casting his vote pursuant to his view, but I caunot understand n positive demand for a certain system of schools simply because that system recommends itself to that man's turn of mind and may not at all be, and whether or not at all it is, permissible under the law and the existing conditions. As an example, I find a reverend gentleman-lie comes from Toronto of course, Mr. Speaker-I find a reverend gentleman speaking in Toronto and reported in tlie Toronto press of the 20th of March last, using this language :

Separate schools in Ontario would be done away with.

Now, it would require only the most fragmentary knowledge of our constitution to

know Unit separate schools In Ontario are an inherent part of the confederation compact, and cannot be done away with. This quotation from this reverend gentleman illustrates my point, which is this : Whatever one's individual views as to a system of education may be such language as 1 have quoted can only lead to trouble, to misunderstanding and to friction. It in no manner whatever contributes to the solution of the problem in hand ; on the contrary, it constitutes only, and it is intended only to be a threat to the Ontario Catholics, and is as unwise as it is idle.

Sir, it had not been in my mind to discuss the constitutional aspect of this case, but. in relation to that I want to quote from this same paper, the Toronto ' News.' The Toronto ' Olobe ' had said : that it was not a question of separate schools versus national schools ; it was purely a question of provincial rights. That is to say, it was a dry constitutional subject, purely a matter of constitutional law, and on that principle the Toronto ' Globe ' took its stand. The Toronto 1 News ' however, was not able to, or did not care to take that view of the question, and in commenting on the ' Globe ' position said :

Nor would it be wise from their point of view

He is referring to the opponents of the measure.

Nor would it be wise from their point of view to narrow discussion down to the interpretation and application of constitutional documents.

Oh, no, that would not suit the firebrand press.

That is an important matter no doubt, but it is one that interests only a small proportion of the people. The study of the constitution is a useful and interesting pursuit, but not in that way can a formidable public opinion be aroused and brought to hear upon the government.

What does that mean? If the English language can be made to convey any meaning it means, that you cannot excite the people about a constitutional point; you must import into the controversy 'Something of a semi-religious tinge in order to excite them, and the Toronto 'News' and those who stand with it on this question propose to import that tinge into the discussion.

The article continues :

In laying down the rule, therefore, the ' Globe ' is asking that Hamlet be played with the part of Hamlet omitted.

It has been said in criticism of the government and its supporters, that diverse attitudes have been assumed by the advocates of this measure. Well, I will not say whether that is true or not, but it certainly strikes me that very diverse attitudes are being assumed both by lion, gentlemen here and by their press in opposition to this measure. \\ hat was the one note ringing through the speech of the leader of the opposition in this House ; how many times did he repeat it; these were the words, we all know them by heart:

I argue not for separate schools ; I argue not

against separate schools.

And the hon. member for Calgary (Mr. II. S. McCarthy) said : With the merits or demerits of separate schools I have no concern, I do not know anything about it. And the hon. member for Brantford (Mr. Cock-shutt) entered into a long, able, discursive theological discussion on the demerits oif separate schools-the only part of his speech I could agree with was the peroration in which he quoted a part of the Lord's Prayer. The hon. member for Souris (Mr. Scha finer) also made an onslaught upon separate schools; he said they tended to disunite the people, that they tended to all manner of evils, and he thinks the merits of separate schools enter Into this discussion although his leader does uot think so. I instance these only to show how very wide apart and on what different views gentlemen who are opposing this measure take their stand.

I said a moment ago that it was not my intention to discuss the constitutional bearings of this Bill. Other men of the legal profession, very much better fitted than I am, of very much more authority than myself, have done so, and I feel that it would be bold indeed for me to touch that question. But in a broad way, Mr. Speaker, what was the spirit of the union compact? What was the spirit that guided the fathers of confederation in 1866 and 1867 ? Surely it was the spirit of toleration ; more than that, it was the spirit of solicitude for the conscientious convictions, not to say the undoubted rights, of minorities; and the same spirit which actuated the fathers of confederation in 1867 should actuate us in 1905 when we are extending confederation-because it is really one and the same thing. In organizing these Territories into provinces, we find that the minority has been for over a quarter of a century in possession of certain school privileges. I say we should respect these rights. Nay, more, we should put it beyond peradventure that these rights shall be maintained to them. It has become the fashion to say that these minority rights amount to very little, that they are very trifling, and, therefore, we may leave them. While such may be the fact, I do not think that in itself would constitute a ground for perpetuating those rights. The ground is broader and deeper than that. It has its root and being in a great and generous principle, and that is, respect and care that the weaker party be protected and be treated with consideration, so that its confidence may be won and retained. I would not seek to make this Bill palatable by saying that it is nothing. I would say that by law and by right the minority have certain educational privileges in the Northwest, and

when they enter the confederation, as they are doing In this year of grace 1905, we feel bound to protect and respect those privileges. I happened lately to he reading the life of ihe late revered Principal Grant, written by his son. He was the principal of Queen's University, and a man whose name and memory stands hallowed, not only in the Presbyterian Church, of which he was a foremost divine, but by all classes and creeds throughout Canada. Principal Grant was referring to an agitation similar to this, which was gotten up for the purpose of ousting Sir Oliver Mowat from power in Ontario a few years ago, but which, by the way, was singularly unsuccessful.

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