Mr. LTJCIEN CANNON (Dorchester) (translation):
Mr. Speaker, I have listened very attentively to the remarks of the hon. Minister- of Customs (Mr. Sifton) and I must admit that his remarks somewhat surprised me, all the more so since he belongs to those western provinces for which the hon. leader of the Opposition did so much while he was at the head of the public affairs of this country.
The hon. minister felt called upon to reproach the hon. leader of the Opposition with having given expression, this afternoon to ,what is for him a new idea, the idea of protecting the autonomy of the Canadian provinces. I do not know if the hpn. minister has a short memory, or whether his knowledge of public affairs is not sufficiently wide, but despite my youth and my inexperience, and although I have seen less of public life than he, I remember, Mr. Shaker, the struggle carried on by the hon. leader of the Opposition for the autonomy of the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, at a time when his own province threatened to turn against him because of his principles. But the hon. leader of the Opposition on that occasion proved that he was not a politician who. varied his principles to suit the circumstances, but that, always, he guided himself and his party by the immutable principles of that Liberalism to which we belong this year, as we belonged last.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to answer the hon. minister in the English tongue, but I hope that he understands me when I say that we, the Liberals of the province of Quebec, were the first to fight for the liher-
ties which his Government, a Government whose leader he remained until recently, have turned to their advantage.
NTr. .Speaker, I do not wish to retain the attention of this House very long. The main question brought up by the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Lemieux) was very ably discussed by the mover, as by the hon. Minister of Justice (Mr. Doherty). But permit me, Mr. Speaker, as a Liberal, to say this; the question before the House today is not a new one. It is the great question which has been raised in all the centres of colonization where the English, after leaving the old land of liberty, came here, on Canadian soil, to open up to civilization a new domain.
When the American colonies struggled and fought against the central power, why did they do so? To try and prevent that central power from destroying the liberty of the individual states.
Here in Canada, there is not a man in this House who does not know of the struggles that were fought in the province of New Brunswick, in the province of Nova Scotia, before these provinces became a part of Confederation; neither is there here a man who does not know of the great 'Struggles that took place in this country before Confederation, and while Confederation was being formed, between the Liberals who wanted the provinces to safeguard their own liberty and the. Tories who wanted to centralize all authority in one government.
Mr. Speaker, Confederation was brought about. On what basis was it brought about? It was brought about on the following, basis, to wit: that we should have in this country two Governments; the Federal Government which was to concern itself with all questions of a general character and of a national character; and the provincial governments which were to look after matters of local interest, of a less general character. But, Mr. Speaker, we must not forget that the Act of Confederation is such that the provincial powers are as weighty within the provincial sphere as is the federal power within the federal sphere, and that the government of Quebec, the government of Saskatchewan, the government of Alberta are sovereign governments just as the Government at Ottawa may claim to be.
But, Mr. Speaker, allow me to say this in closing: The hon. minister appealed to the patriotism of those who listened to him. We, of the Opposition, just as much as our friends on the other side of this House, are in favour of the triumph of the sacred cause of the Allies. At this moment we are passing
through a solemn hour. We have as much unrest, as much anxiety in our souls and in our hearts as have our friends on the right. When millions upon millions of men are fighting on the soil of Europe to uphold what is most sacred and most cherished for us all, i.e.: the right to breathe in freedom; when in the old province of Quebec prayers ascend from every hearth for the triumph of the British flag which has given us the constitutional liberties which we enjoy; we must not, while we are laying down our lives, while our children are shedding their blood, we must not forget the fundamental principles which should always guide' the governments of this country; it must not be that while on the one hand we go to shed our blood for the cause of Liberty on the other, in our own country, the provinces lose their prerogatives.
Mr. Speaker, if the Government formed last year is always inspired by the lofty ideas and the great principles which presided at the birth of Confederation; if the Union Government lays aside a policy which sets the provinces against the federal authority and declares for a policy of veritable union, of true understanding, the nine provinces will stand behind it in the prosecution of this struggle which must lead to an ultimate victory, though it may be that just now we are experiencing a few hours of difficulty.
Mr. Speaker, the resolution of the hon. member for Maisonneuve shows that the Liberal party, in this matter, respects the high principles which presided at its birth, which have fortified it in it's struggles, and which allow us young members on this side of the House to hope that as long as these principles are not forgotten, we may perhaps suffer defeat, but the dawn of the morrow will always find us as strong, just as mighty, clothed in the principle which will have guided us thoughout the battle.
Topic: RESTRICTION ON SALE OF PROVINCIAL AND MUNICIPAL SECURITIES.
Subtopic: DISCUSSION ON ORDER IN COUNCIL PASSED BY GOVERNMENT.