Hon. T. CHASE CASGRAIN (Postmaster General):
Mr. Speaker, it shall he my duty to bring the attention of the House back to the real question before us, even if we have to descend from the high flights of eloquence attained by my right hon. friend the leader of the Opposition. I was rather surprised this afternoon when my right hon. friend said that he had received from the Orange Sentinel the inspiration to bring this resolution before the House. That, after having been forty years in public life, for twenty-nine years of which he has been the /leader of the Liberal party he should look to the Orange Sentinal for his inspiration to become not the father, but at least the foster-father of this resolution, is, to say the least, somewhat surprising.
When I was practising at the bar I often watched the judges weighing the different arguments pro and con, and sometimes they were so long in coming to the point and rendering their decision that I was inclined to get impatient. I shall not on this occasion give the House time to get impatient awaiting my views on the questions before us. After the most mature deliberation, after having examined the situation, after having -studied the resolution now before the House, and considered whether or not under the present circumstances it can be of any profit, advantage, or benefit to the minority in Ontario or
Northwest Territories. I shall quote from some of the speeches made at that time by eminent men who have now passed away, to show in what spirit the French language was treated -by them. The hon. member for Kamouraska quoted from the remarks made by the late lamented Sir John lA. Macdonald. Let me cite what the Hon. Edward Blake said upon the occasion to which I have referred:
You may selfishly wish that he had agreed to be suppressed; you may have a profound conviction of the incomparable superiority of your tongue, your laws, your creed; you may earnestly desire for all men the inestimable boons of British birth, of English speech, of Protestant religion. But still, after all, cannot you put yourself in his place? And can you not, must you not, admire the courage, the fidelity, and the determination with which, at great odds, he fought in all fields-in the legislature, before the people, and in even sterner fields than these-for what to him was as dear as what you call your birthright is to you? Fought, aye, and conquered too! Cannot you recognise that his was after all a victory for humanity? And that if, as the case is, it has imposed greater difficulties and more arduous efforts and toils on those who are engaged in making a nation of Canada, it yet, by that very circumstance, gave the chance for more exalted triumphs, gave an opening for the exhibition of still higher and deeper and broader feelings of justice and liberality and tolerance than are permitted to a wholly homogeneous people? Can you not at least see-if that much you cannot see-that he has in fact conquered? Do you seriously hope to prevail to-day in a conflict in which, under infinitely greater disadvantages, he obtained the victory long ago? Surely if it were a conquest in which he was in the wrong, you had the right to struggle still; but his victory after all was for equal rights-rights equal with your own. That is all he asked ; that is all he got. But you say: no; his language must be obliterated; it is inimical to the Constitution that it should continue; you must teach him your tongue; he must forget his own; he must not have what he regards-and, from his point of view, rightly regards-as equal rights with you, the Anglo-Saxon, of whom the hon. member for North Norfolk (Mr. Charlton) spoke so proudly this afternoon as destined by fate to swallow him up. Sir, I regard this larger question to which I have referred, and it is the real question we have to consider, as a settled question; and even were my views as to the settlement different from what they are, I would not consent, as a public man, to an attempt to reopen a controversy, long since closed, on grounds which do not give to my eye the least prospect of success, but which ensure ultimate defeat to the assailants, and meanwhile limitless disaster to the state. I say: No; a thousand times no! Whether you differ or agree as to what might have been best for the country, in the situation of the country as it stands, I say: No, a thousand times, no; to the least effort or proposal to reopen that settled controversy ; and I maintain that it is the duty of those who truly regard the progress and the prosperity of Canada, who hope to see it advance in its path towards nationality, to defend the rights of the minorities in this regard, as by law and by convention and by national
settlement established. I intend for my part to defend them just as warmly as if I were one of themselves; and I should regard myself as dishonoured and disgraced if I were now to yield to the forces which press me to any other course.
And Sir John A. Macdonald, on the same occasion on which he used the words quoted by the hon. member for Kamouraska, said this further:
Why, Mr. Speaker, if there is one act of oppression more than another which would come home to a man's breast, it is that he should be deprived of the consolation of hearing and speaking and reading the language that his mother taught him. It is cruel. It is seething the kid in its mother's milk. The greatest, perhaps, of all the objections to this measure, is that it is a futile measure. It will not succeed. It cannot succeed. As my hon. friend from Bothwell (Mr. Mills) said the other day, and as the hon. member from the West Riding of Durham (Mr. Blake) repeated, in order to carry out an oppressive measure we must have a Russian Government or we must have a Stafford here ; we must put down the language with a strong hand ; we must exclude it from the schools; we must exclude it from, official life; no man in Canada who spoke French must be allowed to take office; the Frenchman must be made a Pariah, and his language must be made a mark of scorn; that is the only way to carry out the principle or the object of my hon. friend the minister for North Simcoe.
What was the outcome of this discussion during which these noble words were delivered? It was this that the question was to be left to the Legislatures of the Nbrth-west Territories, when they had received provincial organization. And all these men who spoke in this way of the French language came to the conclusion that this was a question not for the Federal but for the provincial domain. Why has this regard been paid to the French language, by custom, by Acts, by the speeches of eminent men? The French were the first comers in this country; they were the pioneers; they introduced civilization from the Gulf to the Rockies. They were a valourous race, they fell fighting with their faces to the foe. The British respected them, and after a few years gave them more liberal terms, by the Quebec Act of 1874, than were contained in the Capitulation.
Again, I do not put the question upon the legal ground which is submitted to the courts; I put it upon the historical ground, and I join with my right hon. friend in appealing to the generous sentiments of the people of Ontario. If it is true that these regulations are restrictive or prohibitive of the right of teaching French in Ontario, I appeal to the generous sentiment of my fellow Canadians, I appeal
to their sympathy, and I ask them to right what may be a great wrong towards the minority in the province of Ontario.
Mr. PUGSLEY': That is all that anybody wants.
Subtopic: THE BILINGUAL QUESTION.