Address by Mr. D. J. Goggin, M.A., D.C.L., lately Superintendent of Education in the North-West Territories, on Thursday, February 23rd, 1905.
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen,-
Let me thank you for the compliment involved in the invitation to address you today. The Prime Minister of Canada took two hours and a half-and you know what an able speaker he is, one of the ablest in Canada-in which to present the topic that I have thirty minutes to deal with this afternoon. I appreciate the compliment, Sir! Powers of condensation greater than I am possessed of and the utmost rapidity of speech, would scarcely enable me to touch on more than a few of the important subjects included in this Bill. However, the speech of Sir Wilfrid has simplified matters somewhat for me; although it has compelled me to change to a very large extent the type of address which I intended to deliver. He has summed up under four heads the essential features of the new Autonomy Bill, and perhaps I cannot do better, after a brief historical introduction, than to take these heads in order, and present what the people of the North-West expected, and what the Prime Minister says they will be granted. It will be for you to judge as to the justice of the Bill and as to how far it will meet the conditions in that new country-assuming, of course, that my presentation is a sufficiently accurate one from the North-West standpoint.
Prior to 1870 all that vast stretch of British North America, the streams of which flow into Hudson's Bay, was known as Rupert's Land. The North-Western Territories included the remaining part of the British territory lying west of Rupert's Land, to the borders of British Columbia, and northward. The streams poured their waters into the Arctic Ocean. These two territories, Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory, made up all that great area with which the present Autonomy Bill, in the minds of most, deals. As a matter of fact- it deals with only a comparatively small section of this area. That district known as Rupert's Land now appears on this map before you as Ungava, Keewatin, Manitoba, Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, a portion of Alberta and Athabasca, and of Mackenzie so far as the waters flow into Hudson's Bay. The other district, where the waters flow out into the Arctic Ocean, was known as the North-Western Territory. These two districts were in 1870 admitted into and became part of the Dominion of Canada, under the name of the NorthWest Territories. The history of the transfer is of interest. The Hudson's Bay Company, under its Charter of Incorporation, granted by Charles II. in 1670, claimed to be invested with absolute proprietorship, subordinate sovereignty, and exclusive traffic of Rupert's Land. In 1864 the Quebec Conference was held, and the sixtyninth Resolution gives us the reason for the acquisition of the West by the Dominion: "The communications with the North-Western Territories and the improvements required for the development of the trade of the great West with the sea-board are regarded by this Conference as subjects of the highest importance to the Federated Provinces." In 1867 an Address to the Queen from the Senate and the House of Commons of the Dominion of Canada, declared
That it would promote the prosperity of the Canadian people, and conduce to the advantage of the whole Empire if the Dominion of Canada, constituted under the provisions of the British North America Act, 1867, were extended westward to the shores of the Pacific Ocean; that the colonization of the fertile lands of the Saskatchewan, the Assiniboia, and the Red River Districts; the development of the mineral wealth which abounds in the regions of the North-West; and the extension of commercial intercourse through the British Possessions in America from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans; are alike dependent upon the establishment of a stable government for the maintenance of law and order in the NorthWestern Territories; that the welfare of a sparse and widelyscattered population of British subjects of European origin, already inhabiting those remote and unorganized territories, would be materially enhanced by the formation therein of political institutions bearing analogy, as far as circumstances will admit, to those now existing in the several Provinces of this Dominion.
These were the reasons given by the Parliament of Canada for the acquisition of Rupert's Land and the NorthWestern Territories. In 1868-69 an agreement was arrived at in London between the English Government, the Hudson's Bay Company, and the Canadian Parliament, "by which Her Majesty accepted a surrender from the Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into the Hudson's Bay, of all lands, territories, rights, privileges, liberties, franchises, powers, and authorities," whatsoever they might be. In return therefor, a cash payment of 1300,000 was made, and certain privileges as to the retention of limited amounts of lands in certain areas were retained. This cash payment was raised by way of a loan, the British Government guaranteeing interest at four per cent.; the Canadian Government undertaking to pay into a Sinking Fund one per cent. per annum on the entire amount of the loan in addition to the interest on the entire loan. The final payment of this sum was due in April, 1904. I have not the Public Accounts for the year 1904, but the Sinking Fund, at the end of 1902-3, amounted to $1,002,403.11, and I assume that in 1904 the final payment was made.
I wish you to note particularly at this point that this sum of 300,000 quieted the claims of the Hudson's Bay Company to Ungava, the districts of land that are now parts of Ontario and Quebec, Keewatin, Manitoba, Assiniboia, Alberta, Athabasca, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Mackenze, etc. Let us get this point clearly before our minds. This so-called "purchase" included more than the lands at present contained within the NorthWest Territories, and vastly more than the area to be set apart as two new Provinces. It included a part of what is now Ontario, and a huge belt of land taken out of Ungava in 1898, and added by the Dominion Government to Quebec. Eastern people have been too ready to assert that they purchased the lands of the West, and having paid for them had sole proprietary rights. What are the facts? From the first payment till the final settlement, we of the West, through customs and excise duties, paid our share of the purchase, man for man. There were not so many of us, but, as the Customs returns will show, we contributed more per capita than you. I have yet to learn that Ontario or Quebec, in consideration of these added areas to which I have just referred, has made any special payments towards this 1300,000 charged against the Territories. A knowledge of these facts may tend to lessen the number of Eastern people who make these allusions to purchase.
Let me now speak of the stages by which we gradually arrived at the point where Autonomy became a necessity. At first the North-West Territories were placed under the control of the Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba. In 1876 a Lieutenant-Governor for the Territories was appointed, with a Council of five appointed members. Later, elective members were admitted to the Council, three judges sitting in this rudimentary Assembly to advise, and to see that territorial legislation did not conflict with the Dominion authority. In 18gi the North-West Assembly became a purely elective body, with power to pass Ordinances in relation to expenditures, etc. In 1898 Mr. Haultain brought up the question of Autonomy in the Assembly; and later, in the country, by means of a series of addresses. The reasons assigned by him were in the main: (r) The need for more money with which to carry on his Government, the revenue granted by the Dominion being quite inadequate to meet the needs of the Territories; and (2) the extension of Legislative jurisdiction and powers so as to develop institutions suited to the necessities of the country.
It has been said, and it is probably true, that Mr. Haultain is more concerned today with the financial arrangements to be made than with anything else. No one acquainted with the facts should be surprised if it were so. Year after year, for some thirteen years, he went down to Ottawa to both political parties, cap in hand, with an itemized list of necessary expenditures. What did he get from year to year? He thought himself not so badly off if he obtained half of what he asked for, and he was surprised when he got two-thirds. And these items were not made up with a view to possible reduction, later. I was for years in charge of one of the Departments, and I know the straits to which we were reduced from time to time to find money for our actual needs. The Eastern members of the Dominion House did not understand the conditions, did not realize the extent of our territory, and the kind of difficulties we were struggling with, nor the great possibilities in the West which everyone sees now, but which we saw long ago.
In the Legislative Assembly at Regina, on May 2nd, 1900, Mr. Haultain moved a Resolution which, after reciting the conditions under which the Territories were admitted into, and became part of the Dominion, and stating that the sum of money granted each year by the Government never bore any adequate proportion to the financial obligations imposed by the enlargement and development of the political institutions created by the Dominion Government, ended with a request that His Excellency, the Governor-General-in-Council, be prayed to order inquiries to be made and accounts taken, with a view to the settlement of the terms and conditions upon which the Territories, or any part of them, may be established as a Province. He supported this Resolution in an exhaustive speech, dealing with the historical, legal, and financial aspects of the proposition. He pointed out that the Territories then had a larger population than that of British Columbia a few years ago, larger than that of Prince Edward Island at that date, and that the people of the Territories had shown for thirteen years their ability to exercise intelligently the powers of selfgovernment within the limits permitted by the Dominion Parliament.
In 1901, Mr. Sifton, the Minister of the Interior, suggested the holding of a Conference at Ottawa to talk over the question of Autonomy. To this Mr. Haultain agreed, but the year passed without any date being fixed for the said Conference. In December, 1901, Mr. Haultain wrote to Sir Wilfrid Laurier, presenting a statement of the reasons which led the Assembly to request that inquiries might be made and accounts taken with a view to the establishing of Provincial institutions. He pointed out that the increase in population, due to immigration, had increased the expenditure for education, roads, bridges, ferries, etc., and that there was need for improved transportation in the older settlements to facilitate the bringing of the products of the farm and the ranch to the markets. He showed that the public revenues of the Territories went to swell the Consolidated Fund of Canada; that the public domain within the Territories was employed for purely Federal purposes; that the Territorial Legislature had for all practical purposes to depend upon the Dominion Government for all supplies wherewith to administer the Government of the Territories; and that they never received enough for their actual and crying necessities. As an illustration he had asked that year for $600,000, giving details therefor, and had received but $375,000. This had been their experience year after year. Their administrative difficulties were increasing, and they had been forced to duplicate much work now done by the Dominion Parliament because it was inadequately performed. He concluded by asking that careful consideration be given to his statement, and added: "It goes without saying that the principles of the British North America Act will form the basis of the Constitution of any Province created. We seek for no advantages over any other Province, and we do not anticipate that we will be denied any privileges given elsewhere."
Along with this letter he submitted the views of the Executive Council of the Territories, in the form of a draft Bill, in which the several points which he desired to have brought to an issue were duly set forth, with comments upon the principles involved. Time passed without any substantial progress being made, till the last general election was about to be held. Then a letter came, possibly for reasons which any politician in this room will appreciate, stating that action upon the Autonomy matter would be taken at the next Session of Parliament; and that action is now being taken. Let me next follow the historical sketch with a discussion of the main propositions of the Bill.
Mr. Haultain proposed to form into one Province, Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Athabasca up to the 57th parallel of north latitude. The proposed Province would contain an area of 404,000 square miles. As at present constituted, Quebec has 347,000; Ontario 220,000; and British Columbia 383,000 square miles. His reasons for this proposal were briefly these: That the Legislative Assembly can administer this area; that it can administer it economically; more economically with one set of governmental machinery than with two sets. Two Governors, two Government Houses, two Legislatures, two sets of officials, will more than double the cost of administration. To the argument that the proposed area contains much diversity of soil, climate, etc., he replies ,that this will be true of any division of this area, and that the Assembly has already met and overcome these difficulties.
Under the Autonomy Bill as brought down by Sir Wilfrid, two Provinces are proposed. Line 6o, north latitude, is the northern boundary of British Columbia and Athabasca. The International boundary is the southern boundary of British Columbia, Alberta and Assiniboia. Between these two lines, with British Columbia as western boundary, and the western boundary line of Manitoba continued directly north to the said line 6o as eastern boundary, lies the area included within the two new Provinces. This area is to be divided north and south by the 4th Meridian in the system of Dominion surveys, which lies just a little east of Meridian 110. The new Province of Alberta contains all of the present Alberta, part of Athabasca, and a small section of Assiniboia and Saskatchewan. The new Province of Saskatchewan contains the remaining portions of Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, and Athabasca. The 4th Meridian, though arbitrary as regards the soil and physical configuration of the country, is a convenient dividing line, giving each province an area in round numbers of 275,000 square miles and a population of 250,000. It also secures to each Province a greater range of temperature and variety of productions than would a line dividing the territory east and west. Regina seems well satisfied with the division, as she remains a capital, and Edmonton, the other provisional capital, is as pleased as Calgary is annoyed.
The formation of these Provinces necessitates the making a provision for expenses of government. Those Provinces originally entering Confederation would not have surrendered their powers of taxation in customs and excise if they had not been granted corresponding sums to defray expenses of local government. Hence arose the payments by the Federal Government of subsidies to the Provincial Assemblies. The annual subsidies to be allowed each new Province may be summarized as follows
1. For the support of the Government and the Legislature. $50,000
2. Initial per capita allowance . . .... .. .. 200,000
(This increases quinquennially till it becomes
3. Debt allowance . . . . . .. . .. . ... . . . . . . . 405,375
4. Initial compensation for public lands .. . . . .. . .. . . . . . . 375,000
(This increases according to population till it be
5. Provision for erection of necessary public buildings . . 93,750
(Annual payments for five years.)
Now let us examine these items in detail to understand how each has been determined. (1) By the B. N. A. Act, 1867, Ontario receives annually from Dominion funds for this purpose, $80,000; Quebec $70,000; Nova Scotia $60,000; New Brunswick $50,000; British Columbia $35,000; and Prince Edward Island $30,000. Mr. Haultain asked for $50,000 and it is granted.
When the Canadas, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick entered Confederation they gave up their general taxing powers to the Federal Government, and their duties and revenues Were employed to form a Consolidated Revenue fund. On account of this, each Province receives for local purposes eighty cents per head from the Federal Government, on a maximum population. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, and Manitoba are paid upon the results of each decennial Census until a maximum population of 400,000 is attained. Ontario and Quebec are paid this grant on populations respectively of 1,396,091 and 1,111,566; these being their populations as shown by the Census of 1861, and their grants remain permanently fixed. Each of the new Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan are to be paid a per capita allowance on a minimum population of 250,000, increasing quinquennially from 1901 until a maximum population of 800,000 souls is attained-twice that in the Maritime Provinces, and but little over one-half of that in Ontario. I am unable to say what the principle is which imposes such different limits of population; some being limited to 400,000, others to Soo,ooo, and others to over 1,000,000. It would seem reasonable that when these new Provinces have a population equal to those in Ontario and Quebec in 1861, as they assuredly will, they should receive equal financial assistance from the Federal Government.
(3) The Provinces entering Confederation had debts incurred for public improvements, such as roads, railways, canals, needed to develop the resources of the country and to reduce the cost of freight upon articles entering into home consumption. A certain amount of this indebtedness of each Province was assumed by the Federal Government. 'Faking population into account it was found that the amount of debt so assumed was not equally proportioned. Then fixed amounts, which would be fair and equitable as between the Provinces, were agreed upon. These debt allowances were represented by an allowance of $32.43 per head on the populations mentioned in Section a. In the event of any Province having no debt, or a debt less than that stipulated, it was to receive from the Government of Canada interest at five per cent. on the difference between its actual and its stipulated debt. Each of the new Provinces not having any debt will be thus credited with a debt allowance Of $32.43 per head on a population Of 250,000, which is $8,107,500. Interest on this at five per cent. gives a yearly sum of $405,375, which is to be considered as an annuity. (4) Each new Province is credited with 25,000,000 acres of public lands valued at $1.50 per acre, that is $37,500,000. With a population of from 250,000 to 400,000 each receives annually one per cent. on $37,500,000, or $375,000; from 400,000 to 800,000, one and a half per cent., or $562,500; from 800,000 to 1,200,000 two per cent., or $750,000; thereafter three per cent. or $1,125,000. There is also a further compensation, for five years, of one-quarter per cent., or $93,750, to provide for erection of necessary public buildings. (It has since been decided in Committee to grant these sums arbitrarily as an annuity without any basis of calculation being given. This has been done to prevent future disputes as to the acreage and the valuation of these lands.)
The new Provinces would prefer control of their own lands. Mr. Haultain has claimed that these Provinces are entitled to be recognized as the beneficial owners of the Crown domain within their limits, and that the right to administer their own property for themselves is one which should not be taken away without their consent. That is the view of the man who places a higher value upon the rights of his Province to its own than upon the dollars and cents offered in lieu thereof. At first it was the Imperial policy that the public lands in the Colonies were to be held by the Crown as trustees for the inhabitants of the Empire at large, and not for the inhabitants of the particular Province within whose limits any such lands happened to be situate. This was the policy set forth by Lord Durham and Lord Grey, and acted upon in Downing Street. But the practical difficulties in the way proved insurmountable. In the Colonies directly established by Great Britain she surrendered her beneficiary interest in the revenues arising from the public lands for the benefit of the people residing in such Colonies. This was done specifically by the Union Act of 1840, and also in the case of Western Australia in 1890 when the Imperial Act stated that, "the entire management and control of the waste lands shall be vested in the Legislature of the Province."
The right of the Colonies to make the most of their own resources was admitted. As Great Britain has divested herself, for the benefit of her Colonies, of all her proprietary rights to the public domain within those Colonies, so, Mr. Haultain argues, Canada should do in the matter of the public domain within the areas included in the new Provinces. I know that the American practice, as Sir Wilfrid has pointed out, is the opposite one, but I prefer to follow British precedents. Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia have control of their own lands, but this control is denied to Manitoba and the new Provinces. The former are, so to speak, constituted Provinces of the first rank; the latter are relegated to a secondary rank. It is highly improbable that in the years to come, when these Provinces have their millions of people, they will submit to the continuance of such conditions. Better terms, that is, equal terms, will inevitably be demanded. Indeed in some of the older Provinces this topic is already thrusting itself into the field of practical politics.
As a reason for the control of these public lands by the Federal Government, it is said that much expense has been incurred in the building up of effective immigration agencies in other lands; that the Dominion can do more to secure immigration than the Province can; and that if these Provinces controlled the public lands they might, by a change of homestead laws or an increase in the price of land, nullify the immigration work of the Dominion authorities. Such action is quite possible, yet though Quebec and Ontario own their public lands they have not taken such action, and what they have not deemed it wise or expedient to do would not, in all probability, be done in the West. These new Provinces are quite as anxious for a vigorous immigration policy, and an added immigration, as the Dominion can possibly be. They want all the immigrants that they can get, but I venture to say that they would be more careful as to the quality of the immigrant than the Dominion has been at times.
Putting aside for the moment the question of policy, for lands at the beginning is a liberal one, immediately available, and secured without any of the difficulties connected with local administration of the public domain. When the new Province has 1,200,000 of a population, it will receive its maximum grant from the Dominion. Thereafter the greater its growth the greater its danger of having to resort to direct taxation to meet its growing expenses. Public lands may be conserved and improved and so increase in value as the Province grows older, becoming each year a more valuable source of revenue. On this point I have not sufficient data to warrant a judgment, but I am glad to know that Mr. Bulyea, our Minister of Public Works, has expressed himself as satisfied.
I come now to deal with the Clause respecting education. On this subject one must speak carefully, recognizing that there are honest differences of opinion thereon. Further, what the Leader of a Government may believe ideally right, what he may consider legally just, and what he may deem politically expedient, are not necessarily identical. I think Sir Wilfrid Laurier appreciates the truth of this statement just now. For nearly ten years I was Superintendent of Education in the Territories. At the first I was, so to speak, in the storm belt. My recommendations and my opinions were attacked in language more vigorous at times than courteous; but long before I retired from the Superintendency I had no warmer friends than the teachers and managers of the Separate Schools, and I am proud to say that I still retain their good-will-for we did arrive at working
I think the cash allowance plans mutually satisfactory. Let me read the Clauses respecting Education
The provision of Section 93 of the British North America Act, 1867, shall apply to the said Provinces as if, at the date upon which this Act comes into force, the Territory comprised therein were already a Province, the expression of "the Union" in the said Section being taken to mean the said date. Subject to the provisions of said Section 93 and in continuance of the principle heretofore sanctioned under the North-West Territories Act, it is enacted that the Legislatures of the said Provinces shall pass all necessary laws in respect of Education; and that it shall therein always be provided
(a) That a majority of the ratepayers of any district or portion of said Provinces, or of any portion or sub-division thereof, by whatever name the same is known, may establish such schools therein as they think fit, and make the necessary assessment and collection of rates therefor; and
(b) That the minority of the ratepayers therein, whether Protestant or Roman Catholic, may establish Separate Schools therein and make the necessary assessments and collection of rates therefor; and
(c) That in such case the ratepayers establishing such Protestant or Roman Catholic Separate Schools shall be liable only to assessment of such rates as they impose upon themselves in respect thereof.
In the appropriation of public moneys by the Legislature in aid of education, and in the distribution of any moneys paid to the Government of the Province arising from the school fund established by the Dominion Lands Act, there shall be no discrimination between the Public Schools and the Separate Schools, and such moneys shall be applied to the support of Public and Separate Schools in equitable shares or proportions.
That Clause is intended' to fasten forever on the new Provinces a Separate School system, and it goes further. It gives compulsory direction to the Province as to how its own money shall be apportioned to these schools. This Clause goes beyond anything in the existing North-West Territories Act, and while it may be a necessary step in securing the permanent existence of the Separate School it is an interference with the rights of the Province to administer its own funds, and is not justified by the past actions of the Territorial Legislature in respect of these schools. I have had during the past thirty years control of schools in which pupils meet without regard to their faiths; also Protestant Separate Schools and Roman Catholic Separate Schools, where creed is the basis of admission; and I have not found any of these classes of schools present exceptional difficulties in matters of administration. Yet I am not a believer in the principle of Separate Schools, Protestant or Roman Catholic.
Nor is Sir Wilfrid Laurier a believer in the principles of Separate Schools. He says: "If I were to speak my mind upon Separate Schools I would say that I never could understand what objection there could be a system of schools wherein, after secular matters had been attended to, the tenets of the religion of Christ-even with the divisions which exist among His followers-are allowed to be taught."
The Public School in the Territories today is just that type of school exactly. Secular matters are attended to till half-past three o'clock. After that, provision is made for the teaching of religion according to the wishes of any or every sect in the school district. The arrangements are in-the hands of the Trustees, the legal representatives of the ratepayers. This public school is not a Protestant school. No distinctive doctrine of Protestantism as such is taught in this school. No distinctive rite of Protestantism as such is practised in this school. It is a school where, to quote Sir Wilfrid again: "Every man can give to his own child the religious tenets which he holds sometimes dearer than life." It is truly a common school. That which is common to all is presented to all. That which is special, that which separates, is provided for each creed. Aye and more than that. The school in the West provides a period for the teaching of the mother tongue, whatever it may be, where English is not the vernacular. That does not exist, so far as I am aware, in any other Province of the Dominion. Creed and race problems are thus recognized and solved in a way that is exceedingly satisfactory to the great majority of the people.
The Separate School in the Territories, Catholic or Protestant, is a minority school. Its course of study till three-thirty 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. Its pupils often go to the high schools and prepare for academic work, or go to the Normal Schools and take their training side by side with other ladies and gentlemen without regard to their faith or nationality. Sisters (religious), wearing the dress of their order, have attended the Regina High School to prepare for the scholarship examinations for teachers; and for some years these Sisters have attended the Regina Normal School, taking the regular professional course prescribed for teachers of both sexes. It receives Legislative grants on the same basis as the public school.
What then, you will ask, is its characteristic feature, that which differentiates it? I reply, administration and finances; not teaching or substance of instruction. It has three Trustees professing the Roman Catholic or Protestant faith as the case may be. It has probably, though not always, a teacher holding its own creed. The taxes of its ratepayers are devoted to its support. The public school has not infrequently Roman Catholics as members of its school boards, and Roman Catholics as teachers even in districts where the ratepayers are almost wholly Protestants. In the public school it is, so far as the teacher is concerned, not a question of creed, but of character and of pedagogic skill. In the Separate School it is usually a question of creed first, and of character and pedagogic skill afterwards.
In the preparation of this section of the Autonomy Bill it seems to me that some inquiry should have been made in some definite way to ascertain the wishes of the people of the Territories-the people to be affected for all time in this matter. The people of the Territories have had Separate Schools and public schools in receipt of government assistance for twenty-five years. There were at the end of 1904 over 1,200 public school districts erected, and goo in actual operation. There were nine Roman Catholic and two Protestant Separate Schools in operation. That shows more clearly and effectively than any argument I can offer, than any argument Sir Wilfrid has offered, what the people of the West think of public and Separate Schools respectively; what need there is for, and what feeling there is on behalf of, these latter schools. In six years the public schools have doubled in number, while the Separate Schools have decreased.
The people of the Territories have not been asked in any formal way to express an opinion on this topic. Mr. Haultain consulted them in other matters involved in Autonomy, but on this problem he did not, assuming that under Section 93 of the British North America Act, the Province would have jurisdiction in matters of education. The Dominion Government did not ask their opinion. On such an important matter they have a right to be consulted, a right to have their wishes respected. From what I know of them I do not think they would agree to the introduction of this compulsory measure; though I should not be surprised if the matter were left to them to find the Separate School continued in the new Provinces, not as a matter of compulsion, but as a matter of concession to the beliefs of a very small minority.
Sir Wilfrid's historical sketch is interesting, his quotations from the speeches of George Brown, Edward Blake, Sir John Macdonald, and the rest of them admirable, from the standpoint he has chosen, but they have not convinced me as to the correctness of his position. I have read carefully these statements, and some others of quite different tenor made by those gentlemen when the original question was before the Dominion Parliament, and I have also read contrary statements at a later date by Sir Louis Davies, David Mills, and Alexander Mackenzie. I recall also the discussions which took place over the Clergy Reserves Bill, and I know what happened eventually in that case. What changes the years will bring in the matter of education no one can tell. Who would have said fifty or one hundred years ago that the educational situation in France and Great Britain would be what it is today? Is it wise statesmanship thus to tie forever the hands of the West, though opinions may change, new deeds may arise, and new institutions become necessary? He who reads the history of the Clergy Reserves agitation in 1840, its reopening in 1847, the addresses in 1850, the Imperial Bill in 1853, and the Bill in 1854 disposing of the matter finally, can perhaps comfort himself with the thought that when the real need for a change arises the dead hand of no Past can successfully shackle the strong right hand of a living earnest Future.
I do not fail to recognize the exceedingly difficult position in which the Prime Minister of Canada finds himself today. We all should recognize it, and try to keep this subject as far apart as we can from purely party considerations. It is too important, too serious a matter to be made a mere shuttlecock between rival political parties. Personally I prefer a common school of the Territorial type, where the children grow up together without distinction of creed or race, with provision made for daily religious training, as it is made there now. As men, as citizens of the State, we meet in affairs commercial, social, and political, without regard to our creeds. Why should our children not do likewise?
In the Territories we have men speaking many different tongues, professing many different creeds. To assimilate these different races, and to secure their cooperation in building up the new West, demands the use of every agency that makes for union. The best way, indeed I think the only truly successful way, is to gather the children of different races, creeds and customs into the common school, and "Canadianize" them. There they will learn English, the language of law and commerce; they will work together, play together, grow up together, sympathize with each other because understanding each other, study together the history of their common country, and learn to understand and appreciate its institutions. Thus taught, though they may enter as Galicians, Doukhobors, or Icelanders, they will come out as Canadians, ready to add to our commercial and industrial success, having too, a sense of civic responsibility and duty, and some adequate conception of the true purpose of life. In the West we have asked for no school that divides us on the basis of our creeds, or that separates us at all, but we do need schools that will unite us. ,A common school and a common language will produce that homogeneous citizenship so necessary in the development of that greater Canada lying west of the Lakes.
Let there be no compulsion. Let the Dominion say to the new Provinces: "You have treated the minority, whether Protestant or Roman Catholic, fairly in the past, and have built up an effective system of schools. We will entrust education to you for the future." If I know anything of the people amongst whom I spent so 'many years such an appeal would not be made in vain, and minorities will be dealt with justly and even generously.