Imatges de pàgina

Church of England could not be assessed for the support of schools not under its control. Following the Supreme Court the full Court of Queen's Bench granted the application and quashed the by-law.

Both cases were then taken by the city of Winnipeg to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and on the 30th of July 1892 judgment was delivered by Lord Macnaghten allowing the appeals, and reversing the judgments appealed from. Their lordships held that it was intended (sub-section 1, above) to preserve every right or privilege with respect to denominational schools which any class of persons enjoyed at the time of the union; but added that it would be going much too far to hold that the establishment of a national system of education upon an unsectarian basis was so inconsistent with the right to set up and maintain denominational schools that the two things could not exist together, or that the existence of the one implied immunity from taxation for the purpose of the other, and further said that it could hardly be contended that, in order to give substantial effect to a saving clause expressed in general terms, it was incumbent upon the Court to discover privileges which were not apparent of themselves. They held that, notwithstanding the Public Schools Act, 1890, members of every religious body in Manitoba were free to establish schools throughout the province, to maintain them voluntarily, and to conduct them according to their own religious tenets without interference. They could not assent to the view that the new public schools are in reality Protestant schools, for the legislature has declared in so many words that the public schools shall be entirely unsectarian.'

I confess, with fear and trembling, that this last conclusion is to me astonishing; but I shall have to refer to the point again, for the dominant party has made the most of it.

By this judgment the rights under sub-section 1 are made clear, and the Church of England now disappears from the fight.

The question of appeal to the Governor-General in Council prescribed by sub-section 2 (above) was the next matter to be disposed of, and in November 1892 a committee of the Canadian Privy Council fixed a date in the following January for hearing the arguments on petitions from the Roman Catholic minority in Manitoba for remedial school legislation. On the 22nd of February 1893 an order in Council was made under which a case was prepared for the Supreme Court, in which certain important questions of law were referred to them for consideration. On the 20th of February 1894 the Court decided by a majority of three to two that the Roman Catholic minority had no right of appeal to the Governor-General in Council.

Thereupon the case (Brophy and others v. the Attorney-General of Manitoba) was taken to the Judicial Committee, and on the


29th of January 1895 Lord Herschell gave judgment allowing the appeal from the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada. Their lordships held that the questions submitted chiefly depended on the construction of the second and third sub-sections of section 22 (above quoted), and that the second sub-section extends to the rights and privileges of the Roman Catholic minority acquired by legislation in the province after the union. The question was, whether any such right or privilege had been affected by the legislation of 1890. Their lordships were unable to see how this question could receive any but an affirmative answer. They contrasted the position of the Roman Catholics prior and subsequent to the Acts from which they appealed. Prior to 1890 they managed their own schools, selected the books, and determined the character of the religious teaching. They shared the public grant, and the money raised by the local assessment of Roman Catholics was applied only to their own schools. Under the Act of 1890 their own schools will receive no State aid, while they themselves are taxed for the public grant, and assessed for the support of schools which they do not regard as suitable for the education of their children. Their lordships held that the appeal to the GovernorGeneral in Council was admissible, and further that he has the power to make the declarations or remedial orders asked for. It was not essential that the statutes repealed by the Act of 1890 should be reenacted, or their precise provisions again made law; but all ground for complaint would be removed if the present system were supplemented by provisions removing the grievance on which the appeal is founded, and modified to give effect to those provisions.

The points of law being settled, the Privy Council of Canada met on the 26th of February 1895 to hear the appeal of the Roman Catholics against the school law, with the result that on the 21st of March an order in Council was made in which his Excellency in Council decided that the Manitoba School Acts of 1890 had deprived the minority of the following rights:

'(a) The right to build, maintain, equip, manage, conduct, and support Roman Catholic schools in the manner provided for by the (said) statutes which were repealed by the two Acts of 1890 aforesaid.

(b) The right to share proportionately in any grant made out of the public funds for the purposes of education.

'(c) The right of exemption of such Roman Catholics as contribute to Roman Catholic schools from all payment or contribution to the support of any other schools.'

And further that it seems requisite that the system of education embodied in the two Acts of 1890 aforesaid shall be supplemented by a provincial Act or Acts which will restore to the Roman Catholic minority the said rights and privileges of which such minority has been so deprived as aforesaid, and which will modify the said Acts of 1890 so far, and so far only, as may be necessary to give effect to


the provisions restoring the rights and privileges in paragraphs a, b, and c, herein before mentioned.'

This ‘Remedial Order' was sent to the Government of Manitoba, and they were requested to take action thereupon. To this the Provincial Legislature, on the 19th of June, made answer alleging the inefficiency of the old Roman Catholic schools, the inadvisability of expending public money on them, the difficulties of maintaining an efficient system of education, which would be aggravated by the establishment of separate schools, and asking for an investigation into the working of the former system.

In July 1895 the Dominion Government asked the Provincial Government whether they would settle the question satisfactorily to the minority, without making it necessary to call in the powers of the Dominion Parliament. To this the Manitoba Government replied on the 20th of December last, stating that action in the schools question was a matter of public policy, flatly refusing to establish separate schools, and again asking for an inquiry.

Here then we have the spectacle of a ‘Liberal’ Government, supported by a strong Protestant community, refusing the enjoyment of their rights to a Roman Catholic minority, although these rights are specially reserved to them in the constitution of the province, and distinctly defined by the highest court of the Empire. Moreover since the Acts of 1890 that Government has been twice returned to power by the province with a majority of 3 to 1, the second time being as late as the 7th of January 1896, so that their position is impregnable, and they can afford to defy the federal Power. They give us at once an example of Protestant liberality and a practical lesson in Home Rule.'

Let us see how far the Roman Catholics are ready to meet the Government, and how much liberty of action it is that they actually require. This was publicly announced by Mr. Ewart, Q.C., of counsel for the minority in all the higher Courts, as long ago as the 29th of April last year, in Winnipeg, subsequently to the issue of the 'Remedial Order.' He says:

We are willing to work up to the secular standard prescribed by the State; to employ State-certificated teachers; to use State-selected books (if not antagonistic to the Catholic religion); to be subjected to State inspection, and to be free from Church control. That, I think, is all that the State can require of us, and ought to be a sufficient answer to suggestions of inefficiency and illiteracy; and in return we ask that in schools in which there are none but Roman Catholics the religious sentiments and sanctions' to be taught shall be such as we choose, and not those selected by others, however free from theological prejudice.

We will now glance at the attitude of the other denominations. The schools do not come up to the requirements of the Church of England, as could be shown by an affidavit of the Archbishop of Rupertsland in Logan v. Winnipeg.


On the 20th of March 1895 the following resolution of the Methodist Ministerial Association of Winnipeg was sent to the Dominion Premier at Ottawa :

Fearing lest silence be construed as indifference, we respectfully but firmly protest against interference with the school system of Manitoba as established by law: First, because by this law no injustice is done to any individual ; secondly, because such interference would infringe upon provincial rights, &c.,' and Methodist ministers were requested to preach upon it. This pronouncement is a curiosity in its way.

The following utterances lay stress upon religious requirements, and show how far certain of the Protestant authorities are from desiring religion to be divorced from the school teaching.

On the 21st of November 1895 the Rev. Principal King, in moving resolutions on the schools question before the Presbyterian synod of Manitoba, said that he could not protest too strongly against the view that there should be no connection between religion and the action of the State, including its action in the matter of education' a view which, if it obtained, would deprive society as an organisation of all religious sanctions and found it on a purely secular basis.'

On the 18th of April 1895 the pastor of the Central Congregational Church in Winnipeg, during a lecture on the schools question, argued thus : It is the business of the State to provide moral training. But moral training will be ineffective unless supported by the sentiments and sanctions of religion. Therefore what? It is the business of the State to provide religious teaching. And recapitulating, 'What then is the duty of the State ? First, to teach religion in so far as it can do that without violating the fundamental principles of religion; and, second, to extend all hospitality and encouragement consistent with justice to the agencies whose business it is to teach religion.'

To come now to the actual facts as to religious teaching and exercises in these 'non-sectarian' schools. The regulations say: * To establish the habit of right doing, instruction in moral principles must be accompanied by training in moral practice. The teacher's influence and example, current incidents, stories, memory gems, sentiments in the school-lesson, examination of motives that prompt to action, didactic talks, teaching the Ten Commandments, &c., are means to be employed.'

(Query, according to what faith ?)

As to religious exercises, they provide a number of selections from the Bible (either version), which may be read without comment; a prayer such as would be used by Trinitarian Protestants; the Lord's Prayer, and the Benediction.'

Thus it will be seen that certain Protestants' are allowed to introduce the quantum of religion that will satisfy their consciences, while the Roman Catholics are denied the same liberty: such a modicum of religion is to them utterly inadequate for the education of their children; and they are not allowed a voice in the matter even in the districts where their children form the main school population. And yet it is solemnly affirmed that the schools are not Protestant ! The religious observance prescribed by the advisory board can certainly not be styled Jewish, nor Unitarian, and emphatically not Romanist. What then is the name of it? Is there any other name for it than · Protestant'? and are not the schools non-sectarian Protestant schools ?

What a farce is the whole proceeding! Public schools are set up and labelled 'non-sectarian' in the Act creating them. Then the Protestants are openly permitted to get their foot in as far as suits them, while the Roman Catholics are refused even an inch of standing ground.

Englishmen, I suppose, will scarcely credit the fact that there is no practical difficulty in the way of giving separate schools to the Roman Catholics. The Manitoba Government say that they can scarcely maintain one school in sparsely-settled districts. Quite so: then in such cases it would be clearly impossible and absurd to set up another for two or three Roman Catholic children. The law does not demand impossibilities, and pioneers who go out to reclaim the wilderness do not expect all the advantages of civilisation. In Winnipeg, Brandon, the Portage, and perhaps some other towns, there would probably be enough Roman Catholic children to fill separate schools without trouble. As to the bulk of the Roman Catholic population, they are massed together in their own districts. Their chief settlement is at St. Boniface, a French-Canadian town on the banks of the Red River, opposite to Winnipeg, where is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop. The old Roman Catholic half-breed people are settled in their own parishes on the banks of the Red River, the Assiniboine, and some smaller rivers. Their lands were of the shape of a long piece of tape stretched out. Each strip was a few chains in width, abutting on the river, and going back two miles into the prairie, with two miles further for ‘hay-privilege,' known in both common and legal parlance as the 'inner' and 'outer' two miles; while the houses were in a string along the river-banks, for the sake of mutual protection and society for the inmates. Could anything be simpler than such a situation ?

To understand the rancour that has been aroused in this dispute by the stirring up of religious animosities by the Orange Lodges and certain Protestant speakers throughout the Dominion, Englishmen would have to go back to the state of feeling aroused by the Tractarian movement in this country, or the Romanist aggression in the days of Earl Russell. And the irony of the situation lies in the fact that the provision in the Act under which the Roman Catholics are claiming

« AnteriorContinua »