Title: "The Manitoba Danger Signal" in Catholic Register, 26 November 1896
Source: Archives of Manitoba, P5316, Manitoba Schools Question 1896 – 1906, Newspaper clippings p.60-61
Page 1 of 2


The Manitoba Danger Signal.
Commend to us the words which
Archbishop O'Brien, of Halifax, has
spoken on what is satirically called the
"school settlement." "I can scarcely
bring myself to believe" he says "that
any government in Canada could
possibly be a party to such a transac-
tion." There is something in looking
at the matter in that way. To think
for a moment that what is published
from Ottawa is the finality of the
transactions between the governments
of Messrs. Laurier and Greenway would
mean taking down every barrier before
our impatience. After the feelers
thrown out for weeks in the press, the
forecasts and semi-official versions of
the long looked for document, we had
made up our minds to expect little or
nothing from Mr. Laurier in the way of
redress for the Catholic people of
Manitoba. Catholic opinion, either in
Manitoba or elsewhere, had not been
consulted, and none were more in the
dark aobut the issue of the inter-
Liberal negotiations than the proper
representatives of the people whose
interests were at stake. But although
we had abandonned all hope of seeing
Mr. Laurier do justice to our co-reli-
gionists in the west, we must confess
that the "settlement" has taken us
completely by surprise.
What fresh graft does Mr. Laurier
intend to impose upon the school
legislation of Manitoba? Let us
carefully examine the nature of the
act proposed to be introduced at the
next session of the Legislature. Let us
see in what respect it differs from the
intolerable Martin act. Does it ease
the exclusion declared against Catho-
lics by that infamous measure? or
does it not clinch the policy of Martin
and the bigots? We say Mr. Laurier's
"settlement" would accomplish the
latter not the former end; and we
think a common-sense study of the
Ottawa memorandum will make our
contention plain to the average com-
What was the Martin act? It was
a law abolishing separate schools, and
compelling Catholics to send their
children to the public schools; or in
lieu thereof to go without any share
of the taxes which they themselves
pay toward the cost of primaray edu-
cation in the province. It was a law
that there must be only one kind of
primary schools legally entitled to
levy support on the taxpayers. It was
a law sweeping away all rivalry to the
Protestant system of common schools
in which boys and girsl, of all religions
and of no religion, are taught together.
It cut all public support away from
the Catholic idea of primary education
in schools where, as far as possible,
the teachers are selected with an equal
view to religion and to efficiency. The
destruction of the Catholic idea of ed-
ucation was the sum of the constitu-
tional grievance declared by the judg-
ment of the Imperial Privy Council.
A remedy for that consitutional griev-
ance, if offered to Catholics in good
faith, must, of course, restore the
central principle of Catholic schools
Mr. Laurier's "settlement" does not
pretend to do anything of the kind;
on the contrary it clinches the aboli-
tion of the Catholic idea, which is the
one thing Archbishop Langevin and
his people have been contending for
during the past six years. All who
have read the Ottawa memorandum
have this made most abundantly plain
to them. Therefore, the preamble of
the memorandum, when it says that
the act to be introduced at the next
session of the Legislature is "for the
purpose of settling the educational
questions that have been in dispute
in that province" (Manitoba) flatly
contradicts and mocks the plain mean-
ing of the provisions of the document.
The act will not and is not intended to
settle the dispute; if passed it could
only result in prolonging and embitter-
ing the contention of Catholics that
their constitutional rights in Manitoba
entitle them to the maintenance of
the Catholic principle of education
The first provisions stated in the
memorandum are that any Christian
clergymen (why not a rabbi?) may be
authorized by a majority of school
trustees, on the petition of the parents
or guardian of ten children in rural
districts, or twenty-five in any
city town or village, to give religious
teaching for half an hour in the after-
noon, either on specified days or every
teaching day. There is no need to
waste time in saying that this is not
the idea of Catholic education. In the
thinly settled school districts, there-
fore, Catholic schools would be rooted
out; indeed all religious teaching would
be rooted out, because it would be
absurd to imagine that Christian
clergymen in such districts, where
missionary work is hard and distances
are magnificent, could be on hand
every afternoon of the week, or on
specified afternoons between 3.30 and
4 o'clock sharp, to close the remote
schools with religious instruction.
Let us pass then the from provision made
for the poorest class of schools with
one observation, that the Ottawa
memorandum would absolutely secu-
larize them, save for any flavoring of
Protestantism contained in the text-
books of Mr. Greenway's education
Next in order come the better class of
schools in towns and cities where the
average attendance of Catholic child-
dren is forty or upwards, and in villages
and rural districts where the average
attendance of Catholics is twenty-five
or upwards. In such schools the
trustees may, if petitioned by the
parents or guardians of the Catholic
pupils, employ one duly certificated
Roman Catholic teacher. Protestants
may do the same. This is how the
principle of common schools is insisted
on. There is to be no separation of
the pupils by religious denominations
during the secular school work
and the Catholic teacher may
be intructing the Protestants
during the day, while the Protestant
teacher may be placed over the Catho-
ic pupils. This being so the only
object of the provision that teachers
in the larger schools shall be both
Protestant and Catholic according to
the denominational representation of
the pupils, seems to be to ensure to
Catholic young men and women in the
teaching profession that their religion
shll not debar a very limited number of
them from finding employment for
their talents. There is a provision
for religious teacing in these larger
mixed schools which the framers of
the memorandum may profess to
understand as a workable regulation;
but which we confess ourselves unable
to grasp in that way. Our readers
may grapple with the provision (6) for
themselves, and see what they are able
to make of it. As we read it, and we
fancy we read it in the only way it is
capable of being read, the Protestant
pupils are to be sent home without
religious teaching during one half the
teaching days of the month, while the
Catholic children are kept in, and
during the other half of the teaching
month the Catholic children will have
an early day. As a compromise of the
question of religious teaching in public

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