Title: "The Manitoba Schools" in Globe, 24 October 1896
Source: Archives of Manitoba, P5316, Manitoba Schools Question 1896 – 1906, Newspaper clippings p.11-12
Page 1 of 1


The policy of the Tupper Ministry on
the Manitoba school question was a
most egregious mistake, a mistake
which conclusively proved their inabil-
ity to direct the affairs of the Domin-
ion. The electors appreciated the situa-
tion and returned a verdict accord-
ingly. The policy of coercion as em-
bodied in the bill introduced by Sir
Charles Tupper was empathically con-
demend at the polls. In Ontario that
policy was supported by The Mail and
Empire, and there was no abatement
in its zeal till the returns announced
the popular verdict. It is true
the Conservative party was
not unconscious of the un-
popularity of its policy and the com-
promising nature of its sudden turn
from opposition to Separate Schools
in Ontario. To counteract these re-
sults of its course the statement was
made, sometimes directly, but gener-
ally by insinuation, that Mr. Laurier
and his Quebec lieutenant Mr. Tarte,
intended to institute a stronger meas-
ure of coercion than the bill which
threatened to wreck the Tupper Minis-
try. This was done in the face of the
positive statement by the Liberal press
that there would be "no coercion under
Laurier," a statement repeated quite
as emphatically after as before the
election. The French Conservative
press of Quebec, voicing the opinions
of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, un-
sparingly condemned Mr. Laurier and
Mr. Tarte, the Liberal leader being de-
clared a "traitor to his race and re-
ligion." This attitude of direct antag-
onism, assumed by the two wings of the
Government party and extending even
into the Cabinet, was a most remark-
able spectable to present when asking
the endorsation of the electors. The
natural result followed. But the at-
tempt to continue the self-contradic-
tory attitude in Opposition has let the
Conservative party into a still more
remarkable attitude. The announce-
ment that the terms of the Manitoba
school settlement would soon be made
public has brought the sectional poli-
cies forth with unusual prominence.
The recognized newspaper organ of the
Bishops of Quebec is hounding Mr.
Laurier and Mr. Tarte with renewed
vigor. This is La Minerve's disserta-
tion on Mr. Tarte's Winnipeg speech:-
"We hesitate to give an opinion on
that speech , not knowing exactly
whether it should inspire us with pity
or contempt. Praise the persecuted in
Winnipeg, the hot-house of fanaticism
and Francophobia; applaud their resit-
ance to law, their tenacity in injustice,
right in the face of the unfortunate
people who for the last six years have
bowed down under the weight of ille-
gality and denial of justice. Cooly and
premeditatedly celebrate around a fes-
tive board the sacrifice of the legiti-
mate influence and the sacred rights
of his compatriots and co-religionists.
That is what Mr. Tarte has just done.
We were right, then when we
said that the alleged settlement of the
school question was nothing but a
shameful capitulation. It must be
true, since Mr. Tarte, abjuring all his
past record, has made himself the
apostle of the so-called National
Schools, of the Greenway schools;
since he preached the Utopia of the
union of all the races and all the
creeds in one single teaching; since he
has officially announced that instead
of giving back to the Catholics the
schools to which they have a right,
they will only be allowed a certain
number of hours for religious teach-
ing after a neutral and often sectarian
This is in striking contrast to the
views of The Mail and Empire on the
same affair. To maintain an appear-
ance of consistency our contemporay
turns a double corner. Its support of
the remedial order and the coercion
policy is abandoned with the absurd
charge that the Laurier Government
"holds that (remedial) order over the
heads of the Manitobans." Mr. Sifton
is accused of having been "bought"
with the Interior portfolio, of having
betrayed the Province of Manitoba into
the school system, which, according to
La Minerve, Mr. Laurier and Mr.
Tarte abandoned. It is not only Mr.
Sifton, who, according to The Mail and
Empire, has been bought: the whole
Province has been brided with pro-
mises of Federal expenditures. Mr.
Sifton and the people of Manitoba, ac-
cording to our contemporary supported
through the recent campaign. This
charge, made while Mr. Laurier and
Mr. Tarte are being denounced by La
Minerve for abandoning and betraying
that policy, makes the attitude of the
Conservative party and its newspapers
simply ridiculous. The settlement soon
to be announced is condemned by The
Mail and Empire as a subversion of
Manitoba's rights, and by La Minerve
as a surrender to Manitoba. No doubt
when announced it will be found, like
all fair compromises, to lie evenly be-
tween the unreasonable extremes. The
national character of the schools will
undoubtedly be maintained, and need-
ed provision will, of course, be made
for religious teaching. As a piece of
party tactics the course of the Con-
servative press in Ontario and Quebec
can be regarded with an indulgent
smile by the Canadian people. But
there is something more serious than
a tactical blunder in the attitude of the
defeated party. The question with
which it is attempting to play political
shuttlecock is one that is never opened
without exposing the stability of our
institutions to real danger. A strong
sectarian antagonism would make the
existence of this Dominion an impossi-
bility. Composed, as we are, of diver-
gent creeds, the spirit of compromise
and mutual forbearance is essential to
stability. A great party willing to in-
flame among the divergent creeds the
most dangerous of passisons that it
may secure a party advantage is a
danger that must be seriously reckoned
with. It is indeed fortunate that in
the impending crisis the affairs of the
Dominion were entrusted to men of
calm judgment, lofty patriotism and
true statemanship, men willing to
quietly endure the angry attacks of
extremists on both sides that in the
end a just and permanent settlement
could be peacefully secured.

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