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Last revised:
23 August 2000

Les Québécois, le clergé catholique et l'affaire des écoles du Manitoba / Quebecers, the Catholic Clergy and the Manitoba School Question, 1890-1916

Réaction of Mgr Langevin to the Conservative Government's Remedial Bill [April 13, 1896]

[Note from the editor: Mgr Langevin replaced Mgr. Taché as archbishop of St. Boniface in 1895. As such, he was the leader of the Catholic minority in the West. To the Quebec church hierarchy, it was essential that the proposed Remedial bill receive the approval of Mgr Langevin before they take any steps themselves in the same direction. Certainly, the Conservative government fully expected such an approval, if they were to have any chance to pass the bill in the House of Commons and survive politically. However, Langevin initially had objections about at least two parts of the remedial bill, that which concerned the control of the choice of textbooks to be used in the Catholic schools and the financing of the Catholic schools by the government. The proposed law merely stated that the schools had a right to government financing without indicating how this would be done. Consequently, On February 17, 1896, Langevin communicated to Father Lacombe that he was not pleased with the law and that it was nearly impossible for him to accept the law. The Liberals had ceased on these obvious defects to justify rejection of the Bill.

However, at the urging of Lacombe, who presented Langevin with an ultimatum - it was this bill or the Church risked loosing everything - Langevin reluctantly came to approve the measure. The approval was stated on three occasions: the first by telegram on February 22, 1896 - this text is reproduced below translated from the latin original by Paul Crunican, the second on March 14 in a private letter to Lacombe and bishop Bégin, the last, on April 13, in a document sent to Tupper and Bowell, read officially into the records of the House of Commons.]

- 1 -

The telegram of approval of February 22

"The law is workable, efficacious, and satisfactory. I approve it. All bishops and true Catholics ought to give it approval. There is life in the law. Your letters are excellent. But let there be no conciliation."

- 2 -

The March 14 letter of approval

"I can approve of this law in as far as it gives us a real control of our schools and an immense relief in our long agony.

If some verbal changes or additions were made according to the suggestions of Mr. John Ewart and to those of Hon. Mr. Bernier and Hon. Mr. LaRivière, especially for the books, the exemption of taxes, the inspectors and the government grant, the Remedial Act would be as much as we can expect from the Government who cannot give us more than what we had before and who must follow the lines of the judgement of Honourable Privy Council of England, and of the 'Remedial Order'."

- 3 -

The April 13 statement to Bowell and Tupper

"In the name of the Catholic minority of Manitoba that I represent officially, I ask the house of Commons to pass the whole 'Remedial Act' as it is now amended. It will be satisfactory to the said Catholic minority that will consider it as a substantial, workable & final settlement of the school question according to the constitution".

Source: Paul Crunican, Priests and Politicians: Manitoba Schools and the Election of 1896, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1974, 369p., p. 263.


© 2000 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College