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FIRST DAY (MORNING SESSION)
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 1ST, 1920
The Fifth Annual Meeting of the Canadian Bar Association convened at 10 a.m., September 1st, 1920, at the Chateau Laurier, Ottawa.
The President, Sir James Aikins, having called the meeting to order, requested Mr. M. H. Ludwig, K.C., Vice-President for Ontario, to take the chair while he withdrew to receive the Governor-General and other distinguished guests.
His Excellency, the Governor General and the other guests having arrived:
THE PRESIDENT: May I introduce to Your Excellency the members of the Canadian Bar Association. May I introduce to you, Lord Cave, the members of the Canadian Bar Association. May I introduce to you, Hon. Mr. Taft, the members of the Canadian Bar Association. May I introduce Hon. Mr. Mcfarland, of Washington. Sir Robert Borden having retired from politics, you do not know him as well as you used to. I beg to introduce Sir Robert Borden.
His Excellency has kindly consented to address some words of welcome to us.
HIS EXCELLENCY THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE, K.G., GovERNOR GENERAL OF CANADA: Sir James, Ladies and Gentlemen: May I in the first instance offer to all members of the conference a most cordial and hearty welcome to the Capital of Canada. In my capacity as Governor-General I can only hope that this conference will be as successful as those which have taken place previously.
We are privileged today in welcoming amongst others three very distinguished gentlemen-Lord Cave, Mr. Taft and Sir Auckland Geddes-and I am quite sure that we all, whether we are connected with the legal profession or otherwise, shall extend to them a most cordial welcome and we hope that they will enjoy their stay amongst us as much as we enjoy having them here. (Applause).
It would be presumptuous and impertinent on my part if Twere to attempt in any form whatsoever, being merely a layman, to enter into any discussion of the various interesting, possibly somewhat intricate subjects which are now upon your agenda, and any observations which I may have to make will be in a purely general and certainly in no manner of means in a legal sense. But, ladies and gentlemen, we must all be aware and conscious that any gathering of this sort is being held, at times like these, under circumstances very different from what they would have been some five or six or more years ago. We have passed through anxious and critical days. We have judged, and can judge now more by the light of experience and knowledge, how critical and how anxious those days were; and the very few observations which I shall address to you this morning will, I hope, be taken not in any spirit of self-congratulation or of vain optimism, but as an indication of what we shall be able to accomplish in the future.
In many places in Canada I have ventured to quote from a preface of a book without having the advantage and the privilege of having the author sitting by my side, but today I venture respectfully in his presence to quote but one sentence from the preface which Mr. Taft wrote to a book which, I know, is familiar to many of us, entitled "English Leadings" by the late Professor Larned. In the opening of his preface, in his forenote to that book, Mr. Taft stated
"Representative popular government and civil liberty are the benefits which England has conferred upon the world."
In the opening sentences of his book, the author states:-
Gentlemen, as I said a moment ago, I have not wished to quote those two phrases in any spirit of egotism, self-laudation or self-aggrandizement, but I have quoted them, and especially so, as coming from critics, qualified and candid, but very friendly. I have quoted them as the historical fact which
we in our generation have to live up to. British institutions have stood the test of time. They have stood the test of the greatest upheaval that the world has ever seen. It is for us, ladies and gentlemen, to see that they can stand the still further test of conditions in which we find ourselves today.
Perhaps to us in Canada those institutions come closer and nearer, almost, than anywhere else, as we in Canada are able to see the work of the British institutions in perhaps the most extended form in which it is seen anywhere in the world. We today not only see the long tradition upon which those institutions are founded, but we can also—and we ought never to forget it-we can see the permanent record of splendid work which was accomplished, now over fifty years ago, by the Fathers of Confederation. To those men we in this generation, and it is safe to say in future generations, owe a debt which never can be repaid. Gentlemen, today it is for us to answer the question whether British institutions are capable of dealing with the problems which confront us at this moment. It may be a matter of years, it may be a matter of generations, before the full effect of this great upheaval which we have seen in the last five or six years has been brought to a final conclusion; but nevertheless the duty and the privilege lie upon us of endeavouring so far as we can to assist in restoring the world to conditions of peace, happiness and security. Gentlemen, that task will, I know, be one which you willingly undertake.
We in Canada and throughout the Empire are today in closer connection, closer touch, than ever we were before. The ties which have cemented us and bound us are stronger than they were before; and in mentioning that fact with regard to the Empire I am quite sure that with our great neighbours to the south we shall look forward to still strengthening those ties and that connection to which we all look back with such pride and satisfaction. (Applause).
Heavy responsibilities rest upon the shoulders of all governments today. But it is not only upon the shoulders of governments; it just as much upon the shoulders of those who place governments in office and who replace governments. Perhaps some of us-I suppose it is only a matter of human nature are very much inclined, after exercising our privileges at the ballot, to leave matters alone, always reserving to ourselves the inalienable right of frank, but not always very intelligent criticism. But it is more than ever necessary in the conditions in which we find ourselves today that the people who place the governments in office should share the responsibility and should take either the blame or the credit. We are today more than ever dependent upon public opinion. We do not ask for panicstricken, startling or violent changes. All that we ask, and are entitled to ask, is that the public, on the good-will of whom governments invariably rest, should before arriving at decisions
place themselves by experience, by knowledge, by training, in a position to be able to give the best verdict they can. On you, gentlemen, lies the responsibility of forming, guiding and directing public opinion. We have the past to look back upon, but we cannot rest solely upon that; we have to look forward to the future. Various theories are floating through the world; changes of government are suggested; various schemes are proposed. It would be presumptuous on my part if I were to attempt to deal with any of them. All that I can say is that the tried and trusted path which we have known is the safest to pursue. Under British institutions as we have known them in the past, with their elasticity and their adaptability, we are, I believe, fully competent to deal with those problems in the future, and if we are true to our history, true to our traditions, I am confident that we shall be able to look forward to Canada not only as great but still greater, happier and more prosperous than ever it was before. (Loud and prolonged applause).
THE PRESIDENT: Will the Hon. Mr. Turgeon, AttorneyGeneral for Saskatchewan, kindly come to platform?
HON. W. F. A. TURGEON, K.C., (Regina): Your Excellency, Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen: It is my great honour and privilege to thank Your Excellency for the very kind and very instructive words of welcome with which you have opened this annual convention of our association. I am only too conscious, after listening to you, Sir, that I am about to express but inadequately the gratitude which all of us must have felt as we listened to the words which fell from your lips. Your Excellency has said many things which I am sure will be, during the course of our deliberations, a source of inspiration to us.
You have referred to the sacredness of the privilege of possessing British institutions, which is the privilege of the people of Canada. We realize Your Excellency, that those institutions have come to us in the form of a written, legal document, known as the British North America Act, the Constitution of Canada. That document takes, in so far as a written document of some one hundred and fifty sections can take, the spirit and substance of British institutions and confers them upon Canada. Moreover, it performs the very difficult and delicate function of dividing the administration of the constitution between the Provinces of Canada on the one hand and the Canadian . confederation on the other, leaving it to the Courts to determine, from time to time, where the line of demarcation is to be drawn. Therefore it has fallen to the lot of the members of the legal profession in Canada, both at the bar and on the bench, to devote a great deal of their time and energy to the task of interpreting the words of the constitution which is ours, and of defining the powers which that constitution assigns respectively to the Dominion and the Provinces. I remember upon one occasion having the privilege of hearing Sir Robert