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Manitoba School Act

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History 6151-1 12 February 2009 French Catholics Required to Have Receptivity and Modesty Among a myriad of conflicts between Anglophone and Francophone since the British North America Act of 1867 which established Canada, the Manitoba school question represents the major discord between Anglophone and Francophone, Protestants and Catholics and provincial government and federal government in Canadian history. When Manitoba became the fifth province of Canada in 1870, John A. Macdonald cabinet legislated the Manitoba Act which guaranteed the equal rights for both English Protestant and French Catholic denominational schools. In 1890, however, Manitoba provincial government of Thomas Greenway passed the Manitoba Public Schools Act, integrating two religious school systems to one public school system by eliminating funds for denominational schools and acknowledging only English in courts and official documents. The furious Francophone went to courts; although French Canadians almost won the case in Supreme Court, they lost in Manitoba court and the British Privy Council in 1892. Sir. Wilfrid Laurier, the first Francophone Prime Minister, was elected in 1896 and successfully negotiated the Laurier-Greenway Compromise which allowed the limited religious education and use of French under certain conditions; this compromise was the most unbiased and efficient law that Laurier could draw from given circumstances. ...read more.


The major court case relating to Francophone's argument was Barrett vs. the City of Winnipeg in 1892; even in the case, John Kelly Barrett lost his appeal to Manitoba courts and the Supreme Court; "three members of the Supreme Court of Canada decided that an appeal did not lie, while to held that an appeal would like, because rights and privileges within the meaning of the sub-section had been prejudicially affected" (Kribs 44). Therefore, the case was sent to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in England; on December 11th, 1894 the Privy Council concluded that an appeal lies to the Governor-in-Council because "even if the rights and privileges mentioned in section 22 included rights and privileges created since the union, the statutes complained of have not affected any right or privilege of the Roman Catholic minority in relation to education" (Kribs 45). Canada was established based on the British North American Act of 1867; thus, the judgment by highest court of Great Britain, the Privy Council, has greater effect on Canada. The argument of French Canadians is illogical and dogmatic since they refused to accept the significant change in conditions after the Manitoba Act of 1870 and kept arguing to follow the old law; if the society changes, the laws based on old customs should be changed as well. ...read more.


Unlike Great Britain and its Queen who is also a chief executive of Canada under the British North America Act, Pope and other outside Roman Catholic force were regarded as a real threat to English-Canadians. Therefore, Laurier's sovereign compromise without any outside pressures was the most moderate, unbiased and conciliatory agreement between Anglophone and Francophone. The Manitoba Public Schools Act of 1890 may seem as a radical change or even discrimination to Francophone; however, considering the relatively great population increase of English Americans in Manitoba, dividing governmental funds for both Protestant and Roman Catholic schools was worthless and rather a waste of money. In addition, the Laurier-Greenway Compromise also allowed the use of French when the schools fulfilled the requirement such as having ten French-speaking students. Besides, the Manitoba Public Schools Act declared to be fully constitutional by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council of Great Britain. The relation between Canada and Great Britain is indispensable and cannot be refuted unless the British North America Act of 1867 is abolished and Canada stands on the ground own its own. In conclusion, the Laurier-Greenway Compromise might not be the permanent solution for the conflict but it was the best compromise that any other Prime Ministers could ever have gotten. ...read more.

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