February 22, 1910

LIB

Louis Alfred Adhémar Rivet

Liberal

Mr. RIVET.

1 belong to no wing, I be long to the Liberal party which is united *i thinking and stating that the clause is permissive. It is not now a time for recrimination, nor to dig up our history to find causes of complaint against the mother country. ' Let the dead past bury its dead as Longfellow puts it, and let us draw inspiration from the needs of the present and the requirements of the future. It is for us to know if, as long as Canada remains,, is satisfied to remain part of the British empire, we should not feel interest in the maintenance of her power and prestige in the world.

As I said before, Great Britain's foreign policy is entirely pacific. Not only does she not seek quarrel for herself with any other nation, not even Germany, but all her diplomacy tends to preserve the peace of Europe, and it has been for this purpose that she has formed new alliances and friendships. And if I am asked for my reasons in believing in England's peaceful policy, I would say that apart from the anti-militarist ideas of the labouring classes to-day well represented in parliament, England has every interest in maintaining the statu quo, the disturbance of which must be of necessity detrimental to her. It is generally said that in Europe to-day there is only one power interested in a change, and that is Germany, which nation would not be adverse to an increase of her colonial possession and of her means of access to the sea. Hence it is that her ambitious and disturbing diplomacy meddles on all occasions with European affairs as was the case in Morocco and is a veritable menace to the peace of Europe. Great Britain, by her position, is the best qualified of all the powers to play the part of peacemaker, and her intervention in this way constantly expose her to attacks from countries less desirous than she is for peace. For my part, I have no belief in the German scare, at least for a time to come, for Germany, despite her projects for expansion, will never start a struggle until sure of success, as was the case of the Franco-Prussian war. But we may rely that the day of that struggle will be all the further away, according as England takes a more * determined stand

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LIB

Louis Alfred Adhémar Rivet

Liberal

Mr. RIVET.

and organizes more completely her defence. But Great Britain is not only a country for peace, but she is essentially, as she has always been, the land of liberty and the refuge for the oppressed of all nations. In this regard, I feel indignant that, in Canada, there may be found at present, men who are heartless enough to disparage the flag that protects that justice and that security which were denied them in their own country. I have, therefore, confidence that in the interests of humanity and of civilization, Great Bri-| tain will retain her power and prestige. But if it were otherwise, and war were to come hurridly, just imagine the consequences to Canada of England's loss of maritime power. If the dream of certain nations of locking up John Bull in his island and breaking his colonial empire, were realized, the end of our statu quo in Canada would come, and with it the premature option of selecting between independence and annexation, with all the inconveniences and obligations that either case would impose. Therefore Canada's interest demands that we assist in maintaining British supremacy on the seas, as long as that help would not menace our own liberty of action, or the autonomy of our country.

Our opponents are mistaken if they think this a new policy. I have shown that in 1868 the Canadian government, according to the declarations reiterated by her ministers in England and in Canada, by her Militia Bill, had placed our land and sea militia entirely at the disposal of the Sovereign, independent of the Canadian parliament, to be mobilized in Canada or elsewhere without any restriction as to the extent or duration of the service. V^e can see that there is a distance between this absolute abandonment of our system of defence and a conditional co-operation, subject to the sanction of parliament, as is provided for in clause 19 that reads thus:

Whenever the Governor in Council places the naval service or any part thereof on active service, as provided in the preceding section, if parliament is then separated by such adjournment or prorogation as will not expire within ten days, a proclamation shall issue for a meeting of parliament within fifteen days, and parliament shall accordingly meet and sit upon the day appointed by such proclamation, and shall continue to sit in like manner as if it had stood adjourned or prorogued to the same day.

But it is claimed that this guarantee of parliamentary sanction is purely illusory, because in the first place when the repre-. sentatives of the nation are called together, the vessels will be gone and possibly destroyed in some battle.

Firstly, I submit, that in a like case the Governor in Council should only act with a knowledge of the need and under the pres-

sure of public opinion, as was the case in the instance of the Boer war. We cannot conceive any government being sufficiently careless of public interest and of its own existence, to order the sending out of the Canadian fleet in defence of a manifestly unjust cause or one repugnant to the people Thus the sanction of parliament would be quite natural and none could complain about it. But were the order in council to be rejected by the legislators, it would be too late to prevent the irreparable, only in the case of _a naval engagement taking place near our shores, to defend our coasts or seaports. Then it would be unfair to reproach the ministry with having had more foresight than parliament itself, and with having in time placed the safest shield between the enemy and our territory.

It is urged that no dependence can be naval fleet the government is actuated by parliament ruled by an ignorant and servile majority. This pretention is a. miserable calumny that hits not only the members of parliament referred to, but also the electorate of Canada. To judge so harshly of our national representatives one must have a poor idea of the political sense and intelligence of a people incompetent to make better selections; and I am confident that public opinion will reject such a vile accusation. On the other hand if parliamentary sanction be really effective, it Canada is free to dispose of her fleet as she deems proper, how can our country be fatally bound up in the foreign policy of the empire, or engulfed in the vortex of militarism? Logical minds could scarcely

conceive it. ,, .,

Had I the time, or were it worth the time, I would take up the criticisms of the_ Nationalist faction regarding the type ot vessels to be constructed. In reply to the statement that the sole purpose of the navy is to be used in the wars of empire, I would refer to the opinion of the leader _ol the opposition. He said ' That the ministerial programme extricates itself from the exigencies of the British admiralty, and that the Canadian vessels, will have no utility other than for the protection of our coast's and our fisheries.'

I do not purpose to add any contribution to the controversy which has arisen over the class of vessels which will be constructed under the government policy. It is admitted, on all sides, that the only difference between the programme adopted by the government and the one at first suggested by the admiralty, and insisted upon by some of the hon. gentlemen opposite,_ is the building of a Dreadnought which would, according to their contention, complete the fleet unit, which they consider so desirable. In this connection, I wish simply to Temind this House that the Dreadnought type is one of a transitory nature,

which may be obsolete in a few years from now, when the construction of the other vessels provided for in the ministerial programme will be completed, while the class of ships adopted by the government is one of a permanent character calculated to make our fleet capable to be utilized at any time in the future, both for the defence of our coasts or our seaports, and as a part of the British fleet. The mere fact that our programme of construction has been adhered to by the British admiralty ought to silence the opposition of those of our friends opposite who seem to be anxious to be more loyal than the King himself. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, the more I look at the naval policy of the government as a matter of principle, or in its application, I am forced to the conclusion that it is wise in every respect, and ought to commend itself to the Canadian people.

I will, therefore, vote for the Bill for the following reasons: ;

1st. Because it is based on Canada's tra- ' ditional policy of providing for her own de-f 6UC6.

2nd. Because the establishment of a Canadian naval service is 'but the opportune crowning, foreseen by the fathers of confederation, of our system of national defence.

3rd. Because in the establishment of that naval fleet the government is actuated by those principles of autonomy that have ever guided our national life.

4th. Because the autonomy of our country is sufficiently guaranteed by clauses 18 and 19 of the Bill. ,

5th. Because the mobilizing, under sanction of parliament and for the benefit of the empire, of our Canadian navy is not in-cbmpatible with Canada's autonomy, but is merely the execution of a duty of assistance always recognized and fulfilled by our country.

6th. Because the maintaining of Ureat Britain's maritime power is one of the best safe-guards of our development and security. . ,

7th.. Because Canada's independence, or annexation to the United States, advocated as a possible alternative, to maintain the status quo as regards naval defence, instead of lessening, would considerably increase the obligations and sacrifices, thereby sought to be avoided.

I will vote against the Borden amendment-

1st. Because that amendment is the negation of all the principles of responsible government, especially that which is most dear to the English people, ' No taxation without representation.'

2nd. Because the gift of 25 millions, or the sending of the Dreadnoughts to England. is only a temporary expedient and a costly one that in no way solves definitely

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CON

John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. W. EDWARDS (Frontenac).

Before I take part in this debate, Mr. Speaker, might I ask a favour of the hon. Finance Minister who, I presume, is leading the House to-night? During this debate the House has extended to several hon. members the courtesy of adjourning at an early hour, about half past ten, and invariably to members on the Liberal side. Is

the hon. gentleman prepared to grant that courtesy to-night on this side?

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

I think several instances have occurred in which the House adjourned at the request of hon. members at an earlier hour than it otherwise would have. There ought not to be any discrimination in that respect in favour of either side, but if we are to get to the end of this debate, within reasonable delay, we should hardly adjourn at so early an hour.

I should prefer that the House should sit a little later, but I quite agree that thebe ought to be no discrimination.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

The hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Smith) adjourned the debate last night at about twenty minutes to eleven, and some nights previous the Minister of Militia adjourned it at quite an early hour. Once or twice in addition, I think, the request to adjourn came from that side of the House and was acceded to.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

I have no objection that the hon. gentleman should speak for a while and then adjourn the debate.

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CON

John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS.

I have listened with a great deal of attention and interest to the speech of the hon. member for Hochelaga (Mr. Rivet), and I cannot say that it differed very materially from many we have heard on that side, except possibly that it was a little more academic than some of them. His argument, however, was _ on pretty much the same lines and inspired with very much the same laudation of the right hon. gentleman the Prime Minister. I do not propose to take up the different points which the hon. gentleman made in his address ad seriatim, but I shall, in the course of my remarks, Tefer to them from time to time.

I feel that I am under a threefold obligation to take part in this debate, however imperfectly I may discharge that duty. I am under an obligation to the county of Frontenac, which I have the honour to represent, I am under an obligation to the Dominion of Canada, whose destiny is in the hands of this parliament; and also to His Gracious Majesty Edward VII, my King, and the right hon. gentleman's suzerain. This question is, in my opinion, too great a question to be viewed from a party or partisan standpoint alone. It is imperial and international in its scope and bearing, and any attempt to settle it as a purely Canadian business proposition must end in more or less failure. We are dealing with a matter pregnant with responsibility for every member of this House, a matter of the greatest importance to the future. of Canada, England, and the British empire. I regret, and I believe that my regret is shared by every member of this House and by the majority of the people of Canada, that

the Prime Minister should have seen fit to start this debate along partisan lines. And not only that, but it is, in my opinion, more regrettable still that he should have seen fit to entirely ignore the spirit and intention of the resolution which was unanimously passed by this House last March. Sir, I feel that it is my duty to protest, and protest strongly, against the adoption of the policy proposed by the right hon. gentleman to this House, because I feel that if that policy is carried into effect, it will not only retard the development of this young country, but it will shackle the people of Canada like bond-slaves for generations to come. Now, let us start at the beginning of this matter-and I agree with the statement made by the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Ralph Smith) last night that the beginning of this matter was really the resolution introduced by the hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster) last March, a resolution which referred solely to Canada's assuming a proper share of the responsibilities and financial burdens incident to the protection of her coast line and seaports. On that occasion, the Prime Minister expressed his surprise that any person in this House should think for a moment that Canada had been remiss in her duty in that regard. And what Teasons did the right hon. gentleman give? He said; Canada has no quarrel with any one; Canada does not desire extension of her territory; Canada occupies an isolated position and has only one neighbour, with whom she has been at peace for nearly a hundred years. These were the reasons advanced by the right hon. Prime Minister last session. I would ask: If these reasons applied then, if Canada had done and was still doing all that she ought to do in regard to the protection of her coast line and seaports, what ha3 happened since to make it necessary to introduce this policy, involving an expenditure of from $40,000,000 to $50,000,000 during the next four or five years and untold millions in years to come, without giving the people of Canada an opportunity to express their opinion on the matter? Has Canada any quarrel at the present time, real or apprehended? Has Canada's position changed? Does Canada now desire territorial expension? Are Canada's relations with the United States less cordial than they were? Last March, the hon. member for North Toronto, near the conclusion of his address, told the Prime Minister that, if the government saw fit to meet the emergency by contributing Dreadnoughts, or money, they would receive the support of the opposition. There was no attempt on the part of the hon. member for North Toronto on that occasion, by that suggestion, to create a political issue; but there was a very evident desire on his part to avoid anything like a politi-

cal issue, and to lift this matter above the plane of party polities, and have it considered on broad and statesmanlike lines. However, that did not seem to appeal to the Prime Minister at that time, and he himself introduced a resolution which was very different from the resolution finally adopted unanimously by this House. Let me call your attention to one or two points in that resolution introduced by the Prime Minister. Take the second clause: It declared against the payment

of any stated contribution. The leader of the opposition (Mr. E. L. Borden) criticised it and said:

It tells Great Britain and the world whit we are not prepared to do when it seems to me that this is an occasion when we should declare to all men what we are prepared to do.

He said further:

It seems to me that this is a little inconsistent with the last paragraph of the resolution. The day might come when the only

thing that we could do in the absence of preparation in this country would be to make some kind of contribution.

Well, Sir, the clause introduced by the Prime Minister wa3 changed to read 'regular and periodical contributions'. Now, I submit to the judgment of this House and to any hon. member who is disposed to look at this matter fairly, that the Prime Minister, when he agreed to that change in that clause, thereby distinctly and explicitly agreed to the principle of making a contribution. And yet, his supporters at the present time denounce the principle of making a contribution as endangering our autonomy. Another paragraph of the resolution introduced by the right hon. gentleman paraded the fact that Canada had relieved the British tax-payer by taking over Halifax and Esquimalt. That clause was struck out also on the suggestion of the leader of the opposition as being trifling and undignified, especially trifling and undignified in view of the magnanimity displayed by the first Lord of the Admiralty, who declared that whether Canada contributed or did not contribute anything to the support of the British navy, England would deem it her duty to spend her last dollar and put forward her last man in defending every portion of the empire including Canada. Well, Sir, that portion of the resolution introduced toy the Prime Minister was struck out, as I have said, on the suggestion of the leader of the opposition. In paragraph 4 of the resolution introduced by the Prime Minister, the leader of the opposition asked for the insertion of some word which would indicate our intention to act promptly. He pointed out to the House that the Prime Minister at the imperial conference in 1902, had stated that Canada intended

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CON

John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS.

to do something along naval lines at an early day, and he called attention to the fact that seven years had passed without any move being made to implement that promise. On _ the suggestion of the leader of the opposition, the word 'speedy' was introduced into that clause, ahead of the word 'organization'. The premier thereby again, I contend, tacitly admitted an emergency by agreeing to the necessity for haste. Well, Sir, the resolution as finally adopted by this House did not contain very much in common with the resolution proposed by the Prime Miniseter so far as vital principles were concerned. But that did not prevent, and has not prevented, the right hon. gentleman from assuming the full credit for having introduced the resolution which was more the resolution of the leader of the opposition than it was that of the leader of the government.

Now, I propose for a few minutes to consider the resolution of last March. The first clause of that resolution reads as follows:

This House fully recognizes the duty of the people of Canada, as they increase in numbers and wealth, to assume in larger measure the responsibilities of national defence.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that clause is not con troversial, and I think it may be taken as representing the opinion of the vast majority of the people of Canada. The second clause of the resolution reads:

The House is of opinion that under the present constitutional relations between the mother country and the self-governing dominions, the payment of regular and periodical contributions to the imperial treasury for naval and military purposes would not, so far as Canada is concerned, be the most satisfactory solution of the question of defence.

Now, Sir, on this side of the House we arc just as strongly against regular and periodical contributions as we were last March, and for the same reason, I presume, that hon. gentlemen opposite are against regular and periodical contributions. We regard regular and periodical contributions as partaking more of the nature of tribute or taxation than of voluntary gifts, and that is the reason, I believe, that inspired the introduction of those words by the premier and the leader of the opposition. But that clause is not merely a negative clause. That clause states two things: In the first place, that this House was against the principle of regular and periodical contributions, and moreover, and just as positively, that this House was not prepared last March to say that it would not under any circumstances make any contribution to the mother country. I contend that the use of these words ' regular and periodical ' imply clearly that this House was prepared to make a contribu-

406b

tion to the imperial navy in case of necessity. Next, the third clause says:

This House will cordially approve of any necessary expenditure designed to promote the speedy organization of a Canadian naval service in co-operation with and in close relation to the imperial navy, along the lines suggested by the admiralty at the last imperial conference, and in full sympathy with the view that the naval supremacy of Britain is essential to the security of commerce, the safety of the empire and the peace of the world.

Does that clause say anything about a Canadian navy built in Canadian shipyards? Does it suggest anything about a naval college? I contend that I have just as much right to take the view that a naval service means training ships on which we could train Canadians who would subsequently take their place on battleships, if you like, built in Great Britain, as another lion, gentleman has to take the view that naval service must mean, and can only mean, the building of Canadian war vessels in Canadian shipyards. There is nothing definite about the nature of the naval service. But while that clause is not definite, as to what our naval service shall be, it is very definite in other respects. That clause does call definitely for a speedy organization. Is that condition met by this Bill? According to the admission of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Militia and Defence, this Bill will put the date of this service at least five years in the future. It also calls for cooperation. Is that possible under this Bill? I contend it is not possible. It also calls for close relation to the imperial navy. Is that possible under the Bill proposed by the government, or is it intended^ by ^the Bill? The government policy, Mr. Speaker, is nothing more nor less than a gross violation of the principles laid down in the resolution of last March. Is it not the rankest hypocrisy to call for a speedy organization of a naval service and while expressing our full sympathy with the view that the naval supremacy of Great Britain is essential to the security of commerce and safety of the empire, and peace of the world, and yet permit the commerce of the empire and the world's peace to rest on the unaided sea-power of Great Britain, while we waste millions of money and years of time in building that which will be of no use whatever to protect our commerce or t-o ensure the peace of the world? Now there is one other clause in that resolution to which I call attention, the fourth clause:

The House expresses its firm conviction that whenever the need arises the Canadian people will be found ready and willing to make any sacrifice that is required to give to the imperial authorities the most loyal and hearty co-operation in every movement for the maintenance of the integrity and honour of the empire.

What was the purpose and meaning of that clause, if not a plain and unequivocal intimation to the world that Canada was ready to back up the motherland in her hour of need? No mention of the consent of parliament there; no talk of the Governor in Council in that; no appeal to visionary ghosts of autonomy or of taxation without representation; no treacherous use of the word ' may.' Sir, that clause, if re-written in accordance with the policy of this government, should read: ,

The House expresses its. firm conviction that whenever the need arises, the government of Canada will be' found still looking to Great Britain for protection, and working overtime to provide a new and promising field of graft for the party heelers by building a useless tin pot fleet, and while the men of England, Ireland and Scotland and Wales and the other over-seas dominions are fighting to retain Britain's naval supremacy, this government will be found ready and willing to give to the imperial authorities tangible evidence of its separatist tendencies, to dismember the empire and besmirch its honour by calling parliament together to decide whether its borrowed admiral will take our fleet of tubs to Great Britain to be protected by a New Zealand Dreadnought, or engage it in codfishing off the banks of Newfoundland.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I think that the suggestion of the Minister of Finance was a very proper one, and as I have gone a little beyond the hour he mentioned, I beg to move the adjournment of the debate.

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Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned. Mr. FIELDING moved the adjournment of the House.


CON
LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

We will continue the debate.

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Motion agreed to, and House adjourned at 11.05 p.m.



Wednesday, February 23, 1910.


February 22, 1910