March 8, 1910

LIB

David Bradley Neely

Liberal

Mr. D. B. NEELY (Humboldt).

I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that the House has listened with interest, if not with considerable surprise, to the new doctrine just laid down by the hon. member for South Waterloo (Mr. Clare). That hon. gentleman, seems to consider it a crime for members on this side to express their united approval of the Naval Bill proposed by the right hon. the leader of the government. My hon. friend seems to consider the op-* position position a most happy and! fortunate one-a position in which every man thinks as he pleases, in which every one has a policy of his own, and the eonclusionj of which is anarchy. Well, if the position of members on this side, who are unanimous in their support of the government proposition, be slavery, then, I say, give me slavery.

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CON
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Some hon. MEMBERS

Hear, hear.

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LIB

David Bradley Neely

Liberal

Mr. NEELY.

And if the position in which hon. gentlemen on the opposite side find themselves be freedom, then, I say, I want no such freedom. It is rather singular to hear from hon. gentlemen opposite expressions of approval of their divided position on this question. They seem to think there is some merit in it. That certainly was not the stand they took a year ago when this matter was discussed on the motion of the hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster). It certainly was not the position held by the hon. the leader' of the opposition (Mr. Borden) at that time, for I have his words here as reported in ' Hansard ' of March 29 last:

I come now to a consideration of the resolution moved by the right hon. gentleman, and I will say that with many portions of it I am in entire sympathy. But I would like to make one or two suggestions to the right hon. gentleman, and I do not make them in any party or carping spirit, because if there is one thing more than another I would desire, it is that the policy of Canada on this great question and the resolution announcing it should meet with the absolute and unanimous approval of this parliament and country.

That is the position which the leader of the opposition took with reference to the necessity for unanimity, and that expressed apparently the general desire of the House last year when the question of defence was first introduced. The general opinion then appeared to be that the parliament of Canada should present a solid front on this question, not only to the people of Canada, but to all the nations of the world which might be interested in what Canada should do in this matter of imperial defence. I want to ask a question-and I think it is one we have the right to ask and demand an answer to-who is responsible for the receding from the position which the members of this House took last year on the resolution of March 29? Who is responsJ ible for the receding from the position of unanimity, which then seemed to be the desire of hon. members on both sides? I am sure that I am stating what cannot well be gainsaid, when I say that among hon. members on this side, when the House prorogued last year, as we wended our ways to our several homes, there was in our* hearts a feeling of contentment and satisfaction that on this great national question, this question as to what Canada should do in the way of assisting in imperial defence and towards maintaining her own integrity as a nation and defending her own coasts,1 both sides of the House had been unanimous in supporting the resolution we had adopted. Have the Liberal party in this House, have the members of the government receded from the position they took last year on this question? I say they have not. The right hon. the leader of the gov-

eminent has introduced a Bill exactly along the lines suggested by that resolu-. tion,

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Six WILFRID LAURIER.

Hear, hear.

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LIB

David Bradley Neely

Liberal

Mr. NEELY.

And exactly in harmony with the conclusions arrived at by the delegates of this government who were sent to consult with the imperial authorities as a result of the passing of the resolution of March 29 last. Why, then, do we find this change of attitude on the part of hon. gentlemen opposite? What is the reason? Some of them tell us that the proposals of the government are not in harmony with the resolution passed on the 29th March of last year. But, Sir, the insurrection had begun, the defection from the resolution of March 29 had been completed, before the government brought down its Naval Bill.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Hear, hear.

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LIB

David Bradley Neely

Liberal

Mr. NEELY.

This House had hardly risen last year when from various political quarters there were murmurs of dissent, which gradually ro.se to clamour and then became a storm of disapproval on the part of certain political gentlemen who occupy seats opposite, against the resolution they had agreed to unanimously last year.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Hear, hear.

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LIB

David Bradley Neely

Liberal

Mr. NEELY.

Then, to crown it all, there came" the announcement from the hon, member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) that, so far from continuing to support that resolution, he was opposed to Canada doing anything whatever towards the defence of Canada or the empire. That is the situation to-day, and it is one these hon. gentlemen cannot get out of. As I have listened to the debates in this House from day to, day, I have not yet heard any good or valid reason advanced for this political somersault which these hon. gentlemen have performed. So that, so fax as unanimity is concerned, I think that we on this side have decidedly the best of the argument. What was the position when this House rose last year? We had passed a resolution calling for the -speedy construction of a naval service for the defence of Canada and to aid in the defence of the empire; but certain gentlemen opposite, after they had taken a little further time to consider, evidently came to the conclusion that they had made a political mistake, or a mistake of some kind, and revised their views, and came out, in favour of another policy-the policy of a direct contribution to the British admiralty. It is useless for hon. gentlemen opposite to try to mislead the public as to what they understood by the terms of the resolution of March 29, 1909, because we have the statement of the hon. the leader of the opposition (Mr. R. L. Borden) after the House rose, not on

one, but on many occasions, as to what he understood the terms of that resolution to be. On July 1, in London, the hon. the leader of the opposition, addressing the Colonial Club, used the following language:

Some feeling was created in the British islands owing to the fact that Canada had not by resolution or by speech from the Prime Minister vouchsafed the offer of one, two or three Dreadnoughts. He (Mr. Borden) thought the resolution in the form in which it was passed, while its terms might not upon their surface seem as significant at the moment as the offer of one or two Dreadnoughts would have been, laid down a permanent policy for the Dominion of Canada, upon which both parties united, and which would serve a more practical purpose than any such offer of Dreadnoughts.

That is the position taken after the House had risen last year by the leader of the opposition. But this was not the only occasion. Speaking at different places throughout this country the hon. gentleman, and also the hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster) took exactly the same stand. So I say that these hon. gentlemen must not attempt to lead the country to believe that they did not understand the effect or the intention of the terms of the resolution of 1909.

We all know the history of the question of defence in its relation to the resolution passed by this House last year. The hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster) introduced a resolution relating to the defence of Canada. This was on the order paper month after month, and was finally brought to the point of. discussion, amended in a form that was finally agreed upon by the Prime Minister, and the leader of the opposition, and adopted by the members of this House unanimously. That is, briefly, the history of the introduction of the question to this House. There can be no question, but that the members of this House understood the purpose and intent of the resolution passed on March 29, last year. What is the position taken by these hon. gentlemen to-day? It was of great interest to members on this side of the House, and I am sure to the people of Canada generally, to watch the movement in the various political quarters, after the House adjourned last year, that movement which was ultimately to lead to an absolute reversal of policy on the part of the opposition. My personal sympathies were very largely with the leader of the opposition, because I could see the enormous pressure that was being brought to bear on him from various sections of his own political camp. The hon. member for Pro-vencher (Mr. Molloy) in his speech last night, gave us an indication of where this insurrection in the ranks of the opposition party commenced, and the position of the leader of the opposition in this political

crisis in the history of his party was one that certainly commanded, I believe, the sympathy of every member on this side of the House. He was something like the leader of the Israelites in the days of old when he brought his people up to the banks of the Red Sea, hedged in by the terms of the resolution of 1909, confronted by a cold sea of dissent as represented by the attitude of his political allies in Quebec, and behind him, Sir, an insurrectionist horde, who shouted out at the tops of their voices: Give us Dreadnoughts, or, as

patriots, we die. That was the position in which the leader of the opposition found himself a few months after the close of this House last year. That was a crucial moment in the political career of the hon. the leader of the opposition. The eyes of all Canada were attracted towards the hon. gentleman to see whether or not he had the strength and the stamina of the statesman, the strength necessary to resist this tide of insurrection. Sir, it seems apparent from the attitude he has taken on this question that those instruments of torture so feelingly and lovingly referred to by the hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster), the rack, and the thumb-screw, and the composing-room were too much for the strength of the hon. gentleman, and I say it advisedly he was compelled to strike his colours. The result to-day is that we have two policies-shall I say two, more likely two dozen-because while we have on this side of the House one policy, and one policy alone, a Canadian navy, to be constructed in Canada, to he operated by Canadians as far as possible, to be under the control, and jurisdiction of the Canadian parliament, we have on the opposite side of the House almost as many different policies as there are members on that side. Is it a crime to be unanimous in support of the policy of the government on this question? Just consider what the position of the Dominion of Canada would be to-day with a great question of such vital moment to this country before the government for their decision if, instead of the present government, we had on the treasury benches the hon. gentlemen who are now sitting, to their very great regret, in the cold shades of opposition. Where would the country be, where would this House be on this great question of national defence? One policy by the leader of the opposition, another by his chief lieutenant in the province of Quebec, and still other policies from his- other lieutenants from the other provinces of Canada. I say, Sir, it would surely not be a happy position for this country or for this House if these gentlemen had the settling of the question of Canada's policy on this great subject of national and imperial defence.

The policy laid down by the House and Mr. NEELY. !

the government last year was intended to be the permanent policy of the Dominion of Canada on the question of her contribution to her own and to the imperial defence. I submit that this new departure, the doctrine of a plebiscite, the doctrine of submitting this question to the people of Canada as to what shall be done, has no bearing whatever on the question now under our consideration. We did not hear a word about a plebiscite in March of last year-not a single word. Hon. members who spoke from the opposition benches seemed to consider it a national duty, seemed to consider it a responsibility of which we, as the parliament of Canada could not divest ourselves [DOT]-namely, the duty of policing the seas for the protection of our own marine, our sea commerce and the coast line of this Dominion. They then represented not a question for reference to the people but a question lying wholly within the authority and competency and responsibility of this parliament. In view of the attitude of the two parties on this question, in view of the attitude taken by the leader of the opposition and his followers, and the attitude of the government in support of the Bill which has been introduced let me ask the question: What good do hon. gentlemen opposite expect to result even supposing the question of defence were submitted to the people? Hon. gentlemen opposite have a policy of their own, a policy of contributing $20,000,000 or $25,000,000 at once to the British admiralty to be used in strengthening the British fleet. Surely, they do not expect us to take the position that, if the peope are not willing to support the proposition of a Canadian navy they are willing to support the proposition of a direct contribution. For, in one case, we are interpreting the national duty, or what this House last year unanimously declared to be the national duty. These hon. gentlemen propose to take $20,000,000 or $25,000,000 of Canada's money and send it across the sea where it shall be *spent absolutely regardless of the voice of the people who sent it. I say that is1 a new proposition-that there should be a plebiscite on the question of a Canadian navy and no plebiscite on the question! of a contribution. Now, if it be conceded that, if there is a plebiscite it should cover the whole ground of the question of what course this parliament should pursue on the question of defence, the ballot paper presented' to the people of Canada would certainly be a very complex document. We should have a series of questions :

1. Are

2. Are you in favour of a direct contribution to the British admiralty for the strengthening of the British fleet, or are you opposed to such a direct contribution?

3. Are you in favour, or are you against, both the establishment of a Canadian navy and the giving of a direct contribution?

4. If in favour of a direct contribution, how often should we give it?

Then, we might throw in a question for the benefit of the hon. member for Fron-tenac (Mr. Edwards) who seems to have grave doubts as to the loyalty of a large section of the people of Canada: ,

5. Are you in favour of the empire, or

are you against the empire? '

That would settle in that hon. gentleman's mind the question whether a large section of the people of Canada are or are not loyal to the British flag and the British Crown.

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LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS.

The hon. member might submit that to the leaders of the Liberal party. That would answer my purpose.

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LIB

David Bradley Neely

Liberal

Mr. NEELY.

I have not heard the leaders of the Liberal party ever express any sentiments similar to those expressed by the hon. member for Frontenac (Mr. Edwards). And I want to say, as a Liberal, that I resent the imputation made in this House in a speech of that hon. member when he undertook to insinuate that the followers of the Prime Minister in this country in the province of Quebec were not loyal to the British Crown.

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LIB
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Some hon. MEMBERS

Order.

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Some hon. MEMBERS

Sit do-wn.

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LIB

James Kirkpatrick Kerr (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

The rule of the House is well known. No -hon. member can be required to answer any question. Nor can he be interrupted except to order, or for a personal explanation by his .consent. Otherwise, he has the floor.

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LIB
LIB

James Kirkpatrick Kerr (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Air. SPEAKER.

If the hon. member (Mr. Neely) consents to a question being put to him-

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Some hon. MEMBERS

Order.

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LIB

March 8, 1910