February 11, 1915

CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAZEN:

, The 4th of August.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   FISHING BOUNTIES.
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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

What is the date of the telegrams sent by the Admiralty?

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   FISHING BOUNTIES.
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CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAZEN:

The 5th of August.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   FISHING BOUNTIES.
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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

So, Sir Richard Mc-

Bride purchased these submarines before their purchase was recommended by the Admiralty?

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   FISHING BOUNTIES.
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CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAZEN:

Not a doubt about it,-and before war was declared. And let me say to my hon. friend that it was a most fortunate thing that Sir Richard McBride did so. For, even as it was, an attempt was made to recall these submarines after they

had left Seattle. Fortunately, they had got outside the territorial waters of the United States and were able to get to Esquimalt. A delay of even a few hours in purchasing these submarines would have meant that we should not have had these vessels for the defence of our cities and coasts on the Pacific; and without that defence, there is no telling what might have occurred.

Now, let me say to my hon. friend that we have no information that the Chilian government had refused to take these submarines. Our information, as contained in the telegrams, is that they could not be delivered to the Chilian government. Our information was that there were financial difficulties which made it impossible for the Chilian government to take possession of these ships and so the builders were seeking for purchasers. But I desire to say to the House, that even if I had had that information, in view of the information I received from the British Admiralty, I would have gone on and purchased these ships; that is, I would have accepted the recommendation given by the British Admiralty in preference to any other recommendation, or statement or information, that might have been given in regard to them. It has been a most fortunate thing that we acquired these submarines. Ask any man on the Pacific Coast what he thinks has been the result of these submarines being there. Ask the naval officers of the department in Ottawa what the moral effect of the presence of these submarines has been. These officers tell me that the fact that there were submarines on our Pacific Coast ready to go out and do battle in front of Victoria, Vancouver or Esquimalt would be known to German cruisers on the Pacific Coast, like the Dresden, the Lipzic and others, and they would not venture in to make an attack, knowing that they might be met by a torpedo from a submarine. These German vessels on the Pacific Coast were of 3,400 tons, about the same size as the Rainbow. The Rainbow single-handed might , have been able to engage any of them, except for the fact that she is slower that these German vessels, and if she had been the. sole defence of the coast cities and left without the very valuable aid of these submarines, there would have been far greater danger of an attack. We have known that these cruisers were not very far from the coast of British Columbia. We have information, accurate information I believe, that one of them went as far

north as Prince Rupert, no doubt watching the trade route to Canada across the sea. In the opinion of every naval man, the presence of these submarines in British Columbian waters not only had a splendid moral effect, but they would have rendered splendid defensive service had the occasion . arisen. The information we have from day to day is that the men on these vessels are doing and can do good work. Our reports are to the effect that these submarines, while perhaps not the moist modern or of the highest class, yet are able to give defensive service .as efficient as submarines owned iby any nation and were the best that could possibly be obtained.

My hon. friend has been listening to a lot of idle talk. Some one told him that one of these submarines had been kept in the drydock ever since it was purchased and that the other is so badly damaged that it is now laid up for repairs with its side torn out. That cannot be the case. I will simply read to the House the report which on the 9th of February, two days ago, was received from the Esquimalt dockyard with regard to these submarines, concerning which we have been receiving daily reports. It is as follows:

Naval, Ottawa, Ontario.

Night report. Both submarines of our own exercised and returned to harbour.

The circumstance that they had exercised and returned to harbour that night is hardly compatible with the fancy tale which my hon. friend has had poured into his ears and which he has narrated to this House to-day, to the effect that one of the submarines was so badly injured that its side had to be taken out and that one of them has been in drydock almost ever since it was purchased.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   FISHING BOUNTIES.
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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

My hon. friend has

misquoted me. I did not say that the submarine had been so badly injured that it had to be put into drydock; I said my information was that she had been put into drydock ostensibly for the purpose of making changes in her machinery.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   FISHING BOUNTIES.
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CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAZEN:

I do not wish to misquote my hon. friend or do him any injustice, but he certainly conveyed to my mind the meaning that one of these boats had been practically useless from the time of purchase and that one of them was very badly injured and is now laid up in drydock with its side torn out. But here we have the statement made on the 9th day of, this month in the form of the ordinary report

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   FISHING BOUNTIES.
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LIB
CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAZEN:

Before that, I think.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   FISHING BOUNTIES.
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LIB
CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAZEN:

The date is not very material, but these facts will all appear from the correspondence.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   FISHING BOUNTIES.
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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

It was of course paid out without authority, but that is merely technical.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   FISHING BOUNTIES.
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CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAZEN:

Yes.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   FISHING BOUNTIES.
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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

The amending order is not printed in the file brought down.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   FISHING BOUNTIES.
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CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAZEN:

This perhaps was not printed. I am reading this because my hon. friend said he was not able to find any Order in Council correcting the mistake that was made, and I am showing him that the amending order was passed on the 29th of August. There is no objection, as I have said, to bringing down the papers. I am sorry my hon. friend sees fit to insinuate charges of such a serious character against Sir Richard McBride, when a perusal of the papers would have satisfied my hon. friend that such insinuations and charges were without foundation. The papers will be brought down at an early date and laid on the table of the House. I invite my hon. friend's careful scrutiny of every transaction in regard to the matter, and of everything the Naval Department has done in

connection with the purchase of the submarines. I am sure he will come to the conclusion that his suspicions are ill-founded, that the transaction is beyond suspicion or reproach in every respect, and is to the very best interests of this country during the crisis in which we are engaged, and that Sir Richard McBride, instead of being the subject of criticism and condemnation, is deserving of the praise of the people of Canada for the prompt and excellent measure he took to further safeguard the interests of the people on the Pacific coast.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   FISHING BOUNTIES.
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?

Right Hon. S@

I think my hon.

friend the member for St. John (Mr. Pugsley), upon reflection, will come to the conclusion that it would have been better for him to have obtained the papers first and made his speech afterwards. The reason for the course he has adopted perhaps may be his suspicion that if he saw the papers first he could not have made the speech and indulged in the insinuations which we heard from him this afternoon. As far as the Government are concerned, I entirely concur in what has been said by my hon. friend the Minister of Naval Defence (Mr. Hazen), that if the hon. member for St. John has any charge to make with regard to this matter, we shall welcome him to make it, and give him the investigation he desires. As far as we are concerned the

facts are precisely as my hon. friend the Minister of Naval Service has said. A communication was received on the 3rd day of August when we had secret telegrams leading us to believe that war with the Empire of Germany in the immediate future was highly probable. The Minister of Naval Service came to me and spoke to me about the telegram which had been received from the Esquimau Naval Yard. We conferred upon the matter and I said to him that as the sum pf money involved was large it would be wise for us to consult the Admiralty first and see whether or not they would recommend the purchase. If Sir Richard McBride had not taken the action which he did the submarines could not have been purchased by Canada and the security they have afforded to the Pacific coast would not have been available. I would like to remind hon. gentlemen in this House, and my friends from British Columbia will remember it, that there was grave apprehension at one time on the Pacific coast as to an attack

from that very same squadron which afterwards sunk two British ships in the southern Pacific. We knew at the time, at least we had reason to believe at the time, from information gathered by the naval officers on the Pacific coast and also from information afforded to us by the Admiralty, that the German ships in the Pacific which afterwards constituted the fleet I have alluded to were endeavouring to come together. They were not together at the beginning of the war but their plans were so -well laid and their means of communication so well arranged that they did succeed in coming together and defeating a British fleet much inferior in power, with a loss of two British ships. Four gallant young Canadians went down with Admiral Craddock and bis crew in that disaster. There was reason to believe at the time that those German ships were intending to come north. I know it was the belief of the naval authorities on the coast, and I think also the belief of the Admiralty, that they intended to come north, and I have telegrams from personal friends of mine in Vancouver pointing out that considerable apprehension was felt as to an attack; in fact one very old personal friend of mine in British Columbia, not Sir Richard McBride, suggested to me that it would be better to not have any defences at all at Vancouver or Victoria and to rely on the observance by the German fleet of the Hague Convention which forbade an attack on an undefended place. I replied that I had not that same confidence in the observance by the Germans of the Convention and that we would, at Victoria, at Vancouver and everywhere else, perfect all the defences we could and fight it out to the end if they did attack us. I may tell the hon. member for St. John that two British ships, one of them the Rainbow, another a cruiser, I think the Newcastle, and a Japanese cruiser which happened to come to our Pacific coast at that time, together with those two submarines for which my hon. friend has such a contempt, were prepared and were ready and made their preparations to go out and fight that German fleet if they did come off the coast of British Columbia. You can imagine the unctuous air of moral indignation that would have been displayed by the hon. member for St. John if we had failed to get those submarines. No one would

have been louder in his criticism upon the Government if we had neglected what I believe was our duty in that regard. I conferred with the Minister of Naval Defence. He sent a telegram to the Admiralty. The next morning we received from Sir Richard McBride this telegram:

August 4.

After consultation with Burrell and naval officers have advanced to-night one million one hundred and fifty thousand dollars to Lieut. Pilcher, senior naval officer, in command for purchase two modern submarines lying Seattle harbour and built for Chile. All arrangements complete for their arrival Esquimau to-morrow morning unless untoward incident occurs. Congratulate Canada if this operation successful on acquisition of such useful adjunct defence of country.

R. McBride.

We were so close to the great event of which we had notice a little before nine o'clock on the evening of August 4th that it was doubtful whether or not we could get the submarines, because, as hon'. gentlemen in this House may know, there is a difference between the international law with regard to the sale of a war ship and that which prevails with regard to the supply of ammunition and munitions of war generally. So we had to get those boats out of American territorial waters before the declaration of war, and owing to the promptness, activity, and patriotism of Sir Richard McBride, we succeeded in securing them as a very great aid to the defence of the Empire. In reply to Sir Richard McBride I sent the following telegram on the 5th day of August, 1914:

Sir Richard McBride,

Victoria, B.C.

Yesterday morning- we communicated with Admiralty as to advisability of securing two submarines mentioned and as to feasibility of manning them as without crew they would be useless. They advised purchase provided crews could be secured. As this has been accomplished we appreciate most warmly your action, which will greatly tend to increase security on Pacific Coast, and send hearty thanks. Please advise us of their arrival.

R. L. Borden.

As far as the Government is concerned, that is the whole story with regard to these submarines. I may, however, add that Sir Richard McBride afterwards sent me a copy of the official cheque which was issued by the Finance Minister of the province of British Columbia, as a souvenir as he expressed it, of what had been done with great promptness and great vigilance by the Government of that province.

The cheque is issued to the Premier of British Columbia, who endorsed it to the order of Henry Byng Pilcher, Lieutenant R. N., and bears the endorsement of Lieutenant Pilcher,

I regret that my hon. friend from St. John should have taken the course he1 has. It seems most undesirable that any hon. member of this House should seek to depreciate the value of any submarines, ships of war, or war munitions of any kind that have been acquired by the people of this country for their defence. I repeat, it is a most undesirable course for my hon. friend or any other member of this House to take. I do not know what we may expect from him next. Shall we have an attack upon the guns that have been sent forward with the Canadian contingent?

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   FISHING BOUNTIES.
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LIB
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

My hon. friend is quite willing to make an attack upon boots. I think he will find his efforts in that regard, as in other respects, absolutely bootless.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   FISHING BOUNTIES.
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LIB
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Perhaps my hon. friend changes his policy as often as he changes his boots, for this afternoon he expressed great willingness to vote $100,000,000 when two years ago he stood up in his place and resolutely fought 9 p.m. against that aid which would have been of vital importance in the present struggle.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   FISHING BOUNTIES.
Permalink

February 11, 1915