January 19, 1916


Oliver James Wilcox

Conservative (1867-1942)


Yes Mr. Blaine, the

American statesman, said in one of his books:

It never pays to be a blue-ruin man in the United States. The people are not influenced by that sort of tactics. They have an abiding confidence in the future, and when dismal accounts are spread broadcast, they simply lose confidence in the authority thereof.

I think that throughout the Dominion of CanadaTthese words are beginning to apply fairly well to the hon. member for St. John city, because the hon. gentleman has said so many things in the past that the people have found to be untrue that they do not pay any attention to him now. For that reason, therefore, we do not look upon the matter as seriously as we would if conditions in that regard were different.

The hon. gentleman last evening tried to make a case against the Government by asserting that enough had not been done for the farmers of Canada. Why, he said the Government sent out a pamphlet telling the farmers to produce more, with the result that the farmers dragged the ground three times where, if they had not received the pamphlet, they would only have dragged it twice. Providence smiled on them and they got a great crop. You have neglected the question of transportation, he says. You ought to have built shipyards; you ought to have built a fleet of ships to carry this grain across the Atlantic. You ought, he says, to build elevators at St. John and Halifax-though I understand that there is an elevator at Halifax and that it is not half-full at the present time. I understand, *also that through the actions of this Administration in safeguarding the interests of the farmers of Western Canada, greater progress has been made in the movement of

the crop to its destination than was made in any previous year.

Look at the freight rates, said my hon. friend; they are too high. Well, what makes the freight rates high? Is it the Government? The Government has been doing everything in their power to adjust the freight rates, but it should be remembered that conditions exist to-day upon the high seas over which no government has control. When the war broke out and the enemy's ships made their appearance upon the Seven Seas, it became risky for the great transports ,to carry their cargoes through the arteries of trade to the distant markets of the world, and' no company in the world would insure that cargo at the rate at which they would insure it in times of peace. Is the Government responsible for that? If my hon. friend had not made so vigorous an opposition we might to-day have three dreadnoughts upon the great trade routes of the world, and probably the freight rates would not now be so high.

Topic:   '84 COMMONS

Oliver James Wilcox

Conservative (1867-1942)


The next point to which my hon. friend referred was the extension of the life of Parliament. I tell you, he said it is a serious thing-you know how he draws it out; I cannot do it like he can- I am practising. It is a serious thing to change the British constitution! You would think it was the rock of ages he was going to change. But it is not. It would be done just as simply as the King approved letting the soldiers vote, which my hon. friend said His Majesty would not do. It is only a matter of form, and if it is approved by the Parliament of Canada it will be done. This Government will directly urge it, we hope, hon. gentlemen opposite, with your assistance. We want it. We do ' not believe that we can use our best energies in this great conflict, and bring the force of this state to bear to the fullest possible extent without your assistance, and we plead for it. But if you, hon. gentlemen, are to take the course which is directed by the hon. member from St. John, then it means a weakening of the character of the citizenship of this country, and the ability of our citizens to uphold those principles of liberty and of freedom which have been handed down to us by the glorious ancestry from'whose loins we have sprung.

But, Sir, speaking a few months ago, my hon. friend thought there was going to be an election. He thought that, but he 7

thought wrong. You know I am inclined to think that although my hon. friend is clever and astute, polite, smart, all the rest of it; although he possesses all those essential qualities, he pays too much attention to newspaper scraps. Perhaps he is trying to keep in with the press. It may be that it would pay us all to do that. I have no charge to make against the press or against young men who grace the dignity of the position which they occupy. But, you know, in recess time they have got to write up editorials, and the hon. member for St. John seems to believe them all; he brings them back to this House and reads them. But he was in Winnipeg when there was talk of an election in that great city, which is the home of his friend the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Rogers), and he gave out an interview. He says, now, it is a serious thing to extend the life of Parliament, a -serious thing to change the constitution. But it is only paper, it is not -rock or -stone. You -simply go to the House of -Commons in England and ask for -an amendment of our British -North America A-ct, and it will be passed just as any -piece of legislation would be passed here. It is not so serious as -my hon. friend would -like to make the country think i-t is. I have here the interview which he gave out in Winnipeg. It is as follows:

Charges of Liberals.

Hon. Wm. Pugsley, Liberal member for St. John, N.B., and for years Minister of Public Works in the Laurier Oa'binet, in the course of an interview given to the Manitoba Free Press, Winnipeg, on, September 15, declared as follows :

Her-e is what he -says, but he has had a new vision since then:

The present circumstances are so grave from the standpoint of Canada and the Empire that it would be deplorable, in my opinion, to have the people divided upon party questions.

The first paragraph is all right.

Another of the reasons why I favour putting off an election until after the war is because I think it would he a great pity to hold one just when the energies of all the people of Canada, especially the members of the Government who are primarily charged with the duty of attending to the recruiting and equipment of the soldiers, should be devoted to this one end.

That is the way ih-e talked a few months ago. I have watched the course of my hon. friend ever since I have been in this Parliament, and upon many occasions I have admired him for his cleverness and his shrewdness; but since this Government came into power he seems to think that they have no right to govern the destinies of this country,

and that he is the dictator and the allpowerful of us all. Why the change in his position to-day? The extension of the life of Parliament is not serious, and the Government has taken that position. If hon. gentlemen opposite wish to take another course, in my judgment they are not taking a course which is in the interest of our country, or of the Empire to which we belong.

My hon. friend said: Why, when this war broke out we all knew it was going to be a long war. But only a little while before that he did not know that there was going to be a war at all, notwithstanding the fact that he had the advice and counsel of the chief executive of the Imperial forces, and the knowledge of the conditions that existed in our own Empire, and of the history of other states and peoples that have been predominant in the world. The British Empire is not very old. Our history, since the British Empire, has become pre-eminent and predominant in the world, does not date back very many centuries. But, 'Sir, in the past there have been other empires, the Phoenician Empire, Carthage, Rome; and the history of three thousand years points to the fact that all the good things of this life, home, land, commerce, trade, belong, not to the feeble or to the weak, but belong to the energetic and the strong. What did my hon. friend (Mr. Pugsley) say? Was he inclined to accept the advice and counsel of the chief lords of the Admiralty, who knew what they were talking about? Here is what he said on March 12, 1913, speaking in this House:

I can say that the ignorance displayed in that memorandum of Canadian conditions and of Canadian people is enough to make a horse laugh.

My hon. friend from Rouville (Mr. Le-mieux) also said something. He fwas a transgressor too, but be made a very fine speech the other day, a speech -true and loyal to British institutions, and because of that speech I am not going to criticise him now. I would a hundred tipies rather raise the member of St. John to the elevated plane which my hon friend (Mr. Lemieux) has now reached.

I have some more quotations here, but they- are a matter of past history. There were also many other points to which I intended to allude, but I must not weary the House. This great struggle in which we are now engaged, is recognized by all within the confines of this House and of this country to have been due

to the moslj titanic crime ever committed against humanity' and .civilization. It has been written that our civilization, as we have it to-day, is based on the law of Moses, and since Moses handed down the law upon the flags of stone, and men forsook the worship of the golden calf and took to worshipping God "who created them 'in his own image-since that primitive period in the history of the world, the unpeopled plains have become hives of industry, and hives of industry have become unpeopled plains as we see in Belgium, France, Poland and in other countries ravaged toy the war, which has wrought such wonderful historic and geographical changes. To-day we are confronted with a doctrine, with a system that is absolutely opposed to that under which we have lived. We have toeen permitted to live, Sir, in a century of great achievement, and we boast of all we have accomplished. Wealth has been piled up in every avenue of our industrial and national life. But who accomplished all that? I ask you, [Sir, was it not our forefathers who left the distant shores of France and England and Scotland and other countries and came and settled upon the rock-bound coasts of this country. They were men who endured untold hardships, who made great sacrifices, and who wrought many days that they might hand down to us the great heritage which we possess to-day. Mr. Speaker, the great races living under British institutions have toeen the torch bearers of civilization in past centuries. Other empires in the past in their day and generation made advances in civilization, but not since the world began has any empire been recognized as a, more beneficent, humane, uplifting agency than the great British Empire to which you and I belong. The races who live under British institutions were the torch bearers of civilization 'because they enjoyed liberty and freedom and because they possessed the character to uphold these principles.

I have this to say as my last word to the House this afternoon.: in my humble opinion, anything that tends to weaken the character of the citizens of this country at this time is unpatriotic. In my judgment nothing will have a more unfortunate effect than the stirring up of strife over a few horses and a few shells. Let me remind my hon. friend (Mr. Pugsley) that wealth after all does not constitute the power of the state; it is the individuality and character of the citizens. If we are to have wrangles in this House upon political is-

sues; if this Government is to he attacked for reasons which are no reasons at all, and which are only a repetition of the old political game over which our hearts were sore in times of peace; if that is what we are going to have, I say that when these speeches are read in the constituencies by the Liberals and the Conservatives they will declare that we want to be one. What effect will the speech delivered this afternoon and last night by the hon. member for St. John have? He tells the country that the Government are a bunch of grafters and bunglers. What effect wiU it have upon the honest citizen of the country who desires to see honest work done during this great crisis? I say to my hon. friends opposite and I plead with them-I mean it; it comes from the bottom of my heart- I say let us for goodness sake throw this old political game into the ditch. It is rotten. Let us remember that the country and the institutions under which we live are at stake, and that everything that was won for us by our forefathers must go if Germany wins. Imagine, Mr. Speaker, the success of the German doctrine that the life of the citizen is measured only by its value to the state.

That is to be spread over Canada, accompanied by the hatred that has been implanted in the breast of the German race with, I am sorry to say, the wrongful assertion that we are their natural enemy. Statements have appeared in the German press to the effect that the German people in Canada are serfs, that they are downtrodden, that they have no rights here. Why? To stir up a spirit of enthusiasm in their own country and to carry out the wishes of the high military caste. Imagine a German race with such ideas as those in their minds. What would you expect if they became predominant over us? That system involves making such a hell of the country that the Allies, that every citizen, will accept anything in order, to get away from its baneful influence. Let us, regardless of politics, be brothers for once in this game. Let us act all together and we will proceed to do our duty as God gives us to see our duty. Then we will proceed to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him that has borne the brunt of the battle, his widow, and his orphans, and to do all possible to achieve a just and lasting peace. ,

Topic:   '84 COMMONS

Frank Oliver


Hon. FRANK OLIVER (Edmonton):

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the Government are to be congratulated on the choice they have made of a champion of their cause 7i

on this, occasion. We 'have certainly been entertained by the expressions of my hon.. friend from North Essex (Mr. Wilcox), and we are bound to assume that he speaks with authority as representing the' ideas of the Government in regard to the important matters that have been brought to the attention of the House by my hon.. friend from St. John (Mr. Pugsley), as well as by other hon. members on this side. We are at one with him in desiring unity of action in this great world crisis, but the people of Canada who must pay the price in money and in blood, ask at:, the hands of those who for the moment have the administration of our affairs, that the handling of our money, and shall I say, the direction of our blood',, shall be characterized by honesty and efficiency, to the end that the cause in which we are engaged shall triumph. Are we to understand that, the policy of the' Government is that their friends-their party friends-shall profit unduly out of the supply of the necessary requirements for this war, and that their champions shall stand up and say to the House and the country, that they are not to be criticised, that to criticise them is disloyalty?

In my humble judgment this is the parting of the ways. If the Government propose, instead of honestly meeting an honest statement of fact, and placing before the House and the country such reasonable explanation of that condition of fact as may be possible, to declare in the most imflammatory style that they are to have the divine right to do as, they please, and that those who question them in the ,doing of that are guilty of treason against the state and the Empire, then I, for one, vill certainly take issue with them, and I think that a large majority of the people of Canada will do the same. My hon. friend (Mr. Wilcox) was anxious to include all of us in this House and in the country in an. embrace of brotherhood' from which party politics would be altogether eliminated. May I ask how my hon. friend arrived in this House, may I ask in what interest he has oast every vote-that he has ever cast in this House, may I ask in what interest he ipade the speech' which he did to-day, if it were not in the-interest of party politics? Is he to declare that there shall be no party politics in 'this Parliament, when, if there were no differences of opinion and if those differences were not crystallized into the forms of party allegiance, this Parliament would

in effect have no reason for existence? That a member of the House of Commons should declaim against partyism in the discussion of public affairs can only be considered as an evidence of insincerity. Instead of, the address of my hon. friend having been of a character tending to the elimination of party discussion in this Chamber, and from the platforms and press of the country, I cannot recall a more deliberate, a more unqualifiedly partisan utterance ever having been made in this House.

I did not desire to deal with the question of the supply of munitions to the British Government - by the manufac-

5 p.m. turers of Canada. It was not my purpose in rising to address the House to deal with that question, and I do not go any further now than merely to say, that accusations of disloyalty against those who are sent here for the purpose of guarding the interests of the public because they ask in a most respectful way for information for the benefit of the public in regard to the expenditure of the moneys of the public, cannot be maintained. If there is disloyalty, the disloyalty is on the part of those who either have their hands in the public treasury themselves or are desirous of protecting those who have their hands in that treasury. This is a time when I see in the newspapers the motto "save and serve"-a good motto necessary to be observed in this country as in every part of the British Empire as a means to success. But we have heard in this House that- not tens, of thousands, not hundreds of thousands but tens of millions of money have been improperly expended in the production of munitions for the actual prosecution of the war, a'nd when my hon. friend says " he who criticises is disloyal. " the disloyalty is on his side, not o.n ours.

May I deal now with a matter which was alluded to by the hon. member for St. John (Mr. Pugsley), by the hon. member for North Essex (Mr. Wilcox), and also by the Prime Minister. It is something that has a very important bearing upon the interests of the West, and I think the conditions should be thoroughly understood. The House is no doubt aware that, notwithstanding the bountiful crop of the West and the high prices that prevail in Great Britain for foodstuffs, the prices to the producer in the West this year are little, if any, higher than the average prices of the

past number of years, and in some cases much lower. The reason of that is not because the railroad charges are higher, not because the elevator charges are higher, but because the cost of ocean carriage is so much higher, as my hon. friend from St. John says, 1,000 per cent higher, than it was a few years ago. The ocean carrier is to-day receiving for the transportation of Canadian wheat across the Altan-tic fifty per cent as much as the farmer receives for producing that wheat and putting it into the elevators. This has arisen no doubt in large measure because of war conditions. It is a matter which was brought to the attention of the Government during the past session. While the crop was in process of being harvested and before it was put upon the market, attention was drawn to the fact that the ocean rates were abnormally high, and the Government was urged to take some action towards bringing them down. The Premier and his party of friends spent some time in the old country last year, and if I remember .aright, it was announced in the newspapers on behalf of the Prime Minister, that he wiais there for the express purpose of securing a reduction in those ocean transportation rates. When he came back he appointed a committee, of which the hon. Minister of Public Works (Mr. Rogers) was chairman, for the purpose of dealing with this question with a view of securing for the western farmer a fairer share of the Liverpool price for his product. At the time of the return of the Prime Minister the ocean rate was quoted at 33 cents per bushel. After the appointment of my hon. friend the Minister of Public Works and his committee, I noticed that the ocean rate increased to 34 cents, to 35 cents, to 36 cents per bushel. Recently 1 saw in the newspapers that the ocean rate at that time was approximately 42 cents per bushel. I am not able to establish the connection between the Minister of Public Works and his committee and that increase in the ocean rates, but I will suggest this, that in view of the fact that the rates have continued to increase ever since his appointment, he would do himself a great deal of credit if he would resign and then he could not at any rate be blamed for that increase in the rate.

The Prime Minister dealt with this matter of rates in his speech the other day, and he showed 'that the Government had been able to' secure ocean transportation on favourable terms for the munitions

made, in Canada. He informed the House that the Government had been fortunate in being able to secure the services of Mr. A. H. Harris, formerly connected with the Canadian Pacific railway, and he gave a statement of what Mr. Harris had been able to do. I will reiad the last paragraph in regard to that : *

The Overseas Department is now being called upon to provide for about 125,000 gross tons of munitions, war material, and supplies per month, or approximately one and a half million tons per annum and the tonnage is still growing.

As the Premier pointed out, there is now at the disposal, as I understand it, of this Mr. Harris, on behalf of the Canadian Government, forty transports which have been commandeered by the British Government, and which have been placed at the disposal of the Canadian Government for the transportation of Canadian munitions to England. Twenty of these transports sail from St. John and twenty from Halifax, and the Prime Minister says they will be able to transport one and one-half million tons of munitions in a year. Now, one and one-half million tons is equivalent, if I figure it correctly, to about fifty million bushels of wheat. Of course, we are glad to know that the Government have been able to make such a satisfactory arrangement for the transport of munitions made in Canada. But the question naturally arises: if they were able to' do so well for munitions, why were they unable to do approximately as well for wheat? Why should it be that it is possible to get munitions taken across the ocean at a fair rate and with fair convenience and not possible to get wheat taken over under the same conditions? - That is a matter that was brought to the attention of the Government, as I have said, by their own newspapers last fall, and so far the response has been of the character indicated by tins statement from the Prime Minister:

We have continually been in communication with the Admiralty, both during my visit in the past summer and by correspondence as well, in regard to the necessity of releasing as far as possible tonnage for the North Atlantic service ; and we did secure, by the efforts I made during the past summer, and by the correspondence which has taken place from time to time, the release of several ships for that service.

My understanding of this is that the British Admiralty had commandeered a large proportion of the North Atlantic merchant fleet for the purposes of that Government, and that this Mr. Harris

and the Canadian Government were able to secure from the British Government forty transports for the carrying of munitions. But, instead of going on to secure forty more transports for the carriage of wheat, what I understand the Prime Minister to say here is that they were able to induce the British Government to release from the condition of being commandeered certain of these vessels usually employed in the North Atlantic service, so that they could go back to their old employment. That is to say, while vessels commandeered by the British Government were held to carry these munitions, when it came to the carriage of wheat, instead of similar action being taken, the vessels that had been commandeered by the British Government were asked to be released so that they might carry wheat on their own terms; these terms being a thousand per cent over what was a fair rate two or three years ago. Mr. Speaker, I make this statement, I hope, without prejudice. I hope I have interpreted incorrectly the statement of the Prime Minister, but if I have interpreted it correctly-and I do not see in what other way it can Jse read-then certainly it is for the Government to give to ' this House and the country very definite information as to why the same consideration was not given to the farmers of Canada who have produced that which is even more necessary than munitions for the carrying on of this war, as has been given to the producers of munitions by this Government, as stated by the Prime Minister.

I may say, I was not one of those who clamoured for the Government to take control of the North Atlantic transport situation last fall. I was satisfied that we should take our difficulties as they came, the difficulties that naturally arose out of war conditions. I did not wish to urge upon the Government action that would be embarrassing in any way. But when . I find in the statement of the Prime Minister himself that he took the action on behalf of munitions, that his own supporters asked him to take on behalf of wheat, which action he did not take on behalf of wheat, I certainly would be doing less than my duty if P did not bring to the attention of the House, and as far as possible of the country, what appears to me to he an absolutely unfair discrimination.

Dealing with the Address, I find, two paragraphs referring to proposed action. We are promised " a resolution authorizing and requesting the enactment of such legislation as will extend the life of this Parliament

for the period of one year," and also " measures will be submitted for your consideration to further the effective co-operation of Canada in the defence of the Empire and in the maintenance of this war waged for liberty and lasting peace."

These two suggestions are of the

liighest importance and are entitled

to the fullest and most careful consideration of this House. When we consider the urgency of the eonditipns in which our country and the Empire is placed at this time, I must say I am somewhat surprised to find these suggestions in the sequence in which they appear. The proposal to extend the life of Parliament comes first, and the proposal to take measures for the further effective co-operation of Canada in the defence of the Empire comes second. It would seem to me that the first duty of Parliament would be to provide, under [DOT]direction of the Government, for the effective co-operation of Canada in the defence of the Empire and'then, when that had been done, if it were thought wise and necessary, to bring forward legislation to secure the extension of the life of Parliament. However, the Government has seen fit to put the extension of the life of Parliament first, and co-operation in the defence of the Empire second. I assume that that is the relative position that these two matters occupy in the mind of the Government. I -hope I am not unfair in making that suggestion.

Dealing with the proposal to extend the life of Parliament, I am quite aware that in conditions such as we have at this time, the mere fact that it is unusual and unprecedented does not seriously militate against its favourable consideration or against its being given effect to. We must understand that we are in the midst, as my hon. friend, the member for Essex, said [DOT]of world-shaking conditions, and that we must be prepared to take extraordinary measures from time to time, as the circumstances require. So that merely on that point there is no reason for refusing the suggestion that is placed in the Address. While I put the matter .before the House in that form there is another side of the question, however, that stiirlces me, and I will take the liberty of placing it before the House. There is no doubt th at the extension of the term of Parliament and the avoidance of the turmoil of a general election for another year, is something that will naturally appeal to the minds of those who sit in this House; at least it would be very un-

[Mr. Oliver.!

natural if it did not do so. We are here; we are clothed with a certain measure of authority, and naturally we cannot look with direct disfavour upon the proposal to continue that authority in us for another -twelve months' period, not only without expense to ourselves, but also in some cases with actual profit. And when that can be done in the name of loyalty to and in the defence of the Empire, there is not very much to be said; the proposal is naturally a winner. I am not so sure that the country at large will look on it quite as favourably, but we only hope that it will. After all, I will follow the lead of the hon. member for St. John City, and I will take the liberty of disagreeing with the hon. member for Essex in intimating that the constitution is merely a scrap of paper, to be disregarded whenever Parliament sees fit. The constitution, it seems to me, should not he lightly amended; should not be amended without good reason. No doubt when the Government comes forward with their measure for extending the life of Parliament, they will be able to show good reasons. They certainly can scarcely contemplate following the idea of the hon. member for Essex, whom they have chosen as their champion, and treat the constitution of the country simply as a scrap of paper. They will, no doubt, have good reasons, and we shall be prepared to consider them when they are brought forward. The vastly more important question is in tlie words of the address;

The question of the effective co-operation of Canada in the defence of the Empire and in the maintenance of this war, waged for liberty and lasting peace.

I am sure that we can support both the idea and the words in which the idea is expressed. But there may be difference oi opinion as to what are the best measures, or as to what is the best method of carrying out those measures. As it appears to me, the members of this House, gathered from all parts of this Dominion, met here in Parliament at this time for the express purpose of giving their best advice and knowledge as to these measures, would be doing far less than their duty if they did not point out wherein-if such be the case-measures taken in the past have not been as effective as they should have been, in the hope that measures taken in the future will be more thoroughly effective.

The first consideration in connection with the carrying on of the war is naturally the question of finance, the question of money.

Without money munitions cannot be purchased, food cannot be supplied, men cannot be paid, transportation cannot be secured. Therefore, if we are effectively to take part in the prosecution of this war, it is necessary that our expenditure of money shall be economical as well as effective. We have not a dollar to waste in connection with this war. We need every dollar we have, and we shall need every dollar we can raise in order to carry on our share in the war to a successful conclusion. There may have been a time when members of this House, as well as people throughout the country, looked lightly upon the responsibilities of this war. I judge from the utterances of the Prime Minister, as well as from those of the right hon. leader of the Opposition, that that condition of mind does not now exist; that it is thoroughly understood in this House and out of it that have to meet a tremendous responsibility and that it will need the best that we have -in money, in men, in judgment and in efficiency if we are to come out of this struggle victorious. I am compelled to say, Mr. Speaker, that having regard to what has been placed before the country as the result of parliamentary investigation, as well as of judicial inquiry, we have not had that economy or even honesty in the administration of bur funds in connection with this war that we were entitled to, that we ought to have had, and that, speaking of the future, we must have or we cannot expect to succeed. When the last session closed-I think it was on the day on which the session dosed, or the day before-the Prime Minister made a statement bearing on the transactions that had been made public before the Public Accounts and other Committees of the House, and he reached the conclusion, as set down -in Hansard, that as the results of these transactions, the country had lost a matter of $12,000. 'That was an insignificant loss, and if I could agree with him that that was the limit of the loss it would not be desirable or necessary to take the time of Parliament to refer to it. But, having gone into the matter somewhat carefully, it seems,to me that the utterance of the Prime Minister was so far wide of the mark that it was unfair to the country, and it is not right that that utterance should go unchallenged.

Let me put the ease as shortly as I can and in words that, I hope, will be understood. When war broke out the Government of Canada borrowed from the Government of Britain-they did not borrow it on the money market, but borrowed it from the Government of Great Britain-a sum of $50,000,000 for the purpose of equipping an expedition of 33,000 men. This money, you will remember, was not an ordinary loan, it was an extraordinary loan for an extraordinary purpose. It was, in fact, a loan in trust for one purpose and one purpose only. The investigations of the Committee on Public Accounts and other investigating committees which have already been published in blue-book form, convey the information, as I read them, that of all the purchases made out of that $50,000,000 for the equipment of that expeditionary force of 33,000 men, in no case was the article bought direct by the Government from the manufacturers or from the wholesale dealers, and in every case the price paid was from 25 per cent to 100 per cent higher than the fair wholesale or manufacturer's price. Of the sum of $50,000,000, at least one-half or $25,000,000 must have been used for the purchase of munitions and supplies; and if we can place the average overcharge at not more than 25 per cent, we find that the people of this country paid $6,000,000 out of that $50,000,000 of trust funds in undue profits distributed amongst the political friends of the Government in power; that Government on whose behalf the hon. member for Essex (Mr. Wilcox) demands, with all the eloquence of which he is capable, that they be not criticised for their conduct of affairs since war began, on pain of the accusation of disloyalty against whoever ventures such criticism. I hope, that what occurred in those early days of 1914 has not occurred since, that it is not occurring now, that it will not occur in the future, because I say that this country of Canada, with the backing of the credit of Great Britain, cannot successfully prosecute its part in this war to a conclusion and stand such an enormous strain of improper expenditure which, after all, are the moneys of the people, upon which they must pay interest and principal to the last cent.

There is a matter that is even more directly important than that of money, and that is men. We are proposing to put in the field 500,000 men. It is not a man too many. Every man is needed, and he is needed now. We have already enlisted something less than one-half that number. The country has responded marvellously, when we consider the pacificist principles under which many of us were reared. It is marvellous

that our people have responded as they have to the call to war. But when we have taken one-quarter of a million of our men we have cut fairly deep, and to get another quarter of a million we will have to cut to the bone. I assume from what has been said here that there is no intention on the part of the -Government to introduce the principle of conscription. I am not going to discuss that point seriously. I do not intend to find fault with the Government on that ground, because I realize that in the situation in which Canada is there would no doubt be serious difficulties in introducing that principle. But I hope I may be permitted to express my own individual opinion as to the matter of national military service, and I wish to say that in my humble opinion, with the world in arms and with the world having adopted the principle of universal military service, for a single nation to refuse to adopt,^ or to fail to adopt that principle, is to leave itself at a very serious disadvantage. My own opinion is that when world conditions are as they are -and we have the evidence that it does require the last man and the last dollar- it is the part of wisdom to make preparation for that condition in good time. And while I do not' suggest at the moment that it would be advisable for the Government of the day to undertake that policy, for it is a dangerous business to swap horses while crossing a stream, this condition miist be kept in mind.- We entered this war on the voluntary principle, and, as I see it at present, we had better see it through on the voluntary system. But my opinion is that if we are successful in seeing it through we then ought to adopt the principle of national military service.

My own opinions and views are not, however, the important question at the present time. The important point is that we have undertaken to find half a million men for active service in this war, and' that as I said, we will have to cut to the bone in order to get them. There have been complaints about difficulties :n recruiting. There certainly have been difficulties in securing that measure of enlistment in certain parts of the country that is absolutely necessary. I have seen in the newspapers aj-guments, speeches, editorials, hi which those who did not enlist *were held up to abuse and discredit. Recruiting meetings have been held, and recruiting compaigns carried on in various parts of the country. It is not for me to criticise what has been done by other

people. I will just say this: that that part of the country from which I come is I believe conceded to have given the largest number of enlistments in proportion to the population, of the Dominion, and in that part of the country, so far as I am aware, there has never yet been a recruiting meeting held; there has never been any abuse of men who do not enlist; there has been none of those extraordinary efforts which I see are being put forth in other parts of the country. May I say this: at such a time as this when men are being asked to engage in a war such as the world never saw before, it is necessary that they should feel and realize the tremendous issues that are at stake, and their personal responsibility in regard to these issues. We. have had a very gratifying response I say, to the demand for enlistment in our part of the country. That, I believe, is because those who have gone west, who have separated themselves from their families at home are, first of all, away from family ties; next they are men who have a'sense of individual responsibility, otherwise they would not have struck out for themselves. The pioneer, necessarily, has a greater sense of individual responsibility than the man who is not a>

pioneer; and because of that fact, because of that sentiment, we have ibeen able to get the response that has been made in our part of the country. What I think is necessary throughout the country-if I may be pardoned for saying so- is to impress upon the minds of the young men that sense of personal responsibility, to impress them with the tremendous character of the issues, and to secure their appreciation of the fact that it is upon the shoulders of the young men that the burden of war must necessarily rest.

Besides that, there are material considerations which.affect the case. When you say to a young man who has no ties, and is free to go as a soldier, " it is your duty to enlist," he -may say "1 am willing to go, but first of all I sacrifice my present employment or expectations and next, if anything happens to me .and I survive, to what extent will this country sjhow its gratitude to me for the sacrifices I have *made."

I hold in my hand a pamphlet issued by certain people- in Toronto, Frank Darling, chairman; Hume Blake, C.A. Bogert, Ven. Archdeacon Cody, Pres. R. A. Falconer, U. of T.; J. J. Gibbons, Col. Gooderham, W P. Gundy, Col. W. C Macdonald, Most Rev. N. McNeil, Alexander McPhedran, M.D., Hon. Mr. Justice Masten and E. R.

Wood. This document is issued for the purpose of arousing public interest in the matter of securing adequate provision for disabled soldiers. The title is: "A plea for just provisions in the Pension Act for totally or partially disabled Canadian soldiers, more especially those in the lower ranks." I shall not weary the House by going into details more than to point out that here 'is a committee of most responsible men in the chief city of the province of Ontario who feel so strongly on this subject that they have issued this pamphlet at their own expense calling for the assistance of members of the House of Commons or of anybody else who may have influence in securing more adequate consideration for the soldiers who have gone to the front and have been disabled. They say:

The scale of pensions as now fixed by- the Government is too low for the rank and file, particularly in regard to those totally incapacitated from earning a living.,. . . The case of the single man is much less satisfactory than that of the married man.

Then they go into details with which I will not trouble the House. But there is one feature to which they draw attention, and to which I wish to draw the attention of the House. They say:

Another plan, which some have had in mind, is that the inadequate pension now contributed by the .Government should he augmented by means of public subscriptions. Such action, however, would be a mistake in every way. It would be an admission that the Government of Canada is" unwilling properly to maintain the wounded and disabled soldiers who have made the utmost sacrifices to serve and defend the Empire. It would, besides, place upon a portion of the community a burden which should be borne by the whole. There would arise, moreover, a tendency to regard it as a chai -'ity, whereas the payment of a pension honourably earned is a matter of public justice. It is therefore, necessary to state with emphasis, that the duty of supporting the disabled men should, and must, be undertaken solely by the Government, and that whatever is necessary for this purpose must be paid out of the revenues of the country. ,

We should at once face the fact, that while the burden will be cheerfully undertaken by a grateful country it will not be a light one. It could not be left to the chances of public appeals Trom time to time on behalf of men who have established a permanent right to public support. For twenty, thirty, forty, and in some cases, even for fifty years, this support must he given, and it must be drawn from a source absolutely stable and secure. We owe our defenders no less than this. We must save them from both the humiliation and the uncertainty of public charity, and give them permanent and adequate security from want, paid them not as a favour, but as a right, for it would be an unpardonable insult to a body of brave men if the payment of a pension carried with it the faintest trace of charity or the least suspicion of patronage.

Now, Sir, I regret that the Government should have issued a scale of pensions for disabled soldiers that calls for such comment as is here made by the Toronto Co n-rnittee. I endorse every word that I have read, and I wish to point out that, if we are to deal fairly with our young men, before we call them slackers or shirkers, we should convince them that we are prepared to do what is right and fair by them in case they suffer the terrible sacrifices that must necessarily come to many of them under the conditions of modern war. We have a duty to perform here as well as they have there.- Ours is just as important as theirs.

There is at the present time the matter of dealing with the disabled men as they come from the front. X am prepared to question the,Government's policy in regard to that. They have seen fit to call together representatives of the different provincial governments and to make some sort of an arrangement that certainly does not appeal to me, evidencing as it does a disinclination to take that responsibility on the shoulders of the National Government that should be taken in the case of national service. There seems to foe an attempt to shoulder the responsibility off on to the provinces', on to the municipalities, on to somebody or something else than this Federal Government. Canada is a nation. These men have served and sacrificed for the nation as well as for the Empire and the Government of this nation has no right, and should under no circumstances attempt, to shoulder off any part of their responsibility to these men. It is not fair and it is not in the interest of securing that enormously greater enlistment that we must get if the proposals of the Government are really made in seriousness.

I have one or two cases that I will mention that have appealed to me very strongly, A. private of the Tenth Battalion named Fox, it was reported to me, had arrived at Stettler. He had lost an arm. He had been given transportation from Quebec to Stettler. He was discharged at Quebec, and at the time I was informed in regard to him he was not in receipt of any pension, and foe was an object of charity to the people of the town of Stettler. Another man named 'St. Pierre who had volun-rteered from the town of Vermilion, or some town east of Edmonton, was given his ticket from Quebec and $7. He had a brother resident at Vermilion, or at the town to which I have referred. He was

able to reach his brother, and at the time I heard of him that was all the consideration he had received at the hands of -the Government. I saw a boy, not more than twenty years of age, a great big fine-looking fellow, who was blinded. He was at Lloydminster. He told me that he had begun to study the Braille system for the blind in the old country and that he had been given $100 and shipped home to his father. That was his position when I saw him. Probably these things are being remedied now-I hope they are-but there are such cases to be found all over this country. This is a condition that is inexcusable, that is not to the credit of the Government, and that must militate seriously against recruiting for the contingents that are required.

On motion of Mr. Oliver, the debate was adjourned.

At. six o'clock the House adjourned without question put, pursuant to rule.

Thursday, January 20, 1916.

Topic:   '84 COMMONS

January 19, 1916