I desire to ask the indulgence of the House for a few moments while I draw attention to the approach of an anniversary which will always be memorable in the history of Canada. In a few moments I shall have the honour to propose a motion to the House which I have asked Sir Wilfrid Laurier to second.
The Canadian forces now at the front hold to-day .a position of honour in the line which the Allies are maintaining in France [DOT] and Belgium. We in Canada, far removed from the scene of war, surrounded by the conditions of peace to which we have always been accustomed, can hardly appreciate or realize the situation which confronts the people of France and of Belgium, and indeed the people of Great Britain. There lies the long-extended battleline, there the manhood of these two nations defend their country; and there, as I have said, the Canadian forces in the British lines hold a position of honour, which they will maintain in a ipanner worthy of the beet traditions of this *country.
Let me recall for a very few moments what has transpired since the commencement of the war so far as the action of this country is concerned. You will remember that the first Canadian force which crossed the Atlantic was the Princess Patricia Regiment, which went to the front in France
or in Belgium about the end of December, and which distinguished itself on many a battlefield by achievements that will always be remembered by the people of Canada. Last July I had the honour of seeing what was left of that regiment. The ranks had been depleted
in fact, had been decimated; but the spirit of the men and of the officers was as dauntless as it was on the day on which they sailed from Quebec.
At the commencement of October the first Canadian division crossed the seas, and about the middle of February they went to the front. I suppose that nearly every hon. gentleman in this House had the privilege of seeing that force while it was assembled at Valcartier. In actual warfare they were nearly all untried; so far as military knowledge and experience were concerned, they were new men, men without previous military experience for the most part. They went to the front in February. Perhaps they did not realize that there was to come to them in the very early future a test such as might have daunted the bravest and most experienced veterans. The story has been well told of that great event. It can never he completely told, as hundreds of instances of individual heroism can never be recorded, because the men who know of these incidents and who took part in them lie under the sod in France or in Belgium. To-day let it be enough to remember that, although their trenches were obliterated by artillery fire, although they were assailed by awful methods of warfare hitherto unknown and unused amongst civilized nations, although one of their flanks was exposed, and they were attacked by overwhelming numbers, they never retired except under direct orders, and from first to last they did not lose one Canadian gun. There is therefore little wonder that, when on the afternoon of Sunday, the 25th of April, 1915, two British brigades came forward to pass through their lines and to make a counter attack, these Englishmen, hundreds of whom were going forward to certain death, paused for a moment to cheer their Canadian comrades, and to say " All hail " to Canada. Well did these Canadians merit the tribute universally accorded that but for them the onrush of the Germans might not have been stayed, and that the events of the past year might have been very different from those which we have known. Canada's heart will always be thrilled when the memory of those days is recalled. The same valour, the same determination and the same tenacity characterized the Canadians at Festubert and Givenchy. Our hearts are saddened day by day with the long lists of casualties which come to us; but the spirit of the Canadian people is as firm and as undaunted and the response of the men of Canada is as ready as in the days of August and September of 1914.
Up to the present time we have enlisted in Canada about 310,000 men; and in the period between the first day of January and the 15th day of April more than 100,000 Canadians came forward to do their part in this great struggle. That recital of itself is enough to convince us that the spirit of Canada is as firm and its determination as unshaken as it ever has been since the commencement of this war.
The military organization of this country was unfitted to undertake so great a task as that which has been accomplished; and I am and always have been ready to concede that but for the whole-hearted support of the Canadian people, and but for the splendid spirit which has animated them, men and wdmen alike, since the commencement of the war, it would not have been possible for this Government or for any Government to do what has been achieved.
The anniversary draws nigh; the war still continues. Perhaps a year ago we may have imagined that events would have shaped themselves otherwise and that the situation would be different to-day from that which now confronts us; but, although the task during the past year has made itself manifest as much greater than we centemplated at the beginning of the war, still we are ready with the same response, and in no part of the Empire is there a firmer spirit than in Canada, nowhere a firmer resolve to do our duty to the end. The determination of the people of this country is as inflexible and as unshaken as ever.
We are approaching the anniversary of the day on which the first great test came to the Canadian troops at the front. How shall we honour those who survive? How shall we honour the men, whether in the British islands or in this country, who have rallied to the colours and who are keen and eager in their desire to go to the front and do their part? As for the men who have survived this test, can we better honour the memory of their achievements than by flying upon all the public buildings of Canada and upon all the buildings which are available for that purpose from the Atlantic to the Pacific the flag of our
country for which they have fought, and will still fight?
What of those who fell ? Do I hear someone say that for them we should fly the flag at half-mast, and not at the head ?' Not such is my conception, Mr. Speaker, and I believe that we shall best honour their memory also by flying at the head that flag for which they made the supreme sacrifice and which symbolizes the ideals of. justice .and liberty which Canada, in common with the whole Empire, maintains in this war. The memory of those who have fallen will always be a tender and revered but yet a proud memory in the hearts of Canadians, and for them, as well as for those who survive, I conceive this to be a fitting tribute by the people of Canada. So, I have the honour to propose the following resolution, seconded by Sir Wilfred CLaurier:
Resolved that this House desires to place on record its admiration and pride in the valour and heroism displayed by the Canadian Expeditionary Force at the front and its profound appreciation of their service to Canada and to the Empire.
That the spirit which animates the Canadian people in this conflict has found its highest expression in the achievements of Canadians upon the battlefields of France and Belgium; and as the anniversary draws near of the first great test to which the Canadian troops were subjected and in which they so splendidly distinguished themselves, it is fitting that there should be a suitable commemoration throughout the Dominion of the service thus rendered to the Empire, to the allied nations and to the world.
That this House commends the proposal that on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of this month flags should be flown at t}ie head on all public buildings throughout this Dominion and that the Canadian people be invited to commemorate thus the momentous events of a year ago in token of Canada's determination to do her part until the efforts of our Empire and the allied nations shall have been crowned by an honourable and lasting peace.
Subtopic: THE BATTLE OF ST. JULIEN.
Sub-subtopic: COMMEMORATION OF ANNIVERSARY.