Consideration of the motion of Mr. G. C. Wilson (Wentwprth) for an Address to His Excellency the -Governor General in reply to his speech at the opening of the session, resumed from Thursday, January 25.
Mr. ARTHUR B. COPP (Westmorland): I should like to say, Sir, if you are not already overburdened with the congratulations that have been showered upon you by hon. gentlemen who have taken part in this debate, that it gives me the greatest possible personal pleasure to congratulate you upon the position that you have attained -as Speaker of this House. Your constituency and mine lie side by side; we are very near neighbours at home, and we were brought up together. Knowing you personally so well and so favourably, I feel that I cannot allow this occasion to pass without expressing my pleasure upon your attaining your present high office. The only regret I have is that, inasmuch as the Speakership is controlled by the party in power, I cannot hope that you will hold that office for any great length of time. In that you will hold it for a time, however, I offer you my most hearty congratulations.
I regret exceedingly, Sir, that during the course of this debate, comparisons and contrasts have 'been made between the two great peoples of this country with regard to recruiting. I do not say how much foundation there is f,or the attacks which have come from the other side of the House as to the slowness of recruiting in the province of Quebec or the reasons therefor, but as a Canadian citizen and as a member of this House I regret that any such acrimonious remarks should be made or that contrasts should be suggested or comparisons instituted between the two great races that go to make up the greatest colony of the Empire. I say that I regret this, and cannot understand why it should be sp. The constituency which I represent in the province of New Brunswick, the county of Westmorland, is composed of people of the two great races, and I want to say that my French Acadian friends in that county have in this crisis stood nobly by Canada -and by the Empire. They have done their full part in the matter of recruiting and of subscribing to the different funds which have
for their object the carrying on of this war. While we have in my county two races, two creeds, two nationalities, we do not look upon each other as different races; we are not pulling apart; on the contrary we are united and are becoming more united day by day and year by year. I want to say to the credit of the Acadian people that they have done their part willingly and in a straightforward manner. The clergy representing the Acadian people have taken the same platform with those of other denominations throughout the county of Westmorland and have done their part in urging, exhorting, almost imploring the people to do their duty. The people have done their full part, and I am glad to pay this tribute to my friends in the county pf Westmorland.
In the Address with which His Excellency has been pleased to open this Parliament, there are not many subjects for consideration. There are three in particular, those referring to the organization of national service, the fiftieth anniversary of Canadian Confederation, and the extension of the term of Parliament. I am sure that every one of us subscribes earnestly and sincerely to the words spoken in regard to the valour of our Canadian troops and the manner in which they have acquitted themselves at the front. No one would question the courage, bravery, and resourcefulness of the Canadian boys who have gone to fight for their country. We knew from the history and traditions of the people of Canada that they would do their full part when the opportunity came, and the whole country must realize that they have done their duty nobly and well; that they are doing it now, and will continue to do it until the termination of this great struggle.
The number of men who have gone to the front is mentioned in the Address as being, roughly, 400,000. We are very glad to know that that number of our Canadian boys have donned khaki and gone to the front to do their bit. On the first of January, 1916, the right hon. Prime Minister stated that
500.000 troops would be raised in Canada. We must realize that that promise meant the enlisting and sending to the front of
500.000 troops, as well as the recruiting of many men in addition to that in order to supply the wastage from the 500,000 and in order to keep the Canadian army up to that strength. I quite agree with the view expressed by a number of hon. gentlemen who have addressed the House, that we require men not only at the front but in the
munition factories, on the' farms, in the forests, and in other lines of work which are being carried on in Canada. But, Sir, like the hon. member for South York (Mr. W. F. Maclean) who addressed the House yesterday afternoon, while I realize the importance of carrying on the country's industries, I believe that more honour and more responsibility rest upon the man who leaves his home and family, goes to the front and shoulders a rifle in order that he may do his part in the trenches. It is there that the war is being actually fought, and the quicker the men are in the trenches the quicker the termination of the war will come-and an early termination of the war is the one great desire of the people of Canada.
Another clause in His Excellency's speech draws attention to the fact that we are on the threshold of the fiftieth anniversary of the birth of the Dominion, and suggests that some suitable ceremony should be held to commemorate that event. I quite agree that that would be a most noble and a most proper .thing for Canadians to do. I regret that we cannot hold out the hope that we will be able to commemorate that event by a celebration because of the termination of the war. But while that seems to be beyond the bounds of probability, I sincerely trust that the Government will take into consideration a suitable commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the natal day of our Dominion, of which we are all so proud. I associate myself with those who have suggested that we should not hold any celebration that would be attended with any large expenditure of money. The hon. member for Guys-borough (Mr. Sinclair) made what I thought an excellent suggestion; that is, that the event be commemorated by the erection of a memorial hospital to be used by returned disabled soldiers. Some measure of that kind might well be taken into consideration, and I believe it would meet with the full approbation of every person in the Dominion of Canada.
While we realize that Canada will soon pass the fiftieth milestone in her history, we might for a moment refer to the fact that during all that time the Government of this country has been carried on very largely, if not wholly, along party political lines. Today there seems to he a whisper in the atmosphere, murmurs here and there, that the time has arrived when the people of the Dominion could very well lay aside their party differences and work together more 11
harmoniously than under the party system, in the interests of the country. That suggestion has been referred to even on the floor of this House. It has been mentioned by many newspapers throughout Canada. It has been discussed, and resolutions have been passed upon it in Boards of Trades, Trade and Labour Council meetings, municipal council meetings, church organizations and other organizations that have the welfare of the country at heart. But I am forced to stop for a moment and ask myself, as I believe the people of Canada are asking themselves, why is this proposal made? Why is the suggestion now thrown out that we should have a different form of Government from what we have had in the past? It seems to me, speaking from my experience and knowledge of conditions in my own, province, that the men who are asking, yea demanding, that we, should have a different form of Government, that we should have a national Government or a coalition Government, are members of the Conservative party in the different provinces, and that they realize that their own party, which has been in charge of the affairs of this, country for the past five years, has been weighed in the balance and found wanting; that it has made a miserable failure of the management of the affairs of Canada. That is the situation. I am quite willing to give to my hon. friends all the credit due them in regard to what they claim to be the awful burden that has been east upon them by reason of this war. I realize that, Sir. But that is no proper reason to give to the country for their failure to conduct its affairs properly. It simply shows that they have been unable to rise to the occasion and deal with the extra burdens thus thrown upon them. Their friends throughout the different counties and provinces are now asking that we should no longer have paity government; they say that they want men taken into the Government who are able to take over the burden of administration, and give them assistance to carry on the work which they have been unable to perform. I am not at all opposed to what may be called a national Government. I am of the opinion that some change must take place. But what is this national Government that is being talked about in the press of our country? What is the national Government that the Trades and Labour people want? What is the national Government that the Board of Trade of the city of Winnipeg wants? I see in the Citizen of to-day a despatch which reads: