January 26, 1917

LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mt. PUGSLEY:

The language used by my hon. friend is not unparliamentary. Although it may be that he has diverged a little from the subject with which he was dealing, and he has a right to do that.

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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. gentleman

made the statement that, the Minister ,of Labour was supposed to represent certain people in this House, the imputation being that he did not represent them. I say that the hon. gentleman's statement in that respect is out of -order, and I so rule.

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LIB

Arthur Bliss Copp

Liberal

Mr. COPP:

I shall be glad to retract any statement I have made that is unparliamentary because I have no desire to infringe on the rules of the House. If I say " the party that he, because of his office, is entitled to represent," will that be parliamentary? He has made a dismal failure of it.

Further on in this letter, the ex-Minister of Militia writes to the Prime Minister:

I spoke to you at the time about the rejection of all our stores and supplies of every description and proved to you that the excuses of the British office were totally without foundation.

You have my memorandum at the time proving the utter falsity of their bogus excuses regarding our wagons, etc.

Here we have the statement, on the authority of one who was then a minister of the Crown, that our supplies provided by the Government were being thrown aside. Yet those supplies were being manufactured, taken possession of by the Government, paid for by the people, and sent

to England-only to be scrapped. And this went on month after month. He says further:

Your suggestion then was that as the changes had been made we should abide by the decision of the British officers. However, X did not wish to raise any trouble in the matter but I determined that Canada was not to be treated as a Crown colony, and that as we paid the bill and furnished the goods, which in nearly every instance were better than the British, I would act. I ordered muster parade of our men and tried to lay plans to stop the scandalous neglect going on in the pay department.

Here is a charge of " iscandalous neglect"; not the waste of a few wagons, not the throwing aside of a few Oliver equipments, not the loss of a few days' munitions or supplies furnished by the Dominion of Canada, but " 'scandalous neglect " which the ex-minister felt called upon, to take means to bring to an end. And he goes on:

I had to accept under protest for the first year

Why had he to 'accept? There can be no reason except that the other members of the Cabinet forced him to do so.

-I had to accept, under protest, for the first year, this management of the Force in Britain. The anomaly of such a state of things is apparent. The Canadian soldier in the trenches must voice his complaint, if any, through the Parliament of Canada and the Minister of Militia and Defence must accept responsibility.

This is a most cogent and convincing reason wthy the affairs of our soldier boys should be controlled in Canada-that any complaints they had in regard to the administration of affairs must be voiced through the Parliament of Canada and not through the Parliament of Great Britain. But the quotations I have already made show the position of the other members of the Government in regard to these matters. The Minister of Labour (Mr. Orothers) for instance, went quietly on' just as though the boys at the front did not matter. And to-day the Government treat the whole people of Canada with silent contempt when asked what they have done to give the boys at the front a fair and square deal. I will say this for the ex-Minister of Militia, that, though he may have lacked judgment at times, he did show a very strong and earnest interest in the boys who want tot the front. But his colleagues were not willing to give him the same latitude in the matters of his department that they gave to the other ministers ini the affairs committed to their control. He goes on:

How could the Canadian soldier obtain redress ' through the British House of Commons? Kipling's lines hold good:

"Daughter in her Mother's house.

Mistress in her own,"

as well as another standard maxim "Taxation implies representation and brings responsibility."

And in this letter there is itihde further striking passage:

During the last year's management we have introduced a new system of convalescent control upon which the British are now modelling.

In a previous passage of this letter he shows that there was inefficiency in the management of the British convalescent homes and hospitals. Apparently, the need of improvement was established, because the British authorities began to model their convalescent homes and hospitals upon the lines of those carried on by Canada. And the advantage of the Canadian system is shown in this very practical way:

We returned a much higher percentage to their battalions trained and fully fit for service, and saved to Canada the sum of upwards of six millions of dollars.

When hon. gentlemen opposite speak so glibly of the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars that are being expended, a saving of only six millions seems very little. Still, here is the statement of a former minister of the Crown that in this one matter alone he had been successful in saving $6,000,000 of our money. Is it not reasonable to believe that if the Government were wasting $6,000,000 in one year [DOT]on convalescent homes and hospitals, they were wasting ten times that amount in the hundred and one other avenues of expenditure made necessary by the war? These charges are a most serious reflection upon the Government and their management of affairs in this crisis.

I turn now to another letter, that of October 31, in which the ex-Minister of Militia and Defence says:

Dear Sir Robert: In conformity with the

suggestions made this morning, permit me to briefly summarize the situation. During the first year of the war, the plans adopted for the force in England were modelled on the British War Office, but I had nothing whatever to do with them. The Canadian High Commissioner seemed to be the one dominating as witnessed in the contract made for officers messing, etc., at Salisbury, for the British system in regard to pay department and the British system in regard to the medical department. Prom the outset I objected to these women's organizations in Britain in the shape of V. A. D. hospitals, etc., but the Canadian High Commissioner seemed to favour them. The appointments in the force were also based on two avenues of supply, one was British officers conneoted with society people, and the other Canadian permanent corps officers with their usual pull. In

justice to a limited few of each class who were worthy, the majority of them were not up [DOT] to the average of capability. Since a year ago Canadian control through the Militia Department has been, more or less, with the full consent of the British War Office, gradually recognized to the great advantage of the force. Mr. Speaker, what does that mean? It means that, according to the charge made by the ex-Minister of Militia, these favours were being parcelled out through a man representing this Government, Sir George Perley, the High Commissioner in London, to those of social standing and to those who had the pull. What pull could he refer to but political pull on the part of the Government? That was the condition of affairs affecting our soldier boys at the front during the first year or two of the war.

On November I another letter was written by the hon. ex-Minister of Militia in answer to one written by the First Minister on October 31. After acknowledging receipt of the Premier's letter, the then minister went on to say:

I do recall my visit to Great Britain in the autumn of 1914. I did expect both under the statutory law of Britain, and under the law of common courtesy, that I would have been permitted to exercise some "control and direction" over our gallant Canadian boys in the way of organization.

While he does not expressly say it, the hon. gentleman implies that he was not allowed to exercise any control over the Canadian boys in the way of organization.

I hold no brief for the# ex-Minister of Militia, but irrespective of my opinion of the ex-minister's capabilities, nothing appealed to the fathers and mothers of the boys of my county who were going to the front more than the interest which Sir Sam Hughes was taking in them. I will say at least that much for the ex-minister. The ex-minister, then, was not allowed to have any control in the organization or care of Canadian troops who went to the front. In the same letter he goes on to say:

But there had evidently been some communication to the effect that "control and direction" of this magnificent force should be under the British Government direct. The then Mr. George Perley, acting High Commissioner, implied such in the following words: "You do not pretend, surely, to have anything to do with the Canadian soldiers in Britain?"

I read these extracts from the correspondence to show that the ex-Minister of Militia was shorn of power by another member of the Cabinet, without his receiving any notice from the Prime Minister. In the same letter he makes use of the following language:

Further, had I ventured to conduct this force "on the basis of formal orders in council, the First Division would not have left Valcartier yet and you know yourself by technicalities the Second Division was held up for four months through little petty haggling on the question of

motor trucks, etc., etc.

The second line of your memorandum says: "So far as- I am aware you exercised the same control and direction over the forces in Great Britain during the first year as subsequently."

Sir Robert, no one knows better than you that this statement, is incorrect. This last year, with the full concurrence of the War Office, our management and direction have been given every consideration, and by their request.

In these two paragraphs we find a series of charges-not merely suggestions or faultfinding-against tfie First Minister himself. The ex-minister says that had he waited for the Government to pass orders in council, the first contingent would be at Valcartier yet. I give due consideration to what may possibly be an extravagant statement on his part; yet these words prove beyond peradventure that there was a great holding back; that the troops were delayed in going to the front. And why? According to the statement made by the ex-Minister of Militia, because a few political friends, a few high and holy patriots, were haggling over the prices of trucks and munitions of war so that some of their friends would get a rake-off on the purchase. In respect of this charge made by the ex-Minister of Militia, no denial or defense has been vouchsafed by any member of the Cabinet or by anyone on their behalf. I quote another sentence from this letter:

One other point, and I am through. It might be implied from your memorandum that my failing to secure authority by order in council for this sub-Militia Council impelled you to the course you are now pursuing, regarding Sir George Perley. May I be permitted to say that both you and I know to the contrary. I knew early in Augustthis was in November.

[DOT]-that Sir George Perley had planned something along these very lines. You have, also, admitted that as early as the first week in September you had this matter under consideration. I understood that it was under consideration by you and Perley earlier. You incidentally remarked yesterday that you had not consulted any of your colleagues. Of course, when I drew your attention to the statement, you corrected yourself.

This language, which is now familiar to the people of Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific, indicates what had been taking place in the Cabinet during the first period of the war. At a time when our people were asked to send their sons to the front to fight for the Empire, a' few

gentlemen who should have been bending their energies towards the prosecution of the war were haggling and bickering over small matters connected with the purchase of motor trucks and other war supplies.

On November 11 another letter was written by the ex-Minister of Militia, in which I find the following:

Moreover, it is difficult for me to recall where you have actively supported me in ther passage of any order in council concerning the upbuilding of the Militia, when opposed by two members of the Cabinet, usually antagonistic to anything proposed by me.

Further on he says:

As you, are aware, it took up four months in the first of this great war to fight through the principles of purchasing for the Second Division trucks at the lowest wholesale prices, instead of allowing large commissions to local agents, who would have nothing whatever to do with securing the order.

Again he says:

You will pardon me, but I can recall but one instance, namely Secret Service.

That is in answer to the Premier's statement that he had asked him always to have orders in council passed.

I do remember you asking me, on one occasion, to submit orders in council, where possible before incurring large expenditures, but the reason you assigned was not protests from my colleagues over my action, but that it was to set an example so as to assist you to control others. You instanced the Post Office Department, the Railway Department, and the Public Works Department, where projects had been undertaken without authority by order in council; and I remember distinctly you stated that some boats had been purchased and other large expenditures incurred, without your knowing anything about it, and without any order in council.

In answer to what the Premier writes to him, he replies by saying: "I remember

you speaking to me and saying that I should have orders in council in regard to expenditures in my department." But it was not because he had any fears of the ex-Ministear of Militia going beyond what he was entitled to do, it was simply because he wanted some excuse and reason for keeping his other ministers in check, namely, the Minister of Railways and the Minister of Public Works. And, Sir, what did the ex-Minister of Militia mean, and to whom does he refer, when he says that two members of the Cabinet were antagonistic to him? I say that members of this House and the people of Canada are entitled to know what members of the Cabinet were antagonistic to assisting the ex-Minister of Militia to carry ont the promises that he made to the people of Canada, when he

asked the mothers and fathers of the boys to allow them, to go to the front to fight the battles of the Empire.

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

Perhaps the Minister of Labour will tell u-s when you get through.

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LIB

Arthur Bliss Copp

Liberal

Mr. COPP:

Perhaps he will be able to,

but if he is not more interested in this than in matters pertaining to his own department, I have little faith that he will be able to do much more in the interests of our soldier boys.

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

I think I should give my friend a little light. I want to assure him that I was not smiling at any facts with which he was dealing-because he does not deal with facts-

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

Order.

Mr. CRT5THERS: -but I was smiling at his bombastic manner.

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

Order, order. The Minister of Labour will have a chance when the hon. member for Westmorland gets through-The minister rose to a point of order.

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

No, I did not.

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

Then what did he rise

to? My hon. friend is too good a parliamentarian not to know that he could not rise to anything else.

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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

As I understood, the

Minister of Labour interjected a remark with the assent of the hon. member for Westmorland- ,

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

He did not ask the permission of the hon. member for Westmorland.

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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

I understood that he

asked it and secured it, because the non. member for Westmorland resumed his seat and yielded the floor to the hon. minister.

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

He proceeded to say

that the hon. member for Westmorland was not stating facts-

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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order, there is no point of order before the House.

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LIB

Arthur Bliss Copp

Liberal

Mr. COPP:

I am very glad to have the Minister of Labour rise, even if it was just to show that he has life enough to stand up.

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

I cannot make as much noise as you.

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LIB

Arthur Bliss Copp

Liberal

Mr. COPP:

He has not made as much- no, he has made top little noise in the interests of the people he represents. Now, Sir, my hon. friend says I do not deal in

facts. I am very glad to have my hon. friend make that statement, because the statements I have been making for 'the last hour are statements made by the hon. the ex-Minister of Militia, Sir Sam Hughes, his own colleague in the Government until recently; I have been reading, letter by letter and word by word, all the charges he has made against his Premier; and when the hon. Minister of Labour says that I am not stating facts, he tells his ex-colleague that he has not stated facts in the Jetters he has written to the -First Minister. I ask him if he still wants to insist that I have not been giving facts when I have been reading the letters of the ex-Minister of Militia.

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

Let the hon. member state in what respect you have not been stating facts.

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

Oh, no, I am not rising to a point of order.

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January 26, 1917