January 29, 1917

LIB
CON
LIB
CON
LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARCIL:

The Premier refused to give an answer to a question of that kind last session. I read to him figures prepared by Senator Mason in the other House, and the Premier said that there were no official figures.

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CON

John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS:

I am well aware of that. I myself asked for information along these lines and failed to get it, but I understand that the figures have since been compiled.

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LIB
CON

John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS:

Officially compiled by officers of the Militia Department. Nobody else could compile them.

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LIB
CON
LIB
CON

John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS:

Will my hon.. friend

keep quiet? They cannot lay the blame entirely-

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LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARCIL:

Will the hon. gentleman deny that I went on the stump to advocate recruiting?

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CON
LIB
CON

John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS:

I did not make use of any expression that could be construed into that language at all. I did not say anything of fflhle kind. I .said there was nothing to prevent thle hon. gentlemen from going on the stump recruiting. It is up to the hon. gentleman. He knows to what extent he availed himself of the privilege of appealing fo the electors of the province of Quebec; and I want to tell my hon. friend from Bonaventure that, if in speaking at recruiting meetings in the province of Quebec he adopted the same line of argument and the same line of talk that he adopted in his address in this House the other day, he could not expect to have much result. That is the point I wish to bring home to the hon. gentleman- The hon. member for Edmonton (Mr. Oliver) said the other day: .

I want to say this, that at this present time and under these conditions, when the future of the world depends upon the success of the allied armies, inefficiency is treason-[DOT]

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LIB
CON

John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS:

(reading)

-and the talk that leads to inefficiency is treason.

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LIB
CON

John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS:

To part of that I am prepared to subscribe. The hon. gentleman says inefficiency is treason. I am not prepared to subscribe to that literally; it depends on whether that inefficiency-governmental inefficiency I presume is meant-is wilful or not. There was a certain amount of inefficiency, nobody can deny it, in the Government of Great Britain. Inefficiency was found in every department, in every arena of the war; that is, a certain amount of inefficiency, and as it was found it was corrected as fast as possible. But will the hon. member say that because it was found advisable to replace Premier Asquith, of England, by a man whom I presume they considered would be more efficient, Mr. David Lloyd George, therefore any in-

efficiency that there was while Premier Asquith was First Minister is to be characterized as treason? I say no; I will net subscribe to that literally, but I will subscribe to the latter part of the hon. member's sentence and say that the talk that leads to inefficiency is treason. I will subscribe to that, and I will refer my -hon. friend to a good deal of the talk which has emanated from hon. gentlemen on his own side of the House, talk which was not calculated to advance recruiting or to make our efforts more efficient,'talk such as that which fell from the lips of the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Turriff) the other day, the wild talk of that man-was that the kind of talk which was likely to lead to efficiency or inefficiency? Was that the kind of talk which would produce recruits in this country,-or which would encourage men in this country in recruiting? Was the talk of the hon. member for Assiniboia not calculated to provide any man who wanted an excuse for not enlisting with a reason why he should not give his services in this war? I agree with the hon. member for Edmonton and I refer his words to the hon. member for Assiniboia and to the hon. member for Rouville and other gentlemen who have spoken on the other side of the House, and who have spoke in regard to this matter not only here, but throughout the country. I also refer the words of the hon. member for Edmonton to certain of the newspapers throughout Canada which have used their columns for party political purposes, regardless of the effect this would have upon recruiting in this country. Their first aim, their chief object-and they have demonstrated it up to the hilt from one end of Canada to the other-has been to try and bring this Government into disgrace, and effect a change of government in this country. They have been more concerned about the welfare of their own political party than about the conduct of this war and its successful termination. That is what I state here to-night, and I state it with a full knowledge of exactly what my words mean.

The right hon. leader of the Opposition (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) the other day, referring to the war and its possible termination, said:-

On the contrary, it seems to me that there are circumstances which may lead us confidently to expect that at the end of this year. 1917, we shall see the beginning of the great victory for which we have been fighting during the last thirty months.

I sincerely hope, as every man in this country hopes, that the right hon. gentleman's prediction will prove true. I am going to assume that in making that statement the right hon. gentleman said what he believed to be true. Of course, no person can tell when the war will terminate, but in the opinion of the right hon. gentleman the beginning of victory will be seen at the end of 1917. Now, Mr. Speaker, if we are to take that as a correct prophecy, it means that if the beginning of victory is to take place at the end of 1917, it will be well into 1918 before victory will be finally achieved, and our men at the front in a position to come home. I have referred to this matter for this reason: in the

Speech from the Throne reference is made to a further extension of the life of this Parliament. I say that it would be one of the greatest disgraces in the history of the Dominion of Canada if we deliberately do that which will disfranchise those soldiers who are at the front risking their lives for Canada.

Some hon. gentleman opposite referred to the Act enabling soldiers to vote and said, if I mistake not, that they thought at the time the Bill was introduced that it was insufficient, and so on, and wondered why it was introduced'at all. Surely we will all agree that if an election must come, provision should be made to give those men a chance, even if it be a poor chance, to poll their votes. Since the attempt of the province of British Columbia to poll the vote of soldiers at the front, we have all become aware, I think, of the difficulties attending such an attempt. In that case, if I am correctly informed, they were only capable of polling about one quarter of the votes. My point is that, if the right hon. gentleman is correct in his prophecy that the war will not end until 1918, I suppose the right hon. gentleman, if he is to be logical, will say when this Bill for extension comes up; because I believe that it will be impossible to poll the vote of the soldiers at the front, because I believe that those men, more perhaps than any other men of our country, are entitled to poll their votes, I will grant an extension of Parliament for that reason, if for no other. I submit, Sir, that this is a sufficient reason for granting an extension of the term of this Parliament, in order that we may give the men who have gone over there to risk their lives an opportunity to poll their votes in the next general election. If hon. gentlemen opposite are sincere in stating that they believe that that vote will be overwhelm-

ingly cast in their favour, and in condemnation of this Government, then all the more reason why hon. gentlemen opposite, being human, as all of them are, should accede to the proposition of extending the life of Parliament.

Mr. Speaker, I referred very briefly this afternoon to what was done by that first band of 150,000 British regulars who went over to France at the beginning of the war and blocked the road to Calais. Since I spoke this afternoon I have come across a statement which I desire to place upon Hansard. Tt is from a leading French newspaper, and refers to what that band of soldiers did. It reads as follows:

It was their difficult mission to bar the road to the new German invasion between Ypres and La BassSe. To accomplish it they had to hold the trenches for several weeks, in face of an enemy which was not only superior in number but which also attacked with the resolution of despair. In many places at the beginning of this new battle the British lines were so thin that without the display of a stubbornness worthy of Waterloo they were in danger, if not of being broken, at least of being driven back in perilous conditions. None the less they held on.

Sir, I want to place that on Hansard as a tribute to that first army which Britain sent over to France, and I desire to say-[DOT] and I say it with the full consciousness of all tihe glorious deeds that have been performed by other armies on our Side since the war began,-that I do not believe there was at that time on the face of this eaTth another 150,000 men that cpuld have done what those 150,000 (British regulars did. That is the tribute I desire to pay to those men. In that connection, before I sit down, allow me to read a sentence uttered by the hon. member for Rouville (Mr. Lemieux) the other day. In referring to the magnificent stand made by the French troops at Verdun, my hon. friend used words which appealed to me because of the poetry in them. This is what he said:

Only once or twice in history has the world witnessed such a spectacle of greatness at tension. Everything spiritual in a nation touched with genius has been mobilized.

That was his tribute to the French soldiers who held out against overwhelming odds for so long at Verdun, and it is none top great a tribute to pay to those men. We will all agree, I am sure, in that. But there was another time in history when men did as much. To that time I referred just a few moments ago. Later on, I think there was another achievement which came very close indeed to those two exhibitions of valour, the one referred to at

Verdun, and the other by the first army from Britain. That was the achievement by our own Canadian troops against overwhelming odds when they held the salient at Ypres. These are deeds to which we as Canadians may Tefer with justifiable pride. I wish we could apply the words of the hon. member for Rouville to every part of this country. I wish that were possible.

Mr. Speaker, I said this afternoon that Germany had committed crimes and atrocities that none of us two and a half years ago would have thought' it possible that any civilized nation would commit. I tried to point out that the reason why the German people had got into that condition of mind was that for thirty or forty years they had been assiduously and persistently trained along wrong lines, that false ideals had been brought before them, and that they had been taught certain doctrines in their schools and colleges and universities and from their pulpits until their minds were utterly perverted and they became capable of committing acts which no other njaition on "earth, at least on the Allies' side, could .possibly have committed. The point I wish ito make is this-and again I desire to refer back to the question of recruiting. It is unfortunate that during his long political career the right hon. gentleman has from time to time thought it advisable to give expression to opinions which, if they had any tendency at all were bound to have a tendency of weakening the regard which the people of Canada would have for Britain and British institutions. I have placed some of these phrases on Hansard and I say that just as the appeal to false ideals brought the German people to the state in which they were, and they are, just so must the many unfortunate remarks which have been made by the right hon. gentleman from time to time against British diplomacy, in favour of annexation and so on, have a tendency to weaken the regard of the people of his native province, who hold him in very high esteem, for British institutions, and in my humble judgment we are now reaping in the lack of recruiting in that province, the fruits of his teaching during the last thirty or forty years. It is unfortunate that it is the case.

A new Canadian nation, a new Canada, has been horn on the battlefields of Flanders and baptized by the blood of our own Canadian heroes and it is up to us as Canadian citizens to be worthy of the sacrifice which has been made on far away battlefields in different parts of the world.

The greatest permanent good which we can get out of this war will be in higher ideals, in a nobler character on the part of our peopl'e, in a nobler and better conception of our duty as individuals and citizens of a greater Canada and of a greater Empire. I hope, Sir, that one of the results of this terrible struggle which is now going on will be that a greater Canada will grow out of this war and that the Canadians who have taken their place with the best troops of France and Britain and proved their worth upon the battlefield, as well as those of us who have been left behind in safety, will play our part in making this Canada what it is intended to be-one of the greatest countries the world has ever seen.

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January 29, 1917