Some of these officers had attended several schools, as the former Minister of Militia reminds me. Now, what would have been said of this Government if the moment these highly trained officers arrived in London they were told: " Since you cannot go forward with your battalion, you had better go straight home?" Then 'we should have had a political scandal. -
As to unemployment in London, as to the presence of officers in hotels in London, I wonder where these hon. gentlemen get their information. During the two months I spent in the Old Country, I was in London, I suppose, five or six times. On every occasion when I was there I had been sent for by an officer of higher command in London for some specific business. My visits there, I suppose, were generally for two days at a time-'business starting to-day and finishing to-morrow. As these hon. gentlemen see it, I was one of the officers, " crowding the hotels in London." I saw no officers there during my time who were not properly there. The majority of them were on leave from the front, the few weeks' leave that the officer gets after a great many months of service. The minority were of my class, officers who had come to England with the bona fide intention of going to the front, and who bad not achieved their ambition. I do not think a large percentage of these officers were in what we would call an idle class, or that by their presence or their actions they constituted a reflection upon the Canadian military service. It seemed to me they were an exceptionally fine body of men. We are 'asked why they spent months there instead of coming home. I had an illustration. I will not mention names, because to do so would be like advertising that the officer to whom I refer had spent so many months idle. I found in a camp to which I went in England one of the very finest officers in British Columbia, a man,
perhaps, fifteen or twenty years my junior, trained in every respect, who had brought over a battalion equal in merit to any battalion that had left our province, but a battalion that, like my own, was broken up on arrival there. That man had come across with no other idea than that of serving at the front. He had closed all hi's affairs in Canada. He was not even a member of Parliament, and could not have a member of Parliament's excuse-these hon. gentlemen seem to think it is 'an excuse-d,o come back to Canada. He waited for employment- He got employment the day I left England, that is, nine months after arrival there. He got the remnant of his own battalion, the remnant of my battalion, and the remnant of the 158th Battalion of Vancouver, to be under hi's command as the 1st British Columbia Training Battalion. And a fine training officer he is. Why should we criticise that officer for .having -been compelled to wait that time? These hon. gentlemen speak, in connection with this, as in connection with all other military subjects we have heard discussed in the House, as if they were the discoverers of something which, if they were the Government, would be done, but which is not done by this seemingly neglectful Administration.
We are told that the administration in London should grapple with the question of unemployment. These gentlemen opposite must know-because they have read it in their own press, paragraph after paragraph-that the subject is being grappled with. They know that about two months ago a board was appointed to examine in detail into the standing of every officer not in serious employment in England; that this board visited every Canadian camp in England, questioned all the officers, as well as men of other ranks, as to their capacity and as to whether they could profitably take up military service other than what they had gone to England to do. The men were then divided into three categories: those who could advantageously be sent to the front and be replaced in England by others returning from the front; those who could do nothing at the front or in England, but might with advantage be given permission to return to Canada-because you cannot return without permission-and those who could profitably continue to be employed in London or in other parts of England. The question was dealt with in the most serious manner at that time by a board of very competent officers, several of whom
had seen service at the front, some of whom had served with distinction there and, having come back to London, found themselves temporarily unemployed. If an abuse had crept in, they were instructed to see that that abuse was discontinued, and they were inspired with a desire that it should be discontinued. No doubt as a result of the report of that board, officers have returned, opportunity has been found to send officers to France, and every opportunity has been taken to substitute the services of returned soldiers for services that had been performed in the Old Country by Canadians who had not been to the front. When the officers are moved on under these circumstances, I do not think they should be pilloried as having been driven to do something that they were unwilling to do. I prefer to take the view that the officers who go there, do so in good faith, ready to lay themselves on the altar of their country and to make whatever sacrifices they may be called upon to make. Do these hon. gentlemen opposite realize for a moment that soldiering is not eight hours' work a day during .six days of the week? Do they realize that there are a great many soldiers in England and in France who are not in the firing line; that there are a great many private soldiers who are unemployed in quite as wide a sense as these officers are unemployed, and that it is absolutely true that these men are serving their country efficiently and nobly? We have millions of soldiers in reserve in England and France who are not working every day, or six days a week, just the same as we have some idle officers. These soldiers are kept for the great drive which we all anticipate, and which only can change the condition from that of apparent stalemate now prevailing. Are they to be pilloried as men who are eating the bread of idleness in England? Is it .fair to our soldiers who remain in Canada, hawing been trained here, that they should be pilloried, as is the custom to-day, not only occasionally in the House, but also in the party press? Are they not just as useful to us in reserve in Canada, waiting to go to England and. France when they 'are sent for, as they would be if we got them out of our sight by sending them to England or to France? Are we improving the cause of the war by having nothing but criticism-small-souled, mean-spirited criticism, if I may use the expression-of those who try to serve the Empire, but who are not permitted to dlo so to the extent that
they desire? It seems to me, as an officer who has, had much experience in recruiting, that more harm has been done to the cause of recruiting in Canada by the state-(inemts made this .session from the other side of the House .and widely diesemimaited as they have been, for political purposes iby the party press-the fountainheads of the poisoned political gas in this country- than by any possible combination of errors on the part of the Government.
interested in the remarks of the hon. gentleman (Mr. Taylor). I do not wish to criticise them, except to say that his entire speech was absolutely spoiled by the bitter partisanship of hds last few words.
My hon. friend, who is always interrupting, may say what he likes, but this is too serious a matter to be allowed to pass. If we on this side, who have made as many sacrifices as my hon. friend has in this war-some of us have devoted as much time as he has to matters affecting the war -are not to he allowed to criticise simply because he does not like it, then this is not a free country, and the liberties that we pretend to be fighting for he purposes taking away from us.
He is not fighting for anything. I Teally do not understand what my hon. friend means. I wish to point out that any criticism that we have made has not been such as was indicated by my hon. friend. He has said that the criticism has been made solely for party purposes. I want to tell him that there are men on this side of the House who have an interest in seeing that our share in the war is conducted in the best possible manner with regard not only to the safety of the Empire, but also to the safety of the men iat the front. It is our purpose to criticise in order to bring about that result, and if my hon. friend considers that to be against the best
interest of the Allies, then he has not the judgment that I think he ought to have.
I have delivered several recruiting speeches since the session opened. I say that just such speeches as my hon. friend (Mr. Taylor) has made have done injury to the cause of recruiting. We want to work in harmony with the Government in everything that will conduce to the best interests of Canada and the Empire, and I leave it to the serious judgment of the men on the Government side who do things as to whether or not that is the case. F.ut if we .are to be scolded because we criticise and make suggestions, then I say, Sir, that what we pretend to be. fighting for is a myth. The full liberty of the member to discuss is given to' us by the constitution of this country, and the more acute the situation is the more it is right, and the more it is our duty, to criticise, if that criticism will conduce to the best interests of the cause we all have at heart. Now this attempt to create discord, I do not think is the proper thing. I was deeply interested in the remarks of my hon friend (Mr. Taylor). He is a man who can speak with some knowledge of the conditions and of the situation in which he found himself. I took more than ordinary interest in what he said, and I might tell him that I was more than interested; I felt that he had spoken from his heart as to the conditions. But, Sir, when he turns on us and insists that we are doing something injurious to the cause of the Empire, and gives us a lecture. intimating that we have not the cause of the Empire at heart, I want to tell him that he is altogether wrong, and that we on this side of the House have as much right to free speech, and are as much interested in the war, as hon gentlemen opposite. And when the history of this country comes to'be written, it will be found that the criticism made by members on this side of the House has helped and not hindered the cause of the Empire.
I listened with a great deal of interest to the remarks made by the hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. Taylor) and I would like to add one or two words. I did not understand nor do I think the members of this House understood that the member for New Westminster was charging against the Liberal members of this House or the Liberal party as a whole that they should not make any criticism whatever. He stated that in this House during this session there had been criticisms offered on this Government which were 'founded on untrue statement, and that those untrue statements, offered in the form of criticisms, were hurtful to recruiting. And in making that statement he said what every man in this House knows to be absolutely true. I want to ask my hon. friend if he thinks the statement made the other day by the member for Assiniboia (Mr. Turriff) that because of the retempering of the bolts of the Ross rifle hundreds of lives had been sacrificed at the front was in the interest of recruiting. It was pointed out to him that that retempering took place last year, and not one of those rifles was in the hands of those men. But that makes no difference to that gentleman; his statement has gone upon Hansard, it has been caught up by certain of the party press, and sent out to the country. Was he man enough then to get up on the floor and retract his statements and say he had made a mistake? We had another instance in the case of the hon. member for Lamb-ton (Mr. Pardee), who pours out a tale of woe about a returned soldier in Windsor who came back to Canada, was allowed to pass through the country without any overcoat, who had frozen his hands and feet and all that sort of thing; and he wound up by saying that he had no doubt there were hundreds of cases just like this throughout the country. That goes through the country, it is picked up by the press and circulated. The proof in that case lies in the fact that members belonging to the Soldiers' Relief Committee in Windsor sent to the hon. member for North Essex (Mr. Wilcox) a telegram, which was read here to-night at six o'clock, to the effect that the statement of the hon. member for Lambton, as published in the press, was absolutely false. When challenged with that to-night at six o'clock by the hon. member for North Essex, what did the hon. member for Lambton say? He said: I merely read what was in the press, what was stated in the newspaper, that is all that I did. That is
not all that he did, for he followed up that statement, without trying to ascertain whether it was authentic, by his statement that he did not doubt there were hundreds of cases like that. This is the kind of statements made by the hon. gentlemen opposite to which the hon. member for New Westminster referred when he said, and truly said, that statements are made on the floor of the House by hon. gentlemen opposite that are a hindrance to recruiting. Does the member for Renfrew (Mr. Graham) think that his presence on the platform at a political meeting in the city of Toronto, when a man by the name of Hartley Dewart went into details and disregarded facts in regard to the exportation of nickel, and was supported and endorsed by the presence of the hon. gentleman on the platform-does he think that attitude was a proper one and in the interest of recruiting? I for one do not think it was.
Mr. Speaker, this war has demonstrated this fact, that we have, over at the front, Canadians who never were known in the public life of this country before, who wert considered small men if you like, hardly recognizable, but who have proved themselves to be big men in every sense of the word. It has also been demonstrated on the floor of this Parliament that we have men who have been in the public eye as representative men, holding seats in this Parliament, who have shown by their attitude and their words that they are small men-small men and very small. Talk about their conscience being affected by the Ross rifle and that sort of thing! The stain is not in the conscience of hon. gentlemen opposite; for I say to them: if you will look down to your finger tips you will find that the stain is produced by your attempt, for political purposes, to turn the bloody key in the door of office and to open the portals to yourselves.
After this scolding which we have received from our friend, with the true (Germanic spirit which prevents him from permitting any man in this free country to say anything in this Parliament or out of it, or to venture in any way to disagree with him, I wish to read some extracts from a letter which I have received from another Colonel; not my hon. friend from New Westminster (Mr. Taylor), but a colonel who left this country for the war in 1914 and has not come home yet. I read this just for the purpose of telling my hon. friend who has just sat down that there are some people in this country who do not
agree with him, and who do not agree with our colonel friend from New Westminster. The letter is of such a character that if I read it in full detail my hon. friend who has just sat down would at once proceed to scold me and to scold the colonel, because he would say the publication of such statements would prevent recruiting in this country. I shall read one or two extracts and leave it to this House, once we have got back to our normal frame of mind and after the lecture which the hon. member for New Westminster has given us, as to whether or not there is justification for hon. gentlemen on this side saying something about the conduct of the war. This letter came to me unsolicited; I had no communication with this gentleman in any way whatever. It came to me in the month of December, and among the expressions which he makes use of is the following:
If the people of Canada knew what goes on here in the waste of public money, the creation of jobs for disgruntled politicians and wire pullers, it would make very interesting reading for the Canadian people.