April 26, 1917

CON

Albert Edward Kemp (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir EDWARD KEMP:

My hon. friend from Rouville brought this matter up in the House this afternoon on the evidence of Captain Goforth, and in the first part of his remarks he led the House to believe, as I think my right hon. friend (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) did also, that wet canteens had been restored in Canada. As has been stated, the dry canteen was introduced into military camps in this country under the regime of my predecessor. The dry canteen is in existence at our camps in Canada at the present time, and it will continue to exist. There is no intention whatever of making a change. I wish to state

as emphatically as I can, that we have no intention of restoring a wet canteen in the camps in Canada. Such a thing has never been thought of. Indeed, would it not be ridiculous to reintroduce the wet canteen into Canada, if it ever did exist in this country, and I do not know as to that? But as prohibition has been carried in so many provinces of the Dominion, would it not be ridiculous for us to say that liquor shall be sold at the camps where our soldiers are? Such a thing would be intolerable, and public opinion I am sure would denounce it in no uncertain terms. So far as I am concerned, there is no danger whatever of the wet canteen being introduced in Canada. Prohibition has carried in practically every province except Quebec, and I hope Quebec will soon follow the example set by the other provinces. Soldiers, when they are leaving camp sometimes get a little liquor at the places along the road, but once Quebec follows the example of the other provinces, this will be no longer pos- [DOT] sible.

My hon. friend from Rouville (Mr. Lemieux) referred to Valcartier. I know nothing of the circumstances to which he. alluded; I have never heard of any unseemly conduct because of the use of liquor in that camp.

With regard to the Canadian soldier in England, we know that Great Britain is not a prohibition country, and our camps over there are quite close to villages and towns where there are many public houses. With the little information I have on conditions over there, I think I may be permitted to say this: If they have what is called the wet canteen in England, would it not be better so far as our troops are concerned-and I submit this for the earnest consideration of every member of the House-would it not be better to allow light beers to be sold to our

troops over there under our supervision, rather than have the soldiers go outside the camps to the public houses in the towns and villages nearby, where they can get hard liquor and stronger drink. I do not propose to go into the merits of the question of prohibition, which has been discussed this afternoon. Every one knows that the regulations of the British Army with regard to drunkenness are very severe. I know of some poor fellows who have been tried by court martial and been punished for being slightly intoxicated.

I want to endorse what the members of the House have said with reference to the splendid conduct of our troops in Great Britain and France. I do not think there has been any drinking to speak of amongst them. I was very glad to hear the hon. member from Selkirk (Mr. Bradbury) say that the conduct of our troops in England and France was even better than their conduct here in Canada. I need not take up the time of the House any longer. As soon as I receive the report which I have cabled for I shall be very glad to submit it to the House.

Mr. SAMUEL J. DONALDSON (Prince Albert): Mr. Speaker, I am very sorry to have to rise and address the House for the first time on a matter of this kind, but owing to the position I have occupied in military affairs for the last year I feel compelled to say something in defence of the soldier who has gone to the front to defend the lives of the people of Canada and of the Mother Country. I am very sorry that this matter should have been brought up in the House to-day. Last year I took a battalion of 1,496 to Camp Hughes on the 6th of June, and on the 19th of October I landed in the County of Kent, England, in company with another battalion, .and I can say positively that such a thing as hard liquor was never sold within my lines. If I had the records of my orderly room here I should be only too glad to show them to hon. gentlemen, to prove that I never had a ease of drunkenness before me in practically four months. The fathers and the mothers, and the sisters and the brothers of the boys fighting at the front for the people here at home have enough anxiety reading the casualty lists every morning, without being troubled further by suggestions that our boys in the Old Country are being degraded through the use of liquor. The thing is absolutely ridiculous, and I am surprised that my hon. friend from Rouville should have brought the matter up. This talk about our men being degraded is absolutely false. He talks of more liquor; it is more recruits we want. That would have been a fitting subject for him to speak on, but he should not belittle the men who have gone over to fight for us.

Let me relate a little incident which will show' the character of our men over there. A call was made on me for five hundred men to proceed to France within forty-eight hours. In order to provide for casualties I arranged with headquarters for six hundred

men, and their last leave was cut down to three days. Now, any one who knows the geography of the Old Country knows that it takes more than, three days to get to some parts of Ireland and Scotland. Some of the men, when they got their leave, took a chance and thought they would try to make it and get back. Every one of those men was back on the day their passes were out, except twenty-five. Had these men been addicted to drink, what would have happened? Why, I should have had to use the hundred that I had allowed for casualties, and probably drawn on my battalion for another hundred. There is no use in beating about the bush in this matter, such a thing as strong drink ruining our young men in England is absolutely out of the question. I took over three sons, two sons-in-law and four nephews. And the mother of my boys was over there and saw what was going on, and she has no fear of leaving her boys over there. And those boys have as good a mother as has any man sitting on the other side of the House. I say it is a crime to bring up in the House a matter like this, with our boys probably dying by hundreds this very day. Get out and get some more men. That is what we want.

I do not know what object the hon. member (Mr. Lemieux) has in bringing up this matter in the House. I am sure it is not going to get him very many votes from the temperance people. My experience is that when these people vote they vote party, anyway. But there is one thing sure-the Government should be proud, and the opposition should be proud also, of the class of men Canada has been sending to the front. They cannot be beaten anywhere in the world. If they were addicted to strong drink they would not be playing the part, the important part, that they are playing to-day in this great struggle. I have told you about the men I took over there. Those men went there to fight for their country; they did not go there to drink whiskey. Such a discussion as this is a hardship on the mothers and fathers, the brothers and sisters, of the boys at the front. Reading of it, they will be thinking that their dear ones run the risk not merely of being killed by bullet or shell, but of being ruined by drinking whiskey. I think the hon. gentleman who brought this matter forward will probably make up his mind that it was rather a mistake. My advice to him is, in future when such newspaper articles come to his attention-and this one happens to be

three years old-to make inquiries as to the facts. Had the hon. gentleman asked me about the conditions, I would gladly have told him; for I know what I am talking about, I know exactly the conditions. During the four months I was in the Old Country, I saw only two of our men under the influence of liquor, and that was on Christmas Day. The guard-room happened to be right in front of my hut. I heard somebody call, "Guard, turn out!" I went to the window to see what was going on, and these two chaps were coming down, and called the guard to turn out and salute.

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CON

John Hampden Burnham

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. H. BURNHAM (West Peterborough) :

I think that, as one who spent six months in England and a few days in France, I am called upon to say something on behalf of the soldiers. I certainly do not agree with St. Paul and my superior officers, that all things are not expedient. I think that we should discuss things like this in this House as well as elsewhere. I have yet to learn that it is unwise to discuss a matter which so intimately concerns our people. The case of the canteen is a very simple one. You believe in the dry canteen for Canada; those who believe in the wet canteen somewhere else may rise in their places. You cannot believe in both a dry canteen and a wet canteen at one and the same time. But I wish to say this very definitely-the Canadian soldier in England as in Canada is a sober man. Knowing humanity as I do-and I have lived quite a few years now; and I may tell you that I was connected with the 93rd Battalion from its inception and was with it in England until it was dispersed and sent to France -a more sober, orderly, upright, and thoroughly decent lot of men I never saw, even amongst the politicians. We have got to bear in mind that we are not in Heaven. And we have got to bear in mind that God Almighty is not a prohibitionist.^ But I have seen enough of humanity to lead me to believe that our restrictions must be of the strongest. We must put restriction^ upon ourselves. Pray, what man is so confident of himself that he can give rein to himself and go where he likes and do what he likes? And what is true of each of us is true of humanity in the aggregate; we must do everything we can to narrow down and restrict the tendency of humanity to go astray. Therefore, it seems to me, the argument is rather academic than practical. And I cannot repeat too often that having seen a very large number of troops, both Canadians and Imperials, as they call those of Great Brit-52

ain- and having been at the camps at Otterpool, East Sandling and West Sand-ling as well as elsewhere, and having heard the reports of others, the Canadian soldier is an upright, sober, decent man, as men go. When we went to France-and I may say for the benefit of those who take an interest in these things, that we paid our own expenses-we made inquiries there also. And it would be a splendid thing if all the members of this House were sent to England and France to investigate conditions. I was advocating that with the Minister of Finance the other day. They could do no greater service to 'Canada and the Canadian army than to go and look into these matters. It would he a good thing for Canada and a good thing for them.

When we investigated things in France we found that men were being called upon to exert themselves to the utmost not only physically, 'but nervously; that is, they had , to draw upon their nerve power. We found that -men, who, before, perhaps, had not been very great men, after they had gone to France, had become really great. They were able to stand the stress and storm, the horror and danger of war. We were right where it was going on. We were amidst the thunders of it and we saw these men bear themselves casually; they were not afraid. Was there drunkenness there? There w-as not. I have seen no less than one million soldiers since I left this country, and I must confess that I do not think that out of the 500,000 of them whom I saw frequently I beheld five men whom I would call the worse of liquor.

But there are other things that must engage our attention, because much of Canada will be in danger of disease if we do not look to it. There are things that we do not want to talk about, but it is not blinked in Britain, and it will go. through this country as it will through the world generally if we do not take some means to counteract it. There were cases by the thousand in the hospitals. Liquor is not in it for one minute with venereal diseases. Statistics show that they are twenty-five times worse than alcohol ever was. We must look these things in the face, because we must protect our country. Ordinary contact, even indirect, in bad cases anybody who is at all acquainted with these matters knows, is almost as serious as the act itself. To shake hands with a person who has syphilis may give a person who is entirely innocent syphilis. That, as Scripture tells us, will go down to even the third and fourth generation. This country is in some danger. We

must exert ourselves in every way. Now let me say, with reference to a thing that I do know something about, that is, the liquor question, that the Canadian soldiers are not toy any means drunken, tout are, indeed, a most sober lot of men. Canada may well be proud of them and the mothers and fathers of this country need not fear if they send their sons to the front that they will be destroyed by license in drink.

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Hon. S@

Mr. Speaker,

I am reluctant to intervene in this debate, but it appears to me that having regard to the conditions at the front to-day, where we are confronted with the greatest events in the history of the world, and having regard to the conditions here when it is desirable that we should rally our man power to the utmost of our ability, it would be unfortunate if the statement brought to the attention of the House by the hon. member for Rouville (Mr. Lemieux) should be not only contradicted, but absolutely refuted. No question arises as to the right of the hon. member to bring forward this matter for discussion. It is clearly within the right of this House to discuss a matter of such great importance,

but, personally, I would not like to assume the responsibility which he assumes to-day upon the strengt'h pf a letter appearing in a financial paper in the city of Toronto. I say that with all respect to my hon. friend from Rouville (Mr. Lemieux) and believing that he was actuated by the best of intentions. But the effect of the statements which he has brought

5 p.m. to the attention of the House is to create an impression, widespread throughout this country, that the evils in -the army arising out of the liquor traffic are of a general and widespread character, among our troops at the front. The heading pf this article to which my hon. friend has given sanction by bringing it to the attention of the House, and consequently to the attention of the public of Canada, is this:

Wet Canteen is Ruining Countless Canadian Soldiers.

There are fathers and mothers, sisters and wives in this country who, in pursuance of the highest sense of patriotic duty, are sending fprward daily those that are nearest and dearest to them to do battle for their country, for the Empire and for the great cause of humanity for which we are contending. It is desirable that if the statement made in this papeT is not correct, is not accurate, is not well-founded, as I be-

lieve to be the fact, they should be made aware pf it. I feel more inclined to speak because during November last I was in England and visited the front. One can estimate whether a body of men are being injured by drink or any other evil habit by seeing them, by living with them, by talking to them, by witnessing what they do and by knowing what they have done.

I crossed on the Mauritania with 3,500 Canadian troops. One regiment was from British Columbia, one was frpm Glengarry and Stormont, and the third was from Toronto. I desire to say that in all my life -and I have mixed with all classes of people in my life-I have never known a more sobeT, self-respecting, God-fearing lot of men than thpse 3,500 whom I addressed in mid-Atlantic in the great dining room of the ship as she was flying 'before the storm on that trip to England. I can see their faces to-day and I never think of them without being moved by the recollection. When I looked into their faces I saw their mothers' faces. I saw, in their faces, wpmen >

I have known when I was a boy dn the country-for I was raised in the country- and in the villages and towns and cities of Canada-typical Canadians all and, as has been said by a previous speaker, they were absolutely the flower of the youth of Canada. Does any man mean to tell me that these men were addicted to the evils of liquor? Can any man make experienced men m this House believe that? I never saw a cleaner, a more self-respecting, a more Godfearing or a more physically fit lot of men in my life. Let me say another thing. We discuss many matters in this House from day to day, I think without full realization of the time in which we are living. One reason is that we are so far remote from the field of conflict. Three thousand miles of Atlantic separate ns from the United Kingdom, and in addition to that this country is thirty-six hundred miles from Halifax to Vancouver; so that all of us are three thousand miles from the United Kingdom and some are four thousand, some are five thousand, and some are six thousand miles. To-day, when we are debating in this House, men are dying by the thousands and tens of thousands in the greatest battle in the ' history of the world. Do we realize it? I do not mean to say that we should not carry on the business of the country; I am the last man to say that. But do we realize it? None of us can realize it. If we could see what is going on at that front to-day, not in the eye of mind but with our physi-

cal eyes, would we not have a better sense of perspective or proportion than we have to-day as to the matters being discussed in this House? Why do I mention this? Because it is pertinent to the argument which I am making. I say that our soldiers who are going to the front are bound to be a self-respecting lot of men. Does any man suppose that these'men can face death from day to day without becoming, in a sense Mhey never experienced before, religious? Does anybody think that the voyage across the Atlantic can be undertaken lightly, that men are light-hearted even in the Mauritania? When a man steps on one of these transports filled with Canadian troops, fair game at that time because a ship of war, I tell you that every man on that ship, officers and men, feels intensely that he may be face to face with death. They are a serious-minded lot of men, they are not thinking of drink. And on Sunday, you go into their services and see their faces. I tell you that what makes a man religious is to look face to face with death or great danger. Those men are serious-minded men. I say to this House and to the people of Canada that I never saw a cleaner, a more physically fit, a more self-respecting and sober lot of men than these thirty-five hundred men that I accompanied across on the Mauritania. I take off my hat to those men. I say that I felt, Minister of the Crown as I was, a great sense of my own unworthiness when I considered the sacrifice that these men were making. Those men have given up their occupations, their ' callings, their hearths, and their homes. They have left their families, their fathers and their mothers, their wives, their sisters; they have gone forward under the inspiration of a great ideal. When in England I went to Witley Camp. I talked with General Meighen there and with all the other officers. I visited the hospitals. I mingled with the men; I talked to the men. I think I have a fair estimation of the character of men and their quality. From my experience I say the same thing with regard to the men at Witley Camp as I say of the men on the Mauritania-clean men, physically fit men, self-respecting men, officers imbued with the highest sense of their duty to the men-those are the men that I saw there and I came away with precisely the same feeling: all is well at the camps, all is well with our men, all is well with our officers, well fed, well looked after, camp well regulated, discipline good. All 52}

that I saw with my own eyes. I was in England and I saw many officers and men there. I never saw a drunken man from the time I left this country until I returned. I never saw a soldier under the influence of liquor in England or on the Continent. *

Let me tell this House another thing, and I regard it as absolutely conclusive as to the physical condition of our men at the front. There is no man of higher standing in Montreal in the medical profession than Dr. Elder; the hon. member for Rouville (Mr. Lemieux) will agree to that. He is a surgeon of the highest standing. He was in charge of the McGill Hospital unit at Boulonge. That is one of the best hospital units in the world, a great credit to the great university that established it. Dr. Elder told me that up to that time thirty-five thousand men had passed through that hospital, had been treated in that hospital and sent across to Folkestone and to the other hospitals in England. He said that less than one-half of one per cent had been the rate of mortality among the thirty-five thousand men. I said: how do you account for it? Why, he said, it is very simple: the men are in the pink of condition. In civil life, he said, we operate and the operation is perfectly done, but some other conditions set up due to the age of the man or to disease of the kidneys or of the heart or of the liver; some complications set in and the patient dies notwithstanding that a perfect operation has been performed. That is well known to all medical men. But, he said, these men are precisely as if they were trained for the operating table. He told me some marvellous cases of operations. Why, he said, in civil life we would not think of such a thing, we would amputate the leg or the arm; but these men are in such perfect condition that they recover without amputation, septicemia does not set in. Does any man mean to tell me that of these thirty-five thousand men, the pick, from the physical standpoint, of all the men he had ever seen in his long experience-does any man mean to tell me that those men are suffering from addiction to drink? I went to the front and I saw those men behind the Canadian line at Vimy Ridge. I saw Vimy Ridge. The Canadians were in front of Vimy Ridge. And I want to tell this House that I said to General Byng: I do not see how you are ever going to take that ridge. He said: We will take that Ridge, the Canadians will take that ridge. Before us lay a plain where the year before 180,000 French

and 180,000 Germans had lost their lives or fallen in battle for Vimy Ridge There, before Vimy Ridge, were three brigades of Canadians, the other brigade being on the Somme. I saw the life of these men. When they go into the trendhes they sometimes stand in six inches or a foot of water and frequently they sleep leaning forward against the parapet. When they come back they go into hutments, not the warm camps of the lumber district referred to by my right hon. friend, but hutments, .temporary structures, heated with oil stoves. You would see those men come in cased with mud, standing around, the stoves. Talk about cold weather ! We think this country is cold, hut I give you my word that no one in this country knows what cold is until he has betn in. England or on the continent in November and December. The temperature is not so low; it is the dampness. I motored for three hours from Boulogne to a point behind the Canadian lines. I had on an ordinary heavy winter overcoat and a fur coat over that, and we were covered with rugs, but we were chilled to the hone when we reached our destination. The men were working under these conditions. When they came out of the trenches they changed their clothes and had a bath. They were well fed. I said to General Byng: " Have you any message for

the people of Canada with regard to the Canadians? He said: "They are sound

clean through; you may tell that to thq people of Canada." General Byng is one of the best soldiers in the world; he is the man who bad charge of the evacuation of Suvla Ray. He is proud of his Canadians and they are proud of him. Since I was there last, fall these Canadians have achieved one of the most notable victories of the world at that same Vimy Ridge.

Now, let us see what this all amounts to. Here is a letter, written it is said, three years ago-I do not know whether it was or not-appearing in a financial journal in the city of Toronto; and on the strength of that, if the statement of my hon. friend had not been met and, I believe, refuted-

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LIB
CON

William Thomas White (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir THOMAS WHITE:

I do not, but

whether I knew the editor or not I should have hesitated, if I had been in the'position of my hon. friend, to give currency on the wings of the press to a statement as sweeping as that, upon the strength of a letter stated here to be three years old. I believe

that if this statement had not been met in the way it has been met in this House, it would have done great damage to recruiting and would have been properly and justly resented by all the soldiers across the seas.

I apologize to the House if I appear to have been speaking feelingly. I do not challenge for one moment the right of the hon. member for Rouville to bring this matter up. I am glad, in one way, that it has come $ up, because I believe that the statements made here to-day will go far to reassure the people with regard to the facts. In one way it is unfortunate, regrettable; because even the bringing of it up is bound to do some harm at a time like this, when the minds of men and women are tortured with anxiety as to their loved ones overseas. I say that any statement of a sweeping character with regard to the soldiers overseas being addicted to strong drink is a slander upon them, and I believe that they will resent it, not only on their own accord, but because of the anxiety it will create in the minds of those they have left behind. Their fathers, their mothers and wives here are torn with anxiety about them, and they in turn are torn with anxiety about their wives and mothers and sisters at home. Will it make them any more comfortable at the front; will it make it any easier for them to perform the duties which they are performing there, to know that the impression is being created in this country among those they left behind that they are being demoralized by drink in England and at the front? Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely untrue.

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. E. M. MACDONALD (Pictou):

Some days ago I asked the Minister of Militia to give to this House some information with regard to the operation of the canteens in the camps in England. I asked that question for the purpose of getting an authoritative statement as to the conditions that existed there, and I assume that the minister will give me the information when he receives it. I did this in consequence of information that I had received as to the bad effects of the operation in certain camps in England of what is known in Canada as the wet canteen. I had intended, when this information should have been forthcoming, to direct the attention of the House to the subject; I was not aware that the hon. member for Rouville had intended to deal with it. I want to say to the Minister of Finance that the member for Rouville was properly within his rights and

privileges as a member of this House in directing the attention of Parliament to this question, and in what he said he was stating what is manifestly correct. My questioning on the subject and my hon. friend's discussion of it to-day were prompted solely by one desire, and that an honest and true one. Hon. gentlemen opposite, with assumed indignation, undertook to say that this gentleman, whose boy is going to the front, and all the rest of us who have boys at the front, have no right to discuss the manner in which the welfare of the men overseas is being had in regard by those who are responsible. One can make eloquent speeches in eulogy of the splendid deeds of the boys who have gone, but that is not necessary. There are those who hold in their hearts and minds thoughts which are far moie eloquent than any uttered words in regard to the great mission of the men who have gone forth to fight. But it is not correct to say that we who are here at home have no right to assume that any question raised in the public press as to the welfare of those who have gone to the front is not a proper subject for consideration and deliberation by this Parliament.

Only one question is involved in this discussion. The Financial Post, a responsible paper published in the city of Toronto, in its issue of April 21, o&ly five days ago, published the statement to which the mem-' ber for Rouville has directed attention. I assume that every hon. member in this House received that paper. I did so, and I saw that other hon. gentlemen received it. To say that we must not discuss matters which are mentioned in the press for fear of hurting recruiting is to assume that we in this Parliament, the boys who have gone and those who have been left behind are a lot of children who cannot look the facts in the face.

Who firstduringthis session brought before the House the question of a wet canteen? The ex-Minister of Militia and Defence, who discussed freely and frankly here in Parliament, on the 6th of February, the question of the wet canteen, and I hope that no one will feel that my hon. friend from Rouville had in his mind when he brought up this question any desire except the one which I am sure animates him, of endeavouring to obtain that which is best for those who are fighting for us, because no political advantage can be secured from such clap-trap as the statement that such a matter as this cannot be discussed here without slandering

our boys at the. front. Either a wet canteen in England is good for our boys, or it is not. That is the only issue. We are well aware that the ex-Minister of Militia inaugurated the dry canteen in Canada, and that during his regime as Minister of Militia there was a dry canteen in all the camps in Canada, and he himself told us in Parliament on the 6th of February that when he was in control as Minister of Militia he insisted on a dry canteen being in existence in Great Britain. He tells us that the reason that that dry canteen was changed into a wet canteen was because General Alderson, according to the exminister's statement, made a change under these conditions:

General Alderson told the men with a great hurrah and bravado In the only speech he ever made except when he read to them a little book which he once published about -how not to do things. He told them he was going to make them free men, and as a slap at the Minister of Militia in Canada, he said he was going to give them a wet canteen.

That is the way the wet canteen came ' into existence in the Canadian camps in England, and the ex-Minister of Militia said to-day, in dealing with this question, that this canteen was carried on by contractors who had contracts with the British Government and not with the Canadian military authorities, though these camps are under Canadian control. The result is that to-day and for some time past there has been a wet canteen in the Canadian camps in England, and the Financial Post, a responsible newspaper, five days ago asserted that the existence of the wet canteen was a serious menace to our boys overseas. Is that not n subject to be discussed in this House of Commons? Does any hon. gentleman want to take the position that in this free Parliament we cannot consider and deliberate as to whether or not a wet canteen is the proper thing to have on the other side in the interest of the boys who have gone overseas? Some hon. gentlemen seem to think that because you mention this matter you are slandering the boys. My hon. friend from West Huron (Mr. Lewis) and my hon. friend from Selkirk ' (Mr. Bradbury) lamented, almost with tears in their eyes, that this question had been brought up, and that it was a slander on the boys at the front.

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD:

My hon. friend who speaks about its being a slander does not know what he is saying. No one wants to

slander any boy who has gone overseas 'to fight. My hon. friend's assumed indignation, his deliberate misunderstanding of this question simply show that he is looking for a little notoriety, desiring to tell a story of his own doings and taking the opportunity of this discussion to do so. When he undertakes to lecture the hon. member for Rouville about his not raising a regiment I may tbll him that my hon. friend's son is going to the front and going to France to fight, which is more than this hon. gentleman has done.

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CON

George Henry Bradbury

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRADBURY:

The hon. gentleman has not much of a story to tell the House about what he has done for his country.

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD:

My only son of military age, if he is not in France at this moment, will be there in a week to fight, and he will stay there. Although on this side of this House we are not as strong numerically as hon. members on the other side, we have more sons and brothers and friends at the front than have hon. gentlemen opposite. My hon. friend has been travelling around so long at the country's expense, garbed in an officer's uniform that he does not know certain things that have been going on in Canada. I resent the suggestion that, when any man in this free Parliament brings a question up for discussion, in the fair mood in which my hon. friend from Rouville has brought it up, not with any idea of creating any hostility or of arousing any feelings the hon. member %'who does so is said to be attacking the boys at the front. Every hon. gentleman with cool blood knew that there was no such idea in the mind of the hon. member for Rouville.* My reason for speaking on this subject is because I know that the attempt will be made to circulate throughout this country the impression I have .stated because my hon. friend happens to be a French-Ganadian from the province of Quebec. In this war and in the part that we in this Parliament and the people of Canada are going to play in it, if with our hearts sore on behalf of those who have gone out to fight for us, we cannot here as representatives of the people sit down and consider what is best for the welfare of those boys without being told, when a discussion is commenced, as the hon. member for Rouville has commenced this one to-day, that we .are slandering the boys, I say that such talk is worthy only of children and not of free men in this Parliament. What is the sole and only issue here? It is whether a wet canteen or a dry

canteen in England is in the interest of the boys.

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LIB
LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD:

The ex-Minister of Militia says that a wet canteen is not in the interest of the boys. He tells us that the wet canteen was established by General Alderson-to use the minister's own words- as a direct insult upon himself personally. Is that true? If that statement of the exminister's is true, what do these other gentlemen who have been discussing this question to-day say? Nobody is attacking the soldiers. The Financial Post does not attack them; it suggests that wet canteens should be done away with because they are an injury to our boys. If they are an injury to the boys, then we want to know it, and I do not care what military exploits hon. gentlemen on the other side may have performed themselves, I want to know, and every father and mother in this country wants to know, whether a wet canteen is likely to contribute to the detriment or to the advancement of the boys who are overseas. For myself I purpose waiting for the information which the Minister of Militia has intimated he will bring down upon this question as to the number of these canteens, as to the regimental reports, and as to the men that have been brought before their commanding officers to be dealt with in regard to offences relating to this matter. The motion of my hon. friend is simply a motion of adjournment in order that the attention of the House may be called to this matter. If hon. members will look at the papers of yesterday they will find ,a despatch telling how Sir Hamar Greenwood deals with this question to which my hon. friend from West Peterborough (Mr. Burnham) has referred-incidentally to discussing this question of the canteen. Sir Hamar Greenwood dealt with it in the frankest possible way, pointing out the regrettable number of our Canadian boys who were in the hospitals. If, over in Great Britain, Sir Hamar Greenwood can discuss, in the interest, as he alleges, of the Canadian people, this question and how best to deal with it, can it be said that in this Parliament we cannot discuss this question of a wet canteen or a dry canteen, like gentlemen and like men, knowing the seriousness of the issue at this time, with a full knowledge of the questions that are being fought out across the ocean, with all the

fateful influence that they -will bring to Canada and to those who will come after us? If we in this House cannot discuss this question and find out what is best for our sons who are overseas, then I say that we occupy a very peculiar position. That is what my hon. friend from Rouville, with the best intentions and in a very proper spirit, sought to do, and I submit that he had the right to bring this matter before the attention of Parliament.

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CON

John Stanfield

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. JOHN STANFIELD (Colchester):

I shall occupy the time of thd House for only a few minutes. I want to say this for the boys from Nova Scotia. At Aldershot camp, (Nova |Sootia) they behaved splendidly. On the bout going over, there were 5,988 troops; four battalions from Nova Scotia, one from Toronto, and one from Prince Albert commanded by my hon. friend from Prince Albert (Mr. Donaldson). Captain Hayes toljl me that he had never had better-behaved men on his boat. The officers commanding the battalions had no trouble at all with the men. The four battalions went to Witley damp, where a wet canteen was operated by the Imperial authorities. Personally, I think that whan a man is in training he should do without strong drink, but of course when our soldiers get over to the other side, they come under British .control. To prove how well the boys from Nova Scotia behaved iat Witley Camp, when they were given fifty-fifty leave, that is, half of them going for six days' leave and then the other half, there were only seven *absentees out of 4,000 men when the leave was up. The Provost-Marshal of London complimented the Highland Brigade from Nova Scotia on their splendid conduct while in the city. Owing to a severe operation I had met with, the medical officers considered that it would be unwise for me to go to France, even on a tour to see what was going on. I should have liked to go, but I took their advice -and came home, so I cannot speak of conditions at the front. But I can say this for the boys from Nova Scotia and- other parts of Canada in training at Witley Camp, that I never saw a drunken man the whole time I was there.

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LIB

Frederick Forsyth Pardee

Liberal

Mr. F. F. PARDEE (West La-mbton):

I think one of the most extraordinary propositions that I have ever heard has been laid down by hon. gentlemen opposite this- afternoon. It was very proper that this question, which concerns the welfare of our troops in England, shoul-d be brought up by -my hon. friend from Rouville (Mr. Lemieux), and he has- brought it before the

House in a very fair and equitable manner. It is to Parliament that these matters must in the last analysis come, and it was only right that my hon. friend should direct the .attention of Parliament to the condition of affairs which the -correspondent of a reputable newspaper describes as existing in Canadian camps in England. No sooner had my hon. friend eat down than one hon. gentleman opposite got up and said- that even if the allegations were true, the subject was oue that ought never to have been discussed on the floor of the House. That was a most remarkable thing to say. When it is alleged that a grievance exists, and that grievance is brought to the attention of Parliament and substantiated ;by an hon. member of this House, all hon. gentlemen opposite can do is to fall back on the old time-worn argument that it will- hurt recruiting. The truth is, recruiting is not hurt by criticism, the -object of which is to secure better health and better conditions for our troops. Recruiting cannot be hurt by criticism of that kind. But this Government, which has been so utterly lacking in giving a lead to recruiting, the moment criticism is made falls back on the old argument: Do not criticise, it will hurt recruiting. The whole question in a nut shell is this-: Is the dry or the wet canteen the

better for our men?

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LIB
LIB

Frederick Forsyth Pardee

Liberal

Mr. PARDEE:

We had a long peroration from the Minister of Finance describing his trip abroad and his utterances tllere, but what I should have liked to hear from him as leader of the House, is a declaration as to whether the Government is in favour of a dry or a wet canteen. If the wet canteen was not a good thing in Canada, is it any better for being in England? If it is not a good thing, and I am not expressing an opini.cn one way or the other, let the Government consider the representations that have been made here this afternoon, with a view to finding out what will be in the best interests of the troops. But for hon. gentlemen opposite to impute disloyalty to us, and hint -that we are trying tp hurt recruiting, when we are simply making an honest criticism of conditions in England and at the front, is to my -mind carrying an absurdity altogether too far, and hon. gentlemen opposite know it.

In conclusion, I would just like to say this: I think the people of this country

will think it a very strange thing for the Government, from the Minister of Finance

v

down, to deprecate criticism of conditions which vitally affect the welfare of our troops at the front, saying that even if the allegations are true we have no right to discuss them because, forsooth, the discussion will hurt recruiting. If the time has come when the Government is not prepared to face the facts as they are, and endeavour in their wisdom to right them, then the sooner the Government and this whole House of Commons gets out and lets another set of men in, the better for the whole country. Somebody may say: "You are

finding fault because the men get a tot of rum." The hon. member for Rouville never hinted at such a thing. He brought the conditions to the attention of Parliament in order that they may be righted. Let the Government drop once for all this silly cry of hurting recruiting, and be men enough to say whether thes* allegations are true or false.

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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RICHARD BLAIN (Peel):

I am

sure the people of the country will realize that hon. gentlemen opposite are trying to make political capital out of this discussion. Any man who listened to the speech of my hon. friend from West Lambton (Mr. Pardee) could reach no other conclusion. He was eager to discuss every other branch of military affairs but the matter now before the House. He charges the Government with lack of leadership in recruiting. I should like to know what that has to do with the question before the House, and whether a charge of that kind is not intended to injure the Government. My hon. friend seems to forget that he belongs to a party which promised to give the Government whole hearted support during this war until victory was won. For my part I do not think the Government can be charged with maintaining a wet canteen. I do not wish to discuss this matter politically, but the party of hon. gentlemen opposite was in power for fifteen years, and, as their right hon. leader (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) has stated

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LIB

Frederick Forsyth Pardee

Liberal

Mr. PARDEE:

Does the hon. gentleman (Mr. Blain) dispute the word of the exMinister of Militia (Sir Sam Hughes) when he says that General Alderson, through Sir George Per ley, established the wet canteen?

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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN:

I do not propose to discuss that part of it.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

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April 26, 1917