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.