June 21, 1917


On the Orders of the Day:


LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

If I may be permitted, I would like to give the signature to the telegram which I read yesterday from the Yukon, because I find it does not appear in Hansard. The signature was that of Mrs. Geraldine Sharpe, of the Women's Protective League. I also received, under date of June 20, a confirmatory telegram from Mrs. Marie Fotheringham, of the Women's Progressive League.

Topic:   COST OF LIVING IN THE YUKON.
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LABOUR STRIKE IN WESTERN COAL MINES.


On the Orders of the Day:


LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

Would the Minister of Labour give the House such information as he can in regard to the present situation of the difficulties respecting the coal miners of Alberta?

Mr. -CROTHERS: I do not think I can add anything to the statement I made yesterday,. which was to the effect that the

Government were taking action with the view tp having the mines opened. We expect this will be done in a day or two.

Topic:   LABOUR STRIKE IN WESTERN COAL MINES.
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LIB

William Ashbury Buchanan

Liberal

Mr. W. A. BUCHANAN (Medicine Hat):

I have a couple of telegrams to-day from the unions in Alberta stating that the men had agreed to return to work on the terms agreed to by the Policy Committee and Mr. R. P. Green, M.P., and, that their .only objection was to the penalty clause, which the operators insisted upon. Is that the case or not?

Topic:   LABOUR STRIKE IN WESTERN COAL MINES.
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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

I think the information that my hon. friend has received is correct. The representatives of the miners and operators agreed on everything except the penalty clause.

Topic:   LABOUR STRIKE IN WESTERN COAL MINES.
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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

Might I further suggest to the Minister of Labour that he take the earliest possible opportunity of placing before the House and the country the conclusions of the Government in regard to the production of coal in the West. The importance of this matter cannot be exaggerated, and I think it would be very, very much in order if the minister would inform the House and the country as tp the situation at the earliest possible moment.

Topic:   LABOUR STRIKE IN WESTERN COAL MINES.
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LIB

William Erskine Knowles

Liberal

Mr. KNOWLES:

Did the minister state that the Government would be operating the mines in a day pr two, ot simply that they would have an announcement to make then?

Topic:   LABOUR STRIKE IN WESTERN COAL MINES.
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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

We expect the mines

to be in operation within the next two or three days.

Topic:   LABOUR STRIKE IN WESTERN COAL MINES.
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MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.

DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING.


Consideration of the motion of the Right Hon. Sir Robert Borden (Prime Minister) for the second reading of Bill No. 75, Military Service Act, 1917, and the amendment of Sir Wilfrid Laurier thereto, and on the amendment to the amendment by Mr. Barrette, resumed from Wednesday, June 20.


LIB

Frederick Forsyth Pardee

Liberal

Mr. F. F. PARDEE (West Lambton):

Mr. Speaker, to my mind there is one thought, and pne thought only, in the minds of the people of the Dominion of Canada to-day. That one thought possesses our people in their waking, and I had almost said in their sleeping hours; that thought is of the crisis the Empire is struggling through, and of the means by which we may use all our resources to bring the war to a successful conclusion for

the Allied powers. I am speaking here today, Sir, as a Canadian, to Canadians and not as party man to party man, for this is not an hour for partisan speeches.

Democracy has made great strides. Prior to August, 1914, I take it, there was not a man in this House-there was scarcely a man in this Dominion-who would have believed, that in this twentieth century, any nation or any people would attempt to strike a blow at the very foundation of democracy, with all the ambitions it inspires in the human heart and with all the benefits it has conferred on the wprld-and to substitute for it an autocracy, which through the ages has crushed the human race. Such was the wanton design of Germany. Tyrannical to the last degree, cursed with militarism in all its phases, the right of free speech denied, and the peopled own parliament practically elected for them, Germany stands opposed to democracy, and for the maintenance of a nation of men in bondage instead of a free people. It is of Germany that Mr. Balfour has said there could be no greater danger to the world than the menace of a nation which believed itself to be superior to all law, human and divine. By the power of might over right Germany seeks to compel other nations to act according to her tenets. Does Canada want that? If that be a true picture of Germany, and I do not think I have overstated the case, is Canada not prepared to say that with all her resources in men and money and in the pride of her young democratic nationhood she shall stand to protect her free institutions against this Prussian slavery, and to help her sister enlightened nations to repel the onslaughts of Prussian barbarism on civilization? These are the thoughts that appeal to me; these are the thoughts that must come home to every one who ponders on the present day situation in world affairs. I say, Sir, that Canada cannot afford to allow the tenets of Germany to prevail through our lack of effort.

Do the people of Canada realize that today they are enjoying the greatest freedom to be found amongst nations? Do they realize that, if Germany conquers, they will become bondsmen instead of freemen? That they do realize it to the full, I have reaeon to doubt, judging by what has taken place during the last year or year and a half. We entered the war with the greatest enthusiasm; we cheered our men off to the front; we threw our hats in the air; -we pledged ourselves that we would stand for what we thought was right. The war has gone on. The war has lasted longer than most Canadians ever thought it would.

We are now getting on to the end of the third year, and does the thought ever strike us that very possibly the Canadian people are commencing to take this war as a matter of course? Do Canadians, men and women alike, not need an awakening? Heaven knows that our women have done wonderfully as have most of the men, but the fact remains, in my humble judgment, we have got to rise to the stem needs and duties that lie before us. The people of Canada living at home in peace, comfort and happiness, if they desire to hold up their heads amongst the peoples of the world, must show that they have real Cana-dianism enough to make the necessity sacrifice to support the men who to-day are protecting us in the enjoyment of all that life holds dear. We have got to have enough red blood in us to say that if the gallant men fighting in the trenches are willing to make the greatest sacrifice, we shall make some commensurate sacrifice on our part. Does the rich man realize, as he roils down the street in his motor, with his wife and his daughter, that did he live in Germany and walk along the street of a German city, unless his wife or daughter made way for a German officer, she would be spat upon or slapped on the face with a sword? Does he realize in his wealth how small the sacrifice that he and others of his class have made? Does he realize that in neglecting to make that sacrifice, he becomes a unit in the force that is helping Germany?

This ie not the day for soft words and soft actions. The time has long since gone by for that. Now the Canadian people, men and women, need an awakening which can only come through strong individual and concentrated leadership. Failing that, everything is at a standstill; failing that, our last condition may be worse than our first.

We must not think too much of party; we must remember that whatever party be in power, our country remains and her problems remain with her. The fate of parties, to my mind, matters not so long as we do our part for the cause of liberty and right and the preservation of our democratic institutions. Four hundred thousand of our people have gone; they went voluntarily, they went as young, red-blooded Canadians should have gone. Does anybody think for a moment that they went because they loved war and all that it means? No. They went from the highest motives of national and Imperial feeling; they went as young patriots; they went to uphold the liberty that our fathers and forefathers have secured and handed down to us. They are gone-they are yonder- fighting, bleeding, dying, sacrificing themselves in this greatest war for principle, honour, and liberty. Is it not apparent that the duty of the Canadian people, and of this Parliament, to see to it that the men who have gone shall have the backing'of the men who stay at home?

These are the reasons, imperfectly though I may have expressed them, that appeal to me in considering this question. There are thousands of young men scattered all over this country to-day who are not necessary for the purpose of carrying on the business of the state, and if they will not fight they are not fit to be free; and the man who is not fit to be free ought be made to fight. Every citizen has the protection of the state, and when the existence of his protector is imperilled it is his duty to give that protector his support, to the offering up of his life if necessary.

Let me say, in passing, that I am speaking to-day only of the province I know. It would be presumption on my part to speak for any other. But this I do know, that in Ontario, in the towns and villages of this province, th.ere are thousands of young men whose place should be at the front, and I have absolutely no objection to saying to them here, that when the time comes, so far as I am concerned and great although I know the responsibility is, through this vote of mine, to the front they must go.

I come to the amendment that has been moved by my leader (Sir Wilfrid Laurier), and I may say to you, Sir, that I find myself politically in the most painful position of my life. I have been a follower of Sir Wilfrid Laurier since I knew enough to be a Liberal. I have admired him; I recognize the fact that to-day, among the statesmen of Greater Britain, he stands preeminent. I recognize the fact that he guided the destinies of this country for many years, and that no man could possibly have better filled that high office. I recognize further, and I say it with no disparagement whatever, that although to-day he ' is but the leader of the Opposition, he is a predominating figure in the British Empire. You can well understand, therefore, that, in differing from a man of whom I hold that opinion, I feel that my action may be presumptuous. I do it only for the reason that my sincere conviction is that my course is right-I could not do it otherwise. To my other friends in this House, my French-Canadian friends, let me say this, that although I differ from

*2528

them on the matter of a referendum, I fully recognize that they have for years fought a fight that has been as full of patriotism and as full of Canadianisin as has been fought by any group of men in this House. All I can say to them is that, although I disagree from them, I believe their convictions to be as honest and as earnest as my own, and honest and earnest convictions are always worthy of respect.

Of the referendum let me say just a word. It may seem a paradox for me to say what I have to say, yet the -world is to-day full of paradoxes. There is not much logic today. What is stood by to-day is knocked down to-morrow in the way of opinions. The true reason why I am not in favour of a referendum is that I believe that, in the present moment of unrest, it is not desirable. The Government made a*promise that conscription would never come. It has thrown suddenly into the political and national ring the widest and biggest question that' the people of Canada, or their representatives, have ever had to consider, without any preparatory education to bring the people's mind to a state of calm and sober judgment. Under these conditions I believe that the referendum would be defeated, and I fear, with that defeat, the door would be shut absolutely in the face of recruiting and in the face of all other kinds of conscription which ought to be made. You may tell me that the opinion of the people should rule; you may tell me I am going against the will of the people, I say in answer that along these lines and others, the people of the Dominion of Canada are today asking to be led, and not to do the leading. So it is that I must vote against the amendment proposed by my revered leader.

Sir, this is not a time for party recrimination. I have desired and endeavoured to keep absolutely away from the flavour of it. Yet it must be recognized that mistakes have been made. Let us be quite fair, let us be quite frank with 'ourselves. Mistakes have been made; there has been lack of recruiting leadership, there has been lack of organization; there has been lethargy: there have been blunders in administration, and I am sorry to say there has been the strongest sort of partisanship in this crisis. It appears to me that there has been an absolute failure to rise to the possibilities and the necessities of national and patriotic service. We have not done it, we have not got out of the rut. We have not literally raised ourselves by our own boot straps as we ought to have done.

JMr. Pardee.]

What has been done cannot be undone; but the mistakes, the blunders, the lethargy, the failure to give leadership, which, more than anything else, have contributed to the situation which confronts us now, must be atoned for by the most vigorous, honest and consecrated effort on the part of Government and Parliament from this time on. The Canadian people must be assured that henceforth the members of the Government and of Parliament, the men who have assumed the tremendous responsibility of calling citizens to the colours by compulsion, will themselves consecrate all their energies, all their abilities, all their endeavours, to the cause for which they demand that their fellow-citizens shall fight.

I would say to the Government, earnestly and sincerely, that when to-day we are here voting for the conscription of men, we should also conscript other resources of the people of Canada. This Government and this Parliament will be accused, and rightly accused, if we bring not forth further conscription of wealth and of. resources. It must not be said that we, sitting here calmly in our places in this chamber, are willing and content, by a mere yea or nay. to spill the blood of the youth of Canada, but that we are afraid to spill the rich man's money. I may be told that there has been part conscription of wealth to-day, by reason of the business tax, but I do not think the pocket of the rich man in this country has yet been touched.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING.
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING.
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LIB

Frederick Forsyth Pardee

Liberal

Mr. PARDEE:

Go where you will, north, south, east and west, and you find every evidence of a surplus of wealth. The Government is absolutely bound, in duty and in fairness to the men who to-day in the trenches of France are protecting that wealth, to make those rich men give out of their abundance for the sustenance of the soldier. Whether the Conscription Bill will pass or not. I cannot tell. I have concluded to ask this Government a thing that is dear to me, something I cannot disabuse my mind of, even though I vote for the principle of the Bill.

The Prime Minister has asked members of this side of the House for suggestions. May I meet that request by earnestly urging the national advisability of preceding the operation of the Bill by a last big and sincere appeal to the patriotism of young Canadian manhood to voluntarily come forward to back their brothers at the front. Under direct and real Government leadership in this respect-and with the conscien-

ti-ous co-operation of Canadians of all parties, all classes, all provinces- I believe that Canadian patriotism would yet make the actual operation of the compulsory service measure unnecessary. Such an appeal, backed by an earnest educational campaign, and conducted in the true spirit, would, I verily believe, result in the coming forward of the 100,000 men required, and more. If this can thus be done-and I believe it yet can-is it not worth while to save -a situation fraught with serious possibilities of schism and strife, a situation which may all too easily produce a moral effect neither creditable to Canada nor helpful to the cause we aim to serve. I sincerely trust that the Prime Minister will give earnest consideration to this suggestion.

I have to disagree with many of my party, and with my honored and revered chief, but let me assure the House that I have thought long and earnestly over these matters-so long and so earnestly-that my conclusions are no longer opinions; they have become sincere convictions.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. ARTHUR MEIGHEN (Solicitor General):

No one could be present during this debate, or, if not present, could look out with intelligent mind on the manifestations of sentiment everywhere appearing without being convinced that this discussion is of greater consequence than any that has ever before taken place in this Parliament. I say that, not because the issue is in doubt. Substantial unanimity, though not entire unanimity, on this side of the House would perhaps carry the Bill. But the courage of certain hon. gentlemen on the other side of the Chamber courage in an hour of trial-has placed the issue beyond all doubt at all. However, it is not the mere passage of the measure that is of final consequence. It is the enforcement of the Bill that we must keep in mind. It is not so much the enactment of law as obedience to law that counts. That is why this Bill should be thoroughly considered, and why' the debate should be conducted in such a spirit, and with such a purpose, as will afford an example to the people' of Canada. The right and honourable thing must be done. The right and honourable thing will be done. The right and honourable thing is embodied in this Bill. But the important duty of members of Parliament is to see to it that we make plain to every reasonable man to the four corners of this Dominion, that we pass this Bill, and enforce it, only because it is the right thing to do-that we do so, far from any spirit of vindictiveness, or for any

unworthy or insufficient reason, but because, in this crisis of the nation, it is the only right thing to do. It will become us, also, to demonstrate in this House to be in this House a reflection of the overwhelming sentiment of this country, that the war in which we are engaged must be pressed on to victory by the only means in which it can be pressed.

I regard the forwarding of troops to the front as a necessity, as an all-essential, as something we cannot shirk. Does anybody dispute that? Whatever means are necessary to procure these men, they must be sent, and whatever action is necessary on our part to support our army at present in France, we must adopt. No one has seriously argued in this House-and I give every hon. gentleman the credit of saying no one seriously believes-that we can dispatch 350,000 men overseas, commissioned by us to stand between our country and destruction, and leave them to ^ De decimated and destroyed. The obligation of honour is upon us, it is the plainest obligation that ever was placed on a nation. The obligation of honour is fortified by the primary obligation of all people to protect the security of the state. There is no other way in which either the honour or the security of the state can be preserved.

In the next place, we are able to send these men; we have the men to send. Does anybody dispute that? It is argued feebly by some that we require all our men for our industrial, commercial and agricultural pursuits. True, we can use them all here; there are opportunities in Canada to occupy them all. But surely a reasonable mind must agree that we need them far more sorely in France. It is true that we cannot send them without some inconvenience. The soldiers who represent France on that 350-mile Ibattle line in Europe are not there without inconvenience to the people at home; neither are the soldiers who represent Great Britain. When the men are sent away, necessarily, more women will be employed in our factories, more old men will be employed on pur street cars, more boys will be employed on farms during the summer instead of passing their.time at lake resorts. There might even be a very small diminution of production in Canada. But all this we can afford infinitely better than we can afford to allow our lines in France to be decimated, weakened or destroyed. We can afford the men; we must send them; what other way is there of sending them?

Some have suggested that if we withdrew this Bill we could sustain- our forces

at the frpnt by a continuation of the voluntary system. The hon. gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Pardee) and who has delivered an address which will long live in the records of this Parliament, has suggested that, at all events under the shadow of this Bill, more men may be secured. I do not doubt that that is true; possibly under the shadow of this Bill more men will enlist, under a sort of voluntary system. But that emphasizes, does not destroy, the necessity for the Bill. Who can contend, with justification, that the voluntary system has not been adequately tried in Canada, both as to vigour of effort and as to length of time? The member for St. John (Mr. Ptugsley), if I understood correctly an interruption that he made yesterday, feels that the voluntary system is now doing enough. Well, for twelve months it has produced an average of 6,000, or 7,000 men a month, while the wastage in Canada and in England amounts to a very substantial portion of that figure. In the two months through which we have just passed, the voluntary system yielded us not one man for four of those who were casualties among our armies in France. Add the casualties in France and the wastage in England to the wastage in Canada, and it is as plain as any rule of arithmetic that further reliance on the voluntary system will in time-perhaps in a very short time -so reduce our forces that we shall have no substantial representation in the war.

It has been suggested that everything has not been done that might have been done. Perhaps that is so, all I know is that we have done everything that we were able to devise, that the resources of the Administration were able to evolve, to make the voluntary system successful. Has there been during the whole course of this debate a suggestion of any practical step that might, have been taken and which was not taken to make the voluntary system successful? I have not heard one. Was there not

4 p.m. a sufficient number of recruiting officers? Were the recruiting officers not the proper men? In some cases, perhaps, they were not; no Government that ever existed could select in every particular case the proper man. There may have been an English recruiting officer in Montreal, but there were French recruiting ofldcers as well in Montreal. One would think, listening to the hon. member for Rouville (Mr. Lemieux) that the only man commissioned to recruit in Montreal was the Methodist minister of whom he

[Mr. Meifihen.l

complained. I obtained to-day from the Militia Department a list of recruiting officers in the province of Quebec and in the city of Montreal. When I got that list I thought they bad sent me a list of French-Canadian recruits; the number was almost legion. I will not weary the House by reading the list; it is sufficient to say that there was no discrimination whatsoever. I am sure that hon. gentlemen on both sides of the House know that to be the fact.

Was there not sufficient earnestness in the carrying on of the voluntary system? I do n.ot think that the earnestness displayed by the adherents of this party excelled in any degree the earnestness of many adherents of the party represented by hon. gentlemen opposite. And I believe each was as generously manifested in every part of Canada as it was in Manitoba or Ontario.

I know of no resource that was not .adopted; the system became at last one which was a system of voluntary enlistment only in a very modified and attenuated sense. It became a system rather of conscription by cajolery-and not altogether too creditable to Canada. Consequently, speaking from -the viewpoint, not only of the Government, but of the Dominion, there is no other way of getting men than by adopting this measure. The men must be ha^l; we have them to send, and there is no other way of procuring them and sending them. The business of the country, therefore, is, by this system, to get the men and to send them overseas.

, In objection to this course it is urged that, however essential it may be or whatever may be our physical power to accomplish it, we are restrained by constitutional limitations from performing this duty. I will not burden the discussion with a long, wire-drawn argument as to our powers. Every one who wants to face this issue rather than evade it will admit that if we have not the constitutional power, we had better get it; and there is nowhere to get it except in this House. Who, except ourselves, can legislate constitutional validity into what we desire to do? The Parliament of Great Britain is as powerless to do so as is the Parliament of France. The Parliament of Canada has full constitutional power. If the law is not right, surely it is our duty to put the law right with the least possible delay. But the law in principle is right. The law, as it stands at present is quite sufficient to enable us to act, except from this point of view: the Militia Act enables us to get men compulsorily by a system of hit and miss, of selection by lot. It does

not provide the machinery for the allocation or selection of men after they are got together by lot. It simply reaches the point of the enlistment, or, rather, the point of the reporting of the men; after that it is chaos. But the essential feature of compulsion, liability to service, is embedded in the Militia Act, even in more naked and pronounced form than it is in The Military Service Act. '

Strenuous effort is being exerted to show that the intention of the Militia Act was to limit compulsion to defence within this country, or, at all events, within this continent. I -listened with great interest to the argument of the member for Kamouraska (Mr. E. Lapointe) and I address these words in particular to my French Canadian friends. The Militia Act provides that all males between 18 and 60 shall be liable to service, and that liability may be exercised for the purpose of securing the defence of Canada within or beyond Canada.

I have not given the precise words, but that is a clear interpretation of them. The militia, after it has been compulsorily recruited, may be sent anywhere "within or beyond Canada for the defence thereof." Those are the exact words. Consequently, it is essential that at the point to which and in the purpose for which the militia is sent, the defence of Canada must be involved. The hon. member for Kamouraska (Mr. E. Lapointe), who is an able gentleman, presents a concise, succinct argument, at all events, the best, I think, that could be presented from his point of view. But let us analyse it. He argues that because Sir Frederick Borden, in 1904, at one point of the debate-and remember that Sir Frederick Borden said something of an opposite nature at another point-stated that where the defence of the Empire wae involved, soldiers compulsorily recruited could not be sent overseas on behalf of Canada, and he mentioned at that time the South African war. I do not know that very serious argument could be urged against Sir Frederick Borden's contention as so applied. It could be argued with great force that the security and defence even of Great Britain were not involved in the South African war. I do not know that the contrary could be argued. Certainly the defence of Canada was not involved directly in the South African war, if indeed it was involved indirectly. 'Sir Frederick Borden was not so far out in his answer to the question of Mr. Maclean in that regard.

But the hon. member goes on to make this most astonishing statement:

Until a few days ago, I do not think that anybody who has studied the constitutional history of Canada ever expressed the opinion that her militia could be sent overseas by virtue of that Act.

The speech of the hon. member is made for the purpose of distribution throughout the province of Quebec, and for the purpose of urging his compatriots in that province against the adoption of the Military Service Act. Is the statement I have quotsd a fair one? I would feel justified in going further. Is that a true statement to send out to the people of Quebec-that until a few days ago no one who had ever studied the constitutional history of Canada ever expressed the opinion that the militia could be sent overseas by virtue of that Act? T.Jie hon. member repeats that statement in two other places. Now I affirm' this, and I challenge contradiction right now or later. No hon. member can point me to a statement made by any constituted legal authority in Canada, at any time since the first Militia Act was passed in 1868 up to the present hour, who ever said anything else than that under the Militia Act our troops can be sent overseas. I go further. I am convinced it is safe to assert that until the outbreak of this war no lawyer in this country, whether a responsible official or not except a political agitator, ever ventured the opinion that we could not under the Militia Act send our troops overseas.

Will hon. gentlemen believe this? Even the arch-agitator on this issue himself (Mr. Bourassa) when the present Militia Act was passed, used language which clearly showed and admitted that soldiers enlisted under that Act could be sent overseas. Why does the hon. member for Kamouraska make the statements that he does? I repeat once more, and I challenge contradiction here and now, that from the date this law was enacted, until this hour, no constituted legal authority either provincial or Dominion, in this country, ever questioned our power under the Militia Act to send our troops overseas. Does the hon. member quote any one in opposition to that statement? Does he quote any legal [DOT] authority at all? He quotes a physician on the one hand and an editor on the other. Then he makes bold to say that no one who has studied constitutional history has ever doubted that we could not under the Militia Act send our troops overseas. Is the speech of the hon. member for Kamouraska a right or proper speech in this

our country to send to the people of Quebec or of any province? He quotes Sir Frederick Borden as a constitutional authority, but Sir Frederick Borden expressed opinions consistent with both positions. Sir Frederick Borden, however, was a physician. The hon. member quoted the hon. member for Victoria (Sir Sam Hughes), but the hon. member for Victoria on a further study of the Act has stated in the plainest language that under the Militia Act our troops can certainly be sent overseas. Why does the ' hon. member for Kamouraska make such statements in the presence of the language of the Minister of Justice in the late Government-and the hon. member in his speech referred to the language of that gentleman-who, in words the plainest that man could possibly utter .told the House when the Act was adopted that under that Act the troops of this country compulsorily enlisted could be sent overseas, even to India, if in the judgment of the Governor General in Council the defence of Canada was being fought overseas. Sir Charles Fitzpatrick stated at that time that the discretion belonged solely to the Governor General in Council until Parliament later on passed upon his decision. Yet, in the face of that assertion by the constituted legal authority of Canada when the Act was passed in 1904 and almost in the hearing of that distinguished man, the hon. member stated to this House that no one ever asserted such a thing until a few days ago.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING.
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LIB

William F. Carroll

Liberal

Mr. CARROLL:

Does the Solicitor General make a distinction between the power of the Government to send conscripted troops overseas and the power of the Government to send voluntarily enlisted troops overseas?

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I make no distinction

whatever. The Act makes no distinction; it says that you may enlist troops voluntarily or by conscription, and that after you have enlisted Them, you can send them beyond Canada for the defence of Canada. Sir Charles Fitzpatrick said, as any one would have said, that it was a matter for the Government, in the exercise of its discretion, to decide, whether it believed that the war being fought overseas was a war involving the defence of Canada. Consequently, so far as compulsory law goes now, the power exists. It has indeed already passed through eleven general elections in this country and has been approved by the people of Canada.

We are told however, that, although we have power as a Government and certainly power as a Parliament to declare that our troops in this war shall go overseas 'beyond Canada for the defence of Canada, we should not exercise that power. Why? The leader of the Opposition tells us that he is not afraid of an invasion of Canada. The hon. member for Bonaventure (Mr. Marcil) is also brave; he is not afraid of an invasion of Canada either. These hon. gentlemen in their predictions-because at best they are. only prophecies-are either right or wrong. If they are wrong, and if there is danger of an invasion of Canada, then we had better get ready as .soon as we can and fortify ourselves at the vital point in Europe, against that invasion. They will admit that themselves. If on the contrary they are justified in expecting that there will not be an invasion of this country-that we as Canada are not in danger-I ask why are we not in danger? Why are they so brave? Why do they rest so comfortably? It is because the defence of Canada is being fought over there in France, If the defence of Canada is not made secure by success in France, then Canada is in danger of invasion. And if our defence is bound up with our success in France then it is our bounden duty under the Militia Act to send our troops there for our defence. Let us come to grips on this question. If there is any weakness in that argument I would like to know what it is. One or the other is true: Either we are in danger of invasion right now or later on, as the result of this war, or we are not in danger. If the first is true, then we should certainly send our troops to repel the invader, imminent or apprehended. If the second is true, then our defence is being fought out over there, and it is only by our success over there that we can possibly avoid invasion. It is because the right hon. gentleman (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) believes that the troops of this Empire and of France and Italy will succeed on the western front and the troops of Russia succeed on the eastern front that he sits comfortably in his seat and feels that this country is not in danger of invasion. That means they are fighting out there the defence of Canada. If that is the case, how can he decline the duty that he must surely feel upon his heart of sending the troops of Canada to sustain the defence of Canada, overseas?

The hon. member for Kamouraska (Mr. Lapointe) reads some ancient legislation of 1808 and 1839 to show that under that

legislation we might possibly send troops to a country conterminous with this country. But the phrases of those old acts are left out of the legislation of 1868 and they are left out of the legislation of 1904, showing that times had changed since 1808 and 1839, and that Parliament realized in 1868 that the defence of Canada might be fought out elsewhere than on this continent, and that they should take power to defend this country overseas. I put this to hon. gentlemen opposite: Is it not possible, is it not reasonable, that our ancestors in 1839 might have felt themselves in a very different position from what we feel ourselves in today? Those were the days of bows and arrows, of little ships and little armies. Is it not possible that the men of that day might have felt that only in this continent could we be assailed as Canada, while we to-day might .see clearly that only overseas can we be effectually protected now?

I pass from that and proceed to take up certain of the contentions that have been advanced in support of the amendment moved by the leader of the Opposition. It had been a matter of great interest, and indeed of curiosity, to observe the wonderful collection of opinions that are massed behind this referendum amendment. The referendum amendment is really not an amendment at all. At all events it is not a policy: it is the negation of a policy. Why is it adopted? Merely as an expedient to avoid facing the issue, and to collect behind the Opposition leader all the support he can get. What are the opinions behind the amendment? It is seconded by the hon. member for Edmonton (Mr. Oliver), who complains that we have already waited too long on this matter: that we should have taken this course and had a referendum started a year ago. It is moved by the leader of the Opposition, who complains that we have dashed the Bill upon them too suddenly and too soon. What is the ground of the leader of the Opposition? He argues that the Bill, is going to bring about disunion in this country, and will be met with opposition, if not with resistance, on the part of French Canada. His amendment is seconded by the hon. member for Edmonton who wants a bill that will take all of these 100,000 men out of French Canada alone.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING.
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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

1 would like my hon. friend to keep closer to the facts than that. Hansard is my record.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING.
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June 21, 1917