June 21, 1917

LIB
LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

Is that in order, Mr. Speaker?

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

Joseph Hormisdas Rainville (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER:

I do not think that the hon. the Solicitor General has imputed motives or has said anything to which the attention of the Speaker should be called.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Now, that is the character and the variety of the opinion that is behind this amendment. These are the conflicting views that are expressed for the purpose of urging the adoption of this amendment. What is the meaning of it? Here is an amendment moved by the leader of the Opposition who moved it because he himself is against conscription. It is seconded by the hon. member for Edmonton who seconds it because he is in favour of conscription. And its first sponsor is the hon. member for Bonaventure (Mr. Marcil) who does not know whether he is in favour of conscription or against it. It will be clear to every one that the purpose of this amendment is to evade rather than to face a very great issue at this time. It is to avoid rather than to enforce the performance of a duty. It is a refuge of discord,- a haven of the disunited. It is not a declaration of faith, it is a declaration of scepticism.

We cannot win this war by referendums. Do the soldiers in France want a referendum?

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

That is the object of the amendment.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

But the hon. member knows very well that the soldiers in France cannot vote on a referendum and where did he or any one else ever express the purpose of asking the soldiers if they wanted a referendum? Will he be willing to leave that question to the soldiers in France? to say whether they want a referendum or not? Would anybody suppose, that those who have taken upon themselves this burden those who are war-weary and worn, whose strength is wasted, whose nerves and vitality are a thousand times exhausted, will say to the people of Canada: Do not send us help unless you ask the slackers at home whether they want to be forced to come? Does anybody suggest such a preposterous thing? A referendum is moved for these conflicting reasons by hon. gentlemen opposite, and it is supported by still more conflicting influences all over this country and all ever the world. Do hon. gentlemen realize where they are when they support this proposal? Do they realize the company they are in? I make an appeal to hon. gentlemen opposite who, at other times, and under brighter skies, might have felt that there was a sound principle behind the referendum, to argue out for themselves whether that principle has any application at a time like this. Is the referendum peculiarly suited

suited to a / that he ie' right that we have exhausted all our efforts in that direction. The results of the past twelve months have shown that

for war? Is the referendum time when the best of our electorate, thirty-three per cent of the whole, are overseas and when only a mere fraction of their number, might possibly be counted in the vote? Could you apply the principles that might ordinarily be argued with reference to the referendum system to the conditions at this hour? None of those principles apply at all.

The first function of the Government and the first duty of the nation is to secure the safety of the state. The Government or Parliament that fails in that duty commits the cardinal, the unpardonable sin. Surely we have the courage to give a lead to the people of this country. Surely we have the courage to take the step which the hon. member, for Edmonton himself admits is the only effective step that can be taken. No man wants to see assistance given to our soldiers in France more than he does. Nq man has more reason to want to than he has. Why then delay or imperil for an hour the passage of a Bill which is the only means by which assistance can be given? He admits that we cannot get men under the voluntary system. It has been at a standstill for twelve months, he says.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

If the hon. gentleman

is alluding to me, would he be good enough to keep within the range of what I hare said? I have not said that it would not be possible to get enough men by the voluntary system.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

If the hon. gentleman

supports conscription, is not that the best reason-

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

Not at all. I believe that the conscription system is the proper system of recruiting, whether we can get men by the voluntary system or not, if it is administered fairly. -

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Then we should have

had conscription at first?

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I have always said that

I believed the conscription system; was the fairer system, but I recognized the difficulties of putting it into force and I did not press- it upon the Government, recognizing those difficulties.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

What I said was that

' the hon. gentleman stated that we could not get them by the voluntary system, and if he referred to the way in which the Gor-ernment exercising its best judgment was endeavouring to get them, perhaps he will admit that I was correct. I at least admit

recruits cannot be got by our methods at all events, which we believed to be the best at our command. Why, then, imperil the success of the only measure that will get them for the sake of any expediency whatsoever? Time will not wait; why then delay the only system that can be adopted by any evasion at all? What has the Toronto Globe said? ' I wish to say in all sincerity that I recognize the contribution that the Liberal press of this country has made towards enabling the Government under this Act to do something real and substantial to carry on the war. The Toronto Globe has said that the voluntary system is as dead as Julius Ceasar. Months ago the Liberal press of this country proclaimed that we could not get these troops under the voluntary system. Personally, I have been of that opinion for many a month gone by. We have waited only until we thought the public of Canada generally had realized that fact with such' overmastering corvic-tion as to mean the general consent of this country to the putting through of this Bill. Why imperil it? Do hon. gentlemen realize that the passing of this referendum amendment will bring joy to the friends of Germany in every part of the world? It will be welcomed at Potsdam. It would be supported, were he here, by the head of the German. nation itself. It will be welcomed oy every German newspaper on this and every other continent. It will 'be welcomed by every slacker all over Canada. That is the company that hon. gentleman are in who support this referendum. The passing of this amendment would be a subject of rejoicing to every pool-room loafer, to every movie veteran, to every sporting fan, to all who have shrunk from duty. But it would be a subject of resentment, regret and pain to the men who have nobly done their part to preserve the liberty, and uphold the honour of Canada.

What does this amendment really mean? What do its consequences entail? A referendum on the principle of the Bill!- what does that mean? Does it mean that " conscription " shall go to the country by way of referendum, that we shall put a question on the voting paper: "Are you in favour of conscription or not?" Why the [DOT]whole country has passed on conscription as a principle at eleven general elections. There has never been a voice raised against the Militia Act as it stood, that I have heard, on this score, through all these

will divide witih you, man for man, political power in this country. Not only that, but, in order that we may do our part in this war in this the only way it can be done, we are ready to discuss with you other matters, ready to meet you and adopt a course that is fair as between the ideals of both parties." The Prime Minister has repeated that assurance in this debate. The spirit that animated those negotiations still exists, and has not been exchanged for another. What more can we do? While we would do almost anything to avoid the disaster of disunion, we cannot purchase union at the price of national disgrace.

My only effort has been to lay before hon. gentlemen in this Chamber a statement of the spirit in which the Government has approached this matter, to lay before them our policy and, if I could to establish that policy as right and just, and to express our overpowering determination to do our duty, as we see it, in this grave and terrible crisis. Speaking on behalf of hon. gentlemen on this side of the House, I pay my tribute to the clear vision and courage of the hon. mepber for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie), and the hon. member for West Lambton (Mr. Pardee). I say to them that they have, in a manner that we will long remember, discharged to their utmost their obligation to prevent discord and strife. The speeches they have made will place their names high in the roll of honour in Canada, to foe seen and remembered for generations to come. I appeal to hon. gentlemen opposite, and to hon. gentlemen around me, for party divisions as we once had them are not just the same to-day-I appeal to all hon. members to take the course which, in my belief, alone can command the respect of this House, of Canada, and of the world.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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LIB

Charles Murphy

Liberal

Hon. CHARLES MURPHY (Russell):

Mr. Speaker, the slogan in the country to-day is, "win the war." That slogan will be the key-note of my criticism of the measure under consideration by the House. It has been made all the easier for me to adopt that slogan as the. key-note of my criticism by reason of the fact that the first citizen from the county which I have the honour to represent in this House who offered up his young life in the great struggle which is convulsing the world was a young French Canadian, a boy named Hector Filion. Other citizens of that county representing divers races and creeds have since followed that French hoy's example, until to-day the casualty honour roll of the county of Russell, like

that of so many other counties in this Dominion, is distressingly large.

At the outset, may I be permitted to say -not in a boastful spirit; not as asserting any claim that may not with equal truth be asserted by every hon. gentleman in this House-that in a desire to help win this war, I yield to no man in Canada. For that reason, Sir, if I object to the Bill brought down by the Government, it is because I am profoundly convinced that in its principle as well as in its application that measure will hinder rather than help in winning the war. My reasons for that conviction, Sir, I will place before you and before my colleagues in this House as briefly as possible.

It will not detract in the slightest degree from the gravity of the matter that we have in hand if I .say that it w.as in accordance with the traditions of the day that the Prime Minister, without consultation and without deliberation, on New Year's Day, 1916, took the resolution, and then publicly announced, that Canada would contribute 500,000 men to the Army of the Allies. Like other resolutions formed by other people on a like occasion, the Prime Minister 'has found it impossible to carry out this. Because of that failure he now asks Parliament to help him out of his difficulty by enacting this Bill.

The Prime Minister's difficulty does not appear now for the first time, nor is the Bill before the House the first attempt to relieve him of it. That difficulty presented itself very shortly after the Prime Minister's promise was made. In an endeavour to extricate himself, the right hon. gentleman last summer created the National Service Board, but it was speedily found that the cure was no better than the disease. Now, rather than admit his double failure, the Prime Minister proposes another remedy no more efficacious than the former one. That, <[DOT] Sir, is the condition with which we have to deal.

For the purpose of the argument that I wish to develop, let me point out that in making a promise not based on data of any kind the Prime Minister might have undertaken to send 606,000 or 700,000 men with just as much reason as he had for promising to send 500,000 men. Had he chanced to promise either of

5 p.m. tho-se larger numbers, could it be contended, as it is contended in the case of the 500,000, that Canada had failed to fulfil her pledge? Canada made no pledge; that the Prime Minister frankly admits. Canada was not consulted; there-

fore Canada must not, least of all by Canadians themselves, be held up to the other nations as a slacker nation. Canada has done voluntarily, without pledge or compulsion of any kind, that which stands to her credit in this wair; and I submit that it is derogating from the high reputation Canada has won in the estimation of the world through voluntary service to attempt now to substitute compulsion of any kind for the free-will offering she has already made and which she is prepared to continue to make if equality of sacrifice be established and if heir people be consulted as to the leadership they desire to enforce that equality.

At this stage of the Bill it is not customary, nor is it my intention, to discuss details which can be fully dealt with in committee. I therefore propose to confine my criticism to certain outstanding objections that cannot be too strongly emphasized.

In the first place, I submit that Parliament has m>

mandate to pass this Bill. Elected in peace times, its constitutional term extended by itself, this Parliament exists only on sufferance and has no authority to impose harsh legislation of this kind without first consulting the electors. It is of equal importance to point out to the House and to the country that the Government has no request, no warrant from the men at the front, to introduce legislation of this character. On this point the words of the Prime Minister may profitably be recalled. He said:

I bring- from that splendid manhood of Canada at the front an earnest and thrilling message that we shall stand beside them in the stress and welter of this struggle and bring them such support that the effort and sacrifice which have been consecrated to this supreme task shall not be in vain.

Stripped of its rhetoric, this pronouncement makes it quite plain that the men at the front made no request for conscription. In fact, it is not pretended that they have made a collective request of any kind. But, Mr. Speaker, whether these men asked or did not ask for support, it is our duty to see that they lack nothing which Canada can send them. That, however, as I propose to show later, does not imply that it is only by conscription that we can perform our whole duty towards those brave men who have first .claim upon the physical, the moral and the material support of their grateful fellow-countrymen.

Whether the reason for introducing this Bill be advanced in precise terms or be left

to the public to infer, the impression made is the same, namely, that it has been brought down because voluntary enlistment has failed. That I deny absolutely. Voluntary enlistment did net fail, for the excellent reason that voluntary enlistment was never given a fair trial. The proof of this we have in the way things were conducted. Who can forget the rip and tear and smash-the special trains-the parades

the reviews!-the crop of honorary colonels-and the noisy press agencies, of the first two- years of the war? We all remember those things, and we know that while they prevailed voluntary enlistment was not and could not have been properly attended to. But apart from this, we have from the ex-Minister of Militia (Sir Sam Hughes) himself a most important statement with regard to the failure of voluntary enlistment. Speaking at Lindsay on the 28th of April last, the ex-Minister of Militia sail:

More than one year ago an agitation was begun on the question of labour. We were recruiting "too many regiments" ; we were "taking too many men away from work"; "munitions manufacturers and others would be at a standstill"; "farmers could not put in their crops"; and "Canada has already done her full duty," were daily recited. They unfortunately had an effect upon the Prime Minister. The result was that I was asked in March, 1916, not to press recruiting, and recruiting to-day is, and has been dead in Canada for fighting purposes. "Safety First," or the useful and well paid, but not dangerous jobs, are readily filled; but for the gallant hoys in the trenches there is little or no hacking.

That is a most damaging statement made by a former member of the Government, made, he alleges, because of things that happened while he was a member of that Government, and that statement reflects not only upon the Government methods and action, but upon, the Prime Minister himself. Up to the present time, that statement has not been disputed. Such being the case, how can Parliament or the country be expected to accept the statement now advanced, that voluntary enlistment has failed? Equally, may I ask: How can Parliament or the country be asked to accept this Bill as a substitute tor that which was not given a fair trial?

In considering this Bill we have also naturally to consider whether the Government, in the first instance, went ahead on the basis of any survey or calculation of the man-power Canada could supply in a war such as this. Evidently they did not, and it is equally evident that they have not done so even now. We are told that there are five divisions in the Canadian Army,

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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REVISED EDITION '2540 COMMONS


and that this Bill is intended to fill the gaps in those five divisions. It has .been stated-and I have seen no contradiction- that there is on file in the Militia Department in Ottawa a report made toy Imperial officers sent over here for the purpose stating that, having Tegard to Canada's population and to all the data that must be taken into account in estimating the numerical basis of an army for this country, Canada should confine her fighting forces to three divisions, so as to be able to meet all possible demands from wastage in the ranks, when on active service. That report, I understand, was made before the war. The events of the war have proved its correctness. What explanation has the Government to give for ignoring that report; and when they chose to do so, how can they expect us to approve this Bill as a cloak for their inattention to the most elementary detail of military organization? This brings me to the consideration of another practical matter which I have not heard mentioned in this debate thus far. It is said that the men required are to fill the gaps in the ranks at the front. But how many are required? Who knows? Surely we ought to have answers to these questions before we are asked to proceed. Who can answer them? Frankly, I do not know. It would, however, seem to me that the man most likely to be able to answer would be the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian forces. If that be correct, then what does he say as to the number of thousands of men required to fill the gaps in the Canadian ranks? Does he say that the number already enlisted are not sufficient to furnish these thousands? If he does not, should not that fact be made clear? Otherwise, how are we ' to know just what we should do? It is true that statistics have been brought down, but they do not reach the crux of the situation. At best, these statistics are only careful estimates; they are not and cannot be complete or conclusive from the standpoint of military requirements. Therefore, I suggest to the Government that every effort he made to get the information I refer to before this Bill is advanced another stage. If, moreover, it be established on reliable military advice, that we have tpo many divisions, does it not seem to be common sense, based on what I understand to be sound military practice, to readjust the organization and tp consolidate the men that are available in the way best adapted to make their number most effective? The discussion thus far upon the Bill and the amendment introduced by the leader of the Opposition has elicited facts and views that are helpful as disclosing the real position of the Government, and as an aid in determining (the real value of the Bill. By reference to the Orders in Council and the official despatches of the (Government, the leader of the Opposition, in refutation of the Prime Minister's argument that the Bill contains no new principle, was able to show that a new principle is involved, and that at the outbreak of the war the Government was not of opinion that the principle embodied in the Militia Act was the same as the principle set forth in this Bill. My right hon. leader's argument and reasoning were so cogent, and it is so important that the public be seized of his viewpoint, that I ask the indulgence of the House while I restate his views on this subject in his own words: This is what he said: Now, the Prime Minister says that he is introducing no new principle, that he could have sent abroad the 400,000 men who have been sent, under the authority of the existing Act.. Sir, I take issue with my right hon. friend on that. I say he had not any such power. Then later on he said: In support of this contention of mine that this Government could not, under the Militia Act, send the forces that they did, I will contrast with the Government of to-day the Gov ernment of 1914. The Government then did not pretend that they were using the Militia Act in sending Canadian forces across the sea; they did not send them under that Act at all. Here is a despatch of His Royal Highness the Governor General, sent hy the Prime Minister which is an absolute refutation of the doctrine which has just been asserted hy him. This was sent by the Governor General to the Secretary of State for the colonies, and dated August 1, 1914 : Ottawa, August 1, 1914. "In view of the impending danger of war involving the Empire my Advisers are anxiously considering the most effective means of rendering every possible aid and they welcome any suggestions and advice which Imperial naval and military authorities may deem it expedient to offer. They are confident that a considerable force would be available for service abroad. A question has been mooted respecting the status of any Canadian force serving abroad as under section 69 of Canadian Militia Act the active militia can only be placed on actual service beyond Canada for the defence thereof." Some hon. Members: Hear, hear. Sir Wilfrid Laurier: If it was "for the defence thereof" what was the necessity of stating that there was doubt as to the status of these troops? "It has been suggested that regiments might enlist as Imperial troops for stated periods, Canadian Government undertaking to make all necessary financial provision for their equipment, pay and maintenance." Thus, at the very beginning of the war, it was recognized that the words "for the defence thereof" could not apply to this case ; that the troops could not be sent under the Militia Act, and that they should be sent as Imperial troops and as serving voluntarily in the war. That is conclusive. Sir Sam Hughes: What is the date of that despatch? Sir Wilfrid Laurier: First of August, 1914. Then there is an Order in Council, passed on August 6, as follows: "The Committee of the Privy Council have had before them a report, dated 6th August, 1914, from the Minister of Militia and Defence, representing: in view of the state of war now existing between the United Kingdom, and the Dominions, Colonies, and Dependencies of the British Empire on the one side, and Germany on the other side, creating a menace to the wellbeing and integrity of the Empire, and having regard to the duty of the Dominion of Canada as one of those Dominions to provide for its own defence and to assist in maintaining the integrity and honour of the Empire, that it is desirable to mobilize Militia units of the various arms of the service of such effective strength as may from time to time be determined by Your Royal Highness in Council, such units to be composed of officers and men who are willing to volunteer for Overseas service under the British Crown." And so this was for voluntary service alone. Nor is that all. There was this despatch sent by the Governor General on 5th of August: . "My Government being desirous of putting beyond doubt status of Canadian volunteers requests that His Majesty may be pleased to issue an order bringing these volunteers under sections 175 and 176 of the Army Act." Thus, being in doubt of the power of the Government to send troops under the Militia Act, they ashed that the Government of Great Britain should issue an order to enlist them for the British Army. And so we have reason to believe that the Militia Act, as we have understood it, never applied to this case. It is quite true that other hon. gentlemen have joined issue with my right hon. friend on this point. The subject was debated at some length by my hon. friend from South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie) the other day, and by my hon. friend the Solicitor General (Mr. Meighen) this afternoon. But with all respect for these hon. gentlemen, and for any others who may share their view, I prefer the view of my right hon. leader. I rely upon his forty years' experience in this Parliament, and upon his intimate connection with the change that was made in 1904 in the Militia Act which has been under discussion. I have only to add that if this Military Service Bill makes no change in principle, but merely a change in the method of selection, what is the reason for bringing it in at all? Why not merely bring down an amendment to the Militia Act if the difference was so trifling as that? Is not the refutation of that contention contained in the very fact that this Bill has been introduced? 162i The right hon. leader of the Opposition dealt with the labour situation as affected by this Bill. His argument was challenged by the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Sir George Foster). May I digress for a moment to say that in all probability, with the exception of the right hon. leader of the Opposition, no hon. member of this House has had such a long and genuine admiration for the debating power and eloquence of the Minister of Trade and Commerce as myself. I well, remember the first occasion upon which I heard him, now more years ago than I care to recall. From that day to the present I have always acknowledged his great power as a -debater. I do not think that power was ever more eloquently displayed than when he spoke in this Chamber a few days ago. Notwithstanding that, I take the liberty of joining issue with him. In the course of his speech the other day, addressing himself to the argument of my right hon. leader on the labour situation, the Minister of Trade and Commerce instanced the position of labour in Great Britain and the United States under compulsory military service. I submit that the comparison failed to meet the argument of my right hon. leader for two reasons: In the first place, the Derby-registration scheme preceded the introduction of compulsory military service irt Great Britain; and in the second place the United States Government recognized labour as soon as it decided to go into the war, and immediately availed itself of the services of Samuel Gompers, the leader of organized labour in the United States, Even after three years of war this Government has done nothing like that in this country. If my hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce and other hon. members of the Government will not heed the advice of the leader of the Opposition, perhaps they will listen to the advice of a friend of their own. Foreseeing the effect of this Bill on labour, Sir Joseph Flavelle addressed a letter to the Canadian manufacturers of war munitions, in which he says: Dear Sirs.-May I, on behalf of the board solicit your serious co-operation in personal attention and forethought whereby misunderstandings or difficulties with your'work-people may be averted? I am led to say this because I remember the necessity of securing further support for the men at the front means there will be considerable impairment of the present factory working forces in Canada. As there is great industrial activity and a general shortage of efficient labour, it is to be expected that restlessness in labour circles will be increased rather than decreased when men



now at work are taken out of employment and used for military service. That statement should give the Government pause in the course upon which they have embarked, and into which they are trying to rush Parliament and the country. Munitions must be produced and forwarded, or you imperil the lives of the men at the front. Pood must be produced and forwarded or you sap the strength of the men at the front. Is it not better to have one man in the trenches well armed and well fed than two men poorly armed and half fed? That is the practical situation which presents itself to the mind of Sir Joseph Flavelle and of every other practical man in the country. I have no doubt that that was the situation that presented itself to the mind of the new food controller appointed in Great Britain, Lord Rhondda, who within the last forty-eight hours flashed across the ocean a message almost pathetic in its appeal to the United States and Canada to come to the assistance of Great Britain and the soldiers in the matter of the production of food. Then there were one or two other observations of my hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce to which I desire to refer. With fine old Tory contempt for the people, the minister scouted the amendment proposed by the leader of the Opposition. Let the verdict, he said, be passed by the people later on, or by history. In other words, when the Tory party is in power with a safe majority in both Houses why should we ever have an election? As I listened to my hon. friend, the glitter of the new Mace on the Table caught my eye, and recalling that we aie near the. end of the sixth year of this Parliament, I wondered whether my hon. fpiend (had Convinced himself and the other members of the Government that a Cromwell can not appear twice in 'history. If he has not reached that conclusion he might give the matter further attention in the light of this discussion. My hon. friend who sits beside me (Mr. Oliver) has seconded the amendment proposed by my right hon. friend the leader of the Opposition. When speaking in support of the amendment he declared himself to be in favour of conscription. He was questioned by the Solicitor General as to whether he would entrust the administration of a conscription law to the leader of the Opposition, who is opposed to conscription. The hon. member for Edmonton said that he would, and he had ample warrant for that reply. In fact, had the Solicitor General reflected for a moment he never would have asked the question. How could the hon. member for Edmonton have replied otherwise than he did, when the Solicitor General knows that the Prime Minister asked the leader of the Opposition to join him in. a coalition government to pass - conscription and to assist him in the administration of it? Surely the Solicitor General will not condemn what his own leader thought was so eminently proper. It is an axiom of general acceptance that a law which is not sustained by the moral sanction of the people cannot be enforced by constitutional means. This afternoon the Solicitor General said that above all it is the enforcement of the Bill that we must keep ih mind. I quite agree with him. We have ample evidence that the Bill we are considering is not sustained by the moral sanction of the Canadian people. Let me cite some of the evidence. Speaking in Toronto in December last, the Director of National Service, the hon. member for Calgary (Mr. Bennett), had the courage to say to some interrupters in the audience he was addressing that, as the result of representations made to him in the western provinces, which he had just visited with the Prime Minister, he was convinced there would be civil war if an attempt were made to force conscription on the people of Canada. Mark you, Mr. Speaker, that opinion was formed by reason of conditions in Western Canada, not in Quebec. Since then organized labour has declared against conscription;' so has the largest employer of organized labour in the Dominion, the Canadian Pacific Railway, through its president, Lord Shaugh-nessy. From the rural districts of the country, already depleted of man power, have come strong protests against conscription. All these represent such a powerful body of public opinion against the measure that more should not be required to prove its unwisdom and untimeliness. But, there is more. The Bill itself specifically recognizes that the Mennonites and other sects are opposed to it and the people of these denominations are exempted from its operations. Without taking into account any other classes of the population than those I have mentioned, those alone make it plain that such a measure cannot be generally administered. The Solicitor General this afternoon said that it is the enforcement of .the Bill above all that we must keep in mind and again I say, I quite agree with him. While this is the fact you would at times be led to think by the writings of certain journalists and the speeches of certain individuals that the only people opposed to conscription are the French Canadians. As I have just shown, there is no justification for any such idea but the campaign by which it is sought to give currency to this idea in the English parts of Canada is fraught with such possibilities of grave danger to the State that I know of no better public service that can be rendered at this juncture than to place before Parliament and the country the resulting situation as it affects the whole people and to suggest how best, in my judgment, to deal with the situation. We have heard a great deal about recruiting not being satisfactory in the province of Quebec. Indeed, the Minister of Trade and Commerce addressed himself to the leader of the Opposition as if that hon. gentleman alone, although in Opposition, were responsible for the poor recruiting in Quebec. In effect, the Minister of Trade and Commerce said to the leader of the Opposition: "Look here, Sir Wilfrid; we want to govern the rest of this country but you must govern Quebec and we will hold you responsible for everything that happens in Quebec." That from an hon. gentleman who, on the night of the Drum-mo nd-Arthabaska election in 1910, joined with the Nationalists in intoning the Te Deiim over their victory by sending a telegram couched in the words: "Anything to beat Laurier."


CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

I have heard of that telegram so often that I would be infinitely obliged to my hon. friend if he would give me a copy of it.

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LIB

Charles Murphy

Liberal

Mr. MURPHY:

I will try to oblige my hon. friend. I think this is the first time he has ever asked to be furnished with a facsimile of his own writing.

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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

I do want it now badly. I would like to put it in my scrap book.

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LIB

Charles Murphy

Liberal

Mr. MURPHY:

If it be the case that recruiting is not satisfactory in Quebec the Government cannot shift the responsibility from its own shoulders. What did the Government do to encourage recruiting in Quebec? Nothing. It did even worse than that, if I may be pardoned a Hibernianism, it placed in charge of recruiting in Quebec an English-speaking clergyman, of estimable character and highly respected, it is true, but not a soldier, and differing in race, language, and religion from the overwhelming French-Catholic majority of that province.

Mr. Speaker, that was not giving the -French people leadership-that was denying them leadership. And, all the time, ^be Government had at its disposal the. services of General Lessard, a brave and accomplished French-Canadian soldier, with a magnificent record in South Africa, a man whose appointment at the head of recruiting in iiis native province at the outbreak of the war would have appealed to the imagination and the enthusiasm of his fellow-countrymen and would have stimulated enlistment as nothing else would have done. But General Lessard was kept away from Quebec; he was assigned inferior duties in other parts of the country, and Canada and the Empire were the loseTs. The Government's initial blunder in Quebec was followed by others just as inexcusable. These I need not enumerate, but I may point out that a belated recruiting campaign was started by the Postmaster General (Hon. Mr. Blondin) a short time ago and was then abruptly called off. But it lasted long enough to enable the Postmaster General to publicly declare that recruiting in Quebec had been bungled from the start, and that if. proper methods had been adopted in the beginning the response of the French Canadians would have been satisfactory in every respect. There is 'the testimony of a member of the Government, responsible for recruiting. How can the Government escape the condemnation of one of its own members, and how can the Government justify a Bill which one of its own members makes it manifest is introduced for the purpose of covering up its own blunders?

There is another state of affairs of which notice must be taken if we are honestly desirous of understanding the attitude of French Canada towards recruiting. One phase of that situation is created by the open and covert attacks made upon the French people. Let me cite a few instances, beginning with one mentioned the other evening by the hon. member for Rou-ville (Mr. Lemieux). Not many weeks ago, as hon. gentlemen will recall, it was publicly charged that a troop train was stoned while passing through the province of Quebec. The charge was widely circulated, and some credence was given to it even in this House. Much indignation was aroused, and, as usual in these cases, there was some senseless talk about reprisals. To the credit of the Government, I must say that, when my right hon. friend (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) asked that the charge be investigated, the Government promptly appointed a commission for that purpose. And woat was the result? The inquiry completely

exonerated the French residents of the place where the stoning of the train was said to have occurred. It did more; it placed the blame on some of the soldiers themselves. Incidentally it revealed that if the disturbers had had a knowledge of the French language, in all probability there would have been no trouble at all.

Let me refer to another incident in another part of the country. At a conscription meeting held in Queen's Park, Toronto, a returned soldier, who is not, I am convinced, a fair representative of his comrades, is reported to have evoked the loudest cheers of the afternoon by saying that the Government should conscript the foreigners, and'that the returned soldiers would fight the French. I am within the judgment of every fair-minded man in Canada when I say that such language as that is deplorable, deplorable in the highest degree. And yet, Sir, in the newspapers of the city where Lount and Matthews gave up their lives that the principles of liberty and justice might survive; in the newspapers of the city where George Brown and Edward Blake lived and preached the gospel of democracy and freedom, I have failed to notice one word of regret or reproof for the language that was used at that meeting. Worse, than that, Sir, we have heard an echo of that very language in this very Chamber. In moving the introduction of this Bill, the Prime Minister, speaking of the Canadians who had enlisted, said:

If what are left of 400,000 such men come back to Canada with fierce resentment, and even rage in their hearts,' conscious that they have been deserted and betrayed, how shall we meet them when they ask the reason? I am not so much concerned for the day when this - Bill becomes law, as for the day when these men return if it is rejected.

Mr. Speaker, I ask if it would be possible to use language more unfair to the soldiers who have fought for the principle that public opinion must be respected; that there must not he government without the consent of the governed; the soldiers who have fought for the very principle embodied in the amendment of the right hon. leader of the Opposition (sir Wilfrid Laurier)? I ask, would it be possible to use language more unjust to those who oppose this Bill on principle, but who are ready and willing to obey its provisions when approved by a majority of the people? I ask, Sir, would it be possible to use language more provoca-tive^ more destructive of that very spirit of fairness and moderation for which the Prime Minister himself appealed in the dis-

IMr. Murphy.]

cussion of this Bill? The words of a mob orator, unskilled in public speaking, without responsibility and carried away by the excitement of the moment, may at times and on public grounds be excused; but no such excuse can be advanced for the words of a Prime Minister, speaking in a deliberative assembly such as this. Much as I regret the Prime Minister's words, it is not my intention to retort in kind. Bather, Sir, would I appeal from Philip drunk to Philip sober; rather would I ask the Prime Minister to bear in mind his own dictum that it is easy to sow the wind of clamour, and to apply, in quarters where it is most needed-and they are not far distant from his own political household-his own conclusion that those who make that sowing may reap such a whirlwind as they do not dream of to-day; If my Tight hon. friend will do that, I am confident he will decide that the first application of the lesson should be made elsewhere than in the province of Quebec.

But, Sir, it is not merely to such attacks as those I have alluded that we are to attribute the lack of that united effort which it is pretended this Bill will supply. These attacks are bad enough, but there is a more deep-rooted cause of discontent, which this Bill will undoubtedly not remove, but which I am profoundly convinced this Bill will make much worse. It is evident to every Canadian who is concerned about his country's welfare and the unity of its people, that neither can be secured while our French fellow-citizens are disturbed by the belief that there is a disposition on the part of the English majority to deprive them of- the use of their language. At such a critical time as this, it is useless to argue whether that belief is well or ill founded. Argument of that kind will accomplish nothing. The sensible, the courageous, and the patriotic thing to do is to frankly recognize that the belief exists, and to seek to dispel it at the earliest possible moment. The statesman or the Government that will adopt that course will do more to stimulate recruiting, will do more for the boys in the trenches, and will render better and more effective service to Canada and the Empire than all the Bills this Parliament can pass.

In this same connection, I would offer a friendly suggestion to the Minister of Justice (Mr. Doherty). He is designated in the Bill as the minister by whom its provisions are to be carried out. For reasons that will readily occur to my hon.

friend, without my stating them, it would, in my judgment, be better to designate some other minister for that work; in fact, as this is a war measure, its proper administrator would seem to be the Minister of Militia, and should that hon. gentleman require any legal assistance, it can he provided in the Act that such should be furnished him by the Solicitor General.

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June 21, 1917