June 22, 1917

CON

Francis Ramsey Lalor

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LALOB:

Will the hon. members kindly explain the difference to-day in the platform of Bourassa and the Nationalists, and the platform of my hon. friend's leader in this House? .

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LIB
CON
LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT:

Where they have always been. My comrades from Quebec are absolutely as honest in their views to-night as my hon. friend who has interrupted me. After all, though we differ on this occasion, it is not necessary to say a man is dishonest in his view.

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CON

Oliver James Wilcox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Air. WTLOOX:

Will the hon. gentleman deny that the Nationalists are now on the same side as himself and his honoured leader?

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LIB
LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT:

'My hon. friend from

Renfrew has answered the hon. gentleman, but personally I absolutely deny that there is any collusion between my hon. leader and his supporters from Quebec or the supporters of my hon. friend on that side from that province. But in that election there was the usual collusion of my honourable friends in sharp practices. Both in politics and in business such collusion will come to naught. My view has always been since I was a boy, that there is only one way to do business or politics, and that is to be absolutely honest. You may succeed by chicanery for a little while, but it meets with poor success, and the chicanery of my hon. friends in the Drum-mond-Arthabaska election, and in the election of 1911, did more harm to this country than they can imagine, and now it is reacting on them. Perhaps it was smart practice at the time, but honesty is the best policy in politics and in business. My hon. friend from South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie) gave the Bill credit for the organization of labour. I asked him the question where he found it, and he told me he thought it was there. The only language that could be construed in that way at all would be the last section of the interpretation clause, which reads:

And whereas, by reason of the large number of men who have already left agricultural and industrial pursuits in Canada to join such Expeditionary Force as volunteers, and of the necessity of sustaining under such conditions the productivity of the Dominion, it is expedient to secure the men still required, not by ballot as provided in the Militia Act, but by selective draft.

No, there is nothing in that to show there is any intention to organize labour in this country. The Bill expresses the intention of selecting men for military purposes, but nothing to show there is any intention lor the organization of labour-at least, I say so.

That brings me to the question of voluntary enlistment versus conscription. The one great benefit of voluntary enlistment, in my view, is that, after all, the man, whoever he may be, voluntarily goes to the front and voluntarily risks his life. Against that, for compulsory conscription, there is the basic theory that it is the duty of every man to defend his country. If you start on that basis, I am free to confess that the only logical conclusion you can come ta is conscription, whether it be selective or otherwise, whether it be according to the Militia

Act or according to the proposed Bill No. 75. But, after all, the difficulty with me is that I dislike to say that anybody else shall do something if I will not do it myself. I confess that I shrink from saying to any man or woman that his or her eon shall go to the front and expose his life in war when I am not going myself. Hon. gentlemen know that under this Bill I would not be selected for military service, because I am too old, by many years. That made me hesitate; it took me a long -time to make up my mind-because I do not try to be generous at the expense of my wife's relations. I ratl er felt that, as a representative of the people, I was putting myself in a position of dictatorship. Although I am represented in the military service by the only member of my family who cpuld possibly volunteer, I myself am not at the front, and I hesitated to say that any other man's son should go, especially when he might never come back. I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that that is a serious position for me to take. But, as I have said, every man is required to defend his country when the time comes. There seems to be only one way of ensuring the proper defence of the country at this time, and that is by means of conscription. But any measure of compulsory service must be fairly and properly carried out. A great many people-not especially the people whom I represent-but people to whom I have talked on and off the trains, have asserted that ever since the war started the business connected with the war has been carried on by the Government in a most partisan manner. That has hurt recruiting in Ontario worse than anything else. In my constituency-or, rather, in the constituency that I am supposed to represent-a good many more Liberals than Conservatives volunteered.

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CON
LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT:

No, I mean men. My

hon. friend knows that there would not be more Liberal officers. T have no complaints of that kind to make. To do the Government and the Department of Militia justice, I may say that the department has freely done everything in reason that I have asked it to do since the war started. I must give them that credit.

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CON

Francis Ramsey Lalor

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LALOR:

Why, then, do you say that there was partisanship in your county?

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LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT:

I did not say that there was partisanship in my county. My hon.

friend is very clever to-night; what is the matter with him? In the first place, I do not own a county. In the next place, I did not say that partisanship was evidenced in the district that I represent. So far as I know, it certainly was not.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT:

But I did say that the feeling was abroad in the country that partisanship had been exercised by the Government ever since the war started. For instance, have any Liberals been given positions on the numerous and innumerable commissions that have been appointed?

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CON
LIB
CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. W. H. BENNETT:

One of the officers now on the Pensions Commission was one of the most intolerable and intolerant Grits in my town. If every hon. gentleman will frankly admit what he himself knows, then the public will get the truth.

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LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT:

Who is this intolerable Grit to whom my hon. friend refers? I suppose he was intolerable to my hon. friend because my hon. friend was intolerable to him.

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CON
LIB
CON

June 22, 1917