June 26, 1917

CON

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

gent was proposed, many of our people thought it was entirely unnecessary. This number has been increased from time to time, until, according to the figures that we now have before us, 420,000 men have enlisted. During the fall of

1915, and the beginning of the spring of

1916, an extraordinary effort was put forward, through most of the provinces of Canada, for recruiting. Hundreds of men and women gave their services voluntarily and freely to help this cause. Hundreds ,of thousands of dollars were subscribed by private parties to this end. Meetings were held in every city, town and hamlet in Ontario, and many other provinces, and the result was that we raised many battalions in a very short time. But the number of men willing to enlist decreased, and eventually, it became very difficult to secure recruits. Some pepple say that politics was the reason why voluntary recruiting failed. There may be something in that, Mr. Speaker, but if there is, the blame lies, not upon the party on this side of the House, but upon those on the other side, whp repeatedly went round, declaring that the whole game was "Tun along political lines. However, the real reasons for this falling off were; in the first place, in some parts, particularly the province of Ontario, that every available man had gone to the front. It was npt thought possible to secure more recruits, because they were not there, and, in the other case, the only men who were left were men who were absolutely essential to the workings of the farm and the industries in that part of the province.

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

An hon. MEMBER:

The same in Quebec.

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

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

The recruits from the portion of Quebec province fropi which my hon. friend comes, were not very great in number. But the principal cause was, Mr. Speaker-and there is no use beating about the bush-that the man who was available refused to go until he saw the slacker enlisting. In my riding hundreds of ablebodied men, French Canadians mostly-I am sorry to say this, but I have to say it in all fairness-were brought in to take the places of men who had voluntarily gone to defend the Empire, and when the recruiting officer asked others to enlist the answer he received was: " When you get these slackers to do their duty, I will certainly go also." It was not because these men were afraid to go forward, but they saw the absolute unfairness of the system whereby the slackers could stay at home,

[Mr. Arthurs.!

and their brothers, fathers, and cousins went forward. While we were proud of the voluntary system, I .might say that it is always unfair, and its unfairness became more marked as the long war dragged along. Under the voluntary system, a father enlists, leaving in many cases, a large family, which is a charge upon the country, while the able bodied slacker remains at home. Under this voluntary system, the only son of a widow goes forward to do his duty, while three, four, or five sons on an adjoining farm remain at home. These are conditions which are inevitable under the voluntary system. But, Mr. Speaker, there are thousands of men in Canada who, to-day, could go forward and do their duty. These men are not engaged in agriculture, or in trades essential to the prosecution of this war, and they are, to-day, perhaps, frequenting the pool-rooms and other places of amusement. These are the men at whom this Bill aims.

I might say, however, that if the province of Quebec had done its duty, this Bill would have been entirely unnecessary, and the required 500,000 men would have been raised. Why did Quebec not do its duty? Some of the reasons given, I may say, are very childish. The leader of the Oppositiop stated, as one of his principal reasons why the men of the province of Quebec had not enlisted as freely as he would have desired, that some men were disarmed in 1760, during the continuance of a war then existing, and a few days after the surrender of Montreal to the British. He did not say that this ancient law-which as a matter of fact was a mere regulation- continued to exist, or that it had any effect afterwards. He also stated, in contrasting the enlistment of the British born, the English Canadian born, and the French Canadian born, that the English born enlisted more freely because they had not been so long in Canada. He also said that the English Canadian horn had enlisted more freely than the French Canadian born because they had not been so long in the country as the French. I cannot see how a French Canadian of eighteen, twenty, or twenty-five years of age can possibly have- been any longer in this country than an English Canadian born at the same time, but that is the kind of reasoning which we have from some hon. members. The hon. member for Rouville (Mr. Lemieux) says: While the French

Canadians have not enlisted-and he is quite willing to admit that they have not-wait until the Hun arrives on the shores of the

St. Lawrence and they will be on hand to' do their duty. He also states that the French Canadians did not enlist because the right men were not sent to ask them to enlist. I noticed from a statement made in a speech the other day that a decided effort had been put forward by the one man who, the hon. member for Rouville said, was necessary in order to conduct a successful recruiting campaign in Quebec. Col. Blondin and Major General Lessard conducted a campaign in Quebec, and while somebody was good enough to say that they had recruited 211 men, from an analysis of the figures we find that in all this campaign only 92 of those men enlisted from Quebec. This took place before the Conscription Bill was brought down; it was during the time when my hon. friend from St. John (Mr. Pugsley) said that recruiting was going on well under the voluntary system. In spite, however, of the fact that the people of Quebec had General Lessard, the most acceptable man who was available for that province, and that his efforts were backed up by those of a member of the Government, who undoubtedly tried to do his duty, during that campaign the total enlistment from Quebec was only 92.

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

Charles Arthur Gauvreau

Liberal

Mr. GAUVREAU:

The hon. member is giving the lie to the Postmaster General (Mr. Blondin) himself.

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

An hon. MEMBER:

He was sent too late.

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

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

If he was sent too late, how is recruiting under the voluntary sys=-tern good at the present time? The real reason why the enlistments from Quebec are not in proportion to the enlistments from the other provinces is because the Liberal party in Quebec have been playing the political game, and the political game only. It was said openly in Quebec: This is the Englishman's war; let the Ontario man go, so much the better for us.

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

Médéric Martin

Liberal

Mr. MEDERIC MARTIN:

That is similar to-what was said in 1911 by the Nationalists.

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

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

It was said and published in Quebec that: Unless the Englishspeaking people give us what we want, we will not enlist. What the French-speaking people wanted was the right to defy or to alter materially a law of Ontario. There is no question about that. The other night the hon. member for Brantford (Mr. Cock-shutt) was making an appeal to hon. members from Quebec to go home to their province and carry on an active recruiting campaign for a couple of weeks in order to see

if this matter could not be settled by a last effort to secure, under the voluntary system, the needed reinforcements. The hon. member for Montcalm (Mr. Lafortune) interrupted him with this remark:

Mr. Lafortune: If we in Quebec do as the

hon. member from Brantford suggests will the Government repeal the 'School Act of Ontario?

Mr. Cockshutt: I am hardly ready to discuss the bilingual question on the present occasion.

Mr. Lafortune: And we are not ready to

go.

This is the true secret why Quebec has not done her duty. According to a Teturn brought down in this House, the number of French Canadians enlisted in the province of Quebec is 6,979.

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

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

14,000.

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

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

I will refer to the 14,000 later on; I am speaking of enlistments in Quebec province. The total French Canadian population of Quebec is approximately 1,600,000, so that the rate of enlistment is rather less than one-half of one per cent. The total enlistment of French Canadians in all Canada amounts to 14,100. This-is the official list and I believe it to be correct. In my battalion I enlisted a number of French Canadians, many of whom after enlisting were transferred to Quebec battalions, either upon their own request or upon the request of the militia authorities at Ottawa. Many made all sorts of excuses in order to procure their discharge, and in some cases evidence was produced that the same man had previously pretended to suffer from every disease from lunacy to housemaid's knee so that he might procure his discharge. Many deserted. Desertion was rendered easy because, as a rule, these men were well behaved soldiers, and I know that in my battalion when leave was requested, there was no reasonable excuse why a soldier from Quebec should not receive exactly the same treatment as a soldier from Ontario, and the soldier would go to visit his friends in Quebec, but he never came back. In the majority of cases, I honestly believe that these men joined some Quebec battalion; I think they were too brave and too good men absolutely to desert in the ordinary sense of the word, and I do not think they did. If, as I presume, they joined some Quebec battalion, they would thereby double the number of so-called French Canadians enlistments.

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

James Alexander Robb

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

Is the inference we are to draw from the hon. member's remarks, that the French Canadians in the batu.

he raised were men who, originally came from Quebec? [DOT]

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

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

I do not know whether they did or not; I presume they did. In my riding, there is a large French Canadian population, and we are glad of it.

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

James Alexander Robb

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

The hon. member has just stated that French Canadians left his battalion to go home to Quebec.

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

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

That is quite true.

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

James Alexander Robb

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

Then they must have come from Quebec.

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

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

In some eases they went to visit their friends in Quebec, and in other cases they went to Quebec to join battalions in which their friends were. These men work in the mills; they are not all permanent residents of the district which I have the honour to represent. The majority are voters in my riding, although they may have friends and relatives in Quebec, and if they had enough money coming to them, I saw no reason why they should not visit their friends in Quebec, just as any soldier from my county might visit his friends in Ontario. I endeavoured to treat every man in my battalion in an equally fair manner, and although I had experience of men deserting in this way, I still gave men permission to visit their friends or relatives, because I saw no reason for detaining one well conducted man because another man had not done what was right. Personally, I have nothing to say against those men; I believe in the majority of cases they were honest, conscientious men. The French Canadians who went overseas with me and who fought in France, were as good as any other soldiers and were true Canadians. The unfortunate thing is that we have not enough of them.

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

James Alexander Robb

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

The inference we must draw from the hon. gentleman's reference to the Quebec men who joined his battalion at Parry Sound is that Quebec men were credited as residents of Ontario.

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

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

The Quebec men who enlisted in my battalion were credited as French Canadians enlisted in Canada. I made more than one return. While the ex-Minister of Militia was minister, the military authorities requested me to give them week by week the number of French Canadians who enlisted in my battalion. I was also requested to transfer to Quebec battalion French Canadians who enlisted

in my battalion. I did so for a time, but later on I refused to do so, and the balance of the French Canadians in my battalion went over with me to England or France. That is the exact situation; I do not wish any misapprehension in the matter.

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

Médéric Martin

Liberal

Mr. MEDERIC MARTIN:

How many

French Canadians went to war with you to France?

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

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

Very few.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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June 26, 1917