June 26, 1917

?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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

Onésiphore Turgeon

Liberal

Mr. TURGEON:

The people are the rightful masters of both congresses and courts, not to overthrow ino Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.

There are men in this Parliament today who would pervert the constitution of Canada. Let us have this Bill submitted as speedily as possible to the people either by referendum or by general election. If both a referendum and an election are decided on, they could be held on the same day to save time and expense. I might cite one other authority, the Manchester Guardian, a paper whose standing in the British Empire is very high. I have often heard the hon. member for Bed Deer approving its doctrines. Commenting upon the Prime Minister's reluctance to submit this Bill to the people, and the proposal of the leader of the Opposition for a referendum, the Manchester -Guardian says:

It is so clearly the more honest procedure that the Canadian Government is not likely to incur the odium of enforcing it.

That is strong language. Let me refer for a moment to what has been done in Australia, the loyalty of whose people no one will question. -Hon. gentlemen say that this country is not loyal because there are some French people in it. Now in Australia I do not suppose there is a single French Canadian. A referendum was held in Australia on the question of conscription, and the loyal pepple there voted against it. We cannot blame Quebec for the defeat of the referendum in Australia, at all events. My hon. friend from Parry Sound (Mr. Arthurs) who finds nothing in -the province of Quebec to appeal to his soul or mind might go to Australia and take a lesson from the British people there.

I have said nothing new. I have stood by the constitution ever since 1873, when the trouble arose in my county over the -New Brunswick school question, as mentioned hy the hon. member for St. John last night. I was strongly opposed then to any amendment to the constitution, because I knew that one amendment Jed to others, and the constitution might -in that way eventually be destroyed.

Therefore, when we call for a referendum, we are just as loyal as any who oppose it, just as desirous of helping our young men across the sea and of sending more to their assistance. But we want these men to go in the spirit of democracy; and we hope that when they have done their bit and return to Canada, they will, as citizens of this Dominion, stand for democracy in time of peace as they have stood for democracy

and against militarism in time of war and under the greatest possible sacrifices.

At six o'clock the House took recess.

After Recess.

The House resumed at eight o'clock.

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

PRIVATE BILLS.

SECOND READINGS.


Bill No. 101, respecting the Canada Preferred Insurance Company.-Mr. Stevens. Bill No. 102, respecting the Western Canada Accident and Guarantee Insurance Company.-Mr. Bradbury.


MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.


Consideration of the proposed motion of Sir Robert Borden for the second reading of Bill No. 75, Military Service Act, 1917, resumed.


LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN (Halifax):

Mr. Speaker, the Bill before the House does not lend itself to extended debate and I suppose it might well he said that every viewpoint of the question has been already touched upon by preceding speakers. In the circumstances, I might well have remained silent, but finding myself in disagreement upon the measure with my leader, and with many of my political friends; realizing my responsibility for the vote which I shall give upon the Bill, I feel compelled to briefly give to the House my views as to the principle of the measure. I do not intend discussing any of the provisions of the Bill. An opportunity for so doing will be presented to every hon. member of the House and when that time arriyes I shall deem it my duty to discuss the provisions of the Bill with frankness and candour and to suggest to the Government the amendments which I think should be made.

During my remarks, I do not desire at all to refer to the matter of the mobilization and utilization of the resources of the nation for the purpose of carrying on the war. That has been introduced into the debate and has been referred to by many hon. gentlemen upon this side of the House. I agree fully with the views which they have expressed, but the suggestion involves so much that I feel that I should rather debate the same on another occasion which no doubt will present itself to the House.

The party system of politics may have its objectionable features. It may he, as Pope said, "the madness of the many for the gain of the few." but it is only when one finds himself in disagreement with his

leader and the majority of his party that he realizes the strength of political associations and the warm attachment which comes from a long comradeship in party politics. These embarrassments have been very much softened by the generous pronouncement of my leader in extending to his supporters the utmost freedom to take the course which they thought fit upon the Bill, which far transcends political considerations and which is deserving of the most candid and impartial treatment. This announcement of our leader was not sought for; it was not asked for; it came from him spontaneously. It was particularly characteristic of the man and truly reflects his intelligent liberalism.

I appreciate fully the viewpoint of my party friends who differ from me, and particularly with the viewpoint of my friends from the province of Quebec. I think I can appreciate all that in history, tradition and experience which contributes to that conclusion. I can hear them say that the views of their leader are their views, and where he leads they will follow. That is all clear to me and I understand it thoroughly. No one will question the importance and gravity of the Bill which we are now considering. Inevitably, it creates a more profound interest in and out of Parliament than any question which we have had before us since Confederation. There is in this country, in some degree or other, amongst all classes of the people, a traditional repugnance to compulsory military service. We cannot escape, try how we will, a well defined division of public opinion. That division is applicable to the whole country ; it is applicable to both parties, diverse principles are involved and the distinctions are fundamental in their character. Inevitably, therefore, we find a very substantial body of opinion in every part of Canada against the measure, which opinion, I think, we must all respect and recognize. In opposing this view, it is only my desire to speak with modesty and without arrogance or dogmatism. I think that I clearly realize the strength of the position of those who take a view opposite to that which I propose taking. If I were dissatisfied with the opinion held in some section of Canada, in some province, I would deem it my duty, in my feeble way, to point out to them the path of duty, or the proper conception of the principles involved in the Bill, rather than attack offensively such views which I believe are conscientiously held. I somewhat regret that this afternoon, in one or two spots of the debate, there did seem to

be evidence of a spirit for which I personally did not care. For one very definite reason I felt constrained to intervene in this debate, and that is because I desire to make reference to certain views which have been frequently expressed in regard to our position in this war. A variety of views have been expressed, and I hate in mind statements made, not in this Parliament but outside of it, in respect to our actual position in the war. Newspapers report men from time to time as saying that we are fighting for Great Britain, that we are aiding the Allies and not one of the Allies, that we are not in the war primarily as a belligerent, fighting for ourselves and our country, but rather out of filial regard for Great Britain, or from purely altruistic and humanitarian motives alone. Some few days ago Mr. Henri Bourassa, a prominent publicist of Quebec, said that his province was not interested in the war, a view which I believe does not truly reflect the best opinion of the province of Quebec, and I am sure it does not reflect the opinion of hon. gentlemen on either side of the House from that province, and particularly might I say this of my friends from Quebec upon this side of the House, whom I know better. These views are heard frequently; they are not heard in one province alone. If I am correct in this, I say that such views should be discussed with candour and with frankness, because they go to the very foundation of this Bill. We should be clear in our conception of our position in this war and the purposes for which we fight, for if we are not, then our faith in the cause for which we contend will not be clearly established. For that reason I do not purpose apologizing to the House if I occupy its time for a few minutes in discussing the matters to which I have just referred.

We have now been in this war for two and one-half years, and I say it is strange to me how often I have heard expressed the statements which I have just indicated. It may be that these views are quite prevalent, and that they have militated against recruiting in this country. If such views were widely held we could not expect anything but an intermittent and indifferent and divided interest in this country in respect to the war. Whether we like it or not, we were subject to invasion and attack and-invasion was the settled policy of the enemy. Let there be no difference of opinion on that point; there cannot, I submit, be any view to the contrary, that is well founded. Our participation in this war was

inevitable for defensive purposes alone, and defensive war does not mean that it must be waged in one's own country. It is an untenable doctrine to propound in modern days that because an army has not actually penetrated into one's country that therefore that country is not at war and not vitally interested, and should not assume the aggressive. The German Empire would have struck .at Canada as quickly as it struck at Great Britain, if it could. They endeavoured, I have no doubt, to attack our coast line in the early days of the war. The battle of the Falkland islands was a battle fought to protect the coasts of Canada. We are liable to bombardment of our coasts at any moment, although that danger is now remote. Canadian ships were sunk in the earlier days of the war, and I think in one instance before our policy in regard to the war was declared by Parliament. Canadian lives and property have been lost on our own and on neutral shipping; international bridges were destroyed and public works in this country were attacked by Germans, and the defence made by these offenders was that the acts were committed by them as soldiers of the German Empire against a country with which they were at war. The vigilant secret service of the United States, I have no doubt, if the truth were known, protected our country against assault on many an occasion. It may be true as well, for aught I know, that the secret service of Canada protected us against many a premeditated assault by those resident in the United States who still counted themselves as citizens and soldiers of the German Empire. A fellow Canadian and a fellow member of this House to-uay, languishes in a German military prison. He was arrested in a country in which he had a right to be, by a nation which had no right to be in that country- a burglar and criminal nation. This act was the natural and logical sequence of the outrage committed by Germany against the sovereignty of Belgium. The arrest of the Hon. Dr. Beland is as much an attack upon the honour and integrity of Canada as was the initial invasion of Belgium by the enemy an attack upon its integrity. I have no doubt that the flag that flies over us whispers to him the hope of hd!s freedom and restoration to his native country, and, if God spares his life, I have no doubt that hope will be realized.

In the early days of this war, I think I may truthfully say, we lacked a cam-

paign of education in thus country as to the causes and the purposes of the war and the reason of our participation therein, and for this lack in a great measure we have since suffered. I repeat that we hear it frequently said that we are fighting for Great Britain and not as ia principal belligerent. That view is only possible by shutting one's eyes to the political evolution of recent years as to the constitution of the British Empire. Nothing, (in my judgment, could be more erroneous. I disagree with that view today and I have always disagreed with it, and I believe it is mischievous. It is tTue that Great Britain has saved us from the horrors of actual invasion. It is true that she has protected our trade and commerce, and by reason of that fact, we are enjoying a material prosperity equal to if not greater than that, of ante helium days. It is true that Great Briain is the ancestral home of a majority of the citizens of this country, which fact naturally ev'okes a spirit of loyalty and devotion to the country which is fighting for the democracy of the whole world. It is true the British flag is the herald of mercy as well as of might, not only for us, but for many other countries of this world to-day. I submit these reasons alone would have justified our participation in the war, and, doubtless, were a tremendous factor in impelling us in the first instance to participate in this war. But Germany was a strong maritime power. She had the will and the power to strike at any part of the British Empire, and it is now quite clear that that had long been her intention. But, notwithstanding this, I think it is well that we have in our minds correctly our political and constitutional relations with Great Britain, as component parts of one Empire. This country is not owned by Great Britain. Great Britain and Canada each form a distinct part of one Empire, and such alone are the political relations of one to the other. The autonomy of the one is as complete as the autonomy of the other. It is only by resorting to historical and political fictions, that are long since dead, that you can establish the doctrine of the sovereignty of one and the subjection of the other. We are fighting with Great Britain, and not for Great Britain. The latter proposition would import an idea of subjection, which should not exist in the minds of the citizens of this country. It is not the correct idea, and I fear it has been productive of more "or less harm. It is true the efforts of the Empire are co-ordinated for Imperial

'*purposes, but it is also true that these efforts are co-ordinated in the interest of the autonomous parts of the Empire as well. In the debate in the American Congress, on the occasion of that body considering whether or not it would support the President in his declaration of war against 'Germany, it was submitted by opponents of the President that the proposed action of the United States was designed more for the purpose of aiding Great Britain than for the defence of principle or democracy. I am glad to say that that view does not prevail generally in the United States. One of the stoutest opponents of the entry of the United States into the war was Senator Lafollette. Upon the floor of Congress he stated that, as the purpose of the nation was only to assist Great Britain, it would be better for them to furnish Great Britain with money for the purpose of carrying on the war by the purchase of Canada. He was graceful enough to suggest that they should leave Canada in the possession of Canadians until the end of the war, even if they paid the purchase money ~ at once. The idea prevails therefore in foreign countries as well, that the condition of sovereignty and subjection exists in our political and constitutional relations with Great Britain, .and the sooner we dispel that idea the better it will be for Canada. Let us understand properly what the British Empire means. Do not let us destroy its grandeur by misconceptions. But there is, Mr. Speaker, the consideration of self-interest and self-protection, which, after all, is the great motive power behind every great national and individual effort. In this war we are fighting in defense of Canada, and we are resisting an invasion of Canada just as surely as Great Britain is resisting an invasion of the United Kingdom. It is said, in connection with the South African war, by one speaker, I think, on this side of the House, that the circumstances were quite similar to the present war. I do not agree with that view. It was not possible for the Dutch republic to have struck at Canada. She was powerless in that respect, being without a navy; but in this case, by no means could we have kept outside the vortexi of the war, elveni ill we 'had so wished-We should be thankful that the battle line where fight our Canadian soldiers to protect us against actual invasion is in foreign lands, and not upon Canadian soil. Thank God, we are spared that sorrow. But though we are separated by thousands of

miles of ocean from the actual scene of the conflict, we are fighting with the Allies, not for the Allies, in defence of our own country. War cannot be conducted on purely defensive lines. A country's defence can frequently be made by aggressive means, and not always within her own territory. That is particularly true of the present war, and probably will be true of future wars. In the supreme moment of our history, I cannot but feel, Sir, that in very truth the foreign soil where fight Canadian soldiers, is really Canadian soil. This thought was beautifully expressed by a young Englishman of distinction in the realm of literature, Bupert Brook, in a beautiful poem well known to many hon. gentlemen of the House, and written, I think, just shortly before he gave up his life at Galipoli, when he wrote the words-

If I should die, think only this of me:

That there's some corner of a foreign field

That is forever-England.

I say we are in this war as an interested principal. We have, for more than two years, been fighting in defence of our country, and against actual invasion. Canadians, in the after years, when they visit the many corners of foreign fields, where are buried our fallen heroes, will truly feel that such spots are forever part of Canada, and they will, in imagination at least, project our territorial bounds to those points upon foreign soil.

I cannot, Mr. Speaker, give adherence tithe view that our Militia Act contemplates power only to strike the enemy when within our own territorial bounds. It seems to me that would render the Militia Act absolutely useless. The idea further contemplates that we must remain quiescent, until the enemy are actually within the bounds of our country before we are justified in striking. The absurdity of this position is self evident. Could that contention be legally maintained, then the constitution should be amended. There is a higher law than the constitution, and if needs be, the constitution must sometimes bend to meet national necessities.

But are we not justified and supported in our efforts in this war by reasons and motives which are higher than Imperial interest, and Canadian self interest, as suggested in the splendid speech of the hon. member for West Lambton (Mr. Pardee) ? Who is there in this country that has intelligently observed the march of events from the beginning of this war down

to the present moment, who does not believe that we are in the path of right, justice, humanity and duty in placing, for the protection of the world's civilization, our military strength, whatever measure it may be, in the scale against the barbaric and brutal militarism of Germany. Shall not our efforts, judged by these high considerations, go down the ages to our eternal credit, to the enrichment of our Canadian history, and a rich legacy for those who will follow us as citizens in this country?

We hear the question asked: Why should we become embroiled in the old-world issues? Owen Wister, in his very readable book, "Pentecost of Calamity," which hon. gentlemen no doubt know well, says that "He who talks of the old world and the new world, talks in a dead language." The interests and the destinies of this continent are involved in the destinies of the old world. The world he compared to a boat which never grows in size, but the occupants of which grow in number. If any occupant commences rocking the boat, it is the duty of all other occupants that love safety and peace to control the disturber, and if necessary, to throw him overboard.

If Canada were a republic and absolutely dissociated from the British Empire, she would, I venture to say, be in this war as a belligerent. She is peopled by a breed of men who would fight against a nation that has filled the world with astonishment and horror; that has hurled calamity against the whole universe and grievously sinned against civilization. She would not see democracy and freedom and national human rights crushed out without proferring a saving hand. Her people would ultimately do as our neighbours in. the United States decided to do, in order that democracy might not perish from the earth. They would at least do what the little South

American republics aspire to do. They would quickly realize that the liberty of their constitution was in danger; they would fight for its preservation in foreign lands if the battle line was there, and they would even break the bounds ,of the constitution, if needs be, for after all it is the spirit of the people and not its political institutions that 'safeguard its freedom. They too would have turned a willing ear to the importunities of France and Belgium to save their countries from the aggressor and their peoples from immolation and a despot's lust, and we would be unworthy of the races from which we

come if we were npt willing to strike against the enemy in so just a cause. We are not a warlike country nor a warlike people. If that is our attitude, then we should be active in this war, because it is a war against war, as they speak of it in France, and the same idea was expressed this afternoon by some hon. gentlemen. We are not favourable t.o militarism, but if we despise and hate militarism, this is a splendid opportunity to destroy it, or at least to weaken it, for essentially is this a war against militarism.

Then, Mr. Speaker, relegating to- the background all the events, reasons and causes leading up to the war, do you not think that the conduct of the war by 'Germany, on the one hand, and by the Allied nations, on the other, should clearly point out to us our path of duty? If the question as. to which nation is responsible for the commencement of the war was in doubt surely the manner in which the war, since its commencement has been conducted by the Allied nations on one hand and the Central powers on the other, can there be any doubt upon which side ,our military strength should be cast? Witness the death of Edith Cavell, the sinking of the Lusitania, the desolation ,of that part of France behind the battle lines, the immolation of its innocent and defenceless people, the attacks upon defenceless noncombatants; then place against that the splendid and generous attitude so often taken by Great Britain and France in their conduct towards the enemy, when, in many instances, they might well have displayed a different spirit. Witness, as one example, the conduct of the French priest at the Cathedral of Rheims, when German wounded soldiers were being taken from the cathedral and were about to be attacked by French soldiers. This venerable priest stood upon the steps and raising both hands, he cried: " Stop soldiers, remember the ancient name and chivalry af France." As a writer of that incident states, hearts throughout the world throbbed upon reading of the incident, and eyes were wet with tears that never saw the Cathedral of Rheims. No matter how assured one felt about the strength and justice of our position in entering the war, who can but realize the contrast in the manner in which the waT has been conducted by the principal belligerents of each side. Is it not clear that our duty is to vigorously carry on.

I must apologize for my lengthy remarks upon this phase of our relation to the

world's great issue. I know that every member of this House is as much aware of its importance and as well informed upon it as I am. But, after all, everything is involved in it. It has often been said- and it will bear reiteration. With this clearly in view our duties and our obligations in the premises will be so much the clearer. If we believe the issue is serious, and it is, if civilization and human rights are in jeopardy, and they are, if our country and its future is in danger, and it is, then our course from the beginning was and is now well chartered and well marked.

What is the purpose and scope of the Bill which is now before the House? Purely as a piece of legislation does it in principle introduce anything which has not been a part of our statute law since Confederation.

I can understand how there might be a difference of opinion as to when the Act should be put into force, but surely, in principle, it is legislation that any country at war or even at peace might well have incorporated in its statute law.

What is our law at the present time in respect to military service? All men between the ages of 18 and 60 are liable to service within or without the Dominion whenever it is deemed advisable to call them up by reason of war or invasion; that is practically the reading of the statute. We entered this war of our own volition, a free people, by and through the Parliament of a free country. We believed that the issues involved were of the first importance, and that we were liable to ' attack and invasion by the enemy; there can be no question about that. Now, in principle, is the Bill out of harmony with the obligations which we assumed when we decided to enter the war? In all the circumstances, is not this measure one which wisdom dictates? Apart from our immediate needs, might it not be the part of wisdom to enact this legislation for our future protection and our future guidance? The Bill in my judgment is only amendatory of the Militia Act. Its purpose is simply to modify the Act so as to make it effective, if needs be, to meet the necessities or exigencies of the present or some future time. It means nothing more and nothing less. I cannot bring myself to believe that we are contending about a piece of proposed legislation which in itself presents a new principle to this Parliament or to this country. The principle is already upon our statute books, and has been there for 50 years without occasioning any adverse comment. Therefore, I modestly submit

that I cannot view the principle of the Bill as do some hon. gentlemen. But whether the principle should be applied now or in the near future is a matter concerning which we may fairly and honestly differ. Do the conditions justify the contemplated application of the Militia Act as proposed to be amended by this Bill? As I have already remarked, there is a clear division of opinion as to the respective merits of voluntary and obligatory military service. The exponents of each system differ in a fundamental principle, and, therefore, they are irreconcilable. But, after all, is that the real question involved in the Bill? Is not the question rather one as to our national necessities and as to whether a military necessity exists for more man power, rather than a question of which principle is correct, that of the voluntary system or that of the obligatory system? Do we need the man power? If so, how are we to get it? After all, is not that the question? Is the question of voluntary service as opposed to obligatory service the real question before us? If it is a question of necessity one would naturally ask: Has the necessity been established? Is the evidence before us as to the necessity sufficient to justify the passing of this Bill? I do not intend to make a survey of all the evidence available for or against the proposition, or for determining upon which side lies the preponderance of evidence. One man with one son at the front may say that no further men should be sent to the front. Another man, or a mother, who is, perhaps, in humbler circumstances and has four sons at the front, is of the opinion that we should send further troops to the battle line. Some say that our troops are amply supplied with reserves, another, perhaps a soldier who has fought and suffered, says that further reserves are urgently required. Another will say that the cause for which we contend is so sacred that the absolute maximum is alone sufficient to discharge our duty. Others say that we have gone as far as our financial resources will allow, and, of course, there is a limit in that direction. Some say that before we add to our military forces in Europe the United States should put into the field five or six million men. It is pointed out, in answer to this, that the more men the United States puts into the battle line and the sooner they do it the sooner the war will be over, and the less will be the sacrifice of Canadian life. One is confused by the variety and number of opinions. I do not hesitate to say that there is a vast section of public opinion

which feels that the Government's statement in this respect is not yet complete, and that a more exhaustive and clearer statement should he made as to our military necessities. In the circumstances, I think that all the facts should be placed before the people of this country in the clearest possible manner. It may be that hon. gentlemen around me are fully seized of all the facts. They may be satisfied that the necessity for future additions to our military strength has been established. But we must remember that outside of this Parliament there is a vast electorate, who are entitled to the fullest and clearest information on this subject.

I am influenced to the conclusion that the necessity has been established; because that is the view of the Government,' who are in possession of the actual facts; because it seems to be the judgment of our military advisers; because from private sources we occasionally receive evidences confirmatory of this fact; and lastly, because there seems to be a unanimous demand on the part of every belligerent nation of the world for more man-power and I cannot make myself believe that Canada is an exception. If further men are required to support our soldiers and to fight in France, then I say it is a compelling demand and one which no man can lightly cast aside. If it is true that more men are required, then in justice to those who fight and out of respect to the memory of those who have died we should feel obliged to bring forth the quota of men which is stated by the Government as being necessary. At least for myself I shall not take the responsibility of saying that further men are not required and thus oppose the Bill. Therefore it is that I intend to vote for the principle of the Bill and against anv delay in the second reading-that is I shall vote against the amendments. If a submission of the issue to the people should be deemed proper and desirable, I should choose the pathway of a general election in preference to a referendum; but in reference to that I do not express an opinion to-night. It will come before us on another and more fitting occasion for extended debate, and when it does I shall be very glad to give to the House my views upon it.

I have endeavoured to show that we are vitally interested in this war; that the necessity has been established for additions to our manpower strength; and that further troops should be despatched to Europe as reserves. 'In my mind the question naturally arises, is it necessary, in order to meet

fMr. A. K. Maclean.]

these necessities, that the provisions of the Bill when enacted, be put into effect? Just a few words upon that point. There can be no doubt, as has been said frequently by speakers on both sides of the House, that voluntary enlistment in Canada was highly creditable indeed. No credit whatever is due to the Government, or to the nation; the credit is due to the men who enlisted; it is to them alone that the credit is due. The glory is ours. The credit is due to the men who enlisted. Therefore do I say that I do not care to hear the statement, "We have, done splendidly; we have done nobly;" all the credit is due to the men who enlisted. It is true, of course, that the nation in other respects has played its part well.

The late Minister of Militia (Sir Sam Hughes), addressed the House last week, and one would imagine that all the glory and credit of this war, so far as Canada is concerned, was his. All the mistakes and shortcomings in the administration of the war he, in the most generous fashion, passes along to his late colleagues, and they do not seem to resent the same very vigorously. The hon. gentleman seems to be under the obsession that as a soldier he is super-human, that he has all the characteristics of omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience. Putting everything together, I have no doubt that an his own mind he is quite sure that at the beginning of August, 1914, figuratively speaking and in the military sense, this part of the North American continent was without form and void, and darkness was upon the deep. And after that, I suppose he will claim, he brought foTth the light; and in imitation of High Example, he divided the night from the day; but I observe that immediately he made this division, he took all the light to himself and left all the rest of his fellow countrymen in darkness. Then, he created an army of .'S3,(MX) men; and I suppose that when he comes to write his autobiography he will say, in order to show his ability to do things contrary to the ways of God Almighty, that he made these men out of the ribs of women. The administrative career of my hon. friend, instead of being one which he

9 p.m. should have so persistently and so offensively boasted of, is one that was not at all creditable, but one that has brought forth much of the turmoil which we have to-day. He says his recruiting career was magnificent, and it was infallible; I say that he was an obstacle to recruiting and in no sense was he helpful to it. The ether day the hon. gentleman

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Permalink

JUlSlE 26, 1917


thrust my name into his speech because I have refused his personal solicitations to debate here his personal grievances against the minister of Finance (Sir Thomas White). I told him the other day, while he was addressing the House, that he deliberately gave instructions that a young man living in my city was by his directions refused enlistment. I thought I would be able to read the letter which was sent by the Department of Militia here to headquarters at 'Halifax, directing that under no circumstances should this young man, who was 'desirous of fighting for his King and country, toe permitted to enlist. The hon. gentleman stated that this was done because, [DOT]as correspondent of a Nova Scotia newspaper, while in England, this young man had written letters to his paper criticising the conduct and management of Salisbury camp. Mr. Speaker, one could hardly imagine that it could happen anywhere in the British Empire, that a young, intelligent man anxious to fight-and not as an officer but as a private-was to be refused enlistment under the direction of the Minister of Militia. The most bitter and unrelenting newspaper criticism against the war administration in England has come from Lord North-cliffe who was the other day honoured with a very high appointment to the United States. We also remember that in the early days of the war, a Montreal genteman, sir Herbert Holt, returned from England and very vigorously criticised the conduct of the war by the British 'authorities -and for a few days it caused a considerable stir in this country. I suppose it will yet transpire that, if Sir Herbert Holt has unfortunately no sons, some fool Liberal or Conservative Government will force hiim into the British peerage because he criticised the conduct of the war by the British war authorities. Here was a case where a young man was willing to seTve as a private and anxious to fight for his King and country and it was apparently the policy of the Minister of Militia to prevent him if he possibly could. Mir. Speaker, will you please pardon this diversion? I do not want to provoke any partisan discussion but I cannot help but protest when I hear the threatenings of that hon. gentleman hurled against the leader of the Opposition and other gentlemen on this side and against hon. gentlemen opposite, looking for smiles here, plaudits there. I hate skim milk, masquerading as cream, man as superman, human weakness as infallibility, and when I hear it, I protest. I do not say this with malice. Naturally, I am disposed to be generous and I quite appreciate the position of the late Minister of Militia. It is always sad, to look upon an exiled monarch, longing for his kingdom, crown and sceptre. He always thinks of right forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne. Yes, that administrative record did not help recruiting, and I want ho say to hon. gentlemen opposite that it makes it very difficult for many hon. gentlemen on this side of the House to take the position which they do by reason of the many just criticisms made by citizens of this country in respect of that record. That administrative record has planted the -seed of distrust in the minds of our people, and has militated against recruiting. It makes it difficult for the public to accept with favour and confidence the proposals of the Bill and offers a justification for the suggestion that there should be a further trial of voluntary enlistment after the Bill becomes law and before it is enforced. I am of the opinion that in any event it should not be put into immediate operation. I do not make this statement casually or perfunctorily. I say it earnestly and sincerely. I would make the statement if I were before my constituents tomorrow and I would make it as a matter of policy. I am of the belief that a further campaign of education is necessary and desirable in this country to make clear to our people our military necessities and the purposes of the war. It took the best of our countrymen some time to catch the true vision of the real significance of the war. Some may have been slower than others. Let us not be too critical, but let us be fair and generous in assigning causes. Should a further appeal be made to our people, I believe that our young men who have so nobly responded in the past- will make a further and sufficient response if given another opportunity for voluntary enlistment under the inspiration of the sincere and united efforts of all leaders of public opinion in this country. Having put our hands to the plough, I cannot make myself believe that the young manhood of this country now want to look back. I believe that they would rather prefer seeing a magnificent beginning end in a blaze of glory. At any rate, is it not worth a trial? It will be regrettable if resort has to be made to the present Bill to secure the relatively small number who are needed if a united and sincere effort on the part of our leaders of all shades of public opinion in this country would



bring forth the desired number of men. , If that fails and our needs still continue, then our path is made all the clearer. If we could but realize, all of us in this country, the gravity of our position, the imminent danger of the cause for which we are contending, if we could forget our political differences for the moment, and they are trifling after all as compared with the supreme question confronting us, we would regardless of party, race or creed, walk in spirit at least, hand in hand, across No Man's land into the enemy's trenches where fight our soldiers for Canada, and in defence of Canada, in order that we might live our lives in our accustomed way. If we could approach the question in that spirit I believe the suggestion which I have made, and which has been made by other hon. gentlemen, is a practicable one and one that should be tried. In that spirit I believe we could accomplish our ends and meet our immediate necessities. In that spirit let me say we should stand behind those who have fought for us and the memory of those who have consecrated with their blood the principles for which we contend. Is it too late, Mr. Speaker, to make this appeal? My closing remarks this evening are that before the provisions of the Bill, after enactment, are put into effect, there should be a sincere and united effort on the part of everybody in every province in this country to secure the result which we all wish by a final appeal for voluntary enlistment. There has been considerable political manoeuvring on the part of both sides since the beginning of the war. It would be purposeless and useless to deny that. Political propaganda has been carried on by hon. gentlemen on this side of the House. If they indulged in any just criticism whatever, it would inevitably be termed political propaganda by hon. gentlemen opposite. Party politics may have been carried on by hon. gentlemen- on this side of the House, but, on the other hand, party politics has been certainly practised by hon. gentlemen opposite. Are they willing to abandon their practices in party politics in order to make it possible to carry out successfully the suggestion which I have made?


CON
LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

If my hon. friends opposite are willing to do so, I am sure that hon. gentlemen on this side of the House would be willing to join with them. With such an effort on our part, I cannot

make myself believe that we could not accomplish everything we desire by united effort; and in a very brief space of time, without putting into force the provisions of the Bill after it becomes law.

Topic:   JUlSlE 26, 1917
Permalink
CON
LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

It would be a splendid thing, if, even at this late period of the war, we could approximate that period in our political history described by the English poet when he put into the mouth of the Roman minstrel who, when singing about the heroic past of his country, mournfully referred to the time

When none were for the party, and all were for the State.

That is the attitude which I think should characterize hon. gentlemen on both sides of this House, and if that were possible, I believe the suggestion which has been made by several hon. gentlemen already could be carried out, that our military necessities could yet be accomplished, without the enforcement of the Bill, by further but brief efforts to secure enlistment voluntarily.

Topic:   JUlSlE 26, 1917
Permalink
CON

Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DONALD SUTHERLAND (South Oxford) :

Mr. Speaker, it is with some reluctance that I rise to speak after listening to the eloquent address just delivered by the hon. member for Halifax (Mr. A. K. Maclean). I must also -admit that as -the days have been passing I have become more impatient at the delay, possibly without very good reason in view of the address that we heard this afternoon by the hon. member from Red Deer (Mr. Clark), from which I can quite understand that a public discussion of the question at issue and the Bill now before the House might possibly have a good effect throughout Canada. The hon. gentleman who has just taken his seat has told us that he thought a further campaign of education throughout Canada necessary. If that is the case, and it is possible that it may be so, then perhaps a discussion such as is taking place here in this Chamber will accomplish that better and more effectually than it could be accomplished in any other way.

I feel, I have thought for some time, that the people of Canada have not been fully awake to the seriousness of the situation that confronts the people of the world at the present time. We are allied with the most progressive nations of the world in a world war. This war is our war, just as much as it is that of -any other country. I think that that ought to sink down into the

minds of every one. Do not think for one moment that we are fighting some one else's battles. We are fighting our own 'battles, we are fighting for a principle. There are two principles in conflict in this world at the present time; one is going to overcome the other, and that other is going to be blotted out of existence. We believe that we are in the right, and it is our duty, holding that belief, to do everything possible to see that victory rests on the banners of the Allies. I may be pardoned if, in order to make my own position clear, I make reference to some remarks which I made in the House in the war session of 1914. In moving the address in reply to the speech from the Throne, I said:-

Dark and threatening clouds have been visible on the horizon for several years. These have at last burst forth like a tornado, and threaten the whole world with the most terrific and devastating war the world has ever seen. The greatest disaster of recorded time is at hand; many millions of men are now engaged in one of the most desperate and fearful struggles the mind of man can conceive of.

I also said:-

The Government are to' be commended for their promptness in immediately taking action to forward troops and munitions of war, without waiting for Parliament to assemble, with the certain assurance that the sentiment of the people of Canada and of Parliament would endorse and sustain such action.

And further on:-

The war may be a long and bitter one; the loss of life is sure to be enormous; suffering and want may come to many who are dependent on those who go to the front, or who may fall in battle. It is therefore the duty of the people of Canada and the Government of Canada to make provision for the alleviation of such suffering and want. Would not the tribute we would be called upon to pay be most beggarly when compared with the sacrifice, the tribute of life-blood paid by our country's defenders? There is no sacrifice the occasion demands that the people of Canada are not prepared to make. Let our response to the needs of the Empire be immediate and sufficient.

Those were the sentiments that I held at that time. I may say, also, in connection with that matter, that in the war session of August, 1914, we had no mandate from the people for the action that we took upon that occasion, yet not a dissenting voice was heard throughout Canada with regard to our action. I believe that the contention that is advanced at this time that we do not hold a mandate to enforce an Act that has been on the statute books of this country since Confederation is not well founded. I believe that we hold as much of a mandate

171 /

to-day and more than when we took steps to enter into this war. Nearly three years have passed since that time. We now look upon these questions from a different point of view. I believe that any man who would have suggested then that we would, at the end of three years, be still engaged in this desperate conflict, and that the issue would be still undecided, would have been laughed at. When Lord Kitchener, who was asked by the British Government to take charge of the military operations of Great Britain, accepted office he did so on the understanding that if, at the end of three years, the war was not decided some one else would take the office he occupied. I believe he had a clear vision as to the conditions confronting the people of Great Britain, confronting the people of the whole world.

When you realize that the enemy entered, after careful and deliberate preparation, upon the campaign which is now being waged, covering a period of forty or fifty years, and that they took every possible precaution to make as effective as they possibly could the machinery by which they hoped to subdue the world and make themselves its masters, you can rest assured that the other nations, who had not made such preparation, were very badly handicapped indeed. When we recall the events that have taken place since this war began, it seems almost miraculous that the enemy did not succeed in the early months of the war. There are three outstanding features in connection with that war which, to my mind, have made it impossible for the enemy to succeed. The first was the heroic stand taken by the little army of Belgium, when the enemy invaded that country. They held them up for several weeks; they disarranged their plans so much that what was termed by the German Emperor "the contemptible little army of Great Britain" was transported over the Channel to France, and met the invader when they came to Belgium. They put up such a fight as was never fought before on the retreat from Mons, and they enabled the French generals to mature their plans to mobilize the army, so that when the Germans got within sight of the walls of Paris, General Joffre's army was able to hurl the invader back. To my mind these are two of the things that saved the- situation. The third great factor, I believe, is the British Navy. The navy of Great Britain has done a work during this war which we do not fully appreciate. They have made it possible for the people of Canada, and the people of the whole world, to carry on business in such a way that they

feel very little of the effects of the war. As a matter of fact, did hon. gentlemen ever know, during the whole history of Canada, when we enjoyed greater prosperity than is enjoyed at the present, largely owing to the fact that our commerce is uninterrupted? Prices and wages are high. True, the cost of living is high, hut there is abundance of work for everybody. These are some of the things that we should not lose~ sight of. One of the 'principal causes of the great prosperity that we are enjoying was first the establishment of munition manufactories in this country. The enormous sums of money that have been expended here by the British' Government have had a tremendous effect on the prosperity of the country.' These are a few of the things that have -enabled us to go on and do business in a way, that I am afraid, has led a great many people to lose sight of the ultimate goal we have in view. In the early days of the *struggle, when that army of Germany was smashing through Belgium, when they were invading France, you know how eagerly we looked for the morning papers

yes, during *our sleeping hours- we could scarcely let pass from- our minds the menace that was then marching on at the heart of France, *and we felt that, if they conquered France, it would be a long uphill struggle, if we -ever were able to eubdue the enemy. We watched events carefully, and when we found that the Prussians- were stopped, and that, as month after month passed, we had strong hopes that the enemy would be repelled as soon as we could get supplies of munitions and reinforcements forwarded to the front.

The marvel of the whole world is the manner in which Great Britain has mobilized her forces* and the way in which she has- carried on the manufacture of munitions, and has equipped her aTmy of 5,500,000 men, as compared with an army of 150,000 men when war -broke out. That was one of the greatest feats that has ever been accomplished by any nation in the history of the world. Canada did not hesitate. We entered upon- this- struggle at the very outset, and when a nervous tremor was felt throughout the length and breadth of this country as to what would happen should the enemy reach Paris, our men were coming forward by the- thousands and tens of thousands. Our Government agreed to send a first contingent of 20,000 men overseas, and, in-stead of sending 20,000, they sent 33,000. They could not hold

[Mr .Sutherland.!

the men back. They were coming so fast they could not equip and take care of them, and 33,000 men were sent over a very few weeks after the war broke out. The men still kept coming on by the thousands, faster than they could be equipped, taken care of, and trained. That is something tp be wondered at, in a peace loving country like Canada, which had no military men, and which was anxious to live in peace. During 1915 men were coming forward in large numbers. The war was becoming more serious, as time passed ou, and it was found the enemy were n.ot able to make any progress on the western front, but, in the meantime, other countries were being conquered and subdued-, and Germany today holds practically the whole of Poland. The Germans have over-run Rumania, Serbia, Albania, and a large -portion of France and Belgium, and there the enemy stands to-day, unconquered and unsubdued. We have -strong faith that they will be conquered ultimately, but let me say, Mr. Speaker, that it is only by a tremendous effort on the part of the people of the Allies that the enemy .will he subdued. The failure of Russia in the last few weeks has weakened the Allies tremendously. It has released the tremendous army which Germany had in the east, and has made it all the mpre difficult to drive them hack on the west.

Sir, there is a difference of opinion in this House, and there is a difference of opinion throughout the country, with regard to the measure that is now before this House. It is not identical with the Militia Act that was enacted in 1868, -but it is very similar. It is not so drastic, I believe it is a much more reasonable measure than the former Act.

I may say that I have been in favour of copipulsory service for some time, and, in order to make clear my views on that question, I may just refer to an address which I delivered at a recruiting meeting in Woodstock, on April 10, 1916, to which reference was made in several of .the Toronto papers at the time. The language I used upon that occasion was as follows:

All honor to the men who have already-gone to the front, many of whom will never come back, and when we read of the heavy casualties from time to time, we realize the growing need for more men in this great struggle.

Never before has the call been so clear and imperative. We have prided ourselves in the matter of recruiting. We have not, as yet, found the necessity for conscription here, hut I want to say that the State has claims upon us that some may think to he an infringement of rights.

I believe the time is coming if it has not already arrived, when there should he a judicious selection of men to fight the battles of the Empire.

I should be sorry to think that it should have to come, but it is quite impossible. There are strong arguments to justify it. When we find one man with perhaps a wife and five or six children, going to the front, and another man, single, and with no other ties holding him back, we begin to question the system in vogue.

I have had no reason to change my views since a year ago; in fact, I have become strengthened in my conviction. I believe that the system that has been in vogue in this country has, from a good many standpoints, not been the proper one. At the outset of this war, it would have been impossible to put into force any other system than the voluntary system,' but I do not believe it was the best system. The enforcement of the old Militia Act which has been on the statute books of this country for many years, would be a great injustice -at this time, after three years of war have passed, and after over 400,000 men have enlisted voluntarily. A judicial selection of men is the only proper course for Canada to pursue at the present time. It has been pointed out by hon. gentlemen opposite that the United States have adopted at the outset a compulsory military service. It is very easy for them to do so. They have had the advantage of what has been going on in other countries since the commencement of the war. The people of Canada did not hesitate; they adopted methods to suit conditions as they existed in this country at that time, and they have sometimes to readjust matters in order to meet changed conditions. When the Prime Minister was in the Old Country during the long adjournment of Parliament, he was certainly in a position to secure the most definite information as to the need for reinforcements at the front, and he must' have received that information, because almost immediately on his return to Canada, he announced that a measure of compulsory service was to be introduced. Why should he make that statement immediately on his arrival in this country? Because of the fact that recruiting in Canada had fallen off to such an extent that the wastage of war was not being met under the voluntary system, and that it was a question either of introducing a measure of compulsory service or of the divisions of our army in France and Belgium gradually dwindling away to nothing.

We have heard a good deal of criticism from hon. gentlemen opposite in regard to recruiting. I have been filled with admiration for the courage displayed by some

171* '

hon. gentlemen opposite in taking a stand in opposition to those with whom they have been associated for many years. Party ties are strong, and it is not a very pleasant task to sever them even on such a question -as this, and it must have required a good deal of courage on their part to take the stand they did. This, however, is a time that tries men, when the very best that is in them must come to the surface, when their consciences must be their guide. Therefore, I give those gentlemen credit for being actuated by high motives. Some hon. gentlemen opposite do not agree with the leader of the Opposition who has taken a very firm stand in opposition to this measure, and who has moved an amendment that a referendum should be submitr ted to the people of Canada in order to find out their views on the matter. He has received strong support from some of the leading men in the Liberal party in his position. The hon. member for Rouville (Mr. Lemieux) the other night took a very strong stand with regard to the question of a referendum, and other hon. gentlemen opposite have spoken along similar lines. It is quite evident, therefore, that in this House there are many hon. members who have very strong views in favour of compulsory service, and that there are other hon. members who have equally strong views in opposition to that measure. But why should compulsory service be necessary? As I said a moment ago, it is necessary because men have not been volunteering as readily as they are required, because the wastage of our army has not been met. Quite a number of hon. members who have spoken in this debate have placed before the House the figures showing what the several provinces have done in. the way of recruiting, and it appears that in one of the great provinces, of this Dominion, recruiting has not been such as we would like to have seen it; that it has not been anything like on a par with the recruiting that has taken place in other provinces. Had recruiting in that province been as successful as in the other provinces, there would be no necessity to-day for introducing a measure of compulsory military service.

I have followed with a good deal of interest the arguments advanced and the attempts made to justify the slowness of recruiting in Quebec. This is a time when we might as well say in this House what is in our minds as say it outside, and hon. gentlemen opposite, whether they agree with me on other matters or not, I am sure, will

doubly their cause, even more than it is the cause of those of English birth, in view of the position of their motherland; and I have always said that the man who forgets the land from which his ancestors come, whatever land that may be, is a a poor specimen of humanity. The attitude of the leader of the Opposition on the occasion to which I have referred did not help to allay the feeling that existed in the province of Quebec.

The criticisms levelled at the Government with regard to the lack of recruiting in Quebec have been demonstrated by what has transpired to be absolutely without foundation. The hon. member for Halifax (Mr. A. K. Maclean) has suggested that this Bill, after it passes, should not be put into effect until a further recruiting campaign is entered upon throughout Canada. This position, I believe, has no strong foundation. In the past few months an attempt has been made in the province of Quebec under the man, General Lessai'd, who, according to the hon. member for Rouville (Mr. *Lemieux), could appeal to the people of that province more than any other. I was amazed, dumbfounded, yesterday when the Minister of Militia laid the statement before the House showing the actual results of that recruiting campaign all over the great province of Quebec. The result was 221 recruits; and it appears that even half of these were not recruited in the province of Quebec. It is quite evident that compulsion must be used, or we will have to desert the men at the front. That is the question, the only question, with which we are concerned. The measure, I believe, will be put through this House and it must be put into effect [DOT]and put into effect quickly. There has [DOT]been altogether too much delay already.' Time has been wasted, days and weeks [DOT]have been passed in this House, and we are not .making very rapid progress. Let us try to realize that men are doggedly fighting our battles at the front, men who have been in the ranks now for 10 p.m. upwards of two and a half years, some of them war-worn and weary and needing a respite which cannot be given them. I say it is a crying shame, it is one of the greatest outrages that has ever taken place in the history of Canada or of the world, if these men must be kept there, year after year, year after year, without opportunity to get away and recuperate.

I listened to the eloquent member for Rouville when he took exception to the state-[Mr Sutherland.]

ment made by the hon. member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie). He said:

Let me tell my hon. friend from South Wellington that X have as much at stake In this war as he has. I am one of those who have given up an only son to fight the battle of liberty. At the age of 18 he left the university classroom to fight for his Iiing and country, hut he went with unfaltering steps to fight as a volunteer, not as conscript; the two things are quite different. Perhaps it is because I have French blood in my veins, hut I make quite a distinction between voluntarily offering to fight and fighting under compulsion. That is the essential difference between my hon. friend and myself, and it is quite a diiference, X am free to admit.

I congratulate the hon. member from Rouville on having a son with that spirit. If a man has a son who is of military age and physically fit, and that son has not the *spirit to offer his services to his country, he has good reason to feel ashamed of that son. I hope the hon. gentleman's son will Teturn to him safe and in good health after the war is over. But on the very day the hon. member was making his statement, I received a letter from one of my constituents enclosing two letters which he had received from his son, a boy-yes, a boy, for I tried to put his name on the woters' list last year and he was objected to by the friends of our .friends opposite because he was not old enough. This young man went over with the first contingent as a volunteer, and has been in the thick of the fight ever since. He has been through many engagements where his comrades have fallen around him. His own brother was with him, and fell at Vimy Ridge. The boy to whom I refer was wounded in the same engagement. He writes from a hospital in France, asking his friends if I could pot by some means get him leave of absence for three months. Just for three months. He felt that he was on the verge of a breakdown and could not stand the life much longe'r. Yet, is there any prospect of his getting that respite? Is there anybody..who would volunteer and take the place of that boy and let him off for three months after nearly three years of that life? Here is a case that should, touch the heart of any one. Let me say to the hon. member for Rouville who, I am sorry to say, is not in his seat, that I understand his son has not yet left the province of Quebec-I do not know whether I am rightly informed on that point or not. I am told that he is a member of the battalion that is being raised by Col. Blondin. If that is the case, I should think that the hon. member for Rouville would be one of the first men who would come forward

and advocate conscription, so that the regiment could be filled up and his boy get away to the front, rather than let him pine away here in the province of Quebec with no prospect of getting over for a long time.

I fear I am taking up too much time, but I wish to refer to remarks made by a ram-, ber of hon. gentlemen opposite who have signified their intention of voting for this Bill and against the amendment. It was rather amusing how some of them endeavoured to retain their standing in the party, and to make it appear that they were heartily in accord with their leader except on this measure.

They tried to put the whole blame for the failure of recruiting ,on the shoulders of the Government, Recruiting in Canada has been a tremendous success and is due to the men themselvesi as the hon. member for Halifax (Mr. Maclean) has said. As far as the county of Oxford is concerned, which I know better than any other part of 'Canada, no more pressure was exercised by the Government there than in Queoec or any other part of Canada; it was absolutely owing to the action of the men themselves and the efforts of the people in the county that recruiting became so successful there. There was a time when the Government found a great deal of difficulty in equipping and training the men, they were coming in so swiftly. But, after a few months, a change came over the country. There were whisperings and insinuations. Finally they became louder and louder. Statements were made in the House accusing the Government of all kinds of iniquities and a lack of business methods in connection with the administration of the war. They were not charges, because it was denied afterwards by. the hon. member for Carleton (Mr. Car-veEl) when the matter came up that any charges had been made. I am referring now to what were known as the Kyte charges. The people were right on edge, as it were. Statements were made in such a manner as to lead one to suppose' that they were based upon substantial facts. The same thing applied to the purchase of submarines on the Pacific c.oast immediately after the war was declared and to the purchase of the boots that were furnished to the soldiers. Hon. gentlemen opposite did everything in their power to discredit the Government, and to create a suspicion in the minds of the people that the Government were not acting as they should have acted.

I want to point out in contrast to that the attitude of the Prime Minister and the

Government. When the first of these statements were made, he immediately took steps to appoint a commissioner to investigate any charges of mismanagement that were made by any one and the commissioner appointed for the purpose went throughput Canada in order to facilitate inquiry into statements of this kind, with the result of which investigation hon. gentlemen are all familiar. You remember, when Camp Borden was opened up, all the Liberal press and the leaders of the Liberal party blamed the Government for the laying out of that camp and talked about the injustice that was being done to the men in sending them to that camp. This was just at the time that recruiting was beginning to fall off. I have not tlhe slightest doubt that the Liberal party and press are in no small measure responsible for the falling off in recruiting at that time.

I want to say a word in regard to the danger to Canada. The leader of the Opposition referring to the Prime Minister in his speech in this House on the 18th June stated:

I claim against him that there never was any danger of invasion of Canada on the part of Germany. If I have taken the position I have hitherto taken it is not because I feared an invasion of Canada by Germany. Nobody could say consistently that at this time, or at any time within the three years of the war, Canada was for one instant in danger of invasion. If I have taken the position I have taken, if I have been, as I was and as I am, in favour of our participation in the war, it was not because I feared invasion but because I believed that the victory of Germany would mean for Canada, as for the rest of the world, envelopment in the black shroud of German insolence, cruelties, and barbarities.

He was opposed to going outside of Canada to fight the battles of Canada when he made that statement. On December 8, 1916, the right hon. gentleman made a speech in the city of Quebec, and I take from the Toronto Globe a report of that speech. I shall just quote a part of it. He said that:-

There was not a country in the world which would not be affected to the roots of its being if Germany won. If she won it would be the fall of Great Britain, of France, of Russia, and of Italy, and there would remain only Germany and the United States. The anxiety shown by President Wilson had shown how he realized the peril.

Sir Wilfrid then read extracts from a plan prepared for the German General Staff and published before the war, showing that it was their intention to add two more provinces to those taken from France. He could prove that the German idea was the imposition of Deutschtum, or German domination, on the world, and he added that the war had shown how near they had come to succeeding. If it was possible for merchant submarines to enter

much prefer that the two parties should come together, settle their differences, and carry this war to a successful issue, rather than have the whole country engaged in the turmoil which would accompany an election. I desire to say further, Mr. Speaker, as far as the referendum is concerned, that it is unfair, unjust, and there is not one strong argument that can be advanced in favour of such a proposition. The 'very fact that you would find aligned against those in favour of selective conscription men who, if they were doing their duty, would be in the ranks, is the strongest argument why they should not have an opportunity to place themselves on record. We are at war, and we are experiencing- a different condition from anything that has heretofore confronted the people of Canada. I want to say that this state is made up of different individuals who are subject to the laws of the state. The individual who enjoys the advantages of Government in this country and the protection of the state has to discharge his duties to that state when the very life and existence of that state is in the balance. The demands of the state are supreme to all other demands, and when the state requires men to fight in its defence, then, Sir, it is not a matter of submitting a referendum to the people, but a matter of enforcing the military laws of the country and making those men do tEeir duty. I want to say further, Mr. Speaker, that the men at the front do not want a referendum, and I believe those men at the front would scorn to put their mark on the ballot in a cause such as1 this. I say further that, to my mind, this is a plea that is absolutely unworthy of the right hon. gentleman who has moved the amendment to the Bill now before the House.

Let me ask the right hon. leader of the Opposition, the mover of the amendment, to submit a referendum to the people of Canada, to say whether compulsion should be used tc secure men to support those on the battle line, now that the volunteer system fails to do so. What other course is left, unless we abandon these men and see our gallant army, made up of the Canadian divisions, dwindle and pass away?

Let him have his way. Send out your secret ballot. Place it in the hands of the people of Canada. Ask them to decide the question. What would the response be? I can see in my mind's eye how readily some would respond, how eagerly the pacifist who made the war possible would sign, the coward, the slacker, the man too proud to fight would be first at the poll to mark the [Mr Sutherland.]

ballot. Now the alien enemy within our gates-and they are many-how they would applaud the hon. gentlemen for the privilege of his secret ballot, giving them an opportunity to even up with the Canadians on the battle line; every one of them would be out to mark his ballot. But still the fight goes on. The ranks of the men on the battle line are growing thinner, and ever thinner. These grim, silent, war weary veterans, many of whom have borne the brunt of the brutal conflict for upwards of two years are doggedly holding on, ever confident that reinforcements from their home land will soon be at hand. And now, when the limit of their endurance has been almost reached, the right hon. gentleman approaches them with his referendum ballot, explains to them its object and the reason for adopting it and asks them to say whether they would favour compulsion being used to secure support for them, or whether they should be left to their fate, and the cause for which they have been contending during the past three years, and which they have ever had in mind as the goal of their ambition, should be given up. These men, ivho have endured trials and agonies indescribable, who gave up friends, homes and loved ones that we might continue to enjoy the benefits and liberties our heroic ancestors had acquired for ns at a great cost of blood and sacrifice; these men who have done their full duty and have received the congratulations and plaudits of their allied comrades on their gallant conduct whether on the advance or when standing firm under the concentrated auack of the hordes of the enemy with his murderous gasses, knowing that many thousands of their comrades are sleeping their last sleep beneath the soil of a foreign land, knowing that thousands of their comrades have returned to Canada, whose maimed and broken bodies are evidence of their unfitness for further service, but who would give the people of Canada the true .story of the pressing need for men, confident that assistance will be speedily forthcoming as soon as the people of Canada realize the pressing need.

This is the condition at the front, when the right hon. gentleman arrives with his secret ballot for them to mark in the quiet and privacy of their trenches ,and dug-outs, and asks them to say whether they would be kind enough to say whether they would be in. favour of compulsion being used to secure men to support them; to force Canadians from their comfortable homes, from their families and children and their luxuries to relieve them of some of the heavy

task which they bad voluntarily assumed as a duty; to give them a respite for ever so short a time. These proud spirited men, with honour .as their motto emblazoned on their shield, are to be asked to take a chance on a throw of loaded dice with the pacifist, the conscientious objector, the coward, the slacker and the alien enemy within our gates, who have adopted as their shield a secret ballot. What reception would the right hon. gentleman receive? What would be the response of these grim proud spirited heroes? Every man of them would fling the insult back in your teeth and consign you and your cowardly ballot to a warmer place than the gouth of France, and well might they say, if that is the spirit of those left in Canada, which name they had placed high on the scroll of fame by their gallant deeds and sacrifices, if this is the code of honour left in Canada we will fight as long as human endurance will hold out and go down to our graves with those gallant comrades who have preceded us, facing the foe with the keenest, the bitterest wound in their broken heai'ts, inflicted not by the enemy but by those whom they have left at home, and for whom they have been fighting during these weary months.

Topic:   JUlSlE 26, 1917
Permalink
LIB

Jacques Bureau

Liberal

Mr. JACQUES BUREAU (Three Rivers and St. Maurice):

I cannot give a silent vote on this matter, because I consider it to be the most important question ever submitted to the Canadian people. It affects two of the greatest gifts of the citizen, his life and his liberty. In considering this measure, one who is a true democrat and a true Canadian deserving the support of his fellow citizens, must use his sober judgment, and analyse carefully the consequences of the measure, scrutinize thoroughly the motives that inspired it, search with care, and ascertain the sentiments and opinions of those he represents. We have a right, and it is our duty, to express our opinions and our sentiments on this matter. Whatever opinions may be expressed or whatever threats may be made, we are willing to go before the country on the .stand we are taking, and to face all fair-minded men.

I desire to say at the outset that what we seek is light on the subject, not abuse. What we want is unity and confidence in one another, not disunion and distrust. No one is more in sympathy with the Allies or more desires the winning of this war than we Canadians of French origin in Quebec, because living in a country where we are

in the minority, where we have had to suffer and are now suffering in silence in order to avoid struggle and strife, and where pledges and treaties are our only safeguards, we are in close sympathy with those European nations, such as Belgium, Serbia and the other smaller Balkan states which occupy a similar position to ours in Canada, although not as minorities, yet as weaker powers. Our respect for Great Britain for having entered into an equitable contract with us at the time of the Quebec Act is well known, and my hon. friend (Mr. Sutherland) has confirmed the statement made in this House by the hon. member for Rouville (Mr, Lemieux), namely, that if it had not been for the senior Canadians, whom some hon. members are pleased to call French Canadians, the British flag-would not be floating on this building today, and we would not be discussing the question of conscription. The hon. member for South Oxford, after doing us the compliment of putting us in an inferior position to the Indians of this country, showed that we had some heart anyway. He quoted statements to show that in 1774 propositions were made to Lower Canada to join the American Republic. History shows that Canada was given the opportunity of becoming an independent republic; but, according to the element which the hon. member represents, we are not capable of noble sentiments and motives, therefore he endeavours to deprecate our act of loyalty on the ground that it was inspired by egotism; that, after thinking the matter over, we decided that we would not be as free; that we would not have as much liberty to practice our religion, to speak our language and to use our laws, under American rule (or as a republic, which would be ridiculous), as under a treaty with Great Britain. That shows that we understood what the contract was, and we endeavoured, in consideration of fair play on the part of Great Britain in carrying out her share of it, to show that we were going to carry out our share, without any regret.

Our sympathies for France, whence our ancestors came were great. I remember in 1871, at the time of the Franco-Prussian war the sorrow that was displayed in Canada by the senior Canadians when Germany defeated France. Others alongside of us laughed and rejoiced; we bore our grief in silence. I have shown what feelings of gratitude and sympathy we have for the two nations which are now fighting for the liberty of the world. I make the statement because by word of mouth and

by expressions in certain newspapers we have been, taxed with being pro-Germans. Of course, the truth is that we have never had any sympathy for Germany, which is the natural enemy of France, and that our sentiments of distrust and antipathy for the Germans were not horn yesterday. It is, therefore, most unjustifiable to endeavour to classify us as some hon. gentlemen opposite have done. I speak here to-night as a Canadian; I would rather not use the word " French Canadian," or the word " English Canadian;" I would use the word " Canadian." But if I were to endeavour to make a distinction between the races which compose Canada I would speak of us as the senior Canadians, as we are, and who, I claim, are the only true, genuine Canadians, and of the junior Canadians, who are in the majority at the present time.

Listening to the speeches that have been delivered so far by hon. gentlemen opposite, one would be inclined to think that we are opposed to the winning of this war by the Allied nations. Hon. gentlemen opposite tell us that the war must be .won. Certainly, the war must be won. That is not the question before the House. We are all agreed in regard to that question. In the short session of 1914 not a voice was raised in opposition to the proposals of the Government; we said to the Government: We give you carte blanche; go on and win this war. The question now before this House is: Are we to have conscription without first consulting the people? Are we to legislate on matters affecting so vitally all the people of this country without having their consent? For my part, I do not purpose tearing another piece out of the constitution. I object to the Bill, and I am in favour of a referendum, because I believe that if we are in a democratic country we ought not to legislate as to the life or liberty of the subject unless we have special authority by statute, and in that case we must live within the four corners of that statute, or unless we have a special mandate from the people.

The legal aspect of the question has been discussed, and I believe it has been shown beyond a doubt that the clause upon which we now rely to impose conscription on this country, or to send troops overseas never meant what hon. gentlemen opposite want it to mean to-day. The hon. member for Kamour.aska (Mr. E. Lapointe) the other day made an irrefutable argument to show what the meaning of the existing law is. It is well known that when you are going to give the true interpretation of a statute,

you do not give it the interpretation that will suit your purpose for the time being, but the meaning that he who made the law wanted to convey. To do this you must go back and follow from its inception the legislation, seeing what the intent has been ever since such legislation was enacted, and putting all those facts together with the various objections and the different statements made by the parties interested in the measure, you can come to a correct interpretation. I had expected the Solicitor General (Mr. Meighen) to answer the argument of my hon. friend from Kamouraska.

Knowing the ingenuity and astuteness of the Solicitor General, I was surprised at the poor answer he made. My hon. friend from Kamouraska had cited all the laws from 1808 to 1868 to show that "without" in the phrase "within or without Canada," referring to the calling out of militia in the case of emergency, meant contiguous territory. To that, the first answer of the Solicitor General was that nobody had given this interpretation to the law so far, and he said that the speech of the hon. member for Kamouraska "was made for distribution in the province of Quebec." Let me tell my hon. friend that the people of Quebec do not need to have the speech of the hon. member for Kamouraska distributed among them to know what the clause means. It 'has been discussed and re-discussed and overdiscussed ever since 1911. You know, Mr. Speaker, all the discussions that have been held on this clause, and all the ink that has been spilled over it.

The second answer of the Solicitor General was that the interpretation "expressing doubt about our right to send troops overseas" is shared by no one except political agitators. 1 am not going to quote, but it will be remembered that on the 1st of August, 1914-I think the extract will be found in the Hansard report of the speech of my right hon. leader the other day-a despatch was sent by the Governor General to the Imperial authorities stating that his Government was willing to help in case of war, which then seemed to be imminent, and the question was mooted whether under section 69 the Government had authority to send troops overseas. Now, at that time the Solicitor General and the Minister of Justice were in office. They had at their service to interpret the statutes a man of unquestioned authority and of the highest qualifications, a man through whose hands this particular law had passed in 1904 when it was presented to the House, a man who has pub-

lished a book on Constitutional Cases-the Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr. E. L. New-combe. I think he is a sufficiently high legal authority, and I say that the Solicitor General and the Minister of Justice were either derelict in their duty in not looking up the law and getting sufficient information about it, or else they came to the conclusion that they had absolutely no authority to send troops abroad under this Militia Act.

On the 5th of August, 1914, another message was sent to the Imperial authorities by the Governor General, but not from himself; he always states " my advisors." Who were his advisors? One of them was my hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce, and he has had a wide experience in legislation. The Governor General states in that communication that his advisors had some doubts. And what did they ask? Did they call upon the Militia Act? No, they asked His Majesty the King to put the Canadian Force under sections 175 and 176 of the British Army Act. Is that in conformity with the statement of the Solicitor General that the interpretation given to the clause by the hon. member _ for Kamouraska could only have been given by a political agitatoT? Personally, I am well content to be in company with such political agitators as His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught.

Then the Solicitor General gave his third answer. The hon. member for Kamouraska had quoted the words of the Minister of Militia of 1904 and of the ex-Minister *of Militia of the present Cabinet. The Solicitor General, following his usual practice of meeting argument by argument and reason by reason, said: "Who have you for authority? A doctor and an editor." Since when, Mr. Speaker, has Canada or the Parliament of Canada delegated to the gentlemen of the legal profession the exclusive right to present Bills in this House, to discuss and explain them and have them adopted? Since when has the legal profession had the monopoly of knowing what they want to express. The Solicitor General quoted Sir Charles Fitzpatrick as saying that the troops could be sent to India, and then he discarded the explanation given by the Minister of Militia. If my hon friend will look at the Hansard of 1904, vol. 4, p. 6471, he will see that Sir Charles Fitzpatrick said:

When drafting' a law I want to know what the party who introduced the Bill has in his mind. My functions are limited to giving effect to the intentions of the person introducing the Bill.

Therefore I conclude that the higher authority as between the Minister of Justice and the head of a department introducing a Bill, is the head of the department who knows exactly what he wants, and simply sends his Bill to the Minister of Justice to have it put in proper legal form. That is one of the reasons why I claim that the sudden change in the interpretation of the law which has taken place recently is only to suit the convenience of hon. gentlemen opposite, who know that this measure is unpopular and want to say:

" You did this yourselves; you are responsible for it."

There is another reason why I object to the Bill. I have said before, and I cannot repeat it too often, that we in this Parliament when dealing with the life and liberty of the subject should at least be the representatives of those subjects. When the extension of Parliament was granted it was never contemplated that such a radical change as this would be brought about in our domestic life. We are to-day in session under and by virtue of the Imperial Act. We are practically an Imperial Parliament, and the Imperial Parliament, having no right to deal with the life and liberty of the Canadian subject, cannot, I maintain, delegate that right to the Parliament of Canada. If we passed this Act we vould not only be setting a bad precedent, but doing something that was most undemocratic and most unconstitutional.

My third reason for. opposing the Bill- and this reason was adduced when the British Conscription Bill was introduced at Westminster-is that a law of this kind should not be passed without the general consent of the people, or at least the Government should fiave the confidence f)i the people; I claim that both are lacking in this case. The ex-Minister of Militia has stated that the members of the Cabinet had no confidence in one another. In a speech at Lindsay he said that they were poking their noses into each other's departments and watching each other, and that when he arrived at New York he was told to he careful as he was gfling to be murdered politically for standing so loyally behind the leader of the Government, and that the Finance Minister was after his scalp. Is that a properly constituted Cabinet? Are you going to tell me that the people of this country will have confidence in a Cabinet the member^ of which have no confidence in one another? I say; No. I will not tolerate any such

. COMMONS

agglomeration legislating upon the life and liberty of the subject.

There is another reason for my opposition. It may not appeal to my friends on the other side, it may not appeal to the junior Canadians; but it appeals to us the senior Canadians, and it appeals to me. We are not opposing this Bill for the purpose of creating delay, nor for political reasons; we are fighting for the preservation of our ideals, and one of those ideals is the sacredness of pledges, or, to use the words of the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Sir George Foster) "plighted faith." We have had promises made. All over the province of Quebec we have been told, and repeatedly told, that conscription would not be put in force. There is no emergency that I can see that has happened since to call for conscription without first asking those men to whom we have promised that conscription would never be put in force to say whether or not they have changed their minds as the Government has changed its mjnd since the promise was made. We are interested in seeing that pledges and treaties are respected, because we are the senior Canadians and the minority; but now that the majority of the stock of the concern seems to have got into the hands of the juniors knowing their own views on these matters, we will not tolerate, if we can help it, that treaties and pledges in Canada shall be treated as the Prussians have treated theirs. When they call us "pro-Germans", and "Prussians," it makes me smile. If we are to judge men by their deeds, the inclination of these hon. gentlemen is toward Prussianism rather that toward democracy and liberty.

This is not a military question only, it is also a social and economic question. A statement has been made in this House, and not contradicted so far, that if we send another hundred thousand men across the seas we cannot produce enough to help the Allies and prevent them from suffering from famine. I read in the Free Press only the other day an account of a meeting held in Ottawa, taken part in by farmers and by members of the Board of Trade. At that meeting, a gentlemen named Black, if I remember his name correctly, a Government official, made the statement that this year's wheat crop would be between 20000,000 and 30,000,000 bushels short. A farmpr who spoke made the statement that what they wanted was help, otherwise they coifld not cultivate their farms. Lord Rhondda has made the same appeal- fMr. Bureau.! .

Topic:   JUlSlE 26, 1917
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

And Lord Shaughnessy.

Topic:   JUlSlE 26, 1917
Permalink
LIB

Jacques Bureau

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

Yes, Lord Shaughnessy the same. And in the Montreal Star of to-night I find a despatch from London, dated to-day, containing this statement made to the Associated Press by right hon. R. E. Prothero, Minister of Agriculture:

"The outcome of the war," said Mr. Prothero, "may ultimately hang- on the question of food supplies, and the American farmer is allotted the essential part to play in the great struggle for freedom."

Mr. Prothero then discussed the value of cooperation of the American farmers and continued :

There is risk that the shortage of food may strain endurance to the breaking point There is as yet no indication that we even have distantly approached that point, but endurance might snap if. for instance, the milk supply failed through inability to feed the dairy herd, because then the lives of little children would be threatened. Thus, there is a greater question involved in food supply than the loss of ordinary comforts of life, or even reduction in its accustomed necessities.

"For this reason it is a welcome relief to us to know that the farmers of the United States are co-operating with the Allies, that they fully realize the essential part they play in this struggle for freedom, that they are bringing into their work the spirit of self-sacrifice and endurance and that they are determined to put out the last ounce of their strength to win the war on the ploughlands of the United States. Here and there, God speed the plough!"

That as not an appeal from this side of the House or from people who want to embarrass the Government, but from the Minister of Agriculture in the British ministry. The toon, member for Renville (Mr. Le-mieux) the other day read to the, House an advertisement published in a Chicago paper ait the instance of the Government, calling for 60,000 men to come to Canada to till the soil, .and offering these men the guarantees that if they would oome they should not be conscripted. Why should we now take the men who are coming from the United States, give our money to the Americans, and send our own men to the battlefield? I say, if you cannot fill the gaps with five divisions, make it four; if you cannot do it with four, make it three; but do not become guilty of murder, do not leave the man who has gone to the front to famish; do not let the soldiers die of hunger. I see the Minister of Labour (Mr. Crothers) smiling, hut I can tell him that nothing has been brought before the House to show that the taking of more men from the country will not impair our agricultural industry.

There is another phase of this subject, and it is with certain pain, or regret, that

I touch upon it. Reasons have been given why conscription was imposed; but the way the Leaves move generally indicates the way in which the wind blows. I find that the reasons so far given are an imputation upon the province in which I live. Although the subject is grave, the expressions of these gentlemen concerning it are evidently a vent for feelings that must have been pent up for a long time. The Solicitor General (Mir. Meighen) in the course of his speech the other day told us: We of English-speaking Canada have the kindest feelings towards our French compatriots. Thinking of the Toronto Orange Sentinel, of the Toronto News, of the Kingston and Hamilton papers, I said to myself: These men are great verbal acrobats, because if the sentiments expressed by these papers towards the province of Quebec are kindly sentiments, I do not understand English.

It is said that voluntary enrolment lias been a failure. In presenting this Bill the Prime Minister said that in 1915 and 1916, delegations came to him and asked him to suspend or lessen recruiting.

The ex-Minister of Militia says that in March, 1916, he was not told to drop recruiting but he was told to go slow and let it rest awhile. Therefore, if voluntary recruiting has not been a success it was not due to the fault of any one except those who had put a damper on it. The exMinister of Militia says that the heads of the great industries were after the Prime Minister fearing that they would be short of labour. He, in. his ordinary gallant way, says: They came before me but I kicked them out; the Prime Minister did not have his back stiff enough to kick them out and so he gave in. He also says that they went after the hon. the Minister of Finance (Sir Thomas White) and that he was afraid that Toronto would be up in arms. Yet these hon. gentlemen say that voluntary enlistment has failed. If it has it is because they stopped it.

Now, I desire to say a word in regard to the operation of the system in the province of Quebec. My hon. friend from Rou-ville (Mr. Lemieux) made a statement the other night which was jeered at by our Conservative friends opposite who have spoken against recruiting in Quebec. He said that one of the faults of the Government was that they had not employed proper officers for recruiting in Quebec. I back up that statement. If they had sent to Toronto, or anywhere in Ontario, as-a recruiting officer, a French Canadian who could not speak a word of English, what would have been the response to his efforts?

They would not have tolerated him for a minute, they would have escorted him to , the train and said: Go and learn English and call again. In Quebec, the Solicitor General says, of course with kindly feelings always that the numbers of French recruiting officers were legion and that when he got the list, he thought it was the list of recruits that he had. If they were legion what have they done? The services of an officer whom I know and whom I have seen at work commanding camps at Three Rivers, having as' many as 10,000 or 15,000 men under him at a time^ a man who has had experience and who is well qualified, was -at their disposal, I refer to Colonel Pelletier wdio-m I saw in active service during the Northwest rebellion. He was wounded on the field, he came back, was put in command of the Quebec district and went from there to the South African war. They cannot say that this man had no experience. He was liked -by the men who came to the camp at Three Rivers, they had confidence in him and he liked them. Colonel Roy was an officer in much the same position. General Lessard was another officer of standing and when I hear the statement made that , he secured no recruits, my reply to that is, that he -did not start well, that he was not encouraged, that he started with Colonel Blondin who had been opposed to recruiting all his life, and the people were rather reluctant to think that he had changed his views on his way to Damascus. General Lessard started and the Government thought it might, be a success but they did not want it to toe a success in Quebec.

If a man is going to war, if he is going to give his life or shed his blood for any cause, he wants to go with a man that he trusts and in whom he has confidence. He wants to go with a man whose sympathy he knows he can command. If we are to judge by the expressions of feeling that we have had from a certain element, the French Canadian has no reason, no justification, to believe that he would get any sympathy from people outside of his own r-ace. I was astounded when I read in the papers that at a meeting in Queen's Park, which was mentioned by my hon-. friend from Russell (Mr. Murphy), a returned soldier made the statement that if the Government would conscript the foreigners the returned soldiers would fight the French Canadians. I do not object to that statement so much as I do to the manner in which it was received, what is worse, because it expresses a feeling which ought not to he tolerated in this

country, was the ovation that took place amongst the auditors when that statement was made. That feeling is not confined to Toronto, it has gone farther. It was published in. the press broadcast that wounded soldiers had been insulted in the streets of the city of Quebec and that soldiers' trains had been stoned at Fraserville and Riviere du Loup. We asked for an investigation and the report has been deposited on the table of the House. Let me read from the report of the gentlemen who were appointed by the Government to investigate the incident in order to show the House whether any case has been made out against voluntary recruiting in Quebec. In clause 10 of the report No. 172, it is stated that:

Owing to the strong feeling of the majority of the soldiers that the province of Quebec has not as yet done her full duty In sending troops over, they express their views to the citizens in strong terms whenever occasion offers and this had an apparent effect on the volunteer services in these localities.

It. is useless to say, Sir, that these accusations were not founded on fact that the report of the commission showed that there was no ground for them and further that in certain instances the soldiers had attacked the civilians and it was only in retaliation that they received anything from them. Were these people satisfied to have these slurs cast upon the French Canadians within the borders of Canada? No, Sir. Just to show the animus, and to show the position that we are in, I .propose to put a cablegram before the House. The report of this military commission is dated the 18th day of May. On the 19th June a cable was sent from London addressed to the hon. member for Rouville. It reads as follows:

Hon. Rodolphe Lemieux,

Ottawa.

Major from British Columbia pretends to a pressman that his regiment was attacked and insulted passing through Quebec province. Can you send me report of enquiry committee?

(Sgd) Pelletier.

Mr. Pelletier is the representative of the province of Quebec in London. As my hon. friend from Rouville stated in this House, the American pTess is being poisoned. Now somebody is trying to poison the mind of the English people on the other side of the ocean knowing that the statements made are untrue, knowing that an investigation by the military authorities has been held and a report made to the contrary, and yet a month after that report is made this despatch is sent in order to ascertain the truth of statements made by men who are across the ocean, officers of the Canadian army.

Topic:   JUlSlE 26, 1917
Permalink
LIB

June 26, 1917