June 27, 1917

LIB

Louis Audet Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. L. A. LAPOINTE:

Does not my hon. friend notice that in the resolution they are speaking of the Militia Act and is not that a very different thing?

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

Herbert Brown Ames

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HERBERT AMES:

I am quite willing to accept this as proof that they favour conscription. The last words of the resolution are sufficient indication as to what the purpose of the conscription is. Can I be of any further service to my hon. friend?

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

Louis Audet Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. L. A. LAPOINTE:

The hon. gentleman did not answer my question. I happen to have known the hon. gentleman for many years and I know how he can skip around questions.

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

Herbert Brown Ames

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HERBERT AMES:

Now, I cannot hope or expect to be able to satisfy all the signers of these petitions because they ask

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

Read it.

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

Herbert Brown Ames

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HERBERT AMES:

It is as follows:

In my humble opinion the defence of Canada implies not only the power to safeguard the territory itself and the lives and property of Canadians, it further includes the faculty recognized in international law to prevent, by all legitimate means, the invasion, ruin and sacking of the country, in attacking the enemy in his own country, pursuing him everywhere, destroying his resources, giving him no rest until he be reduced to utter powerlessness. The very legitimate necessity of opposing an onslaught quite naturally justifies the attack of the enemy in his own country or wherever he may seek refuge. It often is by taking the offensive, attacking and invading, that the defence of one's own country may be better attended to. It would indeed be imprudent, if not utterly reckless, for a country at war, to be content with a defensive strategy and to refrain from hostilities until the country were invaded and sacked.

I am sure that no one in this House or out of it will venture to suggest that the Chief Justice of Quebec, the Hon. Sir Francois Lemieux, is not an authority on matters of that kind, that he does not speak as a man who knows what he is speaking about. Every one will agree that he speaks as one who has studied deeply constitutional questions and is well qualified to give an opinion thereon. In his opinion, the best war of defence is a war of attack, wherever the enemy may be.

A good deal of time has been spent in this House in explaining the origin of the Militia Act of 1904, and going back and citing many of the opinions held at the time of the enactment of the original Militia Act and its various amendments There seems to me no real ground for contendng that even under the Act of 1904 conscription is not permissible. I think we all admit that the Act of 1904, under certain circumstances, contemplates wholesale conscription. The only difference of opinion is as to whether, under the old Militia Act, that conscription should be for men who could be sent, against their will, overseas. I do not pretend to discuss that point. I understand that Sir Charles Fitzpatrick, who was at the time Minister of Justice and Who is now Chief Justice of Canada, was of opinion, when that Act was passed, that it did permit men to be sent overseas. I understand that that is the opinion of the law officers of the Crown to-day. Not being a lawyer, I am willing to accept that opinion, considering my own in that respect to be of no great value. But I do not think that is the vital question. In any event the principal question with us is, how can we do what we want to do? And if the law already on the statute books is not sufficient, the quickest and simplest course is to pass an Act that will be sufficient, and if I rightly read the Bill that is now before the House, section 2 covers the situation as fully as an Act can.

Every male British subject who comes within one of the classes .... shall be liable to be called out as hereinafter provided on active service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force for the defence of Canada, either in or beyond Canada,-

-unless he falls under certain exemptions. We will all admit, I think, that this Act will meet the circumstances of the case, and if the old Act leaves any doubt, the sooner we can pass an Act in which the purpose, the destination and the method is clear, I think the better it will be for our country and its defence.

I have listened attentively to many of the speeches made in this House since this Bill was introduced. There is very little new that can now be said. We all admit that it only remains for us individually, so to speak, to make our confessions and to endeavour to clarify the situation in our own minds and those of our constituents. But certain objections have been raised, and those objections have been put forth

with logic, with reason and with sincerity-? I for my part feel that some of the objections should be answered, or that at least an attempt should be made to answer them.

The first objection that has been advanced is that the need for men is not so apparent as to justify this measure. The other night the hon. member for St. John (Mr. Pugs-ley), who sits on the opposite side of the House, attempted to show that there were

126.000 reserves in England and 90,000 here. His figures fell down completely when they were analyzed, but it is "well that the actual figures should be placed on Hansard in concrete form. It is true that there are

126.000 men in England, but only one-half of those are combatants, 30,000 of them are ready for the firing line, 35,000 more will be fit in the course of the next few months;

65.000 all told will be the sum total of combatant reinforcements out of that. 126,000 men. In Canada to-day there are less than

20.000 who may be regarded as in class A, that is men who will eventually be fit for the trenches. But the most significant figures of all are those in respect to infantry recruiting. We are told that the infantry losses are generally the greatest at the front. In April and May our casualties amounted to 23,939. These were largely infantry, and you will see that this involves a wastage of over 10,000 men a month.

How many men have we been recruiting throughout Canada during the last five months to make up the wastage in infantry? In January 5,707, in February there were 2,358; in March, 2,286; in April, 1,794; in May, 1,208 or an average of 2,670 infantrymen recruited in Canada since the year began. It needs no abstruse calculation in arithmetic to demonstrate that, if our casualties are 10,000 a month, and our infantry reinforcements not more than a quarter of that number, the thne is not far distant when the infantry reinforcements on hand will be exhausted, unless some steps are taken to secure more men. It is true there were 34,376 enlistments in the first five months of this year, but a very large proportion of those is composed of non-combatants. They were 13,353 infantry, 4,187 artillerymen, 8,317 forestry and railroad construction battalions, 8,523 miscellaneous arms of the service. Not more than one half of the total number, therefore, may be considered as infantry and artillery, which are the real combatant forces. It takes from eight to twelve months to train men for the firing line, and, even if we should now raise the men authorized under the Bill, if

it- passes, it would be 1918, probably, before the first of them would be used for service in France. It, therefore, does not admit of delay, because the reserve that we have on hand will be exhausted by Christmas, and after Christmas, what are we to do for more men?

There is no man who is to-day better qualified to speak of the military situation than the commander in chief of our forces in France. Even at the risk of repeating what may have been said by others, I want to read the recent messages from General Sir Arthur Currie, who knows more about the military situation overseas than any other living man. When he received a telegram of congratulation upon his recent honour, from the Prime Minister of Canada, his reply contained this significant clause:

It is an imperative and urgent necessity that steps be immediately taken to insure that sufficient drafts of officers and men are sent from Canada to keep the corps at its full strength.

And immediately after being interviewed by Mr. F. A. Mackenzie of the Montreal Star, General Currie said:

"I've no wish to interfere with current political controversies, but my personal conviction is that the only solution to the problem of Canadian recruiting is conscription. I believe that many difficulties which now threaten the adoption of such a policy would disappear before prompt and bold action.

"My experiences in France have shown me, not as a politician, but as a soldier, the necessity of conscription, if we desire to maintain at full strength our fighting divisions to the end."

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

Mr. MARTIN (St. Mary's, Montreal) (translation):

Will the hon. gentleman allow me a question? .

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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CON

Herbert Brown Ames

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HERBERT AMES:

Certainly.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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William Melville Martin

Mr. MARTIN:

Is it not to your knowledge that the French Government has decided to send back home-unhappily I have not here the paper in which the statement is made-all the aged soldiers so they can help on the farms? How does the hon. gentleman explain the fact?

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

Herbert Brown Ames

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HERBERT AMES:

I am aware of that and we are doing the safne thing here, for [DOT] Canada.

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

Mr. MARTIN:

It is better to keep them here, then.

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

Herbert Brown Ames

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HERBERT AMES:

In France, the

Government has decided to send back home the aged soldiers, to do farm work. Here in Canada, we do not intend to send overseas old men and farmers; our aim is to draft young men only.

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

Mr. MARTIN:

How will we then manage to turn out munitions? My hon. friend who represents St. Antoine division, in the City of Montreal knows as well as I do, that -even at this moment it is very hard, if not impossible, to get all the labour required and that some very important work will have to"be discontinued.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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CON

Herbert Brown Ames

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HERBERT AMES:

If my hon. friend will allow me we shall discuss this phase of the question later on.

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

Herbert Brown Ames

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HERBERT AMES:

There are none of U3 probably who have not friends overseas, probably none of us who have not relations and intimate friends in the firing line, and I ask those who are in receipt of letters from those boys overseas from week to week, what do the boys ask for? Do they not write and say: " Send us reinforcements; we need them more than anything else?" One of the bravest men I ever knew, and one of my personal friends, Colonel Victor Buchanan, killed not long ago, served in a Montreal Highland regiment. The last letter he wrote me had one note in it from end to end: " We need men; our Highland regiment is being filled up with drafts from every part of Canada; do tell the people of Montreal to send us more Montreal Highlanders, so that our ranks may be filled." Can any man with a sympathetic heart turn a deaf ear to letters from those he has known all his life, when they ask that they be not abandoned on the firing line?

Another objection which is raised is that this Parliament is incompetent to pass such an Act. It is said that Parliament is six years old, that there are twenty vacancies, and that a number of additional constituencies, under the new distribution, are entitled to members. That is an absolutely erroneous idea. No question can be raised, by any one who knows anything about legal or constitutional law, 'as to our right to pass such a measure as this. Our constitution is the British. North America Act and its amendments. The amendments are just as valid as the Act. If the Act tells us that the life of Parliament is five years, and the amendment extends it to six, seven, ten, or twenty, the amendment is just as valid as the original Act, and any Act we may pass in this Parliament, while it is legally constituted, is equally valid, whether it be passed in the first or the last year of our incumbency in office. The question whether we have a moral right is another matter, but the legal right is absolutely in-eontestible. My hon. friend, the member

for St. Mary's, the mayor of Montreal (Mr. Martin) asked me a question a moment ago as to whether we could spare the men. In his judgment, as first magistrate of the city of Montreal, he believed we could not. I would like to discuss that with him for a moment, because we are both interested alike in that great city. I have noticed in this-Parliament that the hon. gentlemen who ask us to give the voluntary system another - trial are the very ones who say we eannot spare the men. If we cannot spare the men raised by conscription, how can we spare them when they are raised by the voluntary system? In fact, the men that might be raised by a continuation of the voluntary system would be far lees easily spared than the men that will be obtained by conscription.

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

Hear, hear.

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

Herbert Brown Ames

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HERBERT AMES:

Another plea that we sometimes hear is that conscription is going to tear the husband from his wife and the father from his little children, and break up the homes of this country by for re. If we had had conscription at the beginning, there would have been no breaking up of homes. There are

75,000 married men that have left their wives and children and gone overseas. If there had been a systematic law upon the statute book at the beginning, it would not have been necessary to send these married men across, and, as I understand, under this Bill we expect to get 100,000 more men, I call the attention of this House to the fact that in all probability the full number would be obtained by calling up classes 1, 2 and 3, and those classes include only single men, or widowers without children, between the ages of 20 and 35.

The entire number of men, that this measure will call for, will be obtained without tearing a single husband from his wife or a single father from his loving children at home. Further, let me point out that there will be exceptions wherever they are expedient in the national interest. Men who are essential to the munition factories in Montreal will not be sent overseas; men who can be spared from the munition factories and whose places may be taken by returned soldiers, women or old men, will probably be sent overseas. But the readjustment will not seriously impair the efficiency of the munition factories.

We are told that it will ruin the country to send overseas another 100,000 men. According to the 1911 census, there were in

274

Canada at that time 636,746 unmarried men between the ages of 20 and 35. As nearly as I can calculate the figures of the Patriotic Fund permit me to get fairly near it- about 235,000 unmarried men between the ages of 20 and 35, have gone overseas. Deduct that number from the total and you still have 400,000 unmarried men in Canada between the ages of 20 and 35 from whom the choice can be made to make up the number required by this measure. If one-quarter of the unmarried men now in Canada are selected with care and discretion, I believe they could be sent forward without seriously handicapping our industries. It was said the other night by the Minister of Inland Revenue that the quota for Quebec might be 25,000 men. That would be the one-eightieth part of the total population of Quebec. We have already enlisted nearly twice that number in Quebec; I do not believe that it would stop our industries if one-half as many men as have already gone were further sent from our good province.

The enforcement of tnis Act will be in the hands of the Department of Justice. That is one of the departments which we all admit is likely to be the most impartial, the less liable to be influenced by outside motives. A board of selection will be chosen. I "trust that that board of selection will be composed of men representing every section, nationality and class throughout the whole Dominion. I trust that both sides of the House will co-operate in choosing that board. I would suggest that on that board there be representatives of the French-speaking people of Quebec and representatives of organized labour. Further, we should be willing to go outside the House in making up that board of selection. That board will choose half the members of the local boards and the Superior Court judges or their appointees will choose the remaining half. In any event one-half the membership of every local board will be appointed under judicial authority and the other half by a board of selection which this House and the Senate shall name. If there is any method by which greater impartiality can be shown; if members on the opposite side can make any suggestion with a view of making this Act absolutely fair to all concerned, I am sure the Government will accept their suggestions with great pleasure and work them into the Bill. .

During the last two or three months I have been very much interested in watch-

ing the wonderful manner in which our American cousins have gone into this war. It so happened that I was in Washington just before war was declared by the United States, speaking on behalf of the Navy League Fund, and I had opportunities of discussing with the leading naval and military authorities what would be done by the United States in case war was declared. Although the army authorities were strongly in favour of a selective draft system, they were not at all certain that they could secure its ratification by the Senate and House of Representatives. I was, therefore, considerably *surprised when I found that the United States had adopted a measure of conscription by selective draft. They established a law which provided that every man between 21 and 30 should register on June 5. Ten million men throughout the United States registered on that day. They then made the allotment of quotas in the several states, and they are now by ballot drafting what men are needed to make up the first 500,000

The United States had apparently less reason for being interested in this war than had Canada. The United States, like ourselves, have no material profit to make out of this war and are less liable to be ravaged than we are if the Germans should win. Yet, profiting by the experience and mistakes of others, they are taking up their war measures with a wisdom and celerity which cannot be too highly commended.

Last week I was in Worcester and Springfield, Massachussetts, speaking to magnificent audiences in connection with Red Cross Funds. They raised, as you know, $110,000,000 in the United States for this purpose during the past week. I was entertained by a member of Congress in the state of Massachussetts, and I asked him about that registration on the 5th of June. I said: Did you have any trouble with your registration? None whatever, he replied. Did you find any unwillingness on the part of your population to register? None whatever, he said. You have a good many of my fellow-countrymen here; were they willing to register? Every man, he said, registered. When I went to the town of Northampton I was told something that made me feel proud of my country and of the province in which I was born. When the day of registration arrived every Canadian in that town went to mass in the morning. They arranged a procession, with their flags and full regalia. The whole Canadian population of that town went to the registration booth, with

the young men between 21 and 30 in a special platoon by themselves, and every man between those ages registered and is ready and willing, if drafted, to fight overseas in this common cause.

The example of Australia has been cited. That is not a very good example for hon. gentlemen on the other side to cite, because Australia, which has a population about two-thirds that of Canada, up to the first of May, had sent 362,000 men, or one man out of every fourteen. If we had done as well as Australia we should have 'sent 540,000 men and conscription would not as yet be necessary in order to keep up our lines. New Zealand has had conscription for softie time, and has found the measure to work admirably.

The criticism that I believe to be of the greatest weight-the one which appeals to me more than any other-is the criticism that this measure finds our people unprepared for its acceptance. I think that is true. We all admit it; some of us admit it with considerable regret. The people of Canada were not prepared for this announcement. They are not prepared to-day for the acceptance of conscription, but I believe that they will be prepared for.it by the time the law is put into force. We do not realize the enormous changes that each year brings in connection with the war. It is only now sinking into us what this war really means.

- Each year our preconceptions are necessarily changed, and we find ourselves face to face with new conditions. It is my belief tnat the Prime Minister of Canada up to the end of 1916 had no indention or expectation of bringing in a measure of conscription. I believe he was sincere when he said he did not anticipate that that would be necessary. Hpwever, he went over to England and spent two months there. He took part in the Imperial War Council; he visited France and met our own boys at the front; he talked with our generals and considered the whole situation; and knowing him as I dp, I believe that he was persuaded against his will. I know that when he came back to Canada he was convinced that conscription alone would keep up our lines, and therefore the announcement was made.

Things have greatly changed in the last few months. It is not fair to .say, because we were unprepared for conscription six months ago and did not believe it would be necessary in this country, that therefore we are bound not to- have conscription. What has happened? In. the first place

Russia has collapsed. Where we had expected to have the Russian steam roller moving this year with its millions on the eastern front, and .bringing out German reserves to stem it, on the contrary we find that three-quarters of a million Germans have been withdrawn from the Russian front and sent over to France to fight against our forces there. Consequently the demand for reinforcements on the western front is far greater than was anticipated. More than that; it means that the war will not end this year, perhaps not next year, and possibly not the year after that.

There is another unexpected featae which has changed the situation, and that is that the United States have agreed to a measure of conscription. Look at the emigration figures for the last four or five years and you will see that there has been considerable egress of Canadians to the other side. It would have been unwise for Canada to endeavour to pass a measure of conscription while the United States did not have a similar law. It would have meant that a considerable number of people would have slipped over the line, and we would have lost just that number. But with conscription on both sides of the line that is avoided. The introduction of a measure of conscription in the United States has changed the situation heTe and makes it not only possible but advisable for us to have conscription here.

Rut .the main reason for its adoption is the falling off in recruiting. When only 1,200 infantrymen can be recruited in Canada in a single month, and when Oiur casualties for the same period .amount to ten times that number, it makes every thoughtful man pause and say that something must be done. So a new policy has become necessary. The opposition to the measure is to my m.ind largely due to lack of appreciation of the conditions, and that imposes upon every true Canadian the necessity of endeavouring to make the actual situation known, and of meeting differences of opinion fairly by argument, and endeavouring to persuade opponents of the measure to adopt the course which he believes should be taken.

We sometimes hear in this House mention of the conscription o.f wealth. It is not unnatural thalt those who are called upon to send their sons to the front should feel that wealthy men should give handsomely of their money to support the Allied cause. I think I know something about how that general demand originated. Ever since the war began I have been travel [DOT]

ling up and down Canada, talking to people in an endeavour to get them to contribute to the Patriotic Fund. The people of this country have given magnificently, more than $25,000,000 having been contributed for the wives and dependent relatives of our soldiers. But again and again, when I have sat down with some of these patriotic committees and talked of raising large sums of money, they have said: "Yes we will raise the money, but there are one or two men here who will not contribute, and their refusal hinders ns more than anything else." Many princely gifts have been made .since this war began. I want to pay tribute to the men of wealth who have given over and over again in lavish measure. I know men of wealth who are living in the simplest possible manner, giving away as much as they are using-half their incomes. I had breakfast with a gentleman the other morning who has voluntarily given $200,000 since the Wiar began to the various war charities, and he is prepared to give more. Now these men are giving today far more than they would contribute under any form of taxation that the Finance Minister would dare impose upon the people of Canada. He would not take by law one tithe of what some of them are giving voluntarily to-day. Yet there are the exceptions of which I spoke, and if the Minister of Finance can concoot any scheme by which these exceptions can be made to contribute in some way to the war, he will have my vote and heartiest sympathy.

I represent a constituency which is Canada in miniature. I have, in about the same proportion that you will find throughout the Dominion, the various elements which make up our total population. I regard that as one of the happiest circumstances in connection with my parliamentary career, as it gives me an opportunity to understand different points of view and to realize that there are many men who are just as conscientious in their views as I am or anyone else can be. In connection with this measure I shall find it necessary to offend some of these people. It will be my duty to endeavour to explain to them why I feel that this Bill must pass. I shall try to secure harmony by getting them to see the matter as I see it. I would not have the members of this House imagine, because, some irresponsible young men break windows occasionally in Montreal, that we have not free speech in my province. I do not think there is a province in the Dominion where the two sides of a

question are discussed more fairly or more fully than they are at the hustings and on the platforms throughout the province of Quebec. Free speech is not dead, and never will be. I expect to have the opportunity of meeting men whose opinions differ from mine, but I am confident that they will give me a fair hearing and extend to me the same courtesy that I should receive if I were speaking for the very cause which they themselves represent. I have represented for the last twenty years men whose views differ from my own, and I have yet to be treated for the first time with discourtesy, or not allowed a fair hearing.

In a newspaper I picked up the other day I saw a recommendation that Quebec should be exempted from this Bill. I venture to say that if any one should have the temerity to introduce into this House a resolution to exempt Quebec from this Bill, every French Canadian in the House would vote against it. Our people are a proudspirited race. They may use every constitutional method of opposing what they do not endorse, but they do not wish to be classed with any specially exempted peoples.

I am opposed to a referendum because I think even after a referendum we should be no further ahead than we were before. I hope the Government will pass this Bill and that the Opposition and every member of this House will assist in every possible way to make it the most workable Bill possible. Personally I should be glad to see an opportunity given for the electorate to speak before the Bill is put into force, but that is my individual opinion. I believe that this Bill will pass this House and that when the need is realized and the conditions are understood, the measure will be accepted by the country. I believe that when it has passed this House and been accepted by a majority in the country, it will he obeyed by every class of our community.

M. C. A. GAUVREAU (Terniscouata) (Translation): Mr. Speaker, it is now twenty years that I have been sitting in this Parliament of Canada, and never before have we been confronted with so important, I should say so poignant, a measure as the bill introduced by the Prime Minister of Canada, to be known aS: The Military Service Act of 1917. He might just as well have entitled it the Conscription law, had he not feared to impress somewhat too vividly the imagination of the people of this country.

For twenty years, with my colleagues in this House, some of them vanished long ago, the others still around me,. I have witnessed the slow but progressive evolution of our country's politics, written every day, politics which our children will study later on, which we ourselves have studied before 1896, some of us to learn the great lessons of the past, the others to find therein inspiration and foresight, whilst arming ourselves for future struggles.

For twenty years I have witnessed in this House some memorable struggles, placing in now and then my humble speech, but always with a sincere desire of aiding to solve the great problems offered by the moral, industrial, religious and social development of a nation in course of formation and which asserts itself as the years pass by.

I have taken part in the debates upon important question, such as: the schools of Manitoba, the National Transcontinental, the Quebec bridge enterprise, Canada's participation in the South African war, Lau-rier's naval bill, reciprocity, the schools of Keewatin and the bilingual question. These questions have been the most important [DOT]raised in this House, but, Mr. Speaker, none of them has ever been as momentous or as grave as the one which we are called upon to discuss to-day.

I understand that the war has given rise to new problems which have not only set athinking the great statesmen of Europe, but have given much concern to the statesmen of both political paities in this country, alike interested.

On August 4, 1914, when war was declared, Canada felt that she was perhaps at the turning point in her history, on a new road, and after three years of conflict, after three years of an atrocious and desolating war which makes Europe bleed, where perhaps, before long, we may see jn France and in-Belgium as many crosses on heroes' graves as we can see soldiers yet standing to defend Liberty's cause, we are asking ourselves what are we to do? That is the very question I am also asking myself.

In the first place, I ask myself : should we have taken part in this war? Without any hesitation, I answer yes. One day, iMr. Speaker, the hon. leader of the Opposition JSir Wilfred Laurier) stated in this House: that when England is at war, Canada is alike at war-which was not understood by a large portion of our population.

A certain school of thought that is well known, has made it its study to -stir up the province of Quebec against the Liberal party

and its leader, with what success everybody knows. But events as they unfolded have nobly vindicated our revered leader, as the very same words that he has uttered have also fallen from the lips of princes of the Church and from the mouth of eminent members of the hierarchy and of political men of both parties in our province.

Was it our duty to participate in this war? I unhesitatingly say yes. How were we to co-operate in this great work? Were we bound to participate in it to the fulness of our resources? Had we to take part in it, even at the risk of bankruptcy for Canada, as was stated at the outbreak of war, by the hon. solicitor general i(Mr. Meighgn)? I have the greatest respect for the opinion of the hon. Solicitor General, but I do not share his views in that regard, nor can I bring myself to believe in and endorse sucn principle, because, as the saying goes, "well ordained charity begins at home." Should we take part in this war to our last man and to our last dollar? This doctrine has been advocated in this House by honest and sincere men. Sir, I respect honest and sincere men who have the courage of their convictions, but I cannot subscribe to such a doctrine and I claim for my convictions the respectful consideration which should always be granted to conscientious opinions. '

New, Sir, what were we to do? What we had to do, was to help Great Britain and the Allies in winning this war, to render all the assistance in our power, by any reasonable means at our command, in supplying such essentials for the successful pursuit of war operations as military man power, money, munitions and produce of the farm.

As to military man power, I shall deal with it later on.

As to farm produce, the tillers of the soil have resolutely set to work, thus showing that in that way not only could they help the Allies but that they might perhaps, some day, come to the assistance of the country, by preventing the gaunt specter of starvation stalking over Canadian highways.

Now, as to military man-power, Sir, we had to raise, recruits. But under what system? Could recruiting be carried on under any other method than the voluntary sys-. tern? It never occurred to or entered the mind of any man in Canada that troops could be levied in Canada, for the defence of the Empire, under any other system than voluntary enlistment? Such is the policy and the wording of the Act. The fathers of

Confederation never contemplated anything else, as witness this enactment in the Act: " Should ever conscription take place, it will be for the defence of the country, and whenever troops are sent outside of Canada, it will also be for the defence of the country." Should my statement be questioned, I need only cite the very statement made by the former Minister of Militia (Sir Sam Hughes), quoted by my hon. friend from Kamouraska (Mr. Lapointe), when he said that he could not read in the law that he had any authority to ask Parliament to allow troops other than volunteers to leave the country for the defence of England, except under such provisions as were made later on.

Should any doubt?, still be entertained on that score, Sir, I would invoke the despatch sent by the Duke of Connaught to the Secretary of State for the Colonies:

Should we still harbour any doubts, they ought to be dispelled in face of the despatch that was sent which has been read to the House. How did voluntary enlistment work? Some say that it has been successful, while others say that it has been a failure.

- For my part I say this, that in the province of Quebec, the voluntary system has not been given fair play nor such full scope as it should have had.

I was surprised to hear the statement made in this House the other night by the hon. member for North Oxford (Mr. Nesbitt) in connection with recruiting in the province of Ontario.

I was surprised to hear the hon. gentleman state that but for the patriotic action of the Ontario people, at a time when the Government were doing absolutely nothing, there would have occurred considerable delay in the sending of troops overseas, while they were fighting like blazes around the table of the Privy Council about contracts to be let, the people of the province of Ontario were paying out of their pocket; they were busy organizing regiments and paying for their equipment. Meanwhile, men with a dismal countenance were seen prowling about the Privy Council and the Parliament buildings, awaiting an opportunity for hearing when they could grasp the fat contract which would allow them to pocket enormous sums of money.

This reminds me of a picture of the epic wars of the past, when, in the wake of great armies', vultures and ravens were often to be seen, on the watch for an opportunity to spring upon and lacerate their first victim, a soldier fallen on the battle field. Now, allow me, Sir, to give you an idea of

the kind of voluntary enlistment that has been carried on throughout the province of Quebec. In my opinion, Sir, the voluntary-system could have worked wonders in the province of Quebec, had it been entrusted to men conversant with the mentality of the two great races in our country. Quebec could have supplied Great Britain and the Allies with all the troops such a self-governing colony as Canada could send across the ocean, for the defence of the most sacred rights of the nations trodden under foot by the barbarians of 1870, by the spoliators and assassins of 1914, and the baby-killers of 1917. Our fellow countrymen would have volunteered in larger numbers had the Government taken the necessary means but, as a matter of fact, they were first and last an out and out party Government. They were determined to prosecute the business of 'the war in their own way, so as to get all the credit for the winning of the war. They have made everything subservient to patronage, to political favoritism, by debarring the Liberals from any important post or office. Quebec was slighted and passed over, as if it were a negligible quantity in Confederation. They did not show themselves able to select, for recruiting, men who would have appealed to the heart of the people and won them over to the cause of enlistment by warning them against neglecting to answer the call of duty at this tragic hour for humanity and the liberties of the world.

As a consequence, our people, apparently it may be, did not display as much enthusiasm as the other races in this country, and what with the revival of the ill-feeling of old against the papacy, and with the memories of the frictions of the past between French and English springing up again in the mind of the sons of the former conquerors and the sons of those who were conquered-without having been so conquered, strictly speaking-there arose a premeditated conspiracy, which was even encouraged, as the sequel of a policy which will be termed by the future historian as nefarious to the best interests of Canada, in short, Sir, a policy in pursuance of which, the province of Quebec was branded as guilty of disloyalty. The province of Quebec guilty of disloyalty forsooth! the French Canadians a disloyal people indeed! But, Sir, our history, from the days of the conquest down to Confederation gives the most unqualified lie to such a statement.

They say that our people did not enlist in sufficient numbers. How could you expect recruiting in Quebec to have been as active and as successful as elsewhere, to quote the

eloquent remarks of my hon. friend from Kamouraska (Mr. E. Lapointe), in face of the slanderous campaign carried on against them and in view of the insults heaped upon the province?

Now, allow me, Sir, to give you a sample of the statements and editorials that appear in the press:

Let us have conscription, anyhow, and have civil war if necessary, has been the argument of the extremists. We have got to have war sometime to teach Quebec that Canada is an English speaking protestant country, not to be dominated by a single priest-ridden province. And we may as well have it now when we are armed for the fighting in Europe. We can let our loyal troops of Ontario and the Western provinces stop in Quebec on their way to Europe long enough to practice on the French Canadians as a part of their training for handling Germans.

Mr. Speaker, let me ask the hon gentlemen opposite what would be their feelings if they were in the place of the French Canadians and subjected to such insults as are being launched against them? Would they not boil with anger on being thus insulted and vilified and if they did not carry things to extremes, I confess, I am unable to form a picture of English mentality.

Sir, when the hon. member for St. John (Mr. Pusgley) alluded, the other day, to the editorial I have just quoted, hon. gentlemen were heard laughing and jeering.

As I mused on that incident, I though how strange was the mental make-up of some our fellow-countrymen. Better tha'n ever I understood, Sir, what kind of political jetsam is -drifting into this Parliament, on the waves of fanaticism, lashed into fury since 1911 in the English-speaking provinces and particularly in the province of Ontario.

Quebec, they say, did not answer the call of duty; they have not enlisted. Things have gone to such lengths, Sir, that a newspaper which does not sympathize with us, Liberals, La Patrie of Montreal, the organ of the hon. minister of Electioneering, has published the following editorial. Kindly allow me, Sir, to read that editorial which is not lengthy but very interesting. I should like some hon. gentlemen , on the other side of the House to understand it and I hope a translation of it will appear in Hansard:

The French Canadians in the armies.

An official return which has just been brought down in the House of Commons shows that 14,245 French Canadians have enlisted to serve in the British army. Troughout the Dominion, 125,245 English Canadians have enlisted, while 155,095 British born have enlisted in the Canadian expeditionary forces.

These figures do not justify the reproaches, nay, the injuries, which certain newspapers of

175i

Ontario and elsewhere have with so much persistency flung in the face of the French Canadians of the province of Quebec.

The French Canadians' contribution to the defence of Canada and of the Empire should not be regarded as a contemptible one, so much the less that France, England and the Canadian army's chief commanding officers have on more than one occasion declared that no soldiers had shown more dauntless courage, more resourcefulness and more endurance than the French Canadians.

These official figures do not establish the fact that the French Canadians, in proportion to their numbers in the Dominion, have furnished as many recruits as the Canadians of English origin. And we know before hand that it is from that point of view they will be considered by^those organs which are only looking for a new opportunity to slander the province of Quebec and the French Canadian race. Vet, that is a false and unjust way of looking at it. It is no more proper to upbraid the French Canadians for not having enlisted in as large, numbers as their fellow citizens of English descent, than it would be to accuse our English compatriots in this country beoause they did: not enlist in as large numbers as the British born Canadians.

In both cases, one must consider the circumstance, as pointed out by our local contemporary The Gazette.

The presence of fourteen thousand young Frenoh Canadians in the oversea contingents, says our confrere, should make an impression upon those who criticise their race. Our Frenchspeaking fellow citizens in certain parts of the country have received less encouragement to enlist than those who are English-speaking; lately, they received no encouragement at all. Reproaches are no incentive.

Moreover, as enlistment was voluntary, it necessarily follows that no one had the right to blame our jirovince, whatever might be the numbers of our fellow' citizens answering the call.

On the whole, and under the particular circumstances offered here, as well as the irritating pressure made by the other provinces, the province of Quebec is far from having any reason to blush for the share it has taken in national defence.

Unbiassed opinion, when passions will have ceased to affect our English-speaking fellow citizens, will bear evidence to the fact that it has admirably behaved.

I will leave this clipping from La Patrie of Montreal to the meditation of my friends on the other side of the House.

Not only, Mr. Speaker, was it stated that we had not enlisted, but the most odious campaign imaginable was started against the French language in the province of Ontario. I will only refer to it to state that this irritating question has had some importance in Quebec; the rights of the French language have been ostracized to substitute the German in the schools of Ontario.

Now, Mr Speaker, to this iniquitous persecution and to insults of every kind, they have attempted to add the vilest calumnies. I intend to refer to the most deplorable

incidents which, have happened, just whilst the French Canadians of the province of Quebec were doing even more than their best to show their sympathy to the soldiers crossing the province. I will mention the case of Fraserville, which is in the county of Temiscouata. When the trains full of soldiers passed through this locality, the ladies and the citizens of Fraserville would go to the station and give the boys cigarettes and other dainties. What was their reward? The most infamous accusations from the province of Ontario and, sometimes, even insults from the soldiers themselves.

A few days ago, the hon. member for Saskatoon (Mr. MoCraney) spoke of that bad father who gave his children stones when they were begging for bread. Did not the same thing happen in the province of Quebec, as the soldiers passed through it, when the citizens of Fraserville were insulted for having shown their sympathy? When this question was raised in this House, the right hon. leader of the Opposition was eager to have an investigation and it was granted to him.

The hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. Bureau) has given, last evening, the findings of that inquiry; that the people of the province of Quebec are exonerated of all offences charged, is the summing up of it all, and I was not surprised to learn that it was the very behaviour of the soldiers themselves that had occasioned those incidents, and that they had been prompted to such excesses, beyond measure, by the perusal of inflammatory editorials, daily published by the Ontario newspapers about the province of Quebec.

I would ask the Prime Minister to be kind enough to have a special copy of this report made and to address it to the member for Dufferin (Mr. Best) for the trouble he went to in laying before the House the charges I have just alluded to.

As he was acting, undoubtedly under the inspiration of a sincere desire to aid the union of races in this country, that copy of the report will be most valuable for him, especially so when a good Liberal will have beaten him, as he deserves it, in his constituency.

There is, in this country, a man who, more than any other one probably, has tried, by his' articles, unjust as well as abusive, against the province of Quebec, to break up the union and the ' bonne entente' between the two races in this Dominion,

and who, more than any other, has sought to abet the English provinces against the French province of Quebec, by his writings, so violent that they exceeded the limits of decency and of honesty.

This man, 'Sir, is called John Willison, of Toronto. Not the John Willison who has written the admirable life of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, but the John Willison whom the Government of this country has had the weakness of recommending to our King to be knighted and who, to-morrow, perhaps, may be raised to the Senate by these gentlemen, for having overtopped by the full height of his narrow head the tallest detractors of the French race in this country. For men of John Willison's caliber, there is only one thing to do: To the wall! after Joffre's laconic but splendid expression!

We were living almost in peace before that. Our race has known the gloomy days of defeat; it has suffered the military yoke after the conquest; it has had the bloody hours of the rebellion of 1837-38, and when the Confederation at last melted into one Dominion the provinces of Canada, Quebec began to breathe more freely, having the idea that the British flag would be her best protection. Reverting with still greater energy to the tilling of her bountiful soil, she witnessed the growth, development and increasing influence of her peaceful population, obedient to the laws, respectful of order, of the civilian and religious authority which had always been her best safeguard. But Mr, Speaker, in the year 1909 at the very announcement of a naval policy, of a new scheme for a Canadian navy for the defence of the coasts of Canada, as well as to go to the assistance of the Empire in times of danger, after the Canadian government had so decreed it, we had seen, in the province of Quebec, men rise and the populous centers through the townships and the remotest concessions, and cry: "That means your own participation in the war. If you vote for Laurier's navy, it will be for England to whom we owe nothing, for England who is obliged to protect us and to defend us." I was then asked that Laurier be put out of power, because that would be so they said, the only way to prevent that nefarious measure becomng the_law of the country.

Everybody knows, Mr. Speaker, -the re' suit of the Drummond-Arthabaska election, and then, September 21, 1911, the Borden party at the helm, with the Nationalists at their side, and since then, it has been Im-

perialism everywhere and before anything else, it has been the dreadnoughts at a cost of $35,000,000 of which the Liberal Senate has fortunately rid us, in the very interest of England and of the present war, as events themselves have demonstrated it to all on both sides of the ocean. War was let loose on the world in August 1914. Canada got into the war from the moment England did, nobly and valiantly, declare war, that, in honour and in justice, she must respect her pledged word and her signature affixed to solemn agreements.

It is here that the history of our participation in the war becomes interesting and discloses novel aspects as to our position in the Empire.

' What should we do for the Empire and

.the Allies and how far were we to go in the sacrifice of men and of money, as our contribution to this grand work for the defeat of German autocracy? England never expected from us more- than 150,000 men; the balance being unattached, were to remain on the land, in order to produce what was needed for the Allies as well as for the people of Canada, and the others should be employed in the making of war ammunition. But, Mr, Speaker, one fine morning as if he had suddenly awakened from a nightmare, the premier of this country, without consulting anybody, without consulting neither his colleagues nor Parliament. said to England: "Canada offers you

500.000 men."

What did we do, Mr. Speaker? We accepted the situation just as it was in the province of Quebec. The leader of the Opposition and his lieutenants, such as the hon. member for Rouville (Mr. Lemieux) and the hon. member for Kamouraska and almost all the Liberal members of the province of Quebec, made it a point to tell their constituents that they should do their utmost for the defence of the Empire; we called public meetings. For my own part, Mr. Speaker, I have held meetings in my county-I have held several-it is true that I spoke against the Government, it is true that I denounced autocracy, it is true that I denounced robberies and plunders, but, Mt. Speaker, I had the courage to tell my electors: "This is a just war, it is almost a holy war, it is almost a crusade, and you must do your duty, ever without restraint, without being compelled by anybody." Mr. Speaker, we did go through our parishes and we told our electors to enlist. .

Thank God! the Liberals of the province of Quebec are not preachers of disloyalty.

we leave that to the people who, during the Dorchester election, told the voters: "If conscription is adopted, just cross the boundary." We do not belong to that class of people.

To those who could not enlist, we said: "Contribute money to the Patriotic Fund."

I am glad to see here present the hon. member for St.Antoine (Sir Herbert Ames). He knows that at Riviere-du-Loup, we have a branch office of the Patriotic Fund which operates from Montmagny as far as Gaspe.

I have the honour to be its president and the hon. member fo* Kamouraska is one of its members. There, we applied ourselves, from the outbreak of the wax, to provide for the needs and comforts of the wives of the soldiers who had been sent overseas. It will not be a matter for surprise if I say that, at the present moment, we are paying, if I am not mistaken, $1,200 per month to the wives and children of our soldiers who have gone to the front.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, we were urging, all along, our people to enlist and we always understood that there was no necessity for conscription.

The hon. member for Rouville did not need conscription to give his only son to the force which will soon cross overseas. My hon. friend, the member for Bagot (Mr. Marcile), has given his two sons and he did not require conscription and, if I wanted to make a personal reference, I would say, Mr. Speaker, I have not waited for conscription to give my eldest son. He is with the British fleet which perhaps saved the Allies, with that British fleet which may perchance be the one factor to ensure final victory to the forces fighting under the Allies' banners.

If the honourable minister of Marine (Mr. Hazen) were here, I would ask him if, a fortnight ago, the second of the sons whom Providence has given me did-not request from him his entrance in the navy to go on patrol duty along the coasts of Nova Scotia, and the third, the last one, who has just, completed his education, would go and join his brothers, if he was not so weak; and I would be glad of it, Mr. Speaker, and do you know why? Not only to defend Canada and the Empire, not only to do his duty as a citizen, but to show to the people of Ontario that in the province of Quebec we are no cowards and that we know how to perform our duty without any admonition to do so.

Then, why conscription? Is there any necessity for it, Mr. Speaker? I answer straight forward: No. Why? For me, Mr. Speaker, volunteering has demonstrated that, with

oomm6ns

more discrimination, there would have been a superabundance of recruits.

By sending over 400,000 men to the front. Canada has even exceeded the number that England expected from us, and/ it is more than our conditions warranted us to send, if we consider our daily requirements. If, with the sending of troops, conscription of wealth in this country had been immediately decreed, there would have been no occasion for our sending over these 100,000 ox more extra men, whom conscription is intended, to wrest from us to the detriment of Canada's economic organization.

And what, Mr. Speaker, of the disturbance which this measure cannot fail to create in our national life, of the trouble it will stir up, of the bitterness it will cause between the races inhabiting the country, of the misfortunes which will endure for years and years to come? For all these reasons and for many others mentioned by the speakers who have preceded me, I say that conscription has no justification and that is should never have been submitted to this House and to. the country.

If the Prime Minister of Canada had risen above his desire of extricating his country from the difficulties which five years of maladministration have created for himself and for his colleagues; if he had devoted the energies of all those around him as well as of his fellow-workers, to the success of the cause of the Empire and of its allies, instead of trying to secure to his. Government a longer lease of life; had he listened to the suggestions of Canadian patriotism, instead of catering to the wishes of unscrupulous and scheming politicians, Canada would have with her 400,000 men and her immense natural wealth, enormously aided the cause whose final success we all have at heart, and to-day the gaunt spectre of conscription, would not be looming over our national life, at a critical moment, to undo all that we have heretofore accomplished for England and for Canada.

Some statements of the hon. member for St. Hyacinthe (Mr. Gauthier) have shocked hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House. What has he said that was so unusual? He stated to the Prime Minister of this country: If you want to force conscription without the consent of the people, we shall find a means of defending ourselves; we shall fight the Bill with the Bill itself. Has he said that we have done too much for England? Has he said that we ought to cease sending our men to the front? He only stated: We live in a free country; we want to hear the voice of the people and if you

are to force this measure through as autocrats would do, we shall resist. How? We will protect ourselves by means of this very Bill. The hon. member from St. Hyacinthe has warned the Prime Minister against what would happen if this measure was enforced. He told him that there might be tears and wailing. T,he right hon. gentleman has been well cautioned and forewarned means forearmed. The hon. member is certainly a good political opponent, having warned the Prime Minister that should conscription be forced upon the people without their consent, it would create indignation and ill-feeling all over the country. Some people will wash their hands of this whole affair, hut the responsibility will be laid at the door of the Prime Minister.

Has the hon. member from St. Hyacinthe gone any further than Sir Edward Carson who threatened to rise up in arms against his King, [DOT] should an attempt be made to force Home Rule upon Ulster?

Has he gone further than the labour unions who in a solemn convention stated that they opposed conscription by all available means? Is not the resignation of the former Secretary of State another warning to the Prime Minister?

The right hon. gentleman intends to enforce conscription in spite of all. I leave the responsibility with him. But there is this to be said: if the hon. member for St. Hyacinthe is to be blamed for having spoken his mind, for having told the truth, for my part I congratulate him and I shall tell the House that had he not done so, the member from Temiscouata would have said so. Even had I been alone, I would have so stated.

I would not like to be disagreeable to the hon. member from Kent (Mr. Kobidoux), but I deny him the right to cast censure on my hon. friend from St. Hyacinthe. The hon. member from Kent has his hands full justifying his attitude in the House; let him be satisfied with that. My hon. friend from St. Hyacinthe has been brave enough to speak his mind in the House, that is to state the plain truth. Has the hon. member from Kent voiced the opinion of those he is supposed to represent here? I do not think so. A short visit to his constituency might have convinced him that the Acadian people, the major part of them, are not of the same mind as he is. It may be that on the horizon of his brief political life he has gazed upon the big reward which would enable him to live happily during the remainder of his life. I will give him advice by the way. Let him hurry up before the election, because if

he does not get it before, I do not hesitate to say that he will be disappointed. The result of the election in New Brunswick shows which way the wind is beginning to blow, not only here, but in other parts, which have suprises in store'.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

In the West also.

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LIB

Charles Arthur Gauvreau

Liberal

Mr. GAUVREAU:

Now, Mr. Speaker, I come to another question. I cannot close my remarks without attending to the hon. member from Red Deer (Mr. Clark) who said yesterday in his address exactly what we expected him to say. He has been true to himself. Let me tell him that his remarks and his brutal attack upon Sir Wilfrid Lau-rier have not fallen on stony ground and that they shall bear fruit in the future. There is one sure thing it is that some insults are too vile to reach the serene spheres where the leader of the liberal party holds sway. It is strange how some people have but to go over the interprovincial bridge to become experts in the act of throwing mud upon all those who surpass them by all their glorious past, their honest conscience and their magnificent record as statesmen.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier may well rest in peace. Pigmies have never harmed giants, neither in politics nor even when conscription is spoken of. The hon. member has gone so far as to insult the province of Quebec. He did so, I shall not say, in the German style, but in that Teutonic style which characterizes him. He spoke of the lamb of the province of Quebec, meaning no doubt the emblematic lamb which we have in our national pageants during the St. John the Baptist festivities.

His intention no doubt was to reward those who had welcomed him so enthusiastically and who had feasted him in the old city of Champlain when he had gone to address them.

Mr. Speaker, I shall tell him, hoping that he will read my remarks, that there are lambs that are not easily shorn and that he and his new confederates might learn it at their own expense and sooner than they expect should they try to force conscription upon an unwilling people.

Before concluding, Sir, I would like to say a few words about the amendment to the amendment submitted by the hon. member from Berthier. Really, people should not care much about it for it is a farce, as the hon. member from St. Hyacinthe has so justly termed it. The trick is easily detected so much so that its author is soon found out. The right hon. Prims Minister stated in this Hodse that the Government herd not heard

of it. He would not swear though that some member of his Government had no part in it.

It is held somewhere, Mr. Speaker, that by voting for the amendment to the amendment submitted by the hon. member from Berthier, we are striking at the very root of the Bill. I do not think so. The six months' hoist would leave too many chances of a revival, while by referring the Bill to the people, it would not be heard of in this country, for all ages to come, when the people would have voted upon it and crushed it, as I believe they would do.

The amendment to the amendment is the exact counterpart of the petitions which have been sent to the hon. member and laid upon the Table of the House. What do those petitions say? That this nefarious Bill be not passed by the Parliament until it i3 submitted to the people by means of a referendum or an election. The hon. member from Berthier moves that the Bill be read this day six months. He is not serious; he has played his hand badly. I do not know whether he holds the joker or the blank card, but his hand is no good for the people hold all the trump cards and mind what I say, Sir, they shall win the game.

That is why I will vote against the conscription Bill with the full force of my convictions which I hold to be sincere for they are an heirloom from the past, from our history, from our situation within the Empire and from the requirements of the hour.

I shall vote first against the amendment to the amendment submitted by the hon. member from Berthier because, as I said, it is a farce, a clumsy snare laid for honest Liberals. We will not be entrapped.

I shall vote against the first and second reading of the Bill, because I want the people to have their say first, and should the amendment of our honoured leader be defeated, as it may be, then I shall oppose with the utmost energy the second and thirl readings, knowing beforehand that should this Bill be put upon the statute books of Canada and should it be attempted afterwards to enforce it disorders would ensue the disastrous results of which, not only for Confederation but for peace so desirable at this moment cannot be estimated at present.

I entreat the Prime Minister not to go any further with his conscription Bill, but to pause before plunging this country in the turmoil of conflict denunciations and all accompanying evils, and to accept rather thi amendment submitted by the right hon. leader of the Opposition. While thus entreating him, I will make mine the words spoken by the late Joseph Adolphe Chapleau

during a memorable epoch of his life and say: Then silence [he sectarians ana the

irreconcilables and let the powerful voice of the people be heard by means of a referendum."

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CON

Herménégilde Boulay

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. H. BOULAY (Rimouski) (translation) :

Mr. Speaker, at last we have reached one of the most solemn stages in our colonial history, namely, our formal and forcible participation in the wars of the Empire.

Notwithstanding the outcry of the newspapers and in spite of the solemn promises of many distinguished public men that there would be no conscription in this country, the Prime Minister, after offering 500,000 men, after going to England to be sure that conditions were urgent, comes back with a most outspoken and most foreboding statement, saying that he had made up his mind to enforce conscription. Universal rejoicing among the disabled and the exempted but sneers and gnashings among those who are liable to conscription.

It is not a source of great pleasure to me to have to-day to address the House and the country on a subject such as this; but the hour is a solemn one, and I am bound to make my views.

We are opposing conscription for different reasons which deserve consideration:

1. Because our traditions, our constitution, our status as a colony are opposed to it;

2. Because we have already sent overseas to help the Allies a sufficient number of men considering our population and our financial means;

3. Because the (mandate which we received from the people in 1911 does not enable as to enact such a measure, especially without beforehand consulting the people;

4. Because we are not as fairly dealt with as we should be by the English speaking majority in this country, and because a feeling has been created by the Liberal party in 1896, and by ourselves in 1911, in opposition to the levying of troops of any kind. I may add that this measure is contrary to our traditions, because we "have a responsible Government in this country. Our representative public men, whenever we were called upon to legislate on questions of war, a militia bill, or amendments thereto, have always expressed the view that Canada could not send her troops outside the country, except, and exclusively, for the purpose of its own defence. I remember distinctly that, in 1885, in connection with the Nile expedition, the British government applied to Sir John A.

Macdonald, then premier of Canada, for troops to help her in that war, and what was his answer? He said: we are ready to send volunteers, on the condition you will pay all the expenses. True, Sir John A. Macdonald did not profess the imperialistic views which are current to-day. He was as broad-minded a statesman as our present politicians, but never did he think of enacting conscription. It was left to this school born of the imperialistic, religious and political fanaticism, to make a display of the principles which have been boomed in this country after the demise of that great statesman, to drive us into the vortex of militarism, to promise every aid possible to England, as Laurier did in 1897 and subsequently at public meetings in England, thus paving the way for the Transvaal expedition, and later on enacting the militia act of 1904, a stepping stone to this measure of compulsion.

I have just mentioned the Militia Act of 1904. I will humbly submit that we do not need ia new compulsory measure to enable us to raise all the troops which we wish to send overseas. Section 69 of that Act clearly says:

The Governor in Council may place the Militia, or any part thereof, on active service, anywhere in Canada, and beyond Canada, for the defence thereof, at any time when it appears advisable so to do by reason of emergency.

On this point I am at one with the hon. ex-minister of Militia (Sir Sam Hughes), and the hon. Solicitor 'General (Mr. Meighen) and many others. The Act of 1904 provides for the sending of troops outside of Canada, and who among the hon. members of the Opposition .at that time .occupying seats in this House, voiced .a protest. The hon. member from Rouville (Mr. Lemieux) was here, and I 'believe also Mr. Henri Bourassa the member for Labelle. Sir Frederick Borden might well have taken another view. Mr. Henri Bourasa writes:

Half a century after confederation, the Prime Minister of Canada, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, accepts the principle: When England is at war, Canada is also at war. His conclusion is that Canada must assume " all the responsibilities of a nation," and, agreeing with his colleague, Mr. Fielding, fastens upon the Parliament of the colony the creation of a fleet, " Canadian in time of peace but Imperial in time of war," in order to support England in all her conflicts " just or injust." '

The Canadian ministers at the time concluded with the Imperial authorities an agreement which places, in time of war, the naval forces of Canada at the disposal of a Government whose policy and action completely escape the control and the votes of the Canadian people. Their successors, the Conservative ministers, strike more directly and more decisively at the

principles laid down half a century ago: they had adopted by this House a Bill granting a contribution to the Imperial navy, over which the Canadian Government exert no authority - whatever. Later on, when this war broke out, the two parties joined hands in destroying at their very foundation the principles unanimously accepted in 1851, in 1854 and 1862, as the only principles in agreement with the British constitution and the relationship in vogue between the mother country and the colonies. They assert the obligation of Canada to take part in a war absolutely foreign to us; they raise a greater army than Wellington had at Waterloo; they put the whole burden of that army upon Canada, and yet they give to the Imperial authorities its absolute command and use.

We carriej on the electoral campaign of 1911 with the slogan that we should not take any part in the wfars of England, and up to that time we were right. We did not foresee /at that time the present conflict in which we /are fighting more for ourselves than for England or France, notwithstanding all claims to the contrary. We have a direct interest, and even if

However, can we ask England to be grateful for all that we are doing? Can we expect to he reimbursed of the millions of dollars we are spending for troops and munitions, in 'any other way that mere thanks from the high politicians and their newspapers? Judging from the experience of the past, we may unhesitatingly answer: no.

We will not even be consulted when the treaty of peace will be made at the end of this terrible war in which we are taking part, and the platonic thanks which we will receive then will be the only compensation we will get for the extraordinary imperialistic wave which is rolling just now over the country, and which brought Sir Robert Borden, without consulting the great bulk of its friends, to involve us in the present war, and finally to force upon ns this extraordinary conscription bill which means the destruction of our (autonomy and the complete overthrow of our political ideas of the past.

I contend that we have enlisted .a sufficient number of men by the voluntary system, and that it would at least be well to continue in the same ways. We have enlisted over

400,000 men, /and considering our population of not much over 7,000,000, it is a fine achievement. We are told that the French

Canadians have not contributed their quota. It is a well known fact that French Canadians, all horn in Canada, have enlisted by hundreds and by thousands in the English regiments in the West, at the very opening of the war. Under our own eyes here, in Ottawa, French Canadians from Hull and the surrounding counties have been enlisted in Ontario battalions. Notwithstanding any ill-feeling entertained towards them, they were sought as recruits, on account of their splendid qualities.

If French Canadians are so guilty, so indifferent and so cowardly, how is it that we cannot get from the department of Militia the exact information we have been seeking for two years past as to the number of French Canadians enlisted to date, and *also the number of American citizens and foreigners which have come from England by hundreds, for the very purpose of enlisting in the Canadian forces right at the beginning of the war, because our pay to the soldiers was/ higher than that in England? That is well known to the officials of Quebec harbour and also to the citizens of that city.

But we have only to read the mournful daily lists of casualties since the beginning. of the war, to see that thousands of soldiers have given the address of their next of kin in the British Islands. Let us deduct these men from, those born in this country and the proportion of our detractors' friends will be considerably reduced. Let us also look over the figures of the census of 1911, and we will see that in each -of the western 'and Ontario provinces, hundreds of thousands of immigrants have enthusiastically enlisted in the first months of the war, glad *as they were, not only to show their loyalty to motherland, bnt also to find ,a good opportunity to return to their country, there being no longer any work for them in Canada on account of the cessation of railway construction. Many of them were without work in the streets /of our cities, in Edmonton and .all over the West. I remember that during the winter of 1914, 'western papers *announced that five thousand men were without work in the streets of Edmonton only. In order to find the number of citizens born in this Country, in each of the provinces of Canada, .and the number of the foreign born, let ns open the census of 1011, which gives the following figures: in the four western provinces, out of a total population of 1,715,189; we find that 870,051, more than half, are born in English countries or elsewhere. Is it not reasonable and logical that those foreigners, most of them

without any ties in Canada should have been the first to enlist for the reasons previously stated.

Ontario boasts of having sent 176.,000 men. Here again, let us refer to the census of 1911, and what do we find? That Ontario had at that time-it is probably much higher now, six years later-708,127 men over twenty-one years of age from a total population of 2,423,274 (pages 457 and 458, vol. 2), whereas' Quebec, with a population of 2,003,232 inhabitants, had only 476,666 men over the age of twenty-one a difference of 226,461 or 50 per cent in the total male population of the two provinces. If the ' same proportion is established for the male population between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, 15,000 more men are to be added to the male population of Ontario, and that would give that province a male population of at least 241,000 over that of Quebec. If Ontario, according to the reports brought down, has enlisted, to date, 176,000 men, that is not in due proportion to her surplus male population over Quebec.

- Besides, it is not to my knowledge that a single man from Ontario has enlisted in a Quebec regiment, whereas it has been quite different with us, as I have already explained. And again, what are the conditions in Ontario? In 1911, that province had a foreign born population of 407,829, whereas the foreign born population of Quebec was 146,533. Then, as stated by the hon. member for North Grey >(Mr. Middlebro) on the 20th June, (see Hansard, page 2617) the province of Quebec has given 44,000 men. My impression is that this last figure may be accepted as giving a fairly accurate idea of the number of French Canadians that have enlisted. It is quite ridiculous to speak of 7,000 or even 15,000 when we had

2.000 men in the first expeditionary force alone, and when we know that at least

2.000 French Canadians from the three counties of Bimouski, Bonaventure and Gaspe have enlisted. Moreover Quebec is essentially an agricultural country and our large lumber industry is carried on exclusively by male labourers, whereas in a great number of the industries of Ontario woman labour can replace man labour, so here again, the situation is quite different in the two provinces.

To establish the soundness of such statements, we have not only the census to rely upon. As we all know, the French families of Quebec are much larger, and, even with an equal total population, we

could yet have fewer men subject to military service. This difference of 241,000 or 50 per cent in the male population between Ontario and Quebec, in 1911, and a difference of only 25 per cent in the total population, proves beyond the possibility of a doubt the correctness- of our calculations. In the face of the above figures that cannot be disputed, I maintain that those who for the last two years have made themselves the slanderers of the province of Quebec are engaging in an unpatriotic campaign, are fomenting disunion and hate between the two great races of this country and are performing a work well calculated to cool the ardour of the most enthusiastic among us.

It is painful for any man to have to disprove unjust accusations. But what must be painful for the individual is much more so in the case of a whole race.

As long as the attacks and the slanders were confined to that dirty sheet called The Orange Sentinel and the members of the section, we were content with despising our traducers. But during the last few years, the most violent attacks emanating from the inveterate enemies of our creed and our race have been re-echoed by important newspapers in the English provinces. If I had not a clear conscience, I would not utter a single word in defence, but knowing that the French Canadians are wrongly accused, I feel that I cannot stand it any longer. During these critical times, while the French Canadians are being submitted to unremitting abuse, I may well face our accusers and ask them, in the words of Cicero "How long will you try our patience?" How long will you gratuitously impugn our loyalty? I say gratuitously, because no correct figures are available at the department of Militia.

The English Canadians would never have accepted peaceably the moral wrongs we have been subjected to, during those two years, by the fanaties who are heaping their slanders upon our heads'. Finding themselves short of new arguments and having failed to arouse our resentment, they have invented sham insults to the soldiers from the west, on their way through the province of Quebec. That new charge has been shown, after investigation to be absolutely foundationless and the result would have been the same on all the other points, if impartial investigations had been conducted.

By the way I must say a few words about that investigation, and my remarks will be based on the report of the English commis-

sioners that cannot be suspected of having glossed over the facts.

Thursday, May 31, 1917. Sessional Papers No. 172.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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June 27, 1917