July 7, 1917

REPORT PRESENTED.


Progress Report Manitoba Hydrometric Survey for calendar year 1915.-Hon. Mr. Roche.


FIRST READING.


Bill No. 103, concerning the payment of salaries or wages of employees of railway companies.-Mr. Boys.


PRIVILEGE-MR. PUGSLEY.


On the Orders of the day:


LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Hon. WILLIAM PUGSLEY:

Mr. Speaker, I wish to raise a question of privilege which arises out of some observations made by my right hon. friend the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden), on the 6th of June, in connection with a certain investigation of the affairs of the Central Railway Company of New Brunswick. These remarks were made upon a motion which was made by the Minister of Labour (Mr. Crothers). The right hon. the Prime Minister alleged that I had made an infinitely stronger attack upon Mr. Justice Landry than the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Rogers) had, in a letter to the Prime Minister, made upon Mr. Justice Galt. The Prime Minister also made some remarks with regard to the course which he said had been taken to prevent proper inquiry at that time. My statement will take some little time and I have no desire to delay the House upon the discussion of the Military Service Bill; but I realize that if one delays too long he is not allowed to bring up a question of privilege. If it could be understood that there would be no prejudice from the delay, that my rights would stand as they are now, I should be willing

to let the matter stand until the Military Service Bill is out of committee.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE-MR. PUGSLEY.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

I think that is a very reasonable request, and it should certainly be granted.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE-MR. PUGSLEY.
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MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.

CONSIDERATION OP THE BILL IN COMMITTEE OP THE WHOLE HOUSE.


House in committee on Bill No. 75, respecting Military Service.-Sir Robert Borden (Resumed from Friday, July 6.) Mr. RAINVILLE in the Chair.


CON

William Thomas White (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir THOMAS WHITE:

I beg the indulgence of the committee while I refer to a statement which was made in my absence from the House yesterday by the ex-Minister of Militia and Defence (Sir Sam Hughes). On page 3200 of Hansard he is reported as follows:

The Finance Minister also on one occasion asked me if I did not think it proper that we should let up. He thought Canada had done her full share in sending men to help England. I pointed out that we were not helping England, but helping the Empire and the cause of human liberty. Thjs conversation was not conducted in the presence of the Prime Minister, but witnesses can be had in large numbers in the city of Toronto to whom the Finance Minister made the same statement.

I am sorry I was not present yesterday afternoon in order that I might have given a prompt and emphatic denial to that statement. I desire to say that it is fiction pure and simple, that it is wholly and absolutely untrue in every particular, and without the slightest foundation in substance or in fact.

I desire to say further that no such conversation ever took place or could have taken place, because the sentiments attributed to me are entirely incompatible with my known 'views with regard to the war, and my official conduct during its progress. During the fall of 1915 and the early part of 1916, it was brought to the attention of the Government-I should say to the attention of nearly all the members of the Government-that in certain districts in which recruiting had been brisk, vital industries such as coal mining, iron and steel, agriculture, and the munitions industry, were suffering by reason of the fact that the recruiting was not in any degree selective; that is to say, that skilled mechanics were being recruited, and that it was not possible to replace them because of the long training required to qualify a man in those trades. I received many communications upon the subject, both orally and by letter, and in order that this matter may not

[Mr. Pugaley.l

depend upon the statement of the ex-Minister of Militia upon the one hand and of myself upon the other, I desire to read a letter which I found this morning among my correspondence of the early part of 1916, which substantially sets forth the views I had at that time respecting recruiting. Before reading it I desire to say- although I do not think it is necessary that I should say it to this House-that I have always been in favour of this country putting forth the utmost of her effort in recruiting, in order that our military strength at the front should be as great as possible, that we might play our part with increasing vigour until this war was successfully concluded.

The letter which I shall read is as follows:

Otta-wa, February 19th, 1916. Dear Mr. Harmer,

I am obliged for yours of the 17th instant enclosing a copy of your letter to Mr. Flavelle, which I have read with much interest. The questions raised have been before us for some time but are exceedingly difficult of solution as you will, I am sure, realize. According to the British authorities the great need is for men and more men. If we discourage men in one or more callings from going to the front would it not tend to discourage recruiting generally? I am aware of the force of the arguments presented as I have canvassed them many times during the past few months. There is a point beyond which over-recruiting weakens the strength of a nation for a long drawn-out struggle. On the other hand, if an early and complete decision could be obtained it would appear better to sacrifice production to a certain extent and make the strongest possible effort in the field. I have great confidence in the situation adjusting itself with the exercise of reasonable discretion on the part of the Militia Department. You may depend upon it we shall do what we can here to keep the nation strong and at the same time put forth our best efforts in the field.

Yours very truly,

W. T. White.

R. Harmer, Esq.,

President, Sawyer-Massey Company, Limited, Hamilton, Ontario.

I had the view, during the concluding stages of voluntary recruiting, that the essential industries were being crippled to a certain extent by the enlisting of skilled mechanics, some of whom-I do not say all of whom-could have rendered better service, or as good service, in 'connection with the prosecution of the war, possibly, as if they had enlisted, although I am the first to say that I .admire above all the man who enlists and goes forward to the front. Nevertheless in certain industries which are vital it is necessary, in my judgment, that a certain selection should be

\

exercised; in other words I have always had the view that the proper course for a nation to pursue in time of war is to adopt selective compulsory military service, such as is provided for in this Bill?

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OP THE BILL IN COMMITTEE OP THE WHOLE HOUSE.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

Always?

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OP THE BILL IN COMMITTEE OP THE WHOLE HOUSE.
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CON

William Thomas White (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir THOMAS WHITE:

My right hon.

friend asks, " Always." I said the other day in this House that while I had realized that the voluntary enlistment system was unjust, in that it cast the burden of the war upon the most patriotic, at the same time, I had desired that we should not resort to compulsory service until the national need was clearly apparent, as it is at the present time, as I desired that we should maintain national unity in this country and the appearance of unity before the world. That is all, Mr. Chairman, that I desire to say upon the subject.

On section 1-Short Title: Definitions.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OP THE BILL IN COMMITTEE OP THE WHOLE HOUSE.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OP THE BILL IN COMMITTEE OP THE WHOLE HOUSE.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

It is only made part of this Act in so far as it is applicable and not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OP THE BILL IN COMMITTEE OP THE WHOLE HOUSE.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

Certainly, but the part that is applicable ought to be made public. There is one part of the Act which is part of the law which we are going to enact, and I think it should be printed with the Act itself. In the meantime we should have it.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OP THE BILL IN COMMITTEE OP THE WHOLE HOUSE.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

I might say that the Army Act has for many years been applicable in this country, just in the same way; the Militia Act has made it applicable.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OP THE BILL IN COMMITTEE OP THE WHOLE HOUSE.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

But my right hon. friend will remember that the Militia

Act was not resorted to, hut this Act is to come into force and very lively too. If there are provisions in the Army Act applicable to this Act, it is only right that all should go together.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OP THE BILL IN COMMITTEE OP THE WHOLE HOUSE.
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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

1 quite agree with the right hon. leader of the Opposition that it is very desirable that we should have the Army Act before us. I think we ought also to have the regulations which were referred to by the Minister of Militia (Sir Edward Kemp) yesterday. He made a statement which surprised me very much- that under those regulations, if a man enlisted was able to pay $50 he would be able to purchase his discharge. I should like to see those regulations. We ought to have them. I understand there are certain provisions for the punishment of deserters. I believe the Army Act provides for the execution of a deserter. I am not sure and perhaps my hon. friend can. tell me as to that. Looking at this Bill, I find there are different provisions, and one is that a deserter may be tried by court martial, and punished by imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years. The subsection reads:

On summary conviction to imprisonment for any term not exceeding three years.

It is important to determine whether that would over-ride the provisions of the Army Act, which provide for execution'-a deserter is liable to he shot, under the provisions of the Army Act. I do not know whether this would over-ride the Army Act, but it is a matter to be considered quite carefully.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OP THE BILL IN COMMITTEE OP THE WHOLE HOUSE.
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July 7, 1917