July 11, 1917

LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

It is well that we should understand exactly what are the principles of this Bill. They are very clear and well known; I am surprised that they should be discussed -at all. The principle of the Bill is that every man between the ages of 20 and 35 is liable to be a soldier. There is no distinction; the law is that every male British subject in Canada is liable to service. He will be called upon and he will be obliged to obey; he has no- recourse except that of going before a tribunal and claiming exemption. Exemption can be claimed upon various grounds. He can say: my health is not good. He can say: my family are suffering. Or he can say: I am a big banker;

I have a big business to carry on; therefore I should not be called upon to perform military service. Subsection (d) of section 11, which contains the exemptions, provides that exemption m-ay be granted if it be shown:

That serious hardship would ensue, if the man were placed on active service, owing to his exceptional financial or business obligations or domestic position;

What is the meaning of "his exceptional financial or business obligations"? As I understand it, a banker who has a large financial institution can claim exemption on that account, and it will be for the tribunal to declare whether his claim is right or wrong.

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

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I do not think my right hon. friend's interpretation is right. That a man is a big hanker would not be a proper claim for exemption under clause (d), which refers to claims of hardship, not on account of big assets, but on account of big liabilities. A man does not become rich from the size of his liabilities.

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

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

He may be exempted on account of the big business he is carrying on, whether you call it obligations, or assets, or anything else.

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

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The word in the clause is "obligations."

S.ir WILFRID LAURIER: The clause reads:

Owing to his exceptional financial or business obligations.

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

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Yes, obligations.

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

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

Obligations to whom? To the public whom he is serving, not his own personal obligations, because that would be a still worse claim. At all events, he can claim exemption, and it will >be for the tribunal to decide whether his claim is right or wrong. Then the clause says that he can claim exemption on account of his "domestic position." That is a most elastic term. What does that mean? Can he say that he should be exempted because he is the father of twelve children? There might be something in that. The hon. member for Edmonton had something to say upon that point. I do not think, however, that the fact that a man has a large family is what is meant. At all events, a man can claim exemption for a multitude of reasons, such as for poor health, for business obligations, for financial obligations, for domestic position. But the broad principle upon which the Bill is based is not that the tribunals will constitute the army; the principle is laid down that, without any exception, every British subject between the ages of twenty and forty-five is a soldier and liable to be called out, and that he must go unless exempted by a tribunal.

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

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

That is the principle of the Bill, shortly, but not completely stated.

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

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT:

Will the tribunals have power themselves, from their own personal knowledge, to exempt anybody?

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

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

No, the Bill does not contemplate ,exemption except following an application.

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

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARCIL:

After this Bill is passed, if a man who. should remain here should insist on enlisting voluntarily in order to go to the front, will he have to go although it is in the interest of the country that he should remain here?

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

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

As to voluntary enlistment, this Bill makes no change whatever.

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

Hugh Guthrie

Liberal

Mr. GUTHRIE:

In regard to section 11, the Solicitor General mentioned a moment ago that an application for exemption may be made by any man for or on behalf of any man. The wording of the Bill is:

Or in respect of any man.

There is a distinction between an application made on behalf of a man and that made in respect of a man. The former,

I assume, would be made by a parent or an agent of the man. It is open to any outside individual, not an agent of the man himself, to apply a tribunal to have that man retained in Canada?

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

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Yes, it is.

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

Hugh Guthrie

Liberal

Mr. GUTHRIE:

Then, the wording should not be "on behalf of a man"; it should be as printed in the Bill: "in respect of any man."

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

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Kamouraska):

Mr. Chairman, I believe we should have an explanation from the hon. Minister of Inland Revenue (Mr. Sevigny) about his former statements. Besides what the hon. minister has said in his speech in this House, he has given an interview to the press of Quebec, in which he gave pretty near the same figures as those mentioned in his speech here, with this exception, however, that he went farther. In that interview, he said that the province of Quebec would probably be called upon to contribute

25,000 men; in this total figure, the contribution of the city of Montreal would be 10,000 men; that of Quebec, 1,000 men, and each of 1,200 municipalities of the province would furnish 10 men and the balance would be contributed by the towns of Fraserville, of Three Rivers, of St. Hyacinthe, of Sorel, etc. My hon. friend has been most generous in his nomenclature of towns who should contribute. Now, from what has just been said, the hon. Solicitor General (Mr. Meighen) and from the hon. minister's own words, he seems to have simply drawn an inference with the sole object of demonstrating that 100,000 men could be easily drafted in the country. Now, I must say to

the hon. minister that his statements have been construed otherwise; the newspapers have seized upon them and they seem to believe, in the province, that these statements have been made on behalf of the Government, that is to say that, in consequence of this law, 25,000 men would be levied in the province of Quebec only. Would he please tell us if it will be 25,000 men or more than 25,000, that the province of Quebec shall be called upon to contribute?

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

Albert Sévigny (Minister of Mines; Secretary of State of Canada; Minister of Inland Revenue)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. SEVIGNY (Translation):

In reply to my hon. friend from Kamouraska, I iwill tell him that, no more than he, do I know the number of men which the province of Quebec will be asked to contribute as a result of this enactment; it is possible it might be only 10,000 men and it is equally possible it will be more. By the words I spoke in this House as well, as in the interview mentioned, I simply meant to show that the province of Quebec could easily furnish these 25,000 men, and that Montreal could easily supply 10,000; I believe that, on that point, my hon. friend from Kamouraska will be of my opinion.

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

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Translation):

I am not at all in accord with you as regards this Bill.

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

Albert Sévigny (Minister of Mines; Secretary of State of Canada; Minister of Inland Revenue)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. SEVIGNY (Translation):

I understand that my hon. friend's opinion would be to do nothing at all.

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

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Translation):

I said, as far as this Bill is concerned.

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

Albert Sévigny (Minister of Mines; Secretary of State of Canada; Minister of Inland Revenue)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. SEVIGNY (Translation):

I believe that Montreal might contribute 10,000 men and Quebec, with her population of 100,000 inhabitants, could furnish 1,000 of them. Moreover, we have, in the province of Quebec, 1,200 municipalities and I am of the opinion that all these municipalities, even that of Kamouraska, could furnish 10 men each, especially so, if my hon. friend would make some effort. Consequently, if these 1,200 municipalities supplied 12,000 men, and if we add to these Quebec and Montreal, we have a total of 23,000 men. It seems to me that the balance of our contribution, that is to say 2,000 men, could be furnished without any difficulty by the cities of Hull, Sherbrooke, Three Rivers, St. Hyacinthe, Chicoutimi, Levis. My object was simply to show how easy it would be for the province of Quebec to furnish 25,000 men without suffering from it to any material extent. I believe that if this province did furnish these 25,000 men, she would be most proud of it, not only for the time being, but especially in the future.

Now, I do not know, no one in this House knows, how many men will be called in the province of Quebec, and I would not be surprised if that contribution was far inferior to that presumed figure of 25,000 men, for we have in that province many large families, and a great portion of the population is engaged in agriculture.

As the Government's object is above all to take into account the needs of the agricultural class, it is possible that the province of Quebec will not be asked to contribute 25,000 men, but, at all events, I assert that, in my opinion, she could easily furnish them.

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

July 11, 1917