July 12, 1917

CON

Herménégilde Boulay

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOULAY (Translation):

Mr. Chairman, before the exemption clause is finally adopted, I would like to again express my regret that the 'Government have not seen fit to accept the suggestion offered by some of the members in order to exempt the farmers from compulsory military service. After all that has been said in this House,

I am led to understand, that under subsection (a) every one or almost any one can be exempted from military service; I believe the. hon. member for Edmonton (Mr. Oliver) has thus expressed himself. I perfectly understand that the farmers may be placed under this head, but at .all events, they will be no less under the obligation of

appearing before some tribunal within a certain delay, just as will be the case for all men between twenty and fonty-five years o.f age, while, if a general exemption had 'been provided for in the Act itself, they (would have been relieved of such an obligation. Moreover, this obligation cannot but entail numerous inconveniences, specially if this Act should be enforced during harvest time. Some members have expressed the opinion that such a clause would be an insult to the agricultural class. To me this argument does not seem a serious one, inasmuch as our farmers are not over scrupulous on the subject, and that they could enlist anyway whenever they saw fit. The farmers are so necessary in Canada that they should not be enticed to enlist in any way whatever.

I now want to draw the attention of the House to a charge which has been laid here by three members, a charge we ought to investigate as I believe.

I stated when I spoke in this House on June 27 ultimo that I had heard that a large number of young Englishmen had emigrated to Canada during the first months of the war in order to evade compulsory military service enacted in England. The hon. member for Montcalm (Mr. Lafortune) made the same assertion in this House on July 5th, last Thursday. I will quote his own words:

Frequently, we see steamers coming into port with some 700 or $(00 young Englishmen on board; we see them strutting, with a new walking stick, along the streets of Montreal. They come over to our country to fill the places of our French Canadian boys who are expelled from our stores and our mills, in order to force them, in a sense, to enlist.

At this point the hon. member for L'Islet (Mr. Paqnet) interrupted the hon. member for Montcalm and asked him:

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

Eugène Paquet

Conservative (1867-1942)

*Mr. PAQUET (L'Islet) (Translation) :

Will the hon_ member allow me one question?

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

David Arthur Lafortune

Liberal

Mr. LAFORTUNE (Translation) :

Certainly.

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

Eugène Paquet

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PAQUET (Translation) :

Has the hon. member information to justify his assertion that the French Canadians are replaced in the munition factories by Englishmen just come from the British Isles?

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

David Arthur Lafortune

Liberal

Mr. LAFORTUNE (Translation) :

Certainly, I am not afraid to assert it.

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

Eugène Paquet

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PAQUET (Translation) :

The charge is a most serious one.

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

David Arthur Lafortune

Liberal

Mr. LAFORTUNE (Translation) :

Most

serious, I admit it; hut I do, nevertheless, declare that, in many cases, French Canadians are turned out of doors and that their places are given, a few days later, to your Englishmen just landed from London. The very thing happened in a shell factory In my own village; these French Canadians were told: " Why don't you enlist? Why don't you go and help the Empire"? They were thus forced to sacrifice themselves

and to give up all they held most dear, in order to save the Empire.

Now, I read in the Hansard of the 11th instant, another almost similar charge laid by the hon. member for Cbambly-Vercheres (Mr. Rainville) when he stated that some

73.000 men, after enlisting in the Canadian Army, deserted and disappeared.

He added, that the hon. member for Edmonton (Mr. Oliver), referring to a Detroit newspaper, stated that it had been ascertained that 17,000 English Canadians, mostly from Ontario, were living in that city. Headed: "We have some slackers

here from England to be found in insurance offices in Montreal"-And, more than that, relying on statistics which he must have had from good authority, he said that the immigration which had bad figured up to

43.000 men in 1914, I believe, had reached 85,000, in 1916, which means an increase of

42.000 for 1916. That is surely an extraordinary fact, and the hon. member for Chambly-Vercheres stated: "I would

strongly urge that these slackers who have gone to the United States should be brought back."

In both cases which I have just quoted, 1 believe there is for the Government ample justification for a searching investigation, and that would be of primary importance. These facts appear to me far more important than the charge made against people of the province of Quebec of having insulted soldiers -on their way through. In the latter case, a court of enquiry was immediately constituted, which tribunal did act and seems to have given satisfaction to all parties concerned. Now, I do believe that the charge laid against these deserters and these emigrants who have left their country in order to evade military service, is far more serious than the other I have just aliuded to; it would be only right, it seems to me, that the Government should make an investigation upon it.

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

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. DOHERTY (Translation):

In the first part of his remarks, the hon. member for Rimouski expressed the hope that the farmers should be particularly exempted. It seems to me that what has already been said should suffice.

There is no doubt that agriculture, in this country, is of paramount importance, and that anyone .who is, "bona fide", necessary to farm production and who actually gives good returns for an. earnest labour, should have no reason to feel uneasy.

As for the suggestion of an invesgation in O'der to find out if it be true or not that a great number of young Britishers have come to this country and that many French Canadians were discharged from certain

manufactories in order to replace them by these British youths, I simply will draw the attention of the hon. member to the fact that this Act, when in force, will provide the opportunity of making such an enquiry before the very tribunals to be appointed. Precisely these facts shall be examined and cleared up, and if those facts mentioned in the different speeches which have been quoted by my hon. friend are established, those young Britishers will not be treated otherwise than any other British subject. Every British subject in Canada, whether he come from England or anywhere else, shall be brought under this Act.

Now, as to the third case to which the hon. member draws our attention, referring to those who are said to have left Canada since the war was declared, in order to escape military service, our ruling applies to every British subject at present residing in Canada, as well as to every British subject who did reside in Canada for apy length of time previous to 1914. I can say to the hon. member that the provision to include directly the latter class, was precisely inserted with a view to that class he has just mentioned, and I do not believe it will become necessary, in order to put it into effect, to make any arrangement with the United States authorities.

I have every reason to believe, and I do believe, that the hon. member may well trust that we will make such an arrangement by which these gentlemen who have attempted to evade the law, who have deserted their country in order to set themselves free from defending it, will come under the effects of the Act., just as well as those who have stayed at home.

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

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Hon. Mr. MARCIL (Bonaventure) (Translation) :

Mr. Speaker, I must approve the remarks of the hon. member for Rimouski. In our district, in the county which I have the honour to represent, the whole population, so to say, are employed at farming or in the fisheries. They are two classes of food producers. Had the farmers and the fishermen been exempted, this entire population would not have been obliged to appear before the courts to be exempted. That is what must happen throughout the district of Gaspe, throughout the counties of Bonaventure, Gaspe, Rimouski and in the maritime provinces. As I have just stated, that population is made of food producers and, if they do not show up before the tribunals, there are penalties enacted by our law.

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

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. DOHERTY (Translation):

I would beg leave to say to the hon. member,

in reply to his remarks, that when we pass an Act to demand from a certain part of our population the supreme sacrifice, even that of their own lives, it does not appear to me there can be any occasion for a serious reproach on the part of the farmers or the fishermen, because we ask them to kindly show up before the tribunals. Besides, we shall see to it, that the trbiunals be numerous enough and set under such conditions that they may hold court without exacting from anyone a serious derangement and the inconvenience of being summoned before such a tribunal will be reduced to its minimum. I would be greatly surprised if, under such conditions, we had any complaints, because, in the very interest of the general system, we only demand from those, who are exempted by their occupations, to simply take the trouble to go and submit their demand and expose the circumstances that may justify them.

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

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Hon. Mr. MAROIL (Translation):

The

tribunals will be plentiful, so they say, especially in that section of the province of Quebec where the distances are the remotest, As the hon. Minister is aware the Gaspe district alone contains ten thousand square miles; we have around there some townships just as large as any ordinary county in the province. Should the tribunals be somewhat distant, you will readily see the inconvenience arising therefrom.

If I rightly understand, the intent of the Act is that a producer is just as necessary and renders just as good a service to the empire as any soldier in the trenches. As all these people are producers, I am glad to hear that the tribunals will be plentiful and of easy access.

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

Louis Audet Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. L. A. LAPOINTE:

How is this proposed legislation going to work, assuming that the measure is put in force-though 1 believe that it never will be; at least, not before a general election. I say this because the Bill is one for the conscription of man-power, not of wealth, though it is stated that the measure may be followed by a measure of taxation on incomes. To my mind, the title of this Bill would be more appropriate if it were "Exemption Bill." Another name might be given to it, having regard to the amendment proposed by the Solicitor General (Mr. Meighen) it might be called a Bill for the conscription of liberty. Assuming then, that the Bill will be put in force, it will operate, if I am right, in the following way. Section 16, subsection 2, says:

This Act shall come into force on such day, after the passing thereof, as the Governor in Council may fix by proclamation.

This is the commencement of the Act, if I understand aright. Then we come to section 4, " calling out toy classes," wtoich reads:

(1) The Governor in Council may from time to time by proclamation call out on active service as aforesaid for the defence of Canada, either in Canada or beyond Canada, any class or subclass of men described in section three and all men within the class or subclass so called out shall, from the date of such proclamation, be deemed to be soldiers enlisted In the military forces of Canada and subject to military law for the duration of the present war, and of demobilization thereafter, save as hereinafter provided.

This section is-

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

Joseph Hormisdas Rainville (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

The CHAIRMAN:

We are discussing section 11. Will the hon. member kindly reserve his speech, which (is a general one, he will have an opportunity of making any general remarks he may desire?

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

Louis Audet Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. L. A. LAPOINTE:

I will do as you, Sir, have just stated. I was just going to suggest that. Then we come to section 12, " regulations," and subsection 2 of section 12, " publication." I am trying to illustrate how this Bill is going to work. If I am wrong in my illustration of how the Bill will work I would like the Solicitor General to set me right. Has the Solicitor General given any thought, or has he any idea, as to the length of time that should elapse between the proclamation of the Act as per section 16 and the proclamation authorized in section 4-the calling out toy classes-in view of the exemptions as provided for in section 11? In other words, what period of time will be given to those who would like to make lapplication for exemption, and in what way will the proclamation and the regulations' be published so that the whole Dominion will know?

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

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

After the Act is passed, and perhaps before it is carried into operation, there will be undertaken the duty of preparing the regulations, and also the duty of selecting tribunals, under such regulations as may in the meantime have been formulated, and adopted. That done, or that proceeded with as far as may toe necessary, a proclamation will issue calling out men. I do not know how long a period will be fixed, and it would not be for me to say how long, but I will say on behalf of the Government that it will give ample time for every one who desires to do so to appeal to the appropriate local tribunal for exemption. The proclamation will set out all particulars, so that no one need be confused or in ignorance of the requirements. The man will be told where he should report and where the tribunals will sit, and the method of making application for exemption will be set out. The date for reporting will also be fixed. My thought is that the date for reporting will be subsequent to the sitting of the tribunal, so that at least the determinations of the local tribunals will likely be over before the date for reporting, and possibly further determinations of the appeal tribunals. I give this only by way of illustration of what is in my mind as to how the measure will work out. _

The hon. member mentioned something about the publication. The proclamation has to be published in the Ga-5 p.m. zette. Such publication, of course, we acknowledge, will not reach the people, but it has the effect of establishing legal evidence that the proclamation was issued and that the call was made. It establishes proof, by production of the contents of the Gazette. It will also be published in newspapers and perhaps by means of posters. It will te thoroughly published so that every one will have knowledge of what is required of him. I think that covers the full request of the hon. member for St. James, Montreal (Mr. L. A. Lapointe).

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

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

Does the Solicitor General purpose making any change in respect of paragraph (d) of subsection 1 of section 11? It was. suggested by the hon. member for St. Antoine (Sir Herbert Ames) that that section be divided; but if the minister intends making no change, I would like to have an understanding from him as to what is meant by "domestic position," and what exemptions would probably be granted under that definition.

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

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Speaking solely as an individual-because the interpretation of this, as of every other law, is for the judges -I would say that the best synonym for "position" would be "circumstances"- domestic circumstances; that is, having regard to a man's domestic obligation, not wholly of a financial character, but of every character. As to what exemptions will be granted, speaking in the same capacity, I would say that exemptions will be granted, based on the circumstances the man was in as to domestic obligations. For instance, a man who, although married, had relatives dependent upon him, perhaps a widowed mother, perhaps a crippled father, perhaps a crippled mother and- a crippled father,

perhaps younger children or other relatives

that would be a circumstance of "domestic position" that would, if it appealed to the tribunal, entitle that man to exemption.

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

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

I was rather

anxious to have the minister's statement on Hansard. Since discussing this clause of section 11 the other day, I have had an opportunity of looking over the proceedings in regard to the Military Service Bill in the British House of Commons, and I noticed that there was considerable debate on this particular clause, and the clauses in the two Bills are now identical. The committee in the British House of Commons were always anxious to have from the minister in charge of the Bill a statement as to its probable meaning, and the Government did not hesitate to put their interpretation upon it. In many instances, that interpretation without any further amendment was acceptable to hon. members of the committee.

In the English Bill the word " position " read first of all, " domestic obligations." The word " obligations " was amended to " circumstances," and eventually that was changed to " position," and this last word was accepted by the committee without any opposition. It might be interesting to know just what was in the mind of ithe committee of the British House as to the scape of the word " position." Mr. Long, who was in charge of the Bill, stated that it would include a widow's only son, and also cover the case of a single unmarried son of a family whose other members had all enlisted. If that is intended to be the case here, it would be as well to have a declaration to that effect. Mr. Morrell, speaking on this point in the British House, said:

I was one of those who had an amendment down asking that the only son of a widow who has not yet enlisted should have an absolute exemption under this Bill, and I venture to say that the words used by the Prime Minister entitled me to expect that an amendment of that sort would be accepted.

Then he proceeds to quote from -a statement im-ade by ithe Prime Minister, a.s fol-tows:

I have had brought to my notice most moving cases of mothers who have sent three or even four sons to the war. They have been either wounded, killed, or at any rate disabled on active service. Where there is a single unmarried son left behind, it would, of course, he a monstrous thing if the State were to call for military service from a man in that position. He is as much entitled to exemption as any man in the Empire.

That statement by the Prime Minister was considered by the committee as tantamount

to an express declaration by statute that such cases would be exempted.

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

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MAJRCIL:

Were exemptions granted in England to men whose brothers had already gone to the front?

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

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

The sole surviving son of a widow is exempt.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OF THE BILL IN COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE HOUSE.
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July 12, 1917