July 13, 1917

CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Until he does

give that information I do not see how any investigation could be made.

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CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CURRIE:

About that time complaint was made by munition .plants that unauthorized persons were holding recruiting meetings dm the munition plants while the plants were in operation. That was becoming an abuse, because ia lot of these chaps, instead of confining their energies to recruiting idle men on the street, were going into the munition plants and stopping the work, holding meetings, like revival meetings, on the floors of these plants. I understand that an intimation was about that time sent by the Munitions Board to these plants

that unauthorized persons were not to be allowed into these plants to hold meetings. I know something about this war; I know how great the necessity for munitions was about a year ago, for steel for shells even more than for men. There were lots of men at the front, but we need more than tirawn and muscle to hold the Germans back. I think it is altogether illogical for any person who wanted to enlist soldiers to hold recruiting meetings on the floors of munition plants, as they did a year and a half ago. But that was not what stopped recruiting. It was the great volume of political meetings that were being held all over the country by hon. gentlemen, with the call at once to put up candidates against the Conservatives. In my own case, I was not taking any part in politics, but. an 'hon. gentleman, who shed crocodile tears over his leader in this House because recruiting had fallen off, and who had to part with his leader and vote for conscription, was up in my riding, nominating a candidate against me, who was of military age and should have volunteered. That checked recruiting far more than the preventing of recruiting in munition plants. Too much politics caused the trouble. If politics had been thrown aside, it would have been all right. Voluntary recruiting was progressing, and when it was at its height, immediately after the House clo'sed last year, there was a wild rush to get candidates in the field, because it was said there was to be an immediate election. The public mind was diverted from the war to politics. I confess my own mind, after a while, was taken from the war, and I had to take part in a political campaign, in which we soundly trimmed our opponents.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

What my hon. friend has said bears out my contention that a great deal more attention was given to the interests of the munition plant than to the interests of recruiting.

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CON
LIB
CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CURRIE:

It was to the interest of the British Government, who had placed the orders, to have munitions turned out, but all these mattters delayed the manufacture of munitions. Clergymen were trying to stop munition work on Sundays. Recruiting agents were wanting to get into the munition plants, to get men away from the machines, and send them to the war. Necessarily, those in authority endeavoured- to stop that practice. There is no change politically to be got out of that phase of the question.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I do not know why my hon. friend objects to political talk, when he uses so much of it himself, and when he claims to be so successful in its use. This is not a matter of political talk. We are dealing with a measure whose importance I need not attempt to exaggerate, a measure which, in its terms, in its introduction, in every argument that is used for it, is a slur against the patriotism of the people of Canada. I want to say that, in my humble judgment, the patriotism of the common people of Canada, as shown by the service they have rendered in this war, does not warrant a slur by anybody, whether they hold a high or a low position, and when this Government declares, in the preamble of the Bill, that it is rendered necessary because our people have not shown a sufficiently enthusiastic military spirit, I claim it is for them to justify that assertion, and not merely to declare it. They throw that slur against the people of the country, and demand the passage of this measure. There are other industries in this country, besides munition making. We have heard a great deal about the industry of agriculture. The district I come from is one of the leaders of this country in the matter of agriculture and production. To-day the need of food is as great as the need of munitions. The production of food is the great demand of all the Allies. But there was never any protest from the food producers of Alberta against enlistment in Alberta, and there was no slackening of enlistment in Alberta, because of politics, or because of anything else.

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CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CURRIE:

I would agree that in

Alberta they did keep out of politics, and that they did more than any other section of the country on that account, but that statement did not hold good down in Ontario and other parts of the country, and that is one of the reasons why recruiting did not go on as it should have last year. I agree with the hon. member thoroughly. I should like to ask him, in all kindness, does he . not know a number of men, even in Alberta, who should have volunteered, and did not do so, whom this law will take?

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LIB
CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CURRIE:

Everybody knows that he himself and all belonging to him have done their share in the war. His heart and soul have been in the voluntary system, and are -in the national conscription law to-day, because he has said so in this House two or three times. He has been most urgent in favour of that system. We have tried to frame a Bill as nearly perfect as possible, although many features of it have been criticised by the hon. gentleman. Every man whose heart is in this war will pay deference to the hon. gentleman's province for its splendid record in recruiting. It hae done better than any other province- because there were no politics there.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

For myself and my province, I resent 'the spirit in which this Bill has been introduced and placed before the country. It is not warranted, and I am asking for justification, if justification can be given. In the province of Alberta, the production of food is the ..great industry. That production is more important in the winning of the war than anything else, except the supply of fighting men; yet there was no slackening of recruiting in that country, and no consideration was given to food production. Nobody in Alberta, so far as I know, has ever challenged the most extreme efforts of the military authorities to secure men in that province. I shall read a statement of the different corps of men enlisted from the city of Edmonton and surrounding country, to show how little regard was paid to food production, the basic industry of the country, in connection with voluntary enlistment. No such consideration was given to it as was given to the industrial enterprises mentioned by my hon. friend.

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CON
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

Yes, two small places

where they machine shells. I will give the enlistments up to August 6, 1916. These are not men who enlisted and were discharged as unfit; these are men who went forward from Edmonton, as being fit at that time, whatever happened to them afterwards. The enlistments were as follows:

Number

Name of Unit. of Men.

Princess Pats 310

101st Fusiliers, Col., Osborne . . . . 1,358

19th Alberta Dragoons, Col. Jamieson 20S

31st Infantry, Calgary 400

23rd Infantry, Montreal 200

28th Infantry, Quebec 200

13th C.M.R., Medicine Hat

492University drafts, Princess Pats .. 25061st Artillery, Lethbridge

603rd C.M.R., Major Fane

1643r.d C.M.R., Major Whittaker, Medicine Hat

164113th Highlanders, Lethbridge .... 508th Field Ambulance, Calgary . . . . 35

Number

Name of Unit. of Men.

University Field Ambulance 150

49th Infantry, Col. Griesbach .. .. 1,30051st Infantry, Col. Harwood .. .. 1,167Three drafts from 51st

7501st Pioneers

19563rd Infantry 1,150One draft from 63rd

252.66th Infantry, Col. McKinnery . . . . 1,176Two drafts from 66th

500French Canadians

9750th Battalion

22827th Battalion, Winnipeg

1397th American Legion

10 O'53rd Battalion, Saskatoon

14138th Infantry, Col. Belcher 1,140143rd Bantams, Victoria

112151st Infantry, Col. Arnott

1,250 .187th Infantry, Red Deer

350194th Infantry, Col. Craig 1,350196th University Infantry

300197th Vikings, Winnipeg

250202nd Infantry, Col. Bowen

800210th Frontiersmen, Moosejaw. . .. 150211th American Legion

150218th Irish Guards, Col. Cornwall.. 850223rd Scandinavians, Saskatoon. . . . 250233rd French Canadian, Col. Leprohon 560239th Railway Construction

22238th Forestry, Ottawa

200Queen's Artillery, Kingston

50Engineers

6004th Canadian Pioneers

150Army Service Corps

50Army Medical Corps

Tie men of the 13t'h Canadian Mounted Rifles enlisted at Edmonton, but joined the unit at Medicine Hat. Those of the 61st Artillery, Lethbridge, enlisted at Edmonton for the Lethbridge Artillery. That gives a total of -about 19,512 men who enlisted at Edmonton from August 4, 1914 to August 6, 1916. I read this list not only to show the number of men who enlisted, but to point out that the Government or the Militia Department in recruiting .made .absolutely no allowance for the condition of -any industry in that country. They .provided for the raising of ten full battalions; besides, everybody who wanted to secure enlistment for any form of service in any part of Canada was permitted to go to Edmonton and enlist-and no man in Edmonton complained or found fault. I mentioned this on a former occasion to show that the multiplicity of the demands for men in a certain locality tended against rather than in favour of successful recruiting. But no such condition prevailed at any time in Edmonton as certainly prevailed in and about those indust"ial centres in eastern Canada. Since it has become necessary to enforce conscription in the country at large, I desire to say that no necessity existed in the part of the country from which I come for compulsory service in order to secure a response.

to any reasonable demand that could be made upon that country for men.

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CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CURRIE:

I do not think the hon.

member would say that half a dozen recruiting speakers and aboiuit a hundred of the riffraff of the .streets should be .allowed to go into * munition plants that are under guard and hold meetings at the noon hour. That is what w.as objected to.. Munition plants were being burned and blown up in the United States, and even, in Canada. I think that the action taken by the British .authorities in asking the imanufaetureirs of munitions not to permit the holding of those irresponsible gatherings in the factories was amply justified. I do not think that that had any influence upon recruiting.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I do not know anything

at all about what was done in .munition plants. I have been alluding to the passage between the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden) and the ex-Miinister (of Militia (Sir Sam Hughes). The latter has made certain definite statements which have been contradicted by the Prime Minister. But, the drop in recruiting synchronized-to us; the expression of the Minister of Finance -with the dates given by the ex-Minister of Militia as to the official stoppage of recruiting.

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CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CURRIE:

In the .section of the

country in the vicinity of Parry Sound a large number of men were being rapidly recruited. The member for Parry Sound (Mr. Arthurs) raised a fine regiment there and after he had gone to Niagara for training, recruiting was .proceeded with. The member for West Lambton (Mr. Pardee) the Chief Liberal Whip, called a meeting at Emsdale and proceeded to put a candidate in the field against the member for Parry .Sound while he was on his way across the ocean with his battalion. Everybody asked: Is the

war over? I happened to be in that section of the country at the time, and I heard the remark made: Do they want to defeat Colonel Arthurs, who is doing his duty, who has not taken any part in politics? This occurred not only in that district, but in the majority of the ridings in Ontario. The party press became violent, and everybody holding a view opposite to theirs suffered more or less from their attacks. One would have thought that the question bothering some people was not, win the war, but win an election. That was the chief cause of the stopping of recruiting in Ontario.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I do not know what my hon. friend has in his mind. There may have been isolated instances such as he speaks about.

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CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CURRIE:

They prove the rule. They were not isolated cases; there were a great many cases of that kind.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

The hon. gentleman must be aware that when the Prime Minister made the announcement that 500,000 men would be raised, Parliament unanimously agreed to an extension of time so that there would be no need or reasonable ground for political action. That was the only ground upon which I, for one, agreed to the extension of the term of Parliament, so that political activities might be avoided and so that a fair opportunity would be given of fulfilling the pledge that I felt had been made-not only on behalf of the Government, but on behalf of the country. So that if there was political activity, it must have been of an isolated character; it could not have been general. The members on this side unanimously voted to extend the term of Parliament for one year-contrary to fundamental Liberal principles-simply in order that there should not be need for political activity until the promise made by the Prime Minister should have had reasonable opportunity of fulfilment.

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CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CURRIE:

The hon. gentleman is absolutely correct in that.

At six o'clock, the House resumed, and then took recess.

After Recess.

The House resumed at eight o'clock.

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July 13, 1917