I think it must be the fault of the Government, the fault of those who have the direction of our affairs. I cannot imagine whose fault it can be if not theirs. Certainly, I must say, on behalf of the members of the Opposition, with whom I am sorry to say my hon. friend is so disassociating himself, it is not our fault.
Why is it we have no responsibility in the matter if the people of Canada have not yet been consulted? The urgency of united action is greater to-day than it was a year aigo because of conditions at the battle line. Because the administration of the affairs of Canada, in military as well as in civil matters, has been such as to bring about a condition for which it is the right arid the duty of the leader and members of the Opposition, and people of this country, to hold responsible those who have been given the responsibility. There is no escape from the conclusion that if our system of voluntary enlistment of men for military service has broken down, it is because of the lack of foresight, the lack of management, the lack of inspiration, the lack, Mr. Speaker, of common honesty and common deceny on the part of the Government. Are the people of
Canada to be blamed? Is tbeir patriotism to be challenged? Is their willingness to sacrifice to be challenged? Are the people who, in the face of such mismanagement as has disgraced this country, military mismanagement as well as civil, have sent nearly 350,000 men across the seas, to be challenged, or is their patriotism to be called in question? I say, no. It is not against the people of a country which has sent so many men, which has sent such good men, which has stood the sacrifices that Canada has made, that such a challenge can be thrown. It is because the Government has failed to give that leadership, that inspiration, that direction to our affairs, both civil and military, that would enable that enthusiasm, that spirit of sacrifice to Still go forward, that the condition has arisen with which we find ourselves confronted to-day. _ _
My hon. friend has suggested that it is beneath the dignity of the people of Canada, that it would be a calamity to our country, if not to the Empire and the world, if the question of the efficiency of the weapon with which our soldiers were armed should be considered or discussed, or should be laid at the charge of the Government at the present time. Is that a light thing, is that a subject for the laughter with which my hon. friend's very witty sallies were greeted on the other side of the House? Is it a subject for laughter that we placed in the hands of our sons, our brothers and our fathers, a weapon that failed them in the hour of danger? Is it a light thing, I say, that having the authority of a General of the British army that that was the condition of affairs, we send division after division into the field to face the Germans armed with the same rifle and suffering the same losses, and keep that rifle until a second general made the same report a year after the first report was made, and when we had lost thousands of men in Flanders, beginning with the battle of Langemarck and ending with the battle of Zillebeke? My hon. friend has, may I say, peculiar ideas as to what is matter for light consideration. These are not light considerations, as far as I am concerned. And, charged as I have been in this House during past years with some measure or share of responsibility for the direction of the affairs of this country, the knowledge lies heavy on my soul that I did not take stronger measures to bring this state of affairs to the attention of the country, and to cure that terrible condition sooner than it was cured.
We are not to have an election because if we have an election we shall not be able to collect for the Patriotic Fund, for the Belgian Relief Fund, for the Red Cross Fund. Is that a reason why the people of Canada should, not enjoy the same right of selfGovernment as the people of any other part of the British Empire? Surely the reason given is not sufficient. We need an election so that we shall not have to gather money for the Patriotic Fund, so that we shall not have to pass the hat and dispense charity, charity to the dependents of those who are giving their lives for that liberty that we profess to prize so highly. If there is one thing of which more than another Canada should be ashamed in connection with this war it is the fact that the dependents of its soldiers have to depend on benevolence, on charity, for a considerable portion of that which is necessary to their actual existence. I do not know what is the case in England, I find no fault with the conditions in any other country; I care not what they may be. W'e owe the men who are fighting our battles a debt;'we owe a debt to their dependents; and we have not been paying that debt as we should have paid it. We should not dole out charity to the dependents of the men who are giving their lives; we should not send busybodies around to the houses of these women to find out whether they spend a dollar here or a dollar there, and threaten that if they do not spend to suit us what we have given them, they will be deprived of it in the future. Supposing our men at the front were to take the same attitude as the gentlemen and ladies who dispense the Patriotic Fund and say: We will go
over the top if we like, and we will not if we do not like. If they dealt'by us as we have dealt by their dependents, the credit of Canada would not stand so high in the estimation of the world. We want a general election; put it up to the people of Canada whether or not they want to do the right thing by their own people. We cannot get an assurance of that from the Government of the day. When such a proposal was made to the Government we were told that it was a dilatory motion. We were told that we were delaying the sending of men to fill up the battle line in France because we wanted to get the assurance of the Government- that the dependents of soldiers would be protected.
An election is spoken of as a calamity, something that will do permanent injury to' the country. What has happened to the people of Canada since 1911? What has happened to the people of Canada, who have
made such sacrifices as they have made in the years that have intervened, that they are not to be trusted to cast their ballots, to express their opinions? Surely, if any people in the world ever earned the right to govern themselves, the people of Canada have earned that right. Surely the people of Canada have earned the right to do as a nation what they have done by provinces in nearly every province since the war began. Why should not the same people in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec-in every province but one-why should not these same Canadians who are able to conduct their provincial elections during this time of war without any Catastrophe occurring to the country-oh, I beg pardon, there was catastrophe, and that was it. I understand -that that is where the calamity is to occur. What happened in Manitoba, what happened in New Brunswick, what happened in British Columbia -is liable to happen in the Dominion, and it would be a calamity that it should happen? It was not a calamity that the people turned the -rascals o-ut in British Columbia, it was not a calamity to turn them out in Manitoba, it was not a calamity to turn them out in New Brunswick
and it will not be a calamity to turn them out in the Dominion.
My hon. friend made a suggestion as to what would happen in the prosecution of
the war because of the character of a portion of the support upon which the right hon. leader of the Opposition (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) would depend if he were called to power. It seems to me that the allusion was somewhat unfortunate, because, if there was anything wrong with that support, that is to say with the support of the French people from the province of Quebec, -surely it has been -wrong with our friends' who are in office to-day. They had the support of twenty-eight out of sixty-five seats in the province of Quebec. And does my friend recall how they-got that support and held it? They got it by proclaiming that Canada owed nothing to England. They persisted in that claim, and they are claiming it today, and the men who are most vociferous in claiming it to-day are the very men who by their claims in 1911 were aJble to place the friends of my hon. friend in power and to keep them there. There is a difference, however. The right hon. leader of the Opposition (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) does enjoy the support of the majority of the- electors
of the province of Quebec, has. the support of a majority of the representatives of that province in this House; and my right hon. friend knows, and every reading man in this country knows, that the men who support him were elected on the policy of active assistance to the British Empire on land or sea in case of war, elected against every effort, every eloquence, every misrepresentation, that those from that province who support my hon. friends on the other side could bring to bear-financed in large part by those others supporting our friends on the other side who trade, year in and year out, on their loyalty to Great Britain.
.Mr. McKENZIE: And knighted for doing it.