July 17, 1917

LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

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.

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LIB
LIB
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

Yes. - There we have, in a nutshell, the difficulties with which this country is faced at the present time, in this present crisis-we have had a party in ppwer who, before they came to power, hut still more since then and since they have had control .of patronage and control of means to gain support, have systematically in one part of the country cultivated a campaign of race and religious prejudice, and in another part of the country cultivated the same kind of a campaign in the opposite way. And after that Government has been in power for six years, they are still assiduously cultivating those two campaigns, one centering in Toronto and the other centering in Montreal. During the period of the anguish and agony [DOT]>! the world, they did not stop. They kept going a little harder on that account; and at last we come to the point that an election must be faced, or the people of Canada will be deprived of their rights and liberties. It is because of this condition, which our friends on the other side deliberately created, that the difficulties of to-day exist. That may be a reason why my hon. friend, as a loyal Britisher, as .one who wants to win the war, thinks that this Government should be retained in office, that these people should he maintained in positions that will enable them to still further and longer carry on their campaign. I am sorry that I have to disagree with him.

I believe that the time has come when Canada needs, as it needed in 1896, a leader who can direct by union, and not by disunion. A Government that holds power because of its ability to create strife between section and section must give

place to a Government whose business it is to bring about union between section and section in this country, because by disunion comes depression or destruction, just as by union, and by union only, can success come. We all have the light of past events to guide us in the present crisis. In 1896 the condition was almost parallel to the present condition. Our country was in a state of terrible economic depression, and our people were animated by race and religious prejudice in the same two sections of the country where those factions are governing to-day. Fortunately, when the issue was put to the people, they made a wise choice. They selected as the leader of the Government my right hon. friend the leader of the Opposition (Sir Wilfrid Laurier), who has devoted his life and his attainments to the great work of building up a united Canada. And when in the fullness of time the power was placed in his hands, from 1896 to 1911, under a policy of union there was progress, and Canada made her greatest develop-nent since Canada was Canada. She progressed from greater to greater, until in 1911, when my hon. friend was defeated at the polls, he was defeated on the cry ''Let well enough alone." May I hope that this condition will be repeated when this election which my hon. friend refers to takes place, because surely, if we needed a change in 1896, we need a change ten times more in 1917. We did not have to face those world conditions of crises that we - face to-day. But we must face those conditions to-day, and we can only do so with credit to out-selves by the establishment of union and efficiency, and we can only get that union and efficiency by retiring from office those whose business it is to create disunion, and those whose administration from the day they took office to the present time has been an example of inefficiency such as this country never saw before. I will not discuss the inefficiency of this war time Administration, but I say that, when the election is held, no amount of flag-waving, and no amount of shouting patriotism, will prevent the people of Canada, who have made their sacrifices of money and blood, from demanding an accounting from those who are responsible for the conduct of our affairs during these years. We make no apology for demanding an accounting at their hands.

My hon. friend was. worried about the impossibility of the soldiers at the front being able to cast their votes in any

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LIB
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

It had relation to-I am afraid after all that my hon. friend made so many turns in his argument-

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LIB
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I am afraid my hon. friend made so many turns in his argument that some of the corners have escaped my memory. I was so interested in following my hon. friend, whom I had known as the most pronounced pacifist, the most pronounced free-trader and the most pronounced advocate of sound and honest Government and British precedent, in his reversal of all those positions, that I am sure he will pardon me if I have not been able to recall all of the many turns in his argument.

The House divided.

The motion of Sir Robert Borden was declared carried on the following division:

Messieurs:

Brouillard, Marcil (Bonaventure),

Buchanan, Marcile (Bagot),

Bureau, Martin,

Cardin, Michaud,

Carvell, Molloy,

Copp, Mondou,

Delisle, Murphy,

Demers, Nesbitt,

Descarries, Oliver,

Devlin, Pacaud,

Douglas, Papineau,

Ethier, Paquet,

Fortier, Pardee,

Gauthier Patenaude,

(St. Hyacinthe), Power,

Gauvreau, Proulx, [DOT]

German, ' Pugsley, .

Girard, Robb,

Graham, Ross,

Kay, Seguin,

Kyte, Tobin,

Lachance, Truax,

Lafortune, Turgeon,

Lanctot, Verville,

Lapointe White (Victoria, Alta.),

(Montreal, St James), Wilson (Laval).-62.

Ames (Sir Herbert), Armstrong (Lambton), Armstrong (York, O.), Arthurs,

Ball,

Barnard,

Bennett (Simcoe), Best,

Blain,

Borden (Sir Robert), Bowman,

Boyce,

Boys,

Brabazon,

Bradbury,

Burnham,

Burrell,

Carrick,

Champagne,

Clark (Bruce),

Clark (Red Deer), Clarke (Wellington), Clements,

Cochrane,

Cromwell,

Crofchers,

Cruise,

Currie,

Doherty,

Donaldson,

Fisher,

Foster (Sir George), Fripp,

Glass,

Green,

Guthrie,

Hanna,

Hazen,

Henderson,

Hughes (Sir Sam), Jameson,

Kemp,

Lalor,

Lewis,

Macdonell,

McLean

(Queens, P.E.I.), Meighen,

Middlebro,

Morphy,

Morris,

Morrison,

Munson,

Nicholson,

Nickle,

Northrup,

Paul,

Reid,

Robidoux,

Roche,

Rogers,

Schaffner,

Scott,

Sevigny,

Sexsmith,

Shepherd,

Smith,

Steele,

Stewart (Hamilton), Stewart (Lunenburg), Sutherland,

Taylor,

Thoburn,

Thompson (Y ukon ), Thomson ( Qu'Appelle ), Thornton,

Turriff,

Wallace,

Webster,

Weichel,

Wilson (Wentworth), Wright-82.

Ministerial.

Marshall,

McCurdy,

Hartt,

Davidson,

Kemp,

Cockshutt,

Stanfield,

Chabot,

Elliot,

Alguire,

Opposition.

Neely,

Maclean, A. K.,

Thomson,

Chisholm,

Robb,

Charlton,

Macdonald,

Beland,

Hughes, J. J-, McMillan.

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LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR:

I was paired with the hon. member for Vancouver (Mr. Stevens). Otherwise I should have voted against the the resolution.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. E. LAPOINTE:

I was paired with the Minister of Finance (Sir Thomas White). Otherwise I should have voted against the resolution.

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD:

I was paired with the hon. member for Colchester (Mr. Stanfield). Otherwise I should have voted against the resolution.

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LIB

John Angus McMillan

Liberal

Mr. McMILLAN:

I was paired with the hon. member for Stormont (Mr. Alguire). Otherwise I should have voted against the resolution.

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CON

Fleming Blanchard McCurdy (Parliamentary Secretary of Militia and Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McCURDY:

I was paired with the junior member for Halifax (Mr. A. K. Maclean). Otherwise I should have voted for the resolution.

Messieurs:

Main motion agreed to.

Achim,

Barrette,

Bellemare,

Boivin,

Bourassa,

Boyer,

Laurier (Sir Wilfrid), Lemieux,

MacNutt,

McCoig,

McCrea,

McKenzie,

On motion of Sir Robert Borden, the House adjourned at 11.58 p.m.

Wednesday, July 18, 1917.

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July 17, 1917