March 19, 1918

L LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

Some .lion. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.

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Sdir WILFRID LAURIER:

(Reading):

-established under the Act for this purpose.

Should1 your son already have received an order to report for duty with a Depot Battalion, he may through his Commanding Officer make application to have his case submitted to the Leave of Absence Board for consideration.

Yours truly,

Sgd. Deputy Minister of Justice.

Sir, this is a very significant commentary upon the legislation which was passed last session. I leave it to the comments of the Government and their followers. I do not want to make the matter worse than it is ; but in. the face of all this I ask if the Government and -their followers are satisfied that in introducing that legislation they chose the host means of helping to win the war?

We are now', Sir, in the fourth year of the war. The military .situation is serious, more serious, perhaps, than at any .time since the early days of September, 1914, when the cable every day brought us news that the German, armies were .advancing towards Paris and bad almost reached the gates of that city. Luckily, we were all relieved when a few days afterwards the news came that the German advance had been stopped and their .armies1 thrown, back from, the gates of Paris, from (tlhe river Marne to the river Aisne. Four years have elapsed since then. No great advances have been made either way. The Germans have not made any headway towards Paris, and the Allied armies have in no- .sense made .a great advance towards the Rhine, .and it w'ould be a -bold man who would, say that the campaign of 1918 will result in an advance towards the Rhine such as>

we .contemplated in 1915, in; 1916 and again in 1917.

What is not beyondi doubt-, what is only too certain., is that day in. .and day out it is becoming more evident that the food problem may become perhaps the most important factor in the final decision towards victory. Upon this I offer no comment; the Government know the situation better than we ,do. I asik them for no more information than, they can give us; I do not know what their attitude will be upon this question.

But, Sir, I have only to repeat once more that we, on this side of the House, stand exactly as we have at all times stood since the war began by this declaration: It is our fervent .and solemn conviction that the issue which is now trembling in the balance of destiny is that of Freedom and Liberty itself. It is a sad thing that upon such an

issue as this, when we are battling for the sacred cause of Liberty apd Freedom, that I should have to arraign the Government for having itself .sapped the foundations of the free institutions under which we live, a deed which has already produced its evil effects. Men there are to-day who declare by voice and pen that all the militant powers are governed by the same selfish spirit. Against such an unfounded assertion I protest with all the force at my command and With all the energy I can put into my words. To say that there is no difference between the belligerent-to put Germany on the same plane as France, as the United States, as Belgium and as England, is simply to flout history. The rulers of Germany have shown that they will respect no law, neither of God, nor of nations, nor of men.

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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Hear, hear.

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L LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

Germany has shown she holds the view that there is one law for herself and .another for the nations against whom she is warring, and she is seeking to realize her schemes of aggrandisement- and ambition regardless of the consequences to others. Sir, if there is one reason more than another which makes me proud of the cause for which we are fighting, it is that in this contest the best nations of the earth-Great Britain, France, Belgium and the United States, are united in the cause of battling to the end for Freedom. Unfortunately the people of Germany do not seem to be yet sufficiently advanced in the doctrine of self-government, or in the principles of freedom, to assert the sovereign right of the people to check their rulers where those rulers go wrong. On the other band the Allied Nations are all united in proclaiming their devotion to the cause of freedom; and if any government among them should depart from that ideal, an ideal that still lives in the minds, in the hearts, and in the souls of the people, sooner or later when the greater danger which overshadows. us lias been conquered and overcome, the recusants will be called to severe account. But our first duty is to overcome the greater danger which threatens, and to that imperative duty we on this side of the House will give, with all our might, whatever i.t may be, and with our whole heart, we shall give it our undivided support.

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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN (Prime Minister):

Mr- Speaker, I am very happy to join in the appreciation which has been expressed by my right hon. friend (Sir Wilfrid Laur-

I

ier) of ' the speeches delivered by the mover and seconder of the address. The mover (Mr. Mowiat) bears a distinguished name. Before his entrance into, this House he had taken no inconsiderable part in public affairs, and his speech yesterday was delivered with earnestness and was characterized by qualities * which I am sure will give him a high place in the deliberations of the House. The: seconder of

the address has been in Parliament for many years. His devotion to public affairs, his intelligent grasp of all public questions, more than that his courage, are well known to 'all those who have been associated with him in the past. He happily sustained the excellent record which he has borne among us at all times since he first entered the House.

Now I come to some observations of my right hon. friend. With the exception of the latter part of his speech, his remarks were of an exceedingly critical nature- I danriot slay that all his observations were characterized by a keen sense of logic, because he contended in'the first place that this is precisely the same Government as in the past, while at the same time he stated there wiae a marked improvement in its personnel. I cannot quite reconcile these two ideas, and) the right hon. gentleman *would find it hard to- explain, how the Government shows that marked improvement in personnel if it is precisely the same Administration as in the past. The right hon. gentleman found a good deal of fault with tlie Government which preceded the present one, and if one may judge from his observations to-day he is likely to be as intensely critical of the Government which -was formed on 12th October last,. I quite agree with him that there is a political colour of >a - pronounced red type, if you like, in some of the gentlemen who are members of the Government. That was precisely the intention when this Administration was formed. We desired to form, and we did form, a Government based upon equal representation of both the great political parties of this country. Practically that has been accomplished, and insofar as it "has not 'been carried out to the letter it will be fulfilled to the letter at the earliest opportunity. I agree with my right hon. friend that the gentlemen who were formerly associated with him on the other side of the House were inspired by a keen and unfaltering sense of duty when they agreed to join this Government. That has been publicly emphasized by me on several occasions. In that observation

of my right hon. friend, all sides in this House will heartily concur. The present Government was formed for the purpose of giving a just representation to all those elements of the population who are animated by a sincere desire to throw the full efforts of Canada into this war. It was formed, further, with the idea of giving a just representation to the great industry of agriculture and to the labour organizations of the country. That purpose, I think, lias been immeasurably well carried out; and with all respect to hon. gentlemen opposite, I venture to .believe, that the great Liberal party of Canada is well represented on the Treasury benches of Canada to-day.

My right hon. friend denounced what he was pleased to consider, a violation of the electoral laws of Canada, when he alluded to the Order in Council passed on the 12th of March last, under which a preliminary return of the members of this House has been made. I was under the impression that this Order had been laid upon the Table yesterday, but I find that such is not the case. In order that there may he no doubt as to its purport, I shall read the Order in Council as it was passed, after .which I shall make a few observations with regard to it.

At the Government House at Ottawa.

Tuesday the 12th day of March, 191S.

Present:

His Excellency

The Governor General in Council.

Whereas owing to conditions arising out of the war there has been unforeseen and unavoidable delay in the receipt by the General P.eturning Officer of the official statements required by Subsections 4 and 9 of Section 12 of the Military Voters Act, 1917, to be recorded, signed and sent by registered post to the General Returning Officer, and it is by reason of such delay impossible that the proclaiming and return of the members of the House of Commons, as contemplated ,by Section 11 of the said1 Act can he made before 18th March, 1918, for which date Parliament is summoned to meet for the despatch of business;

And whereas confusion and great inconvenience in connection with the business of the session, and especially with regard to war measures, will ensue if the assembling of Parliament be postponed until after the fiscal year which will expire with the present month, and, it is therefore deemed1 expedient to authorize the proclamation and return of the members in anticipation of the said official statements upon the telegraphic information received of the facts which the official statements contain:

Therefore His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice and under the powers conferred by the War Measures Act, 1914, and by Section 19 of the Military Voters Act,, is

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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

That Act was debated last session and passed by the late Parliament. I do not know whether he regards it as an outrage-apparently he does-that we gave t-o the female relatives of the gallant men who are holding our battle line the right to vote at the last election. According to my right hon. friend's statement, it was an outrage-he nods his acquiescence.

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L LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

Oh, no.

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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

He does not?

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L LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

The outrage was in giving the franchise to some and taking it away from others.

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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

We did not take it from any of the women of Canada; on the. contrary, we gave it to many thousands of them. Moreover, we shall proceed at this session to give the franchise to all the women of Canada.

M-r. BUREAU: The election is over -now.

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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

The election is over, and perhaps if we had given all

women the right to vote, my hon. friend would not be here.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

The women-prevented the opposition of the friends of my right hon. friend.

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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

My right hon. friend, I believe, is distressed by other features of tlhait enactment-imore concerned by them than he ever was by any desire that the men overseas should vote. But I do not intend to enter into any discussion of what took place at the last session; we shall have enough to occupy ourselves with at the present session. So, let that past attend to itself. Let us go ahead -and do our duty in this Parliament as it lies before us.

My right hon. friend ventures to say to me that partisan returning officers and enumerators were appointed. I have been in this House for nearly twenty-two years, I have passed through six general elections, and I never passed through an election the methods of which were not discussed and criticised, -at the first session of the following Parliament, toy the party which lost. But I have never heard -any hon. gentleman go so far as my right hon. friend has gone to-day. I want to tell him that I issued a statement, which was circulated through the press of Canada near and far, asking that the returning officers should select enumerators of both political parties, -and that equal representation should be given to all interests in the country; in that selection, and in the selection of returning officers themselves, I -endeavoured so far as I was ahl-e, to- have th-at principle carried out. That is the first time such a course was ever pursued in Canada. The leader of the Opposition would never have dreamed of d-oin-g it. Men within the -sound of my voice have co-me to u* more than once and complained that by reason of the appointment of returning officers and enumerators opposed to the Government they had lost -hundreds of votes -and their election to this House had been endangered. I venture to say that since the history of this Confederation there never was an election in Canada conducted more fairly and decently than the recent one.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, o-h.

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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Possibly the

subject which excites the mirth o-f my hon. friends is the denial of free s-peech in some partis -of the country. My right hon. friend has referred to -a supposed conspiracy to defeat Mr. Oliver. By wh-om does he allege th-at that conspiracy was made or carried on ? He -lias said either too little or too much.

If he ih-as any charge to bring against the Gove-m-man-t, or against any member of the Government, or -against any official of the Government, let him go further and make his charge and we shall ih-ave it investigated. That is the way to -deal with -such -matters, if my right -hon. -friend has -anything to complain of. He regards the defeat of Mr. Oliver as due -to -a conspiracy, because in three polling divisions, I think, out of about 150, some -alleged irregularities may b-av-e taken pl-ace. I have just -been informed that ballots enough for all the voters upon the list were placed at the polls to which my right hon. friend has alluded, and th-a-t those who came -and demanded ballots- were, in- many instances at least, persons who were mot upon the list. I knew nothing of this matter and heard nothing about it until my right hon. friend allud-ed to it. As I have said, if my right hon. friend wants -any investigation into the matter, the -courts a-re open to him, or the procedure of this House is- open to him-.

My right -hon. friend sees fit -to -suggest th-at there -has -been -siom-e plot or conspiracy in connection with the voting of soldiers in Cau-ada, -and he even insinmiates

and I hope -he will permit me to say th-at I think the insinuation) was unworthy o-f 'him-that men were put in khaki in order that elections might be won. As I understand the matter, the statement of the Minister of Militia an-d Defence to- which my right hon. friend -alluded, did- no-t include the men in hospitals, the returned soldiers-, the soldiers home on leave; -it included only those who had -been raised -and recruited in Canada in order (that they might proceed- o-ver

s-eas, and therefore the supposed anomaly (to which my right hon. friend alluded might easily have -been -cleared up if he h-ad seen fit to make a little further inquiry.

I do no-t know as- to the cries which he s-ayis we-re used :in so-me -parts o-f -th-e country. There may h-av-e been cries here and there that were unworthy. There wa-s no such cry put forward on behalf of the Government, so far as I know, either here or overseas. I do not th-inik my right hon. friend, will find it -in hi-s heart to say -that the overseas men voted in favour of the Government and against 'him by reason of any compulsion or pressure, put upon-'them. Tih-ey are men who would keenly irese-nt any attempt to place compulsion upon -them. I believe that they voted -against my right hon. friend because -they -attributed to him some such spiri-t as that which I found -running through his -speech, a spirit which at-

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

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UNION

Samuel Hughes

Unionist

Sir SAM HUGHES:

I presume all the money required for our own shipbuilding will come through the ordinary channel, but may I ask, who furnishes the money for the Munitions Board? I understand it is guaranteed or paid by the Canadian Government on the security of Great Britain, hut who controls it?

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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

The British

Government are paying for the ships; and they control their construction.

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UNION
UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

The contracts have been placed by the Imperial Munitions Board and the British Government will make the payment. Provision for the money in the meantime will have to be made, as best it may, by efforts very largely on this side of the Atlantic.

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March 19, 1918