April 5, 1918

UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member may proceed. Before the hon. member does so I had better state that under a motion of this character, which is submitted without notice, the rules are very clear that the discussion must be strictly relevant to the subject. The authorities are all agreed that discussion must he much more strictly confined to the subject thap is the case with an ordinary substantive motion. The wording of the motion, as submitted by the hon. member, appears to indicate a desire on his part to widen the scope of the discussion. The rule is clear that only one matter can be discussed upon a motion of this character. That matter is the recent unfortunate disturbances in the city of Quebec, and the wording of the hon. member's resolution does not help to enable him to widen the field of discussion. I deem it my duty to direct the attention of hon. members to the rule in this respect, and I ask their assistance to see that the field of discussion is not unduly widened.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. J. A. CURRIE:

Mr. Speaker, it is with a great deal of diffidence that I have brought this motion forward. Every one is conscious-no one in this House more than I-that we have had serious disturbances in the city of Quebec, and in the province of Quebec generally. I have not brought the motion forward, as has been suggested, for the purpose of self advertisement in any manner, shape or form. I have not raised it for the purpose of stirring up any political trouble or faction; and as far as I am personally concerned, my treatment of this subject will be as mild as the tone of any discussion that has ever taken place in this House. But it must be noticeable to every person, it must be common knowledge to everyone, that if there is anything that this House should discuss, it is this very matter which I have brought before you to-day.

For nearly a year this question has been before the public. In undertaking to raise it here, great pressure was brought to bear upon me not to proceed with it to-day. I

could have rightly brought this question before the House in two ways. I could have brought it up, as I am now doing, in the old-fashioned method of having a discussion on a public question without bringing on a vote. No vote of want of confidence is asked under this motion; all that is sought is a simple discussion. It is very important, indeed, that the House should discuss matters of this character relating to documents laid upon the Table by ministers of the Crown. Under the rules of the House, when a minister answers a question or makes a statement to the House, no discussion is allowed, and the only way in which a discussion can be obtained on this subject is under the present rule by moving the adjournment of the House to discuss a matter of grave urgency. There is another way by which discussion could be caused, and that is by moving a motion on going into Committee of Supply. Now we all know that the House has had very little opportunity since it has met this session to bring up any question on going into Committee of Supply. If this question were brought up on the motion to go into Committee of Supply, it would have had to be brought up as a want of confidence motion in the Government of the day. Now as I am one of the supporters of the Government of the day, and wholly in sympathy with the ideas and objects that the Union Government has placed before the people, and it would not look very well for me to raise this question through the medium of a motion of want of confidence. For that reason, I have had recourse to the present procedure, and there will be a free and open discussion of the whole question, and for such free and open discussion the whole country is waiting.

These are my reasons for having brought the matter forward in this manner. I hope to lay my statement of the case clearly before the House, and then the ministers of the Crown, as well as other members of the House, will have the opportunity of discussing it fully and freely. Now under other circumstances this question would not have been of very great importance, because every member who sits in this House, certainly all the old members, kno*v that during the last session of the House there were frequent outbursts of rioting of this character in the province of Quebec. The matter was suppressed by the newspapers and nothing was said about it in this House, because during the last session every member felt under a great deal of restraint. We could not criticise anything

openly and above board, for the simple reason that voluntary service was the method then in operation of securing men for the war, and if a man spoke out his mind here on any of the public questions at that time, it would have been said that he was injuring recruiting. In fact, on more than one occasion at that time matters were raised in the House which the public press declared were injurious to that cause. As a soldier, as one who has taken part in the war, as one whose whole heart is in this war-

Some hon. -MEMBERS: Oh! Oh!

Mr. CURiRIE: I have taken a little part in the war.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh ! Oh!

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

As one who has taken a

little part in the war, and whose whole heart is in the successful prosecution of the war, I desire to see that out brave troops at the front are 'Supported in every possible way. As I sat in the House last session there often occurred to me the words of Robert Louis Stevenson in one of his famous essays, (where Jhe said that the greatest lies are 'told in -silence. I heard things said in this House, which, had they been uttered outside, and I had ibeen free from any responsibility in 'connection with voluntary service, I would have denounced as untruths. But noiw the Military Service Act is in operation and we axe taking men for the war under the form of conscription, and the lips of men in this House and in the country need no longer be still for fear of injuring voluntary recruiting. I have made it my rule of conduct, and I am going to continue to do so from now on to the end of the war, that in iany action or matter that- comes before this House, or is raised outside, to first ask myself the question whether il should take a certain course which might be pleasing to the enemy, or adopt anobbeT .course which would be the opposite of that, and which would be in the interests of my country. So that I say in whai; I am going to do I am adopting the motto of Saint Gregory, " Better a scandal than a lie."

Now this question might not have come before the House at -all. A little bit of rioting might not have! Mattered very much, 'but -what do we find? 'The condition of affairs as far as this war is concerned- 'because this country is at war and at war very seriously, although a great many people do not realize it-the condition of affairs

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

I do not see what connection the remarks of the hon. member have with the subject under discussion. I do. not wish to restrict the hon. member unduly, but I must ask him to adhere more closely to the subject. It is inevitable, perhaps, that the question of national service must be touched upon or referred1 to, hut I would ask him to confine himself as closely as possible to the present subject.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

I am, very thankful to

you, Mr. Speaker, for calling my attention to this matter. Perhaps I was getting a little too lengthy in my remarks. However, I will try to come to the point quickly and say that the late Government introduced into this House the Military Service Act, and the Military Service Act that came before this House was not such a Military Service Act as that Government would have produced had there not been certain elements in the Government which were opposed to compulsion of any kind in order to send men. to the front. We all know of the trouble that occurred. Ministers resigned and left the Government. Finally we had this law brought down by which a hundred thousand men were going to be secured by means of what is called the draft. Everybody in the corridors knew that it was a joke, that that law which was 'brought down was not the law that was really required, but it was the law, and as such it was shot full of holes. The enforcement of the Act was virtually left to the lawyers and judges and officials; if they did not wish to enforce it vigourously, every man in the country could avoid coming under its provisions. Why was the law formed in that way? I will tell you. There was intense opposition to the law on the part of our friends from Quebec and of members from that province within the ranks o,f the Conservative party. There was a constant agitation and struggle so to keep down the Act that it might be delayed or that the war might end or something else happen before it could be really enforced. But the measure was brought

down; we passed it, and we passed also the War-time Elections Act. I say without hesitation that had the Military Service Act been adopted by this House after the passage of the War-time Elections Act, the provisions of the former would have been much more stringent. As it is, the law is not as strong as the first law they had in England-and in England that law was subsequently amended so as to be stronger. We shall likely have to do the same thing here before the session is over.

So, when the War-time Elections Act was passed, the Government had to face the possibility of hostility in the West as well as hostility east of the Ottawa river. I have nothing to say against my good friends in the province of Quebec. Men from that province fought with me in the trenches in the greatest battle of the war, and I can testify to their courage,

4 p.m. devotion and bravery, because no braver men ever lived. Had they been properly managed by their leaders; had they not been misled and misrepresented, I firmly believe in my heart that no part of Canada would have taken part in the war more joyfully or more gladly than the province of Quebec. If Quebec has not done its duty, it is not on account of the people of that province; it is on account of their so-called political leaders.

As I say, we had to face an adverse vote in Quebec and in tihe West, and men like myself realized that if the Government had gone to the country without first adopting the War-time Elections Act the control of the country would have been lost to anti-British

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

The control of this country would have been lost by the British element and handed over to the anti-British element for the next twenty-five years.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER :

I wish the hon. member would adhere more strictly to the subject under consideration.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
L LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal

Mr. E. LAPOINTE:

Let him blow off.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

What did we have to do? We had to deprive men of the vote, because we wished this to be a British country. We know very well that if the Opposition party had won the election contest, the men from the provinces who voted on the referendum in favour of conscription would be conscripted, and those who voted against

conscription would not be conscripted. That was the question that was up at the last election. Well, we went before the electors, and the electors endorsed the Military Service Act and everything that we did. The men of other parts of the country have been conscripted; they have carried on under the law, with very few complaints. But in the province of Quebec every effort has been put forth to prevent the law from going into effect and to keep the men from going to the war.

I would not have brought this question forward to-day did I not feel that unless [DOT]some drastic steps are taken-'more drastic even than have 'been mentioned in the House to-day-Quebec will not be conscripted until after the war. Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, why I say that. Up to the present time the province of Quebec has given only 5,000 men under the Military Service Act, and of that number fully 3,500 are English-speaking. So that our Frenchspeaking friends, who should' be the first to stand loyally by us, have given only

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order. The hon. gentlemen would, perhaps, be in order in referring incidentally to conscription or the Military Service Act so far as it bears upon the question of the riots at Quebec. Under this motion, however, he is certainly not in order in entering into a discussion of conscription or the Military Service Act, as he apparently purposes to do by giving figures and going into details.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

I will try, Mr. Speaker, to keep out of difficulty as much as possible.. In order, however, to make my point clear and to carry on the discussion of all matters connected with the rioting in the province of Quebec, it is nceessary that I should take into consideration the number of men enlisted under the Military Service law in the province of Quebec. You will note, Sir, that my resolution says " Quebec," not " the city of Quebec." In saying that this law has so far taken only 5,000 men in the province of Quebec, I think that I am not infringing on the rules. However, I will try to keep as straight as possible, because I want all these facts to go before the public; it is not in the public interest that any of these matters should be stifled. I do not wish to cause any trouble or raise any disturbance; nor do I wish, to quote the language of the papeis, to "blow off the roof." We are not blowing off any roofs. I believe that the time has not yet come when a member of this House shpuld sit up like a stuffed manikin at a puppet show

and say or do nothing in regard to any question of the day. Every member has a perfect right to speak out here.

In the province of Quebec 60,000 appeals under the Military Service Act are pending, and only about 600 of them have reached the Central Appeal Judge. If six months after the passing of the law, 1,500 men can be secured in the province of Quebec, I leave it to members of the House to figure how many years it will cake to obtain the balance.

I now wish to discuss the matter of who is to blame for this state of affairs.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
L LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

has been virtually accepted as tbe leader of tbe Nationalist party in the province of Quebec, should have been interned. The country could very well afford to do without him; there is nothing he is needed for; he is not making munitions, or farminghelping to do something that would assist Canada or the Allies in this war-nor is he soldiering, though he is called a colonel. Why, in Toronto recently, a man got up on a public platform and said that the soldiers at the front had taken a little too much rum on Christmas day. He was locked up and his badges and uniform stripped from him, and he was thrown out of the army. While that was happening in Toronto, La-vergne has heen allowed to roam at large in Quebec, preaching seditious doctrines, and generally doing as he pleased. What is more, when the Government decided to end these riots in Quebec, the representative of the Department of Justice, if we are to believe the newspapers, went to Quebec and sent for Lavergne and his partner to find out what -could be done. Lavergne laid down his terms. First he wanted the troops withdrawn. Then he wanted the police withdrawn, and iwhat in the world else was theTe for us to do but leave the country to -him and his friends. I understand that the officer of the Government refused to entertain such a proposal, and I am very glad that this Government had a man with backbone enough for that; but 1 am sorry he called on Mr. Lavergne at all. Lavergne should have been utterly ignored; in fact he should have been the first man placed under arrest in Quebec when the riots broke out.

What effect did the agitation and the disturbances have on the right hon. leader of the Opposition. I -have recollections of the day when, though opposed to him politically, I greatly admired him. He was a stout,' strong Britisher, and we all loved him for that. He had the courage to spieak up against the Nationalists at the beginning. I have his speeches here, and I sometimes enjoy an hour or so reading them over; those on British topics are well worth reading; if we forget- what has occurred during the past year. 1 used to think he was of the old type of French Jacobite, the beausabre, who would occasionally take an old rusty tricolour cockade out of his pocket, -brush it lovingly and then put it back and -come up the steps whistling Marl-Vook and the Sambre and the Meuse. I used to think be drew nis inspiration from brave France, that fountain from which fresh drafts of Juberty come daily to a struggling world. Here is what he said at

a speech delivered in the province of Quebec on June 24, 1889 at the national festival of the French Canadians and I wish we had a few more speeches from him now like this:

But Quebec -possesses another charm which can be enjoyed in all its plenitude only by us French Canadians, it is the charm of memories. Men of Quebec, you are privileged beings. Antiquity has preserved for us the memory of a famous epitaph, calling on the passer-by to stop, as he was treading on the ashes of a hero, but you, men of Quebec, you breathe, live, and have your -being among the dust of heroes.

At each step you make in your city, a mom-ument, a building, a stone, a glimpse of the sky at the end of a narrow street calls to mind a whole world of heroic events. Today you have raised1 another monument which will "forever -perpetuate the memory of the cross planted by the envoy of the King of France when he took possession of this, country in the name of his royal master.

This country, however, has not remained French soil. Still we have remained true to the memory of our old mother country.

Although separated from France for over a century and differing from her at present in several ways, we have always worshiped her in our hearts, watching from afar, but with ceaseless interest all the vicissitudes of her agitated career, and sharing in her joys and triumphs, as well as in her disasters and sorrows, still more, indeed, in her sorrows than in her joys.

Adversity is the test of affection, and a appeal to you -all if it is not true that we never realized how dear France was to- us as we realized it during the period of her reverses, during the fatal years of 1870 and 1871, when the telegraph brought us the news of defeat instead of the victories which we had looked for. And when there was no longer room for doubt, when, having hoped against hope, we had, in order to convince ourselves, to read over and over again the text of the harsh law imposed by the conqueror and when Alsace and Lorraine were violently severed from French territory, I ask you if .we had been deprived! of one of our own limbs could we have suffered keener anguish.

What nobler words could any man utter than these? Does the hon. gentleman still believe in these sentiments, and is he prepared to implement the sentiments that have brought him into power-for that speech was delivered just previous to that great movement in the hiistory of Canada that sent him into office in 1896? No, the shadow of Bourassa and the haunting stars of Lavergne have dimmed his eyes to the troubles of Franco. He sat silent in this House day -after day and night after night, when men were being shot, rioting was taking place in the city of Montreal, and when dynamite was used to intimidate people who ispoke in favour of the Military Service Act and compulsion. I pointed that out to him shortly before the session closed, and I told him the people .of this country

would take dire vengeance on him for that, and I think they have. Now we are confronted again with the same topic. This law is not as complete as it should be. It should be made more complete. We have no desire to do any injury to those who are tilling the soil honestly. The farmer has just as high a duty to perform as the man in the trenches, and the man who is making munitions is the same as the man in the trenches.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
UNION

Samuel Hughes

Unionist

Sir SAM HUGHES:

A little bit easier.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

and the dying. All these things come to my . mind, and I can see before me the pallid faces of the dead, who have perished for you and for me, and the mangled forms of the wounded who are being carried off the field. To you, my comrades in this House, who have served in this war-there are a few of us here, thank God-I say, " Keep faith with the living and the dead, as you promised, in Flanders Fields."

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink

April 5, 1918