April 5, 1918

L LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

formed their whole duty. The statement of the Prime Minister proceeds:

*The incidents which have taken place have made it apparent to the Government that some amendments will toe necessary to the Military Service Act. One of those which is now in preparation is this: That (persons who engage

in active or forcible resistance to the enforcement of the Act shall toe forthwith enrolled in the military forces of Canada, without regard to whether their class has been called out.

Three days ago the Prime Minister, speaking in his place, stated that, in order to put in uniform a man who is not to-day called upon to go on service by the law, it was necessary to have an amendment to the Military Act. To-day this is done by Order in Council. Where is the authority of the Governor in Council to amend the statute? My hon. friend will tell me he has that power under the War Measures Act. If he tells me that, I will tell him if he has that power under, the War Measures Act, he has the same power to conscript everybody, without the authority of Parliament, simply by Order in Council. But he has not that authority, and he knows it well. He had to pass a statute last session in order to enforce conscription. That law has been passed, and now when he tells me that this law which was placed on the statute last year can be amended by Order in Council, I say it is simply an abuse of the powers which are vested in the Governor in Council, and it is assuming a power which the Governor in Council does not possess..

We are here to-day, proud to say that we are British subjects. At all events I am proud to say so. I have always proclaimed myself a British subject. No man is a greater admirer of British institutions than I am. And why? Because if there is one authority in the British Empire . which is the supreme authority, it is not the power of the King, but it is the majesty of the law; and a law can be destroyed only by another law. But let me call attention of my hon. friend to this precedent: In 1798, when Ireland was in a state of rebellion, the French had sent an expedition to Ireland under the command of General Hoche, and Wolfe Tone, a member of that expedition, was captured by the military authorities, court-martialled and sentenced to death. But habeas corpus proceedings were taken, and Wolfe Tone was taken out of the custody of the military authorities, and declared a free subject-free from the military authorities altogether. My last word is this: We must have peace, we must

have order, we must have protection for our property and the law must be observed. I say this with the greater authority in that I am not a believer in the law. I thought it was a mistake, but it has been adopted by the Canadian people, and the will of the people is the law.

Eight hon. Sir ROBERT BORDEN (Prime

Minister): Mr. Speaker, I have listened with a great deal of interest to what has been put forward in this debate. I shall not pretend, in making the few observations that I shall offer, to- follow precisely everything that has been alleged by all the speakers. My -hon. friend from Simcoe (Mr. Currie) has gone into these matters with a good deal of detail as to which it is perhaps not necessary that I should follow him. I should not care to commit myself absolutely to his conception of the events that occurred during the last session of Parliament. He, and the hon. member for Vancouver (Mr. Stevens) as well, seemed to be impressed with the idea that the Military Service Act has been enforced with too great moderation in the province of Quebec, and my right hon. friend the leader of the Opposition (Sir Wilfrid LaurieT) is impressed with a contrary appreciation of the situation in that province.

There were some observations made in regard to the newspaper press of the country and particularly the newspaper press in the province of Quebec. The general principle of British parliamentary government-and that principle has received no stronger illustration than in the United Kingdom itself-has been not to' interfere with the right of free speech unless it is absolutely necessary by reason of a great emergency. Any one who has seen men, even during this war, airing their opinions and criticisms in -Hyde Park will realize the truth of what I am saying. I do not know, anything about the advertisement which is alleged tp have been inserted in Le Devoir. I presume the hon. gentleman who brought it to the attention of the House is right in his conception that these matters have been left to some business agency apart altogether from any consideration of patronage and that the advertisement has found its way into the columns of Le Devoir in that way. I do not know of any other explanation.

Reference was also made by the hon. member for Simcoe to Col. Machin's interview with Col. Lavergne. I have documents under my, hand to show that the interview which took place, I think at the suggestion of Mr. Taschereau, was not an interview

by Col. Machin in any official capacity as he so explained to Col. Lavergne at the time.

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

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

Alleyn Tasche-reau?

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

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Alleyn Tasche-reau. I have Mr. Taschereau's statement and Col. Machines statement in regard to it. It is not necessary for me to stop to read these to the House. I shall give them to the .press afterwards if necessary. At all events I believe that the statements of these gentlemen give a correct version of what occurred.

The hon. -member for Simcoe seemed to think -that very drastic amendments should be made to the Military Service Act. He suggests that every man in Canada should have been taken from his occupation and put under drill at once.

Mr. -CURRIE: I did not say that; I said those in class " A ".

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

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

He suggests

that every one in class "A" should -be taken from his ordinary and usual avocation and * put under drill at once. My hon. friend and the members of the House generally will realize that such was not the principle upon which the Military Service Act was passed. The Military Service Act received the approval of a very large majority in the last Parliament and it also received very strong support from the people o-f Canada in the last election. It was based upon the principle that we should endeavour to find out, as to every man in Canada, whether or not he would give better service at the front or better service in the avocation in which he is engaged. That was the principle which commended itself to us and that was the principle which was affirmed by the people at the last election. I do not deny that it may be necessary, and T have so stated in the -House, to make amendments to the Military Service Act, and as my right hon. friend has observed, we have -made one already. I shall come to his criticism of the action of the Government in -that regard in a very few moments.

The hon. member for Vancouver, if I gathered his meaning correctly, seemed to be under the impression that there had been one application o-f this law in eight provinces of Canada and an entirely different application of it in the province o-f Quebec. So far as- the efforts of the Government are concerned I must take the strongest possible objection to such a statement. There has been nothing of the kind. The effort of the Government has been to enforce this law impartially, considerately, firmly and without any distinction whatever in every -province of Canada. That has been the purpose and it has been carried out to the best of our ability. I want to say, in justice to my hon. friend the Minister of Justice (Mr. Doherty), that no man could have worked more indefatigably to give that Act effect in the province of Quebec than he has done during all the time that he has had it under his administration. Hon. gentlemen who are suggesting that the Government have been lax in the enforcement of this law in Quebec should recollect that it has been enforced with sufficient firmness in that province to bring about the unfortunate conditions which have prevailed in the city of Quebec during the past week. On the one hand we are told that the disturbances in the city of Quebec are due to the fact that we have enforced this law too rigorously and too sternly

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

Some hon. MEMBERS:

No. _

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

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

And on the other hand we are told that the law has -been enforced in a very lax manner in that province.

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

Henry Herbert Stevens

Unionist

Mr. STEVENS:

That is not what -I said. What I said was that the way in which the Act was being administered in the province of Quebec was entirely different from the way it was being administered in the other eight provinces.

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

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

I accept the correction of my hon. friend and I shall come to that in a moment. What step did the Government take when this Act was first proclaimed? The Minister of Justice brought a recommendation to Council that a Military Service -Council should be -formed. The Deputy Minister of Justice was a member of that Council of which the Minister of Justice was chairman. The gentlemen who were selected were very able and capable men. They were Colonel Biggar from Edmonton, Colonel Moss from Toronto, Colonel Machin from the western part of the province of Ontario and Mr. Lor-anger from Quebec. They have been active and indefatigable, giving their whole time to the work and there has been no step taken and no act done or left undone in so far as I am aware, without their absolute approval and concurrence.

I realize perfectly that the conditions in the province of Quebec' have made it difficult, not to enforce the Act, but to enforce it with the expedition whi-ch the Government, and the country for that matter, would

have desired. I entirely understand and appreciate that, hut I should like the House and the country to understand that there are some misapprehensions abroad as to what the total result of that Act has 'been up to the present time. My right hon. friend (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) told ue a moment ago the we would have had better results in procuring reinforcements for the overseas service if we had adhered to the voluntary system. He did not give us any evidence in support of that statement, and I venture to say that his view on that subject cannot be supported :by any evidence.

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

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

In the month of August last we recruited 3,117 men. In the month of September last we recruited 3,588 men, and: there is not the slightest doubt that a good many of these imen oarne to the colours for the reason that they knew compulsory service was about to toe enforced.

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

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Without that Bill before the House there is noi question that the number who came forward in that way would have been very much smaller. What have we done during the last seven weeks? I have given the figures for August and September, which comprise nearly nine weeks, but in the last seven weeks, by means of the Military Service Act, we have brought to the colours 16,000 men. I venture to say, with the utmost possible confidence, that no such results, no results even approaching them, could have been attained if we had continued' the system of voluntary service.

I should like to say further that since the first day of October last, which is about the date on which this Act was proclaimed, 50,000 men have joined the Canadian colours; 18,000 of these have been recruited in the United States, .and 32,000 have been recruited under the Military Service Act. From the first day of October, 1917, to the thirtieth day of this present month of April, if the anticipated sailings for the present month are such, as I have no doubt they will be, we shall have sent overseas to the support of the gallant men who are fighting our battles there, about 47,000 Canadian soldiers.

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

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Now, with regard to conditions in the province of Quebec, I have stated publicly, and I state it here again, that in many parts of that province exemptions were granted almost wholesale by the tribunals of first instance. There is

no doubt about that. What was the result? The Government had given its pledge to the people of Canada that it would see to it that that Act was enforced fairly, and impartially, and firmly in every province. What, then, was our duty? Our duty was to see to it that by appeals we1 brought these cases up to the Central Appeal Judge, so that in the end there would be a fair, a just, a uniform and an impartial administration of that Act for all the provinces and all the people of Canada.

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

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

We have done that. A great many appeals have already come up from the province of Quebec to the Central Appeal Judge-appeals lodged by the Government of this (country, and necessarily so, in order that there might he a just and fair enforcement of the Act. I believe that there are at the present time above twenty thousand appeals which have been disposed of by the appelate tribunals in the province of Quebec, and which are being brought up to the Central Appeal Judge as rapidly as possible.

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

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. J. A. CURRIE:

Is it true that only six hundred of these appeals have reached the Central Appeal Judge?

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

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

I am not prepared to state how many have reached him. I say that that number I have mentioned are ready to come forward. In order that they may be brought forward they have to be classified, information has to be procured, a ease has to be stated for the Central Appeal Judge, and eventually, when the appeals begin to come forward in rapidly increasing numbers in the immediate future, it will probably be necessary that the Central Appeal Judge, in order that they may be expeditiously disposed of, shall have further assistance, which he can obtain under the terms of the Military Service Act. But besides that, as I understand, there are more than twenty thousand other cases in the province of Quebec, nearly all, if not all, of which have been passed upon by the tribunals of first instance, hut which have not yet been passed upon by the appelate tribunals. Of course, it was the duty of the Government, with such a mass of appeals in that province, to expedite by every possible means in its power the hearing of those appeals, and that the Government has done. The Minister of Justice, since he returned to Ottawa, about the middle of January, made a personal visit to the city of Montreal, saw the Chief Justice and the other judges of the courts there, and urged upon

them, in the national interest, the absolute necessity that they should lay everything else to one side and expedite these appeals. He had an interview also with Sir Francois Lemieux, Chief Justice of the Court in the Quebec district, and urged the same consideration upon him. The Minister of Justice found on the part of those judges an absolute disposition to lend themselves to the enforcement of the Act in this way. They have been disposing of these appeals very rapidly indeed in the city of Montreal, and I believe also in the city of Quebec. The appeals have been disposed of at the rate of about two thousand a week in Montreal; indeed, I am informed that all the civil business of the province has been put to one side by the provincial courts, and that those courts at the present time are occupying themselves absolutely and solely with the enforcement of the Military Service Act.

Mr. (LEMIEUX: Hear, hear.

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

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Under these circumstances, I venture to question whether under the terms of the Act as it stands to-day it would have been possible for the Government to have taken any measure which has not been taken. I also venture to believe that within the present month results will come from the enforcement of the Act by the disposal of these appeals which will be reasonably satisfactory to the Government, to the Parliament, and to the people of this country.

My right hon. friend the leader of the Opposition has spoken upon this question, sometimes with a good deal of warmth, and I desire to devote a few moments to certain of his observations. He stated in the early part of his remarks that the people of the district which he represents in Parliament, and in which these riots occurred, are highly sensitive to injustice. I do not know that the people there differ in that respect from the people of any other part of Canada.

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

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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

April 5, 1918