April 18, 1918

UNION
UNION

Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

II think so. As the French Canadians go from Montreal to England and as the Minister of Militia has pointed out, they are put into what is known in England as the 10th Reserve Battalion under Colonel DesRbsiers. They are all French Canadians there; I was in that camp and saw them. So I wish to assure my hon. friend that the French Canadians at the front are kept together ir*. the 22nd Battalion and officered by French Canadians.

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Thomas Vien

Laurier Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

The right hon. Prime Minister answered the first question. He will perhaps be able to -tell me whether the Government received any despatch from the commander of the troops in the field as to how they were ordered into action, and how they came out?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

The Officer Commanding the corps in the field reports to us through the Minister of the Overseas Service. We receive very frequent reports. As far as ordering them into action or out of action is concerned, of course, the Government sitting here, in Ottawa has nothing to do with ordering them into action any more than the people in the War Office have to do with directing General's Haig's movements. These things must be done by the military commanders at the front.

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Thomas Vien

Laurier Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

My right hon. fnend said a minute ago that before the war broke out the Government was in constant consultation-

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UNION

Avard Longley Davidson

Unionist

Mr. DAVIDSON:

I rise to a point of order, Mr. Chairman. I want to call your attention to the fact that speeches in Committee of the Whole must be strictly rele-

[Major-General Mewburn.]

vant to the item under consideration. It seems to me that hon. gentlemen opposite have flagrantly violated that rule this evening.

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Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

With the unanimous consent of the committee, and also of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Militia, it was understood that all questions relating to the administration of the forces and all expenditures connected with this Bill should be discussed in committee. I do not think that the hon. member has wandered far enough away from that aspect of the matter under consideration to warrant my calling him to order.

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Thomas Vien

Laurier Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

I assure my hon. friend that I do not want to delay the procedure unnecessarily. I simply wish to obtain from the Prime Minister such information as will enable us to appreciate how things are managed.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

For about a week, or perhaps more, before the war broke out the Government of the United Kingdom were in constant communication with us. I was away from Ottawa-I left, I think, on 23rd July-and these communications, the purport of which was transmitted to me, were of such a character that on July 30th I came to the conclusion that I should return to Ottawa. I arrived on the morning of August 1st, and went over the communications which had been received. A great many more came during the next three or four days, until war broke out. We were kept constantly advised. On 1st August I took upon myself the responsibility of advising the Government of the United Kingdom that if war did unfortunately break out. this country would stand with the Mother 'Country and the other dominions of the Empire to the end. I further sent them a confidential telegram, which has since been made public, stating that I believed we could send a division over almost immediately. -The question whether or not Parliament and the country would stand behind that declaration came up in the first instance at the session of Parliament which opened on 18th August. On that occasion this country, through the representatives of the people in Parliament assembled, decided that the course which I bad taken was the proper one and they would stand behind it without a dissenting voice.

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UNION

Samuel Hughes

Unionist

Sir SAM HUGHES:

The Prime Minister has left out a very important point-

that Britain did not ask Canada to support her. The action of Canada was purely voluntary.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

I certainly desired to be so understood. The telegram which I sent on 1st August was not in response to any appeal; it was a voluntary offer which I made on behalf of the people of Canada, and which was afterwards ratified by this Parliament.

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Thomas Vien

Laurier Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

;I asked for this information because I understood the Prime Minister to inform the member for Dorchester (Mr. Cannon) that for over-a week before the war broke out he had been in constant consultation with the Imperial Government. I gather from what the Prime Minister says that the Government was in constant consultation 'with the Imperial authorities so far as our participation in the war was concerned, but not so far as the declaration of war itself was concerned.

Last year the Ross rifle factory was closed down. I was not in the House at the time, but I understood from a declaration made [DOT]by the acting Prime Minister of that time, the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Sir George Foster) that the Ross rifle factory had been closed down on account of the rifle having been discarded, and that the Ross rifle factory would be transformed into a factory for the manufacture of Lee-Enfield rifles. What has been done with the Ross rifle factory, and what steps have been taken to convert it into a Lee-Enfield rifle factory?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

No arrangements have been made to convert the Ross rifle into Lee-Enfield rifle. Speaking without any expert knowledge, I doubt very much whether that would be possible. The troops were being armed with the Lee-Enfield rifle, and it was not considered desirable to proceed with the manufacture of more Ross rifles. The best disposition possible was made of those on hand.

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Thomas Vien

Laurier Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

What has been done with the machinery that was in the Ross rifle factory?

Major-General MEWBURN: Some parts

of the machinery that were non required for the manufacture of rifles have been sold; I could not give the exact quantity. I understand it is not the intention of the Government to continue the manufacture of Ross rifles. Some scraps of machinery and material that were not further required have been sold.

Mr. LAViIGUEUR: At what price was

the Ross rifle factory appropriated by the Government?

Major-General MEWBURN: An Order in Council fixed a maximum price on the expropriation of $3,000,000.

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Henri-Edgar Lavigueur

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LAVIGUEUR:

Is it the intention of the Government to manufacture Lee-Enfield rifles in the Roes rifle factory?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

We had a great deal of correspondence with the British Government as to what rifle would eventually be used throughout the Empire. It was recognized at the Imperial War Conference, that it was desirable 'that all troops of the Empire should be equipped and armed, as far as possible, in the same way. It is still quite uncertain what type of rifle will eventually be used. One 'thing is certain: that at the end of this war there will be a very much greater stock of rifles on hand than the Empire will require for peace purposes. Under these circumstances i't is obvious that we coiuild come to no con-elusion as to the manufacture of any particular type of rifle in this country in tile immediate future.

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UNION

Samuel Hughes

Unionist

Sir SAM HUGHES:

Is there any proposal to turn the Rose rifle factory into a plant for the manufacture of machine guns for a foreign Government?

Major-General MEWBURN: There was

a suggestion in that regard, and some negotiations took place, but nothing came of them.

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Thomas Vien

Laurier Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

Are the details of expenditure in connection with the expropriation of the Ross rifle factory published officially?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

They are available in statements that have been made in the Houee.

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L LIB

Thomas Vien

Laurier Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

I do not think any statement was laid on the Table so far as the expenditure incurred is concerned.

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April 18, 1918