May 27, 1921

UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

My hon. friend

had his full share in the naval vote of $2,500,000, and all hon^gentlemen opposite also had their full share in it. I find no fault with them whatsoever for that. Canada under the Government of Sir Wilfrid Laurier decided to have a navy of its own. The Naval Service Act was passed in 1911, my hon. friend was a member of the Liberal party at that time, and the Government of the day decided that we would look after our own naval defence.

Let me say again that I found no fault with the policy then, and I find no fault with it now. The Naval Service Act meant this. The Government of the day

said to the Home Government, "Take away your ships and no longer look alter the dockyards at Halifax and Esquimalt. Canada will assume that responsibility." And that responsibility is on this Parliament to carry out the terms of the Naval Service Act, which my hon. friend had his full share in passing in 1911. The Niobe and the Rainbow were brought out from England with the approval of my hon. friend. Now he would have been perfectly satisfied had we continued with those two vessels. <

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PRO
UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

The vote would

have been exactly the same as it is now, $2,500,000. We are carrying out the policy of the hon. member for Red Deer and of the Government of that day which he supported, and we are not increasing the expenditure one iota. What has this Government done? We have discharged 783 civilians and naval ratings that we did not need, we have sold those obsolete ships, and we have accepted modern ships as a free gift from the Mother Country. My hon. friend says it is a melancholy vote. Yet if anybody ought to appear in sackcloth and ashes it is my hon. friend from Red Deer. He helped to put the Naval Service Act on the statute book, he gave his consent that Canada was big enough and strong enough to take over the docks at Esquimalt, to support a naval college, and to bring out the Niobe and the Rainbow. The policy followed since the passing of the Naval Service Act must be the policy of Canada until such time as that Act is amended or repealed. My hon. friend took that responsibility; I think he took it rightly; but he cannot get out of it now by attempting to shift the responsibility on to me, although never at any time am I afraid to take my full share of that responsibility. Had we not accepted these ships from the Mother Country we would have had a disgracefully inefficient Naval Service, a service not worth one cent to Canada, and the expenditure would be just the same as we have now for a very efficient navy.

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PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer) :

I am sorry

my hon. friend has made such a combative statement in response to the very peaceful speech on my part. I do not propose to follow his example; I am going to keep to the peaceful frame of mind in which I talked to my hon. friend before. If he has not had enough of war I have, and I will not be tempted into strife by his very

combative mood. - He said the dockyards were taken over by Canada. But when he was on his feet a few minutes ago did he not say that those dockyards were practically closed down and he was getting his repairs done by tender?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

No.

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PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer) :

What did

my hon. friend say in his previous utterance about the dockyards?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

Under the terms

of the Naval Service Act we have got to keep the dockyards in sufficient working order to repair any British admiralty ships that may require repairs. We have practically closed down the dockyard at Esquimalt, but we are keeping sufficient men there to attend to any needs either of a British naval ship or of one of our own ships. We are keeping the Halifax yard going with a very much reduced staff. In fact, both yards are being continued in a very moderate way.

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PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer) :

I cannot

quite understand how a dock can be "practically closed down" and yet be "in sufficient working order" to do repairs. I am informed, it may be mistakenly, that repairs have been done by tender elsewhere, and that the dockyards are, as the minister says, practically closed down. If you have docks practically closed down, they are not fit to conduct business if language has any meaning. However, I will leave that point and pass on to the other portion of my hon. friend's argument. Now, I quite admit that he is pursuing a policy which was the acknowledged policy of a certain party in the country in 1911. He had had to train the party with which ho is now associating up to the point at which the Liberal party had arrived at that period

if we are to have a naval policy at all it is evident that ten years have sufficed to teach something on this question to the party on the other side. But I did not want to labour that point. I did want to point out to my hon. friend that there is no inconsistency whatsoever in my having supported that policy at that time as the only possible and proper naval policy for Canada and in my saying, after the war, when another war in which we should be involved is to all human thinking considerably remote: Go easy with your naval policy. I am wholly in favour of Canada as a nation undertaking her own defence; there is no inconsistency whatever in that attitude on my part. But the minister is inconsistent in going full

steam ahead after a war just as he would have been going before the war-that is my answer to my hon. friend on that point. However, I do not want to be drawn into a controversy; I have made my protest, and I want to express my very grave fear that, unless he changes his politcal affiliations once more, it will not be the present Minister of Marine who will be dealing in the scrap iron but somebody else if we go on with this business. After all is said and done, Mr'. Chairman, I would rather that the business of the Admiralty was confined to getting presents of vessels, scrapping them and selling them as old iron than that we should be in another war. I do not change my point of view, however, that we might very well have waited in the present circumstances, as I suggested last year, until an Imperial Conference should settle upon proper lines the question as to what each part of the Empire should do for the defence of the Empire.

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L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

I think the minister is to be congratulated upon having cut down the ratings for the navy to the extent that he has. But I feel that it was a great mistake to take these ships from Great Britain. It was done while Parliament was not sitting; it was done without consultation with the representatives of the people, and it puts us in the awkward and unpleasant position of appearing to be ungrateful for a free gift. I do think that the minister has placed the representatives of the people in an unfortunate position. Now, the minister has argued that the Liberal policy is responsible for the Laurier naval policy. I admit that most frankly. At that time the world was busy arming for what proved to be, alas, an awful conflict. We were told there was a great European power which was marching on and on and that at some time we would have to meet that power. Unfortunately the prophets of evil spoke truly. War did break out; the navy of that great power is to-day at the bottom of the North Sea, and for the time being, at least, that menace is no more. Under these circumstances would it not be the part of prudence to take a naval holiday? The desires and hopes and prayers of all men of good-will throughout the civilized world are centred upon the League of Nations. We are hopeful that through that body mankind will be able to develop a method of settling international disputes. Is it not, then, the height of folly to go on in the same way in regard to naval matters? Is it not unwise to contribute

$200,000 to the expenses of the League of Nations and then spend ten times that amount on preparing something which, if the League of Nations is a success, will in all probability never be required? The Laurier naval policy was proposed when our national debt was but $350,000,000; today it is $2,350,000,000. The minister therefore would confer a great benefit on the country if he would turn the prows of these three ships eastward and allow the Canadian people to see the smoke ascending from their funnels as they made their way home to the land beyond the seas. We cannot afford this expenditure at this time. We should not spend one cent except for absolute necessities and this is not an absolute necessity. I can hardly trust that the minister will change his view, but I would like to register my emphatic protest against this expenditure.

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UNI L
L LIB
UNI L

Frederick Forsyth Pardee

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. PARDEE:

Yes. We are here tonight knowing nothing more than the man in the moon about the sale of the Niobe and the submarines except that $135,000 was the price. We know that there is a default. We do not know how great the debt is. We do not know how the debtor stands financially. It looks, as my hon. friend (Mr. Bureau) has said, as if the Dominion had been stuck for a very large sum' in this matter. We shall be told:

K We have the Niobe yet." That is true; but prices have fallen and we could not get for her now what we could have got before, and as a consequence the country is the loser.

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L LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

The minister gave

the committee a piece of history which was somewhat incomplete. I would not like to supplement it in any way except to point out one feature in connection with it. When the naval law was adopted in 1910, the hon. member for King's (Sir Robert Borden) who afterwards became Prime Minister of Canada, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen) and all the other hon. gentlemen with whom my hon. friend is now associated, voted against that law and in favour of an amendment offered by the late Mr. Monk, that no naval policy should be adopted by Canada without being first approved by the Canadian

people. This issue was fought during the campaign of 1911. As a matter of fact in my province, it was the only issue discussed on the platforms. Twenty-six members were elected in the province of Quebec against that law and after the elections, when those people got together, after having accomplished what they had in view, they pledged themselves in Parliament that no permanent naval policy should be entered into by this country without being first approved by the Canadian people. The Prime Minister of that day took that pledge; the then Minister of Marine and Fisheries, the Hon. Mr. Hazen, stated it emphatically on the floor of the House of Commons, and I ask my hon. friends when the Canadian people have since then approved the present policy of the Government as regards the navy. As the hon member for Brome (Mr. Mc-Master) stated, the Minister of Marine and Fisheries and the Government accepted those ships as part of their permanent policy, without asking the approval, not only of the Canadian people, but of the Canadian Parliament. This was done by Order in Council, of course, under the general practice of this Government at that time. Parliament was not consulted, and when my hon. friend came to Parliament with a proposed appropriation, we were faced by an accomplished fact. The ships had, been accepted, and we had to vote the money although we opposed the vote at that time. I was opposed to that vote being accepted; I am still opposed to it, for many reasons, one of them being, that there is no settled naval policy at the present time for the British Dominions. There is going to be an Imperial Conference next year. There is going to be a meeting of Prime Ministers this year. The name has been changed for the conference that takes place in July, and conditions are such that our Prime Minister stated the other day, or at least intimated in some way, that he would be opposed to the consideration of any naval policy at that conference next summer. Why should we not wait until the status of the Dominions is fixed, as we are told it is going to be at this Imperial Conference next year, before accepting, or adopting, any policy as regards naval defence? Conditions are altogether changed as the hon. member for Brome stated. In 1910, the country was prosperous; we had money; we had no deficits, we were not paying the rate of interest that we are paying now on our loans. We had not two billion dollars of

net debt as we have at the present time. Conditions are altogether changed, and as the hon. member for Brome and the hon. member for Red Deer (Mr. Clark) stated, we are paying an annual contribution to the League of Nations. We are members of that league. The last war was fought for the purpose of ending all wars. We should at least follow the example of those nations which are decreasing their armaments instead of increasing ours or entering into any new scheme. Last year there was in the Estimates a vote of $300,000 for the maintenance of the Canadian navy. That was the usual vote as in preceding years.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

No.

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L LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

There were two votes yast year: Naval Service, to provide for the maintenance of the Royal Canadian Navy, $300,000, and then in the Supplementary Estimates, there was the other vote: Further amount required, $5,700,000.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

The hon. member will recall that I explained, when I asked for the $300,000 appropriation, that that was only part of the naval expenditure and that in the Supplementary Estimates I would bring down a further amount, so that he has to consider both of them together.

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L LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Yes, but this $300,000 vote was practically the same as the vote of preceding years during the war.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

No.

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L LIB
UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

I have the

amounts for all the years here. Before this is turned up, I might say that the expenditure was $1,700,000 in 1910-11. Then when we got into the war, of course, the expenditure ran away up, and it would not be a fair comparison at all.

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May 27, 1921