May 23, 1928

LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

My hon. friend heard

what I said. I say, this department is not run in order to aggrandize the present minister. But it is necessary' that we should have a reasonable degree of efficiency. I do not agree with either the hon. member for Southeast Grey or the hon. member for Labelle, one of whom says that these expenditures are an absolute waste while the other suggests that the present provision is a farce. We are trying, on the best advice we can obtain and after consultation, not simply with military people but with those who take a deep interest in the defence of the country, to provide a reasonable service, to the end that we in Canada may hold up our heads and not only be prepared to defend our country but for another purpose which I am afraid some members of the committee do not realize is essential, namely, that we should be prepared to maintain our position as neutrals should the occasion arise. Because we happen to see a soldier on the street we need not conclude that we are going out to look for a fight. That is not the idea at all. The object is that we shall provide a reasonable force for defence and to maintain our neutrality if an emergency calls for it.

Now I should like to say just a word with regard to the remarks of my hon. friend from Southeast Grey referring to the military tournament at Montreal. I want to tell her that that tournament was not held at the expense of the department or the country in any way; I understand it was arranged by he officers and men of the Montreal militia units who gave a great deal of time and effort to it. I hope the hon. member was there; I would commend the show, if I may call it so, to anyone who would like to see good, clean, wholesome entertainment. I would commend it ahead of a good many other entertainments which were no doubt attended by respectable people in Montreal on that particular evening. If anyone wanted to see good gymnastic exhibitions, good drill and good equitation that was the place to go, and the good people of the city of Montreal did not seem to fear that their militaristic spirits would be unduly roused. I think the attendance the first night was 6,000 or 7,000; on the second night I understand 9,000 people were there, and on the third night the attendance was about 12,000.

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PRO

Agnes Campbell Macphail

Progressive

Miss MACPHAIL:

Will the minister admit that was glorifying war just the same?

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

I am sorry, but I cannot admit that at all. I want to say that there are a good many members of this house who

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have reasons for not glorifying war just as keen as those held by some of the hon. members who have spoken to-night. There is no attempt and no intention to glorify war, but there is some reason in this country for young men, having the idea that they have some duty to their country other than to simply get their living from it-

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PRO

Agnes Campbell Macphail

Progressive

Miss MACPHAIL:

Is the minister inferring that those of us who talk as we have talked to-night are only here to get our living out of the country?

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

The minister is not inferring that at all, as I am sure my hon. friend knows.

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PRO

Agnes Campbell Macphail

Progressive

Miss MACPHAIL:

That is what one would infer.

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

I am sorry my hon. friend took that inference, because there was no ground for it. I am only saying that a person is not necessarily glorifying war because he happens to put on a military uniform. While we have been carrying on military operations in a small way, I have not heard of very many Canadians who are anxious to go to war simply for love of it. I do not think that because you train a boy to use boxing gloves he is naturally going to become a pugilist or that he will be wanting to fight all the time. If we are going to adopt that sort of reasoning it seems to me that training in athletics or any kind of physical exercise is going to train the boy to use violence instead of the ordinary peaceful methods of life. I do not think there is much fear of producing that mental attitude simply because a man may happen to spend so many days in camp, or because he shoulders a rifle a few times.

Then I wish to say just a word with regard to this matter of peace and war and the conflicting policies suggested by my hon. friends, and I commend these remarks to my hon. friend from Winnipeg North Centre. For five, six, seven or eight years we have been talking disarmament; we have been working hard for it. When I say "we" I mean Canada; we are a member of the League of Nations, and the commissions of that league have been working with all their strength towards a position by which disarmament may be brought about. As yet that result has not been attained; I do not want to be discouraging or blue about it, but at the same time the prospects are not any too bright, judging from tihe last meeting of the preparatory conference on disarmament. But then along comes the United States with a proposition out of the blue, not that we should disarm but that we should become parties to a pact for 56103-2121

the renunciation of war. Does my hon. friend suggest that because the United States have taken that step they are inconsistent or hypocritical when, almost at the same moment, they increase their naval estimates by almost a quarter of a billion dollars? They realize that there is still a practical situation in the world.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

May I ask the minister if the cutting down of the naval estimates so drastically was not quite in line with that very movement?

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

Perhaps it was, but I am only saying to my hon. friend that there does not seem to be any immediate prospect of disarmament, notwithstanding the fact that the United States is sincerely endeavouring to bring about peace. We are still in the world, and we have to remember that this utopian situation has not come about as yet. I do not want to take time to quote figures, but I think we have the smallest per capita expenditure in the world with regard to militia expenditures, and when we ask for a vote of S1.70 per capita, that should be compared with the per capita expenditure of France, which is $7.60; of Italy which is $6.11; of Japan, which is $3.91; of Germany, which is $2.60; of the United States, which is $5.07; of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which is $13.03; of New Zealand, which is $3.07; of South Africa, which is $3.55 and of Australia, for which I have not the figure for this year, but which was $4.58 last year.

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PRO

Milton Neil Campbell

Progressive

Mr. CAMPBELL:

Has the minister the

figure for Denmark?

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

No; I am sorry, but I have not that figure. I submit that we are not travelling very fast along the road towards militarism when we request that amount.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

May I ask if the

minister has the figures for the Scandinavian countries?

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

No, I have not.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Why give the figures for the militaristic countries instead of the figures for those countries which are striving for peace?

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

I should have thought,

from what I have heard, that Belgium is striving for peace; the United States is striving for peace, together with Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. I did hear that Russia was striving for peace, but I see that the per capita expenditure of that country is $3.06.

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?

Charles Stephen Booth

Mr. WOODS WORTH:

I wonder why the minister gives us that figure?

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

Because I notice it here, and Russia is a country which made a proposition only a short time ago for complete disarmament. At the same time, she spends $3.06 per capita on this account.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Then the minister is accusing Russia of insincerity because of that act?

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

I do not know what my hon. friend means by that. I will undertake to say that the actual expenditure is much more than the figure I have given, because Russia pays part of her military expenditures in kind which does not appear in dollars and cents at all.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Is not the minister accusing Russia of insincerity?

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May 23, 1928