February 14, 1933

LIB

Frederick George Sanderson

Liberal

Mr. SANDERSON:

I should like to make just one or two observations in connection with this item. I understand that the greater part of this vote is already spent or has been promised. Is that correct?

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CON
LIB

Frederick George Sanderson

Liberal

Mr. SANDERSON:

That being the case I suppose the house is bound to pass the item, but before that is done I should like to say this: I am not opposed to cadet training

under normal conditions. I know something about cadet training, and I never have been opposed to it. But I would go so far as to say that if there is any item that should be curtailed under existing conditions it is an item such as this, representing something without which we can get along very well. We can take it up again when conditions throughout the country are normal. I would not go as far as my hon. friend from Southeast Grey has gone in her argument, but up to a certain point I support what she said. Under present conditions throughout the country, with a vast army of unemployed, with our basic industry having such a hard time, with this government as well as provincial and municipal governments endeavouring to economize in every possible way, this is one place where some curtailment could be made. The government would have been well advised had they taken the initiative and cut out this item for this year; I think they would have been supported by the majority of the people

(Mr. Sutherland.]

throughout the country. The very fact that in Toronto they have come to the conclusion that they can get along without cadet training for this year supports my statement, and the trustees of schools in many other places throughout Ontario and other parts of the country have decided that for this year at least, and until the depression is over and conditions get back to normal, this is an expenditure that can be very well diverted into other channels.

I should like to support the motion of my hon. friend from Southeast Grey, but since the government have made commitments I do not know that I can do so. As a matter of principle, however, I do say that whatever government is in power next year should see to it that if conditions have not improved throughout the country, the expenditure on cadet training is entirely wiped out.

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LIB

Peter Heenan

Liberal

Mr. HEENAN:

I am glad to find that

other members of the house believe that under present conditions we could very well save this amount of money. I am reminded that under the peace, order and good government legislation passed by the government they have power to do almost everything except declare war, and I am not sure that they cannot take that step. I' do say that with present conditions throughout the country the government should have seen to it that no money should be spent in this way. They are dismissing civil servants, even in the Department of National Defence; they are reducing the wages and salaries of civil servants; they are giving large sums of money in direct relief, and I am sure this $300,000 would have gone a long way in other directions.

The other day I asked a question as to the amount of direct relief that had been granted by the government to certain towns and cities throughout Canada since the relief measures were first brought in. In round figures the town of Kenora has received $3,000; Fort Frances has received $6,000, and Dryden has received only $187. We could have done a great deal with this $300,000 in relieving distress in northern Ontario, and would it not have been better for the children in that part of the country to have the money spent in that way rather than on cadet training? I was glad to hear the hon. member for Parkdale tell us that Toronto has led the way, even though it is only a temporary measure, and I am disposed to support the motion of the hon. member for Southeast Grey. I think this money should be spent on relief, not in Toronto or Ottawa but in northern Ontario, where relief is carried on in such a parsimonious manner.

Supply-Defence-Cadet Services

Mr. MaoINNIS: I find it very difficult

to follow the logic of the hon. member for Montmagny. This afternoon he opposed a bill which gave the mounted police authority to act as truant officers in certain cases because it had to do with compulsory education, and the province of Quebec is opposed to compulsory education. I am in favour of compulsory education, but I am very strongly opposed to compulsory cadet training. The minister may say that this training is not compulsory, and in theory he is correct. Nevertheless it is compulsory because of the ostracism of those who do not take part in it. Now the minister tells us that this has nothing to do with military training, but the Deputy Speaker tells us that military training is its real purpose. I am at a loss to know which hon. gentleman to believe. I rather think I will accept the point of view of the Deputy Speaker rather than that of the minister, because it agrees with my own experience. The hon. member for Mont-magny sought to prove that this training is military by saying that the only way to have peace is to prepare for war. If that is so we should save the expense of sending delegates to the disarmament conference, in order that peace might come all the sooner. I am absolutely opposed to this item, particularly at the present time when so many children throughout Canada are going to school without having received enough nourishment even to enable them to carry a gun.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I should like

to ask to whom the commitments have been made with respect to cadet training, and what is the form of the commitment.

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CON

Donald Matheson Sutherland (Minister of National Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND:

The arrangements

were made last September with the various school boards throughout the country. The government agreed that certain grants would be made to their cadet corps for the school year beginning in September last and ending next June.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Then, as I

understand it, the government makes its contract with the school boards. Two or three years ago the present administration put through an act respecting technical education, by which provision was made for the granting of certain sums of money each year from the federal treasury for technical education. But the government has not allowed the provisions of the law to be given effect to, so I believe, since it was enacted, on the score that the times were difficult and) that it was not desirable to spend that money. The government I believe was wise in taking that step. I think the

government would have been still wiser if they had followed the advice given by the opposition at the time and not reintroduced the technical education grants. They have not been able to carry them out; they might just as well have left the matter where it was. But if the government have found it necessary to refrain from spending further money for technical education, I do not see what justification they have for continuing to spend money through agreement with school boards for cadet training. One has only to mention the two side by side, in order to disclose how strong the argument is for withdrawing this grant at the present time. I would like to ask the hon. minister, is he prepared to say that, with respect to next year, he will communicate with the school boards informing them that the government is considering withdrawing grants for this service for the next year? It is altogether probable that we will not be out of the present depression inside of a year, and one-third of a million dollars is worth saving. It may well be that many a school board would welcome the opportunity of being freed from additional outlays on this score. I would ask the minister if he is prepared to give the house an undertaking that he will take up that matter with the school boards with a view to seeing if this amount might not be dispensed with next year.

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CON

Donald Matheson Sutherland (Minister of National Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND:

That of course is

not a departmental matter; it is a matter of government policy. The government knows the discussion that goes on and undoubtedly will consider it, but I am not in a position to give a declaration on a matter of government policy.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Well, someone in the government must be able to give it. Perhaps the Prime Minister will give it. But I must say to the minister that I do not think he can hope to get his estimates through this house by seeking to evade all responsibility. Estimates are framed with a view of giving parliament control over public expenditure. Now he tells us we must vote this money because it is already expended according to the form in which he is presenting his estimates. The minister is asking for one-third of a million dollars to be spent in the next fiscal year, the year 1933-34, a year we have not yet entered upon. He cannot evade his responsibility by saying that the estimates are not in a form which permits him to give am undertaking to the house in regard to expenditures for the next fiscal year; nor can he evade it by saying he is not the

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minister of the department. He is responsible for the department, and he is asking parliament now as part of his militia services to vote $300,000 for cadet service. He inserts the item in his estimates as part of the militia service; he must be responsible. Surely the minister is in a position, as head of the department, to say that he is able to negotiate with the school boards. Surely he does not have to go to the Prime Minister to get that authority, nor to the government as a whole. If he has to do so, I wish he would let the item stand until he can inform us what the policy of the government is in regard to the matter.

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CON

Donald Matheson Sutherland (Minister of National Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND:

The right hon. gentleman has no reason to lose his temper on this. He knows very well indeed that he has taken up wrongly what I said, and he also knows that this item is not for the next year. It is the same practice that his own government followed during the years that they were in power. He knows very well that I cannot make a decision at this time as to the figures that would normally appear in next year's estimates. I think my explanation was very full and clear, and the interpretation the right hon. gentleman put upon it was entirely wrong.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I still wish to maintain the position I have taken. I do not think the hon. minister gains anything by saying I have lost my temper. I have not lost any temper; he knows that very well. He may think it will read well in Hansard to have it so appear, but that is a very trifling way to go about a matter of this kind. What I wish to repeat to the minister is this: He is now asking parliament for an appropriation for the fiscal year 1933-34. That is true, isn't it?

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CON

Donald Matheson Sutherland (Minister of National Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND:

As I have explained several times-and the right hon. gentleman is too astute a parliamentarian not to follow me-I have followed the practice that has been followed for a number of years, in saying that this item applies to the current school year, not to the current fiscal year. The time for which the greater part of this estimate applies expires at the end of June this year, when the school year finishes.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Then that is clear. Wihat the hon. minister is now asking for is enough to enable him to pay what will be outstanding at June of the present year.

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CON
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

That will leave nine months of the next fiscal year for which no appropriations will have been voted by this parliament. I want next to ask the minister, so that we will know where we stand next year: is he prepared now to give the house the assurance, if we vote what is required to make good the commitments that expire in June of the present year, that between now and June he will take up with the school boards the advisability of the government discontinuing further grants from June, 1933, for at least another year, so as to save that amount out of expenditures in what will belong mostly to the fiscal year 1933-34?

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I think the right hon. gentleman will realize that what is being done in this case is what has been done during the years he held office. The school year and the fiscal year do not end on the same date. Owing to the fact that the school year ends on the 30th of June, 1933, the part of the vote to make good that expenditure will naturally come in the fiscal year that ends 31st March, 1934, because March precedes June. March, 1933 will have ended before the obligation will have been completed to the end of the school year in June,

1933. That is only a matter of accounting. But there is another phase of the question, that to which the right hon. gentleman has just now directed attention; that is, whether or not it might be possible for this government to undertake that it would not incur further responsibility with respect to the cadet service. Unfortunately, or fortunately-that is a question of opinion-the matter does not rest in just that way. As the right hon. gentleman knows, the school districts have had held out to them-shall I say by the governments of Canada-the promise that if they maintain certain services assistance will be given from the federal exchequer to enable it to be done. I dare say the right hon. gentleman recalls what was done by the late Lord Strathcona in connection with cadet services. There meets once a year a certain body of men appointed by the Strathcona trust for the purpose of dealing with cadet grants. We have undertaken-when I say "we" I do not mean this government; I mean this country-that in the event of the school districts concluding that they are in a position financially and otherwise to carry on a certain cadet service, we will supply them with certain sums of money that have a direct relation to the money they expend. I do not carry the exact figures in my mind; I doubt not some member of the committee has in his mind the

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exact amount that we pay with respect to the amount expended by the school authorities. I should not be surprised if the hon. member for Perth would know whether or not it is dollar for dollar, or seventy-five cents to the dollar, whatever it may be. That is the position of this item at the moment; we have outstanding a promise on the part of the Dominion of Canada that under certain conditions it will pay certain sums of money. That is my understanding of the situation as I went into it some time ago. If for instance the authorities in Calgary conclude that they are unable financally to carry it on, and abandon the service, there is no longer any grant from this government for that service; it will end on the thirtieth of June this year; it is not being continued by Calgary, therefore there is no payment by this government to Calgary. There is one other city in which it was discontinued-

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LIB
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I was not sure; I thought it was one of the western cities. The same position obtains, that is, there is no longer an obligation to pay because the service has been discontinued. The grant now being sought is merely to implement obligations which have been incurred. I am satisfied that this is the same practice as prevailed during aLl the years the right hon. gentleman as minister was responsible for the passing through parliament of similar estimates. Undoubtedly in two cases no grant will have to be provided for another year, and although I am not sure I think there is another city in which the same position has been taken. In view of what has taken place in the past it would not be my judgment that the minister could ask the school districts to take a certain course. They are masters of the situation; they determine whether or not they will make any expenditure. When they determine that they will not, our obligation ceases. My understanding of the matter at the moment is that a very much lesser sum will be expended because of what has taken place this year. The vote which we are just passing deals with obligations which have been created; because of contractual relations between the dominion and the school districts, financial obligations have been created which must be discharged under the terms of our arrangements.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Before the right hon. gentleman came into the chamber I had made reference to the action taken by his government with respect to technical education. In 1931 the present government enacted a measure with respect to continuing grants for vocational training and technical education. That was done against the advice of hon. gentlemen on this side. When the government found they were going to be hard pressed for funds, they took up the matter with the provinces, and, as I understand it, arrived at an agreement whereby no payments whatever were to be made. Whether or not agreements were made, I do not know, but I know that the act has been a dead letter, and. that nothing has been paid out under its provisions. The government was justified in taking that step, as it saved a million or more dollars yearly, possibly considerably more than that when we consider payments which would also have had to be made from other treasuries. If the government thought it advisable to take that step with regard to technical education, surely the argument in favour of reduction is much stronger when applied to cadet services. I am not asking that the item before us should not be passed for this year, as anything for which commitment has been made up until June has to be paid, but I am suggesting to the government the advisability of discontinuing this grant for at least a year thereafter. I do not at the moment suggest its discontinuance for longer than a year. We are at the present time cutting down in as many directions as possible. As has been pointed out, ten per cent is being deducted from the salaries of civil servants and economies of every kind are being attempted if not in fact practised. Surely, when two school boards in large centres of population have found it desirable to discontinue cadet training, the minister could with advantage to all make arrangements which would save a third of a million dollars for an ensuing year. That is all I am asking, and I hope the government will consider this phase of the matter and advise that it is being done so that a year hence, we will not be told that commitments have been made for nine months and that therefore, we must carry them out.

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CON

Albert Joseph Brown

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BROWN:

Would the Prime Minister explain a little more fully his reference to Lord Strathcona? Is it a fact that because of some action of Lord Strathcona the government has been committed to a certain policy from which it cannot recede? If that is so, it would seem that we have started a machine which we cannot stop even if we want to.

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February 14, 1933