It may be so about many things, but I doubt very much if it is so in regard to this, because, if it had been so, that would have been such a simple answer to give years ago when criticism was made of continuance of the grant. The simple answer would have been: We are powerless to refuse to continue it. As regards the obligations so far incurred by the government, I am not prepared to vote against them, but I believe in the present state of the country's finances it should be made quite clear that, when cities like Toronto and Calgary, which perhaps are as much interested in military training or cadet training, whichever you choose to call it, as any other municipality in the dominion, have seen fit to discontinue it on account of the financial position in which they find themselves, no very great hardship would inure to other municipalities from one end of Canada to the other were they to follow the same course. If Toronto is unable financially to continue at the present time with cadet training, that is pretty strong evidence that it should be discontinued throughout the country. If notice were given now that after June of next year this government does not propose to continue the grants for the following year, surely no school authorities would insist upon the grants being continued. We have reached the time in the finances of Canada when they must be cut to the bone, and I believe this is a very good time to make it apparent that for the coming year, at any rate, this grant will have to be discontinued.
No, that was something which the government itself gave. There is one other point which has not been mentioned. Many of the school boards have engaged an instructor who is qualified to give this training. Also it must be remembered that there is a strong feeling in many parts of Canada in favour of the cadet movement. Many members have mentioned the feeling in Toronto. If Toronto gives a lead like that, I expect to hear of other cities doing the same thing, and if they do, there will certainly be no pressure on them to continue. On the other hand, wherever a school board feels that it has a just claim to the grant, built up during the years, I do not see how it is possible for us to tell them that the grant will be abruptly discontinued. But my own personal opinion is that there will be a cut in the vote for the reasons which have been given.
One further question. I am not basing any argument upon the popular feeling in the country; I am con-
fining myself entirely to the question of our contractual obligations. As I understood from the minister, our contractual obligations do not cover that part of the grant which is expended on uniforms, and therefore the government had the right to take the initiative and withdraw that part of the grant. The minister did not quite answer my question as to whether the school boards had taken the initiative in the matter, although he did indicate that the government had the power to take the initiative in respect of that part of the grant which is expended on uniforms. Would the minister indicate that part of the grant which is under the control of the federal authorities, and also that part in respect of which initiative in the matter of reduction must be taken by the school authorities? Because it is obvious that the contractual obligations are not as great as they were originally, according to the minister himself.
Some attention has been given to our contractual obligations in this matter. I do not know for how many years the grant for cadet training has been made, but I notice that in 1928, owing to the cancellation of certain regulations for the cadet services, the grant was reduced considerably. For instance, there was a reduction in the grant caused by the cancellation of paragraph 63 of the regulations for the cadet services of Canada, which reads as follows:
A grant of one dollar towards the provision and upkeep of uniform and twenty-five cents towards the provision and upkeep of a suitable military head-dress will be paid annually for:
(a) Each cadet inspected in a complete serviceable military uniform:
It is well to note the "suitable military headdress" and the "military uniform." The regulation continues:
(b) Each cadet whose absence from the inspection parade the inspecting officer is satisfied is due to illness, or other unavoidable cause and whose uniform and head-dress have been produced for inspection by the inspecting officer.
If the department could cut down the grant by cancelling regulations in 1928, I would think that by cancelling all the regulations the entire grant might be done away with.
Before you put the question, Mr. Chairman, I feel it is my duty to join with those on this side of the house and to my left who are opposed to this vote. When this vote used to come up annually a few years ago I think that all the members on this side of the house who voted for it
did so reluctantly, and, particularly in view of the reasons which have been expressed here to-night, I think we should consider well before we pass this item. Under the conditions that obtain throughout this country to-day, when people in all parts of Canada are undergoing hardships and many of them are in dire necessity, I do not think the cause of military training in Canada will suffer if this grant is dropped for one year or reduced along the lines suggested by the amendment.
I do not agree with the views that have been expressed to-night by my hon. friend from Montmagny, who stated that this vote was very popular in the province of Quebec. So far as the district and county which I have the honour to represent in this house is concerned, it does not benefit one single cent by this vote. I do not believe that cadet training does so very much for the physique and disciplining of our young men, as has been suggested by my hon. friend from Montmagny. The young people in our colleges throughout the province get enough training and exercise in their ordinary school activities, and they do not need this military training of which we hear so much. Therefore I think we might well consider adopting the amendment and reducing this vote, if indeed we do not dispense with it entirely. I for one am not ready to vote the amount of money that is being asked for this year for this purpose, particularly when, as has been stated by the hon. member for Quebec East, a great many of our people are starving and a great many young children are in want of the necessaries of life. I think the vote should not pass; I think it should be dropped.
Mr. Chairman, I am not so much concerned with what we do at the moment, in the matter of meeting obligations to which we are committed up to the present time; I think they should be paid. I am, however, very much concerned about entering into further obligations involving future commitments under conditions obtaining in Canada to-day. I anticipate that before long we may have a statement from the Prime Minister, and possibly one from the Minister of Finance, concerning financial conditions in Canada. That statement will no doubt contain reference to conditions as they are in the provinces and municipalities. Why, in the face of an approaching statement of the kind we have reason to expect, we should be absolutely oblivious to the possibility of cutting down further obligations which involve the dominion, the provinces and the municipalities alike, I fail to see. Personally, I wish to state clearly that I believe this
parliament has all the power it requires, if it wishes to exercise that power, to end any further commitments respecting cadet services. I am not asking that those services be discontinued for all time, but that they be discontinued during these hard times, and until conditions very materially improve.
I say to the hon. gentleman that, unless as minister of the department, he will give us an undertaking, or, unless the Prime Minister will give us an undertaking on behalf of the government, that the government is prepared to communicate with the provinces, municipalities or with whatever bodies they may have made commitments, expressing the hope that those bodies may see their way clear to forego further grants for the period of a year, I shall when it next comes up oppose the vote for this service. I am prepared to support the government with respect to its present obligations, but I want to make it perfectly clear at this time that, if it is possible to prevent it, I am not going to have the government enter into obligations for another year which we shall subsequently be called upon to meet. We do not want to be told a year hence that obligations have been entered into and that the government cannot, without default, forego payments. There is nothing in the Strathcona trust deed which obligates this parliament and the government. The minister knows that. Any obligation this parliament has, arises as the result of an act of this parliament; any act of this parliament can be repealed or amended. If in the light of present day conditions the minister does not wish to take the step of repealing or of amending the act, at least he can take a step similar to that the government has taken in respect to many other matters, and communicate to the interested parties the wishes of the administration. As for any obligation to wait for a lead from the municipalities or the provinces, my reply would be that the government did not wait for a lead from members of parliament before it deducted ten per cent from their salaries; it did not wait for a lead from civil servants before deducting ten per cent from their salaries; it did not wait for a lead from railway employees before it dismissed large numbers of them. The minister has made a long defence of this particular type of training, and has stated that it must be maintained so that some training master or teachers may be looked after and cared for. He did not show the same concern about the thousands of railway employees who, owing to pressure of the times, were dismissed.
I am asking only that, with respect to this particular service, the government exercise the same endeavour to effect economies as it has exercised in very large measure with respect to many other services. Any one who examines the estimates will appreciate the fact that in many cases the government has gone as far as it could be expected to go in the reduction of expenditures. Certainly the item now before us might well be reduced, and for a year hence could be omitted altogether. I ask the minister, before the item is allowed to pass, whether or not he is prepared to give an assurance that the government will consider the policy of discontinuing these grants for a year or, if not discontinuing them outright, at least expressing to the municipalities concerned the view that it is the wish of the administration that the grants should be discontinued for that period of time.
The department certainly signified its desire to economize in every possible way when it stopped the formation of any new cadet corps this year. I am firmly of the opinion that the government will look into the matter very carefully, and if anything can be done-and I am sure something can be done-towards a very material cut in the vote, without involving any direct breach of confidence with school boards, such action will be taken. I am seized of the views the right hon. gentleman has expressed concerning the necessity for economy. I can tell him the government will consider the matter carefully, and if without breaking any agreement something may be done, it will be done.
Mr. Chairman, if you will allow me I should like to say a few words in French, because as a representative of a constituency in which there is more misery than need of cadet services, I feel bound to make a statement.
(Translation): Mr. Chairman, as you are aware I am the successor, in the house, of a man 'who represented the constituency of La-prairie-Napierville for a quarter of a century, and who, during the whole of his parliamentary life was strenuously opposed to military
service. It does not follow, however, that I should share, in all circumstances, the views he held on this subject, because I think that the training of cadets is useful both physically and from the viewpoint of discipline, and, is an excellent training for later on in life. However, I share the views of my leader, and state that in a period of hardships and want, when we are surrounded by friends, relatives and many others who are destitute, deprived of the necessities of life, even children actually in want, we should practice economy in our budget so as to permit the government to relieve those in such miserable circumstances. That is why I am strongly opposed to all new grants as long as this economic depression is with us.