February 16, 1937

CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

I did not say that; I object to the statement.

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LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. CRERAR:

I accept the hon. member's statement. He is always courteous in debate, and I wish to be courteous to him. Let me repeat that this has not been entered upon lightly. We have taken this course because after serious consideration we felt it was our bounden duty to place these estimates before parliament.

The question has been asked-I believe it was asked by the hon. member for Vancouver North-against whom are we arming? I do not think the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar will object when I say he intimated in his speech

I shall not use the term insinuated-that this was part of a scheme by which Canada was committed to supply expeditionary forces overseas. That point has been dealt with by my right hon. leader who, in the most unequivocal terms, has cleared up the situation in that respect. I need not repeat his statement. This government will not decide whether or not Canada shall send an expeditionary force overseas; parliament will decide, if such occasion should arise during the life of the present government.

No; we are not arming against anyone. Against whom would we arm? Whom would we desire to attack? Against whom would we be aggressors? We have no neighbours on the north, and we would not fight the United States on the south. We have enjoyed1 a hundred years of peace with that country, and I am sure that state of affairs will continue for more than another hundred years. We are not arming against anyone, but we are putting ourselves into a position where, if necessary, we may defend ourselves. I believe that is the bounden duty of any government holding the responsible position of governing this country.

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LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. W. A. FRASER (Northumberland):

Mr. Speaker, it was not my privilege yesterday to listen to the speech delivered by the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie), but since then I have read his speech carefully and in detail, noting every particular. May I say that in his submission to the house yesterday afternoon and evening the minister placed before parliament in clear

and concise language the exact position of Canada in relation to defence. In his observations he did not mislead the house in any detail, nor did he withhold from the record one item which might have been regarded as a weakness in the position of this dominion to-day in her world sphere.

I should like to compliment many of the speakers who have preceded me and I want to make special reference to the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) who presented the position of Canada to the house this evening. I believe that we, as members of the House of Commons, should analyse the situation and consider it from a larger perspective than some hon. members have done this afternoon and this evening. We should not follow the narrow perspective embodied in the speeches of the mover (Mr. MacNeil) and the seconder (Mr. Coldwell) of the amendment.

May I refer again to the speech of the Minister of National Defence. In my humble opinion he left nothing unsaid.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

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LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER:

Apparently some hon. members did not read his speech. May I say that the Minister of National Defence, in outlining Canada's position, left nothing unsaid.

I should like to refer for a moment to Canada's position in world affairs. As has been noted by many of the speakers who preceded me, in the past Canada has depended upon the British taxpayer for the protection of her trade lanes on the seven seas. It has been stated also that Canada has depended upon the protection of the great republic to the south. It has been said that we should still remain wards of either Great Britain or the United States. I should like to direct the attention of hon. members to some facts which have been placed before them in the past. In 1936 Canada sold $400,000,000 worth of Canadian products to Great Britain, while in that same year Great Britain sold $120,000,000 worth of her products to Canada. Canada has a mercantile marine; we have ships on the seven seas flying the Canadian flag, and Canadian citizens are scattered throughout the world. We pride ourselves on being a full-fledged nation, and yet some hon. members object to our paying an infinitesimal part of one per cent of our income in order that Canadian commerce and Canadian citizens may be protected in the event of war.

I should like to place on record what in my humble opinion is our present position. We see in the press to-night that Great Britain is to start the construction of ten ships on April 1. We see another item to the effect that in 1937 the United States will

National Defence-Mr. Fraser

spend a greater amount on armaments than has been spent in any year during her history. We see another item to the effect that Lloyd George, the war-time minister of Great Britain, makes the statement that the world is going mad and that nothing can prevent a conflagration. We read another item to the effect that a British embassy is in the United States trying to prevent Great Britain from being embroiled in a war until the people of the motherland have taken up the slack.

As was stated by one hon. gentleman who spoke last night, for the last four or five years Great Britain has been asleep. That country decided upon a policy of disarmament and the curtailing of votes for national defence, but a year or so ago she woke up to the realization that Europe had rearmed. What is the position to-day of the British Empire? What has happened in Africa because of the Italian rape of Ethiopia? The conquest of Ethiopia placed Italy in control of the headwaters of the Nile. Could anyone have realized three or four years ago that such misery, suffering, degradation and cruelty would have been perpetrated in Spain? What will happen should the fascists gain power in Spain? The first step will be the breaking of British influence in the Mediterranean and interference with British trade through the Suez to the far east.

I may be wrong, but it is my humble opinion that if Great Britain had been prepared she would not have suffered the humiliation she did suffer in connection with the Mediterranean situation and the Italian conquest of Ethiopia. Whether we like it or not, there is existing throughout the world the devastating influences of fascism, communism and nazism which are breaking in surges against the last bulwark of democracy, the British Empire.

What is our position in Canada? Our position to-day is not the same as it was in 191f. 0l!r Position to-day is not the relative position in which the British Empire was in 1914, Our position to-day as a component part of the British commonwealth of nations is that we are confronted with the fact that Great Britain has all she can do to protect her own shores. Our position to-day is that we can no longer retain our asinine and colonial aspect in connection with world affairs. Our position is such that we have to spend money on armaments with which to defend ourselves. We must increase those expenditures in order to protect ourselves as Great Britain can no longer help us. Great Britain has all she can do to protect herself. I notice the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) smiling. After following the red ensign around the world he should know the present position of the British Empire. He should know with what Canada is confronted to-day. No one should know that as well as a man who has followed that red ensign from Singapore to London.

We must realize not only that we are an independent nation within the British commonwealth of nations but that we must do our bit. We must protect ourselves. We shall not have the privilege of deciding whether we are going to be neutral or not. We shall not have the privilege of determining whether we are going to get into war and whether we are going to be attacked. To-day Germany and Japan have entered an alliance; should trouble arise, we in this dominion on the highway from Yokohama to London would be subject to attack, and if the views of hon. members opposite should prevail, we would be in no position to withstand it. It is the duty of this and any succeeding government to vote part of the income of the people of Canada by way of protective insurance against eventualities that may arise in a world that to-day is going mad.

I congratulate the Minister of National Defence upon bringing down his estimates, tabling them, going into them in detail item by item, and exposing to the house and to the^ country the existing weakness of our military, naval and aviation services, and I am taking his speech as the basis of my remarks. We could not to-day arm a battalion in this country. We have no modern machine guns, no modern aeroplanes and certainly no modern coast or naval defences. I remembered, when reference to this matter was made by the minister in his speech, having stood at my office door on the shores of lake Ontario and having seen seven Italian aeroplanes on their flight direct from Italy over lake Ontario. Yet in the face of such achievements somebody comes along and publicly declares, "Better a convict than a soldier," without an appreciation or a realization that to-day this country is more vulnerable than she has ever been, and that the apron-strings of the old motherland have been broken through the necessity of preserving her very life blood, the heart of the empire; without a realization that the next war will be fought, not with picks and shovels, but with gas bombs and with deadly weapons of warfare unknown in any previous conflict. In face of such facts, hon. members move a resolution of lack of confidence in this government because my leader and my colleagues, having the interests of the people close to

National Defence-Mr. Fraser

their hearts, have the courage of their convictions and the foresight to come into this house and table estimates, sir, that in my opinion are absolutely inadequate to meet the situation. May I say to the Minister of National Defence that these estimates, instead of being thirty-four or thirty-five millions of dollars, should have been at least seventy-five millions of dollars in order to bring the naval, aviation and military equipment of this country up to the standards necessitated by the development of armaments throughout the world to-day.

We have listened to many eloquent speeches in connection with this question. I desire, in conclusion, to place upon the records of this house what are in my humble opinion allimportant considerations: First, that the last bulwark of democracy is exemplified by the British Empire; second, that by no stretch of imagination can Canada or any other component part of the empire disinterest or disconnect itself from the interests of Britain; third, that the interests of this country lie not only with Britain but with the great republic to the south of us, and we would be remiss in our duty if, as was suggested this afternoon, we should depend upon the strength of the United States to protect our shores. We have a duty as a component part of the British commonwealth of nations. We have a duty to democracy and civilization. Above all, as has been stated in this house, we have a duty to the Canadian people. We are not a colony. And we are not a vassal state, although we would have been if the attitude that has been taken by speakers opposite in connection with these paltry estimates had been taken by this country and by the United States during lhe world war. Talk about social services; talk about railway deficits; talk about any-Ihing else in the way of reforms! We would have neither social services nor railways nor anything else if we were unprotected against a world conflagration based upon the great surging forces of nazism, fascism and communism to-day. Let us get down to brass tacks and realize where we are, whether our nationality be French, English or any other.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Scottish.

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LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER:

Let us realize that it is our duty as Canadian citizens not only to support these estimates, not only to vote against this asinine resolution, but to make up our minds to continue in our loyalty and to vote for greater estimates next year, the year after, and just so long as dictatorship is rampant throughout the world.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. C. E. JOHNSTON (Bow River):

I wish to take this opportunity to correct the

[Mr. Fraser.l

false impression given to this house by the remarks yesterday of the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil). I do not say that he intentionally misinterpreted my remarks of February 4, but misinterpret them he surely did.

On page 882 of Hansard the hon. member is reported as saying:

I cannot for instance accept the suggestions made in this house recently by the hon. member for Bow River (Mr. Johnston), when he said on the fourth instant that we should have the world's best fleet in our waters; the world's best army in our land, and the world's best air fleet in our own country. I hope I am not doing him an injustice when I quote his remarks apart from the context.

Now. Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what the hon. member 'has done, because from there on is the gross misinterpretation of what I said. He goes on to say that:

If we are to have the world's finest navy in our waters we shall require one that surpasses the British navy, which has now a naval tonnage of 1,161,000, with something like 200,000 additional tonnage under construction, and a personnel of something like 90,000 seamen. If we were to have the world's finest army we should need an army greater than Germany's or the Soviet Union's 1,300,000 under arms. And if we were to have the world's greatest air force we should have to have a fleet greater than that of the Soviet Union or that of Germany, in excess of 4,000 aircraft.

At this point I wish to give three possible meanings of that. First of all, Great Britain has the world's best fleet and in that fleet she has one boat which is better than the others. Now, if we were to have that best ship, or possibly some similar to it, we could be said to have the best navy. Second, if Canada has the best navy according to the size of her territory, her population and her wealth, we could be said to have the world's best navy. Third, if we had the greatest number of ships and each one of these the largest possible, and if we had a greater number of sailors than any other nation in the world, then we could be said to have the best navy in the world.

This last is absolutely absurd because we have not the wealth to have such equipment, nor have we the men to use for the purpose of manning such a fleet. Yet this last is the interpretation the hon. member has put upon my words. The whole content of my address was strictly self defence, and on no consideration would I permit Canada to participate in foreign wars. I never said or inferred that we should have a greater military force than Great Britain, Germany, or any other country. I was not speaking of quantity at all, but the hon. member for Vancouver North stressed quantity, yes, magnified it many times. I was speaking of quality. I have in mind a

National Defence-Mr. Johnston (Bow River)

little incident which many hon. members of this very house will recall in regard to the Ross rifle. These rifles were of a decidedly inferior quality and our Canadian soldiers were compelled to throw them away and pick up the Lee-Enfield rifles, although they left themselves liable to court martial by so doing.

A repetition of such things as that should not be permitted. We should have the best. As I stated in my last speech, and as I state again, the United States war experience illustrates why no foreign power could invade Canada, provided we took ordinary common sense precaution to prevent it. Is there any hon. member sitting in this house who does not desire to have our homes, our wives and our families protected from the ravaging of a raiding horde?

Mr. Speaker, I cannot lower myself to such depths of .degradation as to expect any other country to defend us when we will not do anything to help ourselves.

The hon. member for Vancouver North said, as reported at page 884 of Hansard, the second column:

If we are attacked it will be because of our relationship with Great Britain or of our proximity to the United States. If either of these powers get us into trouble we have no choice but to rely on them for defence. . . .

Surely the hon. member does not believe that we should get protection from Great Britain or the United States, giving as our excuse that we are merely neighbours and should be protected for that reason, or telling Great Britain that she should protect us because of our relationship with the British Empire, and at the same time do absolutely nothing to help ourselves. I cannot believe that of any hon. member. I am reminded of that old poem:

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,

Who never to himself hath said,

This is my own, my native land!

AVhose heart hath ne'er within him burned,

As home his footsteps he hath turned,

From wandering on a foreign strand?

If sueli there breathe, go, mark him well!

I propose, Mr. Speaker, to vote for this amendment, but I must make my stand clear once again. I am not voting against a proper self-defence program, but I am voting against the method the government proposes to use for raising the money for this defence program, that is by borrowing from financial institutions and burdening our people for years to come with an increased load of taxation which they cannot bear.

On motion of Mr. Leader the debate was adjourned.

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At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. Wednesday, February 17, 1937


February 16, 1937