February 18, 1937

CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. M. J. COLDWELL (Rosetown-Biggar):

I should like to direct an inquiry to the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe). On January 21 of this year I asked a question with regard to certain costs to this dominion in connection with the Regina riot inquiry. On January 25 an order of the house was issued for that information. As yet the reply has not been forthcoming, and I have been approached about it. May I ask why it takes a month to get this information, which I should think would be readily available?

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Hon. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Minister of Justice):

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, that I received the message from my hon. friend too late to make the necessary inquiries, but it is hardly fair to say that a month has elapsed between January 25 and to-day. We had to communicate with Regina in order to ascertain some facts. I assure my hon. friend that we will file this return as soon as possible.

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Subtopic:   REGINA RIOTS-COST OF INQUIRY
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SUPPLY-NATIONAL DEFENCE CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON AMENDMENT TO MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE


The house resumed from Tuesday, February 16, consideration of the motion of Mr. Dunning that the house go into committee of supply, and the proposed amendment thereto of Mr. MacNeil.


LIB

Harry Leader

Liberal

Mr. HARRY LEADER (Portage la Prairie):

Mr. Speaker, in rising to continue the debate on the motion before the house and

National Defence-Mr. Leader

the amendment thereto, it is not my intention to make any extended remarks. I want to be as brief as possible in presenting my position not only to this house but to the people who are responsible for my being here.

Needless to say, I abhor war just as much as any other gentleman who has spoken during this debate. I think war is madness, but I am afraid most of the world is afflicted with this malady at the present time. War is the most diabolical instrument ever devised by man for the destruction of all that is best in civilization. War violates every principle of the Prince of Peace and stimulates the forces of evil. Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, the war god is no respecter of nations; the most remote and the most peaceful may be drawn into the vortex. Canada is a peaceful nation. I am sure we Canadians have no desire to annex any of the lands that belong to other nations, but we are proud of our heritage, and we would like to keep it. Canada is remote from the possibilities of war, as we see them to-day, and we have no desire to create more armaments for the destruction of our fellow men. But, Mr. Speaker, we must face the facts. I am sure the government does not contemplate any war of aggression. If I did not believe that, I would not vote a five cent piece for the prosecution of a war, but would use my influence to defeat any such purpose. But a war of defence is a different proposition, and that is the position in which we find ourselves today.

What is the situation? Briefly it appears to me to be as follows: We have a Hitler

and a Mussolini armed to the teeth, casting covetous eyes on the possessions of other people and uttering dire threats at the point of bristling bayonets. Under these circumstances we can visualize what would happen to Canada if we were not in a position to defend our shores. It is true that we could rely on the help of others. I know we could rely on the help of the motherland, and I am sure we could rely on the help of our friendly neighbour to the south. But it seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that if we have any respect for ourselves or for this grand country in which we live we should be prepared to defend ourselves without asking for aid from anyone. Therefore I must vote against the amendment as presented by the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil), and I intend to support the government.

May I say that I have confidence in the Prime Minister of this country. He has a long record of service. At Geneva last year, during the meetings of the assembly of the League of Nations, he explained Canada's 31111-63

position. He spoke for Canada, and he spoke for me. He declared that Canada would enter into no commitments in any foreign war without the consent of parliament and the consent of the Canadian people. I agree most heartily with that stand, and I believe the people throughout Canada will agree, also with that policy. The Prime Minister cannot be called a jingoist, and for that reason I believe that under his leadership we are safe. I have concluded my observations on that phase of the question.

May I take just a few moments to describe to the house some of the feelings which I believe exist out in the country. It seems to me that we as members are prone to forget the position and condition of the people who, reposing their confidence in us, have sent us here to represent them. For that reason I try to keep in as close touch as possible with my electors. There has been a feeling throughout my constituency that under existing conditions there would be an increase this year in war expenditure. We have in the prairie provinces a farmers' organization which in my province is known as the United Farmers of Manitoba. At their annual meeting this year, held at Neepawa, which I was privileged to attend, there was presented a resolution, part of which I shall read, to which I gave my support. It seems to me that the very first words show that they anticipated just what is happening. As the resolution is long I shall not weary the house by reading it all; I shall read only that part of it which bears upon the matter under discussion. It begins:

Whereas under the changed conditions as regards world peace, many people expect the Canadian government to enter upon a new and extended defence program-

And it ends:

Resolved, further, that in the undertaking of any preparations for the possible contingency of war, (1) the government take steps to commit the nation to the principle that immediately upon the declaration of war financial control of all industry shall be assumed by the government so that profiteering of every kind out of war conditions and services shall be rendered impossible and that all wealth shall be conserved and applied to the national purpose of maintenance of the population and the realization of the nation's war objective and (2) that the working out of plans for such mobilization of economic resources be made a part of any defence policy upon which the nation may enter.

During the last war there can be no doubt that huge sums of money were made by war profiteering-made from the misery and sufferings of the sons of Canada who died on the fields of France and Flanders. That this should have happened is resented to the present

National Defence-Mr. Lalonde

Jay, with the result that in my section of the country a different feeling exists in regard to war profiteers. The Canadian people expect that if we must go to war all the resources of the country will be employed in the prosecution of that war. I believe that in the nation's interest we should conscript, if that is the proper word-perhaps it is not; some people object to it-the resources of the fields, of the forests and of the mines, and all the accumulated wealth.

May I repeat that I am supporting the government in these expenditures, which I believe, involve an increase this year of $11,615,000. The very amount is alarming, but under existing conditions I feel that as a good Canadian I can take no other course than that of supporting the action of the government.

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LIB

Maurice Lalonde

Liberal

Mr. MAURICE LALONDE (Labelle):

(Translation) Mr. Speaker, certain erroneous statements published in a press with interested motives claiming, without any proof in support of such allegations, that the dominion parliament would vote this year $70,000,000 towards national defence, have caused great commotion among the public. It is obvious that if the tories had been in power, probably these statements would have been true, but, thank God, we have in this country a Liberal government headed by the right hon. Mackenzie King, the prime minister "par excellence" and the one who stands in the history of Canada as the less imperialistic of all our prime ministers.

I leave to these comedians of journalism the responsibility of their statements. I admit, Mr. Speaker, that a contingency of that nature would have compelled me to vote against such an excess in imperialistic extravagance. But the hon. the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie) asks this house for a total sum of $34,091,873.42, of which $22,339,223.42 is for our defence scheme, and $11,752,650 for the air force. Is this excessive? Is it acceptable? Does my duty as a member of this house authorize me to vote in favour of such an expenditure? I will endeavour in a few words to answer these questions to the best of my knowledge.

And I owe all men and women who voted for me a clear and definite explanation so as to dispel any ambiguity and establish on a rational basis my position as representative of the electors of Labelle and as a member of the dominion Liberal party. Moreover, having given to the press an interview which certain newspapers of my province and of Canada were kind enough to reproduce, I feel that I am under the obligation of proving that my vote will be consistent with my public state-

ments. The text of my interview as published in Le Droit of January 20, 1937 follows:

The agitation caused by this important question of the defence estimates which the honourable the Minister of National Defence will bring down during this session of the federal parliament, has stirred public opinion. I do not believe that this is the proper time to reach a definite conclusion before having had an opportunity of considering these estimates and hearing what the honourable minister will have to say by way of explanation.

We do not know as yet what amount parliament will be asked to vote, nor the purpose for which these sums will be spent.

A definite conclusion would therefore be premature.

I am in favour of ensuring security within our territory and having our customs service watch closely our coasts and the American border, either with ships or aircraft. But these expenditures should be within our means and I am not prepared to vote in favour of excessive disbursements for that item.

As to the important question of Canada's participation in imperial foreign wars, I am altogether against it, either in men or money.

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LIB

Liguori Lacombe

Liberal

Mr. LACOMBE:

Hear, hear.

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LIB

Maurice Lalonde

Liberal

Mr. LALONDE:

It seems to me that the explicit statements of the right honourable Mackenzie King and of the honourable senator Dandurand on this subject are sufficient to appease public opinion. This does not imply that we should not be very cautious should legislation to that effect be introduced. This is a question of principle on which we must stand firmly. The future of Canada is at stake! All true patriots must have but one slogan: Canada first! And the interest of Canada is not to be found in Flanders, in the Spanish peninsula or in Ethiopia, but on the shores of the St. Lawrence as well as on the territory of the other provinces in the dominion.

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LIB

Liguori Lacombe

Liberal

Mr. LACOMBE:

Hear, hear.

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LIB

Maurice Lalonde

Liberal

Mr. LALONDE:

I must therefore follow this program and abide by this principle. Indeed, I do not claim to- meet the demands of the nationalists who, tired of seeking blindly some formulae for our economic recovery in the policies of the Liberal party, turn towards a political and utopian idealism of exaggerated secession, and selfish nationalism whose mean ideals are incapable of looking beyond the horizon of the province of Quebec.

Are these estimates excessive? Are they acceptable? Before expressing my opinion on this question, I think it would be important to set the scope of the discussion.

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LIB

Joseph Georges Bouchard

Liberal

Mr. BOUCHARD:

Hear, hear.

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LIB

Maurice Lalonde

Liberal

Mr. LALONDE:

We have before us a motion of non-confidence; we must first discuss this motion on its merits before considering the estimates intrinsically. The motion reads as follows:

National Defence-Mr. Lalonde

That all the words after the word "that" in the motion be struck out and the following substituted therefor:

This house views with grave concern the startling increases of expenditure proposed by the government for purposes of national armament in contrast with the inadequate provision for the social security of all sections of the Canadian people.

Tthe hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil) therefore suggests a comparison, but his resolution is so worded that it inevitably leads to a contradiction. How could we vote against this motion of want of confidence, and later vote against the appropriations that are being asked for? The answer to that, Mr. Speaker, is that we should have first considered the present motion upon its merits, suggesting as it does a comparison between the amount of the defence estimates and the activities of the government as regards social welfare. There you have two major points calling for a conclusion which may exclude either an affirmative or a negative vote on the estimates.

In order to know whether these estimates are too large or not, let us see, in the terms of the motion, what, the government has done in connection with social welfare. I always understood that the social welfare of a nation proceeded from a system of legislation giving the individual a feeling of mental and physical security wherefrom he derived full happiness. It means that if the social welfare policy of the present government answered 'the needs of our people, these estimates, always according to the terms of the resolution, would not be unreasonable.

You will admit that in discussing this question we must revolve within a limited circle, which I might even call a vicious circle. But I do venture to state that the social policy of this government should meet with the approval of all those who place the interest of their country above party contingencies.

The Liberal government, through its policies, its treaties, its agreements, the ever increasing volume of our trade and commerce, and conventions based on moderate free trade principles, gave rise to an evident feeling of sympathy towards Canada among other nations of the world: Agreements with the United

States, Germany and France; the renewal of the Ottawa agreements on a more equitable basis; the statements of Right Hon. Mackenzie King at Geneva; the positive statements of our leaders concerning our absolute independence in case of a European war, all this ought to set our minds at rest.

As regards our domestic policy, both in the economic and the social spheres, we have had 31111-634

relief works, the Dominion Textile trust was brought to reason, prices improved, money is circulating more freely, loans were granted to the western provinces, a bonus was paid on wheat, there was a decrease in our federal deficits, and a satisfactory improvement in business as a whole. All these things, Mr. Speaker, make for a greater sense of security among our Canadian people than under the tory administration of 1930. And we should condemn it all through a vote of want of confidence in the government just because, this year, there is some fear that the increase in the defence estimates may reflect excessive imperialism? That is a conclusion which I cannot share.

The comparison is evidently defective, but we must take it such as it was presented to us by the hon. member for Vancouver North. Therefore, I shall vote against this motion. My mandate as a member of this house does not leave me any other alternative, for I was elected on the express understanding that I would support the government in its fair measures. But is this request for an increase of $14,000,000 in the defence estimates a fair measure? That is altogether a different question. Any man is loath to spend money to buy anything for purposes of destruction. It is with some hesitation that I find it unfortunately necessary to vote for these estimates. I have carefully listened to the speech of the hon. the Minister of National Defence, and I shall support certain appropriations which I consider reasonable, but I am reserving the right to appreciate later some other items the necessity of which I do not quite grasp at present. I shall discharge my duties and my responsibilities as a Canadian to the full, without the least egoist thought as to my personal political aggrandizement. While objecting most strenuously to Canada's participation in foreign wars, I am in favour of taking any steps that might be necessary for the preservation of our internal peace. I want the constituted authorities to be strengthened in such a way that they may be able to hold in check the revolutionary mob whose existence is not recognized in certain quarters but which is planning, under cover, to destroy our secular institutions, in order to raise upon their smoking remains, the haughty structure of their pagan universities and Godless schools.

I am also sceptical as regards the possibility of attacks from the outside, but I may ask those who refuse to believe in such a contingency to prove its impossibility. International events are such that no man can foretell what complications they may lead

National Defence-Mr. Lalonde

to. We even see our southern neighbours, protected as they are by their geographical position between two oceans, building up a great air fleet at an annual cost of several million dollars. On this subject, I believe we will simply have to adhere to the principle of the most elementary local protection, because it is materially impossible to think of militarizing Canada. I would indeed be relentlessly opposed to such a policy.

I am equally sceptical as to the true meaning of this armament policy. Are we moving towards a contributory imperialism? If we permit these estimates to be voted without any protest to-day, shall we, to-morrow be [DOT]bound by a dangerous precedent? Should we also believe the statement made by the Right Hon. Neville Chamberlain and reported in the morning papers in connection with the military estimates of 7 billion 500 million dollars voted in England, "that it is not the intention to invite the dominions to share in a common scheme of defence."

Here again, we must admit that accurate foresight is difficult. God only knows what the future has in store and we are powerless before His divine intents.

To sum up, Mr. Speaker, upon what basis are we going to build up our knowledge and our conclusions? Whom are we going to believe? Whom are we going to trust? Shall we give credence to the demagogical outbursts of the Conservatives and their newspapers? Or to the sententious warnings of the nationalist press? Or again to the vain threats of certain associations financed by the tories and which, under the chaste cloak of patriotism, are carrying on an active propaganda against the federal Liberal party? Or lastly, to the whispers of a mob treacherously deceived by the false prophets of extreme nationalism, whose 'adherents will perhaps be the first to call upon our militia to save them from the anger of that mob, roused by them to a frenzy of demagogy?

Of course, Mr. Speaker, as one lone protest has reached me from my constituency, the . only alternative left me is to give my full confidence to those who are responsible for the government of our country. To my mind, it would be an insult to question the true Canadianism of the Right Honourable Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King). His past behaviour bespeaks his future actions. And when he said these words which I find in Hansard, February 15, 1937, page 890:

I must deny categorically and immediately what my hon. friend has said.

The hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar {Mr. Coldwell) had just made a statement.

(Mr. Lalonde.]

There are no commitments and no understandings in the nature of commitments between this government and the government of Great Britain or any other government.

I fail to understand how anyone can doubt his word and conclude that our country is moving towards military imperialism. I cannot understand how certain newspapers, especially Le Droit in its issue of February 17, 1937, can make such statements as this one:

Can the Minister of National Defence give us the unconditional assurance that, notwithstanding his own intentions the new armaments he asks for will not be used in a war waged by England in Europe or elsewhere? Is he in a position to give us a concrete guarantee-

Let me emphasize that word concrete so as to show its sheer stupidity.

-that if, to-morrow, England were to be involved in a war, these new armaments will not serve any other purpose than the protection of Canada's neutrality in case of any attack against her own territory? In a word, can he tell us how these new armaments would be used in the event of war? Whatever the Minister of National Defence intends to do for the moment, he cannot give us any real assurance that these armaments will not be used in such a conflict.

The man who made that statement speaks ex-cathedra and he imputes to the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie) motives that he never had. I may say that the writer of this article, if he is not blind or deaf and if he is not determined to oppose to the end everything that is reddish and to extol everything that is bluish, should read, read over again, consider and reconsider the speech in which the Minister of National Defence states more than once that our armaments will only be used for the protection of our territory.

Let me quote what he says at page 904 of Hansard:

-to give us a small force to cooperate with our air force and our naval force for the protection of Canada, within Canada only.

And at page 906:

These are the actual details of the estimates. They are all for the purpose of coastal defence, and for increased equipment and for cooperation of militia services of Canada with the air force and naval forces for the protection of Canada, within our borders. I cannot make that sufficiently clear to hon. members of the house.

Then at page 907, he says again:

this defence policy is a Canadian defence policy for the direct defence of our Canadian shores and our Canadian homes.

At page 903:

In the first place, our enlarged defence estimates are submitted only for the defence of Canada. In the second place, they are not arranged between Canada and any other nation.

National Defence-Mr. Maclnnis

In the third place, there has not been in connection with a single item of the estimates so submitted any request from any government in any other place whatsoever. In the fourth place, parliament itself must be the final judge as to Canada's participation in any future war-

Moreover let me say to the scribbler who signed the foregoing article that there are many more newspapermen of his calibre who take for gospel anything that smacks of criticism against the Liberal regime and who print on the 67th page news of the good deeds performed by a Liberal government. Would anything convince those gentlemen? Would they require the Prime Minister and his colleagues to execute a notarial document in the presence of 150 witnesses to the effect that they will reject all future commitments? As far as I am concerned, I have no reason to question the statements of the Hon. Mr. King and Mr. Lapointe, and I do not believe that our money will be used for a definite militaristic scheme. That question of the defence estimates amounts to a question of quantum. I have heard the speech delivered by the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie). Before taking a stand on the advisability of certain items, I reserve the right to ask questions about them, and I hope his answers will sufficiently enlighten me, when the estimates are considered by the committee. And I will give the government, as our English speaking friends would say, a fair trial.

If unfortunately they were to deceive me, an occurrence that I fail to conceive, I would be the first to-morrow to denounce them as forcibly as I am defending them to-day. For, the only reward I can expect from politics is the conviction of having done my duty. I will always continue to work without flinching and without any animosity to preserve the freedom of my race and country; so that our people may live in order and peace; so that the dominion Liberal party may maintain his great traditions, based on a truly Canadian policy.

I am a Liberal, it is true, sir; but above all I am a Roman Catholic and a French Canadian. When I say that I am a Canadian, I mean that I want a truly self-governing Canada freely associated to the British commonwealth of nations. I am a Canadian to the core, I will never give up my sons, when they are old enough to be soldiers, for the sake of defending England or any foreign nation.

My Canadianism might be summed up in these words: nothing on earth will ever induce me to send out of the country these two little French Canadians whom I love more than

anything else in the world so that they may fight for England or France; but I would consider them as cowards if they were not first in the front line of trenches to fight for Canada, for the land they are taught to love as true French Canadians.

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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. ANGUS MacINNIS (Vancouver East):

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the preceding speaker (Mr. Lalonde) will excuse me if I do not follow him in his remarks. Whatever their content may have been, I am quite sure that his speech was delivered in very good style.

Judging from the speeches that have been made in this chamber since the amendment was moved, Mr. Speaker, I think this group can take credit to itself for having given the members of this house an opportunity of expressing their views on the question now before us. Most of the discussion has not been altogether against our point of view. The Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie), in opening his speech on Monday evening, took strong exception to the form of the amendment. He called it a doublebarrelled amendment. Let me read the amendment and see to what extent it is double-barrelled:

This house views with grave concern the startling increases of expenditure proposed by the government for purposes of national armament in contrast with the inadequate provision for the social security of all sections of the Canadian people.

The Minister of National Defence, having read the amendment, immediately referred to a resolution that was proposed in this house in 1933, and then, turning to the members behind him, he made this most peculiar statement, which you will find at page 896 of Hansard:

The hon. member for Vancouver North by his amendment is seeking to obtain power, because the carrying of his amendment would mean the defeat of this government; a socialist government would then be in control in this dominion, and we would have the establishment of a socialist state. That is what the amendment means, and nothing else.

Now, that may be good strategy on the part of the Minister of National Defence, but it is certainly not statesmanship. He may think a thing like that will go over with the province of Quebec, where the people may have been prejudiced against socialism, but let me tell him that it is not going to do for the people of this country generally. All that we do in this amendment is to draw attention to and say that we are opposed to the great increase in the military estimates in comparison with what has been done in regard to social services to meet the needs of

998 COMMONS

National Defence-Mr. Maclnnis

the people of this country. If our amendment is double-barrelled the reason is that we are dealing with a two-faced government, a government that was elected not to increase the military appropriations for defence but to deal with the serious economic and social conditions within this country.

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LIB

Robert Emmett Finn

Liberal

Mr. FINN:

It is doing that.

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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. MacINNIS:

I should like to see it.

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LIB

Robert Emmett Finn

Liberal

Mr. FINN:

Well, look about you.

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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. MacINNIS:

It is because I have looked about me that I say I cannot see it.

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LIB

Robert Emmett Finn

Liberal

Mr. FINN:

Your vision is not very broad.

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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. MacINNIS:

It is as broad as the

dominion.

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February 18, 1937