Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding any previous assertion to the contrary, the conscription act is far from being a dead letter as is fully evidenced by section 8 of the Militia Act. This Act, which was the cause of so many misunderstandings and disappointments as well as of an orgy of spending from which Canada will never entirely recover, still appears in our statute books, and not only in view of Canada's defence alone.
That is why I say to the skeptical: Read over carefully the provisions of the Militia and Defence Act which, for some reason I cannot fathom, it appears impossible to amend, and you will realize that I am not dealing in vain and empty words. You will understand that our uncompromising refusal to approve the increase in the defence estimates is not based on illusion, but rather on the doctrine of peace, autonomy, liberty and sovereignty which must prevail in Canada. Furthermore, does it rest on the prerogatives recently granted to us by the statute of Westminster. It is founded, lastly, on true canadianism, the unalterable principle of which has no other source save" an exclusively Canadian patriotism. And who could take us to task for this deep attachment to our only true national duty? In the face of the existing Militia and Defence Act, who would dare condemn the attitude we adopt? Therefore, shall I take good care not to overlook this act, seemingly inserted in our statutes for the sole purpose of nullifying the code of our liberties as set forth in the statute of Westminster, nor to censure the justifiable anxiety of our youth and of the entire right-minded population of this country.
To protect the territorial integrity of Canada against any foreign aggression; to shield our population against the powers of anarchy and the secret influences which endeavour, by every means, to spur the people on to carnage and war; lastly, to safeguard our national existence and our political independence; this I shall always be willing to do. But to sacrifice our sons on a foreign soil; to spend staggering sums in order to participate in foreign wars; to incur expenditures that will bring about the moral and financial ruin of my country, merely to take part in conflicts which do not involve our interests in the least: this, I claim, is a criminal aberration. Rather than to mobilize troops in view of participation in external conflicts, it is Canada's duty to mobilize conscience, logic and the hearts of her sons for the salvation of the motherland. That is our true national duty, and therein alone is embodied the safeguard of this nation.
When one stops to think that the spirit of domination, anarchy and the selfish inter-
ests of all nations have succeeded in establishing the most formidable doctrine of carnage ever expounded; when one realizes that Russia has 18.000,000 men under arms or in reserve, that France has 6,250,000, Italy 6,300,000, Germany, 2,200,000, without taking into account the British forces; when one considers the no less startling figure of 8,000,000 men mobilized by the second rate powers, is it possible to view the future without the gravest apprehensions? Is it human to contemplate the possibility of a dreadful war without thinking at the same time of the immense slaughter it would engender?
How can the world be made to believe that the only object of this infamous armament race is peace? Since when has veritable peace been synonymous with intimidation, violence and brute force? Since when has peace, true peace, been confused with odious dismemberment, unjust invasion and the enslavement and destruction of weaker nations? Since when is it that peace must needs exclude men of good will and the principles of charity and justice? The only peace which must prevail and save the world is that which belongs to the honest and just, the kind and the charitable. There is no other peace which can put an end to the armament race, to territorial violations and to the criminal greed of war profiteers. Should the nations not heed the moving appeal made by the highest spiritual authority in the world, His Holiness Pope Pius XII; should they continue to scoff at the solemn warnings and at the peace proposals, based on the strictest logic, of the great apostles of civilization and peace, they shall perish, annihilated by the diabolic instruments to which their own cruelty gave birth. In the following remark which our Lord made to Peter, his disciple, is set forth an eternal and unalterable principle: "Whomsoever lives by the sword, shall perish by the sword."
Should war break out, whose who are well informed will not be slow in ascertaining where it originated. It is moreover a well known fact that the selfish interests of some nations have always impeded the freedom of economic intercourse among nations. There are small-minded nations who sacrifice the fundamental principles of international justice to the spirit of domination and to military and financial imperialism. Such nations refuse to others free access to those material things which are essential not only to their development but to their very existence. Let no one be mistaken about that. In the criminal injustice of such nations lies the worst threat to international peace and order. With a view to avoiding the most frightful and horrible of all wars, will such nations refuse
The Budget-Mr. Lacombe
to make those sacrifices which the maintenance of peace calls for? Should such be their attitude, I do not hesitate to say that they are not worthy of existing. May God preserve us from such a dreadful catastrophe 1 But if it must unescapably occur, I do say that the responsibility for such a great calamity will lie not only upon those people who ask but also upon those who refuse. Love of peace goes beyond contractual and juridical obligations. True love of peace goes very much farther. It is synonymous with charity and justice. The salvation of humanity, in these troubled times, lies unmistakably in those two virtues, the only ones which can dispel the anxiety which is now distracting the world.
Sir, Canada should absolutely refrain from any participation in external wars. Not only should it reject conscription, but also oppose all form and means of participation, be it even voluntary. Canada should condemn any military action which is not intended solely for the defence of Canadian territory. Our country should change its Militia and Defence Act and its Naval Service Act in accordance with the intention of the Statute of Westminster. It should without delay declare its absolute neutrality. Otherwise, we are doomed to down-fall, ruin and destruction. Do we realize how odious and unjust on the part of our country would be another participation, even voluntary, in foreign wars? Do we realize that our national debt is more than eight billions, or nearly $750 per capita? Have we forgotten that it is gradually increasing, at the annual rate of approximately 275 millions? How could we ignore the heavy burden of taxation which has to be borne by the Canadian taxpayer because our country took part in the last war? History can not properly condemn that participation. And the Canadian people should unanimously condemn any participation in foreign wars, if they wish to live.
In conclusion, I wish again to protest with all my strength against any increase in the military estimates, when such appropriations are not exclusively intended for the defence of Canada. I want our country to proclaim its absolute and permanent neutrality. To those who claim that we do not possess that power, I would say: Stop boasting on public platforms of the liberties and the sovereignty which are guaranteed to us by the Statute of Westminster. You would do better to proclaim its unquestionable advantages on the floor of this house. Render to Canada what belongs to Canada by virtue of that statute: its liberty, its autonomy, its sovereignty, its neutrality. Do not try to conceal our sovereign rights under the cloak of
militaristic and financial imperialism. Past experiences and sacrifices having opened their eyes, our people demand the truth. No one has the right to deny it to them, even under pretence of constitutional reasoning or legal discussions.
Before resuming my seat, may I again ask the government to declare our neutrality. Canada possesses the right to do so, in spite of what may be thought or said by men for whose ability and experience I have every respect. To maintain the contrary would be to move backwards, to revert to colonial status. To delay further would be deliberately to await the crisis and perhaps the physical and moral impossibility of acting in the best interest of the country. The clauses of the statute of Westminster should be fully adhered to. Our national pride, our survival, our most precious liberties command us to tolerate no violation of our autonomy or our sovereignty. I therefore adjure Parliament to replace our obsolete Militia and Naval Service Acts by a formal enactment absolutely prohibiting the dispatch of Canadian troops beyond the boundaries of Canada. I therefore beseech this house firmly to repel any encroachment on our autonomy or our sovereignty, from whatever quarter. Participation in an external war would plunge this country into ruin and permanent bankruptcy. I therefore say that no government, however powerful, or no parliament has the right to decree the suicide of the nation. Let us order a plebiscite. Let us grant the right to vote to all those who would be called to the colours in the event of war. Indeed, why should the right to vote be restricted to those who know themselves to be safe from the call to arms? It is the privilege of our youth more than that of any other class of citizens to determine our armament policy. Our young men could thus decide their fate without the eager cooperation of dastardly war profiteers, ever willing to vote the death of others. A conscript of 1917, I shall never forget the hours of agony that my generation went through. The painful recollection of that unhappy period naturally makes me think of our youth of to-day. No one understands better than I their anxiety, their apprehension in these troubled times. No one wishes more than I to continue to protect them against the hypocrisy and greed of military and financial imperialism. No one is more anxious than I to protect the lives of our young people against the disgraceful and despicable trade carried on by cannon merchants who left nothing undone in order to prolong the bloody conflict of 1914. No one is more than I in favour of absolute neutrality for our distressed, bruised, and exhausted country, still
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