September 9, 1939

PETITION

OPPOSITION TO PARTICIPATION BY CANADA IN ANY EXTRA-TERRITORIAL WAR-REPORT OF CLERK OF PETITIONS


The Clerk of the House laid upon the table the first report of the Clerk of Petitions stating that he had examined the following petition presented on the 8th instant, and finds that it is not in order in the following respects: It is not addressed to the Honourable the House of Commons in parliament assembled. It is in the form of a declaration and contains no prayer. For these reasons it should not be received. Of Ronaldo French and others of the province of Quebec declaring themselves opposed to any participation in the European war.-Mr. Raymond.


CANADIAN PATRIOTIC FUND

PROVISION FOR ASSISTANCE TO DEPENDENTS OF OFFICERS AND MEN ON ACTIVE SERVICE


Hon. C. G. POWER (Minister of Pensions and National Health) moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 2, to incorporate the Canadian Patriotic Fund. He said: The purpose of the bill, an act to incorporate the patriotic fund, is to set up a corporation the object of which will be to collect, administer and distribute a fund for the assistance in case of need of the wives, children and dependents in Canada of officers and men who may be on active service in the naval, military or air forces of his majesty or of any allied or associated power. The patriotic fund was first set up in 1900 to care for the dependents of those who served in the South African war. It was reconsti- Canadian Patriotic Fund tuted in 1914 to care for those who served during the great war and it continued in operation until 1937. During the course of its operation it collected by voluntary contributions from the people of Canada approximately $48,000,000. Immediately after the war, in 1919, the government of Canada contributed the sum of $900,000 to permit the fund to carry on its operations during the immediate post-war period. The patriotic fund also served as an agency for the government in the distribution of un employment assistance. When it was wound up in 1937 there was an amount of approximately 82,000 to its credit, which was handed over to the Canadian pension commission for distribution to ex-soldiers. The bill which is presented is in exactly the same terms as that of 1914. I should like to call the attention of the house to the persons named as incorporators. It was considered advisable to name a certain number of persons who were in more or less of an official capacity, that is to say, to follow what might be termed an official list. The list comprises, first, His Excellency the Governor General, Lady Tweedsmuir, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Pensions and National Health, the leaders of other groups in the house, the lady members of the house and of the senate, the wife of His Honour the Speaker of the House, the wife of His Honour the Speaker of the Senate, the lieutenant governors of the various provinces, the leaders of government in the various provinces and the leaders of the opposition. This committee of incorporators has power to add to its numbers and will doubtless appoint secretaries and the like. It was not thought advisable to go outside this official list at the moment, in order that there might be as little as possible in the way of discussion as to just whose names should appear.


CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Will the terms of incorporation be roughly the same terms as those of the previous incorporation?

Topic:   CANADIAN PATRIOTIC FUND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ASSISTANCE TO DEPENDENTS OF OFFICERS AND MEN ON ACTIVE SERVICE
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Exactly the same terms, with the possible change of a word or two.

Topic:   CANADIAN PATRIOTIC FUND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ASSISTANCE TO DEPENDENTS OF OFFICERS AND MEN ON ACTIVE SERVICE
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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

Will the municipalities be relieved of the heavy cost of this work?

Topic:   CANADIAN PATRIOTIC FUND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ASSISTANCE TO DEPENDENTS OF OFFICERS AND MEN ON ACTIVE SERVICE
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

If my hon. friend will read

the bill he will get all the information.

Topic:   CANADIAN PATRIOTIC FUND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ASSISTANCE TO DEPENDENTS OF OFFICERS AND MEN ON ACTIVE SERVICE
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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

Does the bill ask for voluntary contributions?

Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.

Topic:   CANADIAN PATRIOTIC FUND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ASSISTANCE TO DEPENDENTS OF OFFICERS AND MEN ON ACTIVE SERVICE
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EUROPEAN WAR

PROCEDURE AS TO GIVING EFFECT TO DECISION OF PARLIAMENT REGARDING CANADIAN PARTICIPATION


On the orders of the day:


LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

I should like to make

clear to the house the procedure which the government have in mind as to giving effect to the decision of parliament regarding Canadian participation in the war.

The adoption of the address in reply to the speech from the throne will be considered as approving not only the speech from the throne but approving the government's policy which I set out yesterday of immediate participation in the war.

If the address in reply to the speech from the throne is approved the government will therefore immediately take steps for the issue of a formal proclamation declaring the existence of a state of war between Canada and the German Reich.

Topic:   EUROPEAN WAR
Subtopic:   PROCEDURE AS TO GIVING EFFECT TO DECISION OF PARLIAMENT REGARDING CANADIAN PARTICIPATION
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SC

Archibald Hugh Mitchell

Social Credit

Mr. A. H. MITCHELL (Medicine Hat):

I wish to thank the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) for the expedition with which in making this statement this afternoon he has replied to the letter which I delivered to him earlier in the day.

Topic:   EUROPEAN WAR
Subtopic:   PROCEDURE AS TO GIVING EFFECT TO DECISION OF PARLIAMENT REGARDING CANADIAN PARTICIPATION
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I thank my

hon. friend both for what he has just said and also for his letter. At the same' time I should like to inform him that the statement which I have just read had been prepared some considerable time before his letter was received.

Topic:   EUROPEAN WAR
Subtopic:   PROCEDURE AS TO GIVING EFFECT TO DECISION OF PARLIAMENT REGARDING CANADIAN PARTICIPATION
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CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY TO THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH


The house resumed from Friday, September 8, consideration of the motion of Mr. Hamilton for an address to His Excellency the Governor General in reply to his speech at the opening of the session.


LIB-PRO

Joseph Thorarinn Thorson

Liberal Progressive

Mr. J. T. THORSON (Selkirk):

I believe it to be my duty to take part in this debate by reason of certain views that I have held and expressed from time to time both inside this house and from the public platform, so that there may be no doubt whatsoever as to where I stand on this great issue. I do not consider that my personal stand in the matter is of any great importance, but I believe that I represent a large body of opinion in Canada which may perhaps be expressed in this house through the speech which I shall make.

In my opinion there can be no doubt what-.soever of the duty of Canada to participate

The Address-Mr. Thorson

in this war and to aid the great democracies, Great Britain and France, in the manner that will be most helpful to them, and to the utmost of her capacity. All Canadians must face this task with unflinching courage and determination.

There has been a great body of opinion in Canada to the effect that we should not participate in any extraterritorial war, and should keep ourselves free from any external commitments, whether direct or indirect, which might involve us in such a war. Those who have held this view have had the best interests of Canada at heart. In their opinion all other considerations were subordinate to the welfare of Canada; that was their supreme concern. I have been one of the spokesmen of that body of opinion, and have not hesitated to express my views on this subject whenever the need arose, both outside and inside this house, with such vigour as I could command. I conceived this to be my duty as a Canadian whose first and undivided loyalty is to Canada.

From the bottom of my heart I wish that it were possible to keep the Canadian people out of this war; for I know what war is; I have had personal contact with war, and I am fearful of its consequences, but I am convinced that it has become impossible for Canada to keep out of this war. In my opinion the time has come when even the strongest advocates of a policy of isolation for Canada must abandon their hopes of keeping Canada out of this war-for a vital issue has arisen from which Canada cannot stand aside. The most ardent imperialists and the staunchest Canadian nationalists should show a united front in the long and terrible conflict that is now before us. It has not been an easy task for me to come to this decision, in view of the attitude that I have taken that Canada must strive to the utmost to keep out of war. I have come to this decision after very careful thought. Duty rules responsible men with an iron hand, and responsible men must not stray from the path of duty. It is my duty to express in this house the decision to which I have come, as I have previously expressed with as much courage as I possessed the views that I have held.

In the last session I introduced a bill relating to the status of Canada in time of war. That bill has been misunderstood in some quarters. It could not be misunderstood by those who have read the speech that I delivered on that occasion. That bill asserted Canada's right to decide for herself the issue of peace or war for Canada. I urged that it was not only the right but also the duty of the Canadian

people to decide this issue for themselves whenever the need for deciding it should arise, and that we must not allow this supreme issue of self-government to be determined for us by a government that is not our own, and which is not responsible to us and for which we are not responsible. Can any true Canadian, believing in self-government and that Canada is a free nation, deny the existence of that right or shirk the performance of that duty? I stand by everything I said on that occasion, and I am glad that the government in this great crisis that faces the Canadian people has adopted and followed the fundamental principles underlying the bill that I had the honour to introduce.

It will be remembered that in the course of my speech in support of that bill I drew a sharp distinction between the right to neutrality and a policy of neutrality. I clearly stated that Canada must decide her policy on each occasion, as the need for such decision should arise. I have sufficient faith in Canada to believe that this country will not fail in her duty as she conceives it to be.

In the same speech I endeavoured to set forth certain cardinal principles. I expressed the view that it was the supreme responsibility of every leader of a country to keep his people free from the devastating consequences of war as long as such a course was possible; and that the maintenance of peace was his sacred duty unless some issue greater than peace itself was involved. In my opinion such an issue is now upon us and as Canadians we must face it. I am confident that we shall do so with courage in our hearts.

What is the issue that is now upon us that is greater than peace itself? I do not wish to give offence to anyone in what I am about to say, but the issue is not the status of Danzig or the independence of Poland. If the issue before us at this session were merely the separate political entity of Danzig or Poland I would have no difficulty and not the slightest hesitation in voting against Canadian participation in war solely on that account. At this moment there is no need to elaborate my reasons for that statement. No, Mr. Speaker; the threat to the status of Danzig and the independence of Poland is not of itself the issue so far as Canada is concerned. The issue is much greater and of more vital importance than that; for freedom and individual liberty throughout the world are threatened. More than that, two of the greatest democracies in the world, Great Britain, and France, both of them defenders of freedom and individual liberty and the sacred rights of human personality, are now engaged in a life or death struggle with a powerful nation which has the

The Address-Mr. Thorson

misfortune to be led 'by men who appear to have no regard for these sacred principles. The existence of Great Britain and France as free nations is involved. From that life or death struggle we in Canada cannot possibly stand aside and say that it is no concern of ours.

Last session I stated that I would not approve going to war on an issue that centred on purely national prestige or economic advantage, or one that was engaged in merely for the purpose of teaching the totalitarian states a lesson. I also stated, however, that we in Canada would be greatly concerned if the life or liberty of Great Britain should be involved; and I expressed the view that if the existence of Great Britain should be involved Canada would not hesitate to come to her assistance. In my opinion the existence of Great Britain is now involved in the great struggle that is taking place. This is a matter of vital concern to Canada and to all Canadians, and Canada will come to the assistance of Great Britain.

While I am confident that Great Britain and France will ultimately defeat their enemies,

I believe that no free nation anywhere in the world can afford to take the risk of any possibility of the destruction of these two great nations. Certainly Canada cannot afford to take that risk, bound as she is to Great Britain by ties of deep affection and, more than that, community of regard for the sacred rights of individual human personality. Indeed I am firmly convinced that our great neighbour to the south, the United States of America, will be on our side in this conflict before very long. Let a great disaster threaten the existence of Great Britain and France, and the United States will be in the conflict.

This war, Mr. Speaker, will not be a short one. It is the view of many that it will not be won on the battlefield by troops, though they will be needed in large numbers, nor by bombardment from the air, with all its horrors, but that it will be won by that group_ of nations which for the longest period of time can command an adequate supply of food and materials. If that view is sound the war will be a very long one; it will be a war of attrition and the aid of Canada, though her population may be small, will be of vital importance to the success of Great Britain and her allies. Under the circumstances it is unthinkable that such aid should be withheld. Canada should therefore join with Great Britain and France, as a free nation, and I am confident that Canada will give her full support to them.

For these reasons, Mr. Speaker, I commend without reservation the steps that have beev taken by the government, and, as a Canadian, I pledge my unqualified support to the

government in any steps that may be necessary for the fullest cooperation of Canada with Great Britain and her allies. The vital interests of Canada in this life or death struggle in which Great Britain is now engaged are bound up inextricably with those of Great Britain. In speaking as I have done I am sure I express the view of many thousands of Canadians, of British, French and non-British origin, who have felt and now feel as I do. There can be only one decision for Canada to make. Canada must not, and will not, fail in the task of assisting Great Britain and France to the full extent of her power. We must and will stand shoulder to shoulder with Great Britain and France in the long and terrible conflict in which we shall be all engaged.

I agree with everything that has been said during the course of this debate on the subject of war profiteering. That should be made a crime, and every person who seeks to profiteer by reason of the war should be regarded as a public enemy.

War will impose heavy burdens upon our nation, and it will be our duty to see to it that there is equality of sacrifice. The wealth of this country, as well as its man power, must share the burden. While it may be said in favour of conscription that it is the fairest system to apply and that it will prove the most efficient, it must be remembered that in many portions of Canada-not in one province alone -there is a strong sentiment against conscription. That sentiment must not be disregarded ; for what we might gain by efficiency we might more than lose through disunity. National unity in this country is of supreme importance. It will not be too easy to maintain it when the burdens of war begin to be felt. In the prosecution of this war it is essential that willing support should be given. It cannot be enforced against the will of many substantial sections of the country. If it should happen that conscription must come, then it must come as the result of the general will that it should come.

There is one other matter to which I should like to refer. Our participation in this war is on the basis of the need for preserving liberty throughout the world. Let us make sure that in the measures that we pass in this parliament we do not lose liberty in Canada. The civil authority in Canada must always remain supreme.

This war will be a long war. It will be a war of attrition, and the processes of attrition are slow. Great fortitude on the part of our people will be required. Cool-headed and efficient leadership will be needed, not only to bring about such action as may be necessary,

The Address

Mr. Coldwell

but also to withstand and to restrain such action as may be harmful. It .will not be easy to withstand the public demand for quick action. Indeed those who demand quick action without regard to the direction in which that action shall be taken may prove to be enemies of Canada. Let us be sure that such action as is taken is in the right direction. Let us avoid the many mistakes that were made in the last -war. This war will demand cold and grim determination on the part of all of us.

It is too early to talk of peace, but let us hope that when peace comes the mistakes of the treaty of Versailles may be avoided, lest we may again sow the seeds for another war.

In the meantime we in Canada, with the full knowledge of what faces us, have made our choice. We have made that choice as a free nation. We must not fail in the task that we have undertaken.

Topic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY TO THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
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September 9, 1939