Mr. HUGUES LAPOINTE (Lotbiniere) (Translation):
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate as a high privilege the great honour which the Prime Minister has kindly conferred upon me at the beginning of this important session of a new parliament.
In my name and on behalf of those who have elected me as their representative in this House, I wish to tender him my heartfelt thanks.
There are here many new members who, like myself, have been summoned for the first time to the nation's parliament, and I am pleased to note that youth has secured its just share of success at the last election. Indeed, the Canadian Parliament has not since a long time numbered so many young men among its members, and I believe that the nation is justified in being glad of that. I am sure that their presence will not have the effect of dividing this House into groups made up according to age disparities but that it will rather insure a greater understanding of the serious problems which will be laid before us. It is essential, during the troublous and difficult times in which we are are now living, that the government should have the cooperation of citizens of all ages and classes. What the new members lack in experience will undoubtedly be offset by their sincerity in the performance of their duty and by their desire to dedicate all their talent and energy to the service of their country. The post-war period will give rise to problems disturbingly acute, the impact of which will unavoidably be felt more severely by youth than by any other class of the popula-95826-2
tion. On their solution will depend the future well-being of our generation and of those which are still unborn.
We feel that we are cooperating in a great and useful work, and the clouds which are now darkening the world's horizon heighten the sense of responsibility which is an inherent part of our mandates.
The Right Honourable the Prime Minister achieved, on March 26 last, the greatest personal victory ever won by a government leader in Canada. No mark of confidence from the electorate has ever been so striking. The collective spirit of the Canadian nation found its expression in the recent vote and the prime minister's victory was the triumph of common sense. The government's war effort has been appraised and the people have endorsed it with a clear-cut verdict. For those of us who are from the province of Quebec the last election had a particular significance. It indicated that the province trusted her representatives; indeed, she gave an unmistakable proof of that trust on two occasions. The vote of March 26 was merely a confirmation of the verdict of October 25, when certain political leaders thought it clever to wage a provincial campaign on federal grounds, and I must say that we had a feeling of legitimate pride, during the last electoral campaign, when we heard that in some other provinces the contest was being waged on the slogan "Do like Quebec, vote unity." The vote in Quebec has shown that the province is just as mindful of her duty as she is jealous of her rights.
The unanimous approval which the Canadian people gave to the prime minister's policy has made his government truly national. The compact majority which supports him is not made up of loosely connected groups. It represents the whole country.
The government's victory has still another significance. It has shown that abuse and insult, and malicious personal attacks are not looked upon with favour during a critical period like this one and that the people will not allow their best servants to be slandered with impunity.
In the constituency of Lotbiniere, which has done me the honour of electing me, as happened in several other constituencies, the contest was on the question of our participation in the war. The answer has been unequivocal and I am proud to transmit it to this House.
Upon this question of participation in this great conflict, I should like, Mr. Speaker, to quote the words of an eminent preacher whose sermons and lectures have been heard by distinguished audiences in Montreal during these latter months. On April 5th, Rev.
The Address-Mr. Lapointe (Lotbiniere)
Father Ducatillon delivered a masterly lecture which he had entitled "Civilization, the true stake for which the war is being fought". After showing the part played by Christianity in the world's civilization, and the pagan programme which Naziism and communism have initiated, the distinguished cleric concluded as follows: "No one is justified in keeping aloof from the present conflict, since it is war for or against right, for or against culture, for or against civilization."
We have seen treaties broken, and nations invaded; in short, everything that has upheld civilization until now and everything that could ensure the security of nations has been trampled upon.
Just a few days ago, three neutral countries whose only fault was that they trusted in solemn covenants, fell victims to their good faith and were treacherously attacked. May I mention in particular the heroic Belgians, those martyrs of the last war, who are once again defending their land against, that new invasion of barbarians.
Will any one say that we are not interested in all that? Will any one say that the wild beast which has broken loose upon the world does not constitute a danger for us? Will any one say that we can remain unconcerned about the fate of liberty and of those principles to which all free men have clung tenaciously for so many centuries?
For my part, I refuse to believe that my fellow citizens can stand by unconcernedly while these principles are engulfed in the surging tide of the abominable doctrines and practises of the Hitlerian and Soviet dictatorships. How can we remain neutral when this diabolic doctrine of "Might is
right" threatens the entire world?
We believe in eternal justice and truth, twin beacons a passing cloud may dim momentarily, but which must reappear and shine forth with a sovereign radiance, toguide a civilization founded on Faith and
Hope. Such are the truths we are committed to defend.
Now what would be for us the consequences of a German victory? I have never been, nor do I intend ever to become an ardent supporter of out-and-out imperialism. History teaches us that empires, being essentially the product of human enterprise, can never as such stand wholly free from imperfection. Yet I state without hesitation that at this critical moment in the lives of all nations, when the very existence of our democratic institutions is threatened, the dismemberment of the British Empire, as well as the defeat of France our ally, would be an irreparable catastrophe, opening wide the gates
to all the subversive doctrines which are not without causing a certain degree of apprehension to the very ones who have made it fashionable, in certain circles, to denounce the present system. Everyone is aware that the dismemberment of the British Empire is one of the avowed war aims of the German Reich, and Hitler has never ceased to predict that the Empire would crumble the day war was declared in Europe.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I ask the hon. members of this house, I ask all my fellow citizens, would we not be deeply affected under the present circumstances by the consequences of such a dismemberment? What would become of us in the event of such a disaster? What would become of those who have, at the moment, nothing but criticism for the ties that bind us to England? Do they believe for a second that a victorious Germany would pay little heed to Canada with her immense resources and wealth? Do they believe that we Canadians, a small nation of some ten million people, occupying a territory five times the size of France, could safeguard the freedom and autonomy we enjoy to-day? Do they believe, especially, that w'e could long maintain our racial characteristics, our mentality, our liberty and our faith?
I am aware that numerous hypotheses have been advanced with regard to the consequences of an enemy victory. Some have claimed that in such circumstances there could only accrue a greater measure of autonomy to our country because, they allege, our neighbours to the south would never permit a German invasion of Canada.
I do not share this opinion which is rather devoid of pride. It is undoubtedly true that there exist between Canada and the United States friendly relations which are extremely helpful to us in the present conflict. Our geographical position as well as our economic interests bind us strongly together. On the other hand, is there not reason to fear that these veiy factors may tend to weaken our position as a separate entity among the nations of the world and inevitably lead to a total absorption which, though preferable to German domination, would nevertheless mean the complete disappearance of everything Canadian? For my part, I confess that I would rather remain a good neighbour.
Mr. Speaker, the country has rallied to the leadership of a man who is sure of his ground, whose concern for our national interests is everywhere manifest and wrho is worthy of trust. Is it not therefore the duty of every patriotic citizen to give wholehearted support
The Address-Mr. Lapointe (Lotbiniere)
to those whom the people have unequivocally chosen as their leaders during this trying period of our national life?
Consequently, let us now forget any disagreements which may have arisen between us during the last campaign. Let us not burden with personal considerations the solution of our national problems.
This country has entered the war of its own volition, as a free nation. It has done so, not under the orders of a foreign power nor by act of a foreign government, but by an Act of its own Parliament freely voting to participate in the European conflict. The people have recently approved this stand of the Canadian Government, in circumstances with which you are all familiar.
Is it not thus imperative that all cooperate in the effort already launched? Is it noit necessary that the unity so achieved be made evident in all fields of endeavour, in order to advance efficiently the work accomplished since Canada is too great and beautiful a country for us to allow her to be divided by misunderstanding at a time when we should be strongly united. A nation is a living organism whose functions are all interdependent, and anyone attempting to destroy this solidarity at a time when it is vitally important would be guilty of treason.
The work begun must be efficiently pursued and the unity achieved at the outbreak of war maintained. It follows that we must devote all our energy to the attainment of these ends, failing which all our efforts would, to my mind, be wasted. These two aims are inseparably bound together. The achievement of the first is predicated on the existence of the second.
In order to achieve this first aim, I believe it imperative for the government to pursue the policy established a.t the outbreak of war, and since then applied with energy and determination.
This policy has taken into account the most effective ways of exerting Canada's war effort and assisting our allies.
May I be permitted especially to praise the part played by our country in the drafting and development of the great Commonwealth air training scheme? Recent events have made clear the vital importance of a powerful air force, and Canada's efforts in this field should prove a decisive factor in settling the issue of the present conflict.
I would also like to congratulate the government for having taken all the measures necessary to safeguard and maintain our financial and economic position.
Our efforts in the allied cause shall prove valuable only insofar as we remain a strong 95826-2J
nation, economically as well as morally. The presence of a bankrupt country in the allied ranks would be a liability rather than an asset to the cause we are pledged to defend.
Moreover, the government will have to adopt measures designed to prevent, as much as possible, any rupture of balance in the normal life of this nation resulting from the war. Legislation has already been passed in order to curb any profiteering such as the Canadian consumer experienced between 1914-18. To the same end, the government has eliminated all political patronage in the administration of the Department of National Defence. Through the Bank of Canada, the country's credit has been stabilized. Other measures will undoubtedly have to be adopted as we go along to cope with future problems. The effective pursuit of the war will inevitably call for sacrifices on the part of the Canadian people who will be subjected to all manner of restrictions, but such sacrifices in a common cause are a pledge of unity, and we have the right to expect that the Canadian nation will emerge from this war stronger and more united than ever.
That second aim, the preservation of Canadian unity, we must achieve and maintain, if we want to safeguard the future of our country. Canada must remain united. We are at war of our own free will. Canada's war effort is voluntary and must remain voluntary. Suggestions to the contrary coming from scattered quarters would lead to catastrophe.
Canada is fighting in defence of international decency, inviolability of treaties and respect for sacred pledges. Our people would never allow our public men to break with impunity the solemn undertakings given to the nation.
Nothing should be done, no word should be uttered that could in any way destroy national unity.
God forbid, Mr. Speaker, that we repeat the mistakes of the last war. Let us so apply our effort that we may, once the hostilities are over, carry on as a homogeneous nation.
Let us not forget that we are Canadians first and that it is our duty to think and act as Canadians. In this connection, may I be permitted to pay tribute to the memory of one whose death has deeply grieved the whole Canadian nation: Lord Tweedsmuir. Although he had spent only a few years with us, he had learned to understand and love our people, and for a great many his record in Canada could serve as an object-lesson in true patriotism. Lord Tweedsmuir once said that a Canadian's first loyalty should be to Canada. It is my conviction that this principle should
The Address-Mr. Lapointe (Lotbiniere)
be the guiding light of every honourable member of this house during the present Parliament.
Another task devolving upon the government under present conditions is that of planning for the post-war period. There again we must draw a lesson from the last war. If our participation in the European conflict creates problems of a special nature, our eventual return to normalcy after the war may prove equally difficult.
As I have said, the presence of a large number of young members in this house ought to prove helpful in solving our national problems. They should give special attention to post-war problems.
During the dark years which may lie ahead of us, the youth of this country will be called upon to make the greatest sacrifice. Those of our jmung men w'ho are already overseas and the others who will sail shortly have a right to expect that, in return for their sacrifices, their government will take appropriate measures to ensure that their lot will not be worse when they return to this country. Provision will have to be made for the civil reestablishment of those who have not hesitated to risk their future in the cause of justice and in defence of civilization.
This planning for the post-war period must also be extended to other fields. If, as a free nation, we are bound to help save civilization now in jeopardy, we must by the same token discover a formula whereby the welfare of humanity may be secured.
All nations firmly believe, for a time at least, in the possibility of a durable peace and in the effectiveness of institutions designed to bring about the peaceful solution of disputes. The failure of the League of Nations does not prevent this hope from rising anew to-day. Indeed, the human race would soon disappear if it gave way to despair. Public opinion in democratic countries is fully aware of the deadly peril with which western civilization would be faced as a result of a Nazi or Soviet triumph over the international community, and demands a better and more effective formula than that of 1919.
Of what avail would be the sacrifices made and the losses suffered if the settlement effected at the end of the present conflict were to result once again in nothing more than a twenty-year truce. For my part, I am convinced that divine Providence, having ever guided our destiny', will not fail us now and that God will inspire the nations that have taken up arms to safeguard world peace and freedom against what has been fittingly termed "the common front of barbarism."
Mr. Speaker, it is our earnest desire that Canada should exert among all other nations
rMr. Hugues Lapointe.]
a beneficent influence toward world peace and the establishment of better relations between all countries. Such influence cannot become an important force unless we introduce at home certain reforms that would make of Canada a nation united and strong, socially, economically, and politically.
That is why I have noted with satisfaction that the report on Dominion-Provincial relations in the various spheres of activity has now been submitted to this house. This document, probably the most important since Confederation, is the work of prominent men. experts in constitutional larv; may I be permitted to add that the Chairman of the Commission, Doctor Joseph Sirois, was my professor at Laval university. These men have brought to their task all of their knowledge, patriotism and experience.
In considering the recommendations contained in this report, the various governments should take into account the new conditions which have arisen in our national life.
Surely the Fathers of Confederation could not foresee the evolution which has taken place during the past 75 years, and should certain changes become necessary because of new conditions, we should not hesitate to make them.
To that end, the greatest possible degree of cooperation should exist between the Dominion and the provinces. In this sphere also there is no room for political considerations. Besides, our population will make the necessary distinctions and will not deny its support to the proper measure of reform; our people would not even lend an ear to those who, taking an easy course, set themselves up as defenders of rights and principles contested by no one and which, in fact, must remain inviolate.
I know of no greater danger for a minority in this country than to stand in the way of reforms necessitated by our social conditions and to oppose any measure deemed progressive and essential.
I could not fittingly conclude these remarks without expressing the deep satisfaction which we have felt on hearing that His Excellency Lord Athlone had been designated for the post of Governor General of Canada. Our new viceroy has had a distinguished career and his appointment is a great honour to this country'.
Lord Athlone and Her Royal Highness the Princess Alice will receive in every part of Canada a most loyal and enthusiastic welcome. Their near association with Their Majesties King George and Queen Elizabeth will draw even closer the bonds which unite us to our gracious sovereigns, whose visit to Canada last year shall ever be remembered.
The Address-Mr. Sinclair
(Text) Mr. Speaker, one of the most remarkable developments of the present war has been the joining of France and England into one nation for all military and economic purposes. Many prophecies have been made regarding the outcome of this union after the war. At the present time their imports are for the use of both nations, their monetary systems have been harmonized, custom barriers have been adjusted. In short, the whole economic life of the two nations has been coordinated for the purpose of war. The understanding between these two countries is being observed in other spheres of activity. Their literature is being fully exchanged and the teaching and learning of each other's language has increased tremendously. In short, the union between the two countries has been not only material, but also intellectual and spiritual. What the outcome of this union will be after the war, it is hard to tell. Some observers have gone so far as to prophesy the union of France and England into one nation.
At a reception given at the Sorbonne to Lord De La Warr, former president of the Board of Education' in the British government, Monsieur Albert Sarraut, Minister of Education in the government of France used these words:
It is our intention to spread as much as possible the * study and use of the English language in France and vice versa. To speak another language is not sufficient. We shall teach France to the English people and England to the French people. We aim to create such a mutual understanding, that it shall not be necessary any longer to interpret words which will be understood immediately in their deepest sense. When we have finished with war, we hope that our children will be ready to help us in the task of rebuilding the world, not through the efforts of two people of different ideas, but through those of one common spiritual nation and one uniform civilization.
Whatever changes are being made, it seems certain that from the war will emerge a new relationship between France and England which will surely have its effects in future history and which will serve as a symbol of bonne entente for the other nations of the world. If so, I feel that we, Canadians, should rejoice at such an outcome and feel a legitimate pride in that we have already realized such a union.
In saying so, may I be permitted modestly to point out that never before in the history of our country has this union been more complete than it is now and that it has been under the leadership of two men whose whole careers have been devoted to this task, and who have for such a long time cooperated in intimate friendship and collaboration. I refer to the Right Hon. the
Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) and to the Right Hon. the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe).
(Translation) Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to move, seconded by the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. Sinclair) that the following address be presented to His Excellency the Administrator of the Government of Canada:
May it please Your Excellency:
We, His Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the House of Commons of Canada, in parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Excellency for the gracious speech which Your Excellency has addressed to both houses of parliament.
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY, MOVED BY MR. HUGHES LAPOINTE (LOTBINIERE) AND SECONDED BY MR. JAMES SINCLAIR (VANCOUVER NORTH)