Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, at this moment the German and Italian dictators are together considering the request of France for a definition of the terms of an honourable peace. Whatever is the outcome of the conference and the consideration of the inquiries of Marshal Petain, it appears that effective French resistance on land will soon come to an end. Conditions are obscure. The eventual disposition of the French fleet and air force is at present unknown. The unprecedented offer of Great Britain to form a national union with France, with all the implications of common citizenship, common representation, common defence, and common economic control, has apparently met with a divided reception. The
suggestion that Britain and France become the Canada of Europe must strike the imagination of this country. Whether or not it proves a peaceful solution for the present distress of France, it may yet contain the future hope of a peaceful Europe. To-day Mr. Churchill, with his usual thoroughness and blunt sincerity, reviewed the state of the war. Whatever may be the present fate of France, Britain will fight on. That decision is not only Britain's decision, it is also the decision of Canada.
No word of criticism will be found upon the lips or in the heart of any man who surveys with understanding the situation in which France found herself. With her original defences broken, the Maginot line outflanked, her industrial areas and her factories in the hands of the enemy, her troops without adequate food and munitions of war, the streets of her proud capital overrun by the legions of the invader, effective resistance by soldiers whose endurance and fortitude have added new glories to the French name was no longer possible.
We who know the spirit of France know also that, if her soldiers have surrendered to the inevitable, no soldiers in the world could have continued any longer to face the overwhelming odds against which she had battled with such courage. France will arise with a new strength and a new glory from the bloodstained soil on which, three times during the last seventy years, she has fought so gallantly. Her sufferings have been our sufferings. The hallowed French earth where our dead are buried and our proud memorial stands is a part of Canada. In a very real sense she is ours and we are hers. Her romance, her chivalry, her language and her ancient faith are an imperishable part of the Canadian heritage.
If she signifies these intimate and beloved things to a large portion of our people, to the world, to the world of free men she has always personified the eternal truths of democracy and all that belongs to the enfranchisement of the human spirit. A new dawn will follow the shadows of the night. The legions of freedom will yet march again through the Arch of Triumph to the strains of La Marseillaise.
It is for us at this time to consider the new situation in which we find ourselves. I have tried from time to time to forecast the new phases of the war which were obvious, perhaps, to any student of the march of events. To-day it is still necessary, indeed it is more imperative than ever, to examine the situation in its true perspective and to assess anew what may be necessary on Canada's part to meet the new demands.
The plain facts are that the defeat of France has brought the war much nearer home to
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Canada. The British isles are threatened with invasion not as a remote possibility but as an impending actuality. It is now wholly apparent that additional measures both for the assistance of Britain and for the defence of Canada are an essential.
The policy which the government announced at the outset of the war of assisting Britain by relieving her of the duty of protecting certain areas in this hemisphere, has been greatly extended in recent weeks. I pointed out in this house on September 8 last that- ... by contributing as far as we are able to the defence of Newfoundland and the other liritisli and French territories in this hemisphere, we will not only be defending Canada but we will also be assisting Great Britain and France by enabling them to concentrate their own energies more in that part of the world in which their own immediate security is at stake.
Immediate measures were taken at that time to assist in the naval defence of Newfoundland. In the light of recent events additional responsibility has been assumed for the military defence of strategic areas there. I am pleased to be able to announce that Canadian armed forces are now on duty in Newfoundland. The house has already been informed of the contribution which Canada is making in the West Indies by replacing British troops with Canadian troops on garrison duty and thus relieving British forces for other duties. The government agreed some weeks ago to a request of the United Kingdom government that Canadian troops should assist in the defence of Iceland. The first contingent of a Canadian expeditionary force have already landed in Iceland. Further units have been detailed and will follow shortly. I need hardly point out the strategic importance not only to the security of the north Atlantic sea lanes but to the defence of this continent of maintaining control of Iceland.
The increased seriousness of the military situation abroad, and the marked expansion of all three branches of our armed services in Canada have served to arouse widespread interest and concern throughout the country regarding the raising and training of recruits. At the conclusion of my remarks the Minister of National Defence for Air (Mr. Power) will make a statement on what is now being done and what additional measures are proposed in connection with the recruitment of Canada's armed forces. A bill will be introduced in the house at once to confer upon the government special emergency powers to mobilize all our human and material resources for the defence of Canada. Although the purpose of this measure will be explained in detail on the second reading, I should like to make one or two brief observations regarding it.
So far as man-power is concerned, it will relate solely and exclusively to the defence of Canada on our own soil and in our own territorial waters. It will enable the government to make the most efficient use of our man-power for the varied needs of modern machine warfare. It is of the utmost importance to realize that success in war to-day depends upon the use of men for the kind of work for which they are best fitted. The armed forces are only a part of the essential equipment of war. The skilled worker in the factory, the transport worker and the farmer, to mention only a few, are as essential to the effective prosecution of war as the soldier, the sailor and the airmen. The mobilization of our resources will not, however, be confined to requiring the services of men and women. The government will have power under the provisions of the bill equally to call property and wealth, material resources and industry to the defence of Canada.
The bill is intended to remove any doubt as to the power of the government and the will of parliament that the whole material resources of the country should be available whenever they are required to meet the needs of the war. The operation of the measure will be confined to the period of the war.
Recruitment for service overseas will be maintained on a voluntary basis. No difficulty has been experienced and no difficulty is anticipated in raising by the voluntary system all the men required for service outside Canada. The bill to be introduced to-day in no way affects the raising of men to serve in the armed forces overseas. Once again I wish to repeat my undertaking, frequently given, that no measure for the conscription of men for overseas service will be introduced by the present administration.
A complete inventory of Canada's manpower and other resources, properly classified, affords a necessary basis for some of the further essential measures of home security and defence, which I have announced. A national registration of Canada's man-power will accordingly be instituted at once. Let me emphasize the fact that this registration will have nothing whatever to do with the recruitment of men for overseas service.
Among others, a national registration of Canada's man-power will have the following immediate advantages:
The national registration will constitute an additional precaution against "fifth column" activities such as sabotage and espionage which conceivably might become more menacing as external threats grow more serious. In this way, it will add to our internal security.
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National registration will also provide the government with an inventory of the mechanical and industrial skill of our population. Such an inventory will prove valuable in affording additional information on the extent of our resources of skilled labour which can be drawn upon to meet the needs of essential wartime industries. It will also show the directions in which intensive industrial and technical training is most urgently needed to provide an adequate supply of labour to -meet the growing demands of our war industries and other essential services.
I should like here to express the warm appreciation of the government of the valuable work already accomplished through the voluntary registration of women undertaken as a spontaneous contribution to the development of Canadian efficiency in wartime. The fullest use will be made of the results of the register now being completed.
It is the intention of the government also to establish without delay a new department of government to be known as the Department of National War Services, to be presided over by a minister of the crown. Since the war began, thousands of patriotic citizens have expressed a desire to engage in some voluntary war work. As the crisis has developed and will develop, there have come new obligations upon our citizens. The care and housing of evacuated children and of refugees, the provision of comforts for soldiers, the economical use of food supplies, the launching of campaigns for war loans and contributions, agricultural developments, the attraction of tourists
these and many other matters demand organization and direction.
The purpose of the new department is not merely to coordinate the activities of existing voluntary war services. It will be entrusted with the duty of directing and mobilizing the activities of thousands of our citizens who are seeking practical and useful outlets for their enthusiasm and patriotism. Women's organizations, patriotic organizations, commercial organizations, and many other groups of men and women banded together in the national interest offer a vast field of activity for spontaneous service. The object of the new department is to help Canadians to help Canada by their free-will offerings, which have been so generously made and will be so generously continued. The minister charged with the duties of this department will be expected immediately to establish a dominion-wide organization of voluntary service, which will be assisted by branch committees in all parts of the country.
Finally, I wish to announce that for some time past I have been giving careful consideration to means whereby there might be included in the government additional ministers to assist in the direction of Canada's war effort, and whose presence in the ministry might serve to give still further assurance of the power of the government adequately to meet the increased responsibilities with which it is faced. Hon. members will realize that there are many considerations of which account has to be taken in any matter which concerns the personnel of a cabinet.
I might mention as not the least important of these considerations what is required of a minister of the crown in the way of a manysided experience in the conduct and management of public affairs.
An equally important consideration is whether the talents of leading executives and business men may not be used to greater advantage in high administrative posts, and in an advisory capacity with relation to particular services, than in the ministry and in parliament.
As the house is aware, my colleague the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ralston) expects to bring down the budget before the close of the present week, and thereafter will assume his new responsibilities as Minister of National Defence. At the time that this transfer of portfolios is made, I expect to be in a position to announce the governmental changes and additions at present contemplated.
The situation which I have described, and the measures which I have indicated to meet it, require no further elaboration. The times are the most serious in our history. They hold in their keeping the destiny of Canada as a free nation. I do not doubt the ultimate result, but I realize how arduous and full of suffering may be the via dolorosa along which we must pass before the agony is ended. It is our manifest duty, as it is our unshaken determination, to use all our advantages, geographic, strategic and economic, to preserve liberty for ourselves and to help to preserve it for the British commonwealth and the other nations that yet are free. We must use them to help regain liberty for the victims of bloodthirsty tyranny. The British peoples, who taught the world the meaning of freedom, will defend it to the last. They have become the symbol, the hope and the guarantee of its continuance, and its restoration throughout the world. Endowed by the heritage of Britain and France, with pride in the strength of her youth and the righteousness of the cause, Canada faces what fate may bring with resolute confidence and unyielding determination.
Before I take my seat may I mention to the house that yesterday my hon. friend
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the leader of the opposition (Mr. Hanson) was kind enough to come with his colleague the hon. member for Yale (Mr. Stirling) who shares his seat, to my office to discuss the very critical situation which had developed over the weekend. My hon. friend came in a spirit of helpfulness to disjuss measures which he thought ought to be brought into force immediately. He spoke particularly of the desirability of stating that an emergent condition exists at the present time which, to deal with effectively, required further action on the part of the government. He spoke to me about the desirability of complete mobilization of man-power and resources, and also made mention of the desirability of adding to the ministry some gentlemen whose names and ability and capacity, along with those who are in the administration at the present time, would help further to inspire general confidence throughout this country.
I mentioned to my hon. friends that I was not prepared to make a statement yesterday, because I had not the information with respect to the situation in Europe on which I would wish to base what I had to say; that I thought, as I mentioned to the house yesterday, it would be well to wait until the Prime Minister of Great Britain made his statement on the European situation before I should make a statement myself. I told my hon. friends, however, that all the measures to which they had made reference were matters that the government had had under consideration for some time. I said to them, what I have frequently said in the house, that there are times and seasons for all things; some matters can be dealt with in a manner which will be most helpful to the maintenance of national unity and security at one time which, were an effort made to precipitate them unduly, might defeat the vei-y ends that we all have in common. I stated, however, that I would to-day without fail make a statement to the house of the measures which the government proposes to take to meet the emergent situation which has developed. What I have said this afternoon has been by way of carrying out that promise and the intention which I had at the beginning of the week.
I should like to express to my hon. friend, in the presence of hon. members of the house, my appreciation of the helpful and cooperative manner in which he and his desk-mate met me yesterday in the discussion of these matters of great common concern.
Subtopic: REQUEST OP FRANCE FOR TERMS-EMERGENCY MEASURES FOR ASSISTANCE OF BRITAIN AND DEFENCE OF CANADA