Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) on Wednesday last expressed the hope that before parliament adjourned for the summer months I might find it possible to make a brief statement with respect to recent developments in the war situation and our own war effort. He expressed the view that such a statement might serve to strengthen the morale of the country, which as he rightly believes is apt to suffer when faced with severe reverses or seeming reverses such as those which have recently taken place in the middle east. I have no hesitation whatever in saying that a true perspective of the situation should go a long way toward strengthening the national morale.
With the consent of the house I should like to make the statement at once, as in all probability either to-day or to-morrow will be the last occasion on which there will be a favourable opportunity.
Whether it is better to fight and lose, or not to fight at all, is one of the oldest questions facing military strategists confronted with an enemy of superior strength. Reverses there are bound to be, and we must not lose heart when they come.
When we recall that up till a year ago Britain placed her main reliance on the French forces in Syria and north Africa and on the French fleet in the Mediterranean for the protection of the common allied interests in the whole Mediterranean basin, and then reflect that a year has passed since the ollapse of France and no vital British position has yet been lost, it should give us cause, not for satisfaction certainly, but at least for thankfulness.
In an attempt to capture the changing phases of a world-wide war, it is obvious that the picture, if relieved by sunshine, must also 14873-2481
be darkened by shadow. To-day there may be an encircling gloom-to-morrow there will be shafts of light.
I can but reiterate what I have previously said to this house and to the people of Canada. We shall only be helping the enemy and not ourselves if we are unduly elated by temporary success, or if we are unduly downcast by temporary failure.
No thoughtful man could ever have believed that this war would be over in a few months, or won by a short, sharp thrust. From the very beginning it was obvious that the volcanic forces let loose in the world were so mighty that a long, grim struggle was inevitable. It was bound to spread from nation to nation, from ocean to ocean, and from continent to continent.
The weak, the unprotected, and the perversely neutral were obliged to fall by the wayside. The final conflict was inevitably destined to be waged between the strong.
To-day, in what may be the bitterest chapter of the battle for freedom, state discipline fights self-discipline. The strongest men ever forged and hammered by a state meet on many fronts the strongest men ever tempered by the fires of liberty.
In this last chapter a few indubitable facts stand out in bold relief. The war will be won or lost not in Africa or in Asia or in the islands of the Pacific, but in the wide waters of the Atlantic, on the shores and in the skies of Britain. The Mediterranean is but an outskirt of the city of liberty. The battlements are in the Atlantic and the English channel. Freedom falls only if Britain falls.
Let me for a moment seek to balance our advantages and our disadvantages in the air, on the land and at sea.
In the air, the balance of machine power is gradually being adjusted. Increasing numbers of nazi bombers are being destroyed at night; British raids on German objectives have not only grown more effective, but no longer can the official silence of the usually overloquacious German propaganda ministry hide their results from the German people.
In his Reichstag speech on May 4, Hitler was forced to promise still better weapons next year. This statement was the first indication given to the German people that the war would not, as hitherto forecast by Hitler, be ended this year. Thus are the prophecies of the violent put to confusion by free men.
The stream of machines continues to flow. If any further evidence were needed of the growth of the British and allied air power, it is to be found in aggressive activity in the Atlantic ocean, in the North sea and in the Mediterranean. It is to be found too in the steady defensive activity that every day pursues its revenges against those who scatter indiscriminate murder and destruction upon British soil from the British air.
Everywhere in sky warfare a situation, not yet mastered, nevertheless improves from day to day.
On the sea the curve of loss has recently shown a decline. The shipping losses for May were considerably lower than they were for April. The attack of the Bismarck upon H.M.S. Hood was followed by relentless pursuit and swift retribution. The reality of British sea power remains. The catalogue of the heavy losses sustained by enemy shipping proves that, if regard is paid to the comparative available resources of tonnage, targets and striking power, the balance of effective destruction is not tilted as heavily as might appear upon the side of Germany and Italy.
Most heartening of all in the present situation is the attitude of the United States. The promises of President Roosevelt are not only being kept, they are being enlarged. The announcement by the president on April 29 that United States warships would be sent wherever the needs of hemispheric defence required their presence; the speeches of Mr. Stimson and Mr. Knox early in May; the passage by the congress of the bill authorizing the seizure of foreign vessels in United States waters; all these were encouraging signs of stiffening opinion. But the decisive point was reached by the president in his broadcast on May 27, when he made it plain that the United States would take whatever steps were necessary to ensure the delivery of American supplies to Britain.
Mr. Roosevelt did not minimize the seriousness of the battle of the Atlantic. His statement that British shipping losses far exceeded the present combined shipbuilding capacity of Britain and the United States marks a thoroughly realistic facing of the facts.
This continent is rapidly becoming not -only the arsenal of democracy, but the shipyard of the freedom of the seas. Canada has mobilized all possible resources of men, material and suitable location to build ships. American and Canadian construction have begun the race against destruction. Every ship added to the Canadian navy helps to relieve the tremendous burden so gallantly borne by the British navy. Every new
American warship, every new Canadian warship, helps the British navy to detect and to destroy. Every new merchant ship is a guarantee of men, machines, munitions and food.
In connection with land operations, there is nothing which can be added to the closing remarks of Mr. Churchill made in his speech on Wednesday, June 11. If we eliminate the occupation of the Channel islands by German forces, at this time of speaking, after nearly two years of war, no enemy soldier has a foot on British soil. As Mr. Churchill said:
If anybody had said in June last, we should to-day hold every yard of the territories for which Great Britain is responsible in the middle east, that we should have conquered the whole Italian empire, that Egypt, Palestine and Iraq would have been successfully defended -anyone who said that would have been thought a foolish visionary. Yet that is the position at the moment.
Those briefly are the salient, they are the outstanding facts about tangible things.
As far as Canada is concerned, our own war effort in men and materials has steadily gained in momentum, in volume and in power. We are adding every day to the material and strength of the allied cause. Every month sees more Canadian troops, more Canadian sailors and more Canadian airmen added to the number of the defenders of Britain.
For some time past we have had an army corps of two divisions in the British Isles. As the corps commander, General McNaughton, has pointed out, they are helping to garrison the one vital citadel, the retention of which decides the war. We have made known to all the world that our forces overseas are ready to go, and that we are equally ready to have them go wherever their services may count for most. We are dispatching to Britain two additional divisions, one a third infantry division, the other an armoured division, also a tank brigade and many reinforcements. All will have been despatched in the course of the present year. This is apart altogether from the forces we are retaining in Canada.
Ships of Canada's navy have, as all hon. members are aware, been engaged with British ships in the coastal waters of Britain. They are now taking an increasingly important part in the defence of the Atlantic coast and in the duties of convoy on the great passage way of the Atlantic so vital not only to the present of Britain but also to the future of Canada and of the United States of America.
Canadian airmen and Canadian squadrons, as all are aware, have from the beginning been taking their part in the battle of Britain. In the Royal Canadian Air Force we have to-day 55,000 men. The British common-
wealth air training plan this year will double the number of its enlistments. In Canada nearly one hundred training schools, manning depots and recruiting centres are already infull operation. From this source is flowing to Britain an ever-growing stream of pilots, observers and gunners. They have crossed to Britain in thousands and will continue to cross in ever-increasing numbers.
We have recently sent from Canada to Britain one thousand radio technicians whose help has been invaluable and will be invaluable in the cleansing of the midnight air. More are following on.
We are making machines for Britain's armed forces as well as for our own. Canadian motor transport vehicles, machine guns, aircraft, corvettes, mine-sweepers as well as shells, explosives and chemicals are being sent in growing volume across the Atlantic. We are sending and will continue to send to Britain all the goods which ships can be found to cariy, but we are not stopping there. We recognize the tremendous financial burden which the British peoples are bearing. That burden, as well, we are continuing to share in ever-increasing measure.
Without complaint our people are bearing the heaviest taxes in their history. In addition they are lending their savings to the government. I know that with loyal willingness they will lend and, if necessary, give, whatever is needed to strengthen and supplement the financial resources of the government of this country. The Canadian people are performing a magnificent task. They will not fail the cause to which we have pledged our all. They are producing, and will produce to the limits of their strength and genius, the material, tangible things^ without which victory cannot be won.
There remain, also, as our sure strength and shield, the intangible things of the human spirit. The will to live, and to endure every hardship that all may continue to enjoy the blessings of freedom is a part of Canadian character. We in Canada have a veritable passion for human brotherhood; a hatred of hate; an intolerance of intolerance. Ours is the unshaken and unshalceable purpose to reestablish upon the earth, now hideous with the blackened ruins of civilization, a freedom, wider and more deeply founded in social and international justice, than ever before in human history. All these intangible things are the very fibre and fabric of the national character alike of the British and Canadian peoples. Tried by many onslaughts, tested by many defeats, the inner fortresses of that character remain unbroken and unbreakable, impregnable, indomitable. Against their walls, the tides of tyranny and the waves of battle will beat in vain.
Subtopic: REVIEW OP RECENT DEVELOPMENTS AND OP