January 28, 1942

NAT

Karl Kenneth Homuth

National Government

Mr. HOMUTH:

I will name some of them right now. But no promise he ever made had the political significance or the political repercussions of this promise with regard to compulsory service for overseas. I could go back to 1919, and to the various elections held since then, and quote promise after promise that the Prime Minister made which he has never tried to carry out and has no intention of ever carrying out. But let us come to more recent days, to the election of 1935. Many of the members of this house will remember that throughout this country at that time large camps had been established in which unemployed young men were housed and clothed and fed and trained. During the campaign of 1935 the present Prime Minister directed attention to these camps every time he made a speech, and he always referred to their military aspect, to the fact that they were administered by the Department of National Defence. He tried to sow in the minds of the people of this country the idea that these camps were simply a military move, and that the boys were there under military rule and discipline, which might mean that eventually they would become soldiers. He was going to close all of these camps. He was going to take the boys out of the camps and give them lucrative employment. He painted a glowing picture of these boys marching out of the camps and working on the railways and other great public projects throughout this country. He closed the camps all right, but what did he do with the boys? The boys were left to wander up and down the highways and byways of this country, unwanted by anybody. If that was a sacred promise of the Prime Minister, and it certainly was a promise, he did not carry it out.

Again, speaking in the wTest before he went to England, the Prime Minister made another promise. He reiterated his stand on conscription for overseas service. He told the young men that they ought to get into the army or the finger of shame would be pointed at them as long as they lived, and then he added: "I give this pledge, that there will be no coercion for overseas service." Is there any hon. member of this house who will stand

up to-day and say there has been no coercion in Canada for overseas service? Why, Mr. Speaker, I said during the last session of the house, in November, and I repeat now, that we have had in Canada the most cowardly system of coercion for overseas service that was ever conceived, because the boys who were taken into the training camps were shamed and humiliated and everything possible was done to drive them into active service for overseas.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

Quote the Prime Minister's statement which you are talking about.

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NAT

Karl Kenneth Homuth

National Government

Mr. HOMUTH:

Look it up in Hansard.

You have more time than I have.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

The fact is you have not got it.

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NAT

Karl Kenneth Homuth

National Government

Mr. HOMUTH:

There are two promises

that were made by the Prime Minister.

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LIB

Georges Parent (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I would ask hon. members not to interrupt.

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NAT

Karl Kenneth Homuth

National Government

Mr. HOMUTH:

I do not mind, Mr. Speaker. Again, the Prime Minister on many occasions has declared that he and any government that he was leading would never declare war on any country unless parliament was first called.

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NAT

William Earl Rowe

National Government

Mr. ROWE:

The hon. member for Essex

East (Mr. Martin) cannot deny that one.

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NAT

Karl Kenneth Homuth

National Government

Mr. HOMUTH:

Yet over one week-end

he declared war on four countries-Finland, Roumania, Bulgaria, Japan-

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LIB

Georges Parent (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

There is a conversation

going on across the floor which is not fair to the hon. member who has the floor, and I would ask hon. members not to interrupt.

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NAT

Karl Kenneth Homuth

National Government

Mr. HOMUTH:

The Prime Minister made the statement that war would not be declared on any country unless parliament was first called. He enunciated it at every election. But he did declare war on various countries without summoning parliament. What made him declare war in those cases without calling parliament? Something unlooked for, something unprecedented, something he had never thought of when the promise was made. Yet was that promise not just as sacred as his promise on the question of compulsory service for overseas? When the Prime Minister declared war on Japan he gave out the statement that he had consulted with the leader of the opposition about declaring war. In fact I understood he had consulted with the leaders of all the groups in the house. But let me tell the Prime Minister this, so far as his promise was concerned: that the leader of the opposition and the leaders of

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the other groups sitting on the opposition side of this chamber are not the parliament of Canada.

This is the parliament of Canada and this is the house which he said would make the declarations of war. But these are things affecting more or less the material welfare of the people, whereas the question of conscription for overseas, the filling of the ranks of the fighting forces, have to do with the actual life of the person. If we took definite action right now and did it as quickly as possible it. might save more lives than anything else we could do. Is it not plain to all of us that the Prime Minister's attitude now is no excuse for him? Are there any bodies of Canadian citizens who are prepared to say now that they are against an all-out war effort? Are there any people in this country who are prepared to say that we are going to desert the men overseas? From the riding I represent there are a thousand men who to-day are serving beyond the shores of Canada, and there are many more enlisted for active service. What are we going to say to them? What am I going to say to the mothers and fathers of these men?

Reference has been made in this house to the dynamic leadership of those two great leaders, Churchill and Roosevelt. The hon. member for Brantford City (Mr. Macdonald) has referred to these leaders-and incidentally, in his speech the other day he completely swallowed himself so far as his attitude to this question is concerned, because he certainly expressed different views a couple of weeks ago in the county of Waterloo. He referred to that great man Roosevelt-and a great man he is, and a great friend to us and to the empire. But when Roosevelt was elected there was no idea of the United States being embroiled in any war in Europe, or in any war at all. They would not send men outside the United States. Well, is he any less democratic than the Prime Minister of Canada? Are his promises any less sacred?

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

He said, "any foreign war."

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NAT

Karl Kenneth Homuth

National Government

Mr. HOMUTH:

Certainly. Now he has changed his mind because he has seen the danger as we see it here. And the very man who is leading England and the empire to-day, the most outstanding figure in the world, has done a great many things in this war, in the House of Commons in England, which time after time parties had pledged themselves against.

Now the Prime Minister says we will take a plebiscite. I asked him the other day, and

then what? I said, after the plebiscite, what? He would give no answer. It was simply an evasive answer. He is not pledged to do anything; he is not going to pledge himself to do anything.

What if the people of Canada vote against this? What if the people vote not to release the government from its promise? What then are we going to do? What is Canada going to do? Hon. members speak of this plebiscite as if it were a foregone conclusion that it will carry; and yet within the last two days we have heard opposition to the plebiscite from the government side, and how some members are going to work against it and vote against it. This very plebiscite itself is bringing about national disunity, because this vote will end simply in a fight on conscription; on one side you will have the conscriptionists and on the other the anti-conscriptionists. The country will be split wide open; and after that, I say, what then? What is the government going to do? What is the Prime Minister going to do?

We are going out in the course of a few weeks to urge the people of Canada to invest in the war loan. We are going to plead with them to put up every dollar they can. We have gone into various industries in the country and pleaded with the workmen to give everything they can in war savings. I was asked if I would address a couple of meetings in my riding on behalf of the war loan, and I know that one question is going to be: How about the cost of the plebiscite? For someone will have to take charge of the work-and it is going to be a great opportunity for a large band of Liberal workers, from one side of the country to the other, to have a job for a few days. Someone will have to take charge of it, and money will have to be spent to explain the thing to the people. Money will have to be spent to organize the people-or is it going to be an unwanted baby, and are the people going to be left to vote just as they like without anyone taking the initiative? When I ask these people to invest in the war loan I shall have to say to them: Well, the first four or five million dollars will have to be raised anyway to pay for this plebiscite so that you people can decide whether or not the government is to continue in this war so far as man-power is concerned. From one end of the country to the other there is sweeping resentment at the spending of this money on something that the government itself should have the courage to do.

If there is behind the Prime Minister any large group of members who are opposed to national selective service, I think the time has come when the Prime Minister should say to

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them, "We have come now to the parting of the ways; we have now come to the point where we have to do the brave thing on behalf of the country, and if you cannot see eye to eye with me, then we shall have to part company." The Prime Minister can be assured of sufficient support in this house to put any such bill through. In fact, I think he should go further than that. I think the Prime Minister should be prepared to-day to say, "I am going to form a truly national government in this country so that I can wage war against the aggressor with every dollar, with every man and every woman and every bit of material wealth that we have in Canada, and it is not going to be the responsibility of any political party, nor is it going to be hampered by any political expediency, but all the parties in the Dominion of Canada are going to be behind this war effort"-as they are.

Hon. members opposite sometimes laugh when we mention the question of national government. The Prime Minister on more than one occasion, and the late Minister of Justice, Right Hon. Ernest Lapointe, on one or two occasions, referred to the great Liberal following in the House of Commons-180 members. And* the Prime Minister said: "What could be more national than that? What could be more of a representative national government than 180 members out of 245. representing constituencies * from Halifax to Vancouver?" It may be true. But the peculiar part is that when he wanted a minister of national defence for naval services there was apparently no one in that great national group fit to fill the job, so he went outside to get a minister for the navy. Then he wanted a minister of justice. Now, I have met and associated with a great many of my right hon. friend's legal friends from the province of Quebec; bright men, smart men, men with long experience in politics, men with long experience in the courts of their province. But apparently not one of them was fit, in the eyes of the Prime Minister, to be minister of justice; he had to go outside of the elected members to get a minister of justice.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

Why did you go out of the house to get a new leader?

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LIB

Wallace Reginald McDonald

Liberal

Mr. McDONALD (Pontiac):

And a discredited leader.

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NAT

Karl Kenneth Homuth

National Government

Mr. HOMUTH:

Let me remind my hon. friend that the new leader has served a long time in parliament and was still part of the parliament of Canada. Then the government wanted a minister of labour. Certainly they have tried many of them in the last couple of years, and one was no more successful than the other; they have bogged labour down,

they have messed up all the legislation concerning labour; it is in a worse mess to-day than it was two years ago. They wanted a new minister of labour, and none of the hon. members on the other side of the house who have been associated with industry or have had something to do with labour was considered fit. I see the hon. member for Northumberland (Mr. Fraser). I say and have said before they could not have got a better man in the cabinet for minister of labour or anything else, because he is the most dynamic personality I have met for a long time. He may be ruthless in his politics, but from long association with him I would say that he never went after anything that he did not get.

There, Mr. Speaker, is the picture that we have of this great national government.

The hon. member for Lambton West (Mr. Gray) referred the other day to the farmers. This is becoming a serious question. In our district farms are being sold out; farmers are being taken to the training camps; their sons may get two postponements and then they are told there will be no further postponement and they do not know what to do. These men do not want to shirk their duty. All they want is for someone to say: "This is the job you ought to do." They say: "Let them tell us whether we should stay on the farm or go into the army, but at least give us some leadership." But there is no one to do it. Every time one mentions selective service the idea of conscription comes up, and everyone thinks: That means we are going to grab all the man-power in this country and put it in the fighting forces. It is nothing of the kind. Hon. members know that. We should select men and women for the job they can do best in this war. There is a great army of men, fifty to fifty-five years of age, who cannot get into industry, who cannot get into the armed' forces. These men want something to do. They feel disappointed and frustrated because they cannot get into something that will help the war effort. Yet when men are needed for special war jobs and the civil service is filled up with thousands of extra employees, these men are given no consideration because they are too old to come under the act. Since these jobs are only temporary, these are the men that should be taken into the service, thus releasing others who are young and can go into the forces or into other jobs.

I referred to the fact that recruiting had fallen down. We are facing a very serious problem. Now the government are trying a new scheme; they are going to issue dress suits for the soldiers. The hon. member for

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Halton (Mr. Cleaver), in a speech in his own county, before the Burlington Branch of the Canadian Legion, said that there will be no difficulty after these new suits are issued; we will get plenty of recruits for the army then. Well, I do not think it is going to have that effect. But I suppose if it fails the next thing we will do will be to give each soldier a wardrobe trunk and a valet and see if that will help.

There is a very serious aspect to this matter. We are going to supply the soldiers with an extra uniform. When this was decided upon was it simply a promise by the Department of National Defence without taking counsel with the Department of Munitions and Supply? I warn this government that within a few months if we are not careful, there will be a serious shortage of the wools required for military goods; we may not have any more of them in the country. Our men do not want this dress suit, and it would be far better for the government and more pleasing to the soldiers if the government said: Here is the price of that suit; take it and use it for yourself."

So, Mr. Speaker, I think I am expressing the feeling of the great majority of the people of Ontario when I say that the people of this country would be satisfied and glad to have the government say to them in this all-out war effort, "We are going to amend the National Resources Mobilization Act and see that every available man and woman is used in this war in one way or another." The government have power already to conscript -if you want to call it that-money, factories, material wealth.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

They are not doing it.

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NAT

Karl Kenneth Homuth

National Government

Mr. HOMUTH:

But they have the power. That is another promise they are not carrying out. All they have to do is get the added power to use the man-power of this country for overseas service. I am prepared, I know every hon. member in this party is prepared, and I think most hon. members on this side of the house are prepared, to support the Prime Minister in such a move. If he will bring down a bill to-day to that effect we will give him wholehearted support. I am prepared to support him or any other leader or any party in this house that will see that we have an all-out war effort. We are not fighting to-day simply to protect territory that is ours; we are not fighting an aggressor who has only territorial designs; we are fighting the bloodiest bunch of bandits ever let loose on this world. To-day we see the march of this militant godless force, and it is

going to take everything we have to conquer it. Let us then do the job that as freemen we should do.

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NAT

George Stanley White

National Government

Mr. G. S. WHITE (Hastings-Peterborough):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to refer briefly to two matters only, the questions of man-power and the plebiscite, both of which were mentioned in the speech from the throne.

It must be apparent to everyone to-day that the question of the proper allocation of manpower to provide the proper men for the farm, the forest, the mine, the factory, the fisheries and the army, is the most vital question facing this house. During the past few months high ranking military officers have made many speeches throughout this country with regard to the need of men for the armed forces. To any hon. member who resides in an agricul-tral district the sorry plight of the farmer to-day must be clear. In the county of Hastings, in which I reside, they produced over

9,500,000 pounds of cheese in 1941, the record for all Ontario, and an even greater production is planned for 1942. But I would point out that in my county many cheesemakers have been called up under the present system of selecting men for compulsory service. It is quite true that these cheesemakers may obtain exemption for short periods, but, as we all know, these exemptions finally come to an end, and sooner or later the cheesemaker must report to the training centre. One must realize that cheese factories must plan their production for at least a year ahead; and if these factories are to maintain this enormously increased production, they must be assisted. The same thing applies to the farmer, who has been asked and encouraged to increase his acreage under cultivation, to increase his stock, and so on. In many instances he finds that no help is available, while his sons are called up for training. The same thing applies to the lumbering industry in the counties of Hastings and Peterborough. Many camps are not operating there during this winter, for the simple reason that no men are available, and also because the lumber operator cannot compete with wages paid by industrial concerns.

A proper system of selective compulsory training would have the effect of placing every man and woman in this country in the place where he or she can best serve to further our war effort. As long ago as March, 1941, I advocated in this house a policy of that kind, and even urged that conscription for overseas service was the only way to fill the need with regard to supplying man-power.

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At that time it was almost treason even to mention the word "conscription" in this house, and I was told by the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston) that my words would tend only to create disunity. Yet to-day the minister himself must know better than any other hon. member the serious need and lack of men for the army. He knows of the strenuous efforts being made by the various district officers to obtain the men required. Our general staff must know of the situation. Why, then, are we waiting to take the proper action that will ensure all necessary manpower for our armed forces? The Hong Kong expedition is only one incident showing the serious lack of trained men; and our so-called reserve army units, which the Minister of National War Services (Mr. Thorson) so loves to set out in his monthly blue-book, in many instances exist only on paper. Perhaps it would be just as well not even to mention the equipment the average reserve unit has for training purposes. The methods used at some of the training centres, which pride themselves on obtaining one hundred per cent of their men for active service, are little credit to a democratic country. The .underhand methods of compulsion and coercion would be more credit to the government of nazi Germany. But this is just another example of the tragic need of men for the armed forces and the lengths to which this government will go to obtain these men instead of facing the true facts.

I submit, Mr. Speaker, that the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) and other hon. members may make excuses and explanations, may becloud the issue with smokescreens as lawyers and politicians love to do, but the fact remains that men are needed at once for our armies overseas. You may call it conscription, selective service or whatever name you choose, but the need for man-power is the vital, urgent need of the hour. Why, then, should we not, as members of parliament, face this paramount issue and here and now set up the proper machinery to ensure all branches of our armed forces a steady, regulated supply of man-power? When the government of Canada declared war in September, 1939, and decided to send a force overseas, I submit that every member of parliament and every citizen of this dominion assumed an obligation to support those boys with clothing, food, arms, equipment, and the finest of weapons in unlimited quantities. We assumed the further obligation to support them with all needed reinforcements for any emergency, no matter how drastic.

The Prime Minister has spoken about broken pledges, and no doubt much more

will be said in this house on the same subject. I should like to point out to all hon. members that a pledge, express or implied, was given by every member of this house and every citizen of Canada on the day war was declared, to every man and boy who enlisted for overseas service. I submit that this pledge must have preference over every other commitment or pledge, and must be honoured to the full limit of our resources. This country is facing a grave national emergency, the first in our history. At such a time, when the very existence and safety of the state are at stake, the rights and privileges of individuals, the observance of pledges, commitments, promises and everything of that kind, must be ruthlessly cast aside, and the proper authorities must take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the preservation of the state.

Have we then, as members of parliament and as citizens of Canada, no duty to our men overseas? Are we at this late date to waste more precious time and money in the holding of a plebiscite to determine whether or not we are going to supply those boys with reinforcements? In the event that the majority of the people of this dominion vote in the negative, what is to happen? Are we then to withdraw all our forces from beyond the seas? Or are we to say to the boys, "No further aid will be sent you. You will get no further help from home. You will just have to do the very best you can with what you have?" Surely no hon. member will even attempt to argue against supporting our troops in every possible way, to the very limit of our resources.

Many hon. members are veterans of the war of 1914-18. I appeal to them, irrespective of the party or group to which they belong, to rise in this house and denounce this treacherous betrayal of our boys overseas. Such hon. members know what war means, because they helped to pay the ghastly price that all free men were called upon to pay between 1914 and 1918. Many hon. members still carry on their bodies marks and scars which formed part of that price.

Any hon. members who went through the battle of the Somme, who took part in the fighting at Courcelette, the fighting in Death Valley, or the storming of Regina trench or Sugar trench will easily recall what their unit looked like when they returned to Tower hill or the Chalk pits. They will remember the immediate need of new clothing, new equipment, and, above all, the need of immediate reinforcements to enable their unit to carry on as a fighting force. Or do they recall that grim Easter morning in the snow-storm at Vimy Ridge? Many units had tough going

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that day, and the days that followed. And they will recall that many reinforcements were urgently needed.

Any member of this house who went through Passchendaele will never be able to erase the memory of the mud, the filth and the slime of that man-made hell-on-earth, for Passchendaele showed better than any other scrap how men and equipment can be used up. Hon. members who went through these scraps, what would you have thought if, after coming back from Courcelette or Passchendaele, with your unit cut to pieces, you had been told by your commanding officer that the parliament of Canada had decided to hold a plebiscite to decide whether or not further1 help or reinforcements should be sent to aid you? If anyone had dared utter such words you would not have been able to find fitting and proper language in your extensive army vocabulary to express your disgust and contempt for such a cowardly course. But you knew in those long-ago days in France that the parliament of Canada, the people of Canada, your own kinfolk, would not fail you. Why? Because they were Canadians all through, people who had bom and bred into their beings the finest of traditions which, through the ages, have brought imperishable glory to our empire, traditions which have carried our flag through the centuries, across the seven seas and to the far-flung corners of the earth. Our flag has always come back, untarnished and unsullied, because it has always stood for justice and freedom.

So to-day all hon. members who are war veterans have a double responsibility; for to-day the boys of the new generation are facing even greater odds than we faced in the last war. As members of parliament you now have the authority in your own .hands; for this parliament is the only legal body in Canada clothed with authority to take the necessary steps to provide and supply all needed aid at once to our troops overseas. You now have the opportunity to protest in the house against this shameful betrayal of your comrades. You have the opportunity to place yourself on record as disapproving of this betrayal, and by so doing you will not be branded for the rest of your lives as persons who shirked their responsibility, as persons who failed in their duty to their war comrades. Can hon. members who are war veterans feel that they are holding high the flaming torch thrown to us from failing hands? Are we, as war veterans, holding that torch high? Are we living up to the high ethical code set by our former comrades who sleep to-day in foreign fields, under the nazi heel? We state that we fight for democracy, to

preserve our way of life, our democratic way of life. One of the things we wish to preserve is our free parliament, one of the symbols of democracy. Yet we are asking those boys, who at this very hour stand guard at the outposts of our empire, the boys who man the ramparts of that little island called Britain, which has been described by one writer as the last outpost of freedom in the old world, boys who are willing to give their very lives that we may remain free men, to fight with their lives to preserve this parliament- a parliament without enough back-bone or courage to take at once the necessary action to ensure adequate support for those boys! I can easily imagine what the boys overseas will think and say when they hear about the plebiscite. I can hear their expressions of contempt and disgust for this parliament. No doubt, if the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) should visit the troops again, he would get a reception slightly different from the last one. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that the whole question of national selective service can and should be settled by this parliament at once, and should not be submitted to a plebiscite.

Much has been said in this house during the past year about national unity, but I submit that if the plans for this plebiscite proceed, such a wedge will be driven through this country that we shall never again in our lifetime know what unity in Canada means. To hon. members who come from the province of Quebec, I would say that I have heard many speeches in the house and have read other speeches in the press delivered by leaders of your church and state in which they have emphasized the desire, the need and the right of the French race to preserve all those things of life which are so dear to them, such as your religion, your language, your customs, your culture and all the other traditions that made France a great nation. I do not quarrel with those speeches. It is only natural that you should wish to preserve those things, but I would point out that those very things you cherish so much are the things you will lose in the event of defeat; for under the so-called new order of Hitler and Mussolini there is no place for those things you wish to preserve. Your rights and privileges, which have been preserved and guarded under our democratic government, would vanish. Are they not worth fighting for to-day? No matter what your political leaders have told you in the past, the opportunity is given to-day for the two great races in Canada, irrespective of the material things which may divide them, to unite in this great crusade and side by side destroy this barbarian Hitler who threatens to destroy us.

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An opportunity is given that may never come again to unite the whole of Canada. All our past differences, all our past hatreds, prejudices, self-interests, and quarrels may be forever eradicated in this new common sacrifice to preserve all those decent things of life that free men and women cherish. If we all unite in this crusade-all classes, all creeds, all races-we shall demonstrate to the world and to ourselves a unity that the years to come will never be able to break.

On the other hand if you refuse to join, and unreservedly place all your resources of wealth and man-power at the service of the state, in the common cause, such action in my opinion will only drive the wedge deeper through the national life of this country, and there will emerge after the war such bitterness, hatred, and division that no leader, no government or group will ever again be able to achieve even the semblance of unity in this Canada of ours.

The function of a government is to lead, and this government has failed in that vital respect. A government that promises its people and its allies a total war and a total war effort, and then for any reason fails to make it, is guilty of a betrayal, and is worthy of the disdain and contempt of all honest men. During the past two years we have seen so many governments fall, and, worse, betray their people into bondage, because they failed in the purpose of government, and failed to carry into action the fine promise of their words. All men in free-thinking countries to-day regard France as having been betrayed internally by a weak and blind government policy, by a government that talked and had great efforts on paper, and that was pitiably weak and rotten behind a Maginot line, also great and impregnable on paper. These men who betrayed France are condemned to-day, they are called traitors to their country. Is any man in any country who follows those policies of inertia and procrastination and talks instead of acts any less a traitor? I say that behind the Maginot line of the Pacific and the Atlantic this government is deliberately fostering the same supine belief in its efforts and programmes that led to the fall of France. Time and action are on the side of the enemy, and he who wastes time and leadis astray the effort of his country is a traitor to his people.

To-day our kinfolk in Australia cry aloud for help, for men and material, and we, supposedly a proud nation, give her what? We give her words, not men; a plebiscite instead of weapons; resolutions instead of action. At Hong Kong those gallant boys from Canada added another name to the scroll in Canada's

hall of fame. Against terrific odds those boys of Canada played the part of men on the world's stage. Were the men who fought and died or were taken prisoners at Hong Kong comforted in their dying or in their prison camps with the thought that the help they so badly needed may come some day, if and when our government can play the part of a government? Those gallant men who have been fighting in Malaya, dying in the swamps and jungles for lack of support, for lack of men and weapons, will it comfort them to know that after a plebiscite, after months of delay and waste, this government may give the total war effort it has pledged already to its allies?

Within two days after the attack on Pearl Harbour, our good neighbours to the south were further ahead with the allocation of manpower than we are after nearly thirty months of war. At this late date, with the yellow rats from Japan daily coming closer to our shores, we are to have a plebiscite to decide whether or not we shall do anything about fighting them before they reach our shores. How can we expect our good neighbours to the south to have any faith or confidence in us or respect for us as an ally? Are we Canadians the type of people who are content to sit quietly with folded hands and criminal complacency and allow our allies, the Russians, the Dutch, the Chinese, the Aussies, the New Zealanders, the British, the boys from South Africa and the Yanks to do our proper share of the fighting?

If this plebiscite is held, for years to come the people of Canada will be looked down upon with scorn, contempt, disgust and hatred by all decent free people throughout the world because of our cowardly action at this critical hour. Does the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) expect that the spending of millions of dollars on a needless plebiscite will help him in raising the needed money for the new war loan or help the future sale of war savings stamps?

In conclusion, I wish to place on record the expressed feelings of the citizens of my riding and myself as being absolutely opposed to this plebiscite. We condemn in every way the action of this government in having plebiscite which is a comtemptible, cowardly betrayal of our boys overseas and an abrogation of the rights of responsible government.

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LIB

Frederick William Gershaw

Liberal

Mr. F. W. GERSHAW (Medicine Hat):

Mr. Speaker, in conformity with convention and in all sincerity I wish to congratulate the mover and the seconder of the address upon their eloquence and the subject matter of their speeches.

The Address-Mr. Gershaw

During the last few months the hand of death has been laid upon this house. The honoured senior member of this house, Right Hon. Ernest Lapointe, has passed on and has left a vacancy which will be hard to fill. He was a comparatively young man who had endeared himself both to the members of this house and to the people of this country. He had reached a high place in the councils of our land. It goes to show that-

The glories of our blood and state Are shadows, not substantial things;

There is no armour against fate;

Death lays his icy hand on kings.

We are engaged in the greatest war in the world's history. Whatever causes there may have been for this war in its early days, it is now clear that it is one of aggression, that our enemies are out for the domination of the world. This throws upon people living in this age a great obligation, the obligation of resisting aggression in the name of religion, in the name of our way of life, in the name of the freedom and the liberties which we have enjoyed. Surely we are the custodians of what has been gained in the past, and we must save for posterity some of those precious rights which were gained by our forefathers at great cost. This is the critical stage, and those who may live in this world long after we have gone will look back upon our actions at this time. A great responsibility has been thrown upon us, but at the same time a great opportunity has been given to us. Perhaps I can express this in a few lines of poetry:

Ye that have faith to look with fearless eyes Beyond the tragedy of a world at strife, And trust that out of night and death shall rise The dawn of ampler life;

Rejoice, whatever anguish rend your heart, That God has given you for a priceless dower, To live in these great times and have your part In Freedom's crowning hour;

That you may tell your sons who see the light High in the heavens-their heritage to take- "I saw the powers of Darkness put to flight,

I saw the Morning break."

In this titanic struggle we have twenty-six nations banded together. We have the gallant fighters of Russia; we have the democratic English-speaking nations all in the fight together. At this time no one can doubt that the fostering of good-will, of friendship and of neighbourliness between Canada and the United States was statesmanship. No one can deny that Canada, acting as a liaison between the British commonwealth and the United States, was working out a great and glorious accomplishment. The one man who deserves striking credit for that accomplishment is the Prime Minister of Canada (Mr. Mackenzie King). The names of Churchill

and Roosevelt will live long, but with them will stand out forever the name of the Prime Minister of Canada.

I believe I express the views of practically all hon. members in this chamber when I say that the ambition of the people of Canada is to contribute to this war to the utmost limit of their capacities. The only question is how this can best be accomplished. There have been those who have emphasized unduly certain aspects of the war effort, but we know that up to the present the organization has been magnificent. Pressing toward the goal we must make decisions in the light of the knowledge we have and of the circumstances that exist at the time. We are going to have a plebiscite, whatever the result may be; and surely in furtherance of our determination for an all-out war effort we should give those who are in the best position to know the facts a free hand to decide how best we can make our contribution.

I wish to take advantage of the latitude allowed in this debate to draw to the attention of the house certain subjects which are of interest to the district whence I come. The beet sugar industry is one of which I have spoken many times. The investment in this industry means a great deal to the irrigated districts in the drought-stricken area. The Minister of Finance (Mr. Usley) has promised that serious consideration will be given to the expansion of that industry. In rural districts the people are very active at this time. In the very smallest communities there are Red Cross organizations where you will find women knitting comforts for the soldiers, and war savings campaigns are carried on continuously. The people are also very much interested in the salvage campaign. Up to the present it has been difficult to accomplish very much because of the high costs of getting salvage from where it is available to the place where it can be made use of. Recently as a result of many conferences. between the department and the railway officers a very reasonable freight rate has been arranged for carload lots of 30,000 pounds and upwards, and some sixteen sorta-tion centres have been selected in different parts of Canada so that the salvage of rubber, bones, bottles, shoes, metals, paper, magazines and things of that sort can now go on, and there is reasonable prospect of making a contribution that is really worth while.

There is a great deal of discouragement and dissatisfaction among the farming people of this country. Within a few days, Mr. Speaker, a delegation of some 400 or 450 farmers, mostly from the province of Saskatchewan, will arrive in Ottawa. There has been col-

The Address-Mr. Gershaw

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January 28, 1942