February 5, 1942

NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

A very great man.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland, Ont.):

I

shall deal with that later. Now I am going to read to the house what "Who's Who" has to say about Mr. Morrow. This is it:

Morrow, Frederick Keenan, Chairman, Wilsil Limited; President, Essa Securities Company Limited and Loblaw Groceterias Incorporated; Director, Bank of Toronto; Consumers Gas Company Limited; Reiss Premier Pipe Company; The Ogilvie Flour Mills Company Limited-

Yes, Ogilvie Flour Mills-*

-Consolidated Bakeries of Canada Limited; Massey-Harris Company Limited; Robinson Consolidated Cone Company Limited; Federal Fire Insurance Company; Hiram Walker-Gooderham & Worts Limited; Maple Leaf Gardens Limited; Ward Baking Company and Remington Rand Limited.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

Read Charlie Dunning now.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland, Ont.):

If

there is any hon. member who wishes to speak, either I will sit down or he can wait until I finish.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

We are

enjoying it.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland, Ont.):

Now, Mr. Speaker, these are the gentlemen who make this statement.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Oh, don't

forget Mr. Burton; let us have him, too.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland, Ont.):

Well, I have not time to get into a price-control argument debate on the floor of the house.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Don't

renege on him. Don't forget Mr. Burton.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland, Ont.):

Mr. Speaker, will you ask hon. gentlemen to write me? I cannot hear them.

Now, listen to what these gentlemen say:

There is only one way to meet total war,- by total effort-that is to mobilize all our man-power and material resources under a plan

44501-22i

of universal compulsory selective service. Those who can serve best on the farms must work on the farms. Those who can serve best in the factories must work in the factories. And those best fitted to serve in the armed forces must be trained, equipped, and available for service in Canada or overseas anywhere at any time. That is the only way that our farms, our factories and our armed forces can wage total war. No half measures are consistent with national honour.

And this is what they have suggested should be told to members:

Tell him to inform parliament, and through parliament the whole of Canada, that the people of his riding advocate and will support any measures, however drastic, which will assure the last ounce of effort of which they are capable.

I might add that out of 21,000 voters in my constituency, only 62 took advantage of the opportunity of writing me in this connection.

National honour and the safety of our people demand that every man who wears the uniform of Canada be ready at all times to go overseas to hit the enemy wherever and whenever he can be reached.

Let these gentlemen, who signed the invitation under subterfuge and hypocrisy, if they want to contribute to the war effort of Canada, take advantage of the non-interestbearing loan offered by the Dominion of Canada. Let them say to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) "We wish to have equal sacrifice. We wish to have universal compulsory service, but if you wish to take our money away from us we will give it to you, without interest." That is the suggestion I make. It is a grand suggestion, and it would be some indication that these honourable men are sincere.

Let me go further and say to them, that if I owned an empire such as "Who's Who" says they own, I would want to conscript everybody in Canada to defend it. And, Mr. Speaker, if I had their mentality not only would I wish to conscript-insist upon conscripting-every man in Canada to defend that empire, but I would go farther and spend every dollar I could to create in this country in the minds of the people a situation which would delude and deceive them into conscripting people to defend my empire.

It is not often that I agree with my hon. friends who are led by the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell), but standing here in my place in the House of Commons I want to say that I agree with many of the fundamentals which he has expounded in the last few weeks. I want to say to these men who advertise to the public, that their financial empire will not continue. These people not only want to conscript men to

332 COMMONS

The Address-Mr. Fraser (Northumberland)

defend their empire; they want to sit in at the peace table. They want to dominate the government and the people of Canada in order that when we win this war, which we surely will do, they can defeat the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar and myself and anyone else who is trying to make sure that they will not have that kind of empire after the war.

Let us see how far these people go. They do not just go to the extent that a business man would go; they do not just go to the extent that a true citizen of Canada would go; they do not just go to the extent that people would go who understand that to-day we, like our allies and the rest of the empire, have our backs to the wall. They do not do that; they are not satisfied with that. They are not satisfied to spend their money upon cheap paltry engraved cards; they are not satisfied to sell their country short; they are ready to do what my hon. friend the leader of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation detests, what is detested by the Prime Minister of Canada (Mr. Mackenzie King) and by myself; they are ready to besmirch the ballot, to take away the right of free people to stand behind a curtain and put an "X" on a ballot, the right that we won under the Magna Charta. They are not satisfied in their contracted mentalities where a common stock dividend is the most beautiful thing in the world. People with this type of mentality are ready to spend money to besmirch the ballot box and take away the rights of the common people in this democratic country. Not only do they do that; they want to attack democratic government from the pulpit. They want to go farther than that and use the loyalty of hon. members of this house, which I am ready to admit, taking advantage of their sincerity, and attempting to ridicule democratic government. I am sorry the hon. member for Parkdale (Mr. Bruce) is not in his place, because there is no one I would rather face than him. I should like to quote what he placed on Hansard, January 29, 1942, at page 131. He was quoting the words of a certain person, as follows:

I ask you to request our Prime Minister to beg Churchill, Wavell and Prime Minister Curtin to hang on. Canada is voting in three months.

Did the hon. member for Parkdale contribute anything to Canada's war effort by placing that on Hansardf Did he help things by repeating that evidence of cheap prejudice and sabotage of Canada's war effort? If he were sitting in his place there are one or two more references I should like to make, but because of my respect for him I shall not use them now.

TMr. W. A Fraser.]

But they go further than that. According to last night's press a discredited candidate, a man who stood up on the platform in the city of Ottawa to speak in the most emphatic language against the great Conservative party and tried to advise them what to do, has something to say. He nearly sabotaged them at that time. Here is this fellow Herridge, the Honourable Mr. Herridge, stating in London, in the centre of this empire of war, that the safety of Canada depends upon the resignation of the Prime Minister.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland, Ont.):

Before this war is over my hon. friends who say "hear, hear" will hang their heads in shame. This man was Canada's representative in Washington, and yet he makes that statement in the heart of the empire. I feel that I can say without fear of contradiction by hon. members of this house, even by hon. members who have disagreed with me, even by my many sound-thinking friends in the Tory party, that everyone will reject that kind of attitude toward Canada at this time.

I should like to make one or two other references. First, let me refer to a statement made upon a public platform, during a byelection campaign, by the premier of the province of Ontario. The premier of Ontario has been a friend of mine of long standing. Perhaps there is no one who has cooperated as much with him, who has done more to have him adopt a moderate attitude than I. Here is what he said on January 28:

-"deliberately attempting to set the French against the British on the issue of compulsory selective service".

"I charge Mr. King with deliberately trying to set the French against the British through his chief lieutenant in Quebec, Mr. Godbout," said Mr. Hepburn.

I read that simply because I intend to refer to it again in a minute or two. Let me say this to my hon. friends in this house: Make

no mistake about it, there can be no equality of sacrifice in a war. Anyone who uses that phrase is not stopping to analyse its meaning. I ask my good friend, the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar: would the union men of Canada leave the production lines to go on our farms? Canada is a highly unionized country; I ask him if they would permit themselves to be pushed and shoved around. Obviously the answer is no. They are doing a wonderful job. They are just like the senior civil servants in Ottawa; they are giving all they have to Canada's contribution to the war effort. There can be no equality of sacrifice during a war. It is with a knowledge of Canada's contribution to the empire war effort

The Address[DOT]-Mr. Fraser (Northumberland)

that I am proud to say that 565,000 Canadian workmen are producing the implements of war for the air force, the navy and the army, not only for service overseas but in Canada. I am ready to depend upon the loyalty and the understanding of Canadian citizenship to put this job over without endeavouring to create dissension by conscripting people.

I am watching my time, Mr. Speaker. I have great respect for every member of the House of Commons, but if I did not know them all personally, if they were all strangers to me, I would still have the same respect for them because somewhere, in some part of Canada, they have offered themselves to their fellow Canadians to do the best they could for them as their representatives in this assembly of a democratic country. I have much less respect for men who pile up millions and have never offered themselves for service, men who try to browbeat and influence by prejudice and hate the good people of the Dominion of Canada. I have even less respect for those who have been rejected by the people of Canada as a whole but who insist on trying to dictate the policies of the government of Canada, and I want to spend the next three or four minutes appealing to my hon. friends opposite in this house.

This is going to be an appeal for unity, for understanding, cool heads and clear thinking, and appreciation of the facts. The first thing I want to say to my good friends in the Tory party in this house is that no one has ever suffered to a greater extent than they from the consequences of a house divided against itself. It was the Bennett-Stevens catastrophe of a few years ago that resulted in the position in which they find themselves to-day. Surely that is an example to prove that unity is necessary.

This government is running a three per cent war and a loan without interest war, not a five and a half per cent tax-free war for the plutocratic financiers of Canada under Arthur Meighen. No, this government is running a three per cent war. These are the facts, these are the realities I ask you to take into consideration.

This is a democratic assembly elected by all the people. We have in this house sixty-five members from the province of Quebec. I have not the Reverend Mr. Shields' hatred of religion and race. I have not and never could have the feeling of hate that was demonstrated by Colonel George Drew and Doctor Shields platforms in the East Hastings by-election when they said that the French-Canadians were a conquered race and must expect to be treated that way. I have not that hate and could not have that hate for my fellow

Canadians. They elect their representatives to this demoeractic assembly; they are our fellow Canadians, and you cannot get away from that. I do not care what bitterness, what hate, what passions and emotions others may appeal to, but my appeal to-day, Mr. Speaker, not only to those to your left but to every member of this house, regardless of race or creed, and to my fellow citizens everywhere, is to trust Canadians and the government of Canada by Canadians. This is a time to trust Canadians. You can turn the dial of your radio and listen in to the United States. There you have a government, not as the hon. member for Parkdale states, but a party government, and not universal compulsory service, as the hon. member for Parkdale stated. But there you have a highly-unionized country, a country where recompense and compensation and loyalty are the incentives-not the Hitler labour camps, but unity, loyalty, compensation, understanding, education. That is the guide and slogan in the United States, where you find Mr. Willkie speaking on a platform and over the air, appealing to the people of the United States, and standing shoulder to shoulder with Mr. Roosevelt.

While my hon. friends opposite may not realize this-and I have read or listened to every speech that has been made in this debate-I want to tell them that Mr. Mackenzie King is the Prime Minister of the Dominion of Canada in accordance with the wishes and the voice of the people of Canada. The hon. member for Parkdale, who came into this house after the 1940 election, day after day has stated that we need a new Prime Minister, but the people of Canada with an unmistakable voice said: Mackenzie King is the safest man to conduct the affairs of this country and to conduct the war. I say to you, Mr. Speaker, that he is still Prime Minister of Canada, and all the dastardly-and I say this for the record1-all the dastardly attacks and all the unspeakable epithets that have been hurled against William Lyon Mackenzie King by his enemies cannot change the fact that he is Prime Minister of Canada and the leader of responsible government' in Canada. We had an example in Spain of rebellion against constituted government there which cost over three million lives. We had a similar thing in France, a people divided against themselves-and not only in France but also in the low countries. It was Pearl Har-hour that cemented the people of the United States. Do not let us as Canadians require a Pearl Harbour or a Dunkirk to make us united. I will join with every man in this house and with every citizen of Canada who

334 COMMONS

The Address-Mr. Fraser (Northumberland)

will take as his slogan: Don't sell Canada short, because that would be selling your own country short. You would be sabotaging your own country. When you do that, you are not damning the man who is the Prime Minister and the head of responsible government in Canada; but you are damning and sabotaging your own country.

I know that to-morrow morning my name will be on the back page of that sheet, the Globe and Mail, but I trust that the sincerity of my voice and of my determination will go across this country from one end to the other when I appeal to my fellow Canadians to be Canadians, just as the Americans are Americans, and to back the Prime Minister and constituted government.

My time, Mr. Speaker, is up.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Go on.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland, Ont.):

I have much more that I could say from the very altar of my honesty and sincerity. This government has brought in a measure as a result of the deliberations and conclusions of the cabinet. There may be features about the plebiscite that are not as we would all like, but I have studied it. I went home and for three days did nothing but turn it over in my mind, and I came to this honest conclusion. I was convinced that if ever in my life I should stand as I have stood this afternoon and appeal to my fellow Canadians to stand behind the man who for five times has been elected by the ballots of the people of Canada to lead this country, now is the time. If an offer was made to my hon. friends opposite to-day to come and join a national government under Mackenzie King they would not do it. They would want a national government of their own making, of the making of the Murdochs.

In closing, I would express my appreciation of the splendid hearing which my fellow members have given me this afternoon, and thank them for the extra time they have allowed me. Finally, I appeal to every hon. member, as I would appeal to my brother: For God's sake get behind Canada. Don't sell her short. Get behind the Prime Minister, and let us put this thing over. We will do it.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

On a point of order, I did not wish to intervene while the hon. gentleman was speaking, but the rules are there; they should not be violated without the consent of this house, and no consent was asked for. Had the hon. member asked for overtime I personally would have cheerfully granted it to him, but I do not think the rules should be used for the purpose of abusing

political opponents or of putting on a burlesque in this house.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

Georges Parent (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

When the hon. member mentioned the fact that he was exceeding his time I looked to see if there was opposition, but as a matter of fact the expression that was given by those on the left was that he should continue, and I assumed that he had consent.

Mr. NORMAN J. M. LOCKHART (Lincoln): It is not my intention to emulate the scene that has been enacted in this house within the last forty-five or fifty minutes or perhaps an hour. Apparently the theories propounded by the previous speaker have met with general approval among the followers of the government. I have not at any time attempted to minimize the war effort of this government, but I rise in my place at this time to urge them on to greater things.

None of us question the loyalty of the hon. member for Northumberland (Mr. Fraser), who has just spoken, and I want to assure him that there are just as many loyal subjects in Canada to-day as there were in the last war, as is shown by the fact that they have sent sons overseas.

I am not particularly interested in digging up from among the archives anything that might appear to discredit men who have, in fact, been a credit to Canadian public or civil life. Those men on whom a vicious attack was made to-day will be able, I am quite sure, when the last account is taken to measure up with anyone, whether he be Speaker in this house, member of the house, or among those recited in the great list which have given of their best.

I received no telegram; I attended no banquet; but I think it would be interesting to have a comparison made between the records of the men who were viciously attacked in the preceding address, and, perhaps, some of those who are members of this house. This is no time for us to indulge in recriminations. This is a time when every member should express to the best of his ability his point of view and the views of his constituents. A strange spectacle has been enacted in this house in the last week or two-yes, and it is being enacted in many parts of Canada to-day. The daily papers are to-day reporting incidents which I believe it would be better to have deleted from the records of the nation. Canada, the empire, Christian civilization itself is rocking on its foundations, and in my opinion the spectacle which is being enacted in this house-within the last hour-is not a credit to the parliament of Canada in this time of crisis.

The Address-Mr. Lockhart

I listened the other day to the hon. member for Leeds (Mr. Fulford) denouncing his friends. Not long ago the lion and the lamb lay down together in peace. How things have changed I Then we have another hon. gentleman, the member for Trinity (Mr. Roebuck), appearing on a public platform in the city of Toronto supporting the candidate of my hon. friends to the left, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation party, and the next day appearing in the constituency of Welland and urging before the electors the defeat of that same candidate. I say that strange spectacles are being enacted throughout Canada as well as in this house.

We are the elected representatives of the people of Canada, and I think that every representative has a sacred duty to perform at this time. It was hoped, at least I had hoped when I came to the house at this session, that we would be given an opportunity to accomplish something with alacrity in the interests of Canada and of the empire. The Minister of Finance (Mr. Usley) as a private member spoke to us yesterday at length; as a minister of the crown, a member of the war cabinet, he has also expressed his views. I for one respect those views just as I expect him to respect the views of my constituents or any views I may advance.

He has approved of the expenditure of money on a plebiscite. With this I have to disagree. He has likened it to the spending of money by people on amusement. I would point out that the spending of trust money, raised by the sacrifices of 'the taxpayers of this country, on matters such as a plebiscite is far different from people spending the small pittance they have left after paying these taxes to get a little amusement and recreation for themselves.

The speech from the throne deals specifically with few matters but more particularly with the plebiscite suggested by the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King). In respect to that I had hoped we would have something definite placed before us. The leader of the group with which I have the honour to be associated pressed for that, and others have pressed for the definition of what this plebiscite would contain. The answer given by the Prime Minister is found on page 32 of Hansard:

When my hon. friend goes on to ask me what I am going to do with respect to any expression of view which may be made by the people in connection with any reference which will be made to them, may I say to him that in seeking to get relief from past commitments I am not going to begin by making new and fresh commitments. In seeking freedom on the part of the ministry I am not going to start in by seeking to tie my own hands.

Later on the Prime Minister said, as reported at page 60:

May I add that such attitude as I shall take at the time will be taken in the light of all the circumstances as I may know them as a member of the government, and of all conditions as I know them in regard to this country and, as far as I am able to know something about them, conditions in other countries as well.

This, with some more words, was the answer to a request for more explicit information and direction on this plebiscite. This evasion of responsibility is not acceptable to the voters of my constituency, and I do not believe it is acceptable to the voters of many parts of Canada. It seems to me the Prime Minister is following public opinion entirely, following and listening to see what the effect of his pronouncements may be, without giving the leadership desired in this hour of crisis. I am sure that has been made manifest in the press throughout the country.

I state here publicly that at least one thousand of my constituents have sent me individual messages of protest. Collective groups comprising 75 to 100 signatures each have also sent me communications in considerable number. I have received thirty or more resolutions from municipal councils, service clubs, church organizations and all kinds of kindred groups, which totalled up would represent at least two or three thousand names. These people have protested most definitely against the vagueness of the language used by the Prime Minister in referring to the plebiscite and what he proposes to place before the people at this time.

They urge a complete and total war effort. They urge compulsory selective service, and in no uncertain words they tell me what my duty is as a member of this parliament, sent here as their representative. I am urged to do all in my power to prevent a plebiscite being taken. The reasons given by them, in which I entirely concur, are that the saving of time and money in this hour are essential. I voice, therefore, the opinions of my electors as expressed in the messages they have sent me. And what is more, as a member of this parliament, in making these utterances I am prepared to take my full share of responsibility to see that they are carried out.

I must in fairness say that I received one message, signed by one individual only, said to be representing an executive group, but from an organization I have not heard of before, endorsing the plebiscite but definitely calling for compulsory selective service. That is the extent to which the hundreds, yes, thousands of messages that have reached me approve of this plebiscite. I am urged to do everything I can to put a stop to what they

The Address-Mr. Lockhart

call putting square pegs in round holes in this war effort. I am urged by returned soldier organizations to get more fully behind the thousands of lads who have gone overseas, to make definitely sure that reinforcements will be provided in the hour of need. I am quite sure that other hon. members have received similar communications from returned soldier organizations.

These organizations point out the need of trained recruits. They point out the necessity that might arise following such tragedies as Hong Kong, Dunkirk, Greece and Crete, and all these disasters that have been referred to by other speakers. Who knows, they say, when the next demand may come? We may have to go to Alaska or points close to Canada.

In this connection I think we as members of this house must have appreciated the observations made here by hon. members from British Columbia as to the critical situation there. We cannot be unmindful of the words of the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Green) when he pointed out the position our troops w'ould be in if overnight the treacherous Japs were to strike in the dark, perhaps on the shores of Alaska. What would be our position if we had to go to our armed forces and pick out the men who could leave Canada from those who could not go? This has been brought to our attention by messages received from returned soldiers' organizations in my city. If on the other hand Vancouver turned out to be the vulnerable point, how quickly could United States forces respond to our help? I plead with this government to see that we are placed in the same position as the armies of the United States so that we can give one hundred per cent support whether it be in our own Canada or on shores perhaps not too far distant-yes, even in the remotest parts of the world.

I was home over the week-end, Mr. Speaker, and during that time I received a great many telephone calls; in fact the wires on my telephone w'ere almost burning up.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

Too bad they didn't.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
CON

Norman James Macdonald Lockhart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LOCKHART:

Too bad they didn't?

Perhaps the hon. member who interjected that remark had better go home himself. That is just another example of the cheap performance we hear in this house all too frequently.

I was repeatedly asked if I would define the proposed plebiscite. Among the questions I was asked was this: Is there any commitment, or what is the commitment, as to what will be done following the taking of the plebiscite? Many people told me they were sick and tired of the delay in parliament and were not even going out to vote. That is

something I greatly deplore, that the electors should be placed in the position of not being sufficiently interested or informed to exercise their franchise. But the onus for that situation rests entirely upon the Prime Minister and this government.

What could I reply to that question? I could only read the Prime Minister's evasive words in response to direct inquiries. Then I was frequently asked another question, which I commend to the attention of the hon. member who interrupted me a moment ago and to other hon. members who were so vociferous in their applause following the address of the hon. member for Northumberland, Ont. (Mr. Fraser). I was asked: When this vague proposition was presented to parliament, was the press report correct in stating that about 175 supporters of the government in this chamber supported the proposal and applauded to the housetops? I had to say that the answer was yes.

I cannot pass on without making a brief reference to the courageous stand afterwards taken by a few hon. members opposite, who seemed to feel that their responsibility was not limited to applause, but who felt they should express their individual views and the views of the people whom they represent. I want to pay my tribute to those hon. members who had the courage of their convictions.

Inquiries came to me from the adjoining constituency, the county of Welland, which is so much in the limelight to-day. The late esteemed member for that constituency was elected to this house by one of the, larger majorities that returned this government to power. He w7as very well thought of, and we regret his passing. But that majority now is split asunder. The plebiscite is the only issue in that by-election; and we have seen the nomination of an independent supporter of the Liberal party in protest against the plebiscite. The electors of Welland who were in contact with me over the week-end not only reminded me that the plebiscite had destroyed unity in that part of Canada, but they also directed my attention to other parts of this country. Only to-day I have been in receipt of three or four letters, containing clippings, referring to statements made in Quebec last Tuesday evening by one of the principal speakers campaigning in that province in the interests of the government candidate. I believe these were the words used by Mr. Taschereau, of Quebec:

There are events happening in Australia at present which more than ever would not only justify Prime Minister King's non-enforcement of conscription for overseas service but "which might even oblige him to recall troops now stationed in England.

The Address-Mr. Lockhart

This clipping was given me by an elector of the constituency of Welland. On the same evening the present Minister of Labour, speaking in Welland, is reported in these words:

He expressed the opinion that the vote of the Canadian people "will relieve Prime Minister King of his non-conscription pledge in the coming plebiscite." Quite plainly the collective responsibility of cabinet ministers, as well as the principle of responsible government, is being scuttled in Canada.

Such was the direction given me by the electors of Welland. The plebiscite is not only causing national disunity in that part of Canada. We recall that in connection with these by-elections there was supposed to be some mutual understanding; new blood was to be brought into this parliament, and that mutual understanding met with more or less general favour. The electors of Welland stated to me that they accepted that principle; and to hon. members of this house I want to say that members of this party more or less accepted it also. As a result no attempt was made by the Conservative party to place anyone in the field to oppose the Minister of Labour. Who is to blame for the upset that has occurred in that county? I ask this house on whose doorstep can be placed the responsibility for causing this disunity. Do not blame it on the Conservative party. Do not blame it on any members from more remote parts of Canada. The responsibility rests with the Prime Minister and his ministers for foisting on the public such a vague proposal as a plebiscite.

What may be the outcome in that by-election no one can say. It was suggested by one gentleman in that county that perhaps even yet the hon. member for Northumberland, Ontario, who is not at the moment in his seat, may have the opportunity to become Minister of Labour, as has been suggested in this house. In any event, the Prime Minister may yet [DOT] have to make his selection from the membership of this -house, and whom can he thank for the mess he has made? That is what I ask this house.

Then on Saturday evening I crossed into New York state, where I have many friends whom I hold in high esteem and with whom I have had many things in common over a long period of years. I looked up some of them to see what was their vie-w of the present situation, now that a menace has sprung up in the southern Pacific. What were their views? I will try to express them. I found a changed attitude on their part. Yesterday the Minister of Finance quoted an editorial from one of the New York newspapers. Perhaps I might be permitted to quote an editorial from a

newspaper published much nearer the Niagara peninsula and the constituency of Welland than the New York Times. The clipping was in the hands of my friends in New York state. When I asked their views, one gentleman produced the clipping which I shall read to the house. He said it expressed their views, and I believe it expresses the views of many people in the United States. This article appeared in the Buffalo Courier-Express in its issue of January 24, 1942. I assume I have the same privilege as was accorded the Minister of Finance; namely, that of reading at length. This is the article:

Announcement by the Earl of Athlone, governor general of Canada, of a plebiscite on raising troops by conscription means that our brothers north of the border have determined to meet squarely their toughest political problem . . . Canada is now faced with the same problem which confronted the United States only a few weeks ago. Our draft law called for the training of men for service within the United States. Pearl Harbour changed all that and congress immediately authorized the use of United States troops in any theatre of war. To-day Canada drafts men, 21 to 24, for full-time defence duties with the active army, and these men, after four months' training period, are posted for home defence duties, releasing volunteers for overseas duty.

The natural question which arises on this side of the border is that if we can do it overnight why does Canada hesitate?

Let me point out that this editorial reflects the feeling of many of my friends in the United States, and a great mass of public opinion in that country.

A full explanation of the political reasons would take this entire page and several succeeding pages, but the answer is always the same- French Canada.

That is what is being said along the border where one of the most bitter by-elections ever fought in the country is being waged. While these spectacles are being enacted, not only in the house but in different parts of Canada we, the elected representatives of our people, sit here and twiddle our thumbs for the next few weeks waiting for some vague plebiscite to decide an important issue. That is the point which strikes me most forcibly. Faced with the same dangers, faced with the same possibilities of attack, why cannot we in the parliament of Canada deal with this matter now, the same as the parliament of Great Britain and other parts of the empire and the United States have done?

Some of my people call it political expediency. Other letters I receive describe it as a political blunder. Others call it lack of leadership. Whatever those opinions are, certainly Canada is being divided over this

The Address-Mr. Lockhart

plebiscite, at a time when more than any other in our history national unity should be our objective.

So, Mr. Speaker, I say that while we twiddle our thumbs the voice of parliament is still. We go on with this spectacle. Let me urge hon. members to frown on all this cheap political-

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

Burlesque.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink

February 5, 1942