Yes, burlesque, if you wish to call it that, which is so evident in the house.
We are faced with a desperate situation. Let me say a word at this point about the effect of national compulsory service on the farmers, a subject which has had some consideration in the house. Let me give a specific example which indicates the extent of the problem in my section of the country. One man came to me recently and told me that he had just returned from one of the largest food processing factories in that vicinity. The manager of the plant had asked this farmer to sign again this year the contract he had signed in past years calling for the production of certain lines of foodstuffs. The man said to me, "I visited that factory about three weeks ago, and learned that I had to buy five tons of a particular type of fertilizer, involving an investment of considerable money. When I came home my only son met me at the door and produced a notice to serve in the army." The father was in a dilemma. On the following morning he and his boy drove to Toronto to discuss the matter with the regional director. The result of their trip was nothing but evasion. They were promised a deferment.
I have no doubt other hon. members have heard similar stories. This is not a new problem, and I could give many other examples. That man urged upon me that his only son was needed at home. I told him that he might obtain a deferment, but he would have to use his own judgment. The man said to me, "The manager of the processing plant is urging me to take this contract, but I cannot sign it if my son is to be taken."
The time has come when each one of us in Canada must be told what he is to do and how he is to do it. The farmer must be told what he is to produce, and he must be given guarantee that at least an only son will be left to help carry through his obligation to produce for Great Britain and our lads overseas.
I shall not detain the house, but when hon. members discuss these matters with their constituents, and when they learn about the
chaos in the present set-up, surely they should stand in their places and tell the house that we must have selective service of every man and woman in Canada. Every industry and every resource must be mobilized in the most effective way-and now. Evidence of that is apparent on every side. And so I ask: Why do we delay? Canada
is one of the granaries of the world. We have become one of the chief sources of supply of foodstuffs for Great Britain. We have become one of the main sources of supply for those thousands of our boys who have gone overseas. A clear, comprehensive and constructive policy must be given to the farmers by the government, and given without delay.
I pass on. Thinking back over the references which have been made in this house I realize that there are many hon. members who are too ready to dig up dead horses. They have been ready to go back into the history of the last war and attempt to discredit the public life of men some of whom have long been dead. They bring in all kinds of inferences which have no bearing upon the crisis which now confronts us. I urge hon. members to cease this idle twaddle; let us get down to present realities and accomplish something. When the hon. member for Cariboo (Mr. Turgeon) was making his defence of the plebiscite he told us what he thought of compulsory service two years ago. We know how the President of the United States was swept into power; we know that a few weeks afterwards he went to congress without any plebiscite and said that he must have compulsory service in every part of the world where the enemy might be met.
Why can we not have the same thing in this country? That is what I am urging should be done. We read the newspapers, we know what is happening, we realize the possibilities in Australia and we see the reverses that our armed forces are encountering. Surely the crisis is just as great now. Why should we sit here and talk idly about technicalities or make inferences which have no bearing upon the present emergency?
The Prime Minister must give some thought to the definite demand in this country for compulsory selective service. Let us try to guide him; let us tell him the views of our own people on this matter. That is my duty this afternoon, to try to show him exactly what my own constituents are saying. We should not have any differences of opinion about this, because that is all it amounts to in connection with this plebiscite. It is just a case of one man thinking one thing, and another man thinking something else. But it
The Address-Mr. Maclnnis
has created a lot of disunity. If the elected representatives of the people would deal with this question here in the house I believe it could be settled just as well as it will be three months, six months or a year hence. The men who are now overseas are demanding it. Surely all hon. members are receiving letters daily urging that this action be taken, demanding it. These men are wondering, if they have to go to Hong Kong or some such place, whether there will be somebody to step in should they have to make the supreme sacrifice. I say this advisedly because I am receiving scores of letters from overseas.
There is only one important step to be taken-compulsory selective service. What have we in Canada to-day? Industry has been regimented and our money has been conscripted. You may call it what you like, but the fact is that it is being taken from us. Our young men were called up for thirty days' training and they had to go. That training was found to be totally inadequate; some people made what was termed a "war shout" over the cost, and then young men were called for four months. That also proved entirely inadequate for the situation which was becoming more acute. The defence of our own shores began to loom up, and these men were then called in for the duration of the war. Call it conscription if you like, but it is compulsory selective service. They had to serve.
There is only one more step we need to take in this parliament. Instead of calling for service in Canada, we should call for service anywhere in the world. We should not be frightened about compulsory service. The only difference is as to where we have to serve. I am not afraid of its being said that I have been conscripted. I am prepared to assume whatever share of the burden I am asked to take. Those who are overseas are calling for assistance, and there is just one more step which the Prime Minister and this government have to take in order that we may have all-out compulsory selective service. Why hesitate any longer?
We are in the midst of a mad race for supremacy with a ruthless enemy. I think that must be conceded. Let us stop pussyfooting in this parliament which is supposed to be the last word in directing this country. The world is looking upon us at this time, with parliament in session, to give some kind of lead and not play for political positions, not trifle with the great questions that confront us. Never before to my knowledge has there been such a demand upon the courage of men, that they act like men. Surely we have an example in yie men who have
gone overseas. They stand out because of their courageous action. We, the elected representatives of this country, must have the courage of our convictions. I say again that it is a race for supremacy, the supremacy of all that is right and decent. This supremacy cannot be won if we do not strain our resources to the last ounce. Otherwise we may lose. That is the tragedy with which we are confronted. That is what may happen if we do not measure up, if we are hot courageous.
I urge upon the government, I urge upon the Prime Minister as leader of the government, as leader of the war time cabinet, that these possibilities be seriously considered. I urge upon him that he come frankly before parliament and place upon every hon. member the responsibility of doing his duty. In this race he holds the starter's pistol. If he pulls the trigger, we have to go. I say to hon. members: if the Prime Minister will just pull the trigger, let every one of us go to the last ounce of our strength before it is too late.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY