February 5, 1942

?

An hon. MEMBER:

Was it a Liberal who said that"

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LIB

John Gordon Ross

Liberal

Mr. ROSS (Moose Jaw):

Arthur Meighen. There is a real leader for you! How the embattled barons of Bay street must have rejoiced as this knight in shining armour tilted his lance against the approach of total

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The Address-Mr. Ross (Moose Jaw)

war toward their castles, and their money bags. The last man, certainly; the last dollar, never-until the last gasp.

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NAT

James Arthur Ross

National Government

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

Quote his last night's speech along with that.

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LIB

John Gordon Ross

Liberal

Mr. ROSS (Moose Jaw):

Don't worry, I will finish with that. The bell-wether of Bay street! Well, they ought to know something about wethers up there. They have fleeced more people in Canada than any other outfit. I see that after ten days, as my hon. friend remarks, the effect of this statement has been borne in on the right hon. gentleman, and he has given a belated denial, terming it inconsistent with his by-election campaign. Well, Mr. Speaker, I think perhaps I have known the gentleman in politics as long as most people in this house. It may be inconsistent with his election campaign, but it certainly is consistent with the record of the man during his whole political career.

I for one believe the statement was made. In any event, the issue still stands. Let us see how our hon. friends opposite stand on the same issue-our friends opposite, who want courage, who want leadership, who demand clear-cut pronouncements of government policy and attitude! Where do they stand? It is a poor rule that does not work both ways. I ask them now: Do they endorse the "last gasp" speech of January 27; or do they slip out from under, on the inconsistent speech of February 3? Do they in their zeal for total war, and in what they claim to be the intent of their amendment, repudiate the amazing policy of conscription of wealth only as the last gasp? The people of Canada want something more than the denial of Arthur Meighen in a by-election campaign. They have a right to know whether the members of the Conservative party in this house are ready to conscript men, but consider the dollar sacred. Does their amendment clearly and unmistakably mean that they are prepared to urge, in fact demand, that the full conscription of wealth must come if and when we conscript men for overseas service; or do they favour total conscription of men's lives and voluntary methods of raising money? Let me have an answer from them. Do they join their leader in Toronto?

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

Which night?

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LIB

John Gordon Ross

Liberal

Mr. ROSS (Moose Jaw):

Yes, which night -January 27 or February 3? What has the hon. member for Qu'Appelle (Mr. Perley) to say about it?

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NAT

Ernest Edward Perley

National Government

Mr. PERLEY:

Read our amendent.

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NAT

James Arthur Ross

National Government

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

He cannot read yet.

[Mr. J. Q. Rnss.l

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?

Mr ROSS (Moose Jaw):

Do you agree with your leader in Toronto, or do you not? Silence!

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NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

Give

him the same answer as the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) gave this afternoon.

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LIB

John Gordon Ross

Liberal

Mr. ROSS (Moose Jaw):

Will any member of the Conservative party answer?

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NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

The same answer the Prime Minister gave this afternoon.

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LIB

John Gordon Ross

Liberal

Mr. ROSS (Moose Jaw):

No, they dare not answ-er. Yet these are the men who are pounding day after day at the government, and asking them to take a stand on matters.

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NAT

Ernest Edward Perley

National Government

Mr. PERLEY:

Where do you stand?

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LIB

John Gordon Ross

Liberal

Mr. ROSS (Moose Jaw):

You sit; you say nothing; you do not dare take a stand. And if you did, from the speeches I have heard you make in this house-and others-in the last few days, could we consider that a pledge before the people of Canada, when you make it in the house? We cannot consider it when you make it in the country. These Tory leaders-first of all Arthur Meighen, who has again been given the leadership of the Conservative party, by a clique, not by Conservatives in Canada in convention assembled, with delegates from the people, -and then these men who have been voicing views in this chamber-are not portraying the thoughts in the minds of Conservatives of the Dominion of Canada. There are -many thousands of Conservatives in this country who are to-day taking their part in this war alongside Liberals and others. They are not endeavouring to cause turmoil and strife in -the country at this time. They are serving on committees, working hard to raise money to buy bonds from the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) to carry on the war. They are in the was savings certificates drives, and they are in the Department of Munitions and Supply, as the hon. member for Northumberland, Ont. (Mr. Fraser) said this afternoon. They are in the foreign exchange control board, in the wartime prices and trade board and everywhere else where they can aid in this effort. They have forgotten politics; they are not playing politics now, and all glory and power to them for that.

Then there are those w'ho think they portray Conservative opinion in this country. They come to this house, and we see what happened the other day. We had just opened the sitting when an hon. gentleman rose in his place and suggested a parliamentary inquiry into the Hong Kong affair. Everyone knows there would not have been a Hong Kong if

The Address-Mr. Ross (Moose Jaw)

there had not been a Pearl Harbour. Everyone knows they are not playing polities to-day in the United States. Pearl Harbour was investigated by a judicial committee, and those who were found to be negligent are to be punished. That is what should be done with regard to all these matters. Hong Kong should be investigated, not by a parliamentary committee where political capital could be made out of everything, but by a judicial board. If any negligence or any guilt is found, then those who are responsible should be properly punished.

We are getting sick and tired of hearing gentlemen on platforms throughout the country and in this house running down Canada's army. Canada has a good army, one of the best. The men who are running it can be depended upon; they are as good as any other men running any other army anywhere. We are proud of that army. They are doing a first-class job, and we should give them every credit, not try to make out that we have not a large enough army or a good enough army or that it is deficient in either men or brains.

For some time I have heard talk of a total-war effort. A total-war effort for this country should be the effort that this country can make of every kind, the effort which will go farthest to aid in winning this war regardless of what direction it may take. Some people think we should have a blueprint of exactly what is to be done in the way of defence for the next six months. If we had had one, it would have all gone to pieces two months ago because this war is changing every week. Some men still say that there must be plenty of. munitions and supplies now. In proportion, there are not as many munitions and supply as there were. The battle fronts of this war have opened up faster than the factories of the allies can keep up with providing munitions and supplies.

Since December 7, when Pearl Harbour was struck-this is not a secret because Winston Churchill has said it in the open-we lost command of the Pacific. Since we have lost command of the Pacific, it is quite likely that our sister dominions, Australia and New Zealand, will be unable to supply Great Britain with many of the things with which they have been supplying her up to the last two months. What does that mean? It means that the only countries which can supply Great Britain are Canada and the'United States.

There is a bigger job to-day for the Canadian agriculturist than has ever before faced him in his history. All kinds of foodstuffs must be produced in greater abundance than

they have been produced in the past to help to carry on and feed Great Britain during this war. The Canadian farmer will have to get up a little earlier in the morning and go to bed a little later at night, although at the present and in the past he has done better at this than any other citizen of the dominion.

The Canadian farmer should be given fair treatment. A few days ago we had a large delegation here from western Canada making a most reasonable request of the government. They asked for a fair price for their wheat. Surely the Canadian people should be able to give it, not for all that they can grow but for what can be sold. If you go into the facts and figures with regard to this matter, you will find that wheat is the only thing that the people of Canada are asking the farmers of Canada to give to the government in the war effort for which a reasonable and fair price is not being paid. I think grave consideration by the government, by this house and by the people of Canada should be given to this question.

I hope that this drive for political purposes will stop, that these people will realize finally that no matter how much they drive the Prime Minister, the more often he has gone to an election, the bigger the majority he has received from the people of Canada. I have every confidence in the Prime Minister as the leader of this country at this time. I have every confidence in the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston) and in the army officers under him. I have every confidence in the Minister of National Defence for Naval Services (Mr. Macdonald), and in the Minister of National Defence for Air (Mr. Power). I know that we could not get a better man as Minister of Munitions and Supply (Mr. Howe) than we have. Where could you pick up a man in whom the people have more confidence than they have in the Minister of Finance (Mr. Usley)? Where could you get a man who has done more and will do more for the farmers of this country than the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner)? Yet these people have been saying day after day, "Throw the government out, get new leaders." They have asked the Prime Minister to bring men into the government from the outside. He has done that, and two of them are now fighting for all they are worth in by-elections. Why? Because the very people who asked him to bring them in from the outside are now trying to defeat them.

With regard to the plebiscite, I want to say that I gave my pledge in the last election, and as yet I have not broken the pledge to the people of this country, and do not intend

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The Address-Mr. Ross (Moose Jaw)

to. I ask the people of my constituency and in other parts of Canada to vote "yes" on this plebiscite and relieve the government and hon. members of their pledges. I ask my people to do that in order that I may follow the Prime Minister and the ministers I have mentioned, all of whom have full knowledge and are in complete cooperation with the allied commands and will do what is [DOT]ight. to win this war for Canada and the Canadian people.

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LIB

Maxime Raymond

Liberal

Mr. MAXIME RAYMOND (Beauharnois-Laprairie) (Translation):

Mr. Speaker, the speech from the throne, explained and completed by the speech of the Prime Minister, defines the government's war programme for the present session.

The programme comprises a non-interestbearing loan of $700,000,000 to England; an outright gift of $1,000,000,000 to England for war purposes; a war budget of $3,000,000,000 to be raised by taxation and loans; a national war effort extended to the country's utmost capacity, and, finally, a request to the people, by means of a plebiscite, to release the government from any previous commitments restricting the methods of raising men for military service

in other words, a request for freedom to enact conscription for military service overseas if it sees fit.

This simple outline gives an idea of the extent of the war effort contemplated for a small nation of Hi million still in the development stage.

If the two opposition leaders, the one who sits in this house and the other who is waiting at the door, have been able to call the $1,300,000,000 appropriation requested last year for certain war expenditures a "crushing burden, staggering in its proportion", what words will they find this year for the appropriations required by the programme I have just outlined? The least that can be expected of them is that they cease making unfavourable comparisons between our war effort and that of other allied countries, notably Australia -Australia which does not even pay the expenses of its own troops outside its territory, while we not only meet the expenses of our troops abroad, but contribute to the equipping and feeding of the troops of other allied countries. It is high time to start keeping criticism within the bounds of common sense.

Leaving all further comment on this subject for a later occasion, I shall deal at once with the question of the plebiscite on conscription, which is the most important question of all, because of the immediate consequences it will inevitably produce in the country.

The mover of the address in reply to the speech from the throne, the hon. member

1 Mr T G. Ross.]

for Hull (Mr. Fournier) has pointed out that the plebiscite represented "a reversal of policy" on the part of the government, and he added: "The three and a half million French-Canadians of my province are being asked to accept one of the greatest sacrifices that the country has ever requested of them."

It would be impossible ' to describe the present situation more tragically.

What are the facts?

A group of citizens calling themselves the committee of 200, gathered in Toronto, have decided to impose their will on the Canadian people. With little regard for the country's future, they have organized at great expense a campaign of propaganda and intimidation with a view to forcing the government to enact conscription for overseas service, in defiance of the plighted word and of the will of the people expressed on the 26th of March, 1940. And strange to say, while advocating the adoption of coercitive measures for the sending of men overseas in order to defend democracy and punish the violators of treaties, these people ask the government to violate the pact entered into on the 9th of September, 1939, at the time of the declaration of war, and to disregard the mandate received from the people on the 26th of March, 1940, not to impose conscription for overseas service.

I wish to recall briefly the circumstances and conditions under which participation in this war was decided and to draw the conclusions that necessarily follow therefrom as regards the plebiscite and the question of conscription.

On the 9th of September, 1939, Right Hon. Mr. Lapointe expressed in the following terms the conditions under which "a most important section of the country, comprising the province of Quebec", would agree to Canada's participation:

But, sir, I believe that at this time there are two extreme sides of opinion which we should avoid and which would make for the disunity of Canada at a time when we need the very opposite. First, there are those who . . . say that Canada can and should remain neutral. ... .

The other school consist of those who . . . are promoting courses which would disunite Canada-because such measures will never be accepted or enforced by and in a most important section of the country. The whole province oi Quebec-and I speak with all the responsibility and the solemnity I can give to my words- will never agree 'to accept compulsory service or conscription outside Canada. I will go farther than that: When I say the whole province of Quebec I mean that I personally agree with them. I am authorized by my colleagues in the cabinet from the province of Quebec . . . to say that we will never agree to conscription

The Address-Mr. Raymond

and will never be members or supporters of a government that will try to enforce it. Is that clear enough?

Then he added:

Provided these points are understood, we are willing to offer our sexwices without limitation and to devote our best efforts for the success of the cause we all have at heart. And those in Quebec who say that we will have conscription in spite of what some of us are saying, are doing the work of disunity, the work of the foe, the work of the enemy. (House of Commons Debates, second session 1939, page 68.)

Could anything be clearer? Participation without conscription.

Such is the compromise proposed by Mr. Lapointe and accepted without reserve by all the conscriptionists, including the whole imperialist and conscriptionist newspapers of the country, on the 9th of September, 1939.

This compromise was ratified by the people of all Canada on the 26th of March, 1940, at a general election. It therefore constitutes a pact, which cannot be set aside without the express and explicit consent of all the parties to the contract. And this pact was concluded not for a month, not for a year, not for two years, not even for the duration of a parliament. but for the entire duration of the war. For this "most important section of the country, comprising the whole province of Quebec", which Mr. Lapointe referred to, entered into the conflict for the duration of the war and would never have agreed to participation therein without the express condition which is: No conscription for overseas service at any time throughout the whole duration of the war.

It is therefore a compromise for the duration of the war, and it cannot be set aside until the war is over.

What is being sought is not the complete setting aside of the pact of September, 1939, ratified by the people in March, 1940-this being impossible, since one of the parties thereto has already fulfilled its obligation and the parties can no longer be replaced in their previous state-but the setting aside of the obligation of one of the parties, the sole condition which the abstentionists set to their participation, namely, that there should be no conscription for service overseas.

Now that one party to the contract, the abstentionist group, has unstintingly fulfilled and even gone beyond their pledge to participate in the war-for our participation which was to be moderate and commensurate with our means has become unlimited, and we know that Mr. Lapointe, as he had promised on September 9, 1939, "devoted to it his best efforts"-now, as I say, that one party has fulfilled its pledge, the other party 44561-24}

to the contract, the conscriptionist group, would like to repudiate their sole obligation, which was to abstain from demanding conscription for overseas service.

To all the sincere advocates of conscription in this house I say:

On September 9, 1939, a compromise was made whereby you agreed not to demand conscription for overseas service, provided those who opposed participation in the war, especially in the province of Quebec, consented to participate in that war. On the strength of that agreement, the important part of our population which opposes war has consented to participate in it. Were you sincere at that time? I dare not question your sincerity. Did you wish to obtain that consent through false representations? I dare not believe it. Now that those who opposed war have liberally and generously fulfilled their pledge-and God knows how much fervour and devotion Mr. Lapointe brought into the fulfilment of his pledge- will you refuse to fulfil yours?

If I may ask you, would you consider that it would be fair and honourable?

You would conscript men for fighting overseas those who do not honour their pledge, while breaking yourselves the contract you made with an important part of the population, and you would claim to advocate national unity. No, no, that is not possible.

But the plebiscite implies something more unusual. Not only will the party towards which the pledge was made be asked to relieve the other party from its obligation, but those who favour conscription will be asked to relieve themselves from their obligation. for, mind you, the question bears on a single point: "discarding the pledge whereby conscription was not to be enforced". Since when is a debtor left free to decide himself whether he will pay his debt or not? A creditor may be requested to waive his claim, but a debtor is never asked to decide himself whether he must pay his debt or not. And in justice only those who oppose conscription and towards whom the pledge was made, should have the right to relieve the advocates of compulsory service, or the government, from the pledge whereby they agreed not to enforce conscription.

Apart from the fact that such a request would constitute a breach of contract, and the violation of a pledge, I can see no justification whatever for it.

In the first place, the reasons for which that pact or compromise was made still exist to-day to a degree even greater than in 1939.

The Address-Mr. Raymond

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PRIVILEGE-MR. THORSON STATEMENT BY MR. PAUL BOUCHARD

LIB

Joseph Thorarinn Thorson (Minister of National War Services)

Liberal

Hon. J. T. THORSON (Minister of National War Services) (Translation):

Mr. Speaker, I rise to a question of privilege. The newspaper La Presse of this date contains the following item:

At St. Frangois d'Assise, where he spoke last night in the crowded parish hall, Mr. Paul Bouchard, one of the candidates in Quebec East, read an extract from a letter written by Mr. Liguori Lacombe, member for Laval-Two Mountains, stating that Hon. Messrs. St. Laurent, Thorson and McGibbon-

He probably means Mr. Gibson.

-are members of a subcommittee of the war cabinet which is at present studying the problem of conscription for overseas service.

I deny this statement. A subcommittee of the cabinet is at present studying the question of man-power.

The Address-Mr. Lizotte

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LIB

Joseph Enoil Michaud (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Hon. J. E. MICHAUD (Minister of Fisheries) (Translation):

And it is not a subcommittee of the war cabinet.

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LIB

Joseph Thorarinn Thorson (Minister of National War Services)

Liberal

Mr. THORSON (Translation):

There is no subcommittee studying the problem of conscription for overseas service. No one is studying the question, neither Mr. St. Laurent, nor Mr. Gibson nor myself. If such a statement is contained in the letter from the hon. member for Laval-Two Mountains (Mr. La-combe), it is entirely false.

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February 5, 1942