February 13, 1942

LIB

Harry Leader

Liberal

Mr. LEADER:

This statement right here.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I cannot

believe it. It is not true.

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LIB

Harry Leader

Liberal

Mr. LEADER:

Therefore can you expect

from men in high places, wealthy men, rich men, running a country, that they will give equality to all and special privilege to none? You cannot.

I want to quote something said by Ernest Bevin, a man from the ranks, who knows what it is to toil and who has a feeling in his heart for his fellow workmen. When he was taken into the Churchill cabinet he made this statement:

Ernest Bevin declares system based on monopoly and big business failed to deliver the goods in hour of trial and that social effort must take place of chaos that followed last war.

This report is dated from London, June 6, 1940.

Labour Minister Bevin told a building trades workers' meeting to-day that "in whatever I am doing I am keeping an eye on its possible value when the war is over," and added, "I know that a new country has got to b' planned."

"One thing we are producing-order out of chaos, and chaos it was when we went in," said Mr. Bevin, who before entering the government under Winston Churchill last month was secretary general of the transport and general workers' union.

"The system based on monopoly and big business failed to deliver the goods in our hour of trial," the labour minister said.

He added that there would be no boom at the end of the war.

"The only way of absorbing these millions (of fighting men) back into industry and the national life is by way of public works and

enterprise," Mr. Bevin said. "Social effort is bound to take the place of the kind of thing that occurred at the end of the last war. There is no alternative.

"We cannot afford at the end of this struggle -when we have won-to leave men standing in queues at the labour exchanges without direction as to where to go or what to do."

I agree with what Mr. Bevin has said. I want to say here, Mr. Speaker, that I would take the responsibility of advising every soldier who is wearing a uniform that when this war is over he should not surrender that uniform until he is secure in some permanent job, with a chance to build a home and raise his family. That is how I feel about it.

I see my time is slipping by, so that I should like to come to the question of how I am going to vote. I have tried to look at this question from every angle. I have no particular fault to find with the government's war effort. Everything that has been done has been done in close cooperation with Britain and the United States, and in the words of Churchill, "Canada's war effort has been magnificent." However, the job is not completed; the victory is not won. There remains one step to take in order to convince our enemies that we mean business and to assure the closest cooperation with our allies. That final step is total conscription for overseas service, or wherever Canada's interests are threatened.

I said I was not so much concerned about the word "conscription" or the actual fact of conscription, as some people seem to be; but I realize that there is a disunity in this country and that some people, particularly my French speaking friends, do object very strenuously to conscription and its effects. I have urged tolerance, and I wish to practise what I preach. I intend to vote for the address in reply to the speech from the throne, for the government's policy of a plebiscite, if you will. The question being asked is:

Are you in favour of releasing the government from any obligation arising out of any past commitments restricting the methods of raising men for military service?

As a final word I want to add that my action will be justified as a gesture of tolerance, in order to preserve unity in our beloved land. The plebiscite is a delaying action, I admit. Perhaps it is the appropriate action at this time. Future events will test its wisdom. At any rate I am giving the government the benefit of the doubt. If the government, or the opposition, or any individual member of this house has served any interests other than the welfare of his country, may God forgive him; the nation dare not, and in my opinion never will.

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LIB

Aurel D. Léger

Liberal

Mr. A. D. LEGER (Kent, N.B.):

Mr. Speaker, I have listened very attentively to the various speeches that have been delivered in this house, in regard to the plebiscite mentioned in the speech from the throne, by hon. members belonging to different political groups. The most surprising thing to me was the attitude taken by those who now call themselves Conservatives, but who during the election campaign chose to call themselves the National party. Their leader, then Doctor Manion, and his colleagues, preached high and low that if they were returned to power they would not enforce conscription. Shortly after the election, however, those of the National party, or Conservatives, who were elected began to attack the government because conscription was not put into force. They had behind them a certain section of the press, controlled by a certain financial group in Ontario, which said that Canada could not have an all-out war effort without conscription; that it was absurd for the government to ask the people of Canada to be released from the promises made during the campaign of 1940. Imagine what they would have done if they had been returned to power! According to them, election promises mean nothing. The Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) is not of that calibre. He regards his promises as sacred, and now is asking the people who elected him to relieve him of those promises. Could there be a better gesture, coming from a leader? He is a man who remains true to his promise; he is a man on whom the electorate depend; he is the man whom the people of Canada need as a leader.

In passing, I believe it my duty to mention that the Prime Minister has shown his leadership in bringing about the good entente that now exists between Great Britain and our great neighbour to the south, the United States, and also in the defence agreement he made with the United States, in case of any attack. These incidents show his great foresight. I am asking myself whether it would not have been better for the leader of the opposition (Mr. Hanson) to follow the example of Mr. Wendell Willkie who, after, his party was defeated, campaigned the country in support of the president's war effort. To my mind this is the way an opposition leader should act, but what a contrast we have in this parliament!

The census returns tell us that we have a population of only about eleven and a half million people, so in our war effort we must not be compared with nations such as the United States, with a population of 130,000,000 people or more; but if a comparison is made, it must be on a per capita basis. Perhaps I

The Address-Mr. Leger

may be permitted to review the war effort of this government and compare it with that of other nations. We have over 110,000 voluntary enlistments in the air force. We have over 27,000 voluntary enlistments in the navy. We have over 260,000 enlisted in the army to serve anywhere, on any front, overseas or elsewhere. I have not included those called up for training for home defence. We must realize that we have well over 500,000 men in the armed forces, to defend Canada on our shores or elsewhere. In order to compare with us, the United States should have over five million men under arms. It is admitted by military authorities everywhere that from twelve to fourteen men are required at home to maintain one man in the front line. At that rate we would require six million men and women to produce in our factories, if we are to provide for our men in uniform. If that were so, we would be left with about five million people. In this group would be included all the children up to the age of sixteen, all invalids and old people past working age, and married women who have to stay at home.

to all fairness to the nation, could we ask the Canadian people to furnish much more? 1 he air force and the navy have a reserve list and the army is recruiting all it can

nnn * we furnish any more than

150,000 to 200,000 men, if we want to back them up with ammunition, and instruments of war such as aeroplanes, trucks, tanks, guns of all kinds, bombs and so on, all manufactured in Canada? Our industry had to be trans-tormed from a peace-time to a war-time basis, and I say that our war effort compares favourably with that of any allied nation in' the world. We are giving out contracts at the rate of $4,000,000 a day. Still we hear the complaint that our war effort is not a total one.. Admitting that we have not reached our limit, I say that to get the men it will not be necessary to resort to conscription. Each Canadian knows where his duty lies. He will answer the call. After the war it will be more honourable to say, "All our men fought in the war without having to be conscripted."

Present reports indicate that we have all the recruits that can be handled. That being so, why do we hear this cry for conscription if' indeed, it is not for a certain motive, namely, that of disuniting the two major races in Canada? These people know that Frenchspeaking people in general are, and always have been, and always will be against conscription. Why is tha, so? It is not because they do not wan* to share the responsibility; no, it is because they believe it is more honourable to do their part freely. The French in Quebec and the French Acadian

The Address-Mr. Leger

in the maritimes have volunteered freely in this war, despite the fact that men with the degree of Bachelor of Arts could obtain ranking no higher than that of private, in some units.

My answer will be that French-speaking Canadians have contributed as much as any others toward Canada's war effort. Let us turn to the facts. We learn that the maritime provinces rank first in enlistments. In the army they have furnished one man in every twenty-eight recruited. New Brunswick has furnished one man in every twenty-six. I am proud to say that the French in New Brunswick have thus far contributed more than their quota. They represent about a third of the population in that province, and have contributed forty to forty-five per cent of total enlistments.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Would the hon. member oblige me by giving me the source of that information?-because I have been trying to get it and have not succeeded. I am not questioning his statement, but I should like to know the basis for it.

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LIB

Aurel D. Léger

Liberal

Mr. LEGER:

It was given to me by- an official in the army.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

They will not give it to me; I am rather surprised at that.

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LIB

Aurel D. Léger

Liberal

Mr. LEGER:

I am told that Quebec has furnished its share, as well as Ontario. It must be understood that these two provinces have shouldered most of the war effort, the large industries being centred in those two metropolitan provinces. I believe 'better distribution should be made among the other provinces, and particularly in New Brunswick, where very few contracts have been let. This matter should be attended to by the ministers.

At this point, Mr. Speaker, I should like to say a few words in my native tongue.

(Translation) Mr. Speaker, I have just pointed out to our friends who speak the other official language that the French Canadians, like the French Acadians, are doing their part in our war effort as fully as any other race in Canada. No reference is made to conscription in the speech from the throne. Why then all the excitement? The government ask to be released from their pledges. I feel that we, as the representatives of our constituents, are in duty bound to support that request. I believe- that we must do so if we want to keep our country united.

I represent the constituency of Kent, New Brunswick, whose population is very largely -about four-fifths-of French extraction, and

they do not want conscription. I am proud to say that my constituency has given its large share of New Brunswick recruits and I hope it will continue to do so. No heed should be paid to the capitalist-controlled press which is endeavouring to cause disunion within the ranks of this government, in order to defeat them and permit the financial interests to assume power. That is their fondest hope; they have no other ambition. Their actions are not prompted by patriotism but by their ambition to control war contracts in order to make money as they did during the last war.

Our leader, the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) is asking us for a vote of confidence. We shall give it to him, shall we not? Or had we better place our confidence in Mr. Meighen and his crowd? To the same Mr. Meighen who, during the last war, drafted the conscription act, one of the darkest pages in our history? His views have certainly not changed.

I mentioned Mr. Meighen. I should not have done so, because he is dead. Whom will the Conservatives choose as his successor? Mr. Hanson is filling the post quite creditably. Why should they not keep him?

Mr. King's record shows him to be worthy of our confidence. Whom do we want? Mr. King? If so, let us support him: he will not betray us. If not, let us vote against him and support our friends of the opposition who, should they get into power, will most certainly bring in the same measure as during the war of 1914-1918-conscription.

(Text) I have been trying to show why we, supporting the government party, and every fair-minded hon. member should vote in favour of the speech from the throne. In reference to the plebiscite, let me point out that hon. members on both government and opposition sides of the house have pledged themselves against conscription for overseas service.

I am proud to announce that in my district there is one French family with seven brothers, another with six brothers, and several others with two or three who are now serving overseas. All Canadian people are anxious to see this war won because it is a war of faith, Christianity against paganism. None of us want to go back that far. We have come a long way from Christian concepts, and that is why the world is involved in such a war. We have failed to live true Christian lives. There is no more brotherly love, there is no more true Christianity, there is no more true charity. We must come back to it. There is no equality.

I have listened to western members asking for better prices for their wheat. I believe

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that their problems are the same as that facing the farmers and fishermen of the maritimes. It is not so much dollar wheat or potatoes at SI a bushel. What do they care if we have 25 cent wheat? What is important is to ensure to the farmer that no matter Where he is, after he has paid the cost of his production, he will have enough left to provide himself and family with the living he deserves. The same thing applies to the fisherman. We have heard many times that these two classes are the backbone of the country. They are in reality, but our governments have not treated them as such.

If the farmer of the west gets a dollar for his wheat, or the fisherman gets more for his fish, tihen the 'prices of the necessities they have to buy will go up, and they will remain at the same level. That is where the trouble is. The farmers throughout the length and breadth of this country are discontented, and they are not to be blamed. This is one reason why so many farmers' sons have enlisted. I would strongly suggest that a committee be appointed to study seriously these problems in their true light. Each province has its own problem. Committees should be appointed also to study the reestablishment of our soldiers and1 excess factory hands after the war. That must be done if we do not want to go back to the bread-lines and relief we had from 1930 to 1935.

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CCF

Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacINNIS:

Why stop at 1935?

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LIB

Aurel D. Léger

Liberal

Mr. LEGER:

We do not want that. If we are not to have it, we must prepare now. I can remember seeing children crying for bread when people in the west were burning their wheat. What terrible distribution! Let us plan for what is ahead of us. Let us all set our minds to winning this war. Let us all help as much as we can with the war loan, the Red Cross, the salvage campaign, and even recruiting. If we all set our minds to do our best, our war effort will be complete.

On motion of Mr. Graham the debate was adjourned.

On motion of Mr. Mackenzie (Vancouver Centre) the house adjourned at 5.58 p.m.

Monday, February 16, 1942

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February 13, 1942