But this is the bill upon which we are asked to vote. If we pass this bill we allow the government to submit a plebiscite at its will, at any time and on any matter whatsoever, and against that I protest. Let me read section 3:
3. (1) The governor in council may by proclamation order the taking of a plebiscite under the provisions of this act.
(2) The proclamation shall state fully the question to be submitted to the voters at the plebiscite in the same words and form as it will appear on the ballot papers to be used at the plebiscite.
It becomes perfectly clear that unless the members of this house, representing as we do the people of Canada, demand that the question to be asked be embodied ini the bill, we are giving to the government, not a blank cheque but the right to submit any matter they choose to the people of Canada at any time. There is nowhere any limitation on so doing. Section 5 reads:
Any person who shall have voted at a plebiscite taken under the provisions of this act during the present war shall thereafter be ineligible-
"During the present war." Why the insertion of the provision that these people shall be ineligible when they have voted at a plebiscite during the present war if only one plebiscite is to be submitted? These significant words reveal the situation exactly. The statute will continue in effect beyond the termination of this war, but the only disqualification of exemption from military service of conscientious objectors would be in connection with anyone who had voted during the period of the war. This shows the danger of legislation such as this unless it is strictly limited within the ambit of the question that the Prime Minister says will be submitted to the people of Canada.
The leader of the opposition gave the government warning on Friday last of what our attitude would be in this regard and of
Plebiscite Act-Mr. Diejenbaker
our wish to have the question included in the bill, but it has persisted in placing this bill before parliament in this form. Therefore, we feel that we have the duty to move an amendment to ensure the inclusion of the question in clear and unmistakable language.
I move, seconded by the hon. member for Waterloo South (Mr. Homuth):
That the bill be not now read a. second time but that this house is of the opinion that the use of the powers conferred thereby be restricted to the submission thereunder of one plebiscite only.
I intend now to make a few suggestions with regard to the bill. I repeat that I think the government should have told the country what it is going to do after the vote has been taken. To-day it is Janus-faced; in one part of Canada it looks one way, in another part it looks another way. The Prime Minister says that he thinks the people will give an all-out vote. I hope they do, because there would be nothing more tragic if this plebiscite were defeated. We on this side of the house have asked the Prime Minister to tell the people of Canada just how serious he regards the situation, but without avail and the only conclusion that can be taken from the speech of the Prime Minister is that conditions are not serious, for he has stated clearly that he would not think of asking for more man-power under the selective system as conditions are at this time.
I should like to see a one hundred per cent vote on this matter. I do not believe in a compulsory system of getting out votes, but I do ask the Prime Minister and the government to shake themselves out of the lethargy they are in and tell the people of the gravity of the empire's position and of the imperative need of action. Many people are going to fail to vote because they believe that this is a vote of confidence in the government. The Prime Minister has said that he would not interpret a favourable vote as a vote of confidence. I do not care how it is interpreted. Time is running against us and he should act. "Wait and see" is apparently to be the policy of this government, even to-day as we listened to the casualties in Hong Kong.
I repeat that the people have a right to know at this time what the government intends to do. I am not one to advocate a sit-down strike as far as voting on this matter is concerned for such action would be reprehensible. The government asks us over here to be Willkies, but I ask the Prime Minister to be a Roosevelt from now on, and to refer to the war effort of this nation not as the governments' war effort but as the war effort of Canada.