June 16, 1942

LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport; Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Do you want to make a speech?

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT OF SERVICE OVERSEAS
Permalink
NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

No, but be fair.

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT OF SERVICE OVERSEAS
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT OF SERVICE OVERSEAS
Permalink
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport; Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

My own view is that natural selection is by no means the worst selection. We may say that the compulsory system is more scientific than the voluntary system. That, of course, is a matter for argument. I find it difficult to believe that arbitrary tribunals can be set up with sufficient wisdom to sort out this man for the army, that man for the navy, this man for industry and that man for agriculture. It seems to me that the natural selection is the best selection. The man who wishes to go into the army is likely to be the best man for the army. The man who chooses the navy is likely to be the best man for the navy, and so with the air force and with industry. I believe the man who chooses industry is likely to make a better mechanic than the man whose desire it is to take a more active part on the battle front. Therefore I say we should not discard the voluntary system simply because we know of another that may or may not be a better system. There must be other reasons, and later there may be other reasons, but those reasons have not appeared up to this time.

At this moment the need for munitions is at least as great as the need for armies. We are sending vast quantities of munitions, tanks, Bren gun carriers, artillery, guns and ammunition to Russia. We are also sending aluminum and other war materials. Surely it requires no argument on my part to show that the things we are sending would be more valuable than a large army of men sent to that particular battle front. We are sending guns, ammunition, artillery and other munitions to China. Surely the 600,000,000 people of China need those arms worse than they need our men. We are also sending, tanks and motor transport to Libya in huge quantities. In a battle of the desert everything depends on mechanical transport, in adequate quantities. Surely we have a part in the battle of Libya that is not unworthy of this country. As I have said before in this house, Canadian munitions have been used in every battle of the great war since Dunkirk, even

Mobilization Act-Mr. Howe

to the battle of the Philippines, the battles of the far east, the battle of Libya, the battles of Greece and Crete and the battle of Russia; and they have been available for the defence of Canada and the defence of Britain.

Surely in considering the man-power needs of Canada, as we are doing under the National Resources Mobilization Act, we must take some account of the importance of other activities as well as the needs of our armies overseas. It is the same in the other services. The pilots trained under our air training plan are fighting on every battle front in the world. We all know that conscription for overseas service would be quite useless in regard to our air force, and so it is in connection with the navy. Men with naval training are fighting in ships on all the seven seas, and Canadian-built ships are carrying a large share of the burden of convoy work which is so important to the movement of Canadian and United States munitions to the battle fronts of the world. Yet with some the symbol of total war effort is immediate conscription for the army overseas.

In deciding our man-power policy we must consider whether we can contribute more to victory by continuing to be a principal source of munitions and supplies for the united nations, or whether we can make our greatest contribution by limiting our production in order to send overseas every physically fit man. In arriving at this decision let us ask ourselves the following questions. Having regard to the capacity for war production created and to be created in Canada, would we contribute more to ultimate victory by reducing that production in order to make all men available for service overseas? Would not the additional army so raised by Canada be relatively small in comparison with the vast armies now engaged in the war; and would that not be a relatively smaller contribution to victory, as compared with the potential production which would be. lost?

I think there is only one answer to these questions, in the light of military requirements as we see them now. Of course military and strategic requirements will change, and that is why the government must be freed from the limitations now placed upon the exercise of its powers. Nor am I contending that we should or can stop increasing our armed services. I favour and have always favoured the enlistment of every physically fit man, to the greatest extent consistent with a maximum war effort. I have warned our war contractors to be prepared to lose a large proportion of their men eligible for military service. I have

encouraged the training and employment of women and older workers. That policy I will continue to pursue. However, we are approaching a point where we may have to decide the questions which I have raised; and if our decision is that Canada must continue to be a principal source of supply for our armed services and those of our allies, then I say to you that we must continue our balanced policy on man-power, unless and until the urgent requirements of the war situation compel us to change it.

This government has a system of national selective service which has already been introduced, and which is now being organized and put into operation. Further, the limitations which may now restrict the exercise of the powers of the government for the defence of Canada, or for the efficient prosecution of the war, must be removed. At the same time we must cease confusing the issues by magnifying one aspect of a man-power policy as compared with other all-important aspects.

I base my views on the fact that the supply of man-power for the armed services and for war production is' not unlimited. We have already run into many shortages. Let me cite some figures compiled by the economics branch of my department. I wish to emphasize that these figures are prepared in my department and that, while I believe them to be fairly accurate, they cannot be taken as official government figures.

We estimate that some 800.000 persons, of whom about one-sixth are women, are now directly or indirectly engaged in war production. The figure used in this house up to now has been 600,000, which I may say was the figure arrived at based on the programme of last summer. Of course our production programme is constantly expanding, and the fact of the matter is that we now have about

800,000 persons engaged in war industry. This figure covers the actual manufacturing of war munitions and supplies, the construction of facilities for such production, the construction of national defence projects, and the persons employed in providing essential materials and supplies required in such production. We estimate that by the end of this year we shall require about 85,000 additional workers for production, and that at the peak of our programme as at present known, which will probably be reached early in 1943, there will be employed some 910,000 persons in war production, both direct and indirect.

The rate of increase in war employment has been estimated at about 28,000 per month since the beginning of this year. We estimate that the percentage of women now engaged in war employment is in excess of 20 per cent. All efforts are being made to increase this

Mobilization Act-Mr. Howe

percentage still further. The utilization of women in war industry ranges widely, of course, in different urban industrial centres, and varies with the character of the industries located there. In one centre 52 per cent of the total war manufacturing employment consists of women. In another the figure is 43 per cent. In another it is almost 41 per cent. In two centres it is 35 per cent, and in ten others the figure is between 20 per cent and 30 per cent. There are now some

120.000 women employed in war manufacturing plants, and that figure is rising daily.

I .could give the house many' more figures to show the magnitude and significance of our war employment. For example, whereas the aircraft industry prior to the outbreak o.f the war employed a very small number of men, there are now engaged in our aircraft production programme approximately 50,000 persons, exclusive of many workers indirectly engaged in this programme. Our merchant and naval shipbuilding programme directly and indirectly employs some 60,000 persons. Our chemicals and explosives programme employs over 45,000 persons. Our programme for the production of tanks and mechanical transport employs approximately 67,000 persons, directly and indirectly. One government company alone supervises plants which employ more than 40,000 persons. One single plant which we constructed and which we are operating employs some 14,000 persons.

The figures which I have cited to the house indicate that we shall need approximately

110.000 additional persons between now and the peak of our programme as at present planned, which will raise our estimated war employment to some 910,000 persons. In addition, the man-power pool in Canada has already provided more than 500,000 men for the armed services, and this figure, under present plans, will be increased by approximately 100,000 men before the end of the fiscal year. War production and the armed services have, therefore, absorbed an estimated 1,300,000, and will require more than 200,000 additional persons between now and the first part of 1943.

In considering the demands on our pool of man-power and woman-power, however, there are two other principal factors. There is agriculture, which, to a very large degree, must be recognized as an essential war industry. The government has, in consequence, through the agricultural stabilization regulations, frozen agricultural employment. It has been estimated that there nre approximately 1,350,000 persons employed in agriculture, exclusive of housewives.

There are also the minimum requirements of essential civilian industries and services,

which must be maintained in war and in peace. In addition to the proportion of employment in public utilities, transportation, coal mining, and metal mining, already included as directly ancillary to war employment in the figure of

800.000 which I have given to the house, it may be estimated that there are approximately

300.000 more persons employed in these essential industries. The figure for transportation includes highway construction, and maintenance and repair of railroad right-of-way and rolling stock.

It has been estimated that there are over

3.100.000 persons engaged in non-agricultura! employment in Canada. If from this figure we deduct the estimate of 800,000 engaged in direct and indirect war employment, and

300.000 engaged in essential utilities and mining, other than directly ancillary to the war, there remain 2,000,000 persons in other civilian production and services. A large proportion of these 2,000,000 persons are essential to the maintenance of the civilian economy, since they include those employed in the production of clothing and food products and other essentials. It is from this source also that war industries and armed services must draw their additional requirements of man-power, since it includes, for example, the very large employment in wholesale and retail trade, which rose some 35,000 between April 1939, and April 1942, as well as other civilian trades and industries, which have experienced a large increase in employment since the outbreak of the war.

It follows that if we add to the number of persons already absorbed in war industry and in the armed services, 1,300,000; the number ' of persons in agriculture, 1,350,000; others in essential utilities and mining, 300,000; and the number employed in civilian industries and services, 2,000,000, we have roughly 5,000,000 people in the armed services, in war industries, in agriculture and civilian industries and services. I need not tell lion, members that this is a very tight manpower situation for a country with a total population of less than 12,000,000 persons.

Of the 2,000,000 persons in civilian industries and services, it may be roughly estimated that, by rigid curtailment, some 500,000 persons can be diverted to war work and the services. It is from this number, and from the net annual increase in the available working population, estimated at about 100,000 persons, that the 200,000 I have stated as being required by the services and war industries, on the basis of present programmes, must be drawn. I do not hesitate to say that, without the National Resources Mobilization Act, such a withdrawal would be extremely difficult.

Mobilization Act-Mr. Howe

There is a small pool of man-power which can be drawn upon to some extent, consisting of married women, retired persons, and persons not working and living at home. The situation may be further relieved by postponing the age of retirement in industry. Many of this class of persons are available only for part-time work. In England this last pool of man-power is now being mobilized, and it is possible that we, in Canada, can expect some help from this source.

I am not suggesting to the house that we have exhausted our supply of man-power and woman-power. I am confident that if we continue to pursue a balanced policy as between the requirements of the armed services and the requirements of war industries, we shall be able to expand reasonably in both directions. Conversion from non-essential employment to war work is sometimes almost automatic, as plants engaged in production for civilian needs are converted to war production, and with this conversion their employees become classed as war workers.

In so far as there remain industries engaged primarily in non-essential production, we shall have no hesitation in converting them to the extent that is necessary, or in closing them down, and thereby making their employees available for war requirements. This is now being done, and will be done in accordance with the principles of compulsory national selective service which we have adopted.

But, as I have already pointed out our man-power pool is not unlimited. We have encountered many shortages as the gap between supply and demand has become narrower. With the additional demands, which are continuous, the gap is constantly narrowing further. It follows therefore that if we are to continue our vast programme of war production and at the same time meet the requirements of the armed services, it is essential that we maintain a sane balance, and that we do not adopt, on emotional rather than on logical grounds, any policy which will unnecessarily upset that balance, and hinder one or other of the all-important phases of our war effort. However, the fact remains that in time of war no policy can remain fixed indefinitely. Circumstances beyond our control may compel changes, and it therefore becomes imperative that the government be freed from limitations which might prevent the exercise of its powers, in order to meet changing conditions.

One reason that has been given for the necessity for an immediate change from the voluntary to the conscriptive system, is the fact that we are receiving unfavourable publicity in the United States and other 44561-214

countries. The opinion of Canada's war effort in informed quarters in the United States, and I think also in other countries, is far from unfavourable. This is being brought home to this country from day to day, as our production figures are made known, and as the fruits of our air training plan and other military activities become more obvious. It is being realized that we are making a magnificent effort. If there has been unfavourable publicity in other countries, and I am quite aware that there has, I think it is a reflection of what has been said in this House of Commons. The opposition have followed a consistent course of belittling the efforts of the government in its many war activities. The same is true of a large section of the press of this country. How many times do we read the editorial pages of our own newspapers without finding something critical of one or other of the branches of our war activities? These are the statements that are reflected in the press of other countries, particularly in the isolationist press. I find a familiar note in almost every article that is unfavourable to Canada and its war effort. I think it is unfortunate that it should be so, but, in looking about for a cause, we should try to find a reasonable cause rather than attempt to place the whole burden on the issue of conscription.

To illustrate what I have said, I have never seen unfavourable criticism of the war effort of Australia. Australia has made a splendid effort, and that effort has been made under a voluntary system. I have never met an Australian who was not prepared to say that his country is making the most magnificent effort of any country on the face of the earth. It is the attitude of Australians themselves and of the Australian press that has brought about this favourable publicity for Australia.

In this country conscription is really a political issue rather than an issue arising out of the needs of the war situation. It was first introduced on the scene in the by-election of York South. It was then stated to be a matter of immediate necessity. The candidate who introduced the issue went down to a defeat which was not only overwhelming but which must have been humiliating to him. Since that occasion conscription has persisted as a political issue, and it was to settle this political issue that the plebiscite was taken. The people were asked to decide the following question:

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?

The answer was overwhelmingly yes. One of the past commitments undoubtedly was

Mobilization Act-Mr. Howe

section 3 of the National Resources Mobilization Act, and by the expressed will of the people this section must be repealed. In the face of that plebiscite result no member of this house should have any difficulty in deciding his position on the question at issue, that is, Bill No. 80.

I listened to the eloquent appeal which was made to this house by my old friend and former colleague, the hon. member for Richeiieu-Vercheres (Mr. Cardin). Much as I was swept away by his eloquence, I could not find myself agreeing that his appeal was logical. The hon. member took part in the by-election against the advice of his physician, and he advocated a yes vote in the plebiscite. Surely in doing that he believed that it was necessary for the government to have a free hand to decide that issue. Having made that appeal, it seems to me that he, like other members of the house, was bound to accept the verdict of the people of Canada as a whole.

The hon. member has objected because conscription may be brought in secretly by order in council, without any debate on the regulations. I would remind the house that the National Resources Mobilization Act is now in effect and that men are being called up from time to time under regulations with which all hon. members are familiar.

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT OF SERVICE OVERSEAS
Permalink
LIB

Georges Parent (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I am sorry to interrupt the minister, but his time has expired.

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT OF SERVICE OVERSEAS
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Go on.

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT OF SERVICE OVERSEAS
Permalink
LIB

Georges Parent (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I do not like to oppose the will of the house, but I must point out that yesterday I had to interrupt another minister whose time had expired. There must be unanimous consent before an hon. member may continue beyond the time limit. If there is any objection, he cannot go on.

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT OF SERVICE OVERSEAS
Permalink
?

Mr. COLD WELL@

I am quite interested in what the minister is saying and I should like to have him proceed, but I think if the rule is to be enforced, it should be enforced impartially.

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT OF SERVICE OVERSEAS
Permalink
LIB

Maurice Lalonde

Liberal

Mr. MAURICE LALONDE (Labelle):

Mr. Speaker, my first word is one of congratulation to the hon. gentleman who has just taken his seat (Mr. Howe). The speech he has just delivered is to my point of view the most striking evidence ever offered to this house that Canada is able to make a total war effort voluntarily, without any conscription.

I do not think it is necessary at this time that I should make a lengthy speech in order to state why I am opposed to Bill No. 80. I submit that the results of the last federal election and of by-elections in Quebec and in Ontario must be construed as an order to the

federal government not to impose conscription for overseas service unless clear evidence is given to the people of Canada that this conscription is absolutely necessary. In substantiation of my opinion in this regard may I take the liberty of quoting a letter of the Conservative party leader at that time, Doctor Manion, when, on March 19, 1941, he scored his excolleague and said, as reported in the Montreal Gazette:

After the election I wrote to all our candidates asking them for their opinion as to why the party was defeated. From two-thirds of more than two hundred candidates I received replies, and with two exceptions their opinion was that the electors feared there was much more danger of conscription under us than under our opponents.

We are forced, Mr. Speaker, to admit that the real significance of the vote given by the Canadian people at that time was that it was against conscription for overseas service. When the plebiscite wras announced in the speech from the throne, although I approved in this house the principle of the plebiscite I reserved my freedom to give the appropriate answer on'the question asked; and although I did not campaign either in my riding or outside of it, I found out that the scales of public opinion of my people were weighted more towards a negative answer; for more than 93 per cent of the voters voted "no." So I am bound by my pledges not to vote for conscription for overseas service.

May I say also that the government feared a negative answer when it refused to accept the fair suggestion made in this house by the hon. member for Beauharnois-Laprairie (Mr. Raymond), advocating the right to vote for those prospective conscripted men between eighteen and twenty-one years of age, but graciously granted the same right in the meantime to the same classes of people who had volunteered in the armed forces of Canada. If the government had given full freedom of expression and full liberty of action to those who intended to speak over the Canadian Broadcasting network to advocate their policy of a negative answer; if the Canadian people at large had had the opportunity to listen to both sides-

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT OF SERVICE OVERSEAS
Permalink
LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. CRUICKSHANK:

I have never done this before, but I had the privilege of travelling in the train with a certain gentleman, Mr. Brockington, who recently gave a beautiful speech, and a prominent cabinet minister; they could have written for me an excellent speech, and I object to this hon. member reading every word of his speech.

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT OF SERVICE OVERSEAS
Permalink
LIB

Maurice Lalonde

Liberal

Mr. LALONDE:

I am glad that the hon. member makes the suggestion, but I do not

Mobilization Act-Mr. Lalonde

care; I can speak my mind either in French or in English. I do not need to read my

speeches.

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT OF SERVICE OVERSEAS
Permalink
LIB

Thomas Vien (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

On the point of order, it is a well-known rule of the house, and has been generally applied since the beginning of the session, that an hon. member may not read his speech. An hon. member may consult his notes, but may not read his speech.

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT OF SERVICE OVERSEAS
Permalink
LIB

Arthur Graeme Slaght

Liberal

Mr. SLAGHT:

Speaking to the point of order, I have observed the hon. gentleman closely, and I suggest that he has not been reading his speech. He has been referring to notes, which he has a perfect right to do.

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT OF SERVICE OVERSEAS
Permalink
LIB

Pierre-Joseph-Arthur Cardin

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

In view of the observations which have just been made, may I point out that this is not the first example that we have had, since the debate began, of hon. members reading speeches; in fact we can count on the fingers of one hand those who have not done so. I think it would be unfair to apply the rule in the case of this hon. member alone. If a rule is to be applied it should bind every hon. member in this house.

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT OF SERVICE OVERSEAS
Permalink
LIB

Thomas Vien (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

Does any other hon. member wish to discuss the point of order?

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT OF SERVICE OVERSEAS
Permalink
LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. CRUICKSHANK:

May I again speak on the point of order?

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT OF SERVICE OVERSEAS
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

No.

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT OF SERVICE OVERSEAS
Permalink
LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. CRUICKSHANK:

I will sit down when Mr. Speaker tells me.

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT OF SERVICE OVERSEAS
Permalink
LIB

Thomas Vien (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

The hon. gentleman has spoken on the point of order. Does any other hon. member wish to speak on the point of order? I may point out that the rule has been applied with a great deal of latitude. If an hon. member states that he is not reading, but only consulting notes, it is usual to accept his statement, although it is sometimes difficult to assume that anyone is deceived. May I urge hon. members to adhere to the rules as closely as possible.

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT OF SERVICE OVERSEAS
Permalink
LIB

Maurice Lalonde

Liberal

Mr. LALONDE:

If the Canadian people at large had had the opportunity to listen to both sides I wonder if the returns would have been so overwhelmingly in favour of the affirmative viewpoint. This plebiscite in itself was supposed to be a free consultation of the people of Canada, and it cannot be otherwise according to its essential characteristics. But through the government's influence it became restricted to a unilateral proposition. I confess, in the light of the experience of the past, it would have been preferable in my own point of view to come before the people frankly with 44561-214i

a referendum asking our constituents if they were in favour of conscription or not. We would have had at least-

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT OF SERVICE OVERSEAS
Permalink

June 16, 1942