June 16, 1942


Ralph Melville Warren


Mr. R. M. WARREN (Renfrew North):

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure whom I should blame for having me follow the brilliant and able orator we have just heard. The predecessor of the Minister of Justice (Mr. St. Laurent) had become something of an idol to the Canadian people of eveiy race and religion. If those people could have listened to-night to the words of the Minister of Justice, I am sure that he would now be enshrined in their hearts. After having listened to his address it is almost a temptation to me to take my remarks and throw them in the wastepaper basket. However, having become something of a nervous wreck from looking forward to this time, I am going to ask hon. members to bear with me for a few moments.

In a democracy the will of the majority is supposed to govern. Democratic government may have many faults, may at times appear slow and cumbersome, but many millions of people have believed and still believe that the democratic system of government is very much to be preferred to a dictatorship, where the word of one man is law.

The government of Canada asked Canadian citizens if they would be willing to relieve the government of a pledge given prior to the war, that, in the event of war, conscription for overseas service would not be put into effect. By a large majority the citizens of Canada replied in the affirmative. The Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) has now introduced a measure and asked the sanction of parliament to remove sections two and three from the National Resources Mobilization Act, which in effect 'would leave the government free to do what in their view would be in the best interests of Canada, if and when the necessity should arise. It is true that we did have representatives of the people urging the citizens of Canada to vote "no" on the plebiscite. It is also true that we have representatives of the people in this house who will use their eloquence in an effort to defeat the proposal now before the house.

Personally I am going to support the proposal. One of my reasons for being willing to support it is that I have every confidence in the patriotism, ability and good judgment of the members of Canada's government. Having sat here for endless hours looking into the faces of the ministers, marvelling at their patience and self-control, and having some knowledge of the tremendous work they are carrying on in behalf of Canada's war effort, I repeat I have no lack of confidence in any one of them. In spite of the numerous times I have listened to the hon. member for Temiscouata (Mr. Pouliot) cruelly, unfairly and adversely criticize the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston), I still believe that in that minister we have the right man in the right place in so far as Canada's part in the preservation of civilization is concerned.

I have here a short report of the war record of some of our cabinet ministers which I think ought to be taken into consideration when weighing the experience and ability of the men who are conducting Canada's war effort.

The Minister of National Defence was seriously wounded; he won the DJ3.0. and bar; he was mentioned in dispatches; and he now has a son in the army overseas.

The Minister of National Defence for Air (Mr. Power) was twice wounded during the last war; he was mentioned in dispatches;

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he has one son at Hong Kong from whom he has not heard, and another son is in the air force overseas.

The Minister of National Defence for Naval Services (Mr. Macdonald) and the Minister of National War Services (Mr. Thorson) both served overseas in the last war.

The Minister of Pensions and National Health (Mr. Mackenzie) served overseas and was mentioned in dispatches.

The Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Gibson) was seriously wounded during the last war, in 1915 and again in 1917; he won the Military Cross and the Belgian Order of Leopold, as well as the highest award of the French army.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell) served in the British navy during the last war.

The Postmaster General (Mr. Mulock) served in Siberia and other places in that four years struggle.

The Prime Minister of Canada has had a long lifetime of training, and in my view is more fit than any other Canadian to hold the position he now fills in this awful struggle to save freedom and liberty from being extinguished from the earth. He has the faculty of finding the right man for the job. The Minister of Munitions and Supply (Mr. Howe), the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) and the Minister of Justice (Mr. St. Laurent) are good examples of his wisdom and good judgment in that respect.

Facing the Prime Minister and the members of his cabinet who surround him, knowing something of their work and past record, I have no hesitation in following their lead and supporting this proposal.

Some time ago many of us must have had a disquieting feeling when we read of the pronouncement of Mahatma Gandhi that only passive resistance would be used against an army invading India. You know, Mr. Speaker, Mahatma Gandhi is the man who wears a loin-cloth, operates a spinning wheel and drinks goat's milk. India is a land of great wealth, a land of unbounded natural resources, an attractive target for a gangster. Recently, however, I was comforted to read an article in the Toronto Star Weekly of May 30, 1942, by Allan A. Miehie. I intended to read a considerable portion of this article, but I realize that I must abbreviate it. The heading of the article is:

India breeds fighting men.

While party leaders disagree, India builds an army.

It's 1,250,000 strong, growing by 50,000 a month.

For your information, Mr. Speaker, I will read one paragraph:

Generally the men and officers of the Indian army take little interest in Indian polities and relatively few are Congress party adherents. Walking near Lahore with a British officer of the Indian army one day, I came upon a venerable old village headman followed by some fifty followers armed with copper-headed sticks. The headman, who'd retired from army service at the end of the last century, had hauled out a faded red uniform and donned it. He stopped us and inquired where the Lahore Congress party meeting was taking place. The British officer expressed surprise, and said, "What are you, a loyal soldier of the King, doing attending a Congress meeting?" "Attending nothing," snorted the old Indian, "we're going to break it up."

After reading that article, my mental comment on it was, "Thank God, in spite of the man who wears a loin-cloth, operates a spin-ningwheel and drinks goat's milk, India's army is on the march."

About the time of the taking of the plebiscite I was again disquieted because there were reports of rather riotous meetings being held in the province of Quebec addressed by the hon. member for Temiscouata and by the hon. member for Laval-Two Mountains (Mr. Lacombe). But in that same issue of the Toronto Star Weekly, I read an article by Gregory Clark. I assume that most of us know this well-known Toronto writer. I think he and his artist friend, Jimmy Frise, deserve a lot of credit for maintaining the humour which they display weekly in that paper. They have the ability to make

people laugh-a rare gift and one which ought to be cherished and encouraged. We have a few, not many, in this house who do possess that gift. One of them is the hon. member for Northumberland, Ontario (Mr. Fraser), and it is not so long ago that there appeared in the Globe and Mail an editorial as a result of an incident wherein the hon. member for Northumberland made the members of this house laugh. Any attempt to kill the spirit of humour at a time like this either in this house or outside, anywhere in the country, appears to me to be little short of criminal. What would we do in this house if we had not such men as the hon. member for Northumberland or the Minister of National Defence for Air, or our hon. friend the member for Fraser Valley (Mr. Cruickshank), to give us occasions to laugh. What would the British people have done had they not preserved their splendid sense of humour? Their Prime Minister, the Right Hon. Winston Churchill has consistently set them a very fine example in that respect.

Mobilization Act-Mr. Warren

Let me quote two paragraphs from an interesting article by Gregory Clark with regard to the province of Quebec:

For the first time since General Wolfe took Quebec from behind and captured the citadel guns, that, like Singapore's, never fired a shot, Quebec is to have a regiment of artillery. And you never saw a boy more proud of his first gun than the Quebec military men are when they tell you this piece of news. Too many things are left unsaid between Ontario and Quebec. If all the people of Ontario could meet all the people of Quebec in some sort of glorious garden party, no wedding could be more gay. But one of the things left unsaid until now is that Quebec has never had an artillery regiment of its own. Quebecers by tradition are footsloggers. Oh, they have a goodly number of French Canadians in all the services, artillery, signals, engineers and the medical corps. You will find plenty of them right in Toronto in the permanent as well as the active force. But a regiment of artillery, with a French name and French-Canadian officers and French-Canadian other ranks from sergeant-major to trumpeter, is something different. It is a matter of excitement to French Canadians and I tried to find out why. . . .

Ladies and gentlemen, nobody, Grit and Tory, has been much encouraged to he military this past twenty years less two. Maybe least of all Jean Baptiste. But he is in the navy by the thousand. And though the question has been asked scores of times in parliament and never answered as to the number of him overseas, my own impression from sundry visits abroad is that there are more than 30.000 of him long since in Britain or on the high seas.

That was a rather comforting article so far as I am concerned, after I had read about the riotious meetings of protest addressed by the hon. member for Temiseouata and the hon. member for Laval-Two Mountains. My comment was, "Quebec's army is on the march." But my happiness was enhanced by a speech by the premier of Quebec, published in the Ottawa Journal of June 5, 1942:

The premier spoke at the Bishop's College

University commencement exercises after an honorary doctorate of law was conferred upon him.

"But those who know us deeply", he said, "are convinced that w'e are Canadians, united, resolute, organized, cooperative, ready for any test, any sacrifice, whether we are French or English.

"I do not make any distinction between Canadians of the two principal groups and I never made any. We are all Canadians and Canadian above all. As a Canadian of the French language, I have ahvays exhorted my fellow citizens to act and think of Canada as a whole, as a North American nation in the British commonwealth. But above all we should be true Canadians

not provincialists, regionalists or cosmopolites.

That address savours of the address given by Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg when he announced to the American people that there could be no north and south, but that they must be one people if they were to build up [Ur. Warren.]

great nation. I would suggest that we in this Canada of ours cannot be Ontario and Quebec; we cannot be east and west, if we are to become a nation worthy of the name. We must work together cooperatively as one people. It is true that the majority of the citizens of Quebec voted "no" on the plebiscite; it is also true that three polls in my riding of Renfrew North voted almost unanimously "no" on the plebiscite. But that does not mean that those who voted no will fail to respond to any necessary call that this government deems necessary to make upon them. I believe they would be ready at any time to respond to whatever call might be found necessary, because they are no more anxious to be governed by Japs or by nazis than anyone else who voted "yes" on the plebiscite.

That brings me to another point. The leader of the opposition (Mr. Hanson) in his address brought up the question again of union government, with the thought, I suppose, that it would tend to improve Canada's war effort if our cabinet were composed of some members of his group, some members of the Cooperative Conmmonwealth Federation group and some members of the New Democracy. I would ask the leader of the opposition this question: Since the beginning of the war, in the building up of our great army, where and how and when has Canada's war effort failed? As we look out, can we not all agree that Canada's great army from coast to coast has been and is steadily on the march? We have had all the recruits we could handle for the army, for the air force and for the navy; and if any member of this house would like to view some of the activities of Canada's war effort, I invite him to take a trip to Petawawa military camp in my riding, which I think I am safe in saying is perhaps the greatest artillery training camp in the world. On his way, travelling on highway No. 17, let him stop at Haley Station and go east a couple of miles and take a look at the magnesium plant that we have heard about in this house-a marvellous development. These are just samples of what is going on all across this great country.

What we might call a union government *within this chamber might be a very weak government. The important point as I see it in this connection is that we have a united people working for one purpose all across this land. Our people have responded with magnificent energy. You find them, young and old, men and women, with their coats off, toiling and sweating in our laboratories, in our offices, in our factories, in our munition plants;

Mobilization Act-Mr. LaCroix

you find them in every hamlet, in every town, on the farms, and you find on every battle-front the output manufactured by willing hands in thousands of plants. Our airmen ride the skies wherever the enemy can be found; our ships, manned by Canadian sailors, sail the seven seas; and our armies, to use the words of General McNaughton, are as a spearhead pointed at the heart of Berlin, perhaps the most highly trained army in the world, ready and waiting and eager for the privilege to go.

So, while union government may have its points, what can equal the spontaneous, united effort by all. the people of very class without regard to politics, religion or race, a free people fighting for their own freedom?

If I may be permitted at this point I should like to put on record some figures just as an indication of what this great army of ours across this country has been accomplishing.

During the month of February, Canada sent to Russia $4,000,000 worth of arms. We sent $6,730,000 worth to India, $4,900,000 worth to Australia, S17,000,000 worth to Egypt,

$3,297,000 worth to Iraq, $59,000,000 worth of arms and goods to the United Kingdom. Mark you, sir, this was for the month of February alone. This great work is increasing; this machine is growing in might and efficiency as the days go by.

I say again that I am going to vote for this measure, first, because I believe in democracy, and the majority of our citizens have already spoken; second, because I have confidence in Canada's cabinet. This confidence has been inspired partly because of the vast war machine created and operating across the country, and partly because of the spirit of unity which has been preserved so that our people from the Atlantic to the Pacific are working together with one purpose. I am persuaded that I can trust the wisdom and good judgment of this body of Canada's cabinet to do what is best, if and when the necessity arises.

Mr. WILFRED LaCROIX (Quebee-Mont-morency): (Translation) Mr. Speaker, I

listened attentively to the speech in which the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) stated that the deletion of section 3 did not mean conscription, and that such conscription was not necessary. Now this section 3 is the sole guarantee we obtained at the time of the passing of the mobilization act, a guarantee given at the request of Quebec's representatives, against the compulsory drafting for overseas service of selectees already training under the provisions of the mobilization act. Again this afternoon I heard the Minister of Muni-44561-215i

tions and Supply (Mr. Howe) declare that conscription is not necessary. A short while ago, I heard the Minister of Justice (Mr. St. Laurent) repeat once more, in the course of a magnificent speech for which he is to be congratulated, that such a measure is not necessary. The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) has said the same thing.

Why then, Mr. Speaker, if conscription is not necessary, are we asked to pass a bill establishing the principle of compulsory service? Analysing the arguments set forth in this house since the outset of the present debate, analysing each speech, one observes that the conclusion drawn is always the same. Conscription is not necessary. Why then ask. us to adopt a legislative measure which establishes the principle of conscription by doing away with the sole statutory guarantee we possess at the moment? No, Mr. Speaker, I think all this is part of a manoeuvre designed to split the opposition vote at the end of the debate, to divide among themselves Quebec's representatives by convincing the members of th'at province that conscription will not be enforced and that the government will respect its pledges, even though the very principle of the measure clearly indicates that the province of Quebec is to be deceived once again.

For twenty-five years, Mr. Speaker, during its political campaigns in the province of Quebec, the Liberal party led by the Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King has denounced Canada's participation in foreign wars as well as conscription for overseas service.

At each election, they w'ould state that if returned to power, they would keep their pledges whenever the opportunity arose. The Liberal party, through its leader, then asserted that our participation in any war logically led to conscription, and that this country did not possess enough resources from the standpoint of man-power or finance, to participate in another war.

Like many others, I believed in those pledges and I was even one of the delegates who, at the Liberal convention of 1919, played an enthusiastic, if modest part in the selection of the Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King as leader of our party. .

Nothwithstanding my high regard for the Prime Minister and for his opinions, I may say, Mr. Speaker, that since 1939 I have witnessed with regret the discarding of the platform which had then been adopted and which had brought about the selection as leader of the party of the man who is now at the helm in this country. I observe with dread and sadness the discarding of that splendid platform which I have upheld for twenty-five years and which we were wont, in

Mobilization Act-Mr. LaCroix

every electoral contest, to set off against the out-and-out anti-Canadian imperialism of the Conservative party, whose political principles I abhor. Pledges have been broken at a startling rate since 1939.

We witnessed the first of these violations on the 9th of September, 1939.

As a matter of fact on that very day, prior to the declaration of war by our parliament, the Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada, made the following declaration, which may be found on page 51 of Hansard. I quote:

I should like to make clear to the house the procedure which the government have in mind as to giving effect to the decision of parliament regarding Canadian participation in the war.

The adoption of the address in reply to the ^speech from the throne will be considered as .approving not only the speech from the throne tbut approving the government's policy which I :set out yesterday of immediate participation in the war.

If the address in reply to the speech from the throne is approved the government will therefore immediately take steps for the issue of a formal proclamation declaring the existence of a state of war between Canada and the German Reich.

On that same day, the 9th of September, 1939, the Right Hon. Ernest Lapointe, speaking on behalf of the government of the day, which is still in power, made the following declaration, as reported on pages 68 and 69 of Hansard:

The whole province of Quebec-and I speak with all the responsibility and all 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-the veteran leader of the senate, my good friend and colleague, the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Cardin), my friend and fellow townsman and colleague, the Minister of Pensions and National Health (Mr. Power) - to say that we will never agree to conscription and will never be members or supporters of a government that will try to enforce it. Is that clear enough?

I ask you, Mr. Speaker, is it not worth while to the Canadian nation when the nation is at war, to preserve unity on the side on which Canada will be-this unity which is represented by the province of Quebec in the government- behind the measures being taken to help our mother country and France?

May I add that if my hon. friends and myself from Quebec were forced to leave the government I question whether anyone would be able to take our place. If my hon. friends in the far corner of the house opposite: if the Ottawa Citizen, which just now' is waging a campaign for conscription, think they are serving Canada by splitting it at the very outset of the war, then I say they are gravely and seriously wrong.

Provided these points are understood, we are willing to offer our services without limita-

IMr. LaCroix.l

tion and to devote our best efforts for the success of the cause wre 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.

Thus did the late Right Hon. Ernest Lapointe explain the arrangement arrived at between the French-speaking and English-speaking ministers, in an attempt to safeguard the minority's rights against encroachment by the majority; this explanation given by Mr. Lapointe was confirmed as follows by the Right Hon. Prime Minister of Canada, on January 6, 1942:

Every hon. member of this house knows that, except for the assurance that, in the event of a European war, there would be no conscription for service overseas, this parliament would never have decided, in the immediate and unanimous manner in which it did, to stand at the side of Britain in the resistance of aggression. and the defence of freedom.

Hon. members are also aware that if, at the time when Canada's participation in the war w'as challenged in an election in the province of Quebec by a government professing a different political faith, a like assurance with respect to service overseas had not been given in the name of the present government by the late Right Hon. Ernest Lapointe, by the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Cardin), and other Liberal leaders and members of this House of Commons from the province of Quebec, the verdict of the people of that province might have been wholly different.

Due to this arrangement it was possible to gain the almost unanimous support of the French-speaking members at the time of the declaration of war. At that moment I did not have much faith in such an arrangement, because I knew perfectly well that once war is declared, everything is possible, even conscription.

I was well aware that once we were at war, it would be wiser to attack the enemy in his own country than to allow him to attack our own territory, thus maintaining intact our sources and lines of supply. I also knew that even if our army were recruited on a voluntary basis, its strength in the field would have to be maintained should it decide to attack the enemy on the European continent; consequently the declaration of war was bound to be followed by conscription for overseas service.

I would have preferred it if my country, with her small population of 11 million men, less than the combined population of the cities of New York and London, and with her territory as large as Europe, had not declared war but had used her small man-power to set herself up as the arsenal and granary of the British empire.

That is why I voted against the address in reply to the speech from the throne on

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September 9, 1939, notwithstanding the appeal made by the Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King, whose words I quoted a few moments ago. I then supported the following amendment, as shown in Votes and Proceedings of the House of Commons of Canada, on Saturday, September 9, 1939. That amendment, which was negatived, was drafted as follows:

That the following words be added to the address:

That this house regrets that the government did not deem it fitting to advise His Excellency the Governor General that Canada should refrain from participating in war outside of Canada.

The second violation of these pledges took place on June 18, 1940.

In fact, on that date, when the mobilization bill, which to my mind wps a conscription bill in disguise, was under debate in the house, the late Right Hon. Ernest Lapointe, speaking on behalf of the government, made the following statement which I find on page 877 of Hansard:

Mr. Chairman, I feel perfectly at ease to explain my attitude on this question. Somebody speaks of the pledges given. I invite all my friends to read the observations I made in this house when war was declared; I invite them to read my speech of the preceding session on the subject of Canada's neutrality. I then said to my fellow countrymen that the province, one of whose representatives I have the honour to be, was opposed to compulsory service overseas, and that we would fight it. . . .

And as if to outdo that statement, at the same sitting of June 18, 1940, the Hon. P. J. A. Cardin made the following observations, set forth on page 896 of Hansard:

Mr. Speaker, some hon. members say that they cannot come to a decision without consulting their electors of the province of Quebec. There is no need of consulting the province of Quebec. The electors of Quebec were consulted twice in the space of a few months and they rendered an unanswerable verdict. Quebec said what she thought; she expressed her approval in a most striking manner of the policy of Canadian participation in the war. When she declared herself opposed to enforced registration and to conscription, she was thinking of conscription for overseas service.

Having always kept in my mind that when we declare war everything can happen, even conscription for overseas service, I did not believe these last statements nor those made by members of the cabinet. I was satisfied at the time that we were taking a further step toward conscription for overseas service, which the Liberal party had condemned so vigorously during twenty-five years in the province of Quebec. Therefore, in compliance with the mandate my electors had renewed in March,

1940, I supported the following motion which, according to Hansard, page 924, was couched in the following terms:

That all the words after "whereas" in the preamble of the bill be deleted and the following substituted therefor: "the government's war policy must be free and voluntary".

And the vote having been taken at the request of the Right Hon. Mr. Mackenzie King, I voted against the mobilization act of 1940, because I was then satisfied, as the facts prove to-day, that the government was leading us inevitably to conscription for overseas service, in spite of the statement made the following day, June 20, 1940, by the Right Hon. Mr. Mackenzie King,-see page 966 of Hansard:

Those who were anti-conscriptionists were against conscription for service overseas, and as long as this government is in office we are going to maintain that position and see that effect is given to it. That is just one of the reasons why, in carrying out the will and the wishes of the people, we do not propose to take into this government any of those whose object in coming into the ministry would be to see that conscription overseas was again made one of the issues in this country.

Well, Mt. Speaker, you have only to examine every one of the ministers occupying the treasury benches on your right to see that they form a living synthesis of formal denial of the words I have just quoted. Have we not even a minister who has declared during the plebiscite campaign that "if, following the plebiscite, conscription for overseas service were not immediately passed, he would without the least delay, join a coalition cabinet whose platform would call for the immediate enforcement of conscription for overseas service."

What a long road has been travelled since then and how many disguised untruths have been told the good people of Quebec in order to persuade them to vote "yes".

The third violation of these pledges took place on January 22, 1942, when the government requested the Canadian people in the speech from the throne, to release them from their commitments of March, 1940, to the effect that conscription for overseas service would not be resorted to.

I do not know what mind concocted the idea of the plebiscite, but allow me, Mr. Speaker, to state that I had never heard of such a stupid measure, evidently aimed at putting the minority group of this country at the complete mercy of the majority. The compromise entered into at the inception of war, in order to obtain the approval of Quebec for the war declaration, was trodden under foot. The confederation pact being nothing but a series of compromise, who

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can assure us that, to-morrow, a plebiscite may hot be held to decide whether we are still to enjoy the right of speaking French in this house? Indeed, having started on the road to repudiation of commitments and pledges duly made as between the minority and majority groups in this country, there is no reason why we should not march on in the same road.

The hon. members of the government said and repeated everywhere, before the plebiscite, that if they were released from their pledges by the people, conscription for overseas service would not necessarily follow. But the government, a few weeks after the plebiscite, hasten to break their fourth promise in resorting definitely to conscription for overseas service by striking article 3 out of the mobilization act, the only clause compelling the government to obtain the written consent of a selectee before drafting him for service anywhere.

That is the last step I had anticipated when war was declared. Those who have deceived us up to now show themselves under their true colours in establishing conscription for overseas service by deleting article 3 from the act, the sole guarantee of our small population, especially that of Quebec, where families are larger than in any other province. Families of four and five children between the ages of 19 and 25 are not uncommon in Quebec whereas, in the other provinces, the average is one child per family.

And all this for what result? To obliterate the sanest element in the country, the element most deeply attached to the soil. To send our sons to all theatres of war, in order- to replace them after the war with immigrants who will keep alive the traditions of those, already too many in Canada, who are solely attached to Europe and who do not -understand the meaning of love for our country, Canada, our only homeland.

This immigration which I anticipate for the post-war period will throw wide open the doors to our participation in another European war, recurring fatally every 20 or 35 years, because those immigrants who replace our young Canadians will never accept the principle of Canada first and always.

I wish to protest forcibly and declare that I shall vote against the repeal of section 3 of the mobilization act, for if ever there was a time when we should keep our men in this country, employ them to the building of corvettes for the, defence of our shores, and to supply our army with food and munitions, it is indeed to-day when we are exposed to enemy attack. That Canadian army is three times the size of that of the American or

English army, in proportion to population and other considerations, if we take into account the fact that our war and agricultural industries already are suffering seriously from the diversion towards the army of the best human resources of the nation. Did not the Minister of Munitions and Supply declare recently that our war industries were 4,000 men short at the moment?

Why were we attacked recently in the gulf of St. Lawrence if not because all the corvettes we have built are now being used for convoy duty on the Atlantic when we need them here for the protection of our shores. Corvettes, more corvettes; coastal defences, more coastal defences; that is the slogan the Canadian government should adopt definitely if they understand the problem that the defence of Canada represents.

British troops are not yet in action on the continent and Canada's contribution so far is relatively greater than that of England herself. Let us therefore put a stop to that dangerous tendency of almost totally neglecting our own defences in order to sacrifice everything to Great Britain. If the axis powers should succeed in their effort to crush that first line of defence, and God forbid that they should, we would not have enough men left to beat off their attack, and the very serious problem which is now confronting Australia would then become ours to solve.

If this house should delete section 3 from the mobilization act, it will mean the elimination of the last obstacle to Canada's being bled white, even before we give a thought to our own defence. The Prime Minister may claim is is not intended to enforce conscription for overseas service, but what does compulsory military service without any limitation mean if not conscription for service anywhere? Under the bill before this house the young men who are mobilized will not be told to go immediately to such and such destination, but that they are mobilized and can be sent anywhere, at any time, for the efficient prosecution of the war. All is arranged beforehand except for the date of departure and the final destination.

Yet, the right hon. the Prime Minister, during the plebiscite campaign, stated that conscription was not contemplated. Once again the solemn pledges made to the province of Quebec have been put aside, and once more has the minority group been thrown on the mercy of the majority, through the secret machinations of those who, since September, 1939, were manoeuvring our country, despite the example of northern Ireland whose terri-

Mobilization Act-Mr. Leclerc

tory is much closer to the theatre of war, into a declaration of war and thus were supplying that section of the country most unfriendly to our province and our race, the opportunity of drawing unceasingly on the wonderful pool of men that the flourishing people of Quebec had succeeded in forming in the very interests of the Canadian nation, without any help from French immigration but through a miracle proceeding from the best and most generous traditions of which a nation may be proud, that of births.

Mr. Speaker, we are deeply undermining our splendid traditions, and racing toward defeat on the home front, for on the very admission of Mr. James Mess, civilian director of recruiting, communists are systematically seeking to creep into every Canadian unit and, through some unaccountable tolerance on the part of authorities, their task of breaking down and poisoning public opinion is allowed to go on, not only in our army but among our working population.

Mr. Mess's denunciation at Saskatoon has been confirmed even in Montreal. High officials have recognized the infiltration of communists into the Canadian army. They have even added that bolshevist agents have gone over to England with Canadian contingents.

Guilty mostly of excessive tolerance, the authorities dare not intervene because Russia is our ally. Yet they will be responsible for the difficulties which we will necessarily experience in solving the many problems that will inevitably follow the war, for we must not forget that communism is and remains an atheistic doctrine, subverting social order, persecuting all religion, destroying family ties and private ownership, all precious liberties we are fighting to preserve.

To be sure, I admire Russia's resistance to the invasion of its territory and, since we are at war and must win the war, it is good policy to help her achieve victory, for in doing so we are helping ourselves. Even if I opposed Canada's entry into the war and failed to share the government's views in this respect, I feel that we must win this war for our own good. But, please, Mr. Speaker, let us not allow bolshevist agents to dynamite the foundations of our country, for this dynamite might cause us bitterly to realize, on the morrow of victory, that we have lost the peace.

Mr. JOSEPH H. LECLERC (Shefford): (Translation) Mr. Speaker, I first desire to congratulate very sincerely the hon. member for Richelieu-Vercheres (Mr. Cardin) for his splendid speech of June 11 last. Since the inauguration of this debate, his was the most eloquent speech, I believe. My congratulations are also due to the Minister of Agriculture

(Mr. Gardiner) for his magnificent statement of yesterday, and to the hon. Minister of Munitions and Supply (Mr. Howe) for his masterly speech of this afternoon, which has been the greatest utterance against conscription since the inception of the present debate.

On February 17 last, I stated that although I did not approve the stand taken by some of our friends who intended to vote against the address in reply to the speech from the throne, I was nevertheless opposed to conscription for overseas service. At that date, we had not yet discussed the plebiscite bill and, as a Liberal, I had promised my frends to support the King government so long as they would not present a bill to amend the mobilization act. Since then, on April 27, a plebiscite has been held to request the electors to release the government from their past commitments. I did not vote for the plebiscite as I considered it inopportune and I went only as far as advising my fellow-citizens to vote freely according to their own views on the subject. I also refused to join the League for the Defence of Canada, partly recruited among Conservatives and' men who, in 1940, promoted the election of Tory candidates who would have implemented conscription long before now without plebiscite and without considering the views of our population. It was evident that these meetings of the League for the Defence of Canada, whose speeches were highly publicized in the other provinces by newspapers unfriendly to us, were such as further to divide our country, for I believe that all the "no's" registered in the province of Quebec have had an adverse reaction in the other provinces and have created a grudge the consequences of which cannot now be foreseen.

Harmony between people of different racial stocks is not a very hardy plant in this country and a mere conflict of opinion may sabotage the union that is so essential between the races of our country which, although sparsely populated has nevertheless achieved a wonderful war effort.

Mr. Speaker, the day before the plebiscite the Prime Minister told the Canadian people that he did not consider the plebiscite as a vote of confidence in his government, and it was moreover said to us that it did not mean conscription. Much to the surprise of all, no sooner had the votes been counted than the government introduced a bill to amend the mobilization act, so that they might be empowered to enforce conscription for overseas service whenever they found it convenient.

Mr. Speaker, I must say that if the majority of the people in this country have, through

Mobilization Act-Mr. Leclerc

the plebiscite, released the Prime Minister from his commitments, that does not hold true in the case of the province of Quebec, where an overwhelming majority of voters have refused to release the government from their past commitments and from the pledges we had repeatedly given them ourselves for twenty-five years, especially at the 1940 election and this, with the endorsement of the government. Consequently, much to my regret, I shall have to break with my party's . government on that amendment.

My present attitude is but the result of promises made to the voters of my constituency and if there is one thing I wish above all, it is that no one should ever be in a position to charge me with breaking my pledges.

I believe, however, that the Prime Minister will appreciate the situation and realize more readily than anyone that we are the servants of our fellow-citizens and that we cannot break the solemn assurances given them. I ask the Prime Minister and my fellow citizens of the other provinces if they would adopt a different attitude than the one I am now assuming, if the rest of the country had voted "No" on the conscription issue.

I ask them, further, if they would feel justified in disregarding that expression of opinion and in enacting conscription. I urge them to remember what my province has consistently done in behalf of national unity. At the time of the last provincial election, the late Right Hon. Mr. Lapointe, then Minister of Justice, as well as the Hon. Mr. Cardin staked their political future on that election, when the national union premier was seeking re-election on a nonparticipation policy. Both Mr. Lapointe and Mr. Cardin lent their assistance to the Godbout party; they managed to secure endorsation of participation just as the other provinces had done, and Mr. Godbout was swept into power with flying colours!

I quote the words of the Prime Minister on January 26 last, as reported on page 46 of Hansard regarding the Quebec provincial elections:

At that time, the people of the province of Quebec turned out of office the government that had sought to thwart Canada's war effort, and placed in office under the leadership of Hon. Mr. Godbout, a government which was prepared to cooperate with the federal administration in furthering the national effort. I doubt if any service at the time meant more to the allied cause than that rendered by the people of the province of Quebec in thus demonstrating the unity of Canada in its war effort.

When, three months later, the direction of the war effort of Canada by the present admin-

istration was challenged

though from an opposite extreme-by a resolution of the legislature of the province of Ontario, and the administration appealed to the people of Canada in a general election, the government gave the assurance that, if returned to power, it would continue to maintain the policy of no conscription for service overseas. Not only the government, but the then leader of the Conservative party- a party disguised it is true, for the time being, as the National Government party-took an equally strong stand in opposition to conscription for overseas service. The candidates, not of one political party only, but the' vast majority of candidates in the general election gave their constituents to understand that they were opposed to a policy of conscription for overseas service. In so doing, reference was continually made to the effect of the adoption of conscription in the last war, and the serious wound which, at the time, its application had inflicted in the side of our country.

As I look at the membership of this house which represents the will of the nation as expressed in the general elections, held during this very war, I say there are not a dozen members.-if. indeed, there are that many- regardless of party, who could rise in their places and truthfully say that, in the last general election, they had advocated a policy of conscription for military service overseas.

Time and again it has been said by hon. members opposite-and I think my hon. friend the leader of the opposition has said it oftener than anyone else-that the present government would not have had the enormous majority it has in this present parliament if it had not given the explicit assurance that, if returned to power, it would not adopt conscription for military service overseas.

When the result of the elections was known, the province of Ontario could not say enough in praise of the province of Quebec. I believe that the late lamented Mr. Lapointe and the hon. member for Richelieu-Vercheres were then the most popular men in the country, so much so that a few days after the elections I met on parliament hill, at Ottawa, one of my colleagues from Toronto who greeted me with open arms and congratulated me warmly on what the province of Quebec had just achieved.

Has not Quebec always shown herself as willing to participate in the war as any other province? Why should the province of Quebec be more anxious to accept compulsory service for overseas than the rest of the British dominions? For 25 years, the province of Quebec has believed in the promises made by the right hon. Prime Minister, by Mr. Lapointe and by the hon. member for Richelieu-Vercheres. As I just said, I have made the same pledge and I want to keep it in war time as in peace time. I have given my word to my fellow-citizens. I am not an opportunist concerned only with reelection. For a man of my age parliamentary life has no great attraction. We


come here every year to spend four, five, six or seven months, the finest part of spring and summer. At my time of life, I would rather live quietly during the few remaining years Providence may grant me. Were I to take another stand, the statement made by the Prime Minister on January 26, 1942, when he was dealing with dictatorship might apply to me. Here is what the Prime Minister of Canada said:

I reject as still more unworthy the suggestion that the government should break the solemn pledges given and repeated time and again to the electorate. Let me repeat what I said at Vancouver: ,

"The present unhappy state of the world is, in large part, the result of broken pledges. Nazi Germany has erected bad faith and the broken pledge into a principle of action. Bad faith, broken pledges, and disregard of the popular will, are the forces against which Canada is fighting to-day."

I do not propose to erect bad faith and the broken pledge into a principle of action. I propose at all times to do all in my power to see that the will of the people, not that of any particular section or group or interest, however powerful or vociferous, shall prevail in the government of this country.

Mr. Speaker, the excerpts of the Prime Minister's speech which I have just quoted show clearly that we, the representatives of the province of Quebec, not having been relieved of our commitments, cannot take a different stand from the one which I have just indicated and, notwithstanding my personal friendship for the Prime Minister, I shall vote against this bill.

In concluding, I should like to congratulate the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George on his speech and particularly because he recommended the adoption of a national flag.

This morning's edition of the Gazette shows great displeasure with the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George's speech, but that is an indication that he has spoken wisely. I think that a Canadian flag would greatly contribute to the cause of national unity in this country. We have no flag of our own. We French Canadians respect the union jack, emblem of our liberties. We also respect the French flag, but neither one nor the other is truly our own. Let us do away with this colonial mentality. Why should we not have a flag which would be really ours and around which we could all rally and thus take a long step forward in restoring harmony in this country.

On motion of Mr. Thorson the debate was adjourned.

On motion of Mr. Crerar the house adjourned at 10.15 p.m.

Wednesday, June 17, 1942


June 16, 1942