July 6, 1942

LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

Order. The hon. member has heard the ruling?

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

Frederick George Hoblitzell

Liberal

Mr. HOBLITZELL:

while others who do not hear the call of duty so clearly remain at home to take over the jobs of those who have gone. We are told that man-ipower is needed. Of course it is. But the way to assure manpower is to have a uniform system of compulsory service that will place every man in the job that he can do best.

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

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

Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

Order. I shall have to ask the hon. member to resume his seat unless he obeys the ruling of the Chair. The hon. member may not read his speech.

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

An hon. MEMBER:

Unless he supports the government.

Mr. J. LEO K. LAFLAMME (Montmagny-L'lslet) (Translation): Mr. Speaker, the bill now before parliament calls for the repeal of section 3 of the Mobilization Act, 1940, which limited- to Canada the mobilization of manpower. It is under this act, that the authorities have already called to the colours a considerable number of young men.

According to the report of the Minister of National War Services (Mr. Thorson) 312,649 men have answered the call to report for medical examination. With the exception of those who enlisted voluntarily, we may say that almost every young man of military age has been called up.

The reason put forward for the repeal of that section is that as a result of the plebiscite we must remove any limitation in the government's power to mobilize all the country's resources, particularly its man-power. Even if the plebiscite has given a majority of "yes" votes, the government, in my opinion, is not justified at this time in moving this amendment. Since the affirmative majority vote is construed in most places as a vote in favour of conscription, we may wonder if the majority vote given in the province of Quebec against the plebiscite was not cast against this method of recruitment, against conscription for overseas service.

There is no gainsaying, Mr. Speaker, that when war broke out, a part of our population favoured immediate participation in foreign wars, especially under a system of conscription for overseas service, while another part opposed such participation and the recourse to conscription. We were told by our leaders that both groups had come to an agreement and that this agreement should be respected. May I quote, among other statements, that uttered in a radio broadcast on October 9, 1939, by the late Mr. Lapointe who said:

I am opposed to conscription now as I was then. I stated in the house that I would never be part of a government which would impose conscription and that I would never support such a government. The Prime Minister has stated, that the present administration wrnuld never resort to conscription. My colleagues and I enjoy the respect of our colleagues from the other provinces and I feel justified in saying that I enjoy the confidence and regard of my English-speaking fellow citizens throughout Canada, and I believe I have been successful in convincing them, and that we have convinced them, that Canadian unity demands that there be no compulsory service overseas.

I feel, Mr. Speaker, that this statement of the former leader of the province of Quebec is sufficiently explicit and worthy of belief. He said: "We have convinced them, we have

Mobilization Act-Mr. Laflamme

managed to convince them, that Canadian unity demands that there be no compulsory service overseas.

Inasmuch as our section of the population fulfilled its end of the bargain, I wonder why the other section should fail to do the same. If there are serious reasons for a change of attitude in that regard, it is fitting that such reasons be divulged. So far, everything has shown that the voluntary method of raising men for overseas service has been highly successful. It does not appear necessary, under the circumstances, that the method be changed; nor does it seem imperative, since the voluntary system has been successful, that we undertake new commitments with our allies.

Recent events have shown that the enemy does not want our country, any more than the United States, to be used as an arsenal for our allies fighting on other continents. It follows that our country can play a very important part in this war by steadily producing the tools of war, as Mr. Churchill requested that we do when he visited us, and especially by steadily supplying man-power under the voluntary system of enlistment. A close study of figures showing the number of men called up and of those likely to be so, enables us to state without exaggeration that, at best, coercion or conscription of man-power would enable us to raise a force of some

50,000 men. Is such compulsory contribution worth while under the circumstances, endangering as it does the country's unity? Is not national unity really much more valuable than this enforced contribution of man-power for military service?

One of the reasons put forward for drafting men for service overseas is that there must be equality of sacrifice. Mr. Speaker, I respectfully submit that there can be no equality of sacrifice when sacrifices are made under compulsion. Sacrifice is the voluntary renunciation of liberties and privileges which we hold dear, in order to give anmple proof of courage and self-denial. It is not through coercion that we can induce men to agree to equality of sacrifice, and I believe that the generous offer to serve made by our volunteers cannot be compared to the spirit of those who might be forced to do likewise.

There is another argument set forth by some people and, although it may lack cogency, it is nevertheless worth looking into. Questions put on the order paper, Mr. Speaker, clearly show an ever-recurrent desire to criticize the province of Quebec in connection with the country's all-out effort. Some seem to complain about our province not supplying men in sufficient numbers under the fMr. Laflamme.]

voluntary system, and this is being used as an argument in favour of conscription. I sincerely believe that those who hold this view are greatly mistaken and that they entirely disregard certain facts which show that the effort made by our province has no doubt been important and genuine and that if it is not as great as one might have wished, this is because a very important factor is being ignored in this effort.

Let us remember that most of our young men from the city as well as from the country speak only French. It is hard for them to be enthusiastic about the army especially when military training is given in English. Our young men who don't know a word of English feel lost among the rest. Moreover, as the great majority of our people speak only French, discipline seems very irksome to us when orders are given only in English. I am positive that if the authorities took pains to consider seriously that situation, it could be improved and that they could establish staffs of officers comprising only French Canadians. It would be easy to teach military discipline to my compatriots through the medium of their language, if care were taken to train bilingual officers and non-commissioned officers able to transmit the orders given by the higher authorities. If that were done, I am convinced that this important section of the Canadian army where French-speaking Canadians would form the majority, would play a great part and would certainly show itself worthy of those who preceded it at the different war fronts. I wonder if certain people do not apprehend a repetition of the glorious history of the 22nd French-Canadian regiment.

No one can seriously claim that it is impossible to do this. Do our friends, our allies, the Free French not receive their training in their own language and do they not perform in this conflict a praiseworthy and enviable effort. Do our Norwegian, Polish and Dutch allies not have their separate units? Yet their effort is second to none. Therefore, I believe it is possible to improve the voluntary system and, without making any other pledges to the allies, we can establish a truly Canadian army by giving even more consideration to the French-speaking element.

The Right Hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) has devoted his life to the establishment of national unity in this country. His constant efforts are an example and it would certainly be unfortunate should present circumstances destroy all the good work that has been done. One cannot conceive national unity without understanding between the different groups and particularly

Mobilization Act-Mr. Lajontaine

between the two main ones, the Englishspeaking and the French-speaking groups. Events prove to those who wish to see that the British empire, as some still call it, cannot survive the serious blows it is receiving.

Nevertheless, one forgets that there exists at present, especially since the Westminster statute, an association of free peoples which is a commonwealth of British nations composed of England and her crown colonies as well as the various autonomous and independent dominions. Even though they are associated, the latter have the right and the duty of remembering that should history repeat itself and should the British empire disintegrate, they must ensure their own security and organize the defence of their own territory for the very purpose of constituting anew, after the war, that same association of autonomous nations under the British crown. There is no lack of loyalty but rather a true manifestation of it in giving material and financial aid by every means at our disposal, and in contributing volunteers, while attending to the protection of each country. .

In any country, if the citizens are to share in a common conception of the nation, one way to attain this result is to have a flag representing the country in the eyes of each citizen. So long as our country proves incapable of having its own flag, so long shall we find it difficult to reach unity of thought, a common conception of country and a common view concerning its defence. Let our English-speaking fellow-citizens seriously ponder this point, and let them remember that when our American neighbours invited the French Canadians to join them at the time they were seeking to achieve their independence, our people turned them down. Let them also remember that in spite of the vexations to which they have been subjected, our people have rejected the subversive ideas which have been spread in this country during the last few years. We have done that because our country, Canada, is the prime object of our love. We are proud to live in it and we claim for others as well as for ourselves freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom to act in accordance with our conceptions, our traditions and our racial characteristics.

Some day it will be possible to assign the responsibility for the situation now existing in this country. There is no doubt that statements made to the Quebec people, especially since 1917 when the Liberal party was represented, at least with the implied approval of Liberals from other provinces, as being opposed to conscription for overseas service, will weigh heavily in the balance

when the time comes to assign such responsibility. Those who have fostered the separation idea, especially for some time past, will also have to bear a considerable share of that responsibility. But it should not be forgotten that our English-speaking fellow citizens will also be held responsible for having consistently refused to recognize the French-speaking group in Canada.

The decision I have taken is based on my personal conviction that compulsory service outside our borders should not be enforced in this country; that the voluntary system, properly organized, will yield all the men we need to help our allies. Realizing those facts,

I cannot agree to vote for the amendment, that is for Bill No. 80 amending section 3 of the mobilization act, because it would mean endorsing the principle of conscription for overseas service.

Personally, I believe the majority of Canadians oppose this method of raising men for military service outside of Canada. I find it impossible to consider that conscription will help us win the war, but I remain convinced that national unity, realized through the observance of pledges given at the outset of war, will contribute to an allied victory and I believe my attitude is the best under the circumstances.

War will always be the most terrible scourge visited on the human race. The conflict we are now engaged in is accompanied by confusion and disastrous contradictions. An instance of this is evident in our own country at the present time. Were we really imbued with the Christian principles for which we claim to be fighting, we would first apply them in our own country. Our national life is a denial of the very principles we aspire to uphold. All things considered, we should not hope for victory without reparation and without relying on divine Providence.

Mr. JOSEPH LAFONTAINE (Megantic-

Frontenac) (Translation): Mr. Speaker, the bill now being considered by the house is of such grave import and its consequences are so far-reaching that I believe it my duty to voice here, at this time, an opinion which is shared by almost every one of the constituents whom I have the honour to represent.

My decision to participate in this debate on Bill No. 80 was not arrived at with a view to delay the proceedings of the house. Last week, certain hon. members, and particularly the leader of the opposition last Tuesday, showed signs of impatience at the length of the discussion on this measure. Still, Mr. Speaker, there have been lengthy debates on other matters and we from the province of

Mobilization Act-Mr. Lajontaine

Quebec have sat through them without complaining, or at least without overtly alluding to their tediousness in the house.

This is the first time I have taken the opportunity granted to each member of expressing his views as well as those of his constituents, and in doing so I intend, Mr. Speaker, to comply as far as possible with the rules of the house.

We are free to disagree on the subject of this measure which, if passed by the house and subsequently enforced, may undermine the very foundations of our constitution and even bring about serious changes in our national life. We are free, I repeat, to disagree without being for all that hostile to the cause of the united nations.

If such differences of opinion were not respected in this house and country, the sacrifices already made and those we are about to make in support of the effort Canada is putting forth to ensure the survival of all freedom-loving peoples, would be to no avail.

On the ultimate goal to be reached, there is and can be no discussion. Certainly no one in this house dares to imagine that any member, whatever his views on this question, may be pulling for an Axis victory. No, Mr. Speaker, we all want to win the war although we disagree at the moment on a measure whose purpose would be to uphold our war effort, in view of the needs of our allies and especially of the trend of present day events. Yet we must bear in mind the peculiar position in which Canada finds herself, give special attention to the essential problem of national unity, and remain true to the principles of our federal constitution as well as to the pledges given the Canadian people on more than one occasion.

Any discussion is idle unless we admit that those who are against Bill No. 80, as I am myself, are just as sincere and honest as those who are in favour of it, and that we are seeking as loyally as they do a solution to the difficult problems which confront us in this period of our history.

Since the beginning of this debate I have followed the discussion closely; I have listened attentively to the numerous speeches delivered, many of which I have read over several times. I have weighed the arguments advanced in favour of this measure, and I regret to say, Mr. Speaker, that these have not shaken the opinion I had formed at the time the first reading of this bill was moved in the house.

I still feel that I should oppose this amendment to the National Resources Mobilization Act because Bill No. 80 involves the principle of conscription, because this amendment grants

to the present government or to any future government powers so vast that it may, simply through an order in council, send overseas not only our volunteer troops but every man who has been called under the 1940 mobilization act and to whom that act was a guarantee that he would be compelled to serve only in the defence of Canada and her territorial waters.

This would mean a breach of the pledges given by the Liberal, the Conservative and the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation parties during the 1940 election campaign.

The only party whose platform included conscription was the Social Credit party, one of whose members, the hon. member for Red Deer (Mr. Shaw), told us on June 23rd how proud he was that his party had taken such a stand and that it should have advocated ever since 1937 the enforcement of conscription for overseas service in case of war.

Mr. Speaker, once this bill is adopted, if the present government or any other government avail themselves, as was done in 1917, of the powers granted by this act, we shall have conscription. Whether it be in 1942, 1943 or 1944, if the measure is enforced it will still mean conscription.

If I were to support a measure such as the one now submitted to the house, if the powers requested were to be exercised, that is if conscription for overseas service was adopted by order in council, my electors and fellow citizens would consider me as an imposter. I do not hesitate at times to take an attitude that does not meet public approval. I have done so more than once, but I will not take up the time of the house in recalling those instances. I will say though that on such occasions I always strove to fulfil my duty as I saw it. Such has been my line of conduct in the past and I intend that it shall be so in the future. Moreover, if I stand opposed to this measure embodying the principle of conscription and also to the enactment of such legislation, selfishness or personal interest have little to do with it for, as the hon. member for Prescott mentioned a moment ago, I have two sons in the armed forces. I am only fulfilling a pledge and honouring commitments made to my constituents.

It has been said time and again that the present amendment is the logical result of the affirmative vote of April the 27th last, and some hon. members even claimed that the electorate voted then for conscription.

Mr. Speaker, I cannot accept such statements because in none of the speeches delivered during the plebiscite campaign were the

Mobilization Act-Mr. Lajontaine

voters told that an affirmative vote would mean the striking out of article 3, nor were they told that an affirmative vote would mean conscription for overseas service. I look upon this matter in the same light as the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) and the hon. member for Algoma-East (Mr. Farquhar) who in their speeches had the courage to point out to the house that the results might have been different if the issue had been put squarely, if the voters had been asked to say if they were for or against conscription. In my constituency, although only a few affirmative votes were cast, I can assure you that the number of such votes would have been much smaller if the question had been squarely put, because those who voted "yes" were not voting for conscription, far from it, or for the cancellation of article 3.

The minority, some claim, must not be allowed to dictate our course of action. All the minority in this country desires is the honouring of the pledges it has received. It has been said too that the opinion of the majority must prevail in this country. The report of the director general of the plebiscite is very interesting in that regard. It appeared in a special edition of the Canada Gazette dated June 23.

The report shows that, with the exception of Quebec, the other provinces were more or less indifferent. Here is the percentage of the votes in each province compared to the number of voters appearing in the list:

Per cent

Ontario 63 * 9

Quebec 75*75

Nova Scotia 45*46

New Brunswick 62*9

Prince Edward Island 57*2

Manitoba 67*0

British Columbia 68*7

Saskatchewan 59*9

Alberta 64*9

Yukon Territory 6T9

Percentage in all provinces 66*5

With the exception of Quebec 62*87

Am I not right in saying that outside of the province of Quebec the voters remained more or less aloof from the question? Although the leader of the opposition and the members of his party say that they made a vigorous campaign in order to get a "yes" vote, which I do not doubt for a moment, let me tell them that theirs was not a wonderful success if we take into consideration the total number of voters on the lists. For example, the leader of the opposition, in his own constituency of York-Sunbury, succeeded in bringing to the polls only 15,474 voters out of a total of 25,603, which means that more than

10,000 did not heed his pressing appeal.

What about Nova Scotia where the votes numbered only a little more than 45 per cent of the names entered on the lists. Mr. Speaker, taking into account the total number of voters entered on the lists, we find that the "yes" votes represent only 41*44 per cent. Consequently the "no" votes added to the number of electors who did not vote represent 48*46 per cent of the total. Which shows that even if all the affirmative votes were given to approve conscription for overseas service or to amend the mobilization act, they do not represent the majority of the voters listed. I think we should cherish no illusions concerning the meaning of the plebiscite vote on April 27 last, notwithstanding what has been said. If the question had been squarely put, a goodly number of yeas would have turned into nays, and a large number of those who abstained from voting would have replied in the negative.

I maintain that Canada has magnificently done her duty since the declaration of war. She has done as nobly as any other country of her size. Has it ever occurred to you, Mr. Speaker, to draw a parallel between Canada's war effort and that of the United States, with due regard to the population figures of both countries? Granting that Canada has about 12 million inhabitants and the United States approximately 140 million, the latter should have 1,200,000 men under arms for every

100,000 that Canada can muster. Now since the Canadian armed forces, army, navy and air force, numbered 502,340 men on June 1 last, the United States should have 6,000,000 men in its armed forces at the moment.

This comparison gives a true picture of our war effort and shows that the United States still has far to go before surpassing it, although it is still voluntary.

Since then, certain statements have been made contrary to the principle involved in Bill No. 80, suggesting that circumstances have now changed and that events have occurred which require new measures. But these changes have not taken place outside Canada only; some have occurred also in our own country. What I find astonishing and quite disconcerting is the number of people who seem to have eyes only for what is happening outside this country and who are blind to everything that goes on here at home. I am of the opinion that Canada's effort to date far surpasses anything that would have been thought possible at the beginning of the war and this effort is constantly increasing as time goes on. There are nevertheless people to be found who are still unsatisfied, who judge our effort insufficient. Pity the blind!

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

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

Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

Is the hon. gentleman raising a point of order?

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NAT

Douglas Gooderham Ross

National Government

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

Yes, I would like to know what the hon. gentleman is reading from.

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

That is not a point of order.

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

He is quoting from a speech by the hon. member for St. Paul's.

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

If the hon. member is raising a point of order will he kindly state his point of order?

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

Douglas Gooderham Ross

National Government

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member must state what he is reading from.

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Chiang Kai Shek.

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

Joseph Lafontaine

Liberal

Mr. LAFONTAINE (Translation):

The

Quebec people voted according to their convictions and their conscience as they always do. But in 1939 when the premier of Quebec, anxious as he was to hide the shameful abuses of his administration and in his desire to trick the people into renewing his mandate, announced a provincial election under the pretext that the province of Quebec should have an opportunity of protesting against Canada's participation in the war, as approved by the Canadian parliament, our ministers in the dominion government took a very active part in that campaign. They explained to the voters of our province that our participation was voluntary and that compulsion for military service overseas would never be enforced in Canada.

At that time there were no editorials with the caption "What is the matter with Quebec?" There were no such editorials when the Quebec electors turned out of office the leader of the "Union Nationale" because of his isolationist policy. No, there were no editorials asking "What is the matter with Quebec?" Mr. Speaker, Quebec was then lauded for its good work. Let this underground effort to pit the

Mobilization Act-Mr. Healy

English element against the French Canadians come to an end, and national unity will strongly benefit therefrom.

The French Canadians do not oppose the sending of Canadian troops overseas as suggested in certain quarters. No, Mr. Speaker, they have supported that policy and they will continue to support it, but they are opposed to conscription for overseas service believing as they do that if they must fight, shed their blood and die on foreign soil overseas, they should do so voluntarily.

Before I conclude, may I say to the advocates of conscription that such a measure would not speed up our war effort but would rather tend to hamper it, that it would endanger national unity which is so essential in these critical times.

I have a last word to say, Mr. Speaker, before I resume my seat. I wish to tell the Prime Minister how sincerely I sympathize with him.

While I must vote against this bill, I still trust that with his tact, his skill and his sound judgment, he will be fortunate enough to lead us safely through the perils which now beset Canada.

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LIB

Thomas Patrick Healy

Liberal

Mr. T. P. HEALY (St. Ann):

Mr. Speaker, as I rise to express to this house my views regarding the deletion of section 3 from the mobilization act, I do so realizing that the remarks I am about to make are of a most serious nature affecting the present and future of our dominion.

The Quebec riding which I represent in this house is one of the oldest on the island of Montreal. Close by my home stands a school-house which the good Sisters of Notre Dame, founded by the revered Marguerite Bourgeoys, erected over 244 years ago and in which were instructed Indians and French Canadians, the original settlers of our country.

We had migration to our land of many nationalities, and to-day my riding is composed of 50 per cent English-speaking, 40 per cent French, and the other 10 per cent Polish, Italian and Ukrainian.

During the plebiscite campaign I asked the people of my riding to vote in the affirmative. I explained to them that it was not a vote for or against conscription. It meant exactly what was marked on the ballot, "Are you in favour of releasing the government from past commitments?" Those commitments, it will be recalled, were made by both parties during the last election campaign in the year 1940.

I should like to be permitted to read a letter which I had published in the French and English press of Montreal on April 25. The heading is:

Healy urges "yes" in St. Ann division.

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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. HANSELL:

Who is Healy?

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LIB

Thomas Patrick Healy

Liberal

Mr. HEALY:

The member for St. Ann. The letter reads:

Monday the people of Canada will go to the polls to register their decision on the appeal of the government for a release from commitments made during the election campaign of 1940.

As your elected i epresentative in the House of Commons, I urge you as true Canadians to give this matter very serious consideration and to cast an affirmative vote.

In the last general election the people of Canada by an overwhelming majority placed their confidence in Right Hon. W. L. Mackenzie King and the Liberal party to guide the country in its war effort. Since that time the whole aspect of the security of the entire world and especially that of our country has undergone a great change and our shores on the east and west coasts are in grave danger from enemy aggression.

If at that time you had confidence in your leader the same should apply in a greater measure today as our country together with the allied nations are in greater peril than ever before in our history.

I appeal to you, ladies and gentlemen, electors of St. Ann's division, regardless of your political belief or of race, creed or religion to go out and vote on the 27th and to see that all the members of your family also do their duty as citizens of our dominion by exercising the franchise-a privilege denied to so many people in Europe because of nazi aggression. I know that in voting "yes" you will show Hitler and his satellites that Canada is united with the other allied nations in the determination to defeat him and to bring peace once again to the world.

The future of this country depends to a large extent on the result of this vote and I feel that the people of St. Ann's division will join with the rest of the dominion in voting an overwhelming "yes" and giving to our government a free hand in the prosecution of our war effort.

I am anxious to see the people give an answer worthy of our glorious past. We are all sons and daughters of the same country. This war is our war. We must be united.

The government has stated that the voluntary system has been successful so far and that under that system we are getting enough men to satisfy the quota needed for our armed forces, and it has been repeated by our Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) and other members of the cabinet that conscription is not necessary and that the voluntary system is the best method.

It will be noted that in the speech delivered by the Minister of National War Services (Mr. Thorson) in this house, he said that after the next call for men for the army there will not be many more eligible men who can be spared from essential activities in connection with the war effort to the armed forces.

Mobilization Act-Mr. Healy

In my riding I received a majority for the "yes" vote on the plebiscite, and I feel that I am expressing the wishes of the majority of my people in voting in favour of this bill to give the government a free hand in helping to conduct our war effort and join with the allied nations in bringing this war to a successful conclusion.

Our worthy leader and other members of the cabinet feel that conscription is not necessary at present, and I am prepared to accept their word. I am sure that the compulsory method would not accomplish a great deal in my riding, because thousands of the young men have joined either the army, the navy or the air force, and many more of them are engaged in essential war industries. French Canadians and those of English-speaking races work in harmony, and I would not want to see any dissension among them after all the efforts that have been expended to create the unity which now exists.

As the hon. member for Parry Sound (Mr. Slaght) stated, conscription in the last war did not accomplish anything like the voluntary system is doing at present.

Our worthy Prime Minister and his cabinet also know what it accomplished. That is the reason why it will not be put into force unless it is absolutely necessary for the protection of our dominion, and I am sure that no hon. member would object to have our boys protect our Canadian homes, and our women and children.

Canada's contribution to the war has been acknowledged as an outstanding one, and, as Winston Churchill said in this House of Commons, "Canada is doing a magnificent job". Also, quoting Mr. Balfour, he expressed the sentiment that Canada's war effort is wonderful. In every manner we are helping the allied nations, and for a young country with fewer than twelve million people we are doing everything possible to help to win this war. We have at present over half a million men in the armed forces and 800,000 working in essential war industries supplying guns, tanks, boats, planes, and other war machinery and dispatching these commodities to the places where they are most needed.

When our Prime Minister and his government kept their promise to ask the people, through a plebiscite, to release them from commitments made by both parties in 1940, it was an assurance to me of the sincerity of the government, and I am prepared to accept their word that the compulsory method is not yet necessary. The long record of our leader in public life is sufficient assurance for me, and I am prepared to support the bill.

May I conclude with a plea for national unity and for a united effort of all Canadians and a sympathetic understanding of the problems of all.

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IND

Liguori Lacombe

Independent Liberal

Mr. LIGUORI LACOMBE (Laval-Two Mountains):

Mr. Speaker, conscription is the result of our participation in the war outside of Canada. On September 9, 1939, I moved the following amendment to the address, as reported at page 73 of the debates of the second session of that year:

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.

At that most critical moment I declared, as reported at page 70 of the debates of the second session of 1939:

Does anyone really believe that our contribution will be limited to voluntary enlistment? Should the war be a long one we shall inevitably have conscription.

My first vote was cast against any participation by Canada in war and against the odious conscription act of which I was an unfortunate victim along with the men of my own generation. Twenty-two years will soon have elapsed since the day I began to fight against the compulsory Military Service Act, which unfortunately was adopted after a desperate fight in which deceit and falsehood vied with the pathetic seriousness of the hour.

In the fall of 1917 I put forth all my small ability and the ardour of my youth-God knows that one has plenty when one is twenty years old-to ensure the triumph of a Canadian mentality and to contribute as far as possible to the safeguarding our young men, who soon afterwards were to be ostracized, pursued, tracked down, and torn from their homes, to be thrown into barracks by conscription. Even when hostilities had ceased, prison terms were imposed on young men whom the government were unable to force into service-shameful reprisals, unworthy of a power that had boasted of having contributed to the triumph of liberty and civilization. However, like the youth of to-day, young men of twenty years ago were loyal to their king; but, likewise, they believed that they could best serve him in no other place than Canada, their only country.

As happened twenty-five years ago, the young farmers of this country are being tracked down now and torn from their homes, after having made an application for postponement which was very often unjustly refused them. Agriculture being essential to the upkeep of the armies and the welfare of the civil population, why not create exemp-

Mobilization Act-Mr. Lacombe

tion tribunals in each constituency in the country to investigate each case of a young farmer on its merits?

The actual events constitute a solemn confirmation of my position. They show that I was right on September 9, 1939, when I asserted:

t Should the war be a long one, we shall inevitably have conscription.

I was right also on June 18, 1940, in stating in this very chamber, during the debate on the mobilization act, as reported at page 874 of the debates of the session of 1940:

This parliament has no right to order the mobilization of man-power and wealth because it lacks the necessary mandate. The Canadian people whom we represent in parliament never endorsed such mobilization. On the contrary, they voted on March 26, 1940, for a moderate voluntary and free war policy. Consequently I am strongly opposed to such a mobilization so long as the Canadian people have not endorsed it. Besides, has it been shown that voluntary enlistment is not sufficient for the defence of the country? Until such time as proof to the contrary has been adduced to the people I shall have the feeling of discharging a sacred duty towards my electors and my country in opposing that policy with the utmost vigour.

Moreover, on the same day I moved the following amendment, as reported at page 874 of the debates of the session of 1940:

That all the words after the word "that" in the bill be struck out and replaced by the following words:

"The war policy of the Canadian government must remain free, voluntary and moderate."

The day after, on June 19, 1940, I moved a second amendment, as reported at page 924 of the debates of that year:

That all the words after the word "whereas" m the preamble of the bill, be deleted and the following substituted therefor:

"The government's war policy must be free and voluntary."

This amendment was ruled out of order as was the other. I appealed from the ruling of the Chair, and the ruling was confirmed by the following vote: yeas, 202; nays, 2.

Mr. Speaker, it was the so-called generous help which we received in connection with our opposition to that measure, which was exceedingly serious. My hon. colleagues in the Liberal party will permit me to call their attention to a statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) in this very chamber on June 19 last. He asserted that conscription had existed and exists in this country since June 21, 1940. Once more the Prime Minister's statement and the actual events constitute the solemn assertion that I was right in opposing the mobilization act with the utmost vigour. However, it is a most deplorable fact that in these extremely serious

times I receive from my hon. colleagues, who have asserted time and time again that they are opposed to conscription, such poor support. On June 17 last I made an appeal to them. I repeat my appeal at this moment: Join our ranks without any further delay. Join the Canadian party now, in the best interests of Canada. I know my hon. colleagues are all true Canadians; that is why I implore them, because they assert very often in this parliament their anti-conscriptionist feelings, to join our exclusively Canadian party.

I seconded the amendment moved by the hon. member for Gaspe which reads as follows:

That all the words after the word "that" in the motion be deleted and the following substituted therefor:

"This house is of the opinion that the policy of the government respecting mobilization, instead of drawing closer the union of the two races in Canada, has fostered dissensions which might cause an internal war, thus destroying the ideal set forth by the fathers of confederation."

In the name of national unity which must survive in Canada I beseech my colleagues to support that amendment, because the welfare of Canada and our people demand that we do so.

I should now like to refer to the speech of the hon. member for Mercier (Mr. Jean) on June 18 last. My hon. friend asserted that we voted unanimously for participation in the war. Such a statement is absolutely contrary to the facts. The hon. member cannot deny that on September 9, 1939, I moved an amendment, seconded by the hon. member for Quebec-Montmorency (Mr. LaCroix) that Canada should refrain from participation in war outside of Canada. The people of this country have the right to know the truth, all the truth concerning this capital question of participation in war outside of Canada. The population has been betrayed long enough with false statements regarding past and present political events.

(Translation): When Sir Wilfrid Laurier died in February, 1919, disowned by a group of conscriptionist Liberals, the present. Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) was chosen as leader of the Liberal party. Hon. members recall the convention which was heldi in this capital city in the early summer of 1919. The Hon. Mr. Fielding was a candidate to Laurier's succession, but was defeated by the majority of the delegates for his opposing his leader on Borden's conscription policy. The present Prime Minister was elected against Mr. Fielding and so, by their condemnation of Mr. Fielding's anti-Canadian attitude, the majority of the delegates then and there proclaimed their unalterable opposition to conscription. How ironic fate can be! To-day,

Mobilization Act-Mr. Lacombe

we see Laurier's successor himself endeavouring, at a single stroke, to do away with our last legal protection against conscription. This from the man who, between 1919 and 1939, unfailingly repeated that never again would Canada take part in any external wars. Needless for me to recall his many solemn promises so often quoted in this house. Here is the very same man who, with the help of the late Right Hon. Ernest Lapointe, was the choice of the 1919 convention, ready to trample down the sovereign right of parliament of which time and time again he declared himself the protector. It is the present Prime Minister who will deal a fatal blow to responsible government by the repeal of section 3 of the mobilization act of 1940, thereby vesting in the cabinet the right to send willy-nilly our soldiers overseas, far away from our first line of defence.

What extraordinary event has happened? How can one explain the Prime Minister's cynical reversal of form? It can be explained by the predominance in Canada of military and financial imperialism. Our foreign policy is dictated by London and Washington. The government of Canada is a mere puppet in the hands of foreign powers. We are no longer self-governing. In less than three years, our nation has lost all the privileges it had acquired after years of struggle. The Westminster statute is nothing more than a joke to our Prime Minister who sacrifices day after day a portion of our right to selfgovernment. The so-called administrative commissions and an invidious bureaucracy have everywhere replaced the representatives of the people. Responsible government has all but vanished under the leadership of William Mackenzie's grandson.

The repeal of section 3 of the mobilization act will empqwer a servile cabinet to conscript our sons, not for the defence of Canada, but for the protection of wealthy and powerful nations and their colonies all over the world. The repeal of section 3 is equivalent to sacrificing the very nation for the benefit of foreign countries to the detriment of our own defence. Never shall my name be associated to such a betrayal. I have always condemned such a vile policy, and I can never have too much contempt for it. The imperialists have brought Canada to the brink of ruin. The conscriptionists will give her the "coup de grace."

All true Canadians must unite to crush the head of the conscriptionist viper which hides under the green foliage of civilization and liberty, ready to dart forth its poisonous fangs into our constitution and our rights.

The amendment proposed by the hon. member for Gaspe (Mr. Roy) is the solemn warning given by Canadians worthy of the name to all those who believe they would better serve Canada by emasculating her own defence. On this seventy-fifth anniversary year of confederation, we declare that millions of Canadians will never consent to compulsory service for overseas. I say that confederation would not survive such disregard of the liberty of this country conquered, developed, settled, civilized and evangelized by our people. We are masters in our own house and we will not emigrate to a wretched Europe with our last cent, our last son and the last shred of our Canadian country.

These politicians who have gained power by hatefully deceiving the people had better resign themselves to the inevitable: the unity of the country will survive only if all races are assured equal rights. [DOT] Proud of their respective pasts, the Anglo-Saxon and the French races have but one sacred heritage to defend. It is the spiritual and material heritage of a united nation. It is the constitution, the religion, the language and the rights of a nation and not of a vassal in the tow of the empire. It is the only country we have, Canada.

Mr. JEAN-FRANCOIS POULIOT (Temis-couata): Mr. Speaker, the amendment moved by the hon. member for Gaspe (Mr. Roy) reads:

This house is of the opinion that the policy of the government respecting the mobilization act, instead of drawing closer the union of the two races in Canada, has fostered dissensions which might cause an internal war, thus destroying the ideals set forth by the fathers of confederation.

This debate has been rather lengthy, and I intend to say only a few words on this amendment, which has been supported by the hon. member (Mr. Lacombe) who has just spoken. We have heard a great deal about national unity from various corners of the house. That expression was discovered by Mr. Bennett; once when he had nothing else to say, he declared that we should have national unity in Canada. I remember that speech, which went into the waste-paper basket some time ago. But later those words became a slogan. Everything was to be done for national unity. Everything was to be done on account of the province of Quebec, because the feelings of the province of Quebec were supposed to be different from those of the rest of the country. That was a great mistake. The feelings of the province of Quebec are exactly the same as those of any

Mobilization Act-Mr. Pouliot

other part of Canada. The only difference is that the people of Quebec sometimes stop to think and reach their own conclusions, which would be the conclusions of the good farmers of western Ontario, the prairie provinces, the maritimes and every other part of Canada, if. they did the same thing.

The trouble is that we live in atmospheres. To-day we have the atmosphere of sacrifice, while during the plebiscite campaign we had the atmosphere of treason. All those who were not supporting the government were supposed to be traitors, as those who do not agree with the government here are not supposed to be generous enough to make sacrifices to win the war. I find it all wrong. All things should be considered objectively. We all realize the atmosphere that exists in this house. It requires someone with the armour of determination to rise and disagree with any government measure here. It also seems to be bad manners to disagree with the government, though what we tell them is for their own good; and even though they do not listen to us, later on they recognize that we were trying to help them. It was the same during the last plebiscite campaign; and I do not think this bill will do any more to destroy what is called national unity in this country than was done during the plebiscite campaign, when committees which were subsidized by the government were picturing those opposing the plebiscite as friends of Hitler, who had medals pinned upon their lapels by Hitler himself. That was done by the government; it was paid for by the government, but it was destroying national unity. I remember the lady member for North Battleford (Mrs. Nielsen) comparing the French Canadians to Quislings. Later she tried to make love to us, but without success. That is the way we were spoken of; and even a minister of the crown said that Hitler would vote against the plebiscite, meaning that those who voted against it were friends of Hitler. That was the propaganda which was used, the propaganda which was subsidized by the government. It was just as bad as that of Ti-noir Desjardins twenty-five years ago, when he tried to blow up Lord Atholstan's house at Cartierville. They were agents provocateurs.

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

James Joseph McCann

Liberal

Mr. McCANN:

On what does the hon. member base his statement that this propaganda was subsidized by the government?

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

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I can tell the hon. member that there were national committees, and if they were not subsidized by the government they were not disapproved by any minister of the crown.

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

James Joseph McCann

Liberal

Mr. McCANN:

That is entirely different.

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

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

The hon. gentleman, who is fair-minded, knows very well that a minister of the crown said that Hitler would vote against the plebiscite.

Topic:   MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT TO SERVICE OVERSEAS
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July 6, 1942