pointed out to him that in doing that he might be making the greatest mistake possible with respect to the national interest; that, to win this war, we might wish to keep at work in the forests the men who are now working in the forests, to provide the timber which will be required for docks and wharves and required immediately; that the men who are working in the factories may be a thousand times more useful to the government of this country in giving their skilled labour to the manufacture of aircraft, munitions, or other weapons of war than they could possibly be in lining up and presenting themselves for military service; equally, that on the farms, if we are to perform what will be expected of us, we shall need all the production that can be effectively and rapidly carried out on the farms of our country.
This part of it should be completed by reading a letter which I wrote to the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston) on May 16, 1941, when he asked us to help him in the recruiting of volunteers for service abroad.
Ottawa, May 16, 1941. The Honourable J. L. Ralston, K.C.,
Minister of National Defence,
My dear Minister,
Referring to your letter of May 11, there is something that I do not understand.
Eleven months ago, the Prime Minister pointed out to me that in doing voluntary recruiting for the defence of Canada. I might be making the greatest mistake possible with l'espect to the national interest.
Would there be no mistake possible with respect to the national interest in doing it for overseas service? In other words, how can I do, at your request and for another country, what I had been precluded to do by the Prime Minister for our native country?
Then at page 1905 of Hansard for April 23 of this year another hon. member of this house quoted what was said by General Browne:
"Tile reserve force may have to fight and it must be ready to fight as soou as possible," he said.
"After all, there is no more war overseas than there is here now, and we may have some here sooner than they have, in view of the threats to our coast."
Then Hon. Mr. Godbout, premier of the province of Quebec, on February 20 stated that Quebec was open to attack from the Atlantic. That view was supported by Rear Admiral G. C. Jones, commanding officer of the Atlantic coast, who with Rear Admiral P. W. Nelles does not rule out the possibility of German submarines and a supply ship penetrating into the gulf of St. Lawrence this summer. Everyone knows that submarines have come very close to my constituency. Unfortunately they caught the navy napping at the time, because I understand they were chased by a boat that was not sufficiently speedy. Then there is something else of the utmost importance; it is a question that I
directed to the Prime Minister in this house on February 16, 1942, appearing at page 598 of Hansard:
Mr. Jean-Frangois Pouliot (Temiscouata): Mr. Speaker, as a private Liberal member of this honourable house, may I ask the government if the Canadian people, following the deplorable fall of Singapore and the notorious escape of a German naval squadron from Brest, can secure a definite guarantee that this country will not be invaded before the end of the war; and if so, what is it? If not, is it the policy of the government to create a large number of mobile units and to improve at once all means and ways of communication throughout this country?
Right Hon. W. L. Mackenzie King (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, on these questions of strategy and war policy, questions that affect other parts of the world as well as Canada and other nations as well as our own, I do not think any question should either be asked in a form which is likely to cause embarrassment, or answered, or attempted to be answered, if there is the slightest possibility of either the question or the answer being misunderstood in any part of the world. I am afraid that my hon. friend's question has been asked on the spur of the moment, and I for one would certainly not wish to reply without due consideration.
The question was put on February 16, and I have received no reply.
Then, at Selkirk, the Minister of National War Services (Mr. Thorson) said that Canadians were the most mobile of all allied armies. Surely they are; they are all outside of Canada. What is needed, sir, is a decentralization of the army in this country. We need good military roads and we need men who are fit to defend our own country.
Here is another question, which I put on June 20, 1940, two days after the mobilization bill was brought up. I said-Hansard, page 1053:
Mr. Pouliot: I want to make myself as clear as posible, I am speaking only of mobilization for home defence, and I want to know if a man not in the class that may be called for military service in connection with home defence may enlist just the same, without being obliged to agree to overseas service.
Mr. Mackenzie King: The answer is yes.
Well, now, what appears in the enlistment form? Here is the declaration to be made by a man on attestation:
I do solemnly declare that the above
particulars are true, and I hereby engage to serve in any active formation or unit of the Canadian Army so long as an emergency, i.e., war, invasion, riot or insurrection, real or apprehended, exists, and for the period of demobilization after said emergency ceases to exist, and in any event for a period of not less than one year, provided His Majesty should so require my services.
We are told that Canada is just lacking in draftees; that is the news which appeared in
Mobilization Act-Mrs. Nielsen
the press on June 3. On the first page of the Ottawa Evening Journal of yesterday I see that men of special ages will be drafted for the reserve-"Government to follow call-up plan made by George Mcllraith." All the cream of our youth is sent overseas, and all we have to defend this country is just the skimmed milk, men who- have passed the military age or who are unfit for military service when the distance to be covered by Canadian units is so great.