Last night I asked the parliamentary assistant some constructive questions. Some of the matters I touched upon have been already dealt with and I will not refer to them. I saw the McGill battery under Colonel Stack over at the Niagara camp during the last war. The young parliamentary assistant to the minister of national defence was, I believe, a member of that battery. I wish to compliment him on the answers he has given in Hansard. I have no criticism to offer against anybody personally, but I wish to point out to the government one or two mistakes made in this war in connection with first, overseas work and our army at the front, and second, the home army, so that we shall not fall into the fatal mistakes we made between the two wars.
My only object in coming to Ottawa as a member of parliament some years ago was to try to assist the returned soldiers and to do something for them and for the defence of the country. My particular object was to improve the conditions of the soldiers who had enlisted in the last war. Between the two wars there was a conflict in the house. Everybody seemed to think we would not have any more wars. The result was we threw away our defences and our friends and with the mother country threw away the finest army, navy and air force the world had ever seen. It will take a generation to get it back.
I was disappointed in some ways with regard to the overseas part of this war. I do not criticize the gentlemen who have occupied the office between the two wars. I found the former minister of national defence (Mr. Ralston) very obliging. I could get an answer in a day or two. So far as I can see he did his best to meet the situation. But there are
some mistakes that have been made in the conduct of the war. In the first place I was very much disappointed that some of our forces overseas were kept so long in England and had no chance to march across the desert with Generals Montgomery and Alexander. We did not have any representation in that particular campaign. That may be due to the decisions of the officer commanding overseas; however, I do not blame him for it, but I do say that the former minister of national defence was absolutely right in what he said, namely, that in the last analysis the conduct of the war is on the minister of national defence and on the government of the day so far as they are the government of the day. The minister said-and he can correct me if I am wrong in this-in the final analysis it was the minister of national defence who would have the say. These are not his exact words but I think they are the sum and substance of what he said.
I believe that we have prolonged the war on the western front by withdrawal of ships and the air force to be used in other theatres -I do not know about the army. I do not believe we have sufficient over there for replacements at any time, and some are being withdrawn from there to be sent to the Pacific. There is no doubt that that has lengthened the war. There was a debate on this very matter in the British House of Commons and it was shown from the lists of divisions given that Britain and the dominions with France and Belgium had only about fifteen divisions on the western front whereas our opponents had a very much larger number. It has been claimed that that has lengthened the war. It was also shown that owing to lack of shipping by withdrawals the liberated countries through which our armies are marching had not the food with which to supply them, with the result that they were beginning to turn on the allies who had redeemed them. I do hope that that will be improved in the next few days.
There are one or two other matters to which I should like to refer. I believe that considerable time has been taken in returning men home. At Christmas only about one-fourth of one per cent got home, five or six hundred or a thousand. I do hope that those who have been overseas and borne the burden and heat of the day for going on to five years will be given some form of leave. There are a great many complaints coming in from the dependents of these men in Canada. I do not blame the department. War is war. As Sherman said, " war is hell." It is worse than that at present.
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Other mistakes were made, and I shall now refer to one of them, namely, the use of the properties of the municipalities at home for camp purposes. We have a large camp at the exhibition grounds in the city of Toronto. Those grounds, buildings and permanent exhibits cost the city about $27,000,000. They gave that property free to the government during the war. There have been startling changes in voluntary recruiting during the war. There have been changes in the mobilization of our men. Men were sent to camps all across Canada. Some soldiers from Hamilton and the Niagara district went out to the coast. Some were sent to the maritimes. In the great war those overseas units were attached to some militia unit near home for overseas training. I think that was the better principle. They were attached to a militia unit with the result that they had local support for recruiting in their own community the overseas units they raised. The change was a great mistake in this war. The transferring of all these men across Canada was a waste of money. They were taken away from their own people. They could have got just as good training at home.
True it is that I do not wish to criticize any man in the department. I do not wish to criticize any official because probably some of them know more than members of the House of Commons. But I think a great mistake was made in connection with the work of the records offices with the result that we cannot find from the records office how many men have enlisted from each municipality. That information will be needed after the war. Other departments of government can give that information. The victory loan officials can tell you the next day how much money was invested all across Canada, how much from Hamilton, Vancouver, and so on. The income tax department can give that information next day and so can the Red Cross, by municipalities. There should be a different system in the records office. In my opinion it is a relic of the South African war.
The same thing is true with regard to the use of buildings. Very few Toronto soldiers now are housed in the buildings in Toronto. The government has spent a large sum of money, $7,000,000 or $8,000,000 on Camp Borden. The Niagara camp could have been extended by camps on the highways right around Toronto to Niagara which could have been used in that connection. After the war the government will have to decide on some new army policy. We are going into this nationalism in a very large way. We shall have to supply an army for service for overseas for some years after this war. We shall have to supply an army of a hundred thousand men if we are to carry out
the programme that has been proposed by the internationalists at San Francisco. This is the sixth year of the war. Before the session closes the government will have to give us an answer as to their plans for the regular army, our militia, the reserve army, the home guard and the cadet services.
We are being told by individuals in Toronto that we have no right to sit as members of parliament because parliament's time has expired. I received two letters from constituents of the hon. member for Parkdale, saying that we have no right to sit here at all, because the life of this parliament has expired. Judging by what one reads in some of the newspapers Toronto city has no members of parliament here at all. We might as well sit in secret for all the news the public sometimes gets of what is going on here. In connection with the armed forces it would be far better if we had an election immediately. The winning of the war is the most important thing; other matters take second place. I say it would be far better if we had the principle that is applied in Washington, a fixed day for a federal election such as the fourth of November, or some other fixed day. In that way the forces would not suffer the way they are suffering to-day.
If we are to have a programme of internationalism as visualized by the San Francisco conference we shall require an army of 75,000 men. As I said before, I think the late minister was right. He was quite sympathetic with me when I said that every person in Canada should be able to use a rifle. They have that principle of recruiting in Norway. They had it years before this war started, and I pointed it out to the government between the two wars. I hope something will be done about that.
With regard to the cadet service, it is the most important branch of army work and has been so since confederation, and from confederation up to the second year of this war that work was carried on by the school boards and the boards of education of this country. It should be immediately restored and grants given all along the line, such as was done before. Uniforms and all that kind of thing should be given. No outside organization should have control of the cadet services in state schools. Some principals of the schools object to it. They object to other organizations coming into the schools and interfering with the cadet services. The cadet services were in many respects the backbone of the militia. I am in hopes that something can be done for them.
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Then, I asked that some consideration be given to the situation at the exhibition grounds in Toronto. How many soldiers are housed there? Will the property be given back to the city? As we know, the members of the Royal Air Force who were housed there have gone to Trenton, and there is a large new barracks being built for the use of the navy on the waterfront next to the baseball grounds, and will be ready in a few months. I walked past some of those buildings two or three times last week, and did not see any soldiers in them-with the exception, of course, of a few guards. But the fact is that there were scarcely any soldiers around the exhibition grounds at all. There is a large building in those grounds, the live stock arena, formerly used by the air force. I believe I laid the cornerstone of it, 'but I have not been in it since the war started. Toronto members of parliament have, during this war, not been invited to see anything up there. The live stock arena is now used for demobilization purposes; it could be located elsewhere in Toronto, and especially when the Department of Munitions and Supply has control of a number of huts along the waterfront. I know thatt because I walk past them almost every day. I see very few people around them. They could be used by one of the departments of government for demobilization purposes and the entire exhibition grounds could be given back to the city. I understand two or three millions of dollars were spent on the exhibition buildings by the government for renovations, under the control of an official of the fair board.
It is my understanding that few Toronto soldiers were housed in those buildings in this war. Soldiers from all over Canada had to go to Camp Borden and other places to which they should not have had to go. The army at the start of this war seemed to have been the forgotten agency. Certainly it was in that position before the war started. Between the two wars the permanent force was ridiculed right in this House of Commons. We did not hear a good word for the militia and the military colleges and all that sort of thing. We were told that there would be no more war; we heard all sorts of statements of that kind, with the result that when war broke out Tommy Atkins was the forgotten man. There were some who thought that through Divine Providence or some other agency the air force would simply go over and destroy Germany, and that as a result we would need no army and no expeditionary force. Between the two wars I contended that an expeditionary force would be necessary, and that at least such force should be supplied with the most modern equipment.
Then, another thing is this. There are too many spokesmen respecting the forces over the radio and in press interviews. In my view radio has been one of the mischievous institutions we have had between the wars. I remember that during those years we heard over the radio a great amount of support for disarmament, and all that sort of thing. We never heard one good word on the radio about our militia forces or rearmament. I believe the late minister went into this matter, and I was glad to see it. The parliamentary secretary will remember that between the two wars members of the militia had to put their hands into their own pockets to buy typewriters, to pay office rent, to have cadet services, and other things of that kind. A condition of that kind should not exist. The government is spending four billions of dollars on the war, and it should be ready to remedy a situation like that in the peace army to be. I am now pleading for better treatment of the militia, better treatment in the future of the army and their dependents. I should hope the government would have something to say about it.
The treatment of soldiers' families requires consideration, too. We heard a long statement respecting the paying of gratuities, and the application of the means test before the payment of allowances. I admit that the Minister of Veterans' Affairs (Mr. Mackenzie) did bring down an order in council respecting the Northwest Field Force, but I was sorry to see that a means test was applied. The result was that it affected men who in that northwest rebellion had walked across lake Superior at temperatures reaching forty degrees below zero, to save the dislocation of western Canada. We see a lot of men advanced in life, some of whom cannot be given old age pensions, and others of whom are receiving only very small amounts-possibly $40 a month by way of old age pension-to whom this means test is applied. That is the treatment they received, instead of having this money paid to them as a right, and not as a privilege. Between the two wars many of those conditions could have been remedied.
There is one further point I would make for the benefit of the parliamentary assistant. This is something the late minister tried to do, and affects soldiers of the forces who are not supposed to write to the newspapers. One of them wrote to a newspaper last Saturday complaining of my use of the words "ready, aye, ready". I know that the parliamentary assistant follows that motto too. I knew all about the Grenadiers and the Queen's Own, long before the writer of the letter knew about them. We know that according to regulations
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army personnel are not permitted to write letters to newspapers or carry on correspondence with members of parliament making complaints to them, and discussing camp conditions. This was pointed out to the former minister, and I believe he rescinded the order. Then a new minister enters the department. I could bring down a whole bale of correspondence, a pile a foot high, concerning the present Minister of National Defence, upon his return to Canada. I have a pile of newspapers containing interviews with him, both before and since he came home. Is there to be one rule for the private, another for the colonel and another for the captain? I say, no. We have a citizen's army, and a citizen who enlists in that army should not lose all the rights and privileges he enjoys as a private citizen. Those rights and privileges should be preserved for and applied to him. I hope the parliamentary assistant will bring these matters to the attention of the minister.
I should like to ask three or four questions, and then I shall have completed what I have to say. Perhaps I could finish in about five minutes, because I should like to see these estimates passed this afternoon. First, has the government any plan for the post-war? Have we any plan for the army and the militia, any plan for the reserve army or the home guard? Has any survey been made of proposed oversea services, in view of the coming international conference att San Francisco? Has any survey been made to ascertain what overseas bases will have to be given protection by Canada, and where? Are we going to make the same mistake in respect of the army as we made between the two wars? We know what a fatal thing it was so far as the defence of this country was concerned. There was a definite lack of everything an army needed when at last war broke out. When war came we knew that we lacked everything necessary for the conduct of a war. We had heard talk that there would be bombing from the air, that an air force was all that would be required over Germany, that no expeditionary force would be needed. If we do continue to have an army, a number of years will be required to equip it in modern fashion, because we know that modern warfare between modern armies is a highly technical affair. Those armies cannot be got together in a day.
War now is a complicated business, as is amply shown in the mechanism developed by the Department of Munitions and Supply. Before the war the army was starved. The same thing happened in the mother country. If I remember rightly, they had a standing army of about 225,000 men when war broke
out. At that time they were twenty-five thousand men short, and could not get recruits.
We as a house should have something to say as to what is to be done in respect of mobilization plans, and particularly if we are to have all this internationalism. As I said last night, in view of our high income tax, no country can afford to have the same degree of mobilization in peace days as it would have in a time of war. A government can go only as far as the people of the country will allow it to go.
Before the beginning of this war I supported a policy of national service and equality of service and sacrifice. Conditions are changing. Under the voluntary system we have recruiting. In 1940-41 I saw recruits standing on University avenue because they could not get into the army. Those men came in from Aurora, Mimico and other points. The result was our voluntary system fell down through nobody's fault.
Ever since I have been a member I have advocated national service. In the light of our experience in this war can anybody say that the voluntary system has been sufficient to provide a regular and adequate army in time of trouble or for home defence or for overseas or home guard purposes? Can that be said in the light of the experience gained in the past war, in the period between the wars and in this war?
When the navy, army, and air force men return from overseas I believe that the government of that day will be forced by a revolution of public opinion to accept liability for national service by all citizens irrespective of class, creed or anything else. I believe that is coming.
No sport, either amateur or professional, should interfere with a citizen's duty under national service. These sports should be regulated as they are regulated in some countries. If participation in sport disables a man from military service who otherwise might be fit for it, then the state should step in and regulate that sport. It is the duty of the state to see that there is equality of service and sacrifice on the part of all our citizens.
In my opinion the voluntary system can never provide an adequate army, and I hope something will be done about it. The Minister of National Health and Welfare is starting a programme of physical fitness. Instead of leaving this to a civilian in the department who has had no overseas war experience, it should be left to the different boards of education. Grants should be provided along the
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lines I have indicated. I should like to find out the policy of the government in that connection.
We need a home guard for home defence, and what should be done must be quite apparent to the government. Our troops overseas have borne the burden and heat of the day. They have written the most glorious record in the history of this country. I have received letters from dozens of these men and they all tell me that they hope something will be done to establish an equality of service and sacrifice so that there will not be so many "stay at home" people who long ago should be at the war.
Mr. Chairman, I do not agree with everything the hon. member for Broadview has said, but he has made some excellent remarks. Throughout the country people are saying that the hon. member for Broadview and some others have not sold their birthrights for pullman tickets to San Francisco.
I have a few questions to ask the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of National Defence. I am sorry his predecessor resigned, because my dealings with him had been most happy when I was looking after the welfare of soldiers. The present parliamentary assistant is a lawyer with considerable experience, a man who is well educated, a gentleman as was his predecessor. It is always pleasant to have discussions between gentlemen. I have a few questions I want to ask, but first I should like to get an answer to one in particular.
I have been informed that there has been a change made in the head of the Department of National Defence. I suggested to the present incumbent of this office that some reforms should be made at headquarters. I should be thankful to my hon. friend if he would tell me what reforms if any have been carried out at the headquarters of the Department of National Defence since the new minister took charge of the department. After he has answered this question, I shall have a few more to ask.
I have been in the department only a short time and I am quite sure I cannot give my hon. friend particulars of all the reforms that have been instituted. Of course improvements are constantly being made. I shall make inquiries and endeavour to give my hon. friend an answer perhaps later to-day.
I have sympathy for the present Minister of National Defence because of the abuse he was subjected to before, during and after the election in Grey North. As a defender of Widows and orphans I have always had a soft spot in my heart for those who suffer persecution. I always am ready to lend a hand to those in trouble and to those Who suffer from injustices. There are things neither I nor anybody else in this country can understand in connection with what happened in the Department of National Defence. What we do understand is that during the election in Grey North the issue at stake was not the welfare of the army; it was not the welfare of the country; it was purely a matter of putting out political propaganda for political advantage. I see the new member for Grey North is in the chamber. I congratulate him upon being elected, but I cannot congratulate him upon his victory, because the victory was not his; it was Doctor Shields' victory.
If the Minister of National Defence was defeated in Grey North it was also because the government afforded every facility, to use the Prime Minister's expression, to John Bracken to go overseas during the election to canvass the army against the Minister of National Defence. Then he came back to Canada after a trip he had made mbstly at the expense of the taxpayers of this country with a halo of glory and glamour which he never would have had if some people had not been stupid enough to send him overseas at public expense to get that halo. It is most natural that crowds of people in Grey North filled the hall to listen to the man who had just come back from overseas. That would have happened in any constituency, because John Bracken was carrying a message from the soldiers overseas to their relatives in Canada; he was coming to tell them how the soldiers were whom he had met over there. He had travelled from battlefield to battlefield in aeroplanes that belonged to this country, and had been surrounded by brass hats. He was not photographed with them, but he was photographed with a few Tory nurses overseas. He came back to Grey North to give news of the soldiers overseas to their relatives. The board of strategy of the party had never thought of that; it was the government that thought of it, probably with the idea of getting John Bracken out of the way during the by-election in order that the minister might be elected by acclamation. I find, sir, that that was just silly-s-i-l-l-y-and if the Minister of National Defence was defeated
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in Grey North he can thank in the first place Doctor Shields, and in the second place his colleagues in the government who organized to send John Bracken overseas at public expense.
listen to John Bracken if he had not gone overseas at the expense of the Canadian taxpayer? But he came back a hero, the carrier of a message-not a message to Garcia, but a message not only to the people of Grey North but to the Canadian people at large, to all the relatives and friends of the hundreds of thousands of Canadian soldiers who are overseas. Therefore, unfortunate as it is, if the present Minister of National Defence was defeated he can thank his colleagues in the cabinet jointly and severally.
Another thing that I cannot understand is this. John Bracken and some other Tory stalwarts complained on the one hand of the mess in the Department of National Defence, and then on the other hand John Bracken was bold enough to suggest to the Prime Minister of Canada. that he fire General McNaughton and replace him by his immediate predecessor, who was precisely the one responsible for that mess that he was complaining of. Where is the logic in that? Who gave the opportunity to think of saying that to the bright and .intelligent electors of Grey North, one of the finest counties of this dominion? It is important to afford to the electorate the opportunity to think about certain matters, but the fact is so clear that it is not necessary to underline it to make the people understand that the issue at stake was partisan politics.
The suggestion, I say, was made by John Bracken that the Minister of National Defence should be fired and replaced by the hon. member for Prince (Mr. Ralston), although John Bracken had complained of the disastrous management of the department of which the member for Prince had been head for nearly five years. That is beyond my understanding. When the issue was mentioned by the hon. gentleman who now sits as member for the county of Grey North, I know very well that the whole thing had been organized by two men who were in government employ and who resigned at the same time, on the same day, and are now in the same law firm. They said: We need conscription in Canada for overseas service. Who were those two? Harry Borden and McTague, two of the principal advisers of John Bracken. Harry
Borden had been appointed controller of controllers in the Department of Munitions and Supply, the most important position that a civilian has held during this war, and the other one had been chairman of the national war labour board-two fine images of fine citizenry. They were there, having everything in hand, to control the war effort of this country. They were inspiring the speeches of John Bracken-if they were not dictating them.
And now, sir, I will ask you one question. Who recommended Harry Borden for his job as general counsel of the Department of Munitions and Supply, and who recommended the former Judge McTague as chairman of the national war labour board? These are some of the questions that I have asked, and an order of the house was passed that the answers be brought down as a return, but they have not yet been answered. They should have been answered before this discussion began. There is no excuse for not answering them. Many of my questions were so easy to answer, requiring just a simple "yes" or "no". Why were they not answered? It is a matter of privilege for a member of parliament to have a return to an order of the house brought down promptly.
Do you not believe, sir, that it was pure political propaganda on the part of Borden and McTague to use John Bracken as their tool to boost the member for Prince as Minister of National Defence at the expense of the present incumbent of that high post? I submit the question to you, sir, and to my colleagues. It is a matter that interests the people. They were shaking hands under the table. I warned the Prime Minister more than four years ago, on February 21, 1941. I told him then that some people were there to stab him in the back. I was ridiculed. I was told to mind my own business. I was told that I was not a good Liberal. At that time I was not defending my own party only; I was defending parliamentary institutions, as I did at three o'clock this afternoon. But there, again, I was alone.
There are perhaps two or three members of the Conservative party in this house'-no more-who sometimes talk against my native province. They have no reason for that. Outsidle of this chamber they are pleasant colleagues. Nearly all the hon. members who compose the Progressive Conservative party in this house are worthy of their electors, andi I will say the same thing of the new member for Grey North. I have no grouch against him; the electors put him here, and he will be judged not by what he said during
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the election but by what he will do in this house. I have many friends on all sides of the house, and I respect them. I regret that the Conservative party, which was a great party, is led at the present time-and I do not say this of my ho;n. friend the house leader of the opposition, a personal friend of mine,, who does very well, and should have been the leader of his party-by asses who are not members of parliament: ass No. 1, John Bracken; ass No. 2, Harry Borden; ass No. 3, former Justice McTague; ass No. 4, the former private secretary to R. B. Bennett who broke the glass in all the windows of the members' offices on the sixth floor the day he was fired, and Bennett had to pay for it. And they are the brains of the Progressive Conservative party! If I were a Progressive Conservative I would revolt against it, and I would tell John Bracken: Drop ass Borden, drop ass McTague, drop Bennett's ex-ass, or I will resign. That is the way they should speak. Now they have nothing to say; and imagine how humiliating it is for them! They should not trust John -Bracken, because he is not a dyed-in-the-wool Tory; he is not an honest Progressive Conservative; he is a false Liberal. They should not trust him too much. And besides that, why should they trust Harry Borden, who is on the board of Barclay's bank, an institution which is the hyphen between international finance and the government of Canada? And former Justice McTague: "Justice", -what a name, "Justice"! And then the other fellow is just a scribe, who has a great facility for writing speeches which are read by the man who does not compose them. If my ho,n. friends of the Conservative party want to talk politics I am ready to talk politics with them, and paint a picture of their saints. I never visited their lobby, but they must have the ikons of all those great minds which are substituted for theirs in the framing of policies.
Now let us come back to Grey North. Here is something which has been repeated many a time-"equality of sacrifice". And those brass hats who are here in Ottawa and have never been to any theatre of war are supposed to sacrifice themselves much more than the drivers of trains who are in their cabs, than those who manufacture explosives, than those who are in the bottoms of merchant ships, than the farmers, than everybody else. The question of conscription is not new. I have fought it for five years, and1 never on political grounds, but for the benefit of this country. There will shortly be a victory loan. The Canadian people, who are heavily taxed,
will nevertheless subscribe to the victory loan. Naturally the army will give a fine response, as it did before. But the main subscribers will be people in civilian clothes who contribute not only money but also work in the war effort. But what is done? What is said? The influence made by all those who spoke for and on behalf of the Conservative party is that it is only the man in the army who is doing his share for the war effort. I will ask each one of them-I will ask the hon. member for Grey North, the hon. member for Parkdale (Mr. Bruce), the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker), and one of the hon. members for Peterborough- not the one who is in the chamber, the other one-
I do not want any confusion, beeatise the hon. member for Peterborough West is not at all to blame. He is a first-class member who discusses things sometimes with a little, violence, but that is all right; I am all for it; he has the right to do it and he does it very well.