I will ask those three hon. members and the hon. member who has just been elected: when they speak of equality of sacrifice, do they mean that the farmers are not doing their duty in this war? Do they mean that the railway men are not doing their duty in this war? Do they mean that the miners-et cetera, et cetera-all those engaged in the war effort, are not doing their duty? Do they mean that those who make munitions, some of whom have been burnt alive in their work, are not doing their bit for the war effort? They will never put it that way, but that is the fact.
Seeing that we are faced with the question of selective service and of man-power, I suggested this afternoon that there should be
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an extension of parliament, and I still believe so, because the question is so tremendous. An effort has been made to impress upon the house the real meaning of man-power in this war. For some members, though not for all, man-power means all men being fit for a training camp; but there are many occupations which are essential to the war effort and which cannot be filled by people coming out of hospitals or from homes for the tuberculous. Once I asked the Minister of Labour, what is the first duty of an able-bodied man of military age, and he told me his first duty was to join the colours. That is wrong. I am not at all an isolationist. I am supporting the army; I am supporting the soldiers and helping their dependents, and at times I have been alone in pressing the claim for better medical care for the army. Again I thank the hon. member for Halifax (Mr. Macdonald) who was parliamentary assistant to the minister, for what he did for these men, in spite of the fact that I was ridiculed in some quarters because I was so persistent.
But if that is "selective service" the government should never speak of selective service. Why keep in the army men who are sick? Perhaps they could be useful somewhere else. I know men. who were busy at essential occupations doing very necessary work as technicians and now they are peeling potatoes in camp, something that could be done by CWAC'S, by young girls or women who need no other experience. Such men, would be much more useful in their previous occupations. I am fighting for the labouring man and I am surprised that some so-called labour members are speaking so loudly while I am defending the rights of the very people whom they should be looking after.
I have mentioned railway employees before. Who came to the defence of railway employees, pointing out that they were essential in their post? The minister for naval services and the former minister for air wrote to the Minister of Labour that they would have no objection to relieving those men if they were required for the railway. The only one who objected was the minister of national defence at that time. If men were sometimes objecting when enlisted into the army it was simply because the former minister did not pay any attention to the remarks I made for the improvement of his department. I suggested reform, but I have had the same success as I had when I talked to R. B. Bennett. I thought I was talking to a stone or a pillar post. No reform was possible. The brass hats were always right. "You are a civilian and you
are wrong." It was enough that I was a civilian; I was considered wrong when I was fighting for the prosecution of the war.
I will tell the hon. member for Grey North that he made a great mistake in suggesting the return of the former minister of national defence of that post. He made a great mistake. He was probably inspired by Borden, McTague or someone of that sort. I regret it on his account.
That is even worse than I thought. I regret it, I say, for my hon. friend's sake. He is one of my contemporaries, but as a parliamentarian he is younger than I am. He is one of my colleagues and I will not dare to give him any advice, though I will tell him that he should not be too quick to believe what may be said by those who are experts in afterthought, unless he is able to read through their skulls to see what they have in the back of their heads. I will tell him that the fight that was carried on in Grey North was deplorable if considered from certain angles. It was deplorable not only in the way the hon. member was elected but in the fact that it was an encouragement to the handful of men who pay no attention at all to what goes on in the Department of National Defence, who have not at heart the welfare of the soldier or of the returned man, but who want to grab control of the natural resources of the country for five years after the war.
There are several questions I should like to direct to the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of National Defence. First, I would repeat a question I asked the Prime Minister on April 4, to be found at page 435 of Hansard. The right hon. gentleman had been announcing the policy of this government with regard to the Pacific war, and after he had made that announcement, questioned by the leader of the opposition he made this statement:
There will be no compulsion in connection with the service against Japan.
Then I asked him whether or not the same principle was to apply to the men who will serve with the Canadian troops of occupation in occupied Germany. The Prime Minister in his statement had also said that there would be Canadian troops in the army of occupation in Germany. I pointed out to the Prime Minister that there would have to
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be continual replacements of the men of the Canadian army of occupation; that there would be new men coming from Canada all the time, and I asked him this question: "Is there to be compulsion in regard to those men?" While the Prime Minister answered "yes" in one case, I think perhaps that was not a definite statement. He then threw the ball, or passed the buck, to the parliamentary assistant, and1 I should be very grateful if the parliamentary assistant would answer that question now.
Yes; I anticipated that the hon. member would want an answer to that question, but I thought he would appreciate it is not one that can be answered by a simple "yes" or "no". The position in that respect is this. Our commitment for the occupational forces in Europe is very small in relation to the present strength of the Canadian army overseas. On the conclusion of hostilities in Europe a rigid pool of shipping will be used, with first priority given to reemployment of the forces in the Pacific. The hon. member knows that all the shipping of the allied nations is pooled and is subject to direction of the general staff. That is the prinicple which will be followed with respect to that pool, and for that reason I am advised that it is bound to be some months before we are going to be able to repatriate enough Canadian overseas troops to reduce the size of our forces overseas to that of the occupational commitment. The problem therefor does not present any serious difficulties in its early phase. Should it become necessary to meet the situation other than by use of troops necessarily remaining in Europe because of the shipping pool then the following will be the policy: (1) those who express a
desire to remain on such service will be given the first opportunity of employment, subject of course, to their possessing the required qualifications, and so on; (2) the remaining personnel required will be detailed from among those having served the shortest time overseas.
Well, I would put it this way. There is no intention of sending any troops, let us say, three, four or five months from now, or whatever it may be. There is no intention of using shipping to send additional troops over from Canada. The first opportunity will be given -to those who are over there to volunteer if they wish to do so, sub-
ject, of course to their qualifications. If a sufficient number do not express a willingness to serve, the remainder, enough to make up the required establishment, will be detailed; in other words, will be told to stay, and the persons detailed will be those who have had the shortest service overseas. The problem will not arise as a practical question for months, probably for a year at least.
Again, not "now overseas," but overseas at the time the force is constituted. The hon. member realizes that men are continually being sent over now. I think I indicated pretty clearly in my statement what it will be.