April 6, 1949

LIB

William Henry Golding (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Deputy Chairman:

If the hon. member for Eglinton is offended I ask the hon. member for Vancouver North to withdraw the remark, but I would also ask the hon. member for Eglinton to try to observe the rules himself from now on.

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LIB

John Ewen Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. Sinclair:

In deference to you, sir, I withdraw the word "disgraceful" and substitute the word "childish."

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?

An hon. Member:

Consult the provinces.

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PC

John Thomas Hackett

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hackett:

I submit, Mr. Chairman, that it is impossible for this committee to express any opinion on the orderly method of this establishment until it has certain details, and until it is treated otherwise than in the highhanded way which denies it all information on the ground that it is not in the public interest to impart it.

The minister well knows that if necessary a secret session could be held. He well knows that he is in control of the situation, but the arbitrary and-

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Some hon. Members:

Order.

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PC

John Thomas Hackett

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hackeit:

-completely egotistical way in which parliament is brushed aside when it asks for information concerning a matter of the utmost importance is something to which hon. members must object. This item does not merely affect the fortunes of individuals; it affects the life of the country itself. Throughout the land there is a great deal of unrest.

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LIB

Loran Ellis Baker (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Baker:

On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I wonder whether the hon. member for Stanstead would ask the question and we shall see if we can answer it. We have not been asked a question yet. The minister said that the only questions he would not answer

were those dealing with matters of security which it was not in the public interest t< answer. The others will be answered if w< can answer them. If we cannot answer then we shall say so.

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PC

John Thomas Hackett

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hackeit:

The hon. gentleman will se< that when asked for information of this typ< the minister said-

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LIB
PC

John Thomas Hackett

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hackeit:

The answer will be found a page 2323 of Hansard, and reads:

Accordingly it is not in the public interest to givi this or similar information in reply to this and th. next question. However, I shall be glad to give th< hon. member the information for his own privati use, if he wants it.

A little further on a question is asked whj this information could not be given to ; special committee, and the minister's answe: is:

It was not in the public interest.

The question is: What is the purpose? Wh; were these $19 million spent, for what pur pose and in what proportion among the ser vices. Those are among the questions whicl relatively-

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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

That question has not ye been put to me. I shall be very glad indeec to answer it if I am given the opportunity If that is the hon. member's question I shal be very glad to answer it.

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An hon. Member:

Answer it.

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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

Mr. Chairman, so that thi record may be straight, I have just looke< through the proceedings of the committee a recorded in Hansard when the committee las sat on this estimate and, so far as I know during the sitting of that committee I wa not asked any question that has not bee: answered. If I am wrong in that I shall b very glad to have the fact drawn to m; attention. The one objection I made ti answering any question was made to a ques tion put on the order paper which ha< already been dealt with by the house, submit that further discussion of that is ou of order.

In answer to my hon. friend's question a to how this money has been spent, I will sa; that not a cent of it has been spent. I repea that not a cent of it has been spent. We ar coming here to get authority to make th expenditure. We seek that authority for th following main items, divided among the dif ferent services: to the imperial war grave commission, for the care and maintenance c graves of the second world war, additions payment of $127,583; for the navy, for wag and salary increases to civil servants am hourly rate increases of rate paid to the corp

of commissionaires, as well as recent increases in pay and allowances for service personnel, $1,995,000; in the army, provision for increased rates of pay for civilian and service personnel, and to cover further provision of cash for completion of married quarters units over our current commitment that was provided, $14,500,000; for the air force, overhauling aircraft, $3,000,000; making a total of $19,622,583.

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PC

John Thomas Hackett

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hackett:

I would draw the minister's attention to the fact that in dealing with a similar item the Minister of Finance said that the amount of the original vote apparently was not quite sufficient to enable the work to be completed. Then he said: Treasury board indicated that it should be carried on and that this supplementary vote would be requested; but this not being my own department I am not in a position to answer the specific question asked by my hon. friend.

I would draw to the attention of the committee the fact that, according to the Minister of Finance, that amount appeared to have been already spent, the approval of parliament to be secured later.

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LIB
PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

Mr. Chairman, there are a few questions I should like to ask the Minister of National Defence regarding this vote. I understand that in the main estimates of last year there was a sum of $251 million for purposes of national defence, and that in addition to that there was $37,238,378, which was a sort of floating reserve to be spent during this year. For future years we voted the sum of $59,938,028.

The Minister of National Defence now comes to us asking for a further supplementary estimate of $19,622,583. The first question I would ask is this: Is this amount part of the additional moneys voted for future years? Will there be a reduction from that $59 million, or is this amount to be added on?

I would ask further whether the $37 million odd which was voted has already been spent. I had intended to ask in more detail as to how this $19 million was going to be divided. The headings which were given in the main estimates at the last session divided the sums into expenditures for the navy, expenditures for the army, expenditures for the air force, Northwest Territories and Yukon radio system, northwest highway system, northwest staging route, and research.

Can the minister allocate the division he proposes to make of this $19 million under those various main estimates? I know he did give some information a few moments ago; but he gave it so rapidly that I was unable to follow the actual distribution.

Supply-National Defence Reference was made to war graves, and other minor points. I feel that this is definite and concrete information to which we have a right. We have the right to examine as to how this money is being spent. There is no use shutting our eyes to the fact that there is a good deal of uncertainty in the country concerning the efficiency of the services.

Surely information as to the method in which this $19 million is going to be expended would go some distance toward easing that uncertainty, if we could have frankness on the part of the government. Having due regard to security measures, they should give us as much information as it is possible to give.

I believe the minister would admit that a smoke screen has been thrown across in the form of these so-called measures for security, measures which might assist the enemy in planning a diversionary raid. We have been told who the only possible enemy is, and it is one which would have to come some 3,000 miles to reach our shores. Should we not ask ourselves whether the formations we now have, and whether those various armed services which this supplementary vote is to augment and improve, are designed so that they can be effective to meet the contingencies the minister has outlined as being those for which our armed forces are designed? If the armed forces are not designed so that they can meet the particular emergencies which the minister has envisaged, then this additional $19 million is just being poured down the drain. It is no good spending $19 million on an inefficient organization. It is because we are anxious to know whether our armed forces are efficient, and whether they are the type of armed forces to meet the particular emergency which exists, that we feel we have a right to ask for certain information.

In the past the minister has not been backward about giving information on the composition of the armed forces. When discussing the main estimates last year, he outlined in detail at page 5785 of Hansard the number of aircraft which we had at that time. He said that the aircraft which he had at that time consisted of eighty-five Vampires, thirty Mustangs, twenty-three North Stars, twenty Fireflies, and so on. I need not give the whole list. Then he went on to say:

. . . bringing the total number of planes of all types to something well over 1,000.

If an enemy were planning to launch a raid against this country, is that not the type of information that he might well desire to have?

Supply-National Defence Then in discussing the army the minister referred to the units about which information was asked a few days ago. He said:

The active army, in the first place, is to include a brigade group or later such additional force as may be considered necessary, trained and equipped to deal with any diversionary attack.

In other places he has given the composition of that brigade group. Later on in the same debate he described its strength. He said that 20 per cent of the total active force of the army was serving in that particular brigade group. All that is being asked now is how many men have received a certain type of training. I do not think that the minister has ever said that the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry is a parachute battalion. He has always referred to it as an airborne battalion. We have read in all kinds of service magazines what an airborne battalion is. It may not be known to the general public, but its establishment is certainly known to a trained intelligence officer of any country.

An airborne battalion would normally consist of a certain number of men who had been trained as parachutists, perhaps as many as 100. The rest would be carried by glider or other aircraft, and would be able to exploit the initial advantage which might have been gained by the men of the battalion who had originally been dropped by parachute. There is nothing secret about that. I do not know how many of the men of my old regiment have trained as parachutists but, according to the general principle, the number is something under 100. There is nothing very mysterious about that.

We ask ourselves whether that type of force is suitable to deal with the particular kind of diversionary attack on this country which might be expected. When discussing the main estimates last year I said I considered that our forces were impotent to meet any sudden attack which might be expected. Similar words were used by the late chief of the air staff, who referred to the R.C.A.F. as being impotent to meet any sudden attack. I say now that, on the basis of the information which the minister gave in the main estimates last year, and on the basis of such information as has been published in the papers, and in statements released by his department, our armed forces cannot effectively meet the type of diversionary raid which might be launched against this country.

The minister stated in his remarks on the main estimates last year that the brigade which had been designed to meet such an attack had never been trained together as a brigade. He said that last summer for the first time two of the units would train as

units in Petawawa camp. I doubt very much whether the commander of the brigade has been designated, and whether he has had his staff assembled. I am quite certain that no opportunity has been provided him to train his troops, and as for our airborne battalion it should be realized that it has not carried out a single airborne exercise. The training that they have received up to date has been elementary, individual training. Therefore I contend, and I repeat, that we are incompetent to meet the type of raid which any enemy, having to come a distance of 3,000 miles, might be expected to launch against this country. You cannot conjure up in your mind any target which might justify the general staff of a hostile country launching a diversionary raid against Canada which this force, in its present condition, could deal with effectively. I shall not enumerate all the possible targets. Possible targets exist on our west coast and on our east coast. Perhaps they might launch such a raid from submarines. Our forces consist very largely of recruits scattered across the country, who could not deal with any such contingency. If they considered launching a raid entirely by air, there are of course attractive targets. It is not impossible to think of a hostile airborne force coming across our Arctic wastes and landing airborne troops at unprotected airfields at such places as Whitehorse.

Now on the east coast we have the unprotected airfields we recently took over when Newfoundland joined our dominion. We do not want in future to see such names as Whitehorse or Goose or Gander become synonymous with the activities usually associated with the name of Pearl Harbor. So I suggest that if we are to have a force adequate to meet the very first objective laid down by the minister, that is to deal with a diversionary raid, then we must have a force accustomed to working together; and the sooner that force is brought together, trained together and given more advanced training, the sooner it will be in a position to deal with an operation of that type. If the $19 million is to be spent to improve the efficiency of that force, then I do not believe the people of Canada will have very much objection to it; but it is only fair and right that we should have clear and definite information from the minister.

In the last few months, I suggest, we have had rather unfortunate illustrations of the difficulties experienced when men who have not served together for any length of time are sent on some operation. We have seen the unfortunate incidents-I do not think they were serious-which occurred on three of the ships of the Royal Canadian Navy. As far as I can gather from press reports, these arose

mainly from the fact that the crews of these ships had been permitted to fall short in numbers, and that before the ships were sent on their missions the crews were brought up to strength by transfers from other establishments and perhaps by bringing in some Royal Canadian Naval Reserve personnel. As a result the crews were not accustomed to working together, and when minor difficulties and hardships came along little frictions were bound to arise. So if you were attempting to send a force to meet any diversionary raid that might be made you would find the same little causes of friction unless the units had been working together under their own commanders. If therefore this money is to be spent in improving the efficiency of our forces I do not think any objection will be taken to it. But if it is going to be frittered away, perhaps by visits of senior officers to Ruritania, for example, and by military missions sent all over the world, that is a different matter. We want to be told clearly how this money is going to be expended.

I have made some reference to the air force. I have mentioned the various types of aircraft the minister told us were available.

I have referred to a statement by a senior officer who recently left the department, who considered that in its present form of organization and the degree to which it has received its training it was not in a position to deal effectively with any raid which might be made against this country. I suggest, too, that the mere organization of a force to deal with a diversionary raid is not our only military obligation. Within the last few days we have signed the North Atlantic security pact, which is designed to preserve the peace of the world and to which no doubt we shall have to contribute certain armed forces if that peace is to be preserved. Those forces will not be confined solely to troops held in Canada in order to deal with a diversionary raid. As the second objective, the minister spoke of the organization and training of reserve forces, so they might be capable of rapid expansion if necessary. In view of the fact that we have signed the North Atlantic pact, I feel the minister should tell us whether any of this money is to be used for the purpose of increasing those forces which may be required to supplement plans drawn up under that pact, and whether any scheme will be devised for the rapid expansion of those forces if necessary.

It seems to me, Mr. Chairman, that we cannot have schemes for speeding up the expansion of the forces and for getting them into the field at an early date-and this may be the crux of the whole matter-if we are going to adhere to the old, traditional organi-

Supply-National Defence zation, which may have stood the test in 1812 and 1900 and 1914 but which is out of date now. We have to consider what steps we are going to take to meet the need for expansion, the need to implement our obligations under the North Atlantic pact in 1949 or 1950. It is not a question of harking back and being satisfied with the organization that existed previously. We now have far more definite commitments than ever before. So I ask the minister to explain definitely whether this $19 million is to come out of the amount allocated and voted by this house last year, and whether the $59 million voted at that time will be reduced to this extent. Then I ask him to explain in a little more detail how the division of that money is going to take place, how he proposes to utilize it, under these main headings to which I have referred.

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PC

Thomas Langton Church

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Church:

Having asked the minister certain questions, I want to call attention to some of the statements that have been made.

I do not wish to criticize the present minister, far from it; but I know I raised these matters in the house in 1938 and again on May 18, 1939. I saw the war coming, and I think I was the only member on this side of the house to bring up these questions. In 1938, I think on or about March 21, I moved the adjournment of the house to call attention to the grave danger as to Hitler; and in May 1939, four months before the second war, I asked about our defences and predicted what actually came to pass; and I was told we had no commitments, parliament would decide. You can look at Hansard of the 18th of May, 1939, shortly before war began, and when I moved the adjournment of the house in March, 1938. I saw that war coming. In view of conditions as they are, and in view of the minister's statement, I think I have the right to ask the government what Canada's defence position is after we sign this Atlantic pact. Does the signing of it give us security in case of a third war? In this debate I have the right to ask the government to give the house and the country an assurance that all proper means will be taken to see that our armed forces are prepared, on land, on sea and in the air, with effective measures for the defence of our country. This should include the re-establishment of the air training plan here in Canada.

In addressing a meeting of my constituents last December I urged that, in view of what the United States had done, it was only proper that the Prime Minister should have a conference with the leaders of that great land to the south of us. I urged something along the lines of the Atlantic pact and the re-establishment of the air training plan in

Supply-National Defence Canada, which was so well handled during the war by the former minister for air, Mr. Power.

I also proposed that we should enter into an arrangement with the government of the land to the south of us. I should like to ask this question. Is the house and is the country satisfied that at the present time Canada has security? In my opinion, the answer to that question is no. We cannot go on pretending any longer that the forces we have today make for real security. I referred to this before. Experience should have taught us that nothing is more dangerous than to underestimate one's military opponent either in the lessons of history, in the field of international diplomacy, economic strength or military support in case of war.

Since the end of the war the western democracies have been unable to ascertain what is happening in Russia. The opposition of the soviets to permitting the world to know one iota of what is happening inside Russia or inside the iron curtain makes it difficult to ascertain what they intend to do. I believe that such a picture would show that Russia has recovered all her losses of the second war and has been able to produce the largest amount of war material in all history. I believe Russia can count on the resources of her European satellites.

The house is entitled to know these things, because no one can foretell what the future has in store for the world. The battle of the east against the west represents the battle of two different ideologies. Appeasement is not the best way of handling this matter. I hope that in the signing of this pact nothing will be done which will strengthen our enemies and perplex our friends who have stood by us in two wars.

So far as this country is concerned, for the last three years Russia has no doubt been conducting a weaponless war. The world is now faced with two kinds of warfare. The atomic bomb has been perfected by the United States, but the soviet union has developed a more powerful instrument-the cold, brazen, weaponless war. By this method of warfare many countries have been scuttled behind the iron curtain. It has amounted almost to aggression, and the entire world has been kept in constant fear of destruction. This is a struggle for survival and our armed forces should be kept in a constant state of preparedness to meet this challenge.

Mr. Churchill made a speech at Fulton in 1947; and right up until 1948, in spite of his warning, the western democracies did nothing to arouse the countries of the world to the real situation. However, last fall those democracies became more alert to the grave

the subs were at Riviere du Loup when I was there in 1947. The submarine got away up the river as far as Riviere du Loup. What are we going to do if soviet submarines come to the St. Lawrence?-and Russia has lots of them. The United States invited Russia to come into the Pacific. She never was in the Pacific at all before. About two weeks before Japan fell she was invited by the United States. What did she do? Because Japan was defeated by whom? By the United States army and by the British forces. But Russia was invited to come over there although Japan was about ready to collapse. What did they do? I gave the details the other night, and I will not repeat them. You have seen the result of it, where they are our main enemy in the north now. I admit the government has done something about radar up there, but what are we going to do if the Russian subs come up the St. Lawrence, when you have no real security at all.

As to the armed might of America, the Marshall plan and the unity of western Europe are vital to our way of life. But these plans, and all our ideals, are of little value unless we have the means of preserving peace. Now they are getting it. Isolation in America is dead. Now they want the President to let them go on and have an end to it, once and for all, with the security they are going to get from attack on this continent from the air and by submarines. They are certainly unanimous that military forces should not be designed for aggression, but they are certainly going to see to it that they have those forces.

I can only say this about these questions. If our great ally to the south lets the people know the facts, and lets congress know, and does everything in public and prints reports for distribution, why should not this country with eleven and one-half or twelve million people do the same thing? I believe it is right that Canada should be armed before it is too late. We in Canada should not forget the motto of Oliver Cromwell: Put your trust in God and keep your powder dry, and feature it as it applies at this time in world affairs which are so dark. Empty Ottawa platitudes will amount to nothing, as will depending on the UNO at Lake Success as our defence cornerstone.

I do not think very much can be gained at the present time by pretending to have security. I do not believe in pretending. As I said before, I believe that the two Victoria Cross holders we have in this house have given good advice to the house, not from a political standpoint but from a military standpoint, of the grave danger the world is in at the present time, and the grave danger that faces us from invasion. There is no use

in our pretending that we have security when we have none at all. Never has the House of Commons been faced with graver issues than now. At the present time we face the most serious economic disaster and a very great military threat, as we go on pretending we have security. We also err, as does the United States, in taking Britain's supremacy of the seas for granted. There is only one path to take, and our Ottawa government will not follow it, namely empire consolidation which stood us well in two long wars. Stalin's Russia is as dangerous to the peace of the world as was Hitler's Germany; and Russia, by waging a weaponless war, has already conquered huge areas of Europe and Asia. I find an analogy between the failure of the United States and Britain to occupy Berlin, and the failure of Hannibal to enter ancient Rome when only fifteen miles away. The next year Carthage was destroyed. What we have now is similar.

Now we should provide for our own defence. Without the aid of the dominions and the empire we have no defence. All our defences are based on the fact that in two long wars Britain had the supremacy of the seas. That was the real Monroe doctrine.

In conclusion, I would call your attention to one fact that in two long wars we have been dependent upon Britain and her dominions for defence. In the olden days the policy of George Washington, Jefferson, Madison and all those great men was not to have any foreign entanglements unless they were attacked. The first war taught them a lesson, and they learned another lesson in the second world war. Back in 1815 you had what was called the Holy Alliance between our very same enemies, Russia, Prussia and Austria. Russia is still a grave danger. I am afraid that the people of Europe have to face two things. They are afraid of Germany and they are also afraid of Russia. Russia, Prussia and Austria were our enemies in their Holy Alliance in 1815 and they are today. What was the Holy Alliance? The Holy Alliance was started by holy people; it was an alliance of nations of Russia, Prussia and Austria and it lead to the first Monroe doctrine. It lasted from 1815 until 1823. It led Britain to adopt a new policy as far as the world went. The Monroe doctrine was Britain's supremacy of the seas. It saved us in the days of Philip of Spain, Louis XIV, and Napoleon, and twice in our own generation. That was the real Monroe doctrine. The Monroe doctrine was spread out by the late President Roosevelt in the second war when he decided that the whole Atlantic on both sides should be included, with the bases they had in the Azores, Iceland, Portugal and many other

Supply-National Defence countries, and it also extended into the Mediterranean, which was an arm of his Atlantic new Monroe doctrine. That was their preservation and was the second Monroe doctrine.

I do not want to take up the time of the house any further, but I do ask the minister to think well as to whether we are secure and whether we have any real security or not on land, sea or in the air. As far as I know, we have little or none.

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PC

Lawrence Wilton Skey

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Skey:

I should like to return this discussion to the point at which we started this afternoon. We were discussing the air side of the picture.

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An hon. Member:

Filibuster!

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PC

Lawrence Wilton Skey

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Skey:

Mr. Chairman, I would say first to the minister that there was no necessity for his having to endure the difficult experience he has gone through this afternoon-no necessity to have said yesterday that the leader of the opposition had made a vague and challenging charge, and then this afternoon to have the roof fall in on him. Because from the very first day of this session members of the official opposition have pleaded with and asked the minister to set up this committee for the discussion, in private if necessary and in public if possible, of the defence policies of this country.

He is the only man in Canada who holds power by fear. I fear his power because he holds in his hand to a certain extent the fate of the people of this nation. The Minister of National Revenue, who sits directly behind him, has his hands in our pockets; but the Minister of National Defence holds our fate in his.

The proper emphasis upon and balance of our defence forces is essential in order that any potential enemy may be warned that aggressive action will meet with rapid defence on our part. It was back in 1947, just after the minister took over his portfolio, that I wrote to him. I know it is not recommended practice to read in the house letters which one has written. But when one writes in a certain way to a minister of the government, and receives in reply a letter from his private secretary in these words-

I assure you I will bring this to Mr. Claxton's attention as soon as he returns, and further would like to tell you that I am certain he will be most interested in reading the two articleswhich I had sent him-

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April 6, 1949