November 18, 1949

PC

Winfield Chester Scott McLure

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McLure:

I want to ask a question under these estimates concerning the new armoury in Charlottetown. For some little time we have been promised a new building there, and now that this opportunity has presented itself I should like to find out from the minister when that construction will be proceeded with.

Topic:   TRADE WITH BRITAIN
Subtopic:   EGGS AND BACON
Sub-subtopic:   PURCHASES FROM CANADA IN 1950
Permalink
LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

I was there myself during the summer and saw the situation. We have moved one of the major units out of the existing armoury into what was called the gun park or the transport park, and that has relieved the congestion in the old armoury. I am also trying to arrange the transfer from the air force of some buildings which can be used by outlying companies of the various units in Prince Edward Island. In time we hope to have a new naval reserve building in Charlottetown. We need new buildings for naval reserve divisions at only three or four places across Canada, and Charlottetown is certainly one of them.

Topic:   TRADE WITH BRITAIN
Subtopic:   EGGS AND BACON
Sub-subtopic:   PURCHASES FROM CANADA IN 1950
Permalink
LIB

Gordon Benjamin Isnor

Liberal

Mr. Isnor:

Coming from Halifax I am interested in the item which deals with fire fighting. As the minister will recall, during world war I Halifax suffered an explosion which caused the death of 1,600 persons and the destruction of a great deal of property. Again in world war II we had an explosion which caused damage running into millions of dollars. I would appreciate it if the minister would be good enough to explain this item dealing with fire fighting in order to let the house, and more particularly the people of Halifax who are interested in this matter, know what is proposed in the way of greater fire protection for that section of the country.

Topic:   TRADE WITH BRITAIN
Subtopic:   EGGS AND BACON
Sub-subtopic:   PURCHASES FROM CANADA IN 1950
Permalink
LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

Fire fighting during the war and since has been done in different ways in the three services. In the air force it was found necessary to have service personnel attend to fire fighting because of the specially hazardous nature of the job they had to do in connection with crashed and burning aircraft. Similar considerations prevailed in the

case of the navy. In order to arrive at a plan that would be reasonably uniform we translated the civilian fire fighters into service personnel, enlisting the civilians wherever they were suitable. In places like Halifax, Esquimalt and so on, we have considerable quantities of equipment and trained personnel which are available to look after fires occurring to servicj ships or properties. They are also there as a reserve for civilian needs if the civilian fire fighters are not sufficient. At such places, too, the service fire fighting service is backed up by a reserve of the civilian firefighters where necessary; they work closely together.

Topic:   TRADE WITH BRITAIN
Subtopic:   EGGS AND BACON
Sub-subtopic:   PURCHASES FROM CANADA IN 1950
Permalink
LIB

Gordon Benjamin Isnor

Liberal

Mr. Isnor:

Is the minister in a position to tell us the numbers in that establishment?

Topic:   TRADE WITH BRITAIN
Subtopic:   EGGS AND BACON
Sub-subtopic:   PURCHASES FROM CANADA IN 1950
Permalink
LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

There are 274 in the naval force divided into seven naval bases. The largest number is in Halifax.

Topic:   TRADE WITH BRITAIN
Subtopic:   EGGS AND BACON
Sub-subtopic:   PURCHASES FROM CANADA IN 1950
Permalink
LIB

Gordon Benjamin Isnor

Liberal

Mr. Isnor:

How many would there be in Halifax?

Topic:   TRADE WITH BRITAIN
Subtopic:   EGGS AND BACON
Sub-subtopic:   PURCHASES FROM CANADA IN 1950
Permalink
LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

Seventy-eight are in Halifax.

Topic:   TRADE WITH BRITAIN
Subtopic:   EGGS AND BACON
Sub-subtopic:   PURCHASES FROM CANADA IN 1950
Permalink
CCF

Wilbert Ross Thatcher

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Thatcher:

Will the minister answer the question I asked a moment ago? Has the general staff consulted at all on the statement which Lord Wavell made a few days ago? Will there be any readjustment of defence efforts as a result of it? I do not know whether the minister is in a position to answer those question, but will he comment on the statement?

Topic:   TRADE WITH BRITAIN
Subtopic:   EGGS AND BACON
Sub-subtopic:   PURCHASES FROM CANADA IN 1950
Permalink
LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

It is extremely difficult to answer or comment upon the statements that are made about Russia in every part of the world at almost every hour of the day. Yesterday a number of statements were made in this house about Russia. Lord Wavell is a person of great distinction who has had experience in Russia. He is not here in any official capacity but we are very glad to see him. All statements relative to Russia must be considered in the light of all other statements relative to Russia.

Topic:   TRADE WITH BRITAIN
Subtopic:   EGGS AND BACON
Sub-subtopic:   PURCHASES FROM CANADA IN 1950
Permalink
CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

According to the details for this item given on page 196, it includes grants for rifle associations. Can the minister say whether, at any time in the past, a portion of that grant has been given to civilian rifle associations? Then, can he say whether such is the case now, and if it is not is consideration being given to including civilian rifle associations within the provision of that portion of the grant?

Topic:   TRADE WITH BRITAIN
Subtopic:   EGGS AND BACON
Sub-subtopic:   PURCHASES FROM CANADA IN 1950
Permalink
LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

Those grants are made to the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association and the provincial rifle associations. There are a large number of civilians in those associations as well as men who have retired from the active or reserve forces. They do

Supply-National Defence excellent work. We do not make grants to associations that have no service connections. Those were discontinued a good many years ago. It was found that grants to civilian rifle associations had no service advantage whatever. The men in those associations enjoyed shooting, and no doubt improved the quality of their shooting, but when it came to meeting an emergency it was found that their particular attributes did not eliminate the necessity for military training. They might be great shots, but they still had to be trained as military shots. Consequently, it was not considered by the government of the day or by subsequent governments that there would be any military advantage in making grants to purely civilian associations. As I say, however, all the associations have a large propoi'tion of civilians in them and are definitely affiliated with military associations.

Topic:   TRADE WITH BRITAIN
Subtopic:   EGGS AND BACON
Sub-subtopic:   PURCHASES FROM CANADA IN 1950
Permalink
CCF

Robert Ross (Roy) Knight

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knight:

Following the question by the senior member for Halifax (Mr. Isnor) about fire protection, I believe the minister will admit that fire protection, particularly in cities, has become an integral part of national defence. This fact becomes more evident as we take a greater interest in aerial warfare. If we are to be faced with atomic warfare, the matter becomes even more important.

In the civilian field, one sees in the press many references to the loss of lives and property due to deficient, insufficient or unworkable fire equipment. It is often the case that the municipality concerned was unable to afford fire fighting equipment which would have provided the necessary protection. I believe this government should place no obstacle in the way of a municipality purchasing such necessary equipment at the cheapest possible price. I do not know to what extent taxes are imposed upon the purchase of such equipment, but I do know that in reply to a question I addressed to the government on the matter I was informed that there are high tariff duties imposed on fire engines entering this country. I should like to suggest to the minister that he use his influence with the ministers of Finance and National Revenue to remove those impediments to the provision of proper equipment by all municipalities.

Topic:   TRADE WITH BRITAIN
Subtopic:   EGGS AND BACON
Sub-subtopic:   PURCHASES FROM CANADA IN 1950
Permalink
CCF

Wilbert Ross Thatcher

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Thatcher:

I do not like to be persistent, but there is one point upon which I am not clear, and I hope the minister can clear it up. It has to do with the statement by Lord Wavell. In his preliminary remarks, I believe the minister stated that the only possible enemy would be Russia-at least that is the way I understood his statement. Naturally, our expenditures would likely be made with that in mind. Yesterday Lord

Supply-National Defence Wavell, I believe the former commander-inchief of the British armies, stated that in his opinion Germany is probably still the enemy to be feared rather than Russia. I am wondering whether the general staff is studying that statement to see what merit there is in it. We might be spending millions of dollars uselessly if Lord Wavell is correct. Can the minister give us that assurance?

Topic:   TRADE WITH BRITAIN
Subtopic:   EGGS AND BACON
Sub-subtopic:   PURCHASES FROM CANADA IN 1950
Permalink
LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxion:

The Department of External Affairs and the intelligence branch of the armed forces are studying all such statements. We can see no reason for asking for less money this year because of anything we have heard.

Topic:   TRADE WITH BRITAIN
Subtopic:   EGGS AND BACON
Sub-subtopic:   PURCHASES FROM CANADA IN 1950
Permalink
LIB

Alexander Haley Jeffery

Liberal

Mr. Jeffery:

1 should like to draw to the minister's attention the fact that we have an unusual situation in the city of London. There is a large building for the training of troops in the city of London, which is situated on the main street within two blocks of the centre of the city. There is also a naval barracks situated on one of the other main streets, approximately half a block from the centre of the city. Considerable discussion has taken place amongst the citizens of London about the fact that the government is using this valuable land for military purposes. The matter has been referred to me many times.

Has any consideration been given to removing the armoury and naval barracks from their present positions? I should like to point out to the minister that I would not like to see them moved if they were moved to a spot where the army and navy would not receive an adequate amount of publicity, which I believe is necessary for the raising of the number in our armed forces.

Topic:   TRADE WITH BRITAIN
Subtopic:   EGGS AND BACON
Sub-subtopic:   PURCHASES FROM CANADA IN 1950
Permalink
LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxion:

London is one of the places in which we feel that, in time, we should have a new naval reserve division building and that is down on the plan. I do not think it is of as high priority as some others but still it is there; and the observation that the hon. member has made will receive consideration. As to the armoury for the army, I shall be glad indeed to give consideration to the point of view expressed by the hon. member.

Topic:   TRADE WITH BRITAIN
Subtopic:   EGGS AND BACON
Sub-subtopic:   PURCHASES FROM CANADA IN 1950
Permalink
PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

I was glad to hear the minister's statement of a few minutes ago in connection with what one perhaps might call the role of the P.P.C.L.I. and also the fact that they have all the parachutes which they require. I should like to make it clear that nothing I may have said in connection with the P.P.C.L.I. in particular was ever intended as any reflection upon them in any way. I have only the highest regard for the P.P.C. L.I., for their state of training, what I have

seen of it, their general morale and so forth. As a matter of fact, I am an honorary member of their mess. As I say, my relations with them are most cordial and certainly I am filled with admiration for them.

As to the matter of recruiting, the minister said that nobody ever envisaged that our national defence forces would be filled up and the recruiting required done, as he expressed it, with the stroke of a pen. I should like to remind him that a period of between three and four years cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be looked upon as just the stroke of a pen. This has been quite a long period of time. As far as I can see, the relative numbers in the army at least have been growing extremely slowly. There has not been a great increase, from year to year, during these past three years.

The minister also said, I think at another time, that our active forces were something like 89 per cent of establishment and that the establishment is close to what the original plan was, which, as I have mentioned, was. supposed to be some 50,000 men. As I remember, some 25,000 of those 50,000 were put in the army; and as I have understood ever since, that number-the target, we might say,, for the army-has been cut down to something in the neighbourhood of approximately 18,000 and still remains there. When the-minister mentions 89 per cent, I should like to ask him if that is 89 per cent of 18,000 or 89 per cent of 25,000.

Topic:   TRADE WITH BRITAIN
Subtopic:   EGGS AND BACON
Sub-subtopic:   PURCHASES FROM CANADA IN 1950
Permalink
LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxion:

The figures are given at paragraphs 91, and following, of the statement. Perhaps I might put them on Hansard:

91. In 1946 it was announced that the post-war establishment of the three armed services would be 51,100 officers and men. The navy was fixed at 10,000 the army at 25,000 and the air force at 16,100. In preparing the estimates at the beginning; of 1947, the target was set at 75 per cent of these figures-a total of 38,325. At that time the strength of the forces was 32,610, which included a number of officers and men enlisted for the duration only. By September 30, 1947, all the forces had been put on a permanent basis.

92. Today the establishments for the three services total 50,359 or about the same as the 100 per cent figure announced in 1946. These establishments are changed from time to time to meet changing needs.

93. As at September 30, 1949, the total strength of the three services was 45,159, representing 89 per cent of the present establishment and well over the target set at the beginning of 1947.

Then I deal with the navy. The hon. member for Calgary East is particularly interested in the army.

95. The Canadian army, active force, with the present establishment of 23,034, has a total strength of 19,931. At the present rate of net increase, it is expected that the army will reach its establishment by September, 1950.

Then in reply to the suggestion that the numbers are not increasing very much, there is this statement:

98. During the twelve months ending September 30, 1949, we took in a total ol 12,267 officers and men and released 4,006 by retirements, discharges, etc., leaving a net increase of 8,261. The average net increase was 688 per month.

For a country the size of Canada, I think at this time that is a respectable figure.

As to the situation with regard to the reserves, I have just asked for the position in Calgary itself and find that this year the strength of the reserve forces has increased by 17-1 per cent over last year, reflecting great credit on the units of Calgary.

Topic:   TRADE WITH BRITAIN
Subtopic:   EGGS AND BACON
Sub-subtopic:   PURCHASES FROM CANADA IN 1950
Permalink

Item agreed to. Demobilization and reconversion- 250. To provide for the defence forces of the navy, army and air services, and to authorize total commitments for this purpose of $547,497,388, including authority, notwithstanding section 29 of the Consolidated Revenue and Audit Act, to make commitments for the current year of $401,942,006, and commitments for future years of $145,555,382, against which commitments it is estimated that actual expenditures in 1949-50 will not exceed $339,442,006.


November 18, 1949