I agree that the reports took four days to reach us and that consideration of these documents was delayed until they were printed. But the debate began when the last report was received. That is what I mean. The same happened today: discussion was begun when the last report reached our office. In the other instance, we had to wait four days because about 12 French reports were missing. Let me speak as I did at the beginning, as a simple civilian. As civilians, we notice mainly the military budget. I said earlier that we were expecting a reduction in the expenditures, but when we look at the military budget, we notice that this year, in spite of all the minister's predictions, it is yet much higher than last year.
I do not know whether this is due to the fact that the country's expenditures are higher or whether the cost of updating our armaments have increased but everybody, the people in general find that a military budget of about $2 billion for a small country of 20
National Defence Act Amendment million people is just outrageous. We had hoped that the budget would be reduced by at least one third, but it is not the case and I want to point out to the minister that we are a little disappointed in that respect.
[DOT] (8:20 p.m.)
That situation may be due to the purchase of airplanes, mainly those we use for military training. I know that in my area, for instance, there is a centre where all day long they play with those small toys worth a million dollars apiece. When you replace 140 of those toys because they are a little worn out, at a cost of $140 million, we can imagine that the military budget is going to go up as the minister mentioned. I would not repeat that word, had the minister not used it but he spoke about waste in the Department of the National Defence. I think that we suspected it for a long time. In his statement, the minister said that there had been some waste, and I am confident that he will try and stop such waste so as to save in that respect.
What we really need, in brief, is an army to protect this country, not an army of which two or three battalions could fight abroad, for foreign interests. We do think and the people in general feel that we need an army in order to protect this country.
Canadian citizens are ready to pay for their own aircraft, but what they do not accept today is the fact that, after 20 or 22 years, namely since the last war, they still have to pay the costs of training and the travelling and living allowances of Canadian soldiers stationed in Europe and all other countries. In fact, they are wondering what a poor little country of 20 million people like Canada is doing there.
Mr. Chairman, I suggest it would be preferable to direct our dollars and our energy toward peace production rather than try to thrust peace upon people by force of arms. I believe that if we earmarked 50 per cent of the military budget for production, in order to give food to people in starving countries, we would be doing something useful.
Now, we cannot all be of the same opinion and, as I said a while ago, a soldier speaks like a soldier, a civilian like a civilian. That is why I admire the minister who defended his own cause in this house and defended it well. This does not prevent us from having our own opinion and from wishing that we may, some day, think more about feeding
DEBATES April 3, 1967
the people, for the sake of peace, instead of thrusting peace upon them, by force of arms.
I wish that day to be the nearest possible, I wish that the minister would think about organizing the army so as to provide protection for this country itself and that he would earmark the difference of millions of dollars to feed the people of this country first of all and then have them benefit other countries that are in need.
Subtopic: SITTING RESUMED