February 18, 1937 (18th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Harry Leader


Mr. HARRY LEADER (Portage la Prairie):

Mr. Speaker, in rising to continue the debate on the motion before the house and

National Defence-Mr. Leader
the amendment thereto, it is not my intention to make any extended remarks. I want to be as brief as possible in presenting my position not only to this house but to the people who are responsible for my being here.
Needless to say, I abhor war just as much as any other gentleman who has spoken during this debate. I think war is madness, but I am afraid most of the world is afflicted with this malady at the present time. War is the most diabolical instrument ever devised by man for the destruction of all that is best in civilization. War violates every principle of the Prince of Peace and stimulates the forces of evil. Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, the war god is no respecter of nations; the most remote and the most peaceful may be drawn into the vortex. Canada is a peaceful nation. I am sure we Canadians have no desire to annex any of the lands that belong to other nations, but we are proud of our heritage, and we would like to keep it. Canada is remote from the possibilities of war, as we see them to-day, and we have no desire to create more armaments for the destruction of our fellow men. But, Mr. Speaker, we must face the facts. I am sure the government does not contemplate any war of aggression. If I did not believe that, I would not vote a five cent piece for the prosecution of a war, but would use my influence to defeat any such purpose. But a war of defence is a different proposition, and that is the position in which we find ourselves today.
What is the situation? Briefly it appears to me to be as follows: We have a Hitler
and a Mussolini armed to the teeth, casting covetous eyes on the possessions of other people and uttering dire threats at the point of bristling bayonets. Under these circumstances we can visualize what would happen to Canada if we were not in a position to defend our shores. It is true that we could rely on the help of others. I know we could rely on the help of the motherland, and I am sure we could rely on the help of our friendly neighbour to the south. But it seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that if we have any respect for ourselves or for this grand country in which we live we should be prepared to defend ourselves without asking for aid from anyone. Therefore I must vote against the amendment as presented by the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil), and I intend to support the government.
May I say that I have confidence in the Prime Minister of this country. He has a long record of service. At Geneva last year, during the meetings of the assembly of the League of Nations, he explained Canada's 31111-63
position. He spoke for Canada, and he spoke for me. He declared that Canada would enter into no commitments in any foreign war without the consent of parliament and the consent of the Canadian people. I agree most heartily with that stand, and I believe the people throughout Canada will agree, also with that policy. The Prime Minister cannot be called a jingoist, and for that reason I believe that under his leadership we are safe. I have concluded my observations on that phase of the question.
May I take just a few moments to describe to the house some of the feelings which I believe exist out in the country. It seems to me that we as members are prone to forget the position and condition of the people who, reposing their confidence in us, have sent us here to represent them. For that reason I try to keep in as close touch as possible with my electors. There has been a feeling throughout my constituency that under existing conditions there would be an increase this year in war expenditure. We have in the prairie provinces a farmers' organization which in my province is known as the United Farmers of Manitoba. At their annual meeting this year, held at Neepawa, which I was privileged to attend, there was presented a resolution, part of which I shall read, to which I gave my support. It seems to me that the very first words show that they anticipated just what is happening. As the resolution is long I shall not weary the house by reading it all; I shall read only that part of it which bears upon the matter under discussion. It begins:
Whereas under the changed conditions as regards world peace, many people expect the Canadian government to enter upon a new and extended defence program-
And it ends:
Resolved, further, that in the undertaking of any preparations for the possible contingency of war, (1) the government take steps to commit the nation to the principle that immediately upon the declaration of war financial control of all industry shall be assumed by the government so that profiteering of every kind out of war conditions and services shall be rendered impossible and that all wealth shall be conserved and applied to the national purpose of maintenance of the population and the realization of the nation's war objective and (2) that the working out of plans for such mobilization of economic resources be made a part of any defence policy upon which the nation may enter.
During the last war there can be no doubt that huge sums of money were made by war profiteering-made from the misery and sufferings of the sons of Canada who died on the fields of France and Flanders. That this should have happened is resented to the present

National Defence-Mr. Lalonde
Jay, with the result that in my section of the country a different feeling exists in regard to war profiteers. The Canadian people expect that if we must go to war all the resources of the country will be employed in the prosecution of that war. I believe that in the nation's interest we should conscript, if that is the proper word-perhaps it is not; some people object to it-the resources of the fields, of the forests and of the mines, and all the accumulated wealth.
May I repeat that I am supporting the government in these expenditures, which I believe, involve an increase this year of $11,615,000. The very amount is alarming, but under existing conditions I feel that as a good Canadian I can take no other course than that of supporting the action of the government.

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