Mr. MAURICE LALONDE (Labelle):
(Translation) Mr. Speaker, certain erroneous statements published in a press with interested motives claiming, without any proof in support of such allegations, that the dominion parliament would vote this year $70,000,000 towards national defence, have caused great commotion among the public. It is obvious that if the tories had been in power, probably these statements would have been true, but, thank God, we have in this country a Liberal government headed by the right hon. Mackenzie King, the prime minister "par excellence" and the one who stands in the history of Canada as the less imperialistic of all our prime ministers.
I leave to these comedians of journalism the responsibility of their statements. I admit, Mr. Speaker, that a contingency of that nature would have compelled me to vote against such an excess in imperialistic extravagance. But the hon. the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie) asks this house for a total sum of $34,091,873.42, of which $22,339,223.42 is for our defence scheme, and $11,752,650 for the air force. Is this excessive? Is it acceptable? Does my duty as a member of this house authorize me to vote in favour of such an expenditure? I will endeavour in a few words to answer these questions to the best of my knowledge.
And I owe all men and women who voted for me a clear and definite explanation so as to dispel any ambiguity and establish on a rational basis my position as representative of the electors of Labelle and as a member of the dominion Liberal party. Moreover, having given to the press an interview which certain newspapers of my province and of Canada were kind enough to reproduce, I feel that I am under the obligation of proving that my vote will be consistent with my public state-
ments. The text of my interview as published in Le Droit of January 20, 1937 follows:
The agitation caused by this important question of the defence estimates which the honourable the Minister of National Defence will bring down during this session of the federal parliament, has stirred public opinion. I do not believe that this is the proper time to reach a definite conclusion before having had an opportunity of considering these estimates and hearing what the honourable minister will have to say by way of explanation.
We do not know as yet what amount parliament will be asked to vote, nor the purpose for which these sums will be spent.
A definite conclusion would therefore be premature.
I am in favour of ensuring security within our territory and having our customs service watch closely our coasts and the American border, either with ships or aircraft. But these expenditures should be within our means and I am not prepared to vote in favour of excessive disbursements for that item.
As to the important question of Canada's participation in imperial foreign wars, I am altogether against it, either in men or money.