March 25, 1938 (18th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Martha Louise Black

Independent Conservative


Mr. Chairman, what we have heard from every side during the past few weeks reminds me of what we heard just over a quarter of a century ago. I remember being in the Yukon at that time of rumours of war and saying to my husband, "Do you believe what Borden is saying, that there is a danger of war?" My husband replied, "Personal!}' I do not believe it, but the Prime Minister says there is danger of war, and if I follow him I must believe what he says." So, when I hear the government say that we must prepare for eventualities, I am led to believe that the government in power must know that we have to prepare for eventualities which may not happen, which we hope will not happen, but at the same time we must be ready.
This is the third session that I have been in the house. I have refrained in the two previous sessions from taking any part in the debate on the militia estimates. I had to. My youngest son was in the regular army; my oldest son was a naval reservist in the United States forces, and I felt that under no circumstances could I say anything which would lead anybody to believe that I was inclined to a military mind, because I was not. I consider that I am an average woman and an average mother. I brought up my children to obey discipline and orders when the discipline and orders were necessary. I did not bring them up to be cannon fodder;
I brought them up with the idea that if a country is good enough to live in, it is not only good enough to live in but good enough to die for if we have to die for it. None of us wants to. We all want to live. We all want to enjoy the sunshine and God's free air; but at the same time I believe every thinking man and woman want to feel, if the call comes, that they are ready. The call might come for one of us to fight; the call might come for another to remain on the farm; the call might come for another to cook, to do all sorts of menial labour; but as men and women, when that call comes, we must be ready. I do not doubt this for one moment.

In preparing for war, for the horrible eventuality as it is nowadays, we are doing as we do when we take out a life insurance policy, or fire or burglary insurance. For years and years I have kept on paying insurance, not that I expected my house to burn, not that I expected to die immediately, not that I expected burglars to enter; but at the same time I was going to be ready, and I think the minister in his speech has made it quite clear that he wants to be ready in case of a horrible eventuality.
We in the north have felt until the last few years that we were free from fear; but now when I go to my door in the summer and look overhead and see perhaps twelve or fourteen aeroplanes in the air at one time; when I hear over the radio five minutes after a crime has happened in China, that it has happened, I think, What may this all mean to me? What may this all mean to those of us on the outposts of the empire if we are not prepared, if we are not careful? Heaven knows I do not want war. I do not want to go through what I went through in London for three and a half years, when I listened to the shrieking sirens and saw the aeroplanes and those horrible zeppelins on fire and falling in flames, with many men jumping from them. I do not want to see that again. I do not want to visit those hospitals again and see men and boys near and dear to me, as I saw so many. But with the dictators to-day doing as they are, can we do anything but prepare and be ready for what may come to us? We have a country to the south of us which in self-defence will help us; but if she helps us she expects us to help her, and we have all been taught that the Lord helps those who help themselves.
I perhaps may not always agree with everything the minister may say, but at the same time I know him to be a cautions, canny Scot. I know he is not going to rush us into an expenditure of life or money unless it is absolutely necessary, and so with all my heart and soul, while praying that there may be no further trouble in this country, I shall support him.

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