January 30, 1939 (18th Parliament, 4th Session)


Wilfrid Lacroix


Mr. WILFRID LACROIX (Quebec-Mont-morency):

Mr. Speaker, in rising to speak on the address in reply to the speech from the throne I desire to congratulate the mover thereof (Mr. Matthews) and to cite the

The Address-Mr. Lacroix (Montmorency)
seconder (Mr. Chevrier) as an example to all hon. members. I believe the hon. member for Stormont has given the house a magnificent example of bilingualism which is a credit to the race he represents.
The hon. member for Carleton (Mr. Hynd-man) suggested on January 20 that I withdraw my proposed resolution asking the house to change the name of Canada from "Dominion of Canada" to "Kingdom of Canada," and the designation of "Governor General" to "Viceroy", and also that the viceroy should be a Canadian. May I assure the hon. member that not only have I no intention of withdrawing my resolution, but on the contrary I am eager to have it approved by the house before his majesty's arrival, in order that we may confer upon him a title in keeping with the statute of Westminster, the drafting of which is due to that eminent statesman, successor to Sir Wilfrid Laurier and French-Canadian leader, who represents in this house the constituency of Quebec East (Mr. Lapointe).
Why should not Canada enjoy the same privileges as Ireland? Why should we not proclaim the fact that his majesty has been king of Canada since the imperial conference of 1926 and the statute of Westminster of 1931? We should indeed pray his majesty to consent to the amendment of his legal designation so that it may read as follows: "George VI, by the grace of God, King of Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and of the British possessions beyond the seas, Emperor of India, defender of the faith."
Canada having equal status with the other members of the British commonwealth of nations and being autonomous in its internal affairs and in its relations with other countries, I would go so far as to say that this house should ask the government of Great Britain to abolish the post of Secretary of State for the Dominions, which has become unnecessary, there being no longer any dominions.
Further, I am strongly opposed to the doctrine that when England is at war Canada is at war. In that connection allow me to quote from an article published on January 19 last in the Quebec organ of the Liberal party, Le Soleil. Under the heading, "The simple solution of a complicated problem," the article says:
By virtue of the Statute of Westminster and the principle of self-determination of peoples, we have the right to order our own national future, and the possibility of an early war makes it imperative that we should give the greatest care to our decision. This decision will have to be taken by the parliament of Canada, but it is the duty of all concerned, of
the younger element of the population particularly, to make their will felt by a body of representatives subjected to influences both visible and invisible.
In the statement he recently made on the subject the Right Hon. Mackenzie King expressed bis opinion, which is based on a tradition formerly acknowledged by Sir Wilfrid Laurier. But when this illustrious Liberal leader disappeared from the scene Canada was only a potential nation still bound constitutionally to England and the British Empire.
This bond could not have been broken, in all probability, without recourse to violence, inasmuch as the majority of the voters were then in favour of this imperial subjection. Since that time the Statute of Westminster conferred on Canada, in international law, a political latitude equal to that of England. It depends entirely on us to make this theoretical emancipation more than an empty word.
The article continues:
It seems to be assumed on all sides that Canada would inevitably be drawn into any war directed against England. No account is taken of the right to neutrality. It is thus inferred that by a series of European or Asiatic complications the Canadian nation is irrevocably bound to the fate of an empire to which it still belongs. It would therefore be as a result of this bond that conflict would threaten to extend to America, thus drawing the United States, through the Monroe doctrine, in a world war. Such is evidently the English plan, but it is logically unsound. As a matter of fact, by its geographical situation and its continental interests, Canada is in duty bound to protect America against this danger. It can do so in two different ways: by leaving the empire; by accepting the Pan-American alliance offered by the United States.
Further on, the same paper says:
It must not be forgotten that if we permit the sending of volunteers at the expense of the government to help England, a conscription measure might follow, to the misfortune of our country.
What is the best way, Mr. Speaker, to protect our country in that regard, if not to create an independent kingdom and officially to proclaim our neutrality, thus placing ourselves on the same footing as the United States as regards any future intervention?
Let us not forget that in the event of foreign troops invading our territory the United States, by virtue of the Monroe doctrine, is obliged to intervene. Let us make such intervention unnecessary, and let us allow peace to reign for a few centuries more on this north American continent.
We should keep out of European troubles and complications. Let us loudly assert our neutrality, thus giving to our country the true independence which it has won. On those conditions only shall I vote for increased defence appropriations. Otherwise I shall maintain the attitude I have held in years past. Much as I regret it for the sake of certain of my friends, I shall continue with some of my colleagues to sound the note of alarm.
The Address-Mr. Lacroix (Montmorency)
The other day the hon. member for Rose-town-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) uttered these words:
Canada, however, should to-day be willing to join with other democracies in offering an asylum to a fair quota of sufferers, both Jews and Christians, in a broad humanitarian effort to relieve their distress.
Allow me, Mr. Speaker, to answer the hon. member by saying that the finest humanitarian effort that we could accomplish would be to give employment and bread to the 322,000 Canadians who in 1937 applied unsuccessfully to the national employment service for work. Before thinking of providing employment for German, Czech and other victims of persecution, we should seek to provide work for our own Canadians.
It must not be forgotten that more than one-tenth of our manual workers are still unemployed. In the single province of Quebec, from 00,000 to 70,000 sons of farmers are seeking a piece of land to operate. Most of the Europeans that we are asked to admit to this country have not the slightest intention to settle on the land. They will remain in the cities where they will take the place of our own workers, who will be turned out of their jobs. World history shows that victims of political persecution have usually been forced to emigrate with only bare necessities and have had to depend on providence for the rest. Therefore those who think that by opening the door wide to immigration of these refugees we shall be adding to the country's capital, are greatly mistaken. All requests for the admission of political or other refugees should be energetically opposed because of the economic disabilities under which our fellow citizens are labouring.
I had the honour to-day to lay on the table of the house a petition presented by the most powerful national society in Canada, the St. Jean Baptiste Society, bearing 127,364 signatures, protesting against Jewish immigration. Canadians of French and British descent, let us unite against the danger which threatens us in that regard. The present state of our public finances and the commercial and industrial situation forbid our opening our doors to immigrants, especially foreigners who cannot be assimilated into our civilization and traditions, which are the sole guarantee of the unity so necessary to assure a prosperous and happy Canada. I am confident that the government will take this petition into consideration and refuse to amend the immigration regulations in the manner urged by certain classes.
It is not my intention to speak on the address in reply to the speech from the throne, but I thought it advisable to submit to the

consideration of the house the few observations I have just made.
On motion of Mr. Casselman the debate was adjourned.
On motion of Mr. Michaud the house adjourned at 10.35 p.m.
Tuesday, January 31, 1939

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