May 23, 1940 (19th Parliament, 1st Session)


Agar Rodney Adamson

Conservative (1867-1942)


He categorically denied that this had happened. I merely bring this up to outline the situation, and I am sure the Minister of National Defence will be able to clarify it. The matter is so serious that I thought it was worth while bringing it to the attention of this house.

We are facing an extremely grave situation. W e are up against an entirely new type of warfare. None of us in this house has experienced this particular type of warfare before.
It is my opinion that we should take immediate steps to organize the country on the best basis for overseas service and home defence. We are not sure from where or how the next blow will fall. I suggest that in view of the terrible peril in which we are to-day,, the recruiting of a third division is completely inadequate.
I suggest that the government take stock of the entire Canadian picture and tiy to produce those troops for which we in Canada have a peculiar genius. My riding is one of the largest railway ridings in Canada and railroad men come to me and ask why a railway corps cannot be organized. They talk about the wonderful work of Canadian railway troops at the battle of Vimy ridge. This was perhaps the best example up to that time or since of the splendid coordination of all arms of the service-air, railway, transport, infantry and artillery. It was the first occasion on which all arms of the service operated together and started moving at a certain zero hour. I think the organization of a railway troops corps should be proceeded with immediately.
There is another matter. We in Canada are peculiarly blessed in having a great number of highly trained hard-rock miners. In South Africa all the mining is done by natives, but we have skilled miners and tunnelers who are familiar with all types of rock and earth conditions. That presents a unique opportunity; for not only are our miners accustomed to working under different conditions as between one camp and another, but conditions often vary substantially from one end of a camp to the other. I suggest that the government utilize the services of these highly skilled men. Here we have an industry that has built and perfected a great number of new tools to suit conditions in Canada. Certainly we do not know what type of warfare we may have to meet in the coming months or the coming years; but we do know that a great part of Europe is mountainous and rocky, and a corps of expert miners, trained in the use of power tools and hard-rock equipment, would be a tremendous asset if we were called upon to fight in Italy or in some of the Balkan states. I make that suggestion to the government in all sincerity.
Another suggestion I have to make is with regard to mountaineer troops. At the outbreak of war the Canadian Amateur Ski Association sent word to all ski clubs and to all its branches and posts and received an

War Appropriation-Mr. Adamson
absolutely unanimous 100 per cent reply from young men trained as skiers, many of them trained in the art of mountaineering. They offered themselves unreservedly to serve their country in time of peril. After recent events I do not have to tell members of this house what a tremendous advantage a trained corps of mountaineer troops would be to Canada. If invasion should unfortunately come to our shores, we have mountains and we have snow, and we will need such troops. I suggest, therefore, that the government take steps to train a corps of mountaineer troops in the shortest possible time.
I come now to the tanks. Here again we have in Canada a great number of loggers, men used to driving heavy trucks and heavy transports, men used to driving mining and logging trains in our great north country. They are almost trained now as tank drivers. They are used to picking their way across country; they understand heavy machinery and how to work it. One of the most serious criticisms that can be levelled against the present administration in view of recent events in the low countries is that we have not a great tank corps here in Canada. That is something we could have built up. It would perhaps take time to build aeroplane engines, but we have steel mills and the great automobile industry, which has built caterpillar tractors. We have men who have operated them and who could do so again. I wish some member of the government could rise in his place and tell me, "We have a thousand tanks. We have begun to establish a great tank corps." Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to hear the government say that we have tanks at the present time and that we are operating them. But in Oshawa to-day a tank battalion is being trained, and it uses a piece of rope carried between two men to represent a tank. That is almost as severe an indictment against the government as anything I know.
To make matters worse, in Toronto we organized a charity to help train tank troops. It was called the armoured troops fund. It was a public charity, not for the purpose of providing socks or comforts for the troops training at Camp Borden, but to provide equipment for tank units, research and development of actual vehicles of war. I quote from the prospectus of the fund:
For further research and development of apparatus utilizing "electric eye" for use with miniature range enabling indoor gunnery training of superior value to be given at low cost with high degree of safety.
For further development of a "light-projector" gun for gunnery training in tanks or vehicles
across country. This apparatus enables observation of fire under field conditions without the use of ammunition.
For research and development of a simple and sturdy two-way radio telephone set. At present only ^ two expensive British standard sets are available. A technician has already been sent to Camp Borden to assist in the design and when plans and specifications and a model set are prepared the defence department will be asked to furnish them.
For research and development of a basic training vehicle, a vehicle having the general characteristics of the tank on which training may be given in driving, maintenance, gunnery and practice without wearing out the standard tank equipment, to be constructed using commercial truck chassis and standard parts as far as possible.
There was a considerable amount of other equipment. The ironical thing about it all is that at the bottom of the circular appears this statement underlined:
Donations to the fund wall be exempt from income tax up to fifty per cent of the net taxable income.
Hon. members will be lucky if we have any income to be taxed on unless we do better than we are doing at ithe present time.

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