May 30, 1940 (19th Parliament, 1st Session)


Thomas Bruce McNevin



Mr. Chairman, my sole purpose in taking part in this debate is to offer a few suggestions which I trust may be of value in prosecuting the task that lies ahead. The first item to which I desire to refer is the request which has been made for permission to organize volunteer units throughout Canada. I believe there is a large number of citizens who, by reason of age or from other causes, do not come within the category of those who can take part in the struggle now going on overseas. If they were granted permission to organize volunteer units, careful supervision would have to be exercised, but in the light of recent events it is not beyond the bounds of possibility or reason that suicide pilots might land in Canada and destroy valuable utilities and other important plants. It is also true that large numbers of our soldiers may have to be sent overseas as rapidly as possible, and from correspondence which I have received I have no doubt at all that large numbers of men are prepared to organize and to train without remuneration to deal with the menace to which I have referred. In adopting such a course we would only be following what has already been done in Great Britain, and I would therefore ask the Department of National Defence to give the matter thorough consideration.
Furthermore, as the mother country has assumed responsibility for Greenland, it would appear to me that if this dominion can give any assistance in guarding that country, we should be prepared to survey all such possibilities. We have in our northern areas large

Government Loan-Mr. Ralston
numbers of citizens who are accustomed to an extremely rigorous climate and would be well fitted to serve in Greenland.
I now come to the training of recruits for service in the tank units. Recent events have proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that the tank is the most formidable implement of warfare on the land. In our lumbering industry in Canada we have large numbers of young men who have had wide experience in the piloting of immense caterpillar tractors. These men are accustomed to driving these machines, weaving through the trees and round the stumps, hauling huge loads of logs, sometimes numbering hundreds on one load, and I believe we should encourage young men who have had that experience to enlist in the tank training units of the Canadian active service force.
There is another matter which I should like to bring up. Because one of the government-owned munition factories is located in the riding I represent, I revert to some remarks which I made in this chamber approximately twelve months ago, when I urged upon the committee of supply, then dealing with National Defence estimates, that this government-owned factory be completely reconditioned and put in readiness for the production of munitions. I am pleased to note that substantial progress has been made in that direction. Two divisions have been in operation for many months, and the shell factory will shortly be in full operation for the production of heavy shells. But I am not yet completely satisfied. I noted that the Minister of Transport (Mr. Howe), in discussing the other night contracts let by the Department of Munitions and Supply, which is under his jurisdiction, intimated that in several lines buildings still had to be constructed for the production of various articles. The point I want to emphasize is that we have a number of buildings in the Lindsay munitions plant which have not yet been put into production.

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