Mr. H. C. GREEN (Vancouver South):
Mr. Speaker, at the outset may I offer a word
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of encouragement to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) who has just taken his seat. Although he is one of the youngest members of the ministry, perhaps no member of the cabinet except the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) is bearing a heavier burden at this time, and I think I may speak with the endorsation of the whole house when I say to him that he has our admiration, our respect and our best wishes in carrying on his very arduous work.
When we private members left Ottawa early in August, the battle of France had been lost and the battle of Britain had not yet begun. Every member felt grave concern. I think that the war has greatly reduced partisanship in this house; it has made each one of us a greater patriot. We all felt grave concern at that time about the outcome of the battle of Britain. We felt that the survival of Canada as a nation, in fact the survival of our Christian civilization, depended on that battle. To-day, only three and a half months later, there is a different feeling in the corridors of this house and across the country, because, while the battle of Britain may not have been won, the first stages of that battle have been won, and won by a few thousand young empire knights of the air, by the sturdiness of our empire sailors, and above all, won by the courage and the determination and-to sum it up-by the character of the ordinary men, women and children of Great Britain.
What an inspiration that is to us! What pride we feel at being their fellow-citizens of the British commonwealth! And yet, what a challenge to Canadians to throw our all into this struggle! I believe that the Canadian people are not only willing but are eager to do just that. But they look to the Canadian government for leadership, and they look to parliament, to the private members of this house, to make dead sure that the government carries out the promise contained in the speech from the throne, that this war will be prosecuted to the utmost of Canada's strength. The private member can do his part only by making suggestions and by pointing out errors. That is what I propose to do to-day, to the end that our war effort may be improved.
First of all may I suggest that the ministry adopt the attitude of welcoming criticisms and suggestions. The Prime Minister did that a year ago at the war session: he said, "I ask you all to give us suggestions and constructive criticism." But my impression of this session is that the ministry are now inclined to be resentful of suggestions. Perhaps that is also their attitude towards their own supporters. Perhaps there is reason for
it in the fact that they are under terrific pressure, working long hours. They are tired out; I do not blame them for being a little quick on the trigger. But I urge them to remember that they as the leaders of Canada must never be satisfied that all is being done which can be done, that they must always try to do more. As the hon. member for Provencher (Mr. Jutras) said so fitly some days ago, they must attempt the impossible; because in this crisis everything we hold dear is at stake,
our freedom, our religion, the future of our children, and our very lives. How I wish that every German bomb which falls on Great Britain could din into our ears and imprint on our minds the words, "Hurry, Canada, hurry!"
Secondly, I suggest that the ministry emphasize to the Canadian people the difficulties and the dangers of the situation rather than the accomplishments of the government. Ask for help from our people. If you ask for that help you will get it. But it seems to me, although I may be influenced by the bias from which few of us can escape, that the ministry have been at great pains throughout this war period to justify their every move and to justify their every failure to move. They have continually talked about our war effort being "ahead of schedule," when the whole country knows that the schedule was totally inadequate. Government information bureaux have poured out printed matter to the same effect, and even in the interesting essays which have been read by ministers at the present session that note has been uppermost. The result has been, and I say this from many observations in western Canada, that the people are adopting the attitude: "Oh well, everything is being done that can be done; why should we worry?"
Our chief of staff said recently in an address that the thirty-day training plan had been a great help in arousing young Canadians to a sense of national obligation. Such would not have been necessary if the ministry had adopted another attitude. Their attitude constitutes a grave menace to Canada, because our people do not realize the dangers of the situation. For that reason I would ask ministers to think very deeply over the proposed amendment to the address in reply to the speech from the throne, and particularly the first paragraph, which says:
. . . this house regrets that the government
has continued to soothe the Canadian people
I emphasize that word, "soothe."
-regarding the war effort of the nation, thereby creating a false sense of security when a clear-cut call to action is desperately needed.
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The Right Hon. Winston Churchill has followed the opposite course. He said, among other things, in his first speech as Prime Minister to the British House of Commons, on May 13 of this year:
I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many months of struggle and suffering. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory. Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terrors, victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival! Let that be realized-no survival for the British empire, no survival for all that the British empire has stood for, no survival for the urge, the impulse of the ages, that mankind shall move forward towards his goal.
He knows his people. He knows that they can "take" bad news, that they will rise to the challenge of the difficult and seemingly impossible task. The Canadian people, Mr. Speaker, will do the same. But so far this government has given them little chance to do so.
The Minister of Finance has just explained clearly the necessity for the government to do certain things in which it will obviously require great help from the Canadian people. For example, our people are being asked not to purchase so many luxuries. There will probably be restrictions, perhaps on gasoline or some other such commodity, perhaps on liquor-and, incidentally, I do not think the Canadian people can drink their way to victory in this war; I believe a great deal of money could be saved and a great deal of human energy conserved if restrictions were placed on liquor. The government is also faced with the raising of war loans, selling war savings certificates, recruiting defence forces, finding men and women for industry, and organizing air raid precautions. These are some of the problems facing the ministry. Let them appreciate the fact that Canada is really organized on a community basis, divided into municipal or metropolitan areas in which there are highly organized and highly efficient municipal governments, service clubs, lodges, unions, religious associations, cooperatives, professional and business associations, sports clubs and many others made up of the leaders in the everyday life of our people. Incidentally may I here contrast the strength of this type of organization with which we are blest in Canada with the nazi party in Germany or the fascist party in Italy, the only organizations allowed in their respective countries. There is no comparison; and in that difference there lies one very good reason why the democracies are going to win this war.
I suggest to the ministry that they go to these organizations direct. Tell them what
is wanted and ask them to help, and the organizations will respond. They will prevent hysteria and will get action. But what is the situation now? They are spectators against their wish. Many of them have made offers of help. Those offers are on file in Ottawa but nothing has been done about them. These people are waiting for directions from the government, and surely it is the duty of the Department of National War Services to see that organizations of this type are used.
May I quote from the order in council setting up the divisions of that new department. Paragraph (c) provides for a division to be known as:
. . . the division of voluntary services to
administer the War Charities Act, to coordinate, organize and utilize the voluntary effort of the Canadian people, to organize and assist organizations engaged in supporting the war effort of the nation.
These are the powers that are given. This was printed on September 18, but, so far as I know, nothing further has been done. I hear an hon. member mentioning that I left out the women's associations. They are very important and I hasten to add them to the list.
Further, the government should decide upon and announce some definite policy on recruiting. They have never done so. Recruiting has been by fits and starts from the outset. Last fall on the outbreak of war the plan was to recruit for home service only, but this was afterwards changed and there was recruiting for overseas. A certain number of men were taken on the strength, and then recruiting was shut down. This spring came the crisis, the fall of France, and again recruiting was thrown open, but on August 15 of this year again it was stopped. In the meanwhile the National Resources Mobilization Act had been passed and we were told that thousands of young men, trainees, were to be given training. We understood that these young men would be encouraged to volunteer for the Canadian active service force at the completion of their training. In other words, here would be the means whereby Canada would build up a full-time fighting force. Mind you, these young men are the very men whom this government deemed to be best able to serve the country, men of the ages called up at this time; yet that plan was not carried out. Recruiting is still closed. The first group of trainees finished their course and instead of being given a chance to go into the forces, which they were only too anxious to do, they were sent back home to civilian life.
This uncertainty, this indecision, this failure to recruit cannot be because no more men
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will be required. I have only to quote again from a statement of the chief of staff, Major-General Crerar. He is reported in a press dispatch from Ottawa on October 23 as having said, in effect:
Canada will be sending more army divisions overseas next year when Great Britain takes the offensive against German land forces in continental Europe. This is the implication of the speech here this afternoon by Major-General Crerar, chief of the general staff. General Crerar is both in a position to know and also to speak with a note of exceptional authority.
This was confirmed by the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston), who, speaking in the house last Friday, said:
During this phase-
That is, during the year 1941.
-we must continue to build up our strength against the day when we shall take the offensive with all arms and services.
And the Minister of National War Services '(Mr. Gardiner) made this statement on 'Thursday last:
We must have the necessary trained manpower to handle all the instruments of war and put them into operation against Hitler on the continent.
According to press reports, on November 18 he said in a broadcast:
Remember that in one year from now a man will be needed to use every gun, operate every plane and drive every truck made, and in the front line of battle. There is no reason for making these machines unless we provide for their being operated.
This failure to recruit cannot be because we already have adequate troops to defend Canada; we have not. We have one division on the Atlantic coast and it is hoped that there will be one division on the Pacific, but the latter division, according to the Minister of National Defence, is only now in the process of organization.
Certainly young Canadians who are to be called on to go overseas or to serve in Canada should be taken in quickly. The time for training is none too long if this great offensive is to come, as we have been warned, and adequate time for training means better soldiers, which means that the soldiers wifi have a better chance for their lives.
The ministry should remember that unlike Britain they are relying upon volunteers to build our full-time fighting forces. Before the average man will volunteer he must see the need. And he must have a certain amount of enthusiasm. He must have time to arrange his affairs and time to arrange for the persons who are dependent on him. In their recruiting plans it seems to me the ministry do not consider the human element
at all. I suggest that they announce the approximate number of troops that are to be raised say within the next year. Australia and New Zealand do that; Great Britain lets her people know the number of men that are to be taken on, why cannot Canada do the same? Then let us take on a certain number of recruits, say weekly, and certainly let us give every trainee a chance to enlist on the completion of his training.
There are now women's corps established in several centres in Canada. We have two in Vancouver, training for many months, and most efficient. AVhy can they not be recognized and made part of the forces? I cannot praise too highly their initiative and spirit, their determination and their efficiency. They are training to take on clerical work, the driving of ambulances and motor vehicles of various kinds; for first aid, air raid protection, nursing and dietetic work. Why can they not be used in the forces of Canada? It seems to me there must be antiques or old fogies in our defence headquarters even yet, or there may even be some in the cabinet, when consistently these women are refused recognition.
May I further ask the government to decide upon and announce a policy on the use of man-power? To-day there seems to be a tug of war between the fighting forces on the one side and industry on the other. And that tug of war seems also to be in the cabinet. I may be wrong, but I have visions of the Minister of National War Services (Mr. Gardiner) as the anchor man on the side of the fighting forces, and the Minister of Munitions and Supply (Mr. Howe) or the Minister of Labour (Mr. McLarty) as the anchor man on the side of industry. While the Minister of National War Services may not be very bulky I think the majority of members would put their money on him in this tug of war. From the national registration the ministry have a survey of the manpower and woman-power of Canada. What does it show? Why can they not tell the house what it shows? Why do they not use that survey? Why have they no plans for using . the man-power and woman-power of Canada?
Steps should be taken to recondition and use the older men, men who were laid off during the depression. I have here a letter from an ex-railway mechanic in Vancouver, in which he says that in that city alone there are many men who have served as machinists on one or other of the two railways; when the depression came they were let out, and since then they have been on part time only. Why cannot men of this type be put back to work to release some of the
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younger men for war service? There is a great field among the middle-aged people in Canada. Then there is a great field among the unemployed. The Minister of Labour himself was quoted on October 30 as using these words:
Every unemployed man in Canada must be trained to take a place in industry. . . . There are 26,000 a year now being trained. We can increase that figure and we will.
Those are fine sentiments; that is a splendid plan. But what are the facts? Just a week ago in Vancouver we had newspaper reports to the effect that there are 500 single unemployed back in that city for the winter. Many of these men have appeared in the police court charged with vagrancy, and numbers of them have been sent to gaol because they have no means of support. Here is the impression of the young newspaper reporter sitting in at those trials:
There were all sorts and conditions of men in those two lines and all they owned were the clothes they stood up in. One who said he had a job to go to and four who said they could look after themselves for another night were allowed to go. The rest were herded back to the cells.
That kind of thing is inexcusable in Canada under present conditions. Men of that type should be given a chance to be reconditioned and placed in a job. That should be done by the Department of Labour here at Ottawa.
Then there are the ex-soldiers discharged from the present Canadian army. I was surprised to learn the other day that over 15,000 men had been discharged from the Canadian forces. Surely those men could be reconditioned and placed at work. It seems to me that one of the most important statements that should be placed before the house at this time is a statement by the Minister of Labour as to what he proposes to do about using the man-power of this country.
I have a suggestion also for the Minister of Munitions and Supply. He told this house yesterday that hundreds of millions of dollars were being invested in new plants and plant extensions. He was allowed to place certain figures on Hansard, which I thought were going to show in which provinces those plants were situated; however the figures turned out to be something else. But there can be no dispute that practically all those plants and plant extensions are in Ontario and Quebec, the reason given being that there is hydro-electric power available in those provinces. This means an unfair and unhealthy concentration of wealth in the central provinces of Canada. It means a great increase in employment in these provinces; it means that the young men
and young women of the other provinces will in many instances have to migrate to central Canada to get jobs. That is already happening. It means that families will be broken up, and it means lopsided development of industry. Many of these plants will continue in operation after the war, so that that process will carry on. I plead with the government to change that policy at once, to scatter these plants across Canada. There may not be much trouble now while the war is on; it may be overshadowed by more important issues, but hon. members from the other seven provinces know that if this thing goes on it will mean grave trouble in Canada for the next fifty or a hundred years.
Then as to the treatment of the fighting forces: I said a few moments ago that 15,000 men have been discharged. I believe they are discharged without any gratuity; in some cases they are given a small clothing allowance. A very few will get pensions. They are struck off the strength just as quickly as possible. Some of these men are on relief today. No rehabilitation plan has been put into effect by this government. The Prime Minister was quoted in the press two days ago as saying:
Plans for the "adequate" rehabilitation of soldiers, sailors and airmen discharged from overseas service are being formulated by the dominion government.
Apparently nothing is ready yet. Rehabilitation plans should be in effect now. We could be experimenting, we could be improving, building up efficient schemes for getting these men back on their feet. It must not be delayed until after the war. Here we have almost the equivalent of an army division discharged from the Canadian active service force already. These men should be looked after without further delay. If they cannot be absorbed in industry, why cannot the government go ahead with the trans-Canada highway and other projects of that type, in which many of them could find employment?
Also I think the time has come, Mr. Speaker, when a man enlisting in the forces should receive an allowance for each child. At the present time, as I understand it, a man with more than two children receives no allowance for any beyond that number. The government is quite willing that these men should enlist; therefore it should see that they receive an allowance for each of their children.
The question of transportation on leave has been dealt with by many hon. members, and I would urge upon the government that some action be taken to meet this situation. Public opinion in Canada is in favour of giving these men some form of free transportation.
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of making it possible for them to get home for their leaves, certainly their embarkation leave and I think, also, for their six months' leave. Why, we had units sent down to Nova Scotia from the Pacific coast. Some of the men in those units had not had embarkation leave, and they were moved out of our province on twenty-four hours' notice. Others are now entitled to their six months' leave, but it will be absolutely impossible for them to get back home if they have to pay even single fare. The same condition applies to the men in Newfoundland. Some of them now have the promise of leave in order to come back to central Canada, but that costs a great deal of money. These men will have to stay in Newfoundland unless some provision is made for them. I should like to quote briefly from a letter received from half a dozen of these men now in Newfoundland:
This furlough is particularly important to us as we are not entitled to another one until December 1941 and just where we shall be tfien no one knows.
The Minister of Finance might very well soften his heart and agree to some provision being made to pay the transportation costs of these men.
Further I should like to say a word about winter accommodation. The other day the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston) said that Canada had winter accommodation for 150,000 men. Yet in the public press, in newspapers supporting this government, such as the Vancouver Sun, we see reports denouncing conditions in the camp at Nanaimo. I quote the headlines only:
Needless Suffering at Nanaimo Camp.
Construction of Huts Delayed While Men Exist in Damp and Soggy Bell Tents-Excellent Site but Rains Create Misery.
That is from the Vancouver Sun of November 14, 1940. This condition was drawn to the attention of the Minister of National Defence, who, to his credit, took immediate steps to have it rectified. But it shows that somewhere on the staff there is a lack of interest in the welfare of these men, and because of that lack of interest men become sick, they are not fit and do not make as efficient soldiers as otherwise they would be. There is no excuse for putting hundreds of men into tents at this time of year, as was done at Nanaimo.
I might draw to the attention of the government many other things in connection with the army, but I hesitate to bring up a great many small matters. However, I should like to mention the plight of the Canadian people who are living on the ragged edge, such as the old age pensioners and the recipients of the war veterans' allowance. The cost
of living is rising; according to the latest figures it is going up steadily. In September of last year, under the new index, it - stood at 100.8. As of October 1, 1940 it stood at 107, and I believe it has been rising steadily since then. Relief allowances are being increased in some of our cities, but the people who are on very small fixed incomes are caught in a trap, and some provision must be made for them. The situation is very well set out in a letter I received this week from a recipient of the war veterans' allowance in Vancouver. He says:
-there are hardly any of the necessities that have not been hopped up 15 to 20 per cent in the past two months.
Then he goes on:
This is a poor time for anyone to ask for an addition to the strain that the country is undergoing but it is necessary that we ask . . . sufficient for a bare existence. The suggestion is that the government without amending any existing laws grant us a field allowance of 10 cents per day to be discontinued when conditions warrant . . . and we regret very much the necessity of asking for it.
That is a reasonable plea, and I submit to the Prime Minister that something must be done to meet this condition.
The Canadian people are looking to the ministry and to parliament for leadership in improving conditions here at home. They want the methods of carrying on the life of Canada changed to such an extent that far more value will be placed on people; that there will be a chance for everyone to work who is willing to work, and that there will be reasonable security for our people. Whenever I expressed those sentiments in Vancouver during the recess they were most heartily approved, no matter what the type of audience, and I believe that is the will of the Canadian people at this time. We find the same thoughts expressed in Great Britain. Yesterday Mr. Bevin, who has given such wonderful leadership there, was quoted in the press as having said that his aim is social security, and that something should be done about it even during the war. The report continues:
" Begin now," he urged. " That doesn't mean that all profit and surpluses must be wiped out. but it means that the whole economic life shall be devoted to give security, not to a small middle class but to the comunity as a whole."
I quote also from an editorial appearing in the Illustrated London News of September 7, 1940. These people are being bombed night and day, yet they are trying to figure out ways to improve the general conditions of life in their country. This editorial states:
. . . the ordinary Englishman (of all classes) wants a home which he can call his own and
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which no other man or men can take from him, security in his employment, pride in his work, a decent chance for his children to do better than himself, and, in at any rate a very large number of eases, a bit of land to sweat and ruminate over and in which to grow flowers and vegetables. He also wants the right, again within reason, to criticize his employers and his rulers and to change his job and his political allegiance as he thinks fit.
I think the average Canadian wants the same thing; in fact I hope many Canadians wish to change their political allegiance. But this new world, which many seem to think will begin after the war, really began in September of last year. The ministry should arrange that the house give consideration to just what is to be done about it, when we meet after the new year.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, may I say that we in this nineteenth parliament are privileged to lead a young nation, strong and brave; standing firmly in a just cause; a young nation blessed with the best friends any nation could have, her sister nations of the British commonwealth and our great and friendly neighbour the United States; a young nation that is steadily growing in importance in world affairs and steadily assuming more and more responsibility. It is true that never before have the Canadian people had to face such challenging problems, but it is also true that never before have they had such an opportunity to revise their national plans, to remedy defects and to adopt far-reaching policies. In this nineteenth parliament we have an opportunity to mould a nation-our own nation, Canada. I believe if the ministry will only put this parliament to work, the spirit of hon. members is such that we can leave a record of service which will prove to have been unequalled in the history of Canada.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY