Hon. R. B. HANSON (Leader of the Opposition):
Mr. Speaker, I am sure we have all listened with the utmost interest to the long and comprehensive statement which the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) has just made. To me it divides itself naturally into three parts. The first was a historical narrative, with which I think most of us will be in agreement. Even if I were able, I would not attempt at this time to touch upon that. What admiration we have had for that noble little band of Grecian soldiers who have withstood the onslaught of the terrible Hunt What admiration we have had for that gallant band, fewer in number than any of us thought or anticipated, who stood so long side by side with the soldiers and compatriots from the
Hyde Park Declaration
sister dominions at the pass of Thermopylae and other historic places! Even the most stout-hearted and optimistic among us could not have foreseen any other result than that which has ensued. The only regret I have is that as yet there is no news of the safety of the British expeditionary force in Greece. Let us all humbly pray that they may survive what must be a most tragic occasion.
With respect to the battle of the Atlantic, the second division of the address of the Prime Minister, I think that those of us who listened yesterday to Mr. Churchill and who heard the remarks of the Prime Minister to-day will take heart for the future. A little later on I intend to refer to this matter again. In passing, I should like to refer to what is of particular importance to us as Canadians, namely, the Hyde Park declaration.
I am sure the whole nation read with great interest-for myself may I say that it was with great satisfaction-the joint statement issued by the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Canada on Monday, April 21. To me that declaration, taken in connection with the aid-to-Britain measures passed by the congress of the United States, meant the closing of the ranks of the democratic nations to meet a common peril. Judged by that standard, it shows the strength of democratic solidarity, which is something for which we ought to be devoutly thankful.
To me it means the mobilization of the wartime resources of the north American continent in the cause of freedom. To Canada particularly it will mean the easing of the exchange situation as between the two nations and the extension of the provisions of the lease-lend act to munitions and to war equipment which Canada is now producing and will hereafter produce for Great Britain and which involve the purchase of materials in the United States. Without question, it will go a long way toward solving what must be an acute problem in international finance.
If Canada is able to sell to the United States during the coming year $300,000,000 in munitions, war equipment and raw materials, our deficit in United States exchange will at least be partly overcome. In any event this will ease the steady drain upon our United States dollar resources. In particular it will relieve Canada of the necessity of providing United States dollars for financing, in part, British orders in Canada which are based upon United States production, such as aeroplane engines. Heretofore we have been obliged to find not only the necessary Canadian dollars but the United States exchange as well. This is indeed important assistance and will go a substantial distance toward maintaining unim-
paired the independent financial position of Canada.
As the Prime Minister indicated in the course of his remarks, there would appear to be at least two declarations of principle, if not three. The first declaration which he has read is easily understood. It is agreed in principle that in mobilizing the resources of this north American continent each country shall provide the other with the defence articles which it is best able to produce and produce quickly, and that production programmes should be coordinated to this end.
I do suggest to the Prime Minister that he should elaborate this principle and state to the house and the country concretely just what defence articles it has been decided that Canada is best able to produce and produce quickly and which would be of advantage to the United States.
The second declaration, with respect to the expansion of existing capacity, is not quite so clear. The statement proceeds with the declaration that "there is existing and potential capacity in Canada for the speedy production of certain kinds of munitions, strategic materials, aluminum and ships, which are urgently required by the United States for its own purposes." In my view, this requires elaboration in order that we may properly comprehend its import, and I invite the Prime Minister to clarify that statement. Does it mean that we are to establish new plants in Canada? If so, are they to be Canadian plants, or are they to be plants established here as branches of United States factories? This portion of the position, I think, should be clarified as speedily as possible.
The country has welcomed the announcement that appropriate steps will be taken to acquaint the people of the United States with the nature and extent of Canada's war effort. May I express the hope that this will be done and done aggressively, so that there may be no misunderstanding of our position.
Recently the Prime Minister delivered an address which was intended to show the nature and extent of the effort of the Canadian people in their determination to carry on an all-out effort. By and large, I think that speech of the Prime Minister should have a good effect, but I am wondering if it was properly put over to the people of the United States. Recently, the lieutenant governor of the great province of Ontario visited New England. I think more of our outstanding citizens should be encouraged to go down there and address the American public.
I do think that we should have an aggressive campaign to inform the people of the United States as to what Canada is attempting to
Hyde Park Declaration
do in connection with this war. In this connection, may I express the hope that early action will be taken to do away with restrictions on travel between the two countries? I do not mean by this purely pleasure travel, but normal travel on the part of citizens of both countries so that the average citizen in each country may make known to his friends in the other the common determination of our democracies.
Within the past few days, public opinion, both in Canada and in Great Britain, has been calling for an empire conference with regard to the war.
A press cable from London intimated that the British government hoped for a joint conference. It has been reported that at Mr. Churchill's request the Prime Minister of Australia agreed to prolong his stay in England and that the Prime Minister of New Zealand was on his way to Britain. A further dispatch indicates that empire representatives would probably be invited to sit in with the British cabinet "to give precise information on what the dominions might be able to contribute to any particular move and to advise on both offensive and defensive measures."
So far as I am aware, it has not been indicated that any formal invitation has been issued for such important consultations, but if it is the considered opinion in England and in the dominions that such consultations should be held, with the supreme objective of facilitating swift action, then undoubtedly Canada should be represented by the Prime Minister. The chief dominion should, without question, take a foremost part in any such conferences.
Some weeks ago I indicated that in my view close personal consultation was desirable, but the Prime Minister was quick-too quick, in the view of many people-to rebut the suggestion. He then indicated that his duty was here in Canada-that the transatlantic telephone and communication via the high commissioner's office was all-sufficient. That would no doubt be true if events were normal, but they are not normal. Information may be received and given over a triangular route of this character, but true consultation, understanding, and effective advice can be given only around the conference table.
There must be many urgent problems to discuss. If it was considered necessary for the Prime Minister to visit the President of the United States, and I believe it was wholly desirable, then how equally vital it must be for the Prime Minister to confer with Mr. Churchill. Telephone and telegraphic communications were not good enough in the 14873-145
one case, and they are not good enough in the other.
Nothing but good could come of such a visit. How heartening to the hard-pressed British people to know at first hand that Canada is determined upon an all-out war effort! Then there are our Canadian forces in Britain, straining at the leash to go into action. How reassuring to them to know from the lips of the Prime Minister that Canada is determined to play a major role in defence of the empire and in destroying the common enemy! And how important at this juncture, when the armed forces of the other dominions are in the heart of the conflict, and our troops are not.
I suggest to the Prime Minister that there is need now for all empire statesmen to gather in a round table conference and decide what is to be the future course of action for all the British peoples. Furthermore, I suggest that it is the duty of the Prime Minister to lead the way for such a conference; as the senior dominion, Canada can well do this. Excuses will not do. They only add to the suspicion entertained in many quarters of the bona fides of our professions for an all-out war effort. Positive action on this point would allay such suspicions.
Really, I do not understand why the Prime Minister should either hesitate or refuse. Public opinion will support him if he goes. If he refuses, public opinion will not be satisfied.
Putting the matter in another light, what an invaluable gesture it would be to the people of Britain and to their morale, if the Prime Minister were to go to Britain and tell the people there that the senior dominion was behind them to the utmost of our abilities, and what an aid to national unity here in Canada!
Finally, I assert that the Prime Minister cannot justifiably absent himself from such a conference-and for this reason: The theatre of war is over there. The real centre of all war activity is over there. Our own first defence line is over there. All the most momentous decisions must be made over there. There and there only the need for and distribution of the troops and other war resources for the successful conduct of the war may be discussed. That, undoubtedly, is the reason why the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston), with the chief of staff and other high officers, went to Britain last autumn. There and there only future successful action may be discussed and agreed upon.
Let the Prime Minister take the lead in calling for such a conference. If he does, all
Hyde Park Declaration
Canada will applaud him. If he does not, there will be wonder and dismay. Such action on his part would indicate to Hitler in no uncertain terms Canada's resolution and determination to continue the struggle for freedom to the end.
Yesterday we all listened to- Mr. Churchill's address. He declared that the key to victory lay in the winning of the battle of the Atlantic. I was cheered by his prophecy that the eventual defeat of Hitler and Mussolini was certain, in view of the declared determination of the British and American democracies; and that nothing that is happening now is comparable in gravity with the dangers through which we passed last year. Then he added:
Nothing which can happen in the east is comparable with what is happening in the west.
And in closing he quoted two verses from Arthur Hugh Clough's poem "Say Not the Struggle Naught Availeth"-thoughts, as Mr. Churchill said, "which seem apt and precious to our thoughts to-night." May I repeat them:
For while the tired waves, vainly breaking, Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making, Comes, silent, flooding in, the main.
And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light;
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly!
But westward, look, the land is bright!
Mr. Churchill and the people of Britain are looking to the west, to Canada and the United States. Shall we fail them? Never! Never! That is the answering cry of Canada. That, I am sure, will be the answering cry of the great President of the United States. That will be the answering cry of the people of the United States.
Already things are moving rapidly over there. The Atlantic patrol is on duty, releasing Britain's hard pressed navy and air patrol for more effective service nearer Britain. That is most heartening, and we as Canadians, in common with our kith and kin, tender our heartfelt thanks.
More will follow. "Give us the tools and we will finish the job," declared Mr. Churchill on February 9 last. Public opinion in the United States rapidly crystallizing will see to it that the tools are delivered.
And what of Canada?
Are we contributing to the maximum of our capacity? I do believe that with repect to such implements and equipment as we can readily produce we are reaching a high state of production, which will bring increasing aid and support.
Shortly the 1941 victory loan will be launched. Then we shall have to ask ourselves, each one of us, searchingly, truthfully, "What is it worth to be a free man in a free land?" I have no doubt of the answer. This loan cannot and will not fail.
To-morrow we are to have the budget and we shall know the measure of the additional taxation which we shall have to bear. We shall not flinch. In terms of money and material things Canadians will play a man's part. We shall thus show to the dictators Canada's determination to pay for freedom as well as fight for it.
But have we mobilized our man-power in sufficient numbers to meet the needs of empire? On April 8, both in his statement to the house and in his radio address, the Minister of National Defence stated, "Man-power and morale are paramount factors in this war."
Are we meeting this problem of man-power realistically? What success has attended the recruiting campaign? In my view it has been a failure: 5,000 to 6,000 men were called for, allotments were made to each military district. According to press reports only one military district has measured up to its allotment and produced its quota. The method of recruiting from the non-active army has not measured up to requirement and we should have an explanation from the minister.
I am supported in this view by the fact that as late as Saturday last the minister held a hurried press conference in which he announced that graduates from the four months' training camps will not be released at the end of the period of training but will go right into coast defence and internal security units instead of being demobilized as was originally intended. This is ample proof of failure to attain the objective aimed at in April. The men in the active army thus replaced will be available for overseas service. That is encouraging, but in my view it is not good enough.
Attempts have been made to have men attached to the militia units join up voluntarily for overseas service. Methods approaching compulsion and duress were used. Men were sent a questionnaire. They were requested to say whether or not they would join the active army. Reply was compulsory and if in the negative, reasons were to be given. The men were instructed to parade before their commanding officer and answer, and if it were "no," then to give their reasons for saying "no." Surely this is approaching compulsion. Why will not the government meet the situation realistically? Why not
Hyde Park Declaration
approach the situation directly through the front door, rather than by the back door or indirect method?
The reason why the men in the non-active army units do not come forward is that under the mobilization act the trainees are not required to serve overseas, and men in the non-active army are asking, "Why should we go when the government said those training do not have to go?"
Let us be honest each with the other. Let us be realistic when such a grave situation is confronting us. Let us face it fairly and frankly and do our duty in the face of a common peril.