February 5, 1942 (19th Parliament, 3rd Session)

LIB

Georges Parent (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

When the hon. member mentioned the fact that he was exceeding his time I looked to see if there was opposition, but as a matter of fact the expression that was given by those on the left was that he should continue, and I assumed that he had consent.
Mr. NORMAN J. M. LOCKHART (Lincoln): It is not my intention to emulate the scene that has been enacted in this house within the last forty-five or fifty minutes or perhaps an hour. Apparently the theories propounded by the previous speaker have met with general approval among the followers of the government. I have not at any time attempted to minimize the war effort of this government, but I rise in my place at this time to urge them on to greater things.
None of us question the loyalty of the hon. member for Northumberland (Mr. Fraser), who has just spoken, and I want to assure him that there are just as many loyal subjects in Canada to-day as there were in the last war, as is shown by the fact that they have sent sons overseas.
I am not particularly interested in digging up from among the archives anything that might appear to discredit men who have, in fact, been a credit to Canadian public or civil life. Those men on whom a vicious attack was made to-day will be able, I am quite sure, when the last account is taken to measure up with anyone, whether he be Speaker in this house, member of the house, or among those recited in the great list which have given of their best.
I received no telegram; I attended no banquet; but I think it would be interesting to have a comparison made between the records of the men who were viciously attacked in the preceding address, and, perhaps, some of those who are members of this house. This is no time for us to indulge in recriminations. This is a time when every member should express to the best of his ability his point of view and the views of his constituents. A strange spectacle has been enacted in this house in the last week or two-yes, and it is being enacted in many parts of Canada to-day. The daily papers are to-day reporting incidents which I believe it would be better to have deleted from the records of the nation. Canada, the empire, Christian civilization itself is rocking on its foundations, and in my opinion the spectacle which is being enacted in this house-within the last hour-is not a credit to the parliament of Canada in this time of crisis.

The Address-Mr. Lockhart
I listened the other day to the hon. member for Leeds (Mr. Fulford) denouncing his friends. Not long ago the lion and the lamb lay down together in peace. How things have changed I Then we have another hon. gentleman, the member for Trinity (Mr. Roebuck), appearing on a public platform in the city of Toronto supporting the candidate of my hon. friends to the left, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation party, and the next day appearing in the constituency of Welland and urging before the electors the defeat of that same candidate. I say that strange spectacles are being enacted throughout Canada as well as in this house.
We are the elected representatives of the people of Canada, and I think that every representative has a sacred duty to perform at this time. It was hoped, at least I had hoped when I came to the house at this session, that we would be given an opportunity to accomplish something with alacrity in the interests of Canada and of the empire. The Minister of Finance (Mr. Usley) as a private member spoke to us yesterday at length; as a minister of the crown, a member of the war cabinet, he has also expressed his views. I for one respect those views just as I expect him to respect the views of my constituents or any views I may advance.
He has approved of the expenditure of money on a plebiscite. With this I have to disagree. He has likened it to the spending of money by people on amusement. I would point out that the spending of trust money, raised by the sacrifices of 'the taxpayers of this country, on matters such as a plebiscite is far different from people spending the small pittance they have left after paying these taxes to get a little amusement and recreation for themselves.
The speech from the throne deals specifically with few matters but more particularly with the plebiscite suggested by the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King). In respect to that I had hoped we would have something definite placed before us. The leader of the group with which I have the honour to be associated pressed for that, and others have pressed for the definition of what this plebiscite would contain. The answer given by the Prime Minister is found on page 32 of Hansard:
When my hon. friend goes on to ask me what I am going to do with respect to any expression of view which may be made by the people in connection with any reference which will be made to them, may I say to him that in seeking to get relief from past commitments I am not going to begin by making new and fresh commitments. In seeking freedom on the part of the ministry I am not going to start in by seeking to tie my own hands.
Later on the Prime Minister said, as reported at page 60:
May I add that such attitude as I shall take at the time will be taken in the light of all the circumstances as I may know them as a member of the government, and of all conditions as I know them in regard to this country and, as far as I am able to know something about them, conditions in other countries as well.
This, with some more words, was the answer to a request for more explicit information and direction on this plebiscite. This evasion of responsibility is not acceptable to the voters of my constituency, and I do not believe it is acceptable to the voters of many parts of Canada. It seems to me the Prime Minister is following public opinion entirely, following and listening to see what the effect of his pronouncements may be, without giving the leadership desired in this hour of crisis. I am sure that has been made manifest in the press throughout the country.
I state here publicly that at least one thousand of my constituents have sent me individual messages of protest. Collective groups comprising 75 to 100 signatures each have also sent me communications in considerable number. I have received thirty or more resolutions from municipal councils, service clubs, church organizations and all kinds of kindred groups, which totalled up would represent at least two or three thousand names. These people have protested most definitely against the vagueness of the language used by the Prime Minister in referring to the plebiscite and what he proposes to place before the people at this time.
They urge a complete and total war effort. They urge compulsory selective service, and in no uncertain words they tell me what my duty is as a member of this parliament, sent here as their representative. I am urged to do all in my power to prevent a plebiscite being taken. The reasons given by them, in which I entirely concur, are that the saving of time and money in this hour are essential. I voice, therefore, the opinions of my electors as expressed in the messages they have sent me. And what is more, as a member of this parliament, in making these utterances I am prepared to take my full share of responsibility to see that they are carried out.
I must in fairness say that I received one message, signed by one individual only, said to be representing an executive group, but from an organization I have not heard of before, endorsing the plebiscite but definitely calling for compulsory selective service. That is the extent to which the hundreds, yes, thousands of messages that have reached me approve of this plebiscite. I am urged to do everything I can to put a stop to what they
The Address-Mr. Lockhart

call putting square pegs in round holes in this war effort. I am urged by returned soldier organizations to get more fully behind the thousands of lads who have gone overseas, to make definitely sure that reinforcements will be provided in the hour of need. I am quite sure that other hon. members have received similar communications from returned soldier organizations.
These organizations point out the need of trained recruits. They point out the necessity that might arise following such tragedies as Hong Kong, Dunkirk, Greece and Crete, and all these disasters that have been referred to by other speakers. Who knows, they say, when the next demand may come? We may have to go to Alaska or points close to Canada.
In this connection I think we as members of this house must have appreciated the observations made here by hon. members from British Columbia as to the critical situation there. We cannot be unmindful of the words of the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Green) when he pointed out the position our troops w'ould be in if overnight the treacherous Japs were to strike in the dark, perhaps on the shores of Alaska. What would be our position if we had to go to our armed forces and pick out the men who could leave Canada from those who could not go? This has been brought to our attention by messages received from returned soldiers' organizations in my city. If on the other hand Vancouver turned out to be the vulnerable point, how quickly could United States forces respond to our help? I plead with this government to see that we are placed in the same position as the armies of the United States so that we can give one hundred per cent support whether it be in our own Canada or on shores perhaps not too far distant-yes, even in the remotest parts of the world.
I was home over the week-end, Mr. Speaker, and during that time I received a great many telephone calls; in fact the wires on my telephone w'ere almost burning up.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Full View