May 11, 1942 (19th Parliament, 3rd Session)


William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)


Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

I regret to inform the house of the resignation to-day of the Hon. Mr. Cardin as a minister of the crown. The cir-
cumstances of Mr. Cardin's resignation and of its acceptance by His Excellency the Governor General will appear from the following correspondence.
On Saturday afternoon, Mr. Cardin personally handed to me the following communication: Office of the Minister of Public Works Ottawa, May 9, 1942. My dear Prime Minister,
As a result of the decision arrived at during the meeting of council yesterday, where I once more expressed my point of view and my reasons for not agreeing with the new policy of the government, I respectfully tender my resignation as Minister of Public Works and Minister of Transport.
I feel that there is no necessity for repeating here the arguments which, I sincerely believe, justify my action. Suffice it to say at present that, as far as Canada is concerned, since the question of the plebiscite was first discussed and since the vote has been taken, nothing has been said nor anything established to indicate that the war situation has rendered necessary, just a few days after the vote, the introduction of a measure containing the principle of compulsory military service for overseas.
The presentation at this time, of an amendment to abrogate clause 3 of the National Mobilization Act is not, in my judgment, in accordance with the attitude taken and the views expressed in the speeches and declarations made soliciting an affirmative vote on the plebiscite.
I desire to express, my dear Prime Minister, my deep appreciation of your personal consideration, goodwill and friendship.
Most sincerely yours,
P. J. Arthur Cardin
The Right Honourable W. L. Mackenzie King, Prime Minister,
To Mr. Cardin's letter I made the following reply:
Office of the Prime Minister
Ottawa, May 11, 1942.
My dear Cardin,
In your letter of the 9th instant, which you so kindly handed to me personally, you state that you are tendering your resignation on the ground that you are unable to agree with the new policy of the government. You also give certain arguments which you feel justify your action.
Had the government adopted a new policy, a policy with which you ivere unable to agree, I could take no exception to your tendering your resignation. Indeed, it would be the only right and proper course for you to take. There has, however, been no change of policy. No new policy has been adopted.
The decision of the cabinet to seek from parliament an amendment to the National Resources Mobilization Act, deleting clause 3 of the act, does not denote any change in government policy. The sole purpose of the proposed amendment is to obtain for the government the freedom of decision and action with respect to the method of raising men for

The Ministry-Hon. P. J. A. Cardin
military service overseas which, in the recent plebiscite, the government itself requested, and which, by a very large majority, the people of Canada have said they desire the government to possess.
The statutory restriction contained in section 3 is the one remaining restriction on the government's freedom of decision and action in all aspects of Canada's war effort. The section was included in the National Resources Mobilization Act at the time the bill was before parliament because of a commitment arising out of promises and pledges from which the government and members of parliament have been released by the results of the recent plebiscite.
As you are aware, the government might have proceeded in this matter by order in council under the War Measures Act. Having regard, however, to its responsibility to parliament, the government has felt that such action as is necessary to bring existing legislation into conformity with the will of the people expressed in the vote on the plebiscite should be taken, not by order in council under the War Measures Act, but by act of parliament. In thus proceeding, the government is, before any amendment to the National Resources Mobilization Act is made, providing members of parliament with the fullest opportunity of considering the effect of every aspect of the amendment.
You will recall that, in my broadcasts, I stressed the fact that, despite the magnificence of Canada's war effort, the quite unfounded impression was being fostered in our own country and among other nations that, because of a restriction upon the powers of the government, Canada's effort was not, and could never be an all-out effort.
I gave the strongest reasons why this false impression, and the injustice being done Canada in the eyes of our own people and in the eyes of the world, should be ended as speedily as possible. In those reasons and in the fact that already it is desirable to extend the scope of service under the National Resources Mobilization Act to other parts of this continent and adjacent islands, you will find, I believe, wherein the war situation has rendered necessary the introduction, without delay, of the proposed amendment to the National Resources Mobilization Act.
In view of the grounds on which you have tendered your resignation, I cannot but feel that you have given to the decision of the government a significance it was never intended to have. I therefore feel that before taking any action on your letter, I should place before you, anew, the situation as I see it. You may feel that, in the light of what I have said, you would care to reconsider the request of your letter. I shall gladly await any further consideration you may wish to give the matter.
With kindest personal regards,
Yours very sincerely,
W. L. Mackenzie King The Honourable P. J. A. Cardin, M.P.,
Minister of Public Works,
The letter I have just read was delivered to Mr. Cardin this morning. Shortly thereafter I received from Mr. Cardin the following reply:
Office of the Minister of Public Works
Ottawa, May 11, 1942.
My dear Prime Minister:
Your communication of this morning with reference to my resignation reached me but a short time ago, and is one more indication of your kindness to me and of your friendship, which I greatly appreciate and thank you for most sincerely.
On perusing the letter, I find, however, that it merely presents anew the arguments, interpretations and viewpoints put forward during the discussion which preceded the decision arrived at in council, on Friday last.
I regret, therefore, my inability to change the views conveyed to you in the letter which I personally handed you on Saturday afternoon.
With the expression of my warmest personal regards, I am, my dear Prime Minister,
Yours very sincerely,
P. J. Arthur Cardin
The Right Honourable W. L. Mackenzie King, Prime Minister,
On receiving Mr. Cardin's letter I sent to him the following reply:
Office of the Prime Minister,
Ottawa, May 11, 1942.
My dear Cardin:
It is with great regret that I have learned of your decision not to withdraw the tender of your resignation. In the circumstances, I have had no alternative but to inform the governor general of the correspondence which has passed between us, and to advise his excellency to accept your resignation. I have now to let you know that your resignation, as a minister of the crown, has been accepted by his excellency.
Since the passing of Lapointe and Dandurand, you have been, in years of association, my oldest colleague in the cabinet. We have been together in parliament for many years. For thirteen of these years we have shared the responsibilities of office. Over all these years, our political and personal associations have been so close and so friendly that the severance of the relationship which your retirement from the government involves, means, I can assure you, not less to myself than I know it does to you.
I thank you for the words of appreciation and personal friendship conveyed in your letteT. They are most warmly reciprocated by myself. I wish to thank you in equal measure for your unfailing loyalty and constant and helpful cooperation in the work of the administration, during the years we have shared its tasks together.

The Plebiscite

May I express the hope that release from the responsibilities and anxieties of office which are so very great at this most critical of all times, may serve further to restore your health and strength from the impairment it suffered some months ago, from which, fortunately, you have steadily recovered.
With renewed expressions of my warmest personal regards and with my best wishes,
Believe me, my dear Cardin,
Yours very sincerely,
W. L. Mackenzie King The Honourable P. J. A. Cardin, M.P.,
Minister of Public Works,

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