June 30, 1942 (19th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Thomas Langton Church

National Government

Mr. T. L. CHURCH (Broadview):

I rise to a question of privilege. I wish to refer to a speech made in the house last Thursday by the hon. member for Parry Sound (Mr. Slaght), at page 3695 of Hansard, in which he mentioned myself and the Union government and the Military Service Act. He based his remarks on a text book, Doctor Skelton's "Life of Sir Wilfrid Laurier." He said:
I am sorry the hon. member for Broadview (Mr. Church) is not here, for the Toronto Globe referred to the widespread feeling of disappointment, while it is said that Mayor Church of Toronto stated:
"The Military Service Act will cost the country millions and is getting very little results. If the government had spent one-quarter of the money in voluntary recruiting, they would have got more men."
Let me say that this book does not quote the page or the issue of the Toronto Globe, nor does it say what I said, because the remarks were never made in that connection. I was complaining about one thing, and that was a lack of equitable enforcement of that act throughout Canada. I complained because before the act became effective Toronto and Ontario had been dried up of voluntary recruits, and hardly any could be further obtained.
I never saw Doctor Skelton's text book until this afternoon. And may I .say that the hon. member for Parry Sound has described the author of the book as an historian. Well, if he is an historian he should state facts. The book does not state facts, because the real fact is that from the start I strongly supported the Union government and the Military Service Act. My only complaint was in connection with the non-enforcement of the act elsewhere in the province, and particularly its enforcement in Toronto. I called attention to the fact that that enforcement was not equitable. In reply to the hon. member for Parry Sound I say that what I said was that the enforcement of the act was unfair to Toronto and to Ontario generally.

Two or three years before this war, from 1937 to 1939, I urged on many occasions here a compulsory selective service register for Canada. I have been a supporter of that policy, and before and during the 1940 election I supported conscription and the policy of equality of sacrifice. Then the hon. member for Parry Sound makes things worse by casting reflections upon me, and by attempting to show a worse side of the picture. Referring to me he said "that I had been misled by my absentee leader". I was not a member of the House of Commons between 1917 and 1921. And may I point out in passing that the absentee leader to whom he refers has two sons in England, and that the party he refers to polled nearly one-half of the total vote in the elections of 1940. I might have something to say about these matters in another debate, because the hon. member has not stated the facts exactly and the connection to which they relate. His facts are not correct, nor are those of the writer of the book. I may challenge this or discuss it at another time.

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