July 1, 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):

Mr. Speaker, this being the 1st of July, and the seventy-fifth anniversary of confederation, I should like to give expression to some of the thoughts I believe will be in the minds of hon. members of this house. With the permission of the house I should like to make a brief statement.

The Canadian Confederation
This day, the seventy-fifth anniversary of Canadian confederation, falls at a time when Canada is employing the nation's energy and resources against an enemy who would destroy our very existence as a free people. At such a time, when the citizens of Canada are engaged upon one all-absorbing task, elaborate ceremonies would be out of place even in celebrating so splendid an achievement as confederation represents. We may, however, rightly pause on this anniversary, gratefully to reflect on the vision and the wisdom which enabled the fathers of confederation to bring our nation into being.
We are freely and fully associated with the other free peoples of the world in a death struggle, with an enemy seeking to remove from the earth the heritage of freedom on which our institutions are founded. A few days ago, for the first time since confederation, Canadian soil was attacked.
The fathers of confederation built this nation on a foundation of human freedom, of self-government, of religious liberty, of racial equality, and of deep and abiding attachment to a common homeland. These are the sources of the harmony and mutual understanding among our people which, in turn, is the essence of our national strength, alike in war and peace.
Our enemies seek, everywhere, to replace freedom by slavery, self-government by tyranny, religious liberty and racial equality by the pagan conception of the master race; they seek to make of the homelands of all free peoples, colonies of slaves in which the sanctity of home and family will be sacrificed to the lust and greed of the conqueror.
To meet this threat to Christian civilization, to national existence, to homes and families, Canada is mobilizing all her resources of skill and strength, of brains and energy, of farm and forest, of mine and factory, of wealth and manpower. Our fighting forces, with those of our allies, are on many shores and many seas, and in the skies over many countries, battling to make sure that victory is won before war comes to Canadian soil. Along the coasts of Canada, our soldiers stand on watchful guard. Our coastal waters are ceaselessly patrolled by vessels of the Canadian navy and planes of the Canadian air force. In all the centres of industry, men and women are labouring to make huge stores of weapons and munitions. From fields and mines and forests workers are extracting the essential supplies of war.
It is particularly fitting that the celebration of our seventy-fifth national anniversary should coincide with army week in Canada. Our national pride has deepened with the
knowledge of Canada's army guarding the heart of the empire, protecting the world's greatest citadel of freedom, and prepared for action in any place, at any time. We have all been profoundly stirred by the exploits of Canadian airmen in every theatre of war; Ceylon, Cologne, Essen, Emden, now Bremen, are a witness to their magnificent daring, and to their important role. We know how great and how vital has been the work of our navy. We have been told that Canadian machines and munitions, Canadian food and Canadian money were essential to keep Britain fighting in the dark days of 1940 and 1941. But our Canadian army, because it has seen little fighting, has not thus far received its fair share of credit. This week, throughout all Canada, the Canadian people are being given a special opportunity to restore the balance by showing their appreciation of the Canadians in battle dress.
May I pause to recall the record. The first contingent of the Canadian army landed in Britain on December 17, 1939. But for the collapse of France, the first division would have come to grips with the enemy in the summer of 1940. All through that dark summer they stood waiting for the expected invasion. They were joined during that time by the second division, and at Christmas of 1940 the Canadian corps was formed. In 1941, a third infantry division, an armoured division, an army tank brigade, and thousands upon thousands of specialized troops and reinforcements were added to their numbers.
This year more units and reinforcements have crossed the sea, and others will follow. The Canadian corps in Britain has become a highly trained, hard-hitting, mobile Canadian army. Mr. Churchill has told us what the Canadian army has meant to him and to the people of Britain. Let me repeat what he said last September:
There they stand, and there they have stood through the whole of the critical period of the last fifteen months at the very point where they would be the first to be hurled into a counter-stroke against an invader. No greater service can be rendered to this country, no more important military duty can be performed by any troops in all the allies.
There has been no glamour; there have been no great headlines. We in Canada, have not realized, as fully as the people of Britain, how greatly our army has contributed and continues to contribute to the security of the bridge-head which separates the tyrant of Europe from the western hemisphere, and which bridge-head is also our own surest defence.
I doubt, too, if we have given the credit which is their due to the men in battle dress
The Canadian Confederation

who have stood in ceaseless vigil at the lonely outposts of our own country. When the balance sheet of war is struck, we shall do well never to forget the long dreary months of dull, but vital routine which the army has performed with little notice, and no complaint, on our coasts, and in vulnerable areas in Canada, in Newfoundland and Labrador, and on the islands of the Atlantic.
The Canadian army is not an instrument built only to resist attack. It was planned, it has been organized, and is trained as a highly mechanized and armoured striking force. The day is coming-it may be close at hand- when it will have an honoured place in the van of attack. No Canadian doubts that when that day comes, our army will do its full part-and a glorious part-in helping to defeat and to destroy the military might of an enemy whose design and ambition is to conquer the whole free world. Canada's army is strong; it is united by a common purpose. It' is the duty of all Canadian citizens to be no less strong, no less united by a common purpose. On this seventy-fifth anniversary of confederation the need is greater than ever before in our history, to let nothing divide us as a people, to compose our differences, and to throw all our energies into the task of saving our country, and helping to save the freedom of the world. If we would be worthy of our past, and the sacrifices of the past; if we would be worthy of the many brave sons of Canada who, in the present war, have given their all, and of the half million young Canadians who have offered, if need be, to die for their country, it is our supreme duty, while striving for victory, to preserve for those who may survive the frightful vicissitudes of war, and for future generations, a free and a united Canada.

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