February 24, 1943 (19th Parliament, 4th Session)


Charles-Édouard Ferland



I accept the wordi of the hon. member for Gaspe (Mr. Roy;. I have nothing else to say on that question. He can rest assured that I do not wish to impute to him any motives.
Mr. Speaker, there is perhaps some confusion in certain sections of the country following the many amendments that have been moved, especially in these difficult times. For that reason, I have deemed it advisable to explain why I intend to support the government. In 1940, I received a mandate from my electors; it was a formal mandate to support the Liberal government, subject, however, to my opposing conscription of men for overseas service. Last year, in February I think, the government brought down the famous plebiscite act. Prior to the vote which took place on April 27, 1942, I addressed a message to my electors of Joliette-PAssomp-tion-Montcalm, explaining why I had supported the government on the plebiscite act;
I told them I had done so because the amendment moved was a motion of want of confidence and that the government would have been defeated and replaced by another government if it had not received the support of the Quebec members. But I told my electors that I still had confidence in our leader the Prime Minister of Canada and that whatever government might be in power, I would vote against them if they ever attempted to pass conscription for overseas service.

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Mr. Speaker, I have kept my word. In June, 1942, I think, the government had the bill of conscription for service overseas passed, and I not only protested against it in this house, but I broke with my party and my leader and I voted against the government. Fifty-three other French Canadian members gave a similar vote and broke with the Liberal party by voting against conscription. I had no reason to walk across the house and to desert my party, even though that conscription bill was incorporated in the statutes of Canada, because at the time, before the vote was taken on that amendment to the Mobilization Act, the Prime Minister of Canada repeated once more that conscription of men for overseas service had never been, was not and probably would never be necessary.
But the Prime Minister, in a speech delivered in the House of Commons, gave us his word of honour and a verbal guarantee when he solemnly declared that if it ever became necessary to enforce that conscription measure for service overseas by order in council, he would not put conscription into force without previously consulting parliament, and without being authorized by parliament through a vote of its members. We have continued ever since to fight and to contribute to the war effort. I must say, Mr. Speaker, that in spite of all the difficulties we had to face, in spite of certain errors that we have pointed out for correction in this house where free speech is recognized, in party caucus, in the newspapers and elsewhere, I have confidence in the Prime Minister of Canada and I say there is not in the whole country a man who enjoys the confidence of the electors to a higher degree.
Mr. Speaker, I notice that it is near six o'clock and I want to conclude my remarks in order to give the house a chance to vote on the amendment now before us and on the main motion.
I shall vote against the Conservative amendment and I shall support the government on the main motion.
Mr. NORMAN J. M. LOCKHART (Lincoln): Mr. Speaker, it was not my intention to participate in this debate, but within the past few days certain incidents have taken place on which I think I should say something.
I am satisfied to continue for the next five or six minutes if you wish, but I shall probably take half an hour. Therefore I respectfully move the adjournment of the debate.
Motion agreed to and debate adjourned.
On motion of Mr. Fournier (Hull) the house adjourned at 5.55 p.m.
Thursday, February 25, 1943

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