April 3, 1945 (19th Parliament, 6th Session)


Grote Stirling

National Government


The story which the minister has unfolded to us this evening is just one more chapter in the grand account which will be handed down to those who come after us of the accomplishments of the Royal Can-32283-27J
adian Navy. He will agree with me that he has done no more than sketch in the outline of what has been accomplished for Canada by Canada's navy. There must come to our minds many questions which we should like to ask that would enable him to amplify the story which he has told, but we realize we must wait for the answers until later days when more information can be given.
I was very glad that the minister referred to the great difficulties which were encountered in those earlier years when the idealism of disarmament was overshadowing us. But that Canada's navy has been able to accomplish what it has accomplished is due at least in part to the plans and the groundwork laid down after the great war in preparation for the time of pressure whenever it should come. I think of Sir Charles Kingsmill, of Rear Admiral Hose, and of Vice Admiral Nelles, when references are made to the carrying out of these plans. Very roughly the plan was that there should be a small, compact, highly trained permanent force, and that we should always be able to call on the assistance of the Royal Navy and of all the training necessary with that highly trained force. 1 remember that just ten years ago the Royal Canadian Navy permanent force consisted of 900 officers and men, that the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve consisted of just under 200 officers and men and that the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve consisted of just under 1,000 officers and men. Adding these up you will find a total in the blue uniform of just over 2,000, and the minister tells us this evening that the figure of last year has gone on growing and that now there are 90,000 officers and men serving under the white ensign.
I am glad he paid tribute to those chiefs of the naval staff whom we look back on and whose service we appreciate. I remember so well when the idealism of disarmament was over us all, as I phrase it, having a conversation with Rear Admiral Hose. He was then chief of the naval staff, and indeed pretty near the end of his tether of endurance because of those cuts in estimates which were considered necessary and because of the criticism which unfortunately was too often levelled at Canada's small navy. I met him again on the eve of his retirement. He had just returned from a trip across Canada, the purpose of which was to visit all the establishments of the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve. He was extremely pleased that at the time of his retirement he should find those various centres in all the provinces of Canada, seven-eighths of them far removed from salt water, not only set up to complement, small though that complement was, but. with a waiting list. And, Mr. Chairman, it is surely a tribute to the

War Appropriation-Naval Services
people of Canada that, whether it be the call of blood or whatever the reason may be, when the first call came the people responded from every province, as the minister has recounted this evening.
On this occasion I should like to pay my tribute to tire work carried on by Vice Admiral Percy W. Nelles. He entered the Canadian navy, as.hon. members will remember, as a cadet, and he stepped up the ladder, putting in his time of service and training with the Royal Navy, and of course benefiting therefrom. He carried us through those years of depression when, unfortunately, the estimates were indeed low, meeting the difficulties which presented themselves at that time; and I would remind hon. members that included in those difficulties was the criticism of ignorant men who all too often were inclined to argue that the dollars spent on the Royal Canadian Navy would have been better spent in some other way. Think for a moment what it would have meant if that had been done! It would have meant that when the call came, when the pressure came upon us, we should not have had that magnificent nucleus from which we could expand. The plan to which I had reference a moment ago was that from this small band of highly trained sailors we should be able to expand the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve, which is formed of those who serve in the merchant ships, and the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve, through its various establishments across the country, and by that means, following the course so wisely laid down, arrive at what the minister has been able to describe this evening.
The war is yet to be won. The minister has indicated that when the trouble in the Atlantic ceases our part shall be played in the Pacific as all Canadians would wish it bo be played. But I presume that before this phase comes a certain amount of demobilization will be taken in hand, and in that connection there are two matters which I should like to bring to the minister's attention and on which I would ask his comments. The first is in relation to that preference which is given under the civil service commission, and of which cognizance is taken in the making of other appointments. As I understand it, that preference is only granted) to those who have served overseas. I suggest that in these considerable numbers the minister has described there must be very many who would have been only too delighted to serve overseas had they been given the opportunity. Duty compelled them to remain in Canada, and I wonder if there is not some way in which that preference can be extended to them in their applications for

service after demobilization. The other matter concerns itself with the arrangements for demobilization leave, which I understand1 differ in the three branches of the service. I think it would be of considerable advantage if it were possible to have similar arrangements in all branches, so that in the work of rehabilitation the sailors may be granted opportunities similar to those accorded the other two services.
I should like the minister to give the committee the benefit of his opinion on that point. Perhaps he would also give us some information as to the progress already achieved under that branch of the navy which has to. do with rehabilitation, and describe what has been accomplished so far in that regard.

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