Mr. George A. Drew (Leader of the Opposition):
Mr. Chairman, when the committee was last dealing with these estimates it had not reached the point where the items were
being discussed in detail. I propose, therefore, to deal with the broad problem presented by the estimates rather than with any individual items. In doing so, I am simply following the course adopted by the minister and those who followed him in the discussion.
The importance of these estimates has been emphasized since we last met to discuss the problems of defence. In the debate which has taken place on external affairs, the unanimity of the members of this house with regard to the necessity of Canada being associated with the other free nations in every way necessary for the purpose of combining their strength to assure peace in the years ahead was recognized. The very fact that we are called upon to consider estimates for an expenditure of $383 million for defence is conclusive evidence that there is no thought in the mind of the government or of anyone else thal a mere expression of the desire of people for peace, or mere association in a common purpose, will in itself, bring that peace which is the highest desire of every human being. For this reason we must examine these estimates in the light of the position which Canada has taken as a member of the north Atlantic community of nations, and the commitment which that implies.
These estimates must be considered not merely in terms of the amounts appropriated, and their being spent in the best way, but also as part of the important problem of our playing our part in saving civilization itself.
When the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton) was introducing these estimates he said: "Members will have it in mind that today is Remembrance day." These estimates first came up for consideration on November 11. It seems to me particularly fitting that the estimates of the Department of National Defence should come up on Remembrance day. Each year on November 11 we are called upon to remember the many men who died in the free lands of the world because they had not been prepared for the defence of their country when war broke out, and also because they had not understood what the exact situation was. If there is one message above all others which should come to us from those whose memory we commemorate on November 11, it is that there is no substitute for a precise examination of the facts, and that no pleasant statements as to what we have achieved can be a substitute for the reality of that measure of combined strength which is the one hope for peace in the years ahead.
This does not mean the figures before us may be inadequate. It may well be that
they are too high, having regard to the agreements we have made with other nations, and to the fact that our commitment, which has been clearly stated by the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson), is to contribute our share in the best way we can, having regard to our strength and our facilities.
The Minister of National Defence went on to say, "We learned again that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom." I think no one will question that statement. Eternal vigilance, however, is not merely keeping one's eye open to see what the other man is doing. Eternal vigilance implies also a constant supervision and a constant examination of our own ability to assume whatever role may be imposed upon us by the commitments that we as a democratic nation have freely undertaken. Our objective is peace. I am certain that no member of the politburo in Russia, which constitutes the small, compact dictatorship over the communist masses of the world, has any doubt that the supreme and only objective of the nations of the Atlantic community is peace. Any suggestion on their part that the North Atlantic security pact is an aggressive association of the western nations is of course hypocrisy, pretence, and an attempt to convince their own people that there is some reason for the tremendous military preparations going on within their own borders.
Our objective is peace, and we have been told that the large sums we are called upon to approve in this committee are the price that we must pay for preserving peace. But dollars will not preserve peace; it is what the dollars buy. We shall only play our part in the common cause, as the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the other nations will only play theirs, if the money that is spent-whether it be dollars, pounds, francs, lire, or any other currency-is effectively used for the purpose of preparing within each country that organization which can most effectively take its part in this great international team which has its mind only on the continuing peace of the world.
Those ceremonies which took place last week should indeed strengthen our conviction as to the importance of an association of this kind, backed by a well-trained organization for that purpose within each country. That also was the great lesson that came to us from the other wars. I use the word "wars", because both the first world war and the second world war could have been avoided if those nations which believed in peace and believed in the right of every nation to determine its own course had combined their 45781-123
Supply-National Defence strength, had stood together and had said to Germany or to any other possible aggressor: Let there be no doubt that we mean to preserve our freedom. Undoubtedly the leaders of Germany moved in 1914, as they moved in 1939, because they had come to the conclusion that the free nations were neither ready nor willing to defend themselves with all they had. Germany paid the penalty for that mistake, as did the rest of the world at the same time.
If there is one thought that should be uppermost in our minds as we examine these estimates and what these estimates imply, and what lies behind the dollars and the words therein set out, it is that war could have been prevented in 1914 and in 1939. The job of all of us is to do what we can within our sphere of responsibility to keep that lesson in our minds and before our people, and to make sure that never in our lifetime shall it be forgotten.
It is with this thought in mind that I should like to consider not only the estimates that are before us but the statement that was prepared and presented to the house on November 11. This document, which can in fact be called a white paper, covering "Canada's defence program" for 1949 and 1950, purports to give "Information on defence". That is the opening heading, under part I on page 5, and it is the stated purpose of the whole document. I should like to examine some of the things that are said in this white paper because I intend to repeat my appeal to the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton) and to the members of this committee for the setting up of a standing committee on national defence which can obtain the information that is not now available to us and will not be available to us even if we sit in committee of the whole to consider these estimates from now until next May.
The reason I say that is this. Under the rules of procedure, no machinery is provided by which we can obtain the information that would give these estimates and this explanation any real meaning to most members of the committee and to the thirteen and a half million people of Canada whose future so largely depends upon what they really mean.
On the first page of the report, but the fifth page of the document, I find these words: Defence is no longer the concern of the soldier alone. It is the concern of each individual.
May I repeat that these are the words given to us by the Department of National Defence. Defence is above all the concern of each member of this committee. We shall not be doing our duty unless we make sure that
Supply-National Defence a procedure has been adopted which makes it possible to discuss the subject of defence with real knowledge of our objectives, of the plans that are being made, of the adequacy of what we are doing, and of what can be done to avoid any waste of money and to make the most effective use of the huge sums which are being allotted for this purpose.
I would refer to these words which appear on page 6:
Canada has a great stake in international security and stability.
Every Canadian has a great stake in international security and stability. There is not a mother or a father in Canada with young children today who does not look at these children and wonder whether in the years ahead they are to be called upon to take part in world tragedies which have been shared by two generations of Canadians. Within this house are many veterans of two world wars. These men, who have seen the ghastly destruction of war, have seen their friends, their brothers, those they knew best of all, blown to oblivion by the ghastly instruments of war, are the ones above all others in this country who are conscious of the need of doing everything within the realm of human possibility to prevent the recurrence of a supreme tragedy of that kind.
May I repeat that Canada as a nation not only has a stake in security and stability, but mothers and fathers-indeed everyone- no matter what their age may be today, look at the papers and at the disturbing headlines, and can only interpret the news they read in terms of the possibility not only of war but of the conceivable end of our civilization as we know it, if the combined sanity and the combined strength of the free nations are not fully associated in the most effective way for the preservation of the peace that was bought by the blood and the agony of the youth of Canada and of other nations who won such a decisive victory in 1945. It is in this frame of mind and from this point of view that I urge hon. members to examine these estimates, and not to take any statement for granted, not to be prepared to pass from this subject until they know, and really know, what is being done with this enormous sum of money.
As has been pointed out, it is no longer the job of the soldier alone, and it is not enough to be told that the military experts tell us this or that. This is the job of every Canadian, and we are the representatives here of the people of Canada.
Let us pass to the stated defence objectives which appear on page 11. In paragraph 17 we find this statement:
In 1948 Canada's defence alms and objectives were set out as being:
(1) to provide the force estimated to be necessary to defend Canada against any sudden direct attack that could be or is likely to be directed against it in the near future.
This is our first objective. Before we pass on these estimates it is our duty to know how close we are to that objective. How far have we gone in providing the force estimated to be necessary to defend Canada against any sudden direct attack that could be or is likely to be directed against us in the near future? How many infantry battalions are there in the active forces with their complete complement of weapons and equipment? Unless you know that, you have no idea at all of how ready the infantry are to take their part. How many artillery units have their complete complement of machines, of range-finding instruments, of controlled devices, of all the technical instruments that go with that service under the present establishment, which will be suited for the employment of that unit in active combat? How many hon. members know that? If they do not know, they cannot pass on these estimates with any appearance of reality in relation to the stated objective for which the money is being allotted.
How many of our armoured units have the machines of war and the equipment and all the control and communication devices that are required by an establishment for 1950- not 1945? If you do not know, you cannot pass on these estimates with any real knowledge of what they imply. How many of our engineering units have the establishment required for 1950 and the years beyond? How many of our signal units, how many of our army service corps units, how many of the other units of the infantry have their establishment and could move into positions to meet the first test set down? I think many hon. members guess the answer, and if they do, it is all the more reason why right now, today, the government should say that a standing committee will be set up where the military experts may be examined and where industrial experts and those who are associated with the nonpermanent units as well, the reserve units, could be brought here to express their opinions; because I would remind hon. members that many of the greatest developments in effective mechanism for defence came not from the military experts but from those who could not be included within that rather limited group.
We need only to recall that in the first world war the decisive weapon was the tank, and that it was not the result of the advice of the experts. The experts all said it could not be used, and blocked it. There was a young minister named Churchill who used a device which perhaps may not conform strictly to parliamentary practices. Hon. members will recall that he succeeded in having the tanks developed by including an estimate for land units of the naval force. It was under that appropriation the tanks were developed and were ready for the first attack in 1916. In the second world war the great test as to whether there could be an invasion of Europe was the possibility of establishing beachheads at places where there were no natural ports. There again a civilian named Churchill had put forward the_ idea of what came to be known as Operation Mulberry. Of course he had had a fairly extended experience in military affairs; but he certainly was not one of those who would be included within the group known as technical military experts.
Hon. members can think of many suggestions which have ultimately taken form and which came originally from the drafting boards of industry, suggestions which came from the ideas of amateur soldiers thinking in unconventional terms. Now, for years after the end of the war-or what we are pleased to call the end of the war-the time has come to bring some of those unconventional brains before a committee to see what ideas have emerged from the thinking of the people of this country as to the way in which, with the greatest economy and effectiveness, they can play their part in the task lying before us in this field. I suggest that unless we have such a committee we are simply giving a blank cheque, without accepting, and insisting upon accepting, the responsibility which is ours in connection with one of the most important duties of this parliament acting as a collective body.
We are told in this same document that the only kind of war which could involve Canada would be a war with communism. At the present time that is the only foreseeable war. At page 11 the white paper goes on to say that the best way to achieve victory in any war is to defeat the enemy in his own land, and that the right place to defend Canada and what Canadians believe in is as far away from Canada as possible.
This is the statement of the Department of National Defence as to their concept of our national military role. I ask hon. members to consider just how ready our present defence forces are to fit in with that role. Whether it is the right role or whether it is not, it is the
Supply-National Defence role placed before us as the stated role of our forces. And only to the extent that our forces fit into that picture is this money being properly spent. I cannot see any shading of the meaning in these words at all.
If our objective is to play our part within the terms now put before us, then the test as to the appropriate expenditure of every cent of money must be this: How close does this expenditure come to producing the results which are put before us in the statement of the Department of National Defence?
At page 12 there is a statement with which I am sure every hon. member will agree:
Our defence policy assumes that our armed forces will be used in association with those of friendly powers.
That of course was what the Secretary of State for External Affairs was emphasizing yesterday. It goes on to say:
The defence of Canada and the defence of western Europe are ultimately one operation.
It is necessary, if we consider how well the money is being spent, that we have at least an estimate of what types of units, what types of equipment, and what particular emphasis on a particular service, will best fit our defence forces to that requirement. The report goes on to say:
The development of these three phases must proceed at a pace which will neither be so slow as to leave us unprepared at any point, nor so hasty as to overburden the economy with the production of war materials much of which would become obsolete.
I believe everyone will agree with this- certainly with the latter part of it. But let us examine the first part of it, where it states that we must not be so slow as to be unprepared at any point. On this 18th day of November, 1949, are we prepared at any single point to meet the requirements stated by the Department of National Defence? Any hon. member who, through his association with military units in this country, knows something of what the situation really is, can give the answer, and he knows it is one which is not satisfactory in relation to the enormous figure before us.
The report refers to our being unprepared "at any point". All right; let us take this point in the history of Canada. On November 18, 1949, how ready are we, not only with any branch of the service but with any unit of any branch of the service, to take the stated part that has been placed before us? Every member who is passing on these estimates should know the answer, or should have the assurance that he will know the answer when we consider the estimates in detail. I make that qualification
Supply-National Defence for this reason, as I pointed out in an earlier debate: that the expenditure of money is effective only to the extent that it is made with a knowledge of the facts and the real purposes for which the money is being spent.
We must know exactly what the position really is-and not just accept the statement that we are spending so much money, and that our men and women in the services are well trained, and have a high morale. We know all that. It is because we have young men and women of demonstrated ability, it is because we have young men and women of whom we are proud, young men and women capable of undertaking any task placed before them, that we should insist upon knowing what is really being done to prepare them-and this is the only reason they are in uniform-for the defence of this country and the maintenance of the collective freedom of our civilization.
On page 12 we find this subheading, "Immediate defence of Canada". It is stated that while there is little likelihood of any direct attack, our services should be planned -and I quote:
-to meet an attack upon the scale that would be likely to be made at any given time as part of a war involving the north Atlantic treaty powers.
To meet an attack at any given time-that is the test we must apply today. We know that we are not ready in all respects, and we can expect that. But we must know to what extent. We must know where the emphasis should be placed. We must know where the job needs to be pressed most vigorously. We must know what real readiness there is at any given time to deal with this matter.
Then it goes on to say that for this particular type of attack we should have jet interceptors and anti-aircraft guns backed by a relatively small but highly trained, efficient and mobile force of ground troops. I think that Canada must devote its attention so far as ground troops are concerned to developing a small but highly trained, efficient and mobile force of ground troops. It is this type of force that will meet the possibility of the kind of attack on our own soil which is contemplated by the survey of the Department of National Defence. It is this kind of force that would be suited to joint operations on land with the other powers which, because of geographical position and larger populations, would be called upon to provide the main body of the land forces.
No matter what the position is today, what will it be next year; what will it be in 1951 and 1952, if we say that we have a small and compact land force capable of doing the job for which it is intended and for which we are
allocating the money? That is the question. It was to this that I referred a few minutes ago.
At this particular time we cannot greatly change the allocation of money, whether we should wish to do so or not. Because of the interruption of the last session for certain important public purposes, the business of the house was not completed, and we are now dealing with estimates which ordinarily would have been dealt with many months ago. We know that in practice most of this money has been spent or already committed. For this reason we cannot change greatly the amounts that will be spent in this current year. But this is the time for us to make sure that the mechanism is provided which will permit us not only to review what is being done now and the picture behind it, but also to consider the estimates next spring with the kind of knowledge that we should have before passing upon future expenditures on this scale.
It is for this reason that my remarks are directed again to the importance of having a standing committee in which details could be examined which simply cannot be effectively dealt with in committee of the whole. On page 13 reference is made to the nucleus theory which has been adopted in regard to the reserve or nonpermanent units. On that page I find these words:
Canada's peacetime forces, besides being prepared for home defence, must contain the organization and administrative nucleus of the larger forces which an emergency would eventually require.
I think everyone will agree with that. But how much do we know of the extent to which the organization of those peacetime forces are suitable for the projected needs of 1950, of 1955, of 1960? How far have those forces departed from the organization of 1949? One of the greatest difficulties after every war- and history shows this-is to shape the thinking of the Department of National Defence-this applies to every country-away from the experiences of the last war. It has never been different. Men are inclined to interpret the needs of the future in terms of their war experience. Usually it is only by bringing fresh and unconventional minds to an examination of the task that there is a break from the conditions applicable to the war that was fought some time previously.
In the military exercises between the two world wars the units were fighting over and over again in peacetime exercises the battles that had taken place between 1914 and 1918. Many of the exercises being carried on today are carried on as though they were incidents in the war of 1939-1945. The needs of these forces, the organization of the forces, the
expenditure of money on the forces, are things that should be examined by this committee and recommendations made. It is not going to be a small task. It is going to be an important and continuing task, and that is why there should be a standing committee which will study continuously this extremely important subject.
On going through this report I find that constantly emphasis is placed upon the readiness of the forces to meet the various tasks that are placed before them. On page 16 I find a statement which seems to me to be symptomatic. It is in these words:
Canada was able to put her defences on a postwar basis more rapidly than most other countries.
Do we know whether or not that is correct? I am not suggesting that we are being deliberately misled by anyone, but do we know exactly what our position is today? If any hon. member does know exactly, then I am sure he is in a more favourable position than most hon. members of this house and most of those now serving in uniform in different parts of Canada.
I find these words on page 18:
The adequacy or inadequacy of defence expenditures depends on the appreciation of the international situation.
That is the guiding factor in everything we do; everything must fit into the pattern of what is best suited in relation to an appreciation of the international situation.
We are told about the high cost of war equipment, and a few examples are given. (Everyone knows that war equipment is extremely expensive, and undoubtedly the few figures given do indicate how costly this program is.
On page 20 I find this statement:
In unification and co-ordination Canada has been making continued progress and our place in the forefront of this field has been shown by the way in which steps taken first in Canada have subsequently been taken in other countries.
Let us be extremely proud of what we are doing as Canadians, but unification in itself is not an end; it is only a means to an end. Unification is effective only to the extent that the forces unified constitute an effective force to meet the stated requirements of our defence program. I submit that this statement is meaningless unless we know what is being unified, in terms of our real military requirements at this moment. It is not difficult to unify simply from the point of view of structural organization. The unification which presents the problem is the unification of forces in an effective form for a defined purpose; and I am convinced that we have not before us information that would
Supply-National Defence give that statement any meaning to us at this time. It is repeated in another way on page 21:
The test of Canada's system of organizing defence lies in the fact that unification has proceeded farther and duplication of function has been more thoroughly eliminated than in any other western country.
That is a fairly broad statement, and when we read it I think we must examine the situation as it has been exposed in at least one service, by the Mainguy report, which dealt under very limited powers with the situation in the navy. When we speak of organization, one statement in the Mainguy report should be remembered, not merely for the purpose of criticism but in order to realize how necessary it is that we go behind general statements of that kind. On page 50 of the Mainguy report we find these words:
. . . several important administrative departments were treated as though they were temporarily refuges for temporary misfits, rather than as fields of endeavour for the best available experts.
This statement hardly suggests the high degree of skill in administrative organization implied in the statement to which I have referred. After all, these are not my words; they are the words of a commission appointed by the Minister of National Defence. They come under the heading "Headquarters staff", that portion of the organization which becomes an integral part of any co-ordinated direction of our defence forces. It is a serious indictment of those responsible for administration, if the statement is correct; and after all, it was put forward in a report which has been generally commended/ as a fair and accurate interpretation of what was found. I repeat it: "Several important
administrative departments were treated as though they were temporarily refuges for temporary misfits, rather than as fields of endeavour for the best available experts." All these departments are under one minister. If there is anything in the Mainguy report which imposes upon us a responsibility for securing wider knowledge in regard to the land and air forces, it is this statement, if it is to be accepted as accurately representing what was found. A headquarters staff that is a temporary refuge for temporary misfits, no matter how small may be the percentage of temporary misfits, is not the kind of staff which will produce effective co-ordination and unification, regardless of what the documents may appear to produce.
I suggest that this in itself is good reason for a thorough investigation of this subject. But, Mr. Chairman, if there were one thing above all others that would suggest the need for study by this committee now, not several
months from now, it is the fact we have been told that a comprehensive and long national defence bill, which will bring about sweeping changes, is to be placed before this house. At page 22 of this report I read:
Its enactment would mean that Canadian defence matters would be dealt with for the first time entirely by the Canadian parliament . . .
I emphasize those words, "would be dealt with entirely by the Canadian parliament." It would be the first time. Defence matters have not been dealt with by the Canadian parliament, with knowledge of the defence problems, for many years, because the information has not been available. There is nothing in the act itself which assures that result. The only thing that will assure it is the setting up of a standing committee of this house which can examine these matters and this bill. I hope there will be no suggestion of this bill being dealt with in the remaining time available this session, because its implications are far too important and the effect of the changes much too far-reaching to be dealt with before we have an opportunity to examine experts as we cannot examine them in this house.
Words are often used to conceal information rather than to give it. I do not think any Canadian reading this document has any more information about the real state of our defence forces than he had before it was presented on November 11. What does any statement of the cost of national defence equipment mean unless it is related to a knowledge of how many of these items we are buying, and their effectiveness, and the opinion of industrial as well as military experts as to their availability and the productive power of this country in particular lines? We need this information in order to form an opinion as to where the emphasis should be laid in providing equipment of the kind.
We have come a very long way, Mr. Chairman, since the days just before the last war broke upon the world. If hon. members do not believe I have used words of the utmost moderation in referring to the enormous expenditures upon which we are asked to pass, may I remind them of what was said in this country only a short time ago. On a number of occasions we have been told that there was not an appreciation of the needs for defence preparation until this government took office. May I use this illustration, not for the purpose of dealing with that statement, but just to indicate how great the change has been, and why it is so necessary that we examine this subject with great care.
August 18, 1935, was almost exactly four years before the outbreak of the last war, and yet, on that date, we find the man who
was to be prime minister of this country during the war years criticizing in most vigorous terms the increases which had been provided for the Department of National Defence. In fact in that speech he said that these expenditures were being made with the idea of setting up a dictatorship, and that nothing else could justify the expenditure of such enormous sums. Let us see what was provided in that year. The total main estimates for the Department of National Defence in 1935 were $11,252,001.17. There were supplementary estimates of $1,796,000, making a total of $13,048,001.17. The estimates for aviation were separate, because they included civilian aviation as well. In 1935 the main estimates for aviation were $3 million and the supplementary estimates were $1,302,900, making a total for aviation of $4,302,900. The total for defence purposes, including civil aviation and the flying clubs, was $17,350,901.17.
The fact that that expenditure could be regarded so recently as a huge expenditure intended only for the purpose of setting up a dictatorship-those were the words-makes it apparent that we should examine with great care the extent to which every cent of the present estimates is being spent. It should not be done with any such suggestion as was made in 1935-and quite improperly made, I think-but simply in recognition of the tremendous change that has taken place in everyone's thinking between 1935 and today, when we are confronted with estimates of $383 million and realize there are other expenditures as well for certain associated civilian departments which do work for the Department of National Defence. This huge sum must be examined carefully. I repeat there is only one way in which it can be done effectively, and that is by a standing committee.
We have been told by the Minister of National Defence that the setting up of a standing committee on national defence has never been the practice under our parliamentary system. Many things are being done that were never done before. Certainly until a few weeks ago there was never a standing committee on atomic energy. Since atomic energy is part of the problem we are discussing today, I cannot imagine a single reason why there should be a standing committee on that subject and not a standing committee on national defence. The military authorities would be the only ones concerned with doing anything with atomic energy from the military point of view. If we need a standing committee for that limited feature of our development in this country, surely we need a standing committee to deal with the broader
organization which would employ whatever military use might be made of that particular source of power.
We have been told also by the Minister of National Defence that the fact that there are committees in the United States to deal with these subjects has no bearing on this matter. We have been told that it is not the right way to deal with a subject of this kind. For this reason, Mr. Chairman, I hope the members of the house will permit me to read into the record a statement, which I believe is well thought out, concerning the importance of committees. It was contained in an article which appeared in Maclean's magazine on March 1, 1943. It was under the heading, "What's wrong with parliament?" I should like to read only that portion which deals with the use of committees, because I believe the statement is a clear one; it refers to the matters which are now before us and to the suggestions we are making. It reads as follows:
One reason why parliament has not functioned better is that 245 members cannot get down to close grips with a subject. Also there is not enough time for the whole house to deal with everything. Hence the practice of referring specific matters to committees for study and report should be extended.
On a good committee the party lines disappear. One member's experience is that on ten committees in three years there was never a vote on party lines. In committees the atmosphere of the arena is changed for that of the workshop.
To be effective a committee must be small, not more than fifteen. Its members should be selected because of their interest in the subject rather than solely because of other considerations such as province, race or religion. Committees should be set up early in the session and bring in their reports early, before the last-minute rush.
The committee on war expenditures has done exceedingly useful work, but it has been suggested that it has been handicapped by lack of technical assistance. A committee of this character should have attached to it one or two full-time people who are competent to prepare the material as is done at both Westminster and Washington. Without such assistance the committee is largely in the hands of the interested department.
Committees should sit regularly on such matters as manpower and labour, financial and economic questions, reconstruction, external affairs and information, munitions and supplies, agriculture, the navy, the army and the air force.
May I repeat that?
-the navy, the army and the air force. The United States Senate has forty-seven committees exercising great power. We do not need anything like that number. The close connection of our executive with our legislative branches makes it unnecessary. Fifteen working committees of our house, most of them only meeting through half the session, would do the job. My fifth point, therefore, is:
5. Whenever possible a matter of major importance should be referred to a committee of parliament, and where necessary the committee should be provided with adequate research assistance.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I believe that is an excellent-
Subtopic: EGGS AND BACON