February 28, 1910 (11th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Mr. D. D. McKENZIE .@Cape Breton

Not much older than the hon. member. To say that we must not have a navy until we have a great big one is like the old lady who told her grandson that he must not go near the water until he learned to swim. If my hon. friend will follow the speeches of the member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster), he will see that that hon. gentleman said last year, that, the proper thing for us to do is to have a navy of our own, that the matter of a contribution was out of the question, that it had been a failure wherever tried, and that we should make a small beginning in our navy. But less than a year after the hon. member (Mr. Foster) advised the House in that direction, the House would hardly believe such a change has been wrought in his views. I submit that when the hon. gentleman (Mr. Foster) advised the House that the proper thing to do was to make a small beginning with a navy of our own and develop it as every other enterprise in this country had developed, he was stating the wise course for us to pursue, and when he departed from that advice he departed from the path of wisdom, and is not taking himself seriously. If there was any necessity for further proof that such was the idea in his head a year ago, it is to be found in abundance in his speech where he told us: To sow the seed in the soil, to start something to which we could look with pride and which we could develop, to start something that would train up our young men so that they would take pride in the defence of the empire, and not to leave to other people to do that which we could do best ourselves. We have heard it said that in Canada we have not the capacity nor the means, or the experience to build a navy. But, would not the same argument be applicable in the initiation of some of the greater enterprises, which have obtained such an enormous growth in Canada. We have no canal in existence for instance at all comparable to what the Georgian Bay canal will be, and yet I am satisfied that we have talent and industry
and ability in Canada sufficient to successfully complete the Georgian Bay canal. When the Canadian Pacific railway was started there was nothing in this country in any way commensurate to the vastness of such an enterprise, and yet the Canadian Pacific railway grew and the country grew wih it, and the Canadian management of that railway is capable of giving the best service in the world. All this goes to show the immensity of the capabilities of the [DOT] people of Canada when the occasion demands. I submit too that the history of the maritime provinces justifies us in believing that the shipbuilding industry can be developed there just as well as in any country in the world. Sixty years ago we had in Cape Breton and other parts of Nova Scotia men who went to the woods and cut the timber, brought it back and built the vessel, rigged that vessel, found cargo and passengers for her, and then took command and sailed her in two oceans to New Zealand and Australia. Such men we had by the score in the maritime provinces and we have their descendants there today, competent to utilize all. modern appliances for the construction of ships equal to any that sail the ocean. I have no fear but that there will be found in Canada men competent to build a navy, to man it, and to command it. I read in the speech of the hon. member for Simcoe that in one of the ports on the great lakes they have a ship building plant capable of turning out vessels 500 feet long and of 7,000 horse-power. If that can be done in one part of Canada, why cannot it be done in another. I am glad to see that there is a thriving -ship building industry jon the great lakes, and I have not the slighted doubt in my mind, but that the industry can be pursued in the coastal harbours of the maritime provinces and of British Columbia, with just as much success as in any other part of the globe.
The hon. gentleman from Simcoe pointed out that we have at Sydney harbour, in readiness for the building of steel ships, one of the finest plants in the world, fully equipped and ready to produce the necessary material. The premier of Australia, in the speech he made at the conference of 1907, pointed out to the Lords of the Admiralty that the coastal service in Australia would be of great efficiency and usefulness to the home government in getting ready the supplies that may be necessary for the fleets of that station-that it would protect the coal and other supplies that might be necessary, and furnish men if men were required. All this is true with reference to British Columbia and Nova Scotia, where we have coal in abundance, and I would suggest to the government that the very first duty of government is to put the security of

these magnificent coal supplies beyond peradventure. It ought to be made impossible for any foreign ship or squadron to take possession of our coal supplies. I do not know how it is in British Columbia, but in Nova Scotia and Cape Breton the coal fields are on the coast within gunshot of any vessel that might come near;' and for that reason it is entirely necessary, if this country is to maintain full control of her coal supplies in the eastern part of Canada, that the protection usual in cases of that kind should be put up. It may be said that we have not a sufficiency of these things to launch upon so great an enterprise as the building of a navy. Let me tell you that the largest coal seams and possibly the largest coal fields in the world are in the province of Nova Scotia. If you ask me where the largest coal mine in the world is situated, I tell you in the province of Nova Scotia and in the island of Cape Breton. If you ask me where are the largest iron and steel plants, which would be a basic necessity for the building of this navy, I tell you that one of the largest in the world is to be found in the province of Nova Scotia and in the island of Cape Breton. We have also the people who are equal to any emergency, and who will educate themselves for any conditions that may arise. Our steel works in the Island of Cape Breton are not more than seven or eight years old, and 4,000 or 5,000 people are necessary for the working of those plants, largely experts, skilled labour. You ask me where we get them. We get them in the island of Cape Breton and in the province of Nova Scotia. Our own people, with very few exceptions, have in that short time educated themselves to do whatever is necessary in connection with these plants. The same thing can be said about the handling of our coal mines. The engineers, the underground managers, and all the managers to be found about these works are our own people. There is not in the world any people who will more quickly and readily come up to any of these requirements than the people of Cape Breton. The building of this navy is but another step in the opening up of new avenues for the development of the dormant powers of many of our people. It gives an opportunity to the poor man as well as to the rich man to gain for himself a position. Under the conditions that will prevail in our navy the poor man's son will have an opportunity to make a name for himself as well as the son of the rich man. That being the case, if it was for nothing but the chances it is going to give to our people to develop themselves along these lines, the starting of this navy would be justified. It was less than a year ago that this House unani-Mr. McKENZIE.
mously decided that the building of a navy by our own people with our own money was the proper course for us to take. Nothing has happened since to change in any way the conclusion we. reached on that occasion. And why should there be a turnabout of this kind? Possibly the explanation is given by the 'Canadian Courier', a paper which I believe is independent in politics, but is edited by a strong friend of the leader of the opposition and of his party. That paper says of the opposition:
The situation is absolutely senseless. Their attitude betokens either a sad loss of reason and judgment, or else a weak-minded resort to a dangerous political expedient. So far as Mr. Borden is personally concerned, we believe that he is too well informed and has too much * horse sense * to justify the resolution on any other ground than political necessity. However, definiteness and unity cannot be expected from a party which is so sadly divided on a question as the Conservatives are on txie proper policy for Canada to pursue in nu matters.
That is the position which this independent journal takes, a position with which I entirely agree; and if the hon. member for Ste. Anne (Mr. Doherty) had made his speech last year and had declared to his colleagues in this House that this cry of disloyalty had to be eliminated from the utterances of the leaders of the Conservative party, and from the rank and file of that party, I believe we would not have the break that we have at the present time. One of the reasons is that those who won their elections on the cry of disloyalty raised against the Prime Minister and his supporters in the province of Quebec, would find themselves in a very awkward predicament if they should accept his policy on the naval question. They could not very well then go among their own people and raise the cry of disloyalty against the province of Quebec.

Topic:   *FEBRUARY 28, 1910 QUESTIONS.
Full View