March 7, 1910 (11th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Arthur Lachance


Mr. A. LACHANCE (Quebec Centre).

(Translation.) Mr. Speaker, it may be boldness on my part to address myself to the subject which has been under discussion for the last month in this House; but I rely on the good will and courtesy of hon. gentlemen, even if only to the length of protesting against the contemptible charges of servility and graft preferred against the Liberal members from the province of Quebec by certain public men of that same province, who at all times, and always out of season, pose as unappreciated and uncompromising patriots, and take occasion of that to slander us in the press and on the hustings; or even if it were only to satisfy the opprobrium mongers that our support of the government and vote, are in no way inspired by venality, but as the result of study, of reflection, of common sense, of true patriotism. Such is my object in addressing the House.
When a few months ago, the question of the defence of Canada was first submitted

to the public, many were surprised at it; in some quarters even it resulted in a scare, while elsewhere it was a matter of serious alarm; a few, on the other hand, took occasion of the circumstance to indulge in over-statements. One might have inferred that the matter was a novel one, unheard of until then, suddenly cropping up in the political arena.
It did occur to most people that the defence of Canada was initiated on that very day when Champlain founded Quebec in 1608 and built the ' Abitation,' which was destined to be used both for residential purposes and to be a bulwark against the attacks of aborigines; the fact was lost sight of that, later on at various points, forts had been built which have become famous in our annals, and in the defence of which Frenchmen have distinguished themselves while warring against the Indians, and later in repulsing the British troops sent to conquer Canada. Regiments of French troops and after the conquest, British troons were quartered there. Was not that paving the way for the country's defence?
What numerous stages have we not gone through since the days of those early armaments ! In the course of years, 'and in quick progression, the military equipment of Canada has developed, its organization has been perfected, its efficiency increased. As evidence, I may mention that the militia estimates which at the time of confederation reached about the million mark, aggregate to-day $6,000,000. Nevertheless, it is not to my knowledge that at any time this circumstance has been considered a matter for alarm; nobody has raised his voice to protest against the principle of progressively increasing our military forces, so natural it appears to protect the country against invasion.
What would have become of Canada without troops at the time it was invaded by the American forces in 1812; what would have been its fate, had not the Fenians been repulsed in 1866 and 1870? Who will assert that we would to-day he enjoying that constitutional system under -whose protection individual liberty is in full bloom like flowers under the bright June sun?
Nobody will contend that there is no need of an army to ensure the maintenance of peace, to quell serious riots, unwarranted uprisings which might break out among our people, and also to protect our trade and defend the integrity of Canada's possessions.
Up to this day, we have been the object of attacks on the part of the United States only, and the forces on both sides were about on a par. True, these old-time foes have long since become friendly to each other, both engrossed with peaceful pur-154
suits and enjoying the benefits of an ' entente cordiale.' Unfortunately, though there is nothing stable in this -world, and if hostilities were to be renewed some day- which God forbid-a possibility which should not be lost sight of, how will we manage to defend our sea coasts if we have only a land force at our disposal?
And what I say in regard to our neighbours in the south, applies just as well in the case of those countries beyond the Pacific ocean, of ancient origin, but new to civilization, a civilization, in some cases at any rate, buoyant, imbued with a spirit of enterprise and even of conquest. Barely had thirty years elapsed since modern progress had dawned over the country of the chrysanthemum, when the empire of the Rising Sun imposed its rule in Corea to the Celestial empire, and then with one prodigious leap struck to the ground, under the walls of Port Arthur, the colossus of the rorth made torpid by a stifling autocracy. Who can foresee the development in the near future of those other countries bordering on the Pacific, overcast just now with the gloom of ignorance, but which are bound to be overtaken bv the light of progress, in accordance with what I might call the law of geography. In the earliest times, civilization developed in the east and made it famous, extending over Asia and Europe, then crossing the seas in the folds of the Spanish and French flags, and after setting foot in America, resuming its flight towards the far east. It seems as though in accordance with a decree of Providence, progress ic bound to encircle the whole world, quickening with its rays the minds of men to a better comprehension of liberty and progress.
Should we have a land force? Its desirability has been recognized, as I have already said, and the principle has been long since acted upon and more energetically than ever of recent years. Would there be any sense in doing away with the principle of naval defence and its practical carrying out, now that Canada has two great oceans as its boundaries on the east and west? Would it be in accordance with common sense to take steps for the defence of the interior while leaving our coasts without protection, open to raids, to attacks from the enemy, without even being in a position to keep off the enemy, until we had made preparations or called for reinforcements.
But, say our opponents, is not England there with her powerful war navy to defend us? Yes, thank heaven, England is there; let us hope she will there remain long, I might say for ever, if earthly things were everlasting. Yes, England is there; she may even be said to be everywhere, since, as is sometimes said, the sun never sets on the British empire, so extensive are its

possessions, and so widely distributed oyer the surface of the world. It is precisely because that empire exists and we are part of it, that the duty of the hour is so imperative on us.
Are there very many Canadians who would willingly accept the rule of a foreign nation? I do not believe it. Whoever observes what is the condition of the average citizen of the world, cannot be but proud to live under the protection of the powerful Albion. That is not empty rhetoric, it is my earnest conviction. I am a Frenchman, and I am a Catholic; I am not forgetful of it, and I hope I shall never be. I love France as the home of my ancestors, that is to say, deeply, unalterably, with a filial love. I have reverently learned its history; I was enthused at reading of its glorious past, of its perils, of its misfortunes, and I feel it would be a cruel blow to me were the heart of my dear France to bleed under the stroke of some national catastrophe. But while that attachment remains strong, I am happy to be a British subject. Where would I find such free-doni for the individual, where would I find such perfect safety elsewhere than in the folds of the British flag, and of the Canadian flag?
It is customary to say the British subject; that is wrong. In whatever domain, whether in national, private life, in public or business transactions, there is nothing carrying with it the idea of dependence. Loyalty to the king does not imply subjection, but the fulfilment of one's duty towards the head of the nation, whether he be called king, president, or by any other name. That is why I say there are properly speaking no subjects, but only British citizens.
Accordingly there should be only one heart and one voice towards maintaining unimpaired the prodigious power which the empire wields to-day, and supporting that empire at the summit of glory where it shines at present. To neglect that duty is to be one self's enemy. It means that we fail to understand that so long as we are a British possession, so long will Great Britain be strong and great, the more prestige and authority she will have, and the stronger also will Canada be, and the greater will be her prestige and her authority. And what is it that is feared? Some say imperialism, others say militarism, and after crying out these words, to frighten the people, they believe everything has been said, everything has been settled. Words are no proof at all; it is facts that convince.
An imperialist I am not, if to be such I have to sacrifice a modicum of the rights enjoyed by the inhabitants of Canada in matters of language, civil, religious and political liberty; and imperialist I am not, Mr. LACHANCE.
if to be such I have to put up with the least interference with our autonomy, or pave the way for any future restriction of it.
But if it is the part of an imperialist to put our militia in touch with the rest of the British forces, so that in case of a war in which we would be interested, there would be secured unity of action, very well, call me an imperialist. Lastly, if it is the part of an imperialist to wish to see the mother country from day to day more powerful, so that our country, as well, may become from day to day stronger, very well, call me an imperialist, because to be an imperialist in that way is to love one's country, is to be a patriot.
At six o'clock the House took recess.
After Recess.
House resumed at eight o'clock.

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