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


Arthur Lachance


Mr. LACHANCE. (Translation).

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, I stated at the outset that the first expenditure incurred for the defence of the country dated back to the foundation of Quebec, and that it was ordinary common sense to provide for the protection of our coasts just as we had provided for the defence of the rest of the country. And when you left the chair at six o'clock, I was pointing out what are to my mind the distinctive features of the right kind of imperialism as well as of the objectionable kind.
I now wish, Mr. Speaker, with your kind permission, to say a word on another subject. Some public men, some writers, have, in a sarcastic vein, dubbed these first beginnings of the naval defence a ' tin-pot navy.' All great undertakings, no matter how generous the feeling which prompted them, are bound to have their critics. All things have small beginnings. What would those bitter critics say to-day if the government had appropriated, let us say, $40,000,000, at one stroke, and neglected in consequence other branches of the public _ service? I fancy I hear them complaining bitterly of the government's inefficiency and of the check thus put on the government of Canada for several years to come.
Of course, ten or twelve ships are not sufficient to make the country absolutely secure against attack, at every point along the coasts. But Canada is progressing very rapidly; its revenue is increasing in proportion and will enable us to develop little by little the means of defence, until the day comes when our navy will represent a sufficiently strong unit to provide, in conjuncture with the land forces, full protection against raids, inroads, or interference by nearby or distant foes. Fortunately, for the time being, there is no reason to

suspect on the part of any one a desire of invading, dismembering, or conquering Canada. But what assurance have we that such a thing will not be attempted some day? _
Up to some twelve years ago, Canada was not very much known, and its population being comparatively small, it had not attracted particularly the attention of the world. But the early years of this century have opened wide for her the gates of fame; she presents herself as a peaceful conqueror, anxious to show, as stated by our illustrious leader, that the twentieth century is really Canada's century.
All eyes are turned towards us; our chances are figured on; our future is, I might say, forecasted; our mineral, agricultural, industrial and forest wealth is estimated; and fifteen or twenty years more of progress at the rapid rate of the last decade, will make of Canada an envied and coveted country, on account of its riches, its great population, its brilliant prospects.
Who will say that at any time Great Britain may not be engaged in a war requiring the concentration of all those naval forces. That day may be remote or it may be closer to us than we expect, the natural tendency being to foresee calamities only in the distant future. Will she then be in a position to give us as much help as she otherwise would have been? Certainly not.
Then, will England always possess the power and prestige which she enjoys today? That is our ardent desire, and our sincere hope. May the British empire for ever rule on land and on sea. All Canadians entertain that fervent hope. The proof lies in the very Bill submitted to the House for the maintenance of that supremacy, inasmuch as it lies within our power.
But nothing is endowed with perpetual stability. What has been the fate of these immense kingdoms to which the British empire might be compared? What has been the fate of the empire of Alexander the Great, of the Greek republics, of the Roman empire, and in more recent times of the empire built up by the lieutenant Bonaparte?
And what then? In such a juncture, inadequately protected by the mother country, without means of defence at home, our only resort would be to run about on the ramparts and witness, desolate and powerless, the landing of the invaders, or the destruction of our own merchant navy.
Let us suppose the case when we would be called to take care altogether of ourselves. Should I not tremble in making such a suggestion, seeing that since the beginning of this debate on the naval question hon. gentlemen on tlhe other side represent as a crime of high treason to forecast, or even suggest, the possibility of independence for Canada at any time. On 154J
the part of the members of parliament who are intent on enlightening public opinion, such narrow-mindedness is most regrettable, and warranted the proud reply elicited from my hon. friend for the Yukon, who, to better point out the foolishness of such empty rhetoric, reminded us that Englishmen, not of Canada, but of Great Britain, eminent statesmen, reputable writers, celebrated historians, have spoken of the independence of Canada as of a fact which may and must necessarily come about some time or other, adding that such an event would be in accord with the natural course of history as regards such dominions or colonies.
But that is not all, will hon. gentlemen believe that a Governor General of Canada has been found to echo such sentiments. It is nevertheless a fact, yes, Sir John Young at an official function at Quebec on July 15, 1869, following on his arrival, expressed feelings which were construed as an invitation to Canadians to proclaim the independence of their country. He spoke as follows:
At the present moment, Canada is in reality independent. It has its own destinies in its own hands, and its statesmen and people are recognised as competent to judge of their interests as to what course to pursue to conciliate those interests. England looks to them for her guidance, and whatever their decision may be. either to continue the present connection or in due time and in the maturity of their growth to exchange it for some other form of alliance.
The same views are expressed in the London press of the time, as witness the following extracts from the ' Thunderer ' :
There is no ground for surprise, still less for indignation, if it be asked whether it would not be better for both Englishmen and Australians if the independence the latter have, in fact, should reveive a name. The Dominion of Canada is in all respects independent. It is fitted to become independent as it has the institutions of a great power. It is surely a fair subject for inquiry whether the emancipation of the adult is not as desirable to complete the manhood of the son as it is necessary from the inability of the father to understand the peculiar circumstances of his son's life.
And the 'Times' said further:-
Incidents like these (the withdrawal of troops and the speeches of public men) coming too, in quick succession, showed that the executive government of the United Kingdom acting, as must be presumed in harmony with the imperial parliament, had resolved upon abandoning the old policy of tutelage with its pretensions and responsibilities, and urging the colonies by gentle suasion to take up the freedom of their manhood.
May I be allowed to quote another extract from that paper against the colonial system. I fear lest the hon. member for Frontenac and others whose views are not

*any broader, should have a fainting spell; hi wever, I shall take the risk; there are several medical men occupying seats in this House, and I beg of them to keep their eyes open on these likely patients in case of emergency. I shall then read the wording of the ' Times ' onslaught: not only does it advocate independence for the colonies, but it sarcastically discards the expression ' mother country ' as applied to England:-
Now said the ' Times/ what is meant by speaking of England as the mother country? What is to he understood by the description of Australia, Canada and the rest of her colonies? If all that is intended is to remind us of the historical fact that the citizens of Canada, New South Wales and Victoria are mainly of English origin and descent, we shall not quarrel with the accuracy of the statement, although we may doubt the pertinence of the phrases. England is in this sense the mother country of Australia, and just in the same way some other land, without committing ourselves to the quarrels of ethnologists, we may [DOT]say Shleswig-Holstein is the mother country of England. Again, it may be observed that if Australia be the child of England, the United States are elder brethren of the same family. It is evident that considerations like these, though extremely interesting in their proper-relations, have no necessary connection with the mutual obligations of communities, that is to say, of societies of individuals banded together for purposes of government in different parts of the world. Let us then, in the interest of truth and right conclusions, discard altogether the phrase ' mother country ' in the discussions which are before us, let us even use with deliberation words apparently, so innocent as ' England ' and ' colony/ and remember that what we are called upon to weigh and determine is the proper relations of Englishmen, Australians and Canadians.
I do not concur in the views expressed by the ' Times ' on that point. I believe that the expresion ' mother country/ in a general way, describes the status, the respective positions of England and her dominions. If I recall these facts, it is "to show to those who are unacquainted with them or have lost the memory of them to what extent freedom of opinion and speech is granted out there.
If then these British statesmen and newspapers have referred to the independence of Canada in such strong terms, and even induced Canadians to turn to it, and that without even causing the slightest surprise, *why should people here get angry or feign anger because the right hon. Prime Minister and the hon. Postmaster General and others have now and then referred to that subject in extremely moderate language, as citizens taking an interest in the future of their country? Why should these gentlemen on the other side take occasion of that to favour the House with some bits of eloquence of very doubtful quality, in regard to our so-called disloyalty. That -such winnings should be agreable to them, Mr. LACHANCE.
I do not say the contrary; all tastes are in nature, though it must be admitted some of them are peculiar, but, for the sake of us, let them spare our ears and indulge between ourselves in tht kind of sport.
Moreover, I will tell them very frankly that their unworthy denunciations do not in anv way interfere with our tranquility; our past record is the best answer the turn of mind evidenced by such appeals is almost akin to mania, to a morbid state, the analysis of which may be as much a matter of medical science as of parliamentary debate. Nevertheless, freedom of opinion exists for us as for others; we propose taking largely advantage of it; but we should before all unite with all persons of good will, and broadness of mind towards ensuring the reign of peace in this country. Those whom the spirit of discord torments or that race prejudices distract are free to waste time on the side of the ditch; but we shall continue our progress onwards towards the heights.
So, then, I am quite free to state in this House, that we are perfectly, absolutely, entirely satisfied to live under the present system; but that is not a reason why I should not be at liberty to anticipate a possible condition of independence of Canada, as well as the possible settlement in some way or other of many other problems yet unsolved.
Whom are they expecting to frighten, or alarm, or intimidate, by exclaiming: In your mind, the building of a navy is merely a step towards independence. And supposing it were so, what harm to it? However, that is not a weighty consideration in this debate; the navy is not being organized to-day with a view to conquering independence, but it will be there and will be required, should at any time independence become a reality.
Besides, to be consistent, our opponents should put a stop to all future progress of trade, industry and agriculture, for all these factors help in as great a measure as the navy, and even more so, in developing that degree of wealth, of power and of expansion in Canada which would be required to make independence a possibility.
Accordingly, although this is not the subject just now under discussion, I say it is the part of wisdom to foresee the hour when possibly Canada may separate from the British Crown, and separate without any friction, on friendly terms, owing to circumstances that are still the secret of Providence. That forecast, I repeat it, does not imply any hostility towards the mother country; but since we are discussing a question of national interest, We should consider all its aspects. Events move quickly; what are mere dreams today may be actual facts to-morrow. Some will then advocate annexation to the

United States, others independence, and what not? But whatever proposals are made, wisdom demands that we should be ready, so as not to be at the mercy of anybody.
If to-morrow the tie which binds us to the empire was broken, would there be a single Canadian to deny the desirability of equipping at once a navy? But why should we await that emergency? Are we not even now in fact an independent nation? The British Crown does not take umbrage at that designation, so lightly does that Crown weigh on the British possessions. So let us speak, and especially act, as a nation; let us make the best of the present, but let us also make preparations for the future inasmuch as human forecasts enable us with the help of experience and the teachings of history, to see through that mysterious veil.
We have obligations towards the empire as a whole, but that does not mean that -we should not mind doing an injury to Canada. Accordingly is it not part of the duty incumbent on representatives of the people to discover a means of being serviceable to both at the same time? To cooperate towards the upholding of the power of the empire, to defend our country, to protect our business interests which already aggregate several hundred millions and give promise of increasing fivefold in the near future; such is the treble task with which we are confronted. How -will we succeed in fulfilling it?
Shall we take the advice of these academic thinkers whose only teaching on that question of naval defence, is to have nothing at all to do with it? What is their plan? To delay until danger is at hand? Unless they are gods or demi-gods capable at a moment's notice of providing a well-equipped fleet risen from the deep at the snap of the fingers, what would be the outcome of their procrastination? They should beware lest in waking up they find out it is too late.
Shall we, on the other hand, take the advice of those who favour the idea of a direct contribution? In what way -would Canada and her business interests be protected thereby? To a very limited extent, in a most indirect and uncertain fashion, especially should Great Britain be at war, not to speak of the possible emergency of the mother country being crippled by her foes.
The only other alternative is that which meets all emergencies, gives satisfaction to the just claims of the Empire as well to the legitimate aspirations of Canada; that is the plan proposed in the Bill submitted to the House by the government.
Evidently the people prefer it to [DOT] all others, and justly so. Through it we ensure in a stiil greater measure, if possible,
our political and administrative autonomy. The money required for the building and maintenance of that navy will be spent here; a new field of action will be opened to Canadians; then parliament will have the exclusive control of that force which will be entrusted with the duty of protecting our territory, ensuring the safety of our trade, of our international dealings, and which may, besides, at certain critical times, act in conjunction with the fleet of the mother country, but only when the people of Canada through their representatives will have agreed to it.
True loyalism or patriotism does not consist in giving everything away blindly and rashly; it consists in giving intelligently. Since Canadians henceforth form a separate nation, and since part of its revenue must, be appropriated to military purposes insuch a way as to meet its requirements and those of the empire as well, let it be in such a way at any rate that Canada may reap from it the greatest benefit possible without interfering with the object in view.
It has been contended-the hon. gentleman from L'Islet (Mr. Paquet) who spoke recently is of that mind, and there are others-that is contrary to the constitution, or rather interfering with our autonomy, to put, under the circumstances laid down in the Bill, our navy under the command of the British Admiralty, and in the same way to take part in the wars of the empire. There can be no greater mistake. We have the right, I presume, to organize our land and sea forces for the defence of Canada. Well our right to put the Canadian navy under the control of the admiralty and to have it take part in the wars of the mother country is quite as evident. To deny it one must be in bad faith, or else be absolutely blind to the spirit or ignorant of the letter of the British North America Act of 1867 and of the militia Acts since passed by this parliament. Not only is that our right but even, under the law now in force, we are liable to be called upon to do so as regards the sea forces; even as regards the . land forces, we were in the same position 1 up to 1904, when the statute 4 Edward VII,
* cap. 23 was passed.
As a matter of fact, all our militia Acts passed since 1867, are based on the following principles:-
r 1. The King has the command of all the land and sea forces, and of the whole military and naval service of Canada. i 2. Since 1867 and until the passing, in ) 1904, of statute 4 Edward VII, cap. 23, the ' King had the right, of his own authority,
1 and without the interference or concurrence of the Governor in Council or of parliament, to call out to active service all our land and sea forces, either within or outside of the limits of the Dominion.
3. Since 1904 our land forces can be sum-

mcned to active service only through the Governor in Council or through parliament, and solely for the defence of Canada.
4. Our sea forces can even to this day be summoned to active service within or outside the boundaries of the Dominion of Canada, by the King, of his own authority, the interference or consent of the Governor in Council or of parliament.
Section 15 of the British North America Act, 1867, gives the King command of all our militia corps.
The command in chief of the land and naval militia and of all naval and military forces, of and in Canada, is hereby declared to continue and be vested in the Queen.
If these words mean anything at all, it is that the King is commander in chief of the militia, that he has the right to assume command of it, consequently to order it to wherever, he pleases and put it under the command of whomsoever he thinks fit. That section 15 is in itself a peremptory answer to those who, earnestly or otherwise, contend that the Confederation Act of 1867, does not in principle allow our forces to take part in Great Britain's wars or to put the Canadian navy under the control of the Admiralty.
That provision is reproduced in all our Militia Acts since 1867. With a view to giving effect to the provisions of that section 15 and of subsection 7 of section 91 of the Confederation Act, which provided for the organization of land and sea forces, parliament passed in 1868, our first Militia Bill, 31 Viet., cap. 40. That Act has been revised several times since then; the provisions as amended will be found under cap. 11, of 46 Viet., in chapter 41 of R.S.C., 1886. in chap. 23 of 4 Edward VII., in chap. 41 of R.S.C., 1906. It is expressly pro, vided in each of these Acts that the command of the militia is vested in the King, who exercises it in person and may delegate such power to the Governor General, not the Governor General in Council, but to the Governor General alone, as representative of the Sovereign. So that, basing myself on that legislation, I have the right to conclude that our militia can, without infringing on the principle of our autonomy, take part in the wars of the empire.
That construction on the other hand, is confirmed by other provisions of the Militia Bill; as a matter of fact, from 1867 up to the time of the passing of 4 Edward VII, chapter 23, the King had the right to call out on his own authority and without the interference or consent of the Governor General in Council or of .parliament, the whole of our forces to active service, in or outside the Dominion of Canada.
I quote section 61 of the Act of 1868:
Her Majesty may call out the militia or any part thereof, for active service either within or without Canada, at any time when Mr. LACHANCE.
it appears advisable so to do by reason of war, invasion or insurrection, or danger of any of them, and the militiamen, when so called out for actual service, shall continue to serve for at least one year from the date of their being called out for actual service, if required so to do; or for any longer period which Her Majesty appoints.
46 Victoria and the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1886, also contained that provision. So that ever since confederation the King had the absolute right of calling out on his own authority our military forces to active service, in or outside the Dominion of Canada. On whose behalf and for what object might they be called to do active service outside of Canada, if not to take part in England's wars.
In 1904, the Militia Act is revised in part in 4 Edward VII, chapter 23. Radical amendments are then effected, particularly by vesting in the Governor in Council alone the right of calling out the militia to do active service in or outside of Canada and by providing for the summoning beforehand of parliament. Thus, section 70 reads as follows:
The Governor in council may place the militia or any part thereof, on active service anywhere in Canada, and also beyond Canada, for the defence thereof, at any time when it appears advisable so to do by reason of emergency.
So then it will not he the King alone, acting on his own authority, but the Governor in Council, that is our cabinet ministers, responsible to this House and to the people of the country, who shall henceforth have the right to call out the militia for active service. So that constitutes a radical change in our favour.
Section 70 says; ' for the defence thereof ' (Canada). These words and that restriction appear for the first time in our Militia Law. What are we to infer from it, if not that, previously to that, our forces could be called out to do active service for other purposes than the defence of Canada, and for what object then could it be, if not to wage war in the interest of the British flag?
However that statute 4 Edward VII., relates only to land forces, as stated in section 136:
The following Acts of -the parliament of Canada are repealed, in so far as the active and reserve militia land force is concerned, to wit, &c.
Statute 4, Edward VII., chapter 23 has been included in the Revised Statutes for 1906; hut the latter have not abrogated the acts previous to 1906 in regard to the naval forces. To satisfy one self as to that, a reference to schedule A which gives the list of the acts repealed, will suffice. Accordingly, the naval militia has always been and is till to-day liable to being called out directly by the King to do active service within or outside the boundaries of Canada.
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In that regard, the Bill now under consideration is a step further towards a state of more complete autonomy, since, in the future, it will be the ministers in council, or parliament, who will have the right to -call out our war navy to do active service.
It has also been contended that there is no need for Canada providing armaments, as it is protected in virtue of the Monroe doctrine. That is indeed a most extraordinary statement. The hon. Postmaster General (Mr. Lemieux), has already victoriously answered that contention. However, I may be allowed to add a few remarks. That doctrine was given expression to in 1823 by President James Monroe. It is a theory, nothing more, a theory which has not the force of precedent, if I may so expres myself, because it would be going too far to state that it has received the approval or concurrence, or even the acquiescence, of the diplomatic world, or of the chanceries, and nobody will contend that it is part of the rules and principles of international code.
Besides, even supposing it had these features, a circumstance which I would welcome, that doctrine has reference only to the intercourse of European powers with Americans, but has nothing whatever with the intercourse between one American power and another. That distinction is the essential characteristic of that doctrine; and even if it should be a mean^ of protection for us against the peoples of the old world, it would not be a means of protection against the claims, the encroachments or hostilities of the nations which people the American continent. Therefore, I say that doctrine is not a safeguard for us against all and every one, and does not warrant us in remaining inactive without armaments.
The opposition, which in part recognizes the leadership of the hon. member for Halifax, proposes an amendment while opposition No. 2 led forsooth by the hon. member for Jacques 'Cartier presents an amendment to the amendment, both demanding a plebiscite but for different reasons in each case. As several hon. gentlemen on this side have pointed out, and justly so, a plebiscite is demanded in regard to an expenditure of $43,000,000, appropriated towards the building of a navy which will be our property and constantly in use by us; but all thought of a plebiscite is rejected when, as per the amendment of the opposition, it is proposed to contribute $25,000,000 to the British exchequer as a free gift. Surely that is a striking example of a breach of logic, no wonder the opposition has not yet been able to explain, such inconsistency on their part.
Then, as was stated by the hon. member for Bed Deer, if we repeat that contribution two or three times, it will ultimately turn out to be a direct invasion of the principle which the opposition is so prone to invoke: 'No representation, no vote.'
Now, there is a matter concerning which the opposition might, with better grace to my mind, have sugggested a referendum, it would have been in regard to that proposal of a gift of $25,000,000.
The hon. member for East Grey answered: 'There will be no more contributions.' How does he know? Has he consulted the augurs, the witches, and put in motion the sacred tripod to be thus in a position to utter an oracle. At the time of the sending of the Canadian contingent in 1899, it was also stated that there would not be any more contributions; barely ten years elapsed and we are called upon to contribute once more.
The question of naval defence, it is contended, is a novel one. It cannot be gainsaid that it is before the public in explicit terms since the conference of 1902, when it was proposed to provide for that defence. General elections have taken place in 1904, a new conference was held in 1907, a further general election took place in 1908, and every time that same Liberal government was kept in power, and, inferentially, its then policy which has not been changed since, may be said to have been approved.
But, to say the truth, it was not in 1902 for the first time that the question came up, it is in 1867, when the British North America Act wa3 up for discussion. As a matter of fact, it recurs in all our militia Acts which have been passed in the meantime, such as the Act of 1868 which provides for the organization of land and sea forces. So then, for 43 years, almost a half century, the naval defence proposal is grafted on our legislation, notwithstanding which a referendum is called for under pretense that the question is a novel one. Evidently, advocates of the plebiscite idea are lacking in information.
But I might submit a further consideration which is very peremptory to my mind. Is not this proposal concerned with the defence of Canada and her most vital interests? Now, is not providing for the defence of the country the primary right of representatives of the people a right undeniably implied in their mandate and its most essential feature? Even more, it is not only their right, it is their duty, the first, most sacred and the most imperative of duties, and if in this respect we were to accede to this plebiscite proposal, I am not very sure that we would not be a subject for wonder, nay for laughter, to the rest of the world.
Like many others, I had hoped that this country would not be called upon to assume the heavy burden of armaments, that when it would have reached its full manhood, warfare would have become a thing of the past. Accordingly, it was not without a feeling of pain, a sort of anguish, that we to-day talk on the floor of this House of the possibility of war for Canada,

a land of hope, a land of hospitality; it is not without a pang, without some bitterness, that still close to the cradle out of which our young country has just come to take its place among nations, we should have to evoke scenes of bloody warfare; and we mourn at the thought of adding to these precious jewels with which we had adorned it-civil liberty, religious freedom, political liberty, liberty of trade- the battle axe, not for purposes of attack, but for purposes of defence, direct or indirect. How much more we would have preferred to adorn it with olive and laurel blossoms, as symbols of peace.
But alas, the hour of disarmament, of universal peace has not yet come; and should we not despair at finding that even the most civilized nations have heretofore as a last resort pinned their faith to the effectiveness of their guns. What would be the use of persistently taking refuge in doctrines and theories of a very humanitarian character, and which all accept and admire, if, at a certain moment we are made to decamp at the point of the bayonet. War is abhorrent to all of us, but, if war is declared or waged against us, are we foolishly to let other people take our lives without a move, so as to express our aversion for such a scourge.
For six centuries past, humanity has condemned war, and during all that time nations were waging war on one another under pretense of rights to vindicate, of grievances to avenge. Will ever a means be found to ensure the maintenance of universal peace? We may at least hope so. But before that is found, are we justified in dispensing with means of defence? Would it not be almost equivalent to suicide?
Therefore, I say it is a duty incumbent on us to overcome that aversion, and to consider the present and the future as practical men who love their country. Since it is necessary, let us begin by providing Canada with the means of protection indispensable towards ensuring her safety, her advancement and the respect of foreigners in her national life, as well as in her business transactions; but at the same time, let us express the hope that we shall never be called upon to draw the sword against other peoples; should that be the sole result of armaments, it would be ample compensation for our sacrifices. Yes, God forbid that our immense plains should ever be moistened by anything else but the morning dews! God forbid that in our Canada the roaring of guns should ever be heard, except, to proclaim the benefits of peace, to echo the rejoicings of our people and proclaim the glories of our country.

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