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


Oswald Smith Crocket

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. O. S. CROCKET (York, N.B.).

I do not intend to occupy much of the time of the House at this late stage of the debate. The question has been so exhaustively discussed that it is almost impossible for one to take it up at this time without treading on ground which has already been traversed again and again. I feel, however, that I cannot allow the motion for the second reading to pass without expressing, otherwise than by registering a simple vote, my uncompromising opposition to the measure. I regard the Bill as the most revolutionary proposal, so far as the relations of Canada with the mother country are concerned, which has ever been submitted to this parliament for its approval.
I have carefully studied the Bill, and can view it in no other light than that it is a direct blow, deliberately aimed by its authors, at British connection. What proof of this, you ask?
I reply that barring clause..4, which nominally, and only nominally, vests the command in chief of the forces in the King, there is not a line or a word from the beginning to the end of the Bill, which, by the remotest implication, acknowledges that any connection whatsoever exists between this country and Great Britain and her other over-seas dominions. On the contrary, the whole Bill studiously ignores the existence of any connection and is framed upon the bold assumption that Canada is an independent nation, owing no allegiance to or interest in the British empire. As I have said, clause 4 of this Bill nominally, and only nominally, vests the command in chief of the proposed naval forces in the King. But for this one clause, the effect of which, as I will show, is completely nullified by subsequent clauses, the Bill is precisely such an one as might be passed by this parliament if it were the parliament of a separate and distinct republic. Clause 4 of the Bill is inserted for the reason that the constitution which the parliament of Great Britain gave this country makes it impossible to omit it. My hon. friend from Vancouver (Mr. Cowan), in the very telling and eloquent address which he delivered the other night in opposition _ to this Bill, quoted section 15 of the British North America Act. Let me quote that section again:
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.
That provision makes it impossible for this parliament to divest His Majesty of the command in chief of our naval forces reserved to him by the terms of that section; and I firmly believe that -were it not for the fact that this parliament is thus restrained by imperial enactment, the name of the King w'ould not have appeared in this Bill from beginning to end. However, it does appear for the reason I have given, and then follow immediately clauses which completely nullify and abrogate clause 4. Let me read clause 5:
5. The minister shall have the control and management of all naval affairs, including the purchase, maintenance and repair of the ordnance, ammunition, arms, armouries, stores, munition and habiliments of war intended for the use of the naval service.
And clauses 6, 7 and 8:-
6. The minister shall have the control and management, including the construction, purchase, maintenance and repair, of naval es-

tablishments and of ships and other vessels for the naval service.
7. There shall be appointed an officer, not lower in rank than rear admiral, to be called the director of the naval service of Canada. If a suitable officer of such rank is not available then an officer of the rank of captain may be appointed, who shall have the rank of commodore of the first class.
2. The director of the naval service of Canada shall, subject to the regulations and under instructions of the minister, be charged with the direction of the naval service.
8. The Governor in Council may appoint a naval board to advise the minister on all matters relating to naval affairs which are referred to the board by the minister.
2. The composition, procedure and powers of the board shall be as prescribed.
Then we have sections 17 and 18:-
17. The Governor in Council may place the naval forces or any part thereof, on active service at any time when it appears advisable so to do by reason of an emergency.
18. In case of an emergency the Governor in Council may place at the disposal of His Majesty, for general service in the Royal Navy, the naval service, or any part thereof, any ships or vessels of the naval service, and the officers and seamen serving in such ships or vessels, or. any officers or seamen belonging to the naval service.
Now, Mr. Speaker, it will be seen by every one who carefully examines the language of those particular sections, 17 and 18, that they are absolutely inconsistent with section 4 and with the command in chief of the navy being vested in His Majesty. Take section 18. How absurd it is to say that the command in chief of the navy is vested in the King and then immediately to follow it with the statement which appears in this section that the Governor in Council may place at the disposal of the commander in chief the naval forces of Canada? The Governor in Council may place at the disposal of the King, who is the commander in chief under section 4, the naval forces of Canada and the Governor in Council may not place this navy, of which the King is the nominal commander in chief, at the disposal of His Majesty for service in the imperial navy. The Governor in Council may withhold the navy from its commander in chief, the King, or may refuse to allow the navy which is' to be established by his Bill to co-operate with the British navy in any war in which Great Britain may be involved. Under section 17 the Governor in Council, who is the government of this country and at the present time means none other than Sir Wilfrid Laurier, is authorized to send this navy to the assistance of any nation of the world without regard to the intereste of the British government. There is authority given under the terms of that section to place the naval forces, or any part thereof,

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