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


Joseph Pierre Turcotte


Mr. JOSEPH TURCOTTE (Quebec County).

(Translation). Mr. Speaker, I do not rise to participate at any length in the debate that is now in progress and I intend to be as clear and methodical as possible in the few remarks I have to make. When the time comes, after the speeches have been delivered, to read the resolutions or the motions which are before the House, you will first take up, Sir, the resolution brought down by the government and than the amendments moved by the two factions which sit at the left. This will bring us back to the sitting of February 3rd last, over a month ago. You will then read No. 43 of the Votes and Proceedings, -which contains the following r
Sir Wilfrid Laurier moved, That the Bill No. 95, An Act respecting the Naval Service of Canada, be now read the second time.
Mr. Boxxlen moved in amendment thereto, That all the words after the word ' That ' be left out, and the following substituted therefor ' the proposals of the government do
not follow the suggestions and recommendations of the admiralty and in so far as they empower the government to withhold the naval forces of Canada from of the empire in time of war are ill-advised and dangerous.
' That no such proposals can safely be accepted unless they thoroughly ensure unity of organization and of action without which there can be no effective co-operation in any common scheme of empire defence.
' That the said proposals while necessitating heavy outlay for construction and maintenance will give no immediate or effective add to the empire, and no adequate or satisfactory results to Canada.
r That no permanent policy should be entered upon involving large future expenditure of this character until it has been submitted to the people and has received their approval.
' That in the meantime the immediate duty of Canada and the impending necessities of the empire can best be discharged and met by placing without delay at the disposal of the imperial authorities as a free and loyal contribution from the people of Canada such an amount as may be sufficient to purchase or construct two battleships or armoured cruisers of the latest Dreadnought type, giving to the admiralty full discretion to expend the said sum .at such time and for such purposes of naval defence as in their judgment may best serve to increase the united strength of the empire and thus assure its peace and security.'
And a Debate arising thereon;
Mr. Monk moved in amendment to the proposed amendment, That all the words after the word ' That ' be struck out and the following substituted thterefor: ' this House,
while declaring its unalterable devotion to the British Crown, is of opinion that the Bill now submitted for its considerbtilon, changes the relations of Canada with the empire, and ought, in consequence, _ to be submitted to the Canadian people, in order to obtain at one the Nation s opinion by means of a plebiscite.'
And tbe Debate continuing;
As will be seen, there is first the main motion in connection with the second reading of the Bill and then the two amendments. As under the parliamentary rule, the vote has to be first taken on the amendment to the amendments, I am going to consider it first.
The hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) says in his amendment that the Bill now under consideration changes the relations of Canada with the empire and that is the reason why he is of the opinion flint the question ought to be submitted to the people.
Sir, there is in that phraseology something incomprehensible. It is stated that this Bill changes the relations of Canada with the empire. What is the empire referred to bv my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier, and how could you submit in such a shape to the Canadian people a question so imperfectly yporded? Canada is part of the empire and how could the

provision is found in section 37 of the old Act.
Secton 8 provides for the appointment of a naval board. This is a new provision.
Section 9 is similar to clause 28 of the Act of 1886, and provides for the appointment of a permanent naval force.
Section 10 is a reproduction of clause 22. Section 11, concerning the ,rank and authority of officers of the naval force is similar to clauses 48 and 49 of the old Act.
Section 12 relates to the commissions of officers. It is similar to article 42.
Section 13 refers to relief from duty and retirement from the naval force. It is clause_ 15 of the old Act.
Section 14 relates to conditions of discharge from the service at the expiration ol the time of service. Similar provisions are to be found in clauses 79 and 80.
Sections 15 and 16 deal with the uniforms and equipment of officers of the naval service. This section is similar to clauses 51 and 52 of the old Act.
Section 17 is a reproduction of clause 78, *while section 18 is similar to clause 79 of the old Act.
In connection with this section 78, which provides that in case of an emergency, the Governor in Council may place at the disposal of His Majesty for general service m the Royal Navy, the naval service or any part thereof, it is proper to remark that the new section restricts and lessens the obligations and responsibilities which devolved on Canada under the old Act.
Although under the Militia Act of 1904 the land militia is not to be called out to serve beyond Canada, section 70, which is now the law in force, enacts that the Governor General may place the militia on active service anywhere in Canada and also beyond Canada, at any time when it appears advisable so to do by reason of emergency, in case of war, invasion or insurrection, real or apprehended, and the militiamen called out for active service are required to serve at least during a period of one year. Doubtless the present law, in empowering the Governor in Council to place at the disposal of His Majesty the naval forces or any part thereof, improves considerably the nature of our obligations; for, according to the theory developed by my hon. friend from Quebec Centre (Mr. Lachance), who has thoroughly mastered this question, the Act of 1886 clearly gives to the King, without the participation of the Canadian ministers, the right of directly, commanding the Governor "General his representative, to place the navy at the disposal of the admiralty, while the proposed Act requires the intervention of the Governor in Council and the ratification of parliament. Such is the essential difference between the old Act and the proposed legislation. Therefore, there is no change in the relations between Canada and the Mr. TURCOTTE.
mother country, or rather I should say that the proposed legislation constitutes a material improvement.
Section 19 is new. It provides that if parliament is not in session, a proclamation shall issue for the meeting of parliament -within the fifteen days following the action taken by the1 Governor in Council, should he, in case of an emergency, place the Canadian fleet at the disposal of the admiralty.
The other night, as the hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) was not in his seat, I asked the hon. member for l'lslet (Mr. Paquet) what he meant to do, should the people be called upon to express their opinion by a plebiscite, approve of the proposed legislation including section 18. He told me, not without some hesitation, that he would consult his conscience and that if he couhj not make up his mind to vote in favour of this Act, he would bid adieu to public life.
I may here remark that the very same gentlemen who in this House and outside of it, advocate a plebiscite, have already decided, as shown by their statements and their acts, to undertake a campaign in the rural centres in order to inflame public prejudices and induce the electors to vote against this legislation. They are acting very unfairly and they remind me of those misers who, when you ask them to contribute to some good work, plead as an excuse that they have nothing to do with such work and then they refer you to their wives. But before the solicitor has had time to see the wife of the miser, he has already directed her to give nothing. Such is the rather mean position taken by the advocates of a plebiscite. They only aim at embarrassing the government, in order to climb into power.
Sections 20, 21 and 22 of this Bill, concerning the naval reserve, are an exact copy of clauses 12, 116, and 80 of the old Act.
Section 23 is a modification of clause 69. [DOT]
As to section 24, it is declaratory, in so far as it enacts a principle of common law, namely, that the King is the owner of everything that is appropriated to the use of the navy.
Sections 25, which provides for the notice of all general orders issued to the naval forces in a copy of clauses 119 and 120. Section 26 is textually clause 121.
Section 27 gives the* Governor General the discretionary power to transfer to and from the naval service, any vessel belonging to His Majesty. The old Act contained no similar provision, as there were no fighting ships.
The provision of section 28 is taken from the Revised Statutes of Canada of 1906, chapter 111, which was itself borrowed

from chapter 71 of the Revised Statutes of 1886.
Sections 29 and 30 provide for the creation of a naval volunteer force. It is a condensation of sections 12, 26, 27 and 30 of the Act of 1886, with this improvement, that enrolment or drafting by ballot, that scarecrow of Canadian families, is done away with.
Section 31 enacts that the Governor General may make regulations. It is a copy of clauses 116 and 117.
Section 32 which is a condensation of clauses 13 and 14 of the Act of 1886, provides for the engagement and discharge of naval volunteers.
Section 33 contains a provision analagous to the provisions of clauses 56, 60 and 81. This section 60 of the Act of 1886 calls for special consideration. It reads as follows:
Her Majesty may order officers aiid men of the naval militia, or of any detachment of such militia, to drill or train for a period of not more than sixteen days and not less than eight days in each year.
That is proof conclusive that the fathers of confederation, since that clause is found in the Militia Act of 1868, had already in contemplation the organization of a naval department for military purposes.
Section 34 is a reproduction of clause 79 in its first part, and a copy of clauses 80 and 81 for the second part. It refers to active service in the case of an emergency.
Section 35 should be read in conjunction with clause 13 of this Act. By comparing both clauses, one finds that the Governor in Council, under section 13, may at any time relieve from duty any officer or seaman, and that under section 35, the minister is given a similar power. It may be supposed that, under certain circumstances, it w'ould be desirable that the minister should exercise that right, in a case of emergency.
Sections 36, 37, 38 and 39 are new enactments. They are printed in italics and show that the government is anxious to reward the brave servants of the state, the maimed soldiers, the old seamen, the invalids who are entitled to the protection of the state which they have faithfully served. I do not suppose that our hon. friends opposite would feel like insisting on a plebiscite before voting such pensions.
Sections 40, 41, 42, 43 and 44 provide for the establishment of a naval college, with similar provisions to those governing the military college of Kingston.
Sections 45, 46 and 47 are almost an exact copy of clauses 116, 117 and 126.
Sections 48 enacts that the provisions of the Acts of the United Kingdom shall apply. Its wording is similar to that of section 82 of the Act of 1806.
Section 49 enacts certain penalties for [DOT]desertion. It is the old article 109.
Sections 50, 51 and 52 provide for the execution of warrants and sentences and for the incarceration of prisoners sentenced to imprisonment in the common jail, in the penitentiary or any other prison or place of confinement, as the case may be.
Finally, section 53, which is the last, repeats chapter 41 of the Revised Statutes of 1886. _ .
Such is the analysis which I deemed it my duty to undertake, to show that there is nothing new in this Bill 95 which is but copy, with slight changes, of the Militia Act now in force; whence I infer that the statement made by the hon. member for Jacques Cartier that this Act aimed at changing the relations of Canada with the empire is not grounded on facts and exists only in his imagination.
But this Act, we are told, you_ are not going to be content with placing it on the statute-book; you are going to enforce it by creating a navy. True, we are going to create that navy, in spite of the criticisms of the hon. gentlemen opposite. But let us see what is to be the immediate effect of that lgislation. If I look at the estimates for 1910-1911, what do I see as the outcome of this legislation? I find that we are invited to vote a sum of $3,000,000 for the naval service, including the purchase, construction and maintenance and upkeep of dockyards at Esquimault and Halifax and the establishment and maintenance of training schools.
Granting that the proposed legislation which hon. gentlemen wish to submit to the electorate entails this immediate consequence provided for in the estimates a vote of $3,000,000 for the naval service, I confess that I do not understand the objections raised by those who oppose the Bill. 1 should like to know where is the man of common sense who could pretend that this legislation, even with the consequence I have just pointed out is going to modify the relations of Canada with England? I do not think that any man endowed with an average intelligence would find that even the practical enforcement of this Bill could warrant such a statement as the one 1 have just referred to, namely, that our relations with the mother country would undergo a change.
I have shown beyond the shadow of a doubt that those three million dollars could be voted and spent for the same purposes, even should we not pass this legislation. All we should have to do would be to invoke the provisions of the Revised Statutes of 1886, chapter 41, which is the law in force. Both Acts produce the same effects; the Act in force and the proposed legislation are identical as to the power conferred. -
Hon. gentlemen opposite are no doubt going to sa" that they do not oppose the

passing of this Bill, seeing that it is. with a few slight changes, similar to the Militia Act, but that they are opposed to voting these estimates. Well, my answer is: that ' Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.' Wait till the estimates are voted and then you mav urge objections as you see fit, and so each question will be settled in the proper time.
They will urge all the same, that the people is entitled to have a voice in the matter, although we have the power to pass this Bill and these estimates. In my opinion, Sir, we should not at this moment, hold such popular consultation as suggested. It is neither our right nor our duty, as representatives of the people who are here, not as holders of an imperative mandate, but of a general mandate.
I say that we have neither the right nor the duty to try to elude, so to say, our responsibility and our oath of office and to saddle with such responsibility the electors of this country who are not in a position to investigate those questions. If, as representatives of the people, we have not the power to legislate, even wnen we are satisfied that we are acting in the interest of the people, then I say that, in many circumstances, we should have to abdicate our rights and privileges and what is the very essence of constitutional government, and all that, in the sole view of creating an agitation in the popular mind.
In this connection, I may say that other important issues have come under discussion in the past, but the most considerable debate was the one that took place, at the time of confederation. If I trace this question back to its origin, in 1865, I am but quoting a page of history well worth reading and which affords as good food for thought as the one we are now writing. To-day, we have the honour and the privilege of being called upon to solve a question of vital imDortance, which was already foreshadowed at the time of confederation.
_ When they met together in view of bringing about the federation of the province, the fathers of confederation aimed at re-miting those scattered provinces, so as to create a common entity and a great empire, a powerful nation on this American continent; they foresaw that such an agglomeration under one government, would result in developing the wealth and -all the resources of the country, in increasing the nucleous of population and in making the people contented, happy and respected not only in America but in the whole world.
It was on the 3rd February, 1865-and there is here a coincidence of dates, since this debate was opened on the 3rd of February-that the debate on confederation began. Consulting the ' Debates on Confederation ' I find that Sir Ettiene Pascal, Tache, who was then prime minister, pro-

Topic:   EDITION'.
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