Such is the opinion of the leader of the opposition, but the admiralty is. of a different mind and I think the people of this country will share the latter opinion.
Paragraph 5 reads:
That no permanent policy should be entered upon, involving large future expenditures of this character, until it has been submitted to the people and has received their approval.
The leader of the opposition also favours an appeal to the people, but not on the same grounds as advanced by the hon. member for Jacques Cartier and his small group of* followers. These gentlemen clamour for a plebiscite, in the hope of smothering this Bill and preventing the passing of any legislation concerning the navy. The leader of the opposition is also trying to kill the Bill, but with another object in view, he aims at coming into power, in order to saddle the people with much heavier expenditure. That is what he says in paragraph 6, which reads: .
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 purpose 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.
_ That is what we should have, Sir, were the leader of the opposition to change sides -which is altogether impossible-and sit at your right, Mr. Speaker, in order to shape the future policy of the Canadian government concerning the creation of a naval service.
I have now to point out a somewhat extraordinary statement in the first part of his amendment. He says that the proposals of the government do not tally with the suggestions of the admiralty. It would be quite easy to retort the argument and say that his offer of two Dreadnoughts is absolutely at variance with the suggestions of the admiralty. In fact, the following statement is found at page 24 of the report of the imperial conference:
The fleet unit to be aimed at should, therefore, in the opinion of the admiralty, consist at least of the following:-
1 armoured cruiser (new 'Indomitable ' class, which is of the ' Dreadnought ' type.)
3 unarmoured cruisers (' Bristol ' class.)
With the necessary auxiliaries, such as depot and store ships, &c., which are not here specified.
The admiralty wants an armoured cruiser and the leader of the opposition offers two
Dreadnoughts. Why should he try to substitute his opinion to the wisdom and experience of the British admiralty?
The hon. member for Ste. Anne's, Montreal (Mr. Doherty), after having carefully weighed and computed everything, told us that the cost of two Dreadnoughts would not exced $20,000,000. Now, $20,000,000, that's a pretty round sum of money, and before voting such a sum methinks we should first consult the people. That money is not going to come out of the pocket of the leader of the opposition, but out of the people's pocket. It is the ratepayer who would have to pay those $20,000,000, an expenditure by no means extraordinary, in the opinion of the leader of the oposition, but which will prove absolutely useless, as it is expressly stated in his resolution that the admiralty is given full discretion to spend the said sum as they think best, and without consulting us, even without defending our territory. For, supposing that such an emergency should arise in England and in Canada, and that our two Dreadnoughts should be in English waters, do you believe that the admiralty would detach a squadron to come to our rescue.
All this, in my opinion, is altogether irrational and illegal. There is in the position taken by the leader of the opposition and by his assistant leader, a concatenation of contradictions and of absolutely illogical statements which one is astonished to find simultaneously in the speeches of a jurist and those of a professor of constitutional law in one of our great universities.
I think we had better abide by what we have now, namely, the proposition moved by the leader of the government. As circumstances would have it, the Minister of Marine was denied that honour and the leader of the government was called upon [DOT]to introduce this Bill. Now, the Prime Minister has the assistance of the Finance Minister, who, for the last fifteen years, has held that important portfolio which he has always found well filled with money to supply the needs of the country. Do you believe that previously to submitting this Bill to the House, there have not been held many contradictory meetings of the cabinet and that the Prime Minister did not ask the Finance Minister how we were going to meet those responsibilities? We have the guaranty that the new liabilities will be met without a single cent being added to our public debt and without our taxation being increased. The experience of the last fifteen years shows that the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister, as well as their colleagues in the cabinet, made no mistake in tlhe past. In my opinion, that is a guaranty for the future, and we who represent here the people, relying upon the experience of those fifteen
years, may loyally and honestly discharge our mandate in the interest of the people and of the greatest good of the country.