March 8, 1910 (11th Parliament, 2nd Session)


George Adam Clare

Conservative (1867-1942)


Yes, you can cheer, but 1 believe what I tell you. While the Prime Minister can make you vote as he pleases, he cannot make you think as he please 3 There have been no two speeches delivered on the government side of the House which have not shown greater differences than have been shown on this side of the House. The hon. member for South Huron (Mr. McLean) lias told the Prime Minister and his supporters what he thinks of England. He said that we owe them some respect, but we.owe them nothing else, because they have not paid us more for our grain or our produce than they have paid to the people of the United States. So, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for South Huron says that we owe nothing to England. There is no loyalty in him. He says: I must say nothing for England, and then he tuirns around and says to the people of Canada: I will vote for a large expenditure for a navy which will be no good to this country, which will be no protection to this country and no protection to the British empire. What is this navy going to be for? Is it going to protect us against Patagonia or Uruguay? This navy will never protect us against any self-respecting nation. I have stated, Mr. Speaker, that I believe the majority of the people of this country are loyal citizens of Canada and the empire. I want to say the same thing about the members of this House. I believe as. a whole that the members of this House are loyal Canadians and if there is a doubt on this question, if there is a doubt that there may be a single man who may be disloyal to his country, that doubt has been forced upon me by the Prime Minister himself, in speeches in the United States in which he said he preferred the American dollar to the English shilling. I do not like to talk of these things and in spite of these statements I am ready to believe the Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) is an honest man, is loyal to this country and is loyal to the empire. While I admit that he is loyal, I claim that he has^ made many, many mistakes in his public career, and I wish to recite a few of them so that we can afterwards decide whether we are right-in accepting his judgment on the Navy Bill. When the "great statesman, Sir John Macdonald, introduced a Bill for the construction of the Canadian Pacific railway, providing for the building of a road from the Atlantic to the Pacific, where did we find the present Prime Minister? Why, Mr. Speaker, he was opposed to the policy, he did not believe in it. Pie and his party said the road was going through a sea of mountains. The Conservative party and Sir John Macdonald lived in hope and they believed that this enterprise .would be a good thing for this country. They carried it in spite of the opposition of the then

Where do we find the Prime Minister now? He is following in the footsteps of that great Conservative leader, and he is imitating him in the building of a railway across the continent. The right hon. gentleman had no opposition from this side of the House on the question of building that railway, but we differed with him as to the manner in which it should be built, and events have proved that the Prime Minister was all wrong, because we have all seen how woefully he was mistaken- in his prophecy as to what that railway would cost. Then, there was the movement for commercial union, and the right hon. the Prime Minister persuaded the greater part of his followers to support a policy of commercial union as between the United States and Canada and against the empire. I do not know whether that was disloyalty or not, but I do know that it was sailing mighty close to disloyalty. But, I thank God. and I believe the Prime Minister to-day thanks God, that his policy did not prevail.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that I am very sorry to have to point out any defects in the great leader of the Liberal party in this country, for no one admires him as a man more than I do. But, Sir, I feel it my duty to point out these defects and I cannot help saying further, that in this naval policy of his he has made the greatest error of all the errors in his political life. The navy which this government is going to build will not be effective, it will not protect our Canadian shores, and much less will it be of any assistance to the British empire. This navy will be no protection to Canada; it will be an expensive luxury. We have no guarantee from the right hon. gentleman and his eovernment as to what the navy will cost, because, judging by past experience, any estimate they may give is not reliable. In addition to all other defects in the policy, this navy may lead us into difficulties with countries nearer home in a way which we now do not foresee. I read in the newspapers since this Bill was introduced that an application had been made to the government by some of the states bordering on the great lakes to have the privilege of building warships, and the probability is that this is suggested by the example of Canada. I believe, Sir, that if the greatest care is not taken there may be danger of complications between these two nations, and in that way the navy proposed by the government is a menace to us. As to the cost of the navy, we have the statement of the government that in the initial stage it will amount to $15,000,000 for construction, and that the up-keep will cost us ,4,7,000,000 each year. Of course, this cost must increase enormously; Canada will have to keep on building snips and opening, shipyards, and there is no knowing

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