January 28, 1916 (12th Parliament, 6th Session)


Ernest Lapointe


Mr. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Kamour-aska):

Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend from West Peterborough (Mr. Burnham) opened his address with very strong words, but those words were fully justified by the speech of the hon. member for Frontenac (Air. Edwards) last night. I have no fault to find with the tone of the remarks of my hon. friend from West Peterborough. Strong as those remarks were at times, they were certainly a great improvement .on tlhose of the hon. member for Frontenac. I hope to refer in a later part of my ad-

dress to some statements which the hon. member for West Peterborough has made.
I do not think I should have taken part in this diefoate, had it not been for one or two remarks made by my hon. friend the Postmaster General (Mr.v Casgrain) in the very able speech he delivered in this House on the 18th January. Some parts of that speech ought not to be left unanswered, and this duty is made still more imperative by editorials which have been published in the leading Conservative organ of the city and district of Quebec which is supposed to reflect the ideas and opinions of the Postmaster General. Those editorials threaten the members of this House and the electors of Canada with an immediate dissolution of this Parliament and a general election unless we, the representatives of the people, agree to sit still and content ourselves with registering the wishes of my hon. friend and of the Administration. To this I do not intend to submit, and never shall. The policy of the rulers of the country dining a great national crisis is not their private property, and the people are entitled to discuss it and judge those who nre responsible for it.
With that part of the speech from the Throne relating to the effective participation of Canada in the great war which Great Britain and her Allies are now waging, I heartily agree. All the measures that can be necessary to sustain the honour of Canada and protect the most saored interests of our country, should be taken. It seems to me, however, that the figure of 500,000 men is rather large and will be very difficult to reach, though I would not like to use the language of the Toronto Saturday Night and say that it is a " somewhat hysterical figure."
With regard to the financial requirements, under the circumstances, our duty, difficult as it may appear, is to grant all the money that is asked for by those who are entrusted with the responsibility of national defence; but we must require, as we have done before, a proper, effective and honest use of the sums placed at their disposal. We owe that to our countrymen who have left their farms, offices and shops in answer to the call of the Government and the country. It is our duty to see that they are provided with the best military training, with the best military organization, with the best military equipment; and we should not be fulfilling our duty, were we to agree to a general conspiracy of silence and refuse to expose wrong-doing or to investigate the acts and
omissions of those who are responsible to this Parliament for the military operations of the country. I believe that the interests of the Canadian people must be placed over and above the tranquility of the Government. Our share in the present conflict we must accept not only with a high sense of duty, but in a generous and cheerful spirit. It was .said last week in the other Chamber, .as an argument against our making further and larger sacrifices to help the Mother Country in this war, that Great Britain was somewhat responsible for the war, and was to be blamed for not having declared
herself earlier in favour of the Allies. Quite naturally, those words were severely criticised, and Conservative newspapers like the Toronto News and the Toronto Telegram have tried to throw the responsibility of Senator Choquette's speech on the Liberal party. But Senator Choquette has always been opposed to the policy of the Liberal party with regard to naval defence and the participation of Canada in any war undertaken by the Empire. In 1911, his speech in the Canadian Senate against such a policy was circulated and distributed in every home in the constituency of Kamour-aska, which I represent, and which is a part of the division which my hon. friend Senator Choquette represents in the Senate; and the Conservative party paid for that'circulation. Sir, nothing could be more at variance with the facts than the statements of my hon. friend Senator Choquette, which I have mentioned. It is true that the British statesmen endeavoured strenuously to avoid a conflict and to preserve the peace of Europe. To the very last Sir Edward Grey tried everything that might call a halt. As late as. July 31, 1914, Sir Edward Grey suggested to Germany that the four outside powers should unite in suggesting to Austria that they would undertake to see that she obtain a full satisfaction in her demands upon Serbia, provided that these demands would not impair Serbia's sovereignty and the integrity of Serbia's territory. Under date of August 1, he wrote to the German Ambassador as follows:
I fully believe that It might be possible to secure peace if only a little respite in time can be gained before any great power begins war.
On July 30, Sir Edward Grey replied to the proposition from the German Government that England should remain neutral, under the condition that Germany should not annex any of the territory of continental Prance. I shall quote only the last part of that reply-and I commend these words

to the attention and admiration of the Canadian people, and more especiallly the people of my own province:
It would be a disgrace for us to make this bargain with Germany at the expense of France

a disgrace from which the good name [DOT]of this country would never recover.
On August 2, war broke out between Germany and France. On August 3, the German troops invaded Belgium, in defiance of the protests of the Belgian Government. The British Ambassador then demanded his passports, and on August 4, war was formally declared between Great Britain and Germany. In the face of these facts, how can any hon. gentleman say that Britain should be held responsible in any degree for this horrible war?
When, on July 30, it became apparent that France could not avoid a conflict with Germany, many people in my own province, especially those who could remembeT the dark and painful days of 1870, were watching with anxiety wthat Great Britain would do. During these days of expectation feelings of uneasiness were expressed in many quarters. Would England stand aside and let Germany crush Belgium and invade France? Finally, all efforts towards the securing of peace having failed, the voice of Britain was heard on the side of right and justice against might and tyranny. A feeling of relief was experienced everywhere; enthusiasm replaced anxiety, and from that day, Mr. Speaker, I have favoured and supported all measures that would help the Mother Country in this war. I have supported them as a national duty and as a profound expression of gratitude.
I believe that if England had refused to declare herself in favour of the Allies and to unite her efforts with those of Belgium, France and Russia, many of 4 p.m. those who now criticise our participation in the war would have raised indignant voices against the attitude of Great Britain.
I claim that under the circumstances, notwithstanding what has been said elsewhere, the province of Quebec has done her duty. Her people have contributed their full share, and they are still willing to contribute their full share. But there is a certain subject upon which I must speak frankly-though I should not like to hurt anybody's feelings. Our people resent very deeply the aspersions and the insulting remarks of a certain press. The hon. member for Frontenac, whom nobody in this country will accuse of being too'
broadminded, and who seems to be unable to deliver a speech in this House without directing a few mild and tender words to the unfortunate province of Quebec, was more prudent in his remarks yesterday, although there were some insinuations which he could not help indulging in. Certain articles which have appeared in Ontario newspapers have been a far greater obstacle to recruiting in Quebec than all the speeches of the gentlemen who are denounced and branded as traitors t>y the same press. Let those Ontario journalists apply themselves to their own shortcomings.
I believe-and I am glad to see that my opinion is sharbd by such a newspaper as the Ottawa Citizen-that the field for reform in their own province is wide enough to require all their activity and to satisfy their eagerness to work for the common good. I do not object to some people having a very high estimate of themselves-there have been such people since the days oi the Pharisees; but I protest against the unjust, inaccurate and odious comparisons which they are trying to make. Again I repeat that those charges and insinuations in the Tory press of Ontario have hindered the work of recruiting in Quebec to a far greater extent than all the speeches of the Nationalists who are opposed to Canada's participation in this war.
Having referred to the Nationalists, allow me to make a few comments on an incident which occurred recently. The people of this country have been aroused by certain words uttered by Mr. Armand Lavergne in the Legislature of Quebec. Only yesterday I read an article in a newspaper which demanded that poor Lavergne be court-martialled and shot with the least possible delay. I think the hon. member for Frontenac (Mr. Edwards) went almost that far last night. Well, I am not here to defend Mr. Lavergne. His words should have been left unsaid, and it is to be regretted that in this Dominion such statements should have been made.. But, Sir, to those who have been so>
highly scandalized over this matter, let me recall that, unfortunately, similar and even worse statements were made only four years ago by certain hon. gentlemen who were friends and associates of Mr. Lavergne, and who were subsequently rewarded by the present Administration. Some are occupying the highest positions at the disposal of the Government, in the judiciary and elsewhere, and at least two of them are on the Treasury benches,

members of the Government which is entrusted with the sacred duty of supervising the participation of 'Canada in this war. Yes, Mr. Speaker, and the financial means for the carrying on of their nefarious campaign were supplied, and as my hon. friends from Quebec on this side of the House know only too well, abundantly supplied, from the treasury of the ultraloyal party in Ontario. I have a right to say these things. You are assailing the Nationalists who are outside of the House; I wish to include in the reprobation those who are inside, and those who are members of the Government. Here let me state to the credit of my province that she did her duty nobly in spite of that violent and demagogic campaign. In spite of the money provided by the Tory loyalists of Ontario, she elected thirty-eight Liberal members, pledged to stand up in this Parliament and vote for a Canadian navy and for the voluntary acceptance by Canada of her share of the burden in time of danger, whenever the Mother Country should be called upon to fight for the rights of the oppressed- .arud the liberties of the world.
The right hon. leader of the Government has called to his councils some of the leaders of the Nationalists. Mr. Lavergne has even stated that he was invited to accept a portfolio. Let me remark in answer to my hon. friend from West Peterborough (Mr. Burnham) that the statement which Mr. Lavergne has, made time and again is that he was offered a portfolio, not by the Prime Minister, but by the late Mr. Monk. That was the statement he made when the regretted Mr. Monk was not -alive, and it has never been contradicted. We have had successively in the Government -Messrs. Pelletier, Nantel, Coderre, and the present Secretary of State (Mr. Blondin), and the present Minister of Inland Revenue (Mr. Patenaude). Would you like to know, Mr. Speaker, what the relations of those gentlemen were with Mr. Lavergne? I will take the words of the most prominent of them, the former Postmaster General of this country, and for a time, too long a time, the high executioner of the Government. Here are the words he uttered at St. Gregoire on the 18th of September, 1911. I quote them from L'Evenement,. the great Conservative journal of the city of Quebec. In order to he more accurate, I will read them first in French, and then translate them into English:

Le peuple vous aime Lavergne, parce que vous 1'avez aim6. Bourassa et vous avez ecrit line page unique dans l'histoire de notre pays. Je me suls presents parce que j'avais 1'appui de M. Armand Lavergne, et le 21 septembre vous aurez a. chanter la victoire de Pelletier et Lavergne. .. .
The people love you, Lavergne, because you have loved them. Bourassa and yourself have written a page unparalleled in the history of our country. I have accepted nomination because I have the help of Mr. Armand Lavergne, and on the 21st of September you will be cheering the victory of Pelletier and Lavergne. ,

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