January 25, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)

LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

Hear, hear.
W. F. MACLEAN: We have got to have farm loans, based on the credit of the country, in order that our farmers may get cheap money, on good security, for the development of our country and for the raising of live stock and the grain crops of the West. To-day the farmers are paying .too high a rate of interest, and they are living alongside of a people who have all the advantages of which I have spoken in regard to financial reforms. We have even got to have, in addition to our larger banks with their branches-and I had the pleasure of speaking on this subject to a western audience the other day-a system of small banks, based largely on the same principles as those of the United States. When the American farmer comes to Canada, with all his experience of what they are doing for the farmers there in the way of small banks as well as large, cheap farm loans, which they have there, and a system of rediscounting which can be carried right to the farmer, and which gives him a low interest on mortgages and banking accommodation on live stock for long periods at low interest, that American farmer is going to draw a line of discrimination as between the United States and Canada. We must have progressive legislation in connection with the regeneration of this country after the war.' They already have it in the United States, where it was worked out by that same progressive democratic element that we have in Canada to-day. The victory of President Wilson was not the result of the votes of the people in the East; they voted against him. But for the first time in the history of America-and I want to tell the House of Commons what they are up against-the majority of the voters in the United States happened to be located in the West, and it is from the West that all the progressive legislation came that they now have in the United States. To-day there is an equally
LMr. Maclean.]
strong demand from Western Canada for the isiame kind of legislation here, and that will form part of the work of regeneration of Canada after the war. I can see no way of doing this unless we get both parties together and have a real national policy for the successful accomplishment of the war, and for the regeneration of the country when peace is re-established. If anybody thinks that one party can administer the country and carry on the work of regeneration and do it successfully without asking the assistance of the other party, in my opinion he will be disappointed. But if in some way the two parties can get together and get the movement started, it would quickly gather impetus and would he carried forward successfully, and the war would be, won in a way that none of us could expect.
While I am speaking only for myself, somehow I think I am reflecting the opinion of the great bulk of the people of this country, and if the people of this country cannot be heard in Parliament through the action of the parties in Parliament, and especially through the action of the Government, the people may take the matter in their own hands, as was suggested by the hon. member for Edmonton (Mr. Oliver) the other day. Perhaps the best thing would be to have the free wind of a general election blow over the country and the people find out just where they are in regard to the war. But to my mind there is no necessity for that. This is not the time for an election appeal; this is not the time for party discussions; this is not the time for such a contest -as is now going on in Dorchester, though I blame neither party for that contest. This is a time when all * parties should get together and form a war administration, so that we may have unity, and get the best ability in the country devoted to the war.
What would be the result? Is there any better news that we could send forth to the world to-morrow, in view of the present severity of the war and its uncertainty, than this: that all Canada was united; that both political parties were united for the successful accomplishment of this war. That would have a disciplinary effect on Germany which would be surprising. It would cheer the people in the old land, and put heart and hope, though they are full of heart and hope yet,'"into our boys- in the trenches, and aid them in doing their best to win. Would not that be a 5 p.m. great thing for Canada to give to the world to-morrow? Would it not be a clear intimation to our neigh-

hours to the south of us of what Canada really thinks of this war and of the issues [DOT] at stake?
And the issues at stake, are they not the liberties and the freedom of the world? Would not Canada disappear from the map if Germany should succeed in her attack now on the liberties of the world, and would there not be a great German influx from the United States? But the thing to let the Huns know, and to let the Mother Country know, and our boys at the front, is that all Canada is united now, irrespective of party, for the successful accomplishment of the war.
I have to repeat it, come back to it, and yet it is what is forced on me to say to-day. and I have said it in as plain a way as I can say it, thinking that 'in some way I am reflecting the views of .my fellow-countrymen from one ocean to the cither. They want to win this war; they want the strongest and best .meal in the Cabinet for the conduct of the war, and they want all the energies we have to be dewoted to the wax. We have not yet begun to give what we ought to give, 'and we must give more. Is it not a fact that .at this moment we are hardly keeping up the strength of our fighting force? I have met officer after officer who is practically stalled in his efforts to enlist the full strength for his regiment, and regiment 'after regiment throughout the country is stalled because it cannot recruit up to full Strength. The progress is slow; il is hard to get the men, and there are not enough of us out preaching to the men of this country that they must go to the front. I do not agree with the horn, member for . Bonaventure (Mr. Marcil) that the man who produces on the farm or the man who works in the munition factory is the equal of the man who is in the firing line. The man in the firing line is the man of all men in this country, 'and we have to go* out and get fighting men, because the regiments are not filled up, and their officers are discouraged on that laocoumt. I trace the cause of that largely to the political dissension in this country and to the fact that even yet, in the third year of the war, we have not begun to realize what war means. How many of us know what the English prayer book means until we read it now in the light of this war? The prayer book of the Church of England from tone end to the other is a repetition of thanks to God, and also of prayers to God to save the nation from its enemies, and one understands what that means in the British Navy and in the British Army. We have
been a peace-loving people, knowing little about war; but now we are 'beginning to see what war is and wlbait it means for us and for our country, and if we are to' keep a hundred thousand men in the fighting line and provide for the wastages and the reserves, we must change our system or we are not going to accomplish what we set out to accomplish in taking our proper share in this war. When I have said that I have said practically all that I have to say to the House; but in saying it, I think I speak for the people of Canada, and although no duty can be forced upon anyone in regard to the matter, it is incumbent upon this Government and upon the members of this Parliament not to think about party dissensions, but to thank bow they can get together and strengthen their resources for the winning of the war. The mO'St discreditable thing that could happen to this country or to the Empire or to civilization would be that this war should not prove to be a success in putting down for all time the abominable doctrine that the Huns are preaching to-day, that they are the elect of God to rule and govern mankind, and that a military system made up of land-holders and men devoted to the business of soldiering must rule and govern the world. Germany has that in view to-day, as well as the destruction of the liberty, not only of the British and of all the other European peoples, but of America and especially of Canada, and our Canadian people would suffer terribly for the next twenty or thirty years if in any way Germany succeeded in carrying out her nefarious designs. If any one tells me that we are on the eve of a great victory, I say that I hope that is the case, but the evidence is not in sight. There is more fighting to be done, more enlisting required; more money must be spent, more munitions must be made, and, most of all, immense sacrifices must be made. There is no happy day for any of us in this House or in this country for the rest of our -lives. The losses are so extensive up to the present time, and so many more have to come, that we are now a sobered people by reason of this war, and we are all, men, women and children, beginning to realize what sacrifices have to be made. Even our youngest children will grow up in the atmosphere of this great war, and will understand what it means for families, for homes, for the nation, for liberty and for the right to live. We are all in that sober attitude now; we know what war means in the prayer book and we know what we ought to do. There

is only one thing to do, and that is to cease this partisan struggle in connection with the war, and to hold out the hand of fellowship of one iparty to the other and join together, consecrating our lives and energies to winning the war. We are not doing that, and we shall not 'be able to do it as we are trying to do it now. When the members go back to their constituencies at the adjournment of Parliament, I want them to visit the homes of the men who are making the sacrifices. In my constituency in one church a list was read out of over a hundred men who had been killed in the war, and I can go from church to church and find lists of a hundred or a hundred and twenty or a hundred and fifty men who have gone to the front, and many of them killed. Crippled men are beginning to appear in the streets of Canada, and if you go into a street car, you will meet men who have lost a leg or an arm; you will see everywhere the evidences of the atrocity of this war in its inception and what it is going to be hereafter, and the settlement is not in sight. If that is the case, I appeal to the members of this House to forget party, to unite irrespective of party.
As this is a constitutional machine and works as a machine, a union of parties can be made only along political lines; it cannot be done by sentiment. Would the Conservative party or the liberal party be disgraced if they joined together on the conduct of this war? If they unite to work it out, they will be doing only their duty, and they will be voicing the views of their constituents and of the nation.
I could go into details concerning the records of the different parties and of the two races, but I do not wish to widen the breach; I rather prefer to try to heal it in some way. I wish to impress upon the House how necessary it is to consider the political union that can be accomplished here and that will assist in winning the war. Unless we get that union the war will last longer and cost more. Canada's record in this war will be judged largely by what our boys have done, but it will be judged also by what we have done here in this House. We have started well at this session, and since it is demonstrated that there can be a joining of hands in regard to the conduct of the business ,of this House in order to assist in the effective prosecution of the war, surely there can be a joining of hands and a union of hearts with regard to the main object-that of
fMr. Maclean.!
winning the war-of all the parties, peoples and races who call themselves Canadians.

Topic:   THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH.
Subtopic:   ADDRESS IN REPLY.
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