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


Rodolphe Lemieux


Hon. RODOLPHE LEMIEUX (Resuming) :

Mr. Speaker, when the House took recess I was explaining the attitude taken by the leader of the Liberal party during the wax, and was stating that his whole object, whilst to strictly observe the truce, was to educate public opinion, in his own province and in the Dominion generally. In his own province where it had been poisoned by three members of the present Government, not to speak of those who have been shelved. Perhaps the House will hear with me if, before giving the poison, I serve the antidote. Let me quote the language of the leader of the Liberal party in his speech in the city of Quebec at the last recruiting meeting ne addressed in that old historic city. I do this, Mr. Speaker, because it has been hinted in the course of this debate, and in the Tory press generally, and on public platforms, that he had not kept the promise which he made some years ago as leader of the Liberal party, that if ever the Empire was in danger, or even faced a time of trial, he would appeal to his fellow-citizens in the province of Quebec to answer the call of duty. Speaking at Quebec only a few weeks ago he said:
It is not for Britain that Britain is at war to-day. Was it Britain which was invaded in 1914? Was it on Britain that Germany declared war on August 3, 1914? No, it was Britain which on the next day declared war on Germany, because of the invasion of Belgium, and her atrocious attack through Belgium on the heart of France because she stood true to her ally. Our children are to-day shedding their blood on the fields not of Britain, hut of France, the land of our very own ancestors. Many have been wounded, many have died, but it was not for Britain that they fought. They gave their lives freely and loyally that France, as part of the comity of nations, might live and continue her role at the head of civilization. And it is for that ideal that I am here to ask young Canadians, and especially young French-Canadians, to take their part in a war which is one for civilization.
It is with such appeals as this that we have been able to muster in the province of Quebec the 35,000 young men who are today either at the front or ready to go there.

I was rather surprised the other evening to hear the right hon. the leader of the House (Sir Robert Borden) state that the leader of the Opposition had in one of those speeches mentioned the fact that in 1870 England had not gone to the rescue of France. The right hon. gentleman thought it was very bad form on the part of the leader of the Opposition to speak in that way of the Mother Country's attitude. The right hon. gentleman, if he will pardon my saying so, is rather over sensitive. The attitude of England during the war of 1870, and the consequences of that attitude are well known; it is a matter of history; and the statesmen of England to-day are the first [DOT]to admit England was wrong in 1870 for not interposing herself between Bismark and Thiers, who then pleaded for France. It is simply a matter of history, just as it is a matter of history that England in 1854 to use the language of Lord Salisbury "backed the wrong horse" in siding against the Russians in the Crimean War. Just as it is a matter of history that England through Lord Salisbury made a blunder when she ceded Heligoland to Germany. But if it is a crime for the right hon. gentleman to refer to such an historical fact as he cited what shall we say about the Montreal Gazette, the best informed Conservative paper in our province, and certainly one of the most moderate in the whole Dominion of Canada? Speaking of the defeat, or I should rather say, the retreat of the Asquith Cabinet, the Gazette said editorially:
The spectacle presented hy the Asquith Government in the first days of August, 1914, was unlike anything that could have been imagined. On August 3, Sir Edward Grey, who also has fallen short of what was ^expected, came into the House of Commons and announced that Parliament was free to decide what the British attitude in the conflict then beginning wou'd be. Great Britain, he said, had not committed herself to anything but diplomatic support; but the Government had warned the French and German Ambassadors that if war were forced on France public opinion in the British Isles would rally to France. The Government abdicated its leadership when leadership by men who knew or should have known what conditions were was most needed. Never in England's history was there another such spectacle. When France chose war the noise of the yelling London press was taken for the voice of public opinion, and as if there were no hand on the helm the Empire drifted into war. All know the subsequent story.
That is the language, not of the Globe, not of the leader of His Majesty's loyal Opposition, but that of the leading Tory paper as regards the attitude of England, not in regard to the war of 1870, but in
regard to the present war. England, according to the Montreal Gazette, did not yield to the voice of public opinion; England yielded to the voice of the yelling London press. That is the language of the loyal Tory press of Canada.
Let me once for all state, on behalf of my fellowmen in the province of Quebec, their real attitude in regard to this war. In their judgment there is but one question before us, and that is the paramount question of the great war which, is now raging beyond the seas. It is the question of the participation of Canada in that stupendous struggle. It is, above all, the determination which they share in common with the people of other provinces that the Mother Country and her gallant Allies shall ultimately triumph. That is the opinion of the province of Quebec. The British Empire is made up of various races- We happen to belong to a minority, and we are rather proud to belong to that minority; yes, we are proud of the blood that flows in our veins. Because of that very fact we may perhaps present in a more dispassionate spirit the British point of view, as it appeals to us wfio are members of the minority. Yes, in the midst of this great war, where freedom is assailed, where all laws are trampled upon, where one man, surrounded by a military caste, backed up by formidable hosts, and seized with the lust of domination, has challenged the world, it is the proud privilege of those who were born and have lived under free British institutions in Canada boldly to proclaim what Britain stands for in the present emergency.
In our judgment, Germany stands at the bar of history. She and she alone is responsible for this awful catastrophe. Why did she precipitate the conflict? The answer is obvious: The German Empire had become too small for its population, and for economic reasons it needed expansion. " Expansion " is not the proper word to use; what Germany had been planning and scheming for during the last half century was nothing less than world-domination, and that will be the verdict of history.
To gratify her insensate ambition she determined to dominate Europe by crushing the -small nations, by maiming our old mother country, France, for the second time, and by humbling the British Empire, which has given us and still maintains for us the liberties we enjoy. Her victory, in our judgment, would mean not only the

Garrisoning of Europe, but tbe garrisoning of Canada and possibly of the whole continent of North America. To attain that end she inaugurated a campaign of frightfulness, which, if unchecked, would bring humanity back to the dark ages. What kind of humanity and nationhood has she not violated? She has broken international faith for the sake of getting the first advantage of war-a heinous crime among nations. She has carried on through the war a campaign of frightfulness directed from headquarters, regardless of the virtue of women, the crying appeal of children and the sanctity of the home. She has thus poisoned the wells of her fair fame; she has not fought the fight in broad, square, manly fashion. She has sunken vessels in which thousands of neutrals and non-combatants have been sent to the bottom; she has murdered Captain Fryatt and Edith Caveil. Worst of all is that, by all classes of her people from the bishop of the cathedral to the artisan, every crime, every barbarity her men have committed in the name of the war has been saluted in Germany by the flying of flags and the giving of iron crosses. We know that it is to avenge such appalling crimes tjhat the sons of Britain from every clime, from every Domin-_ ion, like the knight errants of old, have been called upon to buckle on their armour. Their object we know is not to conquer new territory; the aim is to crush militarism . once for all, to restore small nations to their rights, to make civilization, justice and freedom secure forever. That is the vidw of the .situation held by the people of the province of Quebec.
The tide has now turned and the silver lining of the cloud can be detected. For many long weary months the outlook was far from being bright; there were black days, black moods and a swaying indecision; but under the immense crisis Britain and overseas Britain, France and her Allies, have lifted to a clear determination. It has been stated in our province by the friends of the present Government that England had not done her full duty during the present war. That has been stated over and over -again by the Nationalist allies of the hon, gentleman opposite. We know that England has not been deficient. No one I am sure, will say that the British fleet is not -a decisive factor in the present war; and thanks to that fleet, a whole gigantic phase of the enemy's life has been suddenly blotted out. It is not only doing all that was expected of it; it has met with an amazing energy and ingenuity new obstacles. Un-
[Mr. Lemieux.l
der its protection, the best merchant service of England proceeds as usual. Her ships, those of her Allies and of all neutral countries sail the seven seas. The sleepless vigilance of the grand fleet and its silent victories during this war speak volumes for British efficiency.
On land England, at the beginning of the war was not expected to muster more than 200,000 soldiers, and of all the European countries she alone would not accept the principle of compulsory service: but, after Mons and Le Cateau, where the flower of the British aristocracy so gallantly perished, after the splendid example given so spontaneously by the overseas dominions, the British Parliament enacted a law of compulsory service. England, which, as T said, was not expected to give more than 200,000 men, and possibly less, started to raise an army which has reached the five million mark, and this vast army is rapidly being equipped with arms, guns, ammunition, clothing and food, as no army in the world has been in the past. But that is not all. On England, aided chiefly by America, has fallen the task of supplying, in a large measure, the manufactured necessities of war of her Allies and of some of her dominions, and while thus financing her Allies and her overseas dominions England has been exporting goods at the rate of $2,000,000,000 a year, and conducting a larger than ever increasing proportion of the carrying trade of the world. I have no hesitation in saying that in this battle for freedom, the effort of Great Britain constitutes the most staggering exercise of human energy of which history has any record.-
And what of France, the great ally of Britain, in this gigantic struggle? We, in Canada, may speak with pride of the idealism of old France as evidenced by the pioneer days of this continent; but may we not also state that it is the same idealism and the same old spirit which to-day inspires the Frenchmen of the third Republic? The battles of the Marne and of Verdun will ever remain tne most flamboyant names in history. Only once or twice in history has the .world witnessed such a spectacle of greatness at tension. Everything spiritual in a nation touched with genius has been mobilized. Fineness of feeling, the graces of the intellectual life, clarity of thought, all the playful tender elements of worthy living are burning with a steady light. It is the

fashionable cant of the day to say that a new France has arisen out of the ashes and ruins of the old; that warfare and deadliest peril have created in the breasts of Frenchmen another and nobler spirit of steady valour and stubborn endurance. And to us, this cant of admiration seems even more strange than the malignant misrepresentation which during the last half century pictured the men and women of France as a fickle, emotional race, voluble in peace, but weak in the stress of doubtful, stubborn battle. No, the French nation has not changed in these two years of war. The French nation to-day is exactly what the French nation has been for centuries. The French soldiers have had no new creation of valour and hardihood. The voice of Fiance at VeTdun is the voice of France of centuries ago.
Peace proposals, Mr. Speaker, have been mooted. Who believes that peace would be durable if not based upon the success.of the Allied cause? To me, the situation is precisely that which the great Pitt, described in one of his greatest speeches, delivered one hundred and sixteen years ago; and the world echoes his words to-day. He said:
I see no possibility at this moment of concluding such a peace as would Justify that liberal intercourse which is the essence of real amity; no chance of terminating the expense or the anxieties of war, or of restoring to us any of the advantages of established tranquility. . . . As a lover of peace, I will not
sacrifice it by grasping at the shadow, when the reality is not substantially within my reach. Why, then, do I refuse peace? Because it is deceptive, because it is perilous, because it cannot exist.
Mr. Speaker, the British Empire simply re-echoes the sentiments expressed by this great statesman. It contains the only answer which can be made to appeals coming from Washington or from elsewhere in favour of peace.
I stated a moment ago that the three Nationalist ministers in the present Government had consistently poisoned public opinion in the province of Quebec during the years which preceded the coming of the present party into office, and I referred to the antidote which was contained in the admirable speeches delivered in that province by the right hon. the leader of the Opposition. Is that or is it not a true statement of the case? Let me marshal here a few facts, dates and names, and then the House will judge whether or not the statement be true. As the hon. member for Bonaventure (Mr. Marcil) stated this afternoon and yesterday in the admirable speech which he delivered, we know that the Nationalist League was organized in Quebec in March, 1903, under the leadership of Mr. Bourassa. Among the articles of the programme launched by that League can be found the following-it is important to note them, because they give us the background of the agitation which followed:
1st. No participation of Canada in Imperial wars outside her territory.
2nd. To spurn any attempt at recruiting for British troops.
3rd. To oppose the establishment in Canada of a naval school with the help and for the benefit of Imperial authority.
Please mark the words, Mr. Speaker: " To spurn any attempt at recruiting for British troops." How did this article of the Nationalist programme come to life? You will remember, Mr. Speaker-I think you were a member of the House then-the introduction of a resolution during the session of 1909 for the building of a Canadian navy. A resolution was introduced by my friend the present Minister of Trade and Commerce, (Sir George Foster), accepted by the then leader of the Government, the present leader of His Majesty's Opposition (Sir Wilfrid Laurier), and adopted unanimously. During the session of 1910 a Naval Bill based on that resolution, was introduced by the then Prime Minister. Strange to say, it was bitterly opposed by the very man who had introduced the original resolution and who had declared himself in favour of a Canadian navy, manned by Canadian officers and sailors, and flying the Canadian ensign with the British flag. Why was it opposed? Because at that time a tacit alliance had been sealed between the present ministers and their friends who claimed to be the Conservative traditionalists in Canada, and the Nationalist League. The first fruit of that alliance was the victory in Drummond and Arthabaska. It is well that we should remember who were the organizers of that famous election campaign, in which a candidate nominated by the Nationalist party, M. Gilbert, ran against a straight Liberal -candidate, M. J. E. Perrault,' barrister, from Arthabaska, who declared himself in favour of Canada's helping, the Mother Country. Who organized that election for the Nationalists? The late Mr. Monk, the Hon. Mr. Pelletier, exPostmaster General, who has been promoted to the Court of the King's Bench in the province of Quebec; Hon. Mr. Nantel, ex-Minister of Inland Revenue, also pro-

moted to the Railway Commission, and Hon. Mr. Coderre, later on Secretary of State, also promoted to a judgeship in the city of Montreal. Who else took part in that famous election.? Who delivered fiery speeches?- The three present Nationalist ministers in this Government, the Postmaster General (Mr- Blondin), the Secretary of State (Mr. Patenaude), and the probaible-it is not very sure-

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