January 26, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)


Arthur Bliss Copp



Yes, and not only is it true in regard to the colonels in England, but it applies also to majors, captains, and the subordinate officers. This, article goes on to say that to-day in England alone we have at least 4,000 men in the Records Office. What about New Zealand and other dominions which have officers there? It is costing these dominions a mere bagatelle compared with what it is costing the Dominion of Canada for the upkeep of officers. I have no fault to find with a man being a lieutenant-colonel, or drawing the pay which is attached to his office, but if a lieutenant-colonel has nothing to do, and if he is not willing to take the rank of lieutenant, or some other subordinate position, and go to the front, he should resign and the remuneration that is being paid to him should be stopped, and he should come back to this country and assume the role of a private citizen as the rest of us are doing. I could go on and illustrate by a thousand and one instances how money is being wasted in Canada along this very line. The time has arrived when those who are in charge of the affairs of this country should call a halt, should clean house, and take the people of Canada into their confidence and give a strict account of their stewardship. Let me say to the First Minister that that is his first duty. He not only represents the Conservative party, but he, as the Premier of the Dominion, represents the people of Canada, and the people are clamouring, they are demanding, that they should have a full, frank and honest disclosure of what has taken place in the past and what he is going to do in the future in regard to the conduct of this war.
We all remember with what great satisfaction the Conservative newspapers-and I am bound to say a number of the Liberal newspapers and Liberals as well-throughout the Dominion, regarded the fact that when this war broke out it was the good fortune of Canada to have as Minister of Militia a man of the enthusiasm, energy and experience of the ex-Minister of Militia and Defence (Sir Sam Hughes). I am

bound to say, Sir, because I want to be honest and frank about it, that I never looked upon the ex-Minister of Militia as being any better than the friends with whom he was associated. I looked upon the Government as a whole, and I felt that the whole Government were responsible for the administration of the affairs of this country, and particularly with regard to the affairs appertaining to this war. Public newspapers, particularly newspapers supporting .the Government, would come out day after day and week after week and tell us what a wonderful man the ex-Minister of Militia was, and what a fortunate thing, what an admirable thing it was, that we had such a man administering the military affairs of the country. Yea, in different places, he was referred to as the Kitchener of Canada. What has taken place? If the ex-Minister of Militia was entitled to the praises which were so lavishly bestowed upon hiip during the past two years and until very recently, what do these same newspapers have to say now? You take up a newspaper since the resignation of our genial friend as Minister of Militia, and what do you find? You may find one line in the whole column referring to the energy he displayed, but the rest of the column will be devoted to the many weaknesses he showed as a member of the Government.
I now propose to take up in some detail the correspondence that has passed between the ex-Minister of Militia and the First Minister. I contend that this correspondence which has passed between two members of the Cabinet requires more than a passing notice. It seems to me that it cannot be answered by the right honourable the First Minister as he attempted to answer it the other day when, following my right honourable friend the leader of the Opposition, he rose in his place and said that he did not propose to discuss the question of the resignation of the Minister of Militia and Defence. I suppose that may be privately his right, but I contend that the Premier of this Dominion owes it to the people of the country to enlighten them as to what has taken place in regard to this matter. The letters that were written by the ex-Minister of Militia to the First Minister contain the most glaring charges that were ever levelled against the Prime Minister or the responsible head of any Government in this Dominion and yet no attempt has been made to answer these charges. Hon. gentlemen on this side of the House have referred to the matter and it has been fMr. Copp.l
passed by; not a word has been uttered to give to the people of Canada any just or cogent reason why the ex-Minister of Militia is to-day out of the Cabinet. No excuse is offered, no defence is made against the awful charges that the ex-minister has made against the First Minister in regard to this matter. I want to refer to this correspondence. I want to read some paragraphs from the letters that, passed between these gentlemen and to comment upon them after I read them. The first I want to read is a paragraph from a letter from the ex-Minister of Militia dated October 23, 1916, in answer to one from the Premier, and it is as follows:
. Regarding your letter and memorandum, permit the following: From the outset I
strongly objected to the fact that practically the entire management of our force, our supplies, our equipment, our transport, etc., had been taken completely out of our hands, and was controlled by the British authorities, we, notwithstanding, paying the bill.
In October, 1914, In conversation on the subject, with the late Earl Kitchener, he pointed out that the Canadian High Commissioner had intimated to him that it was the desire of the Canadian Government that these, troops should be regarded as purely British, and that Canada should have nothing to say in their management while in England or at the front.
I think that is a most significant sentence. He says that in October, 1914, this trouble had taken place. Back as far as October, 1914, there was dissatisfaction, bickering and cleavage in the minds of the members of the Cabinet. The war broke out in August, 1914, and in October, 1914, the trouble had already commenced in the Cabinet. I have no reason to doubt, Sir, that in any Cabinet there must be differences of opinion. Men do not always see alike on many great public questions, but I contend, and I think I am only contending for what is a sound constitutional doctrine, that when the Cabinet takes up and threshes out the matters that come before them, their decision must be presented to the public as a united and unanimous one and they must work together harmoniously and unanimously in the interests of the whole country.
Further we find this statement:-
I drew his attention to Section 177 of the Army Act, and to the spirit and principles of the Constitution, but he again intimated that he understood it was the desire of the Canadian Government that the troops were to be handed over to them absolutely as British Regulars. To this I objected, and1 pointed out that I fully believed that our force under officers of our own selection should, at the front, be under the command of the British t'oma-ruier in Chief; yet the appointment of officers at the

front and the control of everything in connection with the force while in Britain, should be entirely with Canada; but I further stated that I felt in such a great struggle where each was actuated by proper motives, there should be no need of friction.
Then he says:-
X do not know whether the Canadian High Commissioner had the authority of the Canadian Government or not.
That means that, although he was a member of the Cabinet, he did not know what authority Sir George Perley had as High Commissioner. He goes on to say:-
But a day or two later that gentleman of his own initiative strongly spoke to me and briefly said, "You do not pretend surely to have anything to do with the Canadian soldiers in Britain.'' I suggested that he might be well advised to study not alone the Canadian Military law, but the British Army Act, as well as comprehend the spirit of the constitution. I felt then, as I feel to-day, and as I am pleased to say the entire British Government and the War Office officers also realize to-day that our officers and men being in the pay of Canada, Canada should absolutely control them in Canada and in Britain, excepting in so far as securing camping grounds ip concerned; and at the front for everything excepting the command and general administration under the command. However, for the first ten months our suggestions were practically ignored, our equipment, stores, supplies, armament, . everything provided by us was set aside.
That means that the ex-Minister of Militia attaches his signature to a statement that ten months after the outbreak of the war all the supplies provided by Canada, all the trucks, all the equipment, everything-and we know that it amounted to millions of dollars' worth-were set aside and scrapped in England, and we, the people of Canada, are called upon to pay this enormous wastage and extravagance on the part of the Government because of their bickerings and their incapacity, because they were unable to grapple with the question and make prompt and definite decisions for the benefit of the country. He goes on to say:-
The pay department was found to be absolutely chaotic; the medical service modelled on the British, lacked system, efficiency and comprehensiveness.
There is another charge in regard to which it seems to me the people of Canada, the fathers and mothers of the soldiers who have gone to the front, are perfectly within their right when they not only ask, but demand in a respectful but in a most emphatic manner, that they should be given some explanation. In that sentence the exMinister of Militia implies a great deal more than he says. The phrase about the
medical service lacking efficiency tells the fathers and the mothers of the boys at the front that when their kith and kin and flesh and blood are wounded or taken sick and are brought to the English hospitals, they are not given proper care and attention. Could anything be more detrimental to recruiting in the Dominion of Canada than that very statement. And yet that has been published, not by a Liberal newspaper, not by a Liberal on the hustings, tout by one of the sworn members of the Cabinet, who has since resigned his seat. The time has arrived when we, as independent people of this country, should and do demand some explanations in regard to the matter. I cannot understand so many right-thinking, honest Conservatives throughout the length and breadth of this Dominion sitting quietly by and humbly following their party when we find one of their own Cabinet ministers making such an outrageous charge against the Government in regard to this matter that is uppermost in the minds of our people. The ex-minister says:-
The pay department was found to be absolutely chaotic.
We know that from experience. I doubt if there is an honourable member in this House who has not had letters and telegrams, who has not been personally and privately communicated with in regard to this very subject, in reference not only to the Mother Country, but to Canada. I have here letters and memoranda from scores of women from my own constituency who have been unable to get their separation allowance or their assigned pay from their sons and their husbands properly adjusted. I know one case in my own town where a woman had a son at the front and had been receiving from Ottawa his assigned pay for fifteen months, month by month. All at once this pay stopped. She wrote a letter to the department here, and when she got her reply, she could not understand it and brought it to me. The answer was that they had not this young man's name on their records at all. She thought of course that something had happened to her boy and that his
4 p.m. name had been cut out, that he had been killed and she had not been advised. I wrote to the department pointing out that there was an error somewhere, because I enclosed one of the printed circulars that are sent with the cheques, and that the boy's name must be on the record. They then changed their answer and wrote in reply that the boy's name was there but that they would have to

communicate with the pay office in London before the matter could be rectified. That is an illustration of what is taking place. The Minister of Labour (Mr. Croth-ers) smiles. He takes so little notice of people who are looking to him and the Government to take some interest in their affairs that he sits here and smiles and laughs in the face of members when they bring to the attention ,of this House some of the rights of the common people of this country. It is not becoming to the Minister of Labour to do that. Every one knows that he has never taken an active interest nor spent a serious moment in his life in looking after the interests of the people whom he is supposed to represent.

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