My hon. friend the Minister of Labour is skating on very thin ice indeed. I can tell him that if it takes him as long to consider any question that is brought before him by the labour men of this country as it has taken him to consider a question that I brought up something over three-quarters of an hour ago, which he has just come to understand, and with reference to which he says I did not state facts, I do not wonder that there is a great deal of dissatisfaction with his administration on the part of labour men.
I want to read one or two other letters written by my hon. friend the ex-Minister of Militia. In his letter of resignation dated November 11, 1916, Sir Sam Hughes
You state "I conveyed to you on the 31st of July a clear intimation that upon so important a proposal involving considerations of the gravest moment, the Cabinet must be consulted before action was taken. All the Members of the Government have full and direct responsibility in respect to the very important matters which the -proposed Council would advice upon
and direct. The intimation which was given to you in my telegram of 31st of July should not have been necessary. As soon as it was received you proceeded to disregard it."
The first sentences of this quotation are absolutely true; and it is my belief that had you been actuated by the best interests of the Force, instead of favouritism, that cablegram would not have been dispatched.
The ex-Minister of Militia says that if they had been actuated by the best interests of the force, this cablegram would never have been dispatched. What does that mean? It certainly is an indication that the attitude of the Government was not in the interest of the forces at the front, in so far as they appealed to the intelligence and understanding of the responsible Minister of Militia at that time. Sir, the different paragraphs in the letters and in the correspondence go to bear out all the facts that I have alleged and have read from the statements made by the ex-Minister of Militia, and if they are not correct, if these statements are not facts, as my hon. friend the Minister of Labour says, let him say they are not facts, and show to the people of this country that they are not true. I say that not only is it his privilege, but it is a duty devolving upon the Government to show to the people that these statements are not true, because if they are not true, and they have gone unchallenged so far in this House and in this country, they should be controverted, and the people should be set right in regard to this very important question. I consider them of the very gravest importance to the people of this country, irrespective of whether they are supporters or opponents of the Government.
While the actual statements made by the ex-Minister of Militia could not possibly be known by the public but for the publication of this correspondence, it has been practically known and understood by the people of this country that there were grave differences in the Cabinet, and that very thing alone has been one of the biggest forces working against recruiting, working against the Empire, that could possibly [DOT]exists. The trouble in the Cabinet, then and since has been very largely responsible for the falling off in recruiting throughout the Dominion during the past year:
That brings me to the clause in the speech from the Throne which refers to National Service. That is a subject of great importance to every Canadian, who, I believe, is interested in the carrying on of this great war. Much has been said in this House during the past week in regard to National
Service. The first question which arises in one's mind is, why was it necessary to institute this National Service Commission? I presume, Sir-I do not think I am taking too much upon myself to presume-that it was because recruiting had fallen off, and that we were not likely to get the 500,000 men that were promised by the Tight hon. Prime Minister and that we all hope to obtain so that Canada may play its proper part in the war. If that is the purpose of the National Service Commission I agree with it up to the very hilt. I am willing to subscribe to it and to do anything that can be done in the interests of national service. I do not say that I will do nothing, or that I will not give it support until I see what is actually to become of it. I am willing to go into it a little blindly if it is along the line of being of advantage to the country generally, and in the interests of the war. Criticisms may be made in regard to the wording of the National Service cards, and in regard to other details; but whenever I have been consulted as to the filling up of the card I have advised my friends to fill them up, and have done everything possible, as I am prepared to do everything possible to assist the scheme in the hope, though possibly not with a great deal of confidence, that good may come out of it, and that the interests of the country will be better served through having a record of the man power, wealth and resources of the Dominion. I am willing to subscribe to anything that will help the mobilization of our troops and be of service in connection with the war; but we must realize that a number of people who are being blamed for not signing or returning their cards do not understand them. There are others who may not be able to fill up the cards, and therefore I think some latitude should be allowed. I believe that the great majority of the people have done their duty in regard to the National Service scheme, and I sincerely hope and trust that the results will be satisfying to the Government and to the people as a whole.
There is one other matter to which I would like to refer. I have referred before to the attitude of certain organizations throughout Canada towards the present Government, and I desire to bring to the attention of the Government a resolution that was passed a few days ago by the municipal council in my own county. We consider the county council of Westmorland one of the most important, if not the most important, municipal body in the whole
province of New Brunswick. It is a very strong council and conducts its affairs in a manner that would do credit even to the Dominion House of Commons. This council is composed of both Liberals and Conservatives who, however, set aside their political affiliations in the conduct of the business of the county. They are chosen because of their fitness to represent their respective localities. We have in that council a gentleman who politically is a very strong opponent of my own, a gentleman who has stood staunch and true to the good old traditions of the Conservative party. In view of that fact, Mr. Speaker, you will, I am sure, be glad to.hear the statement he made in regard to matters touching the question that I am now submitting to the attention of the Government. I am sure, Sir, that you, if not other members of the House, will know the gentleman when I mention his name-Councillor Fawcett of Sackville, one of the leading farmers in that locality. At a meeting of the council a few days ago he moved the following resolution, and it appeared to me to be of such importance that I take the responsibility of placing it upon Hansard. It reads as follows:
WHEREAS, the Municipality of Westmorland County (including the towns in the County of Westmorland and the City of Moncton) has since the commencement of the war, contributed the sum of $86,000 for patriotic purposes which has been levied by a direct tax upon the rate-payers of the county, and
WHEREAS, it is anticipated that a further and larger amount will be required for like purposes during: the year 1917, and which amount it will be necessary to raise by direct taxation, and
WHEREAS, the Municipal Council of said Municipality have become and are aware that enormous profits have already been made and are still being: made in this county and throughout Canada by certain persons and companies engaged in the manufacture of shells or other munitions and products, by reason of the war, and
WHEREAS, in many cases the plant and equipment of such industries were paid in effect by the people of Canada-that is to say, by the Munition Board of Canada, giving to such persons and companies before they embarked in the business, a sufficiently large order for shells at very large prices, as would enable and which did enable such persons and concerns to pay out of the profits therefrom the whole cost of such plant and equipment, and provide a handsome profit besides, and
WHEREAS, the avowed purpose of the said Munition Board in giving such high prices, was to indemnify those who might engage in the manufacture of munitions against any loss in case of a sudden termination of the war, and
WHEREAS, the war has now continued for about two years and a half, and the persons and companies who went into the business of manufacturing war products have been allowed
to retain substantially the whole of the profits derived from such business, and
WHEREAS, such persons and companies by reason of the action of the said Munition Board in paying such high prices in the first instance, received in' full the whole cost of their plant and equipment from the profits of the first order, and they would therefore, thereafter, actually have no moneys of their own invested in the undertaking, and
WHEREAS such persons and companies have during the last two years accumulated great wealth from said war profits, to which it cannot fairly be said they would be entitled, their plants and equipment having been paid for out of profits, and all operating charges, expenses, and salaries having been also charged up against earnings, and
WHEREAS, the people of Canada will ultimately be called upon to pay the debt that Canada is rapidly accumulating by reason of the war, and such debt would be materially less if the profits now improperly going into the pockets of private individuals, were diverted into the treasury of Canada, and
WHEREAS, the Municipal -Council of the said County of Westmorland feel that a great wrong and injustice will be done to the ratepayers of the County of Westmorland, in requiring them to face direct taxation in connection with the prosecution of the war, while other people are being provided with what in effect are large "gratuities" out of the pockets of the people.
Be it and it is therefore resolved that the Municipal Council of the County of Westmorland do and it hereby does most respectfully and earnestly urge upon the Government of Canada that it insist upon the payment to it. during the remainder of the war, of all net profits hereafter made by all persons and companies engaged in the manufacture of war munitions, and in respect of such persons and companies as have in the past been allowed to retain profits of the cost of their plant and equipment engaged in the business that they may be compelled to account for and hand over to the Government all such surplus profits.
That a copy of this resolution be sent to the Prime Minister of Canada, the Minister of Finance, and the Minister of Militia of Canada.
That is the resolution and the words of the gentlemen who introduced that resolution are iso strong and so much to the point that I propose to read a few paragraphs from the statement which he made. In introducing this resolution Mr. Fawcett said:
Mr. Warden, while it is no doubt desirable to vote money to the Patriotic Fund, it is also desirable that this Council should make some emphatic protest against public moneys in the way of war profits being paid to private individuals instead of being appropriated by the Dominion Government for the purpose of prosecuting the war. That this is being done on a very large scale is now established beyond doubt. Protest should be made and that the facts may be placed clearly before the public. I know that Canada as a part of the British Empire is at war, and I am more proud of that Empire to-day than I have ever been before ; I know that the young manhood of this country unhesitatingly sprang to arms at the bugle call for volunteers, and that they
gloriously fought and died on the plains of France and elsewhere. I know that the women and even children of Great Britain and Canada are performing heroic services for the Empire, either without any or very small reward; I know that the privately-owned railways of Great Britain, the coal fields of that country and most of the munition plants are in the service of the state. I also know that the few remaining private enterprises are being taxed to the hilt in order that no discrimination shall anywhere exist, and X am assured, that the self-sacrifice and patriotism that is now dominating the minds and efforts of ail classes, throughout Great Britain, and which is the marvel of the world, is largely traceable to this fact.
All are sharers in the struggle, all are making sacrifices. But this is not the case in Canada. The munition factories and many other of the business enterprises o'f this country are getting rich and richer as the war progresses, out of and because of the war, while many people are perforce becoming poorer. The people know, as I have said, that nothing like this state of affairs exists in Great Britain, and they also know that it would not be tolerated in France or any other European country engaged in the war, hence it is, that it is beyond their comprehension that it should be allowed to continue in this country. I wish to here say that the public are fast becoming disheartened and embittered over this condition of affairs, and are not in a humour to remain silent. They are not in a mood to stand for partiality towards any class or special interests, and they are not prepared to see these people gobble up money that should properly find its way to the Public Treasury.
These are statements made not by a partisan, and not by a man who is supporting, or whoever supported, the Liberal party. They are made by a gentleman who has consistently and honestly supported hon. gentlemen opposite. But, realizing that the people are becoming disappointed and discouraged because of the condition of affairs he takes this stand. Therefore, it will be seen that I am not reading this from the standpoint of party politics. I would have very grave doubts whether he would change his party allegiance. Possibly he has taken this means of showing his friends the position of affairs as it appears to the people of that portion of Canada. He goes on to say:
"The people of Canada today," said Council-Fawcett, "are interested solely in a body of men who will rule and run the country affairs with fairness and equality."
Councillor Fawcett substantiated his arguments by giving figures purporting to be the cost of construction of a munition .plant, and of the profits made by the company. He gave details of the shell orders filled and of the profits in each shell.
He said that he was prepared to stand behind all his statements, and said further that he had been a strong Conservative all his life, but that he could not conscientiously see his way clear to stand for such conditions as existed in the Government forces today.
That is the evidence of a gentleman who stands high in his community, who gives a great deal of careful study and thought to public questions and who occupies a very prominent place in the minds of the people of that portion ,of the county that I have the honour to represent. I have laid before you the fact that these charges have been made. It is not that I am making them myself but they have been made in other quarters and I am only reiterating what has been said elsewhere. They have been made by public bodies, organizations, and boards of trade independent of party, independent of what has taken place in this House, they must have very great weight with the Government and I trust that the Government will yet take time by the forelock and do something that will be more in the interest of the people generally.
The next matter I want to speak of briefly is the paragraph in the speech from the Throne that refers to the extension of Parliament. That is a matter that will come before this House by resolution. I do not know just what attitude Parliament will take in regard to it. I feel that it is a question that should be given the most serious consideration in the light, of what would be best for the country generally and not for any particular party or body of men. I sincerely trust that when this resolution comes before the House the First Minister will be able to give very much better reasons for extending the present term of Parliament than he gave the other day when he addressed the House in answer to my right hon. friend the leader of the Opposition? The only reason that he gave the other day for saying that an extension of Parliament would be a proper thing was that if an election were called during the present year the probabilities would be that a very large portion of our population would be disfranchised because of the number of soldiers at the front. I was surprised to hear him admit the other day that it would be impossible to record the votes of our soldier boys at the front. When, something over a year ago, this matter was before the House and the Bill was passed giving soldiers the right to vote, there was evidence that the Government intended to appeal to the country at an early date. I understand that the ballots were prepared, shipped across to the Old Country and were practically placed in the hands of the gentlemen who were to have control of taking the soldiers' votes at that
time. But, what a change has come over the spirit of the dreams of my hon. friends opposite? The hon. the Minister of Justice (Mr. Doherty) who was in charge of the Bill, pointed out in the most emphatic language at that time that it would be absolutely reasonable and quite easy to take the soldiers' votes at the front. Now, a change has come about and they say it would be almost impossible and impracticable to take the soldiers' votes. They say that the soldiers should not be disfranchised and that is one of the reasons given for an extension of the term of Parliament. I am not here to say whether or not I would support an extension of the term of Parliament. The matter will come before the House in the regular way, and I sincerely trust it will then be given the importance that it deserves.
Another matter that has been brought to my attention very frequently, not only during the progress of this debate but during the past year, is the loyalty cry. I had hoped that this cry of loyalty or disloyalty from any political party was at an end, but still the cry is kept up. Our friends on the Government side take to themselves all the credit for being the loyal party in Canada. While I do not wish to detract anything from them in that regard, as one member of this Parliament who has spent some little time in public life and who has always conscientiously supported the party which I believe to be in the interest of the country, although I am not thin-skinned, I dc not like to have it cast up to me day after day and time after time by my opponents or by the Tory press that I am disloyal to my King and country or to any portion of the Empire. I sincerely trust that this cry that the Liberal people in Canada are disloyal will cease, because the time is past when any party of any standing in the country should stoop to such low tactics. We have heard a good deal of talk in this House in regard to loyalty or disloyalty of utterances by certain persons in different parts of the country.
I wish to refer for a few minutes to the election which is about to take place in the county of Dorchester, P.Q. Much has been said, and much has been published in the daily press in regard to this election, and I have been somewhat impressed with the very active manner in which the campaign has been carried on by both gentlemen who are contesting the constituency. I was more than surprised -I was simply shocked, on picking up this morning's Citizen, to read the following:
Ste. Germaine, Que., Jan. 25.-The Liberal organization here sprung a mine tonight when they announced that Hon. P. E. Blondin, who is working at Ste. Rose in the interests of Hon. Albert Sevigny, minister of inland revenue, had been uttering disloyal, sentiments in meetings at Ste. Rose.
The following affidavit was given out tonight by the Liberal chiefs:
We, the undersigned, ' declare that we heard last night at Ste. Rose, January 24, 1917, the Hon. P. E. Blondin make the following declarations :
'As for the Allison scandal and others of the same nature, let us suppose that if these thefts have taken place it has not importance for the people of Ste. Rose, because it was English money that was stolen.'
Speaking of the danger of conscription, Mr. Blondin declared: 'Even if conscription was put in force that would mean little to the people of Ste-Rose, because they had only to cross the frontier to get away.' .
"(Signed) Dorille Prevost, Valere Lamon-tagne.
Sworn before me, Justice of the Peace, J. B. Cote, at Ste. Germaine, Dorchester, this 25th day of January, 1917.
(Signed) J. B. Cote, Justice of the Peace.'
There we have a member, not only of this House, but of the Government, going into a constituency in the province of Quebec and making a statement of that nature.
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY.