May 14, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)


James Davis Taylor

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. D. TAYLOR (New Westminster):

I rise to a question of privilege and to call attention to an unusual episode which occurred during the debate in this House on the 1st of May., the speaker being the hon. member for Qu'Appelle (Mr. Levi Thomson), who is reported in Hansard, page 1021, as follows:
I would not like to charge any man with disloyalty, not even those political colonels who strut around our country in the King's uniform, drawing big pay, and who have been on a free trip across the Atlantic to England or France, but who, the moment they smelt gunpowder, turned tail and skipped back home, leaving their men to go to the front without them.
If the audience to whom this is addressed, that is, the Canadian public,- had been present in the chamber and could have visualized the scene, it would not have heen necessary to make any remarks in answer to the hon. gentleman; but unfortunately, such is not the case, and his remarks, going to a public uninformed as to the source of a statement of this kind, are very mischievous and insulting to the commanding officers m Hie Majesty's army, of whom 1 have the honour to be one. I am sure, Sir, you will Tecognize that this statement is doubly out of order; in the first place as a flagrant breach of Rule 19 of this House, and in the next as a breach of that most particular rule of parliamentary debate which prohibits any reflection on the honour of officers of the naval or military

forces'. The hon. member for Qu'Appelle has not been present in the chamber since I arrived from British Columbia a week ago. but on a later occasion, when he is present, I purpose, with the permission of the House, making a motion which I think will he in order, namely: that that hon. member be ordered to withdraw these remarks and that they be expunged from the Hansard for the day named.
In the meantime, however, I think I am in order in making a personal explanation- at least personal to myself-as to how I, one of these political colonels, who no doubt was referred to (because the passage is meaningless if it does not refer to colonels who are members of the House of Commons) come to be here to-day.
I may say that I had as clear an understanding with the Department of Militia in this country .as any commanding officer could have, that I was raising a battalion with which I would serve at the front so long as the battalion served. As I have said in the House before, I recognized that military exigencies, when we arrived in England, made it seem necessary to break up the .battalion and to remove, not the commanding officer from the battalion, but the battalion from the commanding officer, which is the real process there. The brigadier in a case like that takes command of the whole battalion, calls out the officers, directs his sergeant-major to march away the men in accordance with the notice already given that those men are to be attached to a reserve battalion to go forward as drafts, and the commanding officer is left to wind up the affairs of the battalion. That is what occurred to me and to several other members of Parliament in command of battalions who arrived in England at the same time as I did. Subsequently we received, through military headquarters, a specific invitation from the Government of Canada to return to Canada to attend to our parliamentary duties. When that invitation was extended to me I replied in writing that I would be pleased to accept it provided that I was not required for military service. The rejoinder to that was information to me that my passage had been booked on a .steamer sailing a couple of days after I received the notice, and I think the same explanation applies to every other of those so-called political colonels. May I suggest, in conclusion, that if we desire to have His Majesty's uniform respected in Canada, by the people of Canada, it would not be out of place for the House of Commons to give the lead.

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