July 17, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)

CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

Of all the pities and of all the deep disgraces, no pity would be greater and no disgrace deeper, having once risen to the occasion, than that we should cease on the path of duty, of fervour, of courage, of sacrifice and of support. 1 agree with him when he says that Canada has risen to the occasion. My prayer now is that Canada may not decline from that lofty, proud, honourable and glorious position. But let there be no mistake at all. My hon. friend felt that we might have a disproportionate idea of these different factors in the contest. So we may. But today we will not have a disproportionate idea of the different factors in that contest if we stand by the conviction of these last three years, and the conviction of most men's hearts to-day, that what is needed on the other side at the present time is men prepared and skilled for the work of the trenches. Although it is a fact that no man can fight without arms and without food, yet neither arms nor food are of the slightest use, unless the men are there to use the equipment and the food which is produced for them.
Let Canada make no mistake about her position, and the supreme factor in the long line of factors which are fighting for liberty and civilization on this long battle front. Let Canada make no mistake that for her, and for the cause for which she is fighting, the important thing to-day is men, and every delay, dilatory or otherwise, which intervenes to prevent the calling of men, the drilling of men, the transport of men, the preparation of them for the final trench work, is just so much which impedes the path to victory, and delays the coming peace, which can only follow a victory on the front fields of battle. Just at this moment, when we have passed the Military Service Bill which my hon. friend (Mr. Graham) supports, and which he, as others, declares is necessary in order that there should be no gap, what is this that I see in the paper to-day, if it rightly states what

the dissident Liberals have concluded as their pronouncement, to fill the gaps without delay? Will my hon. friend tell me how it is possible for this Government, with a bare three months of life left (unless this Parliament extends its term) to organize, to gather, to drill, and to send to the front men to fill these gaps, which are daily becoming wider, and which the men at the front are calling upon us to fillup instantly? How is it possible for the Government, which has but three months of life left to it, unless Parliament extends the term, to go forward and fill those gaps without delay? If there is one thing which is pressing, if there is one thing, above all others, in this Parliament that is now pressing, it is to know whether or not the term of this Parliament is to be extended, and the Government of the present day, or the organized Government which shall come afterwards-if a reorganization there be- should know at once what its term of life is to be. Without that knowledge it seems to be impossible for strong, vigorous and effective action to be taken, and yet when we come to decide that question, my hon. friend interposes with this motion of his. It seems to me that he might have put that motion into a chink where it would have greater relationship to some question in hand. He might also have placed it where it would not have stood in the way as a delay to this very necessary motion now before this House. I do not want to characterize my hon. friend's speech in strong terms.

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