April 4, 1918 (13th Parliament, 1st Session)

UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Rt. Hon. Sir ROBERT BORDEN (Prime Minister):

As the Orders of the day may not be reached until rather late, I think it desirable that I should give to the House the information which I promised yesterday with regard to the recent very regrettable events in the city of Quebec.
The first document which I shall read is a summary of a number of communications which have been received from the military authorities in tile city of Quebec by telephone or by telegram. It is as follows:
Ottawa, April 2, 1918.
On 29th March information was received that on the previous night a clash had occurred between police and civilians at Quebec, in connection with the administration of the Military Service Act. It was reported that civilians had badly damaged' the police station, in which three detectives had taken refuge from the mob, and that one of them had been severely injured. The General Officer Commanding Military District No. 5 (Brig. General J, p. Landry) was called' upon for a full report and the Inspector General, Eastern Canada (Major General F. L, Lessard) was warned to hold himself in readiness to proceed to Quebec. Same day General Landry reported that there had been a disturbance that No. 3 Police Station had been stoned and1 wrecked, and that four men had been injured. The Mayor thought he could deal with the situation and that military asistance was not required. The Mayor was assured that military assistance in case of urgency was available, but he stated1 that he expected to be able to cope alone "with any outbreak. Reports were received from other sources throughout the afternoon and evening that the situation threatened to become more serious and the General Officer Commanding was ordered by telegram to work in cooperation with the civil power but in case of urgent necessity to act on his own initiative, avoiding a collision if possible. About 10 p.m. General Landry reported by telephone that the offices of the Quebec Chronicle had been attacked and that a large mob was destroying the Registrar's office. The Mayor had requested him to call out troops but as the requisition was not in order he (the Mayor) had left to obtain further signatures. As reports were of an alarming character General Landry asked for instructions. He was directed' to use his own

discretion and to take such action as he considered necessary to restore and preserve order. Accordingly the troops were ordered out. There was no clash and by 10.30 order had1 been restored, the annex of the Auditorium Building having been set on fire and the offices of the Chronicle having been wrecked.
About mid-day March 30, the G.O.C., M.D. 5 reported that situation was getting worse and he required 1,000 men additional to the 800 already available. Orders were at once issued to move the number of troops called for to Quebec, and General Lessard was directed to proceed from Halifax to Quebec, there to assume general command. On the night of the 30th there was further disorder; the mob was very unruly, the troops were ordered out, several soldiers were injured, and a hardware store was looted in search of arms.
On 31st a report was received that riots had broken out during the day, pickets were attacked on duty while removing arms and ammunition from the stores; two officers were injured, revolver shots were fired at a street car, and another store was looted in search of arms and set on fire. On this day General Lessaj-d arrived and assumed command.
On Monday, April 1st General Lessard took the precaution to cause notices to be placarded and published in the press advising the public against taking part in unlawful assemblies, pointing out the risk they ran of being killed or injured, if they did so, and notifying all concerned that the authorities, should necessity arise, would use every means at their disposal to maintain peace, and order. Citizens were at the same time warned not to leave their dwellings and not to mix with the rioters who were causing disturbance throughout the city.
At nightfall, however, in spite of the notices which had been published, a large crowd assembled ; and from house-tops, side-streets, snow banks and other places of concealment the rioters opened1 Are point blank on the troops who as on the previous nights displayed great steadiness, and forbearance under severe provocation. But at length, after several soldiers had received bullet wounds, it became absolutely necessary for the troops to return the fire-in self defence, for the protection of the public and to prevent the situation passing entirely beyond control.
Five soldiers were wounded, and of the crowd four were killed1, many were injured and fifty-eight were arrested.
By 1.20 o.m. next morning order load been re-established and by 5 a.m. the troops had returned to barracks.
We have information to-day that perfect order is still maintained in the city under military direction.
The next report is from Lieutenant-Colonel H. A. Machin, Director of the Military Service Branch. It is dated Ottawa, April 2, 1918, and is addressed to the Hon. the Minister of Justice, Ottawa::
Sir,
I have the honour to report that, in obedience to your instructions, I left Ottawa on Friday the 29th ultimo at 4.30 and proceeded immediately to Quebec, arriving there early the following morning. I was met by Captain Desrochers, the Inspector of Dominion Police, at that point.

This officer had suffered at the hands of the mob the previous evening and was still showing evidence of having 'been very severely handled.
It appears that on Thursday night, the 28th ultimo, two Dominion constables named Belanger and Evanturel were, in pursuance of their duties, searching for defaulters in St. Roeh, and visited a bowling alley where a young man named Mercier was asked to produce his exemption certificate or papers to show why he should not be in uniform. He stated that he had received a certificate of exemption but did not have it with him and that it was at his house. The police then took the young man to the police station, telling him that he would be released immediately when his papers were forthcoming. The certificate of exemption was sent for by a friend and afterwards produced and Mercier was liberated.
Shortly afterward, the Dominion Police to the number of fifteen were mobbed by a crowd which had gathered, it is stated, at a bowling alley in St. Roch which, it is alleged, was the headquarters for the agitators. The Dominion Police took refuge in No. 3 Municipal Police Station and the mob, which by this time had grown to very large numbers, possibly two thousand, proceeded to demolish the building and finally over-powered the Municipal Police who had refused the mob admission to the police station, seized about twelve of the Dominion constables and started to wreak their vengeance on them, seven or eight of whom were wounded, two quite seriously and Captain Desrochers himself being badly battered about. This affair lasted for nearly two hours during which time Captain Desrochers telephoned from the police station to the G. O. C. for a military escort to come to the rescue of the Dominion Police and take them away from the mob. Captain Desrochers was referred to the Mayor with whom he had previously been in touch and as a result the Mayor came to the police station and made a speech, but without effect, the crowd subsequently taking the action I have just related. The Municipal police at this station tried to keep the crowd out but lost control, mob rule resulting.
Captain Desrochers states that he requested the Chief of Police to call out all available Municipal police to the aid of the Dominion Police, who had sought refuge in No. 3 police station, but this was not done, twelve police only being placed on this duty and this number was not increased, although Captain Desrochers pointed out how inadequate this force was.
Captain Desrochers telegraphed the full facts here and by three o'clock on Friday the 29th ultimo, it was known here that an attack was contemplated on the Registrar's office at Quebec, that night. On my arrival in Quebec on Saturday the 30th ultimo, I found that the rumour had been carried into effect with the result that two newspaper offices had been wrecked and the Registrar's office had been set on fire. The contemplated action of the mob had been repeatedly communicated on Friday by Captain Desrochers to the Mayor and the G. O. C. Captain Desrochers informs me that no adequate protection was afforded by the Municipal authorities to save the Registrar's office and that a small force of the city police who had been placed in front of the Registrar's office were not only inadequate for its protection but were quiescent when the mob started to attack the place. On Friday the 29th ultimo, Captain Desrochers, although himself injured, remained all day at the Central
police station in company with the Chief of the City Police to whom he repeatedly urged that all available Municipal police be placed on duty, giving information as to the rumours which had reached him concerning the proposed attack on the Registrar's office. It is stated that a force of from sixty to seventy men might have been sufficient to have prevented, at the outset, the ransacking and burning of the Registrar's office. The Chief of the City Police received reports from patrolmen with the result that he persisted in his opinion that no trouble was to be anticipated and that Captain Desrochers was unduly alarmed. At eight p.m. on Friday the 29th ultimo, the Chief of Police being absent and supposed to be with the Mayor, a message was received' at the Central Police Station to the effect that a crowd was marching up from St. Roch to the Auditorium. This message was repeated over the telephone to the Mayor, Captain Desrochers being present when the telephone message was sent. The mob marched up town and back to St. Roch. Following this move, twelve police, all that had *been provided by the city police, were sent to the Auditorium. The crowd returned up town from St. Roch in very increased numbers and proceeded to smash the two newspaper offices, which were practically demolished. The crowd then proceeded to the Registrar's office at the Auditorium,-this would be about 9 p.m. Captain Desrochers telephoned the G. O. C. and informed him of the situation, when he was asked where the Mayor was. Apparently the G. O. C. contemplated that the Mayor would be at the scene of disorder. Captain Desrochers then went from the City Hall to the General Post Office and to Military Headquarters, and was there informed that the Auditorium had been attacked, the windows, etc., being smashed though the rioters had not then penetrated the building. After a short interview the G. O. C. succeeded in communicating by telephone with the Mayor, who immediately proceeded to Headquarters, where he was handed a prepared copy of the Riot Act, and requested to proceed to the scene of riot and read it. The Mayor left in company with the Chief of Police for the scene of the riot. It appears that the Mayor and Chief of Police, in their trip to Military Headquarters, had passed the Auditorium, as Captain Desrochers was informed by the Chief of Police that the crowd were then in the building and throwing the records into the street. Captain Desrochers is of the opinion that both the occurrences would have been avoided if the civic authorities had taken notice of his repeated warnings and a proper display of protection had been made by civic police as requested by him.
The facts as to what transpired between the military authorities and the Mayor must be obtained from the former as I have no knowledge of it other than hearsay. After the Registrar's office had been set on Are, the Are 'brigade were called out, but owing to the action of the mob in preventing the Aremen from performing their duties great damage was done to the building and records before the Are was brought under control.
After careful investigation I And that the greater portion of the most important records were saved, as they had been locked away in a back Aling room and were apparently overlooked by the mob, smoke and water being the cause of damage to these documents which with the exception of possibly one thousand names will be saved and from which new records can

be made up. All the office furniture, Chief Pulblic Representative's files and documents, stationery and supplies-in fact everything except the small filing room already spoken of- have been totally destroyed. Steps are now being taken to re-establish the Registrar's office at Quebec and I contemplate having this office in full working order at an early date.
As the lives and personal property of the Dominion Police had been threatened I instructed Captain Desroehers to have his men scattered and for the present to make no arrests. The work of the Dominion Police in Quebec, therefore, for the moment is suspended. Captain Desroehers informs me that there has been, since the commencement of activities by the Dominion Police, threats made against individual members of the force and what work they have been able to accomplish has been done in the face of a hostile attitude from practically every source.
I have the honour to be,
Sir.
Your obedient servant, (Sgd) H. A. Machin.
Director, Military Service Branch.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DISTURBANCES IN QUEBEC-REPORTS FIROM THE MILITARY AUTHORITIES READ BY THE PRIME MINISTER.
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