Sir ROBERT BORDEN:
Mr. Speaker, I rise to make this motion under circum-
stances of peculiar gravity. Since the 21st of March last- a battle has been proceeding on the Western front, in France and in Belgium, [DOT]which may continue for months yet and may ultimately decide the fate of the world. Up to the present, the attack has been principally made upon the British army, and it is beyond question that the object of the enemy is to destroy that army before any considerable forces from the United States can be brought into the battle line, and thus bring this war to an end under such conditions as will enable Germany and Austria-Hungary to impose their will not only upon the Allied nations, but upon the world.
It might be worth while, I think it is worth while, to impress upon the House and the country the effort which the Central Powers are making in this war. Germany in November, 1916, passed a law which placed all male persons jn the country, between the ages of seventeen and sixty, at the disposal of the Government for military service. It is not necessary to go into the details of the Act, it is sufficient to say that it brought under military service no less than 1,700,000 -men; and other additions augmented the man-power of Germany for war purposes in the spring of 1917 by no less than 2,100,000 men. To that extent Germany a year ago increased her armies in this war, or at all events created reserves which could be drawn upon in case of need. The annual addition to Germany's man-power each ensuing year by young men reaching military age is about five hundred thousand men. In Austria it is about -four hundred thousand, and in France something less than three hundred thousand men. Moreover, Germany, as we know, has practically enslaved tens of thousands of Belgians who are forced to work in that country in order that men of German birth may be brought into- military service. She has made drafts upon the population of Poland, and we cannot doubt that in the immediate future she wdl-1 make coresponding drafts upon that population, numbering about fifty-five millions in all, comprised in the newly acquired territories which she has conquered from Russia.
The defection of Russia in this wan her' practical disappearance -as a fighting unit, has had otherwise a most important influence upon the power that Germany is able at present to exercise upon the Western frontier.
A statement was made in the British House of Commons on January 14 last by Sir Auckland Geddes, Minister of National
Service. Hon. gentlemen who are interested in it can read it in the English Hansard for themselves. It is only necessary for me to state the result at which he arrived by a series of deductions that are to be found in his speech. As a result of Russia's defection, according to his statement which seems to be based upon sound premises^ Germany, in the spring and summer of 1918, will be able to throw upon the Western front an additional force of not less than
1,600,000 men. But she will be able to do more than that. She will be able to hold her Eastern frontier with inferior troops; she will be able to send there her new levies in order that they may be trained -and hardened for work on the Western front, and she will he able to supply her-battalions, brigades and divisions on the Western front from the reserves thus established and trained on her Eastern frontier.
Now, what have the Allied nations done, and what has the British Empire itself done? I need not do more than refer to the effort of France in just a word or two. According to the statement of the British Prime Minister, made not long ago in the British Parliament, France has put into the fighting line one-sixth of her entire population. If Canada did the same it would mean *at least 1,500,000 men. I may be pardoned if I quote from the speech of a distinguished American general, who has recently returned from France, giving his estimate of conditions there and of the extent to which the population of that country has been called upon to- fight in this war. General Wood says:
When you think of perhaps twelve million, or even more millions, of men on a single unbroken battle-line, running over three hundred miles in length, and twenty miles or more in depth; every village full of artillery; every house full of soldiers ; every road covered with transports, you begin to realize what this war means. If you go a bit beyond in the country to the rear you find great hospitals full of wounded; and if you go into the cities you find every man of proper age in uniform. If he is not in uniform you look at him critically to find out why he is not in uniform, for there men have learned that they owe the country service in war. Half of these that you see are cripples, and yet no one is talking of stopping. They are fighting for something vital to humanity ; they are waging a war in which you have long been expected to help, and they are glad that you are now beginning to come. God helps those who help themselves. This is a war against efficiency, a degree of efficiency which the world has never before witnessed. Do not under-estimate the strength of the enemy you are sending your men against; he is skilled in war, trained in arms, wonderfully .well led, and also brave and enduring. We may damn his methods, and condemn his
morals, and denounce the object of the war, but do not let us make the mistake of under estimating his value as a fighting machine.
What has our own Empire done? I quote again from the statement of a minister of the British House of Commons, who, on the 14th January last, gave this statement of the forces that had been sent to the front or raised for service in the United Kingdom and in the various Dominions of the Empire: " The actual strength of the forces
" to-day obviously only represents a part " of the call that has been made on our " man power. To it must be added our " losses in killed and wounded, missing and " prisoners, and in maimed and invalided " men who have been discharged. Taking " this into consideration, we may say that " the effort which the British nations have " made in the one item of provision of men " in the armed forces of the Crown totals " 6,500,000 men, and of that 4,500,000, or 60-4 " per cent have been contributed by Eng-"land; 620,000, or 8-3 per cent hav.e been " contributed by Scotland; 280,000, or 3-7 " per cent, have been contributed'by Wales; " 170,000, or 2-3 per cent, have been contri-" buted by Ireland; 900,000, or 12 per cent, " have been contributed by the dominions " and the colonies. The remaining 1,000,-" 000 men, composed of native fighting " troops, labour corps, and so on, repre-" sent the splendid contribution made by " India and our various African and " other dependencies." I gather from other information that the computation which Sir Auckland Geddes made in that statement, so far as the United Kingdom is concerned, covers not only the troops who have actually been raised since this war began, but also the forces that comprised the standing army and the naval forces of Great Britain when war broke out. I am not quite sure that his computation of
900,000 men from the dominions and colonies does full justice to the figures that might be established. I am inclined to think it would be at least
1,000,000 men, but, even so, the figures speak for themselves. A certain force must, of course, be retained for the defence of the United Kingdom against that German attack which has been prophesied ever since the war began, and which may yet be attempted as a last desperate resort on the part of Germany, even if she does sacrifice a considerable portion of her fleet in the attempt. But I venture to assure the House, from information in my possession, that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland has put into the fighting line
in France and other theatres of war not less than four million men up to the present. As to the other dominions, I have figures in my possession which I am not permitted to give to the House to-day, as they were imparted to me under the seal of confidence. But it is not too much to say that Australia, in proportion to her population, has put more men into the fighting line than Canada; and that New Zealand, in proportion to her population, has put a far larger number of men in the line than we have done up to the present.
Now, what have we done in this country? It is desirable that I should place upon the pages of Hansard some information which will be available for purpose of reference, and which ought to be communicated to Parliament and to the country. A portion of this information has been given from time to time. It has not been brought up to date, at least; and probably some of it has never yet been placed before Parliament. Up to the 31st March, 1918, we have despatched overseas-and it is the force sent overseas that counts in this war- 364.750 men of all ranks, of whom 16,033 we're officers and 348,717 were of other ranks. I have the details which are as follows:
Sailings by Arms of Service up to and including
March 31st, 1918. Other
Officers. Ranks. Totals.. 9,282 242,957 252,239Cavalry . 629 13,222 13,851Artillery . 964 31,371 32,335Engineers . 508 10,573 11,081Pioneers . 101 3,015 3,116A. M. C , 3,179 11,937 15,116A. S. C . 360 9.128 9,488Cvclists . 55 1,489 1,544Forestry
Railway and Con . 400 12,769 13,169struction . 408 12,156 12,564Miscellaneous ... . 147 100 247Totals . 16,033 348,717 364,750By districts follows: our sailings have been a3 Military district No. 1, Headquarters at London . . . . 25,533Military district No. 2, Headquarters at Toronto . .. . 76,597Military district No. 3, Headquarters 39,393at Kingston . . . Military district No. 4, Headquarters 32,463at Montreal . . Military district No. 5, Headquarters 8,389at Quebec ... . Military districts Nos. 6 and 7, com- 37,205prising the Maritime Provinces Military districts Nos. 10 and 12, com- prising the provinces of Manitoba and 75,503Saskatchewan Military district No. 11, British Colum- 36,475Military district No, 13, Alberta 33,192Total
The following is a classification by occupation of the men who went overseas, up to March 31, 1918:
Professional men 13,676
Employers and merchants 6,529
Clerical workers 52,124
Skilled labourers 160,198
Unskilled labourers 67,078
By clerical workers is, of course, understood those engaged in clerical work of various kinds, in banks, mercantile institutions, companies and various similar activities throughout the country.
As to country of birth, the following statement has been furnished to me by the Department of Militia and Defence:
Canada, of British descent 147,505
Canada, of French descent 16,268
Other British possessions 3.648
United States 12^000
Other countries.' 10^031
It is desirable that the House and the country should know the sacrifice entailed upon our forces in casualties from the beginning of the war up to the 31st March last:
Killed in action.... Officers. Other Ranks. Totals.1,235 24,677 25,912Died of wounds. . . . 381 8,290 S.671Died of disease.... 101 1,855 1,956Wounded 4,308 101.877 106,185Prisoners of war. . 141 2,595 2,736Presumed, dead.... 117 3,821 3,938Missing 35 755 7906,318 143,870 150,188
The total of those killed in action, of those who have died of wounds or disease and of those presumed dead is 40,477. If we add to that a reasonable proportion of those who are missing, we find that not less than 41,000 Canadian have given their lives for their country in this war up to the 31st March last.
I am not permitted to state the exact number of the Canadian forces in France at present, nor am I permitted to give the House information as to the portion of the line our troops are holding. It is, however, permissible to say that the Canadian forces at the front were never in greater strength or in more confident spirit than they are at this moment. It is permissible also to say that they are holding a portion of the line which has not yet been l Sir Robert Borden. 1 .
forced back, and I venture the opinion that so long as their flanks hold good the Canadian line will never be forced back by any numbers that the Germans can send against it.
Our forces have not been attacked up to the present, as other forces of the British line have been attacked, in overwhelming numbers; but it would be too much to hope that the attack will not come, and we must be prepared for it. What it will mean when it does come, none of us would venture to forecast. We may-we must-realize that in all probability it will be attended with great loss, even if the effort of the enemy is unsuccessful. At the second battle of Ypres the first Canadian division lost about 6,000 men, or some 40 per cent of its combatant strength. It is for a fight like that, on the defensive against great odds and against all the terrible methods of warfare which the Germans have been employing during the past three years that we must prepare.
Canadian casualties in 1917 were 84,347. In April, when our troops took Vimy Ridge, we lost 13,461 men in killed, wounded and. missing. In May, in the attack upon Lens, the casualties were 10,134. In August, when we took Hill 70, the casualties numbered 10,080. In November, in the attack on Passchendaele-a most difficult and wonderful task, splendidly accomplished- the Canadian Army Corps lost no less than 24,530 men. Thus, in one month of victorious fighting our forces at the front lost nearly 25,000 men. That will give us some realization of the trial which may immediately lie before our men in meeting the German attack.
I now come to the proposed Order in Council which this House and the Senate are asked to sanction. I shall take it up clause by clause and make apparent the reason why those who are invested with the responsibility of administering public affairs have reached the conclusion that in no other way can the need be met. The proposed Order in Council recites:
Whereas there is an immediate and urgent need of reinforcements for the Canadian Expeditionary Force and the necessity for these reinforcements admits of no delay;
And whereas it is deemed essential that notwithstanding exemptions heretofore granted a substantial number of men should be withdrawn forthwith from civil life for the purpose of serving in a military capacity;
And whereas, having regard to the number of men immediately required and to the urgency of the demand, time does not permit of examination by exemption tribunals of the value in civil life, or the position, of the individuals called up for duty.
Then it proceeds to enact certain regulations to which I shall come in a moment. Before speaking of them, however, I admit at once, and all members of this House understand, that the Military Service Act of last year was based upon the principle of exemption by tribunals. We established many thousands of tribunals throughout the length and breadth of this country. I cannot at the moment say how many thousands were established. The duty was undertaken by men having had no previous experience in any such task, and naturally and inevitably the result of the decisions of the various tribunals was attended with great inequality and sometimes with ' marked injustice.
The purpose of the Act was to correct any such result by creating appellate tribunals and, in the end, a central appeal tribunal. In some parts of the country exemptions [DOT] were granted in astonishing numbers, and it became the duty of the Government to appeal from those exemptions to the extent of, I believe, 80 or 90 per cent. The result of all that has been great delay, and one must admit at once that in that regard the results which have been obtained by the Military Service Act of last year have not been so satisfactory as was anticipated at the time it was passed.
The Order in Council to which we invite the sanction of the House departs from that principle as a corresponding principle has recently been departed from in Great Britain; but departs from it along a line which is not precisely the same as that pursued in Great Britain. Hon. gentlemen will remember that at present all men between eighteen and fifty years of age in Great Britain are liable to compulsory military service, except in Ireland, to which it is now proposed that compulsory military service shall be applied. More than that, the exemptions in Great Britain have proceeded more along the line of occupational classes than along the line pursued in this country; but Great Britain has recently found it necessary to revise her arrangements, to wipe out some of these occupational exemptions, and to comb the population of that country to the last degree, ir order that the British forces at the front may be maintained at full strength.
The proposal embodied in these regulations is somewhat different, because we have never followed the line of occupational classes, which has been pursued in Great Britain, except in so far as in the regulations made under the Military Service Act, direction has been given to pay particular attention to those engaged in the industry of agriculture. The line upon which
this Order in Council proceeds is to confer upon the Government power to select men of certain ages and to abolish any exemptions which they have heretofore received or to which they might hereafter be entitled. The Order in Council, therefore, proceeds as follows: The first clause defines the word "minister" and the word "Act." The second clause provides that Class 1 shall include not only unmarried men and widowers without children between the ages of twenty and thirty-four, both inclusive, but all unmarried men and widowers without children who have attained the age of nineteen years and who were born on or since the 13th day of October, 1897. The effect is to bring men of nineteen years of age into Class 1, so that under these regulations, Class 1 will - comprise men from 19 to 34 years of age, both inclusive. The third clause of the regulations does the same thing for Class 2. It provides that Class 2 shall include married men and widowers with children who have attained the age of nineteen years and who were born on or since the 13th day of October, 1897.
The fourth clause is designed to bring within the operations of the Military Service Act men who have gone overseas to the United Kingdom, but who have not otherwise entered any theatre of actual war. A number have gone overseas to the United Kingdom and have returned to Canada without entering any war theatre. The purpose of this section is to provide that if those men are within any class that has beeh called out, and if they are physically fit, they shall be liable to compulsory military service, just as other citizens of this country. . 1
Clause 5 is the most important clause in the regulations and perhaps I should read' it. Clause 5.reads;
The Governor in Council may direct orders to report for duty to issue to men in any class under the Act of any named age or ages or who were born in named years or any named year or part of a year and any exemption theretofore granted to any man of any such named age or year of birth shall cease from and after noon of the day upon which he is ordered so to report and no claim for exemption by or in respect of any man shall be entertained or considered after the issue to him of such order, provided, however, that the minister may grant leave of absence without pay to any man by reason of the death, disablement or service of other members of the same family while on active service in any theatre of actual war.
The power thus conferred upon the Governor in Council is undoubtedly very wide, but it is not, according to our conception, wider than the present need does actually demand. It must, of course, be exercised in a reasonable way. I have
discussed with the Minister of Militia and Defence (Major-General Mewburn), and we have both discussed with our colleagues, the proposal which will probably be carried out under this Order in Council if it should receive the sanction of the House. The Minister of Militia and Defence proposes, in the first instance, to call out those from twenty to twenty-two years of age, both inclusive, and later he may be obliged, if the need should demand it, to call out men of nineteen and of twenty-three years of age. It is estimated that from the men available in each year called out, at least 10,000 men physically fit for service for the front might be obtained.
The sixth clause of the regulations provides that the age stated in any claim for exemption shall be conclusive evidence against the man making the claim.
The seventh clause directs that:
The minister may, from time to time, direct that no orders to report for duty be issued to men who have been examined by military medioat boards and placed in such medical categories as are specified in such direction.
Clause 8 provides that all men included fn Class 1 shall be subject to military law and must report as in proclamation directed. That is to say, Class 1 has been called out; men have been added to that class, and a proclamation may issue directing that men so added shall report for duty. It will be incumbent on them when that proclamation 'has been issued and when they have been so ordered to report for duty, to report as if they had been included in that class in the first instance.
Clause 9 provides, in a few words, just this: that men attaining the age of 19 years in the future shall thereupon be included in Class 1 or in Class 2, as they may belong to the one or the other, and they must report if they are included in any such class called out.
Clause 10 provides that when a treaty or convention is arranged with any foreign government under which the subjects of that government resident in Canada may be made liable to compulsory service in this country, then the Military Service Act shall apply to them and they may be called out by proclamation and ordered to report for duty as if they were British subjects. Such a convention was made some weeks ago, and is now receiving consideration in the Senate'of the United States, but it cannot come into operation until it receives the approval of the United Statts Senate. Great Britain has, I believe, such conventions
fSir Robert Borden.]
with other nations, France, Italy and Russia, for example, and the Government of this country has asked the Government of the United Kingdom, to have such conventions, if they are in force or now under negotiations, made applicable to the citizens of those countries resident in Canada.
I realize that the proposals which we are placing before Parliament for its approval invite discussion and we shall welcome that discussion. It may be urged that we are abolishing exemptions which were provided for in the Military Service Act, 1917. That is perfectly true, but I do not know of any other means by which the need can be met, and I can assure the members of this House that the need is most urgent and most imperative. It may be said that these regulations will interfere with production. I hope they will not seriously interfere with production, for I realize that production is necessary in order that our troops may be supplied and the civil population fed. But production alone will not suffice. The stern task remains to the allied nations of overcoming the enemy on the field of battle, and what are we to say to our men at the front? They have gone out to fight lor their country; they are there overseas; the need is urgent, so urgent that without this Order in Council I do not believe we could provide them with reinforcements after the first day of July next, and if the attack comes, as it may come, within the next two weeks they might be left without any reinforcements after the first of June. ' I have heard the statement that we should rely on other countries to provide fighting men and further reinforcements. I have seen our soldiers at the front, and I can realize the impression that would be made upon them if the people of Canada should declare: "We will devote all our
"future energies to production, and leave "you to shift for yourselves with such reinforcements as you may procure from the "British Islands or from United States of "America." For not one moment would the people of this country from Atlantic to Pacific stand for any such policy.
It may -be said that the proposed Order in Council will create hardship and inequality. Humanly speaking, it is impossible to avoid these in war. Did these men -three hundred and sixty-four thousand of them-think about inequality and hardship when they went to fight our battles for us? The Government of this country is bound to do everything in its power to prevent inequality and hardship as far as that is
possible, and I shall welcome any suggestion from any hon. gentleman to that end, and so will every one of my colleagues and so will every member of this House. But it is not humanly possible to avoid it. The proposals of the Government will provide in the immediate future adequate fighting forces for the support of our forces, and it is the duty of this Parliament upon its responsibility to the people of this country by whom it was elected, to see that these reinforcements are provided.
Then it is said that it is useless for us to raise more men because the United States of America ha vie more men than can be transported. I may tell hon. members that we have the assurance that all the men that can be raised under these regulations can and will be transported. More than that, if they cannot be transported in the immediate future, they can be trained here in Canada and sent forward when ships can be provided. No one who has not been at the front can realize how our men in the battle line are sustained and supported and nerved for the fight that is before then] by the very thought that their countrymen at home are behind them. The present battle, as I have said, will continue for months, and the final issue may depend upod what Canada does now.
I have not endeavoured to elaborate these considerations. I have stated them to the House in the simplest and most direct language at my command, but I hope hon. gentlemen will realize that I am speaking from the most profound conviction and with all the earnestness of which I am capable.
In conclusion, may I point o.ut that, on the one hand, the Government has been subjected to strong reproach upon the allegation that its administration of the Military Service Act in the province of Quebec has been too lax. On the other hand, it has been subjected to equally violent reproach that its administration of that Act in Quebec has been too stern and severe. It is our belief that each of these reproaches is equally undeserved. The purpose of the Government has been in Quebec, as well as in each of the other provinces, to administer the Act impartially, considerately and firmly. In that purpose we shall persevere to the end. The law has been enacted according to the will of the people, and the law must be obeyed.
As to our duty, the first line of defence is held in France and Flanders; the second line of defence is here. Will those in the second line desert and betray the first? If
such an outcome were possible, it would be to the everlasting disgrace of the Canadian people. Only those who have been among the men in the fighting line can realize with what faith and' confidence the Canadian soldiers rely upon us for that aid and support which are their due; only those who have been among them can realize how intense a bitterness and disappointment would possess their souls if that aid should fail them. I beg you to remember that in this country we are all in one sense in the battle-line; that we must all discharge onr duty with the same indomitable' spirit as those who are holding back the German onset. May we not estimate that duty in the words of a great Frenchman: "La vie n'est ni un plaisir ni une douleur rnais une affaire grave dont nous sommes charges et qu'il faut conduire et terminer a notre honneur "-" Life was not intended as either a pleasure or a sorrow, but as a great duty committed to our charge and which we are bound to carry on and fulfil by the standards of honour." If that is true of the individual life, is it not equally true of the national life? What we inherit from the past we hold in trust for the future; let us see to it then that Canada's honour is maintained and her escutcheon kept untarnished to the end.
Germany has practically reverted to paganism in this war. The ideals of the old faith of Thor and Odin dominate her people to-day more really than the dictates of Christianity. Otherwise no such reversion to barbarism could have been witnessed as that with which she shocked the world's conscience and brought so many of its nations in arms against her. Confronted with such a menace, we dare not stay our hand. The descendants of our pioneer forefathers have good cause to be proud of their ancestry. They never had greater reason for just pride than to-day, when men of the races from whose loins they sprang are fighting side by side in defence of the freedom of both. Is the cause worth fighting for? Can you not see what rests on the issue? Are your institutions, your ideals and liberties, the honour of your women and the sancity of your fathers' graves worth fighting for? Women off one of those races have been systematically,-not in isolated cases, but systematically,-subjected to nameless outrage and sent in thousands behind the German lines for that purpose.. If this cannot, I know not what can, arouse the
fighting spirit in the hearts of -all men in whose veins the blood runs red.
We have in this country a population separated by differences of race, or language, of religion. Unfortunately these differences run very largely along the same lines. I for one should resist as strongly as any man a proposal to deny to any portion of our people their constitutional rights in respect of language or otherwise. But we must realize that difference of language does create a profound division, especially when it is accentuated by grouping on the line of race and creed. Lack of understanding through difference of language is not. easy to overcome, and it is in lack of understanding that the difficulty chiefly arises. For this very reason an imperative duty rests upon all of us to aid as best we may in removing unfortunate misunderstanding and quieting dangerous controversy. The world has been striving for hundreds of years to learn the lesson of tolerance in matters of religious opinion. The task has been a slow and painful one and the lesson has not yet been fully learned. Let us do the best that is in us to help our people learn that great- lesson. No good ever came to mankind out of the bitterness of religious controversy. I especially beg of the press, both English and French, not to indulge in .utterances that are calculated to provoke and perpetuate bitterness and discord. If we do not all worship God at the same altar, let us be tolerant and charitable; above all let us respect the sincere convictions and ideals of others. If the press fulfils its full duty, it will not be slow to learn this lesson which might with advantage be studied by members of this House on both sides. Thus and thus only can we create in this country a true national spirit; thus only can our united efforts avail in building up a great nation securely founded upon the heritage which God has given us.