May 2, 1922 (14th Parliament, 1st Session)


John Arthur Clark

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. A. CLARK (Burrard) :

the House goes into Supply, I would like to address a few remarks on the work of the Militia of Canada, and of preparedness on the part of this country. Many arguments have been advanced in this House as to shew why this country should dispense with defence forces, and it is my intention to deal with a few of these arguments, and to attempt to give this House some information which I have been privileged to gain by having seen certain things, so that we may be in a better position to deal with questions relating to the military forces of Canada when they come before us. The main arguments advanced against this country maintaining defence forces are: First, that there is no one proposing to attack us; second, that we have plenty of men trained now; third, that the people are sick of war; and, fourth, that disputes in
the future will be settled by conference rather than by arms.
With regard to the first question viz.: who is about to attack us, I would remind hon. members of the pre-war assurances which were given by the Prime Minister of England to the House of Commons of England and to the people of the British Empire, that war with Germany was not only not impending, but was out of the question. I would also remind hon. members of the futility of making prophecies about war, and would recall the examples we have before us of the past hundred years- the example of war with United States in 1812; our own civil wars, the American civil war; and the fact that we are to-day faced with greater armies than the world has ever before been faced with-armies which are to-day mobilized by Russia, France and many other countries.
As to the second argument which has been advanced-that we have plenty of trained men now: The only inference, Mr. Speaker, that one can gather from that argument is that those advancing it propose that those men who took part in the late war should be called upon again to defend the country should there be a war. I was particularly struck by a question which the hon. member from East Hamilton (Mr. Mewburn) put to the hon. gentleman for North Ontario (Mr. Halbert), the other evening when he asked whether it was the intention of that member that these men should again be called upon. The reply was "I had as many friends in kahki as the hon. gentleman who asked the question had I do not think that many hon. members wish to take credit to themselves for what their friends did in the late war, but there has been altogether too much talk about the number of trained men that we have to-day. We have many trained men, it is true; but they will be useful in this country only in teaching the coming generation the lessons gathered during the late war. I do not expect that *here will be war in our time, or war, at any rate, that these men will be called upon to take part in; but they should be f ailed upon now to complete the duty that they attempted to perform overseas, by passing on the lessons which they learned.
Then, there is the third argument-that the people are sick of war. The people who are really sick of war to-day are the people who served, the people who gave their sons, who gave their all during the war; but the people who talk most to-day
Defence Forces

about being sick of war are those Who are sick of their shame at not having done their duty in the past. Let me read the remarks of General William T. Sherman in this connection:
I confess without shame that I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. Even success, the most brilliant, is over dead and mangled bodies, the anguish and lamentations of distant families, appealing to me for missing sons, husbands and fathers. It is only those who have not heard a shot, nor the shrieks and groans of the wounded, friend or foe, who cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation.
It is safe to say that those sentiments are the sentiments of every soldier; but despite those sentiments, I feel convinced that the great body of returned soldiers are still prepared to sacrifice themselves, should the honour of this country require them to do so in the future.
Then, we hear this .argument advanced: We look forward to the day when disputes will be settled by conference and not by arms. I agree, and I think all hon. members will agree, that we look forward to that day; but statesmen of all ages have recognized that the way to prevent war is to be reasonably prepared for war. What, for instance, would be the position of Mr. Lloyd George in the conferences which are taking place in Europe to-day if he were not backed by the force which is represented by the .British army and navy? Would any one suggest that he would be listened to if he had demobilized the British army and navy? Had he done so, no respect whatever would be paid to the remarks or arguments which might be advanced by him in those conferences. We have Sir Henry Wilson's classification, based upon that principle recognized by statesmen, of armies into three classes: First, those armies which are strong enough to prevent war; second, those armies which are too weak to prevent war, but which are strong enough to win war; and third, those armies which can only lose a war. Into which class does Canada fall? Canada has no army; Canada does not fall into any of these categories. But hon. members will say: What about Canada's part in the late war? True, Canada did magnificently in the late war; but it was fully three years after the war had commenced that Canada was prepared for war; that she was prepared to strike as an independent country should be if it is going to be able to stand as an independent nation, and apparently hon. members desire that Canada should stand as an independent nation.

I should like to bring to the attention of the House a comparison between the achievements of the forces of Canada and the forces of that great republic to the south of us during the last hundred days of the war, for the purpose, not of reflecting upon that great republic, but of showing what can be accomplished by a country with a trained army and what is accomplished by a country which is not fully prepared. The United States, unfortunately for them, were three years behind Canada in entering the war, and the result was that they were not able to make the showing per capita that the Canadians were able to make. I should like to give a few figures of the numbers engaged, the casualties, and the success achieved during that period. For instance, during that time the Americans bad 650,000 troops engaged; the Canadians, 105,000. The Americans were engaged during 47 days of operations; the Canadians, 100 days. The battle casualties of the Americans were 100,000; of the Canadians, 45,830. The prisoners taken by the Americans were 16,000; by the Canadians, 31,537. Guns captured by the Americans numbered 468; by the Canadians, 623. Machine guns captured by the Americans numbered 2,864; by the Canadians, 2,842. Trench mortars captured by the Americans numbered 177; by the Canadians, 336. Territory freed by the Americans covered 610 square miles; by the Canadians, 336 square miles. Villages freed by the Americans numbered 150; by the Canadians, 228. German divisions met and defeated by the Americans numbered 46; by the Canadians, 47. Casualties per German division /defeated by the Americans numbered 2,170; by the Canadians, 975. The maximum advance by the Americans was 34 miles; by the Canadians, 86 miles. These favourable results were made possible only by the fact that the Canadians had benefited by the experience of training and hard fighting during the previous years. My point is this: Is there any one here who will take the responsibility of denying the youth of our country an opportunity of learning the lessons learned by the men who took part in that war? Is there any one who would take the responsibility of unnecessarily exposing the youth of succeeding generations to useless slaughter when by taking full advantage of the lessons learned we could prepare them to take their part in any operations which may become necessary in the future?

Defence Forces
We hear much talk about Canada being an independent nation. The Minister of Militia (Mr. Graham) the other evening asked whether we were going to go back one hundred and fifty years and become Crown colonists to be looked after by Great Britain and not by ourselves. We hear a great deal of talk about Canada's responsibility as a nation. We hear it vehemently stated that we are an independent nation, independent of Great Britain and of all other countries. I suggest that we should not deceive ourselves. We have no army in this country; we have no forces which can be counted upon even to defend ourselves. We are sponging to-day, as we have in the past, upon the Mother Country, both for defence and for possible offence. We are absolutely dependent upon Great Britain for our protection both on land and sea.
We in this country are not preparing for war. The proposal has never been made by the Minister of Militia or by any member of this House that we should prepare for war. If we were to prepare for war it would require for a period of years a vote of at least fifteen times the amount which it is proposed to make for annual training. We could not actively prepare for war on a vote of less than $150,000,000 per annum over a period of years. That was conclusively proven during the late war by the operations in which the Canadians took part. The ex-service men in this country resent the suggestion that by training and passing on these lessons we are preparing for war. They resent still further making a political football of the issue of national defence in Canada. We have had in cnis House the sorry spectacle of the present Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) opposing in the past estimates for the purposes of the militia, and this year bringing down similar estimates as a part of Government policy. We have heard him protesting against Canada having a reserve of ammunition for her guns, Attempts have been made during the past six months to make political capital out of the bringing into this country of a few shells which already belonged to Canada, and which would have been wasted if we had not taken them. Those shells, Mr. Speaker, which we have wasted so much time in talking about, could be fired in one hour by the artillery of Canada to-day. Yet the Prime Minister has spent twenty or thirty hours in talking about those shells. With regard to their cost, even if we had been called on to pay for them, the
amount required would not exceed the amount which was required to supply our guns for one day during the last hundred days of the war. I venture to say that the forces which are lining themselves up today to oppose training consist of those who are uninformed, and in that class I have no hesitation in placing the Prime Minister himself. Secondly, I would include those who would profit by disruption in this country and by the disintegration of constitutional government in Canada.
It has been suggested that a break in the training of our militia for a period of one year or more would do no harm.

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