Mr. R. C. COOPER (South Vancouver):
Mr. Speaker, as a new member of this House I rise with due humility to support the resolution moved 'by. the hon. member for Comox-Alberni (Mr. Clements). If there was an apology necessary, it is absolutely done away with by a date to be found on that calendar behind your back. On that date, three years ago, our men made history for Canada at Ypres. To-day, I find an attempt, supported from Halifax to Vancouver by every branch of the Great War Veterans' Association, by many manufacturers, by many other associations, an I by many independent men and women, to bring the enemy alien under some control. On this subject .1 wrote on the 11th April to the right hon. leader of the Government, asking if he would give me an expression of the intention of the Government on this matter. I have not yet received an answer. On March 26th, a petition was handed to the Prime Minister and the Government by the Great War Veterans' Association of Canada. I propose to read this to the House, and it will show what these men ask for.
March 26, 1918.
To the Right Honourable
Sir Robert L. Borden, P.C., K.C.M.G.,
Prime Minister, Ottawa.
May it please you to hear and give consideration to the humble petition of this gathering of representatives of the Great War Veterans' Association of Canada, -which follows:
Whereas there are in Canada a great number . of people of alien origin.
Therefore be it resolved that it is our opinion that the aliens of enemy origin in our midst should be employed in work of (National importance or in industries essential to the winning of the War, under proper surveillance, and their employer for the time being made responsible for them; and that their earnings over and above an amount equal to the pay and allowances -of a Canadian soldier be taken by the Government for War purposes: or, failing their
being employed that such alien enemies be interned.
Further that measures be taken at once to make the Military Service Act applicable to all allied aliens in the same manner and to the same extent as to the citizens of Canada, either by negotiating the necessary treaties or conventions with the remaining Allied countries, upon similar lines or the same as those provided for in the conventions recently adopted between the United States of America and Great Britain, or, failing the obtaining of such treaties or conventions, that such allied aliens be forthwith given the option of enlisting voluntarily in the Canadian Forces, or being deported to their country of origin as is being done by the Government of the United States under the Alien Slacker Bill just passed- by an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives at Washington.
Further that no steps should be taken to call out the second or other class under the Military Service Act, or to return to France married men of the First Contingent, C.E.F., until the question of the disposition of the aliens has been settled in a manner satisfactory to the citizens of Canada, and that we urge the Government to take up -and deal with these questions without further delay.
I would say, Sir, that the Government failed to take any notice of these representations. In my own province of British Columbia, there have been large mass meetings held for the purpose of making the Government at least look into this matter, if it does nothing else. To-day, in British Columbia alone, we have a matter of more than 60,000 enemy aliens, who are practically allowed their liberty, who can do as they like, and over whom there is no control. I ask you to-day, with our young men going overseas to defend our shores in France, what is our position going to be if these aliens are left in practically uncontrolled freedom? lit- is not possible that we may have a repetition of the scenes enacted in Northern France, in Flanders, in Serbia, in Montenegro and in Northern Italy? It is possible. It may not be likely, but I commend it to the attention of the Government. What has been done to handle this question? I noticed in a paper the other day that it was proposed to form a garrison battalion. Presumably that is the only way they could be handled. Some of our industries in British Columbia, notably the railways and the mines, are practically controlled by enemy aliens of Austrian or German origin. -
These men have absolute liberty, and they earn anywhere from $4 to $10 or $12 a day. What do they contribute to the country? How do they help the country to carry on this war, which was saddled upon us by their own people? Absolutely nothing. In a few cases they have been persuaded, I believe, to subscribe to war loan, but war
loan is a good investment. If these men, particularly those in the coal mines, feel it incumbent upon them to work and earn a nice, daily wage, they do so. On the other hand, if they want to play baseball or go out into the woods on a sunny day, they do so. They care nothing about the fact that the people of Eastern Canada and the prairies are waiting for coal to keep them from freezing.
The Government has 'an anti-loafer law. What penalty does it provide? One hundred dollars and costs, or in default, six months' imprisonment with hard labour. Such a penalty may be all right for men of British birth, but it is not all right for the type of men who work in the mines and on the railways in British Columbia. These men have been taught from their earliest infancy that only by force can they get what they want, and I submit that they should be controlled by force. If six months is the penalty for offences against the anti-loafer law, then I think that in order to deal with the enemy aliens we must have a much more severe penalty than that. What is the penalty in Germany? It does not start at a minimum and work up to a maximum; it starts at a maximum and works down to a minimum. But the maximum penalty in Germany with our prisoners, is death, and I see no reason why the enemy alien here in Canada, should not, under similar conditions., be forced to pay that penalty if necessary.
As a reason for not handling this situation the Government say: we have an agreement with the labour unions of this country. Only last Friday the Prime Minister, when he was giving certain figures of enlistment, said that 227,000 skilled and unskilled labourers had gone overseas. These men from the labour unions who have gone to fight are surely entitled to some sort of consideration when they come back. To-day the ranks of labour are full of enemy alieus. I venture to say that at least one-third of the total membership of the labour unions in Canada consists of enemy aliens or aliens of neutral countries. Labour represents in Canada some 200,000 men. The number of men that Canada has so far sent overseas is 364,750. The balance, therefore, is as two to one, and I submit that the men who have gone overseas are more entitled to attention and consideration from the Government than those who remain behind to work and earn big wages.
It may be suggested that if we insist on enemy aliens in this country working, our
prisoners of war may be badly treated, or worse treated than they are now. I have under my hand a letter which I received this morning from the father of one of my men who was taken prisoner at Ypres three years ago the day after to-morrow. He says:
Now as regards the hoy. We have received a picture of him a few days ago, and a letter was the first in which he really made a murmur, and that was only, "Believe me, my chum and I have (fei-tainiy been through the mill." He looked pretty good, a little hard round the mouth but still as "straight as a die." The poor lad with him looked terribly ill.
This boy of nineteen, who went over with me, had no hard lines about his mouth when I saw him three years ago, but he has to-day. If you say that any action on our part to deal with enemy aliens in this country will affect our Canadian prisoners of war, you forget that Canadians in Germany cannot be subjected to greater indignity than that to which they are now subjected; that no more insults could be heaped upon them; that they could not be more starved than they are to-day. Their position, therefore, cannot be made easier by our being lenient with enemy aliens in this country. Our men in Germany to-day are earning thirty pfennings a day for their work. Thirty pfennings amounts to threepence- six cents-and the enemy alien in Canada, who has absolute liberty, earns $3, $4, $5, $10, $14 a day, and he does not care a snap of his finger about our authority.
Then, the Hague Convention. What is the Hague Convention? It has meant a good deal to the Allied powers; what has it meant to the Teutonic powers? Nothing at all. The Prime Minister on Friday mentioned the deportations from Lille; he spoke of the women who were sent back of the German lines in France. Yes, and I can tell you of a monument that has been raised at Bac St. Maur, a place now in the hands of the Germans, to the memory of four women of France who in 1914 were raped by the Germans; they were then covered with gasoline and burned. That is possible in Canada if we allow these enemy aliens uncontrolled freedom.
In my country, in the fisheries especially, we have many Scandinavians. Well, there are Scandinavians and Scandinavians. We* know that the Norwegians are friendly to us; they are more likely to help us than anything else. But what of the Swedes? These men are openly antagonistic to us; yet they go round filling our men's places and giving nothing in return for the liberty that is accorded to them. On Friday the leader of the Opposition denounced auto-
cracy in no uncertain tones. That may be all right from the standpoint of the citizen, but as a soldier I say that as long as this war continues, long live autocracy. It is the only way you can conduct a war. Think what would happen if, when an officer commanding a division gave an order, his brigadiers and officers consulted whether they should obey the order or not. Take the case of Russia. Russia consulted the people as to what she would do in the war-and look at her to-day.
I wish, in conclusion, to quote from the Prime Minister's speech on Friday last these great words:
As to our duty, the first line of defence Is held in Prance 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 our 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: "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.
Those are great words; but what are the feelings of our 364,000 men who have gone overseas if they know that here in Canada there will be no room for them when they do come back; that the enemy alien is protected in every way, and that the enemy alien and the neutral alien hold the fat jobs? Will they not feel that, although the Government have courageously enforced the Military Service Act and sent men overseas to aid them in the fighting line, they have been deserted in their home life, in regard to which they are entitled to some consideration just as they are entitled to be reinforced? The Government should seriously consider this question. There must be some means whereby the Government can control the present practically uncontrolled liberties of the enemy alien in Canada. There must be some means whereby the Government can make those enemy aliens contribute something towards the
cost of the war which is being waged against us by the country of their birth. The Government should grapple with this matter without delay, because the people cf Canada, and, more especially, the people of the West of Canada, are tired of procrastination, and must insist on the Government dealing immediately with this question.
Topic: ALIEN LABOUR IN CANADA.
Subtopic: MOTIONS ON ORDER PAPER BY MR.