The province of British Columbia is concerned in having large government works undertaken at once, and wherever it is possible that a return may be had, even if not for years to come. In British Columbia we have not the industries of the older provinces, and we must necessarily have public works to carry us through this transition period. I congratu-
late the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Carvell) on the policy of public works which he has launched. I would point out in that connection that in our province we must re-absorb the 51,000 men'-less casualties-whom we sent to the war, and many more besides. I am told that the wonderful climate of British Columbia attracts many, and I understand that we are getting some 35,000 more people. We have not work for them at this time, and the only way to absorb them at present is by starting public works.
I trust the Minister of Immigration and Colonization (Mr. Calder) will go carefully with immigration. Let him bear in mind the large number that are coming back, for whom it will not be easy immediately to find places. I further hope that the policy followed by previous party governments will not., be followed by this administration but the future interests of our country will be considered-we do not hold our country for ourselves, we hold it for the future.
Amongst the Orders in Council brought down is No. 179, which deals with the payment of passage to the dependents of soldiers being brought back to Canada or who were never in Canada before. I wish to tell the Minister of Immigration and Colonization that that Order in Council is rank discrimination, that njany of the women and children whose passages back to Canada are being paid by the Government, are people who remained in the Old Country and ate the Old Country's much-needed bread against the wishes of that government, with these people it was purely a matter of selfishness. One cannot condemn them, of course, because their nearest and dearest were there. But the majority should have been considered. I think that, if it is the intention of the Government to pay the passages of these people, then it is its duty to pay also the passages of those who came back to Canada prior to November 11, 1918.
The War Service gratuity is a method of covering the transition period between doffing the uniform and putting on the mufti. It is not the best way out, in my opinion; I am afraid it will cost the country much unnecessary money. But it is good. Yet here again we have discrimination; the Order in Council was not properly thought out. I want to bring to the attention of the. Government a very just claim in connection with this war service gratuity, the claim of the Imperial reservist who lived in Canada prior to the war and who, when
the war started, rushed home to join the colours. He went home and served for 1 s. 1 d. a day-say twenty-seven cents a day. Our Canadian soldiers got 31.10 a day. The Imperial soldier had no reason to complain because the Patriotic Fund came forward generously and augmented his pay to approximately the same as that of the Canadian soldier. But, while they are grateful for that, they are slightly discriminated against by this Order in Council dealing with the war service gratuity. I understand that that is not our business, but I submit to you that these men gave just as efficient service to Canada and to the Empire as did the Canadian soldiers. They have come back to their homes in Canada and have to live under Canadian conditions, and therefore they are entitled to the same war gratuity as are the Canadian soldiers. The Imperial Government has issued a war service gratuity, but no distinction is made between single and married men. Therefore, the private soldier with war service from 1914 up to the present time, if a single man, would receive approximately $200 less than his more fortunate Canadian brother, while the married man would receive approximately $450 less than the married soldier in a Canadian unit. I trust the Government will look into this matter; I sincerely believe that these men have a just claim.
Now, I turn to consider very briefly the case of the man who served in Canada. That man, metaphorically speaking, has been hooted by every Tom, Dick and Harry in the country, he has been called a slacker and other opprobrious names, in many cases without any justification whatever.
There are many splendid men in the service in Canada who have eaten their hearts out to go to the front but who have been discriminated against. We find that the man who had given service in Canada, and was demobilized prior to the 11th November, 1918, does not benefit under the terms of the war service gratuity. It is unintentional discrimination perhaps but it is certainly discrimination.
The Order in Council dealing with clothing allowance gives the first men to come back $8 to $13 and they had to hand in their uniform. 'This was subsequently increased to $35 but was not made retroactive. I can readily understand that the departments concerned in this matter would have to work possibly until the [judgment day in dealing with these retroactive measures, but, in all fairness, I think something should be done to meet the many justifiable com-
plaints that are received from all over the country in connection with this matter.
In the clothing allowance, as in war service gratuity, the draftee benefits at the expense of his volunteer brother. This is hardly fair. I want to take up the case of the officers for one moment because they are not allowed to speak for themselves. I want to deal with the $100 that was given to the officers in England last year. We find that an officer who went to England and never got any farther than England, on August 1, 1918, was entitled to an extra $100 clothing allowance, making in a year or fifteen months $350. We have against that an officer who served overseas and in Canada since September, 1914, and who had to do with the inadequate allowance of $250.
I do not believe that there is a single officer in Canada who would make any complaint except for what appears to be discrimination. I submit that men who have given good service in Canada, but who have not gone to England or Prance, should have been given this extra allowance, not because they desired it but in order to equalize matters.
The Minister of Militia this afternoon mentioned the War Service Button. We have been very generous in our distribution of War Service Buttons but there is a class of men that we have overlooked. There are many thousands of men who, with the best intentions in the world, joined up to go and have a smack at the Huns but who, for some reason or other, were disqualified and never got there. Many of these young men looking physically fit have had the finger of scorn pointed at them as they walked down the street. Is it not possible to give them some badge by which they could show their fellow men that they had tried to go?
The Land Settlement Act is an excellent piece of legislation. I would like to see it put into force, just as quickly as ever the Government can, but I should like to see the matter dealt with according to various provincial problems and conditions. What might be adequate provision for a Prairie Province is not adequate for a province like British Columbia, we will say. I would like to see the measure very much increased in its scope. I think it desirable that men who have given good service in Canada should benefit by its provisions. I need hardly point out to the House that every man we can send to the land, who proves to be an efficient farmer, is a national asset, and that every man we can drag away from the city is a. saving in labour unrest. A large amount of labour unrest comes in the winter months when we have men from
the prairie, farms, bush, and fisheries flocking into town, some with a little money and who, when they have no money left and no work, sit around and make mischief.
Pensions are, in my opinion, inadequate. They are unequal in the way they are determined. I do not think that the method of determining pensions is the right one. I believe that better service could be given if a board were provided in each province, or, where provinces are alike in conditions, in two or more provinces, to deal with peculiar provincial matters. I believe also it would be a wise provision, or until conditions are stabilized, to look at this question of pensions from the rural or city standpoint. It is' unquestionably a fact that a person cannot live, in a city in the same way that he can out on a farm, and where a person of necessity must live in the city, that fact should be considered. I would suggest that pensions err on the side of generosity consistent with our financial strength.
Prohibition is a very vexed question. I will stand behind the Government, in so far as I am personally concerned, for total prohibition for one year from date. I believe it will be in the best interests of the country that liquor should not find its way freely into the hands of the people until our conditions are stabilized. After that time it should go to the people of the country to decide. I will not say what they should decide for.
In thinking out new taxes to meet the interest on our huge outlay during the war, I sincerely trust my hon. friend the Minister of Finance (Sir Thomas White) will not overlook the very large number of people who to-day do not come within the provisions of the present income tax. I allude to single men earning from $800 to $1,100 a year and who might very well pay a small amount into the Government's coffers.
I will ask the Government to go a little farther in the matter of vocational training. It has been found in many cases that the term allowed for the learning of a certain industry or profession is not adequate. It would be an act of kindness to many young men who are in the transition period if an extra fortnight-in some cases a month, in other cases possibly as high as six months,-were allowed so that they could complete their course and become useful citizens of the country.
Further, I would ask the Government to enlarge the scope of the vocational training, whereby it could embrace the young man who went overseas under age, and whose return was asked by his parents on thr t
score, but who is now debarred from the benefits of the vocational training.
I congratulate the Government on its wisdom in placing the Royal North West Mounted Police in the Western Provinces, because I think it is really the only way whereby Federal legislation will be properly administered.
I have never been a party man, for I have always felt that the cult of party led to a neglect of national ideals, and that the country always suffered from it. I was glad when ip December, 1917, so many men from the other side of the House joined up with those that were on this side, and made a strong party with a united front to face the problems of the future. I trust that hon. gentlemen will not be too exacting in their demands from the Government, but will help it in all reasonable ways in their power, in order to get the country back into a real stable condition.
One more remark and I shall close. It amused me intensely to listen to the wild poetic flights that some hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House
9 p.m. indulged in. There was a delightful parody, for example, by the hon. member for Lunenburg (Mr. Duff). I cannot at the moment recall it, but if I remember rightly, it was plagiarized from a hymn book. That hon. gentleman enjoys a Scotch name, and must surely be familiar with Bobbie Burns. I will therefore quote from the words of the immortal Bobbie, in answer to the hon. gentleman's eulogy of the leader of the Opposition :
Oh, wad some power the giftie gie U3 To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us, And foolish notion.
Mr. JOSEPH M. DEMERS (St. Johns and Iberville) (Translation): Mr. Speaker, at first I wish to refer to the renowned and _ well beloved leader of the Liberal party whose sudden death has so brutally robbed his fellow citizens of their affection and admiration.
I shall not venture to even attempt to add to the remarkable tributes which have been successively paid to his memory by religious and lay orators in most eloquent sermons and speeches, as well as by journalists in writings that are wonderful in style and inspiration.
I simply wish to lay quietly the tribute of my grief on the grave barely closed of this great man, who personified so well the
CMr. Cooler. ]
noblest and best qualities of his race, which is also mine.
I do not intend to prolong this debate, I am usually brief and so shall be to-day. But I thought it was my duty to address this House on this occasion, as I believe there cannot be a more favourable one for a member to express his views and make his observations on the political condition such as he sees it.
From the beginning of this debate we have heard of re-adjustment and reconstruction. Under ordinary circumstances, there would be not any question of re-adjustment or re-construction before we had made our inventory, so as to realize to what extent we were disorganized. However we find ourselves under such exceptional circumstances that we need not take stock, for the disorganization is complete, general, manifest and admitted by all.
We are politically, socially and economically disorganized. Such is the condition, Mr. Speaker, in which we find our country after the war. Before the war, we had a constitutional and democratic government, now we have but a dictatorship; we had a Parliament and this Parliament has been ignored by the Government during and after the war and now perhaps more than ever before. The representatives of the people were left aside, and instead opthe guarantee of a parliamentary legislation, we were swamped by Orders in Council, thus doing away with our constitutional guarantees.
If the Government intend to carry on a work of reconstruction, first of all, they must' re-establish democracy in this country, namely the government of the people through their representatives.
Before the war, Canada had the reputation of being above all a land of liberty. The Government has changed it all and individual liberty, the freedom of speech and of the press were abolished and replaced by coercion and intimidation.
Therefore, Mr. Speaker, if we wish to reconstruct, we must re-establish freedom in this country; we must abolish the censorship immediately, for there is no reason now to maintain it and we must let the people absolutely at liberty to express freely their opinion.
Before the war we had an Election Act based upon principles of justice and fair play, but it was replaced by a system of selection.
That Act is a blot on our statute books, which it will be difficult to fully obliterate. That legislation was an Act of cowardice on the part of the Government and a flagrant
breach of the right inherent in British citizenship. None could have been more detrimental to our country.
At home, it proved loathsome to a great many people, and should such disgust be too often provoked through cynical and arbitrary legislation like the War-time Elections Act, peace would very likely be imperilled in this country.
Abroad, that law has put the fair name of our political institutions in jeopardy, and should Canada ever want to secure foreign labour in the future for the development of our immense resources, I am very much afraid that the War-time Elections Act will show that it has caused our country an irreparable prejudice, as it seejns hard to con-conceive that foreigners will be very anxious to come to this country, when they know how Canada treated her alien population during the elections of 1917.
The great majority of those who came into Canada did so, because they wanted to avoid persecution at the hands of the autocratic governments of Europe and because they thought they were coming into a free country. They were attracted and almost carried here by lecturers and agents who had exalted the humanity of our laws, who had promised they would be granted and enjoy equal rights. And then, all of a sudden, they must realize that after they had been persuaded to abandon their nationality, they were made practically homeless, that is men without a country. What a splendid advertisement for Canada to have it spread abroad, how the foreign element was treated in this country ! We had not long to wait to see the results, as it was reported in the press a short time ago that immigrants whom we had brought here at considerable expense, were withdrawing their deposits from the banks to go back to their native countries, notwithstanding the bad conditions that obtain throughout Europe. Evidently these people are absolutely disappointed; they did not find here that which they were looking for and which they had been promised to secure. They will now go back to Europe and advertise Canada in their own way, according to the treatment they have been submitted to here.
We heard-and I don't know whether it were not repeated in this House-that the Government should frame a policy with regard to aliens. Well, Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that if the Government wish to adopt some policy to that effect, they should exercise great care and fully consider what may be the future needs of this country as regards immigration, because the policy thus adopted will surely have a considerable influence and will be an important factor in the foreigner's appreciation of this country's opportunities, in case they intend to come here and seek a fortune.
At any rate, Mr. Speaker, there is one thing which we need not think over very long, that is to repeal the War-Times Elections Act as soon as possible. I believe it is easy to do it. The war is over and there are members of the Government who were shocked by that legislation even in war time. Knowing as we do the earnestness of their convictions, we can easily imagine the efforts they must bring to bear upon their colleagues to induce them to repeal that evil and fatal legislation.
Then, Mr. Speaker, once we have carried out that work of clearing our statutes, let us enact such a law, that the people will be satisfied that the Government had not in view a political machine but a desire to secure the full and free experiment of public Opinion. I hope that this new Act will be framed on the underlying principles of the Act which was in force before the war, particularly as concerns the making out of the rolls. I trust that the system of having these rolls made out by municipal councils will be maintained as. much as possible, that is almost everywhere in Canada. And I also hope, Mr. Speaker, that we shall never see any more government appointed commissioners entrusted with that work.
The hon. gentlemen recall the Dominion Elections Act of 1896, the enforcement of which resulted in such crying abuses that the Liberal party made the repeal of that famous legislation a special plank of their platform.
The making out of the lists of voters by commissioners appointed by the Government looked to me in my youth and would look to me yet like a board of arbitrators all the members of which would be appointed by one single party.
Now, Mr. Speaker, may I be permitted to refer briefly to another very important issue which was dealt with by hon. members who spoke before me and more particularly by the hon. member for Dorchester, in the beautiful address with which he favoured this House the other evening. I refer to the question of the independence of the judiciary. I regret to charge this Government with having more than.once infringed upon the independence and sullied the fair name of the judiciary, through their untimely interference with their duties. There was some serious clashing recently between the Department of Justice and some of the judges, and I regret to say that the Depart-
ment of Justice did not always emerge with credit.
For a Government to question the integrity, competence or wisdom of our judges and entertain ails'- distrust for them is tantamount to shaking the confidence of the people in an institution which we always considered as being a guarantee of social order and the safeguard of the liberties and rights of the people. A Government who do not respect the independence of magistrates make an exceptionally serious mistake, for which we must call them to account, for it means the sapping of the foundation of our social structure.
I promised I would be brief, Mr. Speaker, and I shall pass on to another subject without any oratorical precautions.
Let me refer to the way of dealing with the defaulters. I believe this is a very important matter for this country at the present moment. I must say right now that I agree with hon. members who advocated a general amnesty, and here are some of the reasons which make me think so.
I was informed that there were 40,000 defaulters in the country, the majority of whom are among the rural population. In all, 100,000 young men answered the call under the Military Service Act, which meant that the Government has hit the mark and if all those who were called had reported, about 40,000 would have been left aside; but I will not use this as an argument.
The principal reason for which I favour a general amnesty is that I am convinced that this Government is responsible to a large extent for the passive resistance which was manifested.
Our people were not prepared for conscription which was repugnant to them, because militarism was unknown in America. Not only were they not prepared, but this Government exerted themselves in letting the people believe that conscription would never be established.
I refer you to the statement made by the Prime Minister himself within and without this House in 1916, and I ask hon. members to remember what occurred in the election of Dorchester in February 1917, when a Cabinet Minister was re-elected as an anti-conscriptionist and supported by another member of the Government who expressed similar views. Was that what you would call preparing public opinion for conscription?
Two months after the Dorchester election in which the young men were told how easy it would be for them to cross over the border if need be, this Government submitted their Compulsory Military Service CM. Demers.]
Act. Then the elections came. What did they say to the people during the campaign? They said that the farmers and their sons would not be called upon to serve in the army, and it is through such false representations that they succeeded in securing the great majority of the votes in the rural constituencies throughout the Dominion, except in the province of Quebec. Furthermore, in order to countenance the statements made by the Unionist speakers during the elections in 1917, this Government passed an Order in Council providing for the exemption of farm labourers from military service. Is that what you would call preparing the people for the enforcement of conscription? And after that you are surprised that there were some refractory ones. It is under such circumstances that we are asked to deal rigorously with people who unfortunately were so candid as to believe in the sincerity of those who solicited their votes and the very men who benefited by such trickery and false representations would now like to enact legislation with a view to apprehending their victims !
Well, Mr. Speaker, I say: That is enough cynicism.
There is another consideration, namely that no good can come out of any harsh measures that may be taken regarding the defaulters. They say there are 40,000. If we decide to deal with them, we must deal with them all. How many millions shall we have to spend in our endeavour to detect them all? We shall be compelled to use an army for that purpose and then to apprehend them; we shall have to build jails to put them in and spend millions to feed them during their detention. When you consider that most of these defaulters are farmers, you will realize what waste of time and disorganization in labour it would represent.
Let those who expect any good out of such harsh treatment be undeceived. We shall only succeed in bringing shame upon 40,000 young men, who, under the present circumstances, represent not only an important, but also a necessary asset, and most of whom belong to respectable families who have assisted one way or another in carrying on the war. We would only discourage and demoralize an army of workers who could prove very useful to the country.
The Government, in spite of the elementary principles of any democratic system, recently passed an ukase imposing a penalty of from $250 to $5,000 or $10,000 upon defaulters, which means that only the poor will go to jail; the others who have means will, for a money consideration, continue to enjoy their freedom. Indeed, this is a nice
way to ajsply the principles of equal rights, but the same thing can be said of the selective Conscription Act which allowed the rich to take advantage of every kind of jurisdiction to avoid enlistment, while the poor were compelled to submit to this condition and enlist.
Therefore we should not be surprised that the workers are avowed enemies of militarism. They are so instinctively, because they know what is good or bad for them and history has taught them long ago that every time a war breaks out they, the poor, have to pay the greatest tribute of blood.
Moreover, Mr. Speaker, I submit that this Government, instead of collecting fines from defaulters, should remember the enormous and absolutely useless expenses to which the conscripts and their families were put. I would like this Government to recall the fickleness which they showed in the enforcing of the Military Service Act, which fickleness caused the conscripts and their families to spend millions, for we have not forgotten that after they had established exemption tribunals, the Government capriciously abolished all exemptions that had been granted, thus putting the conscripts to considerable expense.
I think the Military Service Act has cost everybody enough up to now and that this Government should not further burden the people of this country. Moreover, they would reap no benefit by being too severe. They would only cause a considerable discontent throughout this country which would impede the work of re-construction that we must soon undertake, as we would create much unwillingness among our people.
We fought to secure a world peace. Let us have it first at home. I believe there is enough unrest everywhere without making it any worse. This Government should not only use leniency, but, in all justice, pardon those boys whose education they neglected and perverted, inasmuch as the purpose referred to was concerned.
There are many more matters upon which it is worth while calling public attention at the present time and which must be considered immediately by all those who are interested in the welfare of our country. There is the question of autonomy.
Since I have uttered the word " autonomy," though it was not intended to come within the scope of my remarks, I feel that all I need to say is that this question of the autonomy of Canada is causing much interest throughout this country at the present time. Public opinion feels anxious and uneasy over what is going on to-day in Great Britain regarding the Dominions. As
far as I am concerned-I regret to say it, but 1 do so because I feel it is necessary-I have no confidence in the ability of the Prime Minister in defending and safeguarding Canada's autonomy; I do not believe in his patriotism as a Canadian because I look upon him as an Imperialist first and always.
At the present time, the status of our Dominion is undetermined, unsettled and uncertain; the press reports are contradictory; we do not know whereat we stand. They have talked about the creation of an Imperial Council in which all the Dominions will be represented. Well, Mr. Speaker, I submit that the creation of any Imperial body in which all Dominions should be represented, would mean the complete surrender of the autonomy of these Dominions. But I hope, Mr. Speaker, that we have not fallen so low that the status of Canada can be modified without the representatives of the people being consulted, and I trust that if ever a change is made, it will be made by those who received the proper authority from the hands of the people.
There are many other questions which were discussed in this House and which will come up again before us, such as the cost of living, a most important problem at th^ present time; the tariff; the civil re-establishment of returned soldiers; the labour question and the special attention which we are called upon to give to what I shall call the great industry of the country, I mean agriculture, every one of these problems is of vital interest to the future of Canada and I intend to deal with them later during the present session, but, on this occasion, I thought I should limit my remarks to what I consider the first step in the work of re-construction.
After we have re-established a constitutional and democratic government and freedom in this country, when we have a Franchise Act based upon principles of justice, when the Government realize the importance of the sacredness of the prestige and dignity of the judiciary, when the sword of Damocles that is held oyer the head of many of our fellow-citizens is taken down, then, Sir, we shall have established a solid foundation upon which we may confidently build up our national fabric.
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH.
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY.