Agar Rodney ADAMSON

ADAMSON, Agar Rodney

Personal Data

Party
Progressive Conservative
Constituency
York West (Ontario)
Birth Date
November 8, 1901
Deceased Date
April 8, 1954
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agar_Rodney_Adamson
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=3f27b0a5-3b86-4f3a-8bab-f44a940c0742&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
mining engineer

Parliamentary Career

March 26, 1940 - December 10, 1942
CON
  York West (Ontario)
December 11, 1942 - April 16, 1945
PC
  York West (Ontario)
June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
PC
  York West (Ontario)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
PC
  York West (Ontario)
August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
PC
  York West (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 581 of 582)


May 23, 1940

Mr. A. R. ADAMSON (York West):

Mr. Speaker, it is with great misgivings that I rise in the house for the first time, not only because of my very obvious shortcomings, but because I feel that this is an hour the seriousness of which requires action, not words. It is only because what I have to say to-night will in my view be of some assistance to the government in its very heavy task that I rise in my place and take up the time of this honourable house.

During the course of the debate on the motion it was apparent to me that each member of the government who spoke took great care to stress the fact that the government was not conducting a limited liability war. They took very great care to leave that impression, and each one of them used the word "complacency". The government "doth protest too much, methinks".

Mr. Speaker, it is not my intention to reopen the old sores of the campaign or to expect an explanation of many of the statements which were made at that time but which to this date have not been satisfactorily explained. However, since I have been sitting in the house, two points have been raised by my leader, the leader of the opposition (Mr. Hanson), which have not yet been satisfactorily answered by the government. I refer first to the suggestion made by my leader that some drastic alterations of plans were

made on those three crucial days, September 3, 4 and 5. Hon. members must realize that we had and still have a very capable general staff, and I think it will be agreed that it was inconceivable that the general staff did not have some plan, some mobilization order or some scheme prepared, the orders and blue prints of which were in operation or in existence, to be used in the event of hostilities breaking out.

As I am informed, this plan called for the immediate concentration of four divisions: one at Camp Borden, one at Yalcartier, one at Sarcee, one elsewhere, and a very considerable concentration of artillery and ancillary troops at Petawawa. On September 3 the royal engineers in Toronto immediately began the purchase of large amounts of equipment, lumber and other supplies for huts and other buildings to be erected at Camp Borden. Work was carried on through the night of September 3, a Sunday, and again on the following Monday. On the Monday afternoon, that day being Labour day, a drastic change was ordered by Ottawa. Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment had been ordered and sent to its destination, but nothing more was done. That equipment lay at Camp Borden for several months. The 300 carpenters who had been hired went up to Camp Borden, but were discharged shortly afterwards. The Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) will have to show why that plan was altered. Otherwise, the militia department must have been working under an entirely erroneous conception for those three days. I happen to have seen the material so I know of what I speak.

The present leader of the opposition brought up the matter of faulty gas masks and his statement was absolutely and categorically denied by the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Rogers). As a member of this house I naturally took his word to be true, but quite by accident I happened to meet a friend of mine who had soldiered with me. In the course of a casual conversation he asked me if I had heard about the 90,000 gas masks which had to be got rid of, and I said, "No." He told me that they had had to be sent back to the manufacturer because they were not suitable for the new type of gas which had been perfected. I questioned him further about this because he had no possible opportunity of seeing Hansard. I contend that his is a statement which will require an answer from the Minister of National Defence.

I have some knowledge of chemical warfare and I understand that this new gas is one of the hydrocarbons, similar to carbon monoxide

War Appropriation-Mr. Adamson

As hon. members who have worn gas masks will know, the hydrocarbons are not filterable by an ordinary respirator. Carbon monoxide has not been used because it dissipates rapidly into the air, but apparently this new gas has been perfected. This is a matter of grave importance, and I think the Minister of National Defence should tell us whether the situation has been satisfactorily cleared up. Perhaps hon. members will be interested to know something of the pathology of these two types of gases. I should like to quote Doctor Axel Hdser, the famous Swedish expert on Experimental Pathology:

Certain poison gases specifically attack the terminal organs-

That is the nerve ganglia. He continues:

The action of phosgene on the finest ramifications of the pneumo-gastric nerves which surround the alveoli is somewhat different. The patient himself is not aware of it. By the action of the gas on the nerve extremities the walls of the alveoli, which separate the capillary vessels from the air cells, become porous and the blood serum begins to filter into the alveoli, till air can no longer penetrate to provide the red corpuscles with their oxygen.

And further:

Asphyxiating gases cause loss of oxygen by preventing the entry of air into the blood. Other gases produce the same effect differently; carbon monoxide, for instance, attacks the red corpuscles and combines with haemoglobin so as to prevent its ordinary function of absorbing oxygen and carrying it into all the organs. The patient then succumbs to internal asphyxia, the lungs remaining full of oxygen but the blood being badly provided with it. Carbon monoxide, however, owing to its low density, is only employed in special circumstances as a war gas.

As I understand it, the improvement in this hydrocarbon gas is such that new respirator filters must be employed. I should like the Minister of National Defence to clear this matter up.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
Full View Permalink

May 23, 1940

Mr. ADAMSON:

I am delighted to get the true story, and I shall be interested in knowing what has happened in connection with this matter. The house, I think, is in a better position now that the situation has been cleared up and it knows the facts. I hope that as the session goes on, any inquiries of or any differences we have with the Minister of National Defence will be dealt with as quickly and as suitably as this one has been.

In conclusion, I merely want to say this, that I am in deadly earnest. We have no time to waste. This is a matter of hours. The government should be prepared to take emergency measures instantly, not to wait; because if we fail, if the lights are put out on this parliament hill, the next time a parliament is here assembled, the government will have a majority of about 99-8 per cent; there will be but one speech, and before that speech is given, hon. members, all being in uniform, will raise their right hands in salute, and shout two words which God forbid should ever be uttered in this chamber.

On motion of Mr. Kuhl the debate was

adjourned.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
Full View Permalink

May 23, 1940

Mr. ADAMSON:

The statement I made was this, that in reply to the leader of the opposition, who stated that some 90,000 gas masks had had to be discarded, the hon. minister made a categorical denial that this was done. I happened to have met one of the troops at the gas training school who served with .me. Obviously he had not seen Hansard. His statement, "Did you hear about the 90,000 gas masks which had to be sent back to the manufacturer?" rather startled me, in view of the categorical denial given by the minister to the statement of the leader of the opposition. I questioned him further, and he said that a new type of gas has been perfected and is now in use. Apparently it is one of the new hydrocarbon compounds such as carbon monoxide. I happen to know that carbon monoxide will penetrate the old-fashioned gas mask, and I was interested enough in the matter to bring it up for the purpose of obtaining a statement from the

War Appropriation-Mr. Adamson

minister, because I myself was through the gas school last summer and received gas instruction at camp Niagara, so I happen to know that these hydrocarbons are a filterable gas, they cannot be stopped by the filter which is in use.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
Full View Permalink

May 23, 1940

Mr. ADAMSON:

Certainly.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
Full View Permalink

May 23, 1940

Mr. ADAMSON:

He categorically denied that this had happened. I merely bring this up to outline the situation, and I am sure the Minister of National Defence will be able to clarify it. The matter is so serious that I thought it was worth while bringing it to the attention of this house.

We are facing an extremely grave situation. W e are up against an entirely new type of warfare. None of us in this house has experienced this particular type of warfare before.

It is my opinion that we should take immediate steps to organize the country on the best basis for overseas service and home defence. We are not sure from where or how the next blow will fall. I suggest that in view of the terrible peril in which we are to-day,, the recruiting of a third division is completely inadequate.

I suggest that the government take stock of the entire Canadian picture and tiy to produce those troops for which we in Canada have a peculiar genius. My riding is one of the largest railway ridings in Canada and railroad men come to me and ask why a railway corps cannot be organized. They talk about the wonderful work of Canadian railway troops at the battle of Vimy ridge. This was perhaps the best example up to that time or since of the splendid coordination of all arms of the service-air, railway, transport, infantry and artillery. It was the first occasion on which all arms of the service operated together and started moving at a certain zero hour. I think the organization of a railway troops corps should be proceeded with immediately.

There is another matter. We in Canada are peculiarly blessed in having a great number of highly trained hard-rock miners. In South Africa all the mining is done by natives, but we have skilled miners and tunnelers who are familiar with all types of rock and earth conditions. That presents a unique opportunity; for not only are our miners accustomed to working under different conditions as between one camp and another, but conditions often vary substantially from one end of a camp to the other. I suggest that the government utilize the services of these highly skilled men. Here we have an industry that has built and perfected a great number of new tools to suit conditions in Canada. Certainly we do not know what type of warfare we may have to meet in the coming months or the coming years; but we do know that a great part of Europe is mountainous and rocky, and a corps of expert miners, trained in the use of power tools and hard-rock equipment, would be a tremendous asset if we were called upon to fight in Italy or in some of the Balkan states. I make that suggestion to the government in all sincerity.

Another suggestion I have to make is with regard to mountaineer troops. At the outbreak of war the Canadian Amateur Ski Association sent word to all ski clubs and to all its branches and posts and received an

War Appropriation-Mr. Adamson

absolutely unanimous 100 per cent reply from young men trained as skiers, many of them trained in the art of mountaineering. They offered themselves unreservedly to serve their country in time of peril. After recent events I do not have to tell members of this house what a tremendous advantage a trained corps of mountaineer troops would be to Canada. If invasion should unfortunately come to our shores, we have mountains and we have snow, and we will need such troops. I suggest, therefore, that the government take steps to train a corps of mountaineer troops in the shortest possible time.

I come now to the tanks. Here again we have in Canada a great number of loggers, men used to driving heavy trucks and heavy transports, men used to driving mining and logging trains in our great north country. They are almost trained now as tank drivers. They are used to picking their way across country; they understand heavy machinery and how to work it. One of the most serious criticisms that can be levelled against the present administration in view of recent events in the low countries is that we have not a great tank corps here in Canada. That is something we could have built up. It would perhaps take time to build aeroplane engines, but we have steel mills and the great automobile industry, which has built caterpillar tractors. We have men who have operated them and who could do so again. I wish some member of the government could rise in his place and tell me, "We have a thousand tanks. We have begun to establish a great tank corps." Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to hear the government say that we have tanks at the present time and that we are operating them. But in Oshawa to-day a tank battalion is being trained, and it uses a piece of rope carried between two men to represent a tank. That is almost as severe an indictment against the government as anything I know.

To make matters worse, in Toronto we organized a charity to help train tank troops. It was called the armoured troops fund. It was a public charity, not for the purpose of providing socks or comforts for the troops training at Camp Borden, but to provide equipment for tank units, research and development of actual vehicles of war. I quote from the prospectus of the fund:

For further research and development of apparatus utilizing "electric eye" for use with miniature range enabling indoor gunnery training of superior value to be given at low cost with high degree of safety.

For further development of a "light-projector" gun for gunnery training in tanks or vehicles

across country. This apparatus enables observation of fire under field conditions without the use of ammunition.

For research and development of a simple and sturdy two-way radio telephone set. At present only ^ two expensive British standard sets are available. A technician has already been sent to Camp Borden to assist in the design and when plans and specifications and a model set are prepared the defence department will be asked to furnish them.

For research and development of a basic training vehicle, a vehicle having the general characteristics of the tank on which training may be given in driving, maintenance, gunnery and practice without wearing out the standard tank equipment, to be constructed using commercial truck chassis and standard parts as far as possible.

There was a considerable amount of other equipment. The ironical thing about it all is that at the bottom of the circular appears this statement underlined:

Donations to the fund wall be exempt from income tax up to fifty per cent of the net taxable income.

Hon. members will be lucky if we have any income to be taxed on unless we do better than we are doing at ithe present time.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
Full View Permalink