And there is that same personal friendship between us at the present time. We may hold different political opinions, but as individuals we leave those things aside, no matter what bitter enemies we may be in politics. My father endeavoured to instil into me and the other members of the family that same desire to foster a better feeling between the two races. As a physician and a public man I have endeavoured in every way to follow in my father's footsteps in that regard. The dearest and truest friends I have, in and -out of my profession, are of English-speaking descent, and the great majority of them are Protestants. I can also say that in my active professional practice the great majority of my clients were nonCatholics, and the same thing applies to my large drug business in the town of Bathurst. My three daughters-I am going all the way- were educated and received their university degrees at an English institution in the city of Halifax. Why? Because I desired them to have the broad English view as well as the French view, so that they might be better Canadians. My only son is a third year medical student, not at the French university of Laval, for which I have a great deal of respect, nor at the university of Montreal, but at the English Protestant Dalhousie university, for the same reason.
I ask this house: Is such a background conducive to fanatical expressions in this house with regard to race? I deny that in toto. My sole endeavour has been and will continue to be to enlighten my fellow-Canadians as much as I possibly can as to the factual, historical, political and racial significance of conscription as I have studied the question, and to point out the explosive dangers to the nation of any such measure. I realize that I have not much time at my disposal, though I did not take note of the time I started to speak; but I propose to indicate certain facts concerning conscription which are found in a book which I think it very important that every hon. member of
Plebiscite Act-Mr. Veniot
this house should read, a book to which I referred a few moments ago. This book contains all the historical facts, for which all the references are indicated. It was written by a person who lives outside Canada, a former New Yorker but now a Washingtonian. That may foe disagreeable to some hon. members in this house who formerly preached the slogan, "No truck or trade with the United States." The author of this book is a disinterested outsider who has no axe to grind for the province of Quebec or any other province of this dominion; for eonscriptionists or anti-conscriptionists; a person who spent six months practically without interruption in the library of this House of Commons, as can be verified by consulting our librarians, and in the archives of the government, gathering material for this very valuable work.
The first chapter of this book is concerned with the roots of French-Canadianismit indicates the struggles which took place from the conquest of New France by England up to the beginning of the last war. The second chapter deals with the trials of French-Canadian nationality. The third chapter indicates French-Canadian nationalism at the outbreak of the war. The fourth and fifth chapters, which should interest this house, show the united Canada of 1914 and the revival of national conflict with French Canada on the defensive in 1916. May I be permitted, as time allows, to read a few quotations from this work, the first from page 55:
Britain entered the war on August 4. . . On the same day the governor general telegraphed the king that "Canada stands united from the Pacific to the Atlantic in her determination to uphold the honour and traditions of our empire."
Then, in the next paragraph:
The most striking phenomenon in the first months of the war was the practical unanimity of all shades of Canadian opinion.
And a few lines further down:
But in 1914 Canadians of both races and all religions were bound in a sort of union sacrie * . . throughout the length and breadth of the province of Quebec there were demonstrations of popular acclaim for the cause of Britain and her allies.
And on page 56:
In Quebec, the old capital of Canada, there were enthusiastic pro-war demonstrations in which English, Irish, and French Canadians joined.
And in the next paragraph:
With a unanimity that is all the more striking when the bitter divisions of the later years of the war are considered, the representatives of every shade of French-Canadian political opinion, Liberals, Conservatives and even Nationalists seemed to vie with each other in expressions of enthusiasm for the allied
cause and for Canadian participation. . . . From the very beginning of the European conflict, the official leader of French-Canadian thought-
Sir Wilfrid Laurier-
-ranged himself on the side of an active Canadian participation in the war.
Then, on page 57:
Laurier appealed to his own countrymen in eloquent terms to enlist.
And on page 58:
That the Catholic leaders did not at this time shirk from envisaging a whole-hearted Canadian cooperation in the empire's war effort is proved by Archbishop Bruchesi's supplementary statement-
Then the statement follows. And further:
Laurier . . . admonished the French Canadians among the soldiers to remember that "England has protected our liberties and our faith. Under her flag we have found peace, and now in appreciation of what England has done, you go as French Canadians to do your utmost to keep the Union Jack flying in honour to the breeze."
And at page 59:
Pastoral letters . . . have been at times of great influence in keeping the French Canadians in the path of obedience and loyalty to the mother country.
And further down the page:
The bishops did not hesitate to assert that because England was engaged in the war, it was clear that the fate of all parts of the empire was linked to the success of her arms.
I could go on quoting endlessly to show that in those days the most perfect harmony and unity existed among Canadians of all races, all creeds and all nationalities.
Then, at page 64:
On the Liberal as much as on the Conservative side of the House of Commons it seemed to be the consensus of opinion that the government should be given carte blanche to help win the war.
And at page 67:
There was absolutely no difference of opinion on the righteousness of the cause of the allies or of the necessity of Canada's coming to the help of the mother country in the great emergency. *
I now pass to the next chapter, in order to save time. At page S3 I find this:
It was only natural that there arose at that time a widely supported movement for the formation of a battalion to be exclusively composed of French Canadians.
There was an insistent demand for a French-Canadian unit.
French Canadians were sometimes assigned to units predominantly English-speaking and protestant, where the atmosphere was decidedly uncongenial to them.
Plebiscite Act-Mr. Homuth
And further down:
They were further annoyed by the lack of French-Canadian instructors and by the refusal of the authorities to allow more than one French-Canadian company under French-Canadian officers in the first contingent. . . The consequent desire for a unit in which French Canadians would be assured of a sympathetic milieu for the free exercise of their religion and customs was very strong. Meanwhile French-Canadian leaders of both parties had given their support to the scheme for a French-Canadian unit. . . .
The consequent authorization on September 30 for the formation of a battalion to be known as the Royal 22nd French Canadians was hailed with patriotic satisfaction throughout the province of Quebec. Conservative and Liberal editors of rural and city newspapers alike united in cordial approval of the scheme. . . .
With the formation of a French-Canadian battalion and the recruiting campaign, of which the Parc Sohmer meeting was an outstanding event, it seemed that French Canada's war effort had been given exactly the proper impetus and that it would only be necessary to keep it going.
Immediately following are these words:
Unfortunately, the government and particularly the recruiting authorities failed to do just that. The Conservative government of Sir Robert Borden was severely handicapped throughout the war by the fact that its French-Canadian members represented a minority instead of a majority of their compatriots.
And the further quotation at page 90:
The year 1915 was marked not only by a magnificent expansion of Canada's wit effort, but also by the revival of racial conflict and a decided break in the unanimity of French- and English-speaking Canadians for the successful prosecution of the war. . . .
Underneath this seeming unanimity, there were forces, currents of emotion and counteremotion that were destined seriously .to impede Canada's war effort and practically to destroy the 1914 enthusiasm of French Canadians for active participation in the European war.
And on the following page:
It was most unfortunate for the cause of national solidarity that the controversy over the teaching of French in the Ontario schools should have come to a head at this moment to strengthen those forces of disunion. . . .
The agitation over the Ontario bilingual schools . . . results in growing bitterness between' the races until the average French Canadian lost a good deal of his enthusiasm for fighting England's battles.
And on page 92:
As a result of this instinctive feeling, it was not surprising to see French Canada's war effort become less enthusiastic as the Ontario schools controversy progressed.
And further clown on the same page:
The bitterness aroused by the dispute over the Ontario bilingual schools was responsible more than anything else for the gradual slowing up of the war effort of French Canada.
And at page 93:
To have such an issue raised at a moment when mutual tolerance and cooperation were essential to a successful prosecution of the war was unfortunate in the highest degree.
I realize the time at my disposal has practically elapsed. In conclusion I would ask every hon. member to take cognizance of this work, if he sincerely desires to be posted on the exact significance of conscription as a menace to the unity of the Canadian people.
May I terminate my observations by quoting from a letter received only a few days ago from a friend:
What aire we going to do about conscription, after the plebiscite? Why hold conscription like a red rag in front of a bull? Let ns bear in mind its true significance, and drop it like a curse. Let us direct all our efforts toward any other method of raising the manpower required for the outside defence of Canada. Let us eliminate from our vocabularies this element of national discord and cleavage, and get together on some common ground where susceptibilities are not smouldering at red heat. Let us act and talk more like brothers under the skin, which we really are. Let us consolidate our forces, not divide them, bearing in mind the tremendous task which we all have of winning this war at the side of our sister nations of the commonwealth.
To indicate that there are no hard feelings in my heart toward any hon. member who may have criticized me, and particularly toward the leader of the opposition, may I, through you, sir, and with my compliments, offer a gift of this book to the leader of the opposition so that he may have an opportunity of studying it and conveying some of its contents to his fellow members.
Mr. KARL K. HOMUTH (Waterloo South): Mr. Speaker, it is not my intention
to follow the arguments of the last speaker except to make reference to some of the statements which he made. He referred to the question of conscription. This question of conscription has been raised so often in this house that one would think we did not have conscription in Canada. We have conscription in Canada; let us face the fact. The only difference is that we have not conscription for overseas service. Boys are being taken away from the farms and factories of this country and conscripted into the Canadian army. I think we should make that perfectly clear and get away from this nonsense of intimating that we have not conscription in this country. Furthermore, I should have thought that the last speaker in his eloquent pleading for national unity would have committed himself as to where he stands on this question of the plebiscite and what active part he intends to
Plebiscite Act-Mr. Homuth
take to try to get the people of Canada to vote "yes" to relieve the government of restrictions.
Topic: PLEBISCITE ACT
Subtopic: PROVISION FOR TAKING OF VOTE ON ANY QUESTION SUBMITTED BY WAY OF PLEBISCITE