René-Antoine PELLETIER

PELLETIER, René-Antoine

Personal Data

Party
Social Credit
Constituency
Peace River (Alberta)
Birth Date
September 2, 1908
Deceased Date
March 30, 1993
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/René-Antoine_Pelletier
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=41716d36-84f9-415f-8724-80dc86bfc398&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
station agent

Parliamentary Career

October 14, 1935 - January 25, 1940
SC
  Peace River (Alberta)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 154)


September 12, 1939

Mr. R. A. PELLETIER (Peace River):

Mr. Speaker, I shall at the outset of my remarks offer congratulations to the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Usley) upon the clear manner in which he presented his budget speech this afternoon. We might say also that we feel extremely sorry to hear of the illness which led to the resignation of the former Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning). We in this corner of the house feel particularly sorry that the government should have to suffer the loss of his services at this time. We always felt that the hon. gentleman was a most able and sincere individual. So far as we were concerned, he always extended to us the greatest courtesy and we again offer our sympathy to the government for having lost his services.

I am sure all of us realize that it was not an easy task for any government or any individual to have to face this country at this time and present a budget. We feel sorry that such a situation has been brought about, but we do admire the minister for the courage he displayed and we sincerely hope to be able to offer our cooperation. During the last few days of this session we have been asked to give our cooperation to the government, which we have done gladly, in order that the business of the house might be rushed through because of the emergencies of the present situation. We gave our cooperation because

we felt it was in the best interests of the country to do so. But the question of a declaration of war has been decided; the necessary funds have been voted to carry on, and we feel it proper to call a halt at this time in order to review the important decisions we are about to make.

The hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Manion) has so thoroughly offered his cooperation to the government that he appears to have abdicated his position as leader of the opposition in this house. As a matter of fact,, at the present time we have what might be-called a union or national government. Apparently there is no need to include-opposition members within the ranks of the-government when the government is receiving such whole-hearted cooperation from the leader of the opposition. We understand, of course, the motives which have led the leader of the opposition to offer his cooperation; he has done so in a spirit of assistance to the government at a critical time. Nevertheless we maintain that, once the government has been given power and authority to act, there is no need for undue haste in discussing matters that will affect, not only the present situation but the aftermath of the war.

We are grateful to the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) for having been kind enough to clarify the situation with regard to a general election this year. He has made it quite clear that parliament will be assembled once again. I think that is the only fair thing that could be done and I thank the Prime Minister for that demonstration of a really democratic spirit. This will mean that, no matter what policies may be pursued in the future, we shall have an opportunity of discussing them and leading public thought by their being presented once again to parliament before the people are called upon to decide.

We have not had time to go into the budget in detail. We are more -or less in the same position as was the hon. member for Kootenay East (Mr. Stevens) this afternoon. Apart from touching generally on the broadest points of the budget, it is impossible for us at this time to visualize fully the different provisions and what they will mean to the people of Canada. We do know that we are facing a serious situation and that these measures have been brought down in order that we may meet that situation as adequately as possible. I believe it is proper for a private member to attempt to analyse the situation as it exists to-day and as it may exist in the near future. We know the present alignment between the conflicting armies, but the great question in Europe

The Budget-Mr. Pelletier

to-day is Russia. Everyone is wondering what Russia will do finally, and as yet no one has been able to answer that question. There are those who believe that in the event of Russia becoming involved in the war on the side of the foe of Canada, the agony of the present crisis would be greatly prolonged. For this reason we should take the proper steps to protect the people of this country in a financial way.

No one can know what will happen, but I think we should pay heed to the warnings which have been given from time to time by the Prime Minister as well as to the declarations by Mr. Eden of Great Britain as recently as yesterday. It has been stated that we are involved in a war which has for its purpose the complete destruction of Hitlerism from the face of the earth. That is quite a job, and I believe we are going to be a long time doing it unless we bring about universal conscription of all our resources. In my opinion that is the only way to strike a quick and decisive blow at the enemy.

In bringing down the budget this afternoon, the Minister of National Revenue stated that there were only three methods by which money could be raised, namely, by taxation, by borrowing and by inflation. He gave a good deal of time to the question of inflation and pointed out the dangers of an inflationary policy at this time. He should have gone further and stated that inflation is dangerous only when it is inflation, but that reflation is entirely different. As a matter of fact, the minister admitted that there would be a certain amount of inflation at the beginning. He felt that this would be absolutely necessary. I believe he used the wrong term. Instead of calling it inflation, he should have called it reflation. Reflation is getting back to the former level, and that is the term which he should have used.

There is also the question of borrowing. The minister did not go into this in detail, but I should like to submit to him that there is danger in borrowing. The minister stated that it would be necessary to borrow money to a certain extent to finance the war. The result of such a course will be that the bonds of this country will be placed upon the market and be made available for purchase by various institutions. There might be a tendency on the part of banking and lending institutions and others to call in their present loans and thus restrict the amount of credit and currency available to industry, the proceeds being invested in government bonds. This is what has happened to a great extent during the

I Mr. Pelletier.]

past few years because of the economic pressure and distress which have been prevalent in the country.

This afternoon the hon. member for Kootenay East referred to gold. He pointed out that without using any harebrained .financial scheme, without using any wild form of inflation, it would be quite possible and proper to use our own gold resources. The amount of the gold backing of our dollar could be increased, and thus our gold would be used to greater advantage than it has been in the past. This would not be taxation; this would not be borrowing; this would be using currency in terms of public need. There has never been a greater need for public credit than at this very moment.

There are in the budget many matters which need to be discussed, but I am particularly glad to note that every effort is to be made to control any undue rise in prices. I know the minister will agree with me that inflation can be brought about if there is no control over the rise of prices. I have a clipping here which I should like to place on the record, showing the amount of products in cold storage in Canada at the present time, and it might be interesting later on to see how they have increased in price without any new sources of production being drawn upon.

The quantity of creamery butter held in cold storage in Canada on September 1, 1939, was 54,975,936 pounds, as compared with 61,113,630 pounds on the same date last year. The stocks of other commodities held in cold storage are as follows:

Commodities Held in Cold Storage on September 1, 1939

Dressed poultry pounds 2,894,628Cheese pounds 52,507,421Dairy butter pounds 291,177Cold storage eggs dozen 7,861,333Fresh eggs dozen 591,488Frozen eggs dozen 6,009,041Pork pounds 25,919,044Beef pounds 9,932,231Veal pounds 3,733,649Mutton and lamb pounds 844,495Frozen fresh fish pounds 34,661,250Frozen smoked fish pounds 1,964,588Dried, pickled and salted fish., pounds 3,421,578

And so on. A complete list is given of the amount of stocks now held in cold storage in this country. Some people have already taken advantage of present prices to make a profit out of those commodities. I must say that we in this comer of the house are convinced that any increased profit has certainly not gone to the primary producer. Only yesterday I received a long distance telephone call

The Budget-Mr. Maclnnis

from a manufacturer in Montreal complaining that they were unable to carry on their manufacturing activities in that city because they were unable to get any sugar. When they went to the wholesaler, he told them he had no sugar and to go to the manufacturer; and when they went to the manufacturer, he sent them back to the wholesaler. The result was that they could get no sugar at all. Undoubtedly, when the sugar now withheld is put on the market, it will be sold at a higher price than ever before.

As the hon. member for Calgary East (Mr. Landeryou), who spoke before me, said, there can be no doubt in the country as to the stand taken by this group concerning universal conscription. We have felt that this is the only way by which we can get efficiency of action and equality of sacrifice. We feel that only by this means can we attain these results which are desired by every Canadian in this country. We believe that, no matter how great the financial contribution may be, it can never be as great as the contribution of human life. We feel that a repetition of the methods of financing the last war can only bring about a repetition of the results-debt, poverty and unemployment. Furthermore, the people would be given greater confidence in this parliament if it demanded in this hour of crisis an equality of sacrifice so far as that is possible. It is by these considerations we areT motivated, and we should like to see these policies brought into effect at this time. We feel that only in this way can parliament have the full confidence of the Canadian people. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, we have decided that the only fair thing to do is to bring in an amendment to the resolution that was moved by the Minister of National Revenue this afternoon, and I shall place it before the house in a moment.

Our amendment calls for the setting of a committee to study ways and means of conscripting finance. We feel that this would not necessarily mean a long time to get results. A committee of this kind could work just as quickly as any other board or committee which has been set up or proposed by the government at this time. If industry can be conscripted, we feel that it is just as easy, if not easier, to conscript finance, and that it can be done just as rapidly. We feel that in moving this amendment we are placing before parliament what the people of this country would like to see done. They have no hesitation in offering their lives, and I feel that no one should have any hesitation in contributing to the extent of his financial ability to the cost

87134-lli

of the war in which we are engaged at the present time. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the hon. member for Camrose (Mr. Marshall):

That the Speaker do not now leave the chair, but that this house set up a committee to study ways and means of conscripting finance, and thus bring about a greater equality of sacrifice.

Topic:   EXCESS PROFITS TAXATION ACT
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September 9, 1939

Mr. R. A. PELLETIER (Peace River):

Mr. Speaker, all of us realize at this time that we have indeed entered upon a very grave hour. This afternoon we listened with great attention to the dramatic and convincing appeal of the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe), a member of parliament representing a constituency in the province of Quebec. We have also had the pleasure of listening to two other hon. members from the same province, both of whom held entirely different views to those expressed this afternoon by the Minister of Justice. This afternoon the Minister of Justice stated clearly and definitely the position of Canada with regard to our relationship with Great Britain and the rest of the empire. We know that so far as we are concerned at the present time the attitude taken by the Minister of Justice cannot be questioned.

So far as Canada is concerned the fact is that we are committed to be of help to Great Britain. This is a fact which could not have been ignored by hon. members from the province of Quebec prior to the present situation. During the course of his remarks this afternoon

The Address-Mr. Pelletier

the Minister of Justice said that we in this corner of the house must take upon our shoulders the full responsibility for dividing this country at this particular time. But where does this division come from? I ask hon. members if it comes from our group. So far as we are concerned we feel that we are taking the right attitude. Why? Because we know it always has been the policy of this government to commit us to the defence of Canada, of Great Britain and of the British empire.

When we passed estimates in this house for defence, it was a question of the defence of what? Of Canada only? Of course not. Those estimates were for the defence of the British empire as well as of ourselves. Yet to-day when we are called upon, to use those defences, on behalf not only of Canada but of the British empire, there are those in this country who say that we should have nothing to do with the British empire. I am sorry I cannot take that particular stand. In this grave hour I am in duty bound to follow the Minister of Justice of Canada because I believe that he has set out the position in a manner which cannot possibly be contradicted.

He has called upon Canada to unite. I repeat that we in this comer have sought to bring about unity in Canada by providing the means whereby we can at least have equality of sacrifice. In my opinion certain, hon. members from other parts of the country have failed to see the significance of what we have attempted to do and have seen fit to take a different course. They have been led to believe that the word "conscription" means something horrid. Who is to blame for that? I think my hon. leader pointed out quite clearly last night that the word had been used for political purposes and for political advantages. If to-day we are faced with a grave situation, if to-day there is possibly a lack of unity, who is to blame? It is those in Canada who played politics with the word "conscription" and sought to divide the country for a political expediency.

It is no use making recriminations. It is no use going back over the past. We have at the present time a situation which must be faced. I believe it was said by someone this afternoon that if we do not fight to defend the frontier of the Rhine, the time will come when we shall have to defend the frontier of the St. Lawrence. In my opinion that is quite correct. Those of us who do not want to take full, adequate and efficient measures for the protection of our own country may one day be called upon to face the same situation as other men and women have had to face. Not only have men. in other countries

had to sacrifice their blood and their lives, but their wives and daughters have had to serve behind guns in the trenches and elsewhere.

So far as the remarks this afternoon of the Minister of Justice are concerned, we in this corner take the stand that we quite agree with him in connection with the legal standing that exists between Canada and the rest of the British empire. We belong to the British empire, and we are committed to that action. The only way in which we could do otherwise would be for this parliament to declare its independence of the British empire, and I am sure that none of us is ready to do that at the present time. However, there is another question. The Minister of Justice stated definitely and clearly that he was absolutely opposed to conscription. He stated that if it was a question of coming down to conscription, he and certain of his colleagues whom he named would be prepared to step out and let others take their places.

Where does the division come from? Does it come from this corner of the house or does it come from somewhere else? We have sought to bring about equality of sacrifice in this country. We believe firmly that the only method by which that can be brought about is by universal conscription, what we have termed the conscription of finance, industry and man power. We have called conscription the poor man's friend. If hon. members in some parts of this house will reflect, I know they cannot help but take the same attitude we are taking. Only to-day I stood upon the corner of one of the streets in Ottawa, and what did I see? I saw some of the boys who had been newly conscripted walking up the street. Who were they? They were those whom we saw in the bread lines only a short time ago. They had been driven to conscription because of what? They were compelled to take this course because economic circumstances were such that they were forced to go somewhere in order to get a decent suit of clothes to put upon their backs and some bread to eat.

That is the situation, and there are those who say that conscription is something unfair. Those people fail to take cognizance of the fact that economic circumstances are forcing this conscription. They fail to realize that perhaps there are other men who are in a position different from that of these poor boys who have been unemployed up to the present time. There are men in this country who are not necessarily obliged to join up to get a suit of clothes and $1.30 a day. The only way whereby we can have justice and fair play is to bring about the conscription of man

The Address-Mr. Pelletier

power. We are insisting on that, but we are not insisting upon it any more than we are insisting upon the conscription of financial and industrial power.

We believe that in order to have efficiency, in order to prevent more bungling, in order to have more strength, in order to have some unity, it is necessary to have, not just the one but the three together. I ask hon. members to think about this. When Canadian mothers see their boys go out of the country to fight elsewhere-and that is what is going to happen-what will be the attitude of the other mothers? They will say, "We are going to see that our boys do not go across." In time the government will realize that pressure of public opinion will inevitably bring them to that conclusion. Then where will the Minister of Justice stand? He has declared himself to-day as being absolutely and bitterly opposed to conscription, and yet we know that he will have to face that situation at some time in the future.

There are other reasons why the situation is so grave at the present time; and we have urged the complete conscription of all our resources in Canada because we believe that this is absolutely necessary. We believe further that the time to do it is now, when there is some vitality left in this country, and not to wait until we have a situation where we are unable to do anything because of economic circumstances. The time to take such action is now.

Let me refer for a moment to the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King). First, let me say that we fully realize how grave are the responsibilities resting upon the administration of this country at the present time. We realize full well that it is their duty and responsibility to give guidance, to supply information, and to let the house know what is going on so as to enable the members to reach sound and proper conclusions, and it is because we have placed our trust in the Prime Minister and in his advisers, and because we have listened to his words of warning, that we have come to the conclusion we have reached. Let me read his words once again. Are these not serious words? The Prime Minister at page 22 of Hansard said:

My hon. friend also gave his impression of what would be the prize the Germans would Beek in the event of victory. He said the prize would be Canada. I noticed in the press last evening that one of the German papers which is supposed to be an organ of the administration had quoted Hitler as saying that if England wished to fight she must remember that if she entered this fight the prize of victory would be the British empire.

Yet we are told in this house that if we oppose the government at this time we are not defending Canada; and that statement is made after it has been boldly stated that Germany's prize, if she won victory in this war, would be Canada. What logic or consistency is there in that argument? Are we to wait until the enemy has reached our frontiers before we strike a blow? That is not a question for us to decide; it is for those who are in a position to know best how this country should be defended.

The Prime Minister went on:

And as my hon. friend has said, there is no portion of the globe which some other nations covet so much, that any nation would be likely to covet so much, as this Dominion of Canada. There is no other portion of the earth's surface that contains such wealth as lies buried here. Nowhere are there such stretches of territory capable of feeding-not hundreds of thousands, but millions of people for generations and generations to come. No, Mr. Speaker, the ambition of this dictator is not Poland.

Again I repeat, these words are given us on the authority of the Prime Minister of this country, who is in a position to know, and therefore the only possible attitude we can take is one of complete reliance upon the information that he has given us. He has informed us that, not Great Britain, not France or some other European country, but Canada itself is facing danger, and the danger is not simply that a few of our soldiers might be killed abroad but that Canada may be invaded. So, as was said by another speaker this afternoon, if we lose the battle on the Rhine frontier the frontier of Canada might be the shores of the St. Lawrence.

There is someone else whom I can quote to show the gravity of the present situation. We have the words of Prime Minister Chamberlain in his letter of August 22, 1939, to the German chancellor, in which I find this paragraph :

It would be a dangerous illusion to think that if war once starts it will come to an early end even if success on any one of the several fronts on which it will be engaged should have been secured.

In the face of that statement, given to us upon the authority of the government, what do we find the policy of the Canadian government to be? It has declared for a policy of partial participation in the war. It has declared its desire to send overseas a certain portion of Canada's forces. But when the time comes for replacements to be provided, who is going to take the place of those who have been wiped out? They can be supplied only from our own country, and that is why I think the Minister of Justice placed

The Address-Mr. Heon

himself in an unsound position this afternoon, because none of us knows what is going to happen in the future.

We in this comer have agitated for a concrete, effective policy which would lead to unity and efficient conduct of our part in the war, a policy which would also prevent bungling and profiteering, and yet we have been told that we are trying to split the country in two. If that had been our attitude it would have been easy for us to move an amendment in order to precipitate such a condition, but we have made it quite clear to the Prime Minister that we do not desire to bring about any such condition in this dominion, that our only interest is in securing fair play for all concerned, and we say that the only just policy for Canada is a policy of complete conscription.

Nobody likes to face the thought of conscription. So far as we in this comer are concerned, at all events, so far as I am concerned, whatever the word "conscription" might convey to some people I am not afraid to face it because in my opinion it is the only action to take. It is the only way to ensure that everybody shall share equally in the sacrifices that will have to be made.

There are many things happening in Canada to-day, and one that surprised me was the attitude of the great leader of the Conservative party. I believe that he is not contributing to this country simply by stating that he will cooperate with the government, when the government has not taken the proper steps. Cooperate in what, I should like to know?

Once again I repeat that we in this corner are not afraid to face the word "conscription." We believe it has been used in the past for reasons of political expediency, by people jockeying to secure positions satisfactory to themselves. Motives have been ascribed to us for our attitude to-day. I deny those motives. We have taken this course for the simple reason that we believe it is in the best interests of this country, and because we are firmly convinced that before hostilities come to an end it will be the only means of saving Canada.

Stress has been laid upon the conscription of man power, but I would point out that we place just as much stress upon the conscription of finance. Some people have asked what we mean by the conscription of finance, and in order to be prepared we have set out definitely and concretely what we mean by the conscription of finance. Let me place it on the record.

We advocate the conscription of finance:

(a) By the creation by the government ol the necessary credit and currency combined, with definite price regulation to prevent any serious inflationary rise in prices;

(b) By borrowing abroad only for the purpose of obtaining needed goods and services beyond the capacity of our people to furnish;

(c) By placing an embargo on capital and capital assets as at the date of the declaration of war;

(d) By requiring that financial institutions and corporations reveal all undisclosed reserves as at the date of the declaration of war, and that these be forthwith conscripted by the government.

(e) By introducing more steeply graded income and profits taxes;

(f) By providing that all equivocation and/or evasion in this regard shall be treated as a treasonable offence.

That is what we have set out with regard to the conscription of finance. We would do the same so far as industry is concerned. When we say that we believe in regimentation at this time and in peace time, does that necessarily imply dictatorship? Of course not. It is simply to secure an effective method of control for the distribution of the products which we have at the present time.

We all realize that when any one of us speaks here this evening, we are slowing up the process of the declaration of war by this country because the Prime Minister made that statement quite plainly this afternoon, and he is now awaiting the vote of this parliament to decide what to do. So far as I am concerned, I have not much more to say, though many things could be said. All I wish to do is to make this assertion in conclusion. We have done what we have done because we believe it is in the best interests of the country. Personally I can do no more than offer my own services to the Minister of National Defence, and I do so here and now for any purpose for which he might wish to use them. This is the way we feel in this comer. Even though our hands, as Mr. Churchill said, become engaged in warlike gestures, nevertheless our hearts will remain at peace if we do our duty. We are doing our duty and we intend to see that others shall do theirs.

Topic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY TO THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
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September 9, 1939

Mr. R. A. PELLETIER (Peace River):

Mr. Speaker, all of us realize at this time that we have indeed entered upon a very grave hour. This afternoon we listened with great attention to the dramatic and convincing appeal of the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe), a member of parliament representing a constituency in the province of Quebec. We have also had the pleasure of listening to two other hon. members from the same province, both of whom held entirely different views to those expressed this afternoon by the Minister of Justice. This afternoon the Minister of Justice stated clearly and definitely the position of Canada with regard to our relationship with Great Britain and the rest of the empire. We know that so far as we are concerned at the present time the attitude taken by the Minister of Justice cannot be questioned.

So far as Canada is concerned the fact is that we are committed to be of help to Great Britain. This is a fact which could not have been ignored by hon. members from the province of Quebec prior to the present situation. During the course of his remarks this afternoon

The Address-Mr. Pelletier

the Minister of Justice said that we in this corner of the house must take upon our shoulders the full responsibility for dividing this country at this particular time. But where does this division come from? I ask hon. members if it comes from our group. So far as we are concerned we feel that we are taking the right attitude. Why? Because we know it always has been the policy of this government to commit us to the defence of Canada, of Great Britain and of the British empire.

When we passed estimates in this house for defence, it was a question of the defence of what? Of Canada only? Of course not. Those estimates were for the defence of the British empire as well as of ourselves. Yet to-day when we are called upon, to use those defences, on behalf not only of Canada but of the British empire, there are those in this country who say that we should have nothing to do with the British empire. I am sorry I cannot take that particular stand. In this grave hour I am in duty bound to follow the Minister of Justice of Canada because I believe that he has set out the position in a manner which cannot possibly be contradicted.

He has called upon Canada to unite. I repeat that we in this comer have sought to bring about unity in Canada by providing the means whereby we can at least have equality of sacrifice. In my opinion certain, hon. members from other parts of the country have failed to see the significance of what we have attempted to do and have seen fit to take a different course. They have been led to believe that the word "conscription" means something horrid. Who is to blame for that? I think my hon. leader pointed out quite clearly last night that the word had been used for political purposes and for political advantages. If to-day we are faced with a grave situation, if to-day there is possibly a lack of unity, who is to blame? It is those in Canada who played politics with the word "conscription" and sought to divide the country for a political expediency.

It is no use making recriminations. It is no use going back over the past. We have at the present time a situation which must be faced. I believe it was said by someone this afternoon that if we do not fight to defend the frontier of the Rhine, the time will come when we shall have to defend the frontier of the St. Lawrence. In my opinion that is quite correct. Those of us who do not want to take full, adequate and efficient measures for the protection of our own country may one day be called upon to face the same situation as other men and women have had to face. Not only have men. in other countries

had to sacrifice their blood and their lives, but their wives and daughters have had to serve behind guns in the trenches and elsewhere.

So far as the remarks this afternoon of the Minister of Justice are concerned, we in this corner take the stand that we quite agree with him in connection with the legal standing that exists between Canada and the rest of the British empire. We belong to the British empire, and we are committed to that action. The only way in which we could do otherwise would be for this parliament to declare its independence of the British empire, and I am sure that none of us is ready to do that at the present time. However, there is another question. The Minister of Justice stated definitely and clearly that he was absolutely opposed to conscription. He stated that if it was a question of coming down to conscription, he and certain of his colleagues whom he named would be prepared to step out and let others take their places.

Where does the division come from? Does it come from this corner of the house or does it come from somewhere else? We have sought to bring about equality of sacrifice in this country. We believe firmly that the only method by which that can be brought about is by universal conscription, what we have termed the conscription of finance, industry and man power. We have called conscription the poor man's friend. If hon. members in some parts of this house will reflect, I know they cannot help but take the same attitude we are taking. Only to-day I stood upon the corner of one of the streets in Ottawa, and what did I see? I saw some of the boys who had been newly conscripted walking up the street. Who were they? They were those whom we saw in the bread lines only a short time ago. They had been driven to conscription because of what? They were compelled to take this course because economic circumstances were such that they were forced to go somewhere in order to get a decent suit of clothes to put upon their backs and some bread to eat.

That is the situation, and there are those who say that conscription is something unfair. Those people fail to take cognizance of the fact that economic circumstances are forcing this conscription. They fail to realize that perhaps there are other men who are in a position different from that of these poor boys who have been unemployed up to the present time. There are men in this country who are not necessarily obliged to join up to get a suit of clothes and $1.30 a day. The only way whereby we can have justice and fair play is to bring about the conscription of man

The Address-Mr. Pelletier

power. We are insisting on that, but we are not insisting upon it any more than we are insisting upon the conscription of financial and industrial power.

We believe that in order to have efficiency, in order to prevent more bungling, in order to have more strength, in order to have some unity, it is necessary to have, not just the one but the three together. I ask hon. members to think about this. When Canadian mothers see their boys go out of the country to fight elsewhere-and that is what is going to happen-what will be the attitude of the other mothers? They will say, "We are going to see that our boys do not go across." In time the government will realize that pressure of public opinion will inevitably bring them to that conclusion. Then where will the Minister of Justice stand? He has declared himself to-day as being absolutely and bitterly opposed to conscription, and yet we know that he will have to face that situation at some time in the future.

There are other reasons why the situation is so grave at the present time; and we have urged the complete conscription of all our resources in Canada because we believe that this is absolutely necessary. We believe further that the time to do it is now, when there is some vitality left in this country, and not to wait until we have a situation where we are unable to do anything because of economic circumstances. The time to take such action is now.

Let me refer for a moment to the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King). First, let me say that we fully realize how grave are the responsibilities resting upon the administration of this country at the present time. We realize full well that it is their duty and responsibility to give guidance, to supply information, and to let the house know what is going on so as to enable the members to reach sound and proper conclusions, and it is because we have placed our trust in the Prime Minister and in his advisers, and because we have listened to his words of warning, that we have come to the conclusion we have reached. Let me read his words once again. Are these not serious words? The Prime Minister at page 22 of Hansard said:

My hon. friend also gave his impression of what would be the prize the Germans would Beek in the event of victory. He said the prize would be Canada. I noticed in the press last evening that one of the German papers which is supposed to be an organ of the administration had quoted Hitler as saying that if England wished to fight she must remember that if she entered this fight the prize of victory would be the British empire.

Yet we are told in this house that if we oppose the government at this time we are not defending Canada; and that statement is made after it has been boldly stated that Germany's prize, if she won victory in this war, would be Canada. What logic or consistency is there in that argument? Are we to wait until the enemy has reached our frontiers before we strike a blow? That is not a question for us to decide; it is for those who are in a position to know best how this country should be defended.

The Prime Minister went on:

And as my hon. friend has said, there is no portion of the globe which some other nations covet so much, that any nation would be likely to covet so much, as this Dominion of Canada. There is no other portion of the earth's surface that contains such wealth as lies buried here. Nowhere are there such stretches of territory capable of feeding-not hundreds of thousands, but millions of people for generations and generations to come. No, Mr. Speaker, the ambition of this dictator is not Poland.

Again I repeat, these words are given us on the authority of the Prime Minister of this country, who is in a position to know, and therefore the only possible attitude we can take is one of complete reliance upon the information that he has given us. He has informed us that, not Great Britain, not France or some other European country, but Canada itself is facing danger, and the danger is not simply that a few of our soldiers might be killed abroad but that Canada may be invaded. So, as was said by another speaker this afternoon, if we lose the battle on the Rhine frontier the frontier of Canada might be the shores of the St. Lawrence.

There is someone else whom I can quote to show the gravity of the present situation. We have the words of Prime Minister Chamberlain in his letter of August 22, 1939, to the German chancellor, in which I find this paragraph :

It would be a dangerous illusion to think that if war once starts it will come to an early end even if success on any one of the several fronts on which it will be engaged should have been secured.

In the face of that statement, given to us upon the authority of the government, what do we find the policy of the Canadian government to be? It has declared for a policy of partial participation in the war. It has declared its desire to send overseas a certain portion of Canada's forces. But when the time comes for replacements to be provided, who is going to take the place of those who have been wiped out? They can be supplied only from our own country, and that is why I think the Minister of Justice placed

The Address-Mr. Heon

himself in an unsound position this afternoon, because none of us knows what is going to happen in the future.

We in this comer have agitated for a concrete, effective policy which would lead to unity and efficient conduct of our part in the war, a policy which would also prevent bungling and profiteering, and yet we have been told that we are trying to split the country in two. If that had been our attitude it would have been easy for us to move an amendment in order to precipitate such a condition, but we have made it quite clear to the Prime Minister that we do not desire to bring about any such condition in this dominion, that our only interest is in securing fair play for all concerned, and we say that the only just policy for Canada is a policy of complete conscription.

Nobody likes to face the thought of conscription. So far as we in this comer are concerned, at all events, so far as I am concerned, whatever the word "conscription" might convey to some people I am not afraid to face it because in my opinion it is the only action to take. It is the only way to ensure that everybody shall share equally in the sacrifices that will have to be made.

There are many things happening in Canada to-day, and one that surprised me was the attitude of the great leader of the Conservative party. I believe that he is not contributing to this country simply by stating that he will cooperate with the government, when the government has not taken the proper steps. Cooperate in what, I should like to know?

Once again I repeat that we in this corner are not afraid to face the word "conscription." We believe it has been used in the past for reasons of political expediency, by people jockeying to secure positions satisfactory to themselves. Motives have been ascribed to us for our attitude to-day. I deny those motives. We have taken this course for the simple reason that we believe it is in the best interests of this country, and because we are firmly convinced that before hostilities come to an end it will be the only means of saving Canada.

Stress has been laid upon the conscription of man power, but I would point out that we place just as much stress upon the conscription of finance. Some people have asked what we mean by the conscription of finance, and in order to be prepared we have set out definitely and concretely what we mean by the conscription of finance. Let me place it on the record.

We advocate the conscription of finance:

(a) By the creation by the government ol the necessary credit and currency combined, with definite price regulation to prevent any serious inflationary rise in prices;

(b) By borrowing abroad only for the purpose of obtaining needed goods and services beyond the capacity of our people to furnish;

(c) By placing an embargo on capital and capital assets as at the date of the declaration of war;

(d) By requiring that financial institutions and corporations reveal all undisclosed reserves as at the date of the declaration of war, and that these be forthwith conscripted by the government.

(e) By introducing more steeply graded income and profits taxes;

(f) By providing that all equivocation and/or evasion in this regard shall be treated as a treasonable offence.

That is what we have set out with regard to the conscription of finance. We would do the same so far as industry is concerned. When we say that we believe in regimentation at this time and in peace time, does that necessarily imply dictatorship? Of course not. It is simply to secure an effective method of control for the distribution of the products which we have at the present time.

We all realize that when any one of us speaks here this evening, we are slowing up the process of the declaration of war by this country because the Prime Minister made that statement quite plainly this afternoon, and he is now awaiting the vote of this parliament to decide what to do. So far as I am concerned, I have not much more to say, though many things could be said. All I wish to do is to make this assertion in conclusion. We have done what we have done because we believe it is in the best interests of the country. Personally I can do no more than offer my own services to the Minister of National Defence, and I do so here and now for any purpose for which he might wish to use them. This is the way we feel in this comer. Even though our hands, as Mr. Churchill said, become engaged in warlike gestures, nevertheless our hearts will remain at peace if we do our duty. We are doing our duty and we intend to see that others shall do theirs.

Topic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY TO THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
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June 2, 1939

Mr. PELLETIER:

No argument was

advanced in committee suggesting that the change be made?

Topic:   CENTRAL MORTGAGE BANK
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR INCORPORATION, PURCHASE OF SHARES, GUARANTEE OF DEBENTURES, ETC.
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June 2, 1939

Mr. PELLETIER:

In view of the fact that extensive changes have been made by the committee before reporting the bill back to the house I think it would 'be only fair if the minister would give the committee some explanation as to the principles that may have been changed by the committee. If he were in a position to do that it would give us a better general idea as to the present standing of the legislation, and I believe would serve quite a useful purpose. I realize, of course, that these changes can be discussed as the individual sections come up, but inasmuch as many of these sections have been altered I think a short statement by the minister as to the general changes that have been made would be quite helpful.

Topic:   CENTRAL MORTGAGE BANK
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR INCORPORATION, PURCHASE OF SHARES, GUARANTEE OF DEBENTURES, ETC.
Full View Permalink