Mr. CHARLES PARENT (Quebec West and South):
I shall endeavour to speak in the language of the majority, but if I feel I cannot bring home in English what I wish to express I shall revert to French, and that without any apologies to anyone. It has been said that no one should sit in this parliament who does not realize that there is no part of the world to-day which is not menaced from without and few parts which are not menaced from within.
Hearing the speeches that have already been made on the national defence estimates now to be introduced, one would be inclined to recall to this august body the geographical situation of Canada. Switzerland, Belgium, Greece and all the other small European countries are situated on the frontiers of the great European powers, and in order to preserve their neutrality and to safeguard their citizens it is necessary for them to keep armies day and night at their respective borders. As to the geographical situation of Canada, it cannot be compared with that of these countries. On the north we are bounded by the Arctic ocean, and no one will venture to say that the Eskimos or the polar bears are a menace to the peace of Canada. Many thousands of miles to the west there is the powerful Japanese nation. To the south of us there is the United States and to the east, 4,000 miles away, the European volcano.
Let us consider the situation from the point of view of the menace from without. Let us deal first with the western menace, that of the Japanese empire. Where and when did Japan ever make a move or utter a word that would justify Canada in preparing against aggression from that country? There is no doubt that the population of Japan is increasing at an astonishing rate and that the time has come for that country to place her surplus population somewhere. Japan has clearly indicated to the world what she wants and where she desires to enlarge her empire. She had the wisdom to attack China, taking advantage of the political situation in that country and of its powerless army. Japan has conquered land as rich as Canada, land of such magnitude that hundreds of years will pass before it is populated by the Japanese people. Yesterday I heard the hon. member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Mackenzie) pointing to the danger of a conflict between Japan and the United States and the difficult
situation in which Canada would be placed in such an event. Well, I shall frankly admit that such a menace does not alarm me. It would be practically impossible to move a large army to that part of Canada, and the Rockies are a natural defence. What is more, there are three nations deeply interested in the future of Canada, three nations which are financially interested in this country to the extent of billions of dollars. These nations are: Canada herself, the United States of America, and England. Up to now Japan in her diplomatic relations has never made a move which would lead us to conclude that there is a real menace from that source. When did Japan ever show signs of willingness to test her power on land and sea against the British Empire, against the United States of America and against Canada-and I might add, against the Russian bear? Moreover it is not with the military equipment contemplated in the present estimates that Canada could ward off the menace of war with a population of seventy millions, with one of the greatest military forces on land and sea.
This leads us to examine from the second angle the menace from without. The United States of America are our neighbours to the south. There are 3,000 miles of border separating Canada from the United States. Needless to say we do not require any Maginot defence line to protect us there. Over one hundred years of peace and good will have done more than any army could do in that respect, and the best thing for Canada is to keep that imaginary line which separates us free from military guards or anti-aircraft guns. And as Canada will keep the present leader of the government (Mr. Mackenzie King) for many years to come, I believe I am right in stating that he can do more by his tact and diplomacy with our neighbour than any army which we could raise and equip, and by the time he will retire, the equipment bought will have become obsolete.
Then I come to the third angle of the menace from without: the menace from the east. Nearly four thousand miles separate us from the countries which might possibly attack Canada from the east. We have heard of the danger of air raids. These might be by airship or aeroplane. An airship would have to fly over France or England, and the speed of such aircraft is such as to make them of little utility in war. They are difficult to conceal and an easy target for antiaircraft guns. As to aeroplanes, very few have succeeded in crossing the Atlantic from east to west on non-stop flights, and with bombs
National Defence-Mr. Crerar
aboard I believe such airplanes are a menace more in imagination than in reality. To support this contention I might say that Lloyds of London, the world-famous insurance group, are actually cancelling all insurances against war in every country in the world except in Canada and the United States. If there were any real danger to this country and the United States, why would men of such knowledge and experience not treat Canada as they are treating all the other countries of the world?
As to our navy, it is claimed to be for use on our shores exclusively. Little danger is to be feared there, for to assume such a menace to exist would be to deny the power of England on the sea, and proof has yet to be brought forth to show that Britain does not still rule the sea.
Much more could be said, but I do not wish to take too much of the time of the house. However, I am not convinced that with $14,000,000 we can stop the menace from without, and no one can convince me that we need such an amount to protect ourselves from the menace from within. What is the menace from within? It is twofold: communist agitation and labour trouble. Do we need an army to deal with these two prospective menaces? I think not. If any real danger exists, it is from the communists, and they should be dealt with accordingly. The federal police should be reinforced; the provincial and municipal police are actually being reinforced and should be equipped to protect the property of the law-abiding citizens of this country.
As to labour troubles, I have faith in the ability of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers), by his justice and knowledge of the labour situation in Canada, to deal with these problems with equity and justice to the employees and the employer. Some may say it is not within my province to judge the military situation of my country, that experts in military matters have recommended these expenditures. Well, Mr. Speaker, this recalls to my mind an occasion when I was reading law at the university. One morning I attended an important criminal case being tried before a jury. Six doctors had been called by the crown to prove that the accused was sane, and six had been called by the accused to prove that he was insane. The trial judge, who at one time was a member of a Conservative cabinet, after the witnesses had been heard, said to the jury: "Gentlemen of the jury, you have heard twelve experts, but you are twelve intelligent men, you do not need to believe them." What we need is not a
defence expenditure, but to be defended from military experts.
Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I shall vote against the increase in the national defence estimates, because it is my sincere conviction that by this increase of $14,000,000 we shall be just knitting one sleeve of Canada's military uniform, which when completed will have cost Canada millions and millions of dollars. I perform my duty to my country to the best of my judgment and conscience. I regret that I cannot see my way clear to follow my party on this matter. I disagree with my party in regard to the national defence estimates, but I stand with my chiefs on the general policy of the government.
There are precedents for the stand I am taking. I shall vote against the motion of want of confidence in the government as moved by the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil), for the issue at stake does not justify such a motion. But I shall not support the increased estimates for national defence when they come before the committee of the house, because in my humble opinion it is putting a useless additional burden on the shoulders of the taxpayers of this country at a time when this country cannot afford such an expenditure.
Topic: SUPPLY-NATIONAL DEFENCE CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON AMENDMENT TO MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE