Mr. R. E. TRUAX (South Bruce):
when conscription comes into force we shall not have a very large number of men to draw from.
As to recruiting in the county of Briice, in one towuship of 2,800 people, 150 have voluntarily enlisted. I take this from the number of enlistments given weekly in a weekly paper published in the township. Six of these men have been killed at the front and one has died of wounds. If the same energy in recruiting had been displayed in other counties in Ontario, that province alone would have bnught forth every volunteer the Premier has asked for, net to speak of the western provinces and the eastern provinces. I have nothing to say in reference to recruiting in Quebec. Tne people in that province are perfectly competent to take care of that matter.
e must be careful not to draw away all the help from the farmers. I notice this article in to-day's Citizen in regard to this matter:
The Organization of Resources Committee is putting forth special effort to secure competent help to assist farmers in the Ottawa Valley district, who cannot get help locally, for haying and harvesting operations. The plan is to secure able-bodied men chiefly from the manufacturing centres, who by special arrangements with their employers, are permitted to go to the farmers' assistance for a period of three weeks. Two three-week periods are being arranged for, one to begin on July 16 and the other on August 6.
Farmers desiring this special help should write at once to the office of the honourary secretary, Mr. I.. H. Newman, Canadian Building, Ottawa. The suggested minimum wage for these men is the military wage of $1.10 per day, but the farmer is expected to pay for services rendered.
I believe that before the Bill is put into force, every effort should be made to secure voluntary enlistments, and the greatest effort that was ever put forth by the people of Canada should be in the interests of voluntary enlistment. I think the whole energies of the loyal British people of Canada should be put into force to encourage enlisting. In my opinion selected conscription. should not be put in force until the volunteer enlisting has completely failed.
We are asking the farmer to produce. Great care must be taken not to rob the farmers of the help they will require to take off their hay and harvest. It looks at the present time as if Ontario would have a very large crop, and as a great number from the rural sections have already enlisted, it has. left the farmers very short of help. We have been asking and urging them to increase food production and at the same time their help has been leaving
them. The farmers have made a special effort this year to put in as large a crop as possible. This has been caused largely by the increased prices, and the great call for food production has stimulated them to a greater degree than anything else could. The three Prairie Provinces to the west of us are apparently going to have a fairly large crop. In former years they have drawn from Ontario ten to fifteen thousand of our young men to help in the harvest field. A certain number of. these young men have gone West, and have stayed in those provinces until November to help with the threshing and fall ploughing. Some of them take up land and'remain there. It must be kept in mind that the West has received in the last thirty years from the province of Ontario a very large immigration, which has steadily, year after year, drained the young men from the older part of Canada. Many of them have taken up land in the West and have beecime well-to-do farmers.
Many of the wood-working establishments in Ontario are very short of help, and if conscription is put into force, it no doubt will take many young men and farm labourers away from the farmers, and it will also take a large. number of young men from the factories, which they can ill afford to spare.
The cost of living during the last two years has increased in many cases nearly fifty per cent. It is true that wages have advanced in a great many cases, but not in proportion to the increased cost of living. In many cases some lines of manufacturers could employ a third more men than they are doing now. The very best of our young men have enlisted and gone to the front. In many cases the best mechanics that we have in the province have gone, and this has left the manufacturers short of skilled help. It is true that the munition factories are paying very high wages, more than factories manufacturing other lines of goods can afford to pay, and so well they might, as I notice that twenty-two of these Canadian firms paid last year $5,297,279 in excess profit taxes. This great sum was only 25 per cent of their profits in excess of 7 per cent. This would show that each of these twenty-two firms, after paying the Government this large amount, had each of them nearly three-quarters of a million dollars of profit over and above their 7 per cent.
I have no objection to those firms making good fair profits, but I think the amount
that they are making is exorbitant, and unfair to our soldier boys who are standing up in the firing line for $1.10 a day. I think it is unfair to pay munition workers $5 and $7 a day when we are asking the flower of Canada, the finest young men we have, to stand up in the firing line for $1.10 a day. The Government should increase the pay of our soldiers materially, say from $2.50 to $3 per day, and for this purpose they should conscript the wealth of this country as well as our man power.
I am in favour of the principle of conscription. I am not in favour of the present Bill. I shall vote for the referendum.
Mr. JAMES S. DOUGLAS (Strathcona): Mr. Speaker, I wish to put before the House the reasons for the vote which I Shall cast to-night on this Bill. The whole object of the present Bill is to enlist fighting men for the front, and the question arises-and it is a legitimate question- which is the better method of getting these men, whether by voluntary enlistment,' or by the principle of conscription as embodied in this Bill? I have seen something of the methods employed in enlisting men in this country, particularly in western Canada, and I have had something to do with it. So far as the province from which I come is concerned, I am forced to the conclusion that we can raise no more men by voluntary enlistment. I do not know that the Government has conducted the voluntary system as it might have done. In fact, I am inclined to think a great many errors have been made. The system of enlisting men when the war first broke out was, in my judgment, absolutely unbusinesslike, and not carried out according to the plan which had been laid down by the Militia Department prior to the outbreak of war. It was the enthusiasm of the people that was entirely responsible for the splendid response which was made to the call to arms on the 4th of August, 1914.
One of the chief reasons why voluntary recruiting has fallen into disrepute in western Canada at least, has been the extreme partisanship which has been shown in the conduct of every phase of voluntary enlistment in that part of the country. I question very much if there is a province in the whole Dominion with the possible exception of British Columbia, which has responded so nobly and given so freely ,of her men as the province of Alberta. The city of Edmonton, from which I come, has sent over ten or eleven battalions to the front, and I know from my own experience that
partisanship has entered into the appointment not only of senior officers but junior officers as well. In spite of this, however, enlistment has been keen. Men have given up their employment, no matter what it was, and have answered their country's call. I am not prepared to say that the Militia Department is entirely responsible for this partisanship. Unfortunately, under our system of government, party patronage is governed by the recommendations of local committees, and the minister who can resist appeals made to him on behalf of political friends must be a very strong minded man indeed. I do not think, in our province at least, that the Militia Department has shown the proper strength of mind in resisting political influence in appointments in connection with the tremendous war in which we are now engaged. If ever there was a time and occasion when partisanship should have been cast to the winds it was toy the Militia Department during this war. I believe that if this Bill is properly administered we may escape from a certain amount of political partisanship.
Another reason why I think voluntary enlistment has failed in western Canada is because of the campaign in connection with National Service. I had the pleasure of hearing both the Prime Minister and the Director General in the city of Edmonton and the city of Calgary. I listened very attentively to what they said and I think I am within the mark when I say that neither of these gentlemen made one appeal for recruits. The whole appeal made in connection with this propaganda was the need for men registering so that the Government would know who were available if at some future date it should decide to call upon men for service other than going to the trenches. Maybe I did not interpret the speeches correctly, but I must say that was the impression received by almost every one with whom I conversed, as to the real reason for the National Service propaganda.
It may possibly be that voluntary enlistment can be revived, but in my judgment it would do a wrong to western Canada at least. We are a producing country and under voluntary enlistment our people have left the farms and productive labour and gone to the front. One pf the reasons why I favour this Bill is that it will prevent men of patriotic spirit from enlisting who are now engaged in productive walks of life. If it will do that, it will do a good wprk. I have every hope that safeguards will be thrown around the administration
of the Bill so as to prevent men engaged in the production of foodstuffs from going to the front at the present time. Authorities whom we cannot ignore claim that one of the great needs of the present war is the production of foodstuffs. They say that foodstuffs are almost as essential as men. In that country from the Manitoba boundary to the boundary of British Columbia, we have the greatest food-producing section of Canada, but owing to the splendid response to the call to arms made by the settlers in that country I am sorry to say that our productive area this year is going to be less than it has been for the preceding two years.
This is a regrettable circumstance, as I believe that the present year is the one in which production in this country should be greatest, and the one especially in which the Allies will depend upon us to feed the men at the front. An interview was recently published with Mr. Prothero, president of the Board of Agriculture of Great Britain, from which I shall quote briefly:
The outcome of the war may ultimately hang on the quesiton of food supplies, and the American farmer is allotted the essential part to play in the great struggle for freedom.
. . . From the grim spectacle of humancarnage and from the feverish race of piling up munitions the farmer stands aloof. His task is to make hills, plains and valleys stand so thick with corn that they shall sing. Yet the man who drives a plough Is helping as is the man who shoulders a rifle. . . . For
this reason it is a welcome relief to us to know that the farmers of the United States are co-operating with the Allies, that they fully realize the essential part they play in this struggle for freedom, that they are bringing into their work the spirit of self-sacrifice and endurance, and that they are determined to put out the last ounce of their strength to win the war on the ploughlands of the United States. Here and there, God speed the plough.
Sir Thomas Lipton is an authority on the production of food. He sees the importance of this question, and he has recently stated:
I know for a fact that there is no bluff in all this talk about the scarcity of food. We are up against it. America has come in just at the right moment for us, and no one can ever make me believe America will not be able to rise to the emergency.
The situation here is much worse than English people realize. The storehouses throughout the country are being emptied of food, and we who are in the trade know they are not being supported by the stocks we used to keep.
The public doesn't see this. Everything is being run bare. There is some idea here that we are not taking strong enough action to meet the crisis. That is not so. I know for a fact that the most drastic kind of machinery is being prepared to put the whole United Kingdom on rations, and you can take it from me that when the necessity arises the machinery will be ready.
There is a lesson for us in Canada in statements such as these made by reputable men who know the conditions in the Motherland intimately, and I think it is the duty of this Government to take strong measures in regard to this question of food supply. I join with my friend from West Middlesex (Mr. Ross) in saying that in my judgment very few farmers should be permitted to enlist. The production of food is so important, the number of men who have gone from the farms is so great, that it is an absolute necessity for the successful prosecution of the war on the part of Canada that the food-producing industries of this country should be very carefully safeguarded. We have seen an unprecedented rise in flour within the past year. I think the Government should face this situation for the coming year and, if necessary, commandeer every flour mill in the country, and should commandeer also packing houses, cold storage warehouses, canning factories, and all other concerns that supply food to the people and derive undue profit from the sale of the same. I know for a fact that men in western Canada
and all men are human when money enters into the question-men of small caiptal, are going about the country buying all the eggs and butter they can find, and storing them, in expectation of high prices. They look for a price of at least a dollar a dozen for eggs during the coming winter. In ordinary times I should have no fault to find with men doing this sort of thing, but under the circumstances of to-day I think it is the duty of the Government to see to it that profiteering of this kind is not permitted for the people suffer by it, and suffer very severely, and our effectiveness in the war is hindered by this means.
Let me briefly sum up my views on this question. I consider compulsory service the only fair means of the -State receiving from its citizens that full measure of service to which it is entitled. By this I do not only refer to those of its young manhood who are called upon to risk their lives on the battle front. I believe that in a crisis such as -now confronts u:s' there is a service every man and woman is called upon to perform, and it is the duty of any Government to so organize its forces that this duty will he performed in an equitable manner. This should be the true meaning of compulsory service. I heartily approve of any plan of taxation which will reach the people who are deriving a certain measure of prosperity brought about by this war.
Every man who remains at home should be called upon to contribute something to aid his country in its .hour of trial. I consider the farmers of this country are doing just .as patriotic work in winning the war as the munition workers and in my judgment the Bill should specifically state that no man engaged in the production of foodstuffs shall be liable for military service. In my province too many of our producers have felt it their duty to go overseas, and to-day we are facing the very serious situation that our production 'this year is likely to be less than last year. This is a most alarming condition and every effort must be put forth on the part of every one to have this remedied, and I am firmly of the opinion that the great industry of agriculture should be exempt from the operations of this Bill.
Topic: MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic: DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.