Charles-Édouard FERLAND

FERLAND, The Hon. Charles-Édouard, Q.C., B.A., Ph.L., LL.L.

Personal Data

Joliette--l'Assomption--Montcalm (Quebec)
Birth Date
March 2, 1892
Deceased Date
January 8, 1974

Parliamentary Career

December 17, 1928 - May 30, 1930
  Joliette (Quebec)
July 28, 1930 - August 14, 1935
  Joliette (Quebec)
October 14, 1935 - January 25, 1940
  Joliette--l'Assomption--Montcalm (Quebec)
March 26, 1940 - April 16, 1945
  Joliette--l'Assomption--Montcalm (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 4 of 40)

July 25, 1940


There will never be

any in Joliette.

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May 13, 1939


How many bushels of wheat were produced in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, respectively, in 1937 and 1938?

Royal Visit

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May 13, 1939


Will the government take the necessary measures to reduce the rates of interest on loans made to the farmers under the provisions of the Canadian Farm Loan Act?

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May 12, 1939


Listen now to another right honourable member of this house, our distinguished fellow-citizen of whom we have always been so proud, the right hon. Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe):

I think I am true to my concept of Canadian unity when I say that I shall always fight against this policy; I would not be a member of a government that would enact it; and not only that, but I say with all my responsibility to the people of Canada that I would oppose any government that would enforce it.

Such sentiments are truly Canadian, Mr. Chairman. Such statements come from sincere men who have remained long enough in the public service, and who have discharged their duty and responsibilities toward the nation in such a manner that no one, particularly among our fellow-citizens, has any right to doubt their -word. Some will say: We question your statements and do not know whether you are sincere and whether you are telling the truth. Well, for my part,

I am satisfied that the words of our leaders in Ottawa, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice or the other ministers who have made statements to the same effect, are as good as their bond. However, the same was not always true with the Conservative party. Was the word of their leader as good as his bond? How could he so quickly change his mind, when he violated the promise made during the war to the effect that there would be no conscription?

What is the present stand of our leaders on the question of Canadian participation in external wars? The Prime Minister said, in this chamber, on March 30, 1939:

One strategic fact is clear: the days of great expeditionary forces of infantry crossing the

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oceans are not likely to recur. Two years ago,

I expressed in this house the view that it was extremely doubtful if any of the British dominions would ever send another expeditionary force to Europe. . . .

We have tremendous tasks to do at home, in housing the people, in caring for the aged and helpless, in relieving drought and unemployment, in building roads, in meeting our heavy burden of debt, in making provision for Canada's defence, and in bringing our standards of living and civilization to the levels our knowledge now makes possible. There is no great margin of realizable wealth for this purpose; we must, to a greater or less extent, choose between keeping our own house in order, and trying to save Europe and Asia.

The Minister of Justice said, for his part:

I agree with what was said yesterday by the leader of the opposition and the Prime Minister, and what was said by Mr. Bruce of Australia, that the time for expeditionary forces overseas is certainly past, and it would not be the most effective way to help our allies. The men would be needed here; and in any event it is parliament which will decide about it.

Those words, also, should be satisfactory to the people of the province of Quebec, a people which in the past has shown that it had an enduring faith and a growing respect for the leaders of the Liberal party, for the Prime Minister and for the members of his cabinet.

Another question has to be considered concerning the increase in the defence appropriations. We should examine if these appropriations are justified by the circumstances of the hour. We are agreed on the necessity of defending our territory and I reaffirm that principle. It remains to be decided to what extent we should organize our defence. That is a technical problem about which I have not much knowledge, although I claim to possess as general a knowledge of things as most hon. members. Is Canada in danger of being attacked?

The leader of the opposition (Mr. Manion) discussed that question this afternoon, and here are the principles he laid down as to the possible dangers of attack upon Canada and the need of preparing our national defence.

In the first place, Canada is not only threatened but is without adequate defences. The leader of the opposition, consequently, is of the opinion that the military appropriations are insufficient.

In the second place, he said that the government is neglecting the defence of the country or is not sufficiently hurrying our armaments.

In the third place, even in the absence of any immediate danger of war, it is necessary to prepare the defence of Canada in order to ensure her neutrality in the event of war

with Japan and the United States. He does not say in the case of war between Japan and England, because he expressed the opinion a few days ago that Canada cannot remain neutral when England is at war because, according to him, the British crown is indivisible and the King cannot be at war in respect of one of his dominions or one part of the empire and be neutral in respect of another part. Finally, the leader of the opposition added this: "I suggest an increase of defence

appropriations as a means of relieving unemployment."

I shall quote another Conservative member because he comes from my province and has in his constituency a large number of Frenchspeaking electors and a certain number of English-speaking ones. I refer to the hon. member for Argenteuil (Mr. Heon). Speaking in this house on January 30 last, he began by vaguely criticizing the present government's defence policy, but afterwards left a wide opening for those of his constituents who are in favour of the defence of Canada by saying:

I want to make it clear before I terminate my remarks that I am not a pacifist in the narrow sense of the word. I believe it is our strict duty to make this component part of the commonwealth invulnerable to attacks and invasion. If this government has been reliably informed that some foreign power has cast a covetous eye on this territory, and if this information originates from authoritative and unimpeachable sources, then it is our immediate and sacred duty to proceed with the speediest, most complete and most efficient plan for the defence of our homeland. I do not infer that we should never take part in any war. What I say is that any war in which we do take part must be a war in which something better than sentiment actuated by prejudiced propaganda is at stake. It must be a war that threatens our very liberty, independence and existence, and the issue of which would be of immediate vital concern to all of us.

Is that not the doctrine preached by the Liberal party, Mr. Chairman? Has not the Prime Minister always said that Canada would never go to war unless her institutions were threatened and the liberty of her citizens endangered?

I continue. Is Canada in danger? Here is the answer given by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons on May 24, 1938:

At present, danger of attack upon Canada is minor in degree and secondhand in origin.

Only part of this statement was quoted to-day during the discussion. It is important to quote the remainder:

It is against chance shots that we need immediately to defend ourselves. What may develop no one can say.

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What is the opinion of the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie)? Speaking also in this house on March 24 last, he said:

Now, sir, in regard to the scale of attacks upon Canadian territory or Canadian ports or terminals, these are considered by the experts who are supposed to be qualified to offer advice to be, in the first place, minor attacks by combined sea, land and air forces, to destroy something of strategic or commercial value, or to secure an advanced base of operations, and this applies to coasts, to focal sea areas and to the preservation of Canadian neutrality; in the second place, sporadic hit and run raids by light cruisers or submarines to destroy our main ports and focal sea areas.

In order to repulse such minor attacks and isolated raids, Canada is providing for the defence of her coasts, both east and west.

Our Conservative friends are forever repeating and proclaiming the necessity of preparing the defence of Canada. They are not satisfied with what the Liberal party has done; they even contend that Canada's defence is not sufficiently advanced. To hear them speak, one would think that Canada had no defences whatever. Their speeches would lead people to believe that in spite of all the millions voted for defence purposes nothing has been done, that we have no militia, no defence, and that we are more than ever exposed to external attacks. I therefore took the time to make a list of the elements composing our national defence.

Canada has a regular army of 4,201 men of all ranks, a non-permanent active militia (which is really the militia) whose peace strength amounts to 86,500, but whose present strength is estimated at about 49,000 men, plus, on paper, a reserve militia.

Her naval power consists of 6 destroyers, four of which are stationed in the Pacific. Two of these ships were built in England for Canada in 1930. The other four were built for the Royal Navy in 1932; Canada also owns five mine-sweepers. The present strength of the Royal Canadian Navy is set officially at 137 officers and 1,582 ratings, plus a volunteer reserve, corresponding to the non-permanent active militia, of 123 officers and 1,344 ratings, and a naval reserve of 70 officers and 430 ratings. The air force consisted, at December 1, 1938, of 249 permanent officers and 1,827 men of various ratings, and of 87 officers and 791 men (non-permanent). On December 1, 1938, the air force had 217 aircraft in active service. The authorized number of permanent squadrons is set at 10, and that of non-permanent squadrons at 12. The establishing, throughout the country, of landing

fields, parallel to the development of Trans-Canada Airways, makes possible a rapid concentration.

Let us now examine our expenditures, in connection with national defence, during the last three years. Firstly, our Canadian militia cost us, until 1935, about twenty millions a year. In a report tabled in the house by the hon. Minister of National Defence on May 10, 1939, it appears that her national defence has cost Canada, during the last three years, the following amounts:

1936-37 1937-38 1938-39Militia .. . .$11,345,751 $17,222,804 $14,780,591 Air Force .. 5,821,824 10,018,104 9.521,501Naval service 4,763,294 4,371,981 6.420,101

These figures therefore reveal, Mr. Chairman, that the honourable Minister of National Defence did not spend the entire amounts authorized by parliament and which he had at his disposal.

Since the defence of Canada must be organized in view of imminent dangers, and since, at present, there still remain threats of war on the horizon, and, moreover, seeing it is a fact that an attack was made on Canada during the great war by a German submarine which tried to assail fishing vessels in Canadian territorial waters and even sank a large ship at Halifax, it is important to establish that the government intend to increase or to reduce the militia or the military estimates according to circumstances or the needs of the moment. If it was possible, during the last three years, not to spend all the amounts authorized, it is to be hoped that, should the threats of war disappear, and I trust we shall not have a war, the government or the Minister of National Defence will not spend the entire defence appropriations but that they will find a way to reduce them as it became possible to do and was done during the last three years.

Now, before concluding, and in order that there may be no misunderstanding in the province of Quebec about the principles underlying the Liberal party's external policy,

I shall quote the basic principles which the Prime Minister himself laid down last year in this parliament:

These principles were as follows:

1. The principle which must be followed in formulating Canada's external policy is the preservation of unity in Canada as a nation.

2. The foreign policy of Canada, generally speaking, does not lie in her relations with the League of Nations but in her relations with the United Kingdom and the United States.

3. Canada must, as a rule, keep in the background, in Geneva or elsewhere, whenever European or Asiatic interests are discussed.

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4. Canada is in no way bound to adopt military sanctions imposed by the League of Nations, neither is she bound to defend any other member of the Commonwealth.

5. Canada is in no way bound to apply economic sanctions imposed by the League of Nations.

6. In future, before accepting to participate in any military or economic sanctions, or in any war, the Canadian government will have to secure the approval of parliament or the Canadian people.

Such principles are truly Canadian, and they are quite different from those which have been expounded by the supporters of the utterly imperialistic doctrine that whenever England is at war Canada is at war. Of the two doctrines, I prefer the one expounded by my leader; I prefer the one to which my party adheres, and according to which the interests of Canada shall always come before every other consideration and nothing shall be done that is not germane to Canada's interests and is not wholly in behalf of Canada.

Mr, A. J. BROOKS (Royal): The debate this evening has, I am sure, been interesting to all of us, particularly on the question of defence. Canada's defence is becoming more and more the most vital concern of our people. This is as a result of the obvious and real danger to this country in the event of war, in which Great Britain or the empire might be involved, breaking out in Europe or any other part of the world. The impossibility of Canada remaining neutral was thoroughly discussed in this house some weeks ago in the debate on external affairs. Anyone in Canada giving this matter even the minimum of serious thought would agree with the expressions that were uttered at that time by leading members of the cabinet, and more particularly the opinion expressed by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Manion). I should like to quote what our leader said at that time, which I think is appropriate:

I feel-and I think it is the feeling of most Canadians who have given thought to this subject-that we cannot be in and out of the empire at the same time. It seems to me that it would be just as impossible for us to be neutral in a war in which Great Britain participated as it would be for my right arm to be defending my body against an assailant wishing to take my life, while my left arm remained friendly with the assailant. It seems very clear, to me at any rate, that that is just as logical as would be the idea of neutrality for Canada while remaining in the empire. We cannot be neutral and at the same time remain part of a great empire. . . .

I believe those words express the feeling and the sentiment of every true Canadian. The Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie), in a long and interesting speech

on April 26, outlined some of the plans for strengthening our defences. He called attention to the fact that there was no need of defence on the south. This, of course, is a self-evident fact; as the leader of the opposition said this afternoon, a war with the United States would seem like a fratricidal war. The minister spoke of our north being icebound and said there was no necessity for defence in that direction. I should like to point out to the minister, however, that there is some danger in the north. He knows, as I do, that the most direct air routes leading into Canada come across the north from Labrador.

Our main defences are required on the east and west, on the Atlantic and on the Pacific. The minister's conclusions in this connection are quite clear. If Canada is attacked in either a major or a minor way, it must be on either the Atlantic or the Pacific coast. This evening I listened with pleasure to the address of the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Green), who clearly outlined the position on the Pacific coast and touched on many other points in connection with Canada's defence. Coming from the maritime provinces I have felt that the necessity of defending our western coast has been stressed perhaps a little more than it should, to the disadvantage of the Atlantic coast. The minister is aware that there is only one potential enemy on the western coast of Canada, namely, Japan. For the last few years Japan has been engaged in a war with China, and I think it is quite understood that she has about all she can handle in that connection. So I say this idea of the western coast needing attention first, in preference to the Atlantic coast, has been over-stressed by the minister. I am not saying the western coast should be neglected, but I contend that fortifications on both western and eastern coasts should have been commenced and carried on at the same time. I sincerely believe that if there is any danger of an attack upon Canada we have more to fear in eastern Canada than in the west.

I might point out to the minister and to hon. members generally that during the great war, as was stated by the hon. member for Shelburne-Yarmouth-Clare (Mr. Pottier) we had quite a number of submarines off the eastern coast. Only a few weeks ago there was a submarine reported off the southern coast of Nova Scotia. I recall that the minister denied the truth of this report, but nevertheless the rumour has persisted. Whether or not it was true, the fact remains that the people realized the possibility, and it did seem a serious matter at the time. The minister referred to the fact that in the past the British navy has been our defence, and went

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on to say that the navy is only on a defence surface of the ocean, that the airplane flies over the navy while the submarine sails under it, so we must guard against the possibility of attack from both these sources.

I do not know just how far the defence of the Atlantic coast has progressed. Last year the minister told us it was his intention to commence the fortifications at Halifax. Possibly this has been done, but the minister states in his own report that it takes three years to bring to completion fortifications such as are needed at Halifax and Saint John. I do not propose to attempt to point out to the department how the Atlantic ports of Saint John and Halifax, or the ports on the St. Lawrence river, or other focal points in the east, should be defended, but I urge upon the minister the necessity of commencing these preparations and having them carried to a conclusion as soon as possible.

In his address a few days ago the minister also told us that Canada's first line of defence was her air force. At the same time he said the British navy was Canada's defence on the Atlantic ocean. I do not think an air force in Canada can supersede the British navy as our first line of defence. That navy has been the first line of Canada's defence for over a hundred years, and it is still our defence, although we do not contribute one dollar towards the maintenance of that navy. The minister also pointed out that to-day Canada is the fourth trading nation of the world. This is a proud boast for us to make. I think it was stated that our annual export and import trade amounts to about $750,000,000, and we were told that for this reason we must be strong enough to defend our focal areas and our ports and terminals in case of trouble. Canada has been able to carry on this enormous trade because we have had the British navy as our first line of defence on the ocean; I repeat that statement, and I do not think it can be repeated too often either within or without this house.

If I may, I should like to read a few remarks delivered at a dinner in the city of New York by a United States banker, Mr. Thomas W. Lamomt, speaking on this very subject of the protection which the British navy has accorded not only to Canada but also to the United States. He said:

First, I would remind you of the fact that from 1814, we will say, until 1914, there was an era of unbroken peace in the world, so far as any world conflict was concerned. There was what has been called a Pax Britannica. Great Britain, the British empire, maintained the peace. It did so for the benefit of the empire and incidentally for the good of the whole world, including, as it turned out, America. Unless we look back over that 100 years, we can hardly realize the advantages

which accrued to America through the fact that Great Britain threw a mantle of security over the seven seas, and made it possible for American trade to go forth unmolested and develop in mighty volume with no necessity for a far-flung navy.

Now I ask you what sort of world should we in America be facing if it came to pass that through unprovoked aggression the British empire were in the future to be gravely weakened? Can we contemplate for ourselves what that would mean to our own liberties, to our own economy? I am not proffering any suggestions whatsoever on this point. I am not proposing any pulling of chestnuts out of the fire. I am simply asking you to recall the old Pax Britannica as it was, and as it never can be again, perhaps, in the same way. What sort of world, then, should we be facing if we had a British empire of definitely lessened allaround strength.

As I said, Mr. Chairman, those are the words of a great American. And if the truth thus spoken by Mr. Lamont applies to the United States, how much more does it apply to us in Canada. The minister also pointed out the great necessity of anti-aircraft guns. This, I feel, is a fact which cannot be overlooked. Our ports and our cities are in great need of protection from the air.

I mentioned, in speaking on this subject last year, that some military experts consider the aeroplane an arm of offence rather than of defence. I think its use as an arm of offence was proven to a great extent in the Spanish war. It has been shown, however, that the great defensive weapon is the anti-aircraft gun. We have only three, I believe the minister told us, up to the present time in Canada; and the number is now being increased by fourteen more. Our requirements, at a very modest estimate, are 124 guns. The minister will agree with me that this number would be very small, indeed, to supply the requirements of the different cities and town in Canada, if we expect to have anything like adequate protection.

An anti-aircraft gun in a city like Saint John or Halifax would, in the event of an attack, keep the aeroplane high up in the air, probably some 15,000 or 17,000 feet, thus rendering it impossible for it to come down and bomb docks, railway bridges, or other important points. Thus it is that the antiaircraft gun is one of the great necessities for the protection of our ports, and I hope the minister may be able to provide this protection, which is so much needed in a time of war. I shall not speak at length about concrete emplacements for our guns, and other requisites for the defence of our ports. Those matters were discussed the other day by the minister, and I simply express the hope that they will be attended to as soon as possible.

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Hon. members who have preceded me in the discussion mentioned the great lack of equipment in Canada. For twenty years we have been using equipment which was used in the last war. It is well known that on paper we have tank battalions, but we have no tanks for their operations. We have antiaircraft units, but there are no anti-aircraft guns. We have other mechanical units, but no mechanized armaments with which to equip them. During the great war we had a striking example of an unequipped army. Russia had one of the best armies, so far as man power was concerned, that was produced during those terrible years. But we know, too, that Russia had no arms with which to equip her soldiers. Hundreds of thousands of them, when sent to war, were, because of their lack of equipment, simply slaughtered by the enemy. I do not care how brave or good the soldiers may be; if any army is without equipment it is practically useless before a well armed enemy.

There is one matter with regard to which I should like to make a few observations. I refer to the non-permanent active militia of Canada. The men in that organization have given great service to the country. Following the war it was almost impossible to get officers to undertake the training of non-permanent units. Men who had been overseas were sick and tired of uniforms, and those men had to be persuaded as a patriotic duty to take on this work. Many of them did so, and the fact that we have a non-permanent organization in Canada to-day is to a great extent as a result of the patriotism of such men at that time. There is this point I should like to place before the minister: In the estimates for the current year there is no increase in the amount voted for the nonpermanent militia, those units which I claim should have every consideration and every attention by the Department of National Defence.

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May 12, 1939


Personally, I have always been, and will always be, opposed to the country's participation in foreign wars.

There is no doubt that all the agitation stirred up lately in the country, all the con-

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flicting statements that were made, all the curtailed and misquoted speeches of our leading statesmen which were published, have created a lot of confusion in the minds of Canadians, particularly among my compatriots.

May I be allowed to refer briefly to some important statements made by distinguished leaders of the Liberal party? First of all, at the beginning of the session, the Prime Minister made a statement which was misinterpreted, having been both wrongly and incompletely quoted. Recalling the policy of Sir Wilfrid Laurier in regard to England's wars, the Prime Minister quoted the doctrine of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, as follows:

If England is at war we are at war and liable to attack. I do not say that we shall always be attacked, neither do I say that we would take part in all the wars of England. That is a matter that must be guided by circumstances, upon which the Canadian parliament will have to pronounce and will have to decide in its own best judgment.

Only a part of this statement was published and it was said throughout the country, and particularly in the province of Quebec, that the doctrine of Sir Wilfrid Laurier was as follows: When England is at war, Canada is at war and must take part in all wars. That was the wrong interpretation which caused so much confusion. To say that Canada is liable to attack when England is at war is altogether different from saying that Canada must take part in all England's wars. At different times, the Prime Minister fully stated Canada's position in the British empire and as regards our relations with other countries. Has he not stated on several occasions, before the League of Nations and even in London, and time and time again on the floor of -the house, that Canada had now become a sovereign and independent state and was under no obligation to take part in any war outside its borders? Has he not stated time and time again what position parliament should take, from a truly Canadian point of view, in the event of war? Well do I know the existence of another school of thought in this country! It is the school of out and out imperialists, a school which proclaims -that should England be once more involved in war, Canada would again raise an army of

500,000 men, Canada would conscript both men and wealth, and Canada would contribute her last dollar and send her last son to England for the defence of the mother country or of the empire. But, Mr. Speaker, such is not the policy of the Liberal party, the policy of my leaders, far from it. Our leaders tell us repeatedly and have constantly stated, for the last year or two, that the military appropriations are solely intended to serve for the defence of Canada and that they are not to

[Mr. Ferland.l

be used in preparation for Canadian participation in the wars of Great Britain and the empire nor in any wars abroad.

Let us refer to what our leaders have stated on these two main points concerning which an attempt is made to create confusion in the minds of my fellow countrymen. Let us take conscription first of all. Here is what the right hon. Prime Minister, speaking in the House of Commons on March 30, 1939, said:

The present government believes that conscription of men for overseas service would not be a necessary or an effective step. Let me say that so long as this government may be in power, no such measure will be enacted.

And the great political leader making this statement is the same man who, side by side with Sir Wilfrid Laurier, fought conscription during the great war and then went down to honourable defeat in his North York riding.

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