Mr. J. L. CHABOT (Ottawa):
Mr. Speaker, it is regrettable, I might say unfortunate, that at this present time, when Canada and the Motherland and the British Empire are passing through the most critical period of their national lives, dissensions tinged with provincialism should
have occurred, and that scenes painfully unpatriotic in their purpose should have been enacted in certain sections of the country, and that in this great crisis, in even the very smallest degree, a feeling of bitterness should develop in this House. This is a time when the representatives of the people, the members of this House, should be prepared to lay aside all political feelings and all national differences, with a view of preserving harmony and presenting a united front, not only to Canada but to the whole world.
If this condition of affairs does not exist here, the fault does not lie with the right Iron. Prime Minister, (Sir Robert Borden) nor with the gentlemen who sit on this side of the House. In view of the momentous issue confronting Canada at this present moment, I feel it my duty to support a measure' whose main purpose is to bring this war to a speedy, and I fervently pray, a successful determination; to win the war, to maintain the prestige and power of the Union Jack, and what it stands for; to protect our freedom, and to save the very national life of Canada.
I do not intend discussing the details of the Bill presented for our consideration. The matter has been gone into so thoroughly and so fully that'I fear that any lengthy explanation or extended elaboration on my part along those lines would be superfluous. The selective Military Bill brought down by the Prime Minister of this country appeals to me as an intelligent and practical modification of the Canadian Militia Act established and promulgated at the time of Confederation and subsequently re-affirmed and re-endorsed, with a few alterations, in 1904. There is no doubt in my mind that when this Bill becomes law its provisions will be carefully and very judicially carried into effect, and I consider it my duty to give this Ball my undivided support for many reasons, but mainly because its chief aim is bo sustain the gallantry of the men who have been fighting for our homes and our country, beoause it is intended to relieve the men who for months have endured untold hardship and privation in the trenches. It is intended to fill the gaps im the ranks of divisions, which ranks have been very materially thinned in the last few months, and it is intended to avenge the loss of Canada's best and purest blood, which has been shed freely upon the fields of France and Flanders, and surely it has not been shed in vain.
Furthermore, the passage of this Bill will assist in bringing this terrible conflict to
a definite, and I trust, decisive issue. A referendum such as proposed in amendment- by the right hon. leader of the Opposition is in my opinion opposed to the idea and is contrary to the spirit of responsible and representative government.
We, in this House, are the representatives of the people of Canada. This Parliament is composed of men of integrity, men of ability, experience and initiative, men possessing a more thorough knowledge of the existing conditions, men who are more competent judges of the present situation than the general public. We are the custodians of the honour and national life of this country, and, therefore, we should be the arbiters in any matter vitally concerning its constitution and welfare. Besides, a referendum would not he a fair test of public opinion, because in different sections of this country sentimentality and prejudice might, and would outweigh the sense of duty of the people. Again, 300,000 of our soldiers are at the front, and would find it difficult to cast their ballots, while the thousands of slackers in this country would be in a position to use their influence and exercise their franchise to the fullest extent.
Mr. Speaker, the right hon. leader of the Opposition, when he moved his amendment, declared, rather emphatically, that at no time since the beginning of the war had he feared any danger of invasion of Canada on the part of Germany, and he also made little of the opinion and claim that Canada's first lines of defence were in the trenches of France and Belgium. I cannot understand how a gentleman possessed of an unusually keen sense of intuition, of splendid faculty for analysis, and of a wide range of information, that a gentleman possessing such eminent accomplishments, should entertain such an opinion. It reminds me of the manner in which hon. members spoke in regard to the menace, peril, or danger which we referred to during the discussion of the Naval Bill in 1913. Notwithstanding the information which we had received in the form of a memorandum from the Admiralty, we were told at that time that the supposed danger did not exist, that our fears were imaginary, and that our contentions were illusionary. But the peril came sooner than we expected, and fell upon us with a full measure of vengeance and unmis-takeable violence. Does the right hon. gentleman believe that, if this war were won by the Central Powers, Canada would not be in danger of invasion? Does he believe that if the Germans, in their first rush for Paris, had reached their objective point, Canada
would not have been in danger? Does he think that if the 200,000 Germans on their march to Calais had not been stopped at Langemark by the 32,000 Canadians, who, undergoing their baptism of fire with unfortunately disastrous results, and against overwhelming odds, by their courage and their valour held back that army of Germans for seventy-two hours, and effectually checked their advance to Calais-if the Germans had reached Calais-would not England, /and Canada also, have been in danger of invasion? Does the right hon. gentleman believe that if the German fleet had defeated the British navy and the allied fleet on the sea, or had at any time broken through the British naval cordon that surrounded them-thank God Britannia still rules the waves-it would not have become a source of great danger, not only to England but to America? I need only quote what Roosevelt, the ex-president of the United States, mentioned in one of his speeches. He declared that the British navy, and the British navy alone, kept the Germans away from the shores of America. I also wish to remind the right hon. gentleman that the most potent factor in the development of the spirit of pan-Germanism, whereby Germany expected to dominate the world, control its commerce and rule its destinies, was not only begotten by greed for power and wealth, but chiefly by the ardent-I might say insane-desire of the German Government for territorial expansion and aggrandisement. For many
years previous to the war the surplus population of Germany had been fast outgrowing its geographical limits, and thousands oi Germans have been migrating to foreign lands; and the German government,
anxious to keep them within the bounds of a greater and wider German Empire, cast a covetous eye on the British Empire, whose magnitude and vastness are such that the sun never sets on it. And if in this war the Germans were victorious, does my right hon. friend for one moment believe that the Germans would not cast a covetous eye on Canada-the most important of the overseas dominions-a country whose area is vast, whose possibilities are great and whose resources are innumerable? They certainly would, and I, therefore, have no hesitation in declaring that Canada is now safe but was not safe while the Motherland was in danger; and further that the safety of this country, since this war began, has depended to a large extent on the defence of the Motherland, and that our first lines of defence are undoubtedly in the trenches of Fran [DOT]*>
The member for Rouville (Mr. Lemiuex) and the member for Kamouraska (Mr. E. Lapointe) declared with emphasis and a certain amount of pathos that this Bill was a direct and flagrant violation of pledges made by the Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet since the beginning of the war. I hope these gentlemen are sufficiently well informed and fair-minded to admit that war conditions to-day are quite different from what they were a year ago; that a process of transformation, in matters affecting the war as well as in matters affecting the ordinary affairs of the whole world, has been gradually going on from month to month, almost from week to week. Opinions expressed and promises made a year ago might not-perhaps would not-hold good to-day. Let me remind these hon. gentlemen of the present attitude of Russia; of the entrance of the United States into this terrible conflict; of the deeds of heroic France, which has been almost bled white during the last year; of the carrying out of the submarine warfare on a much larger scale and in a much more destructive manner.
The member for Edmonton (Mr. Oliver) the other evening strongly emphasized the assertion that the Government was moribund and irresponsible and that it did not command the confidence of the people because it had outlived its legal life. Let me remind the hon. gentleman that the life of this Parliament was extended on the strength of a resolution, passed unanimously, petitioning His Majesty and the Imperial Government to amend the British North America Act with a view of granting an extension of the life of this Parliament for another year in order to prevent a political conflict at a time when it would have been wholly undesirable and prejudicial to the best interests of Canada. For that reason, and in the light of common sense, fairness and equity, I consider that this Government is as legally constituted to-day as it was a year ago.
In reference to what I said in connection with the remarks made by the members for Rouville and Kamouraska, may I point out that during the last year the armies of the Allies have carried on a more offensive campaign; that larger quantities of ammunition have been at their disposal; that the use of more formidable weapons and more dangerous implements of war have created a demand for men, and more men; and that that was one of the reasons which led to the presentation of this Bill.
The right hon. leader of the Opposition, referring to the delinquencies in the matter of enlistment in Quebec, gave a very incomplete explanation and made a very weak defence. I am willing to agree with the right hon. gentleman and others who liave spoken on the subject that conditions in Quebec are somewhat different from what they are in other provinces; that Quebec is almost essentially an agricultural province; that its men marry at an early age and assume domestic responsibilities and obligations which married men in other provinces do not assume. I am willing to agree with hon. gentlemen in respect of many other reasons which have been put forth in justification of conditions in Quebec. But if recruiting in Quebec has not come up to expectations, it is because the *people of that province have not received the encouragement or the enlightenment to which they were entitled. I do not mean from officials of the Government; I mean from men who are their leaders; men who are their representatives in this House; men who should have been their counsellors and guides from the beginning of the war and should have done what we have accomplished, in Ontario. The French Canadians are a peaceful, God-fearing and law-abiding- people. They love their homes and their country; they are patriotic to the core; they are brave and courageous. I need only mention the battle of Gourcelette as a striking example and a convincing proof of the valour, the dash and the bravery of the French Canadian troops at the front. But the people of that province are more sentimental and more impressionable than their English-speaking fellow-citizens; consequently, they are more easily influenced. Unfortunately, since the outbreak of this war they have allowed themselves to be misguided and ill-advised by a certain few in Quebec whose teachings, actions and writings since the beginning of the war have proved them to be false to their Canadian citizenship and to their stand-inig as British subjects-and they should have been treated accordingly. I am a French Canadian, representing a constituency in Ontario. I love my mother tongue as dearly as any French Canadian in this House or in the country. I feel proud of the language of my ancestors, the history of whose country is as glorious as it is wonderful. I am particularly proud of the record of France since the beginning of the war, because of the valour, the courage and the chivalry of her soldiers, the spirit of self-sacrifice, the self-denial, the patriot-
ism, the devotedness and the initiative of her people, and the wonderful military feats and accomplishments of her armies, have enlisted the admiration of the whole world. But I declare that I am first and foremost a Canadian; I am proud to be a British subject.
During the past few weeks I have received many threatening letters, describing the various methods of death intended for me should I vote for conscription, conveying choice epithets galore, and qualifying me as a traitor and coward if I should support the Compulsion Bill. All I have to say as to this is that I have no fear. If doing my duty as I understand it; if telling this House how dearly I love Canada, how reverently I honour the flag, how sincerely I respect and esteem my compatriots in Quebec, and how deeply I admire the British Empire, France and the Allies, or if expressing the sentiments of my true and sincere loyalty-if that be cowardice, then I say that I am not ashamed to be branded as a coward.
The French Canadians of Ontario have answered the call of duty in a fairly satisfactory way. My compatriots in Ottawa, the city which I have the honour of representing in this House, as well as in the neighbouring and military districts, have contributed their fair quota of men to the Canadian militia service, 1,587 having enlisted from this military district. The casualty lists show that these men have been doing and are doing their duty faithfully and well, while the honour roll published from day to day sadly attests to the fact that many have made the supreme sacrifice, and, I have no doubt, have faced danger as fearlessly and have met death as courageously and ungrudgingly as any other class of Canadian soldiers at the front.
The union of the two great races in Canada was sealed in blood in 1776, when shoulder to shoulder the English and French defended Quebec against an invading army. What the English soldiers did for Canada and the Empire at Lundy's Lane and Queenston Heights, a handful of French soldiers undeT de Salaberry at Chateauguay accomplished in 1812, and since that date the English and French of this country have grown up into a common brotherhood, the brotherhood of the Canadian people. They have been living in peace; they have had their differences, they may have had their quarrels, but under the Union Jack the French Canadians of Quebec and the rest of Canada enjoy liberty and protection, religious, national and political. They
speak their own language; they make their own laws; they exercise their franchise as they see fit, and they worship at the altars where their forefathers knelt. They value their Canadian citizenship as highly as does any other class of Canadians in this country.
I firmly believe that when the purport and tenor of this Bill are fully and properly explained to the people of Quebec, fhey will be willing to do their share and to discharge their national duty as faithfully as any other class of citizens of this country.
I say this, notwithstanding the dire threat delivered in stentorian tones and with dramatic effect by the hon. member for St. Hyacinthe (Mr. L. J. Gauthier) a few nights ago. While the French Canadians have and enjoy rights, they must realize, as I realize, that they have obligations to fulfil. Our Canadian soldiers on the battle-fields of France and Belgium, fighting for the flag, for the Empire, for liberty and for our own country, have, by their valour, their courage, and particularly their adaptability and resourcefulness, covered themselves with glory. The Canadian physicians, surgeons and nurses have, at the front and in the hospitals, done themselves proud in the eyes of the whole world because of their devotion to duty, their spirit of self-sacrifice, their unselfishness and their all round good work.
If I be permitted to digress, I would like to say that the Canadian physicians and surgeons on the field, as well as in the hospitals, ably assisted by the nurses, who, since the war began, have rendered invaluable aid in various spheres, have performed their multifold duties and arduous labours in a manner which has elicited the admiration of the British and the Allies alike, have won the approval of all well-thinking people, and have earned the. profound gratitude of thousands of sick and wounded soldiers who have come under their care; and the administration and organization of our hospitals both in France and in England are, to my mind, satisfactory and excellent. Shortcomings and mistakes may have been made, but we must admit that the undertaking has been immense, intricate and far reaching. I wish to state most emphatically, from what I know of the conditions existing in those institutions, that the man who stated that the Canadian Medical Service had failed to an almost criminal degree, erred in judgment and observation; drew wrong conclusions and was animated by a feeling of unreasonable animus and failed in the discharge of his duty.
Canada has made many sacrifices since this waT has commenced; the people have endeavoured to honourably discharge their duty for the cause of humanity and civilization, and if this terrific contest is protracted, we, in conjunction with the Allies, should be prepared to spend our last dollar and to expend the last ounce of mental energy and physical strength which we possess. We should be prepared to put forth our strongest endeavours to reasonably increase our man-power at the front, with a view to bringing the Germans to their knees and crushing militarism and Prussian autocracy, thereby ensuring to the whole world a permanent and lasting peace.
Mr. A. B. McCOIG (West Kent) Mr. Speaker, in rising to say a few words on this, undoubtedly the most important question that has ever been before Parliament, at least since I have had the honour of *being a member, I wish at the outset to say that I have the good fortune to represent possibly the largest urban and rural constituency in Ontario. In that constituency we have citizens of every nationality and of different religions. I am glad to say, however, that from those different denominations I have never received a letter asking me not to do what I thought was the very best in the interest of the future of this country and of the British Empire. I am more fortunate than my hon. friend (Mr. Chabot), who has stated that he has received many letters threatening him if he took one stand or the other. The only proposition put up to me by any of my constituents was not to support the amendment to the amendment, which means that we are to do nothing to assist the Mother Country. From my constituency, of which I am justly proud, we have sent 2,000 men to take part in the great struggle which is now going on. Many of those men have been fortunate enough to return. Many of them have come back wounded, and many of them have made the supreme sacrifice on the battlefields of France and Flanders. Many of them are in the trenches at the present time. We cannot give these men too good treatment. On many occasions when I have listened to hon. members speaking about how we should get recruits, the thought has impressed itself upon me that if the members of this House were serious and would make some further compensation to those men, other men would be more encouraged to enlist. Those men enlisted voluntarily at a time when the cost of living in this country was much tess than it is at the present time.
These men have agreed to serve their country for $1.10 a day. If they could have been home last winter and seen the hardship their families had to contend with, I feel satisfied they would demand that the Government increase their pay before they return. The Government might tax large incomes of $10,000 and upwards, which would mean a considerable sum in the treasury by the time when these men return, and if they did not return the money would enable their families to make a new start in life. Many of our industries are thus setting aside large sums of money for the hard times that are expected after the war.
The hon. member for Montreal, St. Antoine (Sir Herbert Ames) said last night that it was impossible to get any more recruits. I feel satisfied that if we doubled the pay of the soldiers we would be able to get the number of men the Prime Minister promised without any form of compulsory service. Let me read a despatch in this connection:
800 Chicago Students For Canada's Farms. Chicago, April 26.-The Agricultural College of the University of Illinois has given 800 students to Canada to help harvest the "warwinning wheat crop." The first contingent, composed of nearly 500 men, left Chicago for the Saskatoon district in western Canada tonight.
The Canadian Government guarantees the boys a minimum wage of $50 a month and board, it pays tiwo-tihirds of their railroad fare in Canada, and promises each of them a homestead of 160 acres after they have served six months harvesting the 1917 crop.
If this be true, I ask this Government to give the boys at the front who are protecting this young nation the same consideration after the war is over. I believe we should then be able to get the required number of men. I have another advertisement here which appeared in the different American newspapers up to the 1st of May last: Farm Hands Wanted.
Western Canada Farmers Require 50,000 American Farm Labourers at Once? Urgent demand sent out for farm help by the Government of Canada. Good wages. Steady employment. Low railway fares. Pleasant surroundings. Comfortable homes. No Compulsory Military Service. Farm hands from the United States are absolutely guaranteed against conscription. This advertisement is to secure farm help to replace Canadian farmers who have enlisted for the war.
A splendid opportunity for the young man to investlgiate western Canada's agricultural offerings, and to do so at no expense. Only those accustomed to farming need apply.
For particulars as to railway rates and districts where labour is required, or other information regarding western Canada, apply to C. J. Buroughton, 112 W. Adam St., Chicago, 111.,
Authorized Canadian Government Agent.
Am I unreasonable in making this plea for the soldiers at the front, of whom so many kind and complimentary things have been said by every hon. gentleman who has spoken in this debate? Am I asking too much when I ask Parliament to supplement the pay of the men who are rendering such great service at the front for this country and the Empire, and to offer a higher amount to the men they propose to coerce into military service in the future?
The county which I have the honour to represent in this House has sent many boys to the Royal Military School at Kingston to take the artillery course. This course costs the parents from $800 to $1,200. On the first day of June many of my constituents who had taken this course at Kingston were sent overseas. They had had a thorough training in the artillery branch of the service, and naturally expected to continue in that branch, but after they arrived in England they were transferred from the artillery to the infantry. This was not done by the British authorities; they had nothing to do with it whatever. The whole matter was in the hands of the Canadian officials. In view of the treatment meted out to these men, how can the Government expect to get more recruits from that county? As the Prime Minister is not in his seat, I appeal to the hon. gentleman who is leading the House to give this matter his immediate and serious attention, and have this wrong righted. If the people are to have confidence in recruiting officers, the Government must stand behind the pledges given at the time of enlistment, and not transfer men from one unit to another contrary to the understanding at the time of enlistment.
The Minister of Trade and Commerce (Sir George Poster) said the other day that what Canada wanted was leadership. These are his words:
I prefer that this House of Commons-not fresh from the people, out yet from the people -I prefer that they, having knowledge which others in large degree cannot have, should give the people of this country a lead in this great matter.
With that I am absolutely in accord. When the National Service campaign was being carried on and cards were being sent out, hundreds of men came to me and asked if they would be subject to compulsory service if they signed the cards. I assured them on the word of the Prime Minister of this country that we would not have compulsory service in Canada. I also told them that the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Rogers), when acting for the Prime Minister, had assured the labour delegates who
waited on him that registration was no step towards compulsion. I also pointed out that the right hon. leader of the Opposition had stated that we should not have compulsory service in Canada. I have also here an interview in the Toronto Mail and Empire of October 10, 1916, with Hon. Mr. Hearst, Premier of Ontario:
The Prime Minister found little, if any, sentiment among the British people, f avouring compulsory service in Canada. There may he some among Canadian army men, hut the British people have received so much more help from Canada than they looked for at the outset, that they are not disposed to demand more.
When we have such authorities making the statement that there will be no compulsion in this country, can you be surprised when you hear that there is some opposition to this proposal, and especially in the absence of an educational campaign to place before the people the reasons for adoplting a measure of this kind? While I am alluding to the views of those who,
I admit, are amongst the foremost men in Canada, I think I might appropriately refer to an editorial which appeared in a paper that enjoys the greatest reputation for reliability and enterprise in supplying war news to the people of this land. In reply to criticism with regard to the stand that paper had taken, the Toronto Globe published the following in its editorial columns:
The Globe, in its editorial columns, has constantly pointed out that in a country such as Canada conscription is an impossibility, and that no responsible statesman of either party, capable of forming or leading a Canadian War Ministry, would propose compulsory service. Nor has The Globe unduly criticised the failure of the Borden Government to do more than it has done to assist volunteer recruiting. The criticisms of The Globe and of most Liberal papers have been exceedingly mild when compared with the vitriolic denunciations of the Toronto Telegram, the Winnipeg Telegram, the Montreal Mail, and other journals that have absolutely no sympathy with the Liberal party.
Topic: MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic: DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.