Mr. J. A. JOHNSTON (London):
Mr. Speaker, in continuing the debate on the motion now before the house I should like first to say what a pleasure and privilege it is once again to attend this Canadian parliament after four years spent on active service with the Canadian Army.
I was in England in September and October of 1940. I saw the German planes attacking by day and night. I saw the small but gallant R.A.F. force the Germans to resort to night bombing only. I saw London, that long-suffering city, burn at night, the last Sunday of the year 1940; and then that last big German attack in the early summer of 1941 when the House, of Commons at Westminster, the mother of parliaments, was destroyed. During that same period the destruction of Coventry and Plymouth and the burning of Bristol were suffered by the people of Britain. Then the organization of the air defences of the British isles forced the attackers slowly but surely from over England, and air superiority was gained over the much battered island. Then Germany attacked Russia, and Russia was called upon to take her share of the load so as to lighten the burden resting on the shoulders of England. The result was that only hit and run raids at long intervals came to the people of England. Then came December of 1941, Pearl Harbor, and the entry of the United States into the conflict; the arrival of the Americans and the Flying Fortresses in England; and the building of greater airports, which the Canadian engineers helped to construct so rapidly. Then followed August,
1942, and Dieppe, where the second Canadian division shouldered the great attack on the fortress of Europe, and made history and undying glory for Canada.
I saw the Canadians being trained for the job to come, where brigades were moved swiftly and smoothly from the south coast of England to the rugged hills of Scotland. I saw the Canadian Army move their artillery in one scheme after another. And then one day in the early morning broadcast of July 10, 1943, the world was informed that an allied army had landed in Sicily, the British on the right, the Americans on the left and the Canadian troops, consisting of the first Canadian division and the first Canadian armoured brigade attacking in the centre. Then followed September 3, and at daybreak the First Canadian Division landed at Reggio di Calabria, on the Italian mainland. Then in quick succession Pottenza, Spitzenola, Foggia, Motta, Campobasso, Castropignano, Torella, Molise and Agnone. Then a rest before the great battles along the Adriatic. A year ago now, on the part of the first Canadian division and the first Canadian armoured brigade, there was a rustle of preparations for that big show which was coming. Orders were issued and a quick move was made to the Adriatic. Then followed in succession the Sangro, San Vito, the Mora, Ortona and the Arielli. Then followed that long period of holding the winter line, that cemetery at the southern approach to Ortona which the Canadians left behind when they moved to Caserta in preparation for the battles that still were to come. Again there followed in quick succession the Gustav line, the fall of Cassino, the crashing through of the Hitler line, Pontecorvo, and onward to Rome -history written by Canadians in Italy. Then came the news on the radio on D-day, that morning in June the whole world had been looking forward to. While this initial attack was taking place on the Normandy coast the Canadians in Italy went into a rest period. After that short rest there was a quick push to Florence. The great 8th Army moved to the Adriatic and into the Gothic line, over the Metaurus beyond Pesaro and onward toward Bologna.
I served with the first Canadian division. I know the work that our infantry men have done. At this time I would like to draw to your attention an item that appears all too frequently in press reports of the world, "Slight activity-only a few patrols sent out". If you, Mr. Speaker, were one of the members of that patrol, you would not think it slight. Day in and day out infantrymen and engineers are going forward, clearing the
War Effort-Government Policy
way for the army to pass. Those are the men we must reinforce; those are the men who carry the load; those are the men who swept Jerry out of his dugout. They are the men who advance against the nazi war machine with nothing but the air and their skill to protect them from German fire. When this war is over, may the infantrymen hold the place of honour. They are the men who have been doing and are doing it the hard way. *
In fairness, Mr. Speaker, I should like to say at this time that I have spoken at some length respecting the activities of the first Canadian division because that is the one with which I served. It is an infantry division, and in a short time many of those soldiers will be starting their sixth year overseas. They are looking to the day when they will be back with their families. That is why it is necessary to send the required reinforcements to support our troops overseas.
I should like to place on record at this time some of the things I saw and heard when in England in September of this year. I saw the damage done by the robomb to communities in the south and east of England, the same area which received such a heavy bombing in the early years of the war. Once again that area is under terrific strain and pressure. I saw the damage, the havoc, the destruction and hardships the people have been suffering. V-day was coming even closer-and then came the robomb. The people of London will long remember the tragedy at the Guards' chapel, the robombs at Waterloo Station and the Lewisham market,.-all incidents in the suffering of the civilian population of England.
Anyone who has seen action in the combat areas, anyone who has seen the suffering and devastation in southern England, wants to see the war finished as quickly as possible. Speaking as a service man, and only for myself, I should like to give my impressions of the support the army has received from the official opposition in this house.
On Monday of this week the hon. member for York-Sunbury (Mr. Hanson) interrupted the Prime Minister, and those interruptions and the replies are reported at page 6597 of Hansard. Let me read a few lines to show what was said:
Mr. Hanson (York-Sunbury): That is not a correct statement, because in this house I moved an amendment to the address in the session of 1942, calling for complete national selective service. I want to correct a misstatement.
Mr. Mackenzie King: Complete national
selective service, as I understand it-
Mr. Hanson (York-Sunbury): For the army in any theatre of war, for agriculture and for industry. That is a matter of record.
Mr. Mackenzie King: Well, perhaps I may speak for myself and allow the hon. member to speak for himself.
Mr. Hanson (York-Sunbury): I say the
record speaks for me.
I should like hon. members to look at that record. I have looked up the amendment moved by the hon. member for York-Sunbury on January 26, 1942, and I want to read it. This is what I find:
And the question being proposed:
Mr. Hanson (York-Sunbury), seconded by Mr. Stirling, moved in amendment thereto: That the following words be added to the address:
"This house regrets that Your Excellency's advisers, instead of giving to the country the leadership so essential at a time properly described in the speech from the throne, as the gravest crisis in the world's history, on the contrary, have sought to evade their responsibility by holding a plebiscite, which, in the view of this house, is the negation of responsible government.
And this house regrets that Your Excellency'* advisers have not seen fit to recommend to parliament without delay additional measures designed to:
(a) completely mobilize the wealth and material resources and, on a selective basis, the full man and woman power of the nation, to the end that the natioit may wage total war in any theatre of war.
I thought it desirable to look up the amendment moved on February 1, 1943, by the present leader of the opposition, after Mr. Bracken became leader of the Progressive Conservative party. It is in these words:
We respectfully submit to Your Excellency that this house regrets that Your Excellency's advisers have failed (a) to provide an adequate plan for the effective use of Canada's man and woman power; (b) to adopt and carry through a national labour policy which will ensure maximum production and give to labour its rightful position as one of the major partners in our Canadian democracy; and (c) to provide adequate measures whereby Canadian agriculture can make its maximum war contribution and receive a fair share of the national income.
That is the record. To me as a soldier those are weak motions. They are facing both ways. They are trying to give the impression to one side that the Conservative party favours conscription and to the other side that it is not in favour of conscription. The Conservative party now seeks to get credit for wanting total war, but its record shows that it has never come out directly for conscription.
What has, been the position of the government? At every stage the government has given the army the support it needs without cheap heroics. They are doing that to-day. The government avoided conscription for overseas as long as it was possible to do so without endangering support for the army. But since 1942 the government said that it would use
IFar Effort-Government Policy
coascription if necessary. The Prime Minister has never hidden behind smoke screens like selective services or other phrases which mean different things to different men. The Prime Minister has been straightforward. He has called things by their right names. When he means conscription he calls it conscription, not something else. When conscription for overseas became necessary the government took the responsibility and passed the order in council.
But that is not all. The government has done everything necessary in all directions to make Canada's effort an all-out effort. Let me remind the house of what Mr. Churchill said on that subject. I quote from page 72 of ''Onwards to Victory" by the Right Honourable Winston S. Churchill:
March 6, 1943.
(A Message to Mr. Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada, who had congratulated Mr. Churchill on his recovery from illness):
I am deeply touched by your very generous message, and I send to you and to all members of the parliament of Canada my heartfelt thanks. I recall with gratitude the warmth of the reception which you all gave me when I visited Canada in December, 1941. In the darkest days Canada, under your leadership, remained confident and true. Now the days are brighter; and when victory is won you will be able to look back with just pride upon a record surpassed by none.
Then in a radio address from Quebec on August 31, 1943, Mr. Churchill said:
I have also had the advantage of conferring with the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Mackenzie King, that experienced statesman who led the dominion instantly and unitedly into the war, and of sitting on several occasions with his cabinet, and the British and Canadian staffs have been over the whole ground of the war together. The contribution which Canada has made to the combined effort of the British commonwealth and empire in these tremendous times has deeply touched the heart of the mother country and of all the other members of our widespread family of states and races.
From the darkest days the Canadian army, growing stronger year by year, has played an indispensable part in guarding our British homeland from invasion. Now it is fighting with distinction in wider and ever-widening fields. The empire air training organization, which has been a wonderful success, has found its seat in Canada, and has welcomed the flower of the manhood of Great Britain, of Australia, and New Zealand to her spacious flying fields and to comradeship with her own gallant sons.
Canada has become in the course of this war an important seafaring nation, building many scores of -warships and merchant ships, some of them thousands of miles from salt water, and sending them forth manned by hardy Canadian seamen to guard the Atlantic convoys and our vital life-line across the ocean. The munition industries of Canada have played a most important part in our war economy. Last, but not least, Canada has relieved Great Britain of what would otherwise have been a debt for
these munitions of no less than $2,000,000,000.
All this, of course, was dictated by no law. It came from no treaty or formal obligation. It sprang in perfect freedom from sentiment and tradition and a generous resolve to serve the future of mankind.
That will be found at page 224 of the same publication. I should like to quote from the Ottawa Evening Citizen, Tuesday, November 28, as follows:
Canada's Effort "Magnificent"-Churchill
London, November 28-(CP)-Prime Minister Churchill to-day told the House of Commons he realized "the magnificent character of the Canadian war effort."
This resolution is not a vote on conscription. That is water over the dam; that issue was settled by the government on its own responsibility. The government is now asking for support in continuing the war effort-to finish the job. I believe that this government is incomparably better than any alternative to finish the job. I want a Liberal government to guarantee the future of Canada; no hybrid Union government, no soulless, heartless, conglomeration of office holders can do this. Our aim is to destroy the barbarism and error of nazism and take steps to prevent their rise again. Our aim is to strengthen and advance civilization and justice and assure security to all mankind. *
Change is the law of life. We are living in a period of great changes, but any change must be in the right direction. Twenty-five years' leadership have given the Prime Minister experience without destroying vision. As proof let me quote from his speech before the members of both houses of parliament at Westminster on May 11, 1944:
Let us, by all means, seek to improve where we can. But in considering new methods of. organization we cannot be too careful to see that, to our own peoples, the new methods will not appear as an attempt to limit their freedom of decision or, to peoples outside the Commonwealth, as an attempt to establish a separate bloc. Let us beware lest in changing the form we lose the substance; or, for appearance's sake, sacrifice reality.
Those words are applicable to the situation in this house to-day. What has already been done at this session in making provision for the future of the service men, in advancing social security for everyone in Canada and in laying foundations for full employment and enlarged opportunities, give concrete evidence of the aim of the government to make Canada a land -where the four freedoms will be the birthright of all who live within its borders. I am therefore supporting the motion now before the house.
War Effort-Government Policy
Topic: THE WAR
Subtopic: TOLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT IN MAINTAINING