George Randolph PEARKES

PEARKES, The Hon. George Randolph, V.C., P.C., C.C., D.S.O., M.C., C.D.

Personal Data

Party
Progressive Conservative
Constituency
Esquimalt--Saanich (British Columbia)
Birth Date
February 26, 1888
Deceased Date
May 30, 1984
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Pearkes
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=a5d20b47-6869-470c-8621-982e467cd0dd&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
soldier

Parliamentary Career

June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
PC
  Nanaimo (British Columbia)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
PC
  Nanaimo (British Columbia)
August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
PC
  Esquimalt--Saanich (British Columbia)
June 10, 1957 - February 1, 1958
PC
  Esquimalt--Saanich (British Columbia)
  • Minister of National Defence (June 21, 1957 - October 10, 1960)
March 31, 1958 - April 19, 1962
PC
  Esquimalt--Saanich (British Columbia)
  • Minister of National Defence (June 21, 1957 - October 10, 1960)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 788 of 790)


October 4, 1945

Mr. PEARKES:

We should know where

those operational stations or air fields will be located. They are linked closely with the other services and there should be no mistake made in locating them. It is important that they should be located, not for political reasons, but purely for strategic considerations. No doubt there will be training stations in addition.

I come now to the detailed statement of figures just presented. I cannot help feeling that the country will be disappointed that there has not been a greater reduction with a further relief from taxation. We have heard about the expansion of the air force. From the financial point of view there has also been expansion. I believe that in 1940-41 the estimates submitted were for $54 million. This has grown and grown until last year the estimates were over one billion dollars. Then we find that there h-as been a reduction from that maximum figure of forty-four per cent, according to what the minister has told us.

That maximum amount was provided during a year when our armies were preparing to

launch an invasion of the coast of France. Maximum air effort and maximum air bombardment were required. It could be estimated that during the months which would follow D day there would have to be continual and prolonged bombing, as in fact there was. There was also the war against Japan which it was generally expected would have to be prosecuted to the best ability of this country as soon as Germany had been defeated. Therefore it was reasonable that a large amount of money had to be made available.

When the estimates were prepared for this year it was known that the war with Germany was nearing an end, but it was also thought that the war against Japan would be continuing for some months after the cessation of hostilities with Germany. Therefore it is reasonable to think that money was provided in order to take care of air operations in Asia. It would seem that these operations would be expensive because of the great distances which would have to be covered. These operations did not develop. So I say the people of the country as a whole will be disappointed when they hear that there has not been more of a reduction than that which has been shown to us to-day.

Within a month of the passing of the estimates last spring V-E day came, and only a few months after that V-J day came. It is not surprising that we find the major reduction in the estimates made in connection with the maintenance of squadrons overseas. I believe the reduction has been in the neighbourhood of $216 million, very nearly half the total reduction. I will go on to examine these various items.

In the figures placed on Hansard the other day we find the money which was voted for the first five months of the fiscal year and the money still required for the remaining seven months of the year. Talking only in terms of millions, without bothering with the odd dollars, I find under pay and allowances that $130 million were required for the first five months, while $139 million will be required for the last seven months. We have been told to-day that there has been a reduction of

54,000 officers and men since V-E day. We shall have to ask the minister to give us a more detailed explanation as to why there is not a further reductibn in pay and allowances when so many men have already been discharged from the air force.

The next item is travel, and $9 million was required for the first five months, while $14 million will be required for the last seven months of the year. Here again we know that personnel are being brought back, but I gained

Demobilization-Air Services

the impression that a large percentage of those who were overseas are already back in Canada. While there will have to be transportation provided for a certain number of personnel from the Burma front to England, it seems to me that this amount of $14 million is too large.

The next item is construction, purchase, repairs and operating expenses of properties. During the war years temporary buildings were constructed to house and quarter various units of the Royal Canadian Air Force throughout Canada. Those buildings were well constructed and they have been well maintained. I feel that there is now little necessity for capital expenditures on additional buildings. If it is found necessary to construct any more permanent barracks I suggest that such construction be left and dealt with as a post-war project. There are civilian requirements which should have prior claim to permanent construction for the Royal Canadian Air Force. We are not told in detail how this item is divided between construction and repairs.

The next item is personal supplies and services, including clothing. A total of $7,400,000 was required for the first five months, while $7,600,000 will be required for the last seven months. Again I say that if there has been a reduction of 54,000 men and discharges are going on, why is it necessary to have such a large sum for this item? It may be that the men are obtaining civilian suits with that money, but I was under the impression that that would come out of another department.

Then for communications, signal and wireless equipment; during the first five months $3,000,000. and during the next seven months $12,000,000. Surely there will not be an expansion in the communication services after we have heard of the reductions in the number of stations and in the number of squadrons and units of the forces; and unless it may be that some expenditures in connection with the northwest territories communications are included, I believe we must ask again for a detailed explanation why so much more money is required under that head.

The same remarks apply to ammunition and bombs-$2,000,000 during the first five months and $8,000,000 when for all practical purposes the war is over. Perhaps we are going to build up stocks of bombs and ammunition. Perhaps we require them for training purposes. But it does seem to me that that is a very considerable amount.

The same with fuel costs-for the first five months $6,000,000 and for the last seven months of this year $1S,000,000, when we

know that there is a large reduction in the number of units and that many aircraft have been destroyed or otherwise disposed of.

The same thing with regard to aircraft, engines and spares-$25,000,000 during the first five months of the year and $46,000,000 during the remaining seven months.

The same remarks apply regarding reduction in personnel and reduction in units.

Then we come to the maintenance of overseas squadrons. There, of course, a big saving has been made.

Finally we finish up with the amusing little item of sundries, printing and stationery, and we see that there is no doubt about it, that the paper war at least is not over.

I am glad that the minister mentioned that a research development division was to -be started, but I see no item here for expenditure on research. Is that expenditure to be in addition to the amount which is to be voted in these estimates? Is it to be included in some other estimate, or is it included as part of the various items I have mentioned? Perhaps the minister will be kind enough to explain that.

The minister referred to the atomic bomb, and of course everybody is tremendously interested in any developments along those lines. But there are many other fields in which experiment must be carried on, and I would recommend to the minister a careful study of jet-propelled aircraft and of radio-controlled aircraft. It is perhaps foolish to speculate, but while it -may be said that the atomic bomb is going to increase the importance of the air force there must also be taken into consideration the possibilities of radio-controlled aircraft, and it may be no more fantastic than other developments would have seemed a few years ago to suggest that the air forces of the future will be launched from subterranean runways and guided toward their objective without a single airman being on board or in the air.

I should like to compliment the minister upon having started investigations regarding flying and radio control in the northern latitudes. That is of importance and we have a grand opportunity to study conditions in the northern climate. May I also suggest that our own shores are frequently fog-bound, and investigations might well be carried on to see how we can eliminate fog and improve landing conditions when our coasts are fog-bound.

Dealing with the question of radar-and this is harking back to my first statement as to the need for coordination between the three services-I feel that there may be scope to reduce overlapping and duplication in the

Demobilization-Air Services

employment of radar. In the main, air forces are sending their beams into the air to locate approaching aircraft. But radar is also used for the detection of surface vessels, and perhaps if the navy and the air force would get together a big development might be made there.

My time is fast drawing to an end, but before I sit down I should like to ask a question, because we have had no statement regarding the matter. What is the present policy of the government as to following closely along the lines of either the Royal Air Force of Great Britain or the United States air force? There are two widely different views upon that question. There is a great difference between the organization and equipment of the British air force and the organization and equipment of the United States air force, and we may have to make a decision as to which we shall follow. No doubt the government has made a decision as to whether it will follow the Brtiish or the United States system.

In conclusion, I should like to feel that the remarks which will be made while discussing these service estimates will all be prompted by the highest motives, that we members of this house in all parties are determined to do all we can to preserve the peace. There is a feeling among those of us who have seen two world wars that we must make enormous sacrifices to prevent a world war III from coming in our time, because if a world war III does come it seems to me that the means of destruction are so developed that whole civilizations might be wiped out before those. means of destruction themselves can be destroyed, and it is one of the ironies of fate that perhaps the means of destruction would be the very last thing to be destroyed.

If by any chance we speak with intensity and perhaps with some emotion, advocating the steps which we consider should be taken in order to achieve the preservation of peace, and based upon such experience or previous study as we have had, I want all hon. members, including those whose experience or study has led them to quite different conclusions from those which I have reached, to feel that while they may have ideas violently opposed to my own, I shall never attribute to any one of them less high motives than I hold myself.

Topic:   CANADIANS IN THE R.A.F.
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October 4, 1945

Mr. PEARKES:

I think the young men

who to-day are making the decision as to whether they will remain in the temporary interim force would like to have more information regarding their opportunities for seeking a career in that permanent force.

I have heard reports of, and I have seen individuals who -have been perplexed and who have wondered whether it is worth whale staying on in the interim force, on the off hope that perhaps they may be able to stay on afterwards in the regular air force. They are concerned, because in many cases they have entered, as it were, into a contract with their former employers before joining the services at the beginning of the war. They were promised that when the war was over they would have their civilian jobs back again.

If they sign on with the interim force they have the feeling that they are breaking that contract. And if at the end of two years they are not accepted, or the terms of service in the regular force are not acceptable to them, they will have no claim on the civilian jobs they left at the beginning of the war.

Therefore I say that they have waited long for the terms of service which will be announced regarding the regular air force, after the two-year period. I feel that we are wasting good material by not having come out before, and by not making it quite clear to-day as to what the opportunities for a career will be.

I understood the minister to say that the interim force was available for those who were in the Royal Canadian Air Force at the present time, or who had recently left that force and desired to go back. But no intimation was given that any new recruits were being taken into the force. If we are not taking in new recruits; if we are not taking in young men who are anxious to make the R.C.A.F. a career, young men of a type who might become commissioned officers and rise in the sendee, then we are going to have a gap, a hiatus, and in a few years time, if recruiting is not resumed before that period has elapsed, there will be a serious gap.

I believe I am correct when I say there has been no recruiting this year. If that is so, then the gap is getting wider and wider. We cannot have a Royal Canadian Air Force made up of old men. We must have a steady flow of young men coming in, if we are to keep efficiency to a maximum. I regret that no mention has been made of reopening recruiting for the service.

When I speak of efficiency, let it be understood that I do not want anyone to feel I am advocating extravagance or waste. If there has been any extravagance or waste in the past, there must be none in the future. I would urge all those who are thinking of remaining in the interim force or the permanent force as a future career to realize that they will be expected to do a full day's work. And if they are expected to do a full day's work, then this country must be prepared to pay wages and salaries which a full day's work in any particular craft or trade would command.

Before I leave the question of personnel, and while I am still talking about the possibilities of entering upon a career, may I say I should like to have heard the Minister of National Defence for Air give the committee some idea with respect to his policy in connection with enlisting those who would seek commissioned ranks in the air force.

Demobilization-Air Services

Within the last week or so the announcement was made that the Royal Military College at Kingston will be opening its doors next year. We know that Royal Roads, the naval cadet college, is in existence on Vancouver island. I should have liked to hear-perhaps the minister will tell us later-what opportunities are offered to those young men who are now leaving school or college and who would like to follow the air force as a career. Is it the intention of the force to establish a special college of its own, or does it intend to receive entries through the Royal Military College, or some other university? I believe the country would like to hear his proposals in that respect.

Passing on to equipment, I would say simply this, that it is our duty-and the minister intimated that it was the department's intention to do -this-to retain up-to-date equipment. We must cut our losses, and get rid of any obsolete or obsolescent -ty-pes.

Mention was made of air fields. The minister said, I believe, that five operational air fields would be retained. I suggest that we should be told where those operational air fields are located.

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October 4, 1945

Mr. PEARKES:

Mr. Chairman, I should like to be associated with the remarks which have just been made by the hon. the Minister of National Defence for Air (Mr. Gibson) in appreciation of the work that has been done by the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the Women's Division of the Royal Canadian Air Force, during this war. I have been extremely fortunate to have been closely associated with that service, although, of course, I was not in it myself. But I count it a high privilege to have been in England during those early days when I saw our Canadian pilots sharing the dangers with their British comrades in breaking up those dense formations of enemy bombers which came over to attack London and the south of England during the years 1939 and 1940. And never was any "forlorn" led with more reckless gallantry in those romantic days of warfare when citadels and fortresses were stormed and breaches were entered than the reckless gallantry shown by that "forlorn" of 1939 and 1940, when they forced the breaches in those formations of enemy bombers which came toward London. Singly or in pairs these fighters went up, and we on the ground stood in amazement. We watched them accomplish the impossible. Those formations of enemy bombers turned and went back to seek their lairs on the continent. Then, as months went by, we saw the great squadrons sally forth from the shores of England and carry a just punishment and revenge to the cities and fortresses of Europe then held by the enemy.

I should also like to say something in appreciation of the work which was done here in Canada, because it has been my privilege to fly many thousands of miles with the Royal Canadian Air Force. I have always received the utmost courtesy and kindness from the aircrews, and I have been tremendously impressed by the skilful handling of the aircraft, the quick decisions made and the coolness of pilots and navigators under the trying weather conditions while flying over the Rocky mountains and in the northern areas of this country.

I also wish to say a word in appreciation of the women's division of the air force and of the magnificent work done by all those who were connected with the commonwealth training plan.

It is my intention to examine this evening the proposals and estimates which have been presented by the minister under four headings: the defence of Canada and our ability to live up to the commitments which we have to assume during this interim period by

reason of obligations derived from the united nations agreements; the question of efficiency; that of research, and that of the proposed continuation, in so far as types of organization and equipment are concerned, of following the British commonwealth of nations and United States of America air forces.

Dealing with the defence of Canada and such commitments as we may be called upon to assume during this interim period, I must express profound regret that the government has not seen fit to meet the request which was made in the house last Friday by the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Green) and which was repeated by me the day before yesterday, that before we went into a detailed examination of the various service estimates we should be presented with the general defence policy of the three services. At that time both the hon. member for Vancouver South and myself endeavoured to explain the difficulties under which hon. members would be working if they had to review piecemeal the various service estimates presented. I still maintain that it is impossible efficiently to review the separate service estimates without that over-all picture.

In the first place the strengths of the various services to carry out the roles of the defence of Canada and such commitments as they may be required to carry out under the united nations agreements are relative. For instance, to put it in the simplest possible terms, if we had a large air force and we had all the planes that we required for reconnaissance purposes over the sea approaches of our country we should not require as many surface craft to carry out the patrol work. On the other hand, if we had a very large number of surface reconnaissance craft, then we could reduce the number of our air force reconnaissance squadrons. Further than that, it is quite obvious to everybody, I think, that if we have ships afloat, then we must have bases from which those ships can operate, and those bases must be protected. It is the role of the army and of the air force to protect and to watch the approaches to those bases. [DOT]

I feel that the three services are so correlated in these respects that we should have been given an over-all statement. Furthermore, when we come to the administrative services of the army, the navy and the air force is there not an opportunity whereby the services, perhaps the medical, dental, pay or commissariat services, might not in some respects be combined instead of there being a separate service for the army, the navy and the air force? ,

According to the press we have statements from senior naval officers who have told us

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that certain types of ships are 'to be in the Canadian navy. The question of carriers was mentioned. If we have aircraft carriers they have to carry aircraft. Who is to suppiv those aircraft? I have not heard any mention in the minister's remarks about any aircraft being made available to those carriers I do not know whether it is the intention of the government to provide a fleet air arm. How can we make considered comments upon the estimates if we do not have such details? I feel that we cannot expect progress to be made unless we are presented in parliament here with a well thought-out and coordinated plan. I do not mind in the least if people tell me that they have never done that before. There is no use in our trying to adhere to the methods of 1919 or the time-worn formula of twenty years ago. Those will not produce an adequate defence for this country. If I am to believe that the government departments have worked out these estimates in collaboration one with another, then I can only feel that they have shown disrespect, if not contempt, of this house, by refusing to produce statements. If, on the other hand, they have not worked in close collaboration, then a most terrible and fundamental mistake has been made at the very beginning.

I turn now to the question of efficiency. Efficiency must not be destroyed. That, I feel, is a fundamental principle to which we must adhere and upon which we must insist. Dealing with this first under ithe heading of personnel, let me say that we have been told of the interim force. A hint has been thrown out to-day-and that was the first time I had heard it-that there will be a permanent or regular air force of some 15,000, 20,000 or

25.000 personnel. I have forgotteD the exact number.

Topic:   CANADIANS IN THE R.A.F.
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October 4, 1945

Mr. PEARKES:

Those are headquarters,

are they?

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October 3, 1945

1. How many conscientious objectors are still compulsorily retained in work camps in Canada ?

2. How many of these are Jehovah Witnesses, and in which camps are they located?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS
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