Mr. C. C. I. MERRITT (Vancouver-Burrard):
Mr. Speaker, I wish to apologize to the house for intervening in this debate at such a late hour, but I find it necessary to do so for definite reasons. You will excuse a new member for having perhaps misunderstood the purpose of this debate, which is on the address in reply to the speech from the throne, the amendment thereto and the subamendment offered by the group to my left. It does not seem to me that the purpose of this debate is fully served simply by rushing to a vote on the question without having canvassed it properly. And this is what I mean by canvassing it properly. It was my understanding that in this debate there would be an opportunity for the ministers of the crown
The Address-Mr. Merritt
to make to this country public statements which they have failed to make all summer on the great and important matters which have been exercising our people during the past few months, whether or not the members of the government know it. Before this debate terminates I hope we may hear not from private members on the government side, replying to the amendment offered by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bracken), but from the responsible ministers of the crown charged with the duty of seeing to it that we have jobs and housing, and that our men overseas get a proper deal when they return to this country. It is these hon. gentlemen whom I feel the country wishes to hear from in this debate.
I was very glad when Minister of National Defence (Mr. Abbott) rose to speak to the amendment in regard to the service personnel overseas and to answer the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Pearkes), who made such a telling speech this afternoon. Let me say to the minister at once that I know he was not responsible for the situation in which the government now finds itself in reference to the army. That situation sprang from the evil seed of the man-power policy which has been wrong from the beginning, and the minister has no responsibility for that. When he spoke to-night I thought I was going to hear what the country wants to hear; but all I heard from the minister was a deprecatory statement in reference to the speech of the hon. member for Nanaimo. The minister spoke of all the various ways in which men get out of the army now, as though the hon. member for Nanaimo was complaining, and as though this amendment complained, in regard to specific minor details. The hon. member for Nanaimo read out that list only to show the house the wide variety of methods by which people can get out of the army to-day, ranging from compassionate leave, which may be a perfectly good ground, down to "unlikely to become an efficient soldier," or "not amenable to discipline" which I say here is a perfectly bad ground.
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY