Mr. ROBERT RYAN (Three Rivers):
Mr. Speaker, I wish to say a few words in this debate. First I would congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) upon the well-prepared, ably delivered and explicit statement he made to the house at the opening of the debate. I would congratulate, .too, the hon. member for Riehelieu-Vercheres (Mr. Cardin) upon the courageous and vigorous statement he made, and the clear manner in which he placed his position, and that of Quebec, before the house. I would congratulate, too, the Minister of Justice (Mr. St. Laurent) upon his clear exposition of the position of Quebec.
I congratulate the government upon the nomination of the Minister of Justice to his portfolio, because I believe the Prime Minister selected for that post one of the most capable men in Canada. May I congratulate, too, all other ministers and hon. members who have taken part in the debate. Each has expressed his views. One cannot be in favour of all he hears from the orators, but we can believe at least that these men have spoken in good faith.
I have believed since the first session of this parliament that the Conservative party, those who have supported that party and certain organizations throughout Canada, have waged an organized campaign to create preju-
Mobilization Act-Mr. Ryan
dice in the public mind against the Prime Minister. There is no doubt whatsoever as to the truth of that suggestion, and I could prove it from clippings I have taken from editorials in newspapers.
Six months after the beginning of the war there was a general election, and the leaders of both the major parties stated there was to be no conscription for overseas service. I understand some hon. members opposite did not accept the statement of their leader. That does not matter, however, because the statement was made by both leaders. At the first session of parliament the leader of the opposition (Mr. Hanson) stated in the house that he had been chosen temporary leader, and that when he was chosen it was understood he would oppose the government. He also stated, "As long as I remain in the house I intend to oppose the government." I give him credit that that is what he has done since the first session.
There has been an organized campaign to create prejudice against the Prime Minister- not so much against the government, because it has been suggested at certain times, particularly during the first and second sessions of this parliament, that certain ministers might replace the Prime Minister, if he would kindly get out. 1 believe it was the Montreal Gazette which stated, "Now is the time for the Prime Minister to resign. He could resign in all his glory. He could be one of the best Prime Ministers Canada ever had, if he would get out now." They are of the same opinion to-day.
I recall that on January 26 one of the Ottawa daily papers published a special number in three sections. There was the regular news section, and two others in addition. One of those sections was headed "Canada's War Effort for Victory", and pointed out that the war effort of the dominion was rapidly expanding to a peak. In those special sections I found photographs of nine ministers, and five other gentlemen connected with war departments. The texts under these pictures were most appropriate, giving due credit for the urork done by each. So far as it went this was all right. But something was missing, in none of the sections was there a photograph of the Prime Minister of Canada. Why was it missing? It was missing for the reason I mentioned earlier, namely, prejudice against the Prime Minister.
If ministers of the crown have done their duty, they should receive credit. But if, for instance, the Minister of Munitions and Supply (Mr. Howe) and the Minister of National War Services (Mr. Thorson) have done their duty, then surely some of the credit must go
to the Prime Minister who had the good judgment to select those men-because we know it is the Prime Minister who made the selection. Let us give him credit. .
During the last session I said this, "We may not agree with everything that is being done by the government; but we should agree that on the whole the Prime Minister and the government are carrying on a gigantic undertaking very satisfactorily and under strict control." I repeat that to-night, because it is just as true now as it was then.
In that connection may I read an extract from Liberty of June 20, appearing under the hand of the publisher:
An executive of one of Canada's greatest industrial concerns has stated, "I wonder if people realize that they have seen a miracle. They possibly do not know it, but they have seen in Canada in the last two years the greatest per capita industrial expansion that has ever occurred to any people anywhere."
Following that statement, I should like at this time to congratulate the Minister of Munitions and Supply upon the clear statement of facts which he gave us the other day. I think he has always been held in high esteem, but he will be held in still higher esteem after making that statement. I think it was John Ruskin who wrote:
That the greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what he saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see.
There is no argument as to where the defence line of Canada lies; the difference of opinion is in connection with the method to be used to select men to reinforce that line. In connection with conscription for overseas, I should like to read a letter which appeared in the Montreal Gazette of June 23 signed by a gentleman named Arnold Stuart. The heading on this letter, which I suppose is put there by the Gazette, is "Crerar's Convictions", and it reads:
Sir,-This morning's leading editorial asks some pertinent questions concerning Hon. T. A. Crerar, federal Minister of Mines and Resources. "Where are the convictions of 1917," you ask, "and where is his courage of that war?" (concerning conscription).
Well, I should say it is quite possible that Mr. Crerar has looked up the record. Perhaps you should do so too, Mr. Editor. It would show the following:
404.000 enrolments under the Military Service Act (conscription).
380.000 exemptions asked (118,000 in Ontario;
115.000 in Quebec, etc.).
104.000 exemption claims approved in Ontario;
108.000 in Quebec, and so on in other provinces.
31.000 ordered to report for duty. 5,000 of these defaulted, leaving 26,000 net yield out of
Mobilization Act-Mr. Ryan
It is quite possible, Mr. Editor, indeed highly probable, that Hon. Mr. Crerar and his leader the Prime Minister, have these figures of the results of conscription in mind. Is it any wonder that they want to defer conscription until every other expedient has failed?
The Gazette said in 1918 concerning the Union government's course in applying the Military Service Act (conscription):
The government appears to have established a system which, if it gets the men at all, will get them so slowly that whatever military advantage depends on expeditious reinforcement will be lost.
If, as is alleged, recruits are coming in satisfactorily under the voluntary system there would appear to be little reason to turn again to the sad expedient of 1917. The fact is that politicians on both sides have for decades made such a bete noir of conscription that now it rises up to bedevil the whole domain of our war psychology. But nothing is to be gained by ignoring the real situation.
The leader of the opposition made the following statement, as reported on page 2768 of Hansard:
Because this government in the first nine months of the war did absolutely nothing to meet the situation. They were going to have a moderate war. A moderate war! Ask any hon. member from the province of Quebec if they were not promised that Canada's contribution would be a moderate contribution.
As far as I am concerned I have no recollection, and I do not believe anyone else has, that Quebec was promised a moderate war. The promise was made to Quebec that men would not be conscripted for overseas service. Quebec has never objected to a total war effort; Quebec has never objected to men enrolling voluntarily to go any place in the world. Quebec has not criticized the all-out war effort, and it did not criticize the billion dollar gift to England for food, materials and so on. Quebec has not criticized the budget or anything else. There has been no criticism of the government or of any action that has been taken in furthering our total war effort. But the people of Quebec were promised, and they want the government to keep the promise that there will be no conscription for service overseas.
There is one thing I have had in mind for a long time, but hon. members who have spoken before me have brought this up. I am in favour of increased pay for the men in the armed forces. I am also in favour of widowed mothers whose only sons have enlisted being given the same allowance as that received by a wife, namely, $35 a month. To-day such a widowed mother receives only $20. The men who are fighting for our liberty must be assured that after the war there will be a better world in which to live, a world in which every man will be guaranteed work and security.
I want to congratulate the Minister of Pensions and National Health (Mr. Mackenzie) upon some of the public statements he has made during the last couple of years. I do not know if the government was aware of all these statements, but I am very much in favour of certain of the things which the Minister of Pensions and National Health thinks should be done after this war is over. In this connection I should like to quote from "The Road We are Travelling 1914-1942" by Stuart Chase. No doubt most hon. members know who Mr. Chase is. He is a writer on economic questions, and in this book which has just been published, he said:
I believe, moreover, that we are more likely to win the war if we have a clear idea of goals for the peace. Men fight better when they know for what they are fighting. Any peace we make must be superior to that which our enemies can offer. They make alluring promises about new orders and new spheres of prosperity. These promises are widely heard in the lands most affected, and we shall have to do more than sneer at them. We shall have to-and can-offer something better, more just and more convincing.
Defeatism about the peace is almost as dangerous as defeatism about the war. The victory need not and must not lead to economic depression and disaster at home. Actually, when peace does come, it will be an opportunity and a challenge; an opportunity to use our vastly increased plant and human resources to raise the standard of living for us all; a challenge to make a greater civilization.
If our young men were assured that there would be a new and better world after this war, they might feel like joining up.
There are a number of things I should like to say with regard to the plebiscite, and I should like to give my understanding of the plebiscite vote. First, I understand it as a vote to release the government from the promise they had given to the people of Canada that men would not be conscripted for service overseas. Second, the plebiscite was the only democratic method by which the government could secure an expression of opinion from the people in regard to their promise. Third, the "yes" vote in eight provinces did release the government from their promise. However, this vote cannot be interpreted as a definite and emphatic vote for conscription but should be interpreted as a vote for freedom of action for the government. Fourth, the "no" vote refused to release the government from their promise. This vote must be understood as a definite and emphatic vote against conscription of men for service overseas. Fifth, if Bill No. 80 is adopted by parliament, it is my opinion that should the government find it necessary to impose con-
Mobilization Act-Mr. Bonnier
scription of men for overseas service, the matter should be submitted to parliament for final decision.
It has not been proven up to the present that the voluntary method of enrolling men has not been satisfactory and that, if there had been conscription of men for overseas service, a greater number of men could have been trained and equipped. I never heard that any of the three defence ministers were not satisfied with enrolments under the voluntary system. I understood that some time ago the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston) stated that he believed that with the voluntary system the country could carry on until March, 1943. I think some hon. members misunderstood the three speeches made by the ministers of defence and were under the impression that they were in favour of immediate conscription. But these three ministers did not say one word against the voluntary system. They did not say that the voluntary system had failed; they did not say or suggest that conscription should be imposed at once. They did say -that they would vote for the bill. Undoubtedly the ministers of defence will vote for the bill or, like the hon. member for Riehelieu-Vercheres (Mr. Cardin), they would have to resign from the government. There is no doubt in my mind that when these ministers find it necessary to impose conscription for overseas service they will be in favour of imposing it, but in their speeches they did not say anything about that. The public also are under the impression that the voluntary system has been satisfactory, and nothing has been said up to this time by the ministers of defence against that system.
The "no" vote in Quebec was not a vote intended to disrupt the bonne entente that has existed between the two races that have built up Canada. It was a vote to uphold a principle which is deeply rooted in the minds of the great majority of the electors of Quebec.
The vote on the plebiscite or on Bill No. 80 should not affect the good work that has been done up to the present to cement Canadian unity, and this good work should be continued.
Let me recall to this house the words which the Prime Minister uttered in Winnipeg on July 10, 1941. He said:
My duty as I see it is to seek above all else to preserve national unity, for on the maintenance of national unity all else depends.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, I should like to say as a Quebecker to the English-speaking members of this house that I do not think we shall find men who have more consideration for the English-speaking members than the members from Quebec, and I say to all the English-speaking members of all the other 44561-239J
provinces that I do not believe the people of their constituencies have any better friends than the people of Quebec. I am persuaded that I can also say with equal assurance to the members from Quebec that they could not find any better friends than the Englishspeaking members from the other provinces, whose constituents also, I am sure, have the same friendly feeling toward the people of Quebec as the people of Quebec have towards them.
Topic: MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic: AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT TO SERVICE OVERSEAS