Mr. MAURICE HALLE (Brome-Missis-quoi) (Translation):
Mr. Speaker, it is with
great pleasure that, on the occasion of my maiden speech in this house, I second the motion which the hon. member for Grey-Bruce (Mr. Harris), my brother in arms, has just made with such ability and eloquence.
I believe the Right Hon. Prime Minister (Mr. King), when he charged me with this pleasant task, intended first to pay a tribute to the electors of Brome-Missisquoi, who, in this war, as in the 1914-18 conflict, elected) to this house a member of His Majesty's armed forces. In 'both cases, the people of my constituency, willingly forsaking their immediate interests, knew that by returning a soldier they would in all probability have to do without the services of their representative for an indefinite period of time.
Only a few hon. members of this house have been personally acquainted with the valiant representative of my constituency in 1914; but I am sure that every one of us has had the opportunity of admiring the splendid bronze monument erected near the entrance to this house to the memory of Lieutenant-Colonel George Harold Baker, member for Brome, commanding officer of the 5th C.M.R.
The Address-Mr. Halle
fallen on the field of honour on June 2, 1916. On 'behalf of all my constituents, I have to-day the honour of publicly rendering to his memory the homage of our admiration, and his name will ever remain for us a symbol of patriotism and devotion to duty.
May I be permitted to add, on behalf of all the sailors, soldiers and airmen hailing from the picturesque valleys and mountains of Brome and the fertile plains of Missisquoi, that we shall have no rest in the present conflict, until the enemy has been vanquished again and we hope, rendered powerless to start another war.
The people I represent do not differ from the population .of any other agricultural constituency; they are peaceful, industrious, frugal, loyal, slow to enthusiasm and anger; however, once they realize that they have to deal with a cruel and ruthless enemy, bent on systematically destroying all the free institutions which they respect and consider as being essential to life and happiness, this same people suddenly become warlike and thirst for vengeance and, for them, peace would henceforth be but an empty word, unless it were brought about by a victory as complete, as total, as the war itself. ,
Personally, I aspire to one thing only, the privilege and honour of being worthy of such electors and of such a predecessor as Colonel Baker.
Mr. Speaker, on many occasions since the outbreak of war I have had the privilege of meeting my electors, publicly and privately, in their homes or on my own farm, in workshops, in army camps, in places of amusement, at exhibitions and on the street. I have always made it a point to discuss with them the serious problems which confront us at this time and I am sure that I understand quite well their reactions.
I have had lengthy conversations with people who own prosperous farms and large herds of cattle, whose sons are in the army and who often must, together with their wives, their younger sons and their daughters, and with what little farm help is available, toil from five o'clock in the morning to eight o'clock at night in order to maintain their normal production or reach the output which is so earnestly requested of them by the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner). Transportation facilities are very much curtailed, spare machinery parts are almost impossible to obtain, feed is expensive and scarce, amusements are non-existent, expenses are high while income is low, but nevertheless
those farmers and their families have told me that they considered themselves fortunate to be able to make at least some contribution to victory.
I have talked with railroad men, who are numerous in my constituency, men who, night and day, on Sundays or week days, in fair or foul weather, and under conditions which are sometimes almost intolerable, are endeavouring to cope as efficiently as possible with the tremendous task of transporting the army, the civilian population, the war material and the ordinary trade goods, and they have assured me that, in their opinion, no sacrifice will be too great for the triumph of our cause.
On various occasions I have endeavoured to ascertain the opinion of the workers in factories and workshops, of merchants, civil servants, clergymen, barristers and physicians, and from all of them I have had the same reply: "We will do whatever is necessary to win this war-we will do our utmost."
A deep significance underlies those outspoken and gratifying utterances, for our people are not unlike others, and if they accept all the sacrifices requested of them, it is because they are firmly convinced that such sacrifices are absolutely necessary. Mr. Speaker, I wish to convey to this house the inner thoughts of my constituents, so that my fellow members may compare them with the feelings of their own electors, for provided a spirit of selfsacrifice in the face of the dire needs of war is shown from the Yukon to Nova Scotia, among French- and English-speaking Canadians and in the various classes of people, we shall then be able to assert unhestitatingly that such a population is united and shall never be vanquished.
The nefarious work of the axis powers has been described as follows by one of our church leaders, His Eminence Cardinal Villeneuve:
An attempt at world-wide destruction, morals of barbarous ferocity, a philosophy substituting greed for judgment, a despotic enslavement of all liberty by fire and sword, an atheistic cult glorifying brutal force and selfishness.
The Canadian people, Mr. Speaker, realize more and more how this description carries no exaggeration with it and has now come to appreciate the fact that the future existence of our free institutions both Christian and democratic are at stake, perhaps for centuries to come. Surely, in such great peril, any thought of personal ambition and professional gain does seem futile and despicable. One thing now matters: national welfare-and I mean national as opposed to sectional interests.
The Address-Mr. Halle
Such is the first of the motives I had referred to, motives which prompt our people willingly to accept all sacrifices required of them by our leaders.
Such success as the leaders of enemy countries have attained until now they owe to their diabolical ability to instil into the minds of the unfortunate people under their domination a boundless faith in their nefarious doctrines. Against this powerful and fertile root of evil works, against this faith, if we want to win, we must set up a faith that is stronger still- a faith in liberty: political liberty, liberty of conscience, liberty of thought and action, all liberties which appear so natural to us nowadays that it took a long time and irreparable catastrophes for a great number of people to realize that civilized nations such as Germany, Italy and Japan had deliberately planned their destruction. Such is the faith in liberty which dwells in the hearts of our people.
War has taught us a great lesson in solidarity-that is to say that liberty is the common good of all peoples-and that should one nation have its liberty taken away we are immediately threatened with the loss of our very own. Without liberty for every people on earth, peace is unthinkable, and without peace can there be no question of true liberty? If we would continue to enjoy peace and liberty we must suppress once and for all time every source of aggression and domination. We must immediately devote all our efforts to that one end. We must cease right now wasting our vital energies in futile and dangerous demands for advantages which in final analysis are but the normal consequence of the liberties enjoyed in common by all Canadians.
Such are the principles which inspired our gallant Canadians at Dieppe with the courage and heroism which they so brilliantly displayed. The opposite principles are those which inspire certain exponents of theories having nothing whatever in common with the successful pursuit of the war. Fortunately, their subversive ideas find no adepts among us, for the people I was referring to a moment ago and who, in their humble sphere, endeavour to cooperate to the best of their ability in the common enterprise, who willingly accept more and more sacrifices for the sake of victory and who were telling me there was nothing they would not do, are quite convinced that the present struggle is directed against principles which are destructive of all freedom, against totalitarianism, that is, against the absolute negation of what we claim to be our rights as free men, as free partners in the task of establishing a Canadian nation.
Such is the deep conviction which makes it possible for them to carry stoically the growing burden of taxation, the material restrictions in ever increasing numbers and the prolonged absence, sometimes without hope of return, of some members of their family.
Those who see in the present conflict nothing but a struggle for commercial or territorial gains are greatly mistaken. Our foes' ambition shall not be so easily satisfied. They aim at something far more dangerous to our national life, for there is no secret about the axis plans and they are in every way opposed to our national aspirations.
A new order would be established all over the world, in Canada as elsewhere, an order wherein there exists no room for liberty as we understand it. When liberty is mentioned before us, we immediately visualize a sacred and fundamental privilege which the Canadian people have cherished above all else ever since the beginning of their eventful existence and even before ever having set foot and settled in the New World. It has been said, as a matter of fact, that the vast majority of settlers who left France for Quebec in the 17th century did it from a love and spirit of freedom and to escape the growing encroachments of an absolute government. They loved freedom and liberty more than riches, more than security, more than life itself.
Ever since they settled in Canada, there followed a ceaseless struggle for self-government and a minimum of interference from Metropolitan France and the Sovereign Council. One need but read the history of Canada under the French regime to realize the marked difference already existing at the time as between Frenchmen and Canadians. The French considered Canada as a crown property and meant to be its undisputed masters. The Canadians claimed that this was their homeland and in their non-cooperation policy they went as far as to refuse to wear the king's uniform. The government authorities had even found themselves compelled to describe the Canadians under the name of " habitants " instead of " subjects," the latter term applying only to Frenchmen temporarily residing in the colony. When they waged war, and they were efficient soldiers, they did so alongside France and as Canadians, not as Frenchmen. That struggle was still going on in 1759. I believe that my English speaking fellow-citizens should ponder the fact that even under the French rule, we were inclined to have our own way.
The English rule which prevailed at the end of the 18th century and the political evolution of the 19th century did not bring about any
The Address-Mr. Halle
change and to-day a similar touchiness is evidenced among the various classes of our population. That is why, at the beginning of this war, and probably on account of the fact that it seemed impossible, nowadays, to witness the disappearance of freedoms we had gained through the course of time and by dint of hard struggles, it has seemed that the French-speaking population considered the present conflict as just another imperial venture conducing solely to more favourable geographical arrangements and to trade adjustments.
However, our church, government and military leaders; I mean our real leaders, Lapointe, God'bout, Power, Cardinal Ville-neuve, Mgr. Charbonneau, Vanier, Leclerc, Panet, LaFleche, to mention only those that readily come to my mind, those leaders, I say, were quick to tell our people that the present conflict is a total war threatening the political, social and moral institutions of all countries of the world, without excepting Canada or the province of Quebec; a war which is the most serious challenge to our civilization based on human freedom.
Our population then realized that it had the same reasons to oppose Hitler as had heroic Russia who now amazes the world by its marvellous courage, its incredible tenacity, its military prowess and its victories. The time had come for the axis countries to meet on their destructive march another people prizing freedom above life itself. My constituents greatly admire the Russians and the same feeling is noticeable in the ranks of every unit of the Canadian army.
The history of the world shows very clearly that American countries are privileged. All but a very few were founded and have lived in freedom. They have not, as Russia, been forced to tear down before rebuilding. To them freedom comes as naturally as the air they breathe or the rays of the sun that give them light and comfort. If they are generous at heart, and who would claim they are not, they should lead the fight for the rights of a free and Christian world. That is exactly what our town and country people understand and1 which gives them the courage to face the difficulties of the hour.
In October, 1942, I was permitted, as an observer, to be present at the American army manoeuvres in the state of Tennessee. In a few weeks, I soon learned the extent of the common aspirations and convictions of the nations of America, how well the gigantic and
planned effort of Canada in this war was valued and admired, and also what the Americans will expect from us when our troops finally come into contact with the common enemy. I also became gradually aware of the real meaning of the expression: brotherhood of nations, for the American is truly the brother of his Canadian neighbour.
I was very much impressed by the rapidity with which that great nation built its military and economic organizations, but what impressed me most was the following opinion expressed by a sergeant of the American army:
When every free man will understand that his mind be in unison with the mind of those who give their lives for liberty on the battle fields, when every free man will understand that the main goal of all free men calls for the same fervour, the same perseverance, the same firmness and the same toughness that we find in our armed forces, it w'ill then be the beginning of the end of the war, not before.
I sincerely think, Mr. Speaker, that the Canadian people have reached that stage and when the moment is ripe for action, nothing will stand before them. Speaking for my comrades overseas and myself, as I shall be with them in a few days, may I express the wish to witness that hour very soon.
The French speaking Canadians of my riding have gone through the same evolutions of thoughts and sentiments as their English speaking neighbours, and it is with joy and pride that they have learned of the steps personally taken by the Minister for National Defence (Mr. Ralston) to give them, in the conduct of the armed forces of our country, a share proportionate to the increasing number and experience of our French speaking soldiers. Accordingly, we have witnessed the creation of infantry brigades, artillery regiments, and I am proud to be in command of one of them, battalions of engineers, tank regiments, army service corps and signals, hospital and field ambulances, of one bomber squadron, also of camps, naval stations and training schools for sailors, soldiers and airmen of French language, in command of French speaking officers. This task is carried on every day; but for its final achievement we still need the unanimous and unreserved support of all my French speaking fellow-countrymen, including those who are at present more worried about post-war conditions than about the efficient pursuit of the war itself.
I can only mention here the complete cooperation existing between the officers of the two great races of this country. Indeed, this
The Address-Mr. Halle
valuable cooperation is maintained between all the races found in the armedl forces. I want to mention this fact because it seems to be ignored by some of my compatriots. In my estimation, it is no overstatement to say that owing to the direct influence of the Minister of National Defence, the problem of the French-speaking minority has become practically non-existent in the Canadian army. I wish to thank him therefor publicly. He may be assured that this new measure of unity will have a strengthening influence upon our army.
I have spoken so far on behalf of my electors, who, I know, share the views of Canadian citizens in every other section of Canada. I have also spoken as a soldier-and here again I am convinced that both the soldier and the civilian have but one object in view -victory. Before bringing my remarks to a close, I wish to say how gratified we felt upon hearing that immediate provision is to be made, in order that the post-war period may be one of well-controlled readjustment, because both the members of our armed forces and the civilian population are somewhat apprehensive, and justly so, at the thought of the difficulties they will have to face.
We do not need any inside information, Mr. Speaker, since the Casablanca meeting, to realize that the war is coming to a climax. Our Russian allies are hurling back to the border the German armoured legions. Rommel has been driven out of Egypt and Libya. Tunisia has become one of the world's most important battlefields. Japan is ready to pounce again in the Pacific. In western Europe the rumble of approaching battle is in the air. The Dieppe raid was a double warning, a warning not only to the enemy but also to us; for the breaking into the occupied continent will exact a heavy price from us, no less than it will inflict punishment on them. In Great Britain our Canadians who have until now been playing a defensive role are being transformed rapidly into an army of assault. In Canada the people are being told to brace themselves for less food and more work. I have shown that they are ready for this. On every side and in every way we are turning out for the fight to a finish. As this climax draws nearer it is well to ask ourselves this most important question: Is our present leadership equal to the task? Speaking for my constituents and for myself, speaking as a soldier in the Canadian army, I say to the government: Go on with the good work. We
feel that every single minister in the cabinet is doing a great job and doing it in the right way.
I have only this to add. Many of us in Canada and overseas have as yet done little or nothing for victory. Some of us are better off than we were before; some of us are even working less than we used to and being better paid for it. It is unlikely that we shall be lucky enough to get off, in the end, as lightly as we have done so far. We have a lot of slack to take up, not only in rations and privileges and money, but in physical sacrifice as well.
It is well to remind ourselves, as the climax of the battle of freedom approaches, that this government will demand from us greater endurances and sacrifices than most of us have hitherto suffered, or even contemplated. Unless we count that cost, we are paying less than our share of the heavy price of victory. But we are all ready to accept it. All we need is for this government to go on telling us what to do.
On motion of Mr. Graydon the debate was adjourned.
On motion of Mr. Mackenzie King the house adjourned at 4.45 pun.
Monday, February 1, 1943
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY, MOVED BY MR. W. E. HARRIS AND SECONDED BY MR. MAURICE HALLE -