Henry Sidney HAMILTON

HAMILTON, Henry Sidney, Q.C.

Personal Data

Algoma West (Ontario)
Birth Date
January 28, 1887
Deceased Date
February 10, 1976
barrister, lawyer

Parliamentary Career

October 14, 1935 - January 25, 1940
  Algoma West (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 7)

September 8, 1939

Mr. H. S. HAMILTON (Algoma West) moved:

That the following address be presented to His Excellency the Governor General, to offer the humble thanks of this house to His Excellency for the gracious speech which he has been pleased to make to both houses of parliament, namely,-

To His Excellency the Right Honourable Baroii Tweedsmuir of Elsfield, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George. Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour, Governor General and Commander in Chief of the Dominion of Canada.

May it Please Your Excellency:

We, His Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the House of Commons of Canada, in parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Excellency for the gracious speech which Your Excellency has addressed to both houses of parliament.

He said: The tragic conditions in Europe at this time, under the shadow of which this house meets, and which are of such grave significance to Canada, suggest that talk should be as brief as possible, and action as prompt and vigorous as possible. I suggest that we refute by our action the criticisms often levelled at democracies, that they are good as debating societies but incapable of vigorous action. I could not help thinking yesterday, as I saw the members assembling from all parts of Canada, fresh from contact

with the people throughout this dominion, knowing their thoughts, knowing their wishes and their hopes, that had such a parliament been assembled in Germany before any war action was taken a war would not be raging in Europe to-day.

I believe that all the people in the world detest war and crave for peace. The voice of the people in Germany has been silenced. It is for us to see that never in Canada shall the voice of our people be silenced. At this time, as a free member of a free parliament of which I am to-day particularly conscious and particularly proud, I conceive it to be my duty not to make an eloquent or platitudinous speech but rather, as a Canadian, to say plainly and freely what I think.

Canada is not concerned to-day how we speak, but Canada is interested in what we say. His Excellency's address reads in part as follows:

You have been summoned at the earliest moment in order that the government may seek authority for the measures necessary for the defence of Canada, and for cooperation in the determined effort which is being made to resist further aggression. . . .

I think, sir, that the keynote of the speech is contained in the words, "that the government may seek authority for measures necessary for the defence of Canada and for cooperation in the determined effort which is being made to resist further aggression."

May I at once express my thanks to the government for implementing a pledge long since given to the people of Canada that parliament would be consulted before Canada 'was committed to war. In doing that, as was to be expected, they have kept faith with the Canadian people, and for the moment I would express several tributes of appreciation with respect to two or three matters. Under the pressure which we know was exerted upon the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) to declare this and that as to Canada's attitude under certain hypothetical conditions, he declined to do so. In my opinion, and I merely record it, it was sound judgment on his part so to do. I express appreciation of the fact also that he did not prematurely convene parliament and thus precipitate possibly a debate that would result in misunderstandings and misrepresentations arising again out of a discussion of hypothetical conditions that might exist, which misunderstandings and misrepresentations might easily be used throughout the world for purposes of propaganda. To have allowed that to happen would have been a disservice to the greatest national asset we have, namely, the unity of the Dominion of Canada. In passing, may I pay my respects to the wisdom of the Prime Minister in declin-

The Address-Mr. Hamilton

ing to dissolve parliament this summer. That wisdom is now, I think, obvious to all. I express my appreciation further of the many measures that have been quietly and effectively taken in connection with the present emergency. In my own town the military have assumed their duties quietly and efficiently. I appreciate also the various measures taken in the attempt to control prices from skyrocketing, and all that sort of thing.

May I express to the leader of the opposition (Mr. Manion) my appreciation of the understanding and restraint which he has shown in the past difficult months, and particularly in recent weeks, in allowing the government a free hand and giving his cooperation in their endeavours. These same remarks I extend to the leaders of the other two groups in this house.

It would be idle for me to take up the time of the house in any effort to review the events that have been taking place in Europe or their significance to Canada. He who has eyes has seen or read, he who has ears has heard, and he who has understanding must realize their deep significance to this dominion. I suggest that never in all history have the democratic or liberty-loving countries engaged in a greater and more necessary effort to see to it that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.

We are confronted with a philosophy that knows nothing of the individual man but his obligation to obey, that knows nothing of the value of human individuality and human liberty, whose instruments are ruthless and unscrupulous force and violence, an utter negation of all the things we have been taught to value, of the philosophy, to which we hold, that has regard for human personality and human liberty, within and by which philosophy we shall yet achieve the splendid destiny that lies ahead of the Canadian people.

Believing this, Mr Speaker, to me this war is Canada's war. To me the defeat of Britain is the defeat of Canada; the defeat of France is the defeat of Canada. To me the death of every British, French or Polish soldier, sailor or aviator in resisting German force and violence at this time is a life given in the service of Canada.

To my mind the effective defence of Canada consists in the utilization of the organized and united power and strength of this dominion however, wherever, and whenever it can best be used to defeat Germany's armed forces and to destroy the philosophy on which they are based. If the method of doing it involves primarily the utilization of our industrial and productive resources, then I am for that. If it involves partly the use of such forces and

also the use of armed forces, expeditionary or otherwise, I am for that. If a certain type of assistance would be most advantageous now, changing to a different type of assistance later, then I am for that. And if the assistance which can effect that which I believe to be so vital can best be given on the Atlantic, on the North Sea, on the fields of Europe, I am also for that.

It seems to me that Canada as a nation at this time might well pattern herself on the Canadian corps at the end of the last war. At that time the Canadian corps was one of the finest fighting units on the western front- well balanced, well organized, highly efficient, and splendidly led. This is what we require of Canada to-day: a nation in action,

mobilized, well organized, highly efficient and splendidly led. We must make every effort to bring our whole capacity to bear in the struggle that is before us. How may this be done? I mention briefly some of the things which occur to me as being important.

First we must have the complete confidence and faith of the Canadian people. This confidence and faith can best be secured by outstanding service, outstanding sacrifice, outstanding willingness to participate when and how one may, among the leaders in Canadian life. The first essential thing for securing that confidence is equality of sacrifice, and I break that into three headings. First, equality of sacrifice in a physical sense. The ultimate terror of war is death or mutilation on the battlefield. It is easy to send the young men of this land to the battlefield; our only justification for ever doing such a thing is that all able Canadian citizens shall be ready to share equally in that type of sacrifice. Next, equality in the form of financial contribution. For the present I do not intend to stress that, but I shall come back to it in a moment. If a man cannot give his physical service, his normal income should in an equal degree be available for the service of Canada. If the bodies of Canadian boys can be used for the defence of Canada for a pittance, it is only fair that where that form of service cannot be given the wealth of the individual non-combatant shall be used for an eqiuvalent pittance.

Then apart from normal income I mention now a point that has been so often emphasized, namely, profiteering in war. I am not going to say more than this: the house knows, the government knows, that the mood of the Canadian people is such that they are determined that nobody shall be better off as a result of this war than he would be if no war had taken place. This result can bs attained by different methods, and qualified

The Address-Mr. Hamilton

experts can bring forth appropriate measures. But I know something of how they deal with things at the front in France, and I say they should be dealt with as summarily back here in Canada. If the penalties meted out to youth can be so severe, I suggest that the penalties for the cruder and coarser types of profiteering during war should be equally severe and equally decisive. In passing I suggest to the authorities one way, for what it is worth, in relation to gains acquired during the war: that anything acquired during wartime over the average normal income of a man over the past five years should be the property of the Dominion of Canada before 3'ou start taxation at all. I close my remarks on this branch of the subject with the statement that my conduct in this house will depend largely on the measures that are taken in this matter. The people are determined that there shall be a greater measure of equality of sacrifice, and I am confident that the government will give effect to this paramount demand of the Canadian people.

I have said that confidence and faith are essential. I know of nothing more important than the unity of our country. We want a united Canada; we want all parts, all sections, all races, all creeds, all people in Canada to march step by step in the spirit of a great national endeavour.

Permit me, Mr. Speaker, to refer to the fact that I served in the ranks during the last war, as did other members of my family; and I voted against conscription. I do not know what my thoughts on conscription are at the moment. I have thought that possibly a fairer, more effective and more practical realization of efficiency and a better balancing of our power and strength could be attained by some such measure, but I say now that if it is in the interests of the unity and the cooperative effort of Canada from coast to coast to do so I am prepared to make a concession in that regard, no matter what I think.

In passing I ask permission to refer to a news item and a radio broadcast of about a week ago, in which it was stated that young Italians rushed the canal guard at Sault Ste. Marie and were repelled. That, Mr. Speaker, was a wholly inaccurate and unfortunate dispatch, which did a gross injustice to a fine body of loyal Canadian citizens. Such reports, unfounded and carelessly disseminated, will not make for unity in this country. Let us have faith that our Canadian citizenry will do their duty according to their best realization of what that duty may be.

Another thing we must have is the organization of our industrial life for war purposes. This applies also to other phases of our productive capacity, but for a moment I want to emphasize this: lack of war material is paid for in human lives. To-day war is largely a matter of material and equipment. Without it man power is incapable of doing very much; with it man power is capable of doing tremendous things. Those of the

Canadian forces who recall the inadequacy of equipment and material at the beginning of the war, which gradually became equality and then superiority, have some knowledge of what that means. I conceive, therefore, that one of our first duties in this great struggle is to establish a body of able men, under vital and aggressive industrial leadership, to bring about our maximum efforts in this regard. In passing I should like to recall-and I trust I shall not be considered as saying anything with particular reference to my own community-that during the last war many opportunities for swinging our industrial capacity into action were neglected. For a long time the great industry in my home town had no opportunity to participate in the production of war material, though eventually it contributed over seven hundred thousand tons of shell steel for the purpose of making munitions. So I say we should have a body of men that can organize our industrial life and bring it into effective action.

I should like to express one other thought as to the mobilization of our man power. The mobilization of man power surely means more than the recruiting offices in our towns and cities. I know, as I am sure other members and the various departments of the government know, that thousands are offering their services individually, as groups and as organizations. Unless the services thus offered by anxious people throughout the dominion are analysed and considered as a national contribution they may be put aside and advantage may not be taken of them. It occurs to me, sir, that there should be some method by which such people, who may not be capable of joining the armed forces, should be able to have their abilities and qualifications analysed and then used to the best advantage in the effort we are making. Perhaps I might give this simple example in passing. I have close to a hundred letters addressed to the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie), which I am to deliver to the minister, offering the services of individuals, groups and organizations. Some of these organizations-knowing as I do something of war-offer services which are vital to this dominion. Such offers should be

The Address-Mr. Hamilton

carefully considered by some body having the time, the capacity and the knowledge to see how such services could be usefully employed. If we fail to do this we will neglect a great reservoir of ability, capacity and energy that might be made available to this country.

I want to make one or two observations with reference to our military effort. As I have said, in the early part of the last war I had some experience with the Canadian forces, and I should like to point out one or two matters of which I have personal recollection and which I think should be noted now. If you have-and I think you have-capable military men who know their profession and who are experts in it, put your military affairs in their hands and leave them there. Keep them clear of outside influences; keep them clear of any attempted political influence. It is a terrible thing to send young men to war, if we should do so, and it is only fair that we should conscientiously try to build for them the finest type of military organization with the most capable officers it is possible to find. I know military men quite often think politicians are stupid; I suppose sometimes politicians think military men are stupid, and there may be a degree of truth in both thoughts. But if I may go beyond the government to my military friends I would like to emphasize this: Keep open the military mind. Do not let it become sealed with army acts, regulations and orders. Keep it open. Canada has genius; she has initiative. That genius and initiative can be utilized in military organizations and activity. This war will open wide opportunities for new and effective ideas, and I suggest that we be careful to see that where such exist, full advantage be taken of them.

To the military I also recall the well known saying: there are no bad battalions; there are only bad commanding officers, and our youth in any military effort they may make, regardless of precedent, regardless of regulations and orders, are entitled to the most efficient and able officers the Dominion of Canada can find. In the last war, Mr. Speaker, they did not start with promotion from within the forces, and many a man served for a long time while, time after time, men junior to him with no service came over and took the place to which he was entitled. Later that was changed. Out of the change developed that wonderful fighting machine, the Canadian corps.

I say to the military: let it be known that the way to go places in the Canadian army and the Canadian forces is by entering at the front door and working your way up through 87134-2

merit. Build on that basis and you will start to build a fine and efficient fighting machine, similar to that which was built in the last war.

One other thought and I shall have finished with reference to this phase of the matter. In the last war it was six months from the time we enlisted until we went to France. During a considerable portion of that time we were trained in England. I suggest that the training can be done in Canada. I say it should be done in Canada, and that we can build here a well rounded out and efficient fighting force, to use as, when and where we think it should be used.

I had hoped it would not fall to my lot as a member of the house to have to cast my vote for measures which might involve the death or wounding of any Canadian boy. That hour has possibly come. To justify any action I may take or any vote I may cast, I am conscious of the necessity of being prepared to do what I might thereby ask others to do. It is a far cry back to 1914. At that time my age and my health permitted me to enter by the front door of a recruiting office; I am not so sure, but I think they will still permit me to do so. However I do submit to the government, and particularly to the Minister of National Defence, that if I am to justify the vote I may have to cast, it should, as it has the power to do, accord me and others an opportunity to justify that serious responsibility by sharing in the dangers and risks to which we may submit others. Then, sir, it is up to us. Subject to that, I never had a clearer sense of direction in the matters before us, a more resolute determination or a more peaceful conscience. In recent days, having in mind the magnitude of the forces involved and the meaning of all that is going on, I have asked myself many times-and I am not sure whether or not I quote correctly: Who lives, if England dies? Who dies, if England lives? Yes, and who lives if France dies; who dies if France lives?

On another occasion in this chamber I had occasion to make a statement with which I shall close my observations to-day. I ask the house to remember, I ask the people of Canada to remember-yes, I ask the world, and especially Hitler to remember-that because of the things England stands for, because of the forms of life she has been largely responsible for bringing into the world, and maintaining within the world; for those things and her part to-day in this world struggle, untold millions of people without the British common-

The Address-Mr. Blanchette

wealth of nations and without the nations allied with Great Britain are hoping and praying in their hearts that-

The meteor flag of England Shall yet terrific burn,

Until danger's troubled night depart,

And the star of peace return.

Is there a Canadian heart to-day, in the depth of its secret places, that does not hope and pray the same?

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June 23, 1938


Would the minister care to express an opinion as to whether reinforcing steel used to reinforce concrete in constructing buildings and bridges will come within the term "structural steel"?

Subtopic:   193S
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June 23, 1938


I want to thank the government for bringing in this amendment.

Subtopic:   193S
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June 8, 1938


What amounts have been contributed, by years, since 1930, by the federal government towards the construction of the trans-Canada highway: (a) in Ontario; (b) to section White River west to Manitoba boundary; (c) to section between White River and North Bay; (d) to section between North Bay and Quebec boundary?

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June 3, 1938


Is it contemplated to

include under "equipment" in section 94B, such things as fishing equipment, nets, etc.?

Indian Act

Topic:   193S
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