Mr. F. G. HOBLITZELL (Eglinton):
Mr. Speaker, the inevitable has happened. The time of reckoning was bound to come, and it is already upon the doorstep of this government. In my opinion this is the result of not having an honest man-power policy from the very start of this war. To me, as to many others, it is the result of political promises made by all parties. At the very outset of the war we were told what a terrible conflict lay ahead. Promises were made that we would never have conscription. Those pronlises should not have been made. I have never hesitated to tell the members of this house and the people of Canada just what my views were. I set forth those views very clearly during my election campaign, during the debate on the plebiscite, and during the debate on bill 80. I would refer hon. members to pages 300 and 301 of Hansard for February 3, 1942; to page 725 of Hansard for February 19, 1942; to pages 3961, 3962 and 3963 of Hansard for July 6, 1942, when I spoke in support of bill 80. At all times in expressing my views on conscription I have been mindful of the position in which hon. members from the province of Quebec found themselves. In this connection I call to the attention of the government the courageous statement made by the hon. member for Belleehasse (Mr. Picard) as it appears in Hansard for June 24, 1942, at page 3671:
If they had talked of Canadian interests in the war, they might have been able to convince the French Canadians to accept a compulsory measure at this time; but not having contributed to bring that about, I do not think the government can expect its supporters from the province of Quebec to go back to our people now and attempt to convince them overnight that conscription for overseas service had become a matter of life or death for Canada. I would be willing to risk myself in such an effort if I had received any help before. But I cannot do it in a week. You cannot all of a sudden, overnight as it were, change the lifelong sentiments of a people.
There, Mr. Speaker, was a frank request for a little help and assistance in order that the hon. member might clearly outline to his people the policy of the government. I wonder what help and assistance, if any, he and the other hon. members from -that province received. We are asked to support a motion which is in effect a vote of confidence. We are told that the fact that this order in council has been passed and is in effect has nothing to do with the vote of confidence; apparently we are going -to accept this order in council, along with many' thousands of others, for what it is worth. It is to be regretted that we, as the elected representatives of the people of Canada, were denied the privilege of expressing our views on this measure by a vote in this
house. Only- when the government does accept the will of the majority of the elected members can democracy in its true form prevail. However, we are told that we shall have to support the government's policy-or else! I wonder just where is -that true form of democracy which we often speak of and for which we are fighting. Yet, Mr. Speaker, may I point out that the wording of this resolution is almost the same as that given by the government in the British House of Commons, through the motion of Mr. Attlee on June 27, 1942. That was a vote of confidence by all parties to carry on their coalition government and not along partisan lines.
The last few days we have listened to some startling evidence, and I for one, have no hesitancy in stating my confidence in the former minister of national defence (Mr. Ralston). His great anxiety at all times has been to make sure that the boys in the service receive ample reinforcements. I have heard him speak often in this house, and' I am sure all members will agree as to his fine qualities and above all his sincerity. Why, then, was this order in council not given to the former minister of national defence? We heard the evidence that this was all he was asking, for the present. Then, may I ask, what was it that changed the government's decision?
I may say, Mr. Speaker, that I am in full accord as to the purpose of the amendment to the main motion, and would have supported it. However, after hearing the grave situation as outlined by the former minister of national defence, I consider that the real issue before the house at this time is to see that reinforcements are sent overseas without further delay. I feel it my duty also to put aside any personal views and differences in this regard and to express the same views as the former minister has done. I will therefore vote for the main motion, but I want to make it very clear that I am doing so not as a party supporter but as a duty I owe to Canada and the fighting forces who are fighting for that love of freedom and way of living which is so dear to us all.
Canada's part in this war has been greatly to the credit of the Canadian people. The discreditable part has been in party politics. What the great majority of the people of Canada want is action-and action at once.
Ever since the last war I have felt that conscription was the only fair way of mobilizing man-power. I know there have always been two different views on conscription, and I would like to close my remarks by quoting from what Abraham Lincoln said:
War Effort-Government Policy
that I shall fulfil my duty to my electors, my race, my province and my country Canada, which I love above all and which, I hope, will become independent in the near future.
On motion of Mr. Mayhew the debate was adjourned.
On motion of Mr. Mackenzie King the house adjourned at 10.45 p.m.
Friday, December 1, 1944
The house met at three o'clock.
Topic: NOVEMBER 30. 1944