Mr. MAURICE BRASSET (Gasps) ((Translation) :
Mr. Speaker, following the many speeches we have listened to in this chamber,
I do not intend to speak at any great length on this question. I merely wish to state why I shall vote to-morrow against the motion of the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil) and why I shall also vote for the armament expenditures which the present government is submitting for our approval.
Mr. Speaker, I hesitated a long time before reaching this decision. I received from all sides, but particularly from large cities, resolutions adopted by people who presumed to dictate the stand to be taken by members of this house and I wondered whether the increased expenditure we were asked to approve was really necessary to ensure the security of our country.
However, the arguments advanced by those who spoke in this chamber against the increased outlay for armaments and the resolutions I received have not convinced me that the sum requested by the government is unnecessary.
I have greater faith, Mr. Speaker, in men such as the right hon. the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King), the leader of the province of Quebec, the hon. the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe), and the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie) than I have in all those organizations that ask us to vote on a question they do not even understand. Moreover, among the organizations that wrote to us and asked us to register our vote, the most serious minded did not ask us to vote against the proposed military outlays. I hold in my hand a resolution passed by the Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste, of Montreal, which merely asks us to vote so that the necessary expenditures shall be applied to the defence of Canada properly speaking, within its territorial limits. As I see it, we were asked to vote a sum of money merely for the territorial defence of Canada and we were not asked to approve the expenditure of a single cent for empire defence. Moreover, we were told our armaments had to be more up to date. We were told of the necessity of increasing our
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armament for the defence of our territory, and with this view I fully agree, and I intend supporting the government. I think the time has come for us to consider our defence requirements, and that we should not merely rely upon England and the United States for our protection but that we can and must defend ourselves.
Let us not repeat the mistake of 1911. At that time a movement was started in the province of Quebec which brought about the downfall of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. I may say that this movement which broke out in 1911 in the province of Quebec wTas the immediate cause of Sir AVilfrid Laurier's defeat. What happened? Once Sir Wilfrid Laurier was no longer in power there came that fateful hour for Canada in 1914, and we had not then at the head of the government a man like Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who could have actually assumed the leadership of the Canadian people. Our leaders in this country were rabid imperialists, men who at once, without consulting parliament, without consulting the country, plunged Canada into the war of 1914-1918; and these are the same men who later on, in 1917, applied conscription.
The statements by our Prime Minister at Geneva and elsewhere, as well as those he made in this chamber, convince me that there is a determination to avoid repeating the mistake of 1914, and that, in fact, when the country is called upon to make a decision, it will not be the Prime Minister and his colleagues in the government who will make it. The Prime Minister has pledged himself upon his honour to consult the House of Commons, and it will rest with the whole country to determine whether we shall participate or not in a conflict. That is what all the provinces of Canada asked for, that is what my own province urged, and that is the reason why 1 am ready to give a vote of confidence in the government.
Mr. Speaker. I have no other remarks to add. I do know that an overwhelming majority of Liberals in this chamber will follow the counsel given us by our political leaders and I believe that such a course will be conducive to Canada's welfare. Hence, I will, for these reasons, give my support to the government.
Mr. T. J. O'NEILL (Kamloops): In rising to speak to this motion I wish to call attention to the fact that most of our time in this debate has been taken up with talk about war, rumours of war, preparations for war and matters of that kind. I do not consider that a discussion such as we have had for the past four days serves any good purpose.
We are only delaying the work of the house, and accomplishing nothing. Some of the subjects that have been brought up relate to former resolutions. One of these was the first clause of a resolution introduced by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth), as follows:
That under existing international relations, in the event of war, Canada should remain strictly neutral regardless of who the belligerents may be.
In the absence of any armaments how could we enforce that neutrality? It is all very well to say that we should remain neutral, but if we have no armaments to enforce that neutrality we would not be neutral very long.
Another matter to which I wish to refer is in connection with the motion of the hon. member for Weyburn (Mr. Douglas), that:
-in the event of another war involving Canada's active participation, every agency, financial, industrial, transportation or natural resources, shall automatically be conscripted for the duration of such a war, and that a penalty be imposed for the violation thereof.
I say here and now that I am opposed to any form of conscription, whether it be man power or anything else. If we have the proper conditions existing in Canada there will be no occasion to conscript people; if the country is attacked they will protect the country themselves because they have something to protect. It is not necessary to conscript wealth or to conscript industry; that cannot be done very well, but what can be done is to impose such taxation on the wealth and industry in the country that there will not be any profit made out of war. That is quite possible, but I do not believe conscription can be enforced, and I am not in favour of conscription, because there would occur something like what happened when there was an attempt in this country to reduce interest rates. Interest rates were reduced. certainly, but they were reduced on deposits, and you still paid as much to draw money as you did before. That is what would happen if you started to conscript. Men who had one hundred head of stock would have them all taken, but a fellow who had one hundred thousand head would probably have plenty left after you got through conscripting. I am not in favour of conscripting anything at any time, but if you do conscript the man power, then you should provide by some means that there would not be any profit made out of the slaughter. It is a deplorable thing to make a profit out of slaughter.
Let us look a little further into this resolution :
-that a penalty be imposed for the violation thereof.
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How are you going to impose a penalty, and what is the penalty going to be? It seems to me you must have police and courts in order to impose a penalty. I have never had any desire at any time to join the police force, but I think it necessary to have a police force, and a well-equipped one, and I do not think that having a well-equipped police force is an incentive to crime. If you have armaments I do not believe they are an incentive to war. I hate war just as much as does any hon. member. I have a great deal to lose if war came. As far as I am concerned I would probably not be considered fit for a soldier at my time of life, but I have three sons. I would not want to see those boys conscripted and taken to war, or taken in any other way. It seems to me that we have confused the issue a great deal. We have been talking about whether we should go to war and all that, but that is not the issue. In my opinion the issue is whether we should have national defence, and if we should, whether these estimates are in order. That is what we should be considering.
Many hon. members have made the suggestion that we should rely upon the United States for protection. A good many hon. members on this side of the house have referred to the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation as the representative of labour. I cannot agree with that, although I have no quarrel with any of the hon. gentlemen who sit in the ranks of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation. But I do not wish hon. members who are not well acquainted with labour affairs to refer to the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation as the representatives of labour. 1 grant that they represent some classes of labour, but they do not represent all the labour people in this dominion. Organized labour men despise people who will take the privileges thrt are gained by organized labour but will not help to maintain the organization which gets them those privileges. The action of such people is on a par with the suggestion that we should depend upon the United States to protect us and pay nothing for that protection. There are many labour men in this country- and my friends of the cooperative commonwealth federation know it-who will take all the privileges that the labour organizations secure for them, but will not pay any dues. The argument they put up is: Why should I pay dues? The other fellow has to protect me when he is protecting himself. And they ride on the coat-tails of the others. As a Canadian I do not want to be riding on the
coat-tails of Uncle Sam. They are good and long but I do not want to ride on them.
This afternoon the hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Maclnnis), replying to a remark by the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie), in reference to the motion of the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil), that it was double-barrelled, said that if it were double-barrelled it was for the purpose of dealing with a two-faced government. That is what the hon. member said if I heard him correctly. I wished to interject a question at that time, but the hon. member sat on me and sat on me pretty hard. That was his privilege, and I am not holding anything against him for it, but in saying he would not permit a question I take it he included all hon. members on the government side of the house. Being one of those members I naturally resent that. I have been working in the interests of organized labour for thirty-five years, and I have never at any time done anything that was not in the interest of organized labour as I saw it. I may be wrong, but that is the way I see it. The hon. member is altogether too vulnerable to make a statement of that kind. I should like to refer to a couple of instances in the last session. I was not here very much during that session on account of sickness, but I read from the record in Hansard which I assume is correct. This is a motion moved last year by the hon. member for Vancouver East:
Whereas it is detrimental to the best interests of Canada that there should be in the country groups to whom, because of race or religious beliefs, we do not extend all the right of citizenship;
Therefore be it resolved, that, in the opinion of this house, the government should take the necessary measures to exclude from the country all persons belonging to those groups to whom we do not grant the full rights and privileges of citizenship.
At that time, Mr. Speaker, I was a young member of this house, in experience if not in years, and I was very new to parliamentary procedure. I did not fully realize what my position would be if I did not speak on a question of that kind. In British Columbia we naturally have a greater percentage of orientals than in any other province, and I should have been among those who spoke to that motion. I did not say anything because I was not in a position to vote for the resolution. It was not that I wanted to see more orientals in British Columbia, but there are many more important things to be considered than the few orientals who may be allowed into this country. At the time I was objecting most strenuously to the importation of
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orientals, they were being brought here in boatloads to work on the railways and for similar work, to displace white labour. The few orientals who come into Canada now are mainly of the better class, educated men, scientists, doctors, lawyers and so on. I was not very much interested in those few men, and moreover we had an agreement with Japan, so I did not think it would be very good business to stir up too much trouble. I had no objection to the hon. member for Vancouver East bringing in his resolution, but I did object very strenuously to a statement he made in closing the debate, and of course when he spoke the second time he concluded the debate on that resolution. This is what he said:
Anyone voting against it votes for the principle that we should let people come into this country to stay permanently to whom we cannot grant the rights and privileges of citizenship. He will also vote for the continued coming of these people into the country.
As everyone knows, that was not the idea at all. We were not voting to allow these people to come in; we were simply voting not to disturb an agreement that existed between this country and Japan. There is no doubt at all in my mind, however, that during the next election in British Columbia this will be used against me, and there is just enough truth in it that one cannot say it is a lie. This will be broadcast from the platforms of British Columbia against me during the next election, if I run.
Topic: SUPPLY-NATIONAL DEFENCE CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON AMENDMENT TO MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic: Hull, P.Q.