Mr. George H. Hees (Broadview):
Mr. Speaker, in attempting to outbid the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Macdonnell) for the patience of the house, I assure hon. members that I shall take not more than five minutes to say what I have to say.
The Address-Mr. Hees
Yesterday during the course of his speech the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) was kind enough to permit me to ask him a question. I was appreciative of that courtesy, but I am afraid I cannot accept his answer at its face value. Yesterday my question was why the request made by the United Nations on July 14 for ground troops for the Korean fighting should have been turned down on July 19, and then that decision reversed three weeks later. The minister replied that it was impossible for this government to act until they had learned what American plans were.
As the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Macdonnell) has said, that kind of action by the government was similar to a man's going down the street, seeing his friend's house on fire, and then refusing to do anything about putting out the fire until he had been able to find the owner and ask him what his plans were. When one is watching a boxer being beaten unmercifully, he does not go up to him between rounds, tap him on the shoulder and say: "What are your plans?" One knows perfectly well that the plans of the boxer are threefold: first, to try to stay in that ring; second, to try to keep from being knocked out, and third, to try eventually to win the fight. Those have been the plans of the United States and of the United Nations since the United States entered the Korean conflict on behalf' of the United Nations in June last. That is the policy which prompted the urgent request by General MacArthur, through the United Nations, on July 14, for ground troops-not naval units, not transport planes, but ground troops. If after three weeks of participation by the United States and the United Nations in that conflict the minister was unfamiliar with the plans of those bodies, then immediately upon receipt of the request on July 14 the Secretary of State for External Affairs should have flown to Washington and Lake Success to bring himself up to date on what was taking place. He could have been back days before the cabinet decision was made on July 19.
I believe that is what the Secretary of State for External Affairs did-and if he did not, he certainly should have done it. So far as I could see, and so far as the great majority of the Canadian people can see, there was nothing to stop the government from making the decision on July 19 which they made on August 7-except one important thing, and that is the inability of this government to make .up its mind to live up to its obligations freely undertaken under the United Nations charter. This indecisiveness caused a humiliating three weeks delay, during which time Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, Thailand and others all volunteered to
The Address-Mr. Wright send ground troops to Korea. These countries I believe had responsibilities at home and abroad as great as if not greater than this country. I believe it would be interesting to learn-I'm afraid that this is something we shall never learn-what pressure was brought to bear upon this government by the United Nations, the United States and members of the British commonwealth to cause them to '-everse the decision of July 19 not to live up to their obligations-a decision which caused humiliation to the great majority of Canadians-and then finally, on August 7, decide to live up to their obligations.
I have great respect and personal liking for the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) but in this instance I do not think he has dealt with the matter with frankness. Frankness is vital if the deliberations of this house are to have the results in the next few days which are so necessary for the welfare of this country. I urge the government to deal with complete frankness with the request of the opposition for information-something which I do not think has been done in the past-and thus enable the business of this house to be proceeded with in an efficient and satisfactory manner.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY