Mr. George H. Hees (Broadview):
Mr. Speaker, on August 18 last I wrote to the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton) and, as a member of our present reserve forces, stated to him why I believe that our forces today are totally inadequate for defending this country. I also stated specifically what I considered should be done in order to fill these deficiencies. As I have had, to date, no answer from the minister, I am going to state again the points which I made in my
letter to him, in the hope that I may receive an answer on the floor of this house. In my letter to the minister I said the following:
A few days ago, our government authorized the formation of a United Nations brigade. This step was endorsed by the vast majority of Canadians, because it enables us to live up to our obligations as a member of the United Nations.
This is one important step. The next, and even more important, is to prepare an armed force so that we can defend this country against the kind of attack which could be brought to bear against our shores at any time.
The possibility of this country becoming the Belgium of the third world war is a very real one. The oft-avowed aim of the communists is world domination, and this can only be accomplished by the subjugation of the United States. Canada would be the pathway for such an attack, and the possibility of this country becoming a battleground at some future date is something which every Canadian must bring himself to face.
First, then, what kind of force must we be prepared to meet? The Korean war has taught us that when the communists attack, their forces are well trained, well equipped, well directed, and in sufficient numbers to maintain the momentum of the attack. If they attack our west coast, they will do so in large numbers, and with heavy equipment. The ease with which such an attack can be launched from a distance of many hundreds of miles was demonstrated by the allied landings in Sicily in the summer of 1943. In that invasion, the first Canadian division sailed direct from England to the Sicilian beaches, a distance of many hundreds of miles by water. An invasion force of this kind could easily be protected by the large fleet of super submarines-both Russian and German-which the communists are known to have.
What, then, have we available to meet such an attack if one should come? The present brigade which is being recruited for Korea is for service in other parts of the world. When that force leaves this country, the only force which will be available for repelling an attack is one brigade group, consisting of 4,500 men, or less than one-third of a division.
As was pointed out last night by the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Pearkes), this brigade group has no headquarters, and has no means of going into action as a formation until considerably further preparations have been made.
A force of that size could do no more than fight a brief delaying action against the size and type of force which could be landed.
In addition to the permanent brigade group which I have mentioned, we have our active reserve. As these reserve forces are up to no more than one-quarter strength, have very little equipment, and have never trained as complete battle formations, a minimum of six months to one year would be required before any reserve unit could take the field as an effective fighting force.
With what, then, do we plan to meet an attack if one should come? At the present time it is obvious that we have no plan, and equally obvious that, without one, we are living in a fool's paradise. I believe that we must recruit, train and equip a force which could be immediately available to lfieet and halt an attack, at least until American reinforcements arrive. The absolute minimum force which could do this would be, I believe, one armoured division, or an infantry division supported by an armoured brigade.
In order that such a force should be raised and maintained at the minimum cost to the taxpayer, I propose the following plan:
1st. The present recruiting and training plan should be expanded to include volunteers for a special reserve force, which would be known as "The Special Active Army Reserve".
2nd. Those who volunteer would receive training under active army conditions and rates of pay for whatever period the Department of National Defence considers necessary to bring them to a state of fighting fitness.
3rd. Legislation should be re-enacted to protect those who enlist by ensuring their release for necessary training or service by their present employers, without jeopardizing their job or seniority.
4th. Suitably located units of the present reserve army would be selected to organize 1st battalions or regiments, as an active army reserve, and continue their present units as 2nd battalions or regiments of the reserve army.
5th. Upon completion of the initial training period, personnel would join the active army reserve unit nearest to their home, and continue their training on a part-time basis while continuing to work at their regular employment.
6th. Terms of service would be for duty as and when required by the Department of National Defence, in any area. When on duty, active army regulations would apply, including casualty pensions.
7th. After the initial training period has been completed, a retaining fee of $30 a month for officers and $20 a month for other ranks should be paid, in addition to pay for intermittent training periods. This will help to attract battle-tried veterans, and make the service attractive to new recruits.
8th. Active army reserve battalions and regiments should be supplied with a full-time skeleton staff to maintain equipment, which should be procured at the earliest possible date, and in sufficient quantity, to place units on a war footing when ordered on service.
The initial training and equipping of this force would cost a considerable amount of money, but the overhead required to maintain the skeleton staffs and house the equipment, plus the yearly compensation, would make available an effective defence force at a minimum cost, and ensure its readiness on very short notice. The fact that this force would be considered as an integral part of our first line defence would have a strong appeal to the best type of fighting soldier, and the retaining fee when not on full-time duty would be an excellent drawing card for new recruits. In addition to the army, there is no reason why the plan I have outlined could not be applied to the navy and the air force in the same manner as to the army.
This is the only way in which we can prepare ourselves to repel armed aggression against this country if it should come. It is also our best insurance against being attacked, because the only language which the communists understand is strength and preparedness. If we are strong and prepared, we are far less likely to be attacked than if we remain in the weak and vulnerable position we "are in today.
We can never permit a recurrence of what happened in the last war, when young men with little training and equipment were sent to Hong Kong, and as reinforcements to Italy and northwest Europe. Let us train and equip ourselves now before it is too late.
I am submitting this plan for preparedness to the government, as a veteran of the last war, as a member of the present reserve army, and as a Canadian who wishes to see his country remain free. I sincerely hope that the Minister of
The Address-Mr. Hees
National Defence will see fit to put this plan, or some better plan, into operation before world events catch up with us.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY