James Davis TAYLOR

TAYLOR, The Hon. James Davis

Personal Data

Party
Conservative (1867-1942)
Constituency
New Westminster (British Columbia)
Birth Date
September 2, 1863
Deceased Date
May 11, 1941
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Davis_Taylor
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=e9235f04-fccf-4629-8a86-566f3100d0ce&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
publisher, reporter

Parliamentary Career

October 26, 1908 - July 29, 1911
CON
  New Westminster (British Columbia)
September 21, 1911 - October 6, 1917
CON
  New Westminster (British Columbia)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 3 of 141)


February 6, 1917

Mr. TAYLOR:

Some of these officers had attended several schools, as the former Minister of Militia reminds me. Now, what would have been said of this Government if the moment these highly trained officers arrived in London they were told: " Since you cannot go forward with your battalion, you had better go straight home?" Then 'we should have had a political scandal. -

As to unemployment in London, as to the presence of officers in hotels in London, I wonder where these hon. gentlemen get their information. During the two months I spent in the Old Country, I was in London, I suppose, five or six times. On every occasion when I was there I had been sent for by an officer of higher command in London for some specific business. My visits there, I suppose, were generally for two days at a time-'business starting to-day and finishing to-morrow. As these hon. gentlemen see it, I was one of the officers, " crowding the hotels in London." I saw no officers there during my time who were not properly there. The majority of them were on leave from the front, the few weeks' leave that the officer gets after a great many months of service. The minority were of my class, officers who had come to England with the bona fide intention of going to the front, and who bad not achieved their ambition. I do not think a large percentage of these officers were in what we would call an idle class, or that by their presence or their actions they constituted a reflection upon the Canadian military service. It seemed to me they were an exceptionally fine body of men. We are 'asked why they spent months there instead of coming home. I had an illustration. I will not mention names, because to do so would be like advertising that the officer to whom I refer had spent so many months idle. I found in a camp to which I went in England one of the very finest officers in British Columbia, a man,

perhaps, fifteen or twenty years my junior, trained in every respect, who had brought over a battalion equal in merit to any battalion that had left our province, but a battalion that, like my own, was broken up on arrival there. That man had come across with no other idea than that of serving at the front. He had closed all hi's affairs in Canada. He was not even a member of Parliament, and could not have a member of Parliament's excuse-these hon. gentlemen seem to think it is 'an excuse-d,o come back to Canada. He waited for employment- He got employment the day I left England, that is, nine months after arrival there. He got the remnant of his own battalion, the remnant of my battalion, and the remnant of the 158th Battalion of Vancouver, to be under hi's command as the 1st British Columbia Training Battalion. And a fine training officer he is. Why should we criticise that officer for .having -been compelled to wait that time? These hon. gentlemen speak, in connection with this, as in connection with all other military subjects we have heard discussed in the House, as if they were the discoverers of something which, if they were the Government, would be done, but which is not done by this seemingly neglectful Administration.

We are told that the administration in London should grapple with the question of unemployment. These gentlemen opposite must know-because they have read it in their own press, paragraph after paragraph-that the subject is being grappled with. They know that about two months ago a board was appointed to examine in detail into the standing of every officer not in serious employment in England; that this board visited every Canadian camp in England, questioned all the officers, as well as men of other ranks, as to their capacity and as to whether they could profitably take up military service other than what they had gone to England to do. The men were then divided into three categories: those who could advantageously be sent to the front and be replaced in England by others returning from the front; those who could do nothing at the front or in England, but might with advantage be given permission to return to Canada-because you cannot return without permission-and those who could profitably continue to be employed in London or in other parts of England. The question was dealt with in the most serious manner at that time by a board of very competent officers, several of whom

had seen service at the front, some of whom had served with distinction there and, having come back to London, found themselves temporarily unemployed. If an abuse had crept in, they were instructed to see that that abuse was discontinued, and they were inspired with a desire that it should be discontinued. No doubt as a result of the report of that board, officers have returned, opportunity has been found to send officers to France, and every opportunity has been taken to substitute the services of returned soldiers for services that had been performed in the Old Country by Canadians who had not been to the front. When the officers are moved on under these circumstances, I do not think they should be pilloried as having been driven to do something that they were unwilling to do. I prefer to take the view that the officers who go there, do so in good faith, ready to lay themselves on the altar of their country and to make whatever sacrifices they may be called upon to make. Do these hon. gentlemen opposite realize for a moment that soldiering is not eight hours' work a day during .six days of the week? Do they realize that there are a great many soldiers in England and in France who are not in the firing line; that there are a great many private soldiers who are unemployed in quite as wide a sense as these officers are unemployed, and that it is absolutely true that these men are serving their country efficiently and nobly? We have millions of soldiers in reserve in England and France who are not working every day, or six days a week, just the same as we have some idle officers. These soldiers are kept for the great drive which we all anticipate, and which only can change the condition from that of apparent stalemate now prevailing. Are they to be pilloried as men who are eating the bread of idleness in England? Is it .fair to our soldiers who remain in Canada, hawing been trained here, that they should be pilloried, as is the custom to-day, not only occasionally in the House, but also in the party press? Are they not just as useful to us in reserve in Canada, waiting to go to England and. France when they 'are sent for, as they would be if we got them out of our sight by sending them to England or to France? Are we improving the cause of the war by having nothing but criticism-small-souled, mean-spirited criticism, if I may use the expression-of those who try to serve the Empire, but who are not permitted to dlo so to the extent that

they desire? It seems to me, as an officer who has, had much experience in recruiting, that more harm has been done to the cause of recruiting in Canada by the state-(inemts made this .session from the other side of the House .and widely diesemimaited as they have been, for political purposes iby the party press-the fountainheads of the poisoned political gas in this country- than by any possible combination of errors on the part of the Government.

Topic:   WAR LOAN-$500,000,000.
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February 6, 1917

Mr. TAYLOR:

What I said was that untrue statements disseminated from the House had injured the cause of recruiting.

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February 6, 1917

Mr. TAYLOR:

The colonel from New Westminster is not anonymous or ashamed of what he said.

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February 6, 1917

Mr. TAYLOR:

But what your friend says is not true.

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February 6, 1917

Air. J. D. TAYLOR (New Westminster):

Mr. Chairman, there is poison gas disseminated in connection with this war from other quarters than the trenches in the German line, and there is sniping equally as disastrous to the cause of the war as that of the 'German 'sharpehooters. I am one of those colonels, commanding officers, of whom the hon. gentlemen who act the part of political snipers in Canada speak so contemptuously in this House and through their press. I think it is well that there is one of those commanding officers present from London to answer face to face some of those who have just as much right to be over there as we have had, but who content themselves with discouraging the public men of Canada who do attempt to set an

example to so many others in Canada wRo might be serving their country, but who decline to do so. One feels almost ashamed to discuss service to one's country from the low standpoint of pay; but as a commanding officer who did not put on his uniform because of any pay attached to it, I would like to say that in the office which I carry on at home, and from which a large proportion of the staff have gone to serve our country, from the manager down to the printer's devil, the average pay of the workmen in that office is the pay that a commanding officer in the Canadian Militia receives for commanding a regiment. I hope that is sufficient illustration to convey to the intelligence of some of those hon. gentlemen to whom the pay of a commanding officer looms so large, that possibly there is some other incentive than to receive the same pay as scores of his own staff that impels him to put on the uniform.

I would like to cite my case as an example of what does prompt a member of Parliament to offer his services at the front. At a certain stage in recruiting in Canada, the then Minister of Militia called for

100,000 additional troops. We have about 100 infantry battalions in Canada, so that meant an overseas battalion, in addition to those already raised, from each of the infantry battaljons in this country. As I had the honour at that time of commanding an infantry regiment in Canada, I felt that it was an appeal to me to raise an overseas battalion, and I promptly volunteered to do it and I did do it.

As the Minister of Finance has said, the personal influence of a commanding officer had a great deal to do at that time in securing recruits. I feel quite sure that the fact that I had the honourable position of a member of the House of Commons gave me a great leverage in going about through my district and asking the young men of Westminster district-not to go to the front, but to come to the front with me. I may say to the hon. gentleman who says that the commanding officers might go as privates that I will forestall his objection by telling him that when I was of the age at which men do go as privates, I went to the front as a private in the service of my country. I am not of that age now and I could not go as a private nor as a lieutenant. If I volunteered I would not be accepted. But I did raise a very fine battalion in my district because of my personal appeals, and, if I do say it, because of what little prestige I have in that district.

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'Under ordinary circu: ^stances I and my battalion might very w jll have gone to the front as a unit. It was our desire. Many a political enemy at home-because we have a few snipers there, although in the West they do not flourish-has caused it to be asked of me on the platform or elsewhere: "Are you going to the front yourself"?-the imputation being that I was doing a grandstand play. I answered them honestly and truthfully that it was my desire and my intention to go to the front. My battalion arrived in England with thirteen others in a convoy, a total of 14,000 troops, immediately after the terrible experience on the Somme. The Canadian Headquarters in London were confronted then with a demand for the immediate services of about 19,000 men to replace the casualties which had just occurred, and it was our fortune when we arrived in England, to be selected as some of those reinforcements which were immediately sent. I think all the battalions in that convoy except two were drafted for that purpose. My battalion sent 400 men to the trenches within two weeks of our arrival in England, 100 a week later, and since then they have been going continuously. Now then, which is the more glorious, which is the more to be commended in a commanding officer, that, being met with a demand there to send men into -the fighting line and having recruited men for the fighting line, he should say: "I have brought these men to fight and they are at your service"; or that he should come to his political headquarters, if he has any political standing, and -say: "Do not send these men to fight, but leave them with me for my honour and glory so that I may go forward as a commanding officer"? What would the hon. gentlemen have isaid 'if it bad. tunned out that I was asked to send 500 men immediately to the trenches and I said: "Do not do that; what position do you put me in; if you send those, I cannot go?" And why could I not go? Because the regiment most calling for men at that time was one from my very own district, the 47th Westminster Battalion straight from the Somme, 400 shy, including in the ranks of officers twelve out of my own home regiment, including hundreds of men the every day aisisociates of those whom I had brought over. What more natural than that my 400 should go to their own neighbours from Westminster, to their own officers of their old regiment? And why could not the Colonel go? Because -greatly to the disappointment, seemingly, of these gentlemen opposite-Colonel Wins-

by, of the 47th, had not been shot; Major Coote second in command, of the 47th, and Major in my regiment at home, had not been shot. They remained in command. Therefore, Colonel Taylor and Major Cunningham of the recently-arrived regiment were not able to go to the front. What would the hon. gentleman have? Am I to be condemned by him and those like him because I took a battalion to England? Am I to be condemned because, having sent my men into the firing line, I come back and take up my duties as a member of this House?

I will show to some of these gentlemen what their criticism of unemployed officers means in some cases. An instance arose in England in June of 1915. A number of senior officers became unpleasantly conscious of their great numbers in England. There were eighty majors, for instance, who said: "Wc'dislike remaining here; we came over to go to the front; let us go forward as supernumerary lieutenants". And they went as supernumerary lieutenants. Now, the supernumerary lieutenant has almost less than no duties. He is the understudy of the lieutenant in charge of a platoon. He is not quite so useful as a sergeant in charge of any section, because the sergeant has been trained with the section from the beginning and is more accustomed to it than the supernumerary lieutenant can be. Not afraid of German bullets, and perhaps too conscious of the criticism such as is offered in this House to-night, these majors said: "Let us go over the parapet with the men". They went. Only twenty came back. Are we to cheer in this House because in that one stroke we wiped out sixty superfluous majors?

The hon. gentleman asks why these men are not sent home at once. The answer is so plain that I wonder that anyone should ask the question with a desire of obtaining knowledge. If asked with the idea that, being unanswered, it will make a point to the discredit of the soldiers of Canada, the question seems more intelligible. I would like to hear in upon the consciousness of some of these hon. gentlemen the fact that a senior military officer is not made in five minutes. And, as it takes a long time to make him, so it should take a correspondingly long time to arrive at the conclusion that he should be discarded and sent home. As the training proceeds in Canada, there are technical courses of all kinds to qualify the officers for the duties they are to exercise at the front. When we are asked

to send an officer to a school at Quebec, to a school at Ottawa, or Winnipeg, or Victoria, as I was asked from time to time to send mine, the accompanying note nearly always is: Send a senior officer, if possible. And properly so; because a senior officer should be qualified to lead in every branch of instruction. In the case of my battalion, nearly every senior officer bad 'been the subject of a special course of training at some of these schools, to the exclusion of the junior officers, because the number was limited.

Topic:   WAR LOAN-$500,000,000.
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