When I spoke toward the end of Friday's debate on Bill C-243 I was making an appeal to the Minister of National
April 17, 1967 COMMONS
Defence to delay further consideration of this measure until additional studies had been carried out as to its possible effects upon our armed forces. I was referring to the amount of defence which a country such as Canada can afford. What we must strive to attain is the most effective defence possible having regard to the means we have at our disposal; we must seek to strike a balance, and this principle applies not only to Canada but to all countries.
The cost of defence arises almost entirely from the maintenance of personnel and the supply and maintenance of equipment. From the point of view of cost it matters little what type of organization is set up; what does matter is that the force should be organized on the most efficient basis. Major changes should not be undertaken unless there is a reasonable chance of success. When a major change is made such as is contemplated by this bill, it is unlikely that in future years we shall be able to return to what we have now.
Everything has a price, freedom included, and we must be prepared to meet that price if we value our freedom. If we can preserve our freedom by the expenditure of dollars let us get on with it because in the past our freedom was won at a much costlier price, paid with the blood of our young people. If we can avoid paying such a price in the future by having a force which can deter or effectively contain a threat to our freedom, let us get on with it, but I would point out that our forces as at present constituted in three services have a tremendous record under the traditional idea of units raised through voluntary contribution by many people. In times of emergency our men gave all that men could give, and I do not know how any reorganization of our forces can improve on a man who is already giving everything he has.
[DOT] (3:30 p.m.)
Traditionally our concept of Canada's armed forces has always been that these forces are of a voluntary nature. We ran into difficulties whenever we resorted to any other way of raising forces. In effect this means that in peacetime we must have regular and reserve forces, particularly reserve forces because we cannot afford a large enough regular force to handle all emergencies. Supporting our regular force we must have an organization which allows quick and efficient mobilization of partly trained personnel.
Recruitment to our forces depends upon some attraction, and the greatest attraction at
National Defence Act Amendment present is the three choices open to those who wish to serve their country. They can go into the navy, the army or the air force provided they can meet the basic requirements of the services. It is no secret that in all our present-day forces including the infantry, which has always been looked upon as the bottom of the barrel, every serving man is a specialist in his own right. Even the infantrymen are specialists today. Nobody should think that the infantry is outdated. In Viet Nam more infantrymen are being used than any other type of fighting personnel.
I wish to deal briefly with the question of morale. It is something which is hard to explain. Morale is something that is within a man himself. Not even the man who possesses it can explain what it is. It depends on many things such as environment and faith or confidence in various things, not least faith and confidence in the people surrounding one. One of the major attributes of morale is esprit de corps. I do not know how greatly unification is going to disturb esprit de corps but I suggest that our present method of organizing forces linked to traditionally famous units is very good for morale. It invites friendly competition and even in peacetime it is a great attraction for those who wish to serve their country by affiliating themselves with something to which they can look with pride.
One of the greatest difficulties I found in service operations lay in the field of communications. There was no difficulty in having various arms of the services. On the beaches of Normandy on D-day it could not have mattered less that a lad was in a naval suit, an army suit or an air force suit. As a matter of fact, on the beachhead many people wore the uniforms of many countries. It did not matter to the infantry coming in on a landing barge that a navy chap piled out first into the water with a rope and went ashore in order to make fast the barge so they could follow with their equipment and reach shore without drowning. There was no misunderstanding. Everyone knew his job and did it.
So far as morale on D-day is concerned, many men went ashore ill from seasickness after crossing rough water, but they had been so well briefed and the organization was of such a standard that the minute they reached land they went into action and were as good as the rest in practically no time. I know of a company during the second world war which started with 110 officers and men. It went through hell to reach an objective
April 17, 1967
National Defence Act Amendment and only 18 men survived to reach that objective. You cannot tell me those men did not have morale.
We must be very careful in peacetime not to do anything with our forces that will upset the spirit of challenge and opportunity and security. These are the three most important things which affect morale. We know that at present there are certain people who are "browned off" with the forces and want to get out of them. I have talked to a lot of these people and their principal grievances are about these three things. They do not know where they are going. They become tired of being pushed around without being given a straight course to follow.
I might say that there is also a bit of hypocrisy involved in this issue. During the time of mourning for our late and beloved Governor General I had an opportunity to see the chief of staff, General Allard, being interviewed on television about the famous Canadian regiment, the Royal 22nd, in which both he and the late Governor General had served. He mentioned the terrific esprit de corps which this regiment had created. General Allard said that from this regiment eight generals, I believe, had sprung, and he expressed the opinion that had it not been for the existence of such a regiment many of those people of French descent might never have reached such high rank. That admission shows that an established regiment does a lot for a soldier.
[DOT] (3:40 p.m.)
There is another bit of hypocrisy with reference to the celebrations commemorating the great battles of the first world war. Endless reference has been made to the famous units which took part in those battles and the fact that the men covered themselves with glory in order that the names of their regiments would get into the history books.
In conclusion I express the fear that if complete unification is proceeded with it may bring into the armed forces some type of socialism. It might upset the relationship between officers and men which is so important. It might lead to a complete rotting away of the heart and soul of the armed forces. It might even end up in a type of dictatorship. Furthermore, I believe that unification will lead to compulsory service in peacetime and conscription in time of war. As an old infantryman I know that a large part of the training of an infantryman is concerned with learning how to use the ground. This means that he learns to use the ground to conceal
himself from the enemy, protect himself and get as close to his objective as possible. The objective of the infantryman is to close with the enemy. The only danger is that once he finds a hole in the ground, gets into it and is then shot at, it takes a lot of courage to get out of the hole again. I should like to say to the minister that he has been shot at not only by his own troops but by his enemies. He has perhaps got himself into a bit of a hole. I hope he will have the courage to get out and face reality.
Topic: NATIONAL DEFENCE ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic: AMALGAMATION OF NAVY, ARMY AND AIR FORCE