Mr. JOSEPH GIRARD (Chfcoutimi-Sag-uenay (translation):
Mr. Speaker, I deem it my duty on so momentous an occasion in Canada's parliamentary history to give a few explanations for the stand I have decided to take in regard to a Bill which the Prime Minister has seen fit to submit to this House for its approval.
As I am not a lawyer or in any sense versed in the law, I must refrain from discussing the legality or constitutionality of this measure. But, after closely following the discussions carried on by the principal legal lights of this House, after listening with surprise to statements made here by the best lawyers of the Liberal party in the various provinces, who regretfully part from, their leader because they are in favour of the Bill, I am wondering whether in their inner conscience those men are not satisfied that this Bill is constitutional. I * learned, to know them, during the seventeen years I have met them in this House. I have had many evidences of their high sen.se of honour, of their disinterestedness and their enlightened patriotism, and I know that, in so serious a circumstance, they are acting only 'after most serious consideration and for reasons entirely free of
sectarianism. Duty is their only guide. Hence it is evident to me that the Prime Minister and his colleagues have also, necessarily, been guided by the same sentiments of honour and of duty.
The same considerations prove to my mind the urgency of the measure. Moreover, if we consider the unpopularity of this law, a fact which the Government as the lowest of the electors could readilly foresee, it is plain, that only the greatest emergency, vividly impressing itself on the minds of those in office, could impel them to take such action.
I may say to the Prime Minister that I accept with pleasure his momentous declaration, when presenting the Conscription Bill before the country, that he acted only as Prime Minister of Canada, performing his duty, and never under the pressure direct or indirect of any external influence. I respect him enough and I know too well his sense of honour to allow myself the liberty of questioning his word in any way whatever, above all when he gives it so solemnly as upon this occasion.
I am not of those who believe our Prime Ministers should be locked up in the country as traitors* and avoid the contact of the men who govern the Empire and the European nations. I rather believe that we have all to gain, by letting our rulers travel abroad, in order that they may study and open all kinds of connections, to increase our trade facilities. Without being an Imperialist more than it is necessary, I do not believe Imperialism be such a dangerous scare-crow that we must avoid even the thought of it.
Neither am I in accord with those who contend that the Act of Confederation has been a mistake. On the contrary, Confederation has been the work of great men and an act of which the Canadians are proud. On the other hand, here comes the leader of the Opposition, a lawyer of long standing and a most experienced parliamentarian, supported by other important lawyers, contending that the law is unconstitutional and that this is not such an emergency as would justify such an action. His supporters come from all the provinces, especially from the province of Quebec, which is almost unanimous upon this question.
They maintain that volunteering is sufficient to provide the promised number of men, that Canada's effort is already too great for her population, and that to go any farther would be to drive the country to actual ruin. I notice that, on account of such claims, a minister representing the
province of Quebec has resigned, fearing a danger for national unity, which Canada needs so much. In certain quarters it has been charged that the province of Quebec has not furnished her full quota of men, and they even go as far as to charge my province with 'being disloyal. If the Government should be credited with good faith, honour, uprightness and a strict sense of duty, one must also necessarily recognize in those of different opinions the same qualities' and the same motives.
In my province there are well-read men with good judgment and moderate views, and who have long pondered and reflected before taking a .stand. Therefore, 'to me-[DOT] as I am no advocate nor lawyer-their judgment, once rendered, especially when these men are friends of the present 'Government, must be an almost infallible .guide. It is true that the Conservatives of Quebec are not absolutely unanimous, but the large majority are opposed to the Bill. It is well understood that I only refer to the laymen. Then, is the .law constitutional and is there an emergency? The majority of Parliament shall say and decide that question.
Indeed, we are facing a terrible problem, the consequences of which cannot be foreseen, especially if the element shouting rebellion predominates. But I cannot be led to believe that, in this abominable worldwide storm where the best pilots know no longer how to trim their siaals, what is going on in Europe cannot he repeated here. Over there also, terrible resistances aTe encountered; there also they speak of revolts, but just when everything seems .lost, the good common sense gains the upper hand and the rulers .succeed in guiding their people towards the sole object of all the Allies and of the Canadians; the utter reduction of German barbarism.
Honest people, good citizens and responsible men are everywhere numerous enough to prevent a greater evil and let common sense have its way. But it is painful to me to hear in this House some authorized voices say they are not ready to admit that the people would he wrong in revolting.
Has Canada done her share generously? Yes, she astonishes the world. Can she go any further? Those who oppose the Bill say no, unless it be with great care and moderation. It is the almost unanimous contention of the province of Quebec.
In the district which I have the honour to represent, the friends of the Government, unanimously, were the first to address me long before the Bill was introduced; resolutions adopted in every parish, on the request
of the central Conservative organization of the county, asking me to lay before the House their unanimous opposition to any conscription scheme, for the following reasons: Conscription endangers national
unity, voluntary enlisting suffices, if well organized1; Canada's financial situation is in jeopardy, seeing the immense debt already existing .and daily increasing; in the country-places where is barely the number of farm-hands required for the agricultural production which must be daily increased; the cost of living is already too disproportionate; the Canadian industries cannot be maintained if the labour is reduced, and moreover the United States will send to the front millions of men who will be ready before the proposed Canadian levy.
My friends are those of the Government; they are unanimous with the Conservatives of my province. Among them, there are very wise men and men of great experience, and I must add that my adversaries think as they do. I have promised my electors that I would be the echo of their opinions; my duty, therefore, is to represent them here as they want me to upon this so important and so momentous question, and to vote against the Bill.
Now, why such an immovable opposition, by my friends, to the proposed law? First the assurance, often repeated, that there would be no conscription. At my request, the late lamented Hon. Mr. Oasgrain held three meetings in my district-at one of these, he was accompanied by the Hon. Mr. Patenaude,-to explain Canada's situation in its true light, and give confidence to the population in the war organization. The word of these men was well received and respected by large audiences who had faith in their statements.
On this point, I believe I should add a few remarks. The Prime Minister, the leader of the Opposition, and all of us, we have spoken too much, although in good faith. All of us, we were in the first place satisfied that the war would not last so long, and no one could foresee all the complications which, since August 4, 1914, have arisen almost every day. Who could have foreseen Russia's defection? Who could have foreseen this abominable submarine war? Who are those who foresaw Rumania's disaster? Who are they who have not made mistakes, in Europe and in America, since the beginning of the war?
During the last fifty years, outside of Germany, who are those who had a clear foresight? England alone who, noiselessly, had so prepared the future that, when war was
declared, she was able to bottle up, around Heligoland, the immense fleet of Germany which has not been able to stir since. And England has been able to keep the word she had given her colonies, to wit that she would protect them at all times.
I remember ia day, in the good times Oif peace, when all was calm and iserene, the Parliament of Canada saw fit to ask England to denounce her treaties with Germany; if England had not been able to bottle up the German fleet, I wonder if the Kaiser would not have remembered the action of Canada and crossed the Atlantic to avenge that denouncement of the treaty. And, therefore, if the provinces of eastern Canada, especially Quebec, are not like Belgium since October, 1914, that is due only to England's mighty fleet, to her foresight, to her respect for pledges and to her firm stand at the right moment. If the trade of Canada and of America has been practically continued since the declaration of war, because the high seas have been cleared of the pirates by the British fleet, that also we owe it to England. How much does it cost daily to the English people, that gigantic effort of which the British colonies reap the first benefit and the whole world besides? It is good to recall these facts.
How dearly the whole world i-s paying, at the present day, for having refused ito believe in the constant growth, under its very eyes, of an infernal power whose intentions were plain, and whose sudden action was ias much of ia surprise that we are now forced to admit that it wiill probably take the entire strength of the nations of the world to reduce it.
Considering this universal lack of foresight, it is not surprising, I think, that the Prime Minister, the leader of the Opposition and all ithe members of this House should have made statements which it would have been preferable to dispense with, and the effect of which Was been to mislead public opinion. But we must admit that, even in December Last, in the 'face of the war's ever changing fortunes, the Prime Minister refused to guarantee that there would not be any conscription. lit was a notice given to the whole country, land what was the result? All that work which 'has- been done through winter, in Montreal and elsewhere, in order to create iam opposition to the principle of conscription. If the efforts of Hon. Mr. Blondin have been so little productive, what is the cause of it; if not that a certain press was eager to ridicule him and that certain men, even in this House, tried to deprecate him? That is how public opinion was guided, land iso the doctrines 'advocated have borne fruit. That prepOiSterous organization of recruiting appeared so objectionable to the people in my district that, six months ago, I felt obliged to notify Ithe Militia Department that I would no longer be responsible for its working and left it ,to them entirely henceforth; land, as a matter of fact, after I had xepealtedly complained about the way .things were being managed in my county, matters seemed to be going from bad to worse. And 'I informed them that the result of it was a public opinion wholly averse and opposed to everything in connection with the war.
And now we 'are reaping the fruits to-day and the harvest is a rich one: absolute and unanimous hostility to anything pertaining to the war, because what has been tasted of it only breathes of deceit, wastage 'and dishonesty.
Many times, among friends, we would say that all that immense scandal could be nothing but deliberate conspiracy against the Government, for all the strangers sent to do recruiting were undisguised Liberals, among whom two brothers of Dr. Michaud, the Liberal candidate chosen for the coming Federal elections of Chicoutimi, who had nothing else to do but to carry to his friend Elie certain cheques payable to soldiers' wives which he thus had the 'advantage of distributing. That is why I cannot help laughing when I hear people say that the Government was using recruiting to serve its political ends.
Necessarily, the odium of all this is laid at the door of the Government. But, for those who know, it should be attributed' to the power behind the Throne who, I do not know how or why, can laugh at the minister and even resist him when he commands. The military laws, so I am told, are so made and, to overrule an officer, it would almost take the King himself. Indeed, the one, who, from the start, was responsible for that deplorable organization is very guilty, if results are to be taken into account.
I hold as responsible for this condition of affairs the headquarters whose formation I know nothing about, but who, through inexperience I hope, have created the. sad situation we are in. In Quebec, they have established rather a breeding station where the best trimmers have succeeded in getting positions in large numbers, at high salaries, as recruiting officers, instead of leaving for the front- That is the mammons opinion in my district, where every one is asking for months past, why these good-for-nothings
are not yet at the front. There, at least, they might earn the money we pay them. If recruiting has been done every where in Quebec as it was in my district, there is no reason to be surprised if they talk of revolt in some localities.
However, from my district, a good number of men are at the front since 1914. German bullets have reached several of them, and the Demeules, Dube -and; Topping families mourn the loss of their sons, heroes who have fallen for the defence of the law of nations. The famous Capt. Tremblay, whose reputation as a fighter is widely known, is a son of the county I have the honour to represent; we have then done our share and we are proud of those who represent us at the front, but -all the same, we believe we are perfectly right in making the objections we have to increased efforts.
It must also be admitted that as soon as it became known that the French Canadian forces, organized under the understanding that they would -form units over there, under officers who spoke their own language, were being disbanded and sent here and there in foreign regiments, the enthusiasm cooled down enormously and it is only common sense. How many English Canadians would enlist if they were assured of being commanded by French -Canadians from Quebec who would not speak English?
Here are the three great causes which, necessarily, have paralyzed recruiting in my district and throughout the province, and, indeed, they are most serious. First, the bad organization of the recruiting work; secondly, the disbanding, on the other side, of the French Canadian units, no longer commanded by officers of their language; thirdly, the education given since 1896, and even previously.
I am glad to -acknowledge, as I think I should, that the present minister of Militia (Sir A. E. Kem-p), since his coming into office, has shown himself much more sympathetic and much more energetic than his predecessor, in his relations with the public as regards the work of recruiting- It is my duty to make this statement which he greatly -deserves, from all reports I have received regarding him. But he must allow -me, in th-e name of public decency and of the respect due to him, to -ask him to put out, as soon as possible, from my district, the remainder of the idle so-called recruiting agents, who have shocked public opinion by their presence for too leng a time, and to accept the patriotic offer made by the united officers of the 18th -regiment of -Chicoutimi, [Mr. Girard. 1
who are desirous to handle recruiting in Chicoutimi-Saguenay, under Mr. J. E. A. Dubuc as honorary colonel. All of them, Conservative or Liberal, -are citizens of good reputation; they enjoy the people's confidence. Major Lachance has the honour of having a youthful son at the front, who fought like a lion at Vimy. Let us try to please the people, specially in war times.
Had recruiting been well organized, the necessity -for the proposed act would never have arisen and Canada would be proud to be at her post without having to go through the present crisis.
But it is easy to remedy the situation by resorting to proper means, creating a spirit of confidence which -must soon develop, having merely been set back by the causes which I have just mentioned. The French Canadian is peaceful at home and his heart is in the right place. He loves hisi King, he is proud of his flag, and for it he will give his last drop of blood and his last cent. But he wants to be respected as a man, he wants to deal with honest people, and he wants to see his sacrifices appreciated at -their real value, and lightened as much as possible by a friendly, sympathetic and even-handed leadership. iLet me give you an instance to prove that voluntary recruitment, well organized and by popular men, gives good results. Captain Piuze, of Fraserville, a young man of good repute, has organized the 189th regiment in his district in a very short time. -Major As-selin who, however, had fought the Nationalist battles in Quebec, has also formed a battalion in no time. Here are two striking instances that go to demonstrate most evidently that, when the organization is good, when the organizers are known and deserve confidence, the people do answer by confidence. But the treatment inflicted, later on, upon both these regiments, has had a dampening upon the people's enthusiasm. Let us then try again voluntary recruiting by men of good sense, like Piuze and Asselin -there is quite a number of them in Quebec -and we are sure
Not one discordant note was heard when Canada entered upon this war; it was a question of heart and of duty. Let us regret the deplorable errors of the past, but let us repair them by means which appeal to the heart that is not dead, but only sick on account of mistakes committed by subordinates who had the power to make them, and who have had the hateful courage to commit them.
Mr. Speaker, there is a great deal of talk about Quebec nowadays; in certain quarters,
she is abused and insulted, and her sons are falling over there every day. Her clergy, so noble, is being made an object of public scorn and obloquy. For instance: that infernal card which was distributed in this very House. They have forgotten our bishops' collective letter of 1914, enjoining their flocks to do their duty in the war.
Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, that the two first names my mother taught me were those of God and of the illustrious Queen Victoria, and all the French Canadian mothers were doing the same in those days and all of them have since upheld the same principles of education for their children, only substituting, when circumstances made it necessary, the name of the King. Every Sunday, at the foot of the altar, the French Canadian people pray God for their King and throughout Quebec, every one is proud of belonging to the British Empire. Therefore, how regrettable it is to find in the Dominion, westward from Quebec, some Englishmen, more English than the King, brutally attacking my province and her language and her children.
A few days ago, one of our good friends in this House was asking himself if it would not be possible to find twelve good men, independent men, who would go to Quebec and speak the language of the present times and appease the minds that, according to him, see things under a false light. This is a good idea which I accept, if my friend could on the same day find also in Ontario twelve good men independent citizens who would go through his own province to calm the people who scorn Quebec, who persecute her children while allowing them very little French and religious education in their schools; these same gentlemen should also go to Manitoba where they have completely turned out of the schools both Christ and the French tongue, and also into the two western provinces, where every year some new attempt is being made to also put out both French and religious instruction from the schools. What a splendid work these men would accomplish nowadays, if they could succeed in having the province of Quebec known as she actually is: the paradise of Liberty, where Protestants are masters of their schools as at home, and where the Irish Catholics are treated just as brothers; and if they also succeed in obtaining that in Ontario and particularly among our Irish Catholic co-religionists who do not speak our language. Quebec would be respected. During these dark stormy days, how good it would be to see all our family troubles forever gone!
To be fair, the position taken by Quebec does not speak disloyalty, no more than that taken by the English element which thinks like she does and which is larger than is generally admitted.
To stop a little, reflect and look into the future which is gloomy, that is prudence, that is wisdom, that is reasoning. The Germans must be beaten, that -is agreed on by all; but in order to beat them the soldiers must be fed and clothed.
Now, in my district, we just have the farm labour we need; the large industries we have are often short of hands and the fisheries along our northern coast occupy the whole population, so much so that the mills of Clark City have to import men. And they would want to take away a portion of our manual labour. Those who live in the district know what the circumstances are; and so, the people do resist. An agricultural producer departing for the front would cause a deficit in the food production equal to that of thirty soldiers. Let us keep our farmers at home.
Then, there is the high cost of living; here is a problem which is appealing to all. It is almost beyond control, for neutral countries have to contend with it as much as ourselves. But it was particularly difficult of settlement in Canada, as long as the United States did not join the Allies. Now, it can be more eff ctually remedied by the joint work of both governments.
Upon this point, I wish to make a few remarks. In 1880, I landed at Lake St. John as a settler, to live on the land. Then and for the three or four years following, the settlers of the district I have the honour to represent, were facing the same problem. There was no war then, the country was prosperous and things were in a fair way. In those days, we paid flour $11 a barrel- and such flour
pork, 5 cents a pound, syrup $1.50 a gallon, salt $10 a bag, and it took three days to procure these indispensable articles. The wages were 50 cents a day, and in winter, the lumber dealers paid $10 and $12 per month, and young men would come to the Ottawa lumber camps where they got $15 to $20 a month, with their board included of course. And it was at that time, that people worked like Trojans in my district, to make of it the fine agricultural county, which the province of Quebec is so rightly proud of to-day. How is it that, nowadays, with salaries of $4, $5, $6 and $7 a day, people can hardly live?
At that time, Mr. Speaker, the unbridled extravagance which predominates to-day was absolutely unknown. The requirements
of ease and of comfort, extended, as they are to-day and have been for several years, to their utmost limits, are the greatest cause of the present moral and financial disarray. It takes some money to support a family, but how much more will it not take for clothes, if the thought of the future .and the idea of what is proper do not predominate? My explanation of the high cost of living is to be seen in the scandalous displays in every shop window. Should we not reproach ourselves, every one of us, in every rank of society, for having allowed to be created in our country that false education which has made the fortune of the shop keepers and maintained in poverty the workman and the farmer? If the prohibition campaign had been started 20 years ago, if intelligent economy, had been advocated, we should not hear so much of drunkenness, and there would be to-day less jewels, trinkets and silks, the sight of 'which are so painfully offensive to our common sense. Luxury is ever the parent of all vices and the cause of all ruin; let us throw it down, now is the time.
Since the present horrible war calls daily for money and still more money, why not tax heavily all the useless fancy goods which ruin our population? Have they not seen to this in England and are not the responsible men generally preaching economy? Have not the higher social classes set the example?
Let the Canadian Parliament seriously attend to this question and the cost of living will no longer be a bugbear. But, nevertheless, there must be no delay in laying the hands upon the vampires who are sucking the people's blood and getting rich in a dishonest -way through iniquitous speculations.
Should we still take part in the war? I believe everyone is agieed on this point, in Quebec as elsewhere; but we ought to proceed with prudence, with calculation and with due care. The effort we have made is the wonder of the world; perhaps, have we. in our enthusiasm, proceeded too quickly? Then, let us now be cautious.
I have heard it repeated many a time thait there .are presently in the country one hundred thousand men who have no visible means olf support, produce nothing, help nobody and are, for the greater part of them rather a public nuisance. If that be true- .art *all events, it is certain there is a large number of them lin the cities
1st us find them and send 'them, 'across to fill the gaps; over there they will be useful, they will be *a credit to the flag and their temporary -absence from the country will do no harm.
Under, the present Military 'Service Act, it would be an easy matter to reach them, by inserting ia special section providing that the generally unemployed having no regular trade be the first called.
Mr. tSpeaikar, we are now facing, I fear, not ra (political, but -a national crisis. The parties lare divided 'and the 'leader of the Opposition seas his dearest generals leave him in siuch numbers that, before long, his family will be greatly disunited. And the Government's forces will be very strong upon this conscription issue. Before long, Quebec shall stand alone solidly against this measure and .facing the other provinces badly divided. And what next? What terrible responsibilities are being shouldered in these dreadful times; one cannot but tremble cat the thought!
Quebec is 'intelligent, patriotic, sincere and loyal to the extreme; buit Quebec believes it is time to look to the future 'and not rush blindly into bankruptcy. Quebec believes that conscription is useless, oppressive and contrary to Canada's interests. A certain port of the population thought that the leader of the Opposition would save the situation by his prestige over 'his party; but that was on illusion .and it is evident that, were he in power with his friends, he would *impose conscription, not selective, but by ballot which is still worse, and without referendum, as in 1910. Then, whither are we drifting?
The Conservative party of my province and of my county is unanimously opposed to the Bill. Among them are to be found *men most friendly to the Premier, great thinkers and great -philosophers. My duty in this House is to- voice the opinion of my electors who are to ;a man, opposed to the measure; that duty I shall fulfil by speaking -and voting 'against the bill. I so notified *the Prime Minister -a long time -ago.
I must add that I sincerely regret to be forced to part with the Prime Minister upon *a .measure of such importance; I kno w that he is sincere, I know he is upright landtbat he is 'actuated solely by the idea of performing an urgent duty. 1 know the uprightness and the disinterestedness of his colleagues; I know that every one of them realizes the terrible responsibility he assumes; could they possibly be right?
Considering the situation in this House as I see it, I must admit that the future is far from being bright.
The leader of the Opposition, whom I respect, proposes that the present law be submitted to the people, before it be applied, for most serious reasons which he men-
tions; I know that his Quebec friends rely upon his great prestige to maintain his party and defeat the Government. He seems in favour of the principle of conscription, but he will not so state until the people has rendered his verdict, he has to second his motion, his former colleague who, for his part, is against the Bill because it does not go far enough; he would like to have it settled by drawing lots. What a difference between the arguments of the mover and those of the seconder !
But now his leading partisans who, every day, declare themselves in favour of the Bill, are compelled to state that they part with their leader with his permission, but that they remain in the Liberal party. Let us suppose a general election and the Borden Government defeated, what policy will the country face? Selective conscription will be defeated and then we wifi have conscription by drawing lots, as provided in the Militia Act. An interesting question to put to. the electors. Why did not the leader of the Opposition, as he diid in 1896, move the six months' hoist? Never has a similar political situation been witnessed to my mind, in this country. Would all this agitation resolve itself into a mere party move? What is now going on in Quebec is pregnant with suggestions. I received this letter signed by a man of the 'highest character and it reads as follows:
June 18, 1917.
Sir,-Will conscription pass (according to the newspapers, the Liberal members are going to vote for that Bill), or will there be general elections? Jos. Guay is giving lectures on agriculture ; he gets the parish priest's endorsation and says nothing worth while. On the 18th, he gave four, at Hgbertville, at St. Bruno, at St. Joseph d'Alma and at Delisle. He speaks for an hour; he says: When the agriculturist will come here later, listen to him carefully and follow his advice. If you listen to him, you will produce ten times more, but he ends by stating: I have a son at the front and I might say a few words about the war ; and that is a pretext for speaking against the Government. Enough has been done or too much has been done. Borden had promised there would not be any conscription. By imposing it, he deceives the people. He has deceived Mgr. Bru-cht'si. Then he gives the names of important people who have told him that Canada had done too much for the past two years. He says: Borden has tried to catch Laurier in his trap, but Laurier told him: " Go back, Satan, with thy coalition," and, immediately like the good old hen, he has called all his little ones under his wings, and at the roll-call, the Liberal party solid as a rock will vote against the Borden Bill which will jump into the lower regions under the eyes of Laurier, who is the saviour of the people. Then, in his thundering voice, he cries hurrah for the old rooster. That's Jos. Guay, all right.
I tell you these things, not to blame any one, but to keep you advised of what is going on here.
Have tbe Quebec Government come to the point of sending their political heelers through our parishes, and announcing them as agricultural lecturers paid by the province?
This is a serious case which I believe it my duty to denounce immediately. Jos. Guay is an hotel-keeper of Chicoutimi, proprietor of the big six-room hotel called "La bonne menagere", whose milk has stopped. He has Spanish blood and delights in Toreador tournaments. He is greatly interested in poultry andi his young daughter is the President of the Chicoutimi FarmTng Ladies Circle, under her father's guidance. Two years ago, at his request,
I obtained from the Government, for his circle, the shipment of twenty-five hens and one rooster for their henhouse; the whole 'lot was duly received in good order, according to the official correspondence, but considering that the cost of liying was already increasing, a way was devised to declare the hens sick-they had been put in the cellar of "La bonne menagere", instead of placing them in the poultry-houses built with Federal money-and the boarders of "La bonne mdnagere" ate the twenty-five hens, bragging, in the cars, that the Borden chickens were delicious. The rooster was left for the circle. I do not know whether Jos. Guay refers to this poultry-breeding experience of his in his lectures. I am giving it out to the public so that 'it may be recalled, should he forget.
The appeal to the people is a fine business. It is the people who govern. But, in the United States, are the people the rulers, when in November last they elected a peace Congress who set them at war a few days after their mandate was in force?
And does not our historical records show that the people's decision is null and void when, in most cases, election programs axe ' burned on the night of votation and buried in the victory; 1896 and 1897 are there to demonstrate that fact.
We have here friends of the leader of the Opposition pretending that often the people prefer being guided to directing themselves; but the Liberal leader wants an appeal to the people; some of his lieutenants say no, because the people prefer to be led. The leader of the Opposition declares the Bill unconstitutional; his lieutenants reply that it is perfectly constitutional and they support it; but, at the same time, they declare they are all of them under the crook of the same leader.
In what state of chaos are we! What future is there in store for us? Many serious people are asking themselves that question
and praying God that the national unity be not broken and that the people's good faith he not deceived. After having studied the facts, here is the situation as I understand it: If the Government were left alone with their friends, the Bill would perhaps not be adopted; then, it is the adhesion of almost all the leading English Liberals which makes the Government's position tenable and which will cause the Bill to be carried by a respectable majority, I believe. At this moment, the Liberal party must assume its equal share of responsibility, before the country and before the electorate, and the confidence of the anti-conscriptionists in the prestige of the leader of the Opposition is a terrible illusion. And these important members of the Liberal party, who assume that responsibility, I know them, they are all of them men of high education and perfectly upright in every respect. For them, the Bill is not directed against Quebec, as it is sometimes unfortunately stated. On this point, may I be allowed to publicly thank the hon. member for Halifax (!Mr. Maclean) and the hon. member for Bed Deer (Dr. Clark) for the sincere sympathy towards my province I have heard them express, not long ago, in the course of a private conversation where I was not alone, as well as the embarrassment they felt in the face of the position taken by Quebec. And their other colleagues think the same way, I know it.
So then, here we have such important men who refrain from overthrowing a government which they have most severely criticised upon war questions and who extend their full support to pass a law of which they know the absolute unpopularity, as well as the terrible possibilities implied. Necessarily, conscience alone speaks and dictates to these men and I have no right to attribute to them any unworthy motive. It is not therefore a duty for every public man in the face of such a situation to urge the whole population of the country to be calm and every class of the society to remain within bounds?
Before resuming my seat, Mr. Speaker, 1 wish to make to the Prime Minister and to his colleagues, as well as to all those who support him, an appeal which springs from my very heart:
Considering that the population has not-been prepared for the enforcement of the proposed Act;
'Considering that it is evident that voluntary recruiting has not given the expected results on account of its thoroughly objectionable organization;
'Considering that its reorganization on a business and common sense basis might quickly give good results;
'That, if the law passes, its application be suspended until there is absolute evidence of the failure of well organized volunteering and until the people have been'con-sulted.
I may state that, in my district, there is no reason to fear a revolution, whatever be the Parliament's decision; but it is painful to hear vituperation against friends whom we respect.
Let me assure you also, Mr. Speaker, in concluding, that whatever may happen, the province of Quebec and my district, especially, in the future as in the past, on awakening every morning, shall hail, though perhaps with tears in their eyes, their God and their King. In both of them, I hope, and through them our rulers may finally find the right way to fulfil their present duty and preserve at the same time the national unity upon which depends the future of our fair Canada.
Should the Bill pass, the leaders of both parties in this House shall have a serious task to perform, if we are to preserve that national unity which must be saved, at the cost of any sacrifice. Such is the wish I express from the bottom of my heart: Be they equal to the task, for thereafter responsibilities there will be for them greater than ever. The whole country is watching them.
On motion of Mr. Boivin the debate was adojurned.
On motion of Hon. Mr. Hazen the House adjourned at 12.10 a.m.
Friday, June 29, 1917.
Topic: ON DEMANDE.