Mr. R. W. GRAY (Lambtqn West):
Mr. Speaker, speaking in the house last session on the subject of man-power I said that I agreed with those who had declared that in a free society the obligations and privileges of military training should be shared generally under a fair and just system of selective compulsory service without geographical restriction. I am convinced now, as I was then, that this is the correct policy. I read afterwards that I was as a voice calling in the wilderness, and perhaps it might have seemed that way because, if I remember aright, I received very little support from hon. members sitting in this house in opposition to the government. The exception, as was mentioned a few moments
ago, was the New Democracy party which, ever since the outbreak of war, has urged that there should be compulsory selective service without geographical restriction. As for the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, the only group in this house which opposed as a group the passing of what was then known as bill No. 80, the National Resources Mobilization Act, introduced by the government to remove the restrictions with respect to service overseas, and which party, as my hon. friend has just said, was opposed to the sending of any expeditionary force to the aid of the motherland after the outbreak of war in 1939, that party stands indicted to-day by its failure to meet the challenge and perform its duty when called upon at that time. I propose to place on record the words of the leader of the C.C.F. party speaking in this house at the war session of 1939, as they are found at page 55 of Hansard of that year:
In view of these considerations, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation believes that Canada's policy should be based first on the fundamental national interests of the Canadian people, as well as on their interest in the outcome of war. Canada should be prepared to defend her own shores, but her assistance overseas should be limited to economic aid and must not include conscription of man-power or the sending of any expeditionary force.
I repeat, "or the sending of any expeditionary force." What hope have we, therefore, from a party which in time of peril would interpret Canada's interests in the most narrow and restricted sense; a party which, at the very moment British, Canadian and United States troops were struggling to maintain a foothold on the Normandy beaches, in conference assembled, presided over by a leader of the party and having as its guest the hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Gillis), would pass the following resolution:
Whereas the C.C.F. is a socialist party, and whereas the official policy of the British labour party of coalition with the Conservative party compromised the working class struggle against capitalism in Great Britain, therefore be it resolved that the Quebec C.C.F. declares strong disapproval of the continuation of its policy of collaboration with the capitalistic government of Great Britain.
Instead of condemning, let us give credit to the labour party in Great Britain which, in the empire's darkest hour, was willing to postpone for the time being its hopes for the future in order to retain the objectives already won. To-day I find some support from the official opposition, but it is a timid support tucked in at the very end of a long resolution moved in amendment to the budget, and only conceived after forty-seven days of almost continuous debate on the war appropriation measure. Surely some time during the weeks that debate
lasted the official opposition could have made a motion in plain, clear, unequivocal terms instead of leaving it to the budget debate and the financial critic who, after spending ninety-five per cent of his time in discussing fiscal matters, dealt with the man-power question only incidentally. I submit, further, that the amendment is not a definite resolution that the government enforce the powers contained in chapter 13 of the 1940 statutes, being the general mobilization resources act, as amended by chapter 29 of the 1942 statutes, commonly known as bill No. 80. Let me read the amendment moved by the official opposition:
That the government has failed to make effective the full mobilization of our financial, industrial and material resources, as well as our man-power, but is maintaining a so-called home-defence army, at a cost to the taxpayer in excess of $150 million per annum, at a time when the need for army reinforcements, for farming and for industry is so urgent.
What that means perhaps the mover alone could tell. But if one reads the clause and couples with it the statement made by the hon. member, wherein he urges that we turn these men back to farms, factories and forests until needed, it must mean the disbandment of these highly-trained men. With this sentiment I disagree, with all the force at my command; and I am in full accord with the remarks of the Minister of National Defence this afternoon and those of the hon. member for Brantford City (Mr. Macdonald) who, speaking in this house last week in the debate, said that he would oppose with all his strength the demobilization of these fully-trained forces.
I noticed in Hansard that when the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre (Mr. May-bank) was speaking the other evening, the hon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe (Mr. Rowe) interrupted him, and said that he was being misinterpreted. The hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre was interpreting the remark in a manner similar to what I have done, saying that the hon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe had said that the men should be sent back to the farms, the factories and the forests. That hon. member said he was being misinterpreted. Therefore, in order that there may be no mistake, and to keep the record clear, let me quote exactly what was said by the hon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe, and let the house be the judge. His remarks are found at page 4341 of Hansard for June 29, as follows:
For the honour of Canada I urge upon the government that they now remove the political halo that surrounds this most ridiculous camouflage and to turn these able-bodied men back to the farms, the factories and the forest where they can produce for victory until they are marshalled for the more vital service for which they were conscripted.
The Budget-Mr. Gray
The minister, speaking today, was too kind when he said that they were to be sent back to the farms, the forests, the factories or for service overseas. No; according to the hon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe, they are to be sent back to the farms, the forests and the factories.
And for how long?-"Until they are marshalled for the more vital service." Can anyone imagine anything more fantastic than to demobilize these men, to use the words of the hon. member, "until they are marshalled for the more vital service?" It is true that we have heard from the hustings from a reported leader of the party that the Progressive Conservatives were going to lay down the gauntlet and call for an immediate order in council. This, however, came from the outside, from a gentleman who has no responsibility to parliament, and not from the elected leader in this house. I ask this chamber: Is it significant that we have had no direct endorsement of the statements made by Mr. McTague and Mr. Bracken? Is it significant that the elected leader in this chamber has remained silent in the matter, up to this time?
I submit that the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) is right when he states that such statements of policy should be made by the leader in this house, where the statements may be analysed, and not made from positions of ambush. I am not prepared to say, as did Mr. McTague, that the province of Quebec would vote otherwise than it did if now given an opportunity. At the same time 1 have faith enough in the loyalty of French Canada, when the need is properly shown and when it realizes that all the seventy-odd thousands of men now mobilized and fully trained are being treated in the same manner. Then, with few exceptions, the whole subject will be looked upon in its proper light, and these men will go out and do battle with their fellow men, and come back proud that the step was taken and that they were privileged to form a part of the Canadian Army in the restoration and liberation of a free France, and the conquest of a German tyrant.
I listened carefully to the speech of the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston) this afternoon. I know how proud he is, as are we all, of the volunteer forces; we know the sincerity of purpose of the minister. Those of us who have had the privilege of volunteering for service to our country, wherever called, remember the thrill of pride when first we donned the uniform. At the same time, as I have said in this house before: Is it a fair system? Is it a just fMr. Grav.]
system? Is it fair that one family should offer its all, and another family not give anything?
Nor do I think-and I say this in all kindness-it is fair for the minister to use as an illustration in support of the citizen committees for recruiting, the use of these same bodies by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) in connection with his victory loan. To me there is a vast difference between urging my neighbour or friend to invest his money in a gilt-edged victory bond, and in urging him to have his son enlist for active service. I still urge the government to enforce the statute by order in council, especially having in mind that the reserve forces are now well-trained and capable of being utilized, if necessary, as an active home defence force. At the same time, I do not propose to allow an amendment such as that moved by the hon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe to becloud the real issue in the debate, namely the support or otherwise of the fiscal policy of the government, as enunciated by the Minister of Finance. Therefore I shall vote against the amendment as framed by the hon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe, and I shall support the Minister of Finance in his motion to go into committee of ways and means.
Topic: THE BUDGET
Subtopic: DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE