Ross Wilfred GRAY

GRAY, Ross Wilfred

Personal Data

Lambton West (Ontario)
Birth Date
January 5, 1897
Deceased Date
December 11, 1968

Parliamentary Career

January 14, 1929 - May 30, 1930
  Lambton West (Ontario)
July 28, 1930 - August 14, 1935
  Lambton West (Ontario)
October 14, 1935 - January 25, 1940
  Lambton West (Ontario)
  • Chief Government Whip (January 1, 1937 - January 1, 1940)
  • Whip of the Liberal Party (January 1, 1937 - January 1, 1940)
March 26, 1940 - April 16, 1945
  Lambton West (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 4 of 147)

June 18, 1942

Mr. R. W. GRAY (Lambton West):

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to follow the hon. member for Cariboo (Mr. Turgeon) in this debate. For five years we were associated together as chief whip and deputy whip of this house. During that period we worked together with the definite purpose in mind of establishing a better understanding between party and party and between member and member as it related to the conduct of the House of Commons. The hon. member is one of a long line of public men who bore and still bear his name, men who have served the state and the dominion. Reading their speeches and *watching their actions makes it easy to understand that my hon. friend. and former associate should express the tolerant views he has to-day and at the same time make such a vigorous statement as to where he stands. I should like to refer also to the statement of the hon. member for Cochrane (Mr. Bradette). Canada needs more men of the type of the hon. member.

The moral obstacle to compulsory service has been removed, and the amendment provided by Bill No. 80 now before the house is the logical first legal step. In introducing this bill, the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) is simply following the mandate given to him on April 27 last. In the interpretation of the question asked of the electors the Prime Minister was quite right in saying that it was permissive, not mandatory. The question was purposely phrased in the way it was.

Mobilization Act-Mr. Gray

On the other hand, if the government are under any illusion as to what the great majority of the "yes" voters meant, what they believed would follow onee the hands of the government were freed, then I say to the government, and particularly to the ministers from Ontario: You have not been among the electors since that day.

I am not going to refer to the successive experiments that have been made in connection with the man-power question. Suffice it to say that we have fumbled the ball with too many passes. While it must be admitted that we have recovered the ball, we have left the spectators, in this case the Canadian public, in a state of bewilderment and daze as to what we shall do on the five-yard line. That line has been reached; we are in the crucial year 1942. That is not my opinion; it is the opinion of the military experts of the united nations. Having this knowledge and facing the fact that the war remains to be won, the hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Maclnnis) asked in the house on Monday last; as reported at page 3343 of Hansard:

What we as a people expect to get out of the war.

I am amazed that a responsible member of this house, a member of a party aspiring to leadership in this country, should ask that question. I can tell the hon. member in a sentence what we expect to get out of this war. We hope to get the privilege of living as free men. We may lose all that we have built for the future; we may lose all that we have built in this crucial hour. That matters not; what is important is that we may be able to build for the future, that we may have the privilege of starting again. On January 1, 1942, Canada signed a declaration and became a member of the united nations. In part we said:

Being convinced that complete victory over their enemies is essential to defend life, liberty, independence and religious freedom, and to preserve human rights and justice in their own lands as well as in other lands, and that they are now engaged in a common struggle against savage and brutal forces seeking to subjugate the world.

We are discussing the methods of fulfilling that obligation. The question turns on the advisability of continuing two systems, two armies: one, a voluntary army for service anywhere; the other, a conscript army for service in Canada alone. How can it be said that we can defend freedom up to the limit of those who are willing, or, in other words, up to the limit of those who are willing to volunteer. How can we take our proper place at the council table until we have shown that there is no limit in our participation?

The ink had scarcely dried after we had signed that declaration before the congress of the United States removed the restriction upon service contained in their national service act of 1940. I should like to quote part of the preamble of that act because, as one reads it, he realizes that we in Canada have the same possibilities for the future. Congress had this to say:

The congress further declares that in a free society the obligations and privileges of military training and service should be shared generally in accordance with a fair and just system of selective compulsory military training and service.

Their act contained a territorial restriction similar to the one contained in our National Resources Mobilization Act. The restriction in their act read:

Persons inducted into the land forces of the United States under this act shall not be employed beyond the limits of the western hemisphere except in the territories and possessions of the United States, including the Philippine islands.

There are members in this house who would agree with that restriction, who would contend that it should remain on the statute books in its present form. Nevertheless, on December 13, 1941, or five days after the United States of America declared war upon her enemies, congress enacted a measure which removed the territorial restrictions I have mentioned and made it possible for United States soldiers to serve in any part of the world during the period of the war and for the six months immediately following its termination. That was definite and positive action which has placed thousands of United States soldiers in the British isles and throughout the empire. We are told that with the enemy approaching from the east and the west we are now prepared to move immediately men called up under the National Resources Mobilization Act to Newfoundland and other islands and territories including the United States.

With that stand I am in full accord. But I might say, in passing, that we might be accused of having broken a pledge in requiring, under the legislation as it stands to-day, that the men called up shall serve elsewhere than within the confines of Canada. But that is an academic point, and Canadians with whom I have been in contact are in no mood for academic discussions in this country. They see in this new approach, extending beyond the boundaries of Canada our jurisdiction over the men called up, the old, discredited policy of appeasement creeping back into our national life. That policy should have no place among the united nations, and least of all within the British empire. Let us put a stop to these

Mobilization Act-Mr. Gray

subtle retreats from one position to another. Let us, if necessary, be brutally frank with the Canadian people and especially with those who believe that Canada can be defended on Canada's shores. The place to defeat the enemy is where you find the enemy-and before he reaches Canada. If it is good to go out and meet,him in Alaska and Newfoundland, it is better to go out and meet him in Trance, Holland and Germany. In case there may be some who still doubt this, let me put upon the record a message placed before this country by the Prime Minister on the eve of the plebiscite. In a signed statement published in all the leading Canadian papers under the caption, "The Plebiscite As I See It", these two paragraphs of the Prime Minister's statement appeared:

A part of our forces should be kept in Canada to protect us against attack; a part of our forces should be sent overseas to help defeat the enemy and thus prevent him from attacking Canada. Both tasks are equally essential to our safety. Anyone who tells you that only one of these tasks is necessary is deceiving you. Unless we continue to do all we can to help others, we shall have no right to expect them to do all they can to help us. Until the present tide of conquest is turned into overwhelming defeat for the enemy, no country -and assuredly not Canada-can consider itself secure.

Here surely is the most powerful of reasons why every effort should be made, as it is being made, alike by the United States and Canada, to help the other united nations to engage the enemy and tpy to defeat him where he is to be found to-day. We cannot defend our country and save our homes and families by waiting at home for the enemy to attack us. Every country that has stood behind its own defences in this war has sooner or later been attacked. To remain on the defensive is the surest way to bring the war to Canada.

With that statement I am in full agreement. We differ apparently only with regard to the method by which what is desired can be accomplished.

It has been stated by the government that the voluntary method of obtaining men has succeeded and will suffice for the March, 1942, to March, 1943, programme. How can we say that the voluntary method has succeeded when it has never been tested? How can we say that we have sufficient man-power entering into the army when we do not know what we may expect during the period 1942-43? To say that we have sufficient man-power coming into the army is to say that the year 1942 will remain just as it is in this month of June, 1942, and this, sir, in spite of the fact that on every side we hear of a determination to establish a second front, in which second front Canadians will undoubtedly be in the vanguard. To say that we have enough men is to say

that we know with some degree of certainty the number of casualties we shall suffer in battle. Turn for a moment to world war No. 1. Let me give a few figures of Canadian casualties in that war. On the Somme Canadians had, in round figures, 23,000 casualties; at Vimy Ridge, 13,000; at Passchendaele,

24,000. Let us study well those figures, and look at all the possibilities for 1942 before we say that the voluntary system has succeeded. But whether the voluntary system has succeeded or not, whether it will supply enough men or not, I ask the house this question: Is the voluntary system a scientific, businesslike way of making sure that we have total war through total effort? Is it a fair method? Is it a sure method? Is it a just method?

Hon. members who oppose conscription may say that those of us who favour it exaggerate its military value. Perhaps that is true. I doubt whether anything can fill one with more pride than the fact that he has volunteered to serve his country wherever he may be sent, and as far as I am concerned I never will retreat from the fact that I volunteered to serve my country wherever I might be sent. At the same time, is it fair, is it just, that we should have a voluntary system under which whole families have offered their all, while other families have offered nothing? Is it fair that residents of Canada who are not citizens should be waiting to step immediately into jobs opened by reason of our own boys having volunteered for active service? I ask the house that question because that problem exists to-day. It is true that the Prime Minister on March 24, if I remember correctly, promised that that would be remedied, but we have not yet had anything resembling a corrective.

Answer, if you will, that we are getting enough men. Then answer this further question: Is not a comprehensive, all-embracing selective service system the fairest and surest way to see that each and every one of us will pull his fair share of the load? Unlike some members of the government I care not what liberties I surrender during the period of the war. I am prepared afterwards to come back and demand that these liberties be restored to this house, but in the meantime I am prepared to surrender them as long as I am sure that we are giving to this country the fullest measure of support in the war effort.

I urge, Mr. Speaker, as I have urged before in this house, that after this bill is passed- and I propose to support it-that we immediately-and by that I mean now, not six months or a year hence-take such action as may be necessary to bring into operation

Mobilization Act-Mr. Abbott

compulsory selective service, unrestricted as to geographical limits, with regard to the army, and combined with it a scientific allocation of the man-power of this country to industry, to the farm and to the forces.

It has been urged that an unrestricted scheme of selective service can be put into effect in an emergency. Every nation that waited to put its house in order until the emergency arose, has fallen. With a great and powerful neighbour ready to come to our aid that would not be our fate, but do we desire to depend on that neighbour? Certainly not. We must be prepared to sacrifice according to our ability, having due regard to our population and resources. We may be lacking in numbers owing to the size of our population, but let it never be said that we are lacking in the equality of our sacrifice.

We complain that our splendid war effort is not appreciated in the United States. Anyone who has visited in the United States since the first of January, 1942, will realize that that is all too true. How can we succeed in overcoming the insidious propaganda campaign now being used against us throughout that land unless we are prepared to admit that we are willing to send men wherever the necessity arises? At the risk of being told that I am the mouthpiece of the premier of Ontario, I say this, that that changing, as he said, from "I can't" to "I won't" is what we are doing to-day here in this house.

Mr. Speaker, we cannot and must not wait for an emergency. Again I repeat, with all the emphasis at my command, let us take positive action now. When that action is taken, and not until then, will the words in the united nations' declaration, that "each government pledges itself to employ its full resources, military or economic against those members of the tripartite pact and its adherents with which such government is at war," attain its true significance, and Canada with head erect take her place by the side of the united nations, satisfied that, come what may, we have given our all in the great cause for which we freely entered this war. In the words of Kipling:

For all we have and are,

For all our children's fate,

Stand up and take the war.

The Hun is at the gate!

At six o'clock the house took recess.

After Recess

The house resumed at eight o'clock.

Topic:   IS, 1942
Full View Permalink

May 13, 1942


I think we are entitled to

know what hon. member made the statement.

Full View Permalink

May 12, 1942


I agree with the hon. member for Danforth (Mr. Harris).

Topic:   R.C.A.F.
Full View Permalink

May 12, 1942


I agree with the hon. member for Danforth.

Topic:   R.C.A.F.
Full View Permalink

May 12, 1942


We have listened to-day to a report of the progress of the air force under the Minister of National Defence for Air. At the close of his remarks he made an appeal for unity in this country. May I say to him as an old soldier, and speaking I believe for most of us in this chamber, that no matter where we march or where we bivouac we shall find that, under the Minister of National Defence for Air, we shall go forward in the great effort which he is making in furtherance of this project. To-day he has given us concrete evidence of what has been accomplished, beginning as it did in a very small way. To-day, as he has stated, we are on the eve of a conference of the united nations. Under his leadership this enterprise, so soundly based, the British commonwealth air training plan, is certain to develop rapidly and with increasing success.

I have only one or two remarks to add to what has already been said. I wish particularly to refer to the system of air cadet training, which has developed from one of the minister's own policies. Looking at it from the viewpoint of my own province and as I have observed it elsewhere, I feel that, once established by the department, it has been left rather in the position of an orphan. We have been loath to give these organizations the blessing of the department while we have been willing to say to them, "You go out and do it." If we are prepared to accept the air cadets in Canada, as I am sure we are from the minister's remarks and from what has been said; if we are prepared to have them established, then we should establish air cadets as part and parcel of the air scheme of the dominion. We should assist them and give them the support that is necessary and not put them on the basis of some service plan, as has been done. I believe that if the minister will look into the matter he will find that the air cadets proposal, supported by himself and promulgated

War Appropriation-Air Services

by his department, has not been given the support by the government that it should have received. If the air cadets are to be part and parcel of the air force, let us make them so. Do not let us have any half measures whereby we make them cadets for one purpose and not for another. The Minister of National Defence for Air will be the first to admit that they should be made part and parcel of the air force.

The other matter I have to urge is in connection with the air crew, to which the minister has referred. I have watched, as I have no doubt other members have watched, the graduation of air crews from various schools throughout the country. I am told that ninety schools have been established, and day after day we see men walking our streets, pilots, gunners, and observers and other members of the crews to whom the minister has referred. I want to make a plea as a man who served as an ordinary private soldier in the last war, and it is this, that these men who are worthy of wearing wings, whether they be pilots, observers, gunners or whatever they may be, should be commissioned in the air force and should not be put into the ranks as sergeant observers, sergeant pilots, or sergeant gunners, as the case may be. I urge that they be given equal rank and that they be not classed on the basis of 50 per cent of this particular class or that particular class. Those of us who have gone through schools will know that in one particular class there may be 90 per cent who may be worthy of a commission, whereas in some other class there may be only 40 per cent or 30 per cent. It is my opinion that so long as you leave it to the officers commanding the various schools there will be discrepancies that should not exist. If a man is capable of graduating from a school and worthy of his wings, whether he be pilot, observer or gunner, then he is worthy of being commissioned in his majesty's service. I urge upon the minister that this discrepancy be abolished, because I know it must have given him more than one headache. Take two buddies graduating from an air force school about to leave the country. They are on their last leave, arranging to meet at a certain port to go overseas, arranging to occupy the same quarters on the same transport. One receives word while he is at home that he has been commissioned, the other receives no such news and will go over as a sergeant pilot. You cannot expect absolute team-work under those conditions. I know the minister will agree with me that in this great service, the air force, the important thing is team-work, and you cannot get it unless you ensure that two men who are going forth in the same service shall

be in the same rank if they are doing the same job. When they graduate from a particular school they should be on the same level. It is not fair or worthy that some commanding officer should be allowed to say to one, "You shall be a commissioned pilot", and to another "You shall be a sergeant pilot". [DOT]

I urge that this question be given careful consideration at the forthcoming conference of the united nations-the United States, Canada, Great Britain and the other countries who will meet here. They will recognize the lead that Canada has given, and I hope that out of that conference there will emerge the principle of equality with regard to the men who graduate from our schools, whether they be pilots, gunners, observers, or whatever they may be. So long as they are worthy of going into the air and operating planes they should be put on an equality. We see men walking around the streets to-day and we know that this equality does not exist. This has been a source of trouble to the minister, I am sure; it has been one of the headaches from which he has suffered. I say to him that instead of cutting down 50 per cent, or 30 per cent or 20 per cent of the graduates of a class, every man who is worthy to wear the wings should be a commissioned officer in his majesty's services.

Topic:   R.C.A.F.
Full View Permalink