Hon. J. D. HAZEN (Minister of Marine and Fisheries):
Mr. Speaker, I desire to
be associated with the previous speakers in this debate who have referred in terms of congratulation to your elevation to the high and important position of Speaker of this House. I think it is a fact that you are the youngest man who has ever been called upon to be the first commoner of Canada; but in spite of that fact, those who have been associated with you in the work of this House for the past four or five years are satisfied that you will discharge the duties of this important position in a way that will be worthy of the traditions of the office; that you will have due regard to the preservation of the dignity and decorum of debate, and that as between the parties in this House you will hold the scales of justice with an even hand.
I desire also, as others have already done, to extend my congratulations to the hon. member for the Yukon, (Mr. Alfred Thompson) and to the hon. member for L'Islet (Mr. Paquet) on the manner in which they discharged the task of moving and seconding the address in reply to the speech from the Throne. It was my pleasure a few years ago to visit that far distant constituency of the Yukon; and although I think in no constituency in Canada is there keener party feeling,, yet I found on all hands an expression of opinion that the present member represents that constituency in a way that gives satisfaction to the people irrespective of politics, and with due regard to the ambitions and potentialities of that great and extensive district.
I also, Sir, would like to say that 1 concur in the words that have been uttered with regard to' the Governor General of
Canada. It has been a good thing for this country that during this time of stress and strain the representative of His Majesty in Canada is a gentleman who has had such an extensive, varied and long experience as a military man, and whose knowledge of military matters has been of very great value in making more effective than it otherwise would have been the aid which Canada has given to the Empire in the present crisis.
My hon. friend from Red Deer (Mr. Michael Clark), to whose speeches, I, in common with other hon. members, always listen with pleasure, who always holds the attention of his auditors, whose moderation in criticism and in debate, and whose admirable parliamentary manner are worthy of emulation, has made certain representations in regard to delays that may have occurred between the time when the Canadian troops are enlisted and the time when they actually get into the firing line. I would like to say a few words on that. At page 37 of Hansard, the hon. member for Red Deer used these words: .
But the point that is exercising- the mind of our people is this: I think they would be glad of the assurance that there is no undue delay in getting the recruits, once they are raised, into the trenches. I hope the Government appreciates my point, and I hope that some one will give the country and Parliament the necessary assurance upon that point.
I can assure the hon. gentleman that the Government fully appreciates this point. It has been the subject of more or less discussion in this country, and there is no doubt that there is, among those who enlist, a feeling that possibiy at times unnecessary delay has occurred before they are able to get into the ' trenches, and come face to face with the foe. That opinion reaches us from those who are overseas. My youngest son, who is serving with the Artillery overseas, who went to -England in August last, and who,
I think, about a week ago crossed over to France, has frequently written to me .complaining about the length of time that h-e is obliged to remain under training in Great Britain, and expressing his impatience at the delay in getting into the firing line. That is the feeling which characterizes all of our young Canadians who go overseas. They are impatient at any delay that may occur, as their desire is to get into the firing line as -soon as possible, and they are apt to fret and chafe at the months they have to spend in training and drill before the British mili-
taiy authorities think it is desirable that they should actually go into the trenches. Hon. gentlemen know that the First Canadian Contingent which crossed the seas was only a comparatively few weeks in camp at Valcartier before it was transported to the other side; but after it arrived in England it was kept under most unfortunate conditions in camp at Salisbury Plain during the whole of the winter before the British authorities thought our troops sufficiently trained and disciplined to take their place in the firing line; but, when they did meet the foe face to faee, they proved themselves the equal of the best soldiers that were fighting side by side with them, and they brought undying honour and glory to their country. Everybody knows that, except in comparatively few gases' our Qsuniadiaim soldiers have had little training of a military character, and so it is necessary that they should undergo a certain amount of preparation before they cross the -sea. The Canadian -Government and the Department of Militia are sending those men forward week by week as they get the necessary training, and as the war office wants them, and as transports can be obtained. When they arrive on the other -side of the water, then their disposition is a matter for the British War Office. They are not members of -the Militia of Canada, but, are enlisted specially for overseas service, and when they get to the other side they become part and parcel of the British army. It is then for the British War Office to decide when they shall be sent to France and when they shall take their place in the firing line. I say to my hon. friend from Red Deer, and. to the people of this country, that, so far as the Government of Canada and the Minister of Militia of Canada are -concerned, th-ey are fully alive to the desirability of -sending the men forward as quickly as they can bo sent forward, having regard to their, training and fitness for the work, and they will continue to do so in the future gs in the past.
My hon. friend and colleague from the city of St. John (Mr. Pugsley) made a lengthy speech to this House the other night, a speech very different in tone and in style of criticism from that delivered by the leader of the Opposition and that of the hon. member for Red Deer. In the course of that speech the hon. member (Mr. Pugsley) referred to the question of transportation, the difficulty of getting tonnage, and the increased freight rates upon the
ocean, and he referred to it with the intention of holding the Government of Canada responsible for the conditions that exists. The hon. gentleman, with an absolute lack of generosity-to use no stronger term- suggested that the reason for the existing conditions was that the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Burrell) last year had to spend several weeks away from Canada, overlooking entirely the fact that the Minister of Agriculture was forced to leave Canada on his doctor's advice and in consequence of the condition of his health, and that while he was away under his doctor's orders he was able to render good service to Canada by representing the Dominion, and also His Majesty the King, at the Exposition in California. The hon. gentleman suggested also that the Government were not attending to such matters because they had gone out to address recruiting meetings. It is very hard to satisfy my hon. friend and some of his friends. I have been reading in Liberal newspapers criticisms of the members of the Administration because they had not made more recruiting speeches than they have been able to make, in view of the tremendous amount of work thrown upon them during the last two years. A leading newspaper in Ontario, some months ago, found fault with the Prime Minister because he was not addressing more recruiting meetings, and it asked, who had heard a word in favour of recruiting from the lazy lips of Sir Robert Borden. And now the hon. member for the city of St. John holds the Government responsible for the high freight maxes- beoauae. as he suggests, the members of the Administration had been spending too much time in addressing recruiting meetings.
With the war, a state of affairs arose regarding tonnage and transportation that has certainly been very difficult to deal with. The breaking out of the war put out of business a great many ships that had been engaged in the carrying trade. Go down to the ports of Boston and New York, and you will see there steamers of the North German Lloyd and the Hamburg-Ameriean swinging at anchor, absolutely idle, unable to continue the business which they had carried on before the war, because were they to venture out from their safe havens in Boston, New York, or other American ports, they would be captured by the vigilant British cruisers which, operating from Halifax, are protecting the trade routes across the seas for the people of Canada and the Empire.
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