June 18, 1917

LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I beg the hon. minister's pardon. I certainly withdraw, in deference to his statement. But it is very clear in my mind that such a statement was made by the minister in regard to some official in his department.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Sub-subtopic:   THE SECOND READING OF THE BILL MOVED.
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CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

I would like the hon.

member to show me any such statement as he refers to. I have no recollection of ever making such a statement.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Sub-subtopic:   THE SECOND READING OF THE BILL MOVED.
Permalink
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I will take the opportunity of doing so; I have not Hansard under my hand at the moment. If I am not able to produce the statement, I certainly will tender the hon. gentleman every apology.

As to the position taken by a member of the Government on the floor of this House -and the idea was carried through the whole of the Government service, as far as the Government could reach-that there was not as great necessity for the services of able-bodied men at the front as there was in other places, I ask that member of the Government why my son or another man's son should go in the place of his secretary? Our sons are just as good to us as my hon. friend's private secretary was to him.

Having reached the point where the munitions makers of Canada have the sanction of the Premier and of the Minister of Militia in preventing the recruiting of their employees or near-employees, it does not

154J

come with good grace from the Minister of Trade and Commerce, eloquent though he may be, to declare on the floor of Parliament that Canada is not able to make good any promise she has made in the matter of voluntary enlistment. Let those who first made the promise and who later stood in the way of its fulfilment take the responsibility.

My hon. friend suggested that the leader of the Opposition by his proposal of a referendum was standing in the way of efficient and timely prosecution of the war on the part of Canada; I think that was the impression he desired to convey. The leader of the Opposition is the leader of the Opposition. It is his business to bring to the attention of the country sueh direction of its affairs as appears to be best in his judgment. It is the business of the Government to direct those affairs, and if it is true, and it is true, that voluntary enlistment has shown a decrease since the middle of last year, I ask my hon. friend *what he and his colleagues have been doing between then and now to protect the interests of this country should there be a German invasion? It was known in June of last year that there was no prospect under the conditions then prevailing of the promise of the Prime Minister being fulfilled, that the rate of enlistment was such that there was no likelihood of the complement of the 500,000 men being raised within any reasonable time. What was the course of the Government under those circumstances? There was plenty of time between then and now to have taken a referendum, plenty of time for the Germans to have invaded and over-run Canada. They appointed my good friend from Calgary as Director of National Service, and sent postal cards presumably to everybody in the Dominion. That was their idea of how to deal with the question when the Hun was at the gates. They got some of those postal cards back, and the Director of National Service is still the Director of National Service. But there is no Service, individual or national, so "far as any one can judge. This Government spent its time month after month, and month after month practically walking around in a circle, deluding its friends who were in favour of more drastic action into the belief that National Service meant conscription and at the same time giving Dorchester and other places in that neighbourhood clearly to understand that National Service did not mean conscription.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Sub-subtopic:   THE SECOND READING OF THE BILL MOVED.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

What member of this Government ever said that National Service did mean conscription?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Sub-subtopic:   THE SECOND READING OF THE BILL MOVED.
Permalink
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Sub-subtopic:   THE SECOND READING OF THE BILL MOVED.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Read the Order in

Council.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Sub-subtopic:   THE SECOND READING OF THE BILL MOVED.
Permalink
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I have answered my hon. friend's question. Will he answer mine? i

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Sub-subtopic:   THE SECOND READING OF THE BILL MOVED.
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The hon. gentleman told me he would not answer my question. I, however, will answer his. The terms of the Order in Council speak for themselves.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Sub-subtopic:   THE SECOND READING OF THE BILL MOVED.
Permalink
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

Then the terms of the Order in Council are no more than sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. There have been no results either from the Order in Council or from the efforts of my hon. friend the Director of National Service.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Sub-subtopic:   THE SECOND READING OF THE BILL MOVED.
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LIB

Charles Avila Wilson

Liberal

Mr. C. A. WILSON:

The Calgary trumpet.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Sub-subtopic:   THE SECOND READING OF THE BILL MOVED.
Permalink
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

If the conditions are in any degree as my hon. friend declared them to be, what answer has this Government to make to the fact that for one whole year they knew of those conditions and did nothing to remedy them? They did worBe than nothing. When the announcement of National Service was made the effect was necessarily to injure still further voluntary enlistment. When it was announced that the Government was going to take upon itself the responsibility of deciding whether this or that man should go to the front and this or that man into a munitions factory, the responsibility of choosing between the man who was to get $1.10 a day with the privilege of getting shot, and the man who would earn $5 a day in a munitions factory and live in comfort, what young man, unless he was inspired by enthusiasm in more than the ordinary degree, would not naturally say, "The Government is taking the responsibility off my shoulders. It is no longer for me but for the Government to decide whether I shall go to the front or into a munitions factory." I ask you, Sir, whether that was a stimulus to recruiting? When that announcement had gone abroad and recruiting still further fell off, the 'Government did nothing more. They [DOT]simply sent out their cards, got some of *them back, talked one way in one end of the country and another way in the other end; but they did nothing.

The climax of it all was the proposal to enlist 50,000 men for home defence. Fifty

thousand men to be taken out of productive industry at a time when it was believed that productive industry required all the . help that it could get; taken out of productive industry, but not sent to the firing line. How many (months did the Government spend on that project, and what was its result? Does the Minister of Trade and Commerce think that the Government is justified before this country in spending the time between June of last year and June of this year in talking one thing and doing a different thing; in talking action, but pursuing inaction? Is that his way of winning the war? And to-day, when there is placed before this House a suggestion that the power of Parliament is exhausted, that we hold no authority from the people of Canada, and that when we are imposing upon the people of Canada a measure, which, however necessary, however patriotic it may be, is still a most burdensome measure, we should ask the authority of the people to impose that measure; we are told that this suggestion is most unpatriotic because it would mean delay. It is right for the Government to delay, to walk up and down, to go round and round, for twelve long months; but it is absolutely unpatriotic for the leader of an Opposition to suggest that the people of Canada shall rule-because it might mean a delay of three months.

Now let me touch on the references made by the hon. gentleman to the province of Quebec. The province of Quebec has not sent as many men to the front, in proportion to population, as other provinces have. That is to be regretted. My right hon. friend thinks that the blame for the inaction of the province of Quebec-assuming that there has been inaction-rests upon whom? Upon the Government of the country? Oh, no; the blame rests upon the leader of the Opposition, the man from whom the majority of the people of Canada took the responsibility of office in 1911, the man who has held no responsibility of office since that time. He, we are told, is the man to blame, if blame there is, for the state of affairs in the province of Quebec, while the Government has no responsibility in the matter. In my humble judgment, a government constituted as this Government is, whose members from the province of Quebec were elected as being opposed, not to conscription fherely, but to military or naval service on behalf of the Empire-a Government with these men in its councils, supported by their colleagues from Quebec, who represent within a fraction of half the people of that province and number within ten of half its representation in

this House, must carry the responsibility for failure to recruit in the province of Quebec, and any lack of military enthusiasm in that province must fairly rest upon the shoulders of this Government, whose members are opposed, not only to conscription, but absolutely to military service.

The question before the House is serious; it is serious beyond measure. Surely, if there is danger of division, in this country, as the Minister of Trade and Commerce said there was; although he brushed it aside lightly, it was a small thing-if there is a possibility that one of the provinces of this Dominion is likely to be opposed to the policy which is about to be undertaken; and if it is the fact-and the right hon. gentleman said it was the fact-that the leader of the Opposition is responsible for public opinion in the province of Quebec, would it not be reasonable, would it not be common sense for the Prime Minister and his colleagues to take the recommendation of the leader of the Opposition?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Sub-subtopic:   THE SECOND READING OF THE BILL MOVED.
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Sub-subtopic:   THE SECOND READING OF THE BILL MOVED.
Permalink
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

If the facts are as the

Minister of Trade and Commerce says they are-I do not say these are the facts; he says it-that is a reason why the proposal of the leader of the Opposition should be accepted by this Government in the interest of the wellbeing of the country, in the interest of its unity and therefore of its strength.

In speaking on this question I have dealt with it from the standpoint of voluntary enlistment and of the failure of voluntary enlistment in this country, and of the necessity, if necessity there is, for the introduction of this conscription measure. I think it only right to place before the House certain facts in regard to the measure of voluntary enlistment that is going on in Canada to-day, voluntary enlistment that is going on not because of the efforts of our Government but in spite of the efforts of our Government. I have here the latest issue of of the sheet called The Canadian Patriotic Fund, and I find a statement showing that the total enlistments in Canada for the Canadian Expeditionary Force for the month of January, 1917, were 7,721; for February, 7,644; for March, 6,648; for April, 5,420, a total of 27,433; or for one year, if continued at the same rate, 72,299. I note that a despatch from Kingston says that "456 recruits signed up in the Third Military District during the last two weeks." I say, in spite of this Government, and not because of it.

I desire to draw the attention of the House to an item which appeared in the Ottawa Citizen of a day or two ago to the [DOT]effect that the enlistments in the city of Ottawa had fallen to a certain figure and the reason was because the enlistment office for the artillery service had been closed up. They had refused, during two weeks of the period to accept any recruits for the artillery service. It appears to me that when we have the evidence of the number of Tecruits during the preceding period, and when we have the evidence that this Government refused to accept recruits for any branch of the service here in this capital city of Ottawa, the Government has no right to say that voluntary enlistment is a failure in Canada or that people of Canada are lacking in their enthusiasm in support of this war.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Sub-subtopic:   THE SECOND READING OF THE BILL MOVED.
Permalink
CON

Albert Edward Kemp (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir EDWARD KEMP:

Did my hon. friend say that we had refused to accept artillery recruits?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Sub-subtopic:   THE SECOND READING OF THE BILL MOVED.
Permalink
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

Yes.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Sub-subtopic:   THE SECOND READING OF THE BILL MOVED.
Permalink
CON

Albert Edward Kemp (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir EDWARD KEMP:

That is so, but it was at the instance of the British Government who say that they have' more artillery recruits in England than they need at present.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Sub-subtopic:   THE SECOND READING OF THE BILL MOVED.
Permalink
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I notice that the British Government comes in conveniently when my hon. friends desire to escape from a difficult situation, but it appears to me that if the casualties at the front are as they are reported to be, and there is no doubt they are, this Government would not be placing the British Government at any disadvantage if they accepted all the artillery recruits that offered and gave them the training that is necessary for efficiency in the artillery service. I am still compelled to believe that the closing up of the recruiting office in Ottawa, and the refusal of artillery recruits, was rather in the line of emphasizing the necessity of this Military Service Bill than of satisfying the demands of the British Government.

No one is more disappointed than I am that the Government should have felt it necessary at this stage of the proceedings to say to the country that their policy of voluntary enlistment had" broken down. There is, after all, something of inspiration in the idea of a man who volunteers, of men who, of their own good-will have left house and home, farm and land, wife, children and friends and have taken upon themselves, for their own credit and for the-honour of their country, the responsibility and sacrifice of the war. There is some-

thing insipiring in that, something to be proud of and Canada has reason to be proud that so many of her citizens have taken that position and have done her that measure of honour. It is a matter of the deepest regret to me as one citizen of this country, and as a member of this Parliament, that we are not going forward in the same line and to the same result.

While I say that, I also take the position, which I have taken in this House in times past-and I think I was the only member in the House to take it-that universal compulsory service was the only logical service under such conditions as prevail in the world at the present time. I believe that universal military service is the logical and efficient method of bringing to beaT the full strength of our country under present circumstances and conditions. Given a proper measure of universal military service, and there is equality in the distribution of the burden, an equality that does not exist in the case of voluntary service. While voluntary service has tremendous advantages in many ways, it has the disadvantage that the, willing horse carries the whole load. It is only fair that every horse should carry his share of the load. It is only on the principle of equality of service-of absolute equality of service-that the compulsory principle will be recognized or accepted. It is the only principle that is fair. If there is not equality of service under the compulsory principle, then, instead of i't (being a, democratic method of meeting a great emergency, it becomes an instrumeent of tyranny and unfairness in every particular.

The hon. Minister of Trade and Commerce (Sir George Foster) used the words " selective conscription ", and the Prime Minister explained that he was not able to adopt the Militia Act now on the statute-book because it did not contain the selective principle, and the selective principle must be provided for by special legislation. In the adoption of this selective principle there is vast room for anything but fairness in the administration of the Compulsory Service Bill. In that provision for selective conscription, it appears to me, there rests the greatest reason for objecting to the measure as it appears before the Hpuse. I have said in this House before, and I say again, that the great necessity to win this war is able-bodied men on the firing line, and any provision or measure before the House that takes the view that equal service can be rendered by an able-bodied

man in any other capacity, takes a view that I for one cannot agree with. And when I see a measure brought before the House as this measure is and advocated as this is, I am compelled to say that I do not look upon it as such a conscription measure as I would be willing to support.

To deal with a certain provision pf the Bill; It is provided, as the Prime Minister has told us, that there shall be a Board of selection, a Board of appeal, which amounts to a Board of selection, and this Board of appeal shall be absolutely independent- that is to say it will be absolutely irresponsible, absolutely irresponsible. In other words, that Board will express the sentiment of the men who compose it, who again will express the sentiment of the people amongst whom they live, And it is provided that this Board shall grant a certificate of exemption on the ground:

That It is expedient in the national interest that the man should, instead of being employed in military service, be engaged in other work in which he is habitually engaged.

That is to say, this irresponsible Board has all the authority of this Parliament to say: this man shall go and this man shall stay. There is neither let nor hindrance, there is neither direction nor suggestion, and this Parliament is asked to support that measure and call it a measure of conscription. It is a measure of conscription, but not a measure of conscription as I would feel able to support.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Sub-subtopic:   THE SECOND READING OF THE BILL MOVED.
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

The hon.

member is objecting to this method. Does he prefer the method established in the Militia Act, of selection by ballot, or how does he suggest the selection should be made?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Sub-subtopic:   THE SECOND READING OF THE BILL MOVED.
Permalink
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I would suggest that this Bill that is brought before the House should tell us how the selection is going to be made.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Sub-subtopic:   THE SECOND READING OF THE BILL MOVED.
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Well, it does.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Sub-subtopic:   THE SECOND READING OF THE BILL MOVED.
Permalink

June 18, 1917