June 29, 1917


Georges Henri Boivin



If I could, in repeating

the language of the Minister of Inland Revenue, use any other words than his own words, I would not use the word "treason," but what I said was this: That he had

already excused himself for having preached treason when he was young in the province of Quebec. I made use of no other expression. I did not attribute treason to the minister.


Joseph Hormisdas Rainville (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)


I do not think the hon. member should use such language.


Georges Henri Boivin



I am not addressing that

remark to the minister. I do not wish to insinuate that he is a traitor in any way. I am repeating the words which he used himself. If you rule that I have no right to repeat the words which he used himself, I bow to your ruling.


William Wright

Conservative (1867-1942)


Might not the hon. gentleman read the words from Hansard?


Georges Henri Boivin



have gone on record as opposed to a referendum. That is a very general statement, hut I think that, with certain local exceptions, it is a correct statement to make. What would the referendum mean. What would the referendum. be? Tt is a taking term, a pleasant idea. A referendum to whom? The right hon. leader of the Opposition knows that, under the statute that gives to the soldiers the right to vote at elections, which is known as Chapter 11 of the Statutes of 1915, assented to on the 15th day of April, 1915, no right is given to the soldiers to vote on a referendum. The Act pre-supposes candidates and the volunteer, that is, the soldier at the front must mark his 'ballot as a vote for the Government, or the Opposition, or the independent candidate, as the case may be, for whom he desires to vote. What provision is there for soldiers voting on a referendum? My right hon. friend has not proposed to amend this Act so that soldiers might have a right to vote on a referendum. Moreover, how could the soldiers' vote be taken? Do not misunderstand me; I am not arguing in favour of a vote by the soldiers at the present time. We all know, those of us who have friends at the front- and I do not intend to speak of my own people who are at the front-whalt is going on at the front? We can almost hear the heart beats of the soldiers, almost hear the familiar voices of the absent. How can they, in the discharge of their duty, loving and serving their country in this noble manner how can they pass around a ballot box? What do they care about elections? They are fighting for their lives, for the life of their country, for the^life of their Empire, side by side with other noble men from the Old Country, from home, and the other Allies. What facilities have they for taking a vote, even if there was a provision in the present Act giving votes to soldiers, to vote in the case of a referendum of this kind?

Then, too, what proportion of the voting population of Canada do the soldiers represent? We have some 425,000 soldiers overseas. The total vote in Canada at the bust election was about 1,200,000, and statisticians have esimated that, having regard to the increase of population on the one hand, and having regard to the sending away of soldiers on the other, there are probably as many voters to-day in Canada as there were at the time of the last election. So that we have more than 25 per cent of the total vote of Canada overseas, as sodliers serving their country.

Referendum is .suggested. Referendum to whom? To slackers-those who have not faced their duty, who have not realized their duty? and to the foreign bom. As I have said, most of the provinces have passed a law since the last general election giving women votes. How should they be provided for? What provision is there? Wfho should vote? If there were a referendum and a vote, there would have to be a Franchise Act passed, before the vote could be taken. What does that mean? That means delay, and delay would mean the very destruction of all we have in view. The prime necessity of the moment is expedition. The last thing we want, and the last thing we can afford to have, is delay. I notice my right lion, friend the leader of the Opposition, in speaking in the House the other day, prefaced his remarks with .some very unhappy words-" Hear me for my cause." We know where those words came from. It was from the play of " Julius CaesaT," and the words were used by Marcus Brutus, as he came fresh from Caesar's assassination, to explain to the citizens of Rome the death of Caesar. I am not draw ing a parallel, but it is a very significant thing. .The words are unhappy. They were taken from the unhappy reference that I have referred to, and there is a strange parallel between them.-" Hear me for my cause "-my cause, the bleeding soldiers at the front, their wounds un-staunohed, the .soldiers appealing for reinforcements, help and succour. What does that all mean? It simply means the. abandonment of the men who have gone, and the breaking of the pledges we made to them. My right hon. friend the leader of the Opposition is well aware-no man is better aware of what will happen in -the event of Germany winning this war. It is not a probable thing, but it is certainly not impossible for her to win the war. .My hon. friend, when speaking on this very Bill said: " I believe that the victory of Germany would mean for Canada, as for the rest of the world, envelopment in the 'black shroud of German insolence, cruelties and barbarities."

W'hat does the right hon. gentleman propose in order to avoid this? This may come. It reminds me of the old legal plea of " Confession and avoidance ". All lawyers are familiar with it. My right hon. friend confesses the danger and the urgency, he confesses what would happen to us if Germany should win the war, and, forsooth, he avoids it by some reference to a referen-

dam or something of that kind the old plea of " confession and avoidance," and that is all there is in it.

What is the conscription provided for by this Bill? Is it a fair measure? Every hon. gentleman in this House will agree with me, I think, in saying that voluntary enlistment has outlived its day and done its work. Early in this year the last voluntary enlistment effort was made on the Home Defence plan. It was hoped that men would enlist for home defence, that they would catch the infection of the soldiers' life, and that a martial feeling would come over them, that they would go overseas and join the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and serve their country in that capacity. The home defence effort was enforced vigorously. It was tried and failed, and it is the last voluntary effort possible. I know of no other voluntary effort that is possible now. If there be any, let some person suggest. What is the situation? There being no further voluntary enlistment, we are compelled to adopt conscription, or to abandon our honour and our soldiers at the front. That seems to me the only way. The reasons that are given for opposing selective conscription and for supporting a referendum are various, but it is said by many hon. gentlemen in this House that we should have had conscription from the starts If we had adopted that policy at the commencement of the war, we would certainly have retained in this country many splendid men, and a great many other men, who could easily be spared I will not call them undesirables because they are Canadian citizens-could have gone and served their country overseas, but the Government desired to bear with the people, to make their burden as light as possible. They hoped the war would be won and they resorted to every expedient before resorting to selective conscription. But now, there being no.thing left hut selective compulsion, it is obvious that it must foe adopted. It has been said that by sending more men overseas many of our industries, possibly agriculture, will be more or less interfered with. We cannot have our cake and eat it, but we must win this war. We cannot send our men over there and have them here. No man can be in two places at the same time. But there are still a great number of young men in this country, who can very well be spared. Every hon. gentleman in this House knows, in his own daily life, that thousands of men are going about the cities, to places of entertainment and amusement who could be spared, and there is no reason why a sufficient number of

these men should not be sent. The provisions of this Bill are just and humane. Compare them to the lottery system, or the ballot system of the Militia Act, and they are vastly superior to it. As the Prime Minister has said and elaborated over and over again, the Government is only too willing to receive, and fully consider any and all amendments suggested, the idea being to make the burden of selective conscription as unoppressive as it is possible to make it, having regard to the object to be accomplished.

Perhaps it would foe labouring an argument if I should refer to the power of Par-ment either to pass this Act and to put it into operation or to send men overseas under the present Militia Act. But what could be more plain and explicit than the statement made by the leader of the Government in this connection, and the section of the Act which he quoted to the House? Section 69 of the Militia Act, chapter 41 of the Revised Statutes of Canada, provides:-

The Governor In Council may place the Militia, or any part thereof, on active service anywhere in Canada, and also beyond Canada for the defence thereof at any time when It appears advisable so to do by reason of emergency.

No doubt the leader of the Opposition recollects what took place when that section was enacted. The then Minister of Justice, as reported on page 8083 of Hansard of 1904, made it abundantly clear that under that section the Governor General in Council might send the Canadian militia overseas- say, to India-if in his opinion such a course was necessary. Let me, for the benefit of my friends from Quebec, whom my right hon. friend leads and represents, be reminiscent for a moment. My right hon. friend recollects the condition and history of the old militia of Canada. In 1649 a body of militia, consisting of about 50 men, existed for the protection of the settlers of t'he colony which is now Canada against the attacks of the Iroquois Indians. The population of the colony at that time was only 1,000. From that day to this we have had a constantly expanding militia, always 'available for service. In no place was that militia stronger or more willing to be called out than in Quebec; nor in any place did it give better service. The right hon. gentleman knows that at the time of the siege of Quebec, in 1775, the day was largely saved by his own compatriots, the French Canadian militia. In the war of 1812-14 we had an army of 41,000 or 42,000 troops, including about 13,000 British soldiers. I have no desire, especially in view


William F. Carroll


Mr. W. F. CARROLL (South Cape Breton):

Mr. Speaker, a great many speeches have [DOT]been made on the subject which is now before the House, and much information has been given to hon. gentlemen and to the country on the question which we hjive been deliberating for the last fortnight or so. I shall detain the House only a very few moments with what I have to say, and I do not expect to add very much that is new to the debate.

Since August 1914. Canada has been participating in the greatest war with which this earth has been stricken. Personally,

I do not care whether Canada's participation in this war has been for England or with England, whether our participation has been as one of the Allies or as part of one of the Allies. As a matter of fact, Canada has been fighting for human Justice, human liberty, and for democracy and the free peoples of the world. In the session of August, 1914, no voice was raised against Canada's participation in this war. We met

in the House of Commons a united Parliament, and we voted all the money that was required for Canada's participation in this war. Throughout the length and breadth of this land we were a united people. From north to south and east to west not a voice was raised against Canada's participation in the war, with perhaps the exception of a small section of the people of the province of Quebec, and I dp not wish to say anything about the Nationalists, .because they are entitled to their opinion, and must answer to their own conscience.

It is for that reason that, since the war began, I have done my humble bit to assist Canada in her participation in this struggle. Canada has done nobly under the voluntary system of recruiting and Canada's public men have done nobly in voting supplies to carry these men along. The time has now come when the people are told that voluntary enlistment has proved a failure. I do not think that is a fair way of putting it. When Canada, with a population of a little over 7,000,000 has contributed over 425,000 of her best to the cause of war I do not think that it can be truly said that voluntary enlistment has been a failure. I am not arguing for voluntary enlistment. It is true that voluntary enlistment at the present time is not as great as it was at the beginning of the war. It is but natural that having contributed over 425,000 men to this war, voluntary enlistment should be a little on the wane. It is not quite fair to the people of Canada to say that this sort of enlistment has proved a failure.

The question however, is as to whether we shall have to resort to conscription of the man power of Canada or whether we shall confine our efforts to the system which we have followed during the past two and a half years. Is it possible for the Government, the Parliament and people of Canada to so utilize the voluntary system of enlistment as to provide for the reinforcement of our boys at the front? Thus wre are at the parting of the ways. The Prime Minister when he brought down his Bill, told us that in his opinion, and in the opinion of the Government, we must resort to conscription. To the people of Canada, as to all British peoples, the word " conscription " has in the past had rather a bad odour. A lot of objections that are raised to the Bill before the House are due to that fact. If it is proven to the people that in order to provide proper reinforcements and reserves for the Canadians in the trenches we must resort to

conscription, I believe that people will forget the meaning which the word " conscription " has had for them in the past and will support the Bill.

But the question further arises as to whether or not there is sufficient before the House to inform us as to whether we must resort to conscription or not. I am not speaking for Canada; I do not know what has transpired in any of the other provinces, in the West, Ontario, or Quebec, beyond the fact that we have a general knowledge as to the number of men who have been enlisted in those provinces. But I have a fairly accurate idea of what did transpire in the province of Nova Scotia in regard to enlistment. We have raised a considerable- number of men in Nova Scotia, and every regiment, battalion and draft authorized by this Government to be raised in Nova Scotia was raised and its ranks filled to overflowing by voluntary enlistment. We have raised the 64th, 25th, 107th, 112th, 85th, 185th, 193rd and 219th battalions, and we have also provided the 17th and 36th Field batteries. We have also contributed battalions which were raised in other paTts of the province and with which I am not so familiar. We have also contributed, perhaps more than any other province, corps of tunnellers because in Nova Scotia we had an immense number of miners who were anxious to enlist and they enlisted as tunnellers. We have also recruited a forestry battalion. I am not saying that Nova Scotia has done its full share but the point I am making with respect to Nova Scotia is that no battalion, battery or draft was authorized but whose ranks were filled to overflowing under voluntary enlistment. I do not know what has happened in the other provinces.

It is true that Quebec has not done her share. There is no need of mincing matters; I say that Quebec has not done her share. I am not going to give any reasons and I am not going to talk about the reasons that were given in this House for her not doing her share. The fact stands out boldly and prominently that she has not contributed to the overseas forces of Canada what she should have. But, as I have already said, there are no facts which can be stated in this House to show that the voluntary system has been a failure in Nova Scotia. Within the year drafts were asked for to reinforce the Highland brigade, the 146th Battalion and the 36th Battery, the last of whicn went from the constituency which I represent. Drafts were asked for the 17th Battery, whose

headquarters is also in the constituency which I represent. These drafts that were asked were not only supplied but the ranks were filled to overflowing and hundreds of young men were sent away. You may ask me for some testimony along that line. I picked up a paper from my riding a few days ago, the Sydney Post of June 26, and this is what it says regarding one of these artillery drafts:

The dratt depot at Sydney now has about forty men and about ten more are wanted to make up the complement. Lieut. Yetman told the reporter this morning that he was turning men down practically every day who were approaching him with a view to enlistment. Twelve young men from Glace Bay offered themselves for the battery yesterday, but owing to the fact that recruiting for the battery has been officially stopped they were not accepted.

I am not finding fault with the Government for having stopped recruiting for siege batteries or artillery because I understand there are sufficient recruits. But I do not think that these young men who came forward to enlist in the artillery would not enlist in any other branch of the service if there was an opportunity of doing so. There is a question too as to whether or not recruiting has been called off. I really think it is due to the people of Canada that the Prime Minister, for whom I have every regard as a Nova Scotian and as a big man, should in some way counteract the effect which the speech of the late Minister of Militia and Defence (Sir Sam Hughes) had when he spoke of the stoppage of recruiting in this country.


George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)


My hon. friend may not have been here, but even if he was not it remains the fact that, when that question was raised a day or two ago, the right hon. leader of the Government (Sir Robert Borden) gave an unqualified denial to the statement or implication that he had ever called down recruiting or had in any way tried to retard it. That is on Hansard.


William F. Carroll



I was in the House when that statement was made. I would, of course, accept the word of the Prime Minister as readily as I would that of the ex-Minister of Militia and Defence. But the fact that the ex-Minister of Militia produced in this House a private and confidential letter by which he said he could prove his contention in the matter, has been a factor in making the people of this country believe that there was something in the statement that recruiting had been stopped. As a matter of fact, recruiting was stopped

in some portions of this country-and I am not finding fault with the Government for having taken that course. Public recruiting meetings were forbidden in my native town and in the mining districts over a year ago. When recruiting for the 185th Battalion, we were never allowed to hold recruiting meetings in the mining districts; I daresay for good and sufficient reasons.


George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)


Hear, hear.


William F. Carroll



But, nevertheless, we had no difficulty in filling up the ranks, and when we hear hon. gentlemen speaking about slackers walking our streets, let me say that the recruiting for the 185th Battalion was done principally by personal canvass, and I had something to do with it; and I never approached a man with the object of having him enlist in that battalion or any other battalion being formed down there, who I thought should go, who refused to go. That is, I have never met a slacker in the county of Cape Breton. I have no doubt in the world that there are people in that county and in the Island who should be at the front and who are not there; but, so far as my personal experience is concerned, I have not met a slacker, because I have asked no man to go who refused to go. Of course, I was very careful to ask only men who I thought could go, and would go if the case was properly presented to them.

How am I to come to the conclusion that voluntary enlistment has been a failure in this country? I do not know. It has not been a failure in Nova Scotia, and I am willing to say that that province will supply by voluntary enlistment every man necessary for reinforcements for the battalions which it now has at the front. I have no doubt about that in the world. Many of these battalions went to reinforce battalions from other provinces. About that I have nothing to say; it was necessary and proper, and had to be done. 'So far as Nova Scotia is concerned, I do not think we shall have the least trouble in replenishing the broken ranks of our battalions at the front by voluntary enlistment. We have proved that in the past. The conditions may be different in other parts of Canada, but I have no doubt in the woTld of the truth of my statement. If I have a suggestion to make it is that I believe that if the proposition is placed before the provinces today to supply reinforcements by voluntary enlistment, it will be done without the assistance of this Bill. My friends will say: well, Quebec will not do her share. Well,

leave Quebec out in the cold. I understand that she only has two battalions at the front. Surely the people of Quebec are proud enough and noble enough and true enough to their traditions and to the traditions of the British people to replenish the two battalions which they have at the front. I am sure that the people of the other provinces are. I think that this suggestion, even coming from a humble member of this House, is worthy of consideration, whether this Bill goes through or not. The fact is that we are only looking for reinforcements; we are, I understand, going to place no further divisions in the field. We have four divisions there now. As a matter of fact, we have four and practically one-half of another division, the fifth division. There has been no intimation from the Government whether that division is going to be authorized. But there was ait least the basis of a division, and those men went to France before Vimy Ridge and fought there as a unit. That is a proposal which I think is worthy of some consideration, that whether this Bill goes through or not, each of the provinces be asked to supply by voluntary recruiting the reinforcements which are necessary to keep up its battalions at the front.

At six o'clock the House took recess.

After Recess.

The House resumed at eight o'clock. PRIVATE BILLS.



Bill No. 76, for the relief of George Walter Sherald Garrett.-Mr. Fripp. Bill No. 77, fo-r the relief of Gertrude Ellen Beal.-Mr. Northrup. Bill No. 78, for the relief of Donald George Whibley.-Mr. Fripp. Bill No. 79, respecting a patent of Ernest Mead Baker.-Mr. Robb. Bill No. 81, respecting a patent of James B. Ring and others.-Mr. Mocdonell. Bill No. 88, for the relief of George Maisey. Mr. Wilcox Bill No-. 89, for the relief of Herbert Featherstone Conover.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 87, respecting the Empire Life Insurance Company of Canada.-Mr. Mac-don ell. Bill No. 90, respecting The Security Life Insurance Company of Canada.-Mr. Mac-donell. Bill No. 60, respecting The Essex Terminal Railway Company.-Mr. Wilcox. Bill No. 32, to incorporate The Cascade Scenic Railway Company-Mr. Morphy. Bill No. 93, to incorporate The Kenora and English River Railway Company.-Mr. Carrick.


Bill No. 96, to incorporate Dominion Good Roads Association.-Mr. Achim. Bill No. 105, to incorporate the English Valley and Hudson Bay Railway Company. -Mr. Webster. Bill No. 106, for the relief of Rozilla Lamb.-Mr. Douglas. Bill No. 104, respecting the Vancouver Life Insurance Company.-Mr. Stevens.




William F. Carroll


Mr. W. F. CARROLL (South Cape Breton) (resuming):

Mr. Speaker, before the House rose at six o'clock, I was endeavouring to point out that in at least some portions of the country the voluntary system had not proved a failure. The Prime Minister, in introducing this Bill, said that for the year ending May, 1917, the number of enlistments in this country was 85,306 and the number of casualties, 75,000, so that in the past year "there were over 10,000 more enlistments than there were casualties, and this is not taking into consideration the fact that a large proportion of those who come under the head of casualties would return to the front as effective soldiers. If the statement of the Prime Minister that during the next seven months we require 70,000 men to reinforce the four divisions at the front is correct, we have not lately been securing a suffiici-ent number of men to fill the bill. Every hon. member who cites figures as to the number of men we have in England and in Canada, I am sure, desires to give correct information to the House. This afternoon, the hon. member for South Toronto (Mr. Macdonell) said that out of the 126,241 men in England at the present time, only 28,000 were effectives. I know that the hon. member did not wish to mislead the House in that regard. What the Minister of Militia did say was that out of the 126,241 men in England, there were only 28,000 who were at the present time in a condition to go to the front. That does not mean that the balance of the men are not effectives. Reading over the list as presented to the House, I find that only 150 of the 126,241 men in England are termed as non-effectives; that is, that they are good for no branch of the

well to explain my position more fully. I was very proud the other day as 9 p.m. a representative of the county of Wellington, to hear the splendid speech of my respected friend the member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie), and I have received a great many letters from impartial persons complimenting my hon. friend on his patriotic stand on this measure. Much as I have always respected him, I felt, at the conclusion of his address, like rising and giving him the most hearty applause I was capable of giving.

No man can find fault with the results that have been obtained under the system of voluntary enlistment. I remember quite well in the spring of 1914, before the war broke out, attending a large gathering in the city of Toronto under the auspices of the 48th Highlanders, a battalion now nearly altogether extinct, and I heard the exMinister of Militia deliver an address in which he stated that it would he possible for him to secure, equip and land in England, in case of war, a force of 20,000 soldiers. A ripple of laughter passed among his officers, and I think that very few believed that this was a possibility. But when the war broke out, we know what was accomplished under the guidance of that same gentleman, in six weeks. Since that time, under the voluntary system, throughout all Canada-and I am not here to criticise any one but to help in every way possible the winning of the war-the voluntary system of enlistment has produced the huge number of 425,000 soldiers. That is the kind of enlistment we like, that is what we were all so proud of, and that is what has placed this Dominion of Canada and this Parliament in the sun. We should be delighted if we could be sure that it was still possible, under voluntary enlistment, to procure the necessary number of soldiers to provide the required reinforcements to maintain our divisions now fighting in the great allied cause. But we know that that is not a possibility; we know from the figures that have been presented to us from time to time, from the figures read here this afternoon by the hon. member for South Toronto (Mr. Macdonell), that this condition no longer prevails.

The people throughout the Dominion of Canada are very anxious to>

be assured that some arrangement will be made, so that sufficient reinforcements will be sent over to supply the deficiency in the ranks of our *men at the front. Referring to this Military Service Bill, I may say that they have Tiad for many long years a compulsory ser-tW. A. Clarke. 1

vice law in France. The great statesmen of England found it necessary to enact a similar law, and the great statesmen of the United States, profiting by our experience, or inexperience as the case may he, the moment war was declared enacted a law similar to the measure now before the House. That ought to he sufficient to justify our passing this measure. And if it be not sufficient, I would go still further and say that, after having listened to this debate for the last two weeks, having heard the leading statesmen on both sides declaring themselves in favour of this measure, and opposed to anything in the shape of a referendum, or anything else that would prevent us taking immediate action, 1 am convinced that we are adopting the right course.

I suppose it would be right for me to state my views in reference to a referendum.

I think it is an utter impossibility to have a referendum which would satisfy the people of this country.. Our men who have gone to the front-at least the remnants of them-at the present time are in such a position that they are not thinking of refer-endums, elections, or anything of that kind, and are not in a position to cast their votes. In my opinion, a referendum at the present time would be the most unfair and unjust thing that could possibly be presented to the people. Some have taken exception to this Bill because of the exemptions. As I understand it, certain classes, by reason of former legislation, are supposed, or considered, to be exempt from military service. I refer to the1 Doukhobors, Mennonites and others. Many people residing in Canada, and exercising the franchise at the present time, are possibly more objectionable than either of these classes. I know nothing about the DoukhoborS', but I know something about the Mennonites. In Wellington and Waterloo counties we have a great number of these people. As the hon. member from Waterloo statqd last night, they are a quiet, inoffensive, and ' prosperous people. They do not molest anybody, but simply attend to their duties as farmers. They entered this country under an agreement that they would not be called upon to fight the battles of the country. If that agreement holds good now I would have no objection to their still retaining the franchise. On the other hand, throughout the whole Dominion, we have very many foreigners of all kinds, and if we are to pass a measure excluding such foreigners from the right of franchise I would like to make the measure a sweeping cne, and ex-

elude every one except real British subjects, and including, of course, in the franchise these Mennonites and some others who came to Canada under a guarantee that they should not be called on to bear arms. After all, it appears to me that the House of Commons is a kind of select conscription itself. We are all elected as members of the House of Commons to represent different constituencies from all over the Dominion. We come here individually, if I understand aright, and take our oath that we will be loyal to our King and country. We have certain responsibilities, and I think it is up to each of us to ask himself whether he has done what he considers right, in the interest of the Empire to which we are so proud to belong. I should like to have all the members of the House come together, and conclude that they have a common cause. Let them get behind our chief, Sir Robert Borden, and show their sympathy, cease indulging in so much unnecessary and unwarranted criticism and pass this Bill. The hon. gentleman from Cape Breton (Mr. Carroll) said he did not think there would be any difficulty in securing men from any part of Nova Scotia, and that we should be able to -secure sufficient recruits from the different provinces to make up the 500,000 men, the quota justly due from Canada. In my opinion that would be the correct thing to do. We could raise them hurriedly and get them in the fighting line, to relieve those who are new in the trenches. I think, by action of that kind, we will be maintaining the glory of the fair Dominion, and as a Parliament doing all that- is expected from us.


Joseph Arthur Calixte Éthier


Mr. J. A. C. ETHIER (Two Mountains) (Translation):

Mr. Speaker, it has been said, in the course of this debate, that members of Parliament often have two different conceptions of the part they must act in the performance of their mandate; some are guided or influenced solely by their constituents, restricted outlook, the others by larger principles based upon the people's expression of opinion concerning the measures submitted to Parliament.

In the case now before us, I am sure that I represent the idea and the wishes of the county of Two Mountains, in particular and of the majority of the voters of the province of Quebec, but also, and I do believe it and sincere!v assert it, the sentiments of the Canadian people of the whole Dominion. All of us, we have a common goal, the Allies' success and the crushing of the Huns; w.e only differ as to the

means Canada should adopj; in order to secure final victory.

The moment is too solemn to let it pass unperceived; that is why I believe it my duty to participate in this debate and to

expose to my electors and to my country the attitude I propose taking. I have not the pretension, Mr. Speaker, to furnish any new argument after the long and judicious list of those already set forth against the conscription Bill and in favour of the referendum now under consideration. I simply desire to protest as strongly as I can and with the utmost energy against the adoption and the enforcement of this ill-boding, autocratic anld antidemocratic bill; I do not want to lay the blame upon any of the provinces of the Dominion, or upon the result of voluntary recruitment, but I shall say, in spite of all that has been stated, the province of Quebec has done her duty. Neither am I of those who claim that we owe nothing to England or that we have -done too much, but I do believe that we have done enough and that conscriptioln destroys o(ur autonomy, !re-moves our liberty and leads us to ruin. I will not undertake to discuss the legal and constitutional principle of the proposed law.

The hon. leader c-f the Opposition, and after him, the hon. members for Rouville and for Kamouraska, among others, have demonstrated, without ambiguity and without sophistry, that our Militia Act, since its origin in 1808 up to that of Sir George Etienne Cartier in 1868, completed by that of -Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 1904, has never contained any provision authorizing and permitting the sending of our militiamen beyond the ocean and beyond the frontier for other motives than the defence in case of invasion.

And, should the terms of the Cartier Act have given rise to any false interpretation in the sense of permitting the sending of our troops beyond the sea, the Laurier law of 1904 put an end to it by explicitly decreeing that' the Canadian troops cannot be sent outside of Canada except for the defence thereof.

Mr. Speaker, under such an important circumstance for the future of Canada, it has again been attempted, as in 1896 and in 1911, to play a double game and to misrepresent the facts and actions, the conduct and the sincere and honest statements of the venerable and venerated leader of the Opposition, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, as published by the Daily Telegraph of Quebec, on June 12 instant, in an article entitled:

tion: (1) the organization of local tribunals; (2) appeal tribunals, and (3) a central appeal judge, as section 11 prescribes and gives the grounds of exemption from compulsory military service and reads as follows: Section 11 of the Bill:


11. (1) At any time before a date to be fixed in the proclamation mentioned in section four, an application may be made, by or in respect of any man in the class or subclass called out by such proclamation to a local tribunal established in the province in which such man ordinarily resides, for a certificate of exemption on any of the following grounds:

(a) 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;

(b) 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 wishes to be engaged and for which he has special qualifications ;

(c) That it is expedient in the national interest that, instead of being employed in military service, he should continue to be educated or trained for any work for which he is then being educated or trained;

(d) That serious hardship would ensue, if the man were placed on active service, owing to his exceptional financial or business obligations or domestic position;

(e) 111 health or infirmity;

(f) That he conscientiously objects to the undertaking of combatant service and is prohibited from so doing by the tenets and articles of faith, in effect at the date of the passing of this Act, of any organized religious denomination existing and well recognized in Canada at such date, and to which he in good faith belongs ;

and if any of the grounds of such application be established, a certificate of exemption shall be granted to such man.

The hon. Minister of Labour, the other day took to task the hon. member for Edmonton, as well as the hon. members opposed to this Bill, for being content with criticising its principle without suggesting any remedy to improve the situation. I have not the required authority to give advice to the right hon. Prime Minister, in so serious a matter; but I will take the liberty of giving my personal opinion. In the first place, I am against any compulsory military service under whatever shape or manner it may be presented, against any coalition movement at the present time, and against the extension of Parliament; and if military conscription must be imposed, it should be general and be applied to all men having the required age and fitness for service, without any exception or exemption. It should be proportioned to the population of each province, divided into districts.

Every citizen called into military service should be so conscripted by drawing lots; and, in this manner, the rich

as well as the poor man, 'millionaire and Labourer, professional land workingman, Catholic priest and Protestant minister; in a word, .all the naturalized or British-horn subjects would contribute in a just and fair measure to fill the raster of the Canadian army.

Why have selective conscription? Would the object be to protect a certain class of society to the other's prejudice, and

these local .and appeal tribunals which the law requires, will they not be in the hands ia.nd at the discretion of Government dependents and ia source of injustice and of favouritism for the benefit of a few .and to the detriment of the .great majority of the people? If only the Act provided under what delay the appeal should be made and decided, but no, the term is indefinite, and provided one has the cash and is in a position to retain the services of an able and cunning lawyer, of the Conservative party, 'to suspend the local tribunal's decision and maintain the appeal in abeyance until the war is over, and the trick will be played.

Here is wherein I find that, in its very application, .this Act is unjust, besides being unconstitutional. And even admitting for the sake of that conscription had become necessary, wlhy ito-diay rather than wlhen war was declared? Would it foe because the Prime Minister had, on January 1, 1915, in a moment of imperialistic enthusiasm or .aberration, on his own responsibility, sent the Canadian people fois New Year's best wishes and as a gift, the promise made to England of sending her 500,000 men?

The Parliament land the Canadian people .are nowise bound by this inconsiderate and irrational declaration. And have not the Prime Minister himself and fois ministers, from August 4, until May 18, 1917,

stated that conscription would never be decreed? Has he not openly asserted, to obtain, 'in 1916, the extension of Parliament, and to induce 'the Canadian people ito 'answer the insidious and deceitful list of question's of the National Service caTds, that the present Act would never be introduced into Parliament?

The soldiers at the front, says the Prime Minister, ask for reinforcements, the (Canadian 'army's rosters must be filled. I have promised 500,000 men, I need 100,000 more, says he, to make good our aid to England and the promise I made to her, I must have conscription, compulsory military service.

Would it not be on the part of the Government a simple political manoeuvre? I .am prone to believe it in view of the state-

ment made by (the Colonial Secretary, Mr. Long, published by the Associated Press of June 21 inst., and which reads as follows:

London, June 21.-The Canadian Associated Press is authorized to say that the attention of Honourable Walter Long, Colonial Secretary, having been called to a suggestion in newspaper despatches that Sir Robert Borden had proposed conscription in Canada because he was urged to do so in the Imperial War Cabinet, he states there is not the smallest foundation for the suggestion that Premier Borden was urged to introduce conscription either in the Imperial War Cabinet or the conference. The matter was never even mentioned and the last thing the members of the home government would do is to interfere in the matter which is entirely one for Canada. Mr. Long further adds he saw Sir Robert Borden frequently up to the last day he was here and had no idea when he left he was going to propose the introduction of conscription on his return to Canada.

What happened then to the Prime Minister on returning to Canada? Did the spectre of general elections so distract him as to imagine the conscription of blood for the elections, as stated by the hon. member for Rouville?

Mr. Speaker, the reason of that promise of 500,000 men is nothing but a pretext.

But, from all that has been said and written upon the subject, one might conclude that conscription had become necessary to punish the province of Quebec, by pretending she has not done her duty through voluntary recruitment, and I would call this conscription, the conscription of racial and religious prejudices exacted by some Ontario jingoes who, to serve their hatred for everything that is French Canadian and Catholic, do not even hesitate to endanger the fabric of Confedertion and the national unity.

I find evidence of this in the statement of the hon. member for North York, who had the audacity to proclaim from the floor of this House, and before the whole country, that he would be ready to break the Confederation compact and to tear its pages, in order to attain his own ends; such language is worthy of the Huns who have mutilated, plundered and devastated heroic Belgium, in spite of international treaties and agreements and the law of nations. I also find the same evidence in the abusive, insulting and -scurrilous speech of the member for Parry Sound against the French Canadians.

And it is after such indulging in such outrageous references, not to say more, that they join in saying that the province of Quebec has not done her full duty.

It is also with sentences like the following that they believe the province of Que-

bee is going to submit without protest and to uselessly sacrifice herself. The French Canadian paember-s must have received under envelope, post-paid and through His Majesty's postal service, the gratuitious and anonymous insult upon card-board, to wit:

"War Cry: No priest of the Church of

Rome shall levy any tax, tithe or toll in any of His Britannic Majesty's Dominions."

Can there be anything baser, more vile and a more outrageous affront cast in the face of the whole Catholic population of the Dominion? And that is the war cry of these people who are crying everywhere "Win the war." If it is with that infamous motto they believe in promoting recruitment in the province of Quebec, they are greatly mistaken.

I will cite another example on the same lines, published in La Patrie of June 20 instant. The Anglican Synod of Huron, after an address by Bishop Williams, has immediately adopted, yesterday, a resolution endorsing any selective conscription measure and demanding that it be put into operation as soon as possible. In his speech, Bishop Williams proposed that the Government undertake, if necessary, the task of enforcing compulsory service among the French Canadians.

"Should the rest of Canada, in their policy, submit to the domination of the faltering province of Quebec"? asked the bishop.

And to go still further, when- every one in this House is striving-and I believe they are all honest about it-when every one is striving, do I say, to try and draw closer the ties that should unite us, on the eve of Confederation's fiftieth anniversary, whilst large preparations are being made throughout the country to duly celebrate that compact of 1867; here in the city of Ottawa, in the capital of the Dominion, we have a new-spaper, taking advantage of the position it occupies in- the press gallery, through its representative, to publish this evening, in the Journal, two pictures, illustrative of yesterday's debate: The picture of Mr. Alphonse Verville, M.P., and that of Mr. W. Weichel, M.P., with the following headline: "A French Canadian and a German Canadian."

On one side, below the picture of the hon. member for Maissoneuve (Mr. Verville) as a heading: "The Threat; I say that organized labour will do all it can against conscription. I want this House and the people of this country to know what that means; it means a general strike." On the other side, under the picture of the

hon. member for North Waterloo (Mr. Weichel), as a heading: "The reply; suppose the boys in the trenches organized a strike, and refused to fight because we refused to send them help? They want their representatives to stand up in a manly way and not support-shall I call it sedition"? No comments. On the one hand, the threat, do they insinuate.

The hon. member for Maisonneuve makes no threat in the remarks he makes as labour representative. He simply states, he simply gives an advice and a notice to the Prime Minister and to his Government; he notifies them that a strike may perhaps ensue, and in so doing, the member for Maisonneuve is faithful to his traditions, to the traditions of his family, of his race and of his origin.

'The German Canadian on the other side of the House, who has just been commenting upon the remarks of the hon. member for Maisonneuve as bordering upon sedition, has, by that very statement, foresworn his ancestry.

To the man who betrays his origin and his ancestry I prefer the man who loves the land of his forefathers and its traditions.

Happily, Sir, among Anglo-Saxons there are to be found fair, impartial, broadminded1 men who have vindicated the honour and loyalty of the French Canadians. And to tlhe demagogues whose dangerous-outbursts I have just referred to, let me quote the suggestion and sound advice given by the Reverend Johnson, who has protested, in a sermon delivered in the American Presbyterian Church at Montreal, against the campaign of vituperation and abuse carried on by our fellow-citizens of Ontario against the .province of Quebec:

Invectives and insults do not make for the maintenance of peace between the two races which compose the large majority of the people of Canada; on the contrary, an honest and sympathetic endeavour on the part of every member of the community to understand the feelings and ideals of his fellow-citizen is much more conducive to peace. For us now is the opportune time of recalling to mind the splendid history of Quebec, the bravery of her pioneers, the self-sacrifice of her first missionaries. Let the press and the clergy of Ontario put forth a serious effort to understand their Frenchspeaking fellow-countrymen and they will thereby do more good than by exhibiting such a spirit as they are now displaying.

I should like to put on Hansard .an expression of opinion from Mr. A. P. Willi-s, president of the large piano manufacturing concern. On the 27-th instant (he said:

As most of our employees are French Canadians, I happen to know better than any one else the good feelings and the loyalty of the

French Canadians. To those feelings of loyalty Sir Wilfrid Laurier himself gave expression the other day, at Ottawa, before Mr. Balfour, when he said: -

"The hearty welcome extended to Mr. Balfour, especially in this country, is not due alone to his great name and personality, but is associated with an even greater name, the name of England, the champion of liberty, the mother of living nations. All misunderstandings will disappear and Canadians, irrespective of their origin, English, French, Irish or Scotch, all Canadians, I say, will forget that they did not' entertain the same opinion during the war. I know well the French Canadians.

I know that they belong to a noble and proud race, and it would be an egregious mistake to believe that the war is going to set them at variance with their English-speaking fellow-countrymen.

I should not even be surprised if, during the present war, we were to witness the alliance, the entente cordiale of the two great races which live in this country. For that purpose what is wanted is a great man who would spring up from the crowd and who would give it to understand to all Canadians that they are all equal, that they are here to stay and therefore they have to understand one another.

And should we fail to find that man who will unite us during the war, we shall find, when peace is concluded, a common ground of understanding. Our French Canadian soldiers as well as our English Canadian soldiers, when they return from the battlefields, covered with glory, will co-operate with us and have us understand that those who did not go to war ought to be as united as those who have fought the battles of their country.

This frank and sincere statement formally gives -the lie to the threats uttered by the Prime Minister, to the effect that, after the war, when the soldiers return to Canada, with fierce resentment and even rage in their hearts, they would resort to reprisals, if the required reinforcements for filling the gaps in their ranks be not forthcoming; in short, if the Conscription Bill were not passed.

Yes, Sir, we are loyal to the British Crown; we are just as loyal as are the Australian people who, for all that, rejected conscription; we are just as loyal, as those colonels and lieutenant-colonels who were created and ushered into the military world under the regime of the former Minister of Militia (Sir Sam Hughes), and who are now strutting about in the King's uniform, and parading through the streets of Ottawa, Montreal and London, and drawing, without fighting, or working, a pay which might best toe devoted to the pay of our brave soldiers who are fighting at the front and in the trenches.

Was the province of Quebec disloyal when she raised 20,000 recruits and sent her -most gallant son-s to the firing line, as a contribution to the war which the Mother Country and the Allies are waging?

Did the province of Quebec prove disloyal when, at the inception of the war, she sent to the Allies, through the medium of her Prime Minister, Sir Lomer Gouin, $1,000,000 worth of cheese; when her towns and cities provided for and defrayed the cost of 1,300 beds for the wounded soldiers in the hospital at St. Cloud; when she sent cargoes of linen and clothes for the relief of our soldiers and for the martyrs of Belgium, through the medium of the committee "Prance-Amerique"; when she subscribed millions of dollars to the Patriotic Fund; when she procured for the Red Cross her best doctors, field hospital orderlies and her generous and heroic nurses? No, Sir, the French Canadian's heart is in the right place; and to him the motto of former days, "I remember," is no empty word, no mere catchword.

We have been branded as slackers by Ontario newspapers. Happily, that cowardly cry has been re-echoed nowhere else than in the mind of that pack of snarlers, and here again we have found' a champion in the person of an eminent newspaper man of Toronto, who, by the way, is recognized as a warm consoriptionist, and who could not forbear from protesting against the unwarranted campaign of vituperation and abuse carried on against the province of Quebec. On June 20, he expressed himself at Niagara Falls as follows;

Above all considerations which demand that ignoble partisanship should be checked, bayoneted and buried stands the necessity of keeping the door open to harmony when the war is over. To make of the war in the Flanders a prelude to the war in Canada would be the most disastrous issue in Canadian history. It were folly to smile when one hears of civil war from the very people who were living in discord before the war started and fostering a race antagonism which is contrary to the larger development of the British ideal.- Unfortunately, sooner or later war brings to the surface difficulties which heretofore had given rise to irritation and friction.

True, the change of heart of the Prime Minister in favour of conscription did precipitate a crisis which is more widespread and more intense in Quebec than in the other provinces and the utmost anxiety as to the complete mobilization of man-power is felt on account of Quebec.

With regard to that state of things, it is necessary to keep in sight certain considerations appealing to our dignity and patriotism.

1. The Prime Minister himself has proposed conscription only after having paid a visit to the scene of war and having received such information as are wanting to his fellow-countrymen.

2. The knowing ones who have endorsed the views of the cpnscriptionists ought to he wise enough not to denounce as disloyal the man who takes an attitude adopted by themselves, not so very long ago.

3. The Government has carried on no education campaign in Quebec, altbcugh it had become evident, from the very outset, that matters were decidedly taking an undesirable turn.

4. At the last general elections in Quebec,

the leaders of the present Administration encouraged a campaign in that province which gave the Prime Minister now in power twenty followers, and in which the people were warned that a day should come when they would be conscripted to go and light the battles of England. The Government now want to conscript those citizens for a war in which the Canadian army has been placed under the command of English generals whose nomination is in no way under the control of Canada and about whom we know very little, as shown by the facts in connection with the resignation of air Julian Byng. In Quebec they say: "We are

only colonials fighting for England, our men being in the British army without Canada having its say in the matter and without being able to reach the men who may culpably sacrifice Canadian lives."

6. The assurance given by the Prime Minister to the hierarchy and to the labour leaders that the National Service cards were not meant to lead to conscription nor to the introduction of a conscription measure without the people being consulted.

The failure in certain English-speaking districts to have an enlistment in proportion to the number of available men makes it desirable that Ontario should deal with Ontario before devoting her attentions to a neighbouring province. When the Ontario-born shall have supplied as many men for the defence of Ontario as the British-born have supplied to Ontario and when the thousands of Ontario slackers who, according to the statements made by the Government have gone over to the United States, shall have been brought back to Canada, it may then perhaps be more reasonable to throw out insinuations against Quebec.

The fact which Ontario should consider is that for a whole year voluntary recruiting has been a failure, and that the Government is responsible for it.

No, Sir, the French Canadians are no slackers; and a proof conclusive, if proof were needed, is their attitude in December and January last, when the National Service was created. Neither did the clergy of the province of Quebec prove recreant to their duty, for they have taken the lead in that connection, as witness the following letter sent out 'by His Grace the Archbishop of Montreal, which I wish to put on Hansard :

Archbishop's Palace,

January 3, 1917.

Dearly beloved Brethren:

The newspapers have already informed you of the direction which we felt we should give to the clergy and members of the various religious institutes of our diocese, in regard to the question styled " The National Service."

We wish to give you the same direction, convinced that, in taking this line of conduct, we are acting in the best interests of our entire population. " This is not a question of politics." Nor is it either a question of conscription. For weighty and very wise reasons,

which have been approved by eminent men, independent of all parties, the Government wishes to make, as is were, an inventory of all the forces, of all- the resources which our country can command, from a commercial, agricultural and industrial standpoint.

The information which the Government solicits will be of great service during the war; it will be available after the war is over. For this reason a certain number of questions are put to citizens between the ages of sixteen and sixty-five. It is highly fitting that we should answer them. The answers from the country and cities will give an idea of family and social conditions in our province of Quebec which will redound to our credit. You will write these answers, very dear brethren, in all liberty, sincerely and loyally.

It is not necessary to ask yourselves what will be done in other parts of the country.

Let us set an example. Let us prove that we are actuated by an enlightened patriotism, and conformably to the teaching and traditions of the Catholic Church. Let us show respectful deference towards the civil authority within its rights.

Confident, my dear brethren, that you will fully follow our counsel, we reiterate the assurance of our affection and devotion.

(Signed) Paul, Archbishop of Montreal.

Archbishop's Palace, January 3, 1917.

Is that the language of a slacker, of a disloyal man? The slackers, the impostors are those members of the Administration who did not scruple to deceive the Canadian hierarchy by inducing them, under false representations, to issue such a letter.

Now, what we have done in this war, to quote the words uttered by Sir Wilfrid Laurier on May 12, as recorded in Hansard:

What we have done, we have done for the cause of freedom, that cause for which France has already borne such a heavy burden and made such heavy sacrifices. I am proud to say to Mr. Viviani that what we have done we have done willingly, freely, voluntarily, and through no sense of compulsion. It was, indeed, the belief in many parts of the old world where the virtue of British institutions was not understood, that as soon as England became engaged in a war the result would be very different from what actually happened when this war broke out. It was the calculation of the German Emperor, of the German militarists, and of the German people, that if England became engaged in a war there would forthwith be civil war in Ireland, insurrection in India, and the British colonies would seize the opportunity to sever their connection with the Mother Country. Sir, we are not surprised that those views were entertained in Germany, because the German people have never understood the spirit of liberty. Contrary to all their calculations this paradox of an empire of free peoples has become a living thing under British institutions.

Mr. Viviani has also expressed to us the thanks and gratitude of the French people for the part borne by our soldiers on the battlefield.

That testimony of gratitude we accept; we accept it for our noble boys who have done their part in a manner to do credit to themselves and bring glory to their country. When we faced the thought of war, there may have been those amongst us who were apprehensive

as to what might be the conduct of our young soldiers, soldiers not enured to war, not previously trained for military life, and for whom the first shock of battle might be a severe ordeal. Thank the Lord, we know to-day, and it is our pride to know, that they have borne themselves in a manner which proves that the blood in their veins has not degenerated.

Let us, therefore, begin by sending back to England all the blokes, all the slackers who have come over here to escape conscription in the Homeland, and who are now falling over each other and overcrowding the departments in Ottawa, more particularly the Militia Department, and who are depriving of employment our workingmen in the manufactories and in munitions factories.

Let me ask you, Sir, when the National Service was created, where the slackers and the cowards were to be found? At Detroit, to mention only one point at the frontier, English-speaking young men, for fear lest the National Service should lead t,o compulsory service, crossed the United States border to escape conscription. And did not the loyal Minister of Inland Revenue and his colleague the hon. Secretary of State encourage their fellow-countrymen in Dorchester county to step across the 45th line, to escape military service?

For what purpose does the Act provide for the compulsory selective service of manhood? It merely tends to discriminate in favour of the privileged class.

What is needed above all is conscription in intensive farming, in production, and in munitions, such as advocated by Lord Shaughnessy, and lastly, conscription of wealth.

Our soldiers protest against the disbanding of their regiments; they want their units to retain their identity overseas; they want good equipment, good rifles, good food, and protection at the hands of their officers. What the Allies want is not so much manpower as food to win the war, and in confirmation of my statement, I could quote no better authority than that of Mr. Hanna, who has just been appointed food controller by the Government:

The outstanding fact of the food situation, which it is imperative that every citizen of Canada should realize at once is that Great Britain, France, Italy, Belgium and their European allies are wholly unable to supply the allied armies at the front and on the way. For nearly three years their man power has been engaged in the direct work of war and in some cases large areas of their most productive lands have been overrun by the enemy. Their food shortage and the food to supply the armies of Canada and the United States must be wholly provided from this side of the Atlantic. The supply must also be sufficient to cover losses

We are positively of the opinion that this situation has not arrived.

The necessities for the effective conduct of the war are: Food, munitions, shipping:, and military man power, and Canada is geographically well situated to supply the first named three essentials, and can do much to assist in winning the war by developing her production in these essentials to her fullest extent.

We are strongly of the opinion that this is the best service that Canada, with her small population, can render.

We declare ourselves as most emphatically opposed to the proposed conscription measure, and we urge the workers of Canada to oppose by every means in their power the enactment of such legislation.

This resolution was adopted as submitted by the entire delegation, with the exception of five votes in favour of conscription of men, but on condition that conscription of wealth would be included in the provisions of the same Act.

The Labour Federation of British Columbia have also entered their protest against conscription; they have addressed to the right hon. Prime Minister, to the leader of the Opposition and to the members of both sides of the House a copy of their resolution, dated June 8 inst., and which reads as follows:

1. That military or industrial conscription' is the imposition of a form of servitude which

[DOT] is obnoxious to a so-called free people.

2. That militarism is the curse of present civilization, and a result of trade jeaousies 'between nations.

1 3. That military autocracy, in Germany or any other country cannot be defeated by the establishment of the same form of autocracy in countries which have been free from them.

4. That the only people that can defeat so-called Prussianism is the people of Germany, and the adoption of a like system in this country only extends the evils of a Prussian military system to a people who have been free from such servitude, and who resent the attempt, " under any pretext," to foist upon 'them conscriptive measures, military or industrial, which would inevitably briny about a *similar situation in this country, to that which obtains in countries cursed by compulsory military service.

5. Measures of this nature imposed upon a fieople under the guise of temporary necessity, have invariably become permanent, institutions.

' We ask that due consideration be given to 'our opposition, and would conclude by stating that it is the intention to use all the force at our command to resist conscription in any form.

On behalf of the Executive,

A. s. Wells, Secretary-Treasurer.

J. Naylor, President.

Attention should also be paid to the stand taken hy the Trades and Labour Council of Calgary. On the 27th instant, it was decided to ask all the unions to take part on the scheme of a general strike which

would be called as a means of protesting against conscription.

Will ifihe Governimien.t, in, the face of all these protests from all the pants of the Dom in'ion, and from all classes of society, persist in imposing their military service law? I am 'confident of the contrary. Will the Prime Minister assume the risk and the responsibility of tall the consequences that may follow, if those I have mentioned and of others even more serious which threaten us, especially that strike considered by organized labour? Will he provoke such a strike 'that 'Will bring us dearth land famine and even, perhaps, revolution? I do not wish it, Mr. Speaker, far from me such a thought!

The only way ito prevent the .misfortunes which threaten us is, as hae been pointed out by the hon. leader of the Opposition: a referendum or else an appeal to the people by means of a general election.

I beg the hon. Prime Minister to reconsider his decision of May 18, as he has already done so more than once since August 4, 1914, upon this same question Of conscription. I am satisfied that, after 'having duly considered and accepted the suggestion of Dr. L. G. Bland, of the Winnipeg Methodist Church, who wants the Prime Minister to convene in Ottawa -representatives oif .all the public and religious bodies, of all the legal and medical associations, of the boards of trade all over the country, and of the labour organizations, ito discuss [DOT]the conscription issue, he will .acknowledge his error, 'the fairness and 'appropriateness of 'the 'Stand taken by the right hon. leader of the Opposition.

Before concluding, Mr. Speaker, I cannot .pass over in silence the additional amendment of the hon. member for Berthier (Mr. Barrette) without giving tmy reason for opposing it. In my humble opinion it is a snare very badly set, a shift very poorly conceived, 'a commonplace trick inspired and prompted, lif mot by the Government, undoubtedly by one of its ministers, artist, musician and gentleman farmer. Like his leader, the member for Berthier can alter his opinion. On this June 6, 1916, he wrote to his electors the following:

Allow me, Mr. Secretary to repeat to you the statement I made last fall in Berthierville, in the presence of 6,000 electors of my county and of the surrounding- country, when I stated that I was completely opposed to conscription. This year, on the very Sunday following the declaration made by the Prime Minister of Canada, I. again stated before my fellow parishioners that I was entirely opposed to this measure of the Government. I was then doing a

free act of my own, knowing that I was doing it for the best interest of my constituents.

I do hope that this statement will cheer the hearts of all the good French Canadians of my county and of my province.

Please accept, my dear friend, the expression of my most distinguished sentiments and believe me.

Yours most truly,

J. A. Barrette.

In the meantime he has found out that he requires six months ito meditate and change his stand of June, 1917.

O tempora, o mores !

To sum up, I shall vote against the Barrette amendment to the amendment, for the Laurier amendment and against the second reading of tlh^ Bill imposing conscription; and, in so doing, I 'am following the dictates of my conscience, without any mental reservation, frankly and honest'y>

and I believe I am in agreement with the views of the 'Canadian people, who wish to be consulted, either through ia referendum or, better 'still, through a general election.


Honoré Achim


Mr. H. ACHIM (Labelle) (translation):

Mr. Speaker, I have listened with a great deal of attention to the hon. member for Two Mountains (Mr. Ethier) and I am happy to state that, beside all the qualities I know him to possess, he showed he was endowed with still another one, when he made a confession. It is a confession which the province of Quebec has been awaiting for almost six years. Of course, the hon. member for Two Mountains took occasion to state that all the members of this House are without a mandate. We, of the province of Quebec, have been satisfied for six years that the hon. member for Two Mountains was sitting here without a mandate. As a matter of fact, considering that the little incident I refer to is about six years old and that the member for Two Mountains has been occupying his seat in this House close on to six years without interruption, it may be assumed that he sits here by prescription, but I will not press the matter any further just now.

Being radically opposed to the principle of conscription, to the principle of the Bill now before this House, I shall not follow the hon. member for Two Mountains through the deep and detailed study he has made of it, section by section.

However, as the hon. member for Two Mountains has spoken at a certain length, what happens to long-winded orators was his lot: he has not remained throughout consistent with himself, as I shall show presently. But before so doing, let me state, Mr. Speaker, that I hold no mandate to defend the Bill, nor the Government, as

the rest of my speech will prove later on. Speaking upon the Bill, the hon. member for Two Mountains exclaims that he is completely opposed to this selective conscription measure and he asks himself what selective conscription means and, in an outburst of eloquence of no uncertain breadth, he exclaims: "I will not have selective

conscription, I want every one to go to the front, since conscription is needed."

He enumerates the different kinds of people who should go to the front and he ends by saying, with much generosity, that he wants to send overseas the "cures" as well as the Protestant ministers; but, a little further in his speech, he cries out: "What the Allies need is production and still more production."

Well, I repeat it, I have no mandate to defend the Bill, but I will .say this: That selective conscription means that there are persons whose presence in this country is more essential than that of others. For instance, the presence of a farmer is of more consequence to the country than that of a bar-tender or of a store-clerk.

That is exactly the view of my hon. friend, the member for Two Mountains, and I will not offend his legal sense or his sense of the present responsibilities by believing that he is actually ignorant of what selective conscription means. Besides this, the hon. member for Two Mountains having taken the liberty of making an assertion which, to my mind, reflects on the Bench of this country, I think it is my duty, as a member of this House, to look up the matter. It is when he says that there is some distrust against that section of the Bill which provides for the appointment of two persons in order to choose among those who will be sent to the front and those who shall remain at home.

It is most evident that one of these two appointees, if I understand the Bill, should be designated by the Parliament of Canada or by the Minister of Justice and the other one-and that is where I find a guarantee of impartiality-by one of the district judges.

The hon. member for Two Mountains is, like myself, a country lawyer and he knows that we can most assuredly rely upon the impartiality of our magistrates who preside over the administration of justice in our districts.

There is another reference, made by the hon. member for Two Mountains, which concerns me in a particular way. Not that I hold a brief to defend the hon. Postmaster General (Mr. P. E. Blondin) who is now in active service, or the hon. minister of In-

land Revenue (Mr. Sevigny), because they are members of a Conservative Cabihet, but simply because they are both personal friends of mine. It is when he says that the hon. Postmaster Genei-al and the hon. Minister of Inland Revenue, during the Dorchester election, last winter, would have advised the electors of, Dorchester, were conscription voted, to run aiway, to cross over the lines and go to the United States.

The hon. Secretary of State has made in this Houise a declaration to that effect, a declaration which, if I rightly understand Parliamentary procedure, must be accepted, which I have myself accepted, which the hon. members on the other side of this House have accepted, and which the hon. member for Two Mountains has no right to call in question.

In the absence of the bon. Secretary of State, I think 1 should defend him against such attacks, and as for the Minister of Inland Revenue, I do not believe he has ever mentioned isuch a thing itn his speeches and he has not been accused, as far as I know, rf having .given any such advice to the eiectors of Dorchester.

I would be assuming too much, at this advanced stage of the debate, if I flattered myself with the thought of adding any new fact, to the mass of information already supplied by the best speakers representing the three main conflicting views. Far from being able to aduce new facts, I believe is most difficult even to evolve from a further consideration of them arguments and conclusions different from those already stated in this House. But, coming from a province where the Bill we are now discussing has created, I shall not say more anxiety than elsewhere, but. a commotion which has expressed itself more violently on the surface and made it the object of aspersions on the part of some hon. members, I believe it is my duty to say a few words which may help t/o dispel, if possible, the prejudices of those honourable gentlemen. My name having been mentioned as a seconder of the motion for the six months'hoist, I think I should claim the attention of this House for a few minutes.

I have listened closely to all the speeches made heretofore, from the most important down, considering that no opinion is unimportant under such exceptional, circumstances-I have even read them carefully over and yon will perhaps allow me to interest myself more particularly to one of these which is not the less remarkable, both

in its substance and in its form, that of my hen. friend the minister of Inland Revenue-

My congratulations to him in the first place for having remembered that the two party leaders have pledged themselves from the very start, in their own name and that of their followers, according to the very words of the'leader of the Opposition: "That the discussion of this measure would bear the stamp of impartiality and moderation, that is would be free from all acrimony and bitterness."

While I think of it, Mr. Speaker, I may improve the opportunity to say a few words about the charges which have been made against me by the hon. member for St. Hyacinthe (Mr. Gauthier) and by the hon. member for Frontenac (Mr. Edwards). These honourable gentlemen have thought fit to have this House amuse itself at my expense; the latter upbraids me for still being in this country, though an officer of the Canadian voluntary militia, I mean the 54th of Sherbrooke, an honour which I share with the hon. member for Berthier. There is a great difference between a volunteer officer and a conscript. It is true the hon. member for Frontenac is not an officer, but nothing prevents him from enlisting if he feels like it. The difierence there is between him and me is this he remains very quietly with his family and would compel all others to enlist, while I am also quietly at home, but without trying to force any one into active service.

I also wish to refer to some remarks emanating from the hon. member for Frontenac, *concerning the honour I have had, some years ago, of seconding the address in reply to the speech from the throne.

The hon. member for Frontenac has no right to represent my conduct on that occasion as being inconsistent with the one I take to-day. When I accepted that honour, I did not suspect that the military craze which has taken hold of our country would impose upon us an effort out of proportion with our strength and our resources. I also said that I was in; favour of Canada's participation in the war, on the condition that the 'Constitution be respected and that the constitutional status which binds us to Great Britain would not be violated. I was justified in taking such a stand at the time, but at the present moment, as the Bill introduced into this House tears into shreds the. Canadian constitution, I propose to oppose it, and to do so as strenuously as I possibly can. If as a member I cannot approve of the views of the hon. minister, I am proud, as a friend, to acknowledge that he has succeeded in replaeing the debate on a level where both leaders wished

it to remain, above the range of political meanness to which certain members had lowered it.

If elevation of thought and beauty of expression were the equivalent of correctness of views, my hon. friend would have made the speech of his life.

Far from me the idea of crossing swords with_the hon. minister-I have neither the inclination nor the capacity-but his stand upon this Bill being directly contrary to mine, one of us two must be wrong, and I will surprise no one by admitting that I do not believe it is your humble servant.

Were I as eloquent as my hon. friend, I would try to persuade him that the fault is on his side.

His whole speech leaves the impression that his attitude is inspired by the most disinterested sentiments, and I hasten to say that I believe him entirely sincere, although I attribute such sentiments to false ideas.

Here is what the minister says at page 2747 of Hansard, unrevised edition.

Why should our minority be isolated on this continent of America, where we are surrounded by English provinces and by the American nation with her hundred million inhabitants?

This is a sincere feeling of concern; I admit that I have myself been a prey to it and that it has caused me long hesitation in deciding what policy I shall follow.

But considering the facts, was this disquiet justifiable? in fact, is our province isolated, when the whole Liberal party has the same ideas and is ready to give the same vote as the representatives of the province of Quebec?

I do not see that the Quebec delegation is in such bad company, when it follows the leader of the Opposition, a man in whom English Canada as well as French Canada, from coast to coast, have had entire confidence during fifteen years.

Is the province of Quebec isolated when it is in such company as that of the hon. member for St. John; the hon. member for Edmonton, and the hon. member for Pic-tou?

Is the province of Quebec isolated when it seems admitted that it is of one mind with the Maritime Provinces?

If such be isolation, allow me to say, Sir, that it is a splendid isolation.

No doubt the leader of the Opposition has seen leaving him talented men whom he held dear and who could render invaluable service for the defence of his ideas. But there is still around him a solid following of English members, and after hearing the speeches of both sides, I think that the ' 183

first have sacrificed reason to sentiment, while the others have held to principles and sound doctrine.

With this theory of isolation, is it not1 to be assumed, after all, that outside of this House the majority of the electorate is in favour of conscription?

That is a gratuitous assumption, which the facts do not justify and which the hon. member for South Wellington admits to be false. Could I not answer it by the no less gratuitous but more probable statement that the great majority of the electors of the other provinces, including those of the ultra-loyal Ontario are opposed to conscription or at least in favour of a referendum?

As my opinion is well worth that of anyone else, whence he may come, I shall hold to it till the Government has had the courage to consult the people, the only one interested-the people who labour, who weep and who die in this war. No; T repeat again that the French Canadians are not alone in favour of a referendum.

Everyone outside of this House is loudly calling forjt, and the voice of a whole people, whatever is done to smother it, will at last be heard.


Albert Sévigny (Minister of Mines; Secretary of State of Canada; Minister of Inland Revenue)

Conservative (1867-1942)


Will my hon. friend allow me a question?


June 29, 1917