July 3, 1917

COMMITTEE NAMED TO CONSIDER CORRECTNESS OF AN ENTRY IN THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS.

CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

At the last sitting of the House the hon. member for Shefford (Mr. Boivin) raised a point of order with respect to a motion in amendment to an amendment submitted by the hon. member for Berthier (Mr. Barrette). In considering the point I discovered on examining the said amendment to the amendment as it appeared in the Votes and Proceedings that the entry is not a correct transcription of the motion placed in my hands by the hon. member for Berthier. If an error, or a wrong entry, is discovered immediately, it would appear to be competent for the Clerk of the House to>

have a correction made by entering an erratum; but where some time elapses before the error is discovered, such a correction could only be made by order of the House.

It is not only important that the records of the House should be exact, but there is the further consideration that a member ought not to be prejudiced by an act of an official of the House. To submit a motion that such correction be made, without proper evidence, might involve a debate without advantage. In m:y judgment, the matter is of sufficient importance to call for an inquiry by a select committee, which could, be appointed forthwith, with permission to sit during the sessions of the House, and to which instructions should be given to report at the next sitting of the House, recommending an alteration in accordance with the facts. I have therefore placed a motion in the hands of the right hon. the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden).

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   COMMITTEE NAMED TO CONSIDER CORRECTNESS OF AN ENTRY IN THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS.
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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Mr. Speaker, I was not aware of any discrepancy between

the motion as proposed and the record of it in the Votes and Proceedings. When you mentioned the matter to me, I suggested that you should submit the question to my right hon. friend the leader of the Opposition (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) as to the best course to be pursued. The motion which has been placed in my hands and which I move, seconded by my right hon. friend the leader of the Opposition, if he has no objection, is:

That a special committee of five members, to be named by Mr. Speaker, be appointed to inquire into the correctness of the entry of the amendment to the amendment moved by the hon. member for Berthier to the second reading of Bill No. 75, Military Service Act, 1917 as entered in the Votes and Proceedings of June 20 ; that the said special committee have leave to sit during the time the House is in session, with power to send for persons and papers; that it be instructed to recommend such alterations in the Votes and Proceedings as the facts may warrant; and that it be further instructed to report at the next sitting of the House.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   COMMITTEE NAMED TO CONSIDER CORRECTNESS OF AN ENTRY IN THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

I second the

motion.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   COMMITTEE NAMED TO CONSIDER CORRECTNESS OF AN ENTRY IN THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS.
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Motion agreed to.


CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

I name Messrs. Northrup, Boys, Barnard., Pugsley and Boivin to constitute this committee, and I would ask Mr. Northrup to convene the committee at the earliest passible moment this afternoon.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   COMMITTEE NAMED TO CONSIDER CORRECTNESS OF AN ENTRY IN THE VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS.
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MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.

DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.


Consideration of the motion of the Right Hon. Sir Robert Borden (Prime Minister) for the second reading of Bill No. 75, Military Service Act, 1917, and the amendment of Sir Wilfrid Laurier thereto, and on the amendment to the amendment by Mr. Barrette, resumed from Friday, June 29


LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

I understand that the hon. member for Guysborough will resume the debate. I would like to suggest to my right hon. friend the Prime Minister that the House might fairly consent to the hon. member for Laprairie-Napierville (Mr. Lanc-tot) resuming his speech, which was interrupted by the sudden counting out of the House. He is not here to-day.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Certainly, that would go without saying. Of course, it would be most unfair to place any obstacle in the way of his speech.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. J. H. SINCLAIR (Guysborough):

It would seem to the onlooker that this conscription proposal is not very popular with the supporters of this Government; otherwise, the House would not have been counted out for want of a quorum at the session on Friday night. Even the ministers themselves appear to have given up all hope of passing this Bill, or, apparently, they have lost interest in it; otherwise they would have prevented that catastrophe happening. We have about fourteen members of the Cabinet, and we have, I do not know how many, under secretaries besides; so that if we had had a full meeting of the Cabinet on Friday night, as we ought to have had when a vital question of this kind is before the country, the disaster would not have happened. But, Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see that they have rallied and that there is a better attendance here this afternoon. It looks to me as if, notwithstanding what happened on Friday night, the Government may still be able to carry on.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

It is in compliment to my hon. friend.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR:

I am glad to hear it. It is quite true that this debate has already occupied a considerable time, but in dealing with a great question such as the one which is now before the House, it is proper and desirable that each member should state the reasons for the vote he intends to give. I may say frankly, to begin with, that I intend to support the amendment moved by my leader. I do not take this course for the purpose of defeating this Bill, but for the purpose of making it more effective. Hon. members will agree with me that an important measure of this kind should not be enacted by a moribund Government without some kind of an appeal to the people. It should not be enacted unless we have behind it a strong body of public opinion. If we do enact it without that it will necessarily be a dead letter. Let us make no mistake; in the present state of public opinion, especially in the province of Quebec, this measure cannot be enforced. Hon. gentlemen opposite, and some of my hon. friends on this side, talk glibly about forcing the people to fight. We have no machinery in this country to force men to fight. We are not equipped, as they are in Germany, for that purpose. The Kaiser can make a law this morning, he can have it printed by the imperial press this afternoon, and to-morrow morning he can place it in the hands of the Prussian Guards and ask them to en-

force it at the point of the bayonet. We have no such system in this country. We have no standing army to perform services of that kind. Macaulay once used the following language:-

I know of only two ways by which society can be governed-by public opinion and by the sword.

My leader is making a sincere attempt by this amendment to reconcile contending interests and parties and to govern this country by public opinion, and so far as this amendment is concerned I intend to stand by him. If the amendment carries, if it should be accepted by the Government, it will become part of the Bill. If on the other hand, the amendment is defeated, I do not intend to offer any opposition to the Bill going to committee. There are some important objections that I have to certain clauses of this Bill, and I hold myself free, when the Bill is in committee and on the third reading, to give such a vote and to take such a course as in my judgment will be in the public interest.

I may say further that, if the sub-amendment moved by the hon. member for Ber-thier (Mr. Barrette) is voted on, I will vote against it. I was somewhat surprised to see the six months' hoist to a Government Bill moved by an 'hon. gentleman who is -such an enthusiastic supporter of this Government as is the hon. member for Berthier. There is an added reason for this surprise when we remember that the mover and the seconder of this motion were both recently honoured with commissions in His Majesty's forces by the present Government. There is reason to belieye, however, that the action of these two h.on. gentlemen will not in the least disturb the entente cordiale which has existed between the two wings of the Conservative party ever since the alliance between the Prime Minister and the leader of the Nationalist party in 1911.

I find it somewhat hard to understand the attitude of this Government in regard to consulting the people. Why should we not consult the people? Surely the people of this country are as loyal and as anxious to win this war as the Government is or as . hon. gentlemen on this side or the other side of the House are. I was brought up under a different school. I learned my lessons from men who had learned their lessons on democracy at the feet of the late Hon-. Joseph Howe. In the province of Nova Scotia, Howe was known as the tribune of the people. In the early days of the past century Howe found the province of Nova Scotia under the control ,of an

oligarchy not unlike the present Administration and he determined that he would free the province from that rule. The fight was long and fierce, but he won out and he gave to the province of Nova Scotia the boon of responsible government. The motto of Howe during that conflict and the motto of the Liberal party in the province of Nova Scotia ever since that day has been: Let the people rule-

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

Hear, hear.

Mr. SINCLAIR-and it is their motto to-day. I believe that Nova Scotia was the first province in Canada to gain this boon of responsible government; but the gospel spread to other provinces, the good work was taken up by such men as Baldwin, Lafontaine and Bro-wn, and after a time all the provinces of Canada secured and now enjoy the great boon of responsible government. It looks to me now as if we would have to fight all this battle over again. Will any man say that we are today living under responsible government in this country? We are not, we are living under a government of party bosses that, in secret conclave and behind closed drfors, decide what we shall have or shall not have, and it seems to me that it is our first duty to restore in this country responsible government. Do not imagine that the people of Canada do not prize the privilege of being consulted upon their own affairs. For one hundred years the Canadian people have striven to win the rights of a free democracy, and they have succeeded and what they have they will hold. I say that no far reaching measure like this should be enacted without some kind of an appeal to the people. I find it hard to understand the attitude of some hon. gentlemen on my own side of the House. The hon. member for West Lamb-ton (Mr. Pardee) seems to hold the view that a majority of the people of Canada are opposed to this measure, and that if we submitted it to them they would defeat it. That is what he said. I differ from my hon friend. I believe, Sir, that if this question was submitted to the people of Canada in a right manner, by the leaders of both parties, that it would not be defeated. But, in any case, what right have we to dictate to the people of Canada? Who are we that we should force our opinions and our will upon the people of this country against their will? Have we, Sir, some sort of divine right like that which is claimed by the Kaiser of Germany or by the late King of Greece?

A great deal has been said about the solid vote that would be given in Quebec against the referendum. If the principle of this Bill is defeated on a referendum in this country, it will not be by Quebec, because Quebec has not enough votes to defeat it. The blue-books show that the total registered vote in the Dominion in 1911, in all the provinces, was 1,820,742. The total registered vote in Quebec was only 455,288, or less than one-quarter of the whole registered vote of Canada, so that even if every elector in Quebec voted against conscription, which of course would not occur, you would still have 1,365,454 electors in the other parts of Canada to deal with. The total vote in Quebec, after all, is only about equal to the soldiers' vote, and everybody says that the soldiers are in favour of conscription. Thus the soldiers' vote, if taken, would offset the total vote of Quebec, and if it be true that we could not carry this measure by the majority of the rest of Canada, then, if you did pass it, it would be an absolutely dead letter, and so it should not be passed. It has been said that there would be difficulties about taking the votes of the soldiers, and that argument appeals to me. The soldiers ought to have an opportunity of voting upon this question. There would be no difficulty in taking the -soldiers' vote in Canada or in England; but there are over 100,000 soldiers in France where there might be difficulty in taking their votes.

I would propose, and I think it is a reasonable proposal and one that should be accepted, that it would be fair, if the Government decided to refer this matter to the people, to insert a clause in the Bill providing that the votes of soldiers on active service whose votes could not be conveniently taken at the front, should be counted as in favour of conscription. I make that proposal and I think it a fair one that could not be objected to by members of this House on either side, although I am only speaking for myself.

Then the delay that would be involved in taking a referendum has been dwelt upon. The right hon. the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden) himself has settled that question because he has made a proposal that we should pass this Bill with a rider saying that it should not come into force until after a general election. If there is time for a general election-the Prime Minister knows more about the- circumstances than anybody else-I submit that there is time for a referendum. The press supporting the Government and some hon. gentlemen also have tried to put forward the idea that our soldiers at the front are crying out for support, that they are in great straits, and that if we do not send them support, they will be overwhelmed at the front. Do you think, Sir, that this is true, or is that cry raised for political effect?

I submit that there is no evidence on which to base such a statement. Do you think that, with a total battle line extending over five hundred miles, defended by six or seven millions of the best fighting men and the biggest guns in the world, our little bunch of four divisions are feeling anxious about their support?

Why, Sir, the statement is not true, and if it were true, it would be a very severe reflection on the British command. Such statements as that should not be made, because they are mischievous and tend to do harm. Surely our case for recruits is strong enough, without indulging in an exaggeration of that kind. Let it not be said that there is danger of Canadian soldiers being left to their fate, and being_ denied the necessary support by the British and French high commands at the front, for such is not the case. There is not the slightest danger, and there never was any danger, of our soldiers being deserted in that way.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CURRIE:

How is it the Canadians had to hold their lines for nearly twelve days, without support, at the battle of Ypres? I was there and I know.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR:

It could not have been that there were no reinforcements. If it be true that the hon. member was there he should have stayed there. But that is not the point. There is a reason, however, and a much better reason than that, why we should supply recruits. Every Canadian who has pride in his country, and red blood in his veins, wants to see the gaps filled by Canadians and our four divisions at the front kept up to full fighting strength. I trust we all agree that this must be done, and, if it cannot be done by voluntary enlistment, it must be done by conscription. I quite realize that this is a question on which there may be very strong differences of opinion, even among those who are anxious to arrive at the very best conclusion. I do not say that because a man does not agree with me his views are wrong, or that his conduct is improper. This is a free country. It is freedom we are fighting for, and the best way to deal with this question is to have a free and open dis-

cussion, and each man to say what he thinks. It is results we are after, and we cannot get results by quarrelling among ourselves. The way to get results is to keep cool, and to cultivate a spirit of unity and toleration. My honoured leader has spent the greater part of a long and useful life in a sincere effort to weld together the two great races in this country, and to create a vigorous Canadian sentiment, not only in the province of Quebec, but in the other provinces. Seven or eight years ago we all thought that he had succeeded, but a change came for the worst. An enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat. The enemy that sowed the tares was the Bourassas, Lavergnes, the Blondins and the Sevignys, at the time of the election in Drummond-Arthabaska, and I am sorry to say that the evil seed was blessed by my hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce, when he gave voice to the slogan: "Anything to beat Laurier."

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

I wish my hon. friend would give us the ipsissima verba of that blessing. I have asked for it before, but I could never get it.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR:

My hon. friend should remember that himself. I do not want to be too hard on my hon. friend. I have a great deal of respect for the Minister of Trade and Commerce. He has had a very long, and, in many respects, a worthy career. He has had a varied experience in what Mr. Dooley calls the great university of this wicked world. No doubt, like other great men, the Minister of Trade and Commerce has made mistakes. We, on this side of the House, would not wish to be too hard on him. We would feel like forgiving him for these mistakes if he would show signs of repentance. I do not says that he has made too many mistakes. He once built a Canadian navy on wind. It looked fine. It looked trim and good and apparently fit to sail the seven seas, but within two or three years he blew it on the rocks with more wind, and it is now high and dry, and a total wreck. But the most regrettable incident of a long and distinguished career was his conduct, in a moment of weakness, I suppose, at the time of the election in Drummond-Arthabaska, but it did not end there. The evil seed was watered by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden), and by my hon. friend the Minister of Railways (Mr. Cochrane). In 1911 the fertilizer was paid for by the member for Ste. Antoine Division, Montreal (Sir Herbert Ames), and we are now

reaping the harvest, and a fine mess it is. I wish to say, Mr. Speaker, that the people of this country will place the responsibility for that mess where it properly belongs, at the door of the present Administration. Sir, we are told by the Prime Minister that voluntary recruiting has failed, and that we must resort to compulsion. That statement has been disputed by many hon. members of this House, especially by my hon. friend from Cape Breton (Mr. Carroll), who told the House that voluntary enlistment had not failed in Nova Scotia. The evidence before the House on this point is not very clear. The statement of the Prime Minister may be true, and I am not going to say it is not true, but if the Prime Minister or the Minister of Militia would state the policy of the Government in Tegard to this matter, we would be better prepared to form an opinion. Is it our policy to send all the men we can to the front, or is it our policy to maintain four divisions at the front? We do not know. From the information we have we cannot tell what the policy of the Government is on that question. The Prime Minister of Australia has stated frankly that the Australian people are attempting to hold five divisions at the front, and to supply the recruits necessary to fill the gaps in those five divisions toy voluntary enlistment, but we have no idea what we are attempting in Canada. I submit, Sir, that the House is entitled to more information on this question than we have yet received. The hon. member for South Ontario (Mr. Smith) a few days ago asked the following question:

1. What has been the total number of casualties in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces since June, 1916, to date?

Here is the answer:

Total number of casualties in Canadian Expeditionary Force from the 30th June, 1916, to June 5, 1917, is as follows:

Officers 2,957

Other ranks 62,592

Total 65,549

The second question is as follows:

2. What has been the total number of recruits enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces from June, 1916, to date?

The answer to that question is as follows:

The number of recruits enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force from June 30, 1916, to May 31, 1917, was 74,510.

If you subtract one of these from the other, you find the excess of recruits over casualties during the past year is 8,961 i

do not place much dependence upon these figures, because there is the wildest confusion in connection with all the information that we get on this question of recruiting. I could show you returns, Sir, which have been placed on the table of this House by the Government which prove that 70,000 men have disappeared altogether. They have enlisted, but they have not been killed; they are not wounded, they are not in the hospitals.

They are not prisoners; they are not on the other side of the Atlantic, and they are not on this side of the Atlantic. They have disappeared as completely as the army of Sennacherib referred to in Bible story and the Lord knows where they are. That is an illustration of the kind of information that we are getting from the Militia Department.

The whole matter of getting men comes down to a question of method. Speaking for myself, I do not like compulsion. It may be necessary; if it is necessary I am going to support it, but I prefer the voluntary system. A similar preference prevails among the people of Australia-even among the soldiers of Australia, I am told; as was evidenced by their vote some months ago on the question of a referendum. The gaps in the ranks of the immortal Anzacs have so far been filled and will be filled by voluntary recruiting and no one will say they are not doing well. There is not much glory in fighting for King and country when you have to at the point of a bayonet. Napoleon Bonaparte is credited with saying that one volunteer is worth three conscripts, and I believe that he was right. A few days ago I read a report in the press that a Canadian soldier somewhere in France had captured seventeen armed Germans in a trench or dug-out and single-handed drove them into camp as prisoners. I do not know whether or not the story is true, but very likely it is. Does the Minister of Militia suppose that one German could capture seventeen Canadians?

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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CON

Albert Edward Kemp (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir EDWARD KEMP:

No.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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July 3, 1917