April 5, 1918

UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Do my hon.

friends on the other side think that observations of that character are desirable under the conditions which prevail at present in this .province?

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

We think that when Parliament is sitting the Government might trust the representatives of the Canadian people to legislate in accordance with the necessities of the situation.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

And we think also that the representatives of the people in Parliament assembled will trust the Government in an emergency to act so that riot and insurrection shall not be repeated. Whether my hon. friend agrees with me or not, that is the policy by which this Government will stand or fall.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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UNION

Samuel Hughes

Unionist

Sir SAM HUGHES:

Has not the Government of Canada the authority of the people, conferred under the War Measures Act, to act in such cases?

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Of course it has. The War Measures Act of 1914 speaks for itself; it confers on the Government the most absolute authority in that regard. I entirely agree that under ordinary conditions it is proper for the Government to come to Parliament, and as a general rule we have observed that policy. But when there is emergency; when there is riot and insurrection, I venture to think that we would not be fit to sit on these benches unless we were prepared to act instantly. We have shown that we are prepared so to act, and, in the province of Quebec as elsewhere, we shall see to it that there is no obstruction to the enforcement of the Military Service Act, and that the King's peace is kept there as in every part of Canada.

At six o'clock the House took recess.

After Recess.

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

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION OF MR. J. A. CURRIE FOR LEAVE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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SECOND READINGS.


Bill No. 28, respecting The Belleville, Prince Edward Bridge Company.-Mr. Porter. Bill No. 29, respecting a patent of O. G. C. L. J. Overbeck.-Mr. Fripp.


THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.

MOTION BY MR. J. A. CURRIE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.


Consideration of the motion of Mr. J. A. Currie to adjourn the House for the purpose of discussing a definite 'matter of urgent public importance, namely, the rioting, agitation, disturbances, and non-observance of 26 law in Quebec, together with all the circumstances, conditions and causes, near and remote, having any bearing on or connection therewith, resumed.


L LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Kamouraska):

Mr. Speaker, at the outset I wish to say that I regret very much the disorderly scenes of which the city of Quebec has recently been the theatre. These disturbances should not have occurred, and those who are responsible for 'them have certainly incurred a very great responsibility. Whatever provocation there may have been, whatever abuses may have occurred, whatever resentment may have been caused by certain events which are still recent, there was no justification for rioting or unlawful resort to violence. The majesty of the law is supreme, and the law must be respected. I sincerely trust that in future better counsels will prevail and that the demand of my right hon. leader (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) will be effectively responded to. But certainly the desired goal will not be reached as a result of the speeches we have been compelled to listen to this afternoon from the other side of the House. Order is frequently broken by passion, inadvertency, or blunder, but it can hardly 'be restored by monitors like the mover of this motion. He cannot even govern his own passion while condemning the impetuosity of others. Knowing the hon. gentleman as I do, I fully expected that he would use the unfortunate occurrences in the city of Quebec to gain what he thought would be a paltry advantage over political opponents-opponents, I might say, in the ranks of the Government, as well as on this side of the House. It has been suggested that we should let the vituperations of the hon. member pass unnoticed. I think every one will admit that since the opening of the session we on this side of the House have scrupulously refrained from doing or saying anything calculated to arouse passion or even excitement in the country. We have offered no criticism or comment on the disturbances that took place in the city of Quebec, being desirous that those whose obvious duty it was to restore peace and order should be untrammelled in every respect; but when hon. gentlemen have what I would call the insolence to come upon the floor of this House and throw mud at us-

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. J. A. CURRIE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order. I think the hon. gentleman is using language that is hardly parliamentary.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. J. A. CURRIE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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L LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal

Mr. E. LAPOINTE:

I bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, and withdraw the word. I will say when bon. gentlemen insult us

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. J. A. CURRIE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

I think that is unparliamentary also.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. J. A. CURRIE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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L LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal

Mr. E. LAPOINTE:

Again I bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker. I certainly do not wish to clash with you, Sir, at the outset of my remarks. I will say when hon. gentlemen use language of a nature not calculated to please us-we can, of course, treat it with silent contempt. There is a limit, however, beyond which silence only invites further humiliation, and that is my excuse f-qr answering the hon. member for North Simcoe (Mr. Currie). Perhaps some hon. gentleman on the other side of the House may he excused for attempting to divert attention from what has gone on in this House since the opening of the session. Quite a few of them have been daily shooting at the ministerial citadel, forgetful of the fact that it was garrisoned by themselves. It may be good tactics now to introduce a diversion and direct the shooting at the province of Quebec. The abusing of Quebec seems to be the only solid ground of this patriotic Union Government. If striking at the province of Quebec, if insulting us-I beg your pardon, Mr. Speaker -if displeasing us is the only material that can cement the amalgamation, hon. gentlemen opposite are quite welcome to do it; we are able to withstand the onslaught. The history of the past and the lessons which have been bequeathed to us by our ancestors teach us that those who make the onslaught do not always come off victors in the fight. Certain supporters of the Government have been elected on the cry: " Quebec shall not rule Canada," and it is doubtless to be expected that the illegitimate products of such a narrow and brutal appeal will need the same food and fuel to maintain their spirit and effectiveness; and this must be the reason why the campaign against Quebec is still going on in so many quarters, while at the same time strong appeals are being made for unity and concord. The people of Quebec read and heard of both the abuse and the appeals. They read the sane articles of hon. members of this House when they are published in respectable newspapers and reviews, like the Canadian Magazine, for instance, and some of us even go to the extent of putting on a gas mask and reading the views expressed in the Orange Sentinel. Only a few days ago we were told by a certain minister of the Crown of the Ontario Government that we deserved to be classed with the Germans and Austrians. Now, everybody in the province of Quebec reads those utter- /

ances. That good Tory newspaper, the Quebec Chronicle, said of this particular minister that his statesmanship must be of the asinine kind; but that, I think, was most unfair to the ass, because even if the ass is as stupid as that gentleman, he is very much less of a mischief-maker. What is the purpose of all these attacks? Surely they are not made with the intention of converting us or changing our way of thinking. The campaign is not intended for circulation in our midst, and *it is not conducted in a way calculated to have any good effect on our fellow-countrymen. Again, I ask, what is the purpose of that campaign? The only purpose I can see in it is to arouse passion and prejudice, and to create an ill feeling against two million fellow-Canadians for the sake of gaining a miserable political advantage. Especially is it to be regretted at this time when national unity is desired, not only for the successful prosecution of the war, but for the solution of the great national problems, and even the Imperial problems which will have to be solved during the after-war period. True it is that this eminent pork-seller and conserver of dead chickens, Sir Joseph Flavelle, notified us last year in his speech before the Canadian Club of Ottawa that we should have no voice in the solution of these problems, but he may have been mistaken, and the democratic people in all parts of the country may have just as much to say as the noble class of lords, barons, knights and others, of whom Sir Joseph Flavelle is so distinguished a representative. Sir, a better union is needed for Canada. Everybody admits that, except those who live out of hatred and discord and who nurse their wrath to keep it warm. But, Sir, the first condition of a possible union is mutual respect, to say nothing of common courtesy and politeness. Our partnership must be based on absolute equality and respect for pledges. We do not want to< bury our Canadian aspirations, our customs, our higher traditions, ideals, and principles, even for the purpose of being friends. We believe that in this land which our forefathers discovered, and which they have built up and developed we have the right to live in the full enjoyment of liberty, and that nothing has ever happened to deprive us of that right. The sooner everybody realizes that it is impossible in this country for one of the great partners in the Canadian association to compel others to think as he does, or speak as he does, the better it will be for the country and for all concerned. The Germans have forced

the sons of Alsace and Lorraine to learn their ridiculous goose-step, but they (have never won' their hearts, and surely nobody in this country would like to copy Prussian methods. There is no disguising the fact that there is in Quebec province a disquieting feeling and a feeling of unrest, and it is, indeed, a tragedy to apply the fine word "union" to the work of disruption which the right hon. Prime Minister has been so unfortunate as to achieve. Conscription and the circumstances under which it was enacted and carried out aTe only amongst the causes of that feeling. The constant and permanent flow of insults and misrepresentations which our people have to suffer is a more direct cause. I was strongly opposed to conscription-yes, and I am still opposed to it, although I always told my electors and fellow-countrymen that they must obey and observe the law. I need not repeat the grounds of my opposition to conscription. But, Sir, those reasons have been deliberately and criminally misrepresented throughout Canada, and even in the British Empire, in order to secure the success of the Government. We opposed conscription because we believed the voluntary system [DOT] was the only one suited for this country and the best system to obtain the end every one of us desired of winning the war. We fought against this measure because we believed the pledges of the Prime Minister and the other public men of this country ought to toe respected and ought not to be treated as so many "scraps of paper." I opposed conscription because I thought it was a constitutional change and a radical departure from the principles which were agreed to by all those who were party to the building of Confederation. We have been accused of being indifferent or even hostile to the great cause of the Allies. It has been said everywhere that we were against further participation in the war, and that we wanted to desert the Canadian boys who are fighting on the glorious battlefields of France. No more infamous or diabolical lies have ever forced their way through human lips. Some people profess to toe more generous and more patronizing. They say our attitude is due to our lack of understanding of the real conditions, and to our ignorance as to what is going on in the world. I have read that statement *made by patriotic old ladies, kind clergymen and other supporters of the Government, and I am sure some of the members of this House must be of their opinion, I would like to know how many of those who thus believe that we are provincialist, 26i

sectional and living in gross ignorance o>f everything that is going on in the world, read more newspapers' and other literature than I do, or than most of the gentlemen do who represent my province here. We are reading their newspapers and we are reading our own, which, as a rule, they cannot do. Most of us are reading British newspapers, and we read also the newspapers of old France, which, again, many cannot do. Do you not think, Mr. Speaker, that we can stand a fair comparison, as to our knowledge of what goes on in the world, with the exclusive readers of the Toronto >News, the Ottawa Journal, the Free Press of Winnipeg, and even that radiant beacon light, the Orange Sentinel. As to the material effect of conscription, in regard to the help that Great Britain and her Allies shall receive by virtue of its enforcement, the facts, in spite of what the right hon, gentleman said this afternoon, already prove that we are right. All impartial authorities admit to-day that conscription has been a failure. A larger number of men would have been secured by voluntary enlistment, even at the rate enlistment was going on when conscription was introduced. Even newspapers friendly to the Government admit that a blunder was committed, and even the good old Tory organ, the Quebec Chronicle, in the edition of February 26, published an editorial, with which I will not weary the House, under the heading of " The Great Refusal," and the Chronicle was not excusing the other provinces any more than Quebec. Very naturally in Ontario the blame is placed at the door of Quebec.

The statistics show that the accusation is unfounded. What were the registrations in Ontario and Quebec respectively? I find that 125,750 men registered in Ontario and 117,104 registered in Quebec. There were 8,646 more men in Ontario than in Quebec in class one. According to a statement issued from Ottawa-

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. J. A. CURRIE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

I have not been unduly strict in applying the rules in this debate but I have tried to prevent hon. members from entering into a discussion of the Military Service Act. It is quite germane to the discussion at various points, but the hon. member in proceeding to discuss the Military Service Act is not in order.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. J. A. CURRIE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
Permalink
L LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

I bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, but I would like to call your attention to the fact that I am called upon to answer statements made on the other side of the House this afternoon even by the Prime Minister.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC DISTURBANCES.
Subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. J. A. CURRIE TO ADJOURN THE HOUSE TO DISCUSS.
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-COMMONS

UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

As I understood the remarks of the Prime Minister, he drew no distinction as between provinces.

Topic:   -COMMONS
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April 5, 1918