there is the enormous upkeep of vessels in commission built during the war, vessels which Great Britain has not yet got completely rid of and some of which she is presenting to us at the present time and which my hon. friend wishes to relieve her of. But I do not think my hon. friend will find that Great Britain is entering upon any enlargement of the programme which she had when she came out of the war. That is the point I am making. What my hon. friend proposes to do is to take a naval condition which we have at the end of the war and to enlarge upon that very materially.
Will my hon. friend tell us what proportion of that is for the upkeep of ships built during the war, ships which Great Britain cannot afford to dispense with at the present time, and what part of it is for new constructive work, something entirely new in the way of additions to the British navy? Then, he will get the contrast I am endeavouring to point, which is this. What the minister is proposing now is that we should take a condition which we have at the present moment and enlarge upon it by fresh expenditures. I am contending that all Great Britain is doing is to continue what she found herself with at the end of the war, but that she is not enlarging her programme.
The old ships have, I understand, been out of commission for some time. They certainly have not been in commission since the war. What we are considering now is whether we should put new vessels into commission this year or wait until the Government has a permanent policy. We are not to-day Saying that nothing shall he done as regards naval defence for Canada. What we say is that the minister should go leniently in the matter of naval expenditure until it policy is determined upon. When that policy is determined upon and is brought before Parliament, we shall be prepared to vote the money necessary to carry out that policy if it be one of which the Canadian people approve. In connection with naval matters, we have to take account, not only of naval expenditures, but of military expenditures and all war expenditures, and as my hon. friend knows, there is no comparison between such expenditures before the war and after the war. Before the war we had no expenditures to meet in the way of obligations arising out of the war. This year we have war expenditures amounting to 8171,934,464 to meet before anything is touched in the way of what may be necessary for military and naval purposes. The regular expenditure for the naval service runs to over $2,000,000. When we are expending that amount of money in a year such as this, we can well afford to ask ourselves whether the demands of economy at the present time do not justify some caution in the matter of outlay on simply temporary expediente. It is for that reason I am going to suggest to the committee that instead of voting what the minister has asked in the Main Estimates and in the Supplementary Estimates, we give him all that he asked for when the Main Estimates were brought down, and that we strike out from the total amount what he is asking in the way of Supplementary Estimates to the amount of $1,700,000. The Supplementary Estimates ask also for a further item of $60,000 for the pay of temporary officers and clerks at headquarters, HaMax land Esquimalit dockyards, I think we can agree to let that item pass because it is not desired by hon. members on this side of the House in any way to interfere with the dockyards at Halifax
or Esquimalt or the pay of the officers and clerks who may be required there.
Then how did the minister dare to come to this Parliament with his Main Estimates containing an item of only $300,000, and make a statement before this House on naval matters, when all the time he knew that what he was asking was not sufficient to carry out what he was pretending to the country he intended to do? I say that something is owing by the Ministry to Parliament, and if the Ministry is going to ignore Parliament it is high time for Parliament to begin to ignore the Ministry. Let me say further, that hon. gentlemen know or they ought to know by this time, that they have no mandate from the people in matters of naval affairs one way or the other. They have never had an expression of the people's views as to what Is desired in the matter of these expenditures. So far as they know the people's opinion at all, it is that the people do not want them entrusted with the expenditure of another five-cent piece. We on this side of the House would be thoroughly justified if we held up every item of supply until the Government recognized the wave of popular indignation against them that is sweeping this country and gave the people of this country an opportunity to return to this Parliament men who are representative of the will of the country and are prepared to carry that will into effect. In this matter of naval expenditure I say that the people of Canada are not with the minister in the demand he is making at the present time for this amount of money. Until there is a permanent naval policy, and until that policy has been approved by Parliament, we are justified in saying that we will hold down to the minimum any expenditures that the Government ask for in regard to Naval Service. I therefore move that we strike out town the Supplementary Estimates the sum of $1,700,000 and save, if possible, to the country that amount of unnecessary expenditure by this Government.
I am sorry I cannot agree to the suggestion. As soon as we took
up my Estimates I moved and got the unanimous consent of the committee to consider this item of $1,700,000 in the Supplementary Estimates in conjunction with the item cxf $300,000 in the Main Es'tlima'ttes.
I jusit wish to say a word or two as to the reasons why I am opposed to this item in the Supplementary Estimates, and why I am going to support the amendment offered by the leader of the Opposition. My objections to this item are the same objections that I made the other night to- the increase in the Militia Estimates-, and I feel it is net neoes0ary far me to formulate the same reasons again on- this occasion. My hon. friend from East Lambton (Mr. Armstrong), while my hon. friend from Maisonneuve (Mr. Lemieux) was speaking asked why the Go.vernime
I m-ay say pending the declaration of what the policy of this Government will be touching the naval service-which, as my hon. friends know, the Prime Minister announced in the debate on the Address would not be determined until after full opportunity was had of considering the whole question and of first consulting with the Admiralty authorities in the matter-it has been thought better that the Estimates this year should be based on the idea of maintaining the existing ships and the existing establishments, including the Naval College at Halifax, on a proper basis, without adding new ships or adding to the equipment we have at the present time more than is necessary for the purpose of maintaing it in proper condition. It is on that basis entirely that the Estimates are made up this year.
The Postmaster General of that day, Hon. Mr. Pelletier, said
Hansard page 5314:
I may tell him further that that vote (the vote in the Estimates of 1912) is absolutely logical and consistent with the policy of the Conservative party. When we came into power we found certain conditions existing; we found that a naval college had been built at Halifax and that two ships had been purchased. Does the right hon. gentleman mean to say that we should have set fire to that college and sunk those two ships? It is true that one of them had met with a bad accident on a certain trip down in Yarmouth, but nevertheless, we found her there with the other ships, both belonging to Canada.
Further on, he said:
We had under the circumstances to continue what the late Government had -put into operation. It would have been ridiculous, even for those so-called bad Nationalists In Quebec, without one moment -of consideration, to close the naval college and give the ships to some other country. That would not be reasonable.
All the members of the Government of that day said that of course they had to keep the Rainbow and the Niofee, hut that -they would bake great e-are not to add any other new ships 'to 'those two relics they had received1 from 'the previous adkni-nistria-tion. In 1913 the same thing was said. Here is wh'at a v-ery prominent gentleman (Sir Robert Borden) who was Prime Minister of that dlay and is Prime Minister still said at the same session-Han-s-ard, page 5355: , I [DOT]
It is for that reason that we thought the late Government were wrong in proposing such a policy, and that they did not go to the very heart of the matter; and that before we entered into any arrangement of that kind we must know where we were standing within this Empire. So, we propose that the naval policy of the late Government should not be continued, and we do propose before any naval policy is entered upon that some of those matters shall be considered and when that policy is brought down it shall be presented to Parliament, and the people of this country shall be given an opportunity to pronounce upon it.
So the right hon. geu'tleman, who was leader of the Governm-euft, said that the reason why Canada- could not go- on with the naval policy of -the 'bate Government was, first, that we di-d not know at that 'time where -we were standing within the Empire, and, secondly, that before entering upon any permanent policy it should be first leuib-mitted to the people of this country. Those two reasons hold good to-day. We do not know any more clearly where we stand within the Empire, especially on the eve of an Imperial Conference, at whidh the status of Canada and of all the British Dominions is -going to 'be considered, discussed and decided upon, an-d alt which 'the question- of -the naval defence of the Empire is. going to- be discussed. I askyou, Mr. Oh-airm-an, what is thecause of all 'this haste? Why&h'ould w-e take those ships -to-day?
Why should we, having declared that wo have no policy, enter upon an undertaking which is r.eally a policy? The Prime Minister pledged the Government at that time that nothing further would be done without the people of -Canada having an opportunity to pass upon it. Surely no hon. gentleman would say that the people of Canada have pronounced upon the new policy instigated by the Minister of Naval affairs. The elections of 1917 were certain-
iy not conducted on any naval policy. This Parliament unquestionably has no mandate of any kind from the people to adopt such a policy. Why this haste? I repeat. Why 'should you be in such a desperate hurry to accept those ships and to enter upon a programme of naval defence? Mr. Chairman, (Conditions are altogether different now from -what they were in 1910. They are different so far as the financial situation is concerned. We had the financial means to enlter upon such a programme in 1910, but we have no such means to-day. And there was a menace then. Where is the menace to-day? Germany is impotent; she can do no harm. She is disarmed, both on land and on sea, and her allies are disarmed. They can do absolutely nothing against Britain or against Canada.
That is one of the fine interjections of the hon. the Minister of the Interior. Why should he ask me that question? What has that got to do with the present contention I am advancing? Is there a menace to-day? I ask my hon. friend tlhia't question,