If my hon. friend wants a course in militarism I will ask the adjournment of the committee and I will give
[Mr. E. Lapointe.4
it to him on Monday. I have not the time between now and twelve o'clock. Now, Mr. Chairman, the minister by means of his interjection has induced me to speak of something else. I do not quite remember the point at which I left off, but I shall proceed to say a word or two in regard to the League ef Nations. The countries of the world in 'the older regime had the system of alliances and the balance of power. One-half of the world was arming against the other half. But this system has been discarded, having been considered vicious and detrimental to the interests of mankind; and it is the cherished hope of every public man in the civilized world that it will not be revived, and that the League of Nations will be an institution that will prove effective in maintaining the peace of the world. I was not here when the hon. member for St. Antoine, (Sir Herbert Ames) spoke the other evening, but I read his speech and I may say that [DOT]it did not require that hon. gentleman's eloquence to convince me that the League of Nations, if its precepts are observed, will be an important factor in promoting international amity. I believe in the League of Nations. I hope this body will accomplish the purpose for which it was conceived and put into operation. Canada is going to contribute. We are asked to contribute over $200,000 for the first year, and I will vote enthusiastically for that contribution. But I will not vote for this project of a navy, for accepting ships and maintaining them before we know what our policy will be as to naval defence in the future.
I do not think that this is an opportune time, when ever nation of the world desires to establish peace on a permanent basis, for Canada to embark upon this undertaking. No one can afford to think of war to-day. War in the immediate future is unthinkable; it would be an unutterable crime. The war that has just ended was frightful enough, but it would be nothing compared to another war that might be precipitated in the present unsettled state of the world, and no nation can afford to take the responsibility for starting another war. I repeat, and I emphasize the point, that this is a most inopportune time for us to enter upon a new programme of this kind.
Another reason which I have for this stand is that we have no status. We do not know where we are on the question of nationhood. We claim we are a nation; I believe wc are a nation; I hope we are
a nation, and that we shall act as a nation. But as my hon. friend has said, next year there will be a conference of all the representatives of the British Empire and the most momentous questions affecting the sister nations of the Empire will be discussed and decided. Let us, therefore, wait until this event has occurred before voting 'the amount of money which Parlia-memlt now asks uis to vote.
My last reason is that this Parliament is not representative. It has not a mandate to vote this appropriation because it was not elected to do so, and furthermore the Government has pledged itself to the country that no naval expenditure will be made without being first submitted to the Canadian people. But there is this further fact to be considered. This Parliament at the present time-and no on-e can gainsay the fact-does not represent the majority *of the Canadian people. Indeed, Sir, it does not even represent a large proportion of the people. Public opinion is decidedly against the present Parliament.
Is it? I venture to say that my hon. friend could not be elected in his riding to-day, and he knows it; and .there are many other hon. gentlemen on the other side who could not be elected in their constituencies.
Well, I was elected quite recently in my county, and I think I can 'boast that I represent the opinion of my electors to-day. But my hon. friend cannot say the same. This Parliament, I repeat, does not represent public opinion. This Government has not been able to elect a single member supporting it except two ministers. They cannot do it, ministers cannot be replaced when -they die or when they disappear in any other way. We have one of the most important departments in the Government, the Department of Public Works, which is not administered by a minister. There is a seat in this House-seat No. 40-which is vacant. It is going to be vacant until a new Parliament is elected because no minister can be elected by the Canadian people to fill that seat.
There is no minister from the Maritime Provinces and there is
no minister representing the province of Quebec east of Montreal. There cannot be any, because nobody can be elected as a supporter of this Government let alone a member of it. When we have such a condition of things, is it reasonable to enter into a new policy, to ask Parliament to vote almost $2,000,000 and to accept ships from the Admiralty as the nucleus of the Canadian navy of the future? Let the Canadian people pronounce upon it. Postpone this vote until next session, let us go to the country and then a Parliament' which will represent the views and opinions of the people of Canada will decide as to the naval policy.
The ground in this discussion has been so thoroughly covered that I do not think I can add very much that is new to the debate. I do believe, however, that the position of the minister in asking us to pass this vote is illogical and inconsistent. In his speech in this House in the closing days of March he stated that our naval policy would be considered at the next Imperial Conference to be held in 1921. If that is true we must assume that we have no naval policy today. Now, if we have no naval policy, where is the wisdom of considering a vote of about $2,000,000 for naval expenditures this year? I am quite agreeable to the vote that tfhe minister brought down when the Main Estimates were laid before the House but I think the House is quite justified in taking the position that the minister and the Government at that time
us certain war vessels. It is not known whether these vessels will be of very great use in future wars. I have read recently expressions of opinion by quite competent naval authorities in the Old Land who state that in' future wars the battleships and cruisers that we have had in the past will be of very little use. I have seen it asserted that hereafter light cruisers and submarines might flood the towns and cities along the shores of a hostile country with gas. 'That, I believe, is the opinion of at
least some naval authorities in the Old Land. For these reasons I think we could very well defer this expenditure. But we have other reasons. The Main Estimates call for an expenditure of $550,000,000. We have Supplementary Estimates in addition to the Main Estimates providing for an expenditure of $60,000,000 which means that the Government is asking this country to voite over $600,000,000. The Finance Minister ('Sir Henry Drayton) in the Budget Speech which he delivered a short time ago estimated his revenue for this year at $382,000,000. With such a large discrepancy between our expected revenue and the amount of money we are expending should we vote this $1,700,000 until we get into a position where our accounts will more evenly balance. I think that is a pertinent question in this discussion.
Again, we have given our adherence to the League of Nations. The whole civilized world is looking with hope to the League for the maintenance of peace in the future. Have we any faith in it? Was there any soundness in the arguments that were advanced when we were asked to take our place among the nations of the world who put their names to that covenant? If there is, why not wait to see what the League of Nations is going to do? That is the real hope of the future and I would like to see the Government of this country give a lead to the Canadian people in support of the League of Nations. We find ministers of the Crown in Great Britain openly advocating the League, educating the people to the necessities of the League and the need for it and we should have some similar propaganda in Canada. I would suggest to the Government and to my hon. friend the President of the Privy Council (Mr. Rowell) who is not here tonight and who, I believe, largely directs the propaganda of the Government in these matters, that he might very well engage in propaganda to educate the Canadian people to the virtue of the League of Nations. Personally I look upon the League of Nations as the great hope of the future. It is true that events have not altogether justified that hope up to the present, but the future peace of the world lies with the League of Nations; and if it cannot be made to function as it was hoped and intended it would, it is perhaps not too much to say that it may not be many years until our whole civilization, at any rate as we know it, is trembling in the balance. These
are all pertinent questions in relation to the vote that we are asked to give here tonight and such being the case, I must say that I am going to support the amendment offered by the leader of the Opposition. If we are to have any naval policy it should be a Canadian naval policy. I commend the Government for the stand they have taken in that respect, but I think we should postpone the consideration of our future policy unitiil after the Imperial Conference has sat and the whole matter has been fully considered.
hon. friend I would say that of course I would not approve of the committee sitting on Sunday morning, but I thought I bad an understanding with some hon. members opposite that if this Estimate was debated until close to midnight they would allow it to pass.