June 28, 1920

UNION

Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

I must necessarily be brief at this late hour, and I am extremely sorry that my good friend from Red Deer (Mr. Clark) did not hear the previous debates that took place in this House on two previous occasions. I feel satisfied that if he had heard those debates or had had the time to read them he would not have given expression to-night to the arguments which hon. members have listened to. I have a great admiration for the ability of my hon. friend, but I must say that I do not always find him practical. Now, I do not desire to be theoretical on this or any other question. I have been trained as a practical business man, and I believe in dealing with facts and conditions as I find them. When introducing this Estimate in the House I avoided everything that savoured of a party character. I took conditions as they confront the country. I explained the meaning of the Naval Act which is so familiar to all hon. members. It meant that whether we liked it or not we had to maintain the naval college and the dockyards at Halifax and Esquimalt. As Minister of Naval Affairs, the man responsible to the people for the wise expenditure of public moneys in connection with naval matters, I did not then criticise, and I do not criticise now the purchase of the Niobe or the Rainbow; but I did say the other night that one of these ships, the Niobe, was twenty-five years of age, while the Rainbow was thirty years old. I said that they had performed good service in the past, but I pointed out that to-day the Niobe is tied up at the dock at Halifax and for the last two or three years has been stripped of all her guns on instructions from the Admiralty. During the war these guns were placed on the merchant marine ships, and I explained to the House that the Niobe and the Rainbow were useless and obsolete as training ships.

I explained to members of the committee that it cost $450,000 a year to keep the Niobe tied up at the dock at Halifax, and that it would take $225,000 to keep the Rainbow tied up at Esquimalt. I further

stated that the naval service of Canada needed reorganization, and needed it badly. The Government has thoroughly reorganized the service from headquarters down, but not one word of commendation has fallen from the lips of hon. gentlemen opposite for what the Government has done in this respect. The Naval Service of Canada has not only been put on a business footing, but it has been rendered exceedingly efficient from a naval standpoint. Notwithstanding this, however, not one word of commendation comes from the opiposite side in regard to the economies which the Government have put into effect by this reorganization. If I had come into this House and had said that we were prepared to go along with the inefficient service that we had, with 782 more men than we need, and that I was willing to keep the Niobe and the Rainbow 'tied up, and asked the House to vote the same amount (I am asking to-night there would have been no criticism from hon. members opposite.

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?

Some hon, MEMBERS:

Oh, yes.

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UNION

Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

But when we come here with a reorganized service, having got rid of 782 civilians and naval ratings whom we did not need, and when I explain that to ipnt the Niobe into commission as this cruiser will foe it would cost $500,000; that it would cost over a million dollars to maintain the Niobe after putting her into commission, and) $150,000 to put the Rainbow into commission, and over $600,000 to maintain her when so equipped, I appeal to the hon. member for Red Deer to-night to turn his well-developed talents into a practical channel and, instead of sweepingly asserting that we ought to cut off the vote, to offer some constructive criticism for once and tell hon. members what he would suggest in lieu of my proposals. Not a word comes from the hon. member for Red Deer as to what he would do. He talked most eloquently, as he always does, about- the League of Nations, but he offers not one practical suggestion as to what we should do in this connection. If he had said: I am opposed to maintaining the Niobe and the Rainbow; I am opposed1, as the hon. member for Lu-nenberg (Mr. Duff) says, to keeping up the dockyards of Halifax and Esquimalt, and I want to close up the naval college; I don't want one dollar of the country's money spent until after the conference of 1921-if he had so expressed himself, then I say we would have had a clear-cut statement from the hon. member. But no; he deals in generalities; he does everything but. come down

to the practical business .proposition that faces' the minister and hon. members of this House. During the course of this debate I have tried over and over again to impress upon hon. members the full significance of the situation and have solicited suggestions as to what they would do. Not a ^ word! The leader of the Opposition says: "I am not opposed to Canada carrying out the naval obligations that were placed on the Statute Books by my late revered leader, Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Oh no! I am in favour of that; but II do not want any ships at all. Maintain your Halifax dockyard; maintain your E&quimalt dockyard; maintain your naval college; but- no ships lat all. I don t want any ship at all." Then he has the fanciful idea 'that we could maintain these two dockyards and ithe naval college on the paltry sum of $300,000. To do what the leader of the Opposition says would take at least $600,000. What is the Government's proposition? We say we do not want to put the country to one dollar's additional expense but we do want to have a small naval service if we can get it on an efficient basis. We are not criticising the old Niobe and Rainbow. They have served their day and generation. We are offering both of these ships for sale. We have accepted from the Mother Country $7,000,000 worth of ships, an absolutely modern cruiser, two modern torpedo boat destroyers and two modern submarines. The hon. member for Red Deer says they will be obsolete in five years. Admiral Viscount Lord Jelliooe says they will not be obsolete in five years. He says they will not be obsolete before twelve or fifteen years, and the Government and the Minister of Naval IService have accepted the judgment of such a naval authority as Viscount Jellicoe on that point.

The hon. member for Red Deer says that he would like a direct answer from me as to what these ships can do in the way of guarding trade routes. I do not pretend to say .that one modern oruiiser, two torpedo boat destroyers and two submarines constitute very much of a naval defence for Canada. I think it is altogether inadequate, and I would express* the hope, as I did the other nij.ht, that after the Imperial Conference has been held, whoever the Minister of Naval Service at that time may be, he will come before this House with a very much larger vote than I am asking for at the present time. My own opinion is that Canada should Teally have a navy in keeping with her dignity as a self-governing nation. The cruiser and the other ships

that we are getting are modern and they are officered by Canadians with the exception of four British officers. We will put as many Canadians cm these ships as have the necessary knowledge and efficiency. They will give our young men and able bodied seamen the necessary training. Officers and men of the navy cannot get their training by being tied up at the docks at Halifax and Esquimalt. Therefore these ships will be at sea most of the time giving practical training to the officers and men. These ships will do this also. I for one hope we will not have any unrest in our o wn country now or at any other period, but if we ever do have any unrest on the Pacific or the Atlantic coast .at least .Canada has these modern ships ready to render us the defence that they may be able to render. Furthermore they cam protect our trade routes in so far as the number of ships will be available for that purpose. But I do not want hon. members' to imagine that we think that with this small number of ships we can boast of having a strong Canadian navy that can protect our trade routes adequately. Canada will have to depend in the future on the British navy and the Mother Country until such time as this country votes a very much larger sum than we are now voting.

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UNION

Hugh Clark (Parliamentary Secretary of Militia and Defence)

Unionist

Mr. CLARK (Red Dear):

Can the minister tell us the age of these vessels?

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UNION

Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Unionist

Mr. BALHANTYNIE:

The destroyers were built in 1916 >amd the submarines were built in the same year. Captain Hose, the Director of Naval Service, is at present in London in consultation with the Admiralty officers and especially with the First Lord Of the Admiralty, Admiral Beatty. I have been informed by him that the cruiser is of the Bristol class but T have not been informed of her armament or of her name; therefore I am unable to tell just what the age of this vessel is.

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PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. CLARK (Red Deer):

Cl would never dream of putting my authority against that of Lord Jellicoe in the matter otf the age of a vessel, but just before our naval debate several years ago .a number of 'Canadian journalists visited Great Britain, and amongst other wonderful things they saw 144 ships Of the line at Portsmouth. They were informed that the average life of these vessels was twelve years. So that I did not exaggerate sot much when I said five years. I congratulate the minister that these vessels will last a little longer than I said hut assuming they have been built for four

years and I said five years, that makes nine; therefore 1 was mot so far out. I was only three years out.

Mr. EMMANUEL D'ANJOU (Rimouski): (Translation): Mr. Speaker, the question at present before the House has been discussed from every viewpoint, and I do not pretend to bring new arguments against this vote that the Hon. Minister of Marine asks us to pass, or against this nucleus of a navy of which the Hon. President of the Privy Council (Mr. Rowell) has just spoken; but* in a few words, I wish to explain my position before this House and the country, and to give the reasons why 1 oppose this expenditure, In 1911, when the elections were on, especially in the province of Quebec, the contest centred on the question of a navy. As you know, the people of that province voted by a large majority against the project of a navy. Those adverse to it in the province of Quebec denounced it as an Imperial navy, and in Ontario those who fought it as a "tin pot navy" are the same who to-night ask us to vote more than two millions for the nucleus of a navy. In passing this vote [DOT]we would commit ourselves to the principle of a navy for the future.

The county that I have the honour to represent voted strongly against such a scheme of naval defence in 1911. The present Government does not hold a mandate from the people to ask the members to vote this Naval Estimate. Doubtless one might have been for or against a navy in 1911, but conditions then were not the same as to-day. At that time we were flourishing financially, and we were on the eve of a conflict such as the world had never seen. For these reasons the regretted leader of the Liberal party was justified in asking Parliament to vote the [DOT] money necessary for the creation of a Canadian navy, since' a real menace overhung the horizon. But now the Great War is over, the German navy is at the bottom of the sea, the League of Nations has been established, and this last war has been fought, not only to destroy militarism, but to prevent future wars; therefore the Government is not justified in saddling the country with this burden of more than two millions or in forcing the representatives of the people to approve of this vote.

For my part, I strongly oppose this expenditure and I declare that I shall not vote a single cent for a navy.

As all the Liberals of that time, in 1911, ^on all the hustings, at all political meetings, I did not hesitate to defend the project of the 'Canadian navy advocated by Sir Wilfrid Laurier. But now, when there is no menace on the horizon, wben the country is over head and ears in debt, and because the sentiment of the p o le in the province of Quebec and all ov r the country, is opposed, not only to the nucleus of a navy, but to mili arism in any form or shape, I do not hesitate to declare myself absolutely opposed to this expenditure. Besides, has no* the Prime Minister, the chief of the present Union Government, declared upon tha floor of this Houise, that,, when his Government should judge it wise to establish a navy, he would consult the people, either by a referendum or by a general election? So, to keep their promise to the electors, the Government should, if they now wish to settle a navy upon the country and accept the gift England offers, dissolve Parliament immediately and ask the people whether they desire the establishment of a navy. If the people return to power those who govern us to-day, which I very much doubt, they will then have the right to put through their scheme, for they will have submitted the issue to the peopjle and will have received an affirmative answer.

I have not the intention to speak at greater length, but I believe that it is ill-advised of the Government to accept gifts from England. There is an old proverh which says: "Timeo Danaos et dona fer-entes I fear the Greeks even bringing gifts. Really, gifts, ,are to be feared. In 1913, the Prime Minister asked Canada to make a gift to England of three dreadnoughts, because she was in need of them, he said; to-day, England, having no further need of ships, wishes to give us some, to be the nucleus of a navy, thus inducing the country to accept the priii-i ciple of a navy; and at next session perhaps it will not be two millions, or five, or ten millions, but it will be about fifteen million dollars which we will be asked to vote for the building of ships-ships to make war upon whom?

With all my might I oppose this Naval Estimate and it will be with infinite pleasure that I shall vote in favour of the amendment proposed by the hon. leader; of the Opposition, because I consider that.

I shall be doing my duty not only to my electors but to the whole country.

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L LIB

William Duff

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

Before the question is put I would like to put a few interrogations to the minister. I am sorry that the debate has occupied so long, but we on this side are not to blame. If the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden), President of the Privy Council (Mr. Rowell), and especially the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Meighen) had stayed out o.f this debate we would have been at home in our beds long ago. The minister remarked a few minutes since that it would take $450,000 to repair the Niobe, aind $225,000 ito repair the Rainbow, and put both vessels in shape. Will the minister be good enough to explain! how the repairs would cost that much money and what these repairs are?

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UNION

Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

The hon. member for Lunenburg (Mr. Duff) must take my word as a minister on the total expenditure that is necessary to put these vessels into commission. If he thinks that I can tell him just what is wrong with the boilers, with the engines, and the piping, and the bottom of the boat, and the electrical equipment, I cannot; I would need to get a very detailed report, but I have that report in my office. ,1 have been informedl by the technical officers that the cost will be $500,000 to get the Niobe ready to go to sea and $225,000 for the Rainbow. If the hon. member wishes me to give the details item iby item I shall have to get detailed reports from the technical officers before doing so.

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L LIB

William Duff

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

I am willing to take the minister's word as to the cost, I would not for a moment doubt it. But does he realize that $450,000 is a very large amount? It is almost as large as the sum which he would have to pay for the new cruiser,- if he were not getting it as a gift.

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UNION

Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

No, $4,000,000 is the cost of the cruiser.

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L LIB

William Duff

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

Still the amount is very

large. It seems to me that it is almost impossible to spend so much money in the repair of the Niobe. There is not very much wrong with her. Only the other day I had a conversation with a man who has been on the Niobe for five years. He said she was in very good shape outside of some slight repairs needed to her boilers and engines. It seems to me that the estimate given by the minister is a very large amount. Still, I am willing to take the minister's word that such an amount is required. The minister did not seem quite pleased because we on this side did not

commend him for the reorganization of the Canadian Navy. The minister has not informed us what reorganization he has carried out. We have not had much information as to what he has or has not done in the work of reorganizing the navy except in the matter of discharging certain officials and promoting others. Before any commendations or bouquets are due to the minister he should certainly give us a detailed statement of what he has done and what he intends to do.

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UNION

Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

I am not looking for any bouquets.

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L LIB
UNION

Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

Well, commendation is the isame thing. I have a consciousness that I have done the ri^ht thing in the public interest. I did give all the detailed information that hon. member is now asking for in 'a Speech 'that I made a few days ago. I gave a statement then of the number of officers, civilians, and other particulars.

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L LIB

William Duff

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

I have 'another question to ask the minister. He says that it will take half .a million dollars to get the Niobe into commission. How does he figure that out?

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UNION

Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

Because the Niobe is a very much larger vessel than is the cruiser which we have been promised. The personnel on the Niobe would be two hundred men more than the coimplement on the cruiser, and the larger and the more obsolete a ship gets the more costly she is to maintain.

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L LIB
UNION

Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

On the cruiser, 377 officers and other ratings; 79 on board each of the destroyers, and 21 on (board of each of the submarines.

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L LIB
UNION

Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

The total is 608.

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June 28, 1920