March 6, 1923

LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

While they voted against him at the last election, they would certainly go to the polls and justify their votes at the next election, because what he does not know about naval matters or matters pertaining to the sea would fill more than the seventeen pages which the hon. member for South Oxford (Mr. Sutherland) lost out of his book. I think I am on record in this House as regards naval expenditure, and I am not here to-night to take back one word that I have said on a number of occasions in the different sessions that have preceded this one; but when the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen) says

that he does not know what will become of those men when they have trained for ten or twelve days, he is quite right.

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An hon. MEMBER:

Does the hon. member know?

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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

Yes, I know, and I am going to tell you. The right hon. gentleman-I will be charitable to him-displays his lack of knowledge. The Naval department will get these men, not from the schools, but from the fisheries of this country, from the men who are to-day engaged either in the fisheries or in the merchant marine, not, thank goodness, the Canadian Government Merchant Marine, which the leader of the Opposition is responsible for wasting $80,000,000 on, but the real merchant marine. These young men in the spring and summer will be engaged either in the off-shore fisheries, the -deep-sea fisheries or the shore fisheries of this country; they will be earning money and bringing wealth from the sea into this country. In the fall of the year, when they give up their vocation of fishing, if I understood the minister's programme correctly, they will be taken to the naval base at Halifax. I think the minister would be beter advised if he would have the men at Lunenburg where they are; but they will be taken to the city of Halifax and trained at the naval dockyard there where the greatest extravagance took place during the time when the leader of the Opposition was a member of what was known as the Union government. After they have been trained for ten or twelve days, if necessary they can be taken out on the high seas and trained either on mine sweepers or the two destroyers which the late Minister of Marine and Fisheries accepted from the British government. I think the idea is an excellent one, although I am not much in favour of a Canadian navy. In the first place, I do not think this country can afford a navy; but it can afford a certain amount of training for our fishermen and sailors, because after they have the training there is no necessity for them to go into the British navy or the Americain navy or any other navy; they can return to their vocations and help to pay the public debt of this country. They will go aboard the ships of the Canadian merchant marine, and they will be of some value to this country.

If the Minister of Defence brought in an estimate of $5,000,000, or $10,000,000, or $50,-000,000-and that would not give us half a decent navy-what would happen? We would have thousands of men taken from a productive industry and put into a non-productive industry, and we would try to make

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ourselves believe that we had a Canadian navy. If we spent $5,000,000, could we defend our shores? The leader of the Oppposi-tion does not know anything about the matter; he does not know' whether it will take $10,000,000, $20,000,000, $50,000,000, or $100,000,000 to protect our Canadian shores properly. The leader of the Opposition, during the war, helped to vote $30,000,000 for what was called a navy to protect our Canadian shores, and we had to call on the United States government and the Japanese government to protect our Pacific and Atlantic coasts. That is the kind of naval policy my right hon. friend had; yet he dares criticise the present Minister of Defence for the volunteer naval reserve for which he asks in the small amount we are asked to supply to-night. It is amusing to me, almost as amusing as it was when the leader of the Opposition was talking about the strike at Glace Bay. He did not know a single, solitary thing about the matter; yet he dared get up and endeavour to make us believe that the county court judge had not the proper authority to call out troops. Of course, we do not mind the leader of the Opposition; he is a sort of joke on this side of the House.

The leader of the Opposition, of course, criticises this expenditure. What I would suggest to the Minister of Defence would be to clean up the mess in*the naval dockyard at Halifax, which mess is the result of the work of the government of the leader of the Opposition during the war and since the war, and of what was called the Purchasing Commission which was never authorized by parliament and which was appointed by the leader of the Opposition and his colleagues against the wish of parliament. They spent about $8,000,000 in buying stores which were not necessary; they put them into the naval storehouse at Halifax with the result that, to-day, after the Minister of Defence has sold some of the stores at about a quarter of their value, because he had to do so, there are still at the naval dockyards at Halifax about $2,000,000 worth of stores, and the leader of the Opposition more than anyone else in this House is to blame for that condition of affairs. Therefore, he should be the last one to talk in this House about extravagance or waste of money.

At the present time, due to the bungling of the late Union, National Liberal, Conservative, Tory Government, the people of this country had saddled upon them five ships. These ships were no good to the British navy and those gentlemen of the late Union government had those ships thrust on them. This present government had the good sense to lay up the

[Mr. Duff.l

big ship called the Aurora but at the present time they have two destroyers, the Patriot and the Patricia. Those ships are useless for naval purposes; but they can be utilized, and I am going to sugest to the minister to-night a way in which they can be used. Some time last Ostober, one of those boats was sent through the Panama canal and she is now on the Pacific coast. We have only two boats and the Pacific coast is entitled to one. Instead of bringing her back in the spring and spending a large amount of money in order to do so, I would suggest that the minister leave her on the Pacific coast. We have on the Atlantic, one known as the Patriot, and I would suggest that the minister put her to some practical use. This boat is no good for any purpose of defence; but we have a serious situation, not exactly on the Atlantic coast, but on the Atlantic ocean during the summer time. I am sorry the Minister of Marine and Fisheries (Mr. Lapointe) is not in his place, because this matter which I am going to discuss now, I am discussing as much for his benefit as for that of the Minister of Defence. Many fishing vesesls, carying some 3,000 men, proceed every year from Nova Scotia to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, where they anchor and the men fish for about four months of the year. In addition to these Nova Scotia vessels which anchor on the banks and from which the men fish, there come over from France what are known and what the leader of the Opposition referred to as trawlers. I do not believe the leader of the Opposition knows what a trawler is any more than he knows what a mine sweeper is. A trawler is a fishing vessel which fishes with an otter-trawl. These come from France and they can fish off the Grand Banks as well as our Nova Scotia vessels. During the last two years these French vessels have committed great depredation to the fishing gear of the Nova Scotia vesesls, and it has been impossible for the fishermen of these Nova Scotia vessels to do anything to prevent the destruction of their gear. These French trawlers swoop down, sometimes in the day and sometimes at night, where the sailing vessels' gear is set and they destroy not only the gear itself but all the fish on it with the result that a great loss accrues to the fishing vessels of Nova Scotia. I would suggest to the minister that during the summer months when the fishing season is at its height the destroyer Patriot be sent to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland with the Nova Scotia fishing fleet. She will do more good there than she can going up and down the coast of Nova Scotia, and she would be able to afford protection to the fishermen.

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

We shall have to let her

off for the boat race.

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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

I shall come to that in a moment. I say that this destroyer can do more work accompanying the fishing fleet than she can patrolling the Nova Scotia coast. If any depredation is committed the captain of the fishing vessel can notify the captain of the destroyer, who can ascertain the name of the French trawler and bring the matter to the attention of the Canadian authorities. I think that some international arrangement should be made with the French and the Canadian governments whereby something might be done to put a stop to these depredations.

The Minister of National Defence referred to the fact that one of these boats might be used in connection with the fishermen's races. I must thank this government on behalf not only of my own constituents but of the people of Nova Scotia generally for his generous act last fall in attaching the destroyer Patriot to the race and giving her up to the international race committee. This destroyer did good work while the preliminary races, were being-held off Halifax. The minister was good enough to send the Patriot to Gloucester with the racing vessel Bluenose. During the races in Gloucester the citizens of Nova Scotia were proud to see the Union Jack flying from the stern of the Patriot. She was only small, it is true, but she did represent Canada. I must also thank the government and especially the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) for helping us in our time . of trouble during that race. It may be

recalled by hon. members that a sad accident occurred at that time. One of the crew of the Bluenose accidentally fell into the dock and was drowned after the last race. The Prime Minister and the Minister o? National Defence, on leaminig this fact, immediately telegraphed to the captain of the Patriot, with the result that the body of the sailor was taken to his home town in Lunenburg on the destroyer. On behalf of my constituents, on behalf of the International Fishermen's Racing Committee, and on behalf of the people of the province of Nova Scotia I wish to take this occasion to thank the government for their action in this regard.

Now, I think that if the minister carries out the idea of a volunteer reserve it would be a good thing for Nova Scotia. In that way perhaps a number of young men who, if they had no naval reserve training, wight think of becoming second-rate lawyers, would with this training become good sailors, mates and captains and good citizens. I am willing

to give this volunteer naval reserve idea a fair trial, so that instead of having quibbling laywers we might have good citizens who would be able to help us in the production that is so much needed to-day.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I do not think the resolution should carry until adequate expression is given to the profound gratitude of the House for the inimitable manner in which the hon. member (Mr. Duff) not only sounds the depths of ignorance of all other members, but displays his own supreme erudition on every subject under the sun.

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LIB
CON

William Alves Boys (Whip of the Conservative Party (1867-1942))

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYS:

You are a burlesque.

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LIB
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

It is an undying advantage to the House that we have among us one who can speak with pontifical authority on every subject from sewer gas to angels' wings.

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LIB
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The non. member was moved by very deep and pathetic sympathy for me, ignorant as I was, not knowing even what was to become of these trained cadets after they had got the advantage of government, service at Esquimalt and Halifax. In his sympathy for me, and for the House in having to listen to me, he rose to tell us all about it. "Why," he said, "the member does not know where these boys are coming from. I will tell him where they are coming from; they are coming from the fishing vessels, from the fisheries, and they are going to be trained at Esquimalt and Halifax. They are not going to be trained for any purposes of a military or naval character. No, that would be a waste of their time." I hope the minister got that. "That would be a waste of their time. They are going to be trained [DOT] from ten to fourteen days and then are going back to fish, and they will be better fishermen as a result of the training the minister is going to give them on the trawlers."

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LIB
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Yes. So at last we have the exalted purpose of Canadian Naval policy as now practised. It is to make better fishermen of those who are now suffering the depredations of French vessels on the shores of Nova Scotia. It is to teach the boys how to catch more fish from the water in order to feed the people of Canada. That is the purpose of the naval policy of the Minister of National Defence, according to

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tliis court of appeal of last resort from the county of Lunenburg.

Well, I thought I was only stating a very simple truth and one generally accepted when I said-without the advantage of this later information-that this $1,500,000 was wasted, in so far as the defence of our country is concerned or in doing of the slightest thing to contribute to that defence, which others are now providing. When I stated that this money was wasted I thought I was uttering the simple truth. I felt fairly confident I was right. I must admit that for the moment I forgot that the same assertion was made a year ago by the hon. member for Lunenburg. Had I remembered that he was of the same opinion I should have had serious doubts as to the soundness of my view. But now that I utter again his conviction of a year ago he is lost in dismay at my ignorance.

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LIB
LIB
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Let us leave the member for Lunenburg and come to the trawlers now christened the mine sweepers. Is the purpose of our naval policy really what the hon. member says it is? Are these vessels really to do what he says? Is the object of this training to send boys back to be better fishermen or to send them back to some mercantile marine, to be able, as I suppose, to handle the rigging of the mercantile ship a little better? Is the hon. member for Lunenburg rigt? Let us ascertain whether or not we have a naval service and whether we should vote a million and a half for what is actually being done to-day. That is what is before the committee for consideration. Do not let us deceive ourselves into thinking that we are lifting a hand by a burlesque of this sort to aid in that naval defence of which we share the advantage every hour. We are not. It would be far manlier of us to sweep the decks clear and say that we are not, and to stand before the world in our true colours. When we have a Minister of Defence who says we cannot go to the high seas because it would be too dangerous for the light craft that we have and that the high seas must be swept clear by someone else; when we have a Minister of Defence who is compelled to make such an admission, compelled by the exigencies of the policy of which he is sponsor, then we are doing nothing whatsoever in the way of defence, and it would be far manlier of us to say that we are doing nothing and to make the records of the House and the estimates show that we recognize the fact.

Now, it has been stated here that we met the last emergency without adequate provision ourselves. I know quite well we did. I know the necessity of adequate provision was scoffed in this House year after year. We were told that we were March hares and April fools because we ventured to suggest that something in the way of a manly effort should be made to provide against a contingency that seemed at least to be looming in the near future if not on the immediate horizon. We the Conservative party attempted to provide against that contingency, we attempted to bear some share that we thought befitted the strength of this country. We were stopped, we were not able to get the requisite legislation through. Then the war came upon us and we were without provision. We might of course have had something of the nature of what we have to-day under the Naval Service Act, but there was no possibility of getting anything under that act that would be of any use at all. There is no one knows that better than the minister who is now the Minister of National Defence. The only thing we could get was along the lines we sought to provide and were prevented by the Liberal majority in the Senate. [DOT] That is why we had to depend upon the strong arm of the British navy when war came-an arm to v'hich no ounce of muscle was added by this Dominion.

And here we are now. If we are not ready to do something in the way of naval cooperation that is at least worthy the strength of this, the greatest Dominion of the Empire, do [DOT] not let us play with the subject. Do not let us put a million and a half dollars in the estimates and tell the world in one breath and through the mouth of the responsible minister, "This is naval defence"; and then through the mouth of his parliamentary deputy, "This is merely to make better fishermen of our boys-a method of increasing the fish production on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts." I think we ought to stand forth in our true colours. I do not think this proposal is of any value. It must be plain that it is not. To be training for a life that our fishermen cannot follow in any naval vessels of ours is useless. If they intend to follow a naval career in another country, the place to be trained is there. To be trained for action on vessels that do not exist, and that the minister will not say are in contemplation to exist-well, surely that is nothing better than a sham.

Now, would ^t not be wisdom to wipe out the vote altogether rather than to go on in this way? Do not let anyone say that this is my policy. I think we ought to do something

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worthy of this Dominion. I do not think we ought to expend on a naval service the equal per capita of what the Mother Country does. She has responsibilities that are not ours in an equal share. But we ought to do something that is worthy of our standing, of our strength, of our responsibility, of our wealth, of our exposure here on two coasts, worthy of our place in the Empire, the place we have won. I think the government would be well advised to come before parliament with a programme that measures up to these requirements.

Mr. DUFF. Before the vote carries, Mr. Chairman, I would explain for the benefit of the leader of the Opposition why it is wise to spend this money on the volunteer naval reserve. I think it is well known to most hon. members that the men who join the British navy do not come from the colleges or the schools of the Old Country; they come from the British fishing fleets and the mercantile marine. It is a well-known fact to every hon. member that when the war broke out thousands,-yes, tens of thousands of fishermen and merchant sailors were transferred to the navy and did invaluable service in the North Sea and other parts. Does not every one know that even in our own country men were taken from the fishing fleets on the Pacific and the Atlantic coast and from our merchant marine? They were the only men the government could get for naval duty during the war. They were the men that the government, of which the leader of the Opposition was a member, used on the leaky trawlers and old tug boat3 with which they pretended' to defend the shores of Nova Scotia. Is it not a well-known fact that the fishemen from the island of Newfoundland were perhaps, the very best men among those that took an active part in the operations of the British navy at Gallipoli? And yet the leader of the Opposition has the temerity to get up in this House and say that the Minister of Defence does not know what he is going to do with these men after he trains them. If war broke out tomorrow, and Great Britain needed more sailors for her navy, we could send thousands of men across the ocean for service in the North Sea or anywhere else. It is not necessary that these men should join a naval vessel after they complete their training in our fishing boats or in the mercantile marine. Their training during the rest of the year is probably just as effective as any training they will get under this scheme of the Minister of Defence.

The leader of the Opposition must have forgotten history when he criticized what the

Liberal party did for the naval defence of Canada. Why, if I were a Tory I would be ashamed to mention a word about our Canadian navy. Was it the Liberal party or the Tory party that brought down the Laurier Naval Bill? Was it not the Tory party which voted against that measure under which the Liberal party wanted to build ships for the defence of Canada? What did the Tory party do for naval defence? What naval vessels did we have to protect our coasts when war broke out? It is quite true that in 1912 the Tory government tried to vote $35,000,000 as a contribution to Great Britain for the building of three dreadnoughts, which would have been attached to the British navy in the North Sea. What use would they have been for the defence of Canada? And would they have been manned by Canadian boys? That was the naval policy of the Tory party in 1912. What happened in 1914 when war broke out? Had they spent one dollar for naval defence up to that time? No. Even the four ships that we provided under the Laurier administration were out of commission, due to the fact that certain Nationalists in the province of Quebec had the Tory party by the throat. Those vessels were tied up at the docks, the Niobe at Halifax and the Rainbow at Esquimalt. It took six weeks to put the Niobe in commission for war service. And'yet the leader of the Opposition dares to criticize the Liberal party and the Liberal government in regard to their record on naval defence. If our policy had been carried out in 1910, Canada would have had an effective navy when the war broke out. But because the Nationalist friends of the Tory party would not allow them to continue the Laurier naval policy we were left totally unprotected against attack by the German navy. I think it is high time the leader of the Opposition stopped talking about what the Tory party did for the naval defence of this country.

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CON

Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND:

Before the resolution carries, Mr. Chairman, I must express my surprise at the developments which have taken place during recent years. It has generally been conceded that one of the most difficult positions to fill is that of an expert seaman on board a man-of-war, but apparently under the present system it is only necessary to teach men to be good fishermen and they automatically become good navy men. Nine days' training will equip an ordinary fisherman so that he will be equal to anything that may be required of him for the naval defence of this country.

I was also surprised at the references to the Canadian navy made by the hon. member

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who preceded me (Mr. Duff) and what his party had attempted to do while in office previous to 1911. Notwithstanding the fact that they had occupied the .government benches for about sixteen years, during all that time not a contract was let for the building of a single warship. They went out of office and that was the condition of affairs that confronted their successors. It was well known that it would have been impossible to establish shipyards in this country and do anything effective in the way of building ships of war in the short period during which the administration that succeeded the Liberal government was in power. An attempt was made to vote $35,000,000 for the building of three dreadnoughts on the other side, where the work could be quickly done and there was reasonable prospect of rendering aid at a time when it was needed.

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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

The hon. member says we

could not build warships in this country from 1911 to 1914, when the Conservative government was in power. Is it not a fact that under the Union government 63 ships were built from November 1918 to some time in 1920?

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CON

Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND:

My hon. friend's

question is about as consistent as his argument tha^ fishermen are competent to man ships of war. No one would suggest that these poor little wooden ships of the mercantile marine were competent to defend the coasts of this country or to go out and meet the enemy. Who ever would take that view must be-well, I will not attempt to describe the condition his mind must be in.

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March 6, 1923