March 6, 1923

CON

Richard Burpee Hanson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON:

Reference has been made here on two or three occasions to the occurrences last summer in the Maritime provinces, especially in Cape Breton. I think that in view of the panic that seemed to strike some people down there in the island of Cape Breton, some explanation is due the House and the country as to the circumstances under which the permanent force or that portion of the active militia, whichever it was that was called out, was called out. Why was there any necessity at all of having a large number of troops rushed into Cape Breton before there had been a single overt act of violence so far as I am informed-and I followed the newspapers pretty carefully at that time. Was there any panic on the part of the officials of the British Empire Steel Company? Did they ask for the militia, or who was it that was responsible for calling out these men? How many men were called out, and who is going to pay for them? I think all these are very pertinent questions, and I should like to hear something from the Prime Minister on this point as well as from the Minister of National Defence, because I remember last year when a discussion was going on in this House with respect to the Mounted Police, the Prime Minister expressed a very pointed opinion that only in the very greatest emergency should the active militia be called out to maintain the civil authority in Canada. There was so far as I am aware absolutely no excuse, no justification whatever, for calling out the permanent force in Cape Breton last summer. I believe it was an abuse of the powers given under the Militia Act.

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I am not going to quarrel with my hon. friend about the Militia Act. I did not anticipate this matter coming up to-day, though it is perfectly in order, because I have to ask for a supplementary vote this present year to pay the expenses of the troops that were called out. When that item comes up I shall have all the information here, and if my hon. friend would let the discussion remain over until that time, it will be only a few days before we can have a thorough discussion of it.

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CON
LIB

Lewis Johnstone Lovett

Liberal

Mr. LOVETT:

Why was the 95th Regiment in my constituency of Digby-Annapolis, ordered out under canvas at Aldershot last summer and a few days later the order countermanded? I would also like the minister to favourably consider giving this regiment drill this summer.

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I have not the details with me but I will venture the answer, and I think

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it is probably the correct one. It is the custom in the department at an earlier date than the estimates get through the House to notify the units that are to train, but last year the estimates were cut down to such an extent that many units were unable to train. I think that is the answer. I shall be glad to give consideration to what my hon. friend suggests.

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LAB

Joseph Tweed Shaw

Labour

Mr. SHAW:

Would the minister tell us what proportion of the amount last year was expended on drill for infantry units, and then indicate the amount that was sent for drill purposes among artillery units, machine gun units and other branches of the service?

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I can get that information for my hon. friend. The details I have here are not separated in that way.

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LAB

Joseph Tweed Shaw

Labour

Mr. SHAW:

I wanted the information for a specific purpose. I find myself in hearty accord with some of the remarks made by the hon. member for South Wellington. I do not agree with him, however, in his view that a larger amount of money should be expended for this particular purpose. I think that this money is largely wasted. In order to determine the value of this training I think you have to take into consideration the different branches of the service that are trained. As I recall pointing out last year, the value of this annual drill so far as infantry units are concerned is practically nil. I think it is of very little value. If you consider the training given you must necessarily come to the conclusion that so far as infantry training is concerned, it has two specific purposes. It is either training men for war purposes, or training them so that they will be able to cany out any functions they may be called upon to perform under the provisions of the Militia Act in aid of the civil power. That latter, fortunately, very seldom becomes the unpleasant duty of any militia unit in this country.

With regard to training men for war service, the important thing is the physical training. It is conceded, and was conceded last year, that it takes a period of six months to train a man for war. Now all the training any infantry unit needs for that service can be acquired certainly within a month. The great essential is to put the man in proper physical condition. That cannot be done in a matter of a week; it cannot be done in a matter of nine days; it cannot be done short of the six months required. It seems to me that under these circumstances the training for infantry units of the character which is car-

ried on is practically valueless. However, with regard to the machine gun and artillery units and other technical branches of the service, this annual training may have some special value.

Let hie indicate what happened last year, and I simply cite this to show that the training is not carried on economically. Last year artillery units were brought from the city of Vancouver for the purpose of firing a few rounds at Sarcee Camp in Calgary, a distance of 640 miles. Artillery units were brought from Saskatoon, and I think from Edmonton, for the purpose of discharging a few shots, and getting a certain amount of training, after which they went home again. That is not training men economically for these technical branches of the service. I am relying for my information on the newspaper reports, which I presume are correct. .1 see no reason why the man at Vancouver cannot take out the gun which he brings with him to Calgary, and fire a few rounds in some selected spot there, and the same with the man from Saskatoon. Why should it be necessary to bring these men at great expense over long distances, bringing their artillery equipment with them, and I have no doubt their shells also, just to spend a little time at the camp and then go back home to their usual vocations? It does appear to me, therefore, that it can be charged with truth that this training is not economically performed so far as the technical branches of the service are concerned, and that so far as the infantiy is concerned, the training is practically valueless. It is for that reason, Mr. Chairman, that I desire to know from the minister the amount of this vote which would, in the ordinary course, be expended for the special technical branches. It was my purpose to move that the balance be eliminated from the vote altogether.

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I can give my hon. friend the figures in numbers of men as I did a few minutes ago. I gave him the number of artillery men-

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LAB
LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I do not think I have that.

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LAB
LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I will have to have a calculation made. As to the number of men in training the figures are: Infantry trained in camp, 8,851; men trained at local headquarters, including those trained in machine guns, 22,011; artillery trained at local head-

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quarters, of which 2,329 attended firing practice in camp for 6 days, 3,038. That would hardly bear out what my hon. friend said that the artillery men were simply firing a few shots when they were in training for six days.

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LAB
LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I suppose they were firing every day when the weather was favourable.

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LIB

Roch Lanctôt

Liberal

Mr. LANCTOT:

Before this item is voted I desire to offer a few remarks intended not for the committee alone but for the country as a whole. I am not of the same opinion as the hon. member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie), the former Minister of Militia, who stated a few minutes ago that the present Minister of Defence should go further and spend more money for militia purposes. I do not agree with that hon. gentleman; I ask the Minister of Defence, in the interest of the people, to spend less money for this purpose.

It will be remembered that last session I expressed opposition to the vote then asked for of $1,400,000. The Minister of Defence had to suspend the consideration of his estimates for about two weeks and then was obliged to reduce the amount asked for. That action on his part was not satisfactory to me nor to many of the people of this country, but I thought that this year the minister would do better. Under the circumstances I am surprised that the minister is asking for such a large amount; it is altogether too much. It is all very well for volunteers in the cities to go in for drill and to receive pay for it; but I do not see why young men in the country districts should at great expense be carried from one part of the country to the other for a period of nine days. For what purpose is it? Really to have a little fun-that is what it amounts to-at the expense of the country. It is claimed that it takes six months' training, at least to fit a soldier to go on the firing line. Well, if the young men are only trained for six days a year-although I have not made up the calculation-it seems to me that it would take practically a century before they could become qualified soldiers. Therefore, I am opposed to such a scheme.

I am a man of peace, as you know, Mr. Chairman, I have always been a man of that type, and as I am getting older from year to year I shall continue in that frame of mind. It is hard for me to realize that all the members of this House are in favour of training our young men to engage in some future European war. Such an idea is repugnant to

the majority of our people, except perhaps the politicians. Is it not admitted by almost everybody that we have been virtually ruined as a result of our engaging in the last European war? I think we occupy to-day a very unenviable position, bearing as we do such an enormous burden in connection with our National Railways and having to support such an immense debt as a result of the

4 p.m. war. For my part I do not see how we are ever going to get out of these difficulties. Therefore, when men say, in this House and outside of it, that we should prepare ourselves for a future war I do not accept such advice, neither do the people of the country. It is altogether opposed to common sense, in view of our past experiences and present conditions, that anybody should suggest our going ahead and training men and spending more money for some war in the future. That is my point of view.

I know very well that the so-called big men in the militia want money voted from year to year for military purposes and for the training of the militia. They want to demonstrate to the people that they are doing something, otherwise they would lose their jobs.

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An hon. MEMBER:

Who are those men?

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LIB

Roch Lanctôt

Liberal

Mr. LANCTOT:

They are the brigadier-generals, the colonels, the majors and the officers of other ranks. Now the minister is asking for $50,000 more than we voted last year for annual drill, and $100,000 more for the cadet services. Will this expenditure be to the benefit of the country? I say, no. Whenever the need arises to maintain the peace in Canada we have to call upon the permanent force. If I am not mistaken the minister told the committee a moment ago that he had to despatch troops from the permanent force to Cape Breton when a disturbance occurred there. Why, I ask in the name of my electors, is it necessary to spend nearly $13,000,000 this year on the militia, the navy and the mounted police? After the recent war was brought to a close we were told that the last war had been fought, and that we were through with war forever. In spite of that we are still being called upon to vote these large expenditures for military purposes, at a time when the people are being taxed in so many different ways. Let me say, for example, that it will take a great many two-cent stamps to even begin to pay the $13,000,000 referred to. Do you not think, Mr. Chairman, that the time has arrived when this government should say: We are going to have a rest now in the matter of military expenditure; we are going to cut

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by one-half these expenditures for at least five years to come; and if in the future some of our boys want to go and engage in European wars let them go on their own account and let those who foster such action help to bear the expense? That is my opinion. In future, if I am still a member of the House and if anything of this kind is proposed either by my party, or by the Tory party, or by the Progressive party, I will tell you frankly where I shall stand-my policy shall be "Not a man, not a dollar." I move that this item be cut in two; that is to say, that instead of $1,050,000, one-half of that amount should be voted.

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LIB

George Newcombe Gordon (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

The amendment requires to be in writing. If the hon. member will present it in writing, it will be submitted to the committee.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I would gladly support some such amendment as that moved by my hon. friend (Mr. Lanctot), not because I want half that amount expended, but because this seems the only way possible to protest against the larger expenditure. As representing a Canadian constituency and a rather important one, I must protest against expenditures for military purposes. I think I may speak, not merely for one constituency, but for a large section of the labour people across this country from coast to coast, who almost unanimously protest against continued military expenditures. I notice that the items for militia, the naval service and the air force, amount to nearly $13,000,000. If we add to that the estimate for the mounted police force, which is more or less a military police force, although it is under another department, we have the enormous sum of over $15,000,000 which is being expended in this country for preparation for some future war or for some possible disturbance at home.

We ought to ask ourselves very definitely, as I said last yfear, against what enemy we are proposing to go. Are we proposing to keep down by military force any rebellion at home? What province in Canada is regarded as disloyal; what section of the community is regarded as disloyal, that we need to maintain a large military force in order to quell any possible rebellion? To-day we have had called to our attention the fact that the permanent force was used in the Cape Breton district during the past summer. I wonder whether that was a wise movement or not. I happened to be down there a few months after the occurrence, and not merely the labour people who were immediately involved, but business men, editors and others in that district were unanimously of opinion, as far as

I was able to gather, that this was a very unwise move. I wonder if the committee is aware that the military were sent down there in spite of protests of mayors of the towns involved. Is the committee aware that a force of some 1,500 returned men lined up in opposition to the military, and it was only the restraint, alike of the returned men and, I am glad to say, of the officers commanding the forces that were sent down, that prevented a fearful tragedy in that district? Was it wise that men from Ontario and Quebec should be sent down to Nova Scotia to try to subdue a number of the very best citizens of Scotch extraction, resident for several generations, of Canada? Surely, there are some other means of settling our industrial disputes in this country than by sending our militia from one province to quell a rebellion of Canadian people in another province.

Are we preparing against any other foe at the present time? I would like the government who are responsible for bringing in these estimates, to tell us whether they contemplate any action against the United States to the south of us-we with our eight or nine million people and over one hundred million on the other side. Could we make any defence there, if defence had to be made by means of military force? Are we proposing, as the last speaker said, to take part in any future European conflict? Whether or not members of the government or members of the committee know this, a vei-y considerable proportion of the people of Canada will not again stand for that kind of thing. It is all very well from time to time in this House to utter praises about loyalty to Empire and so on. Some of us claim to be as loyal Canadians and as loyal British subjects as there are anywhere; but we do not believe in some of the policies that have been pursued in the past in the name of the British Empire or in the name of the Canadian people, and the number of those who hold that opinion is rapidly growing. Are we preparing for any European conflict? We may well pause and ask ourselves such questions.

Probably we are going along simply on the old principle that preparedness is the best way to avoid war; that preparedness is a sort of insurance against war. That doctrine has been proved absolutely false by the events of the last few years. Preparedness carries with it no guarantee whatever of peace, and I take it that the big thing we have to learn these days is that the guarantees of peace do not consist of large armies, or of a large naval force or of an air force or anything of that kind. The guarantees of peace are altogether

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different. We have been told by leading thinkers in nearly all countries that we have entered a new age. We have been warned that if we pursue the old methods, we are inevitably bound for catastrophe. I take it that we in Canada are at this time in a peculiarly favourable position to begin to work our way out into new methods for ensuring and perpetuating peace. We are on this North American continent side by side with a friendly nation to the south of us. We are eloseley united by ties of blood with Great Britain, France, and I am glad to think also, through a considerable part of our population in the West, with large numbers of European peoples. We have no hereditary enemies; we have no enemy that stands at our gates. Under such circumstances, I should like to think that we would .cut down these expenditures and take our part in showing the world a better way. I notice that we are not asked to make this year any grant to housing, for which last year we paid $10,000,000 or about that sum. We are not asked to make any grants to the unemployed. Many of these unemployed are men who in the last war were called to serve our country, yet to-day are walking our streets without work. We should take care of the wrecks of the last war before we begin to train our boys for the next war.

There is another item on which I do not intend to speak, but it is closely connected with this. I refer to the training of cadets. Here again, the same question arises. Are the people generally anxious to maintain the enthusiasm which some hon. gentlemen in the House would like to see maintained for military things? From all sections of this country, from grain growers' locals, from labour bodies, even in some instances from bodies altogether outside of this kind of organization, we have resolutions edming in asking that anything like a glorification of militarism should be put down. All sorts of international bodies are meeting in Europe asking that we should join in a campaign against militarism. It is no use our talking about disarmament or declaiming against great military establishments in Europe unless at home we begin to put our theories into practice. We have a far easier task in Canada than is the case in Europe. We have not the animosities and standing armies they have in Europe. We have not the old established systems nor the military caste that they have in Europe; It is easier for us to begin the task here. I will gladly support any motion looking towards a reduction of our military estimates with a view to eliminating them altogether just as soon as possible.

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Mr. MEWBURN; I must take exception to the remarks of the last speaker (Mr. Woodsworth). I congratulate the minister on having increased the vote by $50,000; indeed, I think it is hardly enough. The country decided many years ago to have a militia force in Canada and it will be time enough to cut down the estimates when that decision is reversed. I agree with the hon. member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie), however, that some of the $1,000,000 voted last year was wasted. I do not wish for one moment to be understood as criticizing the very highly experienced officers, whose technical knowledge is of such considerable value, whom the minister has on his general staff. I do not believe that any better officers can be found anywhere. They were handicapped, I believe, in their endeavour to train the militia of Canada last year by reason of the reduction in the vote. But I do think that some of the money that was spent might have been devoted to better advantage in concentrating on certain units in the country. I agree with the hon. member for Calgary West (Mr. Shaw) that with the artillery, machine gun and other technical units a greater effort should have been made to train the men in camps and to concentrate in the work carried out. As regards the infantry, I believe that better results could have been obtained had the whole of the force been trained at local headquarters, and I refer particularly to the city corps. I realize the difficulties the rural corps have, possessing no local headquarters. But as regards city corps in all our cities, I must say that these men have been in the past and are to-day, a wonderful credit to Canada. Of the small pittance meted out to them for training during the maximum of nine days provided for, I think I am safe in saying that not one cent went into the pockets of the individual officers, non-commissioned officers or men. These men are endeavouring to build up their units, a good many of which are up to the old peace establishment; and they cannot do this without expenditure of money. As I pointed out, these corps, previous to the war, augmented their regimental funds by husbanding their resources, and the money that was given for training was put back into the units for the purpose of increasing their efficiency. I know that the city corps spend in training, a good many more than the nine or twelve days that they are paid for. They train all winter; the non-commissioned officers hold classes of instruction; and there is rifle shooting practice throughout the summer. This work is very commendable. But I think it was an error to have small spasmodic camps throughout the

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country Where a few hundred men were assembled, and from which they could not get any material benefit. I have great pleasure in supporting the vote and am delighted that there has been an increase in the expenditure for cadet service. If we want to build up the patriotism which we need in this country we must devote our energies to the young men who engage in the cadet service. My friend from Winnipeg (Mr. Woodsworth) objects to the militia and the mounted police; I daresay he speaks from some experience. But we know what advantage there was in having the mounted police and the militia during the late trouble in Winnipeg, and it is a credit to the country that we had men who were loyal enough to stand by the nation at that time.

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March 6, 1923