The same idea has been written by the British parliament into every change in our constitution in Canada. It runs through the decision of the privy council.
According to the census of 1931, forty-eight per cent of the population of Canada is not of British descent. The figures of the new census are not out. Practically all of them are Canadians by either birth or naturalization. Those who are Canadians by birth know no other allegiance; those who are Canadians by naturalization have taken the oath of allegiance to our king and -country, and their king and country have signed on the naturalization papers a solemn pledge. The individual pledges himself to be loyal, to stand by this country, to serve in our armies if necessary; the king and country -pledge to him the right of the ballot, the right of citizenship, and the right to all the freedom to which any British-born subject is entitled.
I am not going back into old history, but the remark I am -going to -make will -bring up old -history. When it becomes necessary to release the individual from that pledge or break our own toward him in order to enforce any law, that law should not be passed in a
The Address-Mr. Gardiner
British country. The British government has followed the practice since the days of Pitt and Burke through the time of Peel, Gladstone, Disraeli, Asquith and Churchill, of winning support through persuasion, not by coercion. Any system which has to substitute coercion for persuasion in Canada is doomed to failure. Conscription will get results in a democracy only when it is a regulation of the will of the people. Quebec, under our federated democratic system, is a democracy which can never, in conformity with British custom, practise and the pledged word of Britain's statesmen, be coerced in connection with matters of this kind.
Our whole constitution is the proof of this. We have developed it from the days of the most totalitarian form of government the world has ever known, royal government as practised under Louis XIV. Step by step, with the consent of the people of Quebec, from the old days when the British government had absolute control, this constitution has been developed until now we have representative, responsible government. That is the course which any British house that is guided by British principles will follow in connection with this or any other great public matter.
The great performance of Quebec under the leadership of the late Right Hon. Ernest Lapointe, through registration, through production of food, through production of munitions, supplies, equipment and ships, through providing men for the defence of Canada and sending them to Britain-as General McNaugh-ton said the other day, some of the finest units in the Canadian army have come from Quebec -has placed her in a position where her representatives in this house do not need to plead her cause. I remember when the registration was first mentioned, people said that we could not take a registration in Canada. We did take a registration, and the only province in the dominion where we had to place policemen at the booths in order to regulate traffic made up of people who wanted to get in their signatures *was in the province of Quebec. In some districts in which the propriety was most questioned they signed to the last man. As I say, the members from Quebec do not need to plead her cause. Welland has so stated. York South has so stated.
Every English Liberal member in this house pledges himself to the British Liberal principle of persuasion, even to persuading the people to accept conscription. The effort of every man who believes in conscription should not be one of coercion, it should be an effort to persuade. I am sure that if this country is ever face to face with a condition where its interests or institutions are threatened to a
point where greater man-power from Canada can save them by fighting any place in the world, and conscription is the only method by which they can be secured, it will be possible to convince the people of this country that it is necessary.
Right across Canada are scattered those of nationalities other than British. In my own province of Saskatchewan only 45-8 per cent are of British descent and only 5-4 per cent are of French-Canadian descent. This leaves 48-8 per cent of the population of non-English and non-French descent. These people have a record in food production, in both this and the last war, in the production of munitions and arms and in the providing of men for the fighting services, of which they have reason to be proud. You cannot make unwilling conscripts fly planes. You cannot make unwilling conscripts fight tanks. You cannot put a whole band of conscripts on corvettes. This is a job for soldiers inspired by a conviction which compels them to fight.
After the Franco-Prussian war the Germans compelled the French to abandon their practices of conscription established by Napoleon. After that decision they then built up an army stronger than the conscript army of Germany. After the last great war the allies compelled the Prussians to abandon the conscription they had practised from the time of Napoleon. The nazis substituted for conscription an idea for which to fight. They developed it into a fanatical desire on the part of the whole youth of their country to inflict their views upon the world. They took the United States plane, truck and submarine and the British tank and manned them with fighting fanatics for a cause. They were inspired as were the Mohammedans of old. The Japanese were not permitted in the last war to display their will to fight. The greatest glory in the existence of a Jap is to be killed in battle and join his fathers in the great beyond.
There is nothing in the theory of government based upon coercion and force which would inspire a British subject to willing battle. But his religious beliefs and his love of freedom know no bounds as a means of inspiration. \Ve must fill our planes, our tanks, our ships, with men inspired with a love of freedom. We must send them forth to war, not with a grudge in their hearts but with a song upon their lips. The task of creating that attitude is the task of this parliament, our churches, our schools and our press. God help Canada if the future prosecution of this war is to be interfered with by the back-room scribblings of paid writers, rather than by the
The Address-Mr. Gauthier
freely expressed opinions of the representatives of the people in church and state and press. We, the members of this house, have a duty to perform. Every hon. member can perform this duty by selling the idea that our men are fighting for a cause that is worthy of the supreme sacrifice.
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Mr. Speaker, almost two years have elapsed since March 26, 1940, when the people of this country, in giving a mandate of five years to this parliament, clearly expressed their opposition to conscription for overseas service. At the very beginning of the new parliament, however, the obstinate advocates of this troublesome measure opened fire in this house. As to-day, they were supported by a gathering of so-called patriots whose purpose is to divide this country and perpetrate their unavowable purposes and release themselves and their friends from a part of the duties imposed upon them by the state of war. They need a smoke-screen to hide their movements, their manoeuvres, their intrigues, and to accomplish their work. As in 1917, their work is conscription. They know that a good part of the population, the larger part of-the Canadian people, is against this measure; but knowing the almighty power of gold, backed by a strong press organization, they carry on with a sardonic smile, anxious to attain to that national disunity on which they live. We had conscription in 1917. It was voted on at the election, and all the men who had been called for service under that coercive and hateful law were exempted because the election was coming, but a few months after the election had been held the draftees were called back. The Union government was in power, and behind the smoke-screen of conscription scandals had a wonderful time. But to gain that conscription law they had to divide the country, and they had to have a scapegoat.
In Australia they tried to impose conscription, but in that country they could not find a scapegoat, and twice the people of English descent gave a negative answer to the conscription referendum. They are trying it again this time, and they are so blinded by their appetite for gold profits that they have not even bothered to face the question of their country being directly attacked by Japan. There, too, they have their helpers, their tools, with which they hope to succeed. But Australian patriots in eveiy class of society protest and have no intention of sending their soldiers elsewhere when they are so much needed at home. If they had a right to protest there, we, too, have a right to protest here and to ask that our soldiers be kept
at home. The defence of this country comes first. To those who place our first line of defence in Europe we are motivated to say that if the unprotected countries of the commonwealth fall one after another, England will not be provided with the food and munitions she needs.
Because Quebec is against conscription, some of these birds of passage, some of them after a lifetime of political and financial success, go back home to England or to evade taxes live in sunny isles; because the people of Quebec have lived in this land since the first trip of Jacques Cartier and have had patience to overcome all obstacles and have kept this country united to Britain in 1775 and 1813, because French-Canadians believe in Canada before and above everything else, because they ask for their share in the economic and social life of the country which they have opened and helped to build up, because Quebec raised her voice and played her part in the last war, and much more in this one, and wants to do it voluntarily, some of these narrow-minded colonials-imperialists, if it serves their purpose-Americans if it meets their contentions- Canadians if the patriotic bell has to sound louder, although they never think as real Canadians, admitting that gold has no colour, no odour, no race, no nationality, direct their insinuating speeches or press articles, on the scapegoat whom they had chosen in 1917 and whom they are still trying to immolate on the altar of their fanaticism.
The "two hundred" as they have been called, ask for total war and unity of sacrifice. Why do they not ask for equality of sacrifice? Why do they not ask themselves for the real conscription of money? That at least would show a little sincerity. But no, they ask for the conscription of men for overseas service, to send men abroad, far away. It will fatten the big contracts for armament and equipment. There will always be a way to replace the men. By immigration probably. But have they enough money to pay for the life of one Canadian soldier? Have they enough guts, those who are of military age, to leave their pleasures, their money and their pretentious homes and enlist for overseas service? I believe they are well protected by age, and I would not be surprised if among them one could find a few conscientious objectors whose faith forbids them- to fight against human beings but permits them to send others to war. They are safer behind the counters and better situated to grab the savings of their clients.
France had her "two hundreds". In 1935 they were lending money to Hitler, and giving as a pretext that it was the best way to kill
The Address-Mr. Gauthier
communism. Their political friends were receiving German and Italian funds for political propaganda. Anything was good that helped them accomplish their unpatriotic schemes. There it was not Quebec; it was communism. These "two hundreds" in France had complete control of the Bank of France.
In our country our "two hundred" had their friends too. They control banks, insurance companies, mining corporations, steel works, construction companies, large departmental stores, naval construction, office specialties, et cetera. They have connections in every circle of our economic life. They have friends in the provincial and federal administrations. For a disguise they patronize charitable organizations. They are everywhere. They are the octopus with numerous and strong tentacles, sucking the very lifeblood of the country-at least what is left of it.
Have they frightened the government-this government with the largest majority ever given by the people since confederation? Have they succeeded in making this parliament believe that the people of this country have changed their minds on the conscription issue? I do not recall any special occasion on which the people have expressed a change of opinion on this question. Of course, a strongly organized press campaign has been going on for months, and even a member of the British parliament has been touring Canada to try to convince our people that conscription was the really crowning glory of the total national war effort. But the Prime Minister of England, when he was called upon to express his opinion, said, "I usually mind my own business."
Prominent members of this parliament keep saying, especially during by-election time, that they do not need men over there, that conscription will not be necessary here for overseas service. Personally I think that it would not be necessary if everyone gave a really helping hand to voluntary enlistment. I am not the only one witnessing all kinds of impediments arising from the fact that some people in Canada want this system to fail in order to draw this parliament into a conscription policy against the very will and opinion of this country. I shall have further opportunity to explain more clearly what I have in mind. If we do not need conscription, why ask the people to release the government and, I will say, parliament from its commitments concerning conscription? To have liberty of action?
We have witnessed since 1937 a series of events gradually progressing year by year. Some Liberal members rose in opposition to the increased subsidies for national defence;
not because they did not care for home defence, but because they were anticipating that this new move of the government was the start of an empire defence plan; they were told then that this was not the case. I, myself, quoted Sir Wilfrid Laurier speaking on the Guthrie amendment to bill No. 21 introduced during the 1912-1913 session by Sir Robert Borden, the then prime minister. At page 7232 of Hansard, Sir Wilfrid Laurier is reported as having said:
I now come to a consideration of the fact, made manifest by one of the last speeches of Mr. Churchill, that the admiralty favours contribution and not autonomous organization. This is not a new thing: the British admiralty has always preferred a system of imperial contribution to the idea of autonomous organization. At the imperial conference in 1902, Lord Selborne, the predecessor of Mr. Churchill, made a proposal that we should have imperial contributions.
The Canadian press of February 5, 1937, has reported the words of Sir Samuel Hoare speaking at a lunch given by the chamber of commerce of Bradford. He, too, was stating that any programme of defence should be an empire-wide one. It is clear that the lords of the admiralty have not changed their mind.
This group of members asked for the exact location of Canada's boundaries. A bill sponsored by Mr. MacNeill suggested an amendment to the Militia Act: the bill had a first-class funeral. *
I heard in this house some members of the s^me group saying that our geographical situation placed us in a safe position, should the axis powers direct an attack on Canada; we were told that it was cowardice to count on others to defend our country.
During by-elections in 1937 and 1938, the people were told that there would not be any participation in external wars. I remember very well that one participant had learned his lesson over there; the other would advise his compatriots not to enlist for overseas. When the participation came, it was to be a moderate one, very moderate; it was accepted by the people and by the dissident members in a provincial election because of the assurance given that there would not be any conscription for overseas. Part of the verdict of that provincial election was in favour of providing England and her allies with men and munitions; the larger part of this verdict was an expression of disapproval of the Union National government.
Then the barometer of our war effort made a jump. The "two hundred" had not- yet gathered around their loaded tables for their "ever notorious dinner" having as a result a dangerous elevation of colonial blood pressure, but they 'were already on the job.
The Address-Mr. Gauthier
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
It is rather a coincidence that two farmers, particularly from the government side, should speak in this house on the one evening. Farmers, of course, are not gifted as speech-makers like men of some other callings.
The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) gave us a short survey of the agricultural situation in Canada, and I hope for a few minutes to speak of conditions, as I know them in Ontario and more especially perhaps in the riding which I have the honour to represent. Before doing that, however, I wish to discuss two or three other matters in regard to our war effort.
Living as I do some fifty miles from the city of Toronto where this committee for total war had its birth, and where the Globe and Mail has quite a large circulation-although I must say not nearly as large as it once was, which condition I believe is characteristic not only of our part of the country but of all the province of Ontario-in speaking of the
The Address-Mr. Rickard
Globe and Mail I endorse everything the hon. member for Simooe East (Mr. McLean) said the other evening. To my mind the Globe and Mail not only has tried to discredit the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) and the government of Canada, but has, to say the least, done no good to Canada's war effort.
We have in the constituency of Durham four weekly newspapers and one daily, all of which carry full-page or half-page advertisements advocating a total war effort, and urging the voters to write their member asking for total war. I have received thirty-six clippings from newspapers, representing about fifty names, and ten letters from individuals and organizations, some in support of an all-out war effort, some absolutely opposed to conscription, others telling me to use my own judgment and do what I think right. I was glad to get these communications because I always like to hear from the people of my constituency on any subject in which they are interested. I believe the people who wrote me were sincere, and I am always glad to get their opinions.
Before I came to Ottawa I was asked by the press to state my position. I declined to do so until I had had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the facts as far as it was possible to get them, and thinking, of course, that parliament is the proper place in which to express my opinions on such an important subject.
Before continuing what I have to say, I want to add my word of congratulation to the mover and the seconder of the address in reply to the speech from the throne. Both hon. members did admirably; I only wish I had at my command the eloquence to do as well. I also want to congratulate the Prime Minister upon his wonderfully clear explanation of Canada's war effort. That speech will go down in history as one of the greatest he ever made. More than that, when his career is written the Prime Minister will be classed as one of the greatest statesmen in the world. I only wish every Canadian might have an opportunity pf reading that speech. Canada is indeed fortunate that we have a man like our Prime Minister at the head of its government to-day. Notwithstanding all the criticisms that have been hurled at him from all sides, not only inside the house but from outside, by men who want to vent their personal feelings even in war time, notwithstanding all these things, the Prime Minister believes that his word is as good as his bond. I am glad to follow a man of that kind.
The Conservative party, as has been said many times, under the leadership of Doctor Manion definitely opposed conscription in the
I Mr. Rickard.]
last election. Hon. members can read the speeches he made in this house, in Brockville, in Quebec, in many western cities and in every part of Canada. He opposed conscription throughout, because of the effect it had in 1917. I was going to say also that the present leader of the Conservative party, Mr. Meighen-but I must now leave out the word "present"-opposed conscription for overseas service without the consent of the people or without the people being consulted. He did this in his Hamilton speech, in his Winnipeg speech, but now, of course, we hear nothing but. conscription for overseas service.
Conscription has been made a political football, as if it were the only issue in connection with our war effort. The Prime Minister made certain pledges and promises to the people, and he intends to keep them. Personally I made no promises for or against conscription, but I feel, as every hon. member must, no matter to what party he belongs, that having accepted the policy of his leader, we are practically all in the same boat, we cannot take a different course to-day. The fact that men in high positions and entrusted with the government of certain countries broke their word, regarded their promises as mere scraps of paper is one of the reasons why we are at war to-day. Someone may say, we are at war, we have no time to take a plebiscite. But our war effort will go on just the same.
Then it is said that the Prime Minister is evading responsibility. To my mind, as has been said before, he is asking for responsibility, not evading it. If the time ever comes that in my opinion we need conscription of men for overseas service, then I shall be for it. But I want conscription of everything else as well, man-power, woman-power, industry, labour, wealth and all natural resources, to wTin this war. I am not interested in politics; I am not interested in any personal gain that may come to me; my sole ambition is, as is that of every hon. member and every one in Canada for that matter, to win this war. That is the paramount concern in our minds to-day.
It is my intention to do everything I can to put this plebiscite across. I am going to ask the people of my riding to vote for the plebiscite, and I am sure they will. I hope hon. members to my left will do likewise. I w'as very glad to hear the hon. member for Danforth (Mr. Harris) the other night say that if this plebiscite is put to the people, he is going to vote for it. That is the true spirit. Here I might remark that the hon. member for Danforth may be the next leader of the Conservative party.
The Address-Mr. Rickard
I saw an editorial in the Toronto Daifry Star of January 30, 1942, headed "Ignore the Plebiscite." It reads:
Certain conscriptionists hostile to Mr. King and the government-they include an evening contemporary-are advising those of similar views to ignore the plebiscite instead of helping to secure a favourable verdict on it. They must surely not have realized what a favourable verdict will involve.
A favourable verdict will release Mr. King from his pledge not to impose conscription for overseas service. But what does that mean, if not this-that a favourable verdict will remove one of the arguments against the imposition of conscription, namely that conscription is prevented by a government pledge. The issue will then have to be debated in parliament on its merits only. Surely that is what conscriptionists wish. Yet our contemporary advises people to ignore the plebiscite which would, if carried, bring this about.
If the plebiscite carries, Mr. King will have to debate conscription on its merits alone. Our contemporary thinks its merits are overwhelming. How then could it better achieve its well known ambition to put Mr. King on the spot than to put him on this spot, where he will be on what it considers the very weak side of an argument, without any pledge to obscure the issue?
In justice to other newspapers which are opposed to Mr. King on the conscription issue, it must be said that while most of them criticize the holding of a plebiscite, the great majority say that the patriotic thing to do is to carry the plebiscite now that it is to be held. That, of course, is true. Canada should free the government's hands, and thus free the discussion from everything not pertaining to the merits or demerits of conscription as a Canadian policy.
I't is not my intention to discuss the war effort at great length. This has been done by many hon. members much better than I could possibly expect to do it. But as I see it, Canada's war effort is divided: three ways-the army, munitions of war, and food. Men are required for the army, the navy and the air force-and the army is only one part of the whole war programme. The question seems to be: How shall we raise a part of that part of the war effort? Munitions to-day are reaching a point where it will tax the capacity of this country in money, men for industry and food from the farms. In the air force; of course, the sky is the limit as far as enlistments are concerned. The same is true of the navy. In both these forces we have at present several thousand men on the waiting list. But in the army, as far as overseas service is concerned, there must be a limit, if we are going to provide munitions of war in industry, and production from the farms.
This war is different from the last one, in that we have an air force. We had no such thing in the last war. We had no tanks or
tank trailers, or any of dozens of other forms of the mechanized equipment we have in this war.
A survey of man-power under the voluntary system to December 31, 1941, shows that we have enlisted in all branches nearly 425,000 men. In 1941 alone we had over 180,000 in all branches. And from October to January, a period of four months, 32,000 enlisted in the army. In January alone 11,000 enlisted in that branch of the service, and it is expected that this month 15,000 men will enlist. In addition to this, we have 550,000 men and about 75,000 women in industry and munitions.
As was said this afternoon by the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston), we shall soon reach 700,000. While the population of Canada is somewhat larger than it was in the last war, yet the number of men of military age who are physically fit is not so much greater. In the last war we had four divisions of armed forces overseas, and in this war we have 425,000 men in the forces, and three or four times as many men in munitions, as at the time of the last war. At the present time we have overseas about 130,000 men, and enlistments for overseas are about 120,000 to 125,000. The Minister of National Defence has definitely stated that he is opposed to calling up men faster than they can be trained. With this I entirely agree. There is no use in taking men if we have no munitions to fight with. It does not matter how brave a man may be, if he has not the proper equipment he is not of much use. Our capacity for training is about 11,000 a month, and we shall have this month about 15,000. These figures are for the army alone. Besides this, we have many battalions on the Pacific and elsewhere in Canada for our own defence.
At this point I want to pay tribute to the armed forces-the boys in the army, the navy and the air force, both officers and men. I pay tribute to industry and to labour, and not the least, to farmers, and to all others who are in any way making this splendid war effort possible; for without the cooperation of everyone of these it would not have been possible.
For a few minutes I should like to discuss agriculture. Given an average crop, and provided they get help, the farmers of Canada should be in a fairly satisfactory position this year. There will be good markets for nearly all they produce, and most likely very fair prices will be offered. The price ceiling which has been enforced has been placed on almost all the farmer has to buy, but it has not been enforced to so great an extent with respect to all he has to sell. Of course in the west, if crops are poor the farmers will have at least a guaranteed minimum return, or some form
The Address-Mr. Rickard
of government assistance. Wheat and wheat farming constitute, of course, the biggest and the most contentious problem. Despite that, we shall have less wheat to carrjf over than we have had in previous years.
No farmer can expect to compete with industry and its high wages, when no surplus of labour is offered. Men have left the farm at an alarming rate, and the farmer cannot pay the wages to entice them back. We cannot blame the men for this, because naturally a man or a woman will go where he or She can get the best return for his or her labour. With Great Britain calling for increased supplies of food, as the Prime Minister told us in his speech, the farm labour situation is serious, and is going to be more serious. Something will have to be done about it if we are to produce the maximum of food' to feed our allies and ourselves.
I happen to live in an area close to General Motors and the Pickering explosives plant where hundreds of farmers' sons and hired men have gone to work at wages far above those the farmers can afford to pay. I am told there are about 6,000 people working at that plant, and half of them are women. This has crippled agriculture in our district. I believe the same condition is true in many other parts of Ontario.
We are told, of course, that agriculture is the basic industry of Canada and, as I said before, Great Britain needs all we can produce of bacon, cheese, milk, eggs and many other commodities. If we are to produce those things there will have to be some sort of selective service for the farmers. If this is not possible, then I would suggest that the farmer be given some kind of bonus. I do not like the word "bonus" and I do not like bonuses, because I do not agree with that principle. But the farmers must be given some sort of financial assistance so as to compete with wages paid in industry. This must be done at once so that the farmer can plan his production, because that cannot possibly be done at a moment's notice.
Recently a survey was made in my county, and I believe a similar survey has been made generally throughout Ontario. While nothing definite has as yet been published with respect to it, I believe it has been done with the sole purpose of finding out the position of the farmers in that province, and particularly, perhaps, with regard to farm labour. I venture to say that in my county from one-quarter to one-third of the farmers will be asking for an increase by way of help.
I would suggest one other thing with respect to agriculture, and that is that the committee on agriculture be allowed to meet. We are
told that there must be something specific or definite to be considered before the committee can be called together. Surely in these times there are enough problems confronting our farmers to warrant this committee functioning. I think there are enough hon. members interested in agriculture to work up some programme that will be of assistance to the government in formulating a policy. I hope the chairman of the agriculture committee will bear these suggestions in mind.
I should like to refer briefly to the four months' training as it affects farmers' sons. Many of these boys have taken their four months' training expecting to be released in order to be able to help on the farm. But this has been found to be almost impossible.
I must say that the local board in our district, No. 3 in Kingston, has been most considerate. A great many young men have been given a postponement of a few months, but that is most unsatisfactory. I should like to see some system worked out whereby these boys could be given total exemption as long as they stay on the farm. I believe they can do just as much for Canada's war effort by producing food as they can by serving in any other branch. Instead of setting up boards in districts like Kingston and Toronto, I think it would be much better if smaller boards were set up in the counties or townships. The members of these boards would have a better chance of becoming acquainted with the situation existing in their particular section of the country.
I believe in selective service if it can be worked out, but it presents a great problem. It is no use putting a man who knows nothing about farming on a farm. I have had some experience in that connection, particularly with apple pickers. Men have been sent out from the cities who knew nothing about this wrork, and we would have been better off without them. There must be something done in this regard. I leave these few thoughts with the government in the hope that they will receive consideration.
In closing let me say: Let us forget our petty differences; let us forget our party politics and all work together to help win this war. In the words of Churchill:
Come then-let us to the task to the battle and the toil. .
Each to our part, each to our station, fill the armies, rule the air, pour out the munitions, strangle the U-boats, sweep the mines, plough the land, build the ships, guard the streets, succour the wounded, uplift the downcast and honour the brave.
Let us go forward together ... in all parts of the empire, in all parts of this island. There is not a week, nor a day, nor an hour to be lost.
The Address-Mr. McDonald (Pontiac)
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Mr. Speaker, as representative of a constituency the population of which is in majority French-Canadian and knowing how interested they are in the present debate, I feel bound to briefly state in French my position in connection with the plebiscite mentioned in the speech from the throne.
Like many other members of the House of Commons, during the electoral campaign, not only have I supported the platform of my leader, the Right Hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King), on conscription, but I have also formally pledged myself to vote against any form of compulsion for overseas service.
The Prime Minister, in the speech delivered in this house and published in the press, has stated the reasons for which his government would submit the following question to the Canadian population by means of a plebiscite:
Are you in favour of releasing the government from any obligations arising out of any past commitments restricting the methods of raising men for military service?
By this democratic measure, the Prime Minister keeps his promises to the Canadian people, setting aside, at the same time, the advice proffered by the opposition and the group of so-called patriots at a recent meeting held in Toronto. Resting my faith in him and in the ministers from my province, I intend to support this proposition. I refuse to betray the confidence of my electors by voting for the amendment of the opposition, which would eventually lead to conscription. I remember with sorrow this evil measure and the methods of its enforcement in our province during the last war. I shall state my special reasons in the English portion of my speech.
(Text) Mr. Speaker, I do not think I can be accused of being a frequent offender in taking up the time of this house. My reason for doing so to-night is the fact that the questions at issue in this debate, particularly those relating to the plebiscite, are of the greatest importance to the people of Canada and are none the less interesting to my constituents.
Before proceeding to make known my attitude regarding the plebiscite, I should like to refer to the National Resources Mobilization Act, which, in my humble opinion, should be amended. I refer particularly to that section under which farmers and farmers' sons may have their call to service postponed by making application to the registrar of the district from which they receive their notice.
Several hon. members who have preceded me in this debate, particularly the hon. member for Cochrane (Mr. Bradette), have revealed the hardships imposed upon those who are entitled to postponement, of their services when they are making application because of the fact that the committee charged with the duty of studying their case and rendering judgment is located at too great a distance from the applicant's home to give him an opportunity of appearing in person or of being represented by someone in order that his case may be submitted in the proper light. I am in complete accord with the hon. member when he submits that a change in this procedure is necessary. I believe there should be set up in each county a tribunal or committee of some kind to deal with this.
I would go so far as to suggest an amendment to the act whereby those persons who fall into the category of those entitled to postponement of service would be granted an exemption. No great amount of argument is necessary to prove that the presence of a farmer or a farmer's son is necessary upon the farm, not only for three or six months, but for the entire year, if the farm is to be worked to its full productive capacity and the farming community throughout Canada enabled to answer the call of the government for an all-out production during this war period.
As is the case no doubt with many other members of this house, I have received numerous letters from farmers in my constituency asking me to use my influence to have their sons exempted. Of course, mine was the stereotyped reply:
[DOT] u inform you that I can exercise no
influence on your behalf, much as I appreciate your position and am desirous to assist you to attain that to which you or your son should be entitled not postponement only-but exemption from service.
I have before me several letters along this line from which I shall quote briefly. One is from a farmer who relates to me that his eldest son enlisted voluntarily in the service last fall, and to that he takes no objection. In fact the father says, "I am proud of him." But now his other son, the only help he has on the farm, is being called for service under the mobilization act, and the father says, "I am of the opinion in all justice that he should be exempted from service." Another letter is from a young farmer up in the northern part of my county, a young married man who is established on a farm of one hundred acres. He mentions that he has horses, cattle and
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The Address-Mr. McDonald (Pontiac)
sheep, and that twenty-five acres of his hundred acres is ready for sowing next spring, but a call for service will mean that his farm will remain uncultivated next year.
I also received to-day a largely signed petition to the same effect from a group of farmers in my county. I shall present the petition to the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) to-morrow because it is addressed to him. I respectfully suggest to the government that serious consideration be given to this proposed amendment. I am well aware that there might be abuses in regard to these exemptions, but I am strongly of opinion that there can be found throughout the country men sufficiently imbued with a sense of responsibility and patriotic enough to act upon these tribunals, if established, in each county, who will perform their duties in a conscientious manner.
Let me return to the question of the plebiscite mentioned in the speech from the throne and already discussed at some length in this chamber. Like many other members of this house, during the election campaign of 1940 I accepted the candidature of the Liberal party under the leadership of the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King), and in that capacity I accepted in its entirety the programme submitted by him to the people of Canada. Included therein was a clause providing for the enlistment of Canada's army under a voluntary system and a direct promise that conscription would not be introduced. My election is a direct consequence of my acceptance of the candidature of the party and its programme during the campaign and I consider myself in honour bound to give my loyal support to my leader and my party, even if I were not further bound by a personal pledge to my constituents who voted against conscription. That pledge, conscientiously given at the time and with a full knowledge and experience of the baneful effects of conscription in the last war, I intend to honour, notwithstanding certain intimations here and in the press of the country that one should consider himself automatically absolved from these commitments, having in mind the serious war situation prevailing to-day. But, Mr. Speaker, it has been my honour and privilege to represent the provincial county of Pontiac in the legislature of Quebec for sixteen years and the greater county of Pontiac in the federal house for seven years, making in all a total representation of twenty-three years. I am bound to say, sir, knowing positively that I have retained the confidence of my electorate over that period of time chiefly by respecting the mandates which they gave me, never violating my pledged word to them and never
fearing to face squarely any issue which confronted me, that it is now too late for me to change my attitude and adopt a course which I would condemn in another and which in myself I could not conscientiously condone. Therefore on this occasion I shall stand or fall by my leader and my party, and in doing so I am not only following the dictates of my conscience but retaining my self-respect.
Conscription recalls memories to me, memories of the introduction of the Military Service Act and of the manner in which it was adopted in this chamber by use of the closure, memories of the War-time Elections Act, characterized by Sir Wilfrid Laurier as a blot upon every instinct of justice, and memories in particular of the shameful election campaign of 1917, in which it was the main issue.
Certain members on the other side of the house criticize the members from the province of Quebec for having made use of this issue and continuing to do so during our election campaigns even to the present day. To that accusation I plead guilty. I, as a humble member from the province of Quebec, shall continue this course without any apology to anyone for my conduct so long as there remain in the ranks of the Conservative party both inside and outside this house the men who planned and carried out that slanderous campaign against my native province. The memories of that campaign linger; in fact, they are seared in my mind. I can quite appreciate the attitude of certain Conservatives who honestly seek an end to this kind of controversy, but let me suggest to them in all sincerity, if they are sincere in this attitude, to use their influence in their own party to see that these political, racial and religious bigots of 1917 and their imitators of to-day are ostracized once and for all.
Might I also suggest to them to use their influence to quash the movement started during the last session, and daily gaining momentum again to make the province of Quebec the butt of an unjust and unfair criticism, trying once again to inflame public sentiment against our people. Let them not delude themselves with the idea that we are not aware of this movement, sometimes openly carried on in the press in Ontario and at other times by ingratiating speeches in this house-sometimes often whispered from mouth to mouth that these blankety-blank Frenchmen in the province of Quebec must be made to enlist and do their duty. They have no evidence to support their statement that the French-Canadians in the province of Quebec are not enlisting in as large numbers as those of any other nationality ; but they must use this insinuation against them. I might state here-and I am pleased to state it-that I know a messenger of this
The Address-Mr. McDonald (Pontiac)
house, whom I am proud to name-his name is Guertin-the father of eight sons, five of them of military age, and all five overseas.
Such an ingratiating speech as I referred to a while ago was made by the hon. member for Parkdale (Mr. Bruce) on June 13, 1941, and reported in Hansard, at pages 3947 and 3948, from which I quote:
I received a clipping the other day from the Winnipeg Tribune of May 28 containing a letter in favour of conscription. I shall not read the letter, but I should like to refer to the editor's footnote which is as follows:
"Recruiting figures show that the number of active service force volunteers, per thousand of population, is higher for Freneh-Canadians than for English-speaking Canadians."
The Winnipeg Tribune was paying that tribute to the Freneh-Canadians. But the hon. member for Parkdale goes on to say in his ingratiating manner:
No one would be more pleased than I if that were true-
The doubt is sown there.
-but so far as I am aware no reply has been given by the minister to the questions which have been asked in connection with recruiting in the various provinces, unless it was in his speech of May 12 last. . . .
He would be pleased, Mr. Speaker, if that were true! He wants evidence of it, and he will await the reply of the minister before he will make up his mind. In Hansard of the same date, as reported at page 3948, he stated:
I should now like to quote from a French-Canadian newspaper to show the changed attitude in that province-
Speaking of Quebec.
-in respect of Canada's participation in war outside of Canada.
In respect to that, I have this to say. Quebec entered fully and completely into the war in 1939. She has made no change, and she is as completely into the war to-day as any other province of Canada. That is my answer to the hon. member for Parkdale in this ingratiating and insinuating speech of his.
Quite in contrast to that speech-and I commend the hon. member upon it-is the speech the same day of the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker). I am sorry that the hon. member is not at the moment in the chamber; I wish to compliment him upon it. He said, as reported at page 3954 of Hansard:
I have no French blood in my veins, but I believe that those who do come from that part of Canada are as anxious and as willing to serve as those from any other part of this dominion and to assert the contrary is to do a great disservice to Canada and its unity of purpose.
I thank the hon. member for Lake Centre for that expression of opinion.
The hon. member for Rosedale (Mr. Jackman) also devoted a considerable part of his speech to the province of Quebec, taking issue with the hon. member for Hull (Mr. Fournier), the mover of the address. I fully concur in the views of the hon. member for Hull, and I congratulate him most heartily upon the subject matter of his address in both languages, also upon the manner of its delivery.
This propaganda campaign, because it is nothing else, prompted Mrs. Black, wife of the hon. member for the Yukon (Mr. Black), who herself graced this chamber with her presence in the last parliament, to publish a letter of protest in the Ottawa Journal, from which I quote:
With extreme regret, as well as great annoyance. I have noted a growing habit of accusing Quebec of lack of loyalty to Canada and the empire, because of an aversion to compulsory military service.
Probably no member of parliament, with his wife, does of necessity cover more of Canada from the far north to the east than do George Black, M.P. for Yukon, and I. In our many trips across Canada we have observed as much apathy and lack of enthusiasm for active service in the armed forces of Canada in other provinces as in Quebec.
Let us of the other parts of this dominion forget our smug complacency and force ourselves to realize that Quebec is as loyal as the other provinces.
We are component parts of a great empire. Let each one do his, or her, part to unite Canada in support of that empire, forgetting petty racial and religious prejudices. We must work, we must fight for the right to worship one God, to be loyal to one King, and to hold a united empire, that our children's children may enjoy the freedom we hold so dear.
I sincerely thank Mrs. Black, wife of the hon. member for the Yukon, for those words.
This campaign of propaganda also reached the ears of the provincial treasurer of Quebec, Hon. J. A. Mathewson. He had occasion to address a district convention of Kiwanis International in Montreal on September 22, 1941, when, as reported in the Montreal Star, he said:
In his preliminary remarks the provincial treasurer declared his belief that a really serious misunderstanding existed in Canada concerning the attitude of French Canada and French-Catholic Quebec. "There are no more truehearted Canadians in all this broad dominion than Freneh-Canadians", declared Mr. Mathewson, "and no people who more thoroughly appreciate and understand the value of the British empire so deeply as French-Cana-dians."
The speaker expressed the opinion that Quebec has fallen into the unfortunate position of being the whipping boy of the dominion
The Address-Mr. McDonald (Pontiac)
Note the expression, Mr. Speaker, "the whipping boy"; and that is true.
-those things that are not desired by other provinces any more than by this province are not carried out because of the fear it would not please Quebec and Quebec would not like this or that.
"That is a mask, and an insincere pretext," declared Mr. Mathewson. "If the other provinces come out and say what they would like to be done, we are prepared to sit down and reason with them as to the contribution we can make to the common cause. We may have fanatics in this province, but we have no monopoly of that odious animal, he is found in every province in no less vigorous form than he is found here."
Commenting on that speech of the provincial treasurer, the Montreal Star of September 23, said in part as follows. After referring to the fact that Mr. Mathewson had said, "There are no more true-hearted Canadians in all this broad dominion than French-Cana-dians, and no people more thoroughly appreciate and understand the value of the British empire so deeply as French-Canadians," the Star goes on to say:
Critics of the province should understand these things. Mr. Mathewson says that Quebec has fallen into the unfortunate position of being a "whipping boy" of the dominion, and while the statement is perhaps too broad a generalization, there exists the tendency to blame Quebec for any gaps in Canadian unity when, as a matter of fact, there are many people outside this province who would not close the gaps if they could, preferring their emotional prejudices and private interests to unity based on common understanding and an identity of social and economic interest.
Much is made, as Mr. Mathewson inferred, of political fears that this or that cannot be done in Canada because it might not please Quebec. A great deal of arrant nonsense is talked around this idea. Such a consideration might influence the petty politician, but we are growing up politically, and if Quebec's possible reactions are factors in determining a course of action, in common with every other province, that is as it should be, for this province is a unit in our federal system and has an equal right to be heard with all the other units.
So much for the propaganda campaign.
Let me consider this conscription issue from another angle, that of national unity. In its issue of January 16 the Ottawa Journal published editorially, under the heading, "Speaking of National Unity", an article a copy of which I have, in which the idea of the disruption of national unity was pooh-poohed if conscription should be adopted in this country. The article states in part:
This country is united in this war. All its provinces are united. That being admitted everywhere, and proclaimed ardently everywhere, what is the basis of this talk that adoption of a particular method of waging war would disrupt national unity? To hear certain people talking almost in bated breath about
conscription and national unity, one might almost imagine that conscription would bring rebellion.
What section, what part of Canada is thus bring stigmatized with potential treason? Is it Quebec?
Ia answer to that question, "What section, what part of Canada is thus being stigmatized with potential treason-is it Quebec?", if the inference is that it is Quebec, it is most unfair. Quebec has always been loyal. It is loyal to-day and will continue to be loyal. If the time ever comes, which God forbid, when Quebec should decide that her future does not lie within the confines of the confederation pact, she will proceed in a constitutional manner to attain) her end. Quebec is loyal.
Let me digress for a moment to read an excerpt from an address given by Mr. Louis St. Laurent, who was elected yesterday as Minister of Justice, replacing our late lamented friend, the Right Hon. Mr. Lapointe. Speaking before the Canadian Life Insurance Officers' Association in Toronto, as reported in the Montreal Star of May 30, 1941, he said:
"Let me take you back to a little settlement over 130 years ago, to be exact to August 30, 1807," he said.
"It is Sunday morning in the parish of La Baie St. Paul, a settlement on the north shore of the St. Lawrence about 60 miles below Quebec. A proclamation calling volunteers to take up arms to defend their country against a threatened invasion from the United States has been posted on the church door. The people are all agog over the ominous news of war. They troop into the little church and kneel in prayer and at the appointed moment, the parish priest, Father Louis Lelievre, mounts the pulpit. For this occasion, he has written out what he will say to his flock.
Here are two paragraphs from those notes which a friend of mine recently found among his books and papers which he bequeathed to the library of his alma mater, the old seminary of Quebec:
"Brethren, it is my duty at this time to _express my views to you on the terrible scourge (still uncertain I hope) with which we are threatened. We are told by political leaders that war between England and the United States appears to be unavoidable. For my part I trust that with the Lord's grace, appeasement can still be achieved and that the peace we have enjoyed for 48 years may continue. But assuming that the forecast be realized, what else can we do in such a crisis but show ourselves to be faithful and loyal subjects and give our gracious sovereign, King George, shining proof of our attachment to his crown and of our devotion to his interests which are our own and of our readiness to shed our blood for the defence of our homeland. In a word, be ready my brethren, to show by your deeds, your zeal and your courage to support a government which has treated you so generously. In so doing you will make yourselves worthy of the countless advantages you have enjoyed and especially of that liberty which has ever been yours since we have been so fortunate as to live under British government.
The Address-Mr'. McDonald (Pontiac)
That was the voice of a humble priest in the province of Quebec in 1807, about forty years odd after the conquest. Yet there are men in Canada to-day who will, say that there is disloyalty among the Freneh-Canadians. We Anglo-Saxons in Canada are of yesterday. The French-Canadian has been rooted in-the soil for a period of almost 400 years; and yet he is not supposed to be loyal to that country wherein he has lived for 400 years. It is ridiculous.
Returning to the point of national unity, I wonder whether the organizers of the election campaign of 1917, and those newspapers which gave publicity to the literature of that time, realize how close they came to bringing about disruption. I would ask them in all sincerity if the publication and circulation of those pamphlets, excerpts from which I am about to quote, tended to bring about, unity. I have before me Union government election pamphlets of 1917, and I will give one or two quotations just to show what they used against us at that time, what false accusations they made against us, what false charges they made, and how they slandered the name of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Here is one item:
Make no mistake. If Laurier wins Canada will send no more reinforcements to the front which practically means quitting the war and placing the country in the same class as Russia.
And number two:
Freneh-Canadians who have shirked their duty in this war will be the dominating force in the government of the country. Are the English-speaking people prepared to stand for that?
That is from literature of the campaign of 1917 by the Union government which some distinguished patriots whom we 'have in Toronto to-day would like to carry on.
There is another one, and this is the "most unkindest cut of all." This is furthest away from the truth of anything that could be published. Listen to it; you are from the province of Quebec, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and it will be news to you;
Laurier gladly takes Bourassa to his bosom.
Then there are extracts from French-Cana-dian newspapers. But that title in particular caught my eye, "Laurier gladly takes Bourassa to his bosom." Laurier did not take Bourassa to his bosom. The Conservative party took Bourassa to its bosom in 1911. I stated in my speech in March last year, that we had fought on two occasions, in a provincial election and a dominion election against sixty-five nationalists in Quebec-and an election was fought against one of them yesterday in that province. How did they attain the influence
they exercised in Quebec, particularly in 1911? By the very fact that Sir Robert Borden and his government made a pact with Bourassa to finance his candidates in Quebec and paid for subscriptions to his newspaper Le Devoir to spread his propaganda throughout this country.
My belief, Mr. Speaker, is that that propaganda was not the most loyal ever propagated. Then turn round and say that Laurier took Bourassa to his bosom after they took him to their bosom, and we have had from that time to the present the reflection of these men in the province of Quebec, due to this loyal Conservative party. They cast aside everything they stood for, including their patriotism in 1911, to gain a victory over Laurier. They won twenty-seven seats out of sixty-five in Quebec by that, and to-day they would- like to charge the Liberals of Quebec with having taken these men to our bosom. They are reaping what they sowed, but they cannot cast a reflection on us.
The resultant effect of this campaign of insult and slander directed particularly against the Freneh-Canadians in Quebec was the introduction of the following resolution in the legislature during the session of 1918:
That this house is of opinion that the province of Quebec would be disposed to accept the breaking of the confederation pact of 1867 if, in the other provinces, it is believed that she is an obstacle to the union, progress and development of Canada.
That motion was proposed by Mr. J. N. Francoeur. The premier at that time was Sir Lomer Gouin, and through his influence the motion was withdrawn. But I say this to-day, having in mind this propaganda directed against us, if it continues, are we certain that there will always be men like Sir Lomer Gouin at the head of public affairs in Quebec? Can we reasonably expect these Freneh-Canadians to continue to lend a deaf ear to these reflections on their loyalty, these gratuitous insults directed at them by a blind, fanatical group? My advice to them is' Beware, Watch, Look, Listen.
I am not going to undertake the defence of the war effort of Quebec since 1939; that was very ably done to-night by the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner), and I personally thank him. This province has done her duty thus far and is determined to continue to do so, and in return she asks only that she be' treated with the respect and consideration which are rightly her due.
In the by-elections of yesterday the people ini no uncertain manner gave their answer to those who, by their speeches and writings, would destroy the unity of this country. They
have definitely consigned to the limbo of forgotten men the Meighens, the Hepburns, the Drews and others of their ilk, whence we hope they will never be resurrected.
In discussing this issue of conscription to-night, my mind reverts to my last conversation with the late Minister of Justice, the Right Hon. Ernest Lapointe, in his office on the morning of November 3 last, the date of resumption of the last session. The conversation having turned on conscription, he expressed his unalterable opposition to it, chiefly upon the ground that it would disrupt national unity. His last words to me were: "I will oppose this measure with all my strength, even to my last breath." Alas, Mr. Speaker, he made his last appearance in this chamber that afternoon. To th'e memory of this * earnest advocate and fearless champion of Canadian unity, loyal follower and worthy successor of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, I pay my humble tribute of respect. To his wife and family I extend my sincere sympathy, while o'er his grave I reverently breathe a fervent Requiescat in pace. _
On motion of Mr. Crete the debate was adjourned.
On motion of Mr. Crerar the house adjourned at 10.56 p.m.
Wednesday, February 11, 1942
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY