July 15, 1943


On the orders of the day: Mr. GORDON B. ISNOR (Halifax): Is the Minister of Transport prepared to make a statement in respect to the findings or report on the inquiry conducted by Captain A. W. Hilton concerning the recent sinking of the M. V. Erg in Bedford Basin, with the loss of nineteen lives?


LIB

Joseph Enoil Michaud (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Hon. J. E. MICHAUD (Minister of Transport):

Captain Hilton has made a report on his investigation into the sinking, and on reading the report I felt that a public inquiry should be made. This morning orders have been given for such an inquiry immediately.

Topic:   TUG "M. V. ERG" INQUIRY INTO SINKING IN BEDFORD BASIN
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WAR APPROPRIATION BILL

PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY


The house resumed from Wednesday, July 14, consideration in committee of a resolution to grant to his majesty certain sums of money for the carrying out of measures consequent upon the existence of a state of war-Mr. Ilsley- Mr. Bradette in the chair.


DEPARTMENT OF PENSIONS AND NATIONAL HEALTH


Industrial hygiene, including inspection of industrial plants, $24,000.


NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

This item is for only $24,000, and I think it should be at least ten times that amount. I mentioned this in tha house before, and I say again that industnal workers throughout the whole of Canada should have-

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NAT

Thomas Langton Church

National Government

Mr. CHURCH:

I rise to a point of order. I wanted again to call a matter under the previous item to the attention of the Chair last night, but it was five minutes past eleven. I wish the hon. member would allow me to say something; he interrupted me three or four times last night. On a point of order I draw attention to the fact that five minutes past eleven last night I wished for two or three minutes to refer further to the views of the minister regarding blackouts. I waived my opportunity to speak because of the lateness of the hour. I shall occupy only two minutes this morning. I could rise to a question of privilege. [DOT]

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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

Order. I did not hear the hon. member.

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NAT

Thomas Langton Church

National Government

Mr. CHURCH:

I understood from the minister himself that the last item did not carry.

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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

I gather that what the hon. member contends is that item 7, air raid precautions, did not pass. Is that his point of order? Well, I was not in the chamber at the time; the hon. member for Shelburne-Yarmouth-Clare was in the chair; but I believe it would be in order for the hon. member for Broadview to make a short statement.

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NAT

Thomas Langton Church

National Government

Mr. CHURCH:

Has the minister any

objection?

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

Go ahead.

Item stands.

Health branch-

Air raid precautions, $6,589,650.

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NAT

Thomas Langton Church

National Government

Mr. CHURCH:

Mr. Chairman, if I may be allowed, I would say that I have no objec-

War Appropriation-National Health

tion to blackout precautions or to the A.R.P., and I never had any. My contention is that they should be instituted only if necessary in central Canada. To show my position in the matter, let me say that I was the first person who raised in this house-in September 1939-the question of a home guard and the protection of provincial and municipal property on the same lines as in the last war. I find that the minister has been very fair in this matter. I call attention to the fact that away back in 1938 I raised this very subject during the discussion of the minister's estimates, on March 24. I then said, in part:

More consideration should be given to air defences. There is not only the possibility but a great probability that air raids will occur in the next war in which Canada is involved. The defence of our population from air raids should be considered. These raids will be the chief source of danger in all future wars, and we shall be living in a false paradise if we do not adopt measures to protect ourselves. Abyssinia was recently a theatre of war, and we all know the destruction of civilian population that occurred through this means of attack. Abyssinia is an open country with only a small density of population as compared with what there is on the island of Montreal and in other parts of Canada, and yet great damage resulted.

Air raids can work great havoc in time of war, and the menace will be a very real one in Canada, especially to the people of Quebec, the maritimes and British Columbia. I am glad that some preparation, although it may be only a beginning, has already been made by the minister to meet this danger. I know he has been out looking over the camps. A fleet of aircraft could pass up the Ottawa river without a moment's notice and blow up these buildings, the Chateau Laurier, the railway station and other large buildings. We should have very little warning of the approaching attack.

I was urging the establishment of a home guard.

Consultation and advice are words that are much used by the government nowadays, but we would not be consulted about any air raids that were contemplated against Canada. The enemy's aircraft would be upon us before you could say "O Canada," or sing God Save the King. An aerial bombardment is one of the dangers most to be apprehended in time of war, particularly in large cities with their dense populations; the protection of cities from aerial bombardment should be one of the chief objectives of the national defence department and proper equipment for defence against this menace should be provided. Probably the minister will have something to say about that later on.

Large quantities of poisonous gas could easily be spread over a large area as was done in Abyssinia, and incendiary bombs dropped on our large cities, with great destruction and slaughter, and the enemy aircraft could get back to their base in practically no time. These attacks would not only bring ruin to our cities and towns but break the morale of our people and prevent us from developing a proper defence and mobilizing our man-power and armaments.

In conclusion, I have never made any criticism of A.R.P. I referred last evening and last session nine or ten times to the good work they are doing. I did urge, however, that in central Canada the one hour blackout is too long. The British government has removed most of these restrictions, as Right Hon. Mr. Morrison, Home Secretary, said. In the Toronto district however one hour blackouts are enforced very strictly, and as we know, one of our own ministers was fined here for smoking his pipe. Yet, as has been pointed out by the Toronto papers at the time, a year ago:

Over in London, where they are a lot closer to nazi bombs and airmen than we are, and where they know a lot about blackouts, people are not forbidden to smoke pipes, or even cigarettes, in the streets. Actually, there are lights-green and red light crosses-at all the intersections of London streets, and most people go about with pencil flashlights. More than that, on Britain's country roads people drive about at night with suppressed or limited headlights on their motor cars.

I have not objected on any occasion to my friends the A.R.P. people. The statement I made was clear and I think it was quite fair. As I said, there is no such thing as home defence, as was proved when the mechanized hordes of Germany invaded the low countries. I do object to some of the newspaper reports. I refer to references in two or three papers in the Montreal district, regarding my stand on this and other questions. I ask the minister if I have on any occasion objected to the A.R.P. people. I have been a warm supporter of home defence and the good A.R.P. work and the minister's policy.

Hon. IAN A. MACKENZIE (Minister of Pensions and National Health): I am very glad to agree with my hon. friend. I have received from him complete cooperation at all times, although he thinks that blackouts have been carried out too extensively over the whole area; apart from that I have had complete cooperation.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Was this item passed last night?

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

Yes, it. was carried last night.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

It is not so shown in Hansard; I have just looked it up.

May I say that I have always thought that A.R.P. was a good precautionary measure in the early stages of the war, but I do suggest that the thing might very well taper off now, when the danger of invasion has passed. As long as there was danger of

War Appropriation-National Health

invasion our people were quite justified in going as far as they did, and I would not like to see our precautions relaxed on the Pacific coast. I do not speak with any authority, but my partner happens to be the head of the A.R.P. organization in my constituency; I know the interest he takes in the matter, and he now thinks it ought to be washed out, and I hope it will be.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

My hon. friend was not here last night when I made reference to the very happy change in conditions in Canada. He will recall as well as I do that I was severely criticized a year and a half or two years ago, and there was an eloquent appeal from the leader of the opposition that the government form a ministry of home security.

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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

I meant every word of it, too.

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July 15, 1943