May 4, 1944

IND

Joseph Sasseville Roy

Independent

Mr. ROY:

Why should national selective service, which is under the Department of Labour, have a board sitting in Quebec city, which is military district No. 5, to consider these requests for leave? This board rules upon these requests, and I emphasize that it is a board under the Minister of Labour. According to what has been told me, this board is unable to reach a decision because it does not seem to know that the fishing industry is essential to our war effort. We know that it is, to the first degree. Requests for leave are sent to headquarters at Ottawa, and we do not know what headquarters they mean. It would appear that the Department of Labour, through this national selective service board, is able to grant leave to a soldier who is in the army. That is contradictory to what the minister has just said.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I thought I made that clear to my hon. friend. The impression I get is that he is jumping from one thing to another. National selective service cannot grant leave from the army; get that clear. A man makes application to his commanding officer, who may refer it for an opinion to a national selective service board. He may do that, but he does not have to. The board gives an opinion; it does not make a recommendation. As I pointed out on Tuesday, sometimes a man may not want to go home. His parents may want him back home, but, as has happened on numerous occasions, the boy wants to stay in the army. Quite often that causes some difficulty. Parents may write to my hon. friend requesting that a boy be given leave to conje home again, but, as I say, in many instances these boys have told their commanding officer that they do not want to go, that they want to remain in the army. Once a boy is in the army he makes his application for leave to his commanding officer, not to me or to any organization under my jurisdiction.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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IND
LIB
IND

Joseph Sasseville Roy

Independent

Mr. ROY:

The minister just stated that when a soldier asks for leave it is up to his commanding officer to recommend or refuse it. I should like to know how a national selective service board proceeds to judge whether that man is essential to a war industry. That is one thing I cannot understand.

War Appropriation-Labour

As I said at the outset of my remarks there seems to be some doubt as to whether we have conscription in this country. However, there would seem to be signs that we have conscription. A few days ago the Minister of National Defence made a statement in the house to be found on page 2383 of Hansard. He said:

It was thought highly advisable that the army should do its duty with regard to the raising and maintaining of the volunteer army overseas of which Canada is exceedingly proud; and I have not heard anyone in this 'house or anywhere else suggest that the volunteer army was not a desirable thing. I have indicated repeatedly that I prefer a voluntary army, and I think most Canadians will agree with me. In that connection the army has its duty to maintain, if it can, that volunteer army; and for that purpose the army has engaged in recruiting activities for the last three years.

We have that statement by the Minister of National Defence which is bound to give the impression that we have no conscription in this country.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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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 would point out to the hon, member for Gaspe that we are not discussing the question of conscription. The discussion should be confined to the item before the committee.

Mr. ROY; I will abide as closely as possible to your ruling. The reason why I got away from the item was that I .heard a lot about conscription and the calling of draftees since this debate started; People are wondering whether we have conscription, and that is why I referred to the statement of the Minister of National Defence. Men are called up by the Department of Labour.

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LIB

William Chisholm Macdonald (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD (Halifax):

The Minister of National Defence was speaking about conscription for overseas service when he stated his preference for a volunteer army; he was not referring to call-ups for Canada.

Mr. ROY; In answer to the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of National Defence I would say that there is only one law which empowers the government to call up men. It does not say that it is for Canada. I think we can take it in a general way-

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I rise to a point of order. I think I have been pretty patient as I have been sitting here for four days. If my hon. friends are going to start a debate on conscription-

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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IND

Joseph Sasseville Roy

Independent

Mr. ROY:

Not exactly.

Mr. MITCHELL; My hon. friend says, " not exactly," but I know the kind of speeches he is making in the eastern part of Quebec.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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IND

Joseph Sasseville Roy

Independent

Mr. ROY:

The minister does not know the kind of speeches I am making in Quebec. I have not made any on that question at all.

Mr. MITCHELL; The hon. member is the first one who has not. I think we should stay strictly within the rules of order. Let us be sensible about this thing. We have a large legislative programme before us; yet we are in the fourth month of the session and the war appropriations are not concluded. I suppose next week we shall have a long debate on the Bank Act. Let us be rational and sensible men about this thing. We have spent four days on one item. I am not objecting, provided we stay within the item, but for goodness sake let us stay within the rules of order.

Mr. ROY; I will try to keep within the item, but I should like to ask the minister a precise question and I hope it will be possible for him to give a categorical and definite answer. If we have no conscription, why is the minister calling up men to serve under arms at the rate of 9,000 a month or approximately 100,000 a year?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

Who said that we are calling up men at the rate of 9,000 a month?

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IND

Joseph Sasseville Roy

Independent

Mr. ROY:

It was in a report tabled a few days ago. I am sorry; I should have said

6,000 a month.

Mr. MITCHELL; Only fifty per cent out.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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IND

Joseph Sasseville Roy

Independent

Mr. ROY:

Hon. Leon Casgrain, attorney-general in Premier Godbout's cabinet, declared in the Quebec legislature a few days ago that we have no conscription in Canada, and similar declarations are being made all over the country, that we have a volunteer army, and this and that. I ask the Minister of Labour this question: If we have not conscription, why is he calling up men at the rate of 6,000 a month? Let me quote from part 1 of "Instructions to Employers and their Male Employees." It says-

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

My hon. friend is a member of this House of Commons, and he knows that those regulations were prepared under my direction. There is no secret about them. My hon. friend went to school like myself, and I suppose he looks at the dictionary occasionally. Yet he insists on asking me simple questions. I do not know officially what a member of the Quebec legislature said the other day; I did not read about it. My hon. friend has asked me a hypothetical question, a question of a character on which I am not even clear myself. I do not know just what he is driving at. If he has any

War Appropriation-Labour

question to ask of my department for information I shall be glad to give it, but I cannot give him a lift in his efforts out in the country, back at the little red schoolhouse.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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IND

Joseph Sasseville Roy

Independent

Mr. ROY:

I apologize for not knowing the language of the minister very well, Mr. Chairman. Perhaps that is why he does not understand me. I will try to be so clear that he will understand me. I was going to quote from part 1 of his "Instructions to Employers and their Male Employees". To be brief, I shall quote only the latter part of paragraph 1, which defines "employer":

The dominion government, the governments of the provinces, as well as municipal institutions are employers for this purpose. The term "employer" includes also any farmer operating a farm, who has working for him a male employee, even though such employee be a son or other relative.

My question is this: If we have no conscription in Canada, why arc men called up to serve under arms in Canada by the Department of Labour? My question is: Have we conscription in Canada, yes or no?

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I will tell my hon. friend what we have. We have the military call-up for the defence of this country. If my hon. friend wants to call that conscription, that is his business, not mine. If it is any advantage to him politically to use that language, he is entitled to it. But this is still a free country because men have the courage to go out and defend it.

As to the other point my hon. friend raised, I know that a big play has been made over that in certain parts of this country. The hon. member for Lake Centre and the hon. member for Hastings-Peterborough spoke of the men we have not traced yet. It is in our effort to trace these men that we have laid down the principle that before a man can be employed he must show some credentials, either that he was discharged from the army, the navy or the air force, or that his call-up for military service has been postponed. There is nothing wrong about that. If I may speak personally for a moment, both my sons are in the fighting forces. I have raised my children to tell the truth and obey the law, and I know what I would do when the instructions to employers from which my hon. friend has quoted came to my attention. I would say, "Son, have you got your clearance?" Would that not be the natural thing for any father or mother to say to their children? It is just as simple as that. To suggest that this is the most despicable thing there ever was-I read that language the other day-just does not add up, and my

hon. friend knows it. If he wants to know the attitude of the Minister of Labour I will repeat what I said this afternoon, that it is my duty to trace these missing men, and this is one of the simple procedures we have adopted in an endeavour to trace them. The hon. member for Hastings-Peterborough was complaining that we did not have enough machinery or that it was not as good as it should be. But the procedure from which my hon. friend quoted was adopted by us in an endeavour to locate these men. We laid down the rule that before a man can get a job or retain his employment he has to be able to show some document from the armed forces or from some other organization proving that he has complied with the law with respect to the military call-up.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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IND

Joseph Sasseville Roy

Independent

Mr. ROY:

I suppose that is because we have conscription? The minister has not yet answered my question.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

My hon. friend is not going to ram his sixteenth century opinions down my throat. Let that be clearly understood. He is not going to put that kind of language in my mouth, not while I can stand on [DOT] two feet. He may get away with that kind of language in other places, but not here, in the presence of his peers. This is still a free country, thank God, and it is a free country because our young men from every province in Canada are prepared to defend our institutions, which we have had handed down to us after muck bloodshed and struggle. I have been to countries where you do as you are told or you do not live. I hope never to see the day when that will be the way of life in Canada. Let us be clear about this: If we do not defeat this man Hitler in Europe; if we do not defeat this other chap in the Pacific, there will be no House of Commons in Canada. There will be no languages, no religion, no racial culture in this country at all. I was in Berlin when Hitler put over his revolution. I saw it happen, and there was no more commotion on the main street of Berlin than there is on Sparks street to-day. Germany had the most powerful labour and trades union movements, and only yesterday, you might say, they were running that vast country. To-day they are not even a memory. Unless we destroy this tyranny everything that my hon. friend and I hold dear will be swept by the board. Let him go out and preach that gospel to the people whom he represents.

At six o'clock the committee took recess.

War Appropriation-Labour

After Recess

The committee resumed at 8 o'clock.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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IND

Frédéric Dorion

Independent

Mr. DORION:

I should like to ask the

minister a few questions, but before doing so I wish to say that we are not here to receive any lessons in loyalty, because for my part my military record of 1918 in the Royal Air Force compares with that of anybody else.

I think it is much better to discuss the subject on its merits. I have P.C. 1355 with regard to the national selective service mobilization regulations 1944, dated March 4, 1944, section 6, subsection 1 of which reads:

The minister, upon being informed by the Department o-f National Defence that a specified number of men are required for military training, may instruct any registrar to apply these regulations to a specified number of men from his division, and may inform a registrar how many French-speaking men are required.

My first question is, why is this proviso made regarding French-speaking men called to the army? On April 20, as appears at page 2177 of Hansard I asked this question:

Has the Minister of Labour given instructions to registrars under order P.C. 1355, section 6, subsection 1?

The one I have just read.

If so, (a) to whom; (b) at what date; (c) what were those instructions?

The answer given by the parliamentary assistant to the minister (Mr. Martin) was:

No. The Minister of Labour has not found it necessary to act under section 6, subsection 1, or order P.C. 1355.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

That answer given by

the parliamentary assistant stands; it is not changed.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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May 4, 1944