Charles Cecil Ingersoll Merritt
However I did not mean to get off on that subject. .
Subtopic: UNITED STATES-DISCIPLINE AND INTERNAL ADMINISTRATION WHEN IN CANADA
However I did not mean to get off on that subject. .
Why did you?
What you said led me onto it. If I might quote the Prime Minister on another occasion, at page 2423 of Hansard of May, 1939, he said that on these matters of peace and war and defence it was for the government to recommend and for parliament to decide May I say that I much prefer his
words then to his words of the year before, and they might commend themselves to the house in this debate.
On February 12 the Prime Minister made an announcement of joint defence with the United States, in which he suggested that there would be exchanges of selected individuals and observers between the two countries for work in training and in experimental establishments, particularly in connection with cold weather. This evening the Secretary of State for External Affairs, in dealing with this bill, made it perfectly clear to the hon. member for Nanaimo that he had not under contemplation any extension of the doctrine enunciated by the Prime Minister on February 12. I am perfectly aware that in matters of this kind we want the most flexible kind of check on the power of the executive to invite foreign forces into the country. I am well satisfied with the statement of the Prime Minister on February 12. If that kind of cooperation is envisaged, and that kind only, the kind necessary for coordination of training and joint training in the use of weapons and of all these things which are necessary in order that we may get the greatest benefit out of our proximity, I would be satisfied with this bill and with the policy that was enunciated. For my own part I am not here to suggest that we should put any rigid checks of any great magnitude upon the power of the executive to give such an invitation; but I do want to suggest to the Secretary of State for External Affairs a flexible check, if I may call it so, upon the exercise of this power by the governor in council.
I suggest that the government will be ill-advised to extend the doctrine of February 12 beyond what it states and to invite into Canada any operational forces or any large forces for training purposes without prior reference to parliament. If the house can be assured that no foreign forces of significant size would be invited in until this house is apprised of the fact that that is to be done, then I would feel that parliament had discharged its duty. I say that in this case, because I myself should like to see the smoothest system that could be devised to continue the system of joint defence. As I have said, that cooperation is absolutely essential to our security. Nevertheless this house has grave responsibilities toward the people of this country, and none so grave as that of seeing that our sovereignty remains perfect and that our status as a nation, of which we are so proud, remains inviolate. We cannot see this new departure in policy introduced-
There is nothing new about it whatever.
-without impressing upon the government their duty to keep the house informed on this subject.
I wish for one moment to deal with the amendment of the C.C.F. and to say a word about the suggestion of the hon. member for Regina (Mr. Probe) that the united nations should be consulted before any such step as this is taken. I do not agree- with the hon. member for Regina in that suggestion. I fear that if Canada has to run to the united nations before she makes a friendly arrangement with a great and friendly foreign power, there is danger that our liberty of action may be too seriously curtailed. I do not believe that we must follow the principle that Canada can take no step in external relations without reference to the united nations organization. Canada is a great supporter of the united nations organization; but, as I see it, Canada should influence the united nations for good by taking part in its councils, but should not at any time become the mere object of directives from that organization. For that reason I cannot agree with the hon. member for Regina in his suggestion.
Having said so much about the parliamentary limit which we could place upon the policy of the executive in inviting foreign forces into the country, may I say another word upon a limit which is much more important to me; that is, the practical and real limit which we could place upon any such invitEttions. The extent to which we may require to invite foreign forces into our country to share with us our task of defence will be limited by the extent to which we are prepared, reasonably, to defend ourselves. When I see this change in the policy of the government between 1938 and today in connection with this kind of invitation, I wonder why I do not see the same change in policy reflected in our own defence forces. It seems to me that Canada has not had, since the end of the- war, any defence policy, and that may have a serious bearing upon the extent to which we may be obliged to take advantage of this power of invitation. I wish to read what the present Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott), who was then Minister of National Defence for the army, said on October 16, 1945. He was talking about the permanently employed active force, and he said this at page 1135 of Hansard:
This formation will be maintained as a trained field force, fully equipped, ready to meet whatever commitments may arise. Until we know more about our international obligations and consequent requirements, these active force units will be retained as a minimum and would be subject to whatever expansion might later be
required in the light of any obligations which we might accept to assist in maintaining the peace of the world. Preliminary estimates indicate that the numbers involved in the active permanently employed force will be between 20.090 and 25.000 all ranks.
We know now that we have not 20,000, much less 25,000 in all ranks in our active force. It seems to me that the safest limit we can place upon this new policy, which none of us, I suppose, wholly likes, would be to get rid of the interim force idea, get rid of the idea that we must wait until the security council gives us our task before we determine what our own defence forces will be, and get back to that principle which was laid down as long ago as the imperial conference of 1923, and which was referred to by the present Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Mackenzie), when he was Minister of National Defence in 1939, "The primary responsibility of each portion of the empire is for its own local defence."
I simply wish to say, in conclusion, that if Canada does the maximum within her power to secure her own local defence, without help from outside our borders, our sovereignty will be secure, even though we may want the additional cooperation of other friendly powers. But if Canada should ever do less than the maximum within her power for her own local defence, and if she should ever rely on foreign forces to carry out her own share of that defence, then our sovereignty will be really challenged, not by the presence of the foreign forces, but rather by our failure to do all that we could do for ourselves.
Mr. VICTOR QUELCH (Acadia):
We in this group favour any steps that are essential for the defence of Canada. Above all things, we believe that at a time like this Canada should be kept strong. We realize, of course, that the destinj- of Canada and that of the United .States are closely interwoven, if for no other reason than the geographical one. On the other hand, we do not agree with those who are continually trying to give the impression that there are only two great powers in the world today. We believe that there is a third great power, the British commonwealth of nations. Furthermore, we believe that the British commonwealth of nations can do a great deal to help maintain peace in this world if only the members of that commonwealth remajn true to themselves and true to it. We do not agree with those, people who are continually trying .to emphasize the fact that another war is inevitable. Some not only appear to think that; actually they seem to hope another war will occur between two of the great powers of the world. We have had the advice of men 83166-2431
such as Eisenhower, who has told us that, in his opinion, Russia wants peace. We know the United States wants peace, and therefore we feel that if the British commonwealth of nations not only remains a great power but becomes a greater power it can be a tremendous force toward helping maintain peace between the other two great powers, Russia and the United States.
We feel, especially after listening to the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton) that it would be a good thing to send this bill to committee, in order to obtain a better understanding, of all that it may imply.
May I call it eleven o'clock, Mr. Speaker? I move the adjournment of the debate.
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:
I declare the motion lost.
Mr. H. G. ARCHIBALD (Skeena):
I should like to contribute just a few words to this debate. At the outset, I may say quite frankly that I do not like this bill; I have no sympathy at all with it. I do not like the way in which the government is bringing it into operation. I can remember that when the news first came out a month or so ago we were told that it was to be an agreement concerning meteorology, for the study of weather and so on. When we tried to discuss it on the floor of the house; at least when I tried, I was ruled out of order. Now we have thrown at us the fact that the Americans wish to have and apply their military laws here in Canada. I believe that this method of bringing in their military law is much like the story of the camel getting his head into the tent; before we are through, the whole works will be in. It is not a case of being friendly or unfriendly to the United States, but at the present time we have that country carrying on a one-man stand fighting for a method of trade with which the rest of the world does not agree.
I should like to point out that the attitude of Great Britain in world trade affairs, which is the basis of all wars, is altogether different from that of the United States. Britain is promoting friendly relations and friendly trade pacts with Russia, for example, and with such countries as Poland. The United States may be peace loving, but at the present moment it is canying on an economic war which, if continued to its logical conclusion, will wind up in actual warfare, and we do not want to see that happen. As pointed out by the hon. member for Acadia (Mr. Quelch), there is a third method, which is being pursued by Great Britain. Already in the press reports it can
be seen that the tension between Great Britain and Russia is easing, while the tension between Russia and the United States is increasing. It is all very well to say that we should go with like-minded peoples. Yes; we get in with them, and the first thing we know we shall be with them in their fight right up to our neck. I had personal experience with United States personnel up in Prince Rupert during the war, and some of it was not so good. If you take our standards of education, they are far ahead of those in the United States. You give these people power to judge their own personnel ; you say that if they infringe Canadian laws they will be tried by Canadian courts. That is all very well, but once the M.P.'s get hold of their own men, it is difficult to get them back into our own courts.
Now may I move the adjournment of the debate, Mr. Speaker?
Motion agreed to and debate adjourned.
At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. Thursday, June 5, 1947