February 26, 1948

PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

On a question of privilege, the question was asked; I now ask the minister this question. If all that he states be correct, why is it then that the Prime Minister says he has never asked the British government whether or not it would consent to the production of the Drew letter?

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. CLAXTON:

Because the objection to the production of the Drew letter, and the fundamental impropriety of the letter itself, is due to the fact that it makes a breach of communications made by the British government on condition that they were kept confidential. Whether this is so or not is not a matter for

The Address-Mr. Claxton

the British government to determine. Our communications with the British government were directed to one point and one point alone: were they willing to have those communications made available to the commission, and later, were they willing to have them made available to this parliament. It is because of their negative answer to that question that the action with regard to the Drew letter was largely based.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this matter has been brought up again after this long period of six years, and it is suggested' that this revival has occurred in consequence of a report by Major General Maltby. We shall see what that report was.

This was a report made to the war office by the general officer commanding British troops in China. It was dated November 21, 1945, published in the London Gazette on January 27, 1948, and released from the war office. The report was made by General Maltby in his capacity as the general officer commanding the forces there, and it was made in exactly the same way as, say, a report by General Crerar on the operations of the forces under his command. General Crerar made a report to the government of Canada through the Minister of National Defence on the operations of the first Canadian army in northwestern Europe, and it was made in accordance with the well established practice under which general officers make their reports. It is natural that, having been issued, it should have created some interest; but as for reviving this Hong Kong inquiry, I do not think it is the Maltby report which is doing that. It seems to be hon. members opposite.

It was not my purpose to go into the facts at this time because all that we have is the report of this royal commissioner, and I for one, until I have some other evidence, accept completely the report of the royal commission.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. PEARKES:

Have you heard what the men said when they came back?

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. CLAXTON:

I have heard what a good many men said in connection with a good many things in connection with this whole matter.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

Were they well equipped and well trained?

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. CLAXTON:

With regard to those two matters I will say one word. In his report General Maltby has this to say, and this only, on the subject of training:

Royal Rifles of Canada and Winnipeg Grenadiers:

These two battalions proved to be inadequately trained for modern war under the conditions existing in Hong Kong.

In this connection I should like to refer to a statement made by General Crerar in his evidence.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
PC

Alan Cockeram

Progressive Conservative

Mr. COCKERAM:

General Crerar did not give any evidence. He should have; he was chief of general staff.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. CLAXTON:

Of course he did. General Crerar, in his evidence before the commissioner, which is quoted at page 33 of the commissioner's report, dealt with this, and what he said is interesting and important. General Crerar, it must be remembered, was chief of general staff in Canada at the time when this expedition was authorized and dispatched. Subsequently he was sent overseas and he gave his evidence before the commission by a written statement in answer to questions put by counsel for the commission and for the opposition. He said:

To the best of my knowledge and experience, however, no battalions of any army, even if fully equipped, can ever be regarded as completely trained. Training is an unceasing process. There were, however, in Canada at the time in question a number of battalions (among which were Royal Rifles and Winnipeg Grenadiers) which, although somewhat handicapped by lack of supplies of certain platoon weapons (mortars and anti-tank rifles) -

That is, handicapped in Canada; they were not short of these weapons in Hong Kong.

-in my opinion were generally adequately trained to undertake defensive responsibilities such as those in prospect in Hong Kong.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BROOKS:

Some of the men had not six weeks' training.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. CLAXTON:

General Crerar's statement is completely in accordance with the facts, and I venture to say that very few members of this house, and very few people throughout the country, will quarrel with the statement made by General Crerar in view of his record when in command of the first Canadian army.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. CRUICKSHANK:

Drew did not go beyond the rank of lieutenant overseas.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

Who didn't?

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

William Henry Golding (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr. Golding):

I must ask hon. members not to interrupt. Every member has a right to present his case on the floor of the house without interruption.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
PC

Frank Exton Lennard

Progressive Conservative

Mr. LENNARD:

Tell the whole story.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. CRUICKSHANK:

Lieutenant is all he got overseas. He never was a colonel.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

Shot up worse than you.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. CRUICKSHANK:

I will debate with Drew at any time, any place.

The Address-Mr. Claxton

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BROOKS:

He would not disgrace himself debating with you.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. CRUIOKSHANK:

You didn't have such a record overseas.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BROOKS:

I am not boasting about it either.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink

February 26, 1948