September 5, 1950

LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

The table follows:

Consolidation of Main and Supplementary Estimates 1950-1951

Commitment Future

Defence Services Cash 1950-51 Years

Navy

Main estimate

Supplementary ... 82,000,000 29,536,130 14,895,696 35,984,000 61,050,125111,536,130 14,895,696 97,034,125Army Main estimate

Supplementary ... 130,000,000 54,171,233 13,000,000 24,205,000 62,640,773184,171,233 13,000,000 86,845,733Air Main estimate .... Supplementary ... 169,000,000 58,492,837 25,350,000 80,924,670 285,566,923227,492,837 25,350,000 366,491,593Administration Main estimate .... Supplementary ... 3,932,304 10,0003,932,304 - 10,000Summary Defence Services Main estimate .... Supplementary ... 384,932,304 142,200,200 53,245,696 141,123,670 409,257,821527,132,504 53,245,696 550,381,491

Defence research

Main estimate ... Supplementary .. . 23,925,361 1,000,000 2.700.000 5.310.00023,925,361 1,000,000 8,010,000Other votes Main estimate ... Supplementary .. . 16,142,335 16,142,335 Total D.N.D

567,200,200 54,245,696 558,391,491

As hon. members will understand, we have further details of the estimates making up the $142 million. I can assure hon. members that the treasury board and ourselves have been giving the most active consideration to the possibility of presenting the estimates in a way which will help hon. members better to appreciate them. The present form grew out of the wartime form which was simplified because of the difficulty of making accurate estimates and since the end of the war they have been expanded. I agree with hon. members that we should endeavour to break them down further and make them more understandable without any breach of security. That is being worked on and had the session not come on so suddenly it would perhaps have been possible to have worked it out and presented these estimates in a new form at this session.

I do not think hon. members want me to go over any of the statements I made or the discussion that took place during the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne. There is no excuse for anyone not knowing what the role of the armed forces of Canada has been since the second world war. As I said last week, it was no part of that role to provide a professional police force to deal with affairs that might occur in other countries.

It has been suggested by some hon. members that we knew or should have known that active aggression by North Korea was going to take place. That is very flattering indeed to Canada when it is perfectly obvious from the record that the United States did not know that. When it was suggested that we should have prepared for this it was also being suggested that in the absence of consultation by the United States and members of the United Nations we should have taken it on ourselves to prepare for this particular operation. I suggest that that is not looking realistically at the situation.

The role of our defence force has been explained and stated time after time to parliament. It was to be a force, which in the opinion of our advisers would be sufficient to deal with the kind of attack that we thought

at the time might be made on Canada and also to provide the organizational, administrative and training machinery on which to build so that we could make the greatest possible effort in a total war. I think everyone realizes that no country anticipated this Korean situation breaking the way it did. In consequence of that we have accelerated our program, but even before that it was being pressed just as much as possible with the money available.

The hon. member for Peace River suggested that as a standard we should endeavour to make Canada as nearly secure as our resources and manpower can make it. That is the objective. That is the right kind of standard. But everyone knows that we are not in a full, all-out war economy. If we expected war this year we could further accelerate the aircraft production program and devote a larger share of the national income to these purposes; we could put on three shifts and do everything else like that. That may be necessary.

We are moving along with the operation of producing aircraft of the type we believe to be necessary. We are producing ships of the kind we believe to be desirable. We are adding to our supplies of army equipment, ammunition, radar, wireless, motor vehicles, anti-tank armaments and are generally pressing on just as fast as it can be done. However, I think it would be wrong to indicate to this committee that we are going to be in a state of full preparedness next month. No one believes that.

Hon. members have charged us with complacency and sometimes we have had to meet criticism and charges which did not seem to be justified in the circumstances. I can assure you that I have found nothing complacent about the Department of National Defence since I have been there and there has been nothing complacent about the attitude of the government. This is an operation involving the interest and welfare and security of the whole people of Canada and it is being undertaken in that spirit.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Mr. Chairman, as has already been said this evening by the Minister of National Defence, we are now considering something of the utmost importance to every Canadian. We are being asked to approve at the present time the principle that it is expedient that this house authorize expenditures and commitments which, with what has already been approved at the earlier session, will mean that this country is committed during the current fiscal year to a possible total of over $1,400 million for national defence in actual expenditures and

Defence Appropriation Act undertaken commitments. Obviously the important thing for everyone to know is what is to be done with the money. Neither we in Canada nor the people of any other free country are going to preserve that freedom which hangs in so very delicate balance at the present time by the numbers of dollars, pounds, francs or any other unit of money. The thing that is going to count is the evidence that we give of armed power for the purpose of preserving peace.

It is only to the extent that here in Canada, and in the other nations with which we shall be associated, there is evidence that we mean with the utmost speed, the utmost skill and the utmost efficiency, to provide those forces which collectively can assure that our freedom will be preserved that we can hope for a moment that we shall continue in anything approaching peace in the face of the threat which we see throughout the world today.

When this subject was being discussed in the debate on the speech from the throne, it was my privilege to speak just after the Secretary of State for External Affairs and the Minister of National Defence had spoken. I spoke in that debate before the Prime Minister. At that time I indicated the desire that I knew was shared by every member of the opposition-and I feel sure I am not presuming in saying every member of the opposition-to co-operate and assist the government in every way that was within our power. I did emphasize the fact, however, that it would only be possible for the members of the opposition to give that measure of assistance that they were anxious to give, and to form a judgment with some knowledge of the facts, if we were taken into the confidence of the government to an extent that made it possible to reach a decision with all the essential information in our possession.

At that time I indicated also that I hoped that the Prime Minister would reconsider the earlier request which had been made to set up a committee on defence. I urged furthermore that the house should not prorogue at the end of this present special session but that it should adjourn in order that this defence committee, starting its work immediately, could examine the facts and make a report to the house at the earliest possible date so that we would be able to reach some conclusion with that additional information which would be before us. I also expressed the hope that we would be given a great deal more information than had been given us by the Minister of National Defence in the speech he had just made immediately before I spoke at that time. I regret that none of those suggestions found favour with the government.

Defence Appropriation Act

In spite of the fact that the Minister of National Defence has said this evening that the proposal for a defence committee was made three times in the last session and three times voted down, and therefore we should hear no more about it, may I suggest that the reasons given by the Prime Minister for not appointing such a committee were hardly in keeping either with his legal training or with his capacity for an examination of facts and an argument based upon those facts. He said that after all it was for the people of Canada to determine whether the government had done well, for their representatives in the house to determine whether the government had done well, and if the members thought the government had not done well then they should deal with them accordingly. The Prime Minister knew perfectly well exactly what the large majority behind him would do in connection with any matter of this kind.

We have seen much too consistent evidence of the unwillingness, with only one or two exceptions, of members on that side to support their arguments by their votes, as was indicated a few days ago by one rather outspoken member who objected to the course that was being followed and then voted for the course about which he had complained. I only mention that for this reason. The suggestion that this house is a committee which can deal'with this thing is not a suggestion that I think the Prime Minister meant us to take seriously, and this is an occasion for serious discussion. The Prime Minister well knows that there is no effective procedure whereby the large number of members in this house can consider matters of this kind, bring witnesses before them and obtain those facts which are so essential to any adequate understanding of the very basis upon which we are being asked to approve of this very large additional sum of money.

This house meets in committee, but that committee is different from those which have been so useful in other cases. As has been pointed out already, this idea of committees meeting to discuss the details of the organization and activities of different departments is not a strange new device being put forward with some new application to the Department of National Defence. It has worked extremely well in regard to the Department of External Affairs; and if there is one department that has secrets it is the Department of External Affairs, which in the very nature of its international associations must conduct discussions of the most secret nature. After all, external affairs is the department whose recommendations to the government, if they are approved, become

the basis of the broader plans for national defence such as we now have under consideration.

Nor is this idea of committees confined in any way to external affairs. When the Minister of National Defence points out the difficulty of having a committee deal with problems affecting fifty thousand people, has he forgotten that we have a committee on railways? My impression always has been that the railways employ a great many more than fifty thousand people. And when he points out the difficulties of having a committee deal with particular activities where people are engaged in different branches, as in the case of the army, navy and air force, has he forgotten that in the Department of Transport we have occasion to deal with railways, ships, aircraft and all the multitude of related activities coming under that department? No, Mr. Chairman; that argument does not hold water. There are other departments as well, dealing with some of the major aspects of the whole economy of the country, including agriculture and other great basic activities. Year by year this parliament demonstrates, through committees which meet and make recommendations, that not one of those arguments which have been put forward is in any way valid as against the setting up of a committee of this kind.

When we as members of parliament are asked to deal with these matters we must remember that we are supposed to have the information upon which to base our decisions. On September 1 the Prime Minister said, at page 117 of Hansard:

Hon. members will have to decide whether or not we set about it vigorously enough, whether or not it was a proper measure to take at that time, and whether it is to be realized as quickly as circumstances make it possible to realize it.

At another point on the same page he said:

It will be for the people, through their representatives in this house, to say whether they believe or do not believe that His Excellency's advisers have failed in that respect.

How can the representatives of the people in this house, or the people whom we represent, possibly know the circumstances unless we have a great deal more information than has been given us so far, either in the earlier speech of the Minister of National Defence or in his speech to us this evening? Again the minister has given us a multitude of percentages. Again he has told us how wonderful we are. Hon. members know how good Canadians are at fulfilling any task they undertake, when they are given a chance to put all their energy and ability into that task. Our job is to make sure that those Canadians who are being called upon to take part in

our national defence organization have a chance to demonstrate that efficiency, that energy and that spirit we know young Canadians do possess. That is a task which cannot be performed, however, unless we have a great deal more information than we now have. I ask hon. members not only to go back over what they remember of the statements made by the minister this evening, but to read Hansard carefully in the morning, to see just how much more they know about the actual organization and state of preparation of our defence forces than they knew when they came into this chamber this evening. What has been said has not added to our knowledge of what we have ready now to do the one job for which our forces are intended, or what the actual plans are by which this huge sum of money will be translated into terms of national defence.

In one of the percentages he gave us the minister said it was interesting to note that we have spent 54 per cent on personnel. Then he went on to say that we have spent less on personnel and more on equipment than many countries. Think of those words in all seriousness. "We have spent less on personnel and more on equipment than many countries." That is full of information, isn't it? That tells us all we want to know. Of course it does not tell us anything, Mr. Chairman, except that if we have been spending more on equipment and less on personnel than many countries, and those countries have some measure of national defence, then every member here should ask where that money has gone. Where has that billion and a half dollars gone that has been spent in the last five years? If we have been spending more on equipment and less on personnel it is very strange that we have so little to show for it today. Where are the first-line aircraft, the fighters, the bombers, the strategic aircraft? Hon. members know we do not have them. The plan for delivery of new aircraft is being accelerated, we are told; but we do not have them. Where are the army units in being, ready to go into action, resulting from these huge expenditures, an amount never even approached or dreamed of in any other five-year period in the peacetime history of this country? We know now just how many units we had ready to go into action.

The Minister of National Defence has taken issue with what he thought was the suggestion that this government should have known there was going to be an attack in Korea.

I have tried to follow the debate carefully and I cannot recall a single speaker who has said that this government should have known that there was going to be an attack in Korea. But what I have heard said is that if we were actually carrying out the plans which we were

Defence Appropriation Act told were being made, then we should have been in a state of readiness to take part in such an affair of that kind as might take place. Let us not concentrate on Korea as the possible scene. Suppose that something had happened on the same scale, no more extensive and no more limited, in some other area affected by our obligations under the North Atlantic security pact. Our position would have been no different. We were no more ready to assume any obligations under the North Atlantic security pact than we were under the resolution adopted by the United Nations. It is therefore appropriate now that we should ask this question: Why did that

situation exist, and what is the government going to do that will change this situation, that will make better use of the money that has to be spent in the future, and will bring into actual units in being those units that are going to be trained?

I had hoped that the Minister of National Defence would come here, would do as other ministers of national defence have done in other countries, and say, as has been said in effect elsewhere, that with the hope of peace we did not anticipate the problems and we did not do the things that were needed, but with the situation with which we are now confronted, this is what we are going to do; and would then tell us of a new plan to improve the equipment and the trained men we actually possess.

We must not be anchored to the past. In this case we must not repeat to ourselves that as it was in the beginning, so is it now and always shall be. In this case we must be prepared to demonstrate those qualities of initiative, ingenuity and originality which are the very hall-mark of the free system we are seeking to preserve. If there was one thing which emerged from the last war more clearly than anything else, it was that men and women whose minds are free and whose spirits are unshackled are able to improvise, to devise new things and to create new organizations, more rapidly, more effectively and more skilfully than those who have been subject to the highly-concentrated and allpowerful direction of the totalitarian state. Far from nazi or fascist centralized power giving them greater efficiency in war, we found that they had less; because ingenuity, initiative, vision, energy and the spirit of a free people were all lacking.

Our job now is to show that, as free people, we can face this desperate threat and that we can use the brains that have been unshackled and free in order to bring into existence with what we actually possess forces that will be effective, at the earliest possible date; and then to build as rapidly as possible

Defence Appropriation Act in addition to that. We have in this country large quantities of small arms, machine guns, mortars, grenades and many infantry weapons. We have 17-pounders, 25-pounders, 5.5's and 3.7's in large quantities or in numbers large enough to create artillery units of great hitting power. We have engineering equipment in the armouries and storehouses across this country. We have tanks, armoured vehicles and transport equipment. We have, as a matter of fact, large quantities of arms, equipment and stores of an extremely useful quality, although they may not be the last word and although they may not be that type that we would contemplate as the ideal two, three or four years from now.

While it is all too true that the reserve training has been disappointing, as was stated so emphatically and so undeniably by the hon. member for Nanaimo, nevertheless we have in this country outside the permanent force, both in the reserve and out of the reserve, trained men capable of taking their part in units which could be formed with these weapons and equipment to which I have referred.

One plan was put forward by the hon. member for Broadview. Other plans have been suggested in this chamber. As the hon. member for Broadview pointed out, he was not saying that this was by any manner of means a plan which could not be improved upon. He merely put it forward and said: Show us something better, but let us have a plan so that there is something we know is being done.

If we heard tonight, Mr. Chairman, that a landing had been made on the northwest coast of Canada, we would be moving as fast as we could to improvise, and we would not be worrying about percentages or about whether we were following the textbook as to the total amount of equipment we had in each particular unit. We would be moving as fast as we could to get together something to meet a threat of that kind, knowing perfectly well that with all the money that has been spent we have not at the moment a permanent force establishment adequate for that purpose.

If we would do that under such circumstances, why should not we be doing something of that kind at a time that we know that free people are under immediate threat everywhere? And we also know that the greatest hope that we have that there will be no such landing, either by sea or by air, that there will be no attack by Russia on us, or on any of the other free nations, is the speed and the effectiveness with which the free nations now show that they can use

the things they have to get together forces capable of using that equipment at the earliest possible date.

That does not necessitate the setting up of permanent establishments on a grandiose scale; but we have so many trained men and women out of the million who were in uniform such a comparatively short time ago that it certainly is practical, is possible and is reasonable to organize effective units with the equipment we now have. Whether that is something that is along the lines contemplated by the Department of National Defence, again I am not prepared to say. Anything of this kind can only be a suggestion, but in the name of everything we hold dear, let us stop drifting along, let us face the dreadful reality that is before us, and let us insist that the government tell us of some plans to make use of the equipment, of the weapons and of the general military establishments that we have across this country.

The Minister of National Defence has told us again that everything is going well; that we have no reason to be setting up a committee to obtain information. Everything has not gone well. We had the definite statement of the most experienced soldier in this house by far, in fact I believe the most experienced soldier in Canada, who told us here a few days ago that the training of our reserve forces was largely ineffective because of the small percentages that were going into camp. In that instance, it is proper to use percentages because if a reserve unit goes into camp with less than 25 per cent of its authorized strength, it does not get 25 per cent of its training; it gets very much less, and perhaps practically nothing that is useful, because a very large number of hon. members know very well from their own experience that when a unit goes into camp a certain minimum number of men are required each day for camp detail; and that you can get to a minimum point where there is practically nobody left for any training at all. In a great many instances that is precisely what is happening.

We have not been wasting thousands, we have been wasting millions of dollars in this country on ineffective training of that type. Do not let anybody make the statement that this is a reflection on the men who are in uniform and in camp. On \he contrary, it is a great tribute to them that under conditions of that kind they still have the heart to go to camp.

The armouries of this country have been the centres where the spirit of our great nonpermanent organizations has been kept alive. In these armouries from coast to coast training has been given that is useful; but, Mr.

Chairman, at a time when we are now talking about a possible immediate threat, of the defence of our soil, and when we are talking with an increasing sense of realism- and it has to increase a great deal more than has been displayed by the government so far -of the hope of preserving peace by the creation of effective defence plans, it is nothing but tragic folly to contemplate the possibility of going on pouring out large sums of money on ineffective training of that kind, when our job now is to make every dollar and every cent in every dollar count-because that itself is part of the struggle.

Last night many hon. members must have been surprised at the statement by the Secretary of State for External Affairs when he said, as reported at page 223 of Hansard:

But I am sure hon. members will appreciate that it is very difficult indeed at this time, in the midst of these discussions, to explain in detail what part we may have to play in regard to the carrying out of our obligations under the North Atlantic pact. It is possible, however-and I am sure the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton) will not mind if I say this-to say at this time, pending revision of those plans which is now under way in the light of developments since June, that it is understood by our friends of the North Atlantic pact that our position in regard to collective defence in an attack on western Europe would be, on land, to use our permanent force to assist United States forces, or to be assisted by United States forces, in repelling a direct attack from the north, and using it as a basis for the expansion of our army for a later expeditionary force to defend Canada outside Canada.

With all the statements that have been made about our joining in a plan of collective security, that is a strange statement of Canada's position; that our permanent forces are to be used either to assist the United States or have them assist us in the defence of the north of this continent. In other words, our plan of collective security is that we stay in Canada and expect other members of the Atlantic pact to come and help us. I cannot believe that that is the concept of collective security that has been put forward in this country. If it is, well, then, it is a different concept from that which we had put before us in the past.

I cannot help comparing the statement that the Secretary of State for External Affairs made last night, about this permanent force being used as the basis for the expansion of our army for a later expeditionary force to defend Canada outside Canada, with the statement of the Minister of National Defence, who said that the right place to defend Canada, and which Canadians believed in, is as far away as possible. The Minister of National Defence also said: "We must maintain a force in being and the means necessary to develop our full potential as quickly as possible". Those were things we were told

Defence Appropriation Act in March-not in June, but in March. And also I cannot help recalling the words of the Secretary of State for External Affairs and comparing them with the statement now that this permanent force of ours is to stay here and to be used as the basis of our army for a later expeditionary force to defend Canada outside Canada. I cannot help comparing that with other words he used, words which seemed to have such a ring to them at the time. I have not those words before me, but I doubt if he will question them when I repeat them in substance. At that time he told us that never again would it be possible for any nation to build its strength behind the ramparts of sacrifices of others.

If that is so, then this seems strangely inconsistent with what he said at that time. There again is one of the reasons why we should really know what forces we are going to have and what new plans we have got, because we have no plan before us now except the one to carry on with the same unsatisfactory procedure that left us aghast at our unpreparedness when the test came.

Surely this is something that could be discussed by everybody, with the hope of getting ahead and not just with the idea of using blocking tactics and preventing anything being accomplished other than the very little that is put before us.

This amount of money for which we are now asked is something that will be supported by members of the House of Commons to the extent that they receive assurance. Hon. members certainly have no thought of holding back. Nevertheless we have the duty and the responsibility of making sure that before we leave here we do know something about what is actually being planned for the security of this country in the months immediately ahead.

Whether the Prime Minister intended that his statement should be taken literally or not, nevertheless he undoubtedly was indicating his own belief that the critical period is immediately before us when he said that the next decade of months would be so important. If that is so, then as members of the House of Commons we have no right to leave here for another five months if we are not sure that within this decade of months ahead of us every day is going to count in making use of what we have.

The Minister of National Defence placed a strange interpretation upon the request for a committee. I do not recall a single case when anyone has suggested that a defence committee would have it within its authority to declare policy for the Department of National Defence, any more than a committee

Defence Appropriation Act on external affairs declares policy for the Department of External Affairs, or the committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines declares policy for that department.

What that committee can do is to examine evidence, to examine the organization, to call the chiefs of staff, to call the senior officers, to call technical experts outside the government service to obtain information and to make recommendations in regard to details which obviously would be subject to the overall policy which always must be the responsibility of a government, under our system, and which every one of us recognizes.

Then there is another thing that has come up from time to time, and that is that we would be helping the enemy. Oh, it is so difficult to believe that the Kremlin will decide its course upon what it hears about what we discuss here! Nevertheless there is not a member of the house who would not be equally anxious to prevent any secret information getting into the hands of the enemy at any time. I am convinced that where it is clear that there is any bona fide reason for not asking a question, the question would never be pressed. But, do not think that the Russians do not know a lot more than members of the House of Commons know now. Do not think they do not know a lot more about the number of aircraft we have, and the condition or lack of condition of them.

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An hon. Member:

They cannot know very much, then.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

That is right, but they know. And they know the number of men we have and the number of vehicles we have. We have not put much difficulty in their way, and they have had access to the information. They have got it. But what we want to know is how we are going to use it. And the thing that will do us the most good, and the enemy the least good, is for them to see that here is a country, Canada, with only 14 million people, but a country which has demonstrated that it has a vigorous and a strong people, a country that means business and that is going to use what it has got. I cannot imagine anything that would bring less comfort to the enemy than that.

Collectively that is what we want the Kremlin to believe as coming from every free nation today. We of course are never going to decide the issue by ourselves; but sometimes it is the light quarterback who plays a pretty important part when he has a great, heavy line up in front of him. We have no reason to be unduly modest about the part played by young Canadians in the air in two world wars. They have had no equals in any nation of the world. Our men

and women in all the services have demonstrated the qualities they possess. We do not need to emphasize it; those qualities do not need to be emphasized by the Minister of National Defence. They are a matter of history and of record; they are part of the tradition of our people.

The important thing is to make sure that all of that quality, that character, that skill and initiative is able to assert itself. While we shall not decide the issue, still we can have a very important part in the team. By what we do along with all the others, the issue may well be decided in the balance of peace. That is what we are all seeking.

We have no real information before us. I hope the Minister of National Defence will not repeat to us that we have more information than anybody else. Why, he talks about the United Kingdom! He knows perfectly well that in the United Kingdom a subcommittee on defence has been meeting year after year, and that it allocates certain specific tasks each year. It is something in the nature of a spot audit in a business. They go into different activities each year and, as a result of that, over the years they produce very satisfactory results, although even there they feel they are not getting all the information they should.

If the Minister of National Defence seriously believes that these things should not be discussed in the House of Commons, in the open, then there is an answer. I do not like to balance one man against another, but the hon. member for Nanaimo can be regarded as the top expert on this subject. The hon. member for Nanaimo has told us that the reserve army training is not producing results and he has told us that our active force is not in position to meet any possible enemy in the defence of this country of ours right here in Canada-never mind outside of Canada, right here in Canada now.

These things have to be discussed. If they cannot be discussed in the open, then there is a way to discuss them. In view of the continued reluctance to give information I propose that this house go into secret session so that hon. members who do know, and there are many of them, just how bad the situation is in many respects and where the money is being wasted, can offer evidence from personal experience in that respect. Then we shall be able to insist upon the use of these funds in the way that they should be used.

I cannot move an amendment at this stage in the committee and it would not make any difference if I could because the government will decide whether it is to be done. There is this much about it: there are some who will never take this subject seriously, as is

Defence Appropriation Act

indicated by those ministers who find this a laughing matter and who are now just outside the immediate confines of this chamber. I am hoping that the rest will take this matter as seriously as they should. This smugness, this chatter and laughter while we are talking about the survival of freedom merely indicate how necessary it is that people do try to arouse this house and the people of Canada to the serious task that lies before us.

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An hon. Member:

Who are they?

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

If you want to know, the Minister of Trade and Commerce, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of National Health and Welfare are the three to whom I was referring. In wartime there have been reasons why people raise objections to secret sessions. It was suggested that in a certain secret session information was given out, but secret sessions at a time like this are quite different. Anything that is given out is not going to be given out to the press of the country, and the press would not carry it if they did get the information. Anything that came to them they would know was secret information. Certainly the press of this country have the highest regard for the importance of the things under consideration.

If we are to take seriously the suggestion that these things cannot be considered in this house, then on that basis, and on that basis alone, I urge the government to assure us that we shall have a secret session at which the state of our national defence can be fully discussed and at which every hon. member with personal knowledge of the situation, and there are many who have that knowledge, will be able to place before the Department of National Defence and the government and members of the house suggestions as to what can be done, and they will also be able to receive information which apparently they will not be given in this house.

In making this suggestion I urge the Minister of National Defence to recognize that members of this house are anxious to see something done and are anxious to co-operate. There is no desire to rake through the past; there is a desire only to make sure that in facing the future the mistakes of the past will not be continued. There are in this house many gallant members with experience in the different branches of the service who could make up as efficient a committee as I am sure could be found in any legislative body within the fellowship of free nations. Those men could be trusted to deal with this subject if they were in turn empowered by that session to proceed with the information; or if they were empowered by an open session of the house, that would be the second stage.

The first stage would be to take the step which would make it possible for all of us to get information we do not now possess and upon which the collective good sense of this house can be brought to bear in the interests of the strengthening of our defences.

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

Mr. Chairman, I intervene

in this discussion at this time not to protect my colleagues, the Minister of Trade and Commerce, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of National Health and Welfare, from the rather ridiculous charge of smug indifference which has been hurled at them by the leader of the opposition. Their records are adequate protection against that charge.

I rise simply to intervene in connection with one point which has been raised by the hon. gentleman who has just spoken.

The hon. gentleman referred to something that I said in this house yesterday in a way which completely misinterprets the plain meaning of what I said. I hope to be able to prove that in two or three minutes. In doing so he repeated a misinterpretation given to those words this morning by a Montreal Gazette headline. Of course headlines are not all-important, as the hon. member for Hamilton West (Mrs. Fairclough) pointed out the other day. This headline reads:

Canada's Permanent Army plays stay-at-home role in future war.

In an effort to confirm the validity of that headline the story repeated the words which I used, which words were repeated by the hon. gentleman who has just spoken. Perhaps I might repeat them once more. I said:

It is possible, however, to say at this time, pending revision of those plans-

I was referring to the revision of defence plans by the North Atlantic council.

-that our position in regard to collective defence in an attack on western Europe would be, on land, to use our permanent force to assist United States forces, or to be assisted by United States forces, in repelling a direct attack from the north, and using it-

That is our permanent force.

-as a basis for the expansion of our army for a later expeditionary force to defend Canada outside Canada.

I submit that to base the headline, "Canada's permanent army plays stay-at-home role in future war" on those words is a complete misinterpretation of what I said. I shall try to explain. I said that the first role of the permanent force, pending the reconsideration of the role of that force and of other forces by the North Atlantic council, which is now going on, would be to defend Canada against direct attack on Canada. I am sure that no hon. member would object

Defence Appropriation Act to the Canadian permanent force staying at home to fulfil that role, because that is its primary role. I said also, and of course I was assuming that there would not be at the same time a direct attack on Canada, that the role of that force would be to act as a nucleus for an expeditionary force according to our traditional method. I submit, Mr. Chairman, that has been said before by the Minister of National Defence and other members of this government. That has been the accepted policy of our army since the war. There is nothing new in that, nor does it justify in any way, shape or form the interpretation given to it by the leader of the opposition a few moments ago.

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PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

Mr. Chairman, this session of parliament assembled at a time of great domestic and international crises. We dealt expeditiously with the domestic crisis. When we were called to hear the speech from the throne I do not think there was a member who was surprised to hear these words:

You will also be asked to give urgent consideration to the measures for increased national security and international co-operation required by the fighting in Korea and the increasingly grave international situation which that struggle reflects. That was the original reason for summoning you for this special session.

I suggest that even since the day when we heard those words uttered the international situation has seriously deteriorated. The leader of the opposition moved an amendment to the address in which he questioned whether the measures which were being taken by the government were adequate for the defence of Canada. During the discussion that took place the Prime Minister urged all members to consider whether those measures were adequate and whether the steps being taken and the plans being made were being carried out speedily enough to deal with the situation in Korea and to provide for the defence of Canada.

The moneys that we are now being asked to provide are intended to implement the measures which have been recommended. We have listened this evening to an address by the Minister of National Defence, but I have had the greatest difficulty in being able to picture what those measures are for the defence of this country. From the words that the minister uttered last Thursday I have reason to believe that there are plans which he hesitates to tell the house about. On August 31 he outlined the measures that were being taken, and he referred to the experience that his teams of staff officers had had during

what he referred to as the partial mobilization of the last few days. Then he went on to say, as recorded at page 99 of Hansard:

I can say, though, that should an emergency arise we know how many men for each of the three services we shall want during each of the first twelve months. We know what kind of men they should be, what they will do, where they will go, what they will be equipped with and how they will be trained. That is all taped down to the last man.

These are the hidden plans that the Minister of National Defence apparently is not prepared to disclose to the house. How can we judge whether the plans are such as to meet the situation confronting us with speed, and whether they are effective enough to provide for the defence of this country, if we are not told how long it will take for those troops to be mobilized, and when the divisions of our army will be ready to take the field in the defence of Canada?

During the last session of parliament I heard a supporter of the Liberal government stand up in his place and declare that he would not sit in this house and be told that there were not divisions-and he used the plural-of young Canadians who were ready to take the field tomorrow. The Minister of National Defence was in the house when that statement was made and he did not attempt to deny it. Is he trying to give the impression to the people of Canada that we really do have divisions ready now to defend Canada? That cannot be true. What we want to know is how soon after an emergency there will be adequate troops ready and available for the defence of Canada.

We are told that there is an airborne brigade. I have stated in the house during the present session that the airborne brigade is not trained as a formation. The airborne brigade has never been brought together. The airborne brigade-and I am repeating what I have already said-has not trained as a formation and is lacking many of the essential elements of a fighting formation. There is no commander nor has a staff been appointed which has to date worked with all the units of that formation operating together as a co-ordinated team.

Reference has been made to an experiment or test which was carried on in the north in the wintertime a year ago. 1 refer to Exercise Sweetbriar. Certainly there were subunits of the airborne brigade which acquitted themselves exceedingly well and proved that, provided the brigade was trained and all the units had the same opportunities as those who took part in that exercise, it would be able to carry out the task to which it is assigned. But at that time all the units of the brigade had not had their airborne training. That

training has gone on during the months that have passed since Exercise Sweetbriar, and more men have been trained. New recruits have also come in, who have not been trained. We do not know the standard of efficiency of the various units of that brigade; but I repeat that it does not give a correct picture when the minister speaks in such glowing terms of the high standard of efficiency which that brigade is supposed to have reached, as an airborne formation prepared to defend our northern frontiers. In saying that I am in no way casting any reflection upon the type of officer, non-commissioned officer or man in those units. They are men of a very high standard, but as yet they have not had the opportunity of working together as a brigade team. Without a leader, without a staff, without the proper communication units, and without a great deal of practice working together under the conditions in which they may be expected to have to defend this country, they cannot be classed as ready at the drop of the hat to meet any emergency which may arise.

Then we have been told about the reserve units, through which the larger expansion is to be carried on to provide for our part in any operation in which we may participate beyond the shores of Canada. We have just heard that the active army is to provide the means of that expansion. I find it very difficult to reconcile those two tasks; on the one hand the task of being ready at an instant, in an emergency, to defend our northern frontier, and on the other the task of providing for the expansion of the forces which may be required to localize any act of aggression committed against our northland or to take part in any larger overseas expedition. It is not going to be easy for a very small nucleus force to carry out the role of defending our immense northern areas and at the same time train and develop expanding units of our reserve army for the greater task.

Think of the operations that have been carried on during the past few months in Korea, a northern, mountainous land, where spaces are not great. We have heard of the tactics employed by this satellite of Soviet Russia, which has relied so largely upon infiltration, working around the flanks of the forces of the United States and United Nations. It is not just a brigade operating in Korea today. Some five divisions of United States troops and five divisions of South Korean troops are in action, in addition to elements of United Nations forces. There we have some ten divisions fighting on a front which is extremely narrow when compared

Defence Appropriation Act to the enormous expanse of our own northern country. I do not care how small any diversionary raid might be; a brigade would be lost in our northern vastness. If more than a mere handful of soviet troops were landed on our northern shores, either by air or by water, it would take far more than a brigade to neutralize such an act of aggression. Therefore we must immediately consider the raising of additional forces. If a raid should take place the first thing to do would be to mobilize other elements of the Canadian army. How long would it be before those would be ready? That is a question I should like the minister to answer. If he feels that it would give the enemy information, then let us have a secret session, as my leader suggested, where the minister can tell us in confidence the plans which presumably he now has locked up in the recesses of his own mind.

Then we go on to the other services. In the speech the minister made on August 31 we were told that some nine ships of the Royal Canadian Navy are now under construction. Some of those ships are of vital importance; three are new submarine chasers. When will those ships be ready? As I pointed out the other day, we are short of naval protection on the Pacific coast. Everything should be done to accelerate the construction of ships to replace those destroyers that have left our waters. When will they be ready? That is what we want to know. Is the minister prepared to tell us? In his speech he did not say when those new vessels would be ready. Looking at the $477,000 that we are being asked to vote for naval personnel, I am not impressed. Is that going to provide crews for these ships this year? Are these ships going to be ready this year? I am afraid they will not be ready.

A little later we were told that all ten destroyers are being reconditioned; they have been in reserve. Will that process of reconditioning be expedited so that these destroyers will be ready for service in the near future? If so, are we providing in this $477,000 adequate funds for the crews which will be required to man those ten destroyers, in addition to the new ships under construction as well as the ships in service today? We do not know. It is inevitable that replacements will be required for the crews of the destroyers now in Korean waters. I know that it was necessary to transfer personnel from some other vessels and from store establishments in order to make up the full complement of those destroyers before they sailed. That is not unreasonable. That is a thing which is to be expected. Certainly you are

Defence Appropriation Act not going to keep destroyers and naval vessels at full war complement at all times. But it only shows that in times of comparative peace and security it is inevitable that naval establishments sink below the war establishments or the war complements of the various vessels.

We have heard about the aircraft which are to be purchased, including the one hundred Mustangs, and the acceleration of the F-86 and the CF-100 program; but we have not been told when those aircraft will be ready. It has been suggested that aircrews are being trained now at the rate of twenty-five men a week. Only during the last session I pointed out what I thought were one or two great weaknesses in our air training scheme. One was the shortage of young pilots coming on. From seven or eight methods by which a young man could become qualified as a pilot, I think we were at that time producing about 250 new pilots a' year. Are we going to have enough trained air force personnel with which to provide fighter pilots for these new aircraft that we are getting and to provide aircrews which are so essential, as well as the maintenance crews? Are we going to have those in time? Are they going to be ready by the time that the new aircraft, both for land and for sea, are ready?

We were told of the new aircraft which are being supplied for the complement of Magnificent. They will require additional personnel. We want from the minister definite assurance and definite dates by which these personnel, this equipment and these new aircraft will be ready and available for the defence of this country. If the minister is not prepared to give that information to us in open session, then by all means let him meet the request of the leader of the opposition and grant a secret session at which all these matters can be told to the members of this house with frankness and with there being no fear of leakages to any enemy who might not already have that information which we, the representatives of the people, do not have at the present time.

In these resolutions which have been placed before us we find large sums of money being allocated to the different services. When we come to a consideration of the various items, I do not know what the procedure will be, whether it will be that of dealing with each of the details on the various sheets of paper which we received, one by one, such as civil salaries and wages, so much; pay and allowances, so much for the navy, so much for the army and so much for the air force. Will they be dealt with one by one like that so that we may have an opportunity of asking questions of the minister and of examining him as to how these vast sums of money are to be expended? Or shall we adopt the method which was carried out during the last session of parliament when we were passing estimates under these self-same headings, in which the whole amount dealing with the defence forces was dealt with under one heading, with no order, not taking it detail by detail, but enabling one to ask a question at one minute on the northwest staging route and the next minute on army personnel, air force equipment or naval accommodation? I hope it will be possible to take these items one by one and that we shall have the opportunity of asking the appropriate questions.

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?

An hon. Member:

Eleven o'clock.

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PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

There are, Mr. Chairman, other points that I want to raise of a general nature regarding the commitments for the future years. It now being eleven o'clock, Mr. Chairman, I suggest that you report progress and ask leave to sit again.

Progress reported.

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BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

PC
LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Fournier (Hull):

We shall continue this debate.

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At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order.



Wednesday, September 6, 1950


September 5, 1950