reads: "Claxton lets Pearkes give government's view". Then there is a subheading, "But two P.C.'s disagree with party on army".
That sums up pretty well the sudden change in the attitude of the official opposition. I should like to say a word about that subheading. I think those two Progressive Conservative members deserve credit for standing on their feet in this house and advocating their own beliefs in regard to national defence, regardless of the pressure that may have been put on them by their colleagues.
I should like to refer now to the subamendment, which will be found at page 339 of Hansard of February 13. The subamendment moved by the hon. member for Peace River reads:
That the amendment be amended by adding thereto the following as clause 4:
4. To ensure that a complete program of preparedness including compulsory training in the reserve forces for home defence be executed with the greatest possible degree of equality of sacrifice and service.
Some members have endeavoured to twist the meaning of that subamendment. Time and time again they have used the old hackneyed expression that while it was a good amendment, while it served a good purpose, while it made the nation aware of preparedness, this was not the proper time, because you could not raise hundreds of thousands-I think that was the expression used by the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Pearkes)-of men immediately. The amendment does not ask that. Others have said that you could not grab people out of industry and place them in the reserve army. The subamendment does not ask for that. In clear language the subamendment says:
... to ensure that a complete program of preparedness including compulsory training in the reserve forces for home defence be executed-
It does not say when. It says:
-with the greatest possible degree of equality of sacrifice and service.
Surely the hon. member who has just interrupted would not say for a moment that we should have any form of military service without equality of sacrifice and service. We have not mentioned any method by which this might be done. That is the responsibility of the government. It is a matter of principle with which we are concerning ourselves at the present time. Surely we do not want a repetition of what went on in the last war. I do not think any member of the house in his right senses would ever tolerate such a situation as existed at that time.
I am going to suggest that the government should set up a committee of the house to
The Address-Mr. Johnston settle once and for all the question of manpower. No other nation in the world of any consequence has to deal with the manpower problem in the way that we have to deal with it. The United States has compulsory service. Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand have it. This problem does not arise for them in times of emergency, and this is the time that we in Canada should settle the question. For the life of me I can never see why politicians and members of parliament would want to make this matter a political football at elections for the mere purpose of vote catching. I think it goes without saying that the question of manpower, although it disunited the nation, was responsible for getting a good many votes for the Liberal government in the elections held during the war. I do not think such a condition should be tolerated. That is why I suggest that a committee of the house be set up to deal with the question once and for all, on its merits alone, in a place where it can be dealt with on a purely non-political basis. As the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) said, let us be men and settle the question once and for all on its merits.
Most of those who have spoken in opposition to the subamendment have expressed the belief that the intention is good but the timing is wrong. They have said that the Legion's proposals in their program, "Operation Preparedness", are well intended. They could subscribe to everything else except this one thing, and they expressed the view that its introduction now is untimely. I wonder when the time would be opportune in the minds of those who have so stated. They all agree that our reserve forces are in a terrible condition. They all agree that no proper defence forces are available for this country; yet they say the time is not opportune.
I do not want to prolong the debate. I merely want to say that I believe it is better to be ten months too early than ten minutes too late.