Mr. George A. Drew (Leader of the Opposition):
Mr. Speaker, before proceeding with the remarks that I propose to make on the address in reply to the speech from the throne, may I go beyond the usual formalities and extend my congratulations to the mover (Mr. Cauchon) and the seconder (Mr. Simmons) of this address. The mover spoke of the unity, understanding and good will which he has encountered, sentiments which I am sure will be reciprocated by every member of this house. In addition he used both languages in a manner that was the envy of most of us here.
I wish also to say something about the remarks of the seconder. He spoke in terms of great optimism of the vast northern constituency which he represents. As one who
has had the privilege as a visitor of seeing extensive parts of that great northland on different occasions, I share the optimism which he has expressed about its future. I think it is a good and healthy thing to place before the young people of this country, through reports emanating from this house, some idea of the immense and untapped resources that still lie across the north of Canada.
Many people still have the idea that up above the comparatively narrow southern belt, which is more closely populated and which stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, there is nothing but great wastes, with little opportunity for population in the years ahead. Population goes to those places where work can be had, and work is going to be found for scores of thousands in this area where Providence has placed such immense resources for our use.
I simply wish to express my good wishes to the mover and seconder and to say that I believe they performed their task in a manner acceptable to all hon. members. In the very nature of things there were perhaps one or two remarks about which we may not be prepared to go the whole way, but I would have been a little surprised if they had been less enthusiastic about those with whom they are associated in their own activities.
I feel sure that every member of this house will join in the satisfaction expressed in the speech from the throne regarding the king's steady recovery, and the warmth of our welcome to his daughter and her husband. During the past week there has been convincing evidence of that deep and abiding affection with which the members of our royal family are regarded in their individual capacity and, more important still, as worthy representatives of that continuing monarchy, which symbolizes the freedom, tradition, unity and purpose of that great world fellowship which expresses its loyalty to one crown.
I am sure that with the facilities which science has now made available to all of us the king and queen have been greatly heartened by what they have heard of the affectionate and unstinted welcome which has been extended everywhere to Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. To all of us who regard our democratic monarchy as an institution of profound and continuing importance in these uncertain days, not only to us but to the peace and stability of the whole free world, there has been a great measure of comfort and confidence in the spontaneous and unreserved expression of loyalty to our future queen.
The Address-Mr. Drew
On this subject I doubt if there is any measure of disagreement among the members of this house. On a number of other subjects mentioned in the speech from the throne there will also be general agreement. There is of course nothing really new in what it says. It is merely a government agenda of remaining business for 1951, which under our parliamentary procedure the governor general has been called upon to read.
The fact is that we should not be discussing at this time any of these subjects in relation to a new speech from the throne. We should be continuing the session which was adjourned on June 30, and for reasons which are more compelling than those we had before us at the time I expressed that opinion in June when the plans for a new session were announced.
At the time it was indicated that there would be a second full session this year. I am sure it was generally believed that there would be a second budget introduced to provide the means by which a universal old age pension at the age of 70 would be placed upon a contributory basis. I can think of no other reason which would justify the calling of a second session instead of finishing up the business of the house in resumed meetings of the same session which had been adjourned. The introduction of a second budget would at least have provided the opportunity to remove some of those taxes which have proved to be unnecessary, and to deal with the heavy and improper overtaxation which is now taking place.
This is the third successive year in which we have had a second session. A second session does not merely call for the payment of additional indemnities to the members. It calls for very large payments for the maintenance of those facilities that are required md of services that are needed for the continuance of parliament during the time it sits. In 1949 a fall session became necessary after the business of the house had been abruptly terminated at a time when the government decided, and decided correctly, that it was a good time for them to call an election, no matter how much public money was wasted by failing to complete the session which was already far advanced in its business. Nevertheless, under our parliamentary procedure, following that election a fall session did become necessary.
In the opinion of the government a special session became necessary in the late summer of last year. The regular session had prorogued in the usual way. Because of its unfortunate handling of the threatened railway strike, a situation had arisen which the government decided could only be dealt with
The Address-Mr. Drew by new legislation. Having regard to the course which the government had decided to follow, undoubtedly a short special session had become necessary.
No such situation arose this year. The speech from the throne delivered to this house at the beginning of the regular session this year adequately covered all possible legislation which will come before us, and provided the opportunity to deal with every subject we shall now be called upon to discuss. Not even the flimsy excuse that a new budget was necessary to provide the method of contribution and the complementary government financial arrangements necessary for the introduction of universal old age pensions can possibly be put forward in view of the fact that we are now informed that there is to be no budget. No matter what strong and obvious arguments there are against a second session of this kind, there might at least be some slight appearance of justification if the introduction of a second budget had provided the opportunity to review those unnecessary and inflationary taxes which were forced through this house last spring, and also to correct the serious miscalculation by which this government had already overtaxed the people of Canada by $500 million during the first five months of the new fiscal year.
There is another and very serious aspect to such a situation which it seems to me should be very much before the members of this house at this time. Parliament has been called together in a new session with every indication that it is to run its full course within the current year; yet, by the device of not introducing a budget, the government will have denied to the members the opportunity to discuss the different departments of government with the opportunity to obtain information which is afforded when each department is called on the motion to go into supply. A government which has already gone so far in denying to the members their long established rights and duties as the elected representatives of the people asks us on this occasion to approve a speech from the throne without any subsequent opportunity to deal v.'ith the business of parliament in the manner which has long been the established procedure in this house.
I can only express the hope that the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) will give us some assurance this afternoon that if the government is not prepared to reconsider its decision to introduce no budget during this session, with the resulting opportunity to discuss the affairs of each department, opportunities for such discussion will be provided by making
way for motions introduced by the opposition to produce that result. That is the practice which has long been found satisfactory at Westminster, where motions by the opposition are afforded a fixed date for consideration where those deal with major matters of public concern.
Obviously if this house is to fulfil its first duty at this time it will discuss, in much more minute detail than ever before, the present state of our defence forces and the actual position in which we find ourselves after the immense expenditures which have already been made on national defence. After an expenditure of more than $3 billion since our rearmament program began, we have surprisingly little in the way of first-line forces in being, ready to go into action. So far as our only possible enemy is concerned, it is not the glowing statements of the Department of National Defence that are going to matter; it is how many units of every branch of the service are ready to take the field.
Having regard to the repeated statements that we are now entering the most critical period of tension, and the evidence we read and hear supports that statement all too firmly, the state of our defence forces should be the first concern of every member of this house. Those Canadian forces which have gone into action on land, at sea or in the air have carried forward in the very highest measure those great traditions of military service. On the distant battlefields of Korea, imperishable pages in the history of valour and sacrifice have been written by the men of regiments which carry famous names- names made famous in earlier engagements when their fathers and their brothers took part in the battle for freedom. Canadian naval units have taken a very distinguished part in the operations in the western Pacific. The Royal Canadian Air Force has performed the tasks assigned to it with efficiency and great credit to those engaged.
This does not mean, that we have yet undertaken our share of the tasks undertaken by the United Nations. If we were to go on spending as much as we have already spent for what has actually been accomplished, then in the unhappy event that we were called upon for large-scale operation we would bankrupt ourselves overnight. If this is going to be a long-term program, then in terms of simple arithmetic we must calculate what forces would be required in the event of that major disaster, and then ascertain what it would cost, in relation to the moneys we have been spending to produce the result, or lack of it, which we have already seen.
The over-all disproportion between expenditure and result can be illustrated in one case in this simple manner. During the current year Canadian taxpayers will be called upon to pay substantially more in taxes than they did during any year of the last world war when we had more than a million men and women under arms. What are we getting for it? That is what we have a right to know. That is what every member also has a duty to find out.
If as a result of the discussions during this session we can finally dispel the verbal smoke screen set up by the Department of National Defence and begin to receive statements upon which we can rely, then possibly this unnecessary second session may serve some useful purpose. Canadians have been told that we have developed the finest antitank gun in the world, that we have the world's most advanced anti-submarine vessels, that we have the world's most powerful jet engine, that we have the world's best allweather fighter, that we are ready to play our part along with the best forces from other lands to meet any threat that may come.
Canadians will be glad to claim any real achievements which Canadians have the right to claim. In two world wars Canadians have shown that in whatever service they wore uniforms there were no more efficient and effective men and women in the world. That has been proved in the air, on land and at sea. It is unworthy of their great achievements and their valour, to say nothing of their sacrifice, that the people of Canada should at any time be lulled into a state of complacent optimism by boastful statements unrelated to the facts.
Three years have passed since we were told we were starting our rearmament program. The Korean struggle is now in its sixteenth month. Where are the anti-tank guns? Where are the anti-submarine vessels? Where are the aircraft using the world's most powerful jet engines? Where are the all-weather fighters in actual service? Where are the armed forces ready to go into action for which so much money has been spent? True, we have naval units with superb personnel. That service is in fact the most advanced, although it still has many unexplainable deficiencies in equipment.
It was air power, however, that was to be the core of our defence effort. Half of our expenditure was to be on that branch of the service. What have we in actual fighting squadrons today? When the time comes for teams to play in any league, it is the teams that can play that really count, and not the teams that are still being talked about. In a
The Address-Mr. Drew recent series of responsible and, I believe, unchallengeable articles appearing in one of the most reliable newspapers in this country, it was stated unequivocally by their military writer-and he is an exceedingly competent military writer-that as of October 1 there are only two fighter squadrons ready to go into action.
The situation in regard to the land forces is equally uncertain. Figures of recruiting mean very little in themselves. They mean next to nothing in the case of the reserve forces unless we know how many of those enlisting actually trained at camp during the year. There again one of the great difficulties, in understanding what the situation is, is to be able to interpret at any particular time the explanations given by the Department of National Defence. As a reason for not using the highly-trained airborne brigade at the time we were called upon to accept a share of the responsibility in Korea, we were told in this house-and in that way the people of Canada were told-that the defence requirements of the north made it unwise to send the airborne brigade out of Canada. Now at a time when the dangers have certainly not diminished, the airborne brigade is being sent out of Canada with no trained airborne brigade to take its place. If the explanation for not sending the airborne brigade was valid in the first place, what is the reason that we do not need a trained airborne brigade at this time? It is such contradictions as these that make it difficult for the members of this house and for the people of Canada to know what is fact and what is fancy.
These are only some of the reasons why there should be the most detailed and comprehensive examination of the real state of our defence forces. It is to build up those forces that the bulk of the heavy taxes now being collected by the government are to be used. The speech from the throne indicates that an opportunity will be afforded to discuss national defence early in the session. It has been indicated by the statement in the speech from the throne that measures will be placed before the house dealing with the dispatch of the 27th brigade to Europe, although that should-and I hope it will-provide an opportunity for the most detailed discussion of national defence. I have raised this subject today because I do not think that the examination of this matter should wait for any future date when legislation limited to a particular purpose will be before the house. Once again I make the request that without waiting for the termination of this debate, a committee of this house be set up to examine defence expenditures and all related
26 HOUSE OF
The Address-Mr. Drew matters. The exceedingly limited results obtained from the enormous sums already spent surely leave no further doubt that a committee should be empowered to inquire into defence expenditures so that the elected representatives of the people-and they are the ones to have the responsibility-may have reliable information as to the results we are getting from the huge expenditures that are being made.
One thing about which the speech from the throne is strangely silent is the subject of veterans' pensions. When I raised this subject on June 30, the day on which we knew that we were going to adjourn until October, this exchange took place, as reported at page 4885 of Hansard:
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY