April 28, 1941 (19th Parliament, 2nd Session)


James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)



No, it was not; that is what I am saying. Then we felt that this was the situation which ought to be dealt with: we got in touch with the reserve units and with the recruiting officers in the various districts and said, "How about this? Are the reserve units going to be able to supply these [DOT]men?" Some units were able to supply one 'hundred per cent of the men they were asked to supply. Others were not able to do so; so
{Mr. Ralston.]
we decided that if the reserve units by themselves could not supply the numbers wanted the thing to do was to put on a recruiting campaign, in the sense of indicating to the people of Canada generally that men were needed. In that same connection we felt, as I intimated to the press the other day, that in addition to the monthly quota we might just as well ask the public for the additional twenty thousand men who would be required to fill up the Canadian units and the formations which eventually would go overseas. As I have said many of these 20,000 would be supplied by mobilizing reserve units. Included in that number would be men required to replace others who had been boarded out of the third division. So, as I indicated to the press the other day, between twenty and thirty thousand men will be required altogether during May and June and possibly July. After that there will be a certain quota each month in order to keep up the reinforcements. And when I mention the need for reinforcements hon. gentlemen will realize that we are not basing our requirements in that connection on actual casualties but on the only standard we can use; that is, what the British consider a safe and normal reserve to provide for the purpose of reinforcements.
So at the present time what we are doing is this: we are going on with a recruiting campaign to indicate to the public of Canada that we will need from twenty to thirty thousand men in the next month or two, or perhaps the next three months; probably something over 30,000 men altogether. Most of those men will be, I hope, comparatively easy to get, because many of them will be men who will be coming as whole units, as part of some of these formations which are being formed, to go overseas. Of course the difficulty is to get reinforcements for the odd unit-that is to say, to get a man to come to some unit he does not know. That is always the difficulty with reinforcements. We have had much difficulty in the past, and with a proper effort we should not have a great deal of difficulty in the future in that regard. That is the situation with respect to recruiting.
So, do not let my hon. friend think that a recruiting campaign has been put on and that it has failed, because no such thing has happened at all. We shall tell the people of Canada what is to be done. We are going to put on the necessary campaign in order to inform them. We will ask, as a matter of fact, for citizens' committees in each province. We shall probably make allotments to each province, and ask that citizens' committees

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be set up, and ask them to help get these men for the armed forces of Canada. I little doubt that the men will be provided. And when my hon. friend speaks of going by the back door instead of by the front door, I say to him that he might as well tell the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) that he ought not to go by the back door and form loan committees throughout Canada to ask for loans, when he asks the people to lend their money to Canada. He might as well say that the Minister of Finance ought to go by the front door and put a compulsory levy on everybody in Canada, requiring each to subscribe a definite amount to its war loan, regardless of whether they want to or not.
There is no occasion for anybody to feel jittery with regard to the man-power situation. As I said the other day to the press, this matter ebbs and flows. We have been concerned vitally with material. We have been wondering where the material would come from. It is coming. I have been down in the east, in various training camps throughout the eastern part of the dominion, and I know it is coming. Now there is need to give attention to the question of men, not so much for units already formed, but for the formation of new and additional units, and for the keeping up of reinforcements. That is what is being done at the present time.
I want to ask this house and my hon. friend-I want to ask hon. members to give us help in connection with this matter. It is drab; it is unspectacular. It is not the same as passing a resolution, laying down a policy, or anything like that. But I would ask that hon. members give the necessary help from the point of view of indicating to the men that the time has come when they are needed. The fact is that they are needed in artillery, ordnance, and signal units perhaps considerably more than in infantry units.
Speaking of infantry, I am thinking of a unit, one which in fact my hon. friend must know. I found that that unit had about two hundred men under training as reinforcements in Canada. I am sure it has two hundred to two hundred and fifty men as reinforcements overseas. I was informed on the training ground that they had about two hundred more available in the depot. That is six hundred men for reinforcement of a unit which have not yet been required. So that there are cases where infantry units have surplus requirements. Artillery and other units took some of them, when they increased their establishments in addition to taking men who had been held as reinforcements for these particular units.
In order that we may help in that respect, in order that we may make no greater drain
on the man-power of Canada than was necessary, in order that industry might not be unduly disturbed I stated to the press the policy that as the men who are trained for four months leave their training they will be detailed to the units which are doing coastal defence duty in Canada, thereby enabling the men in the coastal defence units in Canada to go overseas, to join overseas units. In addition to that, if we. find it necessary, the men who have been enlisted for overseas service, and have been posted to one arm of the service, may probably be posted to some other arm where they are needed.
I feel it is part of the day's work of the Department of National Defence to get these men. It is part of the day's work to get these men in, have them realize their duty and realize the need. And I have little doubt that we will be successful, and that the number of men required will be obtained.

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