Mr. EDOUARD LACROIX (Beauce) (Translation):
Mr. Speaker, the situation in which we find ourselves at this juncture is so serious that I feel in duty bound to rise in this house and express my viewpoint which apparently does not coincide exactly with opinions put forth until now.
To speak his mind fully is at times unpleasant to a public man, for someone's feelings may be hurt. Still I wish, at the very outset, to assure the hon. members of this house that my remarks reflect my sincerest convictions and that I would deem myself unworthy of public service were I to remain silent at this time.
My family first came to Canada in 1660, which means that I am rooted to the soil and that my viewpoint is thoroughly Canadian, solely Canadian and nothing more. I am a Canadian living in his homeland, who was bom here, who understands all that a Canadian heart can feel and whose wish it is to ensure by every means in his power the greatest possible happiness for the generations to come.
Mr. Speaker, what is the present purpose of certain extremists from Toronto?-for such is the origin of that whirlwind of disunity spreading throughout our fair Canada at the present time.
Unity between the two great races in this country would mean in the eyes of this handful of nervous individuals a la Hepburn an absolute obligation to think and act in accordance with their own narrow conception of things. It would mean submitting to the dictates and personal interest of a few individuals who, for one reason or another, would wish bo see the government of this country entrusted to their hands the better to sabotage the future of those inhabitants so that the appetites of these extremists might be satisfied.
Two great races, between 7 and 8 millions in number, true Canadians all, count for little or nothing in the calculations of such ambitious people who in time leave for Bermuda or elsewhere so that their heirs may be spared succession or other duties or even taxes directly attributable to their own blind, excessive and unreasonable demands.
The war effort which has been demanded in such sections is too great for a young country of twelve million inhabitants. Nothing was being done fast enough; to hear them, more is forever required, more man-power; there never is enough man-power according to them-production is always insufficient- and the cry goes out for more, and more and yet more.
The Address-Mr. Lacroix (Beauce)
To-day, these extremists are beginning to feel the effects of their exaggerations. One must pay and in order not to pay, they would transfer upon the shoulders of generations to come the excessive burden of this costly war.
They have, first, to secure the services of a new leader-and of course the security of his well-being is guaranteed for his lifetime-then conscription is taken as the battle standard- it worked so well with the same leader in 1917-
Mr. Speaker, I am sorry that such extremists can find some measure of support from a few of our friends who force the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) to make such concessions.
Because to ask the people of Canada, by means of a plebiscite, to release the government from its solemn promises, is surely a terrible concession to the extremists.
At the last general election, 90 per cent of the public men of Canada, and I am one of them, have said that they would always be opposed to conscription for sending troops outside of Canada. Indeed, in 1939, I affirmed the same convictions right in this chamber.
Some will say: Give a free hand to the government; you must have confidence in the Prime Minister who will never enforce conscription for overseas service.
I have confidence in my leader. I have supported him on every occasion since 1925.
But if we release the government from its sacred promises, what would follow should the Right Hon. Prime Minister disappear from the scene? Mr. Speaker, I wish the Right Hon. Prime Minister long life, health, happiness, but God alone can prolong his life. Who in this house is sure of to-morrow? And what if our hon. leader were to disappear sooner or later? For what reasons should we leave the known for the unknown? No, no, I, for one, think the issue at stake too important to run such a risk.
Mr. Speaker, if this measure is so vital in 1942, why was it not brought up during the 1940 election? Is the situation more desperate in 1942 than it was in 1940?
That is what I wish to discuss fully. I hope to prove by an official document that the reverse is true.
To mv mind, Canada has done more than her share and it is about time someone should say so on the floor of this house; the voter is not the only one bound by his duty.
We have a right to ask ourselves if some military authorities are absolutely reasonable when they tell the public as they did again the day before yesterday: Canada is in great danger; Canada is encircled by the enemy;
The Address-Mr. Lacroix (Beauce)
we must wake up; we must stand shoulder to shoulder, close our ranks; young men must enlist, go and fight overseas.
Mr. Speaker, those flights of oratory are nothing but a state of nerves. Our country is in danger, in immediate danger, encircled, go and fight in Europe, repeat those nervous people.. .Well, if the country is in so great a danger, let us keep our man-power here; call back here, immediately, shall I say to the military authorities, our army of volunteers stationed overseas.
That would be more logical to defend our people, our land, everything dear to us. Charity begins at home, says the proverb; apply it.
Are we in a more precarious position than we were in 1940, even in 1941? I say no, a thousand times no. And I shall prove it. Since 1940, the number of our allies has increased by 180 millions of Russians and by 130 millions of Americans. Since 1940, our factories have functioned at full capacity.
In a booklet entitled "Canada at war", No. 4, published by the office of Public Information under the authority of the Minister of National War Services (Mr. Thorson), and dated December 4, 1941, I find figures that are very eloquent when compared with those of other countries.
Page 6, I read:
To-day about forty per cent of our national revenue goes to war needs.
Further down under the heading: "Armed forces" we read that the following figures are necessarily a rough estimate, but nearly accurate.
Enlisted voluntarily for service everywhere: In the navy, more than 27,000. [DOT]
In the army, 240,000. In the air force, more than 93,000. Altogether over 360,000 volunteers for service anywhere. The number of volunteers exceeds 500,000.
These figures show, Mr. Speaker, that on December 4, 1941, Canada had under arms for service anywhere approximately 5 per cent of its total population. Mr. Speaker, is 5 per cent much or little? I say that it is much. As I see it, it compares well, nay favourably, with conditions in countries now at war the world over. It compares well with Russia whose army of 9,000,000 men represents exactly 5 per cent of its total population of 180,000,000. It is comparable to an army of 6,500,000 men in the United States, if the latter country had such an army. It is comparable to 20,000,000 men under arms in China, assuming that 5 per cent of China's population were under arms. It is compar-
[Mr. E. Lacroix.!
able to 4,000,000 men under arms if the Dutch colonies had an army of such proportions.
After all, let us be honest about it and let us give Canada and the Canadian government their due.
On page 7 of the same pamphlet we read that, in the six months between May and November, 1941, voluntary enlistments for service anywhere, in the Canadian armed forces, amounted to more than 100,000. The total is made up as follows:
Air force 35,000
And that in the six months alone between May and November.
Mr. Speaker, how generous do I find the people of Canada! Extremists alone persist in exclaiming: "More, more, and still more!" They are more exacting than the Prime Minister of Great Britain who, for his part, exclaims: "A magnificent effort." On opening the dictionary, I find that the word "magnificent" means: "A high degree of generosity." Personally, I am quite content with the tribute of the Right Honourable the Prime Minister of Great Britain.
Treating of the financial aspect of the situation, the pamphlet shows, on page 31, under the heading of "The greatest undertaking in Canadian history", that our expenditures for the present fiscal year amount to 82,650,000,000. Mr. Speaker, this quite exceeds the three digits we learned in the little red school house. The figure is made up of 10 digits, and I feel that many of our friends here are unaware of this fact.
The pamphlet adds:
To finance the fulfilment of its various undertakings, the government needs 45 per cent of its total revenue.
This means, Mr. Speaker, that for the current year the war effort will require 5 per cent more than last year, that is, 45 per cent of the country's total income, as compared with 37 per cent in England during 1941.
On page 58 of the same pamphlet, in the last paragraph, I find the following:
Combining the war expenditure with the ordinary expenditure of all the administrative services of Canada, federal, provincial and municipal, it will be necessary, in order to foot the bill, that the citizens of Canada contribute approximately 50 cents out of every dollar of income.
On page 66 of the same pamphlet, I find a comparative table showing the taxes paid by the citizen of Canada and the citizen of the
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United States. The Canadian citizen with an income of SI,600 pays in income and national defence taxes S71 a year, against $6 paid by the citizen of the United States enjoying a similar income. A Canadian earning S3,000 a year will pay S355, while the American of similar income will pay S138. On an income of 15,000 the Canadian citizen will pay $925 and the citizen of the United States $375. An income of $10,000 is taxed $2,930 in Canada against $1,305 in the United States and a $20,000 income pays $8,030 in Canada against $4,614 in the United States.
Mr. Speaker, it is necessary to make this comparison in order to show where Canada is being led by its war effort and to see whether it is true, as some extremists contend, that Canada is not doing its duty and its whole duty.
Moreover, on the 4th of December last, there was no question of lending Great Britain $700,000,000 without interest for the duration of the war, nor of making to England an outright gift of one billion dollars worth of foodstuffs, munitions of war, etc., in addition to maintaining our own forces overseas.
I quote the following words spoken by the Prime Minister and printed on page 42 of Hansard:
For the future, in addition to the financial provision for raising and maintaining Canada's own armed forces, the government will, as a part of Canada's direct contribution to the defeat of the axis, ask parliament to make provision for meeting Britain's shortage of Canadian dollars by supplying, free of charge and without obligation, to Britain, munitions of war, raw materials, and foodstuffs up to an amount of one billion dollars.
Mr. Speaker, what a beautiful country we live in, what splendid people we are! The assumption of these obligations represents the discharging of the debt of a noble son towards his father. However, this son, Canada, has, in the past, been very generous to his father.
Our national debt, which, in 1911, under Sir Wilfrid Laurier's administration stood at $300,000,000, had exceeded $3,000,000,000 in 1920, and will stand at more than $6,000,000,000 in 1943. This entire increase is attributable to European wars. Starting with annual interest payments of $13,000,000, that is $1.50 per person in 1911, we shall attain the figure of $200,000,000 in interest, in 1943. This represents a sum of $16 a year for each Canadian. Still I would be satisfied if I were sure that this last billion dollars is a final payment on the account of our total independence. But we have no such assurance.
This is not all, Mr. Speaker. The government asks to be relieved of its promise to forego the blood tax, that is -conscription, for the release from previous commitments has no other object but the adoption of conscription.
What makes me still more anxious is this paragraph of Hansard, page 51. I quote:
It will be seen that in seeking freedom for itself to act on all matters pertaining to war in accordance with its judgment, the government is taking a course which will remove all legitimate excuse for controversy, and the course best calculated to maintain the unity of the country in this time of war.
Mr. Homuth interrupting, asked:
Then what will they do?
, And the Right Hon. Mackenzie King answered:
That will depend in part upon what my hon. friend and those who are round him will do.
I gather from this that the Conservative party will be in a position to blackmail the government and force it to adopt conscription.
For the last 25 years, Mr. Speaker, the conscription issue -has been debated. My leaders have taught me that it would be absurd to force our sons to fight in Europe against their will.
I am convinced -that it would be a folly. Our line of defence is in Russia, in China, at Hong Kong, shouts the hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Hanson). Would he be kind enough to tell us how many of our English friends from the British Isles are at present in Russia, in China or at Hong Kong? We will probably be told that the British Isles are in danger.
But Canada is in immediate danger, says General LaFleche.
No, Mr. Speaker, we must be logical with our Canadian people. I, for one, am convinced we have gone too far;, our effort, as regards both man-power and capital is out of proportion, compared to the capacity of our population of 12 millions.
Nobody in Canada wants to lose the war, but we shall lose both the war and the peace if we bring economic ruin on Canada. We shall be the slaves not of Germany or of Japan, but we shall nevertheless be slaves for a hundred years to come. Mr. Speaker, militarism has spelled the ruin of Germany and Japan. It will reduce those people to slavery for centuries to come. Is not militarism in Canada already driving us to at? Those are questions we have a right to ask ourselves, we have a right to take into consideration. It seems to me we must be logical with ourselves. I am convinced we -have gone too far.
Our farmers are already short of help and many of their "ons would better serve our war
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effort- by remaining on the land and producing the foodstuffs so necessary to feed our soldiers. There are, in my own constituency some sad cases. Reluctance is shown in granting exemption to the eldest son of a widow who has to feed twelve children with the sole products of her land.
Another young man is being harassed, who inherited his father's farm, with 30 cattle to feed, and who lives alone on his property. If he were mobilized, it -would be necessary to slaughter all these cattle, for there are seasons when cattle are in no condition to be sold, and the land would remain idle during the owner's absence. How many more similar cases could I not mention. I could go on indefinitely. There are new instances every day.
Mr. Speaker, I shall now conclude my remarks. I have sought to give, in my own way, a clear outline of the critical situation in which we find ourselves and to ask the Prime Minister, as well as all the ministers, to consider the post-war period. Is it a fact that ours is the only government in the world having a commission charged with studying post-war problems? Mr. Speaker, it is great time for us to do some reckoning, to think of those who will come after us, and of all the responsibility which rests upon us. Will this government, the strongest since 1867, capitulate in the hands of a small clique from Toronto bearing, in some cases, the colours of the dollar-a-year men who, after gathering some ten million dollar orders, quit for criticizing the present administration.
They would have Mr. Meighen instead so that future generations might have to settle for their extravagance. .
In conclusion, I regret to state that after due deliberation I feel obliged to vote against the Tory amendment, against the C.C.F. subamendment and against the main motion, that is against the adoption of the address in reply to the speech from the throne, just as I shall vote in the coming plebiscite against releasing the government from the obligations assumed in 1940 both by them and by 90 per cent of public men in the country.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY