June 2, 1942 (19th Parliament, 3rd Session)


John George Diefenbaker

Conservative (1867-1942)


Yesterday I asked the Minister of National War Services (Mr. Thorson) for some information which should now be available. This has to do with a matter that concerns not only this house but the country as a whole-the results of the survey made by the government of the number of men available in the various age groups. As was mentioned last evening by the hon. member for Carleton (Mr. Boucher), the position to-day is that in certain districts men between the ages of twenty and twenty-four years are being called up, whereas in other districts the call has been extended up to the thirty-year-old group. The minister stated that so far as certain age groups are concerned, the point of exhaustion is being approached.
What I asked for yesterday-it was no fault of the minister that he did not then give an answer-was the number of men in the different districts between twenty-one and twenty-four years of age and between twenty-four and thirty years of age who are still available for war service. This information is in the possession of the government; for the minister was able to say that the number of men within certain groups is about exhausted, and also he admitted yesterday that the information is available on the basis of the national registration. I said as reported on page 2933 of Hansard:
The information must be available, on the basis of national registration, which will show exactly the number of young men in the various age classes and the records of the numbers who have been called up.
To which the minister replied, "Oh, yes." The country must have the information I am asking for in order to know the present position of our voluntary system of recruiting and the possibility of being able to secure the necessary men by the continuance of the
voluntary system. We would then be able to come to a conclusion as to whether or not the time has come to extend the age class beyond thirty years, possibly to thirty-five or thirty-eight for single men, as well as including married men. What was the nature of the survey made by the government? What has that survey shown? What pool of man-power is available for labour, as shown by the recent census? How many men are still available for service within the age groups twenty to twenty-four years and twenty-four to thirty years, according rto' divisions?
The calls being made to-day are made in a spasmodic, slipshod and unscientific manner. We are going into one part of the country and calling up men to the age of thirty years, while in another part of the country we are calling up men only to the age of twenty-four years. Surely the time has come when there should be equality in the calls. Unless we have this information, the debate on the necessity for changing our voluntary system to compulsory selective service will be based merely on individual impression. All we will have will be one man's against another man's opinion, neither of them based on statistical information.
Only yesterday we saw an example of the difference of opinion that can exist. The adjutant general gave certain figures which appeared in the press, in regard to the proportion of men called up as R recruits who ultimately find their way into the active army. At the same time and in the same paper there appeared a statement by the deputy minister of national war services which indicated different percentages. Surely the minister is in position to furnish the house and the country with the information I have asked for. Without this information each member will have to substitute his own opinion for facts based on statistics.

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