June 23, 1942 (19th Parliament, 3rd Session)


James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)



The point is that on that board sits nobody from the army and properly on that board sits no one representing the man. It is a judicial body established by the Department of National War Services. Whoever says that the army cuts into the supply of man-power for munitions or for agriculture has not read the regulations, because the regulations expressly provide, not that the army comes first but that if it is shown that a man is indispensable in agriculture or industry, the army comes last. If to-morrow I requisition my hon. friend the Minister of National War Services for 5,000 men, I do not get them automatically just because the army asks for them. They are called up; any man who claims he is essential in war industry has a right to make his application to the board, and all the army gets are those who are not excused by the board. In other words, priority is given to agriculture and industry.
I think that ought to be made clear because there has been too much of the suggestion that somehow we have built up a big army at the expense of munitions or at the expense of industry.
Another suggestion made was that we are closer to exhaustion in mobilization of manpower than anyone realizes. I admit that we are close to the calling up of the thirty-year class of single men. But the thirty-year class of single men is not the only class; there are still those from thirty to forty-five, still those from nineteen to twenty-one, and still the married class of all ages from nineteen to forty-five. I submit it is needlessly timorous to suggest that simply because we are approaching the exhaustion of the thirty-year class, there must be some question, some very serious consideration, as to where men for the army are to be raised.
Another situation mentioned was that
1,350,000 men are in agriculture at the present time, 300,000 in mining, 900,000 in munitions and industry, and 2,000,000 in civilian occupations and that the man-power situation was tight or difficult. We are not approaching the full mobilization of man-power for war purposes simply because everyone happens to be employed; the question is, what are they employed at, and can they be got out of those particular employments and either put in the armed services or made available for munitions or agriculture or some other activity which is more necessary for the war.

Full View