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


James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)



Of course; that is exactly what the Department of Labour is doing at the present time. That is why I have said, and I repeat here, that Mr. Gordon, chairman of the wartime prices and trade board, and my colleague the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley), have tough jobs. They have. But I do not think there are any men in Canada who have tougher jobs than my colleague the Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell), and Mr. Little, the director of national labour services, in trying to take human beings and put them where they will be most useful in carrying on the war.

Mobilization Act-Mr. Ralston
Those are the things that we have to work at and work hard. Take the 1,350,000 in agriculture. What I am about to say may not be very popular, but of those 1,350,000 men there are many who come within what is called the subsistence class, that is, the class who are perhaps not doing much more than simply raising enough for themselves and their families. The question is whether those men ought to be left in that occupation, or whether some farmer with capital and greater productive capacity and a sufficient establishment for the purpose would not better be raising the food for that man and let him go into construction work or munitions or some line of work where he could be used to the best possible purpose.
Take munitions, in which 900,000 are employed. Of that 900,000, one-sixth are women. That makes quite a sizable army-150,000 men released by those 150,000 women. In civilian occupations there are 2,000,000. Mr. Little has to work and work hard to see that many of those men in civilian occupations are made available for the armed services and for war occupations. How does he do it? Production is cut down. In order to relieve these men you and I have to tighten our belts and do without some of the ordinary civilian commodities which we can do without. You and I have to help him to find other men for civilian occupations, men who are above or below military age, or men who are physically unfit for military service. You and I have to see to it that there is a great movement, into the factories and industry and civilian occupations generally, of women to take the place of men, as there has been in the old country.
These things are just beginning. It seems to me, therefore, that at this stage the ultimate gross supply of man-power does not enter very much into the question whether we can keep up an army.
Let me say that I am not advocating the cause of the army simply because it is the army. I am advocating the army's cause because it is Canada's army, and because it has a job to do, and because without the army we cannot win this war, no matter how much we might hope to the contrary.
Now, I have mentioned these points very briefly. I did want to deal with one other matter-

Full View