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


James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)



This is perhaps a small matter, but I did want to mention it. I have the greatest respect for the hon. member for Richelieu-Vercheres but he said something which cut me rather, because I felt it was something regarding which he was perhaps not informed but regarding which he might have taken the opportunity to get information. He said that trainees were scattered all over Canada among regiments composed of volunteers. He said that we have English-speaking soldiers in Montreal and that French-speaking soldiers are sent outside the province of Quebec to be trained. Let me point out that in the province of Quebec there are basic training centres for all the men to be trained, except in some special situation.
There are advanced training centres there as well; two infantry advanced training centres and as a matter of fact, in addition, Quebec has a machine gun training centre and a forestry training centre, and no other province has either. But we do not have advanced training centres for special arms of the service in every province, and it is therefore necessary in connection with training that the boys go from Quebec to other provinces, to Petawawa for artillery training, for example, and to Barryfield for signals, just as it is necessary for boys from other provinces to go to Quebec to take machine gun training or forestry training and in some cases infantry training as well. There is no sinister purpose whatever in the sending of young men from Quebec to some other province; it is done simply because the facilities are located where they are. Neither is there any sinister purpose in sending boys from Ontario or Manitoba or some other province to the machine gun training centre at Three Rivers.
With regard to service, I am sure my hon. friend knows perfectly well that we are not keeping active units in Montreal for the purpose of defending Montreal, and that the French Canadian boys in active French Canadian units go to the coasts or other vulnerable points, wherever they may be, in exactly the same way and for the same purpose as their English speaking compatriots. I am sure the hon. member would not have them kept in Montreal when he knows there is a job to be done on the Pacific or the Atlantic coast. I feel that it is due to these boys that I should say this and that it is due to the administration of the department and due to my hon. friend himself. I would add that every possible consideration is extended in connection with training and service to give these boys the opportunities for service and the posts for

Mobilization Act-Mr. Mutch
which they are fitted. At the same time I want to say that no exception is made; men are posted where they can best serve and where they are needed at the time, regardless of race, creed or class.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to conclude with just a word with regard to something I mentioned at the beginning, but which I feel cannot be impressed upon us too much; I refer to this thing called overseas service. That word "overseas" gives the idea of something far away, something in the nature of a crusade to help other people. I wonder if we cannot get it into our heads that "overseas" just means Canada's front line. It is Canada's war which is being fought overseas and by far the most important bulwark which has stood between us and attack on our own shores, long before this, has been that fortress in the British isles, which is not just a British fortress but a Canadian fortress as well, which is manned not only by Britishers but also by the Canadian navy and army and air force. They talk about educational campaigns. I submit that the education we need in Canada is a lesson in geography, to show how easy it would be for Hitler to hop across here if he were not pinned down by the constant dread of the British isles. If he could get that thorn out of his side we in Canada would then learn something about the real terrors of war. The fact we have to get into our heads, and those of our fellow citizens, is that this is Canada's war wherever it is being fought. We thought Hong Kong and Singapore and Java were a long way off. Those successes paved the way for the Japanese landing in the Aleutian islands, and those same successes made possible the shelling of Cape Estevan on Vancouver island the night before last. We have to protect our own coasts of course; and we are doing everything we possibly can in that direction. But what we want to do is help defeat the enemy before he gets here, or the last battle of this world conflict-and this is no idle dream-will be fought on Canadian and American soil, in Canadian and American towns, villages and countrysides. I emphasize what I believe to be sound doctrine, namely, that we cannot defend our country and save our homes and families and everything that is dear to us simply by waiting here for the enemy to attack us. Every country that has tried those tactics has been attacked sooner or later.
While we are strengthening our forces and our equipment in our own country, we must, as part of our defences, take our full share in the combat abroad. We must be prepared to meet Canada's enemies where Canada's 44561-225
war is being fought. That is part of Canada's programme; that is what we are trying to do. We have overseas an army of strength and spirit and courage; we have overseas an army to be proud of, and this measure gives the government power to go the limit to see that that army is reinforced and strengthened for the task of defending Canada wherever that task may call them.
Yesterday my colleague the Minister of National Defence for Naval Services closed a very able speech with a reference to Sir Wilfrid Laurier and his picture of a cathedral, -the component parts of which he visualized as the various races in this dominion. I could show my colleague and hon. members of this house not a mythical cathedral, not an allegorical one, but a cathedral of flesh and blood, composed of the young men of the Dominion of Canada, French and English; and I would not have to take you any further than the officers' training camp at the city of Brock-ville. This month there was a graduating class of 329, of which no less than 127 were French Canadians, and there are in attendance at the school at the present time 1,106 officers of which 305 are French Canadians. I want to say to my colleague and to this house that I should like hon. members to go there some time and see that school. I believe that there they would get a lesson in and a practical demonstration of Canadian unity that would do their hearts good. There, in spite of all our argument here, they would find a true cross-section of Canada; young men of both races, neither submerging its individuality, no thought of assimilation, but everyone contributing his best from the traditions, the heritage, the character and the personality of his own race for the good and in the service of the Dominion of Canada. Those men would inspire you to believe that it is out of this material, fashioned in the hard workshop of war and seasoned by comradeships which I am certain will never dim and never fail, that the edifice of Canada's nationhood will be built, to endure for all time.

Full View