June 29, 1943 (19th Parliament, 4th Session)


Jean-François Pouliot



Words speak for themselves, and if the hon. member for York-Sunbury has a power of attorney from Lieutenant-General Crerar it should be delivered to the Chair.
Well, sir, the extension of the four months was by P.C. 1910 of March 18, 1941, when the Minister of Agriculture was still Minister of National War Services, and clause 8 (f) regarding the thirty-day period was amended as follows:
Upon so becoming a member of the active militia each "R recruit" shall forthwith undergo training for a period of four months, or for such other period as the minister of defence may from time to time prescribe, unless in the meantime he is required for service or duty.
On July 2, 1941, the Minister of National Defence, by a stroke of the pen,, extended the training for the duration. There were many young men who recognized their obligation to go to camp for training, but they were told by everyone that training "Was only for one month, and afterwards they found that it had been extended to cover four months. Well, they said that they would take the training during the dead season, but after having understood that their training would last one month, and then four months, and having made arrangements accordingly, they
War Appropriation-Labour

were detained in the camp by means of an order, not an order in council but an order, signed by the Minister of National Defence in virtue of an order in council that was passed when the Minister of Agriculture was also Minister of National War Services. The farmers had no protection from the Department of Agriculture in their endeavour to remain on the farm.
In the first place, in consequence of that famous report that I have already read, in which agriculture was described as not being an essential industry throughout the entire year, and also because of the fact that they have had to remain for training, these men have not received the protection which they could have expected. Let me tell the Minister of Labour of the troubles we have had in the province of Quebec from the time we began to fight for the farmers. I have here a letter from the then chairman. I will send him the original, which I would ask him to return to me later. I quote:
But you must understand that we cannot postpone their service indefinitely.
Seulement il faut que tu comprennes que l'on ne peut pas remettre leurs services indefiniment.
That is why we have to fight so hard. The fact is that these people did not understand either the letter or the spirit of the regulations and we have had to put up a struggle for the farmers. For everyone will realize the loss that must result when the farmers are taken away from their farms. It is disastrous.
Next I called the attention of the predecessor of the present Minister of National War Services, Judge Thorson, who entirely agreed with me, to the fact that the farmers had the same rights as others and were entitled to postponement. The staff had to be changed because there was no possibility of getting any understanding. Now, when we hear some people saying that the farmers are exempted from service, it is untrue because there are a good many young men whose place is not in the army but on the farm. They went to the army in good faith but they were kept there by men who are not expert in agriculture, -as the minister admitted, to the great surprise of the hon. member for Belleehasse. It is those people, who have no experience in agriculture, that decide upon the necessity or otherwise of men remaining on the farms or going into the army. That cannot work.
There are many farms that cannot do as well now7 as they did before, and that is exactly the reason. But, I may say, I wrote certain articles in our local newspaper and sent a copy of each article to the ministers
[Mr. Pouliot.l
at the time. Some of these articles were translated; they had an opportunity to translate them at any rate. These articles explained the situation in the province of Quebec. I have high regard for the minister personally, but I believe that he was wrong in some of his utterances. Unfortunately, I have only the French version of the speech which he made on September 12, 1941. At that time he w7as not Minister of National War Services, but here is a translation of what he said:
If we have to raise a million men for our armed forces vre will have seven million other men. in Canada, aged over 16. These seven million were organized and determined to help the armed forces, by directing our farms, our dairy industry and our business offices in a way which w7ill give the required production.

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