August 23, 1946 (20th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Thomas Langton Church

Progressive Conservative


The joke is on the party on the other side of the house, which presents us with all these estimates and no plan for defence for the future. The opposition has been very courteous and helpful to the government, and it is not my wish to delay the proceedings; they should have been through two weeks ago.
During the first great war and ever since that time I have taken much interest in the work of the department. We have had very fine ministers at the head of it. As to the non-permanent militia, which used to be called the militia, but is now known as the reserve army, there is no "reserve" about it; in twenty-four hours it was ready for active service in both these wars.
I say to the government that this should not be a political question. We should have a committee on national defence. That would have been much better than having a committee on external affairs, which in its discussions travels all over the seven seas and does nothing except to bring a lot of irrelevant questions before the house. It is important to have a proper defence committee of the House of Commons. They have one at Washington, they have one in the old country.
The men who put their time, their money and their lives into the reserve army, the old militia, deserve well of Canada. If continued along the right lines in the future it will be the backbone of the country's defence. Incidentally I would call attention to the fact
that, visiting Canada next Wednesday or Thursday is the great field marshal and commander in chief of the forces who marched across the North African desert, Viscount Montgomery.
In my opinion, without proper plans the money which this department proposes to spend between the end of the second great war and the beginning of the third war- because there is a third war coming and it will be right on our shores-will be wasted. The peace pacts and peace policies the united nations and of Paris and Potsdam and other places have collapsed, and Europe is to be divided as decided on by the original big three at Yalta, Teheran, Potsdam and Malta; and the middle and small powers cannot change it at all. In the face of those facts we should have in my opinion a joint defence policy for the whole commonwealth of nations, on land, on sea and in the air. That is most important. You have lost the Pacific, you have given up the bases on the Atlantic for ninety-nine years. You have thrown away the control of the Atlantic from Newfoundland to British Guiana. Nothing is so valuable as the study of history in connection with military matters, and a recent textbook of great military importance has been written by Lord Wavell, who is now in India. I hope the minister will read it He shows that in the two great wars Hitler and the Kaiser made the same mistakes as Napoleon did. It consists of a series of addresses in which he points out mistakes made in the last two wars and the need of empire defence. I advise the minister to ponder these lessons for Canada, because we are going to make about the same mistakes again if we are not active to prevent it. In my opinion we should never have given up the Atlantic naval and air bases in exchange for a lot of old ships, only one-third of which were used. That lease transaction should be cancelled and charged up to lend-lease, which it was in the dark days of the battle of the Atlantic to save America from invasion. In that way we would be enabled to play some part in the defence of our own country and of the other British dominions in a future war or a future battle of the Atlantic.
As to the Pacific ocean, we have been practically cleared out of the Pacific, although before the war started Britain had the whole Pacific situation in her own hands on land, on sea, and in the air. I urge upon the government that there is no point in wasting any more money as it has been wasted on our old militia methods. There must be coordination between the army, the navy and

morning, at this stage of the session, but I can tell you that it is going to have a very serious effect on recruiting for the reserve army. People are not going to waste their time in serving their country if that is the policy of this country; if we are going to throw overboard Britain and all the dominions who saved our shores here, and give that sort of treatment to the fine men of the reserve army who were the backbone of the militia in two great wars as well as the South African war, the northwest rebellion, the Fenian raid and so on; and the 1885 veterans never got a nickel out of those earlier services. They were the men who made the militia; they did their duty, and their sons and grandsons are in the forces to-day. If we are going to pass orders in council like this and still keep in custody as deserters some 864 volunteers, all of whom served at the front for three or four years, while we take no action against those who stayed home and ran away from service in this country, then I tell you that you can. say good-day and good-bye to any defence system in the future in Canada on land, sea and in the air.
The first duty of a citizen, as I see it, is to defend his country. "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend"-meaning his country. That is why you enlisted in the first war, Mr. Chairman, and the men who went with you; that is why so many enlisted during the last war, to save civilization. Speak for no party but only as a private member. I need not detain the house long over this matter except to say that a mistake has been made. The government have a majority. They have acted by order in council over the head of parliament, with an utter contempt for the House of Commons while in session here. We might as well all go home, because we have nothing to say about this thing. "Parliament will decide" is a myth. Do you think I am going to go out and encourage people to enlist now? Unfortunately I was not able or qualified1 to enlist myself or I would not have been here at all. How are we going to be able to support the militia when matters are dealt with in this haphazard fashion? I say this in all kindness to our friends in one province. Canada will never forget the old land of France in the last war, a country to which in the first great war the eyes of the whole civilized world were turned. Britain should make a new alliance with France. As Sir Eugene Tache said, should our flag in Canada ever be hauled down, "the last shot in defence of our country will be fired by a French Canadian " We should have union, that union which is set out in the in-CMr. Church.]
scription to Montcalm and Wolfe on the plains of Abraham, with equal rights for all, and equality of service and sacrifice. During the last war this house met in camera-I did not attend the session-to deal with matters concerning the near approach of the enemy to the shores of the St. Lawrence. But for the forces of the mother country, her fleet and the cooperation of the dominions, we would have had the awful horror of war in our own land; the gestapo, the police, the loud speaker, the concentration camp, the whip; and hundreds of thousands of our population in Ontario, Quebec and the maritimes would have been carted off to work in the German mines. So I think we should pay tribute where tribute is due.
In conclusion, I can tell you that we are going to have a rude awakening unless we profit by mistakes and institute a forward defence policy. I appreciate what has been done by the minister and by all those who has occupied that office, including my hon. friend who is wearing the Mackenzie school tie to-day and who we hope will have a very pleasant holiday, because he has earned one; he has worked hard as leader of the house. The present minister of army and navy is a student and a gentleman of very considerable ability. I saw him at Niagara camp as a young volunteer; and I appeal to him to try and stimulate recruiting. As the hon. member for Vancouver-Burrard said the other day, and as I suggested, I hope he will travel across the country for that purpose, if his health is still good enough when this session is over. We are apt to be talked to death here, and somebody may be charged with murder. In my opinion this place is becoming more and more like 999 Queen West in Toronto, and the sooner we conclude our business and close the better for all concerned and the better for the health of the country generally.

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