February 8, 1951 (21st Parliament, 4th Session)


George Alexander Cruickshank


Mr. Cruickshank:

Yes, a naughty word. I had a clipping before me the other day-

and, by the way, I am getting like some of the others in that I have so many clippings that I get lost in them. However I did have one here about the bridge-and I will have to be more careful with them, because I seem to have mislaid it. I will find it after a while. That clipping said-I am sure it was correct: If you are flirting around with Quebec for votes, be careful never to mention conscription. That apparently is the policy of the opposition.
My stand on conscription, when speaking before the Legion, as it is tonight, is that I think it neither desirable nor practicable nor necessary at this time. But if the day should come when there is a vote on conscription I will vote exactly as I did before, and make exactly the same speech as one colleague from British Columbia made with me in 1944. Incidentally, through you, Mr. Speaker, I say to the people of my riding that I believe that if the time ever comes-and members in all parts of the house hope it may never come- but if the time ever comes when conscription is necessary to protect our very existence and to maintain the forms of government and liberty in which we believe, Quebec will be in the forefront and serving with all the rest of Canada.
I am willing to concede that in military knowledge some members of the official opposition far exceed me. We remember that it was only a few years ago that they appreciated the fact that the Bren gun was not necessary! Then, again, they were able to foretell that we had not trained our troops for a sufficient length of time before they went to Hong Kong! Now I understand there is a great rush among them to send troops to Korea with only a couple of weeks of training. I should like to refer to what a colleague on the other side of the house, one of the finest soldiers Canada ever had, the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Pearkes), had to say. If you can understand just exactly where he stands in connection with this horrible word "conscription" or in connection with compulsory service in the reserve army, you are very good. What he said reminds me of my Uncle Horace. My Uncle Horace killed a pig but he said afterward, "It didn't weigh as much as I thought it would; I didn't think it would." I should like to quote what the hon. member for Nanaimo said, as reported on page 99 of Hansard of February 5, as follows:
-and even though I might hold different views as to the methods by which these forces should be raised, X think it would be detrimental at this time to advocate strongly methods which the government is not prepared to follow, because I believe it is of paramount importance that the government raise the men that it requires, and the government alone will say by what method it will raise those men.
The Address-Mr. Cruickshank
A little further along on the same page: -or in any way put any hindrance in the way of the national effort carried out by the methods recommended by the government to meet what X consider to be a grave situation.
I should like to ask hon. members of the house if the hon. member has answered the Canadian Legion's demand for 250,000 strength. It may be that the reserve army will have to be kept up to strength by compulsory means. If the time comes when we must have conscription I will be ready to say in my riding, even though it costs me every vote in the riding-probably I will not get the few votes that they will get if they do not fall off a bridge like that one down in Quebec-that I am ready to support it.
I pass now to another military expert from my province, the hon. member for Vancou-ver-Quadra. First I am going to deal with his remarks on manpower and then I shall turn to external affairs. I do not know whether he is the assistant leader of his party in that particular branch. It is quite easy for the hon. member to make speeches in Vancouver about the necessity of raising forces, but it is a different matter when you come down here. I want to assure everybody in my riding that at no time since 1940 have I been approached by the whip or by any member of the government to tell me what to say when I came before the house.

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