February 8, 1915 (12th Parliament, 5th Session)


Honoré Achim

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. H. ACHIM (Labelle) (Translation):

Mr. Speaker, had I been inclined to-day to indulge in lengthy considerations, the very conciseness of the speech from the Throne, the tone of which strikingly recalls that of a military oration, would have reminded me that this is the time for deeds, not for words.
However, it seems difficult to abstain from glancing back somewhat wistfully at the programmes of former sessions of this Parliament replete with measures of a nature to stimulate our economic progress, measures which in several cases have been carried out, while others necessarily must await the coming of better days. Our beloved country which was striding at a young giant's pace along the highway of progress, has been checked, it must be admitted, in its ascending march. But thank God, though at rest it is not dead by any means; for a moment at a standstill, it may be compared to the fighter who, with every muscle strained, takes in the situation and gathers his whole strength to overcome the obstacle. The obstacle which confronts us in the shape of the most unjust of wars, we shall overcome or destroy.
That staunch faith in our future, is inspired in me, Mr. Speaker, by the admirable way in which our people have undergone the strain of those six months of warfare. Of the various countries engaged in this war, is it not our own that has been the less affected from the economic standpoint?
The country districts in my province- and if my information be correct, the fact repeats itself elsewhere-have not given way under the impact, and it is certainly in such places that the motto: " Business as usual " is most thoroughly adhered to. Our country folk bear the brunt of recent developments with a serene face; they are not fearful.of the present and look to the future with that assurance imparted by a conscience of youth and vigour.
"It's an ill wind that blows no good," and the increased demand for cereals and foodstuffs consequent on the war has brought about a rise in prices beneficial to them; while at the same time, by fostering the peaceful arts in the midst of bloody warfare, they are preparing to meet future demands by increased production in 1915.
The mechanic, the city workman, who is not so secure against temporary stringency as is the small farmer or capitalist, naturally were harder hit, but they hail with joy the rise of new industries, the necessary outcome of the new order of things. While factories have closed down, others have been started. The " Made in Canada " campaign, so energetically pushed on by this Government will no doubt cause other industries to spring into existence and instil patriotism into business ventures.
Those orders for supplies which have been directed our way through the skill of our representative in London and his business

agents sent by this Government to the countries adversely affected in their industries, have determined, and will continue to determine an influx of capital beneficial to the workingman.
Am I warranted in hoping that this condition of things in the country districts as well as in the manufacturing centres, will have the effect of rendering bolder Canadian capital, of instilling optimism into the management of our banks, and of getting us out of that period of stagnation which might have been.fatal to us?
Our banks have been spared the risk of being subjected to a run at the opening of the war, through the wise policy adopted by the hon. Minister of Finance dispensing them of the obligation of exchanging their notes for gold; and while congratulating the hon. minister on a measure which assuredly has safeguarded the credit of Canadian institutions, I shall take occasion of it to invite our financial in-stutions to show greater liberality in their dealings with the public.
I happened to pass shortly in front of the monument which the gratitude of a whole people has dedicated to Cartier, and noticing that the pedestal was still without the bust of that great man, and meditating over that fine work interrupted by the war, the thought suggested itself to me that this great work of Confederation which he has *bequeathed to us with the co-operation of his illustrious colleague, Sir John Macdonald, was also when the war broke out on the point of receiving its finishing touch in the full bloom of that national prosperity of which Cartier had laid the foundations as with the hand of a sublime architect.
However, even though the monument be unfinished, it is not broken for all that: the triumphant form of the great man will be seen and honoured on the slopes of Mount Royal; in the same way the work of building up this country is merely interrupted, and nothing will prevent the twentieth century from being the century of Canada.
And now, Sir, however, appropriate it may be to praise the man behind the plough or the man handling the tool, and though it behooves us to glory in those who remain at home and ensure the continuity of our economic life, is there a single hon. gentleman whose first thought is not for those who have left or who are about to leave for this great war; for those who have spilt

or are ready to spill their blood, so as to enable those remaining to carry on their labours safely.
From every quarter our boys have answered the bugler's call; from the shores of the Pacifio to those of the Atlantic, from the valley of the St. Lawrence to that of the Red river, they have taken their place under the folds of the Union Jack. All have answered: Present. With pride we have seen them depart, and presently we shall witness the departure of others. Happy to live under a monarchy which combines a greater measure of liberty than the freest republic, with the stability of monarchial institutions, they have said to themselves that if the Empire is worth while living in, it must perforce be worth while defending.
Accordingly, the appeal to arms could not be left without an answer in the precincts of this House, and the vacant seats which I see near by inspire me with greater pride than grief; for I realize that their occupants of yesterday, exchanging the gown for the sword, have courageously assumed command of their regiments. So that we have nothing to envy to countries older than ours; it is not only in London, in Paris or in Brussels that members of Parliament are willing to affront death on behalf of a great cause. Honour then to the representatives of Simcoe, of York, of Thunder Bay and of Brome. If the warm remembrance of their colleagues can be a solace to them in the performing of their tedious daily tasks, and uphold their courage in action, let me tell them that we are proud of them.
But it is not only around me that war has made vacant seats, and not far from the hon. leader of the Opposition, on the front row, I do not see any longer the' hon. member for Beauce. The declaration of war found him in the enjoyment of perfect bliss, unwilling to depart from that country of Belgium so dear to his heart, and I cannot but admire the ease with which he passed from the realm of romance to that of warfare. Accustomed as he was to be on the firing line of his party, he was incapable of changing, and he remained in the front rank; and I fancy he must he there, with a smiling face and a sharp tongue, wage war in laces as it were. He has received the baptism of fire, possibly that of blood, and I feel proud of it for my province.
Not a single one of these men has thought of arguing over his rights or his duties; not one of them has endeavoured to find out a clause of the constitution behind which he

might find refuge. They all of them have thought with the civilized world that the allies were on the side of right and justice; they applied for powder and ammunition, and I cannot blame the Government for having given them what they pay for so generously with their blood.
Let us pay a tribute, in passing, to that distinguished regiment which is fighting for its lady and its King, the Patricias, whose blood has already reddened the soil of France, and whose war cry "for Canada and the Empire" has already caused the enemy to tremble.
Neither have those remaining here shown indifference. Departing soldiers had left to our charge their beloved ones; it would have been intolerable that the latter should have been made to suffer on account of the patriotism of their natural protectors. Accordingly, contributions were in order, and money poured into the patriotic funds to such an extent that to-day those who have gone to the front need not any longer worry about those intrusted to their care whom they have left at home. In this connection as well, our people have done their duty.
On the other hand, the youthful volunteer has not been forgotten, and on his behalf there ,has been organized associations of women and girls, workshops wherein under the inspiration of patriotism, persons recruited from all classes of society work together in the accomplishment of a common task. The shop girl is there cooperating with the society woman, and while their hands are busily engaged, their lips, I surmise, utter prayers for the success of our arms. May I be allowed to do homage to the graceful fingers handling the needles as well as to the sunburnt hand which holds the rifle: both are inspired with the same patriotism. Free contributions by individuals and by this Government, such is the nature of our interference in the present conflict. Though our little country is not in immediate danger, should we wait until it has been invaded to rise to its defence? Is there any one of us, in this deadly struggle, who has not lived through the hours of the drive on Paris as mournfully as if the German hordes had been overrunning our own soil? Once the enemy is victorious on the continent, and is master of the British Isles, it will be too late to take up arms for the defence of the country.
We realized that Canada could not remain indifferent to the dangers threatening the
Empire, and it may not be out of place to quote here the words uttered by the hon. member for Kingston at the opening of the session of 1912-13 when, referring to the stand taken by the right hon. Prime Minister concerning the relation of the colonies with the mother country, he said: " There is, however, one view which he clearly expressed and it was that if Canada assumed some responsibilities, it would be under the condition of being consulted by the leaders of the nation.'' What form shall that consultation take it is not incumbent on me to say. However, the reiterated statement made by the right hon. Prime Minister, as well as those of a more recent date from the mouth of the hon. Minister of Justice, seemed to justify the belief that it will be a consultation of the representatives of the nation who are responsible to the people. If we are to assume any constitutional obligation involving our participation in the wars of the Empire, the policy advocated by the right hon. the Prime Minister, is the only one in accord with the principle of representation. But should there not be made a distinction between this war and all previous wars in which the Empire was engaged? Current events plainly show that our people know what use they should make of their liberty towards promoting the welfare of the Empire whenever circumstances warrant it. And that war having no parallel in history, cannot, according to my view, constitute a precedent involving a change in our political status, an alteration of the constitution.
I suggested a moment ago that defending the Empire under present conditions was equivalent to defending our own territory. But since every country is made up of its soil and its inhabitants as well, there is another force, invisible that one, and wholly moral, which is necessary to its maintenance, I mean the traditions of the people.
All that we have learned to love, all that we have learned to respect is found within the folds of the Union Jack and the Tricolour. Our tongue, our civilization are threatened simultaneously with those of England and France: we are defending them and a French-Canadian cannot witness without a thrill the alliance of those two nations, to one of which we owe our wholesome political institutions, while from the other we have received those characteristics of the Latin races which we deem second to none.

While France defends her territory, England defends the treaties, and 4 p.m. being unable to continue the part of peace-maker which she had assumed in Europe, she shows that while preferring peace to war, she has not forgotten how to carry on the latter.
And in connection with the part of peacemaker assumed by Great Britain, was it not Mr. Barthou, an eminent French statesman, who, a few years ago, stated that at the time of the Agadir incident, had it not been for the diplomatic intervention of England, France would have been forced into a war with Germany.
This time, having failed in her efiort to avoid such a misfortune, the mother country will not at any rate have it said that force takes precedence of right, and the stand taken by that strong and inviolate nation in extending her hand to the wounded and mutilated Belgium is one of the finest deeds recorded in human history.
May I be allowed, Sir, to halt for one moment before that country and to express to its people and to its King how highly they are esteemed and admired in this country of ours? The impartial historian will state no doubt that it was this nation of 7,000,000 people, by rising in opposition to the German colossus, gave the Allies time to get ready.
It is not my intention to recall here the opening war operations; but the whole world has witnessed that entrancing event: the German army started on its way to Paris, and nothing seemed capable of stopping it; when suddenly a man appears, a knightly King backed up by his whole people, both of whom, the Sovereign and his people, are inspired by the love of country and the sense of honour. At this unexpected juncture: a sovereign who in this twentieth century keeps faith with treaties, Germany hesitates, the Belgians strike out, Germany wavers. In vain, later on, having recovered from their surprise will the Germans dash forward, in vain will they destroy fortresses and burn down unprotected cities, the heroic defensive of the Belgians has brought out to the knowledge of the world the weak points of the German war machine. France and England have mobilized their troops and the triumphal drive of the invader will slow down, and bye and bye be turned into a retreat which closely resembles a riot.
Belgium with its citadels, Belgium with the bravery of its noble children has been

a surprise to the world, possibly it has saved Europe. A large proportion of civilians have taken refuge in London where they have been most cordially received, but, if I am allowed to express a wish, my desire would be that Canada extend a helping hand to those unfortunate people.
All are aware that previous to taking their place in [DOT] the military annals of the world, that small people ranked high in the economic scale. No doubt, and it is my hope as well as theirs, many of them will be desirous of rebuilding their homes and of returning to the spot where their ancestors have tilled for centuries past. Others, I am told, are thinking of settling in Canada. I understand the province of Ontario has started a movement towards promoting their settlement here; Quebec will not lag behind, neither should the Dominion Government leave anything undone to help the provinces in their immigration work.
It so happens that I have in my county a settlement by the name of Namur where-a number of Belgians have been living and prospering for some twenty-five years. The soil of that township is not of the richest to be found in my constituency, but that small community, through the application of scientific methods of culture and good management, has accomplished marvels. The whole northern part of my province and some other provinces, would offer to those immigrants numberless opportunities, and their presence here, their good example, would be a precious boon.
A country where co-operative credit and other associations are flourishing, a country where intensive farming is carried on, Belgium having become an exporter, has scored great successes in the markets of the world, and the cash balance in its favour fills its coffers with gold. Belgium is to-day a money lender which has $100,000,000 in Russia as against $10,000,000 here. Should a few of its people immigrate to this country, would they not draw to the Dominion some of that capital of which we are so much in need?
Our past policy of immigration has not always escaped warranted criticism in the past, and I do not propose deploring very much its forced interruption; but I think sound public opinion in this country would rejoice at seeing a current of Belgian immigration directed towards our borders. By favouring such a move this Government would be doing something helpful to Canada; while at the same time fulfilling its duty towards

those people to whom only peoples of antiquity can furnish a parallel.
While extending a friendly welcome to all those who are disposed to come here, I wish to proclaim to the whole nation that we are just as anxious as they are themselves to see the day when her soil will be rid of the German hordes and when Belgium, bleeding and mutilated, but by no means conquered, shall once more lift her head, made younger by the consciousness of her glorious and immortal deeds.
That expected triumph, the termination of that war which we are longing for, will in a large measure no doubt, be due to our land forces, but even in a greater degree to the allied fleets of France and England. As new developments come to light, it is more and more apparent that the main factor in the final result will be the navy.
As a matter of fact, all strategists, all economists agree that the final result will not depend on particularly striking and brilliant achievements, hut on the power of holding out possessed by the armies in presence, a quality which is inseparable from the possession of large means of revictualling.
Of course, I am not unmindful of the brilliant victories of the British fleet off the coast of South America or in the North sea; but I say that the greatest service our seamen did in that war was in ridding the seas of the German ships which infested them, and in carrying out with lightning rapidity that blockade which, by isolating Germany, has secured for us a new ally, famine, which will decimate the enemy more effectively than the sword or the gun.
That is why I see in the navy a token of victory, and let every British subject cry out with pride and confidence: " Britannia (still) rules the waves."

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