April 5, 1918 (13th Parliament, 1st Session)


John Allister Currie



has been virtually accepted as tbe leader of tbe Nationalist party in the province of Quebec, should have been interned. The country could very well afford to do without him; there is nothing he is needed for; he is not making munitions, or farminghelping to do something that would assist Canada or the Allies in this war-nor is he soldiering, though he is called a colonel. Why, in Toronto recently, a man got up on a public platform and said that the soldiers at the front had taken a little too much rum on Christmas day. He was locked up and his badges and uniform stripped from him, and he was thrown out of the army. While that was happening in Toronto, La-vergne has heen allowed to roam at large in Quebec, preaching seditious doctrines, and generally doing as he pleased. What is more, when the Government decided to end these riots in Quebec, the representative of the Department of Justice, if we are to believe the newspapers, went to Quebec and sent for Lavergne and his partner to find out what -could be done. Lavergne laid down his terms. First he wanted the troops withdrawn. Then he wanted the police withdrawn, and iwhat in the world else was theTe for us to do but leave the country to -him and his friends. I understand that the officer of the Government refused to entertain such a proposal, and I am very glad that this Government had a man with backbone enough for that; but 1 am sorry he called on Mr. Lavergne at all. Lavergne should have been utterly ignored; in fact he should have been the first man placed under arrest in Quebec when the riots broke out.
What effect did the agitation and the disturbances have on the right hon. leader of the Opposition. I -have recollections of the day when, though opposed to him politically, I greatly admired him. He was a stout,' strong Britisher, and we all loved him for that. He had the courage to spieak up against the Nationalists at the beginning. I have his speeches here, and I sometimes enjoy an hour or so reading them over; those on British topics are well worth reading; if we forget- what has occurred during the past year. 1 used to think he was of the old type of French Jacobite, the beausabre, who would occasionally take an old rusty tricolour cockade out of his pocket, -brush it lovingly and then put it back and -come up the steps whistling Marl-Vook and the Sambre and the Meuse. I used to think be drew nis inspiration from brave France, that fountain from which fresh drafts of Juberty come daily to a struggling world. Here is what he said at
a speech delivered in the province of Quebec on June 24, 1889 at the national festival of the French Canadians and I wish we had a few more speeches from him now like this:
But Quebec -possesses another charm which can be enjoyed in all its plenitude only by us French Canadians, it is the charm of memories. Men of Quebec, you are privileged beings. Antiquity has preserved for us the memory of a famous epitaph, calling on the passer-by to stop, as he was treading on the ashes of a hero, but you, men of Quebec, you breathe, live, and have your -being among the dust of heroes.
At each step you make in your city, a mom-ument, a building, a stone, a glimpse of the sky at the end of a narrow street calls to mind a whole world of heroic events. Today you have raised1 another monument which will "forever -perpetuate the memory of the cross planted by the envoy of the King of France when he took possession of this, country in the name of his royal master.
This country, however, has not remained French soil. Still we have remained true to the memory of our old mother country.
Although separated from France for over a century and differing from her at present in several ways, we have always worshiped her in our hearts, watching from afar, but with ceaseless interest all the vicissitudes of her agitated career, and sharing in her joys and triumphs, as well as in her disasters and sorrows, still more, indeed, in her sorrows than in her joys.
Adversity is the test of affection, and a appeal to you -all if it is not true that we never realized how dear France was to- us as we realized it during the period of her reverses, during the fatal years of 1870 and 1871, when the telegraph brought us the news of defeat instead of the victories which we had looked for. And when there was no longer room for doubt, when, having hoped against hope, we had, in order to convince ourselves, to read over and over again the text of the harsh law imposed by the conqueror and when Alsace and Lorraine were violently severed from French territory, I ask you if .we had been deprived! of one of our own limbs could we have suffered keener anguish.
What nobler words could any man utter than these? Does the hon. gentleman still believe in these sentiments, and is he prepared to implement the sentiments that have brought him into power-for that speech was delivered just previous to that great movement in the hiistory of Canada that sent him into office in 1896? No, the shadow of Bourassa and the haunting stars of Lavergne have dimmed his eyes to the troubles of Franco. He sat silent in this House day -after day and night after night, when men were being shot, rioting was taking place in the city of Montreal, and when dynamite was used to intimidate people who ispoke in favour of the Military Service Act and compulsion. I pointed that out to him shortly before the session closed, and I told him the people .of this country

would take dire vengeance on him for that, and I think they have. Now we are confronted again with the same topic. This law is not as complete as it should be. It should be made more complete. We have no desire to do any injury to those who are tilling the soil honestly. The farmer has just as high a duty to perform as the man in the trenches, and the man who is making munitions is the same as the man in the trenches.

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