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


Charles Gavan Power

Laurier Liberal


I understood the right hon. gentleman to say that the abuses by Dominion detectives had taken place in other parts of Canada. However, these were the causes of the riot. I do not intend to go into any further discussion as to the more remote causes of the feeling in Quebec, but I do say that the fact that the Government, in its enforcement of the Military Service Act, changed the law and employed these detectives in the way which I have indicated contributed to the causes which were responsible for the outbreak in Quebec.
Instead of asking the House to moderate its views on this subject, instead of asking the country to be patient with Quebec, instead, after having studied the question, of saying: This was an outbreak which might have been avoided had we been more careful in our exercise of power, the Government have come before this House and said: We will see to it that coercion is used in the province of Quebec. They have deposited on the table of this House an Order in Council such as I do not think ever was passed in any other British country in the world. Extraordinary power has been placed in the hands of military officers. I respect the uniform of His Majesty and every one who wears it but we have put it in the power of the military officer to arrest on sight any man whom he thinks is committing a breach of the peace. This poor individual is to be tried by court martial. The
civil law of the Dominion, and of the province of Quebec, is laid on one side in order that the military authorities may have full sway. I appeal to my hon. friend the Minister of Justice, who should know the history of his motherland; he ought to be able to tell us whether, from his reading of history, the 700 years of coercion in Ireland has effected anything to bring Ireland more into line to 'help Great Britain and the Allies in the present war. I appeal to the verdict of history. We have seen Poland persecuted, its nationality lost, its religion taken away, but Poland after 200 years is still Poland and the people still long to breathe the breath of Polish freedom. We have also seen Alsace-Lorraine torn away from Mother France, and still, forty-four years afterwards, Alsace-Lorraine is one of the reasons which brought about tbe bloody conflict in Europe to-day. Should, Mr. Speaker, coercion be applied, as it is evident that the hon. gentlemen opposite wish to apply it, should our laws be set aside, should tbe civil laws of the province be set aside-laws guaranteed by treaty and sanctified by tradition-and everything that we consider just, fair, and honourable in the province of Quebec, be set aside,
I aim sorry to say that I do not expect it will profit hon. gentlemen opposite in any degree. As one who is for the fullest participation in this war T am sorry to say, considering those whose spirit has been outraged and whose better feelings have all been disgusted by the treatment of tbe Government, that it will be impossible for us, if we have to use two men for every man we get, it will be impossible for ug to put tbe same force on the battlefields of Europe that I think we should place there. For as long as the feeling of hon. gentlemen opposite is as it is, you will have to maintain a garrison in the city of Quebec, and the effort of taking the men you need will be difficult beyond measure.
(Some hon. MEMBERS: Order.

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