May 26, 1919 (13th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)



I am sorry I cannot off-hand tell the hon. gentleman the longitude and the latitude of the ship's position on that date-it is not to be supposed that I should know-but I will try and get that information for him. There is no necessity for me to refer to where the submarine went.
I pass over several of the hon. member's remarks and come to his statement that the Americans established seaplane bases at Halifax and North Sydney, and that this was a humiliating position for Canada. Well, let us see how humiliating it was for our beloved country. The seaplane bases at Halifax and Sydney were established, constructed and paid for by the Naval Service Department. As all naval operations on the Canadian coast were carried out in consultation with the Imperial and the United States authorities-that is to say, after our
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neighbour came into the war, it was agreed that when the stations were erected, the United States would lend such personnel as was desired to assist in operating them, for the following excellent reasons: I need not go into details, but there were large numbers of American soldiers going out of the ports of Sydney and Halifax, and it was necessary to establish a naval seaplane base not only at Sydney, but also at Halifax. The agreement was that the Americans were to provide the machines free of cost, which they very generously did-not only seaplanes, but kite balloons, and they were also prepared to supply airships. They also agreed to supply the personnel until we had a sufficient number of Canadian officers trained to take the places of the American officers. When one considers the number of men that we sent overseas and the number of men engaged in the naval service, it was not at all humiliating for Canada-when it came to filling the technical posts of pilots and crews of seaplanes, kite balloons and airships-to apply to the United States for the necessary skilled officers and men until Canada could provide the personnel. Canada had her share in this. We had to provide the buildings and the landing base, which we were proceeding to do as rapidly as possible, and some of the buildings were partially constructed when the armistice was signed.
As to the patrol of our waters by the United States war ships, the United States was one of the Allies. The tremendous British fleet was performing, as we all know, the herculean task of providing the necessary escorts for the vast number of ships that were carrying soldiers, munitions and foodstuffs, as well as holding the enemy at bay in the Kiel canal during the whole term of the war. Therefore, an arrangement was made with the United States for their navy to patrol a certain portion of Canadian waters. The United States established their outer base at Shelburne with a view to protecting the approaches to the northern United States ports. The patrol from Lockeport, east and north, was carried on by Canada. So the United States was only taking a fair share in looking after the safety of her own ports as well as the safety of her own soldiers.
Then the hon. member comes to an offer than he heard was made by Mr. J. K. L. Ross "to pay for a British cruiser if the Government would build the other four, but his offer was turned down." There is no record in the Naval Service to show that

any such offer was ever made by Commander Ross. Furthermore, at the outset of my remarks I clearly showed that the Canadian Government on two different occasions asked the Admiralty if we could do anything in the way of building ships or providing further naval service, and the reply was, "No; concentrate Canada's effort on the military forces."
Then the hon. member deals with the Halifax explosion, and here is what he
There was absolutely no necessity for the Mont Blanc to come up harbour, and the Naval Authorities had no right to allow her to come up, there being plenty of space in the Eastern passage to lay, etc.
I would state that there was absolutely no reason why this vessel should not come up Halifax harbour. The channel is wide and straight, the largest ships in the world have navigated it throughout the war with ease and safety in all weathers. The people of the city of Halifax would, I think, be the last to claim that the entrance to Bedford Basin cannot be navigated, in all weathers and at all hours, with ordinary every day precautions on the part of pilots and masters for their ships. So there was no necessity whatever that the Mont Blanc should be held out for there was any amount of sea room and the day was perfectly clear. The hon. member further states that the collision was caused by violation of the rules of navigation. In answer to that, I may say that a court of inquiry was immediately ordered by me, as Minister of Naval Service. That court was presided over by Mr. Justice Drysdale of Halifax. The court found Pilot MacKey to be at fault, and his license was cancelled. Not even the slightest insinuation was made by the court that the Canadian naval authorities at Halifax were to blame.
It will require only a moment to deal with the statement of the young lad, Julian, who is the hon. member's authority for charging that the dockyards at Halifax and Esquimalt were in a deplorable condition. I can assure the hon. member that they were not; on the contrary, they were in constant use at the time and they have been in use ever since. I will not take up any more of the time of the House by referring to the commissioning of the Niobe and Rainbow; the fishery protection vessels; or the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve.
If my hon. friend (Mr. Duff) does not hold the officers and men of the Royal Canadian Naval Service in very high es-

timation, our beloved Sovereign does, and he has been pleased to approve of the following posthumous awards:
Mr. Albert Mattison, late aoting boatswain, R.C.N., Albert Medal.
Late Stoker Petty Officer Edward S. Beard, V.R. 1731, R.N.C.V.R., Albert Medal.
John T. Gammon, Ohief-master-at-Arms R.C. N., member of the Military Division of the British Empire Order.
Chief E. R. A. 2nd Class, Hay, R.C.N., Meritorious Service Medal.
Walter Critch, A.B., Official Number 1242', Newfoundland, R.N.R., Meritorious Service Medal.
The British Admiralty have requested that an expression of their Lordships' appreciation may be conveyed to the following officer:-Mr. Walter O'Reilly, Gunner, R.C.N.
The Admiralty have sent letters of appreciation to the next of kin of the following ratings :
Chas. C. McMillan, Leading Seaman, V.R. 2496.
Carl C. Wilson, Able .Seaman, V.R. 1561.
Albert Sanders, Able Seaman, V.R. 1066.
Freeman P. Nickerson, Able Seaman, V.R. 1891.
Geo. H. Yates, Stoker, 2nd Class, V.R. 5480.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I think I have covered the ground sufficiently to satisfy every hon. member of this House that there is no truth whatever in the charges that were made by the hoft. member for Lunenburg either against the materiel or the personnel of the Naval Service.
I have shown what splendid service they have rendered, and as Minister of the Naval Service I have paid my tribute to them. I am sure that the House and the people of Canada will feel proud of the splendid work done by the Naval Service, its officers and man. of whose aoiiiviues they have to-day been informed for the first time, in a meagre way.
In closing his remarks the hon. member (Mr. Duff) suggested that a committee of the House be appointed to investigate the affairs of the Canadian Naval Service. There is no ground for the appointment of such a committee; there is no necessity for it. I think I have made it plain that not one of the charges made by the member for Lunenburg is substantiated by the facts.
At six o'clock the Committee took recess.
After Recess.
The Committee resumed at 8 o'clock.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
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