June 17, 1919 (13th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Hermas Deslauriers

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DESLAURIERS (translation):

I was discussing, at one o'clock, the question of the cost of living. I would like to add a few words upon that subject.
The Government tells us that the high cost of living is due to the abnormal demands of Europe where abnormal conditions are prevailing. Is that a good reason, because the demands land the conditions are abnormal elsewhere, for placing Canada in the same position those countries find themselves? For my part, I do not share that opinion. Is it reasonable that butter should sell this year higher than it was a year ago, for the reason set forth by the Government, i.e., that revolution rages in Europe? If revolution is caused by the scarcity of foodstuffs, it is surely not wise for the Government to create such a scarcity in this country also, for it may produce revolution. The Government propose to spend millions upon millions particularly in the construction of good roads, I admit that is a good thing, but first of all peace should be maintained in the country. Why do they not apply those $25,000,000 to the building of cold storage plants under their own control? By so doing, they might control the farmers' produce throughout the Dominion and sell it to the consumers at reasonable prices, keeping the necessary amount for the management and the salaries of those employees who would be in charge of the plants. Why do they not act with respect to foodstuffs the same way they have done for the pulp mills? They did not hesitate in regulating the cost of pulp. Why have they done it? Because the press, largely kept in pay at the Government's service, demanded it. They granted
their claims; but when the people's hunger has to foe stayed, they find it impossible to do it.
I have put several questions in this House about the cold storage plants. The Government were unable to give me the names of those who have been rigorously dealt with, the penalties imposed and the places wherein such plants are located. And, meanwhile, I knew that in Quebec, in Three Rivers and in Montreal, the law >was being absolutely disregarded, there being a conviction that the party in power would not start anything against the speculators. I say that this is the true Teasoin of the high cost of living. The Government should have the laws enforced. I do not pretend that they should show the same zeal as in the prosecution of those who transgressed the Military Service Act-men who, in my mind, are innocent- but I ask them to do Tor those speculators only one fourth or half as much as they have done against the others. I am of opinion that the speculators should be in the penitentiaries for the harm they have done, and are still doing to the public.
Why hesitate to amend the tariff, why oppose the amendment moved by the hon. member for Brome (Mr. McMaster)? I say it is unjustifiable in the present circumstances and, for my part, I shall frankly and eagerly support that amendment. Since I have started asking in this House questions ias to the strikes-a deep-rooted evil which strangles the workman-absolutely nothing -has been done to stop them. It is true the effective forces of the Mounted Police have been increased. Is it to soothe the groan-ings of those who are starving or to protect the profiteer? Probably one and the other. Let us beware, suffering cannot be cured by ill-treatments. To promote hatred is no way to settle the social unrest prevailing throughout the country. In the name of those who, like me, are still capable of being moved and roused by the workingmen's lot, who have at heart their interests and those of every class of people, I ask the Government to act and to act quickly.
You have imposed Blood Conscription. Why should you refuse to impose Food Conscription?.
The war is over in Europe and the terrible prophecy, uttered in 1870, in Colmar, a small village near iStrasburg, by an old Alsatian, has been accomplished. When the Prussian guard had tied him up, the very day he was marrying one of his sons and were torturing him to make him tell what direction the sharpshooters had taken, the old man ex-

claimed: "Frenchmen speak not!" and when they had gone, he added:
Hark ye to me yonder, victors of the hour, Germany cursed, Germany dung!
Hark ye, sooner or later, to-morrow or ten years hence,
France shall go in your homes and marry thy children,
Thou wilt see them tumble upon the bloody soil Insulting thy shame and defying thy sufferings, Their heel on thy throat and their eyes in thine own,
And when thou wilt be alone to mourn over them
When thou wilt be nothing but an immense graveyard,
And thy sons sleeping united as my own,
France shall cry for me: "Blood drenches blood, Thou hast said it, that is the law,
My sons have fallen under thine accursed hordes,
But all thine own are dead, very well, we are quits."
Mr. Speaker, you know what has happened to Germany. That is the way Providence punishes tyranny, injustice, ferocity, barbarity on this earth.
We .may now repeat with the poet who put the words in General Kleber's speech: " Hail, fair Alsace, forever free to go smiling and blooming to thy old altar, the fatherland, arm in arm with thy French redeemer." We see 'Clemenceau covering his aggressor with his protecting cloak. Lincoln proclaimed as free citizens those who had fought against him. We, in Canada, are overburdened with a debt of two billions and over and when the people is crushed under the weight of taxation, the Government are maintaining, at minister's salaries, a whole band of parade officers who encumber this country's finances. And, meanwhile, the sick, the maimed, the widows and the orphans of this war, are most ungratefully treated.
While the Allies are cheering over their victory, the Government keeps us upon a volcano. We are still at war; filled with disgust, the people see the federal police, generously paid, stirring up the population by arresting honourable citizens guilty of infractions of the law, through the Government's own fault. I declare that all this expenditure is needless, with no other object but that of pursuing a tyrannical and nefarious policy and which can only result in trouble, revenge and hatred of the country's authority. The people you are now provoking, together with the elements that have already raised the standard of anarchy, your friends of yesterday, your present enemies, shall cry out to you, as did the old Alsatian: " Hark ye to us, yonder, victors of the hour. Hark ye, sooner or later, to-morrow, we
shall have our turn." I say that the Government are responsible for the offences against the iMilitary Service Act. It is they who have instigated them. Has it not been clearly proven, in this: 'House, that for political motives the Government, had attempted to break down the- volunteer military effort of the country? Had they not that object in view when they sent as a preacher of loyalty and duty to the citizens of this country, a man who, in 1911, had insulted the British flag by saying: " Holes had to be made in the English flag that we might breathe the air of freedom? " I do fearlessly here declare that the Government, by so doing, had no other object but to gain a pretence for imposing conscription upon a peaceful people to whom the profession of arms was repugnant.
Has it pot been proven that, during their whole electoral campaign, as far as the province of Quebec was concerned, the Government, through their paid and servile press, have not for a moment ceased to calumniate and slander that province in order to stir up the English element against the French, and by such means win the elections? God knows .how well they have succeeded!
Has not the War-time Elections Act in its application, demonstrated over and over again that in enforcing conscription the Government had nothing but a political object in view? All these manoeuvres have been paid for by the country. The budget of the hon. Minister of Finance should not take any one by surprise to-day; every conclusion flows from its premises. Did the Government ever believe it was a good, way to have the law observed when they kept, in the barracks and in the training camps, officers who cursed every man who did not understand the orders because- they were given him in a language foreign to his own? The entire population knew those facts. Was that >a good means to attract the general good-will?
Has it not -been proven that the Government never did respect its provinces nor any of its duties towards the soldiers who had laid their lives in its hands. The Government seems .astonished at 'the fact that some farmers' sons did not comply with the Act, after it had filched their votes by telling them ith-ey would be exempted on account of their being more useful here than in the army. If the 'Government want to have the law observed, was it not elementary that they should themselves respect it? It is not in so doing that a Government can inspire respedt for the laws it enacts?
One of the Government's first obligations was that of protecting our soldiers' health. I will now produce indisputable evidence from authorized men, in order to prove to this (House how little attractive it was for parents to advise their sons obedience to the law.
On April 23, 1917, having reference to the colonial troops, Captain Guest declared before the British parliament: "During the two and a half, or two and three-quarter years of war we have had admitted into the hospital of Engjland over 70,000 cases of gonorrhea, over 20,000 cases of syphilis and over
6.000 cases of another disease somewhat similar to syphilis."
*Colonel Sir Hamar Greenwood, on April 23, 1917, also stated in the British House of Commons that it was a shame for the Administration to treat our soldiers as it treated them; that it was "a perverse sort of hospitality that had welcomed Canadian troops to this Mother Country. . . . Every Canadian soldier is examined on landing. He arrives here not only a first-class specimen of a fine soldier, (but as clean-limbed and as clean a man as the Creator himself would create." . We had a British hospital in France, 500 cots; we were obliged to place
2.000 cots and even that did not suffice for all the contaminated. "I declare," said he, "that from 40,000 to 50,000 syphilitics went through there and that the gonorrhea cases went 'as high as 150,000 to 200,000." All of this was known in Canada, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Arthur Mee, whose book (The Fiddlers) "was prohibited by the Government because he stated what our troops had been forced to endure overseas, frankly declares that, as a result of the authorized selling of alcoholic liquors in Europe, we had lost more men, directly or indirectly, than through the destructive operations made use of by the Boches and by their Allies, that alcohol destroyed our soldiers' endurance and decreased their valour, that alcohol, initial principle of debauchery, had been disastrous for our troops.
If we consult the reports of the military tribunals, we find that officers, responsible for the lives of their soldiers, have 'been sentenced for unpardonable offences due to alcohol.
Sir Conan Doyle, an English physician of high repute, wrote the following in the London Times, of October 16, 1917, concerning the colonial troops;
The harpies carry off lonely soldiers to their rooms, make them drunk, often with vile liquor, and inoculate them, likely as not, with diseases which, thanks to the agitation of well-meaning
[Mr. (Deslauriers.l
fools, have had free trade granted them among us. Our present policy is to shut the museums and keep open the brothels to the lad from overseas who has for the first, perhaps the last, time in his life a few clear days in the great centre of his race, and cannot carry away any recollection of its treasures of art and antiquity, but is forced into contact with what is least reputable of our metropolitan life. It will be poor return to the colonies if we return their splendid lads worse in body and soul.
All of this was known in this country.
About the same date, he further stated, in another newspaper: "If the Germans murder our men, if the Austrians slaughter them, if the Turks butcher them, all of that is tout a part of what men nowadays call the game of war." But the most execrable crime is the free circulation of prostitutes plying their trade in the military areas, in London and elsewhere in the United Kingdom, toy the tolerance of British law and under the eyes of the British authorities." Had a Canadian, in those days, said as much, I wonder what the Daughters of the Empire would have done to him.
Sir Henry Thornston, an English land-surveyor, expresses himself as follows: "I think it may truly be said that, oftentimes, an advance move, a splendid initiative, whidh might have assured a colossal victory, have failed us on account of mm or beer being distributed as an allowance to our men, beer that stupefied them, alcohol that prevented them from pointing their rifles as they should have done it."
Everywhere one can see that frightful thoughtlessness on the part of the overseas War office. Rev. Father Charron, a Canadian chaplain in England, asserts that spirituous liquors were given to intoxicated soldiers, as long as they had money to pay for their drinks.
Victor Horsley, a famous military surgeon, who was with the Mesopotamia expedition, stated in the Toronto Globe of February 8, 1917; "The most discouraging feature of these campaigns, is that the leaders of military operations1 are mostly whiskey drinkers, and consequently, will let the soldiers drink, here in this torrid climate; they keep on giving them rum allowances in lieu of food or sterilized water; the result is that we are continuously fighting cholera, diarrhoea and dysentery. Our notorious failures had no other cause, in my opinion, but the whiskey, affecting the intelligence and the clear vision of our leaders;, they do not realize that alcohol, even taken in small doses begets a brain fever. It is a disgusting manifestation of our egotism and of our costly unfairness to the country. C'ould not the dis-

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