June 26, 1920 (13th Parliament, 4th Session)

L LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

If my hon. friend wants a course in militarism I will ask the adjournment of the committee and I will give
[Mr. E. Lapointe.4
it to him on Monday. I have not the time between now and twelve o'clock. Now, Mr. Chairman, the minister by means of his interjection has induced me to speak of something else. I do not quite remember the point at which I left off, but I shall proceed to say a word or two in regard to the League ef Nations. The countries of the world in 'the older regime had the system of alliances and the balance of power. One-half of the world was arming against the other half. But this system has been discarded, having been considered vicious and detrimental to the interests of mankind; and it is the cherished hope of every public man in the civilized world that it will not be revived, and that the League of Nations will be an institution that will prove effective in maintaining the peace of the world. I was not here when the hon. member for St. Antoine, (Sir Herbert Ames) spoke the other evening, but I read his speech and I may say that [DOT]it did not require that hon. gentleman's eloquence to convince me that the League of Nations, if its precepts are observed, will be an important factor in promoting international amity. I believe in the League of Nations. I hope this body will accomplish the purpose for which it was conceived and put into operation. Canada is going to contribute. We are asked to contribute over $200,000 for the first year, and I will vote enthusiastically for that contribution. But I will not vote for this project of a navy, for accepting ships and maintaining them before we know what our policy will be as to naval defence in the future.
I do not think that this is an opportune time, when ever nation of the world desires to establish peace on a permanent basis, for Canada to embark upon this undertaking. No one can afford to think of war to-day. War in the immediate future is unthinkable; it would be an unutterable crime. The war that has just ended was frightful enough, but it would be nothing compared to another war that might be precipitated in the present unsettled state of the world, and no nation can afford to take the responsibility for starting another war. I repeat, and I emphasize the point, that this is a most inopportune time for us to enter upon a new programme of this kind.
Another reason which I have for this stand is that we have no status. We do not know where we are on the question of nationhood. We claim we are a nation; I believe wc are a nation; I hope we are

a nation, and that we shall act as a nation. But as my hon. friend has said, next year there will be a conference of all the representatives of the British Empire and the most momentous questions affecting the sister nations of the Empire will be discussed and decided. Let us, therefore, wait until this event has occurred before voting 'the amount of money which Parlia-memlt now asks uis to vote.
My last reason is that this Parliament is not representative. It has not a mandate to vote this appropriation because it was not elected to do so, and furthermore the Government has pledged itself to the country that no naval expenditure will be made without being first submitted to the Canadian people. But there is this further fact to be considered. This Parliament at the present time-and no on-e can gainsay the fact-does not represent the majority *of the Canadian people. Indeed, Sir, it does not even represent a large proportion of the people. Public opinion is decidedly against the present Parliament.
, Mr. BEST: That is only your opinion;
you don't know.

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