Mr. L. D. TREMBLAY (Dorchester):
Mr. Speaker, in rising this evening to oppose the amendment now before the house, I am conscious of fulfilling a serious and imperative duty. Since the beginning of this debate I have listened to the views which have been expressed. I have given much attention to this question of armaments. The amendment reads:
This house views with grave concern the startling increases of expenditure proposed by the government for purpose of national armament-
I ask the mover of this amendment (Mr. MacNeil) if the house should not also view with concern the conditions facing the whole world at the present time. Every nation is increasing its armaments at a terrific pace. Against whom are they arming? Is my hon. friend in a position to tell me? Does he think what is going on now in Europe is encouraging? Does he view conditions in Spain as a proof of peace? Let us not be satisfied with words. In June, 1914, who ever thought that a European war was impending? The hon. member is a fellow war veteran and I want to assure him that I am not discussing such a momentous problem from a partisan point of view. Will my hon. friend state that in the spring of 1914 there were even a dozen men in Canada who foresaw the war that came in that year? I hate war just as much as do he and my other war comrades. Like all hon. members of this house I do not want my children-I am proud to say that I have eleven-to have to go to war, and I shall not betray them and my fellow citizens and force them to undergo the terrible experiences which the men of my generation had to go through.
Surely the mover of this amendment realizes that the world hardly perceives where it is going and does not realize what may be in store for it. I am astounded at some of the statements made by hon. members. They say that Canada either will be threatened with war, or will not. If she is threatened with war, some hon. members say that either England or the United States will defend us and we need not worry. If she is not threatened with war, some hon. members say, "Why should we arm?" I wish to take up the first alternative, namely, that in case of war England or the United States would defend us. May I be permitted to quote a
National Defence-Mr. Tremblay
paragraph, from an article written by Doctor Jules Dorion, editor of L'Action Catholique, on January 14 .last. This is what he said:
Of course some people are of the opinion that as we can do but so little it would be unwise to spend money in armament and we should be satisfied with leaning on others. Well let us not forget the proverb that says: Help yourself and God will help you. The weakest among men is in duty bound to do his share before relying on his neighbours, and the same thing may be said, of states. Their limited area and their small population do not prevent Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark and other Scandinavian states from having their own army, kept on the best possible footing, and their own navy, when necessary. Belgium has just reorganized her army and made it more efficient, although that country is well aware of the fact that France and England are greatly interested in having her territorial integrity duly respected. Belgium is a living example of a small country being ransacked, notwithstanding the sanctity of treaties and the sympathetic concern of powerful neighbours.
On the other side, accepting protection from one who is not bound to afford it cannot go on very long without servitude. We do not feel inclined to barter our provincial status in almost a sovereign dominion for that of an ordinary state in the neighbouring country.
Not only do I make those words my own, but I think I am sufficiently acquainted with the population of the constituency of Dorchester, which it is my privilege to represent, to say that the people of Dorchester, whether of French, English, Irish or Scotch origin, do not feel inclined1 to barter their provincial status in an almost sovereign dominion for that of an ordinary state in a neighbouring country. I wish I could say with the same righteous candour which other hon. members have shown, that we need only fold our arms, urge peace and do nothing to provoke another country, in order to ensure the perpetuity of peace in Canada. Let me ask these pacifists if little Belgium provoked anybody in 1914. Did she do anything to justify invasion of her territory? Certainly not. History will show future generations, just as the actual facts have proved to us, that a country can be not only invaded but ransacked in spite of its peaceful feelings and strict neutrality. Against whom do we arm? This is what the hon. member for Bellechasse (Mr. Boulanger) said last Tuesday evening:
We are arming not against somebody in particular, but rather against anybody. It is impossible to foresee what we shall do with this army that we wish to make more efficient and more mobile. What we can say to our fellow-citizens is that we want an army which is really useful and which we can use in case of emergency. Against whom do we arm? Many of us have an accident insurance policy for which we have been paying premiums since 15, 20, 25 or 30 years. We have not yet been hit by a motor car, and still we keep on paying
the premiums. It is impossible to say on which date, at which time and by which car we may be hit some day.
Sir, we are not arming against anybody, but we want everybody to know that we are ready to defend our own country. With regard to danger from the outside, nobody in this house can give us the assurance that we are immune.
Again, the pacifists say that everything is fine within our borders and that we do not need any protection on that account. But is that statement in conformity with the facts? The hon. member for Beauharnois-Laprairie (Mr. Raymond), who spoke with such common sense and judgment last Monday evening, provided us with ample material for reflection on the menace from within. He said:
Quite recently, speaking about the strike in the General Motors plants, Father Coughlin pointed out the influence of communism in that strike, and he brought to the attention of the authorities, before it might be too late, the threat of a revolution. During that strike the civil and judicial authorities were flouted.
He also pointed out the fact that Canadians have left their country to enlist in the Spanish army. Is it not true, Mr. Speaker, that the press daily brings to light the fact that we are living in disquieting times? Do the events in Spain not cause grave concern to the hon. member for Vancouver North? Does he consider as a purely local incident the shocking trials which her people are going through? Like myself, I am sure he reads the Canadian Veteran, and has he not read in its January issue the following editorial?
With German and Italian "volunteers" forming the major strength of the forces under command of rebel General Franco, plus the prospective addition of several thousand Japanese, on one side; and a large so-called international force aiding the Spanish government on the other side, the war in Spain long since has lost its purely domestic significance. If there had been no outside interference prior to and at the outset, the uprising would have found its own solution in short order for neither faction had the materials with which to wage war for long. But II Duce saw in Franco's bid for dictatorship an opportunity of making the Mediterranean a truly Italian sea; the Fuehrer envisioned a cordon of nations hemming in France, plus an opportunity of regaining a foothold in Africa. Stalin was aroused by the dual threat to this first real prospect of extending the World International movement beyond Russia..
So Spain has become the cockpit of a little "Great War," her towns and cities ravaged, her people starved and murdered, her treasures destroyed, her social and economic life wholly disrupted. Whatever eventuates, Spain can only be a pliant tool in the hands of foreign schemers for years to come, an unwilling threat to the peace of the world.
National Defence-Mr. Tremblay
Right here in Canada, Mr. Speaker, we find disciples of these two political schools who at present have Spain as their battleground, but whose object it is to have the whole world as their sphere of action.
I shall not pass judgment on the systems of government which other nations have thought fit to adopt, but I am emphatically opposed to these nations taking it upon themselves to make us benefit by their experiments. I submit that the forms of government which may have brought order out of chaos in Russia, in Italy or in Germany will never be accepted by the free people of my country, and the propagandists who are paid by the expounders of these doctrines must know that the government of Canada is ready to thwart them by force, should the occasion arise.
Now what about communism? Canada is not exempt in this regard. Only a short time ago I was reading a pamphlet published recently by Les Editions de l'Universite 1'Ottawa, in which Father Sauve, O.M.I., said: Communism, in Canada, possesses now an organization whose ramifications extend to all sections of the dominion. Every year, the communists hold anti-capitalistic meetings in several places: at Montreal, in Toronto, in Winnipeg, in Vancouver. . . .
Lenin's revolutionary tree has rooted in Russia, but its branches are already extending to all parts of the world. . . .
Soon, if we do not take care, they will bring about a furious storm. Indeed the hour is momentous and this problem must be faced from its real aspect. . . .
Is it not His Eminence Cardinal Villeneuve who said: "Communism in Canada is not merely hypothetical, it has become a reality. It is ablaze in our midst. To encompass it is a matter of urgency."
In his recent pamphlet Mr. Rene Bergeron, of Montreal, also tells us that "communism is a force and that this force is a menace to Canada."
With such unequivocal opinions before us, I cannot act like the ostrich, and I shall certainly not deal in any haphazard way with so vital a question as that of national defence. It is true that I am not an imperialist or a jingo, and I will say bluntly that I am entirely and emphatically opposed to Canada's participation in extra-territorial wars. But I want my country to be protected from any invasion, no matter where it comes from, and I shall vote against the motion now before the house. I believe, in so declaring,
I am perfectly in accord with my leaders.
Like the hon. member for Bellechasse, whom I like very much, I am only a countryman, and if I reflect the opinion of the "habitant" from down home, I want to impress upon the house that I have no
apology to make. On the contrary I am proud to speak for the "habitant." On such important matters as those which are now being considered by this house, I do not claim to be an expert, but I believe in my leaders, and I am happy to tell them that I accepted the invitation to be the candidate of the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Mackenzie King) who is now at the head of the government because I placed all my confidence in him and because I admired above all his true Canadian spirit. During the election campaign, on every platform in my constituency and elsewhere I delivered addresses I expressed approval of the policy that he was expounding, and my fellow-citizens elected me to this house. I wish to state here that I believe in my leaders and that I am satisfied with the statements of policy which have been made in the house.
My province, Mr. Speaker, stands second to none in the matter of patriotism. History is there to prove this. We are essentially Canadians and it is our desire to remain such. We do not want Canada to embark upon costly overseas ventures, but, following the example of our forefathers, we are ready to defend our land. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe), whom we respect in Quebec because, sir, he does credit to our people in the government of our country and because he represents the best of our race, and the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie)-all have declared what I could sum up by quoting what the Minister of National Defence said on Monday evening in this house:
There is no idea whatever of sending a single Canadian soldier overseas in any expeditionary force, and there is not a single cent providing for that in the estimates this house will be asked to vote.
Such emphatic statements, made by men whom we trust, give us much satisfaction.
In conclusion, may I say that Canada, in the critical hours through which we are passing, should be proud to have at the head of her government our present Prime Minister. An imperial conference will be held in London in a few weeks. Those who will represent the government of their country at the conference will bear a heavy responsibility. It is obvious that the defence issue will constitute one of the gravest problems the conference will have to deal with, and our delegates will have 'the strict duty of representing Canadian sentiment. I firmly believe they will do so.
May I be permitted to read what the Evening Citizen of February 15 had to say with regard to our principal delegates to the next conference:
National Defence-Mr. Jaques
Canada could be represented by no abler minister at the conference table than Premier Mackenzie King. With a lifetime of experience in round table conferences, affecting industrial and social conditions, as well as in the international field of politics, he is a natural leader along paths of conciliation. The spirit of Canada, the spirit of friendly cooperation, readiness to meet the other man half-way as the most hopeful way to make an enduring agreement, is reflected in every substantial achievement of the prime minister's long political career. . . .
It should be helpful also to bear in mind that there is little danger of this government being led away along any path of imperial adventure. With Messrs. Mackenzie King and Ernest Lapointe sitting together, as they doubtless will, at the imperial conference, no zealous nationalist need have any fear about the safeguarding of the national interest of Canada. . . .
I am fully in accord with the sentiments expressed in this editorial.
Mr. Speaker, I shall vote against the amendment.
((Translation): I would not like to resume
my seat without saying a few words, not in my maternal tongue, because my mother was English, but in my father's language, which is also that of the majority of my constituents. I have followed very attentively the debate on the amendment, which I consider as most important and I wanted to express, in the language of the majority of the members of this house, the attitude I intended taking.
Mr. Speaker, it is certainly not without due consideration that I have taken the stand I am taking now. I have given this question much thought and study and I have tried to understand this matter of increase in the armaments estimates.
I think that I am absolutely justified, so far as I can judge personally, to rely on the leaders of my party. But a few months ago, I was the candidate of the party which, today, is responsible for the administration of the country. I then had faith in them and I was sincere, and now that I have to face a problem the details of which I cannot understand-I admit it very candidly and very honestly-it seems to me that, in conscience, I have but just one thing to do: to leave the matter to those in whom I have put my trust.
Since I have been elected, from the day I have had the honour of representing in this house 27,000 constituents of the county of Dorchester, I have found no reason to withdraw the trust which I placed in my leaders in October, 1935.
Mr. Speaker, is there in the Canadian confederation any province that should trust more the Liberal party's leader than the province of Quebec?
We have experienced some sad days through Canada's political history, and I believe that we should not forget them.
We have been attacked, but I well remember that it is the leader of our party who defended us, and fought against those who were attacking us. It was he who stood up in our defence at the very door of Toronto. And we would lose faith in our government? Personally, I think that we would be wrong, and we will surely not do it.
The province of Quebec expects its representatives to declare in this house that we, from Quebec, refuse to participate in military operations outside our own territory. Nobody has said otherwise since the beginning of this debate, and never, I believe, through all the Canadian history, have we seen ministers sitting on your right, Mr. Speaker, and speaking as members of the government, being as positive and as sincere as the members of the present government.
Mr. Speaker, I certainly will continue- and I am sure that the province of Quebec will be satisfied, a least I know that the constituents of the county of Dorchester will be- to vote confidence in the King government. I am sure that the province of Quebec as well as its members in this house, realize that nowadays we are happy-and we should thank Providence for it-to have such an eminent man at the head of the government of this country.
Topic: SUPPLY-NATIONAL DEFENCE CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON AMENDMENT TO MOTION OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Subtopic: Hull, P.Q.