Mr. LUCIEN DUBOIS (Nieolet-Yamaska) (Translation):
Mr. Chairman, I also believe it my duty to protest against the measure now being considered by the house, authorizing the striking out of section 3 of the National Resources Mobilization Act, 1940.
In doing so, I have no personal interests to further, nor can I be charged with discussing this measure from a narrow political point of view, with an eye on re-election to this house. On the contrary, I wish to assume my responsibilities as I see them, and to make sure that my stand on this issue will be as logical as I believe it to have been in the past.
For the information of that section of public opinion which I have the honour to represent here, may I be permitted to quote an interview published in Le Devoir, of Montreal, in Feb. 9, 1937. I quote this article not because I wish to boast or to appear as a prophet, but because I believe it useful to explain my present stand. The interview ran as follows: (Le Devoir, Peb. 9, 1937.)
The reporter: We met Mr. Dubois as he was leaving the office of the Clerk of the House, Mr. Arthur Beauchesne:-
Q. What do you think of the military appropriations?
A. I believe the old formula remains true. Our armament policy will be Canadian as long as peace endures, and British in time of war.
Q. Do they represent, to your mind, the introduction of a new military policy?
A. Beyond doubt.
Q. Do you see in these military appropriations a repetition of what occurred in the past, notably in 1910 and 1911?
Q. Do you intend to oppose their passing?
A. Yes, absolutely, even though I were the only one to do so. But I shall not be the only one.
Q. You seem to be absolutely sure of the appropriateness of both your views and your acts, would it be because you foresee grave dangers for your country in the present military policy?
A. I yield, states Mr. Dubois, to a deep instinct which commands me not to support these military appropriations. Besides, we may recall past experiences. I fear we may repeat the mistakes of former years.
This interview is five years old.
As you see, from the very beginning, I felt, through some kind of intuition, the depth of the abyss in which the circumstances then obtaining would inevitably lead us.
In 1937, 1938 and 1939, I oppposed the increase in military appropriations, not because I was averse to incurring the defence of Canada, far from it; but because I feared the dire consequences which confront us today and which are menacing our national unity, if it still exist in our country.
Mobilization Act-Mr. Dubois
Then came the 1940 election, when I was returned to office simply because I had faithfully interpreted the opinions of my constituents. I shall not relate in all its details the struggle I had to wage against those who did not share my views.
During this campaign, all the members of the present parliament pledged themselves to oppose conscription for overseas service. However, after its entry into the European conflict, on September 10, 1939, our government supported our war effort to the limit of our financial resources.
On June 21, 1940, the house passed the National Resources Mobilization Act, for the defence of Canada and of Canada only. I then supported that act which, for once, clearly stated our true military obligations. 'No Canadian worthy of that name could oppose the mobilization of our national resources for the sole defence of our country.
Step by step and from one concession to another we have now reached the brink of the abyss that was foreseen in 1937, because, whether we like it or not, this measure undoubtedly incorporates into our statute books the principle of conscription for overseas service. I am not the only one to entertain that belief, as evidenced by an excerpt I shall quote from the Winnipeg Free Press of June 1, 1942. Referring to the debate on this bill, that paper made the following statement:
Once that debate is closed and the bill is passed, conscription shall have been definitely settled, the time when it should be applied remaining, of course, to be determined in the light of the requirements of the general military situation.
Such an opinion should be pondered, considering the source from which the Free Press obtains its information.
Under the pretext that our sacrosanct national unity is at stake, it will be asserted, to-morrow as to-day, that we are waging Canada's war for Canada, for the defence of all the liberties and all the rights of the Canadian people. In the light of recent happenings, that argument has an ironic angle. I wonder if there is really such a thing as a Canadian people. Can any one conceive a people without a flag, without a national anthem, and without any true understanding among its various elements? A Canada without a truly Canadian policy on all matters is not the kind of country which our forefathers had visualized.
Is it fitting that, for the maintenance of such a primitive colonialism, Canada should be called upon, every 20 or 25 years, to sacrifice through conscription the lives of
her young men on distant theatres of war? My answer is no, not any more to-day than yesterday shall I vote for such a measure.
Were I to be asked to vote for the conscription of wealth in order to help our allies,
I would gladly do so, for such would be the best means, as I see it, to put an end to all those wars which throw the world into confusion for the benefit of a few shady financiers.
What need have we of conscripting men when England is asking us for tools?
What need have we of this legislation to intensify our war effort when Mr. Churchill himself states that our effort has been more than splendid? *
What need have we of conscription when the voluntary system meets the wishes of the government even beyond their expectations?
Have we so soon forgotten the telling words uttered by one of our most eminent governors, Lord Tweedsmuir, when he said:
A Canadian's first loyalty is not to the British Commonwealth of Nations but to Canada, and those who deny this are doing, to my mind, a great disservice to the commonwealth.
With this thought I shall conclude. Whenever this legislation is adopted it shall be put into effect by order in council. Parliament shall have nothing further to do, nothing to say in the matter. Mr. King shall be at the mercy of the conscriptionist members of his government.
I entreat each and every one of my hon. colleagues in this house to join, while there is still time, in rescuing our leader from this evil predicament by a concerted vote against the present bill.
On motion of Mr. Gardiner the debate was adjourned.
Topic: MOBILIZATION ACT
Subtopic: AMENDMENT TO REPEAL SECTION 3 PROVIDING LIMITATION IN RESPECT OF SERVICE OVERSEAS