Mr. LUCIEN DUBOIS (Nieolet-Yamaska) (Translation):
Mr. Speaker, I wish first to congratulate the Right Hon. the Prime Minister on the magnificent personal triumph he has just obtained at the by-elections.
I have followed with close attention the discussion which has been going on ever since the opening of the session. The tone of the speeches of those who are resolved at any price to establish conscription for overseas service has in no wray surprised me. However, I view with a rather skeptical smile their claim to be serving national unity when I see them propose a measure so coercitive as to destroy the very foundations of that same national unit.
Conscription for overseas service and Canadian unity 1 Could there possibly be a greater paradox? Even before the question of conscription is submitted to the house, hon. members opposite seem to be running a marathon
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in order to see which one of them will shout quickest and loudest the "Aye, aye, ready" of the greatest blunderer Canadian public life has ever known.
I should have preferred leaving the discussion of this question to the proper time, but the opponents of national unity having thrown down the glove, there is no option but to take it up. Since they insist on talking conscription, let us talk conscription.
Conscription for what? Conscription for whom? Conscription for the benefit of what cause? The answers to these questions are to be found in agitation stirred up by the two hundred Toronto fanatics in the hire of the jackals of high finance, of the exploiters of prejudice, of the dealers in tanks and guns. For such is the infamous gang at the back of the committee of 200.
Why should we enact conscription for overseas service when we know that the voluntary system has given quite satisfactory results and that our war effort, as was stated in this house not so very long ago by the most authoritative representative of the nation chiefly interested in Canada's war effort, Right Hon. Mr. Churchill, is truly magnificent?
Does the opposition lay claim to a higher brand of patriotism than that of the Prime Minister of Great Britain? Besides, what does England ask of us? Men or equipment? Hon. members know full well that on many occasions the British government has said: We have a sufficient number of men; what we need is tools and munitions. Let us delve into the statistics regarding our war effort in terms of man-power. Canada has supplied so far:
Seamen, soldiers and airmen overseas, more than 150,000 men.
Seamen, soldiers and airmen voluntarily enlisted for service anywhere, more than
Active force in Canada, more than 260,000 men.
Royal Canadian Air Force, more than 100,000 men.
Canadian navy, more than 27,000 men.
Reserve force in Canada, more than 155,000 men.
Add to that Canada's production of tools- corvettes, tanks, machine guns, munitions of all kinds, etc. etc.
Judging by the speeches of certain hon. members opposite, their plea in favour of conscription for overseas service constitutes the strongest possible argument against the conscription they demand. Let us face the facts.4
Since 1940 there have arisen a number of circumstances compelling us, if we want to be logical, to reason out the matter as follows: Either Canada is or is not likely to be attacked. If it is, common sense requires that we keep our men here to defend their own country and if Canada is not likely to be attacked, what is the sense of all our war effort?
Conscription for whom? If our country is likely to be attacked, what is the sense of the suggestion made in this house by the hon. member for Parkdale (Mr. Bruce) that the province of Quebec should be left in isolation? Have the hon. member's white hairs caused him, perchance, to forget the history of his adopted country? Is he not aware that if he has been able to spend happy days in Canada under the mantle of the British flag he owes it to my ancestors and to the ancestors of my French-Canadian fellow-countrymen who saved Canada for the British crown in 1776 and again in 1812? I should like to give him credit for ignorance, but his social position does not allow me to do so. It is disgraceful, Mr. Speaker, and unworthy of a man of his age to make himself the accomplice of the opponents of national unity in their endeavour to whip up the fanaticism of the committee of 200. Such despicable attempts will not scare us. Moreover, the hon. member and his friends have not had much success. Out of the 3,756,632 Canadians constituting the population of Ontario, these so-called patriots have been able to gather only 200 supporters -only 200-and that at the pric* of a heavy expenditure on the part of high finance.
My hon. leader has no need to worry. We are not afraid of that crowd. We shall in due time bring them to their sense. Should it be necessary to give them a lesson, my fellow-citizens and theirs will do so.
I have too much faith in the broadmindedness of my English-speaking fellow-citizens to believe that they will endorse a movement which aims not only at obtaining control of the government by any means, but also to stir up against each other the two great races which were already beginning to agree.
Conscription for the benefit of what cause? For the benefit of our war effort? This effort would be gravely prejudiced by recourse to compulsion. Have we not heard in this house during the present debate eminent military men state-I emphasize this point because it is also my view-that one volunteer is worth
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more than ten conscripts? And to borrow the words of my friend the hon. member for Champlain (Mr. Brunelle):
Who will believe that 50,000 more conscripts are more likely to bring victory than 120,000 volunteers at present enlisting at the rate of ten or eleven thousand a month?
No, all that is eye-wash. All that is trickery designed to cover the game of those who seek to reap large profits out of the whole business.
I have always been opposed to conscription for overseas service. I still am, and if ever the question comes before the house I will show still more convincingly, if possible, my opposition to anything of the kind.
As to the holding of the plebiscite announced in the speech from the throne, I must say that when I proposed such a measure in 1937-see Votes and Proceedings of February 9-I was far from foreseeing that it would be submitted to us in 1942. How could I vote against such a democratic measure when I proposed it myself five years ago? In conclusion, may I say, Mr. Speaker, that I am happy to associate myself under the circumstances, with the students of Laval university and with all the youth of my countiy, the group most vitally interested, and to say with them: Mr. King's government having need of us, we must give it our help. But, by the same token, we must help the government respect the pledges they have given to the people, leaving the latter free to express their views. Let us not lose our heads in the tragic hours we are going through. The tempest may rage with frightful severity during the next five or six months. Let us prepare ourselves to meet it with wisdom, firmness and courage, remembering that just as night is always followed by morning, storms are always succeeded by sunshine.
Mr. L.-PHILIPPE PICARD (Bellechasse): Mr. Speaker, it was not my intention at first to take part in this debate, but many statements by members from my province make it necessary for me to go on record and explain the position I intend to take on the address and the measure that may be introduced immediately after.
Before proceeding with my remarks it is a pleasure for me to congratulate the mover and the seconder of the address, who have so well and so eloquently discharged their duties after having both been Canadian ambassadors of goodwill to Great Britain last fall.
During these last weeks remarks have been made which might have better been left unsaid by extremists of the two schools of thought that exist on conscription. This issue has been forced on the public mind at the present time by high pressure propaganda of a financial-political group whose main enterprise fortunately flopped last Monday. It would have been preferable for the war effort of the country if it had not been used as a political weapon by the Globe-Gazette-Meighen imperialistic group. Playing with matches is a dangerous game. If it had only the effect of burning the fingers of those who hold the match, as was the case with Mr. Meighen, it would not be so bad; it might even teach a good lesson. But matches are more dangerous than that, and the fires of suspicion, fear and doubt can do more to hinder the war effort than a slowdown in the tempo of enlistment.
However, although conscription is not officially before us, everyone has talked on the matter in connection with the plebiscite referred to in the speech from the throne. It was of course to be expected that we would have an outburst of conscription fever, and I really think it has not been as bad as it might have been. The main arguments of most people who advocated conscription for overseas service failed to touch me because it overlooked for the most part Canadian interests and centred mainly on the defence of the empire and of Britain. If ever a good case could be built for conscription, it should be based upon the urgency to do it as a necessity for the defence of Canada, never on the advisability of helping Britain.
If some statements of the ultra-imperialists have annoyed me, I can say the same of some of the extreme statements of so-called nationalists of my province. Fortunately both groups received an appropriate answer last Monday from the intelligent electorate of the two largest provinces of this dominion. By their attitude since that election we can easily see how things would have become in this country had the conscriptionist press been encouraged by even a partial victory. As it is, the people of the two largest provinces have extended arms across the border to shake hands and unite in giving a vote of confidence to the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) by electing the ministers he asked them to return and defeating the man who was selected by his enemies to lead a savage assault against him. No matter how the people have voted, this press is at it again. But it is not my intention to bother with them except in one case, that of an article published in the
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Ottawa Citizen of yesterday, entitled "Racial Policies Cannot Prevail." The Citizen is a paper with an excellent tradition of public service to the federal capital, which made my surprise greater to find in it such an article drawing dangerous and false conclusions from the Quebec East election and the vote given to the Nationalist candidate. Would it not have been a better contribution to national unity to point out the marvellous judgment of the 16,000 Quebec electors who elected Mr. St. Laurent rather than to pretend that the 12,000 electors who supported Bouchard have all sombre designs against their fellow-Canadians? A closer study of the past elections in Quebec East would strongly invalidate the conclusions of the Citizen. In 1935 a modest Conservative lawyer of Quebec polled
10.000 votes against the Right Hon. Ernest Lapointe. These were straight party votes- Conservative votes, not Nationalist votes. In 1940, just three days before the election, the Conservative candidate-I mean the national government candidate-was withdrawn and Conservative support, in the hope of defeating Mr. Lapointe, was switched unofficially but efficiently to the Nationalist candidate, Paul Bouchard, the same man who was defeated by the present Minister of Justice; and Bouchard polled 12,000 votes against Mr. Lapointe
the same number of votes he polled against Mr. St. Laurent this week. The source of these votes is easily found by this study of previous election results-unavowed Conservative work to divide Canada and undermine confidence in the Prime Minister. Editors would render more service to the country at this time by helping to make known the accomplishments of the government rather than searching for arguments as weak as those contained in that article in order to divide Canadians one against the other.
As the questions of enlistment and mobilization have been widely discussed in this debate, Mr. Speaker, I will avail myself of the occasion to bring four suggestions to the attention of the government.
The first concerns farmers and farmers' sons. I admit readily that it would be hard to uphold that the agricultural class should benefit by special treatment that is not granted to other classes of people who do their share of war work. The primary consideration is the service rendered to the country by the land tiller and the necessity to maintain or raise the production of food in order to help feed Britain, and, above all, to maintain Canada's health and vigour by proper diets, ensured by increased supplies of food. Therefore what appears to be important is to
maintain a sufficient number of experienced men to cultivate the farm lands of the country. Although I am a layman in agriculture, I imagine it could be very easy for experts in that domain to determine how many men are needed to farm land of a definite number of acres with a given type of equipment and a certain number of head of cattle and hogs, and so on. It would be quite easy then to state that a farm of thirty acres operated with horse-drawn implements, with fifteen head of cattle, three horses and the usual small poultry yard, needs so many men. The owner, with three boys of military age, whose farm would fall under a category considered to need three men, and who is still able-bodied, would be allowed to keep two sons on the farm and would give the third to the armed services. This classification of farms could be fairly accurately established, and the decisions of boards of the war services department could then be arrived at with a maximum of security against favoritism and law-evasion.
The second point I meant to mention was the allowances granted to married men enlisting for active service overseas. At present allowances are paid to the wife and for the children uip to two. It may be that these figures were arrived at upon statistical data in an apparent scholarly way, but I cannot understand why fathers of large families are discriminated against. It surely is a much greater financial burden to raise six children than two, and it appears therefore that the father of six should in all justice receive more than the father of two. The mother of six children left behind, when the wage-earner of the family enlists, has to feed, clothe and educate six children on the same amount that is received by the mother of two. I cannot understand the justice and equity of such a decision. It is felt in the province of Quebec, where families of more than two children are the majority, that this rule is a discrimination that works against, enlistment.
Another anomaly in connection with allowances to dependents of enlisted men has been mentioned to me by one of my constituents, and I report it although I have not yet verified the fact. It is said that the mother of an enlisted unmarried man who was supporting her before his enlistment receives substantially less than does the wife of an enlisted man. If this is true I cannot understand the "what-for" of this discrimination against mothers.
Concerning also allowance to mothers, this other case came to my knowledge. In order to receive an allowance upon the enlistment of her unmarried son a mother must prove her son was supporting her before he enlisted.
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There are cases when a young man of eighteen to twenty-one enlists before he ever had a chance to find employment after his coming out of school, and where the mother was painfully supporting her family by hard work. Because the son never had the opportunity to support her before his enlistment, I am told no allowance is paid to the mother.
I submit these problems to the minister and trust he will give the matter further consideration.
My fourth suggestion is to the Postmaster General (Mr. Mulock). Speaking on the address on November 21, 1940, I stated, as reported at page 328 of Hansard:
. . . that letters to members of the Canadian army should be sent free of charge, and parcels which bring cheer to a man should be sent without costs to the sender. There are many enlisted men whose families have very little personal means. While it may be fairly easy for them to send a piece of cake or some other small gift, when it comes to paying forty or fifty cents postage on a parcel it cuts into their budget quite deeply and they hesitate to send it. The man overseas wonders if his friends have forgotten him. Perhaps it could be arranged to have parcels of a certain size sent free of charge, either through the different units of the army or otherwise. If the government wants to include letters in this scheme, I am all for it. Many of these men have been away from home a long time and they deserve every encouragement they can get from those of us who are in comparative safety in this land across the sea.
I am not aware that anything of the kind has been done. I know that a bill was introduced in the United States Congress to ensure free mail to the American armed forces. I do not know what was the fate of that bill, but I imagine that something could be done here along these lines. I renew my suggestion made a year ago and I think it is just as advisable to-day.
Much has been said, Mr. Speaker, up to now about the plebiscite. I view it as a measure resulting from a desire to keep unity in the country and preserve faith in the given word. I do not think it was necessary, and I think that, had we disregarded the alarm cries of the Tories and the inspired campaign for conscription, we would have rendered a better service to the country. However, if the government consider that a release from their given pledge is going to be more conducive to public confidence in the proper carrying on of the war, the plebiscite is the only proper method for them to use. I do not personally think it necessary, as I said; but how can a man who pretends to fight for democracy and liberty object to a government using the most democratic way to make sure if the people they govern have the same views on certain aspects of the conduct of the
war that they had two years ago? I cannot logically vote against such a measure when it is introduced in parliament. As to advice to be given the electorate I have decided to tell my constituents to vote according to their views and their conscience, and I will not attempt to influence them one way or the other.
I did not think it would be necessary, Mr. Speaker, to explain the sentiment of French Canada on conscription for service overseas, but a word from an hon. member appealing to us to abandon what was called our narrowmindedness on the question indicates there are yet people who do not fully understand our position. I will therefore try briefly to explain it.
French Canada is still and definitely opposed to compulsory service overseas, because French-Canadians are interested only in Canada and nobody has convinced them yet that compulsory service overseas is a necessity for the defence of our land. It looks too much like help to Britain and defence of the empire and too little for the defence of Canada. French-Canadians could be persuaded to accept compulsory service for overseas solely if they knew that it was the only practical way of defending their own country, and it is not an easy task to convince us of that'fact. First of all, according to me, expeditionary forces have never been, up to this war, our best and only way of defending our soil, but they have been a way of proving the solidarity of the empire; they have been the product of a patriotic urge of Anglo-Saxons exiled from their homeland but still attached to it.
Our participation in the South African war was of that nature as was, in great part, our participation in the last war. As to the present war, the situation is different: we have to cooperate with all the remaining free nations of the world in the fight to stop barbarism if we are going to survive as a nation. However, in order to do that, we must not endanger our own safety by a wrong conception of our defence problems, and I am of the opinion that there is no necessity of conscription for overseas if a proper mobilization of our human resources is made now for service in Canada, and I will refer to that in a moment.
I was explaining the French-Canadian reaction to conscription. For us there is only one country-Canada-and we do not consider that help to Britain, to maintain British trade and enlarge British benefits, as was the case in our participation in the last war, was worth the cost. French-Canadians were opposed to conscription in the last war because to them it meant only risking their lives for Britain,
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for the prestige of the British empire trade in the world, and not for the safeguard of their country.
When the National Resources Mobilization Act was presented in 1940 and the principle was established that compulsory service was provided for Canada and not for participation in overseas expeditions, the vote was unanimous and the two faint murmurs of protest heard in this house had no echo in the hearts or minds of Quebec. Why was this? Because French-Canadians never objected to the defence of their country. They have proved it gallantly in the past. Some of them were even willing to help the empire; they proved it in South Africa, they proved it in 1914, and they are proving it during the present war. But as was said once by a French-Canadian leader, their participation was dictated by their mind, not by their heart.
When it comes to waging the imperial wars of Britain, or when it comes to defending Britain, we are bound to have in Canada different opinions and different viewpoints. You who were born in the British isles, as is the case with seventeen members of this house, or you who are sons of people born in the British isles, and there are fifty-three of you in the house, and all those who are more or less connected by blood to Britain, are bound to feel a call to defend your mother country, to wish to risk the ruin of your adopted country, to give everything for your mother country. It is a noble sentiment and it is bound to exist. You would not be normal if you were not stirred by these patriotic sentiments; and, mind you, I admire all those who hear the call to the defence of their mother country. But I claim that Canadians who are not of British blood who volunteer for service overseas deserve even more admiration. They deserve your gratitude and your respect because they are motivated purely by an enlarged sense of duty to Canada and by a reasoned determination to fight abroad for the preservation of the British institutions under which they have been able to develop.
A few minutes of unbiased thought, Mr. Speaker, should make people realize that men whose families have been established on the same land, or at least in the same part of the country, for from two hundred to three himdred years, are bound to have attachment to and love for their land, their country, and for no other country. They are a homogeneous group whose survival as such, and their expansion into a distinct nationality, is a miracle in itself. It has been attained by considerable sacrifice and self-denial on the part of past generations, and I am yet to find
a student of ethnology or of human geography who has not marvelled at the sturdy qualities of the French settlers and their descendants who have fought an unfavourable nature, fierce tribes of aborigines, and numerous battles, to be loyal to their flag, be it French or British. They have done all that because this land was their land and being loyal to their flag meant the defence of their country; but you must try to realize that they cannot have the same feelings of the heart for a distant land, which to most of you is the mother country, but to them is only the source of a governmental system which has given them a fair treatment when vanquished and the opportunity to wangle equality with their fellow citizens with great pains and persistence through their efforts and through their loyalty when the country was attacked.
To them, expeditions to the crown colonies will always remain imperial adventures in which their country, Canada, has no patriotic duty nor material interest; and to them expeditions across the seas will remain help to Britain and they will subscribe to it only as it remains voluntary. They would accept conscription for overseas solely if it could be proven to them that it is the only remaining way of defence of our own territoiy, and this is and will remain a most debatable question. As for myself I am as much opposed to it to-day as I have been in the past.
But, Mr. Speaker, there is something even more important to consider now than the reaction of a large part of the population of the country to conscription, and it is the study of the situation Canada faces now and how best it can cope with it.
In a world ablaze, in a universe in process of revolution, what was the position Canada could take to ensure its survival, the survival of its liberty, of all the institutions it held as sacred and precious? Could it have remained outside of the conflict, as was suggested by the member who boasted the other night that he had voted against the declaration of war? Could it have remained outside the conflict and survive? I think not. The ethnical composition of the country for one thing would have made it impossible, as two-thirds of the population would not have sat quiet and silent while the country of their fathers was in peril. But more than that, our geographical and economic position, in relation to our southern neighbour, would have made it impossible, and our position both economic and political within the commonwealth of British nations would have made it difficult. Granted, as it is by all clear-thinking citizens, that it had to enter the conflict, Canada was facing two roads to participation; entering the war as a
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free nation providing first of all for its own defence, and secondly organizing ways of meeting the enemy and fighting it before it reached our shores; or entering the war as a British dominion to grant all possible help, in men, munitions and food, to the mother country, as was attempted during the last war.
My opinion is that the only way consistent with our status as defined by the act of Westminster was the first alternative. To all intents and purposes this is what has been done and the government is to be thanked for having taken the right road. But it is important to examine whether all the aspects of our war programme have been consistent with our avowed intention of waging the war for Canada and only for Canada. I think, sir, there is no harm in examining what has been done and what could be done.
I am convinced of one thing: this government has up to now done more to arm the country and gear its production for war than is realized by most of its citizens, and this splendid achievement has been reached with a minimum of inconvenience to the normal life of the country, with a wise system of economic adjustment, and while maintaining a better spirit among all citizens in the country, marred only by the alarming, politically-inspired cries of a few survivors of the Tory tribe and a few bitter, poisoned minds of the pseudonationalist clique. The government is to be given credit for this accomplishment and there should be no hesitancy in voting confidence in it on the address.
The nature and direction of our war effort has therefore to be looked into to determine whether or not it is the most consistent with our proclaimed goal-the defence of Canada. The programme outlined by the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston) puts all the emphasis on the expeditionary forces, and although it provides for a certain protection for the country we must candidly admit that it is not entirely adequate protection should an attack be made as was done at Pearl Harbour, for instance. I admit that at the beginning of the war the most urgent need was our participation in the resistance to the enemy far from our shores, and I approve of what was done in that regard. But is it not time to revise some of our theories in view of what is happening in a rapidly evolving war, which to-morrow may mean the invasion of Australia, because it provided too much for meeting the enemy far from its shores and not enough for meeting the enemy at home?
I may be a poor strategist, Mr. Speaker, but my contention is that the time has come to reconsider our commitments for the expedi-
tion,ary force and to look more after ourselves. A mere look at a map of the country shows that it is impossible to defend its boundaries with our present population. Taking into account our joint defence agreements with the United States, which leave our forces free for our eastern and western boundaries, we are still facing the defence of hundreds of miles of shore line on the Pacific and the Atlantic, including Newfoundland and not overlooking the valley of the St. Lawrence, the direct route to the heart of industrial Canada.
To foresee the future according to my view would mean stationing at least 100,000 men in the maritimes, 50,000 in Newfoundland.
100.000 in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, in order that they may be easily rushed to the defence of the St. Lawrence valley, and 200,000 would not be too many for the Pacific coast. This means that the most elementary defence of the country would need a minimum of 450,000 troops.
Let us look now at our man-power. With a population of 11,500,000, Canada has about
1.102.000 unmarried men or widowers without children between the ages of 18 and 45, and
1.201.000 married men between those ages. According to the statistics of 1931 some 62 per cent of the total active male population was between these ages, and 58 per cent of the population between these ages was engaged in gainful occupations. Also about 60 per cent of the people needed in industry were between these ages, and 55 per cent of the agricultural class also fell between the ages of 18 and 45.
We can therefore take it that more than 50 per cent of that population is essentially needed for the normal life of the country. We are therefore left with 1,150,000 men, married and unmarried, between the ages of 18 and 45. From this figure ten per cent should be deducted as being the lowest number of men of military age who are at present in jobs vital to national defence, or who are neccessary to the agricultural production, to which would already have been reallotted a large number of men unfit for military service or not of .military age.
We are therefore left with a rough total of one million men. At least 25 per cent of this number are medically unfit to serve in the army. Even if a reallotment of civilian employment to citizens unfit or beyond military age could be effected with one hundred per cent success, it is highly improbable that it would leave a total available man-power for the armed services of 750,000 men.
We have already 422,000 enlisted in the three services, and the programme for 1942 outlined by the minister demands another
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190.000 for overseas service, a total of
612.000 men when the programme is completed. If we carry this programme on where shall we find the men necessary for the immediate defence of the country?
My view is that our forces should be divided into two distinct categories, the Canadian territorial army and the Canadian expeditionary force. The territorial army could be mobilized through selective service under the National Resources Mobilization Act, which provides all the authority necessary to do it. This army should be trained in sufficient numbers and in the same manner as the active service force is now trained, and enough of the troops scheduled now to go abroad should be kept in Canada and assigned to this army so that the country would at all times have the necessary minimum protection.
The United States army is now spread on all the battlefields of the world, yet I doubt whether they will not keep at home enough troops for their defence. Every country should think of itself, of its own protection first, Britain did it at all times since the start of the war, and she did well. She kept a huge army at home, considering it more important-and rightly so-than to send vast armies to the other points it had to defend in order to maintain the empire intact. My contention is that Canada now should do the same.
As to the Canadian expeditionary army, it already constitutes a magnificent contribution to the fight for freedom, but should be limited in the future to a size consistent with the safety of Canada at home. Its organization should be revised so as to make it possible to reinforce, maintain and equip it while keeping a sufficient protection for the country itself.
Needless to say, the expeditionary army would be recruited, like the navy and the air force, by voluntary enlistment of civilians not yet called to the colours, and by a steady flow of volunteers from the ranks of the territorial army, which would be composed of men drafted under the selective service system. With such a balanced plan, Canada, like other belligerents, would look after its security at home while at the same time doing its share in stemming the tide of the invader on other continents.
My views may not be acceptable to the minister or his advisers, but I thought it my duty to express them to-day, encouraged as I was by the reading of British Hansard. In the British House of Commons every other day supporters of the government press forward their suggestions on the conduct of the war, which seem to be accepted in the best spirit, even if they are not always adopted.
Topic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY