MATTHEWS, James Ewen

Personal Data

Brandon (Manitoba)
Birth Date
August 17, 1869
Deceased Date
November 24, 1950
insurance agent, journalist, teacher

Parliamentary Career

November 14, 1938 - January 25, 1940
  Brandon (Manitoba)
March 26, 1940 - April 16, 1945
  Brandon (Manitoba)
June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
  Brandon (Manitoba)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
  Brandon (Manitoba)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 15 of 17)

July 30, 1942


Is it the intention of the government to proceed with the erection of dwelling houses in centres congested as a result of military training projects?

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June 22, 1942

Mr. J. E. MATTHEWS (Brandon):

Mr Speaker, I desire to make a few observations on the bill now before the house, even though I am following some of the ablest speeches in the present debate that I have ever heard in this chamber. I include in that remark representatives of all the different parties. I trust that hon. members will bear with me if for a few minutes I treat of matters more or less local.

Owing to a serious attack of flu I was not able to leave Ottawa during the plebiscite campaign, but I was very much gratified to find that in my absence the constituency of Brandon which I have the honour to represent polled a larger than normal vote and had also the distinction of polling one of the highest percentages of affirmative votes in all the constituencies west of the great lakes, Brandon's percentage being around 92 per cent. I should like here and now to thank a number of the good workers in that constituency who without regard to party or other affiliations got busy and did such a splendid job in the plebiscite campaign. Fifteen thousand or more voters in that constituency

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marked their ballots in the affirmative and, by so doing, said to the government and to the country that they were at least willing to have conscription introduced into this country. I would not say that they all desire conscription. No; but their ballots indicated their willingness to have conscription if conscription were necessary. That was the message, Mr. Speaker, that came to us from eight of the nine provinces of Canada, and came with overwhelming force. From the other province there came a message with equally overwhelming force, and with equal emphasis, expressing their unwillingness to have conscription. I think that is a fair interpretation to be placed upon both votes.

We are living as is often said, in a democracy. We are living in Canada, not in Germany, and it was the privilege of those millions of voters all across Canada, as free-born citizens beneath the British flag, to mark their ballots in any way they pleased. I cannot, however, close my eyes to the fact that had Hitler been in control in Canada as he is in Germany, the number of ballots marked in opposition to his wishes would have been veiy few.

The passage of this bill will place before the cabinet the whole responsibility for conscription. In that cabinet I have every confidence. It seems to me that a great many people in this country are not aware that eight of the members of the cabinet are returned men, men who saw service in the last war, men some of whom are paying a heavy price for the freedom which wt enjoy to-day. I see in that cabinet as returned men, the Minister of NationalDefence (Mr. Ralston), the Minister ofNational Defence for Air (Mr. Power), theMinister of National Defence for Naval Services (Mr. Macdonald), the Minister ofNational War Services (Mr. Thorson), the Minister of Pensions and National Health (Mr. Mackenzie), the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Gibson), the Minister of

Labour (Mr. Mitchell), and the Postmaster General (Mr. Muloek). I am told that some of these men bear upon their bodies to-day the scars of conflict waged in our behalf. Some of them have sons overseas in the present war and are extremely anxious these days as to the safety of those sons. Others in the cabinet who were not overseas in the last war have ever since carried sad hearts because of loved ones who went and never returned. Under those circumstances, Mr. Speaker, if we cannot trust the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) and those eight men of military experience, yes, of battlefield experience, and their associates, I would ask, who is there in Canada that we can trust?

Viewed from a local angle, it matters little whether this amendment carries, or whether conscription for overseas service is adopted or not. Let me make my meaning clear. In the Brandon constituency, the town and country are practically stripped of their young men of military age and physical fitness. There are cases where farmers seventy years of age and over are left to operate their farms, having one son, two sons, and, in some instances, three sons in the king's uniform on overseas service. Let me remind my hon. friends that these men are operating, not small farms, but farms of three hundred, five hundred or six hundred acres. Too much credit cannot be given to the farmers of this country for the way in which they are tackling the situation. It is a war situation; they realize that, and they realize also the position in which they would find themselves and in which we would all find ourselves if we were slaves of Hitler.

I have before me a copy of the Souris Plaindealer, published in Souris, a town of about 1,500, in the southern part of my constituency. In this paper is a list of over three hundred men from that town and district who have enlisted for service overseas, their names, addresses, and units are all given. Many of these men have been overseas for a good while. They are waging grim warfare on every battle -front. They are represented in the prison camps of Germany, and in the tragedy of Hong Kong, of which it has been said that it represents one of the most gallant episodes in the history of Canadian arms. What is true of that community is, I believe, equally true of a great many communities all over this country. But of course I have not the figures for the others.

I want to pay a word of tribute to the valiant war services of many thousands of young Canadians whose parents came to this country not so long ago from continental Europe. Those parents are aware of the treachery and the perfidy perpetrated upon their own flesh and blood in their homeland. Along the north side of Brandon there is a strip of city populated almost entirely by those of European ancestry. They own their own homes, neat, clean, well-built; they have their vegetable and flower gardens, looked after with a care and a thrift that would put some of the rest of us to shame. They are Canadians, these people, and good Canadians, ready to take their share and play their part in the life and citizenship of our country. Some hon. members may ask, "What are their sons doing in this war? Are they playing

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their part?" I say, Mr. Speaker, that they are, because I have here another list containing the names of one hundred and forty enlisted men from that little corner of the city. Scan that list of names and addresses, and you will find that nineteen names out of every twenty are those of stalwart young Canadians whose parents came to us from continental Europe.

Having a fairly intimate knowledge of enlistments in a good many constituencies, I am reminded of an incident quoted in this house a few weeks ago by my good friend the hon. member for Simcoe East (Mr. McLean). He told of a conversation which he had when overseas in the last war with an old Highland shepherd. The talk turned upon conscription. The old Highlander, trying once again to square his shoulders and stand erect, said to the hon. member for Simcoe East, "Over in yon village, laddie, and a' up the glen we are not subject to the draft." So in a great many constituencies in this country the young men are not subject to the draft because they are already in the fight.

I am one of those who like to give credit where credit is due. I care not to what race, creed or party it may apply. Listening, however, to some of the speeches in this chamber, one senses some reluctance to recognize and honour the hundreds of thousands of young men who have already responded to the call of duty-young Canadians still held in England who are straining at the leash to get into action, the type of action their fathers knew when they were overseas. Our Canadian boys in the navy are sailing the seven seas in proud defiance of enemy warships. Young men from Canadian air schools-"the aerodrome of democracy," as President Roosevelt called Canada-are night after night raining destruction on targets in Germany and in the middle east. I say that these young men are deserving of every recognition. I say that their parents and friends are deserving of recognition. And I say that there are young men in this country who have had technical training and are specialists in certain lines who are being urged to stay here, against their will, because of the importance of the work which they are doing here, and they also should receive the recognition which is their due.

On the other hand, I cannot quite understand the position of those Canadians in Quebec or elsewhere who, for reasons best known to themselves, profess to see no wisdom in Canada entering the war until the war reaches our shores. Well, the war has reached our shores, both east and west. Enemy shells have fallen in Canada for the first time, and enemy torpedoes have done their deadly work

in ithe St. 'Lawrence. These (two treacherous attacks are indisputable proof that the government should have absolute control as regards sending our troops elsewhere or holding them in Canada, and should lead us to expect that the vote which is soon to come would be practically unanimous in favour of the bill. *

I do not think the present is any time for hair-splitting as to where help should be given and where it should be withheld. Let the responsible ministers of the crown who know the facts make those decisions. Our isolationist friends say they are ready to fight in defence of Canada, which means, let the other allies take care of themselves. That may sound very well, but just how does it work out? Supposing the German army were sailing up the St. Lawrence, shelling the towns and villages as they came, and killing the inhabitants, our friends would certainly then be ready to fight; but I am afraid-and I say this with no thought of sarcasm-that at that time their fighting would be "too little and too late." Then, suppose for argument's sake that the other provinces took the same attitude. Suppose Ontario remained indifferent, saying, "we don't like this war, we will let Quebec do the fighting, and we will have nothing to do with it unless the Germans invade Ontario". Then I can hear another voice, saying, "We are not interested in Ontario as a province; but let that German army"-I will not repeat the adjective I was going to use-"ever dare to invade Huron and Bruce and we will annihilate them". That is where the argument with regard to isolation leads, to an absolute absurdity.

Some of the countries of continental Europe had the same idea. What happened to them? One by one they were subjugated by Hitler. One by one many people of those countries were ground to death beneath the iron heel of German despotism. What happened in Europe could happen in Canada. Surely it must be increasingly obvious to all our people in every province that in this titanic struggle Canada is expected to stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder with the other allies, just as Canadian provinces would be expected to stand shoulder to shoulder with each other if Canada were attacked. In this war the allies are all members of one body, and no one of them can afford to let the others down.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, I do not often speak in this house, but I say to-night with all the earnestness and sincerity at my command that the time has arrived and is overdue when some of our people should forsake the realm of fantasy and get over into the realm of reality. In saying this, I share in no infer-

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iority complex as regards Canada's part in the war. The rifle, the bayonet, and the machine gun are not sufficient in this war. It is a war of mechanized equipment of most intricate design and enormous quantity, and highly trained young men are necessary to operate and maintain that equipment. I understand that in this war ten men in the air force, and eighteen men in the army, are necessary to provide for the requirements of one man in the line of battle. I am not sure that that is correct, but I think it is approximately so.

We have at present almost half a million men in our fighting forces for service overseas. We have a Canadian navy of more than 400 ships, practically all built since the outbreak of war, a navy that has convoyed across the ocean 9,000 ships carrying 52 million tons of cargo. We have a delivery of more than 250,000 armoured vehicles to the united nations. We have produced nine types of gun carriers and mountings going from our shores in one unbroken stream to every theatre of war. Munitions are pouring across the sea, with Bren guns and guns of different makes. Food supplies, not in millions of pounds but in hundreds of millions of pounds, are going steadily to the old land; we have made an outright gift of one billion dollars' worth of supplies to the United Kingdom, not a loan but a gift, together with an interest-free loan of $750,000,000. With all this and with other enormous contributions I feel that Canada has no reason to be ashamed of what we are doing in this war.

I would hope that we might never be compelled to adopt conscription in Canada, even as Australia has never been compelled to adopt it there. I would hope that for the honour of our country it should never be said that we had to force our young men to fight in freedom's cause. But no matter what our personal views or preferences may be, we must make up our minds that this war has to be won, and every man or woman enjoying civil and religious liberty in this country should be expected to do his or her part. If conscription would accelerate our war effort, then conscription it should be.

The majority, a great majority, 1,300,000 people in Canada, have spoken, and in due course the bill now before the house will be voted upon. What an accomplishment it would be, what a milestone in Canada's history, what a cementing factor in the future progress of Canada if that vote could be made so unanimous that word of its unanimity would ring around the world!

I realize the difficulties in the way of some; I realize those difficulties with an open and

sympathetic mind. There are members from the province of Quebec whose ancestors planted the tree of civilization in this far-flung country; members whose love of Canada is deep-rooted and sincere; members who would shed their last drop of blood in behalf of the land they love so well; members whom to know is to like; and with whom to associate is to respect. May I suggest to them in all kindness and sincerity that in my judgment, humble though it may be, this is the day of their opportunity, the day when a public man may make a lasting contribution to the future of our country and to its good feeling and unity, an opportunity to my mind without parallel since the days of confederation.

I have heard some wonderfully fine addresses in this debate by our French-Canadian friends. In fact, they seem to have a gift of eloquence and a spirit of animation that are peculiarly their own; but no speech gave me a greater thrill than the one I heard about a week ago delivered by my good friend the hon. member for Athabaska (Mr. Dechene), himself a French Canadian. I shall not soon forget his impassioned appeal for national unity, his appeal to forget the past and to think of the present and the future, and I join with him in saying, in the poet's words:

Let the dead Past bury its dead!

Act, act in the living Present!

Heart within, and God o'erhead!

I can visualize in years to come the children and the grandchildren of the hon. member for Athabaska turning back the pages of Hansard to June 15, 1942, and saying to their assembled friends that in a dark hour of our nation's history, when the fate of Canada was at stake, when the fate of the empire was at stake, when the fate of democracy and the fate of our Christian civilization were at stake, that was the speech their father made in that crucial hour on the floor of this dominion parliament.

After all, there are very few members here who were here -twenty-five years ago. "A new generation hath arisen" in- the public life of Canada. Therefore let us bury the mistakes and the bitterness of the past. If there be any members in this house who have never made a mistake themselves, let them be the only ones to refuse to attend the funeral. Let those of us who 'have made mistakes and admit it stand together at the open grave and, gathering up from all parties the shreds of bitterness and the mistakes of previous years, let us bury them so deep in oblivion that only the plummet of history will ever find them.

I have been thrilled with pride on more than one occasion to hear the loved and late

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lamented minister of justice, to hear his successor, the present brilliant Minister of Justice (Mr. St. Laurent), to hear the exminister of transport (Mr. Cardin) and other gifted sons of the province of Quebec dilate with eloquence and spirit upon the proud traditions of our beloved Canada. Following a somewhat similar reference made by a previous speaker may I say that now, with the voice of a great majority still ringing in our ears, I sincerely trust that in this parliament, rich in traditions and lustrous with the glory of the past, there may descend upon us the spirit of that great statesman, the greatest in all Canada, who in 1917, when urging a referendum on the then proposed military service act, said that, whatever the result might be, the minority would abide by the will of the majority.

I have hopes that the brilliance of that honoured statesman of the past may serve as a guiding star on this occasion and that the tolerant and glorious mantle of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, worn with such regal dignity, twenty-five years ago, may adorn his successors in this parliament of 1942.

In no part of the world was there ever a greater demonstration of love and loyalty than in the province of Quebec when their majesties visited us three years ago. The depth and spontaneity of that demonstration will remain a standard in all history in the hearts of the Canadian people and the people of the empire. I am sure that Quebec's prayers and Quebec's blessings in this time of national peril are expressed in these lines of a Manitoba poet, a good friend of mine, which were published at the time in the Montreal Star:

God bless the King of Canada,

And bless our Queen so dear.

Long may he live to rule our land;

Lord, now Thy people hear.

God bless the King of Canada,

Through all the years to be.

Grant him Thy strength that he may keep Our land forever free.

Mr. T. ADELARD FONTAINE (St. Hyacinthe-Bagot) (Translation); Mr. Speaker, at the outset of my remarks to-night, I wish to state that I feel myself in duty bound to oppose the bill that is now before the house.

Before discussing the provisions of the National Resources Mobilization Act which it is desired to amend through this Bill No. 80, may I, Mr. Speaker, state briefly a few of the reasons why, in my humble opinion,

I must vote against a bill whose object is and whose result will be the enforcement of conscription of men for service overseas.

In my humble opinion, those reasons may be summarized as follows:

First, it is now recognized, as was clearly shown by the Right Honourable Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) and as was also stated by all the honourable ministers who have spoken in this debate, that not only is conscription unnecessary at this time, but it may never become necessary.

Such a measure would destroy peace, unity and harmony in this country at a time when they are greatly needed. It was indeed for that reason that Sir Wilfrid Laurier, one of the greatest Liberal leaders in this country, always opposed conscription. It was for that very reason that he stated in the House of Commons, on January 17, 1916, that there should be no conscription in Canada.

Conscription would hamper our war effort, as was rightfully stated by the Minister of National War Services (Mr. Thorson) in the splendid speech he delivered and for which I congratulate him.

The province of Quebec is now opposed to conscription for overseas service as much as she was in 1917; and it is for that reason'- as has often been said and cannot be said too often-that the Right. Hon. Ernest Lapointe, on September 9, 1939, speaking here in his own name as well as on behalf of his colleagues from our province, declared that the province of Quebec would never accept conscription for overseas service, that he was himself firmly opposed to conscription and that he would never be a member of a government that would attempt to enforce it.

The government of the province of Quebec, during the session that closed a few weeks ago, adopted a motion which concluded as follows: This house reiterates the unswerving will of all its members to support the best possible war effort, but expresses the wish that the dominion government abide by its policy of voluntary enlistment and do not enforce conscription for overseas service.

The premier of Quebec, in whom we have the utmost confidence, gave expression to the same views in a telegram addressed, on May 21 last to one of our colleagues, the hon. member for Hull (Mr. Fournier), in which he said:

You are no doubt aware that in a resolution presented before the Legislative Assembly, the very large majority of our members, having reiterated their firm determination to support a total war effort to final victory, have voted against conscription for overseas service, thus adopting the attitude which is that of the majority of our people and corresponds to the opinions which we have always expressed on the subject.

During the plebiscite, our people were not consulted on the merits or the principle of conscription; if such had been the case, possibly the results would have been different.

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The people of the St. Hyacinthe-Bagot constituency whom I have the honour to represent in this house, are opposed for the most part to conscription for overseas service; I have always opposed such a measure myself and my views remain unchanged.

The passage of a conscription bill for service overseas would be, in my humble opinion, an absolute denial of this profound truth stated in 1937 by possibly the most Canadian of our governors general, Lord Tweedsmuir, when he said:

She (Canada) is a sovereign nation and cannot take her attitude to the world docilely from Britain, or from the United States, or from anybody else. 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.

Moreover, we must not forget that we have absolutely no proof that it would be to Canada's true advantage to forego the voluntary system and resort to conscription for service overseas.

Finally, since the enemy is drawing closer to us and since the situation is becoming more and more threatening on the Atlantic as well as on the Pacific coasts, we should, as much as possible, look to the defence of our shores and our own territory.

No better proof of this statement can be found than the following news item which appeared in the evening papers to-day, after being a broadcast from Tokyo.

The radio broadcast from the Japanese capital announces to-day that a Japanese submarine shelled Vancouver Island, British Columbia, on Saturday night. It said: "This is the first attack against the Canadian mainland. Canada has thereby been shown that she is being attacked by axis naval forces both from the east and the west at one and the same time." The Tokyo station called attention to the fact that the attack against Vancouver Island followed within less than twenty days upon the raids made against Dutch Harbour and Midway. It recalled the shelling of the California coast on February 23, "which caused such consternation among the American people".

The Japanese station also added that, despite all statements to the contrary, the shelling of Vancouver Island has clearly shown that the United States and Canada are directly exposed to the danger of attack from the axis powers, both east and west, since German U-boats had attacked the Atlantic coast and even penetrated within the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The National Resources Mobilization Act, passed by parliament on June 18, 1940, restricts to Canadian territory and to the territorial waters of Canada compulsory military service in the army, navy or air forces.

Under the terms of that measure, the governor in council may do and authorize such acts and things, and make from time to time such orders and regulations, requiring persons

to place themselves, their services and their property at the disposal of his majesty in the right of Canada, as may be deemed necessary or expedient for securing the public safety, the defence of Canada, the maintenance of public order, or the efficient prosecution of the war, or for maintaining supplies or services essential to the life of the community.

But under section 3 of the act, it is definitely stated that the powers thus conferred upon the governor in council may be exercised, as far as compulsory military service is concerned, only, to conscript young Canadians for service within Canada and the territorial waters thereof.

When this measure was enacted two years ago we were told that the invasion of France and many other European countries placed our country in immediate danger, that the following weeks were to be a crucial period, that the time had come to mobilize to the utmost the resources of the nation, that it had become strictly necessary for the government to seek special powers from parliament and that the greatest possible dispatch was essential.

In such a case, the government could have proceeded by order in council, under the War Measures Act, because it gives them very wide powers. On the other hand, they could have turned to the sections of the Miilitia Act, authorizing them to put conscription into force, under the first paragraph of section 8, which says:

All the male inhabitants of Canada, of the age of eighteen years and upwards, and under sixty, not exempt or disqualified by law, and being British subjects, shall be liable to service in the militia: provided that the governor

general may require all the male inhabitants of Canada, capable of bearing arms, to serve in the case of a levee en masse.

Respecting the principles of our democratic system, the government did not want to resort to either of these two methods, but preferred to submit to parliament a very clear and explicit measure which would be in force for the duration of the war.

The government has shown us, and properly so, that this Mobilization Act of 1940, precisely because of section 3, constituted, not an extension but a restriction of powers with regard to conscription in our country.

Therefore, the government, while declaring once again that they would not impose conscription as long as they remained in office, did not go any further, under the Mobilization Act of 1940, than they were authorized to do so by means of a measure which has been in our statute book since confederation.

Such were the circumstances and the conditions under which the Mobilization Act was adopted in 1940. Such were the reasons and

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the considerations which led us to consent to the adoption of that measure, subject to the formal restrictions of clause 3, that is for the defence of Canada, but in Canada only. The right hon. Prime Minister declared, in 1940, that the introduction of a bill conscripting men for overseas would divide public opinion in this country as it had not been, fortunately, for a great number of years.

The situation in this respect is still unchanged, and public opinion is still strongly divided on whether this is the proper time to impose conscription for overseas service.

The purpose of Bill No. 80 which is being considered by the house, is to abrogate the positive restrictions which are to be found in section 3 of the Mobilization Act and which I have just mentioned, and such will be its result.

It should be added and made clear at once that, without this section 3 restricting compulsory military service to Canada, the National Resources Mobilization Act, 1940, might not have been endorsed by a majority of this house or, at least, by the very great majority of members from the province of Quebec; nor again, probably, by some hon. members from other provinces.

For the first time since the outbreak of this war, we are now facing a measure which, in my humble opinion, entails the acceptance of the principle of compulsory service overseas.

In the speech which he delivered in this house on November 12, 1941, the right hon. Prime Minister again stated the following in no uncertain terms:

I wish to make it clear that I am in favour of national selective and compulsory service for Canada, in Canada. I never took any other position. I have always held this opinion.

Mr. Speaker, sharing as I do the views of my leader, I cannot support the present measure nor could I subscribe to the principle of conscription for overseas service.

To my mind, in a country such as ours, the adoption of a measure directly or indirectly implying endorsation of the principle of compulsory service for overseas constitutes the main obstacle to the preservation of that unity and good understanding which are essential to victory and the maintenance of peace within our own country.

It was through disregard of this basic truth that, during the last war, the enactment of conscription for overseas service led to misunderstanding and resentment between the various provinces of this country. Yet I feel that the sad experience of 1917 and the wretched times that followed should serve as a salutary lesson. But this unity, Canada's essential requirement, especially in war time,

cannot exist unless the majority is prepared to respect the views of the minority and to reckon with its opinion. Such respect, regard, sacrifices and concessions must be mutual. Every citizen must contribute to this understanding by a fair share of good-will and sacrifice, out of regard for the common good and the rights of his neighbours, of whatever race, language or creed. Such is the treatment that the French-Canadian and Catholic majority of the province of Quebec generously and whole-heartedly grants the Englishspeaking and Protestant minority of that province. There is no other way of coming to an understanding and remaining united in case of danger, and it is the way to do our duty as patriots and good Canadians. The government, by way of compromise, and through a plebiscite, attempted to maintain unity in Canada, and this legislation was passed with the sole object of attaining that end. However, we must ask ourselves if the new bill now before the house is liable to restore peace, confidence and order in Canada.

Let us note, in passing, the observation made on the 18th instant by the right hon. Prime Minister in this house, concerning the result of the plebiscite in the province of Quebec. The hon. member for Cariboo (Mr. Turgeon) was criticizing an article published in the Ottawa Journal and had just quoted the following paragraph:

We would like to ask this question: If Quebec had voted "yes", would we not have had conscription immediately?

"We certainly would not," interjected the right hon. Prime Minister. In my humble opinion, it was in anticipation of what is happening to-day that the former minister of public works (Mr. Cardin) made this most important remark to the people of our province during the plebiscite campaign:

It may well be that the negative reply urged on you will bring you the opposite of what you are seeking.

That interjection by the Prime Minister, which I have just alluded to, seems to imply that the former minister of public works was right.

Every one knows that the province of Quebec has always been against conscription. She opposed it in 1917, and has done so to this day.

It would be useless to seek out and analyse in detail the strong reasons for this stand. As for myself and all my French-Canadian colleagues, we have always stood against conscription for overseas service.

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However, it would be wroug to assume that the French Canadians are the only ones who oppose this legislation. I say without hesitation that a very large section of the English-speaking population of this country fully shares the views and feelings of the people of Quebec in the matter. I claim that the results of the plebiscite-this has already been stated in the house-would have been entirely different had the question borne directly on the merits of conscription. In any event, in accepting this plebiscite legislation we have made a concession for the purpose of maintaining harmony and national unity in the country.

However, all this happened after promises were made and guarantees given that conscription for overseas service was out of the question. No one, at that time, stated that, immediately after the plebiscite results would be known, the National Resources Mobilization Act would be amended in such a way as to put on the statutes the principle of compulsory service for overseas. No one, at that time, warned us that, immediately after the holding of the plebiscite, we would be called upon to make the distinction between the adoption in a legislative measure, of the principle of conscription, and the ultimate enforcement of this legislation through orders in council which might or might not be submitted to parliament. We have been told that this plebiscite was held to release the government from moral obligations, from verbal commitments, but no one has ever warned us that it was intended to repeal parts of an act and thereby do away with statutory guarantees. If, in 1940, we consented to pass the mobilization act, it was because it contained this formal, explicit and clear guarantee of section 3, which states that the measure may apply only to Canada and not outside of its boundaries. The text of section 3, which the bill now under discussion proposes to strike out, is very clear. It reads as follows:

The powers conferred by the next preceding section may not be exercised for the purpose of requiring persons to serve in the military, naval or air forces outside of Canada and the territorial waters thereof.

It is now argued that the new measure submitted to parliament through this bill is only the logical consequence of the plebiscite. I cannot support that point of view. The object of this bill is indeed to have the principle of compulsory military service outside Canada recognized, accepted and approved through an act of parliament.

It is obvious and clear to me that such is the purpose of this bill. The issue is accordingly the acceptance of the principle of conscription, if not its immediate enforcement.

Consequently this measure has no connection with the plebiscite and is no consequence therefrom: first, because it was represented to us that conscription was not the issue, and second, because the question asked in the plebiscite did not imply the acceptance or rejection of the principle of conscription for overseas.

Mr. Speaker, by whom is the immediate enforcement of conscription for overseas service actually demanded in this country? In the first place, by the Conservative party, which has ever advocated conscription, a party whose main leaders are recruited among imperialists and which, in this house, has no longer any representative from the province of Quebec.

Conscription is also demanded by the high finance group, which includes the Toronto "Two Hundred," but I assert that neither those groups, nor the Orange order, reflect the feelings of the majority in this country.

But, even if we consider those people only, we may well inquire into the reasons on which they base such a demand, and try to ascertain why they advocate so strongly the immediate enforcement of conscription for overseas service. In my humble opinion, they have so far adduced no reason which might be considered as acceptable, good or valid.

The hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Hanson) has said that a total war effort cannot mean anything but total and unlimited conscription, and he has stated that we entered the war because Canada was a British country.

The hon. Minister of National War Services has rightly answered that argument in stating that we entered the conflict for a principle and on our own account.

At all events, I cannot see how a measure like the one that is now submitted to us could help the cause of our allies and also help our country's war aims, because we know that our present system of voluntary enlistment is more efficient than the form of conscription adopted in the United States and also because England herself is more than satisfied with our war effort which, after all, compares favourably with that of any other dominion.

The highest authorities in the old country, the British prime minister himself-, Mr. Churchill, as well as Lord Beaverbrook and other eminent men in public life who have honoured us with a visit, all said that Canada was doing her duty and contributing her full share in this war, and that her war effort- that was the term used-was simply


Mobilization Act-Mr. Fontaine

Why then, I repeat, should there be in our country a group clamouring for immediate adoption of total conscription for overseas service? . This overzealous and highly vocal group is clamouring to-day as they did in 1917, and presumably for the same deep-seated motives. They crave power, they want to profit by the war and accumulate profits and wealth, and a few of them are resentful and bitter toward the Freneh-Cana-dian and Catholic minority.

I know of nothing more stupid and ridiculous than those periodical appeals coming from a small group of extremists against a so-called danger of domination by the French and Catholic population of this country. In time of peace, such appeals may be nothing but stupidity but, in time of war, they become persecution and provocation and constitute a very grave threat to national unity.

We had several examples of that state of mind only recently. Since other members have already mentioned the matter, I shall quote as briefly as possible.

In a speech delivered in Toronto, Mr. J. W. Carson, grand master of the Grand Lodge of Western Ontario had this to say:

It is almost unbelievable that many leaders in the province of Quebec are still opposing a total war effort. How can loyal citizens, aware of the acts of cruelty of the enemy, persist in closing their eyes and try to prevent others from doing their duty and helping in the defeat of so barbarous an enemy?

According to a Canadian Press dispatch sent from Winnipeg on the 11th instant, Mr. T. T. Shields, of Toronto, who is president of the Canadian Protestant League, is reported to have stated in a speech he delivered in that city, that "the Catholic church is the most dangerous fifth column in any country in the present war", and to have added:

The Roman Catholic Church is the greatest and most profitable "racket" in the world; it is responsible for the opposition shown bv the French Canadians of the province of Quebec to conscription, and it enjoys in Canada a privileged position.

According to another dispatch from the Canadian Press, the same reverend gentleman is reported to have made here in Ottawa, very recently, a speech in which he repeated substantially the same charges he had uttered against the Roman Catholic church a few days previously in Winnipeg, adding further, according to_ the report, that, to his mind, the Catholic faith is the most powerful force of evil in the whole world, and that . . .

The real prime minister of Canada is Cardinal yilleneuve. the archbishop of Quebec, and that is why we have no conscription but only a partial war effort.

Finally, he is reported to have added that, "Roman Catholicism is not a form of Christianity but the negation of all Christianity."

According to another Canadian Press dispatch, dated June 17, from Toronto, Colonel A. T. Kidd of Kingston, supreme chief of the Grand Lodge of Orangemen in America, is reported to have said at the 112th annual convention of this lodge, held in this city, that the policy of the order of Orangemen was based on total conscription of wealth, industry and men. He is quoted as having said:

We have always taken the stand that Canada's future is linked with that of the British empire, and to-day we demand total participation in this war of the British empire. Canada's war effort is not sufficiently imperialistic and I regret to say that this war effort does not go beyond certain limits dictated to the government by the province of Quebec.

Mr. Speaker, I do not believe it necessary to answer in detail those assertions and statements made by sectarians, by men who are evidently, in the majority of cases, suffering from a disease which Le Canada recently termed cases of religious mania. But it may be advisable, since one of those assertions mentioned Cardinal Villeneuve and since we are to celebrate in our province, day after to-morrow, our national holiday of "la Saint-Jean-Baptiste",-and I hope you will allow me to do so, Mr. Speaker, for the enlightenment of that pastor who spoke such words about a person highly respected and venerated in the province of Quebec-it may be advisable to call the attention of this house to the fine definition of patriotism given a few years ago by Cardinal Villeneuve, when he wrote in the official bulletin of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste society:

Patriotism is such a many-shaded virtue that its practice is difficult. Some fail to recognize it, others misconstrue it. It should be understood to consist in an enlightened and generous, unrestricted yet well ordained love for each and every one of the many and varied constituent elements of a country. In times such as ours, when wild nationalistic doctrines have followed upon a pernicious internationalism, a patriotism born of faith should be fostered. It stands midway between those two extremes, not through a combination of excesses on the one hand and cowardice on the other, but by establishing the lofty dominance of justice and love over egotism both racial and individual.

It might be well to quote, incidentally, another authorized representative of the Catholic church, not from the province of Quebec this time, but from England. Cardinal Hinsley, primate of the Roman Catholic church in Great Britain, commenting upon the interests at stake in the present conflict, stated not long ago:

Mobilization Act-Mr. Fontaine

Totalitarianism, whether in its Italian or in its nazi or its communistic form, is diametrically opposed to the Catholic doctrine of the individual value of the human soul. There can be no peace between those who believe that the individual is a child of God and those who teach that he is but a slave of the state.

And on September 29, 1941, the feast of St. Michael, the same Cardinal Hinsley sent a message to the French Canadians:

To my Canadian friends and brothers.

I greet the spirit of Canada! That spirit is made of loyalty to the cause of freedom, for in faith lies the true freedom of true democracy. There lies the bond that unites us in this world conflict. I had the pleasure of seeing your soldiers, strong and faithful men, true sons of a great nation. I had the privilege of speaking to them. .

We are fighting for the defence of the faith against the powers of paganism, that is to say against the beast condemned by St. John- against the spirit of the sovereignty of hatred. Victory will be achieved through love, through the gospel of Christ. Canada claims her heroic share in this victory-the victory of love-inspiring faith. _

Long live Canada-long live the Canadian people! May God bless you all and reward you for the generosity 9f your nation in her steadfast practice of Christian duties.

A. Cardinal Hinsley.

After such statements, Mr. Speaker, I feel it unnecessary for me to answer, as regards both the French-speaking Canadians and the Roman Catholic church, those stupid and ridiculous outcries heard recently in a rather disconcerting chorus, from people apparently imbued with a narrow and sectarian disposition, who spread insults and abuse directed at the French-Canadian and Catholic minority in this country.

So far, the voluntary system of enlistment has given, in this country, very satisfactory results. Our population is a mere eleven and a half million inhabitants. At the end of 1941, according to figures given in this house, our army was 500,000 strong, and the volunteers numbered 430,000. The government estimates, and it has consistently repeated this statement, that it will be possible during the current year to enlist about 100,000 men; this would bring our army, at the beginning of 1943, to a strength of 600,000 men, or 6 per cent of the total population of the country. Assuming that, in accordance with official estimates, an average of 20 civilians is required to maintain a soldier in the ranks and if, besides, we take into account the men who are physically unfit for military or various otheT services, it is amply proved, by these figures, that Canada is doing as much if not more in proportion to her population, than the other allied countries. Furthermore, what practical results would follow conscription? Needless to say that such a measure would be

absolutely useless unless it were implemented; but supposing it were enforced, how many men would it yield for our army? How many men would be drawn from agriculture, munitions factories and essential war industries? It is always imperative, to revert to the view that, in the present circumstances, conscription, far from being necessary, would be harmful. It would have practically no effect on the strength of our army. It would only serve to raise great obstacles and difficulties in the way of its enforcement. It would destroy national unity and seriously hamper our war effort.

These are the reasons why, Mr. Speaker, although remaining true to my party, its best traditions, its programme and principles, I feel compelled to vote against the bill now-before the house.

A few days ago, the hon. Minister of Mines and Resources (Mr. Crerar) stated here:

I would ask those who are not partisan-blind to take account of the efforts of the government . . . and to recognize that the one factor of the conscription of men for overseas is not the most important thing necessary to enable Canada to prosecute an effective war effort. That must fall in its proper perspective, together with everything else; and if it does not, then we are weakening rather than strengthening our effort.

I think that the hon. Minister of Mines and Resources was indeed right when he made that statement in the house. What is most important and most necessary to-day, what is essential to our war effort, is not the conscription of men for military service overseas; it is production in all the spheres which are in any way related to this war effort; farm production, foodstuff production, aircraft plant production, shipbuilding yard production, gun and munition production for war purposes, forest production, mine production. All this can be summed up in the appeal made last year by the hon. Prime Minister of England, Mr. Churchill, when he exclaimed: "Give us the tools, and we will finish the job."

Nobody in the province of Quebec is willing to give up the freedom and the democratic system under which we live in this country.

Whilst she remains strongly opposed to conscription for overseas service, Quebec, since the beginning of this war, has made and will continue to make her share of sacrifices, and she will continue to fulfil her duty in order to defend Christian civilization, maintain democracy, smash the aggressor and attain the final victory which will guarantee us peace, happiness and liberty.

We have been told during this debate-I think it was the hon. member for North Battleford (Mrs. Nielsen) who said so-that French Canada had no leaders at the present

Mobilization Act-Mr.. Fontaine

time. I deem it my duty to protest against such an erroneous statement. We French Canadians are proud to have as leaders and representatives such prominent statesmen, such sincere patriots as Cardin, Godbout and St. Laurent; men of courage, of talent and of devotion, who are in no way inferior to their predecessors and whose names also will rank among the greatest in our Canadian history. They have, in their respective fields, the ambition, the energy and the will to properly represent their fellow citizens in this war, to lead them wisely and honestly, and they have the firm determination conscientiously to fulfil all their obligations as faithful patriots and true Canadians.

Canada entered this war because she was forced to take up arms to safeguard her rights and privileges unjustly violated and to guard against unprovoked aggression.

Our young Canadians without distinction of race, language or creed, are ready to do their duty loyally, courageously and generously by their country threatened with invasion.

Since the outbreak of war, we have offered up to the Almighty our humble prayers for those who, on land, on sea and in the air, have given their lives for this cause which we hold dear, for the triumph of peace and justice. We pray and will continue to pray that divine Providence may grant us an early peace, a favourable and lasting peace, based on understanding not hatred, on mutual respect not contempt. Let us hope that this gospel of harmony, peace and charity will be put into practice in our country by all the elements of our population. Only on these terms and through this means will it be possible to make Canada a greater, more united, more prosperous and more beautiful country.

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May 20, 1942


Is it the intention of the government to arrange for any concession to farmers whereby, while remaining under the coupon system, they could secure gasoline by the barrel as heretofore?

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May 19, 1942


Mr. Chairman, I had prepared an address which was to have taken the whole forty minutes, but after the remarks of the hon. member for Wellington North (Mr. Blair), I have condensed it from forty minutes to four minutes. I do not intend to make any general remarks because this has been attended to quite well by other speakers, but I do want to bring two or three suggestions to the attention of the minister, and I do not do this in any critical spirit. Notwithstanding any remarks to the contrary, and for the most part they have been given in a fine spirit, I want to congratulate the minister upon the full, frank and exhaustive resume which he has given of the work of his department. That department started not long ago from scratch, and in a marvellously short time it has built up all across this country an edifice of which the average Canadian citizen is not fully aware. It has done this with a speed and with a degree of stability that is simply astounding to those who study what has been done-600 contracts in a day, 400 planes in a month, 600,000 Canadian citizens working in war-time production. That is the record of which any minister might well be proud. As I said, however, I did not rise to speak in general terms.

A few days ago I received a resolution which I should like to bring to the attention of the minister. This was adopted by the rural municipality of Daly, Manitoba. I think I know all the members of this rural council, and they are not the critical type. They desire to help, and anything they say in this resolution is with that end in view. We keep coming back to this gasoline question, which is a burning question in more respects than one. The resolution reads:

Whereas farmers are not allowed to buy gasoline by the barrel under the oil ration regulations and in numerous eases must travel many miles to procure same, thereby losing valuable working hours and wasting gas travelling to and from town unnecessarily, therefore the council of the rural municipality of Daly respectfully request the oil controller to allow farmers to buy gasoline by the barrel as heretofore, having the coupons deleted from their ration books, which action would prove a saving on gasoline and allow farmers more time to attend to their farming operations.

Respectfully submitted.

Some of these things may not appear important to many hon. members, but with respect to rural conditions they are o-f prime

War Appropriation-Supplies

importance. These men are all short-handed for farm labour, which is also an important question. In many instances farmers have to leave their work on the farm, go perhaps two or three miles to their homes, prepare for their trip into town, take a chance when they go out to their cars on having a flat tire because of the poor quality of tires now being used, try to get into town at least half an hour before the closing hour, and then find a congestion of other cars waiting to be served. They would like to be able to buy gasoline by the barrel against their coupons, and I am placing their request before the minister.

There is another matter, one which I think has been raised by other hon. members. I have received a good many letters urging that some change be made in the regulations so that farmers can go in and buy gasoline at least two evenings in the week at an hour later than that prescribed by the regulations. The farmers find they have to lose too much time when they must reach the station before the present closing hour. As I say, they are not making this suggestion in any critical spirit; it is only in an effort to conserve time and gasoline, which is, I think, a most praiseworthy motive.

Another suggestion I have to make is that the department take some steps to see to it that certain service station operators and many of those in other lines of business who have been practically put out of business because of the present regulations should be taken care of in some other line of work. These people have claims upon the public; they have built up their business over a term of years, and some of them are now forced to close their doors. There is other work that most of these men can do to advantage, and I suggest that in any openings which may be available they be not subject to the regulations of the civil service commission. In saying that, I am casting no reflection upon that commission; I have no reason to do so, but I think the tests should be reliability and ability to do the job. Any man who can pass these two tests should get preference.

I was glad to hear the minister say that as far as possible smaller companies, garages and others who have suffered severely because of certain restrictions, will be given every preference possible. I have always been a believer, and I am more so to-day, in the decentralization of industry. I do not think it is a healthy condition for any country to have its industries centralized. I am glad to know that the minister is aware of the advisability of taking care of these smaller institutions as far as is practicable. That is all I have to say.

I Mr. Matthews.]

First, I suggest that our farmers should be put to the least possible inconvenience in filling their gasoline requirements. Second, I suggest that service station operators who are suffering because of the present regulations be given some preference whenever the occasion offers. Third, I suggest that the smaller repair and manufacturing companies in this country be given an advantage wherever possible over the larger centres of industry.

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May 6, 1941

Mr. J. E. MATTHEWS (Brandon):

Mr. Speaker, I have never intruded unnecessarily on the time of the house, but to-night I should like to say a few words about that famous budget speech we heard a week ago. I would join with other hon. members in extending hearty congratulations to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) upon his clear, concise and courageous presentation. It was not tlie type of budget he or any other minister of finance would wish to deliver. Nevertheless it was a speech which will go down in history, and was undoubtedly the most important and far-reaching budget which up to this time has ever been delivered in Canada.

The minister has not shrunk from his colossal task. He has given us the plain, cold facts, without any sugar-coating; and in doing that, he has rendered a signal service to the Canadian people. His frankness, his earnestness, his absorbing grasp of the financial situation appealed to me most strongly. While he was speaking, I thought again, as I have thought before, of the sagacity of the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) and his genius in selecting for his cabinet men so peculiarly fitted for the performance of their respective duties.

I would congratulate the leader of the opposition (Mr. Hanson) upon what I considered was a very fair, moderate and desirable criticism of the budget speech. I believe that his observations appealed to all hon. members in every section of the house. I believe that what I have said might apply equally to the remarks of most other hon. members who so far have spoken.

It is my intention to offer a few words of criticism of the opposition groups in the house for the delay they have caused in getting along with the business of the country. I hope what I shall say will not be considered unfair. To my mind much of that delay has been unreasonable and unnecessary. Much of it has been caused by the asking day after day of irrelevant questions, the answering of which has taken considerable time. Much of that delay has been caused by monotonous and meaningless discussion.

For these reasons I wish to speak for a very few minutes as the representative of the largest and most populous constituency in Canada;

I refer to the constituency of overburdened and long-suffering taxpayers. When I use the expression "overburdened and long-suffering", I mean exactly what I say. I greatly regret there is not time to develop that thought to-night in the way I should have liked to do. I shall take time for only one practical illustration, and- it is this: These

sessions of parliament cost money. Yes, they cost a lot of money. Every day this house is in session unnecessarily means an added drain upon the pockets of the taxpayers. I often wish some of our taxpayers-thousands of them from all parts of Canada-could take their places in these galleries-

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