Before this section carries I should like to say a word or two on the subject of information. I had hoped to be able to make these remarks yesterday but the minister of information was away on business, so I should like to avail myself of his presence here to-day to say just a word or two on this subject.
There is no need to emphasize to this house or any other body the importance of information during this war; it cannot be exaggerated. All I wish to do is urge upon the government that the very excellent work described in the minister's statement of March 7 should be carried on and extended with all the pressure and urgency that the minister, with his very great ability, can bring to bear. Obviously, early in the war this government decided that it would not be proper for it to issue propaganda in the United States. With that decision I think every hon. member of this house was thoroughly in accord; and when friends in the United States asked me why we Canadians were not telling about the things we were doing in the war I always answered by saying, "Is it not much better that we should
say too little than that we should say too much?" I think everyone who has thought about the matter was in thorough agreement with that policy, but we see where it brought us on several occasions. Representative Maas and Senator Nye, two of the leading isolationists in the United States, urged upon the United States congress and senate that Canada was not playing its part in the war, that we were not matching the United States lease-lend effort. In the United States our war effort was not thoroughly appreciated, and we did not have the flow of tourists backward and forward through which we might carry on those normal, friendly contacts we have always had with our neighbours to the south. In the New York Times of yesterday Mr. P. J. Phillips says that Canada's ban on publicity in the United States is to be lifted. I certainly hope that we are going to give more information in the United States, for a good many reasons which must be obvious to all. If we are to continue to have the close, friendly relations with the United States that we always have had and should always have, the United States must understand what we are doing, and we must express ourselves, our aims and our actions, to the people of that country.
This week, Mr. Chairman, there is an added reason for taking this matter more seriously. The London Economist in its current issue is reported to state that we in Canada should have a lease-lend bill like that of the United States. There again what we are doing is not properly understood, and with all respect I suggest to the minister that here is another opportunity for his department and the other branches of the government to increase the work they are doing abroad.
I suggest also that there is room for an intensification of information service at home. The fact that this debate has gone on for twenty-one days indicates that there is a lack of appreciation of what is being done. Had even more information been given, it is possible that the debate would not have lasted as long as it has. But I suggest that the way to give information, in addition to giving it here in the house, is through the press releases issued by the government in the ordinary course.
Within the last few days I had the very great privilege of visiting Halifax harbour and Sussex camp, and of seeing aeroplane factories and munitions works. I was immensely impressed with what I saw and with the appearance of the alert, fit men who are doing our jobs for us in those places. I suggest that if all the members of this committee had seen what there is to be seen of our war work in the various camps, ports and munitions works, a great deal of the
War Appropriation Bill
criticism that has been expressed here during the last few weeks never would have been uttered at all. There I saw men from all parts of Canada, men of whom any part of Canada might be proud. We cannot bring all the people to the Halifax and Sussex camps, but we can bring Halifax harbour and the Sussex camp to the people by means of the movies and broadcasting and the publications of the department of information. This department has been doing most useful work. The films that have been prepared are magnificent, but I think more can be done to bring home to the people of Canada a realization of the wonderful work that is being done and that is too often deprecated here and elsewhere.
It is exceedingly difficult in Canada to translate this figure of $1,300,000,000 into munitions, planes, tanks and trained men and women working eight-hour shifts, day and night, turning out things necessary for our security. Unless this can be visualized by the people and by this house, then it is apt to be felt that this sum represents just so much money or so much talk. What a story there is to tell! It is a story of which every Canadian should be proud. During the last eighteen months we have multiplied our air force tenfold, our army fortyfold and our navy tenfold. Each day we are raising and spending $2,700,000, while in the last war the figure was only $117,000. The expenditures for which we are providing in this appropriation, together with the amounts required for the repatriation of securities, are five times the expenditures during the corresponding period of the last war, and more than the entire cost of the last war. That is the picture the people need to see. That is why I say this figure must be translated into things they can see and words they can understand. That is the job the department of information has been doing, the job that I hope it will do more thoroughly as time goes on.
These are difficult times, Mr. Chairman. We are at perhaps the most serious stage of the war. These are times that try men's souls. We need, and the government need, all the support and help they can get from every source, and I suggest that the department of information has a task to perform in telling the story so that the government may get that support. The exploits of our men in the air, the indomitable courage of our merchant marine, the endurance of the people of England have won the admiration of the world and have called forth our gratitude day by day. In the air, on land and at sea the heroic age has returned to our race, and that is the story that should be told.
Topic: WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic: PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY