Charles Gavan POWER

POWER, The Hon. Charles Gavan, P.C., B.A., LL.L.

Personal Data

Quebec South (Quebec)
Birth Date
January 18, 1888
Deceased Date
May 30, 1968

Parliamentary Career

December 17, 1917 - October 4, 1921
  Quebec South (Quebec)
December 6, 1921 - September 5, 1925
  Quebec South (Quebec)
October 29, 1925 - July 2, 1926
  Quebec South (Quebec)
September 14, 1926 - May 30, 1930
  Quebec South (Quebec)
July 28, 1930 - August 14, 1935
  Quebec South (Quebec)
October 14, 1935 - January 25, 1940
  Quebec South (Quebec)
  • Minister of Pensions and National Health (October 23, 1935 - September 18, 1939)
  • Postmaster General (September 19, 1939 - May 22, 1940)
March 26, 1940 - April 16, 1945
  Quebec South (Quebec)
  • Postmaster General (September 19, 1939 - May 22, 1940)
  • Minister of National Defence for Air and Associate Minister of National Defence (May 23, 1940 - November 26, 1944)
  • Minister of National Defence for Air (May 23, 1940 - November 26, 1944)
  • Minister of National Defence (June 11, 1940 - July 4, 1940)
  • Associate Minister of National Defence (July 12, 1940 - November 26, 1944)
June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
  Quebec South (Quebec)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
  Quebec South (Quebec)
August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
  Quebec South (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 5 of 1532)

March 13, 1952

Hon. C. G. Power (Quebec South):

Mr. Speaker, I propose to make a few observations with respect to the redistribution of seats in the House of Commons, or the readjustment of representation. I am fully aware that there is before the house at the moment a bill standing in the name of the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent), and that at the last session there was a bill standing in my name, and that both these bills deal with the readjustment of representation in the House of Commons.

This evening I do not propose to do anything more than speak in a broad and general way as to the methods adopted in carrying out the redistribution of representation in the house. Methods of redistribution have been talked about in the house as far back as the earliest days following confederation. In 1903 Sir Wilfrid Laurier, then leader of the government, asked the house to adopt

The Address-Mr. Power a system involving a change from the system which theretofore had been in effect. The old system consisted in the government of the day bringing down a bill to which was attached a schedule, and it was then the duty of the house to indulge in a dog-fight in the house with respect to it, rather than to discuss the matter in committee with a certain amount of acrimony, as has occurred in subsequent years.

Since 1903 suggestions have been made that the method be changed. In 1937 a committee was asked to study methods of redistribution in effect in other countries, and in other parts of the commonwealth. In 1938 the same study was made, and again in 1939. In 1940, as a member of the government of the day, I was instructed by that government to prepare a bill and introduce it to the house, the purpose of which was to set up a commission which would proceed to the preparation of a scheme of redistribution which would afterwards, naturally, be submitted to the house for approval or otherwise. I am fully aware also that, because the cold war had terminated and the real war had begun, that bill was left by the wayside. No attempt in the way of legislation was made since that time, until we reached the last session.

I am fully aware also that neither the bill which is introduced by the government.-and I say that just in passing-nor that which I sponsored at the last session, proposed any change in the method of sharing seats as between provinces. Both of them propose to adhere to the constitutional amendments, as we have them from 1867 to date. I say that because I do not propose to discuss this evening the opportunity or otherwise of endeavouring to amend the constitution in order to prevent the losing of a certain number of seats by any of the provinces.

The principal argument used in the house- and it is a perfectly good alibi: I used it myself at the time of the last redistribution- against setting up a redistribution commission is the time element. It is true that to proceed to obtain a scheme of redistribution from an outside, non-partisan commission would take a considerable period of time. First of all, the house itself or some committee thereof would have to discuss the matter. Secondly, it would be obliged to lay down certain precepts or principles to be adopted by the commission it set up. Then the commission itself would have to make a study of conditions across the country, and finally make a report which, necessarily, would have to be submitted to the house for passage and adoption. That, to me, is not a peremptory reason for neglecting to study methods of redistribution other than that now in force in this country.

[Mr. Fower.l

If the government feels it must have a readjustment during this year, then I suppose it is quite within its rights and its responsibilities to proceed to this readjustment by the most rapid manner possible. After all, no one in the house, except members of the government, knows when the dissolution will take place. The government alone has the right to advise the crown as to when such dissolution should take place. So that it is rather difficult for any of us to cavil at the decision of the government to have what I might call a short-term plan.

What I should like to suggest to the house is that there should be no difficulty, no incongruity in a committee, other than the one being set up to effect redistribution, making a study of other methods which could be put into effect. I suggest that the committee on privileges and elections might meet simultaneously with the committee on redistribution to study other methods which might be more effective, more equitable and more in the interests of the Canadian people as a whole. Such a study need not interfere with the progress of the redistribution bill. I would anticipate that such a study would be improved by the experience which new members would have of the difficulties and turmoil and troubles of the persons who are endeavouring to carry on equitable distribution by the means presently available.

I would rather anticipate that the righteous among us would feel that they were strengthened in their support of a non-parti-sajn scheme of redistribution by what they will see if the committee runs true to form and follows what has occurred in past years. From what will be seen in the committee I anticipate that even those who profit from the manipulation will possibly want to consider some other means of redistribution in the hope that by a sort of tardy repentance they may obtain ultimate forgiveness.

The point I wish to make is that there seems to be no earthly reason, if we hope to achieve a proper redistribution once and for all, a proper scheme of redistribution for the whole country, why a study thereof should be restricted to perhaps the year after a general election. In almost every other year we are apt to be told, "It is too late; we must get ready for the next election; we cannot carry on with a scheme of redistribution for the last election, we must have the new one." It seems to me that if a new method is desired, almost any time is the time to study it.

Now as to the reasons for an alteration in the methods. I venture to say that even members of the government are prepared to admit that the present system is untidy, is

haphazard, is unsatisfactory and, above all, does not carry with it the conviction of the Canadian people that it is fair. It is true that nowadays in our idolatry of material success, in our following of the cult of win at any cost, we have departed in our morals, in our finances, in our politics and, worst of all, in our sports from our former and ancient ethical standards. But even today I am convinced that the public are not prepared to take as an accepted standard anything which even, unjustly or wrongly, they suspect of being the product of manipulation. Stacking the cards and cogging the dice are still not considered and looked upon as gentlemanly and sportsmanlike accomplishments, even in politics.

I would not want in any way to cast aspersions on hon. members who were members of former committees of former parliaments which passed the various redistribution bills, but the suspicion exists in the public mind that those redistributions had for their primary motive political advantage or personal political interests. It seems to me that the time has now come when the members of this house should endeavour to dissipate that suspicion that exists in the minds of the public.

I suggest that that can best be done by providing a new basic and fundamental procedure. Nothing but a new deal, approved of by this House of Commons, can satisfactorily dissipate some of the inequalities presently existing, some of which have sanction of history and tradition, others of which were based on what was considered in those days, and perhaps even in these days, as sound principles. But with all the good will and non-partisanship in the world, I submit that it would be extremely difficult for this house by itself, without the assistance of someone from outside, to endeavour to equalize the inequalities which presently exist. I suggest that the pressures which will come upon us from fair-minded, civic-minded citizens who are imbued with a sense of tradition and the importance of the localities in which they live, will be such that it will be a most difficult burden for the members of the house to bear.

In making our past redistributions we have thought in terms of personalities and parties, the constituency as related to personalities, whereas in a truly democratic state we should be looking at the constituency in the terms of the electors. I have been reading, and I commend it to members of this house who are interested in redistribution, a work entitled "The Canadian House of Commons" by Norman Ward, professor of economics at

The Address-Mr. Power Saskatchewan university. There is a very interesting and instructive chapter on redistribution, and I quote one sentence which he attributes to the late Right Hon. Mr. Mackenzie King and which can be found in 1932-33 Hansard at page 5468, as follows:

Mr. King said:

Anyone reading the Hansard report . . . must realize to how small an extent the redistribution being effected at the moment is based upon the foundational principle of the division of the various constituencies according to the general interest of the country as a whole.

I continue with Mr. Ward:

Although this statement was being applied speci-ficially to the fiasco of 1933, it could be made with equal force concerning even the most peaceful of the eight redistributions which have occurred thus far.

On page 46 Mr. Ward goes on to say:

At one time or another in this contentious history, as we have seen, no less than four principles have been followed: the use of local boundary lines; the adoption of relatively large urban divisions; the establishment of contact divisions; and the equalization of population. But one or more of these principles has always been applied in relation to the wishes of a majority of the House of Commons, and when it has been expedient not to observe a principle, it has been conveniently forgotten.

I suggest that a drastic major operation is needed, not the mere lancing of a boil or two here or there on the body politic; and, moreover, that the longer the operation is deferred the worse will be the disease and the condition of the patient.

Now I should like to suggest to the majority of this house another consideration, that of just what political advantage is derived by the effecting of a redistribution by the party in power. As my friends and associates from Quebec know well, I have never been a white-plumed Sir Galahad constantly seeking the Holy Grail of electoral purity. I look at these matters rather from the standpoint of the hard-boiled politician; and I say to my friends and to myself: what is there to gain by even a manipulated redistribution? I look back at the pages of history within my own recollection and beyond it. I start by studying the very interesting brochure written by MacGregor Dawson entitled "The Gerrymander of 1882" in which Mr. Dawson, after a very earnest and sincere *study of what historically has been considered the worst redistribution we have ever suffered, comes to the conclusion that Sir John Macdonald and his followers gained nothing whatever at the election which followed the redistribution. On the contrary they lost a great many votes in the gerrymandered seats and more than held their own in the seats which had not been gerrymandered.

The Address-Mr. Power

Now I come to 1914, which is within the recollection of a great many of us. In that year the government of Sir Robert Borden effected a redistribution; but those who have observed the political history of that day I think will come to the conclusion that had the House of Commons not extended its term but held an election in 1916, there was more than a good prospect that the opponents of Sir Robert Borden would have come into power. It is quite true that when 1917 came on, with a question which was of vital interest to people all across the country, then questions of redistribution no longer entered into the discussion in any way whatever, and no longer could be counted upon to sway the balance of power from one side to the other.

In 1924 a redistribution was made by the government of the late Mr. King. At that time there were no representatives on the Conservative side from the province of Quebec, so it is to be assumed that had the Liberals in that province wished they could have worked their wicked way. But in 1925 the Liberals were defeated at the polls. Mr. Meighen was returned with 116 seats while the Liberals had 101. If the government remained in power it was due entirely to something else than redistribution. In 1930 the Conservatives came into power on the 1924 distribution.

Following the same line of argument, the Conservatives had a much discussed redistribution committee in 1933. There was bitter controversy in this house over that redistribution. It was alleged to be the most notorious of all the gerrymanders that had taken place. Yet in 1935 the Liberals were returned to power with a very great majority. I do not speak of 1947 because, whatever may have been done by the committee of that year, I do not think anyone will allege that the overwhelming majority the government obtained in 1949 was due to the redistribution.

There is another reason. I have reached the conclusion that nowadays people are not, as the Gilbert and Sullivan play said, all born little Liberals or little Conservatives. There is no longer the same allegiance to party lines. Professor A. R. M. Lower, now of Queen's university, had a very interesting article in the Canadian Historical Review of September, 1946, on what he called "Determinism in politics". In discussing it with him I call it political predestination. He starts with a very amusing dissertation on two well known men then in public life, the Right Hon. Mr. King and the Right Hon. Arthur Meighen. He discusses their physical characteristics and comes to the conclusion, as Shakespeare did, that those who have a lean and hungry look

are apt to be radical whereas those who are more rotund are apt to be conservative. He comes to the conclusion that he was wrong in that case. In comparing Mr. Meighen with Mr. King, his premises do not work out to *their logical conclusion. But he does give some interesting accounts of what he -calls predeterminism arising out of racial reasons, religious reasons and sometimes out of economic reasons.

In speaking of Winnipeg where he lived for some time, and I paraphrase in far cruder language than Professor Lower used, he mentions one constituency of which he knew, in which it would appear that the people who lived in the mansions voted Tory; those who lived in the houses voted Grit; and those who lived in the shacks probably voted C.C.F. If I have the time, the members of the house would be interested, perhaps, in reading of a riding about which he speaks in the following terms:

Group allegiance has decided many an election in Canada; in fact it may have decided most. In the riding known best to the author of this paper, there is a township of Scottish Presbyterians, who always lose their votes, and another of Irish Roman Catholics, who also lose their votes: they both vote Liberal. The solid mass of the riding is north of Ireland. Since confederation, it has never elected anyone but a Conservative. Whatever the issue of the day, personal observation forces the conviction that, as the average elector in that riding goes into the polling booth, he sees rising up between him and his ballot images of William of Orange and the Pope. He accordingly puts an X opposite the Conservative candidate's name, thus winning over again the battle of the Boyne.

May I say to my friends from Quebec also that many times we have won the battle of St. Eustache, and many another time, poor unfortunate Riel has been hanged from the hustings. My contention is that what he calls group allegiance has largely disappeared, and that from the past few elections we would almost come to the conclusion that people do not vote by sections; they do not vote by organizations; they do not vote by race; and they do not vote by religion. Even within families, the call of party loyalty is far less potent than it was. I venture to say that men and women under thirty-five, perhaps even under forty, are no longer influenced by party slogans and party shibboleths.

If hon. members here will agree with that theory, then I suggest to them that it is a waste of time and a waste of our tempers and a waste of our patience to endeavour to hive the Grits, shepherd the Tories or segregate the C.C.F. when few of us, if any, can tell with any certainty just where the habitat of the Grits, the Tories or the C.C.F. is. Under these circumstances the system which we have is not an equitable one. From a

material, political-gain standpoint it does not do any good. I suggest to the government and to this house that we endeavour seriously, by some studies, to arrive at a method which will be more in line with our democratic thought.

I suppose I shall be asked what motives I have for all this agitation. The answer is simply this. I have been here for a long time, and I have been associated with this House of Commons for a still longer time.

I have come to feel all its moods and tenses.

I know its frailties and its greatness. I can even stand, Mr. Speaker, for the pomp and ceremony of it, though I must say that I enjoy the coarse ribaldry that sometimes occurs. In all this time I have learned to admire this House of Commons as an institution, almost to venerate it. I would regret to see it do anything which would lower it in the opinion of the people of Canada, and greatly desire to see it do something which would elevate it in the opinion of the people.


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December 10, 1951

Mr. Power:

This bill is to set up a commission of three members, whose duty it will be to draw a plan for the division of the provinces of Canada into electoral districts in accordance with the provisions of section 51 of the British North America Act, as enacted by the British North America Act, 1946.

This proposal is not a new one. It has been bandied back and forth across the floor of this house since 1889. I had the honour of being given the task of preparing a bill for presentation to this house in 1940, but owing to the abrupt conclusion of the session of that date it was not proceeded with. The details of the bill are somewhat complex and are likely to be controversial. It is for that reason I am asking permission to introduce the bill so that it may be distributed to the members, and it will be reintroduced next session.

Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.

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February 6, 1951

Hon. C. G. Power (Quebec South):

Some hon. gentleman earlier in this debate made the statement that in his opinion this session of the House of Commons would be devoted largely to the discussion of international affairs. To some extent I agree with him; but I think his attention should be called to the fact that there are many weighty

matters of domestic concern which will have to be debated and discussed during the present session.

To some extent I am inclined to agree with him because it is impossible to get a true picture of the over-all situation of Canada at the present time unless one gives at least some consideration to the relationship of Canada to the United Nations organization and to world affairs.

Just over 30 years ago in this house I opposed the subscription of Canada to the covenant of the league of nations; and some years later, in 1923, I introduced a resolution calling upon Canada to withdraw from the league of nations. Nevertheless I cannot claim the prescience of having opposed the entry of Canada into the United Nations organization because at that time the wave of idealism for the brotherhood of man and of enthusiasm swept the world and encompassed Canada itself. But permit me to say, sir, as one who has never made any claim to an extensive or intensive study of external affairs, and who knows no more of the proceedings of the United Nations than that which he gleaned from the headlines in newspapers or from the radio commentators, that in my humble opinion, whatever may be said in favour of the United Nations organization -and much can be said and has been said by its supporters and apologists-certainly we can no longer say that it will bring about peace in this world. Nor can it be said that the United Nations of itself can prevent aggression by a major power or its satellites.

In order to endeavour to assure ourselves of a somewhat uneasy peace we are obliged perhaps not to disregard the United Nations organization but at least to set it aside in favour of the Atlantic treaty. Let me say at the outset of my remarks on this subject that I favour the Atlantic treaty; but let me also say that in placing most of our faith and confidence on what can be accomplished out of that pact and that treaty we are returning to that which we have condemned and reviled in the past, namely, power politics.

I can see little or no difference between the state of the world as it exists at the present time and the state of the world as it was immediately prior to and during the seven years war, the Napoleonic wars and the first world war. Now as then, nations, desiring to preserve their autonomy and their liberty against the encroachment of mon-archial or dictatorial tyrants, had been obliged to band themselves together in combinations or coalitions; now, as in that time, the weaker nations are obliged to call on the

stronger ones for subsidies for arms, and for the furnishing of armed forces.

Now, as in former times, there are satellite wars and undeclared wars. Prior to the seven years war the English were fighting the French in America, and the French were fighting the English in India for months and perhaps years, long before their governments and courts declared that a state of war existed. So that if my conjecture is the right one, and we are dependent almost entirely, for the preservation of peace in the world and for the prevention of aggression, upon the construction of a wall of peace against Russian aggression in Europe, then we have returned to the realm of world politics and of power politics.

As I said before, I am not opposing the Atlantic pact; but I would like it to be placed in its true light before the people of this country, and before the members of the house. I believe that at the present time the combination of the Atlantic nations is probably the only thing which will save the liberties of the European nations, at any rate, and probably save their hides.

I realize, as every member realizes, that the Atlantic nations, particularly those in Europe, in banding themselves together to resist aggression are taking upon themselves a very grave risk. But it is what Mr. Churchill called in the last war a calculated risk. It is a calculation that fear of the atomic bomb may deter Russia for a sufficient length of time to enable the Atlantic nations to rearm. And, less probably, it is a risk calculated on the fact that perhaps Russia, with the diverse elements of nations and races which compose it, has not as yet formed herself into a nation so well integrated as to permit of undertaking a global war. The Atlantic nations, those who subscribe to the pact, and who live on this side of the Atlantic, have come to the conclusion, rightly or wrongly, that they cannot afford to allow Russia to sweep over Europe, and to become possessed of the manpower and industrial potential which is on that continent. As a result of that, these nations have decided to extend their frontiers to the other side of the Atlantic, by extending assistance in the way of armament and equipment, and by rearming the peoples of Europe.

The policy and program laid down last evening by the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton) is that, as a nation, we shall give our utmost support to the Atlantic pact nations, that we shall do so by supplying arms and equipment, by placing our industrial potential at their disposal, and by sending armed forces to Europe.

With respect to the program which was so well explained by the minister himself last

The Address-Mr. Power night, it seems to me that the first reaction of the house and of the Canadian people must have been one of astonishment at the magnitude and cost of the program he unfolded. It drove home to us, and I think to the people of Canada, that in order even to prepare for war we must spend almost astronomical sums. If that be the case, if the preparation in order to deter the enemy from attacking us runs us into five billions of dollars, then it is difficult to imagine what a real war would cost.

The next reaction-and this is the one which struck me-is that it behooves us to have a certain note of caution. We should- and I gather the government has given consideration to these things-endeavour to ascertain for ourselves, as Canadians, how we may be of the most assistance to our partners in the Atlantic pact, if we are to play fully the role we propose to play. And the note of caution I would wish to sound would be this: Having decided on the course of action and on the program which we should follow in order best to render assistance, let us be careful not to waste our energies and our resources by an overdiversification of those energies and resources.

I take it for granted, indeed I think the minister so stated, that the decisions arrived at as to the kind of assistance we propose to render to our partners were decisions which had been approved of and agreed upon-subject of course to confirmation by parliament-by our partners in the Atlantic pact. Canada, by agreement with the Atlantic pact nations, apparently has decided to give preponderance in its assistance to air power. It will do this, firstly, by training the air crews of its associates, and secondly by furnishing squadrons to Europe. Apparently our allies are satisfied with this proposed contribution. The question I ask myself is whether the people of Canada will be satisfied with this contribution of a preponderance in air forces. I say that because, during world war II, there were persons in the country and even in the House of Commons who, notwithstanding the glamour and the glory of the achievements of the air force, and notwithstanding that, in proportion to the number of their men actively engaged, they suffered greater casualties than any other arm of the service, were not convinced that Canada was doing its part in that war, until such time as casualty reports came rolling in from Italy.

I am not saying I blame those people. There are in Canada a number of men who are battery-minded, battalion-minded, division-minded; and they have as much right to their opinions as anyone else. Then there

The Address-Mr. Power are other hon. members of the house and other men in this country who believe in a big navy.

I expect to be accused of being prejudiced, but I put myself on the side of the angels, geographically speaking-I favour the Royal Canadian Air Force. Since we are now laying down government policy for the next three years, a policy which presumably will be followed should we be so unfortunate as to be drawn into a shooting war, it should be part of the duty of every hon. member of this parliament, before allowing this program to pass unchallenged, to explain his views and state whether he considers it to be in the interests of Canada to have a greater proportion of the strength of Canada devoted to an air force than to any other force.

I say that advisedly because I well remember at the beginning of world war II when the delegates from Great Britain came here to propose that we embark upon a great air training scheme. The then minister of finance, my late chief, a leader and patriot whose like has rarely been seen in this house, Layton Ralston, said to the delegates that we should be careful to be sure that Canada could afford this large amount of money and, secondly, that Canada should not be bled white right at the start of the war. He pointed out further to the delegates that we were likely to have other commitments, that we were likely to have to furnish ground forces. The reply was made that the primary duty of Canada was to undertake this great air training scheme.

As time went on we all know how that air training scheme was developed, but other efforts were put forth paralleling that scheme. Not only did they cost enormous sums of money, but in the long run it led to serious difficulties.

I mention these things in order that we in this house, as well as the people in the country, may thoroughly understand this program. As I said before, I strongly favour a preponderance of assistance by way of an air force. Since I am asking other hon. members to give their reasons why they would favour a big navy, a big army, a big tank brigade or preference for other components of an army, perhaps I should give some of the reasons I have for suggesting that an air program should be adopted. I say this notwithstanding what may appear to have been a setback at the beginning of the Korean war. Perhaps the supporters of a great air force held exaggerated views and possibly the effectiveness of air strength did not come up to their expectations, but I do believe,

and I think this is admitted, that supremacy in the air will go a long way toward settling any future war.

The reasons I have for supporting an air program are that Canadians for some reason or other have a great reputation as air warriors; that Canada has earned a reputation for its capacity to train air crew; that the program calls for Canadian squadrons, manned by Canadians and supplied with Canadian equipment from Canadian factories.

Perhaps I am treading on dangerous ground when I contend that there is less danger of deterioration of morale among air force personnel stationed in a foreign country than there is on the part of, let us say, army personnel. I think it will be confirmed by those who were fortunate to be in England during the first two and a half or three years of the war that it was extremely difficult to keep up the morale of the ground troops no matter how well the manoeuvres simulated actual conditions of warfare. There is always the danger of boredom with a consequent loss of morale.

But as far as the air force are concerned, the ground crew will be doing exactly the same work they would be doing in wartime. They will be preparing aircraft for troops. Perhaps the danger will not be so great as if an enemy were shooting at them, but they must be ever alert to any deficiency in the machinery or equipment. The air crew are engaged in a hazardous occupation. Every young man who makes up part of an air crew has the pleasure of having under his hand a fast, swiftly moving machine. For these reasons I believe there is less danger of deterioration in their morale.

Undoubtedly there would be an easier interchange of squadrons. Those which are trained here in Canada could more readily, more efficiently and more expeditiously be exchanged with squadrons being trained on the other side. With respect to the psychological effect on our allies and1 on our enemies, which is given as one of the great reasons why we should send forces to Europe, the greater mobility of the air arm and the fact that there will be a large number of men engaged in servicing and in flying eleven squadrons would result in their making their presence felt equally with and perhaps more than an equivalent or similar number of the other arms of the services. Perhaps I should not say this as a last reason, but if the worst comes to the worst the air force has half a chance of getting out and coming back again.

I assume that the division-which is a new term to me in air force jargon-mentioned by the minister will be composed of fighters, interceptors, reconnaissance and transport. It

is a matter of regret to me that it will be almost impossible to add squadrons or wings or groups of bombers. Although I have not gone to any authoritative source, I am informed that to have in Great Britain or on the continent of Europe a group similar in size and equipment to No. 6 Canadian bomber group in the last war would cost in initial equipment alone anything from $1,500 million to $2 billion. Therefore we are precluded by the very thought and consideration of the cost of any such contribution of heavy bombers.

I am told that an individual heavy bomber costs anywhere from $5 million to $6 million. Therefore a squadron composed of twenty bombers would cost in equipment alone $100 million. Therefore the task of strategic bombing of the enemy will, as I understand it, be left largely to the air force of the United States of America just as the task of supplying ground forces will apparently be placed to a considerable extent on the shoulders of the republic of France.

There is one other matter that I should like to mention, and since it is one that has aroused some controversy in this house and outside I approach it with considerable diffidence. It is the question of whether or not a committee of this house should be set up to discuss the expenditure on national defence. The leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) has set forth his views on the matter eloquently and cogently. Members of the government have replied equally eloquently and in terms which merit consideration. I am inclined to think that there is a middle course between the views of the government and those of some of the members of the opposition.

With respect to the constitutional aspect, I believe that matters relating to policies and strategy are the responsibility of the government and the government alone. Recently I was reading the life of William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, by Brian Tunstall, and I found this passage in reference to the government of William Pitt:

In a country such as England, governed by a constitutional monarchy, it is neither desirable nor practical for war to be conducted either jointly or independently by the heads of the fighting services. On all major issues they must receive express direction from the crown constitutional advisers, responsible to parliament. Admirals and generals are the commanders-in-chief of the sea and land forces, but the crown and ministerial advisers are the commanders-in-chief of the whole nation.

I believe it will be found that Lloyd George in world war I and Winston Churchill in world war II kept within their own hands all decisions with respect to policy and strategy, and I can conceive of nothing worse for the morale and discipline of the various armed

The Address-Mr. Power forces than for their chiefs of staffs to be called before a parliamentary committee to give evidence either for or against the policies laid down by the government. I will give one instance. I myself, although I was a member of the government when the project was initiated, have always had serious doubts as to the value to this country of the creation of a fleet air arm and of the acquisition of the Magnificent.

I hold those views and I believe that in all probability a great many of the superior officers of the Royal Canadian Air Force hold similar views, although I have not communicated with them for over five years, but I would not think it either fair to the forces or fair to the minister to call the chiefs of staff of the Royal Canadian Air Force before a parliamentary committee and to place them in contradiction with the policy of the government. I would go one step further. In my time there were in the Royal Canadian Air Force earnest, conscientious and devoted men who had strong views as to certain types of equipment. Those views were fought over and discussed in air council and sometimes went as far as defence council, but once the policy was settled, once the chiefs of staff and the officers concerned had decided that such a type of equipment should be that which would be acquired and no other kind, then the matter rested there.

I think it would be unfair to place officers of different arms of the services in contradiction with each other with respect to such matters. That is only a personal view acquired from some little experience in dealing with this department.

On the other hand it seems to me that since we are embarking upon a program calling for the expenditure of $5 billion, this House of Commons of Canada has a duty to scrutinize and supervise that expenditure. It is extremely difficult for that scrutiny and supervision to be carried out in a house composed of as many members as we have here; and I believe that if a committee on expenditure were set up, with an appropriate reference which could be agreed upon by the leaders of the government and the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew), much good would result. Members of parliament would be in a better position to analyse and understand why certain moneys were being expended.

I would not propose to curtail in any way the right of every member of parliament to talk on any subject arising out of this expenditure; nor would I implement the rule, if it ever was a rule, that was brought into effect some years ago to prevent questions being placed on the order paper with respect to a department whose affairs were under the

The Address-Mr. Gosselin scrutiny of a committee of this house. Either by arrangement among the members of this house or by the order of reference I would safeguard in every possible way the rights of members of parliament to discuss anything arising out of the estimates of the Department of National Defence. At the same time I believe that a more careful scrutiny of these expenditures, having in mind the complexities which are bound to arise in connection with an expenditure of this size, could be made by setting up such a committee. This I believe would maintain the traditions of parliament and at the same time would be a benefit to the members and to the people of this country.

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April 5, 1949

Mr. Power:

This bill is an exact copy of a draft bill recommended to the house by the 1939 parliamentary committee on elections. It may be that in the ten years which have passed some of the provisions need modernization. I commend it as it is to the consideration of the house and I hope that those who may desire to move amendments or bring about modification will avail themselves of the opportunity after studying the bill.

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February 2, 1949

Hon. C. G. Power (Quebec South) moved

for leave to introduce Bill No. 7 to amend the Dominion Elections Act, 1938, (election expenses).

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