Mr. EDMOND FORTIER (Lotbiniere):
Mr. Speaker, as I do not intend taking up uselessly the time of the House, I shall dispense with repeating what many members have with good reason done and said against the Bill No. 75 introduced by the hon. Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden). Therefore, without ,any dilly-dallying, I shall deal with the subject and consider a few of the outstanding features of this debate, which has been going on for two weeks already.
Representing a rural division, I cannot let this opportunity go by without letting this House and the country know the stand I 'believe it my duty to take upon this selective conscription Bill, as well as on the amendment proposed by the leader of the Opposition (Sir Wilfrid Laurier). Asi for the amendment to the amendment, I consider it perfectly useless and I can immediately declare I shall vote against it.
When the extension of the parliamentary term was voted last year, not a single member of this House would have surmised that such a measure as conscription would be imposed upon the country. Since that extension has been granted, the leaders of both parties, as well as their friends, have declared that conscription would not be imposed. Volunteering alone was to be established for enlisting in His Majesty's imperial army, in order to assist the Allies and more especially the'mother country and France, who are the principal powers having joined other countries to avenge outraged Belgium, to protect minorities and democracies, whilst safeguarding the rights of justice and liberty against Prussian barbarity, the vandalism of the Central powers of Europe and of their Balkan allies.
This wrar, Mr. Speaker, is not waged against any country in particular. It is rather against this Prussian militarism, this vandalism organized by Germany and her allies, in order to conquer and to subdue the world by means of this revolting prussianism of the Huns and assume worldwide supremacy. In order to reach their ends, the foe had to first strike at the most formidable powers, such as France, England and Russia, by overrunning smaller countries who are the martyrs of patriotism and whose heroism even exceeds all that
what has been said, in Franre and what has been printed in France, Canada will not need to contribute 500,000 men. And, besides, that balance of a total amount of 500,000 men which they ask us, what does that represent in the present conflict where we are fighting together, or against one another, some twenty millions of men; and if that total of 100,000 should have no influence' upon the result, we would be forced to -admit that this balance of the 500,000 men which, before two months, six months or a year are over, may perhaps be raised to two or three hundred thousand men, will be useless; that we hre needlessly depriving Canada of these men.
There are, at present, so we are told, more than 100,000 of our men in England. For more than a year, these men have been over there; that is to say that, for over a year, the country has been deprived of their help, agriculture has been deprived of the aid of a great part of these 100,000 men, trade has likewise been deprived of the help of these 100,000 men, and; yet what can they have done for the Allies' cause? What good have they been to the Allies, since they have not yet been at the front? And those other 100,000 men they are asking us, when will they reach Europe? Before 100,000 men can be landed in Europe, it will take at least one year, and that also means that for one year our country will be deprived of the labour of these 100,000 men, and that means moreover that the Allies will not have the aid of these 100,000 men before another year. That would be, you must admit it, unfortunate, both for the farmers and for the manufacturers of our country. In short, we should not deprive farming of its necessary hands, nor our mills and factories of the labour essential to their activities. I might say the same thing as to our commercial firms and here, perhaps, it might not be out of order to inquire as to what would become of our important firms such as, for instance, the Ames, Holden & McCready Company, of Montreal; it is safe to say, as for the latter, in particular, they would no longer be able to realize, within a year, about 120 per cent, net profits.
This compulsory Military Service Act is put before the country and then they give, as a reason, that the province of Quebec has not done her duty. We should then infer that this conscription . Act would have the province of Quebec as its object, -and that, to quite an extent. Can these gentlemen yet wonder wihy the .province of Quebec has not contributed just as many men as they
would like to see on the fields of battle? Ever since the war began, or rather, as I should (have said, ever since 1911, there has been lacking in the province of Quebec an essential element, I might even say an indispensable element for the success of recruiting; that element was the trust that this province should have had in her rulers. Deceived in 1911, deceived ever since, deceived by all and more especially by the Government leaders, Quebec has come down to the point of asking herself in whom she may trust. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden) has declared before this House and before the country that there would be no question of conscription in Canada; during the session of 1916 he again asserted it explicitly. He may probably answer us that events have changed, that since 1916 circumstances have become so serious and the future so gloomy that he has been compelled to modify his opinion. But, Mr. Speaker, in the course of January last, could not the Government then realize the situation. Through the seconder of the Address in reply to the Governor General's speech (Mr. Descarries) did1 not the Government inform us that there would never be any conscription in this country, and after this declaration has any member of the Cabinet stated that the hon. member for Jacques Cartier had unwisely spoken or that he had not expressed the whole truth?
I would ask those hon. members who, ever since the war started have never ceased to abuse ns, if they would have acted any other way flhan the province of Quebec has seen fit to do. No, Mr. Speaker, for some time there has passed over the province of Quebec a storm of abuse of every description; a storm of hysterical abuse and I do beg you to believe, Mr. Speaker, that I use the term "hysterical" to be decent and in order to not apply the true name to the sickness now affecting the men who- attack us. That sickness, if I can judge of it by the way some of the members of the right are behaving, has become a chronic one. When some of those gentlemen speak of the province of Quebec and of the French Canadians, you can see hatred1 depicted upon their faces, and their eyes sparkle with joy at every abusive word uttered against us; and when I hear them vomit this abuse, I always imagine I hear the sounds uttered by a Hun pirate who, after having sunk the ship, cries and yells out to his gunners the order to sink the life boats also. They pretend that the province of Quebec, in particular, and Canada, generally, have not
done enough for Uie war. Let us sum up the situation: Canada has contributed more that 400,000 men, she therefore had to deprive herself of that many. She has paid these soldiers' expenses, both at home and abroad, and considering our total enlistments in proportion to our numbers, as compared with the corresponding figures for the United States, France or England, we cannot come to any other conclusion than this one: That Canada has done her duty, not only as regards the number of enlisted men, but also as regards money contributions. Eight here, Mr. Speaker, it may perhaps be appropriate to mention the fact that our Canadian soldiers draw $1.10 per day, whilst in France they only get 25 centimes; that means, therefore, that our army of 400,000 men represents, as far as expenses are concerned for pay only, 9,000,000 men.
Mr. Speaker, among other insults they were pleased to hurl against Quebec is this one: They call us "slackers". If I can understand well enough the meaning of this term, I believe it would be what we call in French "tirer de l'arriere." I have endeavoured to find in Quebec and, particularly, in the Quebec district, what they do call slackers. After lots of trouble, I must admit that I actually found only one of them. I remembered that, last year, the hon. member for Dorchester (Mr. Sevigny) had it widely advertised by papers in his pay that he was going to raise a regiment and lead it himself across the deep to slay as many Germans as possible. Did he even go midway? That is a thing I could not vouch for, but what I do positively know is that the regiment was never raised and that the hon. member for Dorchester, instead of being in the trenches, is now occu-prying a seat, in the cabinet.
Mr. Speaker, we find everywhere some points of resemblance, as I have already stated. The hon. member's conduct reminds me of the story of a certain King of France. History reports that this king was most terrible when he spoke of combats; he was ever ready to declare war against his neighbours but, as soon as he heard the clash of swords and the clearing of the decks, he became such a poltroon that he would literally swoon as soon as the word " battle " would be mentioned to him. If my memory serves me right, that king was Charles the Bald.
Was it fear that thus inspired the member for Dorchester? I don't believe it. He cannot have studied the theory of Safety First, but he must have rather believed that he would be giving a better proof of
intense patriotism in immolating himself upon the altar of sacrifice for the salvation of the French Canadian nation.
Quebec has not made enough sacrifices, has not contributed her share in men, do they say? I might perhaps be allowed to read to this House the following extract of a letter from Captain William Chandor Tnnes, of Toronto; here is how he speaks of the province of Quebec's contribution.
This letter had been addressed to the Toronto Telegram where its publication was refused, but it came through anyway.
After the first contingent, twelve French Canadian battalions were authorized: the 2'2nd, the 41st, the 57'th, the 150th, the 163rd, the 165th,. the 167 th, the 178th, the 189th, the 206th, the 230th and the 233rd. The larger part of those units were levied and sent for overseas service, and they have covered themselves with glory. You have oiily to glance over last year's list of dead and wounded, and you will see that the French Canadians are largely represented.
Besides these figures which amount to a total of 17,0*00, the province of Quebec has contributed three stationary hospitals and a field battery. With the number of French Canadians disseminated among the various English battalions, particularly in the Engineering and Forestry battalion (in which the French Canadians represent 90 per cent), I believe we may reach a total amount of 20,0,00 men from the province of Quebec.
The Laval University has, moreover, furnished an ambulance corps (one of the best in the Allies' service, according to despatches) and a dental corps; more than that, a large number of these students and graduates make themselves useful in various ways at the front. The Maritime Provinces have contributed a French Canadian battalion and the English battalions from that section of the country count over 3,00'0 French Canadians in their ranks the western provinces have in their local battalions more than 4,000 French Canadians.
You might allow me to say a few words about the recruiting in the province of Quebec, where I have resided several years. I know the French Canadian as a loyal subject in the full sense of the word, and it would be most unfair and erroneous to size him up after the Bourassa standard. Those unfortunate comparisons between Quebec and the other provinces as to recruiting, should never have been made.
He states that, since the first contingent was recruited, twelve Canadian battalions were authorized: the 22nd, the 41st, the 57th, the !50t,h, etc. Most of these units have been levied and sent away on overseas service where they have covered themselves with glory. Yoiu only have to glance over the list of last year's dead and wounded and you will see that the Canadians are largely represented.
Besides these figures which form a total of 17,000 men, the province of Quebec has contributed three stationary hospitals, one
field battery, and many French Canadians disseminated among the various English battalions, especially in the Engineering and Forestry battalion. And, moreover, Laval University has furnished an Ambulance corps, one of the finest in the Allies' service-so say the despatches-and a corps *of dental-surgeons.
I refrain, Mr. Speaker, from going through this list which makes us really understand what this impartial Englishman says of the province of Quebec.
On the other side, on your right, Mr. Speaker, there seems to be two parties who differ in their ways, but whose efforts have the same object. They want to weaken the country in order to reign. One of them tries to weaken the country by splitting it; if has set the English race against the French race. A gale of abuse coming from there has blown over the province of Quebec, a storm of hatred has fallen upon us. Those who compose it believe they are the greatest men of their race, greater than the British Empire, truer than history, mightier than right, more patriotic than the French and English struggling together shoulder to shoulder in the most terrible war the world has ever seen. They are blending their *blood for the defence of a grand idea, for the triumph of a holy cause; Liberty. That should' certainly be enough to force strong roots and wide branches to sprout from the tree of concord in the fertile soil watered by French blood and by English blood, and in its shade the 'Canadian nation could find a safe shelter.
The other party wants to weaken the people by impoverishing them. It shouts for poverty; it will soon shout for misery. If has given a free hand to speculation, to monopoly, to stock-jobbing, to such an extent that the old den of the Forty Thieves would' be too small to shelter all the public embezzlers and squanderers. They have hoarded up fortunes. Gold is powerful, I know it, powerful for an individual, for a family, for a caste. However, open the history of nations, and you will have to admit that there still is a greater power, which has overthrown institutions which 'had braved storms for centuries. Beware! the people are patient, because they are strong. Beware! you have sown the wind; very soon, harvest time will be with you, and you will gather the storm. For my part, I deny imyself the right to coercion. Following my leader's example, I recognize only one master in the country, it is the one who pays, it is the one who suffers, who prays,
who supplies the blood 'and the flesh for cannon. It As him I want to consult and 1 will bend before his supreme will.
We are now threatened with civil war .and I cannot see wherein the Allies could get any benefit from it. For my part, I ask the Government to well consider the scope ol their Act; it is an extreme and destructive measure, which may give results far contrary to those expected. I recall what stand was taken in 1911 to impose an appeal on the people. It wias then alleged that the Liberal government bad not the right to modify oui commercial relations with the United States without consulting the Canadian people. How much more important is the legislation now before ns, since it actually amends our own constitution to quite an extent?
Topic: MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic: DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.