Mr. FERDINAND JOSEPH ROBIDOUX (Kent, N.B.):
Mr. Speaker, I would take no part in this debate did I not feel bound to raise my voice in support of the measure introduced by the Prime Minister, and I take this position believing it to be in the best interests of the race to which I belong, as well as of the country generally. I have : followed with close attention the debate which has taken place in this House during the last few days, and it'seems to me that there are a few things which have been pretty conclusively established, the first of which is the fact that the principle of compulsory military service has been embodied in our statute law ever since Con-
federation. It is therefore quite clear that the proposed Military Service Act does not introduce into the legislation of this country any new principle as far as compulsion for the defence of Canada is concerned, except in so far as it provides that troops shall be raised by selective drafts and not by the methods laid down in the Militia Act, which require that the men be selected by ballot. The new Act does not trust to luck for the selection of the men; it provides that the selection shall be made in an intelligent manner, having regard to the requirements of the great industries of the country, chief among which must necessarily rank agriculture and the fisheries, which are the most important agencies of food production.
In the second place, it has been shown beyond question that the Governor in Council already has the power, under the terms of the Militia Act of 1904, to send Canadian troops beyond the limits of Canada for the defence of Canada in a case of emergency. The hon. member for Kamouraska has cited old statutes in force before Confederation, in which it was specially stipulated that the militia could be called out and marched to any place without the province, but conterminous therewith for the purpose of repelling or meeting an attack. My hon. friend cited those old statutes in an endeavour to prove that under the present Militia Act the same limitations applied. But in my judgment he has only succeeded in proving exactly the contrary proposition to that which he sought to establish. In the Militia Act of 1868, drafted by Sir George Etienne Cartier, as well as in the Act of 1904, the word " conterminous" has been eliminated, showing conclusively that the framers of the new law had in contemplation certain circumstances which might arise and might compel Canada to send her troops even beyond the seas to fight for the defence of Canada. Otherwise the word " conterminous " would have been left in the statute. Moreover the words uttered by the then Minister ot Justice, Sir Charles Fitzpatrick, at the time the clause dealing with this matter was adopted, words which have already been quoted in this House, evidently show that this is the true and proper construction to put on that clause.
There is another fact which, clear and distinct, looms out of this debate and out of the events which transpired in this country at the outbreak of the war. Canada went into this war, not only because Great Britain and the Empire were threatened
by a grave danger, not merely for the purpose of helping Great Britain and France in the tremendous struggle into which the unjust aggresision of Germany 'had thrust them without cause or warning; but Canada entered this war for the stern and fixed purpose of protecting herself and her people against a grave and serious danger which would inevitably become a disaster should Germany win out. It was mainly this sentiment of self-preservation which prompted the people of this country at the outbreak of the war, and ever since, without distinction of race and creed, to unite in a common voluntary effort to resist the German menace and help crush it, and upon this sentiment chiefly rested the appeal which was made to the youth of Canada in order to urge them to enlist and fly to the defence of our country.
Finally it has been shown by the Prime Minister, and i.t has been generally admitted by those who have spoken in this debate, that the system of voluntary enlistment had ceased to , yield the requisite number of .men to maintain the Canadian troops at full strength at the front. While this state of affairs is to be regretted, at the same time I agree with those who hold that voluntary enlistment has not been a failure. My own native province, the province of New Brunswick, has done wonders under the voluntary system. It gave me a good deal of satisfaction the other day to hear the former Minister of Militia (Sir Sam Hughes), quoting from a memorandum on recruiting which he had addressed to the Prime Minister on July 10, 1916, state that " it must be borne in mind that the Acadians have done magnificently." While I might not be justified in saying that the Acadians in proportion to numbers have enlisted as .well as their Englishspeaking fellow citizens in my province- and there are good and valid reasons which I need not give here which can account for this-still it, can indeed be stated truthfully that they have nobly answered the call to arms and that they have performed their duty as Canadians and British .subjects in a splendid manner. But, Sir, the attitude taken by my compatriots in the present war is in line with the best traditions of the past. In years gone by, in the hour of their country's need, they never failed to respond to the call of duty. As far back ,as in the year 1812, when they had just begun to recuperate from the hardships of evil days, when hostilities broke out between Great Britain and the United States, we
find them faithfully -and courageously serving their king and country in the militia of their respective provinces. A few days ago I came across an old militia list containing the names of a comparatively large number of Acadians from my own county, the county of Kent, the population of which was small in those days, the names of men who, within a month -after the declaration of war, had enlisted to fight for their country. I would like, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, and the consent of the House, to put these names on Hansard as a matter of record:
Topic: JUlSlE 26, 1917