July 5, 1917

CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

If an hon. gentleman wishes to address the House, he must do the House the courtesy of rising in his place.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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An hon. MEMBER:

They do not know what courtesy means.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

What are we doing for the dependents of our soldiers? Are we providing for them a decent support at the cost of this country?

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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CON

John Alexander Macdonald Armstrong

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. A. M. ARMSTRONG:

How about God Save the King?

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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An hon. MEMBER:

Put him out.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I have here an announcement contained in the Bulletin of the Patriotic Fund of the date of February, 1916. It is headed, "A Message to the Canadian Soldier's Wife," and it says, in part:

When the war broke out and our brave men came forward to enlist it was felt that there might be some, among those left behind, who would not be sufficiently provided for by the government grants. Men who could not en-[The Speaker.]

list, but who desired to help, felt called upon to step into the breach, and are endeavouring to make good to the soldier's wife the difference between what the Government gives her, and the amount needed to enable her to live in decency and comfort.

That Sir is an indictment against the Government and the people of Canada by the Patriotic Fund in its official organ. For my part, I do not wish to be responsible for the condition that enables that indictment to be made, and at this time and on this occasion when, as my (hon. friend from Westmorland (Mr. Copp) has said, we are' going to put our hand upon the shoulders of oiur young men and compel them to serve uis 'at the front, surely the same theory of 'Conscription should apply to the money of the country sufficiently to provide for the dependents of those men so that they shall not have to rely upon the passing of the hat, the 'appeals to benevolence, to charity, to meet the needs of those whom they have left behind. Is that the stimulus to patriotism that we, the people of Canada, offer to our soldiers? Is it any wonder that voluntary enlistment in this country has decreased when we offer to out soldiers the proposal that we shall collect money as charity and dispense it as charity-

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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An hon. MEMBER:

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I say, I hope they are

proud.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

But I must say that if

they are, I am very much ashamed of them. Some hon.'MEMBERS: Oh, oh.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order. The hon, member, when he says he is ashamed of the position taken by the Government on this question, is surely exceeding the rules of debate.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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CON

Herbert Brown Ames

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HERBERT AMES:

My hon. friend has been quoting from documents that are from one to two years old. He is absolutely incorrect when he says the Patriotic Fund has been cutting down the allowance to the soldier's wife. If he had not had this speech

in pickle for a year or more he would have known that we have (been increasing the rates steadily to correspond with the advance in the cost of living.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

To correct the hon. member, I may say that part of what I read was -from the Bulletin of September, 1916.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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LIB

John Patrick Molloy

Liberal

Mr. J. R. MOLLOY (Provencher):

In rising to address the House, I want to assure the leader of the Government and every hon. member of this House that I am taking part in this discussion with no intention whatever of delaying the measure now before us. I am not here to oppose the Government because they think they are right, but I am here to oppose the Government and anybody else if I think that I am right, and if anything I may say in the few remarks I have to address to the House will help the Government to assist our soldiers, my time will be well spent. If we are to have compulsion in this country I take the ground that we are compelled to provide properly for the soldier wherever he may be.

The present Government is taking upon itself the most tremendous responsibility ever shouldered by any Administration of this Dominion. It is asking from Parliament permission to take the men of the country from their employment, their homes, and their families and to place them on the battle front. It is taking the responsibility of forcing men to make the greatest sacrifice men can make. From present indications the Government has no intention of attempting to equalize that sacrifice by forcing those who will not be affected, and whose wealth the men who go are protecting, to give of their means while other men give their lives. The question: of the conscription of wealth, however, I do not intend to discuss here. But I say this, Mr. Speaker, and I say it with the 'greatest sincerity, that the Government which takes upon itself the tremendous responsibility of sending men to the front must see to it that the wives and children, and dependents of these men are left in such circumstances as not to add to the horrors of the trenches the anxiety which must come from the feeling that their dear ones are in want. That duty is plain, and cannot be evaded.

It is a notorious fact that separation allowances, and assigned pay, which at the beginning of this war may have been adequate to keep the dependents of soldiers from penury and want, are to-day abso-

lutely inadequate, and must be supplemented by certain forms of what I choose to call charity. The pay of the soldier, and The amount of money he is able to leave his dependents is the same as it was when the war broke out. The separation allowance is the same. But the cost of living has more than doubled, thanks to the exploitation and manipulation of the prices of the necessities of life, permitted, and condoned by the present Administration since the war commenced. The soldier's wife has watched her meagre pittance dwindling day by day as the cost of the necessities of life has soared. She has been compelled to ration herself and her family as her husband at the front is rationed, but on a far less generous scale. She is often compelled to move from the neighbourhood in which she has resided beside her more fortunate neighbours whose husbands or sons have not gone, and to take up her residence in more humble quarters. Materially and socially she suffers.

Under the 'Government's present system of financing the war, by borrowing and letting wealth go free, the soldier who goes to the front will find when he returns, if he does return, that to the sacrifices and hardships which he has endured in the trenches will be added the hardship and burden of paying by taxation the interest on the debt incurred by the war. He has had to fight; he will have to pay. Probably he will not grumble. But for the present at least it is incumbent upon this Government and this country to see to it that while he is away his dependents are looked after.

I wish to bring before the House one particular case. In the town in which I live a platoon was raised last year. Every man, woman and child, even the little boys at school and on the street assisted in recruiting the men required. I myself materially assisted, and when I ask a man to enlist, and he d.oes so, I feel that I have assumed a responsibility. These men left on the 2nd day of last November, and a short time afterwards they were in the trenches. Among the great many men who went from the county of Provencher with that platoon was the only spn of a man who is now between 70 and 80 years of age. The boy's mother died many years ago. The boy's poor old father is a confirmed cripple and has no means whatever. He was officially notified on the 31st pf March that his son had been seriously wounded. What do you think, Sir, that poor old man has been living on since his boy went away? He has been living on the assigned pay of his boy

who went to fight your battle and mine many, many miles away from home. Getting on the train about the middle of last month, a man came to me and said that So-and-So had lost his left arm and his right eye. And the poor old father of that boy, that boy who has made such a sacrifice for the country, is left to live on $15 a month.

It is late in the morning, but it is not too late for this country and this Parliament to be told that there is at least one case of this kind. When the session opened in January last, I took up that case. I wrote a letter, as strong as I could write it, to the Assigned Pay and Separation Branch. I got a courteous reply, stating that no provision had been made for such cases. When I came back I took it up again. I called up Major Ingalls, a perfect gentleman, who treated me with all kindness. I stated the case over the telephone. He asked me to write him a letter and send it by special messenger. I said: "I will write the letter and carry it down myself." And I did. He went into the case as well as he could, calling in the gentleman who had charge of that department and discussing it with him. They told me there was no provision for a case of that kind. In discussing the matter, I found that there were only two fathers in this country who were drawing separation allowance. I say, it is not too late in the morning to discuss a matter of that kind, and to call attention to the case of this poor old cripple, who would starve to death if it were not for the charity of his neighbours in the district in which he lives, while this country stands by and, so far as Parliament is concerned, does nothing for him. I was advised to take up this case with the Patriotic Fund in Winnipeg, and I wrote to the secretary. I said, just as 1 have said here, that I would write a letter and carry it myself. I wish to thank the representatives of the Patriotic Fund in Winnipeg from my place here in Parliament for the way in which they treated me. I found there two gentlemen of the highest character who made inquiry into the matter, and the result was that that Patriotic Fund granted that poor old man $10 a month. That is not the wayfor this Government, or for the men

who form a government in this free country, to treat the father of a boy who has offered his life in defence of the country and who, though living, has lost one arm and one eye and has had his face torn in pieces by shell fire.

I do not want to criticise the Government in these matters, I want to help them. Such- contributions as were made in these cases are regulated according to the judgment of a committee who claim the privilege of digging into affairs of the families and dependents of our soldiers. This gives such aids all the features of charity -which is most objectionable to a proud people such as we have in Canada. Many instances are on record where the dependents of soldiers are too proud to admit that they are deriving their substance from the charity of the public, and as a result refuse to 'be helped in this way. Why should the element of public charity enter at all into the method of looking after dependents of our brave men who are prepared to give up their lives for such a cause as our country is fighting for? The Patriotic Fund, in my judgment, should be paid into the treasury of the country and all aids given should issue therefrom, rather than have it placed in the hands of a committee, the members of which, in many cases, are most objectionable to our soldiers and their dependents. Is it fair that a member of a Patriotic Fund Committee should have the right to go into the homes of our soldiers and demand an accounting of how moneys are being expended and what are the sources of revenue of such families?-a privilege which no one would dare exercise with the humblest citizen in our country. Remove this entirely by providing for the s.oldier's dependents out of the treasury of ,our country in generous manner worthy of the great sacrifice made not only by the boys but by the wives, sons and daughters, the fathers and mothers, who are giving up so much for the cause. The separation allowance given by the country should be increased, and should bear a direct proportion to the number depending for support on the soldier. This amount should be paid every mpnth to the proper person, and such amount should not depend in any way on the amount assigned by the soldier. If we are undertaking to care for those dependent on pur soldiers we should do so in such a way as to entirely remove from our gallant boys' minds any anxiety about their families comfort. Voluntary recruiting would receive such a stimulus from such a policy, as, in my judgment, would entirely remove the necessity for any such legislation as is before the House to-night.

When we look around us and see the wages enjoyed by our labouring men in

munition factories and reflect on the fact that' our soldiers who go foitfch to risk their lives to defend our country are only paid II.IO a day and their families receive the munificient sum of $20 a month, is it any *wonder that recruiting is not as lively as we would like? Is it not discouraging to the proud,, warm-hearted young man to realize that if he goes forth to fight for his country, that foils family may suffer from want or may be driven to the necessity of appealing to the generosity of a local Patriotic Fund Committee, the members of which, perhaps, are too small-souled to appreciate their wanits, or perhaps instead of coming to their assistance will rather attempt to lecture them on domestic economy.

Dependents of soldiers should be properly provided for by the Government. First, because it puts the matter on the footing of a public duty. At present it is a system of private doles, which is humiliating to the recipients because it makes them objects of charity, where they should he pensioners pf the Dominion treasury. The money paid to the dependents of soldiers fighting for the security of life and property in Canada must not he considered anything but a merited return for the services and the sacrifices the menfolk are making for the common weal. Second, the Patriotic Fund as at present administered is the subject of much complaint, on account of the inquisitorial nature of its proceedings. i I do not intend to go into the question of conscription. I have my opinion hut I am going to set forth my opinion by my vote. But I might as well say that I believe that had there been a little more judgment and a little more care on the part of the Government in the many many instances that have come before them no doubt, and in which the claims made have been set aside, there would have been less of a feeling that the demands of justice had been left unfulfilled. There are many other reasons, I can tell the Government, why enlistments have dropped off in Manitoba, and there are other members of the House from that province who could back up what I say. And let me say to the Prime Minister, that he will find, when the men come back of whom he has spoken, that there is a strong belief that some of the public appointments he has made are not to the credit of the Government and were not made in the interests of the country.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

What business shall we take up this afternoon?

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

We will go into committee on this Bill.

Topic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Subtopic:   DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING AND ON THE AMENDMENTS.
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Motion agreed to, and the House adjourned at 5.07 a.m. Friday. Friday, July 6, 1917.


July 5, 1917