July 31, 1917

CON

Albert Edward Kemp (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir EDWARD KEMP:

I think the hon.

member for Souris (Mr. Schaffner) is quite right. These battalions have gone before boards more than once. They were weeded out and weeded out until they were almost disheartened. Then in England more of them were set aside as not fit to go to France. My bon. friend (Mr. Oliver) is under the impression that quite a number of these men might be returned to Canada for industrial employment. There are very few men who are not doing some military duty in England that would have to be^one by a man who was fit for the trenches if they were not doing it. We cannot get those men back. I have had relatives ask for the return of men' who are doing police duty, but they will not let them come back. They are as necessary for that work as they would be for work in the trenches. There is no such surplus of rank and file in England as my hon. friend thinks. There is no surplus at all. If men went over in the earlier stages of the war who were unfit for service, they would have been returned long ago unless they were usefully employed.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I have given the count as it has been given to me of the number of men we have. We should have 135,000 men available f-or the firing line. We are told we have no such number. I forget what the number is, but we are supposed to have something like fifteen or twenty thousand men in England fit for the firing line. What is the condition of the rest? If they are not fit for the firing line, why are they there?

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CON

Albert Edward Kemp (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir EDWARD KEMP:

They are being

prepared for the firing line. They get far

more intensive training in England than in this country. Training has. undergone an evolution since the war began. They are giving more intensive training now, and preparing men foT category A, working up all the time.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

What proportion of the

135,000 men does the hon minister think are fit for the firing line, or will become fit?

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CON

Albert Edward Kemp (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir EDWARD KEMP:

Out of the 126,241 there were 7,981 officers, 26,359 in Category Al, fit for the firing line. .

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LIB
CON

Albert Edward Kemp (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir EDWARD KEMP:

Perfectly fit for France. There were 26,927 in A2 almost ready for France. There were 5,147 in A3, the next class. Then we come to A4, 383 under 18 years of age, and 3,086 over 18. I do not know what that means. Then we come to Category B, which has three classes. Category B is the class training men to get into Category A. I have before me the exact particulars, in a very long and complicated document, explaining how this 126,241 gradually, as far as possible, get into Category A. Of that number there was a large number in hospitals. I think this table appears in the Prime Minister's speech on the Military Service Bill, and will be found in Hansard.

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LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

I am constantly in receipt of requests from the parents of soldiers overseas, asking if their sons could not obtain leave of absence. In most cases they are men who have, been wounded, or who have been on duty overseas almost since the beginning of the war, and who, for apparently very strong reasons, would be entitled to a leave of absence. I suppose every member of the House receives some similar request, and it is impossible to trouble the department each time with each particular case, and I would like to have from the minister, if possible, some declaration of departmental policy in respect to this matter. In many cases my correspondent will refer to the fact that in his or her locality there is some officer, or man who has returned from overseas on leave of absence, and naturally they think his case was not so deserving as their own. Upon that, of course, there may be a great difference of opinion, but there is a feeling on the part of interested persons that there is some partiality shown in giving leave of absence to certain officers and pri-254J

vates. I am sure I need not elaborate the idea, because the department probably have similar cases before it more than once every day. It may be impossible to make a statement of policy upon a matter of this kind, because cases may differ very much, but I should like to know the ground upon which leave of absence is secured on behalf of any person overseas.

SiT EDWARD KEMP: The applications are more numerous every day, I think. There are various reasons given for asking that relatives be returned to Canada. The question is a very difficult one to handle. My hon. friend will understand that occasionally a very sincere ,and affectionate father or mother will chaTge favouritism in certain circumstances. There is no isueh thing as favouritism in the matter.

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LIB
CON

Albert Edward Kemp (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir EDWARD KEMP:

By the necessities of the troops in France. A man who has had sick leave is frequently returned to Canada to convalesce, and if his recovery can go on as well in Canada as in England, or elsewhere, he is allowed to come out. A board can examine him in Canada, to find out whether or not he is fit to go back to the front, and if he is not fit his leave can be extended on the recommendation of the Military Medical Board. There are requests made to us on account of the father or mother being 'ill, or one or the other having died, or some financial trouble. In an army of three or four hundred thousand men there are tragedies happening every day-every hour of the day-in respect of their relatives who are behind them. In a city of three hundred thousand people there are many accidents happening every day, and many pathetic incidents. All these things are reflected on the department, to a certain extent, in the prosecution of the war. The requests are very numerous, and we answer all of them, whether verbal or written. These requests are usually written, and it is desirable they should be in writing, so that they may be investigated, but where a man is medically fit for his duties as 'a soldier just at the present time, it is very, very difficult to get any leave of absence. Sometimes the relatives of soldiers in Canada make application to have their sons returned to Canada when the sons do not want to be treated in this way, *and it is very embarassing for the man to be told he has bqen granited leave. He does not like to leave his comrades. He is

singled out 'as a .man *who wants to get away and obtain some preference over the others. It is .a difficult matter to 'handle. On the 1st of February, 1917, I issued a circular which at that time and 'at the present *time covers nearly 'all the different forms -of requisitions that are made for the return -of soldiers from the front. There are ten iin all.

It shows the procedure which ought to be taken in each case; I will send a copy of it over to my hon. friend. They are used every day in the department.

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LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr A. K. MACLEAN:

Who is the ultimate judge of the matter? The commanding officer of the battalion in which the applicant is enlisted?

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CON

Albert Edward Kemp (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir EDWARD KEMP:

The proper way to proceed is for the applicant himself to make application through his commanding officer at the front; then the case is rested on a solid foundation. But unless there are excellent reasons why it should be granted, the leave of absence is not granted to a man who is physically fit for his duties in France or in England. I do not know of any cases in which such requests have been granted, unless it has been in the case of men under medical treatment who can pass -through their period of convalescence here as well as they can in England. Many persons who have occasion to receive applications of the kind to which my hon. friend refers ask the Militia Department to furnish them with copies of this circular in order that they may be able to answer the many questions that they get in respect to the return of soldiers.

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD:

I know several cases of men who enlisted for overseas service, were passed by the local doctor, but, when the battalion came to go overseas, were directed by the Medical Board to remain at home because they were not medically -fit to go across. In some cases these men were drafted into home defence battalions.

I 'have in mind several coal miners who were perfectly willing to go across, but who were compelled under these conditions to remain in Halifax in a home defence unit. They have no interest or heart in their work, and they want to get back home.

I have also in mind the case of a coal miner who enlisted in some unit which is now at Camp Borden, but who was declared medically unfit on account of heart disease. He has been retained in the service, but of course he has lost all interest in his work and is anxious to get back to his mine.

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CON

Albert Edward Kemp (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir EDWARD KEMP:

Is he doing home, guard duty?

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD:

He enlisted in some unit which had to be sent to Camp Borden for training; evidently it was not an infantry unit. There does not seem to be much use in keeping men who have volunteered for overseas service but who have ultimately been found to be medically unfit. If the man to whom I refer particularly would be more useful in some occupation connected with the industrial life of the country, he ought to be allowed to go.

I have a question to ask with regard to separation allowances. A young man, the only support of his sister, volunteered to go overseas, and was assured by the recruiting officer that in the event of his going his sister would get separation allowance. A similar statement was made with regard to the Patriotic Fund-about which there is no misunderstanding in our province, because the local authorities deal with it. The young man went away and left his sister on the farm, but she got no separation allowance; she simply got the assigned pay. It seems to me that separation allowance ought to be extended to cover the case of a man who leaves behind a dependent-mother, father or sister, as the case may be. I have in mind also the case of an officer who went overseas. He had married a very respectable lady. I do not know what could^have gone wrong, but he refused to authorize her to receive the assigned pay. She has a family. Is any parental authority exercised by the department to cover cases where men who go to the front do not provide for those whom they leave behind? One more question: Is the recruiting throughout the country being main-taFned, and will it be maintained in its present state? . [DOT]

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CON

Albert Edward Kemp (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir EDWARD KEMP:

There is no regulation in respect to the granting of separation allowance to a sister.

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LIB
CON

Albert Edward Kemp (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir EDWARD KEMP:

We should open

a very wide door if we made a provision of that kind. This, however, is a question which is before the special Pension Committee. When -a man's separation allowance is assigned to- the party whom he wishes to get it, the assigned pa>

also goes to that party. A man cannot withhold the assigned pay.

Mr. MAiCDONALD: Suppose he will not assign the pay?

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Stir EDWARD KEIMP:

There is no regulation applying to officers in cases of that

kind. Does my horn, friend know a particular case where an' officer refused (both separation allowance and assigned pay?

iMr. MACDONALD: He has said nothing about either. He refuses the assigned pay.

Sir EDWARD KEMP,: He has to sign

a card with regard to the separation allowance. There is no- way of getting 'after an officer who does as my hon. friend has mentioned. As to the recruiting, it is going on as usual; everything is -being done to get recruits, the same as hitherto. However, the work is being confined almost entirely to the regimental recruiting offices. The officers who have hitherto recruited and who have been -specially paid iare -being absorbed *again into civil life as fast as possible.

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD:

I -see by the paper

that Mr. Knight who is connected with the War Veterans' Association was speaking in Hamilton the other night and made very grave complaints against the Government in Tegard to the treatment of returned soldiers. He made some comparisons between Canada and Australia in that particular. What are the special requests from returned soldiers which the Government have not granted?

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July 31, 1917