Mr. JOSEPH READ (Prince, P.E.I.):
What does the Government intend to do with the Northumberland?
Subtopic: A. J. PAINOHATJD,
Mr. JOSEPH READ (Prince, P.E.I.):
What does the Government intend to do with the Northumberland?
Sir GEORGE FOSTER:
I cannot say that. That vessel does not belong to my department, nor, I think, does it belong to the Department of Marine and Fisheries. I am not sure whether it belongs to the Government or not.
To the Department of Railways and Canals.
Mr. Speaker, this is one of the most important questions that can come before the Parliament of Canada. Of course everybody knows the great difficulty there is in securing tonnage but at the same time if we are going to increase food production it is essential that proper transportation facilities should be obtained. I asked the right hon. the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Sir George Foster) what they were going to do with the Northumberland. The Northumberland is a steamer that has. been plying between Summerside and Point du Chene in connection with the Intercolonial railway service. That service, ,as my hon. friend knows, will probably be suspended this coming season because the new car ferry system has been inaugurated between Prince Edward Island and the mainland and the long deferred implementation of the promise of union between the prov-
inee of Prince Edward Island and the Dominion.
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member inasmuch as he is making his first speech in the House, but I must direct his attention to the fact that the motion 'before the House is for papers in connection with the steamship service between Montreal, Quebec, and the various harbours of GaspA
I understood the hon.
member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Lemieux) to say that he was discussing both resolutions, No. 14 and No. 16, at the same time.
Order. The discussion coiuild not properly include the terms of union between Prince Edward Island and the rest of the Dominion in any case.
I have no intention of discussing the question of 'Confederation. I was simiply leading uip to tlhe question of the transportation difficulties as between the port of Montreal and the Maritime Provinces, and I was going to point out to the minister that some boat probably could be secured that might be used between Montreal, the Magdalen islands and possibly the north shore. I simply wanted to know what was going to toe done with the steamer NorthuHifberland. And it occurred to me that if they were going to take her off the Prince Edward Island route between Charlottetown and Pietou, or S-ummerside and Point du Ghene, she might be available.
Hon, C. C. BALLANTYNE (Minister of Marine and Fisheries): Mr. Speaker, I am very much obliged, indeed, and I appreciate to the fullest extent the kind words of the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Lemieux) (with regard to the action of my department in sending the steamer Stanley to the Magdalen islands. I wish to assure my hon. friend that we were only doing our duty and nothing more. I am grateful to him for (bringing so important a matter so promptly to my attention as he did at the time. I have not ias yet received the telegram that my hon. friend read to the House a moment ago, tout no doubt it is at my office. I cannot at the moment state whether or not it will be possible to send the Stanley to the Magdalen islands for another trip, but I wish to assure my hon. friend that I shall take the matter up the first thing tomorrow morning, and if it is at all possible to send the Stanley to the Magdalen islands again that will toe done with the very greatest of pleasure. *
[Mr. Head 1
I call to the attention of the House, that if ' the mover of the resolution exercises his right to close the debate, it will not be competent for any. other hon. member to speak.
Mr. HENRY E. LAVIGUEUR (Quebec County): Mr. Speaker, I have heard the hon. Minister of Trade and Commerce, and also the Minister of Marine, state that everything would be done to provide for a freight steamer service for the south and north shores of the St. Lawrence. Some weeks ago resolutions were passed by the Quebec Board of Trade and the City Council of Quebec requesting the Goverqment to provide for a service for the north shore and for Seven islands. It is of my personal knowledge that no service at all has been given on the north shore to Seven islands although there are large industries -there which have had to- close down, and some interested people from (Seven islands are now on their way to Quebec to organize a delegation of the Quebec Board of Trade and City Council to wait upon the Government to ask if a reasonable service can be given- Thousands of pounds of fish which were all ready to ship to Montreal and Quebec last fall were left over as there was no transportation. I am pleased to know that the matter will have the serious consideration of the Government in order that these deserving people may have proper facilities to carry on their industry.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. RODOLPHE LEMIEUX moved:
For a copy of all letters, telegrams and other documents exchanged between Mr. Henry Tucker, K.C., and the Right Hon. Sir Robert
L. Borden, K.C.M.G., P.C., the Department of Militia, the officers of the Patriotic Fund, concerning the claim of Mrs. Wineasi Zwingle.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see my I1 on. friend, the Minister of Militia and Defence (Major-General Mewburn) in his seat, because although the name of the Prime Minister is mentioned in the motion
x wish- specially to appeal to the Minister of Militia and Defence. I do not intend to be critical as to the administration of the separation allowances, but I wish to get from my hon. friend some explanation which might serve not only in this but in similar cases. My object in bringing this matter before the House is because I believe the case has been exhausted +.hrough correspondence between the hardheaded Scotch Presbyterian lawyer who acted for this unfortunate woman and the various departments of the Government. It is at the request of Mr. Henry Tucker, K.C., of Montreal, a lawyer of very high standing at the Bar, that I bring this matter up. The name of. the soldier whose wife, according to Mr. Tucker, has not been fairly treated by the Patriotic Fund is Wineas Zwingle. He joined, in the early stage of the war, tlhe 150th 'Battalion', and he is on the firing line at the present time. He left behind him a wife and four children, but previous to leaving, according to my information, he made provision for hie Wife and family: the assigned pay $20, next, the separation allowance, $20, and $24 per month was allotted by the Patriotic Fund, making a total payment of $04 per month for the wife and four little children'. This soldier also left hie wife in possession of a small candy store in Montreal. During the month of February, 1917 the assigned pay of Zwingle and the separation allowance were sent, I do not know under what regulation, to the Patriotic Fund by the Department of Militia. The Minister of Militia stated a moment ago, that both the department and the Patriotic Fund were working in close co-operation. From March 1 to the middle of August, 1917, Mrs. Zwingle received $242.75, but from the latter month until December 8, 1917, she did not receive a red cent. Remember that this woman is absolutely penniless-, with tihe exception of the candy store, and has- dependent upon her four children, the eldest of whom is only 12 yeans old. In October, 1917, Mrs. Zwingle saw her lawyer, Mr. Tucker, K.C., and 'at that time, as alleged by Mr. Tucker, she was positively starving. He inquired from the Patriotic Fund, first wih-y they out the allowance from $24 to $10 per month, and second why the assigned pay and the separation allowance had been handed over to that organization for administration. The answer Mr. Tucker received from the Patriotic Fund, and I am1 .simply quoting from' the voluminous dossier which has been handed to ime by that gentleman-was to the following effect: "This woman is
keeping what is known in common parlance as a ' blind pig ' and you had better see Recorder Semple of Montreal." Mr. Tucker, who is a very warm-hearted Scotchman, saw the woman was starving and freezing- and it is not necessary to- remind any hon. gentleman of the severity of tihe weather during the winter which has just closed- and he went to interview Recorder Semple whose statements were most favourable to Mrs. Zwingle. The recorder said he had received the complaint referred to about Mrs. Zwingle, hut had investigated it and found it to be baseless. Later on, acting on the advice of her lawyer and at the suggestion of the Patriotic Fund, Mrs. Zwingle sold her candy store for a certain sum. Remember, Mr. Speaker, I am not passing judgment on the Patriotic Fund organization. 1 am myself one of the incorporators of the fund, and one of its members, and I do not wish to pass judgment upon those who compose the organization. I know what devotion is being displayed, and what excellent work is being performed by the members of the Patriotic Fund all over the country; but sometimes, owing to misinformation or otherwise, persecution, may result which is absolutely unwarranted. In November, 1917, according to Mr- Tucker, the Department of Militia and Defence having been stirred up by the many letters written by him, sent Mrs. Zwingle a blank declaration to fill in and swear to, which declaration had to be countersigned by some officer of the Patriotic Fund. The declaration was for the purpose of determining how Mrs. Zwingle received her separation allowance and assigned pay. For one reason or another the Patriotic Fund-and I repeat that I am not criticising the organization because I am not personally aware of these facts, I am merely repeating what I was told by a very reliable counsel -refused, or rather, one of its officers refused, to countersign the blank declaration, and hence Mrs. Zwingle was once more deprived of both her separation allowance and assigned pay. In November, 1917, Mr. Tucker again complained to the department and obtained an order that the checks be paid direct to Mrs. Zwingle, but in the meantime she had been absolutely starving and freezing. On the 12th December, 1917, relief came in the form of cheques for two months from the department at Ottawa. On the 24th December, 1917, there was made against this unfortunate woman, who was evidently born under an evil star, another very serious charge, which I need not repeat, but which, according to the documents I hav* before me, absolutely
unfounded. Following this, the Militia Department order that her cheques for the assigned pay and separation allowance be paid direct to her was cancelled, and it was determined once -more that the payments should he made through the Patriotic Fund *at Montreal. What I wish to represent to the Minister of Militia-and this unquestionably is the high court of the land where all grievances can be ventilated-is that Mrs. Zwingle's husband is at the front, and she complains that she has been ill-treated, persecuted and slandered.
She claims that her husband's assigned pay and her separation allowance are her absolute property, and that the department has no control oveir thiemi. As regards the Patriotic Fund allowance, I quite agree *that according to the Act passed in 1914, the Patriotic Fund has a discretion in the matter, although the discretion should be used wisely and fairly. But as regards the assigned pay and the separation allowance, I would like to have a statement from the Minister of Militia if the department can direct the payment to he made through the Patriotic. Fund or through any other organization, or if she is not, as a matter of right, entitled' to have those moneys paid to her direct. I have brought the matter before the House after a long correspondence exchanged between Mr. Tucker, K. C., the Patriotic Fund, the /Department of Militia and Defence, and my right hon. friend the Prime Minister. 'It is a grievance, made perhaps more serious by the fact that this woman states positively that she has been persecuted, that she has been slandered, even after the allegations made against her were declared to be without foundation. I hope my hon. friend will look into this matter in the department and see that Mrs. Zwingle receives her assigned pay and her separation allowance without any /further delay.
Major-General MEWBURN: This matter has not come before me personally in the Separation Allowance Branch, and I have no desire to shield or to make excuses for any mistakes that may have occurred. Since I>
have had the honour o'f taking charge of the Department of Militia and Defence, the Separation Allowance Branch has caused us more trouble and anxiety than probably any other branch in the department. This branch deals with some 300,000 accounts, and mistakes have been made. 'Since I took charge of the department, I ha/ve endeavoured to re-organize that branch and have tried to get it down
to a proper 'business basis. I think I can say I am succeeding in that. I may go further and say that it will still be some months before it is running smoothly.
I will investigate this particular case thoroughly and find out why this woman has been treated in the way my Ihon. friend states, which statement I have no doubt is correct. I cannot understand why the money was paid over to the Patriotic Fund. There have been cases where money has been paid over to the Patriotic Fund on account of some arrangement between the Patriotic Fund and the beneficiary. The Patriotic Fund has a .committee which has made many investigations throughout the various cities of Canada. There have been cases where people have been drawing separation allowances to which they were neither legally nor morally entitled, and we have had to call upon the Patriotic Fund to make investigations. The declaration of which my hon. friend has spoken is the legal declaration which every person claiming separation allowance has to swear before a commissioner or a notary public. It is simply to get the evidence in the department so that we can have the account straightened out. If any injustice or wrong has been done to any person by an official of my department, he will cease to be employed in my department. I will make it my duty to investigate the matter fully and, if any wrong has been done, to rectify it.
I am perfectly satisfied with the answer given 'by the minister. I am willing to let him have the dossier in nly possession. It would then perhaps not. be necessary for him to go through all the departments of the Government because many letters have been addressed to different departments.
Major-General MEWBURN: I shall be
glad to have the papers.
I am satisfied that there has been no ill-will on the part of the department, and the declaration made by the minister that the assigned pay and separation allowance should go direct to the dependents is quite satisfactory. If that is done, there will be no more grievance.
Major-General MEWBURN: If she is
the Lawful wife o.f the soldier.
Certainly she is. There is an error in the name on the Order Paper. It is not Mrs. Antoina Zwingle, it is Mrs. Wineas Zwingle.
Motion agreed to.
On the Orders of the Day: Mr. CHARLES G. POWER (Quebec South): I desire to draw the attention of the Government to an article which appeared in the Ottawa Evening Journal, and to ask for some information from the Minister of Militia.