May 18, 1918

CANADIAN PATRIOTIC FUND ACT AMENDMENT.


On the motion of Hon. Mr. Doherty, Bill No. 98 (Letter V of the Senate) to amend the Canadian Patriotic Fund Act, 1914, was read the second time, and the House went into Committee thereon. On section 1-Objects of the corporation:


L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

Will the Minister of Justice explain the change made by this provision.

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UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Hon. Mr. DOHERTY:

The change consists simply in making it clear that the " residence " required, is residence on the part of the beneficiaries. Personally I have no doubt that the section as it stood meant residence on the part of beneficiaries, but from the way in which the phrase was constructed it was possible to suggest that the relatives residing anywhere, of a man who happened to be resident in Canada when he joined the forces, were entitled to the benefit of this fund. That is not what was intended, and that is not what was carried out, but as recently there has been a suggestion that that was what ought to have been done, it has been deemed desirable to make it perfectly clear that the fund is to be for the benefit of relatives of soldiers -wives, children, and so forth-resident in Canada.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I do not see the Acting Minister of Finance in his seat or my friend from St. Antoine (Sir Herbert Ames) who is the chairman of the Patriotic Fund. I may say that the Canadian Patriotic Fund has accomplished wonders since the beginning of the war. To my own personal knowledge, the fund has extended its bounty, not only to tihe families in Canada, of our own soldiers, but also to the familier of Belgian and French reservists. With these latter I am more especially concerned, because in Montreal I have had several interviews with members of such families, and the Patriotic Fund has always responded generously to the request for assistance made by them. The other day a question was mooted during the Budget debate by the hon. member for St. Antoine, and since then I have received a letter asking for my views as one of the incorporators of the Patriotic Fund-which possibly was sent all the other incorporators in Canada-regarding the future policy as to the Patriotic Fund. In other words, should the Patriotic Fund moneys be collected in future from the public, or should

the Government inaugurate the imposition of a special tax upon the whole of the people of the Dominion for the purpose of maintaining this fund. I have answered unhesitatingly that after four years' experience of individual subscriptions, gathered from all parts of Canada, though it might be an excellent incentive to future generosity to depend upon the public, the Canadian Patriotic Fund was an organization which, in my opinion, should be supported by a special tax levied by the Cam adian Government. It seems to me that it is only fair that the responsibility of caring for the families of our soldiers should be borne by the state.

It is not fair that a few individuals be specially singled out to subscribe and others ignored. Summing up my argument, I think that the levy of a special tax of one mill on the dollar for instance would be received with pleasure by the whole people of Canada. I know that many people in very ordinary circumstances have hesitated to subscribe because they thought their subscription was too modest, whilst the names of large subscribers were being paraded before the public. Every year a whirlwind campaign is organized in our large cities, and the names of the same large subscribers, with the amount of their contributions, are published'. I do not say that our well-to-do people subscribe for the pleasure of parading their names before the public. Far be it from my mind to suggest such a thing. My contention is that it is not fair that only one class of the public should be publicly assessed for the maintenance of the Canadian Patriotic Fund. I hope the Government next session will accept as its policy the recommendation made this year by our colleague from St. * Antoine (Sir Herbert Ames), the able chairman of the Canadian Patriotic Fund, and impose a special tax, small though it may be, to enable the whole of our people to share in the benevolent work accomplished by that fund. I do not make a special plea for the well-to-do classes or for the middle classes. But I cannot help stating that the people who are specially reached by the income tax and the business tax, and the various municipal and provincial taxes, are the same people who generally speaking, are providing funds for the Canadian Patriotic Fund. I must say too that the poorer classes have heen very generous. They have subscribed anonymously and, after all, the anonymous subscription is perhaps the-most worthy. I believe the country would be pleased to

see a new policy inaugurated by which the fund would be maintained through a small taxation on the whole of the people. I was present in August, 1914, at the special meeting , called by the then 'Governor General, His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught, when the Canadian Patriotic Fund was organized, and I have often thought of the remark made by the right hon. gentleman who leads the Opposition (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) when his views were asked by His Royal Highness as to the method to be pursued in raising the moneys for that fund. Though the right honi. gentleman favoured the incorporation and organization of the Patriotic Fund, and though Ihe said that the public, generally speaking, would respond .magnificently to the requests made to replenish its coffers, yet he stated that before long there would be an urgent request on the part of the public that the assessments be levied generally by the state. The families of the soldiers are the care of the state, and it is its duty to see that they are maintained in proper comfort. I throw out tfhese few remarks in the hope that the Government next session will adopt the views expressed by the chairman of the Canadian Patriotic Fund1, and will adopt the wise policy of making the -state responsible for the -main-tenianoe of itftie families o-f our soldiers who are in need.

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Mr. MQRPHY@

May I have a word about this -section? I quite agree "with the principle enunciated by the last speaker, that the country at large should1 now take over the fund and provide for it. Looking at the meaning of this section, I am ' somewhat -alarmed about it. I would like to ask the minister if I am to understand that [DOT]the section means that the Patriotic Fund in future shall apply to the wife or family of every French reservist, every Italian reservist-

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UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

Yes, as it always has in the past.

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UNION
UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

It will apply to the wife of every man who is fighting in the Allied armies-

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UNION
UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

-if that wife is resident in Canada. And I may say it .always has so applied.

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UNION

Hugh Boulton Morphy

Unionist

Mr. MORPHY:

, I was not aware that it always had so applied. It seems to me that

'

the Government should hesitate a little. This country will have enormous burdens to hear both through the Patriotic Fund and in every other way. I think Canada is pledging itself now quite prematurely, at least until -we know the kind of immigration we will have. Are w-e to provide for every indigent of Europe, sim-ply because of the fact that a soldier's wife happens to come here, probably sent here by the country in which she lives, to get rid of her, she probably not being the most desirable individual? The proposition- staggers me. I do n-o-t think that legislation of this kind should go too fast. I would wait a hit. This matter can afford to wait. If the wife of every Italian -s-oldier must be provided for by Canada, it will be an incentive to- Italy to get rid of them and send them here and put them upon our fund. The same applies to- those of every Allied force, including Russia. I apeak full of patriotism, and in favour of this country doing what it can for our friends the allied nations.

This section might well stand until next session, when the future policy of the Government will -be laid down and when Canada's needs in. the matter of pensions will be better known, If the principle is- laid down that the Patriotic Fund shall he paid to relatives -of soldiers in any of the allied armies, how long will it toe before pensions are paid on the same basis?

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UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

The section that is

-being amended describes- the objects ot tne association: to distribute among the wives, relatives and dependents resident in Canada of soldiers actually serving in the armies -of the Allies. I do not pretend to give the exact wording, tout there is- no doubt that provision has reference to wives and . relatives resident in Canada.

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UNION

Hugh Boulton Morphy

Unionist

Mr. MORPHY:

The amendment -says,

"who may become -resident in Canada."

.-Mr. DOHERTY: "Resident in Canada" in the section as it stood was .considered to apply to those resident in Canada not merely -at the time the soldier went away, tout also at the time the assistance was extended. This amendment is- not creating -an obligation on the part of the Patriotic Fund to pay -money to every relative resident in -Canada; it is simply conferring a power. It is true that if we created an obligation on, the part of the fund to distribute its moneys among all relatives of soldiers in the allied f orces who might come here, a flood of people might come to this country in order to obtain -a share of that fund. But we are only defining the classes

of persons to whom it is permissible to distribute the money of the Patriotic Fund. The hon.. member suggested that some of those to whom money might toe distributed might toe most unworthy. I have no doubt that the administrators of the Patriotic Fund will not distribute their money to people of that kind). This amendment is sought toy the administrators of the Patriotic Fund, and it is only to satisfy them that their understanding of the law is correct, and that it is permissible for them to give money to relatives resident in Canada of soldiers who themselves might not have been actually resident here when they enlisted.

12 noon. I do not think that we are exposed to the consequences which the hon. member suggests merely because we make quite clear what are the classes of persons to whom this money may be distributed.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

Another provision in

the Act of incorporation makes optional the giving of aid by the Patriotic Fund to any family. The organization is most elaborate. When a request is made by a family for aid, the Patriotic Fund at once sends a committee of two or three ladies to inquire into the circumstances of that family, and in many cases, for good reasons, aid is refused or delayed. Great care is taken to ensure that no aid is granted if it is not needed. The fund has been admirably administered in the district of Montreal. I -said that some of the families of French and Belgian reservists had been helped by the fund. The consuls and their wiv.es, together with members of the Patriotic Fund in Montreal, saw that such families of reservists who needed protection received it. Certainly no abuse was permitted in the administration of the fund.

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UNION

John Gillanders Turriff

Unionist

Mr. TURRIFF:

The point raised by the member for North Perth (Mr. Morp'hy) is well taken, particularly if we have regard to the suggestion made by the member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Lemieux) a little while *ago that the Patriotic Fund should be raised by taxation. That has- always been my own view. 1 do not agree with the member for Maisonneuve that the wealthy are providing the great bulk of the money. The poor people of Canada have given much more largely in proportion to what they have than the wealthy people.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I said that the poor

people had subscribed, but anonymously, and that it was not fair that only certain names should appear before the public.

This taxation should be equalized, and it follows from this argument that the State should provide for the families of our soldiers.

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UNION

John Gillanders Turriff

Unionist

Mr. TURKIFF:

I agree with that. In

all probability steps may be taken next session in that direction. If that is done, why should we tell the officers of the Patriotic Fund that they may pay out this money to relatives of soldiers of the allied armies who never lived in Canada? Why should such persons draw from the moneys raised either by voluntary subscription or by taxation from the Canadian people? Surely our obligations are piling up quickly .enough and largely enough to suggest that if we attend to the relatives of our own soldiers through the patriotic and other funds, we shall be doing our full duty. I agree that the relatives Of French or Belgian reservists resident in Canada who go to fight for the Allies should be looked after. But why should we burden ourselves with the responsibility if looking after relatives of Italians who join their army in their own country, and whose wives or families subsequently come to Canada?

The Minister of Justice says that this provision is not compulsory; that we are simply saying that the officers who handle the Patriotic Fund may assist those people. Why should we give directions at all in the matter? Why not leave the Act as it is at present? The Patriotic Fund is now, if necessary, assisting relatives resident in Canada of soldiers in the different Allied armies. Surely that is sufficient; but for us to give directions that such assistance may toe given to a soldier's relatives who may come into this country in the future after he had enlisted in the Allied forces, is, to my mind, absolutely outside of our duty altogether, and we shall be making a great mistake if we pass this amendment.

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UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

I should like to endeavour to make this matter clear. As the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Lemieux) has pointed out, there is in the existing Act a subsequent provision, which says that there is no right vested in anybody to get the money, and this section simply defines those to whom it may be permissible to pay the money. The principal object of this section is not to include, but to exclude, people. If the interpretation which the hon. member would like to see continued possible, remains possible, our Patriotic Fund will toe liable, so far as there can be liability, or, at least, subject to claims being made-and such claims have been made,-that we should give aid

and assistance to women and children and other dependent relatives living in all parts of the habitable glebe, because the man at the time he enlisted was in Canada. Do hon. gentlemen think that is a more desirable situation, even if there were a question of obligation? As I said before, it is beyond possibility of doubt that whoever may be benefited, nobody is being given an absolute right to be benefited. Do hon. gentlemen think it is desirable that there should be in this country, for instance, dependent relatives of a British soldier, or a French soldier, or a soldier of any other Allied country which is taking part in this war, who are destitute, starving, and that this fund should have tc say: We cannot give you anything; we have no power to give you anything? 'It is not a question of saying, what the hon. gentleman apprehended, namely, that any soldier's relatives who may flock in here will have the right to demand such assistance?

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UNION

Hugh Boulton Morphy

Unionist

Mr. MORPHY:

I never said anything of the kind. The minister is wrong. The minister knows that.

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May 18, 1918