May 18, 1918

UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

That is what I understood to be the apprenension.

Topic:   CANADIAN PATRIOTIC FUND ACT AMENDMENT.
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UNION

Hugh Boulton Morphy

Unionist

Mr. MORPHY:

I think the minister is endeavouring to becloud the issue.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

I shall leave that to the appreciation of the committee. If I am making that endeavour, I hope I shall not be successful. What I was endeavouring to point out, in order to pierce through the clouds-

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UNION
UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

-that have been caused to circulate in the atmosphere, was that all that we are trying to do is to remove the suggestion that it may be impossible for the Patriotic Fund to assist dependents, actually resident in 'Canada, of our own soldiers, if it happened that such soldiers were not in Canada when they enlisted. You may have the case of a Canadian absent from Canada, because there are known cases of Canadian men who have enlisted on the other side and whose dependents are here, and it would not be impossible for it to be contended, if the other interpretation is necessarily right, that such relatives would not be entitled to relief. I hope to make the matter clear, notwithstanding the motive that is attributed to me, that there is no question of creating an obligation of any kind, nor of creating an absolute right of any kind. All that is sought to be made clear is that the Patri-

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otic Fund is not precluded from assisting, is not in a position where it is impossible for it to do anything for the wives and children or other dependents residing in Canada of a man who is in the Allied fighting forces engaged in the present war.

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UNION

Hugh Boulton Morphy

Unionist

Mr. MORPHY:

The minister has sought to convey the impression that hon. members opposing the amendment have pretended to argue that a right is given. No one has argued that, and I think the minister might as well get that out of his head at once and get down to the proper meaning of the section.

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L LIB
UNION

Hugh Boulton Morphy

Unionist

Mr. MORPHY:

It is, of course, inferred. It may or may not be exercised. The section reads:

The objects of the Corporation shall be to collect, administer and distribute the fund hereinbefore mentioned for the assistance in case of need of such waves, children and dependent relatives as are or may become resident in Canada, of officers and men who, during the present war, may be on active service with the naval and military forces of the British Empire and Great Britain's allies."

That covers the whole gamut. It takes in the Japanese. A subject of Japan in the naval or military service of that country comes under the scope of this section. Will the minister tell me what Japan has done for Canada in the way of establishing a patriotic fund to take care of Canadians stranded in that country? The Italian is taken care of under this section. Has corresponding legislation been passed in Italy to take care of Canadians who may be forcibly detained there, unable to get home and compelled to seek a living in that country? Have the authorities in the loyal parts of Russia made a reciprocal provision to provide for stranded Canadians? Whence springs this unbounded generosity of the Canadian people that, in this time of stress, we must, for all time to come, put upon the statute books a provision which is heralded to the world that we, of Canada, are so affluent, and rolling in wealth, so unburdened by the stress of war, that we can say to the world: Send all your dependents here; we do not promise to take care of them, but we have a provision which says: If you are worthy, we shall take care of you? If it does not say that, it does not say anything. I object to the principle of the Bill being put forward at the present. This is no time for us to hold out these invitations to come here and get under the wing of the Canadian Patriotic Fund. Let me put this argument to the minister: The

minister has argued that this section gives no right. Will he deny that, if there are 150,000 soldiers' wives and children, relatives and dependents, coming into Canada, and if they are deserving, this section means that they shall be helped? I submit it does. It would be cruel to argue in any other way. That being the meaning of the section, what I object to is the probable, and prospective burden Canada is assuming at a time which, far from being in affluent circumstances and untouched by the stress of war, we are straining every effort to assist our own dependent people.

At a time when our soldiers -say they are not getting big enough pensions, when their widows siay they are not being properly taken care of, when the dependents of our soldiers are none too well taken care of, I object to the principle of this Bill, which would launch us out on a scheme of indiscriminately taking care of every Italian soldiier, every Portuguese soldier, every Japanese soldier, every French soldier, the soldiers, in fact, of all the Allied armies and their wives and dependent children. The principle is too altruistic, too premature. Let us wait a little. Let us see how our balance sheet stands and provide for those for whom it is our bounden duty to provide, before extending the scheme to others.

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L LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal

Mr. E. LAPOINTE:

The hon. member for Perth and the hon. member for Assini-boia object to the principle of this Bill. May I remind them that they have already agreed during this session to the principle of a Bill which goes a great deal further than this Bill? The Bill before us empowers the Patriotic Fund to assist the wives, children and dependent relatives of officers and men who during the present war may be on active service with the naval and military forces of the British Empire and Great Britain's allies. Earlier in the session we passed a Bill intituled " An Act respecting the Department of Soldiers Civil Re-Establishment, which created a department and set up machinery for the purpose not only of assisting the dependents of the allied soldiers during the war but of looking after the comfort and welfare of the soldiers of all allied countries, and their dependents, who have fought during the war, whether now resident in Canada or whether they come to Canada after the war. Section 5 of that Bill reads:

The Minister shall have the management and control of all matters relating to the re-establishment in civil life and activities of all persons who have served in the naval or military forces of His Majesty or any of His Majesty's

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allies during the present war, and the dependents of such persons, and the administration of any statutes or of any regulations or orders enacted or made by the Governor in Council for such purpose. [DOT]

When that Bill was before the House I took the liberty of drawing attention of hon. members to the fact that we were consecrating ourselves to a very serious principle indeed. I said we were entering into a very large contract in undertaking such a scheme, but the views I then expressed were not supported iby any other member of the House, and everybody seemed to agree that this country should look after the welfare of all soldiers who have fought in the Allied armies during the war, whether they came to this country after the war or not. Surely there is a great deal less objection on our part to helping the dependents in this country of any of the soldiers of the Allied armies than to helping the dependents of soldieTs who may not become residents of this country until after the war, and as I have already pointed out, this House unanimously agreed to do the latter when the Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment Bill was passed.

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UNION

George Brecken Nicholson

Unionist

Mr. G. B. NICHOLSON:

It seejns to me the objection taken to this Bill arises either from a misapprehension of the whole scheme of the Patriotic Fund, or from the fact that the gentlemen who raise these objections have not had very much experience with the practical administration of the Act. If the apprehensions of the hon. member for North Perth were justified, it would mean that the intention of the Act was that people should be assisted from the Patriotic Fund year after year, on and on and on, or as the hon. member expressed it, forever without limitation. The Patriotic Fund has as its expressed object the giving of assistance to relatives and dependents of soldiers only while they are on active service, and not beyond the duration of the war. As the Act has nothing whatever to do with assisting the dependents of soldiers or the soldiers themselves after the war is over that seems to cut away the ground on which the hon. gentleman (Mr. iMorphy) built up his argument that we were assuming an obligation for which we would be responsible year after year without limitation. My understanding of the Patriotic Fund is that our implied obligation ceases, even in the case of our own soldiers, as soon as they are discharged from the army. Let me say, as one who has had something to do with the practical administration of the fund in Northern Ontario, that the very thing this clause seems to me to be designed to over-

come has been a very great source of confusion in the past. Misunderstandings have frequently arisen as to whether we had the right under the Act to take care of the families and dependents of French or Italian reservists, for instance, who happened to be resident in this country, and I have always taken the ground that it mattered not whether the soldier was Belgian, French, Italian, or Japanese, if you wish, so long as he was fighting for the Allies in one of the the theatres of war and' his dependents were domiciled in Canada.

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UNION
UNION

George Brecken Nicholson

Unionist

Mr. G. B. NICHOLSON:

The amendment to this Act cannot override the principle of the Patriotic Fund itself. It is simply interpreting what may be done under the Act. The operation of the Act at the present time, as I understand it, is confined, to the relatives and dependents' of men who are actually at war and does not go beyond the duration of the war, but if the hon. member for North Perth were correct and the operation of the Act was to continue indefinitely year after year I would certainly say that we must stop and consider, because in that case we could not undertake to pay suitable pensions to our soldiers and their dependents and help them from the Patriotic Fund as well and as a matter of fact we are not doing that now. I have had to deal with many cases myself where the contribution from the Patriotic Fund ceased immediately the soldier who was discharged from the army had his pension fixed.

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L LIB
L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

I am thoroughly out of accord with what the hon. member for Lunenburg has just said, because his proposal would cut out the French and Belgian reservists.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

It would also cut out the British soldier.

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L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

In my county there was a French reservist, a man over forty, with a wife and a number of children, who was called to the colours. His family have been helped by the Patriotic Fund, and' everybody is delighted to help them because they should be helped. I believe I express the feeling of the House when I say that we are all willing to take care of the families of the soldiers of our Allies who were resident in Canada at the time they left to join the colours. But this law goes a little further. It is true it does not oblige us to help the families of soldiers who have come in since the war, the heads of whose families may never have lived in Canada. To illustrate that, let me take the special case in my county. Suppose the wife of that French reservist had a sister living in France, and it is left to the generosity of the Patriotic Fund in Canada to take care of that sister and her children. She says: "I will move out to Canada and establish myself there." If 'they come they will be welcome, and any persons who want to help them should be free to do so, but the country should not assume, or infer, an obligation of that kind. The Minister of Justice is an old law professor of mine, and I would not set up my legal opinion against his for one moment.

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L LIB
L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

Because I am a modest man. There is no obligation stipulated, but there is an obligation inferred. If we create a corporation for the express purpose of distributing money among people who may become resident in Canada, although their fathers or brothers have never lived in Canada, we certainly invite people to come to Canada in the expectation of receiving some benefit from this fund. If the hypothetical woman, whom I have mentioned for the purpose of illustration, comes to Canada and establishes herself next door to her sister, in my county of Brome, would she not feel that under this law the Patriotic Fund should give her something? She would be quite reasonable in taking that view. It is a mistake to hold out any illusory hopes of that sort. I want to support the suggestion made by the hon. member from Saskatchewan (Mr. Turriff), whose

constituency I have forgotten, but whose constituency I should have known because he was on our side of the House last year. He says that the Patriotic Fund should not depend on private subscription but on taxation. He is quite right. So long as the country raised its armed

forces by the voluntary system, there was no reason why we should not raise money to help the relatives of soldiers through the voluntary system, but once we adopted the .system of compulsory military service, surely it is only right that the same principle should he followed for the purpose of raising a fund to support and help the relatives of soldiers. As>

a matter of fact what is often urged, is that conscription is a matter of taxation. You would never think of raising money for public purpose by private subscription. That was an argument used by the oonscriptionist. This is a conscriptionist Government and it should be logical and consistent with itself. If we raise an, army by compulsion, and if we raise money to look after the wives and children of the soldiers who are in that araiy, I would, consider that to he an obligation of the state just the same as the soldier's pay is an obligation of the state. You should he consistent in this and raise the money required for looking after the wives and relatives, of soldiers by taxation. The way the Patriotic Fund is raised now is largely a matter of certain people, representing no one 'but themselves, assessing their fellow-citizens-. When a patriotic committee of rich .and powerful people, many of them rich bankers, go out, among the business people of a large city and collect subscriptions, .for the Patriotic Fund, they are not appealing, to. the spirit of benevolence. They are practically, in many cases, .assessing their fellow-citizens and telling them, if you will allow a vulgar expression, to come across with a certain amount of money. I do not like, that way of raising money by ordinary voluntary procedure. I think it 'best that money for State purposes should, be raised by the State itself.

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UNION

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Unionist

Mr. NESBITT:

I am sorry I was not in when this Bill was introduced in order that I might have found out why this .amendment was proposed. As far as I have heard, the Patriotic Fund has been well administered and has been working out very satisfactorily. This, clause may be construed to mean that the Patriotic Fund may be continued after the man has returned. My hon. friend from East Algoma (Mr. G. B.

Nicholson) pointed out that that was not the intention. My experience is the same as his. When the men return, get their three .months' pay with their discharge, and get their pension, the Patriotic Fund no. longer supplies them. I would like to say a word in reference to what the hon,. gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. MoMaster) has, said as to the method of collecting the Patriotic Fund. I have long thought that voluntary subscriptions were largely a .matter of coercion. In the section of the country from which I come we only once took up an ordinary voluntary subscription. After that we adopted the plan of raising the fund by municipal taxation. That plan has been very satisfactory, and it has been most satisfactory in, so far as the administration is concerned. I absolutely agree with the suggestion that the fund should be raised by taxation. If the Dominion Government are in a position to- collect a tax for it, they are surely the ones to do it. I do- not think it should toe called any longer a Patriotic Fund. I think the money should be given in the form of extra separation allowance in accordance with the number of children in a family as they do on the other side of the line. If there is a danger of this clause being misconstrued, -as the hon. member for Brome (Mr. McMaster) says and the money paid to people who moved into the country after the war started, for the purpose of getting some .benefit from this fund, or for any other purpose, or if there is a danger that it will be continued after the soldier gets his discharge, I would suggest to my hon. friend the Minister of Justice (Mr. Doherty) that, She- strike out the words "or may become" io the eleventh line.

That would clear the ground in so far as those who may afterwards become settlers in Canada are concerned. Then on the last line but one of the section, the words are used: "who during the present war may be on active service." I would suggest that we should strike out the two wmrds "may be" and insert the word "are." The phrase would then read: "who are on active service." These are my suggestions, and in my judgment, they would overcome entirely the objection that I have heard made to the clause this morning. I think we aTe all proud of the way in which the Patriotic Fund has been administered, and the very small expense that has been incurred in connection with it. Altogether the work of the local committees who distribute the funds throughout the country has been excellent, as far as I have heard.

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UNION

Hugh Boulton Morphy

Unionist

Mr. MORPHY:

Suppose the soldier is not on active service, but is dead?

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May 18, 1918