MOTION BY MR. MeCURDY THAT WOUNDED SOLDIERS BE GIVEN PREFERENCE.
Mr. F. B. MeCURDY (Colchester) moved:
That, in the opinion of this House, the Civil Service Act should be amended so that, while having full regard to efficiency, a preference in appointments to the public service shall be afforded to imemlbers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force who have become casualties in a theatre of war.
He said: All hon. members know that from 1914 to 1917, while appeals were being pressed on the manhood of Canada to voluntarily enlist in the military forces, undertakings both direct and implied were given from every recruiting platform to those who were being urged to join. Intending recruits were assured that, come good, come ill, Canada would see that after the war every reasonable consideration would at all times be afforded to those who responded to the call. I confidently state that these commitments were made with the practically unanimous consent of all Canada. And furthermore, were a similar world condition to confront Canada to-morrow, and should it become necessary to raise a large army by voluntary enlistment, I have no doubt that similar undertakings would again unhesitatingly be given.
The Government has not been at all idle in preparing to honour the country's obligations. It has created a good deal of machinery designed to facilitate the return of the soldier to civil life. It has provided medical and instructional services, established an elaborate pensioning system, and is now engaged in the establishment of a Soldiers' Land Settlement organization. But much remains to be done, and it must be particularly remembered that the best results can be assured only when all agencies dealing with the problem are fully or-ordinated and harmonized. For the purpose at which this resolution is aimed, the practice of the Civil Service Commission must undoubtedly be in concord with the policy of the Government.
Quite recently I was requested to make inquiry of the Civil Service Commission regarding the appointment of an officer in the public service in Nova Scotia. In response to notices sent out by the Commission two applications had been lodged. Both were from discharged soldiers, one having got as far as England and from
there returned to Canada for discharge, while the other, who had been wounded in France, had incurred a permanent partial disability of his left hand. Somewhat to my surprise I learned that, in practice, both these classes of returned soldiers were regarded by the Commissioners as possessing equal claims to appointment so far as their service records were concerned. That, the Commissioners advised, was the interpretation placed on the Civil Service Act. While we all appreciate the admirable spirit that impelled those who did not get further than England-as it did others- to enlist, it is undoubtedly in the public mind that those active service men who have sacrificed and suffered most best deserve preferment at the Government's hands. I am advised that in view of the decision of the Civil Service Commissioners, any alteration or rectification in cases such as I have referred to can be effected only by amendment to the Civil Service Act.
I will not give any opinion as to whether or not the Civil Service Commission are correctly interpreting the Civil Service Act, or whether or not they are following the policy of the Government in this matter. If they are facilitating a Government policy, then I am bound to say that in my opinion the Government has not correctly interpreted the opinion of hon. members of this House. Indeed, if the Civil Service Act really bore the interpretation that the Commission has placed upon it I feel that the Government would have been supported by this House in altering by Order in Council under the W'ar Measures Act this detail in order that the most deserving class should be fully protected. However, what is past is gone, and I am advised that it will largely meet the present situation if hon. members will support the resolution proposed. To them I confidently appeal.
In urging the particular claims of those who have become casualties, I do not for a moment wish to prejudice the rights,- already acknowledged by statute,-of any other one who has been on active service. I am satisfied that the purpose can be accomplished without creating any injustice anywhere.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I would ask: Is it not eminently .fitting that, efficiency granted, the public service of Canada should, to as great an extent as possible be carried on by those who have already served their country in a vastly more difficult and sterner field of activity? And, asa matter of course, those who in the discharge of their military duties had incurred physical disabilities would, I take it, be