June 28, 1919

UNION

William Folger Nickle

Unionist

Mr. NICKLE:

The hon. member (Mr. Lemieux) cited the case of an honest woman securing a divorce from her husband, who then marries the woman who was the cause of the divorce, and he took the position that the pension should be paid to the woman whom I would call the first wife.

Topic:   PENSION ACT AMENDMENT.
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L LIB
UNION

William Folger Nickle

Unionist

Mr. NICKLE:

That is one instance. Let me give another instance. A wife deserts her husband and lives with another man, with the result that the husband obtains a divorce from her and marries an honest woman. To whom then should the pension be paid? Certainly it would appear that it should be paid to the woman who was the legal, wife of that man. My inquiries into these questions have led me to the conclusion that the complexity of modern social life, and the disclosures which the war has made, necessitates discretionary power in regard to these domestic conditions being left to the Board of Pension Commissioners, who in each case will have to inquire carefully into the merits surrounding the domestic conditions, and on the wisdom of their administration must rest the satisfactory operation of this Act. You cannot build this Act up on individual cases, because if you do, it will break down, for the complexity of social conditions as disclosed by this war absolutely overwhelms a man. If your Pension Commissioners are not big enough men, if .they have not the qualifications which Solomon is alleged to have had, this Act will break down; but if you get the right men and they enter into the spirit of the Act the legislation will be effective. If you itry to build it up on a consideration of the peculiar circumstances of each individual case the Act will be found to be unworkable and impracticable.

Topic:   PENSION ACT AMENDMENT.
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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I certainly respect the views of my hon. friend (Mr. Nickle), as he well knows. If we are going to act on the point of view of my hon. friend (Mr. Griesbach) that Christ did not indicate who was the wife, we shall be going to the very root of Christianity. But this is not the time to discuss the question of divorce, al-

though it is engrafted on this subject incidentally. I say that the pension should go to the honest woman, and to the legitimate children in all cases.

Topic:   PENSION ACT AMENDMENT.
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UNION
L LIB
UNION
L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I do not know if I am exaggerating, I speak the thought of the moment, but it seems to me that this is putting a,premium on immorality instead of recognizing the services that have been rendered by our gallant men. We must not give way to the whims and passions of men. We must stand by the moral law of the land. My hon. friend (Mr. Griesbach) seems to think that because we had a war and social conditions have changed we must not be too particular about these matters, and must leave discretionary power in the hands of the commissioners. I have the highest regard for the commissioners; I know the Government will appoint the right men; they will not appoint pagans but Christians. But at the same time I do not want to leave discretionary power in their hands if in certain cases they give preference to the paramour.

Topic:   PENSION ACT AMENDMENT.
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UNION
L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

Yes, you give preference to the paramour in the case I have cited.

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UNION
UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

Would my hon. friend permit me to point out one consideration? He objects to giving the board discretionary power.

Topic:   PENSION ACT AMENDMENT.
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L LIB
UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

In the case mentioned,

who is to decide whether the woman is a paramour or not? Who is to decide the degree of guilt? Suppose we put in such a qualification as my hon. friend suggests.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

There will be either a

judgment of the court or a Divorce Act passed by this House, giving power to remarry. The commissioners will know ab initio who is the guilty party.

Topic:   PENSION ACT AMENDMENT.
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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

Quite so, but I am speaking of the legal wife. The man marries again, as he is authorized to do by the decree of divorce. Who is to determine the character of the legal wife, as to whether

she should or should not be disentitled to the pension? My hon. friend will see that to carry out his own suggestion there must be discretionary power left somewhere to determine such a case, and the more he looks at it the clearer he will see the wisdom of the decision of the committee to leave the matter in the hands of the Pension Commissioners.

Topic:   PENSION ACT AMENDMENT.
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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I would not leave it to the discretion of the commissioners. I would make a law providing that the honest wife, divorced at her request, and divorced by reason of the conclusions arrived at on the evidence-that she with her children should get the pension.

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UNION

Robert James Manion

Unionist

Mr. MANION:

The hon. member (Mr. Lemieux) raises a point to which I take exception. He spoke of the " guilty " person, whether the husband, the first wife, or the second wife. Now, no matter which of them is the guilty one, I submit that the children that are born, whether legitimate or illegitimate, are not guilty parties and should be looked after by the pension commissioners.

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UNI L

Michael Clark

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. M. CLARK:

It appears to me that the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Lemieux) would lead the committee into a discussion of questions we could not possibly settle. He is confusing his thoughts on morality with his thoughts on legality. If we were to go into the moral and Christian aspect of the question, I could make out a very Christian case against the woman whom he describes as the honest -woman. Christianity says that people must forgive seventy times seven, and that, I think, would teach the woman that on strictly Christian principles she should have forgiven her husband and not divorced him. When the woman has divorced her husband she has put herself, by her own act, in the legal .position of no longer being his wife. May I. say to my hon. friend that I approximate very closely to his views on the religious side of the question, but that they do not appertain here. The question is as to the legal wife, the husband himself having been divorced contrary to the Christian injunction of forgiveness. The question is not one of morality at all, but of legality: Who is the legal wife of the man? The second wife is his legal wife, according to the laws of the country, and therefore she is entitled to consideration under the Act. May I summarize the situation by repeating that the question is purely and simply one of legality.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I would appeal to my hon. friend's sense of fairness. Let us suppose that he is .a pension commissioner. Now, according to my tenets, I would not favour divorce, but divorce is provided for in our statute-book; it is in the constitution. Any woman can come before the Senate and by giving the necessary evidence she may obtain a divorce. She obtains a divorce, we will assume, and the husband re-marries. He marries the woman who was the cause of the divorce as eternally such a woman has been the cause. As I say, he marries the paramour.

Topic:   PENSION ACT AMENDMENT.
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June 28, 1919