I was not referring to the member for Quebec South (Mr. Power). But that hon. gentleman did say some things. In the first place, while the committee stated that no further gratuities were possible at the present time, he went further and said that they should not be given under any circumstances. He has also said that he is in favour of the abolition of the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment. Now, if the investigations of our committee proved anything they proved that notwithstanding the charges which have been indiscriminately made against that department, the work done by it was much greater than we had
anticipated or ever thought of. This department takes care of the men who have been disabled and who require further medical treatment either now or at any future time. In that respect, therefore, the hon. member is very much mistaken; I am satisfied that he will not get one follower throughout this great Dominion who, thinking the subject over, will say that the Department of Soldiers' Civil Reestablishment should be abolished. On the contrary, we should extend the department; and I may say incidentally that while the committee found it impossible to recommend the granting of any further gratuities at the present time owing to the financial condition of the country and other considerations which I shall mention later, we found also-and we were unanimous in the conclusion-that everything possible should be done, first, for the men who had been disabled in their efforts for us in this war; and second, for the widows and the children of those men who failed to come back.
I have said that the statement has been made that this committee was biased, and I have endeavoured to prove that the contrary was the fact. This committee held a great many sessions; I understand that there were fifty or sixty meetings. We had witnesses from all parts of Canada. We sat morning, afternoon and night, even on Sundays on one or more occasions, in order that we might have a finding to place before Parliament before the close of this session. We went into the matter very thoroughly, and our opinion, shortly, was this: The
adoption of any of the large or general schemes of gratuities would bring about no permanent, basis of settlement. If we took any one of those schemes there would be no guarantee, no guarantee could be given by any man or any body of men that would settle for all time the question of the civil re-establishment of the soldier. All hon. members know that there is going to be a certain amount of unemployment and hardship during the present winter, and if we acceded to the proposals put forward by Mr. Plynn or by any of these bodies, would we have any guarantee that there -would be no unemployment this winter? Would we have any guarantee that these men would not soon lose or spend this money in some way? Would we have any guarantee that the country would be protected against unemployment? I contend that we would have the same obligations to meet even if we acceded to the request that an additional
gratuity be granted. We know that these problems must recur from time to time; and the finding of the committee was that we should turn down, to use a short term, the various proposals placed before us for a general gratuity, in favour of relieving cases of necessity during the present winter and providing for those cases that might occur in the future.
I wish to say a few words with regard to the various schemes of a general character that were placed before us. The first scheme was that of Mr. Flynn. For obvious reasons, I do not think any member will frankly say that he is in favour of this scheme. The proposal was that a grant of $1,000 be made for service in Canada, $1,500 for service in England, $2,000 for service in France, regardless of length of service or anything else. When asked the question before the committee whether he would give the $1,000 to a man who had only been in service for two or three days, Mr. Flynn said1 that he certainly would. The chief trouble that has been experienced in connection with the gratuity that has already been granted is based upon its inequality. We found that gratuities were granted to and accepted by men who in the ordinary sense of the word did not need them. A great many civil servants went overseas and while there drew full pay as civil servants as well as their military pay. It is quite true that their dependents did not get separation allowance, but ' in all other respects they were treated the same and received the same pay as any other soldier. Upon their return to Canada they went back to their ordinary positions, received any increases which might have been given to others of their rank while they were away, and received the gratuity in addition. Other men in the employ, perhaps, of railway companies or of private individuals got the same gratuity . under practically the same circumstances. This difficulty of inequality, therefore, would not be remedied by the proposal of Mr. Flynn; in fact, it would leave us exactly as we were before.
The second proposal was that of the Great War Veterans' Association, and it had all the elements that make for failure. The gratuity plan as proposed by the Great War Veterans' Association put a premium upon a man's service as related to a particular year. In other words, a man who went over in 1914-and many young fellows of adventurous spirit joined the army in the autumn of 1914 in the expectation that the war would not last very long, perhaps only
a few months-would receive, on account of the simple fact that he entered the army, a grant of $500, then an additional $1,000 if he reached England during that year, and an additional $1,000 if he reached France that year. 'Mr, Speaker, the young man who volunteered and went to the front in 1916 or 1917, after the sufferings of our men at Ypres and the Somme had become known, was a greater patriot and deserved much more credit-if indeed, there is any measure to the credit due to these men- than the man who went ov%r there in the first days of the war. Under the plan submitted by the Great War Veterans' Association this man was discriminated against. All a man had to do was to go over in 1914 and reach France that year or the succeeding year, and if he returned to Canada within two weeks after he got to France he would receive the maximum gratuity of $2,500; whereas the man who went over in 1916, knowing to a great extent the awful character of the war, and remained there until the last gun was fired, would receive a very much smaller sum. In other words, the Great War Veterans' Association plan had absolutely no regard to the length or character of the service rendered, other than such as could be found in the proposal that a twenty-five per cent feduction be made in the case of those who had not seen combatant service.
During this debate we have had one prominent advocate of the Great War Veterans' Association, the member for North Simeoe (Mr. Currie). '