November 6, 1919

UNION

Henry Arthur Mackie

Unionist

Mr. H. A. MACKIE:

Will the hon, gentleman explain to me the evidence that is to be found on page 649:

] >y Mr. Pardee :

Q. Would there be any call in this scheme which would necessarily keep these people her 3? Take this instance; a man left a month ago for the United States, and living there for a short time declares he desires to reside in Canada and comes back and makes application.

Then there is this further evidence to be found on page 650:

Mr. Pardee: They can give him his money

to-day and to-morrow he goes.

Mr. Waistell: Good luck to him. I will

answer your question to the best of my ability. I said at the very outset these are suggestions which are made to members of Parliament just by our own Canadian soldiers. We are not legal lights, neither are we educational experts to define these documents in such a degree of nicety that we will get everything off to the precise line; we are giving you suggestions on broad principles, which in your greater executive ability you will perfect.

What has the hen. gentleman to say to this evidence of the chief witness on behalf of the committee who drew up the plan of the Great War Veterans?

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UNION

James Arthurs

Unionist

Mr. ARTHURS:

I have just this to say: the question is a pretty long one, and I did not follow it in its entirety. I spoke as a member of the committee, and it appeared *to me that this suggestion, whatever you call it, advanced hy the Great War Veterans' Association, was put forward as a concrete plan, subject, of course, to variations. The association were quite willing to have variations but as it appeared to me it was a concrete plan. I am not

prepared to go through a thousand pages of evidence or to listen to the hon. gentleman read extracts from that voluminous evidence and answer offhand; I am not to be caught that way.

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UNION

Henry Arthur Mackie

Unionist

Mr. H. A. MACKIE:

One mme question, and I am through. I have no objection if the hon. gentleman does not want to answer.

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UNION
L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

Order. When the Speaker rises the hon. member should resume his seat. The other point of order is that when an hon. member has concluded his remarks, the House not being in committee, it is not in order even with his permission to ask him a series of questions.

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UNION

Hugh Boulton Morphy

Unionist

Mr. H. B. MORPHY (North Perth) :

As a member of the committee which had in hand the work that is under discussion to-night, I deem it incumbent upon me to take part in this debate although it should not be necessary to say very much in support of the committee's report. It is proper, however, that I should say something on account of the line that has been taken by some hon. gentlemen, particularly on this side in regard to the amendment moved by the hon. member for Winnipeg (Mr. Andrews). It does seem to me that the trend.' of the discussion can only leave one impression on the minds of members, merely, that if by reason of the amendment of the hon. gentleman the report is sent back to the committee it can only mean it is sent back to approve of the G. W. V, A. plan. I think it is wise that the House should take notice of the arbitrary nature of the amendment. It must not be forgotten that the G. W. V. A. plan which was only one of the schemes presented to the Special Committee, involved the expenditure of a sum ranging from $400,000,000 to $700,000,000 or $800,000,000. In addition to that, there was what is known as "the Mr. Flynn proposal," which involved the possible expenditure of upwards .of $1,000,000,000-a-thousand million dollars. There was also the Margeson plan. Yet this House has been discussing for hours an amendment that, even if carried, will still leave for discussion in the country the Flynn proposal which is said to be backed by twenty or thirty thousand returned soldiers. I bring this before the House for the purpose of showing the futility-I might say without

disrespect to any person the absurdity- of dealing with one proposition when there are three propositions that must be dealt with if you deal with any at all.

What would the 20,000 supporters of the Flynn proposal say if you do not send their proposal back? This country is to-day in a discentered nervous condition, and I 'think the House ought to take, and does take, cognizance of that fact, which was ever present to the minds of the Special Committee when they were dealing with what they speedily conceived to be the greatest question that has ever been brought before any special, or, indeed, any committee of Parliament within the recollection of any one living. iSo the committee approached the question with that sense of responsibility in keeping with the gravity of the situation they had to meet. I hope this House will be seized of the magnitude of the question, and that when hon. members put forward suggestions, however well they may be received by the House, and however patiently the House may listen to them, they will give the committee credit for the fact that it sat day and night for four weeks, and had the opportunity of seeing and hearing witnesses, of judging of the truth and the value of their evidence, and in addition to that heard every scheme presented in a thousandfold stronger way than any hon. member has brought forward objections to-night against the report of the committee. Men who had studied 'the question came prepared, asi no men had ever done before, to launch and to substantiate their claim. Just here I would like to say with regard to the remarks made by the hon. member (Mr. Currie) that it is unfair that he should come into this House and without any foundation whatever cast an aspersion against the members of that committee, who, as I have said, were seized of the responsibilities of their position and filled with the gravity of the case, and in a light and airy manner charge that they were hand picked and prepared to bring in a report of this kind before they heard a tittle of evidence. The hon. member (Mr. Currie) brings forward nothing but his own assertion to substantiate such a charge. It is a charge that ordinarily would be beneath contempt, but he stated it, as he admits himself, before a public meeting; afterwards, when brought to task in this House, he partially withdraws the charge, but still leaves the sting. He has not acted in a way that would lend conviction to his statement, because he knows from the character of' the otheT members-saying nothing of myself-that

the committee was composed of representative men, men of high standing, probity and honour, and he as a returned soldier should have been the last man to cast any reflection upon them. Now, as I said, that committee bent all their energies to the task before them, and it was a severe task, because I think we had as chairman a severe task master. Without taking undue time I would like to pay this tribute to the hon. chairman of the committee (Mr. Calder), that having sat in many committees, both inside this House and outside, I have never yet seen a man who' devoted more energy, better methods, finer judgment and greater patience than the gentleman who presided over that committee.

The next point I would like to make is that the decision of the committee was unanimous, representing the opinion of members from both sides of this House. That fact, to my mind, ought to sink deeply into the minds of hon. members. The members to your left, Mr. Speaker, were selected by that side of the House; the members to your right were selected by this side of the House; and notwithstanding the bitterness of party strife, notwithstanding the intense animosities engendered in political life, it seems to me a striking testimony to the high standing and probity of our public men that after threshing out the questions presented to them and agreeing to disagree, to waive a point here and a point there, that on a matter fraught with such vital consequences to the country, and which might easily have been thrown into the vortex of party politics, they came into this House clean and unsullied as members of this Parliament, true Canadian subjects, doing what they thought was best in the interests of the country at a very critical time. Therefore I say to the hon. member from North Simcoe, who has Mr. Flynn's approval apparently, that when he tells us that Mr. Flynn is willing to withdraw his scheme for gratuities of $2,000, $1,500, and $1,000 to the men in France, in Britain and in -Canada and that he is willing on, their behalf to take $500, $300 and $200 instead, the hon.. member pays to this committee the greatest compliment possible, because the report has convinced him that this country cannot stand the expenditure of the greater sums.

The hon. member for West Peterborough (Mr. Burnham) came forward with the statement that his heart was filled with love for the returned soldier-as our hearts are also filled-but seemingly carried away

by the exuberance of his fancy, we have that gentleman taking the industrial concerns of this country practically by the throat, shaking from them the profits that they had won during the war, and giving those profits to the returned soldiers. The industrial life of this country, Sir, is today playing a very honourable part in the re-establishment of the returned soldier. We all know hundreds of factories that have increased 'their capacities for the purpose of employing more returned soldiers. A gentleman to-day told me, after hearing the remarks of the hon, member, 'that he had increased his capacity for the employment of workmen to the extent of 650 men, because he was desirous of doing as much as he possibly cou'ld to assimilate and reestablish more returned soldiers than he could in his former plant. Under those circumstances, by adopting the suggestion cf my hon. friend you confiscate, you stagnate. You kill the industrial life of this country by drastic remedies and extreme measures, and-at the same time you kill the re-establishment of -all the industrial workers who belong to the returned soldier class; you put them out of employment. I do submit, Sir, that the hon. gentleman has not done any particular service to the subject under discussion, and I think he did not reach that high standard that he usually does reach when he suggested a remedy of that kind, which would produce such disastrous results.

The hon. member also suggested a referendum to the people, a referendum where the question would be: Do you want to tax yourselves to the extent of seven or eight hundred millions in addition to what you have to meet at present? If so, mark your ballots, "yes." My experience is that people are not rushing to the ballots to load themselves up with taxation, either through the referendum or otherwise.

The patriotism of our people has been well shown, in Belgian relief work, in hospital ship relief work, in the Patriotic Fund, in the soldiers' comforts work, in the voluntary subscriptions amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars. Their patriotism, I say, has been shown, and these things should not be forgotten either by the returned soldier or by any one else. To submit to the people by means of a referendum the question whether they should vote for the taxation of themselves- through a direct tax on land, as has been suggested, or in any other way-would be to cause the question of relief to the returned soldier to run the gauntlet of ani-

mosity, an experience which it could not possibly survive. To my mind the plan iB absolutely futile and chimerical; it is not worthy of consideration.

The member for East York (Mr. Foster) had many schemes of taxation. He, like others, was going to raise these hundreds of millions by taxes on theatre tickets, theatre chairs, and through the medium of our natural resources. Do these gentlemen, Mr. Speaker, understand how much a million dollars is? Do they understand how much more a hundred million is, how much more nine or ten hundred millions are? Yet they talk about theatre tickets, theatre chairs and natural resources. The natural resources are in the ground; it will take millions of dollars to get them out of the ground and develop them. It will be many years before our natural resources, under the best-laid scheme, can produce much annual revenue. One would almost think, judging from the way hon. gentlemen speak of this matter, that you could go out with a spade, dig up the gold and throw it over to the returned soldier. True, Canada is a wealthy country, splendidly endowed by Divine Providence with immense wealth, hidden and unhidden. But when you talk about our natural resources you are forgetting that the problem we have to deal with is one of to-day, not one of twenty years hence. This money is asked for to-day because they say the returned soldier needs it to-day. As the chairman of the committee has pointed out,-and I think this should sink deeply into our minds-this country has commitments for the fiscal year 1919-20 amounting to $699,000,000, which we must raise, and most of which has been spent. In addition to that, there are figures that the chairman has submitted. I shall not tire the House by repeating them, but these sums are enormous. Are we seized of the enormity of the debt that this war has laid upon the country? I do not know whether the House is taking this question seriously. I am afraid that some members on our own side do not take it quite as seriously, perhaps, as members on the other side of the House. I am referring more particularly to the member for Brantford (Mr. Coekshutt) who made a most scathing criticism of the report, but-questioned by the member for Parry Sound (Mr. Arthurs) he whund up by showing that he concurred in the report of the committee-though he had been attacking it. The hon. member had not read the report; he was making a guess. He said that he

*wanted to deal with the men who were in need-the disabled, the blind, tlhe halt, the lame, the legless, the armless. That is what he wanted, and that is what this committee have largely based their report upon. That, I believe, is the opinion of this country. That, I believe, is the opinion of the man on the street. That, I believe, is the opinion of seventy per cent of the soldiers who have returned to this country and are re-established, and is, I believe, the opinion of fifteen per cent of the remainder.

I have no hesitation in saying that had the returned soldier been left alone, had he been left free from the nagging and the false leadership of men like the member for North Simcoe and a few others throughout the country, no crisis would have to be feared. The hon. member comes here and tells us that the returned soldiers are grumbling here and grumbling there; I want to tell him that he is largely responsible for the grumbling of the returned soldier here and there.

A peculiar thing about this discussion is the fact that all hon. members who have criticised the report now suggest the expenditure of a lower sum than any of the schemes that were proposed. They have said: " Too much, but let us do something." So that this report practically stands free from any serious criticism in this House, absolutely free from criticism on the part of any one who has read it, except, possibly, the hon. member for Quebec South (Mr. Power). He had some criticism to make, but he waived it; for the good of the country, for the ending of the unrest, for the settlement of this question, he waived, as we all did, certain points that we would like to have hung our hats on and fought for, and did fight for. Each member of that committee surrendered his personal views, surrendered in some instances his personal judgment. The cause was so great and so serious that we as free men, not hand-picked, felt the responsibility of our position, and tried to judge the case upon the evidence and to bring in a report in accordance therewith.

The hon. member for Qu'Appelle (Mr. Thomson) tells us that he would give the same wages to the private soldier as the soldier would have earned at home as a common labourer. I made a mental note at the time that in that case the returned soldier would get nothing. The married soldier was getting far more than the common labourer. He got $401 a year at $1.10 a day. He got $360 by way of separation

allowance, $240 by way of patriotic grant, $100 worth of clothes, medical and dental services to the value of $25, a total of $1,126. If you take the gratuity at $600, roughly, and add to the $1,126 an amount of $200 by way of gratuity for one year, you get $1,326 a year that the private soldier was getting, while the common labourer at $2.50 a day would get $912. The member for Qu'Appelie said: Deduct the amount of the gratuity and then give the private soldier as much as a common labourer would get. Well, the private soldier got $414 more than the common labourer, charging up $200 by way of gratuity. I mention that only for the purpose of showing that an' evanescent opinion, ill-considered or probably not considered at all, by members who have not had the advantage of weeks of labour upon the committee, is unsafe as a guide to the formation of a conclusion through any debate in this House.

The hon. member for Quebec South (Mr. Power), I think, and another hon. member who spoke, seemed to forget that we are approaching winter; that the unemployment problem is likely to be a serious one; that the evidence was that there were in Canada to-day 30,000 men out of employment. That is not very many for the whole of Canada and not much more than in normal times at this time of the year; but the evidence also was that in large centres, especially in some sections of the West where industrial life is not too plentiful, there would probably be great unemployment. Therefore, this committee, again seized with the responsibility they had, fearful of that responsibility not being lived up to, sat down daily in the interest of the country to consider where this country would be, if, in the absence of some provision being made to take care of that unemployment, insurrection, crime, disorder, should break out in Canada. That does not necessarily come from the returned soldier. No one thought of such a thing, but we know that in the winter time there are periods when men are forced out of their ordinary employment and into idleness when the very worst passions are sometimes engendered. The fact of a portion of the civilian population being out of employment makes the case far more difficult, and this committee reported that in their judgment this country should do something to prepare against such a contingency. The report says that we think that the provincial, municipal and civic authorities should take care of the civilian population as they have always had to do, and it is this country's duty to

protect the returned soldier from want, to give him employment, to provide against unemployment.

I want to say a word here to those members in this House who so glibly speak about this, that or the other thing as being doled out to the soldier as charity. It is an unfortunate thing that that expression is being used so often, and I believe it is used, whether intentionally or not, for no good purpose. It can serve no good end. On this side of the House as well as on that, there is not a heart but beats warmly for the returned soldier, and there is not a man whose judgment would not lead him to do everything he could for the returned soldier, and it ill befits hon. members to throw the taunt in this House that this way of giving or that way of giving is charity, and that the soldier does not want that. There is nothing of charity about the matter, no matter what the form of the grant, no matter what the grant itself may be. The thing furthest from the mind of every member of 'the committee and, I am sure, of every member of this House is that the soldier should be at all offended, and I do not think the soldier would be offended if he were let alone, and if he did not have these things so continually thrust upon his mind in an endeavour to convince him that things are not what they should be and that he is being insulted in the form of a grant or gratuity. I do not think the man who Speaks in that way is the very best cititzen for Canada or is properly seized with the duty he owes to Canadian citizenship. I do not think the returned soldier himself is prone to talk in that way; in fact, I have seen many returned soldiers, and I have heard far more grumbling from their champions wtho are not returned soldiers than I have ever heard from the soldiers themselves.

One hon. member said that they would abolish the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishmen't, the vocational training branch and the employment fund. In other words, that if this report is referred back, it is for the purpose of ending all the work in which the country is now engaged. The hon. member for Quebec South (Mr. Power) sought to minimize the work of these various departments of Government. I think I voice the sentiments of the committee when I say that the members of the committee were thoroughly surprised and astonished at the remarkable executive ability shown by the heads of these departments, at the scope and magnitude of their work, the men they had to handle and the con-

ditions they were working under. It was a matter of great surprise to the committee at large that Canada had done so much along those lines for the care of the disabled man and his dependents, and it was such a matter of remark that the committee incorporated in their report a testimonial to the men at the head of those departments. Yet the hon. member for Simcoe North (Mr. Currie) comes in to queer the whole thing, because in some office in Toronto there is one returned soldier and half a dozen other men who are not returned soldiers. The returned soldier has been sought after and put into all the positions imaginable in the various departments. There are practically no persons but returned soldiers in the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment; out of the hundreds employed I understand there are only two or three who are not returned soldiers.

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UNION

Hugh Clark (Parliamentary Secretary of Militia and Defence)

Unionist

Mr. HUGH CLARK:

Ninety per cent of the males.

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UNION

Hugh Boulton Morphy

Unionist

Mr. MORPHY:

Ninety per cent of the males are returned soldiers. Yet we have to meet that sort of thing which has been bandied about on the streets of Canada here and there by every man who is disgruntled. If hon. gentlemen had been on that committee and had heard some of the evidence in regard to the men who are being taken care of, whose disease cannot be diagnosed and whose condition was described by witnesses who had seen them, they would have heard the most human story they ever listened to. Such stories were listened to by that committee in the most human way, not with frivolity and lightness but with compassion in their hearts for those poor fellows. One witness described such a man as that in the way in which I am describing him to you now: " I cannot tell you what the disease was; the man was-what shall I say?-burned out; his energy gone, his mind gone, his physical being strong, but burned out- The hon. member who would, by this amendment abolish the only way in which we are taking care of such men to-day, is doing a questionable service even to the returned soldier or to this country. I am opposed to the amendment because it says that the report should be referred back, because in sending that report back, you are sending it back for the purpose of doing a certain thing only and taking no notice of the other plans proposed. Canada in regard to her treatment of the returned soldier leads the world, as is ad-

mitted everywhere, and people from the United States and even from England are coming here to see how this country is carrying on this work. Yet with all the flippancy and ease in the world, some few bon. members, regardless of the responsibility they bear to their constituents, Or to their country or to the returned soldier, come here and suggest the annihilation of a splendid machine that has been set up to care for those invalided soldiers and to enable them to help themselves. For that reason, if for no other, I say that no hon. gentleman in this House can possibly support a proposition that will wipe out a thing that has cost the country so much money and has been of such inestimable benefit to the soldiers, who deserve the best treatment that Canada can give them.

On motion of Mr. Middlebro the debate was adjourned.

On the motion of Hon. A. K. Maclean, the House adjourned at 11.25 p.m.

Friday, November 7, 1919.

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November 6, 1919