May 28, 1921

UNION
UNION

Hume Cronyn

Unionist

Mr. CRONYN:

Russia, too. I remember that, two or three years ago when the Pension Committee was sitting in the museum building, the same question came before us, and the decision was that we could not extend to these men pension provisions or gratuities. It is true that we provided for pensions for certain of their dependents.

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UNION
UNION

Hume Cronyn

Unionist

Mr. CRONYN:

Widows. I understand

from the hon. member for Renfrew South (Mr. Pedlow)-I may be wrong-that these 200-odd Poles were unmarried; they did not leave widows. We have also provided for a certain amount of medical treatment for men from the armies named, but on the distinct understanding, an understanding which has, I believe, been carried out, that our expenditure in that respect will be repaid by the French and other Governments concerned. Once again, I say that the committee considered this matter and it would be quite useless to send it back for reconsideration.

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L LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland

Laurier Liberal

Hon. H. S. BELAND (Beauce):

Mr. Speaker, I want to add just a few words to what has already been said on this subject, which is of some importance. As the worthy chairman (Mr. Cronyn) has stated, the matter has been brought to the attention of the committee. I was unable to see eye to eye with the majority of the committee on this subject. I would like to impress upon the House a couple of propositions which should appeal, I think, to the majority of hon. members. First, the Poles referred to were, and are still, Canadian citizens. Second, they have served the common cause of the Allies during this war. And third, as to their quality, their bravery, and their devotion to the Allies' cause, we have the tribute which was paid to them by Professor Le Pan of the University of Toronto, if I mistake not.

I say that these men are Canadian citizens. What did we do as a Government in the case of the French reservists, the Belgian reservists, and the Italian reservists, who lived in Canada and joined the armies of their respective countries and returned to Canada after their discharge? As far as pensions are concerned, we treated them on the same footing as the members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

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UNION

Hume Cronyn

Unionist

Mr. CRONYN:

I am quite sure that my hon. friend is mistaken in making that statement. I have under my hand a statement from the Pensions Board, on my inquiry, showing that Canada pays no pension to the disabled Belgian, French or Italian reservist who returned to Canada from overseas.

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L LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

I may be mistaken as to a disability pension to the soldier himself, but there is a clause in the Act providing that the dependents of the French, the Belgium and the Italian reservists, and I think the reservist of any of the Allied armies, should receive a pension, if the soldier fell, on the same footing as the members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

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UNION
L LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

May I ask the hon.

member who says "no," what our Pension Act provides for the dependents of the Belgian, the French, and the Italian reservist? If it is not a pension for the dependents, is it a pension for the disabled soldier? Is it a war service gratuity that is provided? Or a bonus? Are they paid the same rate as the members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force? Possibly

not all of them, but as far as pensions are concerned their dependents are bn tjhe same footing as the members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. In all common sense, how could the Act not apply to men who were regarded as Canadian citizens with the authority of the Militia Department? My hon. friend the present Minister of Militia (Mr. Guthrie), and my hon. friend the ex-Minister of Militia (Mr. Mewburn), have stated that they were so regarded with the authority of the Minister of Militia. It was on September 27, 1917, that an Order in Council was passed authorizing Americans to come in here and recruit for the Polish battalion, at the request of the American Ambassador in Washington, and, in turn, I believe at the request of the Imperial Government. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that representations which we could not control have been made to these men, to the effect that if they enrolled and served with the Polish battalion they would be treated on the same footing as members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

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UNION
L LIB
UNION

John Wesley Edwards

Unionist

Mr. EDWARDS:

Then they could not have thought that they were to be treated the same as members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

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UNION

James Arthurs

Unionist

Mr. ARTHURS:

There were certain

members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, as stated by the hon. member for Renfrew (Mr. Pedlow), who left the Canadian Expeditionary Force to join the Polish battalion at Niagara. They stayed with that battalion for some days or weeks, and then raised the objection that their treatment was not what they expected, that their pay was not as high as that of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and they were allowed to rejoin the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Consequently, the argument made that these men were to get the same treatment as the men of the Canadian Expeditionary Force has no foundation in fact.

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L LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

They may not have been guaranteed the same rates officially. If that had been the case we would not have been pleading for them here to-day, because it would have been a matter of law. But to my mind it appears clear, at all events it is most probable that these men were left under the impression that they were to receive the same treatment as the men

of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, if not in all respects, certainly as regards the pension to their dependents if they should fall.

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UNION
L LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

That is a very proper

question, and I shall answer it. If my hon. friend,, who is an extremely reasonable man, had been placed in the position of the Poles, understanding the English language very imperfectly-

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UNION

Hugh Boulton Morphy

Unionist

Mr. MORPHY:

I am informed that

that is not so, and I would like my hon. friend to take the responsibility for making that statement.

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L LIB

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

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

I must remind the' hon. member that that is not a question.

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L LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

I will answer the hon.

member's question as to why they did not enlist in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, if you have no objection, Mr. Speaker. I might say that my authority for the statement that the Poles were only imperfectly acquainted with the English language is the Minister of Militia, who so stated in this House only five minutes ago. It was because of that that they were allowed to join the Polish battalion. I would not claim for the Pole exactly the same treatment as was accorded to members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, I might not go as far as my hon. friend from Renfrew (Mr. Pedlow) ; but I do think that this country owes it to itself to care for the widows and dependent children of these men who fell in the war. Is it generally known that these men were paid at the rate of 5 cents a day while they served in the Polish Army? I think in all fairness we should give these men the benefit of the doubt. I am animated by a desire only to do justice to these men, not to give them favoured treatment at all. Let me read the clause in the Bill. By section 26 of chapter 62, an Act to amend the Pension Act, a new section-section 47 of that law is enacted. This new section reads:

"When a person of the rank of Warrant Officer or of a hig*her rank in any of His Majesty's naval, military or air forces other than the naval, military, or air forces of Canada or when a person in the naval, military or air forces of one of His Majesty's Allies who was domiciled and resident in Canada at the beginning of the war has died during the war or thereafter as the result of a disability incurred during the war or demobilization and his widowed mother, widow or children have been awarded a smaller pension than they would have been entitled to under this Act in respect of his death, such

widowed mother, widow or children shall be entitled, during the continuance of their residence in Canada, to such additional pension as will make the total of the two pensions received by them equal to the pension that would have been awarded if the person aforesaid had died in the military service of Canada.

That is absolutely plain; it applies to everyone. But I believe that the Poles are treated differently from the other members of the Allied armies, and I have in mind particularly the French, the Belgian and the Italian. All I ask is that the Poles be treated the same as the others, always taking into consideration that they are Canadian citizens.

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UNION

James Arthurs

Unionist

Mr. JAMES ARTHURS (Parry Sound) :

The last speaker seems to be under a misapprehension as to what the hon. member for South Renfrew (Mr. Pedlow), has stated. In the case of those men to whom he refers, who died overseas on active service, the widows, children, and other dependents, are treated in the same way as the men who had gone as reservists to France or even in the British army. This is the law at the present time. What the hon. member for Renfrew asks is that we make up their pay, allowances and gratuity to the standard of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. We have not done that with the French reservists or thousands of Italians who joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force and who were afterwards called by their own governments. Many hundreds of them volunteered in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and were later called by their countries. We do not make up their pay; they get the Italian pay. If any of them were killed in action, however, we take care of their widows and children living in Canada, and we would do exactly the same in the case of Poles. As a matter of fact, I do not think that the American Government has done anything for the Polish Legion which enlisted there, and of which these men to whom the hon. member for Renfrew refers were a small part.

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May 28, 1921