June 21, 1922

LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

The question is an absolutely proper one in every way. I thought of the very same situation myself, and I agree that to give twenty-five years to pay for stock and implements and also for goods which can pass away is a very long time indeed, but under the present law, the payments on stock and implements are, unfortunately, very heavy, and the committee thought that although the country would be taking a certain risk in extending the period for the repayment of loans on stock and implements, the increment on the farm itself would more than offset the loss in security which they might suffer by depreciation of the implements. In other words, you get depreciation in one case, and appreciation in the other.

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LIB

Lewis Johnstone Lovett

Liberal

Mr. LOVETT:

How many farms have

been abandoned by the soldiers and have come back into the hands of the Government?

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

I am sorry I cannot

give that information at the moment, but I shall make a note of it and let my hon. friend know.

I mentioned certain interest exemptions. Your committee are suggesting interest exemptions as follows: For 1919 settlers, up until the 1st of October, 1926, or in other words, four years from next October; for

1920 settlers, up to the 1st of October, 1925, or three years from next October; for 1921 settlers, up to the 1st of October, 1924, or two years from next October. The question naturally arises, why this difference? Why are some settlers given a longer period within which to pay this interest than others? The reason is that the exemption in 1919 is made for four years because the committee thought that implements, stock, etc. at that time, had been bought at higher figures, and, possibly, the soldier settler at that particular period paid more for his land, and also very likely, almost certainly, paid more for his stock. He was given a preference in that respect; so the settlers in 1920 and

1921 were given lesser preferences for similar reasons. The situation does not affect a man who has paid up his debt, because interest is added up till the 1st of April

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this year, and the whole amount is consolidated. The man owing less simply has to pay less interest in the future. These payments, I admit, are all exceedingly complicated and very very hard to follow. Consequently, I have reduced to the simplest possible calculation, for the benefit of hon. members, the method in which an average loan of $5,000 would be paid under the old plan, and how it will now be payable under the new plan. The average of loan of $5,000 divided into:

Land purchases $3,000

Permanent improvements 500

Stock and equipment 1,500

This is a hypothetical case, to distinguish how payments have been made in the past, and how they will be made in the future. Under the old plan, as at present in existence, that loan of $5,000 would be payable in this way, leaving out the cents:-

1st October 1920 $254

1st October 1921 667

1st Ootober 1922 667

Or, in other words, on the 1st October 1922 the settler of 1919 would have had to pay $1,589.53. But some have paid and some have not paid. The payments have (been made fairly regularly, but I am simply quoting this example in order to show that, in the opinion of your committee, the initial payments were too heavy. What is suggested under the proposed amendment to the act is that, on this same loan of $5,000, on the 1st of next October the amount due will be $232.40, and that amount of $232.40 will continue for some years) and then there will be nineteen payments of $372,97. In other words, the earlier payments are less and the later payments a little heavier. Take an example of a settler established 1st April, 1920. He would have had to pay, under the old plan, on the 1st October, 1922, $922.04. It is suggested, in the consolidated plan, that this be converted into a payment of $219,35 on the 1st October, and the later payments of $359.27, instead of the method under the old plan, when his later payments were $254.55. In the case of a settler established 1st April, 1921, the payment due 1st October, 1921, under the old plan, would be $557.47, and, under the new plan, it would be $210. This means that all these loans, which are now placed in very many accounts, will all be on exactly the same basis, and all payable in 25 years. I am informed that the saving in cost of admin-

istration alone will be very considerable- the amount which has been mentioned to me is around $250,000 per annum. The treasury, it goes without saying, will lose a certain amount of interest. That amount of interest which the treasury will lose under the exemption for interest, as it stands now, will be $11,700,000.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

In connection with the virtual rebate on non-payment of interest, has the committee considered the possibility, indeed the ;certainty, of discrimination? One man has paid a third or half his loan, and another has paid nothing, perhaps, not even his interest. If the debt of each was consolidated, and each was given freedom from interest for four or three or two years, as the case may be, the man who has been delinquent gets a far greater advantage than the man who has been industrious and prompt. In a word, is it not open to the objection that the plan really puts a premium upon procrastination?

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

My right hon. friend is, in part, right in his criticism. It is true, the man who has paid up the greater part of his loan is not getting exactly the same as the man who has not paid up his loan, but none of the past interest is waived in any way. I trust I have made that quite clear. It is consolidated up to a certain date. But where a man has paid off his loan entirely, he is, to some extent, discriminated against.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN (York) :

Does it not mean that the successful settler takes up the loss of the unsuccessful settler?

IVJr. MARLER: In that regard, the question of interest exemption arose out of the desire for a revaluation, which was utterly impossible to arrive at. We could not have a revaluation. Then the committee had to consider the two main points: first the advisability of keeping the soldier settler on the land-that is what we had in mind the whole time-and, second, to save as much as we possibly could, and, in fact, increase our security by keeping him on the land, so that we would minimize, or eliminate entirely, our loss on acount of the large amount involved. But the criticisms of my right hon. friend (Mr. Meighen) and the hon member for South York (Mr. Maclean) are well founded, I must admit, in part. But I do not see how it could be gotten over, although I must admit, I tried to get over it. I took that question up,

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and I may say there are very very few who will be discriminated against in that respect.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

If that is the case, the objection is not strong, but is it really the case? The hon. member seems to think that only those who have paid in full will be discriminated against. There are not very many of these-I am told only about five hundred. But is there not discrimination as between all of them, the man who has paid two-thirds, the man who has paid a half, and the man who has paid one-third or the man who has paid one-tenth? All those are discriminated against, in favour of the man who has paid nothing at all, because, when the outstanding indebtedness is all consolidated, then the amount of interest due now is waived, just in proportion to the debt.

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

Not precisely. I do not think that is quite right.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Perhaps I misunderstood it.

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

The interest is not

waived. If a man has paid one-third of his debt, he is saved that much interest. If a man is in arrears, his interest is added up to the 1st of April of this year. Nothing is waived up to the first of April.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I know that.

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

Let us take this example. If a man has paid one-third of his debt, he will have so much less interest to pay. A man who has paid none of his debt will have the whole of his debt capitalized with interest. A man who has paid one-third of his debt, will have two-thirds of his debt capitalized with interest. It is as regards the future that the privilege exists. There is no waiving at all up to the date of consolidation.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I am aware of that. Supposing six men started out, each with a debt of $5,000. One has paid nothing; another has paid $1,000; another, $2,(300; another, $3,000; another, $4,000, and another, the whole thing. As regards the man who has paid nothing at all, his remission is the interest for four years on $5,000, presuming that he has been paying interest; that is to say, it would be, at 5 per cent, $1,000. The man who has paid $1,000, gets out on $4,000, which would mean $800 remitted. And so on down; the man who has paid all except $1,000, gets only $200 remission, and the man who has

paid everything gets nothing. There is discrimination everywhere, and I would fear that this would be the birth of a long, long series of claims for readjustment.

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LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

I admit that there is something in what my right hon. friend states. That was gone into very carefully by the committee at the time, and it is difficult to see how we can get out of it.

That is the report of the committee. I do not think any further comment on my part is necessary, nor is it necessary, so far as I can see to detain the House further. I should like to say, however, that during the course of the prosecution of the work of the committee, the attitude which all hon. members of that committee have taken in an attempt to solve these difficulties which have been placed before us has been exceedingly pleasant. As I have stated previously in the opening remarks of this address, the one effort which we have had before us has been to alleviate, in every possible manner, the lot of the returned soldier, to make the returned soldier feel that we have taken into consideration everything which we reasonably could have been expected to take into consideration, and I believe the report, as now brought down, is an equitable report in every way.

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UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. ALFRED SPEARMAN (Red Deer):

Mr. Speaker, I second the motion for concurrence in this report. It has been a pleasure to me to have been associated to some slight extent in this work. I think all the members of that committee felt as I do; as a matter of fact, the committee itself was a rather unique one, in that every member of that committee was placed there at his express desire, because he was interested in the work the committee had in hand, and was anxious to assist as far as possible in bringing justice to the returned men in our country. The work has been very pleasant because, as our chairman has said, it has been a committee where men from all parts of this House met on an absolutely equal footing, where politics or party considerations were forgotten and where we each gave the best that was in us to bring about a successful consummation of our labours. That, perhaps, was the most important feature in the committee, and, further, it was absolutely right and just that such should have been the case. This is no party question; this is no question of

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political gain or party advantage; this is absolutely a national question affecting every one on all sides of this House and the country as a whole. I would say further that, as regards any man who would inject politics into work of that kind, who would endeavour to use work of that kind for any political advantage, no matter where he resided or what part of the country he represented, the place of that man would be outside of the doors of the committee altogether; and I believe, further, the place of that man would be outside of Parliament. But, very fortunately, very happily, such considerations never arose. Unanimity of purpose was found on that committee, not always unanimity of ideas, because that was not to be expected, and I do not think it would be altogether desirable if there had been unanimity of ideas. We brought various ideas into the common melting-pot, and from that common melting-pot we have brought in a report which, we hope, will be of advantage to returned men and will improve the acts which we have attempted to amend. I may say further that I very much appreciate the assistance which we have had from our chairman and every member of the committee. I think the chairman of the sub-committees appreciate that particularly, because, they have found the chairman of the committee to be most helpful, most assiduous in giving what assistance he could. As one of the subchairmen, I can speak of that from personal experience.

I shall now, however, confine my remarks to my particular subject, that is, the subject of land settlement, because, to a large extent that subject was left in the hands of the sub-committee. The greater part of the evidence was taken before the main committee. But the subcommittee took that evidence, sifted it out, took further evidence, considered and discussed it, and arrived at a decision, drew up its sub-committee report and presented it to the main committee where it was discussed, criticized and finally adopted. Therefore, to some extent, if in the report there are failings and weaknesses, as have been pointed out by some hon. members, I am, perhaps, more responsible for that than the chairman of the committee, and in that I think I can associate all the other members of the subcommittee, as our report was absolutely unanimous.

Before going into the work of that subcommittee, I want to say a few brief words

on the motives that actuated us. There were two. One was this, to remedy any injustices which might unhappily have been done to returned men through no fault in the act. The second was to look at the matter as a business proposition, as a colonization scheme. In that way the work of this sub-committee stands apart, the work of this particular department stands apart from that of other departments of re-establishment. This is not even under the heading of re-establishment; it is a department of its own under the heading of the Department of the Interior, because, in its essence, it is not a measure of re-establishment; it is not a measure particularly of special assistance given to returned men; in its essence, it is a colonization method of assisted farming, which is applied only to those men who, by reason of their services abroad, were particularly entitled to that assistance. .

I am not going to criticize in the least the law as it exists. I have studied that law fairly carefully during the last few months; I believe that law was sound in its inception; that it was just according to conditions which prevailed at the time it was passed. It is natural that when any law is passed, as time goes on and as the effects of the law become more apparent, weaknesses will be found. Those weaknesses we have sought to remedy. The main trouble which we encountered was this-and it is not any fault of the act or of any member of the Government in operating the act, but results from a complete change in the economic conditions of agriculture itself; that is what we sought to meet and, so far as possible, to alleviate. When the act first came into force and during the years when the bulk of the men came on the land, agriculture was, on the whole, in an exceedingly flourishing condition. Markets were good; the demand for products was good; prices were high, and the men who went on the land, those who knew something about farming, had every expectation, and rightfully so, of succeeding in their operations and becoming selfsupporting citizens of this country. Unfortunately, by reason of the conditions prevailing at that time, these men had to purchase at high prices; because, naturally, if they could sell their produce at high prices they had to pay high prices for whatever they required themselves. If there was a good market for the man who

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had stock to sell, it meant that the man who was commencing farming had to pay a good deal for the necessary stock to start with. That was inevitable. Land was affected to some extent also. Land that produced wheat worth $2 or $2.50 a bushel was obviously worth more than land producing wheat that fetched $1 a bushel.

Now, on the contrary, the'condition that the committee was confronted with was one of general economic depression in agriculture as a whole, and that condition bore peculiarly upon the men who had been placed on the land under this scheme, not because of the fact that they were returned men but simply because they owed for everything they possessed. They were in debt to that extent, they had no reserve piled up during the good years, and in the majority of cases had no property of their own to fall back upon. They were in debt to the full extent of the property they held, and having these interest payments to meet they felt the economic depression to a greater degree than did those who owned their own property. For that reason, and because we recognized that this country owes a debt to these men, to see that as far as possible they shall be given a fair opportunity to re-establish themselves successfully and become self-supporting, self-respecting citizens, we decided to go to their assistance to that extent. Now, it has been suggested that any assistance given in that way is a form of special privilege extended to a small number of men and withheld from others. That is hardly just. These men were not given a great or any special consideration in the way of bonus when they were placed on the land. They paid the full price for everything they got, borrowing from the country the money with which to buy their properties, on which money they had to pay interest. It cannot therefore be argued that any special privilege was given them in that respect. The loan was made to these men at that time to enable them to go into agriculture because of the great cry that was being raised for increased production on the land. The attempt was made to put men on the land who would be an asset to the nation, just as the attempt is now being made, in any immigration policy that may be adopted, to secure immigrants for the same purpose. There is no question of discrimination; there was a necessity for people on the land because the country needed farmers. That was the object in giving this particular assistance to these men, and in any debate of interest,

211i

or any special consideration in regard to payment, that may be conceded, that fact must be taken into consideration. These men are not being given a bonus now; they are relieved as far as possible of conditions which have made it impossible for them to succeed personally, or to become that asset to the country which they should be.

Moreover, it is quite self-evident that if these men fail because of conditions over which they have no control, or because the payments they have to make are unduly burdensome, the country will be the loser. Those men who fail, it is true, will lose all that they had. They will lose the ten per cent which they were called upon to pay, and they will lose the result of one, two, or three years of work. But the country would also lose, and in two ways. It would lose the difference between the amount of the loan it made and the value of the property, if sold at a resale. And more than that, it would lose the men themselves, who undoubtedly are an asset to the country because they produce revenue for the railways. The country would lose these men and in their stead we should have men, women and children out of employment whom it would have to support. That is the reason we give special consideration to this class; and that is why, in my opinion, they cannot be justly considered as receiving any special privilege as compared with others. At all events, it is not our intention to give any special privilege and we do not look at the matter in that way.

Now, I am not going to go into the actual working of our recommendations; our chairman has touched on that question very ably. I have been farming in my part of the country for over thirty years, and there are more returned men on the land in that vicinity than in any other part of Canada. In my own constituency of Red Deer there are at least 1,200 returned men placed on the land by the board, and that is more than in any other constituency of Canada. I can therefore say that I know personally the conditions under which these men work. I have worked side by side with them during the last few years and under the same conditions, with this advantage over them that enabled me to pull through where they could not, namely, that I owned my property, free from debt, prior to the time of depression. So that I can speak with knowledge of the actual conditions of the men on the land at the present time. In bringing our recommendations forward, I at least have largely had

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in view those conditions. I am not a lawyer. Sometimes I am glad of the fact, and sometimes I am sorry. I can see where a knowledge of law is a tremendous asset to a man; I can see also where a knowledge of law sometimes limits a man's outlook and usefulness, and there are subjects on which a man who is actually conversant with working conditions-I am not speaking in any spirit of egotism at all-is a better authority than any lawyer, however skilful he may be, whose actual knowledge is only theoretical. In bringing forward these recommendations, for which I, as a member of the committee, am jointly responsible, I may say that we looked at the matter from the point of view of practical farmers as to what was necessary, in our opinion, to enable men to succeed under these conditions as farmers. Now, in doing so we may have infringed some of the ethics of law. I do not know whether we have, and I do not particularly care. Our object was not to frame a law that would read well or sound well, or that was even particularly consistent, our object was to bring about conditions of re-payment on the land which would enable these men to succeed on a return to normal agricultural prosperity. And I want to emphasize that point. We found it impossible to make any recommendation based on abnormal conditions, because in considering the term of payments for twenty-five years we have had in view normal periods of average prosperity on these farms during that time. If we had considered only the present year we would simply have said: "Well, we might as well wipe out the whole thing because it is absolutely worthless; seeing that in the present year the farmers that own their properties cannot meet expenditures, it would be of course futile to expect that any assistance would enable these men to succeed." But we are optimistic enough-at least I am-to believe that better times are coming, that our greatest period of depression is passing, and that we can expect some return to normal conditions, especially if these men are assisted by the wisdom of a parliament such as this. Let me say that in considering the conditions of these returned men, most of whom are on the prairies, we had in mind that this Parliament would probably see to it that they should not be crushed out of existence by excessive freight rates and other unnecessary burdens. That was our point of view. We approached the consideration of the whole subject from the angle of the actual conditions.

Sir. Speakman.]

The question as to the actual conditions of repayment now and what they will be henceforth has been touched on largely by the Chairman; but I might also refer to it, as I have made a particular study of it. As has been said, at the present time there are three or four different terms of years, and under present conditions the heavy payments come now and the lighter payments later. We believe that, under present circumstances, that system should be reversed; the light payments should come in the first years, when the men are struggling to obtain a footing, and the heavier payments-if heavier payments there must be-afterwards, when they are firmly established on the land and have had an opportunity of creating to some extent a reserve. What was the position under the old system? There was a land payment which ran twenty or twenty-five years, and a stock and equipment loan which was given on the basis of two years' exemption for interest, and for payment a term of four years. The exemption for interest was granted simply because Parliament recognized at that time that it was impossible for the men to make any payments until they were firmly established on the land. That time of exemption is over and those men are now called upon to meet those interest payments during the next four years, with the result that this year and the three years following the payments falling due are absolutely impossible for any of them to meet. When you consider in the cold light of reason what a man has to pay under these conditions everyone will admit that it is beyond his financial ability. Take the average payment of $667 that he has to meet. In addition he has to pay taxes- and I can assure hon. members that municipal and school taxes are not to be sneezed at these days, they amount to a small rent in themselves;-then he has to pay all the expenses of running his farm, and also to maintain his wife and family. Moreover,-and this is something which we have taken into consideration, although it has not been mentioned-in a great many cases during the last few years these men, being unable to provide money to carry on their operations, have received advances from the board for seed and feed, and in some cases for their own subsistence during the year. The advance is not a very large sum taken by itself-between $200 and $300 in some cases-but it is a mortgage on this year's crop and therefore has to be added to this already large total which must be met this fall under conditions

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which make it absolutely impossible for the debt to be discharged. That has worked a further hardship. Those men, having what you might call that special indebtedness on this year's crop, are unable to go to any store and buy goods on credit because they have nothing on which to base credit; the crop which they will harvest belongs under the terms of the mortgage to the board, and the board's indebtedness must be met first.

By our method of re-amortization we shall take all indebtedness which has been piling up, including the accumulated back interest, and, commencing with the 1st October this year, and spread it over a term of twenty-five years in one straight loan, relieving him of the bad results of the last two years' depression-not enabling him to succeed if conditions never return to normal, but relieving him of the tremendous load which has been piled on his back in the last two or three years. Further, we are cancelling interest. The chairman admitted that the committee had not considered a re-valuation, but I can assure this House that we considered it very carefully in our sub-committee. As you are no doubt aware, Mr. Speaker, I was one of the first in this House to advocate that measure of relief, for I thought it was just, right, and essential, and I still believe so. But, finding it impossible to carry it out as a re-valuation, we reached the same end to some extent by cancelling interest. That is why we did it. We found that we could not arrive at a fair basis of estimating depreciation in land, when re-sales in some five hundred-odd cases showed a slight appreciation in value. We could not, in the face of that testimony, justly say that land had depreciated. Even after subtracting the 10 per cent paid by the soldier and lost, those re-sales still showed a very slight appreciation in value. The committee as a whole, however, felt that it could not take that as definite evidence. In the first place, only 25 per cent of the holdings had been re-sold, and it might be that those were the most desirable, and that others were not sold because the board could not realize the price which has been paid for them. We also took into account this broad, logical truth, that whatever the market value, the final value of land is the value of the stuff you can produce on it. And no one can tell me that as a business proposition, land which is producing commodities at fifty per cent of what they were worth two or three years ago is worth

much to-day as it was when commodities prices were higher. On stock the depreciation was very heavy, about thirty-five per cent taking all the year into account; on equipment it was very slight, due, I may say, to the careful manner in which the board brought that equipment under the very beneficial arrangement which they were able to make with the machinery companies. They were able to buy equipment at wholesale prices, less five per cent, which meant that they did not pay the peak retail prices which civilian farmers had to pay. There was marked depreciation in the value of live stock. We could not go out and re-value the live stock because the same stock was not in existence. So, we took the broad ground and cut off enough interest to meet that depreciation in value. That is why we divided the cases into classes, 1919, 1920 and 1921, partly because depreciation was greater the longer the time you went back, as a whole, depreciation being greatest in the first year; and partly because the accumulated indebtedness of those soldiers working through those hard years was greater and therefore they required more relief. Consequently, we recommend a cut of interest which will amount to re-valuation on the articles which have depreciated in value.

I think the point raised 'by the right hon. leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen) that that recommendation constitutes a discrimination in favour of those men who have not paid anything at all should be dealt with. While I will admit it does constitute discrimination, we just looked at the matter from two points. Certain men had been able to pay. That would probably mean that they would be lin less need of this assistance to get over these hard times. It meant they were better business men, in which case they were paying it themselves or they were under better conditions. Because you can readily understand that the value of a binder is the same all the country over, and a Ford car is essentially the same value wherever you find it, but the value of a piece of land varies according to locality, and even pieces of land in the same locality vary in value -I mean productive value-as do different districts. Some men may have been more fortunate in the land they secured1 or in the district they went into. Therefore we simply take the ground that we are not basing the recommendation on the desirability of granting a bonus to the men, but

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on the absolute necessity of keeping them on the land. There is no doubt there is discrimination in the sense stated by the right hon. leader of the Opposition, that is, the more a man owe's the greater amount of interest will be taken off for four years. But we could not work out any other solution, and while we admit that it is open to criticism, we consider the recommendation should be accepted, unless something better is brought forward.

The right hon. gentleman brought up another point, which ;is absolutely sound and should be touched upon to some extent; that is, the danger of spreading the loan on equipment over twenty-five years, because the security disappears by the end of that time. But the first essential thing about the scheme is that it shall be workable, that is, it must take into account such payments as the men can meet and remain r.n the land and succeed. We may transgress the rules of logic, but the main purpose is that those men shall succeed. It must not be forgotten that qs the years go on every payment made increases the board's equity in the property, and in a very short time a few payments wipe out the value of the equipment, still leaving the whole of the land as security for the lesser amount that is owing to the board. By the time four or five years' payments have been made they will account for the disappearance of the equipment, but the board will still own the whole of the land as security for the loan. So the board's equity in the land will be, comparatively speaking, greater as time goes toy. We are taking that into consideration also.

As jI said when I rose, I did not intend to speak at any great length, and I hope I have not done so. I shall be very glad indeed to answer any questions on points that I have not covered. I simply wish to add that I concur in what our chairman has said. We have worked on this purely and simply from the point of view of helping the returned men to become self-supporting citizens standing on their own feet -an i asset and credit to the country. It may be of interest, in speaking of the asset which has thus resulted to the country, to examine what has already been done in that respect. I shall not read the long list of details which I have here, but I will say this: in 1921 the soldier settlers produced about $13,000,000 worth of goods on the farms, which went into the ordinary channels of trade and were to that extent an asset to the country. In 1920, an ac-

curate calculation was made of the amount of freight paid by these men on the stuff they sold-not on the stuff they bought, which should really be included-which was found to amount to $3,000,000 in one year. When you consider these things you can readily see that we can afford to lose interest to the extent of $11,000,000-even, if necessary, $15,000,000-in order to retain these men on the land. From that point of view alone it is a sound and a just policy. A.s the chairman of the committee has just said, it is estimated by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, who are generally considered, in this House and out of it, to be about as efficient as any authority in computing the value of population as related to the railways, that every settler on the land is worth $740 a year to the railways. On that basis the settlers now on the land under the Soldier Settlement Act, are worth about $13,360,000 a year to the railways. That sounds like a large sum, does it not? If I were speaking on transportation now I would compare the amount they were worth in freight to the amount they received for their produce, but for the present I let that go; I may have occasion to refer to it later. But to keep the men on the land, with all that is involved, is no charity, is not doing something from which we get no return; it is a sound business proposition, and it is sound from the point of view of the Minister of Finance as well.

I want to make just one further remark. We expected our report to be criticized on two grounds; first, that we had gone too far, and second, that we had not gone far enough. We expect that criticism, but I assure the House that we have laboured most diligently; we have gone into these matters with the idea of giving the soldier everything we could give him, having regard to the money available to give to anyone. We have come unanimously to the conclusion that we have gone as far as we can soundly, honestly and justly go. If we went further, it would be practically impossible to meet the bill; if we did not go as far as this, we should hardly be doing justice. In this year of grace we believe this report is a good one. We ask hon. members of the House to adopt it, and first, if necessary, to criticize it-but in the same non-partisan, friendly spirit -which characterized the meetings of the committee itself.

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. R. J. MANION (Fort William and Rainy River) :

Mr. Speaker, I should like

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first to offer a word of congratulation to my hon. friend the chairman of the committee (Mr. Marler) for his very full explanation of the legislation which he is proposing to the House in the form of the report of the committee. I do not rise to criticise the report adversely; the hon. member who has just taken his seat (Mr. Speak-man) is, perhaps, wrong in thinking that any hon. members will have severe criticism to offer of the work of a committee which has laboured as hard as this committee has laboured, on this occasion and such other committees in previous sessions. Some constructive criticism will probably be offered, and I believe that is the only type of criticism that any one should1 offer on a subject of this kind. I realize as well as any one does that no more difficult task confronts any committee of the House than that of dealing with the subjects coming within the scope of this committee.

I have noticed in glancing over the report that it contains some sixteen sections. There are three main points in it that appeal particularly to me. In the first place there is the recommendation for the appointment of a pension appeal board. That appeals to me, because as a member of this House and as a medical man I know there has been a great deal of dissatisfaction- rightly or wrongly; in many cases, I think, wrongly, but in some cases, rightly-with regard to the decisions that have been made respecting pensions to the returned men and their dependents. I therefore believe that those men who have served overseas and who feel that they have pensions which should not be taken away or that they are not getting pensions which they should get, will be much more satisfied to have some board to which they can appeal for a reconsideration of their case. I compliment the committee very strongly upon its suggestion that such an appeal board should be established.

The second point to which I desire to refer has to do with a matter which, I believe, required a great deal of consideration, but the committee has attempted to settle as fairly as it can, namely, the question of soldier land settlement. My right hon. leader (Mr. Meighen) has pointed out one or two flaws in the recommendations which the committee has made. At the same time, I know that the committee has attempted to bring forward something of value, and any suggestion which has for its object the assisting of the men who settle upon the land is, at any rate, a

worthy attempt. I believe that is the spirit which has animated the committee, and it is the spirit, I know, in which the House will receive the suggestion. In working out the details, same of the suggestions of my right bon. friend may be submitted when the legislation is brought before the House.

The third suggestion which appealed to me was the recommendation that a year's pension be given to children who lost their father, who was receiving a pension and whose death was due to some cause other than injury or illness resulting from the war. I have great sympathy for little children who have lost parents under any circumstances. I have always felt that it is a blot on the civilization of any country that little children left without parents are thrown upon what is sometimes the rather cold charity of the world. But I particularly feel that sympathy for little children whose father endangered his life to serve his country and to fight for that liberty which we all love and which we all wish to retain. The method1 proposed may be of great benefit in helping such children, and I suggest that upon further consideration-not at present, but later-this suggestion may be extended and, perhaps, more done than the giving of a year's pension to the children of any man who endangered his life for the good of the country and who left those children without a protector.

These, to my mind are the three most important sections in the report. They do not involve the expenditure of very much money; in fact, none of the suggestions made involves, so far as I can see, any very large expenditure. It proves, as was stated by the chairman of the committee at the beginning of his remarks, that the past government-and I am not saying this in a political sense-the past government and the people of Canada have endeavoured to treat the returned soldiers and their dependents fairly since the war has passed. When one considers the vast amount of money that was spent on gratuities, pensions, re-establishment, land settlement and various other things, amounting in all to $445,000,000 up to about a year ago, one realizes that the country did endeavour to treat the returned soldiers fairly. And when one realizes also that that $445,000,000 is about one and one-half times the amount of the whole national debt of Canada before the war, one still further realizes the effort that was made by the government and the

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people of Canada to be fair to the soldiers who served overseas, and their dependents. Canada, I submit-and I have said this from various platforms at various times -has treated her returned soldiers better than any other country in the world in this or any other war, and I am only quoting in saying that the statement made by Lady Astor very recently in the Russell theatre. I had made the statement myself long before, and I believe it is absolutely true. At the same time, I do not wish to be understood as suggesting that we have carried out complete re-establishment of the soldier. There are many changes which it will be necessary to make as time goes on, and the committee has recommended some of them, to meet the conditions of the returned soldiers and their dependents. Therefore, I do not wish to be understood as suggesting that everything has been done. I simply repeat that the country has endeavoured to do its duty fully by the returned men.

Two or three other suggestions and I shall have finished. In the first place, at various times I have made the suggestion in this House that some scheme of housing should be worked out for the returned men. In my remarks on the Address this year I even took that up, and I remember that various other members have done likewise. The committee has dealt with that subject and found no way of working it out, but it seems to me the method by which the late government helped to encourage the building of homes in this country by loaning money to the provinces, which handled it through the municipalities for the encouragement of home building, might be extended in some for or other to returned soldiers, so that they would get greater benefit from housing loans than they have obtained in the past. I believe that the Government might well consider a further extension of those provisions so as to help returned soldiers who desire to build homes for themselves. Up to recently those loans have not been taken advantage of to the extent they might have been for the reason that building costs were very high, but costs have now come down to a certain extent, and will come down still more, and I think that some plan should be worked out to give the soldiers greater assistance in that direction than they have received in the past.

There is one other matter that I think will require further consideration by the Government, and that is the question of

extending the powers of the Royal Commission that has been recommended to inquire into charges made by Mr. MacNeil and Mr. Maxwell, or at all events, made in their names. I have worked in this House for some years now in rather close association with Mr. Maxwell and Mr. MacNeil, and have found them from the first two very high-minded gentlemen who have always had at the bottom of their hearts the desire to do good, and only good, for the returned soldiers; so I believe that when they make these charges they at least believe them to be true. I should like to suggest that this Royal Commission which has been recommended, and will probably be appointed, should be given wider powers than are suggested in the committee's report, for the purpose of looking more thoroughly into various complaints by soldiers throughout the country. A committee such as we have in this House has not time to go into all these cases as thoroughly as they should be gone into, and I think that this commission might well be organized and remain in force for a long time with the purpose in view of settling whatever dissatisfaction exists in the minds of the returned men of this country. Therefore, for that purpose, I would suggest that the Royal Commission should be given wider powers than are recommended in the committee's report.

There is one other suggestion in regard to the taking care of tubercular cases, those injured or maimed at the front, old age cases, and problem cases. I believe that every effort should be made by the Government to carry out the committee's recommendations in this respect to the fullest extent possible.

I have one other suggestion to make in regard to unemployment. I think we all agree that it is the duty of the Government, as far as possible, to assist the returned soldiers with work rather than with doles, so to speak. I do not believe that it is conducive to good citizenship to be handing out money to keep men from starvation. I think the Government might well consider doing more, particularly in the winter months, in the direction of supplying employment for returned soldiers, rather than be handing out charitable doles. I believe, indeed I know, it is the desire of all members of this House and of the people of this country to be fair and just to the men who have risked their lives and limbs in serving our country

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at the front. I do not believe that any well man has a right to consider that he has a living coming to him from this country simply because he served overseas, but I do not consider that any ill man whose illness was due to the service he gave overseas should be dependent on charity in this country; and that is my closing submission to the Government.

At six o'clock the House took recess.

After Recess

The House resumed at eight o'clock.

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LAB

Joseph Tweed Shaw

Labour

Mr. J. T. SHAW (West Calgary):

Mr. Speaker, I join in the congratulations which have been tendered to the chairman of this committee upon his being able, at last, to make a report to this House. I am sure that one and all agree with him and his associates that, regardless of what may be our attitude on other questions, this question is primarily one which is above politics, and partisanship, and I am sure, therefore, that I but voice the sentiments of every member of this honourable House when I say that we are one in the desire to discuss the after-war problems on a basis far above that which usually follows the discussion of political problems.

I regret, in connection with tihis most important matter, that the committee did not, from the outset, furnish to the members of the House the evidence taken from day to day, in order that we might be able to follow the evidence given and determine what weight, in our judgment, at least, might be given to the recommendations of the committee. But, in any event, I think that this is perfectly clear; regardless of whatever other obligations we may have, now that the tide of war has receded, it is our solemn duty and obligation to see that the human wreckage, the resultant of that war, should be given every possible consideration by the Parliament of Canada. I rather regret that the chairman of the committee and the seconder of the resolution did not see fit to express their appreciation of the services rendered by Mr. MacNeil, who represented the veteran organizations of this Dominion. I presume that that was entirely an oversight, but I am frank to say-and I join with the hon. member for Fort William and Rainy River (Mr. Manion) in that regard-that I am confident, although not a member of the committee, that much valuable and unprejudiced information came from Mr. MacNeil, which undoubtedly must have assisted the committee in coming to its conclusion.

May I say, too, that I rather deprecate the suggestion of paternalism, as applied to this particular question? The returned soldiers, I venture to say, are not asking for paternalistic legislation. We have much paternalistic legislation in this House, because every measure of protection is, after all, a paternalistic measure. But I say that the returned soldiers of Canada are not asking for anything other than they deem to be justice, and to be fair and right to every part of this country.

I do not propose to go into detail in connection with this report. I take it that the report is not a final one, that from time to time, to use the words of the exPrime Minister of this country (Mr. Meighen), the door must be kept continually open, in order that any injustice which may appear may be remedied, and in order that full and complete satisfaction, as far as possible, may be given to those who are entitled to it. There are one or two phases in connection with this report to which I would like to draw the attention of the House. The recommendations of the committee followed largely the recommendations of former parliamentary committees in this matter and, I think, I am not saying anything unfair when I say that they have not travelled very much further, perhaps, than former parliamentary committees.

Let me take up very shortly the question of pensions. There are new difficulties here which are continually pressing upon us, and I venture to say that many of the difficulties which arise are due to the unfortunate fact that at the time of the medical examination for discharge or demobilization purposes, complete steps were not taken to insure that the exact condition of every man in the service was ascertained. It is quite true that many men went before the medical officers in England and, in their desire and anxiety to get back to Canada, and to be demobilized, stated to the medical officers that there was absolutely nothing wrong with them; they were, consequently, certified as medically fit, and, therefore, not entitled to further consideration, except, perhaps, in the way of gratuity. I do not blame the ex-service men for that particularly, because when one knows the facts, one must realize that these men had been kept for a period of, approximately, six months in the war area, anxious to get home and back to their

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farming operations, and anxious, amongst other things, to get out of the army. The result was that many of them did themselves very serious injustice by stating to the medical officers, on the occasion I have mentioned, that they were medically fit. It has been suggested that, despite that fact, these men may still come forward and claim pensionability, but the fact is that, when these men present themselves for consideration in the matter of pensions, they are confronted with a medical certificate, which says "You were fit at the time of your demobilization, and, therefore"- not always, but generally-"consideration cannot be given your claim."

In addition to that fact, there are, of course, many difficulties in the matter of securing pensions. The ordinary man is unfamiliar with the proper method to pursue, in order to secure his just rights. I am not blaming that at all on the departmental officials; I think, generally speaking, they conduct the affairs of the department efficiently and well; but it is a difficulty in the way of the man who is making application for a pension. I am glad to note that the chairman of the committee states that these regulations will be embodied in printed form in order that the soldier may read them for himself.

May I also say that I compliment the committee on granting an appeal? I am not so sure that I would have limited the appeal in the manner in which it is limited in the report, that is to the case in which a disagreement exists between the medical officer of the local board and the medical officials of the Pension Board. I think these claims should be thoroughly, fully and impartially investigated; and if possible, if any mistake is to be made, then by all means make the mistake in the interest of the returned soldier.

May I also mention the matter of the Insurance Act? I find at the time of the introduction of that particular act, Mr. Cronyn, in his report stated:

This insurance will he granted without medical examination and will, therefore be available to all no matter what may be their condition of health.

I understand that, acting under a particular section, representatives of the Pension Board exercise a discretion in the matter, and that latterly many applications have been refused. If that be so-and I am not speaking of my own knowledge- that condition should be remedied, because I am sure that act was passed with the intention that the returned soldier, regard-

less of his physical condition from a medical point of view, was to be put in a position where he could secure insurance.

I have read with a great deal of interest the report of the committee found on page 369 of the Votes and Proceedings, dealing with cases of sheltered employment and the after care of tuberculous patients. I am sure that we are unanimous in our desire that these problem cases and tuberculous cases should receive the best possible consideration. In reading the report, I fail to see that the committee has added very much to reports of former years. May I say that just this evening I received this telegram from one R. H. Macdonald, London, Ontario:

Your urgent support is solicited by 200 inmates of Byron Sanatorium In procuring more liberal consideration of proposals submitted by Tuberculous Veterans' Association, especially extension of time limit for veterans who served in theatre of war and now tuberculous.

Every possible consideration should be given to these men scattered throughout the length and breadth of Canada in various sanitoria; not only that, but the matter of the after care of these tuberculous patients should be thoroughly and completely investigated, in order that they may receive, during the few years remaining to them, the greatest possible consideration, and, perhaps, by that means the health of some of them will be renewed. The treatment of all these problem cases is, I am sure, a matter which must have engaged the serious attention of the committee for a considerable length of time; but I regret, ir that matter too, no very definite recommendation is made.

In view of these circumstances, and the few illustrations I have given-and I could give more-I think the Royal Commission which is proposed, should have its powers enlarged, as suggested by the hon. member for Fort William and Rainy River in order that it may investigate these particular cases and, if possible, make recommendations in connection therewith.

There are one or two other matters to which I want to refer, and I shall do so very briefly. The housing problem is an important one which should be seriously considered by this Parliament at a very early date. Such consideration will, I think, do much to assist the returned soldier in securing housing accommodation, I make these criticisms in the most friendly way and in the desire to assist us all to get a proper viewpoint of this matter.

I regret very much that the committee has not been able to make any definite or

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concrete proposal in connection with the unemployment problem. That problem is of special significance to the returned soldier, and hon. members will appreciate that fact when I state that from 60 to 75 per cent of the unemployed are returned soldiers. These men are in a most unfortunate position. They lost their positions by reason of their enlistment for service in the war. They came back and many of them secured temporary positions. In view oi the depressed conditions which existed, they were the first to lose their positions, and, as a result, the figures that I have given represent to-day the proportion of returned soldiers in the unemployed class.

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CON

Leon Johnson Ladner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LADNER:

As this is a matter of

very considerable importance to many people, would the hon. gentleman inform the House as to the sources from which he secured these figures? I am not doubting them at all.

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LAB

Joseph Tweed Shaw

Labour

Mr. SHAW:

During the last election

campaign and for some time subsequently thereto, I made some little investigation myself-I do not suggest that it was accurate-in the city of Calgary. I have consulted some of the officials of the veterans' organizations, and they concur in the figures which I have given, that from 60 to 75 per cent of the unemployed are returned soldiers.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN (York) :

Was the hon.

gentleman at the front? I believe he was.

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June 21, 1922