If the bill should provide that the president of the Red Cross or the president of the Canadian Patriotic fund should be one of the trustees ex-officio, that one nominee from the returned soldiers' organization would be the second nominee, and that the third would be appointed by the Governor in Council, and if I say, as a minister, that it is my intention to request Sir Arthur Currie to act in that capacity, I believe that this clause at least, inasmuch as it refers to the appointment of the board of trustees, will be surrounded with all' possible security. [DOT] I have noticed all through this debate that my hon. friends on the other side were somewhat nervous over the appointment of the central board of trustees. If they feel that I have in my mind some evil design to appoint three staunch Liberals who would do exactly as I told them, I must remove that impression. I hope such an impression has not penetrated the mind of any hon. gentleman opposite. That never entered my head.
I had no intention of appointing a board of that character. I deprecate the idea that such a board should be under the control of the government for the very reason that has been many times invoked during the debate, namely, that this money belongs to the returned men, and no government should try to interfere with the proper disposal of it. It has been suggested that this adjustment bureau should be supported by public funds. This is an idea that may be shared by a great many. Parliament has not been stingy in providing assistance to such services through Canada. Hon. gentlemen will remember that at the time of the appointment of the Federal appeal board, it was provided, I think in the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment Act amendment, that soldier advisers should be appointed all over the country.
I am not going to name them in the House. I will name them after the House rises, if my hon. friend wants the names. They were at one time strong Conservatives, but perhaps they have gone back on my hon. friend because he has not lived up to their expectations. Speaking of soldiers' advisers, we have appointed, I think, thirteen or fourteen all over Canada, and in no instance have we appointed a man of our choice. We have asked the Dominion Veterans' Alliance to indicate to us in every unit a soldier who would be acceptable to them. They have submitted these names and all have been appointed. Lately, not more than two or three weeks ago, I again requested the Dominion Veterans' Alliance to submit the name of a man in New Brunswick because the soldiers' adviser had resigned, and a name was suggested to us and an appointment made. Everybody knows these men have not been selected for their political inclinations. There may be some Liberals among them; I would think the majority would be Liberals, because the majority of the people in the country is made up of Liberals.
We will have to wait till a general election to find out about that. I know of some who are staunch Conservatives who are discharging their duties in a very creditable manner. In this case all the soldiers' advisers are paid from public funds. An appropriation is voted every year for the purpose and they are paid by the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment in every case. This is going a good way towards discharging this public function to which the hon. member for Fort William and Rainy River has alluded. W hat I want to impress upon the House is that, after consultation with the returned men throughout Canada, the royal commission has recommended this arrangement. It passed last year and since then I have not heard anybody criticize it, outside of this House at all events. For some months after that session was over, I did not receive from any organization throughout Canada any representation as to what should have been done instead of what had been done. In the present instance it is clear that the organizations are supporting the legislation. The only protest is against the allotment of any part of that $100,000 to one particular organization. They deprecate the idea that one special organization should be selected above the rest to be their representative here at headquarters. It is not for
me to say whether they are right in their contention or not. But we say to the organizations, there is no intention-and I say that deliberately in spite of what you may read in the order in council-of having this money applied only to one soldiers' organization, but on the contrary it would be the intention of the government to say in the order in council appointing the trustees that they should make it a point to have an adjustment bureau that will be acceptable to every soldier in the country. That will not mean the application of the money to one particular organization. With a few exceptions, I believe this is acceptable generally to the soldiers in Canada.
quotation I gave from Sir Arthur Currie was that the canteen fund should be left as the canteen fund. Perhaps one of the quotations was against one particular organization getting the money. I certainly did not offer, and I did not hear any other hon. member offer any criticism of the present adjustment bureau or the Great War Veterans' Association in any way. The only attitude I took was that this should be administered fairly and squarely.
recommendation of the commission was to the effect that $100,000 should be allotted to a certain board of trustees for the purpose of maintaining a service bureau here at headquarters. How did the royal commission come to this view, I wonder? I have asked myself that question more than once. I have not questioned them in this connection, but I presume they have reached the conclusion because in every unit of the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment, the department is supporting one soldiers' adviser and is providing also some clerical assistance for him. I presume tl at the royal commission has said: The dutj of maintaining a certain service throughout Canada, a service that would be ear-marked as it were for returned men, has been attended to by the government in the creation and in the remuneration of soldiers' advisers boards. It was undoubtedly pointed out to the commissioners that the soldiers were contributing throughout the country for the maintenance of a certain adjustment bureau at headquarters. It was
their money which was used largely for the maintenance of that bureau. Since the money of the returned men is being contributed to maintain an adjustment bureau at Ottawa, is it entirely beyond the mark to suppose that the commissioners have thought that a part of the canteen funds should be used for the purpose, because it would relieve at least the organizations and the members of the organizations from contributing for that service. I believe that is the main reason that has prompted the royal commission in making the recommendation which they have made. This is no bill of mine. I may have drafted it, but it is framed upon the recommendations of the royal commission. I imagine-and I am in the judgment of hon. members-that if on one particular occasion I had come before a committee of Supply with a proposal to appropriate $100,000 of the public money to maintain an adjustment bureau at Ottawa, the hon. member for Fort William and Rainy River or the hon. member for Burrard could have risen and said: This is another government agency; this money, whatever you do, will be paid out by the government and it will serve party purposes.
It would be said, as it has been pointed out and hinted on many occasions since the commencement of this debate, that in some way or another it will be possible to keep a string on that money because it is public money. Of course everybody is entitled to his opinion in this regard, but I hope the resolution as it is will pass, and that the bill, with certain amendments which will make the appointment of the board more secure from political influences, will be brought down and accepted by the House.
The hon. member for Fort William and Rainy River has referred to clause 10 in the bill of last year. My hon. friend was out of the House for a few moments when his colleague the hon. member for Burrard was discussing some phases of the resolution, particularly the appointment of provincial boards of trustees, and also the distribution amongst the provinces of certain amounts and the uses to be made of those sums. When my hon. friend was out of the House I quoted clause 10 of the bill of last year, which clause will also be incorporated in the bill of this year and which imposes upon provincial boards certain limitations. What are they? I have read them and the hon. member for
Fort William and Rainy River has read them. Why are they to be incorporated in the bill of this year? Because the royal commission has pointed out that these limitations should be incorporated in the bill.
What did the royal commission say in this connection? They said in the first place that the fund should not be spent immediately but that its use should be providently spread over a number of years. And what did the bill of last year contain? It contained a clause to the effect that, without limiting the powers conferred upon the lieutenant governors in council:
-the following general principles shall govern any distribution or apportionment of amounts allotted to such provincial boards and trustees:
(a) Any plans formulated should be based on the assumption that there will be prospective beneficiaries for several years to come.
The royal commission further recommended) in this connection, assistance to specially meritorious cases where ex-members of the forces and their dependents are in genuine distress; and there will be found in the bill a clause bearing upon this very subject. In the third place we have a recommendation that scholarships in schools not necessarily to be confined to the higher grades and universities, be provided for specially promising children of ex-service men. Again there is in the bill, in section (10), this limitation:
If ithe provision of scholarships in schools and universities is undertaken for specially promising children of ex-members of the forces and of members of the forces who have died, this should not necessarily be confined to the higher grades.
This is no impediment to the proper carrying out of a sound policy for the administration of the canteen fund in the various provinces; it will not prevent the provincial boards from doing everything possible in the interests of the returned men generally. But it does impose upon them certain limitations in the interests of the men themselves. Of course, it will be for every provincial board to elaborate its own policy with regard to the expenditure of the money that is given it by the Receiver General. It will not be for me to say, "You shall do this or that;" as a matter of fact the boards shall be appointed by order in council passed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council in each province. I do not know of any measure presented to this parliament in the last quarter of a century that has been surrounded with so many provisions to preclude, beyond any possibility of doubt, any influence on the part of the gov-
ernment in the administration of the particular law concerned. There has not been a measure surrounded with so many securities against governmental influence as there are in this legislation to prevent the government from influencing in any way the distribution of the money.
The minister has referred to the provisions of last year's bill, and I notice that the word "shall" is used. That is certainly prohibitory so far as any other use of the money is concerned. Was there no difference of opinion among the witnesses before the Ralston commission as to the disposition of the fund?