March 20, 1930

CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Mr. Speaker, as a matter of privilege, I propose to answer the question as to whether in the observations I made I attached any improper meaning to the words of the right hon. gentleman by quoting, at page 612 of Hansard, the following remarks:

As Secretary of State for External Affairs it is my duty to advise my colleagues, and to advise parliament, with respect to any situation of an international character which I have reason to believe because of the seriousness should be brought to the attention of the cabinet and of parliament. It is my duty, further, to direct the attention of the government and of parliament to any dangers that I see in any existing situation. May I say this that I think the dangers which Lord Curzon foresaw-the danger of possible delicate and difficult situations arising between Britain and the United States over rum running incidents on the Atlantic-are as nothing compared to the delicate and difficult situations that at any moment may arise on our international frontier if this linking of distilleries and rum running ' through the agencies of government is permitted to continue. May I say, Mr. Speaker, that so perilous do I believe the situation to be that I would not longer assume responsibility in the matter of external affairs were I not assured of the support in this parliament of a policy which I believe to be necessary to

Allowances to War Veterans

the avoidance of a condition which might any day prove perilous to this country; or failing the support of this parliament in a matter as grave as this is, the support of the people oi Canada. I say, Mr. Speaker, that I regard tliis matter as one of grave concern to the people of Canada as a whole. I have stated the position to parliament as I see it. It is now for parliament to express its view in regard to the legislation that has been placed before it.

Topic:   EXPORT ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   ENQUIRY AS TO THE FILLING OF SENATE VACANCIES
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I stand by

every word my hon. friend has just read. May I direct his attention and the attention of the house to the circumstance that the language read contains the words "possibly,' may, "might any day" and so on, but in n*o instance are they capable of the interpretation which my hon. friend sought to place upon them, namely that threats were being made by the country to the south or that at the present time we were being menaced in any particular.

Topic:   EXPORT ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   ENQUIRY AS TO THE FILLING OF SENATE VACANCIES
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UNITED STATES PROHIBITION AGENTS


On the orders of the day:


CON

Sidney Cecil Robinson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. S. C. ROBINSON (West Essex):

I

should like to ask the government when I may expeot an answer to my question which was passed as an order for return, with regard to the seizure of Canadian vessels by United States prohibition agents, and other similar matters.

Topic:   UNITED STATES PROHIBITION AGENTS
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LIB

Louis Édouard Fernand Rinfret (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Hon. FERNAND RINFRET (Secretary of State):

I will look into the matter and give my hon. friend a reply shortly.

Topic:   UNITED STATES PROHIBITION AGENTS
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ALLOWANCES TO WAR VETERANS


Hon. J. H. KING (Minister of Pensions and National Health) moved the second reading of Bill No. 19, respecting war veterans' allowances.


CON

Thomas Herbert Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. H. LENNOX (North York):

Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to detain the house for any great length of time with the remarks I desire to make on this bill.

During the war Sir Arthur Currie, as we all know, performed excellent service for the people of not only this country but for all countries who were on the side of the allies. He distinguished himself as a very great military man and received praise and commendation from all the people of Canada. Not only did he do a wonderful service for his country during the period of the war; he has done perhaps almost as great a service for the returned soldiers during the last three or four months. In November of last year he wrote a letter to the Canadian Legion expressing his dissatisfaction with the existing Pension Act, stating that in his opinion it

should be entirely re-written in order to make further provision for the welfare of the veterans.

A very short time after that letter was written-I think within a week-the Prime Minister dealt with this question at a public meeting called on his behalf in the city of London. I cannot help but express my doubt as to whether any action would have been taken by the Prime Minister if Sir Arthur Currie had not written this letter. I am not sure whether the announcement made at London by the Prime Minister resulted from the publication of that letter or whether the Prime Minister took that action from a sense of duty to the veterans throughout Canada. If that course were forced upon the Prime Minister by the action of Sir Arthur Currie, I am afraid 'the veterans could hardly expeot that sympathetic treatment they otherwise would get if the Prime Minister had acted voluntarily.

If the Prime Minister took this step through a sense of duty, and if he feels it to be his duty to-day to take this action, surely it was Ids duty to have done it years ago. The position of the veterans to-day is perhaps no worse than it has been during the last few years. Their condition has been known not only to the Prime Minister but to every person in Canada, yet no steps were taken to remedy this condition until this action was forced upon the government by public opinion which was created through the publication of the letter written by Sir Arthur Currie. I sincerely hope that the bill which has been introduced has been brought in because the government believe they have a duty to perform to the returned veterans.

Canadian soldiers were engaged in action during the whole period of the war, during which there were about 215,000 casualties. During the year and a half the United States were engaged in the war their casualties amounted to 213,000, and of that number no less than 187,000 receive pensions. From the total of 215,000 casualties for Canadians must be deducted 65,000 who were killed or have since died, leaving 150.000, of which only

61.000 are pensioned. It is remarkable that notwithstanding the fact that the United States were engaged in the war for only one-third of the time as compared with Canada, they are paying pensions to three times the number of veterans. It is perhaps unknown to many of the hon. members that congress passed last year a bill appropriating for its war disabled for a period of one year only nearly twice as much money as has been paid to the Canadian veterans since the expiration of the war. That will convey some idea of

Allowances to War Veterans

the generous treatment the American war veteran is receiving from his government as compared with the treatment given to the Canadian veteran.

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LAB

Herbert Bealey Adshead

Labour

Mr. ADSHEAD:

Does the hon. member

mean to infer that the pension committees of 1925 and 1928 did not give, as far as they could, full justice to the war veteran?

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CON

Thomas Herbert Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX:

I do not think they did,

in fact if they had given full justice then we would not have had this present, bill before us and we would not have had the legion and other associations connected with and looking after the interests of the war veteran raising such a row with respect to the manner in which they have been treated.

During the course of the war there were over 400,000 Canadians who actually crossed over from England into France, Belgium and other theatres of war, and of that number only 61,000 are receiving .pensions, although

150.000 were disabled, some of whom very seriously, during the course of the war. Over

90.000 of those who were admitted' to be casualties have never received one copper as compensation or as pension for the disabilities from which they suffered. In addition to that we have 250,000, the difference between

150.000 and 400,000, who were not declared to be casualties, and out of that number not more than one per cent are receiving considers^ tion at the hands of the pension board. Although these men did not actually receive any injury, there is no doubt but that they suffered as a result of their experience, yet they have received no consideration.

In addition to the pensions board we have an appeal board, appointed to consider the claims which are refused by the pension board. According to the report of the Department of Pensions and National Health, I find the annual cost of this appeal board to be:

Salaries-members of the board. $ 31.000 00

Salaries-staff

58.746 55Salaries-soldiers' advisers. . . . 32.974 65General expense of board. . . . 31,031 84General expense of soldiers' advisers

11,897 18Total $165,650 22

The awards at present in force as a result of the judgments of this board number 247, and although the expenses of the board amount to over 8165,000, the total awards amount to only 8143,000, or $23,000 less than the expense of operating the board. This board was constituted for the purpose of looking into these claims, and having exipended $166,000, naturally one would expect that a great many appeals would have 'been brought

to their notice, but we find with all the appeals dealt with by the board the expense of operation cost the country nearly S25.000 more than the amount awarded to the veterans who appealed to them for justice.

Let me refer briefly to the bill itself, and in the preamble thereof, without reading the whole of it, I find the following:

-and it is desirable to provide assistance, nr additional assistance, for these veterans in recognition of their service:

Let me say to my hon. friends opposite that the veterans of this country are not looking for assistance nor are they asking for charity; they are asking that they be indemnified for the loss which they sustained by reason of going to the front to protect this country. In my opinion it is an insult to the veterans that a bill should be introduced into this house or into any other house suggesting that the men who fought and suffered in the theatres of war for four or five years should be regarded as suppliants before the people of the Dominion of Canada. I believe that every veteran of Canada will resent, as he has a right to resent, the reflection cast upon him by the wording of the preamble of this bill, if the veteran is not entitled to indemnification by reason of his war sen-ice during which he suffered casualty, then he docs not want it. But if he is entitled to it, he wants it, and because the people of this country promised that when he took up arms and went to the front he would be looked after, his family would be taken care of and at all events his mind might be at ease with respect to any injury that might occur to him or anything that might be required for the protection of his family.

May I ask you, sir, to follow me just a little further with respect to the bill itself? Clause 2 defines the theatre of war. Under the old definition, a man who was injured in England, for instance, either through air raids or through training in those camps which were very injurious during the time of training, was entitled to some consideration, but I see that that man, unless to-day he is receiving a pension, does not come within the wording of the bill. Let me read it in part:

"Veteran" means:

. . . . any member of' the Canadian expeditionary force who having seen service in Canada or England only-

If it had stopped there-and that was the wording of the previous act-it would have been quite satisfactory; but let me point out that that is qualified and qualified to the financial injury of the Canadian veteran. It reads as follows:

Any member of the Canadian expeditionary force who having seen service in Canada or

Allowances to War Veterans

England only, and is in receipt of a pension for an injury or disease incurred or aggravated during service, or who accepted a final payment for a disability between 5 per cent anil 14 per cent under the provisions of the Pension Act.

Therefore the situation to-day is entirely changed, and if this bill passes, the only veteran who did not leave England who will be entitled to consideration is the one who has already been dealt with and who is receiving a pension of from 5 to 14 per cent after having been dealt with by the pension board. I ask hon. gentlemen opposite: Is

it the intention that a man, though he may not have received from the pension board a pension, should not be permitted to receive the benefits to be derived from the present legislation? I thought one of the objects of the bill was to overcome the very difficulties that we were confronted with under the old act; that it was to be wider in its scope and that every man would have an opportunity of presenting his case before the committee, or commission, or board, or whatever you wish to call it, and have his case disposed of. But if this definition is correct, and if the bill passes in its present form, no veteran who received a casualty or was injured or disabled in England, and whose claim was turned down by the board, can hope to seek relief under the present measure.

My submission is that with respect to this bill we should not consider anything that has been done by the old pension board. This new bill was, I understood, to be a fresh start. We were to give an opportunity to every veteran to come under the provisions of this new measure for the purpose of placing his case before the pension board; but thousands and thousands of veterans who, through no fault of their own, were unable to leave England, who suffered in England and whose claims were not admitted by the pension board, are in no better position to-day than they were under the old act. Therefore, I submit that the words limiting the class of veteran who is entitled to relief though he did not leave England, should be eliminated from the bill and it should be left to the new board to say whether such veterans are entitled to compensation or not.

There is another feature of the bill to which I wish to direct attention and which is perhaps one of the worst elements it contains.

Topic:   ALLOWANCES TO WAR VETERANS
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LAB

Herbert Bealey Adshead

Labour

Mr. ADSHEAD:

Has the new committee

not power to do exactly as my hon. friend asks to be done?

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CON

Thomas Herbert Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX:

This bill says not. I am

just reading from the bill.

Topic:   ALLOWANCES TO WAR VETERANS
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LAB

Herbert Bealey Adshead

Labour

Mr. ADSHEAD:

The new committee has

power to alter the bill or to recommend any alterations.

Topic:   ALLOWANCES TO WAR VETERANS
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CON

Thomas Herbert Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX:

I sincerely trust it has the power because this is a most unfair proposition. In view of what the hon. member has said, may I say, whether the committee has the power or not-and I hope it has-the intention of the government when the bill was drafted was what it at present contains?

Let me read another clause in the bill. With reference to the income which shall not be included, clause 10 reads:

For the purpose of this act income shall not include.

Then it goes on to define what income shall not include; but listen to this:

A transfer of property made less than five years before the date of application for allowance shall be deemed to have been made for the purpose of qualifying for such allowance.

In other words, any veteran who was in possession of real estate and disposed of it five years before having made any application for pension, shall be deemed under this bill to have got rid of his property for the purpose of getting an allowance. There are no doubt known to hon. members many cases of men who were in possession of real estate, who probably had it free from encumbrance when they went to the theatre of war and when they came back, who by reason of the treatment which they received at the hands of the government, were forced to dispose of their property in order to make a living for their families. They did not do this voluntarily or for the purpose of receiving an allowance.

Topic:   ALLOWANCES TO WAR VETERANS
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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART (Leeds):

They did not

know anything about it.

Topic:   ALLOWANCES TO WAR VETERANS
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CON

Thomas Herbert Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX:

As my hon. friend reminds me, at that time they did not know anything about it. But how many men were there and are there amongst the veterans who disposed of their property for the purpose of coming in under this measure? I would be sorry to think anyone would do such a thing and I cannot understand what must have passed through the mind of whoever drafted the bill -and the minister must take the responsibility for it-when he added the clause which I have just read. I cannot imagine what could have suggested it to him, because if we take the most charitable view of it, it means that the veterans were perpetrating a fraud upon the people of this country; that they were conveying their property, getting rid of it, so that they could come to the pension board and say: I have nothing with

7S2

Allowances to War Veterans

which to support myself; I have no income; I am unable to work and consequently I am entitled to some redress.

I think the worst feature of the clause is that it does not even give the veteran an opportunity of showing why he disposed of his property. Not only that, but the bill says: You did get rid of your property for

the one and express purpose of being able to come in under this act. I wonder if hon. gentlemen think that is a fair charge to make against any veteran in this country? It is a positive charge of fraud. It does not even say that the veteran, who five years before he made application for an allowance had disposed of his property, will be given the opportunity to explain the circumstances under which the disposition took place. No, the government does not even do that. They take it in their own hands and say: The

veteran disposed of his property for that one purpose only, and we will not give him the opportunity to come before the committee for the purpose of explaining why he did it. I have no doubt that there were hundreds of poor fellows, suffering as they did after they came home, and still are, who, being unable to meet the expenses of their household were forced, perhaps at a very great sacrifice, to dispose of their property, and now because of that further sacrifice which they were compelled to make are not entitled to come in under this act.

Let me go a little further and point out another clause or two in this act. Under the old act the pension board was responsible for its actions, and when you went before them, although they were not very sympathetic on all occasions no matter how many doctor's certificates you produced, if they were against you they would tell you that it was because you did not come under the act, and consequently they could do nothing for you. The government placed the responsibility upon the pension board, and the pension board met the applicant with the statement: We are

here merely as trustees, and we regret that we cannot do anything to help you.

Let me point out the position a veteran is in to-day if this bill goes through in its present form. I refer hon. gentlemen to clause 15, which says:

The governor in council may, from time to time, on the recommendation of the minister, make regulations not inconsistent with the provisions of this act, with regard to allowances herein provided for. and without limiting the generality of the foregoing provisions, may provide by regulation-

May provide by regulation for what ? Let me read from the bill to show the tremendous power that is retained in the hands of the

minister. The bill provides that the minister, among other things, may make regulations as to:

(a) the time at which applications for allowances may be made;

(b) the time at which after application therefor the payment of allowances shall commence;

(c) the definition of residence and of the intervals of absence from Canada by which residence therein shall not be deemed to have been interrupted;

(d) the evidence to be required or accepted by the committee in support of an application for allowance;

In other words, no matter what the evidence before the committee is, it still rests with the minister to say whether that evidence is sufficient upon which to grant a pension to the applicant. It is taken completely out of the hands of the committee, if the minister wishes to do so, because the evidence to be required or accepted by the committee in support of an application for an allowance may from time to time be regulated by the governor in council. The next clause provides that regulations may be made at the request or direction of the minister as to the manner in which the income of a veteran is to be determined for the purpose of this act.

I point out these things to show hon. gentlemen that notwithstanding that we have a new act and a new board, notwithstanding that this act is supposed to be for the greater benefit of the veteran, yet, after all, under the provisions of section 15, everything is retained in the hands of the minister and is under his control, and whatever he says goes, as to when the allowance shall be made, and as to what evidence shall be sufficient to justify an allowance, if he wishes to interfere. He holds in his hand a most powerful weapon, a weapon that should not be held by any hon. minister in this house. If a commission is appointed, one would think that the government would have sufficient confidence in it to leave it in its hands to decide who should receive an allowance and who should not. My submission is that the minister has no right to interfere, whatever the result may be after a case has been dealt with by the commission.

I do not propose to take up the time of the house any longer. I sincerely hope that this bill may result in giving greater relief to the men who fought for this country. The onus of proof, of course, was one of the great obstacles that the last pension board had to deal with. I think the only question for the board to deal with, when a man who is really disabled and who has got doctors' certificates certifying to his disability appears before them, is not whether the man can prove that his disability is due to the war; the question for

Allowances to War Veterans

the board to ask themselves is this: Would this man be suffering from his present disability if he had not gone to the war? That,

I think, is the question that ought always to be before the minds of the board, and if they deal with the veteran with that idea in mind,

I think that a great deal of the dissatisfaction which has permeated this country for the last four or five years will be got rid of.

Topic:   ALLOWANCES TO WAR VETERANS
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LIB

Robert Harold Jenkins

Liberal

Mr. R. H. JENKINS (Queens):

I intended to say a few words on this bill the other day, but did not have the opportunity. With some of the remarks of the last speaker (Mr. Lennox) I agree. I am not too favourably impressed by some clauses of this bill, and I think the different clauses should be considered very carefully when the bill goes to the committee.

I cannot let this opportunity'pass without saying a word on behalf of the returned men, not only of my province but of the Dominion at large. Many applications for relief which have come under my observation are pathetic because under the act as it now stands it is practically impossible for them to be considered. This is not the fault of the pension board but is due to the act under which the board works. No party or group in this house has a monopoly of all the patriotism and loyalty to be found in the country. We are all united in the same cause, of endeavouring to better the conditions of our returned men. Possibly the most distressing cases are those of men who were gassed and signed off as physically fit. The passing of time has revealed the effects of gas and war shock and many of these men are now suffering from tubercular trouble. As I understand it, the act does not make provision for this type of case and it seems to me that some amendment to cover such cases will commend itself to the majority of our right thinking people. In my province men are especially affected in this way on account of the dampness of our climate. I would think that we have possibly more cases per capita suffering from this particular ailment than in any other portion of Canada.

I desire to add, Mr. Speaker, before resuming my seat, that it has been my privilege to come into contact with the officials of the Canadian Legion in my province and I have found their advice most helpful. The local officials are men with good judgment and most reasonable in every way. I am one hundred per cent with the returned men of Canada in their endeavour to have legislation enacted which will give adequate compensation to worthy cases.

As I said at the opening of my remarks, I cannot let this opportunity pass without expressing my desire that this bill shall be very

carefully considered by the committee, because I realize that it is not just what the returned men want; they think the proposal has too many strings attached to it. For that reason I hope the bill will be very carefully considered when it reaches the committee.

Topic:   ALLOWANCES TO WAR VETERANS
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CON

Franklin Smoke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FRANKLIN SMOKE (Brant):

Mr. Speaker, I desire to express my approval of the principle of doing everything possible for the relief of our returned soldiers. As for the Board of Pension Commissioners I am sure I can say the same as every other member of this house, that in my dealings with them 1 have received every courtesy; but they are bound by cast iron rules under the present legislation. As the last two speakers have said, there will no doubt have to be some alteration in the terms of the bill when it reaches the committee; it is most desirable that there should be, because in its present form the bill does not meet cases to which I shall refer. I have in my mind the case of a poor widow whose husband died not more than two months ago as the result she thinks, and as everybody who knew him thinks, of war disability; but he was not able to connect his disability with the war, having been discharged apparently A-l. The case is now before the federal appeal board and we are hoping for a favourable decision. I do think there ought to be some discretion left to the authority that ultimately is to determine what pensions are allowable to deal with this and similar cases. I have a number of other cases before me which have not received the treatment that we think they should have received, simply, as I said before, because the present legislation does not cover such cases.

I am sure the returned soldiers in my riding-and in proportion to population there are as great a number there as in any other riding in the Dominion-I am sure those men are not satisfied with the present law, nor do I think they will be satisfied with this bill as drafted. Therefore I appeal to the hon. minister to pay heed to the views of returned soldiers in this house, for they know the needs of our returned men, and to see that everything possible is done to afford much-needed relief to our veterans.

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IND

William Samuel Murphy

Independent Conservative

Mr. W. S. MURPHY (Lanark):

Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that my riding contains many war veterans whose cases have been turned down by the Board of Pension Commissioners on several occasions, and who to-day are very much dissatisfied with the Pension Act, I desire to deal briefly with this bill. To my mind the bill will not clear away the dissatisfaction that has been expressed by the returned men. It seems to me that it

Allowances to War Veterans

has been conceived as an act of charity, and, as I take it, our returned men to-day are not asking for charity or sympathy, they are asking for a square deal from this country, and they insist upon being treated from that standpoint. I feel that we should give to them that square deal. We should regard our treatment of our war veterans as a matter of meritorious reward, not of sympathy or charity.

I have before me an expression of opinion from some of the veterans in our post at home, and I should like to put a portion of it on record as showing what they think of this bill:

Doctor, yon asked for our opinion, you have it, as far as we are able to express it in writing. We are not asking for any sympathy or favours, just a square deal.

We are convinced this new scheme is just about as much use to a returned man as if they presented him with a bouquet of flowers for his funeral.

That is pretty harsh comment, but it is characteristic of the attitude of our veterans towards this proposed legislation.

Let me refer to clause 5, subsection C:

An allowance may be paid to every veteran who, at the date of the proposed commencement of the allowance,

(c) has resided in Canada continuously for three years preceding his application for allowance.

Undoubtedly there are veterans who served overseas and who during the last three, five or ten years have transferred their residence to some other country. Are those men to-day any leas veterans than they were before they left our shores? Did they serve our country any less valiantly because to-day they happen to reside in some foreign clime? Those men were forced to leave Canada to gain a livelihood, and in my opinion the application of this clause is antagonistic to the interests of a good number of our returned men.

I desire to place myself on record, Mr. Speaker, as not being satisfied with this bill. What our veterans want is an amendment to the Pension Act whereby through proper and lenient administration of its provisions they will be entitled to the meritorious rewards which they so richly deserve.

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March 20, 1930