March 31, 1931

LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I am not quite sure that

the right hon. gentleman has stated the facts

as they became known to the public through the press.

Topic:   SUPPLY-UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That is another thing.

Topic:   SUPPLY-UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Perhaps the right hon.

gentleman would permit me to discuss the matter for a moment. My recollection is that a statement was given out by the officers of the department to the various branches throughout the country, to the effect that after a certain date the payments under the unemployment relief provision would be reduced. No sooner was that statement issued than telegrams began to pour into Ottawa. I am quite sure the right hon. gentleman will not say these telegrams were based on nothing, or on vague rumours. They came from such important men as the president of the Canadian Legion at Winnipeg, or perhaps it would be the president of the Army and Navy Veterans' Association. He stated:

Winnipeg branch. Canadian Legion, in general meeting, protest very strongly action of Department of Pensions in reducing allowances to pensioners at this season of year.

He had been advised by someone in the department-

Topic:   SUPPLY-UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

My hon. friend should

not add those words "in the department", because I received just such a telegram as that and at once sent back a reply that no such action, so far as I knew, had been taken by the department, and I am informed that no such action was taken.

Topic:   SUPPLY-UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I am quite willing to admit that the statement of my right hon. friend is quite correct, but it so happened that I came to Ottawa at just about that time and a statement was issued either by the department or by the. minister himself to the effect that there were no longer any funds available. That appears to be borne out by the fact that the governor general's warrant was issued about that time.

Topic:   SUPPLY-UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That is right.

Topic:   SUPPLY-UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

The statement was that there were no longer any moneys available and consequently a reduction would have to be made. I have not before me the statement made by the minister but I can easily obtain it by sending to the library for copies of the press of that day. I do not think the Minister of Pensions and National Health will deny that he made such a statement to the press in which he said there were no longer any moneys available and that the matter would be discussed by the, cabinet. Am I right in making that statement? The right hon. gentleman apparently nods, so I take it he nods in acquiescence.

Supply-Pensions

Topic:   SUPPLY-UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I read it in the paper.

Topic:   SUPPLY-UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Do I take it that the right hon. gentleman says he read a statement purporting to emanate from the Minister of Pensions and National Health?

Topic:   SUPPLY-UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I read in the morning press, I think it was in both papers, the statement to which the hon. member has referred and I was advised by the minister that it did not interpret correctly the remarks he had made.

Topic:   SUPPLY-UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I find now that the hon. minister, who apparently cannot speak in this house for himself, can speak to the newspapers and be misinterpreted. Apparently this is becoming a habit of the government, and it is one which should be corrected. I suggest that the schoolmaster upon all occasions when his ministers speak-they will not speak in this house-be. given a copy of their statements in order that he may correct them, cross all the t's and dot the i's. Otherwise similar mistakes will occur.

The right hon. gentleman admits that a statement purporting to emanate from the Minister of Pensions and National Health was issued to the press. He claims that the press misinterpreted that statement, but surely the minister himself could have contradicted it. However, one or two days went by and then the Prime Minister said: These moneys will continue to be paid. Would it not have been possible during that time for the minister to have made a statement to the people of this country, to the ex-soldiers, that he had no idea of refusing payment, and that his statement had been misunderstood? I feel sure that if Hie. minister had felt that his statement had been misinterpreted or that an incorrect version had been given of it, he would have been the first to tell the newspaper men of their mistake. He is a man possessing broad sympathetic views, he has a kindly heart and is particularly well disposed toward the soldiers of this country, and he should have been the last to permit himself to be misinterpreted in this way. I think if I ask him now to tell the country and this committee whether or not he issued a statement which could be understood to mean that the relief to pensioners was to be reduced in some degree, he will answer. If he does I promise to take his word for it and I will not check him up even by reference to the newspapers.

Topic:   SUPPLY-UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The money had been exhausted.

Topic:   SUPPLY-UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
Permalink
LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I will take the hon. minister's statement and I will not press the matter further.

. ;

Topic:   SUPPLY-UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB
?

An hon. MEMBER:

Let the minister

answer.

Topic:   SUPPLY-UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Ross Wilfred Gray

Liberal

Mr. GRAY:

I would like to follow up the statements made by the hon. member for Quebec South (Mr. Power) by reading the statement issued to the press by the minister and asking him whether or not it correctly interprets what he intended to say. The following appeared in the Mail and Empire of February 18, 1931, under the name of a very reputable member of the press gallery, Mr. Blacklock:

To-day Dr. MacLaren said the reduction "is regarded as a somewhat temporary measure and it is hoped an improvement in the rates will be effected before long." The text of his statement reads:

"The issue of relief by the department of Pensions and National Health was always regarded as an emergency measure. It was never intended that it should constitute a permanent addition to pensions. The relief issue through this department is restricted entirely to pensioners."

"This year the demands have greatly exceeded the appropriation passed by parliament and much more. The number of applications for relief have more than doubled as compared with previous years. At January 31 last, the amount expended was something more than double the amount expended during a similar period last year."

"Complaints have been made as regards the distribution of this relief, and the relief has been placed on the minimum scale pending investigation. Consequently, the administrative officers of the department were informed that, pending further instructions, a reduction would be made in the amounts issued. This reduction is regarded as a somewhat temporary measure, and it is hoped that an improvement in these rates will be effecter before long."

"In no case will hardship result, for there will be such readjustment as will meet the circumstances."

I now ask the minister whether or not that correctly interprets the statement given to the press, and I plead with the Prime Minister to permit the minister to answer for himself.

Topic:   SUPPLY-UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Mr. Chairman, one

would think it was more important that justice should foe done by voting this money which will enable payments to foe made, rather than to make political capital out of the need for the payments. Those of us who have listened to the speech of the hon. member for West Lamfoton (Mr. Gray) must be struck with the fact that it was a palpable effort to make political capital.

Topic:   SUPPLY-UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Ross Wilfred Gray

Liberal

Mr. GRAY:

Mr. Chairman, I take serious

objection-

Topic:   SUPPLY-UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

No one can have any

doubt as to that. It was couched in language which left no doubt as to its purpose. A

Supply-Pensions

statement was read in connection with which I stated a moment ago the minister could claim a wrong interpretation. The minister had no money and a governor general's warrant had not been issued. The law is that governor general's warrants are to be issued only in* urgent cases and that the money is to be treated as a trust fund. The language of the statute leaves no doubt as to its meaning, that at least a matter of necessity must arise. It is not a case of simply issuing a warrant when one feels like it, there must be occasion for it. The exact language with respect to governor general's warrants, must,

I fancy, be known to every hon. gentleman here who has had anything to do with the administration of affairs in this country. The money having been exhausted, it became necessary to issue a new warrant, and complaints were made that there had been aJbuse of the moneys that had been paid. The minister made that perfectly clear, and said that pending an investigation he proposed to carry them at a lower rate. This was construed as meaning that actual payments were to be made at a lower rate. I do not say that the statement was not open to that construction, but no such payments were ever made. The payments were continued because it was apparent from the statements received by the minister from every part of the country that a lower payment would not in any sense meet the demands of the situation. Therefore a governor general's warrant was at once issued and another one has been issued since. With the house in session, no warrant can now be issued, and if this sum is not voted, the payment cannot be made.

Topic:   SUPPLY-UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
Permalink
LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

We are not opposing it; we are only asking for information.

Topic:   SUPPLY-UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
Permalink

March 31, 1931