June 27, 1940

RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING

CONCURRENCE IN FIRST REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE


Mr. J. P. HOWDEN (St. Boniface) presented the first report of the standing committee on railways and shipping owned, operated and controlled by the government, and moved that the report be concurred in. Motion agreed to.


BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

SUSPENSION OF ORDER FOR PRECEDENCE OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS WITH RESPECT TO CERTAIN PRIVATE BILLS

LIB

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

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, there were on the order paper last Monday six private bills dealing with incorporations and amending charters. They deal with the proposed Alberta Bank, the Pool Insurance, the Stanstead and Sherbrooke Insurance Company, the Ottawa Electric Company and the Ottawa Gas Company, the Detroit and Windsor Subway Company, and the Cedars Rapids Manufacturing and Power Company. The promoters of these bills have gone to the expense of advertising and paying the fee required by the House of Commons. Some of them have also hired solicitors who are ready to act as parliamentary agents before our committees when these bills are under consideration. The notices required under our rules have been given in the newspapers and the Canada Gazette. All this will be lost if the bills are not proceeded with during the present session. They are debarred by the order passed in the house on the May 21, 1940, but it would be an easy matter to take them up now, which can be done by the adoption of the following resolution:

That the order of the 21st May, 1940, appointing the order of business of the house for the present session be suspended with regard to such private bills as have already been introduced in the house.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   SUSPENSION OF ORDER FOR PRECEDENCE OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS WITH RESPECT TO CERTAIN PRIVATE BILLS
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Hon. R. B. HANSON (Leader of the Opposition):

Does that apply to the divorce proceedings?

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   SUSPENSION OF ORDER FOR PRECEDENCE OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS WITH RESPECT TO CERTAIN PRIVATE BILLS
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Yes.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   SUSPENSION OF ORDER FOR PRECEDENCE OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS WITH RESPECT TO CERTAIN PRIVATE BILLS
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I have no objection at all. I regard the suggestion as a good one; it is one which had occurred to me when the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) was taking away all the rights relating to private members-

British Children

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   SUSPENSION OF ORDER FOR PRECEDENCE OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS WITH RESPECT TO CERTAIN PRIVATE BILLS
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Not all.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   SUSPENSION OF ORDER FOR PRECEDENCE OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS WITH RESPECT TO CERTAIN PRIVATE BILLS
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

-at a very early stage of the session. At that time, I believe, not one of these bills had been introduced. Of course the government must have or should have known that there was legislation on the way. I think this is a proper move. The expenditure which has been made should not be lost. Business would suffer- not to mention the bills for the relief of certain persons.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   SUSPENSION OF ORDER FOR PRECEDENCE OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS WITH RESPECT TO CERTAIN PRIVATE BILLS
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Motion agreed to.


BRITISH CHILDREN

ARRANGEMENTS AND FACILITIES FOR EXTENDING HOSPITALITY OF CANADA FOR DURATION OF WAR

LIB

Thomas Alexander Crerar (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Hon. T. A. CRERAR (Minister of Mines and Resources):

Yesterday the hon. member for St. Paul's (Mr. Ross) addressed a question to me with regard to the movement of British children to Canada. I intimated to the house then that I would probably make a statement to-day and I wish to do so now.

In view of the widespread interest in this country in the matter of British and refugee children who may come to Canada, I wish to give to the house, and to the public generally, an outline of what has already been done and our plans for the future, so far as we have been able to formulate them.

At the outset I wish to distinguish between British children and refugee children, or refugees generally. The latter are those who came to Britain following the invasion by Germany of Holland, Belgium and, later, France. On the advice we have received, contrary to the general belief in Canada there are-or at any rate there were up until a week or ten days ago-only about 2,900 Belgians and 150 Dutch refugee children in Great Britain, and of these it was estimated 125 to 150 were unaccompanied by parents. This, of course, does not include those children and adults who had reached Britain prior to, and following, the attack on Poland, from Austria, Germany and Poland itself. It was reported to us last February by our immigration officials in London that at that time these totalled less than ten thousand, approximately ninety per cent born in Germany and Austria, about the same percentage being Jewish, most of whom had been absorbed into the normal life of Great Britain.

The movement which is by far of greatest interest to Canadians is the movement of British people, mainly children, to Canada. This movement is of two kinds.

The first is made up of all those coming on their own and paying their own way. These

include a few men, some women and many children who, if they can get a release of their funds in the United Kingdom, can come here and support themselves, and those coming to join relatives or friends in this country who have offered them homes. This movement also includes residential schools moving as a body to locate in Canada, at least for the duration of the war. Every encouragement is being given by the Canadian authorities to this movement, and delays are not allowed to occur through unnecessary investigations which might delay sailings.

We have been advised that, under the present British regulations, no person, male or female, between the ages of sixteen and sixty may leave Great Britain without a permit. In addition to this, some difficulties have arisen owing to the fact that the United Kingdom government restricts the free movement of sterling exchange. Within the last week or ten days we have had quite a number of requests from British-born people resident in Canada, and from others, asking if we cannot do something to help their relatives and friends in the United Kingdom secure permission to transfer sufficient of their own funds to enable them to come to Canada and maintain themselves in this country. While it is recognized that this is a matter wholly for the United Kingdom government to decide, we have urged on our high commissioner in London that he strongly support the effort to have sterling exchange released for the necessary monetary support of those who wish to come to Canada on their own resources.

The other, and larger, movement is the one which, as I have said, arouses the most interest in Canada, namely the movement of British children who can come only if transportation is provided and free homes are offered here. Several weeks ago, after the successful invasion of Belgium, Holland and France and when it appeared likely that Britain itself would shortly be subjected to severe attack, the government here, on its own initiative, offered to assist in bringing to Canada British and refugee children. That offer has been accepted by the British authorities. One of the features of this assisted movement provides for the nomination of children to designated homes in Canada. Under this arrangement parents in Britain who have relatives or friends in Canada may nominate their children to be brought out and placed in these homes.

There will be included in this movement children from five to fifteen years of age inclusive, with possibly a small number under five years, if available for adoption in Canada. In every case, we are advised, the consent of parents or guardians must first be obtained.

British Children

Ocean transportation arrangements will be made by the United Kingdom government, which will supply ships and pay ocean passage. Some days ago the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) mentioned in the house that there would likely be a movement from Britain to Canada of internees and prisoners of war, and it is expected that the British government may decide that these must move before the children.

The dominion government will use its medical examiners and its immigration officers overseas for examination of the children before sailing. It will be necessary to keep careful records so that identity may be preserved and the children thus enabled to be reunited with their parents, either here or at home, after the war is over.

The dominion government will look after the reception of the children at Canadian ocean ports, will provide rail transportation with proper meals en route and will carry them to the provincial distribution centres. Nurses will be placed on each train carrying children and an immigration conductor or conductress will be on each car.

Under arrangements worked out between the dominion government and the provinces, the latter will have the oversight of reception, placement and after-supervision. In doing this they will utilize the services of child welfare and other organizations in the various provinces who have the experience necessary to handle this part of the task. The provinces, and the organizations cooperating with them, are now engaged in receiving offers of homes and examining the suitability of these homes for the reception of the children after their arrival. Following the recognized practice in all the provinces, care will be taken to place children in homes of their own faith, by which I mean non-Roman Catholic children will be placed in non-Roman Catholic homes, Roman Catholic children in Roman Catholic homes and Jewish children in Jewish homes.

Many splendid offers of cooperation have been received from churches, from national and local organizations and from individuals willing and anxious to help in this great work of saving thousands of children from the mother country. There is room for all in this voluntary effort. I should like to emphasize here as strongly as I can the necessity for their being one recognized central authority in each province for placement and supervision, and that such central authority be the provincial department dealing with welfare matters. It would greatly facilitate the work of administration if those desiring to help in any way would first of all get in touch with the appropriate provincial department. rMr. Crerar.]

Foreseeing the necessity for close provincial-federal cooperation if this work were to be successfully handled, we invited the provinces to send their welfare experts to a confei ence which was held in Ottawa on the 3rd and 4th of June. The plan of operation being followed is largely that devised and recommended by this conference. I wish to place on record here our appreciation of the splendid cooperation we are receiving from the provinces.

Immediately following this conference we offered to take ten thousand as an initial movement, whom we felt certain could be placed in private homes; but that did not by any means limit the movement to that number. The task we have undertaken is to place many thousands in good private homes in Canada for the duration of the war. This is a form of war work which is well worth while. It is measured not by money but by service; and for this reason I have no doubt that the response, of those who can offer homes will be widespread. But there are many in Canada who cannot offer a home, single persons and others who have not suitable accommodation. May I suggest to them the possibility of cooperating with some home which has taken a child, and sharing the expense of food and clothing. In this way the burden will be more equally shared and the circle of those who can help enlarged.

Up to the present the British government have not been able to give us any estimate of the number who are likely to come. My own impression is that it may well reach very large dimensions. With this possibility in view I have been conferring to-day with the provincial ministers in charge of welfare work in their provinces, to consider further plans for a greatly extended movement, should this become necessary.

I have not said anything about the expenses involved beyond what is paid by the United Kingdom government and the dominion government in transportation and services. There will necessarily arise expenses beyond this for such items as medical care, hospitalization, or other unforeseen contingencies. The matter of how these will be met has been under consideration, and a decision will likely be reached in a few days. If a private home could be found for every child, where lodging, food, clothing and education could continue to be provided free, the expense to the provinces and to the welfare societies would consist largely of increased staff to look after the welfare of the children. We must, however, expect and plan for difficulties which are bound to arise through the failure of some children to fit into the homes where they are placed, the need for hospitalization, and other costs that are inseparable from handling such a large number.

British Children

11S3

When the magnitude of the movement can be better determined it may be advisable to make an appeal throughout the dominion for funds to help take care of the expenses that are bound to come. I might add that we are planning to set up a dominion-wide organization in the nature of a supervisory board or committee, and probably a liaison officer or local committee in each province to work in cooperation with the provincial authorities.

The house will agree with me that these proposals constitute a unique adventure. I am sure the Canadian people will understand and sympathize with the difficulties and anxieties of parents in Britain who have to decide on the matter of parting with their children, to be moved thousands of miles away into the care of strangers. This thought I am sure is in the minds of thousands of Canadian mothers and fathers to-day. Nevertheless there will be some difficulties. The warmth of the welcome given in some homes may become cooler; in some cases the child, because of the complete change in environment, may become a problem. Notwithstanding these and other problems which may arise, I am sure we may depend upon the overwhelming and continued support of the Canadian people.

Just a few minutes before I came into the chamber a cable came in from our high commissioner. This was partly in reply to a cable dispatched to him several days ago, dealing with the question when we may expect children and in what numbers, because it is necessary for us to have as much information on that as possible, in order that we may plan a little ahead their distribution and care. The cable says:

Anticipate 3,000 will arrive approximately middle of July and a further 750 each five days from then up to July 25. Will send details as soon as available.

The details, I assume, would be as to number of boys and girls, religious faith, and similar information. This message would indicate, I take it, that up to July 25 we may receive from 5,000 to 5,500 children.

Topic:   BRITISH CHILDREN
Subtopic:   ARRANGEMENTS AND FACILITIES FOR EXTENDING HOSPITALITY OF CANADA FOR DURATION OF WAR
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QUESTION RESPECTING "CALLING CANADA" ADVERTISEMENT IN NEWSPAPERS

LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin

Liberal

Mr. PAUL MARTIN (Essex East):

Mr. Speaker, I have had brought to my attention an advertisement which has recently appeared in the Evening Telegram of Toronto and in a number of newspapers across Canada, and which I am advised has been refused by a still greater number of newspapers. This advertisement is purported to be given out by a group calling themselves "Calling Canada". This advertisement is headed "Calling Mr. King" and the text is as follows:

English mothers rush to evacuate children. Geoffrey Shakespeare, parliamentary secretary for the dominions, told a press conference that Great Britain has given up plans for immediate mass evacuation of children from the British Isles to the dominions.

The dangers of transportation and lack of adequate reception facilities were given as reasons.

Hitler's bombers will raid England to-night, to-morrow night and the next night.

The battle of Britain has begun.

The slaughter of children is beginning.

Then follows a picture of a poor child crying. Below the picture is the following: How's your conscience, Mr. King?

For over a year thousands of Canadian homes have been clamouring for a chance to take the children in, pleading for a plan to meet this hour.

You have been the obstacle.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the government and the house two questions: Is this not a matter far beyond the standards of fair comment or criticism? Does it not call for immediate consideration by the government?

Topic:   QUESTION RESPECTING "CALLING CANADA" ADVERTISEMENT IN NEWSPAPERS
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Right Hon. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Minister of Justice):

Mr. Speaker, the advertisement to which the hon. member has referred is certainly a dastardly attack upon the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King), and the facts being false makes the comment still more malicious. I am not prepared to say that it comes under the defence of Canada regulations dealing with subversive literature, though I do not know anything better calculated to create disaffection and to hamper war work in Canada. I shall submit this matter to the law officers, and at the same time ask the Secretary of State (Mr. Casgrain) to obtain a report from those in charge of press censorship. I myself believe that "Calling Canada" should be called to some sense of propriety.

Topic:   QUESTION RESPECTING "CALLING CANADA" ADVERTISEMENT IN NEWSPAPERS
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LIB

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

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, I do not

wish to say anything with respect to this particular advertisement as such, but I do feel that inasmuch as some days ago I advised the house that there would necessarily be a delay in connection with evacuated children coming to Canada, on account of the desire of the British government to use transportation facilities for the distribution of alien internees, I ought now, in view of what is set forth in the advertisement, to make it quite clear that in that statement I was quoting from official documents.

This advertisement has appeared since I made the statement in the House of Commons that it would not be possible to have the children come without priority being given to interned aliens. I have in my hand some

11S4

British Children

documents which I shall send later to the leader of the opposition (Mr. Hanson). First there is a communication from the High Commissioner for Canada in Great Britain to the Secretary of State for External Affairs. This communication dated June 5, 1940, states:

Dominion office state that question of evacuation of internees has now, for various reasons, become very urgent. In the circumstances they would be grateful to receive the Canadian government's decision on the point at earliest possible date and in advance of any decisions on refugees and children.

Then subsequently, on June 13 there is a further communication from the High Commissioner for Canada to Great Britain to the Secretary of State for External Affairs, as follows:

Ministry of shipping, after considerable discussion, have agreed to the use of troopships for any returning civilian personnel we desire to send thereon, though they state that service regulations here restrict such passages to personnel whose passage is paid for by the government. We can, therefore, use these ships for evacuee children, stranded Canadians, wives and dependants of officials being repatriated at the government's expense and wives and dependants of officers paying their own expenses. Arrangements regarding issue of tickets, assembly of passengers and transportation to ships has had to be made by this office. Understand that Ministry of Shipping may request us also to send internees on ships in question. This might complicate arrangements regarding evacuee children if these were ready for first convoy which will be end of this month or beginning of next. Feel, however, that evacuation schemes will not be completed by then.

These twro communications make it perfectly clear that it was the wish of the British government that as between interned aliens and evacuees priority should be given in the order indicated here.

I have another dispatch in my hand which I shall permit the leader of the opposition to read, because it indicates that when, in explaining the situation the other day, I made reference to this order of preference, I did to some extent embarrass the British government in relation to British internees in Germany, in making any reference to German internees coming to Canada before the German government had been advised, through neutral channels, of the fact by the British government. I mention that only to indicate how very much embarrassed one in my position is when, not having one's word accepted with respect to actual facts governing the case, he has to disclose information prematurely or submit to misrepresentations of his position.

Topic:   QUESTION RESPECTING "CALLING CANADA" ADVERTISEMENT IN NEWSPAPERS
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Hon. R. B. HANSON (Leader of the Opposition):

I hope my right hon. friend will acquit me of having any desire to misrepresent

him. The fact of the matter was that I had received information of a very reliable kind, from Montreal, that passenger ships were arriving on this side half empty. It did seem to me to be a pity that the opportunity should be lost of bringing some of these people over here. I was actuated solely by humanitarian considerations and had no thought of any other question being involved. I certainly had no desire to impugn the honour of the Prime Minister.

Topic:   QUESTION RESPECTING "CALLING CANADA" ADVERTISEMENT IN NEWSPAPERS
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June 27, 1940