March 11, 1941

SPECIAL COMMITTEES

WAR PENSIONS-SECOND REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON PROBLEMS OF EX-SERVICE MEN


Hon. CYRUS MACMILLAN (Queens) presented the second report of the select committee on the Pension Act and the War Veterans' Allowance Act, as follows: Your committee recommends that authority be granted: (1) to consider and report upon all matters relating to ex-service men of the last and the present war, including matters relating to provision for medical, hospital and convalescent treatment, grants, gratuities and allowances, upon or after discharge, and provision for their rehabilitation. (2) to consider and report upon the desirability of enacting legislation in respect of persons injured in the course of duty during the present war, or in respect of dependents of such persons losing their lives in the course of such duty. (3) to appoint subcommittees to examine witnesses, to send for persons, papers and records, and to report back to the committee from time to time.


DEFENCE OF CANADA REGULATIONS AND PENSION ACT-CHANGES IN PERSONNEL

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) moved:

That the name of Mr. Bence be substituted for that of Mr. Ross (Souris) on the special committee on the defence of Canada regulations; and that the name of Mr. MacKinnon (Kootenay East) be substituted for that of Mr. Brooks on the select committee on the Pension Act and the War Veterans' Allowance Act.

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Motion agreed to.


WAR APPROPRIATION BILL

PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY


The house resumed from Monday, March 10, consideration in committee of a resolution to provide sums not exceeding §1,300.000.000 for the year ending March 31, 1942, for the carrying out of measures consequent upon the existence of a state of war.-Mr. Ilsley- Mr. Fournier (Hull) in the chair.


NAT

Grote Stirling

National Government

Mr. STIRLING:

Mr. Chairman, I should like to take the opportunity, before the Prime Minister has quitted the chamber to attend

War Appropriation Bill

to other duties, and during the presence 'here of the three ministers of defence, to ask the government if it would state its position with regard to the question of decorations. Upon inquiries which I have made in various directions it has been stated to me on more than one occasion that the government takes its stand on the incident which happened in the House of Commons in 1919. Hon. members will remember that a select committee of the house was appointed to examine into the question of titles and to report. The committee so reported on May 14, 1919, and a debate ensued some days later in which the recommendations of the report were supported by a majority in the 'house-I think the figures were 96 to 43. As a result of the adoption of that report a humble address was presented to his majesty making reference to two points. The suggestion was made, first, that no more titles should be granted to British subjects domiciled in Canada, and, secondly, that in the case of hereditary titles they should lapse at the death of the then holder.

That humble address was duly sent to his majesty, but that was by no means the only content of that report. There was a further paragraph which I should like to read to the house. Immediately after the reference to the address, the suggestion was made that the titles of both "Right Honourable" and "Honourable" be discontinued, but the suggestion did not meet with the approval of the committee. The report then states:

Your committee, however, do not recommend the discontinuance of the practice of awarding military or naval decorations, such as the Victoria Cross, Military Medal, Military Cross, Conspicuous Service Cross and similar decorations to persons in military or naval services of Canada for exceptional valour and devotion to duty.

It seems to me therefore improbable that what I have been informed is correct, that the government takes its stand upon what happened in the House of Commons-not parliament-in 1919.

The question of decorations has been one of some difficulty, but for generations, so far as Great Britain is concerned, recognition of deeds of valour has been accepted almost as a household word. There may be some who think there is but little value in it, but I am sure I am voicing the opinion of members of the fighting services, members of the services which are connected with the fighting

services, yes, and indeed of a large proportion of the population, when I say that a recognition for valour is something far above recognitions of other descriptions. It has the effect of strengthening the morale of the services.

The other day in this house I mentioned my own personal opinion that I am not more than interested as a rule in the manners and customs of public and governmental life in Great Britain. I prefer to be guided by what I consider the points which count with regard to Canadian public life. But there is a difference in this matter. Our sailors, soldiers and airmen are more than allies with those of other dominions; they are brothers. They are so closely associated with them that it would seem to me something in the nature of a common policy that might well be the directing course with regard to this question of decorations.

Just recently the Canadian No. 1 fighting squadron has been fighting with the Royal Air Force squadrons and with Polish squadrons, and as a result of what was accomplished by these various squadrons recommendations for decorations have been made and decorations have been granted not only to pilots but to ground personnel, recognition thus being given to the fact that a plane in the air must be kept in perfectly fit flying condition by those who do good work on the ground. I am told also that recommendations went forward with regard to personnel connected with No. 1 fighting squadron, but decorations were not granted.

It appears to me it would be of very great interest not only to the services in Canada but to the general public if the government would be good enough to make known what policy actuates it in this matter.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. CRUICICSHANK:

Last night I

attempted to adjourn the debate but apparently I was out of order. I made the attempt for the reason that I wished to -be the first speaker to-day, but it has not worked out so well. The only reason I am speaking to-day is that there has been so much misrepresentation with regard to the problems of British Columbia, and that is what I want to correct.

The principal reason for dissension in our war effort is the fact that we as members do not know Canada as we should. I venture to say that at least seventy-five per cent of the members have never had the privilege of visiting British Columbia and the other

War Appropriation Bill

western provinces. That is not good for Canada or for us as members of parliament, and I am taking this opportunity to invite each member to visit the glorious west at the conclusion of this session. I shall write to each member individually in this regard. I have no authority to speak either for the provincial government, for the municipal authorities, boards of trade or any other organization, but I think I can assure hon. members, on their behalf, that we shall give all visitors a true western welcome and I hope *they will let me know how many are coming. All have passes, and most are of Scottish descent, and it would be an excellent chance for hon. members to show their wives what good fellows they are. I suggest that you bring your families with you.

In my opinion, we have not yet put into effect a full war-time effort and in this connection I may refer to the question of shipbuilding. It may sound strange for me to discuss this subject as a rural member, but it was under consideration last night, and; I wish to point out that we in British Columbia have many year-round harbours. Our climate cannot be surpassed, and notwithstanding any information to the contrary that may have been given to the minister, who I regret is not present at the moment, we have between one and two thousand skilled labourers out of work. That is not in the best interests of Canada at a time when the empire is calling for ships and more ships. A short time ago the representatives of the international machinists union, covering railroad employees, approached the Canadian Pacific Railway with the request that the employees of that system be put back upon a six-day week, and the answer given was that to put these men on the six-day week would throw five hundred skilled men out of work. If you are going to throw five hundred skilled1 men out of work in British Columbia or elsewhere by adopting a six-day week, then I say we have plenty of skilled mechanics.

I should like to quote from the Ottawa Journal of March 11, which in an editorial quotes the following Canadian press dispatch:

Ottawa, March 7.- (CP)-The possibility that Canada's war-time cargo boat construction might be doubled was seen to-day by officials of the munitions and supply department.

That is from the Canadian Press. The editorial continues:

Who are these "officials"? And who authorized them, whoever they may be, to give out such an announcement? Such statements, clearly, should come only under the name, and with the authorization and responsibility, of the minister.

The Canadian Press dispatch, enlarging on the statement of the "officials", went on to say:

"At present the dominion is engaged in building 20 cargo boats, and it was understood the authorization for the building of anything up to 20 more has been received within the past few days from Britain."

And further:

"The cargo boats under construction are merchantmen of the ten thousand ton type. . . ."

Hon. members may wonder why I want this in Hansard, but my friends to the left will not wonder so much when they hear the rest:

Are these statements true? We are afraid they are not true. To begin with, the Journal's information is that Canada is not "engaged in building 20 cargo boats"; that no cargo boats are "under construction".

A little further on in the same editorial we find this:

But why not say so? Why instead have some unnamed "officials" putting out information that is inaccurate and misleading? It is precisely this sort of thing that has caused Mr. Howe no end of trouble, and which, in addition, has made for a lot of public confusion. . . .

And further down it says:

. . . although we think it could be strengthened greatly in its efforts by calling in men to its councils outside of mere party lines. . . .

At the outset the editorial says that these officials, these dollar-a-year men-ninety per cent of them Tories-are giving out misleading information, but further down it asks us to bring these same men into a so-called national government. It would be a fine government! The editorial says they give out misleading information, and I want to tell the Minister of Munitions and Supply (Mr. Howe) that in my opinion any bottle-necks we have had have been due to that very fact that he has not been given accurate information, certainly not from British Columbia. And this misleading information comes from a group of officials who are responsible to no one.

In this connection I would commend the government for having appointed a committee to investigate war expenditures. This is a very wise decision and will serve to reassure the public. But I would strongly urge upon the Prime Minister that he appoint another small committee consisting of five to seven private members of this house to tour Canada right away and view the different projects now under construction or in operation. The private member is responsible to the public by whom he is elected. When these so-called official experts give the minister misleading information, as they have unquestionably done, and subsequently it is found to be incorrect, they merely resign. If a small

War Appropriation Bill

committee went around and viewed these projects, for example in Hamilton, they could give the people a true picture.

Let me give one instance of the foolish criticism that is prevalent. This criticism came to me from two of the most prominent Liberals in British Columbia, at Liberal headquarters. A certain project was said to have cost 132,000, which if true would be ridiculous. That story was going round the streets of Vancouver, and if anything ever does go round the streets of Victoria it possibly went there. I took it up with the Minister of National Defence, which is what I think any hon. member should do, to check the veracity of such rash statements, and I found that the actual figure was $490. The hon. member for New Westminster heard the story and I am sure that every hon. member from British Columbia heard that it cost $32,000. Things like that do not help Canada's war effort.

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LIB

Robert Wellington Mayhew

Liberal

Mr. MAYHEW:

We stick closer to the truth than that in Victoria.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. CRUICKSHANK:

Well, I correct myself; Victoria City has at last wakened up.

Much has been said, in connection with our war effort out there, about geographical difficulties. It is possible that shipbuilding costs and some other costs in our war effort may be greater out there owing to our geographical conditions. But offsetting that we have climatic advantages. We have never disputed the fact that some of the air-training camps should be in the east where you have anywhere from one to forty feet of snow for six months in the year. But our main geographic disadvantage is freight rates. As I see it the government under the War Measures Act have it in their power to overcome that disadvantage. As soon as the railroads saw that we were short of ships they increased our freight rates. The board of transport commissioners may have control of freight rates, but when the poor farmer for the first time in ten years began, not to make money, but merely to break even, the government pegged the price of butter. They could just as well peg freight rates.

There is another matter in respect of which the Pacific coast is not under a handicap. It cannot be disputed that we have skilled labour available as well as eighteen thousand unskilled labourers in Vancouver and the surrounding district. We are not in an all-out war effort while there are two thousand skilled and eighteen thousand unskilled labourers without employment in British Columbia.

It has been stated here that we in British Columbia have certain war orders. But we sold approximately as much lumber before;

(Mr. Cruickshank.]

the only difference is that we sold it to the four corners of the earth. Now we are selling it, and correctly so, wherever the war effort requires us to sell. We have heard much about the ten million dollar plant that we are building for Consolidated Smelters at Trail, but before the war we sold those metals, even -to our everlasting shame be it said-to Germany and Japan. But we sold them.

We have men unemployed in British Columbia. We should put them to work. If it is to the advantage of the war effort that the money be all spent in Ontario we are patriotic enough to agree. But our patriotism leads us to the belief that no matter where ships are built they should be built speedily, and when we have shipyards that are not working to capacity we expect the people of Ontario and Nova Scotia to be equally fair in their consideration of us.

We resent strongly the suggestion made yesterday that there are not these unemployed men in British Columbia. I and, I presume, other hon. members from British Columbia receive letters every day from skilled men seeking employment. We get letters every day from our constituents asking why we are not going full-out in our war effort. I believe the government have done excellent work; in my opinion the Minister of Munitions and Supply is the best qualified man in this house to hold the position he does, but at the same time in fairness to the minister I say he has not been properly advised by some of the so-called officials that he has around him. After the last war the United States found that their most expensive luxury was these dollar-a-year men. The labourer in any line is worthy of his hire. The government should pay a little more attention to the advice of members from the various parts of Canada, who know what is going on. I am citing this particular case simply because the minister does not and could not possibly know what has been going on, with these so-called experts advising him.

On January 28, at the Boundary Bay elementary training school under the empire air training scheme, there were from two to four inches of water nearly all over the six hundred acres of that project. On the same day, at five o'clock in the afternoon, three men were engaged in shingling the roof. With five hundred carpenters unemployed in British Columbia, the province which produces ninety per cent of all the shingles made in Canada, only three men were working. That is not good enough. I know of five men from my own riding who went to this school five times to apply for work. They did not go with letters from their member, either; but they

War Appropriation Bill

could not get work, though they were fully qualified carpenters. Is that an all-out effort? Of course it is not.

There is one expression I do not like to hear in connection wtih our war effort; that is, "up to schedule." As I see it, if a particular project is two months ahead of schedule it is our duty and responsibility as members to see that it is brought four months ahead of schedule. Remember, Hitler is not going to run this war on schedule. If we are two months ahead of our schedule let us work until we are four months ahead of it, and we are not in that position when the conditions I have described exist at Boundary Bay, where they have had to lay down three feet of solid gravel, hauled at great expense, in order to permit access to the very cabins where the young aviators are going to live. Is that an all-out effort? I am not blaming the minister for that; no fair-minded person would blame him. He cannot know every detail, but, fortunately or unfortunately, he has to rely upon his experts, ninety per cent of whom are Tories.

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NAT

Karl Kenneth Homuth

National Government

Mr. HOMIJTH:

You might as well blame

'.he whole thing on the Conservative party.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. CRUICKSHANK:

No, I do not blame .t on the Conservative party, because at times ;he Conservatives show intelligence.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Then why blame it

an the Tories?

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. CRUICKSHANK:

I am referring to

the old-fashioned Tories, those who want to be in this national government. I do not consider members of the Conservative party as Tories. I do not think good Conservatives want to be in a national government, because good Conservatives took their chances about a year ago, when the people said whom they wanted to run Canada during this war.

I do think the minister should call in private members a little oftener in order to get their advice with regard to the conditions that exist in their ridings. Again I would strongly urge that a small committee of this house go around and see what actually is going on. If these conditions exist I know the government want to know about them; the government do not want these stories going around, discrediting Canada's war effort. The members from the west have to travel over a large part of this country in order to reach Ottawa, and they know something of what is going on. It would be a good thing if the Prime Minister would amend the British North America Act in order to provide that members would have to cross Canada at least once a year.

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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:

Perhaps the

hon. member for Fraser Valley will pardon me if I do not refer to the questions of which he has just been speaking but rather answer the hon. member for Yale (Mr. Stirling) who brought up the question of the government's attitude with respect to decorations.

The hon. member correctly stated that when Sir Robert Borden's government was in power, in 1919, I think, what has been known as the Nickle resolution was introduced by Mr. Nickle and unanimously adopted by this house.

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NAT

Grote Stirling

National Government

Mr. STIRLING:

Surely it was not unanimous; the vote was 96 to 43.

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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:

I have erred in saying that the resolution was passed unanimously; what I should have said was that the resolution was adopted at that time. When the Liberal administration came into office in 1921 our party considered the matter, and I understood was unanimous in its view that this resolution should govern in the matter of the bestowal of titles and decorations. All the administrations of which I have been head have consistently held the view that the resolution was one passed by the House of Commons, and that until it was amended or rescinded by this house, the government should consider itself bound by the resolution. It is true that when the Right Hon. R. B. Bennett was in office he did not take the same view. He contended that the resolution was passed by only one branch of parliament, and that the resolution of the House of Commons of one parliament did not necessarily bind the Houses of Commons of succeeding parliaments. Nevertheless the view taken by the present administration has been and is that until the resolution respecting titles and decorations adopted by the House of Commons of Canada is amended or rescinded by the House of Commons itself, we should consider ourselves bound by it.

I should add that on one or two occasions motions were presented from the other side of the house to have the resolution reconsidered. Speaking offhand, I cannot recall the years, but, if I am not mistaken, there were two occasions. In one instance Mr. Ladner, one of the members from British Columbia, moved that the house should reconsider the resolution on titles and decorations. At another time Hon. Mr. Cahan brought in a motion asking for the appointment of a committee to consider the whole matter. My recollection is that neither of these motions was entertained by the house, and for that reason, among others, this administration has felt that it was right in believing that the general sense of the House of Commons

War Appropriation Bill

reflecting that of the country was against reopening the question of titles and decorations.

The hon. member for Yale has been careful in his remarks to distinguish between what is involved in the conferring of titles and what is involved in the conferring of decorations. I think he has been wise in so doing. I do not believe there possibly can be in the public mind the same objection to the conferring of decorations that there is to the conferring of knighthoods, which tend to create class distinctions which certain decorations certainly do not. So I shall confine my remarks at the moment, as my hon. friend has, more particularly to the question of decorations.

Decorations fall into two classes; those in the nature of awards for gallantry, the recognition of valour, and those given in recognition of other services. The latter decorations are associated with certain orders of chivalry. As hon. members are no doubt aware, the orders of chivalry have different classes. The orders and classes constitute a sort of hierarchy of recognition. I might illustrate by referring to the Order of St. Michael and St. George. The lowest class of this order is the C.M.G. decoration, companion of the order of St. Michael and St. George. There is next a higher class, the K.C.M.G., which makes the recipient a knight commander of St. Michael and St. George. There is also a still higher class in the order, the G.C.M.G., which makes the recipient a grand commander of the order of St. Michael and St. George. The K.C.M.G. carries with it a right to the title "Sir". The wife of the knight is known as "Lady". There are also in the orders of chivalry the Order of the Bath, the Order of the British Empire, the Royal Victorian Order, and others that do not come to my mind at the moment, and which for the most part are specifically restricted.

What I have said will, I believe, help to illustrate that there is a distinction between decorations belonging to orders of chivalry and decorations belonging to orders of valour.

The awards for the recognition of valour and gallantry are the M.C., the military cross; the D.S.O., the distinguished service order; the D.C.M., the distinguished conduct medal; the M.M., the military medal; the D.F.C., the distinguished flying cross; the D.S.C., the distinguished service cross and, of course, the V.C., the Victoria cross, the most distinguished of all decorations. There may be one or two others which I have not noted.

What I would say to the house in reply to the hon. member's question is that so far as awards for gallantry and recognitions of valour are concerned, this government has

fMr. Mackenzie King.]

never taken any stand against such awards being made. I am glad my hon. friend has raised the question, because I have seen in the press the criticism that the administration has prevented Canadians in the field, who have proven themselves equally as gallant as those of other countries, from receiving recognition. As a matter of fact the government has never thought of in any way depriving members of the fighting forces from any recognition for gallantry, or from receiving any of the decorations I have mentioned as conferred for valour.

So far as the decorations in the orders of chivalry are concerned, we have felt that by the terms of the resolution of this house they were ruled out. As to the others, I can only repeat that I am sure the last thought in the minds not only of members of the government but of all hon. members would be that at this of all times we should deprive any one of any right or privilege of recognition for gallantry or valour, but rather that we would be pleased to see that recognition accorded to anyone who might be recommended for such distinction.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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March 11, 1941