No; but every other provision, in so far as the right to postponement is concerned, has been flagrantly broken, not only in western Canada but throughout the dominion. Why take away the right to the issue of prerogative writs? If the federal government wishes to make sure that every province shall have the same administration, that there shall be equality of call-up, equality in administration, equality in interpretation of the regulations, why not have an appeal? There was an appeal to the Military Service Act at the time of the last war. It would not be an appeal as of right, but an appeal where regulations are being flouted. During the last war there was an appeal to a judge of the supreme court, such judge having the right to decide whether the crown or the applicant called to the colours was receiving justice in
The Address-Mr. Diejenbaker
accordance with the principles set forth in the law as it then stood. Why not embody all those regulations in a statute? The military service act contained the law instead of its being embodied in regulations.
Why deny the government the right of appeal from the board's decision in any province which is not administering the regulations properly, and has been granting too many postponements? Why not grant the crown the right to appeal against the decisions made by a board which is departing from the provisions of the law? On the other hand, can one think of anything more ridiculous than this? Provision is made in the regulations for postponements in respect of agricultural workers, labourers and employers, and definite rights are established; yet farmers and farm labourers are being called up for service every day. What is the government doing? The minister decided apparently that the proper course to take would be to send out a letter explaining the regulations to the boards. I do not think the regulations require any particular interpretation. They provide that every person who on March 23, 1942, was bona fide engaged in agriculture was entitled to postponement. I am not arguing the rightness or the wrongness of that; that is the law. But that law is not being carried out. The government admits that it is not being carried out, but says that it is the fault of the boards. The day before yesterday the Prime Minister did something he has never done before; he assumed responsibility on the part of the government for what the boards are doing when he said that when boards and administrative bodies are set up, the government must assume the responsibility for their acts. This is an excerpt from the letter which was sent out to interpret the circumstances under which postponement should be granted. It is dated February 3, 1942, and is entitled. " Mobilization Act interpretative letter No. 1." It says this:
This is the first of such letters which will be issued by the labour department. As you will observe it is numbered. It is hoped that they will be helpful.
It goes on to say:
After conferring with the man-power committee of the cabinet it has been decided that interpretative letters will be sent out from time to time indicating in some detail the policy in respect to the various phases of the national selective service mobilization regulations.
I ask the government at this session to bring down a statute regarding man-power; do not restore prerogative rights but restore the right of leave to appeal to a supreme court judge so that every one of the national selective service boards in the various provinces will administer the law on the same basis. The letter continues:
The growing scarcity of agricultural labour makes it increasingly important that essential agricultural workers be encouraged to remain on farms.
Farm workers who apply for postponement from military training are to be granted postponement until further notice.
A person who may not have been employed in agriculture on March 23, 1942, but who has become engaged in agriculture since that time, and is shown to be essential to agriculture, may be considered for postponement on application if the merits of the case are established.
The regulations remain as they were before, that a man must have been engaged in agriculture before March 23, 1942, but they have opened the door a little wider by this letter to the boards charged with the administration of the regulations and directing that they take into consideration the granting of postponement to those who are not entitled to it under the regulations.
Subtopic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Sub-subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY