March 2, 1944

NAT
CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

I think it is the minister's good nature and his very human approach. Because of his courtesy the minister has the faculty of making the committee feel that it is a joint effort; that this is not his war or the Liberal party's war. It is a national effort, and all the members and all the people of Canada have some part in discussing and putting forth their ideas with reference to it.

I wish to give an illustration of that. In my constituency there was a Royal Canadian Air Force flying station which was to be closed. At least, the rumour was that it was to be closed and many people were worried about it. As I say, there were all sorts of rumours going around. Some said it was going to be closed. Some said it was going to be torn down. I have never considered it to be my business to bother the minister about where he should build a flying station or whether he should close it or open it. I have considered that it was his business and that of the government. Entirely unsolicited from me the minister was kind enough to drop me a confidential letter telling me that the station was being disbanded but that another one was taking its place. That other station has since taken its place. It was a small matter.

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Associate Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Air; Minister of National Defence for Air and Associate Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I am afraid I spoke too quickly. There have been changes since.

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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

May I point out to the minister that the station has been transferred. No* 8 service flying training school has taken the place of No. 41 service flying training school unless another change has taken place.

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Associate Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Air; Minister of National Defence for Air and Associate Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Another change has taken place since that letter was written, and it applies to a large number of places. I am not sure whether it applies to the one to which the hon. member has reference.

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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

That does not alter the fact.

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Associate Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Air; Minister of National Defence for Air and Associate Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I will take my letter back now.

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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

I do not want it taken back. I wish to express my appreciation of the minister's courtesy. It is something that some of the other ministers might well copy. In the early stage of the war, opposition members were somewhat in demand when victory loans came along and recruiting speeches had to be made; but as the war has progressed I have noticed that during victory loan campaigns and during some of the other campaigns that have been put on, opposition members have been left very severely alone. The government ministers get the very best kind of cooperation when they take the trouble to cooperate with the members of the different constituencies and give them the feeling that it is not a war effort on behalf of the Liberal party but a war effort on behalf of the Canadian people.

The minister has shown a very human and realistic approach to this problem of repatriation, demobilization and rehabilitation. I believe he does well to break that problem into three parts, because the parts are distinct and separate. First of all, there is the problem of bringing the men back to this country, the problem of repatriation; second, the problem of how and in what numbers and at what time they shall be returned to civil life, the problem of demobilization; and, third, the problem of reestablishing them in civil life.

The minister made at the end a stirring plea asking that we should not think entirely in materialistic terms but rather in the spiritual terms of national well-being. As we have trained these men to defend Canada we should now give them an opportunity to develop Canada. I should like to say to the minister that puts the ball right back on the government side of the house. After all, these men coming back cannot develop Canada unless those who control Canada, both in the business and in the political sense, give to these men the leadership which will be necessary if they are to develop Canada. Unless the government is prepared to lay down the plans which will be necessary and have them ready so that when these men come back there will be something definite for them to do, then we shall have a disillusioning experience indeed.

I cannot agree with the hon. member for Danforth who took the minister to task for dealing with this matter. I think we all believe that winning the war is most important and I think we all know the war is far from won. But I believe the minister is right when he recognizes that one of the fears that is

War Appropriation-Air Services

most dominant in the minds of the people of Canada and in the minds of the men and women in the service, is the fear of what will happen when the war is over. That is a totally different mental outlook from that of the last war. My father went to the last war. He went from a job into the army. Two days after he came out of the army he was back at his old job and in his old place again. As the minister stated, however, many of these men never had a job, or if they did have a job they still remember the periods when they walked the streets looking for a job. They have come out of a period of insecurity and unemployment and they are afraid of returning to it.

It seems to me that while the minister may say that you cannot solve this problem with a cliche, the government has the responsibility lying at its door. After repatriation and demobilization are dealt with the government has two responsibilities. The first is to train every one of these men to take his place in civilian life irrespective of what time that may take; second, to see to it that after he has been trained he is placed in a gainful occupation.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

We have been saying that for a year.

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LIB

James Lester Douglas

Liberal

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weybum):

It has not been done for a year. It has not been done at all. The senior hon. member for Halifax said, when we were talking about having no plans, that there were extensive plans. Where are they? When we ask, "Where are they?", he says, "There are counselling committees set up." Of course, setting up committees to give counsel is not supplying jobs, but merely helping men to find the kind of job toward which they ought to go, and that is probably as far as the responsibility of this particular department of government goes; but it is not the full extent of the responsibility of the government. It has a much greater responsibility. The senior hon. member for Halifax should not confuse having employment offices with employment, no more than before the war setting up the unemployment insurance commission necessarily abolished unemployment. As I have already said, this government will have the responsibility of training these men, and of placing them either in private industry or, if there is no room in private industry, of having laid down careful plans for socially useful projects that will guarantee employment to every man whom they have trained.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

That is being done every day.

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LIB

James Lester Douglas

Liberal

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weybum):

The minister says it is being done every day.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

Thousands and thousands.

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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

In many

instances it has not been done, as the minister knows very well. If it is being done every day, let me ask the minister what plans he is prepared to place before this house not to absorb a hundred men or five hundred men but to absorb half a million or three-quarters of a million men.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

I shall be glad to state them at the proper time.

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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

I hope the minister will do so.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. CRUICKSHANK:

Will the hon. member understand it?

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?

James McCrie Douglas

Mr. DOLTGLAS (Weybum):

In connection with the task of training these men and placing them in gainful employment, I wish to ask the Minister of Defence for Air if any plans have yet been made as to the disposition of the airports? The minister knows there is talk of seme of them being closed already. Are they to be sold? Are they to be leased or torn down? I wish to make a suggestion to the government that if they are going to train men-and they will probably have to train a quarter of a million or more men in this way- there is no better place to train them in various trades and occupations than in those airports. Many of them have dormitory accommodation for anywhere from a thousand to fifteen hundred men; they have workshops, hangars, recreation rooms and so on. Large groups of men could be placed in those airports on pay and allowances, as has been suggested already, there trained in various occupations and trades and later put into either private industry or the house building or rural electrification programmes sponsored by the federal, provincial and municipal governments. What disposition will be made of the airports, and what will be done with them in the rehabilitation period?

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Associate Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Air; Minister of National Defence for Air and Associate Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

If the hon. gentleman will read my statement, at about page 1029 of Hansard, probably he will get the answer to his question. It is exactly along the line he has suggested.

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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

Then I should like to support the suggestion advanced by the hon. member for Vancouver North in connection with groundcrew. I came into the chamber while the hon. member was speaking; I did not hear his statement, but I understand that he was considerably amazed and amused

War Appropriation-Air Services

by the comment I offered last year in regard to the Dieppe operation particularly, in view of the fact, he said, that my observations were based on a Cook's tour and some experience as a chaplain in the reserve army. I should like to tell the hon. gentleman that I have never been on a Cook's tour, and I have never been a chaplain in the reserve army or any other kind of chaplain. I only hope the rest of the information he gave the committee was more reliable than those two statements.

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March 2, 1944