April 6, 1945

IND

Jean-François Pouliot

Independent Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I have profound admiration for the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of National Defence. His job is a most ungrateful one, and I cannot conceive how experienced members of parliament can assume responsibilities which are not their own, to defend the management of a department over which they have no control whatever. Although the parliamentary assistants

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who are at present incumbent as such have done exceptionally well, I still find that their situation is absurd, especially when there are ministers who hold several portfolios. The parliamentary assistants should be promoted and should have the responsibilities of the departments which they are called upon to defend in the house. My hon. friend the member for St. Antoine-Westmount (Mr. Abbott) has done very well. He has answered questions very well but there are two points which have stuck me. With regard to the question that has been asked by the member for Peterborough West regarding medical category, everyone has read the official Gazette. The changes that have been made to the classifications in connection with pulhems are known to everyone.

Now to be unfit a man has to be nearly dead; he must be just as dead as this parliament. A man must be at least moribund. It is an ungrateful task, sir, to fight for the underdog. There are underdogs in the army; there are underdogs in civilian life. Those people are humble. Sometimes they are not afraid to speak, they are too shy. They need someone who loves them as fellow citizens to take up their defence and there is no better place to take up their defence than in this very House of Commons.

Well, now, the ratings with regard to grading under the pulhems system have been changed. They have been changed all through. They have been amended many times since they were first passed, so much so that a man who would have been rejected by the army as unfit two years ago when the pulhems tests were instituted is now kept in the army to do fatigue work, to wash the floors, to shovel the ashes, fire up the furnace and do things like that. It is absurd. When these men have a particular trade which is essential to the war effort they are kept there. They are specially trained in their occupation, a training that is most useful to the war effort and yet they are kept in the camp to do some common work that could be done by a man who is lame, who has one eye, who may have goitre and who may be unfit. Very often these men would do a much better job in civil life but they are kept in the army. It is impossible to get them out. Why? Because each sick man is one more soldier. It is not the ability of the man; it is not his fitness that counts; it is a question of numbers, one more man. Here we are. Let us keep him. It is impossible to let him go. And sometimes men have been kept in hospital under observation for more than a year. They were of no use to the army, they

[Mr. Poulict.l

were of no use to the country; they were paid and they were there under observation. I wonder if it takes a year of observation by the doctors of the army to decide if a man is fit or unfit.

But there was something worse. I have heard my hon. friend speaking of deserters. I know why some boys are deserters. They are not all deserters. Not long ago I wrote to the Department of National Defence and mentioned the case of a man who was reported to me as a deserter. Afterwards they realized that it was a mistake of those keeping the files in the unit. That man was not a deserter at all, but because of the stupidity of the officers in charge of his unit he had the stigma of a deserter attached1 to him. He was no more a deserter than General Crerar, but he was so called.

Do you think, Sir, it is very interesting for a farmer who has never been out of his village to be called to the army or called back to the army when he knows that a cousin of his has been sentenced to two years in the clink because he had been out of his unit for three months? The matter was mentioned to the parliamentary assistant to the minister. It was not interesting for him or when any farmer knows that a man who is an agronomist and who is unfit was considered1 as fit by the medical asses of the army and Was told to report. He did not. He was caught by the police and sent to the clink for nine months, and after his sentence was through was brought back for another medical examination and was found unfit. If the doctors had been competent that man would have been considered unfit for the army in the first place. He would ' not have been called a deserter and he would not have been a deserter.

Another thing, sir. Those men who are in charge of units are not all of the same type, but they are independent of each other and are free to interpret the regulations as they see fit. One says black; another says white. The third one says black, and another may say black or white. The rulings of the commanding officers are just as varied as the colours of the rainbow. But there is something worse. There was the classical case of a man who was suffering from a heart condition. It was indicated by the heart specialists on the pulhems sheet. It was erased by the chairman of the board. The man was sent to his unit afterwards. He reported to his sergeant that he was sick. The sergeant laughed and jeered at him, told him that he was a faker because his sheet was white. There was no indication of his heart disease on his sheet. He was sent to bed. He asked for the priest and the doctor. They were

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refused and he was found' dead in his bed the morning after. That is a fine inducement for a boy to enlist in the army when he knows about it.

I asked for one investigation. The investigation was a tragic farce. It was not under oath. I ask the hon. member for St. Antoine-Westmount to have an investigation at which I want to be present to ask the chairman what happened there, so that the department gets rid of all these fake mortar-board doctors. That is it, and after all' this the boys will know all about it and they will be glad to enlist. They would enlist when they know it is impossible for many French-speaking Canadians to have officers who speak their own language. They need interpreters to communicate with their officers. They are bullied; they are sent far away from home.

We are told we are in a free country. But they are put close to the wall, and those who do not want to volunteer must move one step backward. They cannot: the wall is there. They are humiliated. When victory loan parades are held, they cannot attend. They must endure all sorts of humiliations.

Then, afterwards, we hear hon. members, like the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker) complaining about the deserters who come from one part of the country, the province of Quebec. He has always that province of Quebec in view. It will not help him. The hon. member is one of the brightest of our colleagues, but I regret most deeply that he does not .make better use of the gifts with which he was endowed by Providence. He could do much useful work to promote the bonne entente, to promote what is called national unity. But instead of that he plays always on the same string of his false violin. It is most saddening. I like the hon. member, personally; but I cannot conceive his jumping up, like a jack-imthe-box, when he has something in mind about the province of Quebec which, in his view, is the black sheep of confederation. That is a fair interpretation of what he says.

The hon. member for Parkdale (Mr. Bruce) leaves the same impression, and the hon. member for Hastings-Peterborough (Mr. White) the same thing. They give the impression that all the people of Quebec are untouchable, in the true Hindu sense, that they do not realize their duty, that they do not fulfil it, that the province of Quebec is the backward province, that the French Canadians are a bad lot, that they are ruled by the priests, that they speak a tongue that should not be spoken in this country, and that they are all isolationists.

That is the impression one gathers from the speeches of those hon. members-and it is unfortunate. It is unfortunate because we are bound to live together; we are bound to be in the same boat. And I cannot see how we of Quebec are to be thrown overboard, as some kind of Jonah. _

When I see hon. members of the Progressive Conservative party, fine fellows, including those I have mentioned, I cannot understand why some of them do not protest against what is said by members of their party, and tell them that they are wrong. I invite them all to visit the province of Quebec and to come to my county. I invite them to meet the soldiers who have returned from the front, some badly wounded, some walking on crutches, some with glass eyes, and some with other disabilities. I want them to meet the relatives and dependents of the soldiers from Temiscouata who have died overseas, and others who have been decorated. I want them to meet the relatives of soldiers who have been, decorated for gallantry in the front line.-not only soldiers, but aviators and airmen. I want them to know about the soldiers and airmen who seldom get the promotions to which they are entitled, and which they deserve, but which are given to others. And why does that happen? Because in many cases they do not have French-speaking officers who put their names on the honour list.

And that is not all. With reference again to deserters; it was not the hon. member for Lake Centre who asked the Minister of National Defence, Mr. McNnughton, to see to it that the case of the soldier who dealt with the bomb which would have destroyed St. Paul's cathedral in London was considered. It was not the hon. member for Parkdale or the hon. member for Hastings-Peterborough who mentioned to the Minister of National Defence that Sergeant Philip Konowal, V.C., of the Canadian Army, had not received the treatment he deserved, or who pointed out the shame of his having to clean spitoons and closets in the basement of the House of Commons-a man who was awarded the Victoria Cross by King George V, himself. We should be ashamed of that! I introduced the matter to the Minister of National Defence, who told me he would do something for him as soon as the reinforcement matter was attended to. But he did not realize that the best way to attend to the reinforcement matter is to make all grievances disappear, to hand out justice and fair play to the men who have come back from the army, to respect them and to give them jobs according to their valour.

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What is inscribed as a motto- on the Victoria Cross? It is "For valour". And the same thing applies to Major Triquet, who was a sergeant at Valcartier, a career soldier. I recommended him to the brass hats of the Department of National Defence, and they answered me that he was not the kind of timber from which officers are made. But everybody was honoured to shake hands with him. That was the answer I got from those people who have positively no war record, who have never been in any theatre of war, but who have won two wars in the capital city of Ottawa-wars and promotions.

There might be a certain amount of snobbery in that. There is a man who is a fool, and who is a brigadier over there in the judge advocate general's branch. He is a Tory, and he is boosted by the Tories; it is impossible to say anything about him. But he is a fool, nevertheless.

There are other fellows who suffer humiliation, and who are not treated as they deserve. They get nothing. I fight for them, and I shall continue to fight, for them. I shall continue until this parliament dies, and after it is dead-if it is not renewed-

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IND

Jean-François Pouliot

Independent Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

-I shall go to Yorkton, and continue there. I will tell the people of Canada why we have to fight for the underdogs, so that they may be rehabilitated, and so that they may be treated in the manner they deserve, and as heroes should be treated.

I shall have something more to say, but I want to give everyone a chance.

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LIB

Roy Theodore Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

Speaking last night briefly to the committee, I introduced a subject which I feel is of importance such as to warrant my pursuing it a little further this evening. The matter I was referring to was the plans that must be made fairly soon to bring back the men and women who are serving in Europe. I said last night, and I emphasize it again, that it is a quite apparent fact that the one abiding desire of the men serving in Europe, once the war is over or their particular task is terminated, will be to return to Canada, to their homes and to the familiar scenes they have been away from for so long.

I have been delighted to note that in this debate the great majority of the questions directed to the parliamentary assistant has been in connection with the welfare and rehabilitation of these men about whom I am speaking. All these matters are of great importance, and when they come back and are settled in civilian life these matters will be the things they will be most concerned

with. But upon the conclusion of the war these men will have an immediate and a natural desire to get home as quickly as possible.

In the conduct of our war effort we have profited greatly by the experiences of the past, and I am hopeful the government will display the same vision in dealing with the task of bringing home these men and women. This is something in the nature of an inter-allied problem. The problem facing the United States will be much larger than our own and perhaps the general problem will have to be approached on the basis of cooperation among the allies.

We have to keep in mind that the war with Japan may continue and that there will be a great demand for world shipping. We know there is a shortage of shipping even now to provide for the movement of men and supplies. Even when these ships are not needed to carry materials of war they will be needed to carry supplies, foods and other necessaries to the liberated countries of Europe. So that we may have to search elsewhere for a solution of this problem.

The thought has struck me that if we have not ships and crews to bring back these men we have planes and aircrew quite capable of doing a goodly portion of this particular job. The science of aviation has found it possible in this war to move great numbers of troops by air. Air-borne troops have played an important part and in all likelihood they will be called upon to play an increasingly important part in this war. But on the cessation of organized hostilities we shall probably find we have a great surplus of planes. It is quite true these will not all be suited for the transport of human beings, but at least some of them could be fitted up and made suitable to assist in the task of bringing back our men from Europe.

Let me make another suggestion. Of all countries in the world Germany has perhaps developed the transport plane to the greatest extent and of the largest possible size. Upon the cessation of hostilities there should be great numbers of these transport planes formerly owned by Germany available to the allies. It seems to me that the Canadian government in cooperation with other allied governments should see to it that these planes are made available to Canada, to the United States and perhaps to other allies for the purpose of assisting in relieving the shipping shortage and getting our men back as soon as possible.

The Canadian makes a remarkable soldier. In the face of danger or in the face of the

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enemy he accepts discipline because his mind tells him that discipline is necessary for the achievement of the task he has to do. But when the task is done, when there is no clear-cut purpose in sight, he shakes off that necessity for discipline; he becomes restless and inclined to resent having to take orders, much more so than the soldier of those countries where the war tradition is stronger. We may have the same problem we had in the last war if we delay too long in bringing home those who are not needed to complete the job in Europe.

I hope that not only the Department of National Defence as represented by the parliamentary assistant, but the Department of National Defence for Air, the Department of National Defence for Naval Services, the Department of Reconstruction and any other department that has to do with this problem will see to it that plans are carefully laid for the bringing back of the greatest number of our men from Europe as speedily as possible after the task there is done.

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LIB

Gordon Benjamin Isnor

Liberal

Mr. ISNOR:

I doubt if the remarks of the hon. member for Cape Breton South were worthy of a reply, but I was pleased indeed when the Minister of Veterans' Affairs replied so fully and completely to the hon. member. I do not think the hon. member for Cape Breton South was quite fair to his native province when he intimated in his remarks that there was no institution capable of taking care of mental cases from the armed forces.

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LIB

Gordon Benjamin Isnor

Liberal

Mr. ISNOR:

Or equipped; I will add that. Evidently he is unaware of the hospital facilities that exist to-day in Nova Scotia. His remarks w'ould almost lead one to believe that not only was he referring to hospitals dealing with mental cases, but he was referring also to all medical institutions throughout the province.

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Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

I was quoting the Dawson report. That body was set up by your own government.

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LIB

Gordon Benjamin Isnor

Liberal

Mr. ISNOR:

The hon. member has a habit of always interrupting. He read an editorial from the Halifax Herald. I think that was a fine editorial. However, when he read one particular paragraph he did so in such a way as to make the statement apply to all institutions, whereas it applied only to the smaller ones. I would suggest that he read the editorial again. I would refer the hon. member to

the report of the Nova Scotia hospital for the year just closed. He will find that there were 101 cases sent to that hospital by the armed services. The hospital is situated on the eastern side of Halifax harbour. It is very well equipped to handle mental cases. It has an ideal situation with beautiful grounds, and the whole surroundings are such as the minister had in mind as to bring a measure of comfort to those who are so unfortunate as to return in a mental condition which does not make for the best type of citizen. We hope that through the medium of these institutions, particularly the Nova Scotia hospital, these men will be able, after treatment, to take their proper place in the life of our community. For the benefit of the committee and in fairness to Nova Scotia I think I should place on the record the number of cases that were treated at the Nova Scotia hospital last year. I find that from the army there were forty-two cases; from the navy twenty-six; from the air force nine; merchant marine twenty-four; ex-servicemen other than those in the forces, eleven; making a total of 101 eases treated during the past year.

I would also remind the hon. member for Cape Breton South that since the outbreak of the war 325 cases have been handled by that institution, so that w'hen he makes a statement that we have no such institution in the province of Nova Scotia, he is hardly being fair to his native province.

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Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

That is an insane asylum.

That is exactly what I am objecting to. An ex-serviceman has no business in an insane asylum, and if my hon. friend is satisfied with that, I am not.

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LIB

Gordon Benjamin Isnor

Liberal

Mr. ISNOR:

I approach this question in

somewhat the same manner, although from a different angle, as the hon. member for Cape Breton South; that is, from the point of view of a layman. There are, of course medical men representing constituencies in Nova Scotia who can speak more expertly than the hon. member for Cape Breton South or myself on this question, but I think it is generally recognized both by laymen and1 the medical profession that the Nova Scotia hospital is well equipped, not as the hon. member would say to handle insane cases alone, but rather as a mental institution. True, it -was years ago referred to as an insane asylum, but to-day that term has gone into disuse and the hospital is now referred to as a mental institution.

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Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

What is the difference?

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LIB
CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

What is it?

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LIB

Gordon Benjamin Isnor

Liberal

Mr. ISNOR:

My hon. friend might be a mental case but not insane. I do not mean that in a personal way, but, just in answer to my hon. friend's question. It applies equally well to myself or anybody. The Nova Scotia hospital has an exceptionally fine staff, consisting of a medical superintendent, an assistant medical superintendent, an assistant physician, a business manager, a dental surgeon, a consulting specialist, eye, ear, nose and throat, a superintendent of nurses, and a splendid staff of nurses, male and female, and day and night attendants.

This institution handled 841 cases last year, with an average daily number of patients of 403. I think the information I have given would lead any fair-minded person to say that we have in Nova Scotia at least one fine mental institution in Halifax hospital, apart from many others which are also giving splendid service. The Nova Scotia hospital treats patients throughout the province but is located in Halifax county. I felt in fairness that I should reply to the hon. member for Cape Breton South so that the record would be clear with respect to the situation in our province.

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NAT

Herbert Alexander Bruce

National Government

Mr. BRUCE :

Mr. Chairman, as one of the medical men in the house, having listened to so much wisdom on medical matters from laymen, I think it is time that one of us spoke. I have noticed four or five other medical men present who have not yet participated in this discussion. For a time, as I listened to it, I thought I was attending a meeting of the Canadian Medical Association.

I find myself in agreement with what has been said by the Minister of Veterans' Affairs in regard to the attention which the subject raised this evening has been receiving from medical men in connection with the medical service, and I am sure that it will receive the same keen attention from the members of my profession in the Department of Veterans Affairs. I might point out that the former director of medical services, General Chisholm, is an eminent psychologist, thoroughly familiar with all the cases that have been referred to here this evening. If there is any man in Canada competent to handle that work now and after the war it is General Chisholm. So that I do not think we need have any fear as to the medical treatment of these patients, who, I quite agree with the member for Cape Breton South, are distressing cases and deserving of every consideration. I am confident that they will receive appropriate treatment and that arrangements will be made to take the very best care of them.

I hesitate to add any more encomiums to those already expressed on the splendid way

in which the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of National Defence presented his report yesterday. I was particularly impressed by the knowledge he seemed to have acquired in such a short space of time and by the clarity with which he presented it to the house.

May I say, to begin with, that I agree with all the praise he gave to the great service that is being rendered by our armed forces. We are all very proud of what they have done, and when he read the citation of that gallant soldier, "Smoky" Smith, I am sure that all our hearts were touched. It was a marvellous record of initiative, courage, endurance and cleverness to have accomplished what he did, and we share with all Canadians in pride at his great achievement.

I should like also while I am on this subject, because of a remark made by the hon. member for Temiscouata, to say that we were equally thrilled by the citation of Major Triquet, to whom he referred, another man who received the V.C., from the province of Quebec. I must say to my hon. friend that he is quite wrong if he thinks I have any particular grievance against the inhabitants of Quebec. I have many friends amongst the French Canadians living in that, province, and I admire them as citizens. Any criticism that I have ever made has not been of the French Canadians as such. It has been because leaders have educated them to believe that they would not have to serve in this or any other war under compulsion. In that respect they did a great disservice to this country. There is no doubt that national unity would have been promoted if during all these years they had been told that the privileges which they enjoy as citizens of this country, of freedom and sharing our natural resources, carried with it the responsibility of defending this country against aggression such as we have faced during the past five or six years.

Speaking of V.C.'s, I should like to present to the parliamentary assistant a petition. It is a very short one, and was sent to me to-day by one of the V.C.'s of the last war, an imperial veteran; I refer to Harry H. Robson, who is sergeant-at-arms in the legislature at Toronto. He submits the petition on behalf of himself and other imperial army V.C.'s, of whom there are four. H. H. Robson served in the second battalion of the Royal Scots Regiment; L. C. J. Toombs served with the Liverpool Regiment, Sergeant Best with the first battalion of the Derbyshire Regiment. All these are non-commissioned officers. He gives also the name of Captain H. Geary, V.C., East Surrey Regiment. All these men have resided in Canada for over twenty years; they have

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brought up their families here; they are paying taxes here, and he submits that Canada should take over the obligation of the very small yearly indemnity which is paid them. I am not sure of the amount, but it is small.

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LIB
NAT

Herbert Alexander Bruce

National Government

Mr. BRUCE:

It would relieve the British

government of the payment and the recipient would get it in Canadian money without the deduction because of the low exchange rates which obtain at the moment. I present that to the parliamentary assistant for his favourable consideration.

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

I shall be very glad to see

that it is considered.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

May I inform my hon. friend that until last year all the amounts paid to holders of the Victoria Cross were from imperial sources. Last year this house altered that as far as Canadians were concerned; the amounts were increased and they are being paid now by the treasury of Canada.

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April 6, 1945