Mr. D. C. ABBOTT (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence):
Mr. Speaker, I rise for the first time on a question of privilege, arising out of an editorial which appeared in this morning's Globe and Mail, and which is headed "Worst Fraud Still to Come?" The first paragraph reads as follows:
If the figures on conscript reinforcements which Mr. Douglas Abbott, parliamentary assistant to defence minister McNaughton, gave the commons on Monday mean what they seem to mean, the worst of the man-power frauds has still to be faced. In his first report on the reinforcement policy last week Mr. Abbott produced some flattering statistics. The net result was to show that overseas reinforcements for the Canadian forces were 75 per cent above the estimates struck last fall.
I will not weary the house with the whole editorial. A number of figures follow; and the second paragraph concludes as follows:
But on Monday, in answer to questions, Mr. Abbott disclosed thpt only 238 of those 11,836 draftees had gone to the front. He was unable to say how many of these were "converts" or belated volunteers.
I pause there to say that I stated in the , house yesterday afternoon that, of the 238, 237 were not "converts"; and I might suggest to the editorial department of the Globe and Mail that if they would consult with their parliamentary correspondent they might be able to give more up-to-date information.
The editorial continues with a lot more supposed analysis of statistics, and the second last paragraph concludes with this sentence:
And it gives a great deal of support to the evidence that the only draftees to reach the battle areas are those who converted.
The editorial finally concludes:
All that has happened is that 11,836 draftees (less 283 converts) have had a change of residence-from Canada to the United Kingdom. They are being treated as "zombies" there as they are here.
Duration of Parliament
That statement is completely incorrect. The N.R.M.A. men who are sent over are placed in reinforcement units in the United Kingdom, and they are treated exactly the same as other soldiers, general service soldiers. The statement of policy was that there would be no discrimination against them. On arrival in the United Kingdom they take their place in what is colloquially known as "the queue", the line of reinforcements. They first undergo tests as to their standards of training, including some additional weapon training which is restricted in Canada on account of the limited supplies of certain types of ammunition, and undergo hardening training; and when they reach the stipulated standards of fitness and training they are held in readiness to send to any theatre as required to maintain that theatre fully. That procedure is' followed in the case of these N.R.M.A. men as it is with general service men. There is no reason why they should be sent to the theatres ahead of general service men; they go in their ordinary turn.
I have referred to the 238 who had gone to the end of February. I have cabled to England for the latest figures; I have no doubt they will show that some additional ones have gone; and, knowing how anxious the Globe and Mail is to get before the people of this country the true facts with respect to our overseas forces, I feel that I should make this explanation.