Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
The leader of the opposition (Mr. Bracken) asked me some days ago if I would give to the house a statement with respect to the repatriation of Canadian prisoners of war and civilians in the far east, letting the house have such information as would help to bring the position up to date. The statement I have to make is as follows:
All Canadian prisoners of war liberated at Hong Kong have, with one exception, been evacuated to Manila, where they are awaiting transportation to Canada. The exception is the case of one man whose lack of strength at the moment rendered it inadvisable for him to be removed.
Some 500 Canadian prisoners of war liberated in Japan have been evacuated, half to Manila and half to Guam. As of September 20, 1,086 prisoners of war have been officially reported safe in allied hands. Thirty-two liberated prisoners have already reached Canada and nineteen more are known to be on their way.
Brigadier Kay, Canadian Military Attache at Chungking, having completed his mission at Hong Kong, is now returning to Chungking.
Satisfactory reports on the progress of the liberation of Canadian civilians are being received. As was announced yesterday, a small group of eleven Canadian missionaries has already reached Oakland, California. Official word has been received of the liberation of 200 of the 600 known Canadian civilians. A list of these was recently given to the press. Some of the 600 are missionaries and persons who made their homes in the east and who may wish to stay there. On the other hand, there are a number of Canadians who are not known to us and a number of British subjects not included who will be coming to Canada to join their families here.
As reported in the press, Mr. E. H. Norman, of the Department of External Affairs, accompanied by two other officers of the department, has set up headquarters in Manila to look after arrangements for the relief and repatriation of Canadian civilians. They have been joined by two officers of the Canadian Red Cross whose primary function will be to look after the welfare of Canadian civilians.
It is hoped that the larger proportion of prisoners of war and civilians will be transported direct to Vancouver and arrangements have been made there by all the departments concerned, together with the Canadian Red Cross, for their reception. However, a certain number will arrive at United States west coast ports. The army has made arrangements for the reception of liberated prisoners of war and the Department of External Affairs has sent an officer to San Francisco who will be in touch with the United States authorities at all ports and with British consuls. The Canadian trade commissioner at Los Angeles will assist in the handling of any Canadians who may arrive there. In addition, the Canadian Red Cross will station one or two officers at San Francisco and will send on other personnel as may be needed from time to time.
Wheat and Barley
All prisoners of war and civilians arriving at United States west coast ports and destined for Canada will be sent to Vancouver. Provisions for medical care and for the supply of clothing, comforts and small luxuries are being made by the services for prisoners of war and by the Canadian Red Cross for civilians at all points where they are likely to arrive.
The Canadian government has informed the United Kingdom that the Canadian authorities and the Canadian Red Cross will be glad to afford every assistance possible for the repatriation of liberated United Kingdom prisoners of war and United Kingdom civilians from the far east who may be repatriated by way of Canada. If shipping facilities across the Pacific make it possible for the United Kingdom to make use of this route, large numbers of repatriates destined for the United Kingdom may arrive at Vancouver and be transported across Canada.
Subtopic: REPATRIATION FROM THE FAR EAST- ARRANGEMENTS FOR RETURN OF CIVILIANS