June 25, 1946

SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

Let me remind the hon. gentleman that the legion command in Alberta voted that clear titles be given these soldier settlers. The hon. member for Battle River (Mr. Fair) placed that resolution on record some time ago, and referred to it again tonight; but I cannot take any responsibility for what the legion does in Saskatchewan. What probably happened there, I think, was this. At that convention I believe that there was a good deal of lobbying, and that it was explained to the delegates that if they asked that clear title be given the old soldiers it might prejudice government action in regard to soldier settlers under the new bill. I have no fear that just because we may give clear titles to the old veterans of the first war, the new veterans will cease to make their payments. I think it is utter nonsense to suggest that any soldier of this war would wait for twenty-seven years in order to get title. He wants his title just as quickly as he can get it; and I think the records have proved that whenever a soldier settler has had the money to pay, he has paid. So that if to-day we gave clear title to these old veterans I anj sure there would be no question of the soldier settler of this war wanting to wait for twenty-seven years in order to get clear title also. However, I believe it may have been argued at that convention that this action would be detrimental in this way, and I think that may be why they took that stand.

We frequently hear members of the government eulogizing the government programme in regard to the rehabilitation of veterans of world war II, and I will agree that this programme is good. There may be exceptions to that statement, but I think it compares favourably with the programmes of other nations. On the other hand, however, I would say that the government's programme in regard to the veterans of world war I is altogether inadequate. To-day veterans of the first war are old men. What chance, for instance, will the men coming out of the veterans' guard have to get back into industry? The ages of these veterans range from fifty-five to eighty, so they have not a chance. It is all very well for the hon. member for Rosthern (Mr. Tucker) to be so optimistic about the four thousand soldier settlers on the land to-day and to say that men who have an equity of 30 per cent are almost sure to be able to pay for their land. Let me remind the hon. member that

in 1929 there were many farmers who did not owe a cent; who had paid up their life insurance and had money in the bank, but who lost their farms five or six years later. If men in that position can lose their farms I suggest that we should not be overoptimistic about men who have only a 30 per cent equity in their farms and who, in many instances have nothing but old machinery.

As we know, the history of the old soldier settlers has been tragic. Of the 25,000 who settled on the land, in the neighbourhood of

16,000 lost their land. The hon. member for Rosthern stated that 5,600 have paid up, but we still have some 4,000 who, generally speaking, have only a small equity in their land. The resolution before the house is based upon order in council 10472, and for a little while I wish to deal with the history of that order in council, the reason it was brought forward and to what extent it covers the needs of the soldier settlers. P.C. 10472 came into being very largely as the result of a recommendation of the committee on veterans affairs that sat in 1942. I want to read to the house the recommendation of the legion to the committee at that time, which recommendation is to be found at page 158 of the committee's proceedings for Friday, July 10, 1942:

The legion, therefore, recommends that the principle contained in section 9 of the new bill, respecting the veteran's debt should, as far as possible, be applied to soldier settlers under the old act and that the director be given power to rewrite contracts accordingly.

On page 162 of the same proceedings I find this statement by the chairman of that committee :

I was going to point out that failures have been largely due to circumstances over which the settler had no control. What we should attempt to do, I think, in making a report, or suggested amendments, is to try to bring this situation of settlers in distress in conformity with the present bill 65.

I do not think the hon. member for Rosthern or the minister would try to argue that order in council 10472 did bring the old Soldier Settlement Act into conformity with the new one. It is only necessary to read the two recommendations to see that in reality the order in council was the negation of the recommendation made by that committee. I say that because in the recommendation of the committee we find it recommended that soldier settlers be given equity in their land. When that, recommendation was made it was the general understanding of the members of the committee that the equity would be along the lines of that given under the new act. I could quote member after member speaking in the committee who advocated that the principle of the new act should apply to the

Soldier SeUiement

old. I have already quoted the chairman as saying that the aim of the committee should be to give to the soldier of the last war the same benefits as received by the soldier of this one, under the act.

So, when the recommendation read that equity should be given, the understanding was that the equity would be along the lines of that given in the new Veterans Land Act. But what do we find in the order in council? We find in it that there is no provision for any equity. I quote section 1 (b):

(b) make application to the director for a reduction of his indebtedness to the director, and the treasury board may on the recommendation of the director confirm or reduce such indebtedness, provided, however, that the recommendation made by the director shall be based upon the amount which in his judgment constitutes the present and prospective productive value of the land; the effective date of reduction if any shall be the standard date in 1942.

In other words, if the director had followed out the order in council in detail he would have reduced the debt of the soldier settler only down to the actual value of the land. The soldier would have had no equity in the land at all. Fortunately, I believe, for the veterans, the director of the soldier settlement board did go beyond the order in council, and he did provide some equity.

On the other hand if, when the adjustments were made, the old soldier settlers had been given equity to bring them into line with the soldiers settling under the new act, they would have been given an equity of at least 33} per cent, because that is the equity so granted under that act.

Under the new act the veteran is given an equity of 23} per cent, and he pays down 10 per cent himself, so that he has an equity of about 33} per cent. In addition, he is given a grant of 81,200 for machinery. So that actually in land and machinery he has an equity of 46 per cent.

If a soldier settler had been given an equity of 33} per cent four years ago, then naturally, after four years of war and good prices for farm products one would expect to find that soldier settler in far better shape than merely having an equity of 33} per cent. If a soldier settler cannot increase his equity considerably during a period of high prices, what chance would he have to increase it in later years, when prices may have fallen?

In spite of the fact that the soldier was supposed to have been given an equity of 33% per cent, we find that to-day there are 1,446 settlers with an average equity of only 30 per cent. So that apparently they made no progress at all. We find there are 518 with an equity of only 14 per cent. If they were given

an equity of 33% per cent they must have gone back. Then there are 203 with no equity at all. Surely these figures are evidence that the intentions of the 1942 committee were not carried out.

I hold in my hand sessional paper 125B. In this paper the question is asked;

How many of the 3,800 soldier settlers classified in grades 3 and 4 as at March 31, 1942, have had their debts adjusted under P.C. 10472?

The answer is;

1,739 debt reductions have been approved by treasury board to May 31, 1946; further 72 cases are under review.

The second question was:

How many of the above failed to make an application under this order?

The figure given in reply was 1,787. I think the reason is obvious. Forms were sent out, and it is stated on those forms that their debts would be readjusted so that the amount of the debt would be equal to the value of the land. Then they were asked to sign the forms for another twenty-five years. A lot of them said, "Thank you for nothing," and made no application at all.

Then the third question:

How many of those, whose debts were adjusted, had their debts reduced to the point where they had an equity in their land of (a) over 30 per cent; (b) over 15 per cent; (c) under 15 per cent, based upon 1941-42 values?

The reply is that only 377 were given an equity of 30 per cent, 1,298 an equity of 15 per cent and sixty-four an equity under 15 per cent.

These figures prove conclusively that the intentions of the 1942 committee were not carried out. I am not blaming the director of the soldier settlement board, because he went farther than he had a right to go under the order in council. I am, however, criticizing the government for passing an order in council that was a direct negation of the recommendation of the 1942 committee.

When the question of giving clear titles to veterans in the last war came up in committee there was a good deal of discussion, and I think that generally the committee was sympathetic to it. But as I have said, however, when the time for the vote came the forces were marshalled so that there was no chance that those who were in favour of it would win out. But what I am surprised at is this, that when a motion was put to grant the soldier settlers of the last war an equity of 33} per cent, the committee turned it down by a vote of twenty-one to thirteen. Again, of course, that was the direct result of bringing into the committee all the reserve

Soldier Settlement

army of government members. Four cabinet ministers were included in that reserve, just to make sure that it would carry out the wishes of the government in that regard.

The government could have at least given soldiers of the last war that much consideration. It would have been right in line with the recommendations of the 1942 committee. Mind you, the whole basis of the new Veterans Land Act is that a soldier has no chance ever to pay for his land unless, when he starts out, he has an equity of 33j- per cent. The mortgage companies take the stand that a man must have an equity of 50 per cent in his land if he is ever to pay for it.

If it is necessary for soldier settlers under the new act, men who are young, men who, generally speaking, have fairly new equipment, to have an equity of 33J per cent to pay for their land bow much more necessary is it for old soldier settlers ranging in ages from fifty-five to seventy years to have an equity of 33-j per cent if they are to pay for their land.

Yet, strange as it seems, the committee recorded a vote against giving them that equity. The minister repeatedly asks the question: Are you in favour of the present resolution? I would reply in this way: If you find a starving man and someone offers him' a small crumb, even it be a small crumb I would say by all means give it to him. Therefore I shall support the resolution as being just one small donation; but it does not begin to meet the need.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING RATES OF INTEREST
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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:

I gave an assurance this afternoon to the hon. member for Yale (Mr. Stirling) and the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker) that an opportunity would be afforded of discussing the questions raised this afternoon by the hon. member for Lake Centre. Perhaps the house would consent to have the debate adjourned.

On motion of Mr. Merritt the debate was adjourned.

Topic:   SOLDIER SETTLEMENT ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING RATES OF INTEREST
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CASE OF SERGEANT T. BUCK SUZUKI


Hon. IAN A. MACKENZIE (Minister of Veterans Affairs) moved that the house go into committee of supply.


CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. M. J. COLDWELL (Rosetown-Biggar):

Mr. Speaker, before you leave the chair I should like to bring before the house a case which is dissimilar to those that have been discussed this evening but which I think should be presented to the house. This is the case of Sergeant T. Buck Suzuki, No. B-90180. This is a case of real injustice. This man served with distinction in the Malaya com-

I

mand. After the outbreak of the Pacific war he was moved out of the coastal area in British Columbia and his wife and baby are in Ontario. I may say that he has never seen his child. His parents are naturalized Canadians and his wife was born in this country.

I have communicated with the Secretary of State (Mr. Martin) regarding the disposal of this man's property. We have heard a lot about the property of soldier settlers to-night. This property was sold for 11,963.33 by the custodian and I am told that that is considerably below its actual value. There is an insurance policy of 83,000 covering the house, and furniture to the value of $500. I am trying to summarize this as quickly as I can. There were over seven acres of land which were never assessed below $100 an acre, and the house was rebuilt in December, 1941. This man states that he can obtain from a builder a statement that a house similar to his would cost between $4,000 and $4,500.

To-day I had from the Secretary of State with whom I have been communicating a letter which really does not answer my questions regarding the disposal of this property of a man who served creditably in the armed forces. It merely states that the property belonging to this man was one of those acquired under the Veterans Land Act, that the amount realized is standing to his credit in the Vancouver office, and that it is a very small amount. In addition, the evacuation section of the Department of the Secretary of State have told this man whose property has been sold that a small amount for legal fees in connection with the conveyance of the property will be charged later.

I am bringing this matter to the attention of the house because here we have a man who served with credit. He happens to be a Canadian of Japanese origin who rose to the rank of sergeant. He comes back to this country and finds that during his absence his property-

Topic:   CASE OF SERGEANT T. BUCK SUZUKI
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE:

Did he serve with the Canadian forces?

Topic:   CASE OF SERGEANT T. BUCK SUZUKI
Permalink
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

With the Malayan

command. He found that his property had been sold for a sum of money which, on its face, was ridiculously low and, in addition, he is faced with having to pay legal fees in connection with this sale. I am placing this case briefly before the house because I believe it should be drawn to the attention of the house being, as I contend, a matter of injustice.

Topic:   CASE OF SERGEANT T. BUCK SUZUKI
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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:

I shall be very glad to see that the case is investigated by the veterans affairs committee.

Supply-Health and Welfare

Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Macdonald (Brantford City) in the chair.

Topic:   CASE OF SERGEANT T. BUCK SUZUKI
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NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE


Miscellaneous grants- Grant to Health League of Canada, $10,000.


LIB

Robert Wellington Mayhew (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. R. W. MAYHEW (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance):

Mr. Chairman, this afternoon on the debate on the interim supply bill the hon. member for Lake Centre raised the question of a press release dealing with the suspension of ration banking facilities at La Banque Provinciale du Canada. I promised to give a statement this evening on this matter.

The system of ration coupon banking is a convenience to business introduced so as to simplify the handling and distribution of rationed commodities. The chartered banks are used as agents of the wartime prices and trade board to centralize the accounting of coupons deposited and to enable ration cheques to be used by business men in settling for purchases of rationed commodities and thus avoid the repeated handling of large quantities of individual coupons. Naturally it is necessary under the system that the banks provide a service to include the careful checking of coupons and operation of the ration coupon accounts in accordance with regulations of the wartime prices and trade board. For these services the banks are paid a fee, depending on the nature and volume of the transactions.

In the case of La Banque Provinciale du Canada there has been considerable difficulty in obtaining a proper operation of the system and the bank does not appear willing to provide the services required. As a consequence, the regulations of the board respecting the safeguarding of the coupons and the accounts have not been observed. A number of prosecutions are now pending against some individuals on the staff of La Banque Provinciale du Canada. The charges include the facilitating of black market operations. It is not possible to state precisely how long these particular irregularities have continued, since the investigations on which prosecutions will be based are not yet completed. In all the circumstances the board has reached the conclusion that the services of the bank will not be utilized in this connection after July 31. It is necessary to provide some advance notice of this intention in order that transactions pending or in process may be properly completed.

While the decision may cause some inconvenience to the ration coupon accounts affected, it should be remembered that these

accounts are not part of the ordinary banking accounts, which are, of course, not affected in any way by the action taken by the board or the irregularities mentioned. Moreover, the board would be willing to reinstate La Banque Provinciale du Canada if adequate assurance can be obtained that they will provide the services required.

The hon. member asked why this statement was not made in the house instead of by means of a press release. The action taken by the board followed considerable discussion with senior officials of La Banque Provinciale du Canada, as a part of the administrative duty of the board. It is also part of the administrative duty of the board to enforce its regulations wherever violations are discovered, and it was not considered that this instance constituted a matter of policy which needed to be brought to the attention of the house.

Topic:   NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

Possibly the hon. gentleman will be able to give additional information because the information he has now furnished is indefinite. Will he be able to advise the nature or degree of the irregularities in black marketing that have been ascertained as a result of the investigation, also the number of prosecutions that are being taken and the number of informations that have been laid as of this time?

Topic:   NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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LIB

Robert Wellington Mayhew (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. MAYHEW:

I have learned a great deal about this transaction since I left the house about 4.30 p.m., but not being a lawyer I hardly know how far I can go without doing an injustice to those who are being charged or to the cause of other governments. But I can go this far. There are at least four, three of whom have already admitted their guilt.

Topic:   NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

Possibly the minister could go a little farther and indicate the depth of the ramifications. Is it widespread or narrow in compass?

Topic:   NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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LIB

Robert Wellington Mayhew (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. MAYHEW:

There are four banks in Quebec, nine chartered banks altogether. This has affected only one bank. It would not be wise for me to go any farther at the present time. There will be other occasions for giving information. I shall be pleased to give it personally to my hon. friend if he wishes.

Topic:   NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FULTON:

The bank coupon system referred to by the parliamentary assistant is run, I understand, very much like a checking account, except that the currency is ration coupons instead of money. It is fairly easy for a bank to make an honest or a dishonest mistake, just as it is easy for a merchant to make an honest mistake. I should like to

Supply-Health and Weljare

know if the ramifications include only bank officials or extend to merchants who have bad transactions with the bank.

Topic:   NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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LIB

Robert Wellington Mayhew (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. MAYHEW:

It affects both.

Topic:   NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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IND

Jean-François Pouliot

Independent Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

As a matter of personal explanation, may I say to the parliamentary assistant that I did not run away from the battle this afternoon. He did not answer me at once and unfortunately I had to leave the chamber. I would say that what I want is not discussion in my office with anyone from the Bank of Canada. I want a public explanation in the house. That is all.

Topic:   NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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LIB

Robert Wellington Mayhew (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. MAYHEW:

I assure the hon. member for Temiscouata that I was not reflecting in any way upon him because I realized fully that he was looking for information. So far as the answer to his question is concerned, it will be given to him in the budget debate.

Topic:   NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
Permalink
IND

June 25, 1946