Then my next question is, how many constables are there in each class, and what is the average length of time a man remains in each grade? I understand the minister to say they stay in each grade for one year until they become first-class constables?
How much longer is this to be continued? Is there any idea that it will come to an end with the end of the present extension of the War Measures Act; is it to be incorporated into the regular rates of pay, or is it to cease altogether?
Mr. ST. LAURENT: It has been extended to March 31, 1947, when some decision will have to be made as to the future.
I should like to suggest that the war duties pay, or a fairly large proportion of it, should be included in the basic
rate of pay for the force, since that basic rate, at any rate for certain members of the force, is now less than the basic rate of pay for privates or the equivalent in the three services, taking into consideration that both are provided with quarters, uniforms and so on. As a result, I believe it is necessary to increase the basic rate of pay. I should like to make it clear that I am not finding any particular fault with the rate of pay received by first-class constables, when you include the war duties pay, the allowance in lieu of rations, and so forth. If that were not included; if there had been any large number of people in the grades of second and third-class constables, and particularly subconstables, I think a fair amount of criticism would have been justified.
Mr. ST. LAURENT: The numbers may, of [DOT] course, increase. Recruiting has been difficult during the whole war period and since the end of the war. After two years of satisfactory service, one automatically becomes a first-class constable, and that explains why practically all the constables at this time are in that grade. However, the hon. member is saying something I shall be glad to have on record, because it would be intolerable to remove the war duties supplement at the present time and go back to nothing better than the basic pay.
Since I understand from the minister that men are advanced fairly rapidly from third-class constables to second-class constable and on to first-class constable, I think it is fairly satisfactory.
There is another matter I should like to mention in connection with the mounted police, however, and that is the position of men who joined* the services but did not join the first Canadian provost corps. The situation is that a considerable number of men, several of whom I knew, had the expiration of their term of enlistment occur during the course of the war. Instead of rejoining the mounted police or joining the provost corps, they joined the army, the navy or the air force. In many cases they got commissions, and quite a number of them did very well. These men have now returned and in at least some instances they have not been taken back into the mounted police, or if they have been taken back the time they spent in the service is not counted toward their pension, nor is it counted as far as seniority is concerned.
As I say, some of these men were refused readmittance to the mounted police. In this country we have what is called a Reemployment in Civil Life Act, or something along that line, which requires a civilian employer whose employees joined the services to reengage those men on terms which do not place them at a disadvantage from the point of view of seniority or pay as compared with men who did not join the services. In this police force of the dominion government that rule is being flagrantly broken. Men are not being granted their pension rights or their seniority rights, and in some cases they are being refused reemployment. I think it is high time the government made an announcement that they would reemploy any man who served in the mounted* police, who is still fit and wishes to be reemployed. The minister has said they are experiencing difficulty in engaging men. I have some letters here from men who are in this position. They were refused reentry into the mounted police because they refused to reenlist but preferred to join the services, and did not join the provost corps. Only last night I was talking to a man who was my second in command overseas. His brother was a sergeant in the mounted police. He served in the artillery overseas and rose to be a major. He has come back and has reenlisted with the mounted police. At present he is a corporal, and does not really know-it has never been made plain to him- his situation in regard to pension, seniority rights or anything else. A little while ago I noticed the minister shake his head when I mentioned these things, but I know these cases exist. I have been in touch with men, and had communication with them. I think it is time that the whole matter was clarified and these men knew where they stood, and particularly that they should get as good a deal as our legislation provides that civilian employers must give men who left their service to join the armed* forces.
Mr. ST. LAURENT: These men to whom the hon. member refers are not men who left the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to join the armed forces. They are men who left the police force at the expiry of their term of engagement. Their connection with the police force was completely severed. When they come back, if it is possible to take them on, the officers of the force are always sympathetic. The force would not have the reputation it enjoys if its officers did not treat the men in a proper manner, or did not treat them in a manner which would win the men's confidence, devotion and affection. The same treatment is being afforded all those who were with the force and wish to return to it.
There are some cases where men who left had not shown themselves to be the kind who would be apt to get promotion. It has been promotion in the service that has been its lifeblood. The commissioner and his officers want to have in the service the kind of men who will have reasonable hope of continually going up to a higher rank.
I have always been reluctant to say or to do anything to interfere with the administration of the force, because I have had the impression that it was being administered in a firm and kindly manner, and that the commissioner and his officers know how to handle it better than I did. From time to time I receive representations with respect to this person or that person who is a member of the force, and I bring it to the attention of the commissioner. But I always make it clear to him that I am not trying to run his force and that I still have confidence in the way that he is doing it. I think that attitude on the part of the responsible ministers has for a period of years proved to be a right one. I believe that if the hon. member will bring these individual cases to my attention so that I may pass them on to the commissioner, they will receive serious consideration by the officers, who try to do the right thing by all the members of the force.
I quite appreciate what the minister has said as to having confidence in the officers of the force. I should like to assure him that I, too, have the utmost confidence in them. The point, however, as it is stated in this letter from Commissioner Wood in answer to a query, is:
Up to the present, no amendment has been made to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act, authorizing all service in the second great war to count for pension, but members of the force who were granted leave of absence to serve with the first provost company overseas, are permitted to count their service in the second great war for pension purposes. The same is true of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police marine section, and of the former aviation section.
This letter is dated March 29, 1946, and, to my knowledge, there has been no change in the law since that time. In other words, the situation is that any mounted policeman who joined the service police force under the aegis, as it were, of the mounted police, may count his time in the' armed forces for pension. But any mounted policeman who did not join the police force of one of the services does not count his service for pension.
I should like to see an amendment to the mounted police pension act to correct what I consider to be an injustice in that regard, so that any mounted policeman who served
will be able to count his time for pension. It is manifestly unjust that a man who served in the provost corps should be permitted to count his time in the army for pension, whereas a man who served in the infantry and who probably, on the average, would experience ten times the amount of risk and ten times the hardship of the man in the provost corps, cannot count his time for pension. The whole thing to me is just ridiculous, and it is high time that an amendment was passed. It is not a matter of any distrust of officers, or anything of that kind. It is a matter of changing the law so that this injustice will be corrected.
Mr. ST. LAURENT: With respect to changing the law, had there not been the necessity this year of dealing with the militia pension act I would have had a bill of my own. But I preferred to let that one be * disposed of before bringing my bill along. There are reasons why there should be some differences, and I would prefer not to have the two before the house at the same time.
Yes, which is another reason I suggest that service in this war should count.
Mr. ST. LAURENT: I cannot say what parliament will do, but it is my intention to have the matter before parliament for consideration. The hon. member knows what was done about it the last time it was up for consideration.
Thank you. There is only one other point: What about the case of a man who was a sergeant in the mounted police before the war and who, after some five years of service in the army, during which time he rose to a senior rank, now finds himself in the position of constable?
Mr. ST. LAURENT: There must be some special reason there, which I cannot describe in a general way. That is not what usually happens. If that has happened'-and I do not doubt it, if the hon. member says so-there must be some special reason which would require further examination.
hoped to discuss have already been touched upon by the hon. member for Calgary East.
I agree with what he says, and I was extremely pleased to hear the minister say that they do not contemplate discontinuing the payment of the special allowance war bonus-at least in the near future. I would have regarded it as a tragedy, had they contemplated such action. I would' hope that when March of next year arrives the appropriate authorities may look with favour upon making this special bonus a part of the regular salaries.
I, too, have become aware of a number of cases where members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police joining the armed services were not permitted reinstatement in the force. In a number of cases they were offered the opportunity, so I am told, of joining the provost corps. But not desiring to do that, they waited until their long period of service had' expired and then joined the unit of their choice. Upon discharge, they endeavoured to get back into the force. Not only were they denied the privilege of rejoining the force, but I have been told that obstacles were placed in their way. I am told also that some sergeants and corporals were taken on as constables. I cannot see any justification for this treatment of these, men who had a number of years of excellent service.
There is a third matter to which I should like to refer and which is of a different nature. I agree fully with the observations which have been made this evening and which were made on July 5 about the great traditions of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I agree also with the minister when he refers to the picturesque uniforms which they wear. Members of the force are to be found in front of our parliament buildings. That is a fine thing and I do not complain about it at all. I look upon it as being a splendid tourist attraction. I realize also that having the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in their scarlet tunics around certain other buildings in Ottawa may be a fine thing, but I have a complaint to make.
There are a number of government buildings in. Ottawa where the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are, I cannot say guarding because I do not think that is what they are doing. I have heard the expression used that they are glorified janitors or glorified messenger boys for the civil service. Those expressions were actually used to me. These men are just about as far removed from police work as they possibly could be and they do not like the set-up at all. These men must run upstairs at midnight to make sure that all the windows are
closed or the taps turned off, and that is not the proper thing to ask men to do who have been associated with this great force. It does not enhance the prestige of the force.
We should have another body of persons doing this type of work. I want it understood that I am not complaining about having our mounted police in front of this building and in one or two other places, but I implore the minister to give consideration to the removal of these men from many of these government buildings where they are nothing but caretakers. If a man joined the force for the purpose of doing a job like that and knew he was going to have to do it, I would not complain, but I have been toldi that men who have had years of experience with detachments in western Canada and in other parts of the country have been brought to A division and been placed at the door of some building to tell people where John Jones, in charge of a certain branch of government, happens to have his office.
I do not think there could be anything more soul-destroying than for a mounted policeman to be taken off a detachment where he is performing police service and put into a position of that kind. Some may say that such a man may not be a good policeman. If he is not a good policeman, let him go. You would be doing him a justice rather than keeping him in that position. It has been said also, and I believe this is the case, that when a member of the force incurs the displeasure of some officer he is sent here for a period. If I may be pardoned for using the term, someone said one time that it is considered to be a sort of purgatory. They are kept here for a while and then they may be sent back to the point whence they came. I am told that a mounted policeman out on detachment, when jokingly told that he is going to be moved to A division, will develop an expression on his face something like that on the face of a front-seat patron of a theatre during the showing of a Boris Karloff film.
I cannot think of a worse thing happening than a>
man who has been on police work being sent here and being removed entirely from the type of work he has been doing. Has consideration been given to taking these men off these jobs where they give the appearance of being just glorified caretakers?
Mr. ST. LAURENT: I think most of those men to whom the hon. member refers as being glorified caretakers aTe special constables; that is, with the exception of the men on parliament hill and perhaps in one or two other places. Within the last three or four weeks negotiations have been carried on look-
mg to a contract with the corps commissionaires to have them take over the guarding of a large number of public buildings in Ottawa. I am not in a position to say whether a final agreement has been signed, but the recommendations to treasury board for the number of hours that will be involved has been passed. If the agreement has not yet been completed, it is about to be completed and the corps of commissionaires will take over that work. As the hon. member knows, that corps is made up of old soldiers who do the work under the direction of a welfare organization which contracts for a certain number of hours at a certain rate per hour.
I would not want it to be thought that I was calling these men glorified messengers or glorified caretakers. That expression was used by other people in discussing the matter with me. I am extremely happy to know that action is being taken to have the corps of commissionaires take over this work. I am sure that many members of the R.C.M.P. will smile when they hear that this action is contemplated.