August 23, 1946

CCF

Robert Ross (Roy) Knight

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

Mr. KNIGHT:

Yes, to protect them from moths and vermin, so that they will not be put on that rag pile the minister was telling us about.

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PC
CCF

Robert Ross (Roy) Knight

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

Mr. KNIGHT:

I shall not say anything about political vermin. Perhaps the minister would comment on that before I would refer to another matter which is less contentious.

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

Commenting generally, none of this equipment stored there has been there since the last war. I do not know what type of bedding this is, but I should imagine it would be the type suitable for civilian use. If it is not required for army purposes it will, in the usual way, be declared surplus and disposed of by War Assets Corporation.

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CCF

Robert Ross (Roy) Knight

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

Mr. KNIGHT:

I should like to discuss one other point having to do with the disposal of wartime property, and this time dealing with buildings. As the minister knows, or as he can easily guess, there is an extreme shortage of housing in Saskatoon. Many of the people affected are veterans of the last war, and particularly veterans who are attending or who wish to attend university. With a view to correcting that situation R.C.A.F. buildings have been brought into use. The provincial government in Saskatchewan have fitted up what they call community apartments, which consist of 88 suites for young married men, one of the stipulations incidentally being that they must have families before they can qualify for one of these suites-an unusual stipulation. Now they are

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making provision for 44 additional suites from R.C.A.F. huts or buildings being brought in from the town of Davidson, at which point an air field was located during the war.

There is another scheme afoot, although it is not yet developed. I am sure prorogation of this parliament will take place before a settlement of this matter can be made; I therefore wish, now that I have the opportunity, to bring it to the attention of the minister.

The university of Saskatchewan will be overcrowded with students next year. A great many of these will have no place to live. The mayor and city council are acting in collaboration with the provincial government and have set out a scheme under which they would like to use some of the surplus buildings at Dundurn. There are many empty buildings at Dundurn Camp, as I have no doubt the minister knows. They are located about thirty miles from the university. The suggestion is that through the cooperation of the dominion and provincial governments, and the city, there might be such a thing as establishing a colony of these young veterans, so that they could have their wives and families with them while they are attending university and could live in some of these empty buildings at Dundurn. Transportation of course would be a big problem; but with the cooperation of the provincial government, which controls a government-owned system of buses, I believe the transportation difficulty might be overcome.

I take this opportunity to bring the matter to what* I hope will be the favourable consideration of the minister, so that when he is approached upon the subject-if indeed that has not already taken place-he may be in a position to give a decision.

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

I shall be glad to look into the matter. I had an opportunity earlier this year to see the magnificent university at Saskatoon. I chatted with some of the people there at the time and I know that in common with other Canadian universities in this coming year we are faced with a serious housing problem. My own university of McGill is up against the same thing. If and when a request is made-it has not yet been made- I can assure the hon. member it will receive sympathetic consideration.

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PC

Arthur Leroy Smith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. SMITH (Calgary West):

Mr. Chairman, I intend to take only a minute of the time of the committee to mention two matters of concern about which I know something. I have no military achievements whatsoever, with the exception that once I was a lance-corporal in the boys' brigade of the Methodist

church in Regina. That is as far as I got. Therefore I do not discuss matters of a military nature. However I should make a suggestion to the minister, one which I have no doubt has been made before. It has reference to courts martial. During the war I appeared in quite a number of them, one of which I remember lasted eight days-and perhaps may I say, in my own defence, appearing at all times without fee, as perhaps a little contribution I might make in my own way to the war effort. But in my view the whole system of courts martial is wrong. I am not referring to what an officer in the field may do in respect of those minor things over which he has charge, My suggestion is that in each military district there should be an appointee who would be in the position of judge, and that such appointee would not be in uniform, but would be in civvies. He would have nothing to hope for by way of promotion, because there would be no further opportunity for promotion.

Why do I make this suggestion? I have in mind a court martial of an officer holding the rank of lieutenant-colonel. On the court were five officers, two of whom were brigadiers. We had a judge advocate from Victoria- and a very fine one at that. We had a prosecutor from London, Ontario. That court martial lasted eight days, and ended with a reprimand, or exactly the same decision which had been rendered by the district officer commanding in district 13, Brigadier Harvey. I am sure that court martial must have cost the country between $4,000 and $5,000; and I refer to it only by way of example. That court martial had been ordered by the then minister of national defence, Colonel Ralston. The men who comprised the court were fine men, honest men-I have no criticism in that respect at all. But they all had certain ambitions in the army. And no one can tell me that after going through the history of a case, where there has been a court of inquiry and where a district officer has made a decision, following which the court martial has been ordered, the persons sitting in judgment are not going to be affected by those conditions. Unconsciously they will.

Let us take another case, comiflg down to lower ranks. We find that a court martial has been held and perhaps an acquittal ordered or a light sentence imposed. I state no secret when I say that it is a custom in the army for the divisional commander, or whatever his rank may be-the person higher up, anyway-to telephone or to send notes saying, for example, "if this thing goes on, discipline will be weakened"-or will disappear. In other words my thought is that justice cannot

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be administered properly when, all the time, there is a senior officer back somewhere who is in a position to criticize, and who is always in a position to assist by way of making promotions. On the financial side-and I advance this idea for the minister's consideration-on the financial side I am quite sure that it would not be an added expense. As you know, when senior officers are charged you endeavour to bring in persons not in that area and so the expense adds up. I make the suggestion knowing perfectly well that you cannot do anything about it now. I had about ten experiences with courts martial during this last war; I am not complaining about what they did-that is not the points- but it does seem to me that there is something well worthy of thought and I am inclined to think that the suggestion I have made may be of value. I turn now to something which may not be regarded as being so constructive, the letter from the commissioner of the mounted police.

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

If there is a letter. I do not know whether there is, and I want to make that clear. I have not found a letter. .

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PC
LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

I said that we were requested by the mounted police to give information. There may well be one.

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PC

Arthur Leroy Smith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. SMITH (Calgary West):

Irrespective of what the means of communication may have been, knowing about the mounted police I am perfectly certain that it would be in writing.

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

I expect you are right.

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PC

Arthur Leroy Smith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. SMITH (Calgary West):

There will be five or six copies on seventeen or eighteen files. I know that it is the way they operate. I missed a bit of what the minister said this morning, because I was late, but I have been sitting here trying to put myself in his position and to think of a cogent reason why it should not be produced. I have been utterly unable to do so. If we care to go back, we find there is an order of the house. Maybe that order was passed hurriedly and without enough consideration, but there it is, an order of this house. But leave that out of the question for the moment, and remember in suggesting that I do not mean that one should lightly disregard an order of the house. What is the position? Here we have a report from the mounted police reading, if I read anything correctly, that there has been a prima facie case made out and naturally that is something for prosecution. After that we have the 63260-331J

institution of the prosecution delayed, and we finally have it proscribed altogether on instructions from the deputy minister of labour.

I realize the minister has an equal regard to that which I hold-I say this with respect for all the other people whom we hear are working miracles-for the finest police force this world has ever known, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I am sure that we are all of that opinion. While I realize the inference is that it did not come to the minister because this is not his department, I think he should give consideration to this matter. Someone in the government is leaving that splendid body of men under a shadow. They have reported that there is this situation, that there is this case, and prosecution is stopped. Believe me, that shadow will be a lengthening shadow, and in my judgment it is utterly unfair to leave that splendid body of men in that position. If for no other reason than in defence of the mounted police I say, with great respect to the minister and to the Minister of Justice, that that report ought to be produced.

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

With regard to the second point my hon. friend has raised, I do not know that there is such a report. The information upon which I based my answer this morning to the hon. member for Lake Centre was that the Department of National Defence were requested to provide information as to Major Elliott. If there is correspondence between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Department of National Defence, and there may well be, I have not been able to find it. I have not the files here. If I understood my hon. friend correctly, the report made by the deputy minister of national defence was that it is understood that this correspondence is being produced by the Department of Justice.

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PC
LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

I thought it was the Department of Justice. As I understood him, the file was between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Department of National Defence. That would be the ordinary course.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

It is the Department of Labour. It states that it is understood that copies of the correspondence in question will be furnished by the Department of Labour.

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

I understood my hon. friend to say the Department of Justice. I will look into the matter. I have not the order before me, but my recollection is that it called for correspondence between Justice and National Defence.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

Yes, between the Department of National Defence and/or the Department of Labour and/or the Department of Justice.

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

The three departments. If there is correspondence between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which I take it is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice, and the Department of National Defence which is properly producible under the order, it will be produced. If there is such correspondence, I do not know why it was not produced. I will look over the files, and if there is correspondence that is producible under that order, I will see that it is produced.

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August 23, 1946