July 1, 1947

LIB

James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

Naturally I have given some thought to whether or not I should make a statement and to just how far I should go. I think I have gone quite a distance already this session. In the first place, we secured this report from General Gibson, and I tabled the report. I said that the government was in accord with the recommendations of that report, at least generally speaking, and would proceed with the carrying out of those recommendations. That was a first step and, in my judgment, a wise and practical step with regard to the penitentiary system. I do not know that I should be expected to go very much farther. That report has a great deal in it. I said that there are some things which I am not in favour of, not in that report, but in certain other reports. I think I have gone about as far as I should go in placing myself or the government on record at this stage.

I listened to the hon. gentleman's speech asking us to proceed and saying there should be a greater note of urgency in what we say about this penitentiary question. I have taken that all to heart; I understand exactly what.

he means. There has been an immense amount of discussion over the years about our methods. I do not know that it is so, that we are so far behind the rest of the world; and when I hear about a lot of these modern methods I am not sure exactly what is meant. I find that great confusion and great differences of opinion exist as to just what methods should be applied. I have read the Saskatchewan report, which is interesting, but I am not prepared to stand here and make a pronouncement upon penological principles or a statement about the relative advantages of the penological approach and the psychiatric approach, about which there seems to be quite a lot of discussion. We shall set up our commission just as soon as we can, and proceed just as quickly as we can.

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MACDONNELL (Muskoka-Ontario):

I am not going to take time to labour this point. I think I fully understand the difficulties the minister has outlined, and I believe I fully understand his unwillingness to step out and make a statement ex cathedra about a lot of things until he has had a chance to consider them. But I would make this point, that I believe the people of this country are entitled-obviously not tonight, and I am afraid not this session, but as soon as possible -to much more from the minister than we have ever had. I believe the people of Canada, particularly those who are concerned about this matter, of whom there are many, are entitled to more than merely a report by a commissioner, though I think that report is very good and I believe the commissioner is a good man. The people are looking for something from the minister as to what he believes about this thing, what his aims and objectives are. He has not had much time to prepare that. I am not going to labour the point further now, but I suggest that before too long-I hope it might be early in the next session of this parliament-we may have from him a considered statement as to what his aims and objectives are and what his approach is to this whole question. Up to the present I submit that it has been a rather mechanical matter; we have dealt with this, that and the other point. Now I think we want to know his approach to this question in a broad and philosophic manner.

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PC

John Thomas Hackett

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HACKETT:

Possibly the minister

would not object to saying whether the attitude of his department in appointing one commissioner is to be interpreted as abandoning forever some of the main points of the Archambault report. I have understood that this was a beginning, that it does not neces-

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sarily mean that the minister or the government is eliminating finally any of the recommendations of the report.

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LIB

James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

That is correct. It does

not mean that we are definitely and permanently opposed to those recommendations. I think at the present time the step we are taking is the proper one. I do not believe it is possible at the present time to centralize in the federal authority control of all the prisons in Canada. I do not think it is possible, and I do not think it is desirable. The time may come when it is both, and when that time comes we may have an elaborate organization here at Ottawa; we may have a board and conduct all the parole activities of the country from Ottawa. That may happen, but I am not advocating it at the moment. I agree with the hon. gentleman that when we start in this way it does not mean that we are eliminating the possibility that something else may come in time. It may.

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Item agreed to. Pensions and other benefits- 107. William Tatton, $564.


PC

William Alexander McMaster

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McMASTER:

With the consent of the committee, I should like to speak for a moment on the question of pensions under the Judges Act, which is a statutory vote. I have taken so little of the time of the house in the past that I feel I might be allowed five minutes to speak about one judge of the supreme court of Ontario. Tonight a certain amount of criticism has been levelled at judges because of the way in which they have performed their work, but the judge of whom I am about to speak was never criticized by any person. Mr. Justice Middleton has the unique distinction of being the only living retired judge of the supreme court of Ontario. There are twenty-three judges on the bench of that court, and perhaps, because there is no retiring age, he is in that position. I have often felt that it would have been a great loss to the province of Ontario if Mr. Justice Middleton had been compelled to retire at the age of seventy-five. He carried on for many years after reaching that age, and when he felt unable to continue to render the best service to the country he voluntarily retired, and has now reached a very advanced age.

I believe many members of the bar intended at some time to offer some testimonial to Judge Middleton, but because of the war and the dislocation following the war this has never been done. So I hope no one will think it presumptuous on my part to say something about him in this parliament of Canada. Mr. Justice Middleton was an outstanding member of the bar in the latter part of the last century. His work at Osgoode Hall, both in practice court, in single court and in the court of appeal, was outstanding. He was appointed to the bench in the first decade of the present century by the then minister of justice, who at the present time is a distinguished member of the other place and who, I think, himself should have some testimonial or something said about the great work he did. The minister of whom I speak, then Mr. A. B. Ayles-worth, left a large and lucrative law practice to become minister of justice, and during the time he was in office performed his duties in a way that every minister of justice would do well to emulate, as I believe they have tried to do since.

Immediately after his appointment, Mr. Justice Middleton presided in nisi prim cases. He became a trial judge. He had not practised a great deal in such cases before his appointment, but immediately became distinguished and popular because of the way in which he handled the cases which came before him. He was kind and amiable to the litigants and to the counsel who appeared before him, and he earned an enviable reputation because of his judgments. On one occasion an officer of the court told me he complained because so many of his judgments were being overruled; but the obvious answer was, of course, that he tried about three times as many cases as an ordinary judge. Later he was elevated to the court of appeal, and in that position carried on with the same industry and learning he had displayed as a trial judge. Several years ago he voluntarily retired, after a long tenure on the bench. As the hon. member for Rosedale interjects, he was always expert in rules of practice, and his advice while sitting as a judge was sought in many cases by his brother judges. I feel that the bar and people of Ontario would wish that I, on their behalf, should express their appreciation of his service whilst on the bench.

While I am on my feet, I should like to speak about another judge who also occupies a unique position in Ontario as the only living retired judge of the county court of the county of York. In his case, because legislation specified the retiring age of judges of the county courts, he was compelled to retire at the age of seventy-five years, and by his retirement the people of York county lost the services of a judge who could have carried on for many more years. I am referring to Mr. Justice Jackson, who is a great personal friend of mine. And may I add that one of the happiest events of my being in parliament is the being able to express in these inadequate words the appreciation of

4940 COMMONS

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the bar of Ontario for tihe work of these two outstanding members of the justiciary of Ontario.

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Item agreed to. Demobilization and reconversion- 510. To provide for expenses in connection with prize courts, $10,000.


PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

To what extent was any action taken by prize courts in the past year?

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LIB

James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

There were no expenditures in 1946 up bo September 30. I believe that is

the latest information we have. However, some money is expended in some years. These are the expenditures in certain past years:

1940-41 $9,697.74

[DOT]194il-42 5,757.09

1942- 43

nil1943- 44

nil1944- 45

nil1945- 46

5,240.23

The main estimates were prepared at the end of 1946, and there were no expenditures up to September 30 of that year. This is the usual $10,000 vote to cover possible expenditures for 1947-48.

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PC

John Thomas Hackett

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HACKETT:

I believe it was when the Volstead Act was in effect that the department had the greatest amount of work of 'this kind. In those days ships sailed for Mexico seven times a day from Windsor.

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Item agreed to.


DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT


402. Departmental administration, $544,000.


PC

Charles Cecil Ingersoll Merritt

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MERRITT:

Mr. Chairman, I wish to raise the question of the bringing of merchant seamen who served during the war under veterans benefits. The minister has had' representations made to him several times already during the session, so that on this occasion I dhall state my case briefly.

The committee will be aware that the merchant seamen who served in Canada's merchant marine during the war received very few of the benefits which were awarded to the veterans of the war. For instance, their benefits in respect of educational training were limited to vocational training, if they were to continue at sea. Their benefits under the Veterans' Land Act were available only to those merchant seamen who had suffered disability during service.

In all those respects the 'merchant seamen were not treated as veterans. Tonight I am asking the minister to subscribe to the principle that merchant seamen were veterans. I am not saying to him that there should not

be differences between the treatment accorded the men who served in the armed forces and those who served as merchant seamen, because the conditions of service were different, and .there may be some cases in which there should be slight differences. However, it is :my intention to ask the minister to change from the principle under which merchant seamen have some veterans' rights arising from their war services, but with those rights definitely limited, bo 'the principle that they have all rights, less those it is necessary to except in order to bring about fairness and equity among all those who served.

I have seen various figures quoted as to the number who served in the merchant marine during the war. One set of figures shows that there were 1,400 in the merchant marine in 1939. One of my colleagues places the figure at 1,000. My figures indicate further that in 1945 there were 12,000 in the merchant marine. Therefore eighty-eight per cent of those who served during the war were temporary merchant seamen for the duration of the war only, and who had not chosen the sea as their career. If evidence were needed, I believe that is sufficient to indicate that their service was a war service, and their intention in going to sea was to contribute to the war effort.

The minister knows that many of them are young chaps. Some are right out of school, and their normal education was interrupted by their desire to serve their country during the war. May I give one illustration of the nature of the service they performed. A spokesman for the group now attending the university of British Columbia got in touch with me and told me there were eighteen ex-merchant seamen studying at that university. He pointed out how members of the armed forces in much larger numbers were receiving educational benefits, while the exmerchant seamen had to work their way through university. I asked him how many of the eighteen were actually in a convoy subjected to torpedo attack during the war. He did not know exactly, but found out and telephoned me later to the effect that fifteen of the eighteen had been in convoys which had suffered torpedo attack and in which ships had been lost.

I believe that gives a good indication of the nature of the service performed, and the risks run. The two sets of figures I have given can leave little doubt that this was a war service and should be treated as such.

I have in my hand a statement by one of the officers of the merchant navy veterans

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committee at the university of British Columbia which I think will be quite interesting to the committee. He says:

What good is unemployment insurance, or veterans insurance to student-veterans? So-called benefits to merchant seamen are just so much writing on paper. The only merchant seaman veteran who gets any benefits at all is the chap -who wishes to stay at sea as a profession. Seamen-veterans in that category number less than ten per cent.

Although the minister may say that certain educational and vocational training benefits have been given, the number who have taken advantage of them is so small that I cannot believe it constitutes a discharge by the government of its obligations to these seamen. Questions have been raised as to the obligations of these men to serve, and it has been suggested that their obligation was different from that of the armed forces. Perhaps it was for the first two or three years of the war, but these men served and continued to serve. In 1944 the manning pool agreement was signed by most of them. As the minister knows, that agreement contained a definite undertaking to serve for the duration of the war or for two years, whichever was the lesser. At least from that time on, those who signed the manning pool agreement were bound to continue in service, and to all intents and purposes their service was just as binding upon them as was service in the armed forces binding upon its members.

It has been suggested that the rates of pay were more advantageous to merchant seamen than to those of equal rank in the armed forces. I do not find that to be so. It is true that a war risk bonus of $44 a month was given for service at sea, but the basic rate of pay for an ordinary seaman was $84 a month. A radio operator, whose rank I believe corresponded with that of a sub-lieutenant in the navy, received $109 a month. Of course that was subject to income tax. Compared with similar rates of pay in the armed forces and having in mind that the pay of merchant seamen was subject to income tax, I cannot feel-

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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. CHEVRIER:

Income tax was payable only on the basic rate.

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PC

Charles Cecil Ingersoll Merritt

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MERRITT:

That is so; income tax was payable on the basic rate. I do not think that could do any more than warrant the minister in making some reduction in the reestablishment credits or gratuities or things of that kind. The difference was not sufficient to warrant keeping merchant seamen out of the principle of war service and veterans benefits.

I am concerned lest one of the things that has held the minister and the government back from taking a step which, it seems to me, is all too obvious is administrative difficulty. I looked up the debate on this matter of income tax paid by merchant seamen which took place in the house in 1942, and I find that the Minister of Finance stated frankly, as reported on page 4365 of Hansard, that, for administrative reasons, 'there had been no exemption of merchant seamen from income tax. The administrative reasons he gave were perfectly clear, that these seamen were employed by civilian employers on civilian ships and that it would be difficult to exempt them from income tax.

This matter is so important that we cannot consider administrative difficulties. Administrative difficulties will have to be dealt with by means of an administrative plan and not by excluding these men from a principle which I feel to be sound.

I am not going to argue the matter any longer, nor am I going to try to detail to the minister the additional benefits to which I think merchant seamen are entitled. Those benefits should certainly include educational training on a much wider scale than has been granted. I am simply going to reiterate that we should establish a principle whereby these men would be entitled to be treated as veterans, with possible exceptions from that principle in the extent of the benefits that are granted.

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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Hon. LIONEL CHEVRIER (Minister of Transport):

First of all, let me say that, while the hon. member has made out a good case for the position as he sees it, there is another side with which I am faced and which I think I should place before the committee. One thing must not be forgotten. The men of the merchant navy, while they did a formidable task in the war job, were volunteers. There can be no doubt about that. That certainly was the position which my predecessor took an it is the position in which I find myself.

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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. GREEN:

So were all the navy and the air force and most of the army.

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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. CHEVRIER:

My hon. friend has been interrupting every time I discuss this matter, both on the bill for compensation and now. I have no objection to his interrupting, but I wish he would just hold himself for a moment or two until I put my position on the record. If he has anything to ask I shall be glad to listen to him just as I listened to him when he wanted to discuss workmen's compensation.

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Seamen

It is a fact, whether my hon. friend likes it or not, that they were recruited as civilians.

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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. GREEN:

You said they had volunteered; you did not say they were civilians.

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July 1, 1947