October 7, 1949

LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

In reply to the question which has just been asked, may I say that my department is taking no steps with regard to that matter except this. Quite naturally, since the British ministry of pensions have a very active office in Ottawa, I have spoken to the head of that office regarding that matter, and he has spoken to me about it. I know very well that he has, as I have, received representations from pensioners from the United Kingdom in all parts of Canada. He has told me, and he said that I was at liberty to use it, that he has brought these representations to the attention of the ministry in London. Beyond that we have done nothing in the matter.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

Does not the minister think that something ought to be done for these people? We know the position that Britain is in. It looks to me as if we are to have in a small way something like that which the hon. member for Vancouver East has pointed out. We shall have people actually suffering in Canada because of events over which they have not even the slightest control.

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LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

I fully realize the difficulty. There is of course the very distinct priority of responsibility in these matters. One of the speakers this afternoon pointed out the difficulty that Canadian students were experiencing in the United States owing to the adjustment of exchange rates as between Canada and the United States. But there again that is not the whole problem with regard to our own veterans. Approximately there are two hundred such students, but side by side with them there are about 7,000 Canadian disability pensioners of both wars resident in the United States. The same situation applies to them as applies to the smaller number of students. One could go on and quote many direct and indirect effects of this adjustment of currency but I do not feel that we have any greater responsibility in making adjustment with those from the United Kingdom who are pensioners in Canada than the United States has in making an adjustment for our pensioners who are resident in the United States. I wish it were otherwise. That is all I can say on it at the present time.

I am sure that hon. gentlemen who have spoken this afternoon would not expect me to attempt to cover all the points raised. I bespeak a chance for either my parliamentary

IMr. Blackmore.]

assistant or myself to go into full details which we shall try to do before the estimates are passed. We shall try to deal with all the questions brought up.

With the exception of two or three speakers, all who have spoken this afternoon have made strong representations on behalf of either a standing committee or a special committee on veterans affairs. I should like to say a word about that. As the hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra pointed out, between 1943 and 1946, before I came into the house, the house had to consider some 21 pieces of new legislation for the benefit of new veterans from 1939 to 1945. It is only natural that there should be a great deal of intensified work done on that legislation in drafting it, in calling witnesses from all parts of Canada from many organizations, and in working it out. Frankly, as I look at it, and I never had any part in it, I say it must have been a tremendous task. But as I see it, and as I read the records, it appears to me that it was dealing almost entirely with new legislation.

In 1948 the government brought forward some amendments to two of these bills which had become law, namely, the Pension Act and the War Veterans Allowance Act. As well there were some other acts for minor amendments. A special committee was set up for the purpose of considering that legislation. That committee sat and, from my observation, it is worthy of all the good words that have been said about it this afternoon. It did an excellent job, and as one hon. member so well put it this afternoon, as far as was humanly possible, it was free of partisan politics. They presented their report. I cannot agree with one speaker who said today that not many of these recommendations had been accepted, because most of them were; nevertheless the factors entering into the report had to do mainly with the legislation that had been brought before it. It is true that it did discuss such matters as a further increase in war veterans allowances, the merchant marine and many others, but what I am coming to is this. We should clarify our thoughts as to whether a parliamentary committee, whether a special committee or some other, should be called upon to check on other matters in addition to legislation or amendments to come before the house. I am not going to express an opinion on that at this particular time. All that I am going to say is that there are a number of committees suggested to the government now. There is a resolution on the order paper suggesting the setting up of a committee on social security, housing and health and welfare. It is proposed that there should be a committee

on national defence, on atomic control and on many other questions.

I know that the matter of committees in general, as it was put by the hon. member for Kamloops, should receive careful study, so as to get the greatest value from these committees. I think I can assure this committee that the government will give that study. I do not propose at this particular time, to recommend to my colleagues that a committee be set up at this fall session. Beyond that I am not prepared to go, with regard to committees.

May I, though, between now and six o'clock, touch at random upon one or two points which have been brought out. Two hon. members who spoke referred to the old soldier settlement board, and the remaining amounts owing to the board by veterans who have held lands these many years. I know well the arguments made in later years on behalf of those settlers-and strong arguments they are, there can be no question.

I believe however, as I indicated at the final meeting of the committee a year ago, that it boils down to this. Members who knew some of those settlers will remember that there were many of them who conscientiously made their payments of principal and interest just as regularly as it was possible for them to do. If they did not do it, it was because they could not do it. Most of them, long before this year of 1949, have fulfilled their contracts and obtained title by grinding through, paying their debts and getting their work done. I believe it is also true to say that there are a number who, through those years, perhaps could have made their annual payments, but did not do so. Representatives of the board allowed those to run on, and at the present time they are shown as outstanding accounts.

Putting it on that simple basis, I am wondering whether or not if last year or the year before we had said, or this year we were to say, "We will cut off all the rest and call it a day" it would be the fair thing to do. It sounds like an excellent thing to do, but would we not be bonusing-I was going to say something else-would we not be bonusing delay in paying one's bills when one can pay them? Perhaps, too, it might be a negative influence, by example, to those new veterans who are coming in under the Veterans Land Act.

I happen to know-and I shall take full responsibility for it, because I am speaking about my own constituency-of an old veteran who under the soldier settlement board came within the second category I mentioned a moment ago. Across the fence,

Supply-Veterans Affairs on the next farm, there came a veteran of the second world war who married, settled down and started in there. I know for a fact that, across the fence, the old timer said, whispering behind his hand, "Take it easy, my boy; at the other end you will be forgiven, the same as I am."

The amount placed in the estimates a year ago, and which is repeated this year, is in my opinion accomplishing the same thing more slowly but in a much better way. The hon. member for Battle River asked some questions which were made an order for return. I tabled the return today. His questions, and the answers to them, were as follows:

He asked first how many soldier settlers of great war I are still in debt to the soldier settlement board? His question was taken to mean September 30, the last date for which we have records, and the answer was that 1,950 are still in debt to the director of soldier settlement.

In his second question he asked the total amount of their indebtedness, and the answer showed an amount of $2,231,881.22.

The third question asked how many had paid off their loans and acquired clear titles since January 1, 1948. The reply was that there were 1,039.

The fourth question asked whether any reductions in debt had been granted during 1948 and 1949, and the reply was that there had been.

The fifth question asked, "If so, in how many cases, and what is the total amount of such reductions?" The answer was that there were 496 cases, to an amount of $182,515.83.

The last question asked as to (a) the smallest and (b) the largest reduction granted. The reply showed that the smallest was $18.25 and the largest $1,998.13.

From these answers it is apparent that even in a year and a bit we have been able to eliminate or to end the debt for a total of 496 old settlers. I hope that this year and perhaps next year the main task may be completed, and that the indebtedness of those who should be forgiven will be wiped off in that time.

Item stands.

Progress reported.

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LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

At eight o'clock we will carry on with public bills and orders for the first hour.

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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

Will we proceed with veterans affairs estimates at nine o'clock?

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LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

Yes.

At six o'clock the house took recess.

Criminal Code AFTER RECESS

The house resumed at eight o'clock.

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CRIMINAL CODE

PORTRAYAL OF CRIMES BY PICTURES IN MAGAZINES, ETC., TENDING TO INDUCE VIOLENCE


The house resumed from Thursday, October 6, consideration of the motion of Mr. Fulton for the second reading of Bill No. 10, to amend the Criminal Code (portrayal of crimes).


PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Howard C. Green (Vancouver-Quadra):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to say a few words on the bill this evening. I am glad that the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) is able to be here because I am sure he is much interested in the measure, and in the final analysis we shall have to look to him for help in having the bill put through the house.

I should like to point out that on the second reading of the bill we are only dealing with the principle, which is in effect that there should be an amendment to the Criminal Code making it a crime to print, publish, sell or distribute magazines commonly known as crime comics. So far in the debate every member who has spoken has been in favour of that principle. I was particularly struck by the speeches made by new members of the house. Several of them made their maiden speeches on this measure, and I thought that each of such speeches was excellent. It seemed to me that we were witnessing the house at its very best. It made one proud to be a member of the twenty-first parliament.

I believe the opinions expressed by the speakers who have taken part in the debate reflect the views of the Canadian people at large. No doubt most members have had representations from parent-teacher associations which, of course, are vitally interested in problems of this kind. There have also been representations from the national council of women and from the various Kiwanis clubs, which do such wonderful service work in all parts of the nation. In addition I have had representations from the university women's club of Vancouver who are very anxious that something should be done about the situation. Perhaps more important than all others, however, have been the representations from parents.

While the debate was in progress last night I received a letter from a mother in Vancouver who, by the way, is the daughter of a distinguished Canadian authoress, and I thought that she put the situation very clearly. She had heard over the radio of

the debate which took place last Tuesday evening, and she sat down and wrote a letter. It reads in part:

I know you are as anxious as any conscientious parent to see our Canadian children rescued from the evil effects of these criminal immoral magazines. I believe a big house-cleaning of our magazine and paper-back 25-cent books is overdue. We busy ourselves building youth centres, working in church to show our young people the guide posts to clean living, and all the time this stream of filthy books is allowed to come into our country.

In Canada we place as high a value on education as is done in any other country in the world. I believe that the same thing can be said about Scotland, and possibly other countries as well. Certainly every decent Canadian parent has as his or her first concern giving the children a start in life by seeing that they get a good education. I think that is typically Canadian. Parliament recognized the importance of children by enacting the family allowances legislation a few years ago. We place great value on pure food. We have many laws to make certain that nobody is given impure food. We show great determination in stamping out the drug traffic. I remember a few years ago the hon. member for Quebec South (Mr. Power), who was then minister of pensions and health, making a strong speech in the house on the dangers of marijuana, the use of which at that time was becoming quite prevalent in parts of Canada. We take drastic steps in other fields, and yet ye do nothing about this character poison. That is a good description for the crime comics.

We are all in favour of the principle of the bill, and I hope it will be passed. Once the bill is on the statute books it will be a strong deterrent and a warning to publishers all over Canada, and to the people who import these books from the United States, that they will be in trouble if they do not stop this traffic.

There is some suggestion that the bill may not be worded in exactly the right way. Actually the bill in its present form was not drawn by the hon. member for Kamloops (Mr. Fulton). It is in a form suggested by the Right Hon. Mr. Ilsley when he was minister of justice. We could not have a finer authority on the wording of the bill. If it is not exactly right now it can be amended in committee. The point is that we are debating the principle of the bill, and I hope that the house will give it second reading.

Further, I hope there will be no delay. I am worried about that because of what happened to the bill amending the Criminal Code introduced by the hon. member for Broadview (Mr. Church) the other night. He had some good amendments although, mind you, I agree with the step taken by the

Minister of Justice (Mr. Gar son) when he said he would have the bill turned over to the commission revising the Criminal Code.

That was the proper step to take with that particular bill, but I am afraid that the Minister of Justice will come into the house, as soon as he is well again, and say that he is going to refer the present bill to the commission revising the Criminal Code. If that is done it will mean that the bill may not become law for a year. There will be no provision made at this session, and possibly not at the next session. A delay means not only an outpouring of more of this poison, but probably a speeding up of the process. The publishers of these magazines have a good thing. They are making money, and if they see they are going to have another six months or another year they are very apt to get out more of these comics and try to increase the circulation in order to cash in before it is too late.

Therefore I urge all members of the house, and particularly the Prime Minister, to realize the importance of prompt action on this particular measure. I suggest that we show the publishers of this junk that the House of Commons means business.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   PORTRAYAL OF CRIMES BY PICTURES IN MAGAZINES, ETC., TENDING TO INDUCE VIOLENCE
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PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. W. J. Browne (St. John's West):

should like to join other hon. members in complimenting the hon. member for Kamloops (Mr. Fulton) on his initiative in bringing forward a bill of this kind. It seems to me that the most interesting subjects are brought up by private members, who also seem to win the approval of hon. members representing all parties in the house. It is interesting to find a discussion taking place on such a high moral plane as this one, and in this materialistic age it is consoling to find people so concerned about matters affecting the morals of our young people.

We are all in agreement as to the danger to the character of the youth of the land when their minds are poisoned by large doses of this evil kind of literature. Everyone feels that something should be done about it, but it is the hon. member for Kamloops who has brought forward this bill. Nevertheless I am wondering if he is going to accomplish what he has in mind by the amendment he proposes, and in support of that idea may I draw upon my experience as a judge in Newfoundland, as one who was especially interested in the problems of juvenile delinquency. For many years I took a special interest in that subject; and I am aware, as many hon. members have stated, that such books do have a certain effect upon the minds of young people. I think perhaps some are inclined to exaggerate that effect, and I doubt if they have as much effect as people think. However, they

Criminal Code

do have an effect upon young persons of weak minds or who, through bad associations, are prone to fall victims to the temptations which come to them through reading literature of that sort.

Two things, the movies and the comics, sometimes have a strong effect upon the minds of individuals; and I can recall several cases that came to my attention which in their way were really tragic. One was the case of a boy of good parentage who was before me on six charges of breaking and entering. He was only sixteen years of age. He told me that he had read about this in the comic books and that was how he came to go in for that sort of thing. I am glad to say that, later, when he became more mature, he turned out to be a good citizen. Another great tragedy occurred as the result of a boy seeing a hanging in a movie. He went home and experimented with a rope, and as a result killed himself. So there is no doubt that there are evil effects from both the movies and literature like these comics.

When one goes into a bookstore nowadays where magazines are displayed in great profusion, it seems to me they fall into three classes. There are the newspapers, which I suppose are the least harmful of all the literature displayed today. There are the magazines, which are in two classes: the kind dealing with economic and political subjects, and the kind dealing with true stories, true confessions, and that sort of thing. Then we have the comics. The children are interested only in the comics; but when an adult goes to a newsstand and sees the sort of picture magazines that are on display, he is ashamed to pick one up. I always consider it a reliable criterion of the sort of book that should not be permitted if it is the kind you are ashamed to let anyone, even a stranger, see you read.

We have been in confederation since April 1. One of the effects or results of confederation-I do not think it was intended by the Liberal party-has been to open the door to the sort of literature we are denouncing tonight. When we were more or less independent we had customs prohibitions which prevented these magazines from coming in, and the police and customs officials working together managed to keep out a great many of them. During the past summer, however, the country was flooded with magazines published in Toronto which were delivered through the post gratis. One day the assistant chief of police came to me in my office and said, "I don't know what I am going to do about these magazines. Everybody is complaining about them." I said, "I know what I am going to do; I am going to call the secretary for posts." I immediately

Criminal Code

called him and said, "Is it not an offence in Canada for this sort of literature to be sent through the mails?" He replied that it was. I told him what was happening, and he said he would take immediate steps to have it stopped.

As I read the section proposed by the hon. member, I understand that an offender is to be tried by a judge and jury. If that is not so, perhaps the hon. member will correct me.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   PORTRAYAL OF CRIMES BY PICTURES IN MAGAZINES, ETC., TENDING TO INDUCE VIOLENCE
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

By indictment.

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Subtopic:   PORTRAYAL OF CRIMES BY PICTURES IN MAGAZINES, ETC., TENDING TO INDUCE VIOLENCE
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PC

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (St. John's West):

It seems to me that procedure is too elaborate, and that this offence should be dealt with on summary conviction, or by ordinary summary trial. It also seems to me that if these magazines are imported from the United States the customs and postal authorities should be able to stop them, when they come within the category of books which are injurious to morals. If on the other hand they are published in this country the amendment to the act should give the police power to go in and take possession, by means of a warrant, of course, and the distributor should be dealt with by summary trial. If there is to be a trial by jury it is so long before the case is heard, and then when it comes up, with clever lawyers and that sort of thing, technicalities are likely to prevent the realization of what we have in mind, which is a procedure that will be summary and quick.

I do not intend to continue my comments at any great length, but there is one thing I should like to add. In Newfoundland we tried the interesting experiment of having a great public library system, furnished without cost by the government. For years we have had a libraries board which has been broadcasting programs about books and reading all over the country. We have twenty-seven or twenty-eight regional libraries all over Newfoundland, each with books especially chosen for children. I think my hon. friends opposite who come from Newfoundland will bear with me when I say that this comic book evil rarely reached the outports of Newfoundland but is confined to the city of St. John's and two or three of the larger places such as Corner Brook, Grand Falls and Bell Island. It does not reach into the smaller settlements, thank God. Instead of the comic books, therefore, we have the other books which are carefully chosen by the special selection committee of the libraries board. We have attacked the problem in that way; and in our public library in St. John's, where we have a large selection of good children's books of all kinds, those books are used extensively and it has been a great success. I believe the existence of the public library system has

helped a great deal in mitigating the evil to which reference has been made here.

As hon. members have suggested, I believe the practical approach to the problem consists in placing good literature before the boys and girls and stressing it continuously in radio programs and articles in the press. This will probably do as much as, if not more than, legislation of the sort suggested in this bill. At the same time, however, when an obvious evil exists I believe it is the duty of parliament to put it down by some statutory enactment.

On motion of Mr. Cardiff, the debate was adjourned.

The house in committee of supply, Mr. Beaudoin in the chair.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   PORTRAYAL OF CRIMES BY PICTURES IN MAGAZINES, ETC., TENDING TO INDUCE VIOLENCE
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DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS


526. Departmental administration, $2,157,024.


LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

Mr. Chairman, if the committee agrees, we might proceed item by item and as we come to the proper items I shall attempt to cover those points raised in the debate this afternoon.

Before doing so, however, and to complete what I was saying before the recess about the question raised by the member for Acadia (Mr. Quelch) regarding the steps taken to adjust old debts and clear titles, may I say that matter will receive the careful consideration of the deputy minister and the director of the soldier settlement board.

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Item agreed to. 527. District administration, $2,945,528.


PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

I should like to ask the minister about the Veterans Business and Professional Loans Act. The annual report concerning this act for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1949, shows that there have been loans totalling $7,517,879.85; of that amount nearly half or $3,372,754.87 has been repaid. I believe this is a splendid record. The report also shows that only 34 claims have been defaulted, amounting to $36,686.05. Those figures reflect great credit on the veterans.

There is nothing in the report, however, to show the number of applications for loans which were turned down. Could the minister supply that information?

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LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

The total number of applications not approved for the purchase of a business amounts to fourteen; for the purchase of an interest in a partnership, five; for the purchase of tools and equipment, three; for repairing tools and equipment, etc., one; for the construction and repair of buildings, five; for the purchase of a motorized

unit, seven. This makes a total of thirty-five in all categories which were not approved.

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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

Has there been any demand for loans by veterans who wish to buy into a private company? As the law reads now a veteran can only buy into a partnership.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
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October 7, 1949