June 22, 1951

PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

On a question of privilege, Mr. Chairman, may I point out that if the hon. member will refer to the proceedings of May 31, he will find that a motion was made in that meeting of the committee by the hon. member for Royal.

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LIB

Alan Carl Stewart

Liberal

Mr. Stewart (Yorkton):

Yes. I am going to point out to my hon. friend that they moved, on June 6, a motion referring the matter back to this house. That motion was made on June 6, as I said, and it was amended by the hon. member for Kingston City, a Liberal. He added to the motion these words:

With the recommendation that the government give further consideration to the representations submitted to the government and to the committee, that the basic rate of pensions for all pensioners under the Pension Act should be increased;

That was his motion. The Liberal members on that committee were then in this position. They said: We are going to accept the government proposal of $2 million or whatever amount is needed to take care of these veterans who, through disability, cannot work at all and who will get more under the government proposal than they would get through an increase of pension based on the increased cost of living in the last few years. They will get more. In turn we are suggesting to the government that, as to increasing pensions clean across the board, the government should give the matter further consideration. Obviously at this session of parliament, and at that late date, no other procedure could be taken, and the government could not possibly deal with the

situation, having regard to the arguments that go on in this chamber on matters of minor importance and which take day after day to settle. That was the attitude of the so-called young Liberal members sitting on this committee who apparently did not know anything about veterans affairs.

I am going to suggest, Mr. Chairman, that no doubt the government will give consideration to that committee's report. But I am going to point out that the opposition, all of them, voted against that motion. If the opposition had carried the motion they introduced on June 6, these veterans who need this $2 million or whatever they get-the really needy veterans-would not get anything until the next session of parliament. The Liberal members on that committee, by their action, are ensuring that the veterans who actually need assistance will get it. Those of us who are veterans of long standing and are able to earn enough to get along are not complaining much about the situation. As I have stated, in the constituency that I represent, with eight branches of the Legion in it, unless you go out and stir them up politically, there is no complaint. I have not received one wire or one communication from them; and there are many other hon. members in the committee who are in the same position. The job of the members of this committee and of the veterans in this committee is to take care of these veterans. Some of us were badly wounded but are still able to earn a living. But let us take care of these fellows-and that is what this provision does-who cannot work at all and who were wounded. We take care of them until next session. As to what happens at the next session, we will deal with that matter then.

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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

The hon. member for Yorkton has left the inference with the committee that the national council of veterans had approved this vote of $2 million.

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LIB
PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

I should like to read to the

committee from the evidence given by a famous Canadian padre; I refer to Colonel the Reverend S. E. Lambert, who has been president of War Amputations of Canada for thirty-two years.

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LIB
PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

The padre was one of the

leaders of this delegation from the national council and his statement will show how much accuracy there is in and how much dependence can be placed upon the statement made by the hon. member for Yorkton.

Supply-Veterans Affairs

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LIB

Alan Carl Stewart

Liberal

Mr. Stewart (Yorkton):

I rise on a question of privilege, Mr. Chairman, and I should like to deal with the matter now. This is not contradicting a statement made by me, because the statement I read was after this statement was made and completely after-

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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Deputy Chairman:

Order. This is

not a question of privilege. The hon. member will realize that if he wants to explain a part of his speech which has been misunderstood by another hon. member, or if he wants to correct what he has said, he must not do so by interrupting the hon. member who has the floor.

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LIB
PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

I think the impression left

by the hon. member for Yorkton is entirely out of accord with the facts. What I am about to read is from the statement of Padre Lambert who could not be accused of partisanship in any way, shape or form, and who, right through the years, has been one of the most responsible leaders of Canadian veterans. He himself was badly wounded. As reported at page 111 of the minutes of proceedings and evidence of the committee, Padre Lambert said:

You bring in this supplementary allowance; it is not a bill but it is some kind of an estimate, and we consider this as another contribution to the poverty of the veterans, I would say, and we do not like that. We like to have things by right, and pensions are by right.

Then further down on the page he said:

After all we were given the job, in co-operation with the government and the Department of Veterans Affairs, to take these disabled fellows as they came back from two wars and try and fit them in some place, and that is what we have tried to do. Our job in our organization has been to fit them-fragments from the wars-into places where they can still continue their service and be able to do a little job. Now, that is what we have tried to do and have tried to do it well, and most of them by luck and by the kindness of the dominion government and the provincial governments and civic governments and by the graces of good firms, have been fitted into places where they can maintain a very high standard of self-respect at least. I do not know what you want to make them. If you want to make them all paupers, go ahead. We do not like it; we are not approving of it anyway. That is how the amps feel about it. We are talking to you about fighting men, about men who have been in contact with the enemy in two wars and now in three wars, and I feel somehow that Canada owes them a great deal more than she thinks she does. We are trying to get them out of the poverty class. We are trying to keep them sweet and kindly in this country and this suggestion is something that makes me see red, and I hate to see red, I really do. I consider myself one of the patriots of the country and I try to perpetuate the patriotism that made these veterans go to war. I feel we have been let down pretty badly.

Then further on he said:

We do not want any handouts. As far as I am concerned you can keep it, but make the basic

Supply-Veterans Affairs rate what it should be and then we will know where we stand. That is how we [eel about it. If you base the thing on the cost of living and we find that the cost of living is away up then the proper thing to do is to raise it in accordance with the cost of living figure.

Then one other point made by the hon. member for Yorkton. He tried to prove that the members of the official opposition had acted too late for anything to be done at this session. As he knows, the members of all parties in the opposition acted together in their protest against this government policy. It was not a matter of only one opposition party. On May 31 the hon. member for Royal moved an amendment to the effect:

That item 650 do not now carry but that this committee request the house that it be given instructions to consider the basic rates of pensions and the War Veterans Allowance Act and make recommendations in reference thereto.

That amendment was voted down on the same day, May 31, with all of the opposition members voting for the amendment, together with the hon. member for Fraser Valley.

Then, at the next meeting, which was on June 5, there was an amendment by the hon. member for Kingston City, with the recommendation that the government consider the briefs of veterans bodies again; and rather than delay matters, the hon. member for Nanaimo moved an amendment to the amendment of the hon. member for Kingston City to the effect that:

The government give consideration to introducing legislation during the present session of parliament which will give effect to the representations submitted to the government and to the committee that the basic rate of pensions for all pensioners under the Pension Act should be increased.

That amendment, which was urging speed, and would have forced action by the government at this present session on the question of the basic pension, was voted down by the government members at the next sitting of the committee.

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LIB

Alan Carl Stewart

Liberal

Mr. Stewart (Yorkton):

I have to correct my hon. friend again. He has quoted from the Reverend Mr. Lambert at page 111 of the proceedings, but following what he said the head dominion president of the army, navy and air force veterans in Canada, Major A. J. Wickens, at page 114, and following the statement that my hon. friend has read, made the statement that I quoted to the committee in which he said in effect that they were more or less satisfied that this was not a means test, and that the needy would be taken care of.

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SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. Quelch:

Just to keep the record straight I should like to correct the statement made by the hon. member for Yorkton. He referred to the evidence of Mr. Wickens. He said

he knew him quite well, and stated that he was a Conservative. He tried to leave the impression that politics was being played. I want to quote from the statement of Mr. Wickens, as found at page 326 of the evidence of April 23, 1948, I quote:

There is a danger of a division, perhaps not in this committee, but on the floor of the house, being made on straight party lines. Perhaps I should not say this, but I am going to say it. I, for one, am not a politician. I have been a supporter of the present government.

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LIB
SC
PC

Gordon Francis Higgins

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Higgins:

I will be very brief. I wish to read a telegram which I have received from the Newfoundland command of the Canadian Legion. I believe all other Newfoundland members have received the same telegram. It reads as follows:

Newfoundland command Canadian Legion would greatly appreciate your favourable consideration at present session of recommendation of special parliamentary committee on veterans affairs that further consideration be given to possibility of granting increase in basic rate of war pensions. Also strongly urge support of Legion's request for increase in war veterans allowance.

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LIB
PC

Gordon Francis Higgins

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Higgins:

It is dated June 9, and signed by Mr. W. R. Martin, provincial secretary.

I am not going to add to that except to say that I endorse it very strongly, and I do wish to associate myself with all that has been said by previous speakers of the opposition party.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. Pouliot:

Before the item carries I want to draw the attention of the minister to a few files of disabled returned men who have written to me after I complained about the pension commission in this house. They are from various parts of the country. Each case is authentic. I understand that the pension commission has the right of life and death over the veterans.

I want to bring the attention of the minister to these cases. I am in full sympathy with him, and I know very well that he will understand the problems of these returned men whom he knew in a theatre of war during the last war. There is the case of Jean-Paul F. Guay, Civic hospital, veterans' pavilion, pension No. 804,477. He is thirty years of age. He is a law student. His service was from August 28, 1939, to June, 1946. He was wounded in the right ankle. He had a five per cent pension, $4.70 a month. In August, 1948, heart trouble developed. He has been in hospital since. Three applications for pension were turned down. I do not

belong to the Canadian Legion, but I am in full sympathy with these men, and when I submitted their grievances to the house this is one gentleman who wrote me. He is thirty years of age, and is in hospital probably for the rest of his life. I give the file to the minister so that he can have a look at it.

Now there is P. L. Hyde of 619 Bid well Street, Vancouver, a veteran of both wars; eight years' active service, 75 per cent incapacitated. He wants to know the details of class "V" medical treatment. This is personal correspondence. I cannot read the whole letter of the gentleman to the house, but I have no objection to showing it to the minister, and I hope that in due course he will answer the questions which are in the letter, and I will be satisfied with a private answer.

Now, this is a case in which I have been very much interested for a long time. It is the case of Arthur Villeneuve, 1736 East 32nd Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia. His letter too is of a personal character, but I have no objection to giving a copy to the minister. After a long struggle he succeeded in having 100 per cent pension, which was a peculiar case. I have another one from Mr. Keane, Victoria branch, Canadian Pensioners Association of the Great Wars Incorporated, 131 Pemberton Building, Victoria, British Columbia:

J. F. Pouliot, Esq., M.P. for Temiscouata,

The House of Commons,

Ottawa,

Dear Sir,

Your remarks as made in the House of Commons at Ottawa and appearing on page 1939 of Hansard, concerning veterans affairs, are shared by all of us here.

We know only too well as we have been doing this work since 1922 that you have spoken the blind truth, and am very glad that you have done so.

Excuse typewritten errors as I seem to always do them.

Members of this association send you their kindest regards.

I am very glad to see that there is a real champion of their interests in the house. We thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Canadian Pensioners Association R. C. Keane, Honorary Secretary

Then there is the case of Mr. Frank Leary, 898,048, ward 3, north, Westminster hospital, London, Ontario; served overseas; crippled; seven years in different veterans hospitals. Veterans are the guinea pigs of the medical profession. Very unfortunate-but I do not say it, I just repeat it.

Now we have Rev. Roy MacDonald, Marine and Taylor, White Rock, British Columbia. He sent me a clipping from the Vancouver Province repeating what I had said years

Supply-Veterans Affairs ago, that a pension is a right and not a charity, and that an allowance is a charity and does not come from a right. And the hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra must remember I have said it many times in the house.

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PC

June 22, 1951