February 14, 1962

PC

Joseph Pierre Albert Sévigny (Associate Minister of National Defence)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Pierre Sevigny (Associate Minister of National Defence):

Mr. Speaker, yesterday a question was asked in the house concerning the stand of the Department of National Defence with regard to views expressed publicly by senior officials critical of other departments and agencies of governments. This question was based on alleged remarks made last Sunday by a senior naval chaplain relating to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

I am informed that the report of these remarks appeared in one of the local newspapers on Monday. A Royal Canadian Navy padre in fact delivered a Sunday sermon at a civilian church here in Ottawa at the request of the local parish priest, who had to be away. Under these circumstances it is not considered that there is any necessity for the Department of National Defence to take any particular stand on the matter. The padre who delivered the sermon asserts that he asked that the programming of the C.B.C. at all times be in line with the precepts of Christian doctrine. He refuses to admit the allegations which were imputed to him in the article.

Civilian War Pensions CIVILIAN WAR PENSIONS

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   EXPRESSIONS OF OPINION BY SENIOR OFFICERS
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AMENDMENTS EXTENDING PAYMENTS TO CERTAIN GROUPS


The house resumed, from Tuesday, February 13, consideration of the motion of Mr. Churchill for the second reading of Bill No. C-64, to amend the Civilian War Pensions and Allowances Act.


LIB
PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

Perhaps the hon. member would wait a minute before he begins in order to give the house a chance to settle down.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS EXTENDING PAYMENTS TO CERTAIN GROUPS
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LIB

Chesley William Carter

Liberal

Mr. C. W. Carter (Burin-Burgeo):

When the house rose last night at ten o'clock, Mr. Speaker, I was in the process of clarifying a statement I had made on Friday last in the debate on the resolution. I was clarifying the statement because on Monday the minister intervened in the debate to take exception to what I had said.

For the sake of continuity, perhaps I might be permitted to recapitulate briefly what I said last night so that it will not be necessary for readers of this debate to refer to yesterday's Hansard. When I intervened in the debate on Friday I said that if the bill became law it would have the effect of setting up in Newfoundland two different categories of foresters, category one comprising those who served in the Newfoundland forestry unit during world war I, who have been recognized as veterans and have already been included under the veterans charter, and category two comprising those veterans who served in the forestry unit during world war II but who are classed as civilians under this legislation.

The minister took exception to my using the word "now". In using that word I was referring to the changes that would come about when this bill becomes law, because while heretofore we have not recognized the Newfoundland foresters of world war II for purposes of pension rights and while we have not recognized them as veterans, we have not classified them-

Topic:   AMENDMENTS EXTENDING PAYMENTS TO CERTAIN GROUPS
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PC

William Joseph Browne (Solicitor General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

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

You did not

pay them anything at all.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS EXTENDING PAYMENTS TO CERTAIN GROUPS
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LIB

Chesley William Carter

Liberal

Mr. Carter:

I wish to tell the hon. member that I will answer any questions he wishes to ask after I have finished, but I prefer not to be interrupted while I am making my remarks. I am not reading a prepared speech and I have very few notes. I do not wish to be interrupted. The effect of this legislation is to impose upon these men a classification

Civilian War Pensions

that did not exist before, and we have gone out of our way to do so. Last night I referred to section 75(l)(g) which is in these words:

(1) For the purposes of this part "civilian" means-

(g) a person who served with the Newfoundland overseas forestry unit in the United Kingdom during world war II for a period of at least six months and who contracted to serve with that unit for the duration of the said war.

That involves a definite pronouncement on the part of parliament with respect to this particular group of Newfoundland foresters. The hon. member for York-Sunbury (Mr. MacRae) indicated in his intervention that he is opposed to having the world war II foresters of Newfoundland recognized as veterans. He made this quite clear; and so that I cannot be accused of interpreting his remarks wrongly I will put on Hansard a quotation from the hon. member's speech, as found on page 787 of Hansard:

I do take objection to statements which have been made by my good friends, the hon. members for Kootenay West and Burin-Burgeo, contending there was no distinction between the Canadian forestry corps of world wars I and II and the Newfoundland foresters. There was the greatest distinction inasmuch as the Canadian forestry corps of world wars I and II were soldiers of the Canadian army and as such were liable for service anywhere in the world. Many were men with several decorations from the first world war. They were members of the Canadian army and as such they could be assigned to service anywhere.

Whether the hon. member was voicing his own personal opinions or voicing the attitude of the government, I am not able to say, but the thinking inherent in the passage I have just quoted corresponds with the thinking we have in the bill before us. What is this great distinction, Mr. Speaker? When we analyse the matter we find that it boils down purely to a technicality, the manner in which these people were recruited and nothing else. I want to tell the hon. member for York-Sunbury that in the Newfoundland overseas forestry unit of world war II there were many men who had served in world war I and had been decorated. There is no difference there. The hon. member said that those who were in the Canadian army could be moved anywhere. I believe that is true of the Newfoundland forestry unit. They were under the orders of the British government and if the British government had seen fit to move them to Scotland, France or Timbuktu they would have had to go. There is no difference there.

The only real distinction involves a technicality which has to do with the manner in which the units were recruited in the first place. What the hon. member is saying is that a technicality such as this outweighs the actual service these people performed. Surely what we are doing in this bill is recognizing service-not the conditions under

which men were enlisted to perform that service but the actual service which they performed and the conditions under which they performed it. If I understand the bill, that is what we are doing. My hon. friend however says that service is not important, that the only important thing is the manner in which they were enlisted.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS EXTENDING PAYMENTS TO CERTAIN GROUPS
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PC

William Lawrence Marven Creaghan

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Creaghan:

I wonder whether the hon. member would permit a question at this point. Would he place on record, if he has them, statistics as to the number of persons involved who served in world war II and who had previously served in a military manner in world war I in order that we can see whether a minority or the majority would be protected if the law were amended?

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LIB

Chesley William Carter

Liberal

Mr. Carter:

I am sure it is not reasonable to expect me to have such statistics at my fingertips at this moment.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS EXTENDING PAYMENTS TO CERTAIN GROUPS
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PC

William Lawrence Marven Creaghan

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Creaghan:

Would it be half the men?

Topic:   AMENDMENTS EXTENDING PAYMENTS TO CERTAIN GROUPS
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LIB

Chesley William Carter

Liberal

Mr. Carter:

I do not know. All I can say is that there were a number of them. The hon. member for York-Sunbury did not give statistics. He just said there were a number of people involved. That is what I am saying so far as the Newfoundland forestry unit is concerned.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS EXTENDING PAYMENTS TO CERTAIN GROUPS
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PC

William Lawrence Marven Creaghan

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Creaghan:

The ones who served in world war I are automatically included.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS EXTENDING PAYMENTS TO CERTAIN GROUPS
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LIB

Chesley William Carter

Liberal

Mr. Carter:

Under certain conditions they are veterans, yes. This is true in every case.

I am concerned with something else which the hon. member said because he seemed to question statements that the men who enlisted in the Newfoundland forestry unit in world war II were frozen in their occupation and not permitted to transfer to other branches of the armed services. I should like to read some more from the same page and same paragraph of Hansard from which I was reading:

As a matter of fact, when 8,000 Canadian foresters in the second world war were stationed in northern Scotland beside the Newfoundland foresters, every month so many of them were requested to transfer to the units in southern England, in Sicily and in Italy. A great many did go, and many became casualties. I do object to the statement that the Newfoundland foresters were not permitted to transfer. Perhaps that is so up to a point, but I know of several cases where foresters in northern Scotland transferred to the Canadian army and then went on to serve in southern England and in different theatres of war.

Whether or not he is talking about the Newfoundland members or the Canadians at that point, I am not certain. However, the hon. member does take objection to the statement that these people were frozen in their units and not permitted to transfer to other branches of the armed services. I should

like to refer my hon. friend to the brief which the Newfoundland overseas forestry unit submitted to the standing committee on veterans affairs on March 31, 1960. Under heading No. 6, we find this statement:

How important was the work of the Newfoundland overseas forestry unit to the winning of the war?

Then, having asked this question the brief proceeds to answer it as follows:

This question can be answered best by referring to a communication from the secretary of state for dominion affairs to the governor of Newfoundland dated June 5, 1940 and it is herewith quoted in full:-

No. 376, Confidential. Your telegram of May 16th. No. 269, paragraph 1. Steps are being taken by Turner to ascertain which loggers propose to enlist in fighting or other services on expiry of their term of engagement and result will be communicated to you when known.

Necessity of increasing output of pitwood produced in this country is of such vital urgency that as you know, in addition to asking you to send 1,000 more men we have taken special steps to persuade as many loggers as possible to re-engage with Newfoundland forestry unit for further term. It has been suggested that it would be useful if the government were also to publish in all logger camps here statement regarding great value of work being done by unit and appeal to the men to continue in present employment. We are prepared to do this if result of census referred to in preceding paragraph makes it necessary and hope that the government of Newfoundland would be willing to associate themselves with the United Kingdom government in such an appeal if made. If you agree we will telegraph to you for concurrence in text of suggested appeal.

Then, the telegram continues in another paragraph:

In spite of everything certain number of men may decide to enlist in the army. We have discussed with the war office your proposal that they should be given opportunity of joining Newfoundland heavy regiment. War office have pointed out that they are forming 28 forestry companies of royal engineers for which there is urgent demand and that while these companies will be part of the fighting forces they will provide the best opportunity of making military use of special skilled Newfoundland loggers. It is not proposed to do anything to hinder anyone who is set on joining Newfoundland heavy regiment from doing so but Turner-

That is Captain Turner, the commander.

-will be asked to explain carefully to all who definitely decide to volunteer for the army the importance and advantage of joining these companies and to use his influence to induce as many of these men as possible to enlist in them. Strength of each company will be 140 men and if sufficient men are forthcoming they will be kept together and company in which they are posted will bear the name of "Newfoundland".

Need of men skilled in forestry is so urgent that we should be grateful if recruiting organizations in Newfoundland could be advised to exercise special caution in accepting any skilled loggers as recruits for royal artillery regiment.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS EXTENDING PAYMENTS TO CERTAIN GROUPS
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PC
LIB

Chesley William Carter

Liberal

Mr. Carter:

This telegram was sent on June 5, 1940.

Civilian War Pensions

The brief continues as follows:

It will be noted that from this time on, not only did the Newfoundland government instruct recruiting organizations accordingly but each individual who joined the Newfoundland overseas forestry unit had to sign a contract for the duration in which there was a clause to the effect that he could not be transferred to any other unit or to any of His Majesty's armed services and instructions were issued to the camps that no member could join His Majesty's forces as his logging work was of the most extreme importance.

I think that should satisfy the hon. member for York-Sunbury (Mr. MacRae). This is an official document which has been quoted, and if the hon. member is not prepared to take the word of the loggers themselves, he could easily have it verified. These men were limited in this way and that was a technicality which was a disadvantage to them. It is true that for the first six months they were permitted to transfer, and many of them did. After the first six months, the contract was put into effect, and it was impossible for anybody who joined the forestry unit to transfer to another branch of the armed services.

Furthermore, any person who was joining up and who had not joined the loggers unit but who went to a recruiting station-

Topic:   AMENDMENTS EXTENDING PAYMENTS TO CERTAIN GROUPS
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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

Will the hon. member permit

a question?

Topic:   AMENDMENTS EXTENDING PAYMENTS TO CERTAIN GROUPS
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LIB
PC

Gordon Minto Churchill (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

Is the hon. member prepared to advance the same argument in connection with the other categories, because if he is obviously the bill is not satisfactory to him and he will have to vote against it.

Topic:   AMENDMENTS EXTENDING PAYMENTS TO CERTAIN GROUPS
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LIB

Chesley William Carter

Liberal

Mr. Carter:

I do not know whether or not I am prepared to advance the same arguments on behalf of all categories, but I am certainly prepared to advance them on behalf of the foresters, the merchant navy and the firefighters. I do not know enough about what was involved in the work of the other services to have an opinion.

Now, Mr. Speaker, having put first things first, I want to deal with a statement that was made by the hon. member for St. John's East (Mr. McGrath) which is found on page 790 of Hansard. The hon. member quoted a question I was asked on Friday last at the end of my remarks. The question was asked by the hon. member for Okanagan Boundary (Mr. Pugh). I read from page 742 of Hansard:

Topic:   AMENDMENTS EXTENDING PAYMENTS TO CERTAIN GROUPS
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February 14, 1962