February 14, 1962

PC

David Vaughan Pugh

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pugh:

I should like to ask the last speaker a question. When did the foresters of Newfoundland first ask that their case be heard by brief or otherwise, and by the Legion or otherwise?

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PC

Henry Frank Jones (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Jones:

1949.

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LIB

Chesley William Carter

Liberal

Mr. Carter:

I do not really know when they first asked. I know that they appeared before the parliamentary committee in 1958.

Civilian War Pensions Mr. Pugh: You have no knowledge of anything earlier?

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LIB

Chesley William Carter

Liberal

Mr. Carter:

No, I have no knowledge.

In his reference to that quotation the hon. member, strangely enough, omitted to complete the passage, because had he finished the quotation in which I said I had no knowledge, the rest of his statement could not have held any water at all. Then having quoted me partially he went on very condescendingly to say he was sure I did not mean to mislead the house. Mr. Speaker, what utter nonsense. How can I mislead the house when I am speaking for myself and when I am telling the truth, and the fact is that I had no further knowledge; I had no personal knowledge. The hon. member for St. John's East (Mr. McGrath) finds this very surprising, because he said earlier that he was very surprised at this.

No intelligent Newfoundlander who has any knowledge of the background of events leading up to confederation and the years following should be surprised by that statement. I can quite understand hon. members from the mainland being surprised by it; that would be quite natural. But it is certainly not natural for a Newfoundlander to be surprised by it, because there are very logical explanations for it which I wish to put on the record.

The first explanation is this. For 15 years prior to 1949 Newfoundlanders had not any responsible government; they had not any members to represent them in the local government or anywhere else. So they had-*

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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

Order. Would the hon. member permit me to interrupt. I have been trying to relate what he says to the principle of the bill. I take it that his remarks are addressed principally to subsection 1(g) of section 75, relating to the Newfoundland overseas foresters unit. As I understand it, the principle of the bill concerns whether pensions shall be paid to certain civilians on the same basis as if they had been military personnel. There is no general principle about who the civilians are; they are categorized in a dozen different categories.

While the hon. member's remarks are appropriate to the bill, they seem to me to come more naturally in the committee stage when the section is called. What the hon. member is saying now does not seem to bear very directly on the general principle of whether it is appropriate to provide for pensions to certain civilians who served in a civilian capacity in the war.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Mr. Speaker, 1 wonder whether I may just say a word on the point of order. It seems to me that what my hon.

friend from Burin-Burgeo is doing is suggesting that the principle of including the foresters among those categories of persons who are to be regarded as civilians is not the best way to deal with this problem, that the more acceptable way would be to treat them as the Canadian foresters were treated and as the Newfoundland foresters were treated in world war I, as veterans and having the status of veterans.

It seems to me this touches the very principle of the bill, which is that certain categories of persons should be paid these war veterans allowances as civilians and not as veterans. While I have no doubt that the matter could be discussed in committee, it does seem to me that the principle as to whether they are an appropriate group to be included in this category, or whether they might more appropriately be considered in another category, is really an appropriate subject for second reading rather than the committee stage.

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PC

William Joseph Browne (Solicitor General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, did I understand from the remarks of the previous speaker that they should not be included in this bill at all but should come under another bill?

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I do not think that is an exact interpretation of what I said. I said it seemed to me that my hon. friend was arguing-and I am not talking about my own argument, because it was his argument that was in question-that it would be preferable that they be included in the War Veterans Allowance Act and treated as veterans and not as civilians.

It seems to me that discussion on the principle of a bill has always been considered wide enough to suggest that the objective of the bill in certain particulars could be better accomplished in another way. It seems to me that is all my hon. friend was doing. He was certainly not opposing the principle.

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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

I do not wish to limit the discussion. I understood the hon. member who had the floor to be saying, "I do not disapprove of paying pensions to civilians, but these Newfoundland foresters are not properly civilians in relationship to these pensions and should be treated as veterans". If that is so, it seems to me he is not opposing the principle and he should perhaps discuss the inclusion of this category as civilians at the committee stage. However, perhaps the simplest way is for the hon. member to complete his argument now, and he will not have to repeat it at the committee stage.

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PC

James Aloysius McGrath

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McGrath:

Mr. Speaker, on the point of order, it is understood that hon. members will

be given the same latitude as the hon. member for Burin-Burgeo (Mr. Carter)?

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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

It has always been the

principle that has been followed that if debate is relevant to one hon. member, it is relevant to another. If hon. members wish to debate this matter now rather than in committee, I cannot object; but I point out that it is more appropriately a matter for the committee stage.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I take it that Your Honour is just giving the house an opinion and is not making a ruling, because it does seem a rather restrictive opinion.

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LIB

Chesley William Carter

Liberal

Mr. Carter:

Mr. Speaker, if I may speak a minute or two on my own point of order, I thought I was in order on two counts.

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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

The hon. member may

proceed.

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LIB

Chesley William Carter

Liberal

Mr. Carter:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The whole force of my argument is not to say that I am against the principle of the bill. I made it quite clear last evening that I am in favour of the principle of this bill, but what I am against is the manner in which the principle is being applied, the method or the vehicle that is being used to apply it. I think a much more appropriate method would have been to amend the definition in the War Veterans Allowance Act.

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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:

The hon. member wants to strike these people out of this act; is that the idea?

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LIB

Chesley William Carter

Liberal

Mr. Carter:

If you are prepared to enlarge the definition of a veteran in the War Veterans Allowance Act to include them.

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LIB
LIB

Chesley William Carter

Liberal

Mr. Carter:

Yes. I was only asking, when Your Honour interrupted, that I be accorded the right to reply to statements made by the hon. member for St. John's East who expressed surprise that nothing was done, that we heard so little about it in all these years from 1949 to 1956.

I think hon. members should understand the reasons for that, and they are very simple. One reason is that for 15 years Newfoundlanders had no representatives at all; they had no vote, and they were not in the habit of referring problems to their members. They were not in the habit of even thinking in those terms.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

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February 14, 1962