It would have been very surprising to me if they had, after 15 years. People do not change their habit of working overnight and again, I say, there is nothing surprising about that. That is certainly one 26207-1-55i
Civilian War Pensions
argument. I want to reply to the hon. member's question. He questioned my reply to the hon. member for Okanagan Boundary (Mr. Pugh) when I said that was the first knowledge I had. The first knowledge I had of any concerted action was around 1958. During my first session in parliament my constituents did not write to me about veterans problems. The main things they wrote to me about were provincial matters, breakwaters, wharves, and things like that. They had to get used to having elected representatives. They could not all become mainland Canadians overnight.
What I have just said applies to the population generally, but here we are speaking about a special group of veterans who did not have any knowledge of this veterans charter. It took them years and years to find out what their rights were. They did not know. The authorities got in touch with them and they accepted without question whatever decisions were handed down. It was only when I began making my own analysis on the basis of the questions which had come to my attention that I began to discover the evidence. Thus, the answer to the hon. member's question as to why we did not initiate action on our own part is that it certainly did not occur to me that the terms of union were not being carried out, in particular the provision which said that Newfoundland veterans would be treated in exactly the same way as if they had served in the Canadian forces. It took me years before I could bring myself to believe that this was not being done. These are all good reasons, and the hon. member for St. John's East (Mr. McGrath) should know these reasons. Certainly, he should be the last one in this house to be surprised.
Before I sit down I want to refer briefly to the merchant seamen, the men who are also classified here as civilians. Clause 75(1) (a) states:
For the purposes of this part "civilian" means a person who
(i) served at sea in a ship of Canadian or Newfoundland registry during world war I or world war II for a period of six months-
I do not intend to repeat what I said on previous occasions about the services of the merchant marine. All I want to put on record is one case in order to show what this legislation is doing. I know of a merchant seaman who served with such devotion to duty that he was awarded the 1939-45 defence medal, the 1939-45 war medal, the 1939-45 Atlantic star, the 1939 star, the 1939-45 Italian star and the France and Germany star. He had six medals; yet we bring out a bill which says to that man, and to men like him: You are not a veteran, you are
Civilian War Pensions
a civilian. That is why I object to the method which is being followed. We are making these men eligible for war veterans allowances-the same allowances which are available to other veterans under the War Veterans' Allowance Act. It seems to me we could achieve our object much more simply by extending the definition of the word "veteran" in the War Veterans' Allowance Act rather than by this roundabout way of bringing in an addition to the Civilian War Pensions and Allowances Act.