December 14, 1987


Motion agreed to, Bill read the second time and, by unanimous consent, the House went into committee thereon, Mr. Paproski in the Chair.


PC

Steve Eugene Paproski (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Deputy Chairman:

Order. House in Committee of the Whole on Bill C-98, an Act respecting the Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Co., Limited.

Shall Clause 2 carry?

On Clause 2.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ACT RESPECTING THE HUDSON BAY MINING AND SMELTING CO., LIMITED MEASURE TO AMEND
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NDP

Rodney Edward Murphy (Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Murphy:

Mr. Chairman, my question relates to the fact that the workers' compensation will not be affected by this legislation. It does seem important that, if we are in a situation where the occupational health legislation of the Province of Manitoba is going to apply, we should also have some clarification on what the Government intends to do with regard to workers' compensation.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ACT RESPECTING THE HUDSON BAY MINING AND SMELTING CO., LIMITED MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Pierre H. Cadieux (Minister of Labour)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Cadieux:

Mr. Chairman, this is a very important question. But as my hon. colleague suggests, the workers' compensation is under provincial jurisdiction. Consequently, I would suggest that both provinces would have to address that particular issue possibly in dealing with our discussions on the administrative arrangements. I do not believe that federal

December 14, 1987

Veterans Affairs

jurisdiction has any power at this point with respect to that particular issue. I would suggest to the provinces that they should address this very sensitive issue in the administrative arrangements.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ACT RESPECTING THE HUDSON BAY MINING AND SMELTING CO., LIMITED MEASURE TO AMEND
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NDP

Rodney Edward Murphy (Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Murphy:

I was wondering if the Minister would be offering his good offices to make sure that there is some action taken on the workers' compensation issue. It is something that is important. I know that in some of the earlier discussions that took place there was a belief that the workers' compensation would be included in this legislation.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ACT RESPECTING THE HUDSON BAY MINING AND SMELTING CO., LIMITED MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Pierre H. Cadieux (Minister of Labour)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Cadieux:

Again, I do not think that we can address this particular issue in this legislation because of the jurisdiction. But I will surely raise that particular question, which is very important, and it has to be dealt with by the appropriate authorities. I will definitely offer my good offices to raise the question with the appropriate provinces, and hopefully convince them to deal with it in their arrangements.

Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   ACT RESPECTING THE HUDSON BAY MINING AND SMELTING CO., LIMITED MEASURE TO AMEND
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Title agreed to. Bill reported, concurred in, read the third time and passed.


PENSION ACT, WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND COMPENSATION FOR FORMER PRISONERS OF WAR ACT MEASURE TO AMEND

PC

George Harris Hees (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Minister of State (Seniors))

Progressive Conservative

Hon. George Hees (Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Senior Citizens)) moved

that Bill C-100, an Act to amend the Pension Act, the War Veterans Allowance Act, to repeal the Compensation for Former Prisoners of War Act and to amend another Act in relation thereto, be now read the second time and referred to Committee of the Whole.

He said: Mr. Speaker, once again it is my pleasure to introduce legislation to this House which will be of benefit to Canadian veterans and their families.

Bill C-100 is omnibus legislation which will remove deficiencies that have been revealed within the existing legislation. We want our legislation to be fair and equitable to all veterans and their families, and Bill C-100 will erase injustices that have inadvertently been allowed to exist.

Spouses of former prisoners of war have been particularly affected, and that is why I am proposing that the Compensation for Former Prisoners of War Act be repealed, and that our POWs and their dependants be covered in the future by the Pension Act, as they were from 1971 until 1976.

I say this, Mr. Speaker, because I believe that Parliament on several occasions intended benefits in the Compensation for

Former Prisoners of War Act to parallel those in the Pension Act. Unfortunately, as there were two separate pieces of legislation, this did not always happen. Repeal of the Act will reduce future chances of this happening.

This legislation puts forward 12 amendments in all, but as many are of a housekeeping nature, my comments will concentrate on the more major items.

As I suggested a moment ago, the Compensation for Former Prisoners of War Act has been lacking in a number of areas, and I am proposing amendments to correct this. We will be improving areas that have been of concern to organizations such as the National Prisoners of War Association, the National Council of Veteran Associations, and the Royal Canadian Legion.

Hon. Members will know, Mr. Speaker, that we compensate former prisoners of war for their time spent in captivity. Also, as with all veterans, former prisoners of war may be entitled to compensation for any disability they sustained during the time of their service.

It is my belief that Parliament's intention had always been to recognize this dual entitlement in the calculation of survivor benefits. Indeed, this was the practice followed by the Canadian Pension Commission until 1986, when it was determined that the legislation, as written, did not include prisoners of war who had not been in receipt of a disability pension. Repealing the Prisoners of War Act and placing prisoner of war benefits in the Pension Act rectifies this situation and means that for all future applicants, dependant and survivor benefits will again be in step as intended.

Similarly, it was found that the POW legislation did not permit the Canadian Pension Commission to combine rates when it had to calculate survivor benefits. Prisoner of war compensation and disability compensation must now be determined independently, and this reduces the payments being made to a number of widows. The amendment before the House will allow the commission to return to its traditional methods and cap the maximum at one full survivor's pension.

This will be of particular benefit to widows of prisoners of war who had been in receipt of pension and compensation which, when combined, yield a total of 48 per cent or more. For example, a widow of a POW who had been receiving 25 per cent compensation and 25 per cent pension will currently receive a survivor benefit of half the 25 per cent compensation and half the 25 per cent disability pension. This amendment will permit the commission to add the two percentages and pay the higher full widow's pension instead of two proportionate pensions.

We are also proposing that the married rate should be paid for one full year following the death of a spouse. This puts our POW benefits in line with those that already exist for disability pensioners.

December 14, 1987

Hon. Members will recall that a similar amendment was made in Bill C-28, passed in February, 1985. I said then that it bordered on the inhumane to reduce a widow's income within a month of the veteran's death, and I feel exactly the same about the benefits paid under the POW Act. This amendment will keep these benefits in pay for a full year following the POW's death and thereby give the widow an opportunity to adjust to her changed circumstances.

I am sure that all Hon. Members will enthusiastically support another measure which will introduce further compassion into our legislation. The House will recall the plight of those Canadians who were held prisoner in North Africa during the war. These veterans had been unable to receive prisoner of war compensation because there was doubt as to whether they had been detained in enemy territory. Eventually, and happily, this matter was resolved, but not before these veterans had been denied compensation for many years because they did not meet the strict criteria.

Now we want the Canadian Pension Commission to have the discretion to grant POW compensation in specially meritorious cases such as the ones which came forward from veterans held prisoner in North Africa.

This flexibility already exists in the case of disability pensions and has enabled such deserving people as the veterans exposed to nuclear radiation in the 1950s to make application for pension.

1 have confined my remarks to the more important amendments contained in this legislation. All amendments, however, are designed to improve the existing legislation for veterans and their dependants.

Veterans and their families are very special Canadians, and I am confident that all Members fully appreciate the fairness of this legislation, just as I very sincerely appreciate the support the Bill has received from all sides of the House.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT, WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND COMPENSATION FOR FORMER PRISONERS OF WAR ACT MEASURE TO AMEND
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?

Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT, WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND COMPENSATION FOR FORMER PRISONERS OF WAR ACT MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Leonard Donald Hopkins

Liberal

Mr. Len Hopkins (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke):

Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to say that the Liberal Party agrees with this Bill. I compliment the Minister on bringing it forward. It is in keeping with the historical and traditional policies of Parliament that we look after our veterans and their survivors because we owe it to them.

The Bill today is a very humane act. It recognizes or reminds us once again of the realities of war. It also reminds us of the consequences of war. In many ways, as the Minister has said, it is a housekeeping Bill, but it is a very necessary Bill and the amendments are very important to the people who will benefit from them.

As the Minister stated, there has been legislation which intended to do many of these things but because of technicalities did not work in the way Parliament intended it to work. This Bill will repair those things.

Veterans Affairs

The Minister also mentioned that it will repeal the Compensation for Former Prisoners of War Act. What it really does is transfer the responsibilities or the purpose of the Compensation for Former Prisoners of War Act to the Pension Act, so that the amendments to the Pension Act, when passed, will apply to both veterans who were not prisoners of war and those who were prisoners of war. Hence, prisoner of war benefits will become part of the Pension Act. It makes the legislation more simple. It creates less red tape for veterans, their survivors, and their dependants who qualify for the benefits mentioned herein.

Today we hear many people talk about the cost of social benefits in Canada, but I want to point out that in the Bill the Minister brought in today all the benefits that benefit people in a very sincere and humane manner will cost less than $3 million. If we say it slowly, it sounds like a lot of money. However, if we consider the number of people who will benefit from it, it is not a lot of money. In fact, if we want to use a comparison, let us say that this Bill will cost Canadians slightly more than a present day, modern, heavy-armoured, battle-line tank. I think that is a good comparison to make since today we are talking about veterans' benefits.

It will reinstate payment of prisoner of war survivor benefits where the deceased veteran was not in receipt of a disability pension. This technicality arose in 1986. If a prisoner of war was being compensated for the fact that he had been a prisoner of war, he and his survivors did not qualify for other benefits. In order for his survivor and dependants to qualify, he had to be on disability pension as well, or singularly on disability, whatever the case may be.

As a result, compensation for being a prisoner of war is valid now for continuation of a pension. The disability and compensation factors will both be tied into the Canadian Pension Commission after the legislation is passed. The particular amendment will enable the Canadian Pension Commission to return to its traditional procedures. In other words, it will deal with both compensation and disability at the same time.

Another important facet is the fact that the Bill re-author-izes the combining of the rate of disability pensions with the rate of prisoner of war compensation payable to a deceased veteran in determining a survivor benefit and will cap it at one full survivor's pension instead of two. It will also entitle the survivor to a full widow's pension, which is an extremely important point.

A very important amendment in this Bill on which I want to compliment the Minister authorizes payment of the married rate for one full year following the death of a spouse or veteran. This brings the Prisoner of War Act directly into line with the Canadian Pension Act. The authorization of these payments for one year following the death of a veteran when his spouse and dependants will be receiving a full income from the veterans pension is important because that time is very

December 14, 1987

Veterans Affairs

difficult. It is a period of transition when they need to carry on and adjust to the future. This amendment adds a great deal to the humane attitude to veterans legislation.

You had to be a prisoner of war for 30 months on a continual basis before qualifying for any compensation under the Compensation for Former Prisoners of War Act. Now you can add one, two or three imprisonments together to get a total of 30 months. That is only fair. A person who was captured two or three times went through much greater ordeal.

There is another technical amendment. These sorts of things pass by legislators when Bills are drawn up. If a person was captured on February 1-and the legislation in the past said that you required three months to get a prisoner of war pension-you would require only 89 days to qualify for that pension, but if you were captured on July 1 you would require 92 days to qualify. Those of us who handle a lot of veterans' cases run across these inequities from time to time.

Another important part of this Bill authorizes the Canadian Pension Commission to grant compassionate prisoner of war compensation in cases of special hardship where an applicant is otherwise unqualified. The Minister in this case today mentioned prisoners in North Africa who were considered to be outside the enemy's territory. I think what this legislation recognizes and should recognize is that in times of war we know no boundaries. Boundaries can change from day to day. You cannot really say that because it is not in actual enemy territory, you are not in enemy territory. How would you be captured if you were not in enemy territory or vice versa? That is a good amendment.

In bringing all this together today I think again that the historical tradition of Canada and Canadian Governments over the years has been to provide for veterans, survivors and their spouses. This is a great responsibility that must never be forgotten. We must look after families of those who have died in defence of freedom and those veterans who came home incapacitated, unable to provide for their spouses and families. That is our job here at home and one that we must continue.

I know that the Minister today has a great feeling for his job, as did the Hon. Dan MacDonald when he was in this House. He understands it is important that veterans be made comfortable for the remainder of their lives. That is the least we can do for the service they have given to this country. He understands it is important that veterans be made comfortable for the remainder of their lives. That is the least we can do for the service they have given to Canada. Therefore, we must be reminded at this time that present day Canadian nationalism was really born on the battlefields of Europe, of the world and also at the negotiating tables that brought World War I and World War II to a close, not forgetting the Korean War later on. Only if we ourselves in this Parliament look after normal lifetime responsibilities that would have belonged to those veterans who did not return and only if we look after the lifetime responsibilities of those who returned incapacitated, can we really say that we are remembering them. That is the

job of every Canadian, not just at the cenotaph on November 11. They may have been maltreated while in prison or wounded in war, but it is the job of Canadians as a whole to remember them by looking after those who returned incapacitated, their spouses, families and dependants.

The Minister mentioned various organizations. I would like to pay tribute, on behalf of my Party today, the Liberal Party of Canada to organizations such as the National Prisoners of War Association, one of which is the renowned Dieppe Prisoners of War Association; the National Council of Veterans Associations; and the Royal Canadian Legion, which has some 1,700 branches across Canada. People in these organizations have continued to champion the causes and brought forward representations to the Government of Canada to amend the legislation so that we as parliamentarians can better carry on the job of supporting our veterans. Of course then we have the Canadian families who are directly affected by things that arise by way of technicalities and legislation that do not apply to their individual cases. We owe it to them too for bringing their ideas forward to us.

To all those people I want to say thank you today. I appreciate that the Minister has brought this legislation forward in the historical and great traditions of Canada as a caring nation on behalf of its people for those who sacrificed their lives or health for our country. Last August I had the privilege of attending the ceremonies in Dieppe with the Minister along with many other veterans in remembering that horrendous day, August 19, 1942. It brought home the fact that there should be no complaint or disagreement among political Parties in Canada to support legislation benefiting those who were killed or wounded in such battles all over the world on Canada's behalf. They fought for all of Canada. Therefore, all Canadians, regardless of their political stripe, should defend spouses and dependants of veterans at a time of need.

Thank you for giving me this time to say a few words on this Bill, Mr. Speaker. Again I congratulate the Minister for bringing this legislation forward today.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT, WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND COMPENSATION FOR FORMER PRISONERS OF WAR ACT MEASURE TO AMEND
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NDP

Neil Young

New Democratic Party

Mr. Neil Young (Beaches):

Mr. Speaker, at the outset 1 want to say that the proposed legislation before the House, Bill C-100, has the full support of the New Democratic Party. My remarks will be extremely short. It is crucial that this legislation be passed in all stages today because it contains quite a number of improvements for prisoners of war, their dependants and their widows.

I have been a member of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs since I came here in 1980. At practically every appearance before the committee of the Royal Canadian Legion, the Canadian Council of War Veterans' Associations, the National Prisoners of War Association of Canada, as well as of the wives and widows of the members of the National PWO Association, we heard a

December 14, 1987

litany of complaints dealing with various pieces of legislation affecting prisoners of war and veterans' benefits.

I must take this opportunity to compliment the Minister. Since I have been here, he has been one of the most responsive Ministers of Veterans Affairs. Ele has managed to clear up most of the petty, niggling little problems which should have been rectified long before this. Even though they may seem like small problems to us, they are huge problems to the people who rely on those benefits for an adequate and decent standard of living. I believe that the Minister should be complimented for that, and I know, speaking for myself and, I think, for other members of the Veterans Affairs Committee from all Parties, he will receive the continued support of that committee for the work he does on behalf of veterans and their families.

This is not to say that the Minister and I do not disagree from time to time. We certainly do disagree, and of course that is what we are all here to do.

Some of the other issues the wives and widows of members of the National Prisoners of War Association raised with the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs at a meeting on June 18 have not been addressed by this legislation. However, I have had a discussion with the Minister and he has assured me that he will be pursuing the concerns which those individuals raised with the committee over the next short period of time, and of course, knowing the Minister, I accept that he will do so. We look forward to the moment when we can improve the legislation affecting veterans, their families and prisoners of war even further.

That is about all the time I wish to take on these amendments. 1 think they speak for themselves. We are not talking about a large amount of money. I think it amounts to about $3 million over the next five years. In terms of total government expenditures over that same five-year period, we are talking about peanuts, but that amount of money represents a substantial improvement in the lot of POWs, their families and their dependants. It is an extremely important move, even though it does not seem to be such a massive amount. It is the least we can do to help the people to whom we owe so much to live a decent life in Canada, and I think this legislation goes in that direction.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT, WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND COMPENSATION FOR FORMER PRISONERS OF WAR ACT MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Brian Vincent Tobin

Liberal

Mr. Brian Tobin (Plumber-Port au Port-St. Barbe):

Mr. Speaker, I hesitate to rise to speak to Bill C-100, given the eloquent words of the Minister and the two opposition spokesmen who have already addressed themselves to this Bill. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to rise.

I listened with great interest to the Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Hees). As Hon. Members know, the Minister is a man of few words and a man of considerable talent. He has done a considerable amount of good for the Veterans Affairs Department, but I submit that he is also a man of some modesty. When he rose in his place to introduce this Bill to the House, he described it as a housekeeping measure. I want to

Veterans Affairs

say to the Minister that I fundamentally disagree with him. This Bill is substantially more than a housekeeping measure, and I say that with great respect.

Hon. Members on all sides of the House will recall that some months ago, CBC Radio did a Sunday morning program about people who were prisoners of war in Laghouat, Algeria. There are some several dozen of them across Canada, including about half a dozen in my own Province of Newfoundland. These people spent years in a prisoner of war camp. Jim Templeton from St. John's went in there weighing 180 or 190 pounds and came out weighing 130 pounds. Some of them saw their colleagues shot and killed while trying to escape the camp. So that we are clear as to whether or not it was a prisoner of war camp let me say that it was administered by the Gestapo.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT, WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND COMPENSATION FOR FORMER PRISONERS OF WAR ACT MEASURE TO AMEND
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NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Benjamin:

And the Vichy French.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT, WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND COMPENSATION FOR FORMER PRISONERS OF WAR ACT MEASURE TO AMEND
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LIB

Brian Vincent Tobin

Liberal

Mr. Tobin:

And the Vichy French. However, because that camp was located in Algeria, a nation with which we had not formally exchanged a Declaration of war, under the terms of the Compensation for Former Prisoners of War Act as defined in the legislation of 1976 or 1977, the Government was unable to find that these men had been prisoners of war.

The situation was brought to the attention of the Minister. Indeed, I raised it myself on a number of occasions in the House. The Minister, without argument and without hesitation, acknowledged that, given the circumstances involved, it was indeed not a grey area, it was not a question of a judgment call, but it was clear that these Canadian veterans had been prisoners of war in the most brutal sense of the word and that they had suffered greatly in their service to the nation.

I am saying this because the Minister is somewhat modest and would not say it himself. He was able to find a way, through the use of historical documents, to bring benefits under the old Act to these people who had been held prisoners in Laghouat, Algeria. The many people who were involved in this case rejoiced and indeed gave due respect and thanks to the Minister for his action.

Some of us who were involved in this matter were concerned about other prisoners of war about whom we do not know yet who suffered under similar conditions. We wondered if there would be an historical document somewhere, as there was in the case of Laghouat, which would allow us to recognize those others. In the case of Laghouat, a technicality was used to recognize that at least during wartime, the prisoners were held in enemy territory. What if there is no such technicality for the others?

Today the Minister is bringing in Bill C-100 and at the same time repealing the Former Prisoners of War Compensation Act. This new legislation brings the plight of those people under the discretion of the board, something which was not available before. The Minister has ensured that in future, when people who have suffered the same kind of treatment as those who were held at Laghouat, Algeria, come forward, we

December 14, 1987

Veterans Affairs

will not have to search for a technicality in order to give them simple justice.

Let me say, as one who is not a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, as one who does not normally participate in these debates, but as one who brought the conditions of former prisoners of war to the Minister's attention, that I think the change the Minister has made to ensure that all legitimate prisoners of war are compensated is an important one and goes far beyond simple housekeeping. In fact, it is an entrenchment of the principle of simple justice in Bill C-100.

There is no question that justice and fairness do not have price tags and cannot be measured in dollars and cents. It struck me, as I know it struck the Minister as we discussed the matter, that in the case of Laghouat, those people were less interested in receiving financial compensation for being recognized as prisoners of war than they were in receiving the dignity of recognition for the price they had paid in the service of their country. They asked for recognition that they had indeed served Canada and paid a price as prisoners of war- not as interns at some resort, but as prisoners of war. That was their first interest.

The Minister has given to all of those in similar circumstances, not only benefit of a pension provided under the Pension Act-which is important and not to be belittled-but their dignity. That is what they asked for first and foremost. For that I heartily congratulate the Minister of Veterans Affairs today.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT, WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND COMPENSATION FOR FORMER PRISONERS OF WAR ACT MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

Steve Eugene Paproski (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paproski):

Before I recognize the Hon. Member for Regina West (Mr. Benjamin) I would like to remind him that the Bill is to go through all stages before Private Members' Hour.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT, WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND COMPENSATION FOR FORMER PRISONERS OF WAR ACT MEASURE TO AMEND
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NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Les Benjamin (Regina West):

Mr. Speaker, I guarantee you that that will happen. When have I ever caused you any trouble? Perhaps in other places, but not with you.

I will keep my remarks brief. I would like to congratulate the Minister on this legislation. I want to appeal to him as well. The Minister is making some corrections of errors of omission or commission and giving some recognition to veterans and their survivors. I hope he will address himself to two further areas.

By the way, I enjoyed watching the brief exchange between our honorary member at the Clerk's Table, the former member for Winnipeg North Centre, and the Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Hees). The honorary member at the Table carried on the fight for veterans in this place along with the Hon. Minister since 1942. I would like to carry on the fight which my former colleague carried on with previous Ministers of Veterans Affairs.

The first appeal I would like to make is with regard to the Spanish Civil War veterans. Several thousand of them fought the Fascists in Spain between 1935 and 1938. Most of them

volunteered for the Canadian Forces in 1939 and fought in the Second World War. In fact, for some of them it was a third war. They had been in World War I, the Spanish Civil War, and then World War II.

As I am sure the Minister knows, there are only about 200 of these veterans left of the several thousand who served, and a few surviving widows. I had a Private Member's Bill before this House for many years, to which precedessors of the Minister responded, in the bureaucrats of the Department, that they were mercenaries. The Minister and I know that that is not true. Most of them paid their own way. They were all volunteers. None of them made any money. Some of the 200 who are left served as prisoners of war, and a few were even tortured by the Fascists in Spain.

All they really want is recognition as veterans. I doubt whether very many, if any, are looking for any benefits. They only want recognition as veterans. The handful who are left are now in their 70s, 80s, and 90s I think that recognition long past due is deserved. I hope the Minister, unlike at least five of his precedessors with whom I have dealt, will recognize that.

In this Bill the Minister is dealing with the criteria for the awarding of decorations. Over the last couple of years I have been working with him on the case of a veteran who served for five years overseas. This veteran did not spend the 160 or 180 days on continental Europe, which is the criterion for the 1939-45 Star, because so much of his time was spent in England and Ireland. I did not know that England and Ireland had been moved out of northwest Europe, but the Department of Veterans Affairs has done so. This veteran manned antiaircraft guns for the Canadian Forces on the south coast of Britain. There is no way that that was not the front line. The criterion for the 1939-45 Star should be changed to include England and Ireland.

Another case has come to my attention recently, about which I will be writing to the Minister. I will tell him now that it is with regard to a person who was in the RAF for approximately five years. He served in England with RCAF squadrons, but a lot of the time was spent in Canada as an instructor. All he would like to have is the War Medal or the 1939-45 Star as recognition of his service with the Canadian Armed Forces in World War II.

I plead with the Minister to review the criteria for those medals. I want to plead, for the umpteenth time in this place since 1968, for recognition of the veterans of the Spanish Civil War. If the few survivors who are left are entitled to a few tens of thousands of dollars, let us give it to them.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT, WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND COMPENSATION FOR FORMER PRISONERS OF WAR ACT MEASURE TO AMEND
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PC

George Harris Hees (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Minister of State (Seniors))

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hees:

Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise the Hon. Member, who I know has always taken a very sympathetic and energetic interest in veterans, that the case of the Mac-Pap is now before the Committee on Veterans Affairs. I can assure him that we will review the findings of that committee very sympathetically indeed. I am sympathetic to the case and will do everything I can.

December 14, 1987

With regard to the other matters which the Member brought up, I am sympathetic to practically all the representations which are brought forward on behalf of veterans because they are such deserving people. I am sometimes tied down by the cold hand of the law. However, I have been able to work around some of the problems and I can assure the Hon. Member that I will work around any problems that I can.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT, WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND COMPENSATION FOR FORMER PRISONERS OF WAR ACT MEASURE TO AMEND
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NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Benjamin:

Mr. Speaker, as the Hon. Minister of Veterans Affairs has so often said: "If it can be done it will be done".

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PENSION ACT, WAR VETERANS ALLOWANCE ACT AND COMPENSATION FOR FORMER PRISONERS OF WAR ACT MEASURE TO AMEND
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Motion agreed to, Bill read the second time and, by unanimous consent, the House went into committee thereon, Mr. Paproski in the Chair.


December 14, 1987