March 2, 1944 (19th Parliament, 5th Session)


Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

I do not want it taken back. I wish to express my appreciation of the minister's courtesy. It is something that some of the other ministers might well copy. In the early stage of the war, opposition members were somewhat in demand when victory loans came along and recruiting speeches had to be made; but as the war has progressed I have noticed that during victory loan campaigns and during some of the other campaigns that have been put on, opposition members have been left very severely alone. The government ministers get the very best kind of cooperation when they take the trouble to cooperate with the members of the different constituencies and give them the feeling that it is not a war effort on behalf of the Liberal party but a war effort on behalf of the Canadian people.
The minister has shown a very human and realistic approach to this problem of repatriation, demobilization and rehabilitation. I believe he does well to break that problem into three parts, because the parts are distinct and separate. First of all, there is the problem of bringing the men back to this country, the problem of repatriation; second, the problem of how and in what numbers and at what time they shall be returned to civil life, the problem of demobilization; and, third, the problem of reestablishing them in civil life.
The minister made at the end a stirring plea asking that we should not think entirely in materialistic terms but rather in the spiritual terms of national well-being. As we have trained these men to defend Canada we should now give them an opportunity to develop Canada. I should like to say to the minister that puts the ball right back on the government side of the house. After all, these men coming back cannot develop Canada unless those who control Canada, both in the business and in the political sense, give to these men the leadership which will be necessary if they are to develop Canada. Unless the government is prepared to lay down the plans which will be necessary and have them ready so that when these men come back there will be something definite for them to do, then we shall have a disillusioning experience indeed.
I cannot agree with the hon. member for Danforth who took the minister to task for dealing with this matter. I think we all believe that winning the war is most important and I think we all know the war is far from won. But I believe the minister is right when he recognizes that one of the fears that is

War Appropriation-Air Services
most dominant in the minds of the people of Canada and in the minds of the men and women in the service, is the fear of what will happen when the war is over. That is a totally different mental outlook from that of the last war. My father went to the last war. He went from a job into the army. Two days after he came out of the army he was back at his old job and in his old place again. As the minister stated, however, many of these men never had a job, or if they did have a job they still remember the periods when they walked the streets looking for a job. They have come out of a period of insecurity and unemployment and they are afraid of returning to it.
It seems to me that while the minister may say that you cannot solve this problem with a cliche, the government has the responsibility lying at its door. After repatriation and demobilization are dealt with the government has two responsibilities. The first is to train every one of these men to take his place in civilian life irrespective of what time that may take; second, to see to it that after he has been trained he is placed in a gainful occupation.

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