April 3, 1945 (19th Parliament, 6th Session)


Clarence Gillis

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


When the house rose at six o'clock I was dealing with the question of discharge. There is another type of discharge which I think should be examined into and some latitude allowed. I refer to discharge because of misconduct. This applies to both sections of the army and air force, male and female. Any service personnel discharged because of misconduct immediately lose all the rehabilitation benefits, gratuities, et cetera. I have no objection to its being applied in that way to the habitual deserter, the man who goes absent without leave and who generally misconducts himself to such an extent that he deserves to get a discharge of that description.
I have in mind, however, boys who went into the service at the age of eighteen or nineteen, being away from home for the first time, and who commit their first infraction of the regulations as a result, perhaps, of taking a few drinks of beer. In consequence they become involved with the civil authorities and receive a sentence in the civil courts, and they are immediately discharged after two or three or even four years of good service to the country. That classification is immediately cut off.
I think there should be some latitude where the age of the person concerned might be taken into consideration, the number of times he has committed an infraction of the rules, and some compensation allowed him for the service he has rendered the country. I look at it in this way. The average civilian becoming involved with the civil courts receives a sentence and when he is released his debt to society is paid. But any service personnel committing a similar infraction of civil law, in addition to receiving the full sentence that applies to civilians is also sentenced in the form of a fine to the extent of the rehabilitation he may be losing, his gratuity, and in addition to that there is handed him a discharge certificate that reads in bold letters,
War Appropriation

"misconduct". Wherever such a boy or girl goes looking for employment the question is asked: "Were you in the service?" "Yes". Then, "Where is your discharge certificate?" And immediately on the production of that certificate employment is refused. I submit that we are giving these young people something they will carry with them for the rest of their natural life, a discharge that precludes the possibility of employment.
I have seen discharge certificates of two girls, just young kids, who had committed some slight infraction of military law, and I am>
thinking that the system we have to-day of employment agencies across Canada will be carried forward into the post-war period so that these young girls-and young men too- from the service, in addition to suffering the penalty imposed by military law or by the civil courts, will carry with them something that the ordinary civilian does not bear for a similar infraction. This will militate against them for the rest of their natural lives.
It is necessary in some cases, but there are extenuating circumstances and some latitude should be allowed the military authorities who are handling matters of discipline in the way I have outlined. I am not going to go further than that because I believe that the question will be given some attention. Certainly it is a terrible way to send a young girl out of the service. It is perhaps not so bad for the boy, although he is certainly getting a sentence that is not imposed upon civilians for similar infractions of law.
There is another matter I have not heard touched upon. This has to do with a forgotten section of our service. When the commonwealth air training plan was first established it was difficult to get trained personnel to give the necessary instructions in elementary flying, and I believe that schools were started across Canada, largely by commercial pilots, men who had paid for their education and had a licence to carry cm that kind of work. I understand there is a ruling that when the war is over the only people who will be allowed' to do commercial flying in Canada will be the personnel who have seen service in the air force overseas. They will have priority and that rules out completely the men who gave up their vocation in order to establish the commonwealth air training plan. I have here a brief from a group of pilots and I presume the minister and other members of the house as well have received it. I will not go into this matter to any extent, but I think the government should consider carefully the contribution which that particular classification made. The commonwealth air training plan was perhaps Canada's greatest contribution to the war, and the [DOT]Mr. Gillis.]
men who really started it off and in consequence were precluded from going overseas or engaging in the regular activities of flyers of the type they were turning out, should be given full consideration.

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