It is P.C. 2135 of March 28, 1941. I may say that the correspondence with this one mother occurred during recent weeks. In this case this woman has given two other sons to the service. They have not lost their lives, but they are serving overseas. Her husband operated rather an extensive farm but he died about a year ago, and she feels that his death resulted from overwork caused by losing the help of the sons and inability to obtain adequate help to enable him to carry on. I urge whoever may be responsible for this to consider favourably the amendment of these regulations. I could understand opposition if a pension were involved or if the cost were very great, but this is just a cross showing that the mother has given a son, and should apply, whether it be an adopted son or any other.
The next matter to which I wish to refer is the so-called disembarkation leave. It is my understanding that when a service man has been injured during the performance of his duty and is sent back for later discharge he is entitled to one month's leave, provided he can take that leave within a period of three months. This has caused a good deal of hard feeling, if I may call it that, among service personnel, because a service man who has been severely wounded and has to be hospitalized for a period of more than three 32283-26i
months is not entitled to that disembarkation leave. As a matter of fact I have a letter from a service man, and it might be of interest if I were to read just one paragraph from it. This lad served overseas for three years. As a consequence of his service he was very severely wounded and is now back in Canada. He has been deprived of that thirty days' disembarkation leave, and he says:
There seems to be some misunderstanding amongst the service men in regards to cancellation of disembarkation leave after three months back in Canada. It appears that discrimination is shown, that a fellow hit with a big shell loses his leave due to the fact that he spends three months or more in bed; whereas a fellow who is hit with a small shell is in a position to enjoy this privilege. We feel that you should suggest to the house that in the next war, or in continuing this war, all shells be made the same size, so that there is no cause for this discrimination.
Of course there is some sarcasm there; in fact he adds:
Perhaps Mr. King would be pleased to take this matter up at the San Francisco conference.
Anyway I think it indicates that there is unfairness there. Those boys are bound to place considerable emphasis upon things which to some here at home may appear to be of little consequence.
I have had many communications from service personnel holding lance ranks in the field1. I refer to lance-corporals and-I did not know such a rank existed-lance-sergeants. The man in question was a lance-sergeant and was injured while on the battlefield. In fact the jeep upon which he was riding disappeared, as a result of the explosion of a land mine. He is back, but I doubt whether they have found the jeep or the other soldiers involved.
This man held lance rank on the field1, but when sent back to England, and before being returned to Canada, he was automatically forced to revert to the lower rank, and draw the lower pay. He feels the government is doing that only because of the dollars involved between the rank of corporal and that of lance-sergeant. With those thoughts in mind, his feelings are understandable. I maintain that in all fairness the higher rank should be recognized.
I have another case in mind, but I shall not give much detail, because the minister has been most kind in connection with it. He is working on it right now, and I am hopeful that a satisfactory conclusion may be reached. At this time I wish to deal only with the principle involved. This young man, the father of two children, enlisted for service overseas. He had not been there long when his wife-well, I presume one would say she went
berserk, I am not sure whether that would be the proper expression. However, the fact is that she deserted her children, with the result that an aunt was obliged to take them. (Later on, the father was killed on the battlefield.
Is there any specified sum to which these children are entitled? In this instance the commission granted a pension of $27 a month for the two children, to remain in effect until they reached the age of sixteen years. I should hate to think that $27 was anything other than an arbitrary sum decided upon by the pension commission. I cannot understand why those children should not be entitled1 to something almost approximating what the wife would have received, had she remained with the children, and had her husband been killed. My understanding is that her pension *would have been considerably more than $27.
I am not criticizing the minister, because I must point out that he has been cooperative in the matter, and I am hopeful that a satisfactory solution will be reached. However, the inspectors of the commission are going back to try to determine what it actually cost to keep those children. I should have thought that would have been done before the sum of $27 was arrived at. Any of us who have had the privilege of providing for children-food, clothing, shelter, medical, dental and optical attention, educational and other services- realize how preposterous the sum of $27 actually is. I hope they will not go to that mother and say, "You have several children of your own; therefore you can keep these two for a few extra dollars." I hope that will not be the method of approach. Certainly somewhere there must be some indication as to what the proper amount should be. When I record these facts I speak for all those who find themselves in similar difficulties. I have heard many complaints from returned servicemen, those who have come back on the so-called rotation leave after spending a number of years overseas.
We understand that they receive a month's pay and allowances plus fifty cents a day. Those men say, "For those of us who have homes to return to, the fifty cents may be quite satisfactory. But how about those who have not homes?" The man who asked me that question had been overseas for five years, and had shown himself to be a capable man and a first-class soldier. He told me that during the victory loan campaign he was organizer in his unit, and used every persuasive measure to get the boys to contribute. He told me that they did so, most generously, but that he felt ashamed of himself when he realized that some of the boys, from whom he had secured almost
their last dollar, had to go back on their rotation leave, and were limited to only a few dollars, worked out at the rate of fifty cents a day.
I have no particular recommendation in this connection, but merely wish to say that I run into these cases all too frequently. Then I have one other matter in mindC I do not know how often this condition arises, but when a set of circumstances is drawn to my attention two or three times in a month I am obliged to conclude that the condition described is general. I have in mind a gentleman fifty-two years of age, a farmer, who enlisted almost immediately at the outbreak of war, proceeding overseas with the first division. He fought with distinction through North Africa and Sicily, and into Italy, having been wounded four times and mentioned in dispatches. This man returned on rotation leave. During his absence he had hired a man and his wife to manage his farm, and it took about every dollar he could get, in addition to what the farm produced, to meet his agreement with that couple.
Upon his return he applied for discharge or return to the battlefield. Now, let me emphasize that this man had been in the army for more than five years, of which four years had been spent overseas, that he had been wounded four times and was mentioned in dispatches. This man was fifty-two years of age, and yet his application for discharge was refused. Instead, they took him to Calgary and gave him a job-I do not know what else I could call it-of carrying afternoon tea to the officers and to some of the C.W.A.C.'s.
I would not mention a case of this kind, were it not for the principle involved. Hon. members know how that soldier feels, and what he would be bound to say in his community. Yet he is no different from any of us or from the minister himself. I am sure the minister would feel that to have to perform a task of that kind is not a fit and proper reward for the service that man has rendered to his country.
I believe I have dealt with almost everything I had in mind. While I am not permitted to ask a question at this stage of proceedings, I should like to learn from the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) if the eight-cent excise tax charged against cigarettes sent by the Red Cross to soldiers in the service also applies to cigarettes sent overseas? The package with which I was furnished was one provided to a member of the services here in Canada. This lad has unusual ability to express himself, and I should think the minister would be interested in hearing what he has to say. Incidentally, he was severely wounded and, while back
in Canada, is unfortunately still confined to hospital but hopeful that he will soon be out. This is what he says:
I am sending a .package of cigarettes to illustrate the point I am drawing to your attention, and I feel it would be quite fitting during this particular time, since this Red Cross appeal to the public for voluntary contributions.
And he has underlined the words "voluntary contribution." He continues:
You will notice an eight-cent excise stamp which is found to be on every package issued. It would appear as though the government were trying to balance the budget on these voluntary contributions, which to me seems most unfair. The cigarettes inside have the Red Cross insignia which is proof that they were intended for this purpose.
The public contribute generously to the activities of the Red Cross, and rightly so. We hear reports from overseas and from returning service men about the excellent work being done by this fine organization. But I wonder how many contributors realize that the minister involved-it may be the Minister of National Revenue; perhaps I am referring to the wrong one, but they are all in the same family-is right there to get his eight cents from each package of cigarettes purchased with the money which the public have contributed to the Red Cross believing that it was all going to provide comforts for the boys in the services. I should like to have the minister give some attention to this matter.
These boys who have been in the service for a long time have had a most difficult time. They have acquitted themselves most magnificently and, as I said earlier, while these may seem to be little things to us they possibly take on much larger proportions to these lads.
I feel that none of us should endeavour to make political capital when dealing with service men and the affairs of service personnel. I said in my opening remarks that these boys are looking to us as members of parliament; they are looking also to the government to do the right thing, to do the fair thing, at least to show through what they do for the personnel the appreciation which these boys rightly feel we should hold for their heroic accomplishments.
Subtopic: PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY