I am therefore not in a position to discuss veterans' affairs at all, but this matter must be looked into. I will ask the minister a number of questions shortly, and they will enable him to give all the facts and answer all the statements that are made in the brief which I have received and put the whole matter clearly on the record for the defence of his own department.
My own impression has been, in watching the minister, that he has been very conscientious and sympathetic, and I think he is deserving of high praise and commendation because of his work. I do not believe for a moment that any of the irregularities complained about are in any way attributable to the minister's oversight. If anything, they are due to the tremendous responsibilities that rest upon him.
In order to be fair, this morning I called the minister's office at 9.50 and told his secretary that on this case a number of questions would be asked during the consideration of the minister's estimates. I did that in order to give the minister an opportunity to read carefully the tile on Mr. Campbell. At 9.45 I called the office of the parliamentary assistant and left the same message. Hon. members will understand that I am not in any way treating this as a political issue.
I believe there is an unfortunate situation here which ought to be examined into with the greatest of care, and the minister should be given the fullest opportunity to explain the facts so that we may be able to assess properly the condition set forth in this letter, regrettable as it is. .
May I say one other thing before I proceed with my question? I believe this unfortunate soldier is at present in Vancouver. He is of a family personally known to me. His family lives in the constituency of the hon. member for Macleod. Had Mr. Kirchner known of the hon. member for Macleod, and the action which he takes on problems such as this, he wrould have brought the matter to his attention, and I am sure the hon. member would have been doing the same thing that I am doing at this time. Having made this explanation may I now ask the minister a number of questions? Then I shall send the questions over to him so that he will have the opportunity to answer them one after the other, if he chooses. If he feels that he should like to look through his files in order to obtain accurate answers for the record at a future time, then he should have that opportunity. These are the questions which I have drafted. They are not complete as yet, but I think they will elicit practically all the information essential in the matter almost up to the time that the letter takes on.
The questions are as follows:
1. Was Lowell T. Campbell, R160165, discharged from Shaughnessy hospital on August 6, 1946?
2. Was veteran Campbell's back in an iron brace to support an injured spine when he was discharged?
3. Had veteran Campbell been receiving SI 17 a month to support himself and five dependent children?
4. Had Lowell T. Campbell's wife been lost to him in February, 1945, leaving him under the necessity of placing his children in the homes of various relatives?
5. Would Lowell T. Campbell have been required to pay for each of these children, and was he required to pay $25 a month for board and lodgings and pay additional costs to cover clothing?
Hon. members will of course see the significance of question 5. We are trying to assess the adequacy of $117 which had been allowed Mr. Campbell.
6. Is each of these five children now between six and twelve years of age, therefore, requiring school supplies in addition to the $25 per month for board and room, the cost of clothing, the cost of medical and dental care, et cetera?
7. Would the British Columbia welfare organization demand at least 130 a month per child, plus family allowances, if that organization were to assume charge of the children?
I might explain to the members of the committee that I am informed that Mr. Campbell has placed his children out with various relatives of his. He did that some time ago when he came into great difficulties domestically through his illness and weakness, and these relatives have kept the children for a considerable length of time; but finally because of their own family responsibilities they find themselves unable to do so without money which would help them to defray expenses. What they request is $25 a month for board and room, plus the cost of clothing and of course plus the cost of equipping the children for school, and dental and medical services. All hon. members will understand that.
8. Would the cost of supporting his five children therefore constitute for veteran Campbell a monthly expense of at least $125 besides the family allowances?
9. Did the minister's department give effective thought to the question, how was veteran Campbell to get $125 a month out of $117 a month which the minister's department allowed him?
10. When veteran Campbell was discharged from Shaughnessy military hospital on August 6, was even the $117 a month cut off arbitrarily?
11. Was veteran Campbell discharged from Shaughnessy military hospital on August 6, with a cheque for approximately $20?
12. Would $16.70 of his cheque be apportioned to veteran Campbell's five children to support them and fit them up for school, leaving, of course, $3.30 to support veteran Campbell until, with an iron brace on him to support an injured spine, he could take a job and receive his first pay cheque?
It would be a good thing if I asked no more questions at this time but gave the minister an opportunity to answer, if he sees fit, some
of those I have already asked. I shall then come back to others, because the questions I have asked so far complete one aspect of the veteran's case.