Hon. R. O. Campney (Minister of National Defence):
Last week the hon. member for Oxford inquired with respect to the conditions of service of Canadian forces in the Middle East. He based his question on a newspaper report which in turn referred to alleged remarks by a member of the Canadian contingent who had recently returned to Canada. The gist of these remarks was that Canadian troops were so discontented with conditions in Egypt that some of them were purposely getting into trouble in order to be sent home.
As I pointed out to the hon. member on Friday, this appeared to be completely at variance not only with the information we ourselves had received but also with dispatches being sent by newspaper reporters from the area. For this reason I asked for a full report direct from the Middle East.
I have now received this report, and I may say that it confirms entirely my original understanding of the situation existing there. I can now say that since the arrival of the contingent only two members of the force have been returned to Canada for disciplinary
Inquiries of the Ministry reasons, and there is nothing to indicate that their offences were committed with this end in view. As a matter of fact, the incidence of crime in the contingent is somewhat lower than in the army as a whole.
None of us would contend, Mr. Speaker, that conditions in Egypt and the Gaza strip are ideal. The Canadian units of UNEF are operating under field conditions in an area which has recently been the scene of warfare. While accommodation and welfare arrangements cannot come up to the standards in Canada, they are the best obtainable under the circumstances. I think the majority of our men realize this and I am confident that, despite the conditions, their morale and conduct are extremely good. In fact General Burns himself has indicated very definitely that the conduct of our troops in UNEF is a credit to them and to Canada.
Subtopic: STATE- MENT ON CONDITIONS OF SERVICE