June 2, 1921 (13th Parliament, 5th Session)

UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Mr. Chairman, to make it possible at this stage to consider the suggestion made by the hon. member for Lunenburg, of course it would have to form the subject of a new resolution. On the general subject I may say that the officers and men of the mercantile marine undoubtedly, as a class, did their duty well during the war and deserve every credit for it. The same can be said with equal, or almost equal, emphasis as regards many other classes. But this point must be borne in mind. A division along a line of principle must be laid down. It has been laid down in every country, and nowhere more generously than in Canada. Those who belonged to the Canadian Expeditionary Force, whether in military or naval service, were not in pursuit of gain and were not serving themselves; they were serving the country as the direct object of their work. Consequently those men are classed by themselves, and have become the subjects of gratuities, pensions, special insurance provisions, and reestablishment generally. But those beyond that line were in occupations, however dangerous, where they were gaining the most they could get in doing the work that came to their hands. It is true that they were in positions where there was

special danger, but we must regard that special danger as having been taken into account in the contract between the men and their employers fixing their remuneration.
It is said by the hon. member who has just sat down (Mr. Sinclair) that there are only a few of the class of persons for whom consideration is desired-that there are only a few in his constituency and only a few in the constituency of the hon. member for Lunenburg. That may be true, but once we accede to this principle how far is it going to take us? It is said that these men who suffered in a German prison were doing their duty, and were thereby serving their country. No doubt every man who did his duty served liis country; and no doubt, too, when he suffered in a German prison as a result of doing his duty he paid a special penalty. But he did not pay any greater penalty than did the man who went down in the Lusitania, and his family does not suffer as much, and if you are going to extend the principle to the cases of the officers and crews of ships sunk by German submarines I do not know where you would stop-in fact, there would be no stopping.

Topic:   RETURNED SOLDIERS' INSURANCE ACT
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