March 31, 1931 (17th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Ross Wilfred Gray



I rise not to object to item
51 but rather to ask the Minister of Pensions and National Health-if he may be allowed to answer, because he has borne the brunt of the attack in connection with this matter- for an explanation as to why this relief to pensioned soldiers, from an emergency relief fund granted by this parliament, was cut off without a word of warning, and restored only when such a strong protest of public opinion swept the country, the pressure of which not even this government could withstand. Why were the soldier organizations throughout the country not consulted before this step was taken? It has been stated-and I should like an explanation as to this-that the cut was made in order to effect economy in the administration.
We have heard a good deal to-day with respect to the unemployment question. We know that for the ordinary unemployed the emergency relief measure did not expire until to-day, and it does seem to be due to the returned men of the country, and to the people of Canada as a whole, that some explanation should be given as to why, without a word of warning, the pensions of these men, whose very existence was dependent upon this relief, were cut by the Minister of Pensions and National Health.
I would also ask the returned veterans in the cabinet to give an explanation, because there are some veterans here in the cabinet before me. The hon. the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Sutherland), the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Weir), the Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. Manion), and the Minister of Pensions and National Health

(Mr. MacLaren) are all returned veterans. 1 have here a statement given out to the press by the Mail and Empire as follows:
In justice to the other war veterans in the cabinet it can be said they were not aware of Dr. MacLaren's proposal and it is doubtful if any of the other ministers were consulted.
I am going to ask the Minister of Agriculture whether he was consulted in this matter. Did he consent to the pensions of these returned men being cut? If he, was consulted what did he do in the matter? I pause now for an answer. His silence apparently would imply that he was consulted and is not going to say what he said. I will ask the Minister of National Defence: was he consulted by the Minister of Pensions and National Health, and if so, what did he say with respect to the cutting off of these pensions to returned men? Is he not going to be allowed to answer either? I would ask the Minister of Railways, who apparently is the only one in the cabinet who has been allowed so far to speak: was he consulted by the Minister of Pensions in the matter of having these pensions cut at the time they were? Was he consulted? If so, what opinion did he give in that regard? AH I can say, then, is that it does seem strange to me that parliament should be witnessing the spectacle of members of this government, three or four of them returned veterans, remaining in their places and not offering any explanation to the house with respect to this matter. I have nothing but the kindliest feelings towards the Minister of Pensions and National Health. I believe he has the interest of the returned veterans at heart, and I believe it was his desire, to do justice to them. I should like also to have an explanation as to why; although that minister-bore the brunt of the attack, when it came to restoring the order, the right hon. the Prime Minister attempted to take all the glory, boldly announcing the pension would be restored. In fact there was no glory about it; he was merely performing a duty which should have rested upon the Minister of Pensions. I say, Mr. Chairman, that the country awaits some explanation-*

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