Mr. W. GARFIELD CASE (Grey North):
Mr. Speaker, this is the first opportunity I have had to convey my greetings to members of the house. You may be sure I have formed many impressions. No moment can be greater in any man's life than that which I experienced when I was officially presented to parliament by my hon. friend the house leader of the Progressive Conservative party (Mr. Graydon) and the hon. member for York-Sunbury (Mr. Hanson). Indeed I felt both humble and proud: humble, because it was a momentous occasion in my life to march down the aisle, as it were, in full view of all those who have been playing their part in seeking to mould history in this great nation; proud, because I was elected by a majority of the people in a riding which will forever remain historic; elected by a majority of the people in Grey North to serve in a free parliament, the one great institution which remains the real prize for all freedom-loving people.
The people who sent me here are watching. They are interested in the course I pursue. They expect me to play my part, and within the limits of my ability I address myself to that task, confident in the hope that reasoned judgment of men of good will and purpose will prevail, that we may keep abreast of the times, and that our nation may play its full part in the onward march of civilization.
I am pleased that my first recorded vote in this assembly was cast to indicate my hope that a formula may be found to guarantee the peace of the world. What a great moment!
I should like to tell you something about my people and about my constituency. Sometimes I feel we are all too prone to forget the people who send us here. Blit I shall not forget that in the face of terrific odds, in an atmosphere of confusion and doubt; as it was intimated that the by-election might be called off; that there was no issue save one, a seat for my honourable opponent, the Minister of National Defence, Mr. McNaughton. In this arena of doubt and confusion I presented as clearly and forcibly as possible the stand my party had taken during the special session of this parliament. The stand was weighed by my people of Grey North, not in any partisan sense, but in its broadest application. Thus. Mr. Speaker, I come to the house with
a definite mandate direct from the people- a mandate which says in clear and unmistakable language that this government will be held strictly to account for any policy which fails in its objective to provide for equality of sacrifice and equality of service. My people have said that they do not believe the government has provided such a policy; they have said they believe the government's manpower policy is weak, that it is a half-hearted, piecemeal, unsatisfactory, makeshift man-power policy.
The history of the world is- indeed the history of the world's great men, and my highly honoured friend, the right hon. the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) will find his place in history among the great men of his generation; but he would have found a greater place in the hearts and minds of the Canadian people if he had given effect to the people's will as expressed at the polls. This would have meant a great deal to the troops overseas, as evidenced by the scores of messages I received from them. They expected this, I can assure you.
War, of necessity, places a great strain upon democratic institutions. Surely, we have slipped-indeed, as the hon. member for Trinity (Mr. Roebuck) would say, we are bordering on fascism. One thing I do hope and pray and that is that after San Francisco we may with dispassionate minds determine our future manpower policy so that all those who enjoy Canadian citizenship within the British commonwealth of nations will be taught to realize that they must share its responsibilities. Reward seeks sacrifice and sacrifice seeks reward. 'You cannot have your cake and eat it", said the sage. Neither is it fair that the burden of responsible citizenship should bear more heavily upon one class or section than upon another.
My constituency is vast in area and populated by people ninety per cent of whom are English, Irish and Scotch. The other ten per cent are the salt of the earth, the best citizens in the world, with a keen sense of their responsibility. They are just as much devoted to British ideals and institutions as are those of direct British stock and origin. A large percentage of my people make up the farm and rural population. During the war this great county of Grey has produced more live stock than any other in Ontario. Our field crops are of a character and quality which makes their contribution effective and worth while. Grey county apples enjoy a world-wide reputation. Their texture and flavour are unequalled anywhere. ,
Yet our farmers have suffered because of this government's ineffective manpower policy. Farm women and children in Grey county are
entitled to my highest commendation. They have worked hard under great handicaps while their sons have gone forth to war. They sought to produce from the fertile lands of Grey, food in abundance to feed the masses, and the fighting forces of Canada and her allies. My riding boasts of three Victoria Cross winners, namely Billy Bishop, V.C., Tommy Holmes, V.C., and David Currie, V.C. It is to the credit of my people and the soldiers of Grey that not one man was marked A.W.O.L. or listed as a deserter. Our industries are working at peak capacity in war production and the men who man these factories are loyally devoted to their task. Many are unionized, with very happy relations between the worker and management. The products of our factories, as the Minister of Munitions and Supply (Mr. Howe) knows, are vital to our war effort.
All in all, I can be most proud of my riding and the folks back home. Farmers, labour, leaders of industry, merchants and all others have played their full part in this war. Every victory loan, as the Minister of Finance knows, has been oversubscribed and will be again. Every Red Cross and other war charity appeal has been properly and fully provided for, as witness our most recent appeal on behalf of the Red Cross-the largest quota we have ever had went better than 133 per cent over the top. We are a people, serious in our purpose and determined to play our full part in bringing this conflict to a victorious conclusion.
Then, when peace comes, we want to face the. problems of peace. We desire most to have our service personnel properly rehabilitated, secure in a job, but I hope a grateful people will not be niggardly with the rewards they have earned, and which are justly theirs. Do not give all the money to top-ranking generals; save some for the boys over there. God knows we will never discharge our debt to them, and to their interests I address my best efforts. There must be no repetition of 1919, when service men threw their badges away in order to get a job. If necessary we may have to humanize the rehabilitation problem by encouraging employers to adopt a most sympathetic understanding and give these men a chance to adjust themselves back to normal life. I have been more than impressed by the manner in which private enterprise is playing its part. Industry is indeed to be congratulated, and many have been making a tremendous contribution to soldiers' families by maintaining their wages on a level equal to the soldier's pay before he enlisted.
It is easy for us to talk "justice" and "generosity" in connection with our plans for the rehabilitation of these men and women. But
we must go farther. We must see that those two principles are practised. And, if we have to err, we must err on the side of generosity rather than on the side of a too strict interpretation of what is "justice".
Let me give an illustration of what I mean by showing the type of injustice which is perpetrated by narrow rules and regulations. It will be remembered that the totally inadequate discharge clothing allowance which was in effect at the beginning of the war was, after members of the opposition, veterans and their associations and members of the public had brought the strongest pressure to bear, raised from $35 to $65, an amount which was still insufficient to reclothe a discharged man properly. Further pressure resulted in the amount being raised to the present sum of $100, a sum which I do not even yet regard as adequate. On the occasion of each increase in the discharge clothing allowance it was not made retroactive. Consequently we have cases such as those of which I have been informed, of men who lost limbs at Dieppe and were unfortunate enough to be discharged from the army a few days before the new allowance came into effect instead of a few days afterwards. All they got was the lower allowance, whereas men who had never left Canada and were lucky enough not to be discharged until the higher rate was in effect, received a larger sum. You are going to find it hard to convince those Dieppe veterans and others who are in the same position as themselves that "justice" and "generosity" have been practised in their cases.
Then take those men who deserve every consideration we can give them, the men who twice in a lifetime have put on uniforms to help their country in its hour of need, the veterans of both the first and the second great war. In mentioning these men, Mr. Speaker, I desire to pay special tribute not only to those who are with the armed forces at home and abroad in the regular services, but particularly to the members of the veterans' guard1 of Canada who, it must be remembered, have been of ail our men and women on sendee longest in contact with the enemy.
I do not think that the people of Canada have a full and complete realization of the arduous task which these two-war veterans have performed and of how well it has been done. Since, years ago, the first German prisoners were brought to Canada, the members of the veterans' guard have been in charge of them. Their duties have been carried on under difficult conditions. They have had to be on the alert every minute of the day and night, watching over an enemy whose cunning and determination are of the highest order.
Their job has been done, not in the comparative comfort of camps such as Borden, Debert and others, but away in the wilds far from home, with much less opportunity than the average service man of seeing their own folks because of distances and difficult travelling conditions. They have carried on uncomplainingly in 40 below temperatures and in blazing wilderness heat. They have set up a magnificent record, in far-away desolate spots such as Angler and Neys, for keeping our enemies committed to their charge under control. They have been, in practically every sense of the word, and certainly in the spirit, front-line troops again; and I believe these men should be paid exactly the same gratuity for their service in Canada as the men on service overseas receive, rather than the lesser sum due for service in Canada.
The rehabilitation of these men will not be easy. Many of the plans which have been evolved will be of little use to them. You cannot expect the man of fifty-five to take advantage of the educational opportunities which are open to the younger men. It is of no use to put a man of fifty-five on the land, under the Veterans' Land Act, with a twenty-five year contract to work out. It is asking too much even of a group of men who have proved their toughness and, let us not forget, men who did not get any too good a break after the last war, before Canada had learned how to treat her men returning from service against the enemy.
The Department of Veterans' Affairs has not given adequate study to the problems of these men, who in all justice and common sense deserve all the consideration which this country can give them. It is true that the dual service pensions act has been brought into being for their benefit, but what is this act? It is nothing but the War Veterans' Allowance Act dressed up under another name. It is nothing but a species of relief, sugar-coated. It is, in plain English, relief. It has created a very great deal of resentment among the members of the guard, who, seeing it for what it is. are properly resentful of the fact that their long service is being recognized by what is nothing better than a hand-out- something just enough to keep body and soul together.
I repeat that their problem is a special and a pressing one. The ages of these men prohibit them from taking advantage of many of the provisions of our rehabilitation plans. The same factor will be a serious disadvantage to them when they have to compete in the labour market against men many years their junior. Passing a relief bill is not good enough. The Department of Veterans' Affairs must give
much deeper study to their problems, must formulate plans to fit them into our national economy. They have given many years of useful service to this country, have many years ahead of them. They must be given employment-not the dole.
There is one more class of those to whom we owe so much for whom I feel little is being done. I refer to the men of the mercantile marine, the men without whom our armed forces and our allies could not have gone very far. They have, in every sense of the word, been on active service. I have heard from many of these men and they are much disturbed at the lack of recognition of what should be accorded in respect of their future. I know it has been said on many occasions that this subject is being studied. We need study all right, but we need some action too. Our talk of rehabilitation, of justice, of generosity, has a hollow ring to men of the groups of whom I have just spoken.
Let me add one more word to say that in the matter of gratuities a deceased soldier's next of kin, his beneficiaries, executors or administrators, should receive the gratuity he would receive if he had lived. Surely this is reasonable and fair; and I think the basis of settlement should be his length of service to the end of the war just as though he had lived.
Again, may I say I have been greatly impressed by the House of Commons. Yet I am asking myself a question having to do with San Francisco: How can the government or Canada's delegates speak for Canada when we shall have no parliament? To whom will the delegation report? The Prime Minister has no right, to anticipate the personnel of the next parliament; he may not be a member of the next parliament. Many of the delegates may not be members of the next parliament. Parliament is supreme; parliament must answer to the people. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that the Prime Minister has placed Canada in an untenable position. We should have had a general election earlier, so that whatever government was elected would have a mandate from the people. Now, at the most formative period in the history of the world, Canada will be without a parliament, Recently the Prime Minister drew a parallel comparing our position with that of Great Britain. I submit that there is no comparison. There they have a national government whose term of office is protected. Our parliament, this parliament, will never assemble again after April 17. I cannot imagine Mr. Churchill dissolving the British House of
Commons and then going to San Francisco- certainly not; he would want to report to the parliament which authorized him to attend the conference.
I should like to think also of the unlimited possibilities my riding offers in the post-war future. I hope I can persuade the government not to spend all its money elsewhere, but to survey carefully our possibilities.
Topic: WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic: PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY