Mr. Chairman, the
minister has referred to section five as conferring wide powers upon the appeal court. I can understand that this court should have wide powers and be free from political interference, but I cannot understand why they should be empowered to brush aside what would appear to be well known British legal procedure and jurisprudence. As I understood the hon. member for York South (Mr. Lawson), when a man has established his claim before a commission quorum he is reasonably assured of his pension, but many appeals from the quorum tribunals are reversed by the appeal court. I know that many men in my constituency have established their cases before the quorum tribunal, but when the government appealed to the appeal court, which did not have the advantage of hearing the witnesses- a procedure which to my mind is contrary to every rule of British jurisprudence-the appeal was allowed.
I know of one man who was in the trenches for three and a half years. He did not receive a scratch, but he is one of those burnt-out cases. He is a physical wreck and is absolutely unable to earn his own living. As you know, we have no relief in New Brunswick at the present time and the condition of this man and his family is absolutely pitiful. His claim was allowed by a quorum of the commission but it was disallowed by the appeal court. It seems to me that something should be done for cases like this. The minister has stated that where cases have been disallowed by the quorum, an appeal could be taken to the appeal court. But in this case the claim was allowed by the quorum and appealed by the government. I think the law should be changed as it is hard to convince the man on the street that it is being fairly administered. This is especially so, when they see men who are apparently in the pink of condition getting large pensions.
I know of other similar cases but I shall not cite them this evening. I know of cases where men were received into the army as physically fit, and yet were demobilized for medical unfitness. Surely if they were fit when they went into the army and unfit when they came out, their unfitness must be due to their service. If the doctors made a mistake in the first place, then the government should be estopped from claiming that the man's disabilities dated back prior to enlistment. If the doctors had not their eyes open and did not do their work properly, I think the government should suffer the consequences.
Supply-Pensions and National Health
Topic: DEPARTMENT OF PENSIONS AND NATIONAL HEALTH