I would dispute that. Some 25 per cent of those who were questioned responded. Was there much opposition to the survey? Rather surprisingly, there was not, although some may have felt that they should not have been written to and a few wrote back to say so. One reply that I remember in particular was that we should keep the army out of politics, and politics out of the army. But of course, Mr. Speaker, at head of the Department of National Defence we have a man who first of all must be elected to the House of Commons.
I would like to put on the record a brief summary respecting the response to the questions we asked. If the minister does not already know about this, I think he will find it of considerable interest. From an analysis of the replies of those who responded we were able to ascertain the following: There appears to be a substantial degree of disenchantment among armed forces personnel about the decision-making process concerning their working conditions.
On the whole, army respondents and non-commissioned respondents have expressed a higher degree of
disenchantment than navy and commissioned respondents. A majority of the respondents appear to be ready to accept the application of the principle of negotiation to the armed forces. However, although this principle of negotiation might not be applicable to all aspects of the armed forces, certain aspects of their working conditions are undoubtedly negotiable. These are pay and allowances, retirement and pension conditions and grievance procedures.
There is a definite lack of consensus among the respondents as to the necessity or even desirability of organizing armed forces personnel along union lines. However, it was felt there should be some mechanism established whereby negotiations with the government are conducted in a collective manner. This negotiating body should be formed within the armed forces, and definitely should not be in the hands of an outside group such as the Public Service Alliance.
Finally-and I concur emphatically in this-the armed forces should not, even in time of peace, have the right to strike. That is as it must be.
I find that I have only a moment or two left, Mr. Speaker, and what I have to say may not be very popular with one or two of my colleagues. I wish to thank the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Macdonald) for the assistance he has rendered to me in dealing with armed forces personnel problems. This debate has centred mainly on policy. I am more interested in trying to help with the personal problems of the men in the armed forces and their families. The Minister of National Defence is in the chamber, and I wish to say that I appreciate the consideration he has extended to me in the cases that I have brought to his attention.
I remember one particular case last fall. I do not know if the minister noticed at the time but I was very critical of him one day. The following day I went to him about a problem concerning a gentleman who was formerly in the forces. The minister's response was most generous to this ex-serviceman and it was something he and I appreciated. I wish to thank the minister publicly on the floor of the House for this.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: BUSINESS OF SUPPLY