We tried in 1949, 1950 and 1951, I believe, and got nowhere. We did not even get to first base. Then we had a change of government in 1957 so we made an approach again. We have no large amount of funds and we could not keep on pushing all the time. When we had the change of government, let us say we got to first base.
With respect to further evidence, I can only refer to the fact that these letters exist, because at the time of the presentation of the brief the premier of Newfoundland, one of the parties concerned, withheld his permission to the tabling of the correspondence. The existence of the correspondence and the dateline of the letter are, I believe, of significance to my argument. The letter is headed: Province of Newfoundland, office of the premier, July 3, 1950. It is addressed to the then minister of veterans affairs, Milton Gregg, and deals with the subject of recognition for the Newfoundland overseas forestry unit under existing legislation. In his letter the premier indicated that he was sending copies to the then prime minister and the Hon. Gordon Bradley who was the predecessor of my friend the hon. member for Bonavista-Twillingate. At that time Mr. Bradley was secretary of state and the representative of Newfoundland in the federal cabinet.
On the record there is also a copy of Mr. Gregg's reply which unfortunately could not be appended to the evidence because permission was not forthcoming from the premier to have the correspondence tabled. Again, however, the existence of the correspondence and the date are of significance. The communication is dated July 3, 1950.
Over the years there have been repeated representations made on behalf of these veterans to receive some form of recognition under a government which between the years 1953 and 1957 enjoyed the support of all the constituencies in Newfoundland. In that period the seven Newfoundland federal constituencies returned Liberal members. Notwithstanding this fact the pleas of this group fell on deaf ears.
Civilian War Pensions
Now that this government is showing such great interest in making provision for this worth-while group of Canadian citizens under the Civilian War Pensions and Allowances Act my hon. friends opposite from Newfoundland constituencies rise in this house and say the government is not going far enough. Calculating it rapidly, they are approximately 13 years late. However, the reason for their present behaviour is apparent. There are over 3,000 Newfoundland foresters resident in the constituencies of the hon. gentlemen to whom I have referred. When you include their dependants there is a substantial bloc of votes, at least 10,000, in the constituencies of Bonavista-Twillingate, Burin-Burgeo, Grand Falls-White Bay-Labrador, Trinity-Conception and Humber-St. George's. One really cannot blame hon. gentlemen opposite for their present attempt to jump on the bandwagon. However, the fact remains that again they are too late. They sat on the government side of the house for eight years and did nothing on behalf of this group. Now they are attempting to cash in on the constructive action taken by this government and the present minister.
I believe that the president of the association of the Newfoundland overseas forestry unit will take a dim view of the fact that the hon. member for Burin-Burgeo has tried to divide the house on this issue. It is evident the hon. member is going to introduce an amendment with respect to recognition of the status of this group as veterans when we reach committee stage. What does the association have to say about this matter? Nothing was said about this by the hon. member for Burin-Burgeo, and for very good reason. At page 98 of the minutes of proceedings and evidence of the standing committee on veterans affairs of March 31, 1960 is set out the brief of the Newfoundland overseas forestry unit. I quote from the preamble to the brief:
We submit with all sincerity and without fear of serious or conscientious contradiction that had there been a Canadian counterpart of the Newfoundland overseas forestry unit-that is, had the Canadian forestry corps not been in uniform- the necessary provisions would have been inserted in the veterans charter-
The next part is significant:
-or the Canadian Civilian War Pensions and Allowances Act and/or they would have been covered by the Special Operators War Service Benefits Act.
That is exactly what this government has done. In accordance with the request of the association this deserving group of Canadian citizens has been included under the provisions of the Civilian War Pensions and Allowances Act.
Civilian War Pensions
At page 107 of the report of the standing committee the following exchange is reported as having taken place between Mr. Curran and my friend the hon. member for Pictou (Mr. MacEwan):
Topic: AMENDMENTS EXTENDING PAYMENTS TO CERTAIN GROUPS