at that time was that Monday as private members' day would be continued for three additional Mondays. That, of course, the government intends to adhere to. I think I made it cleaT that when the budget debate commenced it would have precedence.
my thoughts quite in order regarding this resolution, because until last night I had no idea the matter was coming on quite so soon. We rather had the impression, due to the budget and other matters, that this question of canteen funds would not come up for a week or ten days. I am not criticizing the minister in that respect; I am simply mentioning it for the purpose of emphasizing the fact that I have not had an opportunity of going into it quite as thoroughly as I intended doing before dealing with it.
We are dealing, I presume with the resolution as a whole. With regard to the question of the taking of $100,000 from the canteen fund for the purposes of an adjustment bureau, I do not think there is any doubt in the minds of most of us that some form of adjustment bureau is needed in Ottawa; at least I have no evidence to the contrary. We will therefore take it for granted that there should be some form of adjustment bureau acting as an intermediary between the returned men or their dependents and the different departments of government. I am not convinced that the present adjustment bureau is the proper one, neither am I convinced that it is not; I have quite an open mind on the matter. But I am convinced that whatever adjustment bureau we have in Ottawa should be entirely independent of any department of government. In other words, the Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment or any other minister of this government or any other government should not have the right to dictate the policy of that bureau. The only proper method, it seems to me, is to have trustees appointed, not by this government nor by any government, but by this parliament or in part by this parliament, those appointed in that way to choose the rest of the members of the board. The choice should be so made that the members of the board shall not be influenced in the matters they have 5 p.m. to deal with, either by the government or by the opposition, or by any political group. It is the desire of all of us, I believe, that this adjustment bureau shall be entirely for the benefit of returned soldiers and their dependents, and that in no manner, shape or form should politics have anything to do with it. I shall take occasion later to discuss that point more thoroughly; at this stage I simply put it forward as one of the suggestions that ought to be given consideration.
There is another suggestion I have to offer with regard to clause 2, which provides:
The sum of $100,000 to be paid to a Central Board of three trustees appointed by the Governor in Council-
My suggestion differs in the method of appointment. I believe that if these trustees are appointed by the Governor in Council, you will have them more or less in the hands of whatever government is in power, or in the hands of the department concerned. The clause goes on:
-without remuneration, to be used in such amounts and such manner as it may deem best for the maintenance and assistance of an adjustment service and bureau for the benefit of ex-service men and their dependents#
I differ entirely with the proposal to take this $100,000 from the canteen funds for this purpose. If these canteen funds are a trust fund-and they are-then, to my mind, this $100,000 should not be taken from such funds for any services on behalf of the returned soldiers or their dependents. I admit, and I think most hon. members will also admit, and the government apparently admits by this resolution, that there is some need for an adjustment bureau for the returned soldiers and their dependents, that without such an adjustment bureau to deal directly with the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment or the pension commission they could not get full justice; if they could, there would be no need of this bureau. I am not saying that with the idea of any special criticism of the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment or the pension commission. But the government admits, and we all admit, that there is some need of an adjustment bureau in order to give justice and fair treatment to the returned men and their dependents. Then if there is that need, I do not think the cost of such a bureau should come out of the canteen funds, because these canteen funds belong to the returned soldiers themselves. They are made up of the moneys collected in the canteens as profit, and they are a trust fund which should be retained entirely for the returned soldiers and their dependents. Therefore, I do not believe that this $100,000 should be taken from the canteen funds at all. It should be put in with the balance of the fund and dealt with as the balance of the fund may ultimately be dealt with.
I submit that what we should do in connection with this adjustment bureau is to pay for its upkeep just as we would pay for the upkeep of the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment or any other department, with this exception, that whatever money it costs to keep up the bureau should not be doled out by the ordinary methods.
and be subject to criticism and checking up by parliament or by the department; it should be paid over as a trust confided by us, as the Parliament of Canada and the representatives of the returned soldiers, to these trustees to handle in an absolutely independent manner. I am informed that even the present type of adjustment bureau could be carried on for something under S20,000. Without knowing much about it, I think perhaps it .might be carried on for this amount; I believe there has been an estimate by Mr. Grant MacNeil himself that such a bureau could be carried on for something under $20,000. Now if we decide that this sum is enough to carry on this bureau on behalf of the returned soldiers, I would say that that amount, $20,000, should be voted annually here in the ordinary way in the estimates, and be handed over to the trustees who are to act as the representatives of the returned soldiers, and act without remuneration. Men such as Sir Arthur Currie would be an excellent type to handle this fund, men who are acting absolutely independently of any government or opposition.
Those are two suggestions I offer for changes in this resolution, at least with regard to the bureau, and I presume those changes would have to be made in the resolution if they are to appear in the bill.
Would not that suggestion be open to the same exception which was taken by the hon. member for the appointment of trustees by the government, in that it might leave the trustees susceptible to influence by the government, who in the final analysis must be held responsible?
There is always a possibility that the trustees might be influenced by the government or by the opposition, but they would be less likely to be influenced by the government or by the opposition if they were independently appointed.
That was not my point. It was this; Could not the same exception be taken to the voting of the annual amount by this parliament and to the payment by parliament as the hon. member takes to the appointment of trustees by the government, m that the payment of that money by means of a government estimate might tend to influence the trustees in the use of that money?
I do not think they would be influenced by parliament voting the money. It is parliament that votes the money, not the government. If the people of Canada are to pay for the adjustment bureau, the money must come from some
place, and the only place it can come from is this parliament. It is not a proposition of the government or of anybody, but a method of handing over the $20,000 to be used by the trustees who are independent of anybody, on behalf of the returned soldiers and their dependents. What I am suggesting and endeavouring to do is to have no influence in any shape or form used upon the trustees by myself or by any group, but they should be as far as possible independent of the government and opposition and of the Progressive part}' or any other group in this House.
If my hon. friend can suggest a better method, I have an absolutely open mind. I do not know how we can give $20,000 per annum for the next two or three years for a board of trustees to handle except in the manner I have suggested; but if my hon. hon. friend can suggest a better method, I am quite open to conviction. I have simply offered my own suggestions.
There may be other matters in the resolution with which I do not agree. I am not convinced that the method of handling these funds is altogether correct, and suggestions may be made later with which I may agree. But I am offering these two particular suggestions for the consideration of the committee, and I repeat that so far as I am concerned I have an absolutely open mind on the matter. I have this desire, however, and I think it is the absolute desire of the majority, if not of all of us,-to handle this fund and the central adjustment bureau entirely-one hundred per cent-for the assistance of the returned soldiers and their dependents.
Hon. H. S. BELAND (Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment):
I must thank my
hon. friend for the spirit he has displayed in the submission of his remarks in connection with the disposal of the canteen funds. I note that he makes some suggestions in connection therewith, one in particular bearing upon the mode of appointment of the board of trustees to administer that portion of the fund, namdly $100,000, destined for the maintenance of an adjustment bureau in the city of Ottawa. If I understood my hon. friend aright, he suggested that the trustees might be appointed by parliament. I have sat in the House of Commons for over twenty years, and I do not know of a single occasion upon
which an appointment has been made directly by the House of Commons. On numberless occasions parliament has clothed the Governor in Council with the power of making appointments either of a commission or of a board or of trustees, but I have not-and I can say this with oertainty-known of a single instance in which appointment to public office has been made by parliament itself.
I do not wish to interrupt the minister, but if he will permit me, I would say that we have never had such a case as this before. This is the first time we have had canteen funds and the care of the returned soldiers and their dependents. In ordinary cases I admit my bon. friend is absolutely correct, but this is an extraordinary case such as we have never had in the past, and such as I hope we shall never have again. It is a trust for the benefit of the returned soldiers and their dependents, and I am sure my hon. friend is as desirous as I am of having dt handled in a proper manner. I think that because of that fact it might be handled differently from the ordinary appointments of the government.
I was not prepared to discuss this matter to-day and I did not have my thoughts arranged; but I wish to make one other suggestion. I am sure my hon. friend would not object, and as far as I am concerned I do not think anyone would object, to Sir Arthur Currie, for instance, being chosen as one of the trustees. Suppose we could get him to act, and then appoint some other man in whom people would have as much confidence as they have in Sir Arthur Currie, and make provision in the bill that they could appoint a third trustee; in that way we could put the matter through in very short order, possibly not this afternoon but by adjourning consideration of this matter for a day or two we could appoint two trustees and let them appoint a third.
my hon. friend deserves consideration. Speaking of Sir Arthur Currie, I may frankly say to the House that it was my intention to ask him to act as head of the trustee board. I have no objection to informing the House that I had gone so far as to draft a letter to him, which draft I have in my possession now.
Of course if you appoint two trustees, and ask them to appoint a third, it might happen that one trustee might insist upon the appointment of a certain party as third trustee, and the other trustee might insist upon appointing another party, and if they were divided in that way I do not know exactly how the appointment could be made. This proposal I have brought before the committee, to appoint a board of trustees to be known as the central board of trustees, is in pursuance of a special recommendation of the royal commission which dealt with the question of the disposal of the canteen funds after investigation from one end of the country to the other. That commission recommended that a central board of trustees be appointed, and that an amount of one hundred thousand dollars be paid over to them. The statute would provide that they the board should administer that money as they deemed best, in the interests of returned men, for the maintenance of an adjustment bureau. il may say that my own particular party interest, if I have any strong party interest at heart, would lead me to keep far away from the administration of that hundred thousand dollars. There is no question that the task is not an easy one, and that the trustees to be appointed will have many difficulties to contend with, many claims and many appeals which will render their task rather onerous. The recommendation of the royal commission I think is the right one. I would invite my hon. friend to read the bill passed last year based on a similar resolution, and he will find that provision is made for the distribution of the residue of the canteen funds, some $2,300,000. That distribution is to be made to the different provincial governments in the following manner. Every provincial government will be invited to appoint a board of trustees. The lieutenant governor in council in each province will have the choice of the board of trustees, in that province. In the province of Ontario the board of trustees will be composed of five men; in each of the other provinces, of three men. In the case of the central board, as well as in the case of the other boards, the majority of the members must be ex-service men. If we apply to the central board of trustees the suggestion which my hon. friend has submitted, why should we not extend it to all the lieutenant governors in council. For the provincial board, in some cases deals with a much larger amount of money; forty-one per cent of the total sum goes to the province of Ontario, or about a million dollars; so that the board of trustees appointed by the lieutenant governor in council in Ontario will have
functions as important, if not more important, than the functions of the central board.
through as the minister suggests I think it should be done. Let us place the boards of trustees in the provinces on the same plane as the central board. I am as anxious as the minister to get it out of politics in the provinces as well as in the Dominion. I am trying to get it out of politics in the country, and will go as far as the minister suggests, in this regard.
idea, but dealing for the time being with an adjustment bureau and a central board of trustees, appointed for the purpose of distributing the money which is provided under this resolution, I am bound to say that this board cannot be functioning before another session of parliament has been called and has sat. If the bill passes the House of Commons and the Senate it will not be assented to before the day of prorogation. If it provides that a board of trustees shall be appointed by a special bill submitted to parliament reciting the names of each of the trustees, then of necessity the appointment of the central board will be postponed another year.