June 29, 1943

LIB
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

It has been translated twice, apparently into French and back into English. That is incorrect.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I am glad the minister corrects it. I send him the paper I received from the information bureau.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

My hon. friend knows that there were not 7,000,000 men in Canada aged 16 and up.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I know that very well, but at the time the information was given by the Department of National War Services. I do not know who is responsible for that translation.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I am not responsible for the translation, because I regret to say I do not speak the language.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I take it for granted that the minister did not make that statement because it cannot be correct, but it will show him what is stated in French sometimes in the translations of speeches given by a minister. But if the minister did not say 7,000,000 men, and I am sure he did not say that, he did say that we could have a million men for the army. Now to give a million men to the army we must take men from the farms, men who are indispensable there. In the province of Quebec, I may say, we have not been as well treated as they have been in the provinces of the west, and here I have a copy of a letter from the Cure Bonne Madone of Saskatchewan, from which I quote:

(Translation) My parish is cosmopolitan; I have parishioners of six different nationalities, and all the farmers' sons of my parish and of all other localities in Saskatchewan, as wTell as day-labourers who know the least little bit about agri-

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culture have without exception been exempted, and no difficulties were made. Why do the French Canadians of the province of Quebec encounter so much trouble in trying to obtain justice? Farmers are asked to produce and even over-produce for the war effort, and in this area they are deprived of necessary and competent help.

He states that it is much easier to have postponements in Saskatchewan than in the province of Quebec where he is at present for a short time.

Coming now to the regulations, they were perfectly in accordance with the famous report I have quoted, in which agriculture was at first described not as an essential industry but as a seasonal industry, that is, seasonal during four seasons, although it was not stated in that way. It was regarded as a seasonal occupation for the summer months, as has been indicated officially by the deputy minister of national war services, who is now minister of that department. He sent that document to every registrar informing him that agriculture was a primary industry only during a part of the year. I had to fight as many people and I was supported by the present Prime Minister and lay the late Mr. Lapointe. They understood perfectly well that agriculture was an essential industry, and finally the description was changed, but changed in such a way as to dumbfound people. Agriculture was described as a seasonal and essential occupation, meaning thereby that agriculture was essential during a *certain season. And now to corroborate what I have said, we see farmers coming from Saskatchewan to help the farmers in Quebec. I say it is better to have in Quebec farmers from Quebec, than to have conchies and Japs. But we find there are farmers in Saskatchewan who have spare time, and a shortage of farmers in Quebec because the army would not let out those men who are indispensable on the farms.

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NAT
LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

My hon. friend does not know what is going on. I may quote him a case, among many others,

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NAT
LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I know of a farmer fifty-one years of age who needs help. His son, over twenty years of age, is in the army. He has three boys whose ages are fourteen, eleven and nine, and two girls of eighteen and seventeen, who are evidently unfit to run the farm. Of course they could milk the cows, possibly, but I do not see how they could do hard work, nor do I understand how a boy of fourteen years could do that work. This is a large farm, and the answer I received from the Department of National Defence was a

great surprise to me. AVhen I have an opportunity to talk the matter over with the hon. member for Waterloo South I will let him see the file in order that he may understand. I shall give him the evidence, as I have been giving it for a month to the parliamentary secretary of the Minister of National Defence. He understands the situation, and I am sure that he understands that I was justified in complaining about several cases.

Now, why do we have trouble? We have trouble in the first place because the mobilization act was passed only in 1940. It should have been passed at the first session in 1939. When we are at w'ar we must act accordingly. In total war each man must be at his place, and each man must obey the law. But there are exceptions. Yes, there are many exceptions. What about those whose ordinary place of residence is not Canada? Why make a distinction in respect of immigrants who came to this country, who should be called for the medical test and for training, just the same as any other citizens of the country?

I understand that for a long time the government had trouble with the boys who belonged to other races or other countries. I refer to countries now under the control of Germany, and the governments of which are in England. In this class would be Belgians and others. They have refused to do their training. I do not know how it is working out now, but I do know that some of the nationals, whose governments are in England, were refusing to do their training and were retaining their places on the farms. Yet Canadians have to leave their places on those farms to give a better chance to these people. I do not know how it is working out now.

We should have a census of all those who have come to Canada through Canadian ports since the beginning of the war. We should have a census of all those who have passed customs offices at border points, and we should have a record of those who have landed in the United States of America en route to Canada. Those people should be called upon to do as much as Canadians. That is only fair; I cannot see why a man from any other friendly country must not do the same as the Canadian who happens to be born in this country and who has lived here all his life. What is the idea of treating with white gloves those fellows who have come here for shelter during the war? There should be a careful investigation of all people in that group.

In the second place, if it was the intention that the plebiscite should relieve the government of all pledges made to the people of Canada, I do not see why the Doukhobors, Mennonites and conscientious objectors should be treated differently from good Canadians wffio have lived here all their lives, and who

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do not take advantage of the law by saying that they are conscientious objectors. .Why do the Doukhobors receive special consideration? I ask that very serious question of the minister, and I hope he will answer it. If the government was to be relieved of all pledges, without exception, then did not such relief include pledges given to Doukhobors, conscientious objectors and Mennonites? How is it that those people have rights different from those held by people who have lived all their lives in this country, and who will be buried here? I cannot understand it.

I have before me a return tabled at the request of the hon. member for Lake Centre, and it shows correspondence with regard to Doukhobors. It is far from edifying. I do not see why these men receive special privileges. I now send to the minister two anonymous letters I have received from the city of Quebec containing complaints with respect to members of the staff in the registry office. He may have these letters translated, and take the action he sees fit. I have my own way of carrying out inquiries, and probing and making investigations.

I have in mind the case of three young men who were supposed not to have answered the call from the registrar to attend training camps. I pleaded their case. It was one of the few cases I have argued in many years. The first witness I called was Henri L. Gagnon, acting registrar. Under oath I obtained the truth from him. His statement was stupendous. He admitted 15,000 letters-I knew there were more-had been put in a file, without being classified. One man had been called a deserter because the sworn medical certificate stating he was not fit to attend for training had been sent by registered letter, and was left in the dump. He was called a deserter. Gagnon admitted there was something wrong in the office.

I think the Minister of Labour should be boss of national selective service. National selective service should be operated by officers of that branch, not by officers who were formerly in the Department of National War Services. That practice has been discontinued. The Department of National War Services has nothing to do with calling men to training camps. That must be done by the Minister of Labour, through the organization charged with that responsibility.

I remember when the present Minister of National War Services went to Quebec city some time before the change was made-and the change was long postponed. He said he would see to it that none of the staff of the ' registrar would lose his or her job. That was because they did not want any stenographer, typist, clerk or messenger from the

office of the former registrar to lose his or her job. The law of the country is not applied by an organization which has always been under the Minister of Labour. It is still administered by the old national war services board, now called the mobilization board, which has done so much harm to agriculture in our district. This cannot be denied, because changes have been made. I will say to the minister that I appreciate the cooperation of some of his officials whom I know and with whom I have dealt in regard to certain cases. They are very modest; they do not want to be praised in public, but I know that he has very able men under him, especially among the bilingual staff whom I know better than the other members of the staff. They are men who understand common sense. But I want the minister to make a clean-up of what is wrong in his department; I want his department run smoothly according to the directions given by the minister and, more than that, in accordance with the law itself. I have here from the proper authorities information with regard to the staff of the registrar's office in Quebec city. I admit that the registrar is not a bad fellow; I am sure Judge Fortier means very well, but I cannot say the same for the other two commissioners.

Let me conclude by saying how difficult it is to obtain information in regard to certain people, but how easy it is to make men feel great when they want an increase in salary of $400 a year. I have here the case of one man who for some time acted as registrar at Quebec. On May 9, 1942, Major Benoit, who was then director of mobilization, wrote of this man in these words:

He is the eyes and ears of head office throughout Canada. On his recommendations may depend important changes of policy or procedure. . . . For these reasons, subject to

consideration by the comptroller of the treasury, it is suggested that the duties of Mr.

warrant his reclassification to the rate of remuneration of $4,000 per annum.

A man like that, who is the eyes and ears of the head office throughout Canada, should be worth at least $100,000, but what I find strange is that it should be done in this way, making a superman out of an ordinary fellow. If he were merely the eyes and ears of the head office throughout Canada, that would be a bad thing. Then the deputy minister, who is now the minister of the department, wrote this in the margin:

If anything Major Benoit has erred by understating the good work Mr.

has done for us

and underestimating the responsibilities which he is carrying.

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Well, sir, I suppose these men make no mistakes.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I do not rise for the purpose of making another speech on this item, Mr. Chairman, but primarily to correct an impression which my hon. friend the parliamentary secretary to the minister left with the committee last evening, I believe inadvertently. He did me the honour to follow me at that time, and it was through no intentional discourtesy that I did not stay in the chamber and listen to him. I must confess that the atmosphere here was so humid and so tepid that I could not remain in the chamber any longer. I have since read the remarks of the hon. gentleman, and I desire at once to correct an impression which he appears to have in his mind that through all these years since Dunkirk I have had one rigid idea, which was that the man-power policy of Canada should be directed only toward the reinforcement position of our army overseas.

It is perhaps fair to say that in the remarks I made last evening I did direct attention to that particular phase of the situation, and that on more than one occasion I have laid emphasis on the necessity of having ample reinforcements for our fighting men. But it is not a correct inference for anyone to draw, least of all one so intelligent as the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Labour, that I am not concerned with other aspects of this man-power question. May I remind you Mr. Chairman, and the members of this house, that during the time I had the honour to lead this party we laid down the principle of selectivity as the underlying theme for dealing with the man-power situation in Canada. I had the honour to embody that principle in an amendment which I moved on one occasion to the address in reply, or at some other time; I have not checked it up. I think that is a fair statement for me to make here; but I have always recognized that a nation at war, like Canada, endeavouring to play a man's part, with an active army on service overseas in a theatre of war, should keep that army as the primary consideration with respect to our man-power policy, and we should never lose sight of that. We have lost sight of it in a degree, because of the fact that our army has not been in action; but it is not correct to say that this party or any members of it have ignored the other features of the man-power problem. We have accentuated the position with respect to the farmer; we have tried to emphasize the position with respect to the industrialist, and there have been occasions when we have taken exception to the regulations that have been adopted because we thought they were endeavouring to do in an

indirect way what should be done manfully and in a direct way, toward getting men into the army.

The specific instance to which the hon. gentleman referred, the case of a young man eighteen years of age, whose father was ill and who was the only man left on the farm, I find was referable to a regulation under which no one could employ that young man. Behind that regulation was the theory that because this country would not adopt a manly system of getting men into the army, they adopted an indirect method of driving young men into the army by refusing to permit them to obtain employment when they reached a certain age limit. On that occasion I was objecting to that position., and I think rightly so. We have never been unmindful, as I think the hon. gentleman would1 lead the house to believe, of the fact that there were other aspects of this man-power question; but primarily, as I observed before, the duty of this nation-no matter what the demands of agriculture or the demands of industry may have been or are to-day-is to see that the army which has volunteered for service overseas, to fight and it may be to die, shall have first call on the man-power pool. That is the position we take, but wTe do not close our eyes to the fact that there are other avenues for the employment of man-power to sustain that army overseas. In that way we have urged upon the people of Canada and upon this House of Commons to adopt as an underlying principle for our man-power policy the principle of selectivity. We have never had it, I am bound to say, until quite recently. Under the present set-up an effort has been made-I want to be fair about this- to improvise ways and means by which this underlying principle may be integrated into the national effort.

Mr. HOMiUTH: Not very successful.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

That is my opinion. However, I did not rise to castigate the minister or anybody else; I rose merely to make clear the position which I have always maintained. The immediate objective should be to adopt that principle of selectivity and to integrate the whole manpower of this country in. such a way as to place a man in the job he is best capable of doing.

We heard something to-day about the farmer, and I should like to say something about that. Food is important. As we all know, the farmers have done a magnificent job under adverse circumstances. It is a matter of great regret to every one of us that agriculture may be placed in a difficult

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position, not- only because of a lack of manpower but because of the weather conditions that now prevail. I am somewhat apprehensive about the quantity of food we may be able to produce this year. I know our farmers and our farmers' wives-many of them are doing it-will do as good a job as it is possible to do. I think t'he mistake that was made at the beginning was that the recruiting branch of the Department of National Defence endeavoured to get volunteers where the picking was the easiest. I am bound to say that in my community the young men on the farm offered a favourable field. One reason was that as a rule, in my part of the country at all events, farmers' sons receive an inadequate pecuniary compensation for their services on the home farm. Many of these lads were glad to go, but the majority of them went for patriotic reasons. The number of men on the farms, in New Brunswick particularly, was rapidly depleted.

Then you have the situation, which I have seen, in which one farm is denuded of the young men and nobody leaves from another farm. Perhaps it is not proper to refer to specific cases, but often they illustrate the general riile. I have in mind two farmers living side by side, each with four sons. On one farm' the four sons enlisted voluntarily, and not one went from the other farm. This type of situation causes discussion in the community, which discussion penetrates to me or to somebody else and is held up as an example of inequality of sacrifice, and it is. When the mobilization regulations are put into effect the man whose four sons have gone into the army will not be able to get them back, except perhaps on seeding leave if they happen to be on this side. If a liberal interpretation is given to the regulations the man with the four sons still left may be able to get every one of them off.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I have had this very case up with the mobilization board in my own province. The man with the four sons still left does not need them all on his farm.

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I should like my hon. friend to give me privately the name of that farmer.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I shall have to look up my file; I cannot remember the name. It did not happen, because the mobilization board took the view that one son was sufficient to work the farm and the other young men had to go. I am calling

fMr. H. B. Hanson.]

this matter to the attention of the minister and of his deputy who is sitting in front of him. There should be some flexibility in administering these regulations, as there should be in connection with anything that deals with any form of human activity. You cannot be too rigid about this sort of thing. You must not lay down a law that all farmers' sons are to be relieved. Each case must be decided upon the circumstances. The man whose four sons had not enlisted should have no right to go to the authorities and say that he wants them on his farm. I do not believe that was the intention.

I should like the minister to give us a break-down of the figures which were put on Hansard so unexpectedly last night by himself and later by his parliamentary assistant. The first figure of 1,043,163 covers the men in designated classes as at 1940 registration total, while the second figure of 988,475, which I used last night, I understand is the difference between the first figure and the figure of 54,688, which represents the men being called. I should like to have some information with respect to the figure of 550.692. Does this figure not include the second figure covering the men now on postponement? A man is never given a postponement until he is actually called. The men on postponement, as I understand1 it, would have been actually enlisted and signed up. Does the figure 100,973 represent men who have never actually got into the army? I think I am correct in assuming that it does. That would help the minister's position. But I do want a break-down of the 550,692 figure. I also want the minister to tell us about this lost army of 67,674 men. What is being done to trace them? What is being done to get them into the army? What is being done with the acknowledged defaulter? In my view it is not good enough to have some advertising agency, or whatever it is, in the city of Toronto, given the job of tracing these defaulters. I have forgotten the name of the company.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

Hooper-Holmes Bureau.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

No, a collection agency.

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June 29, 1943