August 23, 1946

PC
LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

Without qualification. That is all there is to that. It was indicated by the hon. member for Calgary West that this order was passed too hastily. I do not think that interdepartmental correspondence should be produced, but the order was passed and if there are letters which should be produced under that, I will see that they are produced. I shall have to check to see what lettters there are.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENCE
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PC
LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

In order to cover the thing completely we shall have to check with the distract, which would mean that they possibly could not be got before Monday. I should not think it will take more than two days. As far as headquarters are concerned, we shall know this afternoon.

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

In glancing through the items I cannot find one under which the Alaska highway could appropriately be discussed. I understand that this is under the control of the Department of National Defence, and I should like to ask the minister if he has any objection to our discussing that matter under this item.

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

If the committee has no objection.

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PC
LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

I think it would be quite in order if we dealt with these collectively, if the committee so wishes.

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PC

Alan Cockeram

Progressive Conservative

Mr. COCKERAM:

The minister cannot be here this afternoon. Some of us have specific questions to ask, and if another hon. member

rMr. Abbott.1

is to be permitted to make a speech on something not relevant to the item, it will interfere with the continuity of the estimates.

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

On second thought I think it would be better to defer discussion until that item is reached.

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

I want to be sure that there is an item under which it can be discussed.

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PC
LIB

William Ross Macdonald (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

I understand the min-, ister has suggested that the Alaska highway can be discussed under the item for northwest highway system on page 275.

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SC
PC

Lawrence Wilton Skey

Progressive Conservative

Mr. SKEY:

This morning the hon. member for Broadview referred to some pertinent matters that we should be discussing under this item, one being Canada's defence policy. I believe he asked the minister what the-imperial policy was, and also asked him to outline what policy the department is following at the present time. I should like to ask whether the newspaper reports of United States efforts in regard to joint defence are correct, and whether we are proposing any cooperation with the United States in North American defence projects.

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

My hon. friend's question is pretty general. I do not know the press reports to which he refers, but as I have said on several occasions in the house, several years ago a permanent joint defence board was established of which General McNaugton is now chairman, and it is continually considering questions of joint interest to our two countries in the defence of the North American continent. As its name implies, it is a permanent board. It is not a policy-making board, but examines defence questions generally and makes recommendations to the government. That is continuing. Obviously matters of policy when decided are announced by me in due course in detail. A good many newspaper articles of course contain a very considerable element of speculation.

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PC

Lawrence Wilton Skey

Progressive Conservative

Mr. SKEY:

I realize that it might be difficult for the minister to answer such a question, but I thought he might wish to make a statement on the subject, because a lot of people in this country want to hear from him on that subject and they will not be satisfied unless the joint defence board is giving consideration to matters of joint defence.

Supply-Defence-Army

I understand that we require weather stations in our northern regions; in fact I know we do, because the whole of our civil aviation is dependent to a certain extent upon accurate weather reports. I understand that the United States are very keen to help in what might be called this international project. Has the Canadian government given consideration to cooperation with the United States government in a project for weather stations in our northern territory?

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of National Defence; Minister of National Defence for Naval Services)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

Our meteorological stations are under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Mines and Resources, but I believe that consideration is being given to expanding the number of these stations to provide for the greater needs which have arisen as a result of increased air activity in those regions. While I am not in a position to make any statement as to joint operation of weather stations with the United States, that might be considered at some time, but it is not being considered at the moment.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. GILLIS:

I would ask the minister a few questions with regard to the matter of misconduct discharges, which was discussed extensively in the veterans affairs committee, and it was suggested there that a board be set up to examine into the reasons for the misconduct discharges with a view to modifying or changing them. A board of review was set up under the Department of Veterans Affairs to determine the eligibility to gratuities, and the board has worked very efficiently. I wish to compliment Brigadier Ferguson on the excellent job which that board has done in dealing with the gratuity end of misconduct discharges. But the most serious angle was the discharge of personnel, men and women, with a misconduct discharge which tagged him or her for the rest of his or her life. When the gratuity is granted in these cases, that does not automatically dispose of the misconduct discharge. So far as I can find out, nothing has been done in the matter of determining government policy in respect to misconduct discharges, whether personnel coming out of the service shall be tagged in this way for life or otherwise. Is there any intention to carry out what I consider to have been the instruction, or at all events the suggestion of the veterans affairs committee that these misconduct discharges should be reviewed with a view to changing or modifying them?

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LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

As the hon. member pointed out, representations were made by various members of the veterans affairs committee in respect to misconduct discharges, and it was decided to set up a board to examine each case individually of service personnel whose certificate mentioned that they were discharged for misconduct. Preliminary examination revealed that in a great number of cases the discharge certificate should have contained less severe words. For the purpose of giving the fairest possible consideration to individual cases a board has been set up at N.D.H.Q., composed of officers who have had combatant experience and experience in the handling of men in the field. I do not know that as yet any of these discharge certificates have been changed but I can assure my hon. friend that the board is at work.

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August 23, 1946