November 7, 1919 (13th Parliament, 3rd Session)

UNION

Daniel Lee Redman

Unionist

Mr. D. L. REDMAN (Calgary East):

I am sure the whole House has listened with the very greatest interest to the excellent speech which h-as been deliverd- by the Acting

Prime Minister (Sir George Foster). His logic has been very clear, and if in what I say I differ from him in any degree I trust the House will believe me when I say that I do so with the greatest diffidence. However, from my long connection with soldiers generally, I must say that there are some parts of the report which 'in my opinion do not go far enough. Before I proceed further, I may say that I find myself unable to vote for the amendment which has beenJ submitted because that amendment means cash gratuities which the financial condition of the country,, and other urgent and important needs of some of the soldiers, make impossible at the present time. I attended, I think, almost every meeting of the committee at which evidence was taken, and I have carefully studied their report.
I have the greatest respect for the ability of the gentlemen who composed the committee, and I have no doubt whatever of their high motive and the frame of mind in which they approached their work. Still, as I say, with some of the conclusions which they have reached I cannot agree. I admit the need of the benefits which they recommend for soldiers in their report and to that extent I agree that they have done well. But I do not think they have gone far enough. One cannot help being impressed with the evidence that is set forth in regard *to the financial condition of the 'country, nor can one find any difficulty in supporting the contention that the country could not possibly raise at this time sums approximating $300,000,000 or $400,000,000 for cash gratuities. This important question after all resolves itself into a matter of common sense, and we must-be rational in our suggestions as to how far we can go and how much money we ear raise in order to meet the needs of the soldiers. Now, in my opinion, I think we can raise in addition to the amount already recommended in the report about $150,000,000. I do not say that sum could be raised in cash at the present moment to be distributed next month. Under the proposal which I have, that would not be required. 1 do not intend to enter into a discussion as to the exact means by which it might be raised. That amount is not very large compared with our ipresent and past loans, and I think we could carry it along under our present schemes by a readjustment of our finances. For instance, I think there is a sum of $25,000,000 in our present commitments which we might well divert from the purpose to which we have allocated it, namely,
the soldiers' settlement scheme, for establishing men of Imperial units on land in Canada. My opinion in this respect is that if we have that amount of money to spend we should spend it first in the interests of our Canadian soldiers. Another $25,000,000 has been allocated by the Government to housing, a scheme which has been taken advantage of by only three provinces. The province from which I come has not availed itself of it, and as I intend to advocate a housing scheme it seems to me that the balance of the vote might well be allocated to the purpose I shall mention. I believe that all the money given to soldiers who are not in the disabled or wounded class should be by way of loan, and as we should have under these various schemes very good security we can hope for a return of. a large part of the money so loaned with a certain rate of interest. So that these loans would not involve so serious a question as that of a straight gratuity, nor would it be necessary that the entire amount proposed should be raised immediately. I do not think I need argue that if we could raise a further sum of money for the soldiers there would be no desire or intention on the part of the House that it should not be raised and loaned, provided that every dollar loaned would tend to the re-establishment of the soldiers. It is not necessary, either, that I should endeavour to establish the fact that soldiers who have returned, even if they are physically fit, are not able to enter into competition on an equal basis with those who did not go to the front. ,
Now, a great deal has been said in regard to the word " need," and I think that the proposal put forward by the member for Centre Winnipeg largely hinges upon the interpretation of that word. The needs of the human being are varied, and they include necessaries other than those of a financial character. His financial needs wall vary with the individual, but if we are to discuss the question of need we must approach it from a different viewpoint. We must consider what needs we as a nation are prepared to supply. I think that if the returned, soldiers need housing and assistance in establising themselves in industry, or for education

as they unquestionably do-we as members of Parliament should resolve that to the extent of our financial ability we will attempt to satisfy those needs. Let us first consider the question of housing. I believe that some scheme o-f housing in Canada confined only to returned soldiers would go far towards solving the problem of the returned man, and pos-

sibly a sum of $75,000,000 or $100,000,000 might be raised towards this end. No one will dispute the fact that in. Canada there is a great shortage of housing accommodation as a result of the cessation ini building during the war, when the activities of the people were concentrated in the sole effort of successfully waging the fight. Why could we not allocate same such sum of money towards the building of homes for the soldiers? I do not say that we could build a home for every soldier, but we could survey the needs of the various provinces and allocate, to be spent in them, such proportion as appears necessary after a careful investigation of the situation. Let these houses be built, and we shall then have solved the housing problem and incidentally have helped a great many soldiers. Those soldiers whoi did not have .homes would be benefited under this scheme, with the result that the present utterly unreasonable rents which soldiers and their dependents have to pay would he reduced, and thus practically all the soldiers would derive a benefit, while the *civilian population would incidentally share in the .advantages of the scheme. I am confident that if this were done the housing situation and living conditions in Canada would be improved very materially. A home is an essential part of the equipment of the producer, and in furnishing houses to the soldiers we would help them to become more efficient and place them in a better position to produce to the maximum. The security would in this case be adequate and I think the country could look for the return of a very large part of this amount.
The question of industrial loans is a great deal more difficult. I do not think that any such sums should now, at least, be allocated to that purpose, but if by spending $20,000,000 or $25,000,000 we could help to place on their feet a lot of returned soldiers who wish to get into business of different sorts I think we should do so. Discussion has taken place as to assistance to those who wish to engage in such businesses as .fishermen, blacksmiths, garage men, and barbers, and for the purchase of tools of the different trades. It seems a reasonable proposition that we should help these men by giving them small loans to start in business and get on their feet again. The security, I admit, in that case would not be so good. Still, it would be considerable if all loans were carefully given out. It would add to the producing capacity of this country and would help to actually place some of our soldiers on their feet.
118 [DOT]
I believe, therefore, that we could, with safety, loan money to soldiers for housing and for re-establishing themselves in industry.
Then there is a third way in which I think we could safely assist them and that is by helping them in their educational courses. I believe that the committee should have agreed to the suggestion that aid should be given to university students. I know they were most sympathetic towards it and I know the reason they did not agree to it was that they thought that all other classes, or all other young men in the army . might object. I do not think that theory ia entirely sound. I think it is a fair statement to say that there is no aristocracy of brains, that there is no class, economic or social, from which students are drawn, and the very fact that assistance is needed by them would prove that they did not come from the higher financial stratas in this country. However, I do not see any Teason why we should not go further to the extent of helping those who enlisted before they were twenty-one in getting technical or vocational training. Surely this country needs educated-leaders in the future; surely we cannot afford not to counteract the results of that four or five years during Which the young men of this country were not being educated. There is an hiatus there which will react on this country in years to come. By loaning money to students we will be making a splendid investment for the country, we will be helping to bring forward leaders in industry and thought and I believe that the security or the hope of getting the money back from men who take a university training is excellent.
I have given three ways in which I think money could safely be loaned to soldiers. All these benefits can be substantiated on the ground that they are in the national interests. The land settlement scheme has been substantiated on that basis. The housing scheme is, one might say, the counterpart of the land settlement scheme; it is giving to those who live in cities facilities somewhat on an equality with those given to returned soldiers who are to settle in the country. The question of industrial loans, while they would have to be gone into very carefully and perhaps inaugurated on a small scale, would help to establish our soldiers in industry and education, would make them more efficient in fighting the economic battles of the future. I believe (that any money invested in these three things will help the capacity of the country to pro-

duce while at the same time helping the individual soldier. If the committee felt that they were not justified in accepting any of these suggestions on the basis that if they helped any soldiers others would complain that it was unfair to them-if that is their difficulty-let them do this in the national interest and let them say that "we will extend loans and assistance to soldiers when we are certain that these loans will actually help to re-establish them and will actually add to the ability of the country to carry on its work in the future."
In regard to the housing scheme, if I may revert to it, I believe that already we are loaning to countries in Europe money for the lumber that is going from British Columbia. If it be true that we are loaning this year some $106,000,000 overseas to develop and carry on our industries here, could we not loan money to our soldiers in Canada? Would it not bring the same profit to the producers of these commodities and would we not have additional advantage in the establishment of homes in this country that would be part of the producing plant of Canada? I do think that if the Government, in pursuance of its very necessary policy of keeping industries going and obtaining markets for our products, would try to divert as much trade as possible into these channels and at the same time give assistance to our soldiers, they would be not only achieving the object which they had in mind but they would also be going a great distance towards the re-establishment of our soldiers.
I submit' these ideas to the House in all deference having regard to the opinion that the committee has formed. But I absolutely believe that this country can raise the money. It does not have to be raised this minute or this year but gradually perhaps in the next twelve or eighteen months. I believe that by carrying out the various schemes which I have suggested a great many soldiers would be assisted and that the national interest would be advanced. I do not think that the question is settled, or that the report which has come down will forever close the question of benefits to our soldiers. Nor do I think the committee intended that it should. The Government should very seriously enter into the consideration of some reasonable plan which would go further to re-establish the soldiers. I do believe that the soldiers in fairness can come to the conclusion that everything has not been done that might be done for them.
I cannot support the amendment because it is an amendment on the question of TMr. Redman. 1
cash gratuities. I think that before we pay cash gratuities we will have to deal further with our disabled soldiers and that pensions should be increased by fifty per cent if necessary. Our pensions to-day, while they will enable a person to live, will not allow them to live in some cases even in comfort. If we are going to spend large sums of money and to give it absolutely, our duty in all commonsense would be to turn our surplus first towards further aid to the disabled and pensioners.
What I have advocated to-day is the question of loans, in most cases fairly well secured, and every dollar of which will actually go towards re-estabishment, every dollar of which will do some good to some soldier. I think the difficulty with respect to differentiation as between soldiers can very fairly be overcome, as it was in the case of land settlement, by declaring that these proposals are in the national interest.
At 12.30 p.m. Mr. Speaker declared it one o'clock, that the House might receive His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, and the House accordingly took recess.

Topic:   COMMITTEE ON SOLDIERS' CIVIL RE-ESTABLISHMENT.
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON CONCURRENCE IN THE REPORT OF THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE.
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