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

UNION

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Unionist

Mr. H. C. HOOKEN (Toronto West):

There are a few observations I would like to make upon this question. First, I want to express my sympathy with the members of the committee who had this matter in charge and to say that I believe they performed their duty with as much earnestness, sincerity and sympathy for the soldier as any group of men in Canada could. In their decision, Sir, against granting a cash gratuity, I think they will have behind them the opinion, not only of the country, but of the great mass of the soldiers themselves. Any plan for the indiscriminate granting of a cash gratuity *would, in my judgment, be so full of inequalities that it could not be justified at all; and in many cases a further cash gratuity, such as has been suggested by some of the men who may be classed as agitators, would perhaps be the worst thing that could be done for some of the individual soldiers. II am absolutely against a cash gratuity.
The real problem in regard to these men who have come back to us is not a mass problem, but an individual one. Men have returned from the front who have not lost a week's time; they have gone into their old positions and are just as happy and comfortable now as they were before they went away. In many cases, their training on active service was a physical benefit; and many of these men are better off, both physically and financially, than before they enlisted and went to the front. *
I appreciate, Mr. Speaker, all that our soldiers have done. I am grateful to them, individually and collectively, for the service which they rendered to this country; but I do not think they have any claim to an additional cash payment, and I do not think they are the kind of men who want a cash payment. As a matter of fact, Sir, this country cannot pay our men in cash for the sacrifices they made overseas. What amount of money will pay & man for the loss of both his legs? No money payment will compensate him for that loss. If you gave him $5,000 a year for the rest of his natural life he would prefer to have his
two, legs and for you to keep your money. Sacrifices of all kinds were made that money cannot pay for; and
we must find some way, if it is possible to find one, by which the country can express its gratitude in fitting terms to the men who have been disabled. This war convulsion imposed upon the people of our country and the allied countries a task that only one class of our nation could perform. Only the young men of Canada could go to the war, it was a job that the older and middle-aged men were physically incapable of performing; and so this duty devolved upon our young men- it was they alone iwho, by reason of their physical fitness, could go to fight for us and save the country. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that each one of the men who went out in the spirit of sacrifice-especially the men who went after St. Julien and Festubert and who knew what they were going into-has a right to be regarded as a hero. They went out from comfortable homes and voluntarily entered into a hell to save this country and to save civilization; and my judgment is, Sir, that they now possess something in the way of a feeling of satisfaction with what they have done that is infinitely more valuable to them, and a greater source of pride to their families, than any cash payment or consideration of any kind that could be given to them.
The leader of the Government has pointed . out most eloquently that our most sacred duty is to the disabled and to the widows and dependents of the men who have fallen. I would :be sorry to think, Sir, that the pensions that have been decided upon are final. I think there is room for a revision of these pensions which may be made from time to time.

Topic:   VISIT OF HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCE OF WALES TO THE COMMONS.
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