[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Tuesday, June 18, 1996
The Chair: Order, please.
I would like to welcome our witnesses and ask them to bear with us briefly. We have some business of the committee that will take a very few moments, and then we will move right to their testimony.
Members of the committee, you have before you the second report of the subcommittee on agenda and procedure. Everyone has a copy, I believe. Before we can hear the witnesses who are sitting here, it is necessary that the committee accept this report. I would entertain a motion that this report be accepted as submitted.
Mr. Bertrand (Pontiac - Gatineau - Labelle): So moved.
The Chair: Mr. Bertrand, thank you.
Do I have a seconder? Mr. Frazer.
Mr. Frazer (Saanich - Gulf Islands): So moved.
Motion agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings]
The Chair: Thank you very much. Now to business.
I'd like to welcome the witness from the Canadian Merchant Navy Association. That'sMr. Broadfoot, I believe. From the Canadian Merchant Navy Prisoner of War Association, we have Mr. Olmstead. We also have Mr. Griezic and Mrs. MacDonald.
Welcome. I presume you have something you would like to present to us and would then be willing to entertain questions from the members of the committee.
Professor Foster Griezic (Faculty of History, Carleton University): Before we start, hon. members, I would like to pay tribute to two people specifically. One of them is George Hees, who died recently but was responsible in 1988 for having the first merchant navy Silver Cross mother in a Remembrance Day ceremony on November 11. The second person is Commander Ted Watt, who died on June 6. He had been a supporter of the merchant navy in its request to have equality. Ted Watt is particularly important because he worked with the merchant navy during the war. He was responsible for the naval boarding body, which was set up at the time and functioned out of Halifax specifically, but also out of Saint John.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Griezic, and we thank you for making those notations, which all of us on the committee appreciate. Now we would ask you to make your presentation.
Prof. Griezic: We'd like to start with Mr. Dave Broadfoot, who, as you know, is well known to English Canada.
In French, especially in Québec, it would be someone like Yvan Ducharme. I am very pleased to introduce M. Broadfoot.
Mr. Dave Broadfoot (Canadian Merchant Navy Association): Bonjour.
The Chair: We're particularly happy to have you here as the former member for Kicking Horse Pass.
Mr. Broadfoot: When I joined the merchant navy, I was a long way from being a performer. I had offered to join the regular navy because I knew eventually I'd be conscripted, and having been born and raised in North Vancouver, in a seaport, I wanted to serve at sea, since I was going to serve anyway. I started early, and I found out there were 25,000 others ahead of me in line to enter the Canadian navy, so I thought, well, I'll join the merchant navy. I was under age, but I was able to do it.
I got my coastal time in and then went to sea. My first voyages were in tankers. I was very, very lucky all the way through because of timing. By the time I got into sailing across the Atlantic, the heavy damage being wrought by the U-boat wolf packs...their backs had been broken. And so I was very, very lucky.
Sailing in tankers was like being in prison. You were in a port, you pumped your oil in, and you left in a matter of hours. We never really saw much except the Orinoco River in Venezuela.
Sailing in tankers in a convoy of, say, 50 ships, with perhaps 45 of those ships being tankers, in thick fog had its own very special kind of danger. I remember standing in the bow many times and watching as the stern of the vessel ahead suddenly emerged out of the fog. It was quite a hazardous experience, because if tankers ever did collide, it was total disaster. It was extraordinary how volatile those ships were because of the fuel in the tanks in the holds. So it was a dangerous experience, but I was always one of the lucky people.
Since I was sailing across the Atlantic, I of course joined freighters eventually. In New York I was injured in the engine room and was paid off there. I eventually ended up joining a manning pool in Montreal and sailing to India, out through Gibraltar, down through the Red Sea, and so on. This was convoy all the time, except after we entered the Suez Canal. We were on our own for the rest of the voyage, which went to Bombay, Calcutta, and Colombo and then all the way back through the Mediterranean and so on. My voyages to England were also in convoy.
As I said at the beginning, as I began entering that phase of the experience, the German U-boats had been so cut back that I felt almost too lucky. We did see wreckage in the water from time to time, but we were never close to being hit. So I have lived a charmed life in that regard.
What I found ironic was that, even though I was seventeen, I was already representing the crew as a delegate of the Canadian Seaman's Union that I was a member of. It was a union that was led by people who were certainly to the far left, but a union nonetheless that saw that we got through the war and delivered all the very important cargoes we had to deliver without a strike. No ship's crew that I was ever aware of went on strike. We did what we had to do. There was never in our most harrowing moments, in my recollection, an instance of any kind of cowardice shown by anybody I sailed with.
We got through. Then around 1947, as I was leaving... I think I left at the end of 1946, but at that point something happened that left a kind of bitterness in me. Our government imported a thug, a real heavy-duty gangster from Brooklyn, to smash our union and bring in the Seafarers' International Union. The people I sailed with who wanted to continue with the merchant navy, for the most part, I would say - or totally - were unable to sail again because Hal Banks established a DNS list - a Do Not Ship list - which is merchant navy talk for a black list. So those people who had belonged to the CSU and went through the trials and tribulations of getting all this cargo through throughout the war were then banned from sailing again on our merchant ships, because they were not in the right union.
I still don't understand why that was done. There must have been a massive paranoia about communism or about Marxism at that time. The only Marxist talk I ever heard on a ship was very intellectual. You certainly don't get that from goons of the type that appeared from the SIU, which was no different from the Teamsters at its worst and no different from the longshoremen's association at its worst. That's what we had to contend with.
They came on our ships with baseball bats and bicycle chains. That's how they introduced their union to Canada.
So I've always felt a bitter resentment that men who risked their lives and did the job were then prohibited from working in a peacetime situation.
I think it's also ironic that in our country people who were called - and some of them certainly were - freedom fighters... But foreign freedom fighters from foreign countries were getting an allowance until recently from our government and obviously were being treated with more respect than our own merchant seamen were.
That's my feeling. I don't know what state the SIU is in today. I would rather have an intellectual Marxist than a baseball-bat-carrying goon any time.
As a Canadian, I think what happened to those people is a black chapter in our history, that the SIU was welcomed with open arms. I think it's a black chapter that still goes on. I think it's a particularly frustrating thing that they were brought in at the behest of our federal government, a government that was headed by one of the most revered prime ministers we ever had, Louis St. Laurent, and cabinet ministers Lionel Chevrier, Walter Harris, and Jack Pickersgill - people who are all looked up to.
That is the thing I feel most strongly about. These men, who risked their lives, were not only not treated as well as freedom fighters from other countries but also were not allowed to continue their work.
I guess that's about what I have to say.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Broadfoot.
Mr. Griezic and Mr. Olmstead.
Mr. Gordon Olmstead (Chairman, Canadian Merchant Navy Prisoner of War Association): Madam Chair, members of the committee, it is once again my privilege to address the committee. I observe that there are some new members and I've prepared some background, but in view of our time constraints, I will précis the first page of this submission.
Would you please enter this printed testimony and the testimony that was translated and is being presented today. I believe all members have a copy.
The Chair: Mr. Olmstead, we don't print the record of the committee any more, but we will take your report as part of our deliberations relating to this.
Mr. Olmstead: Thank you.
On page 1, I outline the punitive discrimination to Canadian merchant navy prisoners of war on our repatriation and the contemporary denial of that discrimination. I refer to 1962 and the discrimination towards merchant navy prisoners of war in relation to other civilians in the Civilian War Pensions and Allowances Act. I refer to the inequities in time-based POW compensation. I quote Deputy Minister Nicholson's unflattering view of merchant navy sacrifices.
Now to page 2. It was time for a committee. Veterans Affairs set up a huge consultation group of Veterans Affairs officials and military organizations to conduct a study of this thorny problem. The merchant navy was totally excluded from the study.
That resulted in Bill C-84, which brought us veterans' designation with health and income-tested benefits for the merchant navy veterans. That was at the cost of reduced and demeaned recognition of service. Here are some examples.
Bill C-84 excludes travel on orders and on pay across the harbour or across the world, to or from an assigned ship.
It terminates the service of a veteran seaman when he is involuntarily put ashore in a foreign port for any reason.
It terminates the service of a Canadian merchant navy prisoner of war who was captured at sea at the time he is released at the gate of the enemy prison.
It terminates the service of a Canadian merchant navy prisoner of war on capture after landfall. One-half of the merchant navy prisoners of war held in the Far East are in this category, and they suffered a lot.
It terminates the service of a seaman who made landfall in friendly or enemy territory unless he reaches a friendly port.
It excludes the service of a member of a manning pool on pay and on contract for service in dangerous waters. This was not a 50% chance of never leaving Canada and an 80% chance of never seeing combat. It was a contract to serve immediately in dangerous waters where merchant ships were the designated target of the enemy.
On return, seamen reported in within 48 hours or the police went to bring them in. They are denied recognition of service until they board their next assignment, whether at home or abroad. It excludes training, even gunnery training.
Every one of the exclusions or terminations reduces the period of service covered under the attributable to or insurance principle.
It excludes the names of seamen killed in training, even as crew aboard ship from the Merchant Navy Book of Remembrance.
No civilian or military entity has been subjected to such denigration or demeaning of recognition of service.
On June 17, 1992, Minister of Veterans Affairs Merrithew appeared before the Senate Committee of the Whole on Bill C-84. He stated in part:
I can understand David Nicholson, under his various titles over the years, working to preserve his tour de force in demeaning legislation under four successive ministers. He even refused a transition clause to preserve the old rights and recognition. I cannot understand the first Liberal secretary of state not wanting to rectify some of the absurdities in the four-year-old Bill C-84.
Let us examine the Veterans Affairs record with the standing committee. On June 21, 1991 it was agreed that the chairman send a letter to the Minister of Veterans Affairs asking him to ensure all relevant representational groups of Canada's merchant seamen would be effectively involved in the department consultation process. Almost five months later the minister announced that General J.C. Smith had been appointed as special adviser to David Nicholson on merchant navy matters. An excerpt from a coalition letter of March 23, 1992 indicates developments:
The standing committee report of October 19, 1991 recommended:
In 1993 Mr. Nicholson provided a briefing note for the standing committee hearing of June 9, including:
Mr. Nicholson also categorized all coalition concerns as incorrect, improbable, and hypothetical. We have discovered that ``hypothetical'' means deceased. But David Nicholson declines to discuss or attribute his categories.
At an in camera meeting on March 8, 1994 the standing committee passed two motions. The one dealing with the testimony of prisoners of war stated:
In fact, Mr. Nicholson ensured that it would not be considered at this time. He took over a year to reply, provided estimates for the NPOWA and the legion submissions, and totally ignored your request.
In my letter of September 11, 1995, I provided file data with my assumptions and estimates for the missing data. It took me half a day, including travelling time, to research and compile the information. It is now over two years since your motion was conveyed to Veterans Affairs. What has Veterans Affairs done about it?
The Veterans Affairs consultation draft of October 12, 1993, initiated by Deputy Minister Hughes Anthony and then put in the deep-freeze by Deputy Minister Nicholson, provided a good start in identifying the problems and misconceptions in Bill C-84. This committee did not have the opportunity to examine Bill C-84 in committee. I suggest that since Veterans Affairs declines to consult, this committee or a subcommittee should examine Bill C-84 clause by clause on the basis of the consultation draft and our submissions, and take up with us the consultation that Veterans Affairs declines.
I refer now to my POW compensation analysis, and that is the letter written to Mr. William Rompkey on September 11, 1995. I understand you've all been provided with copies of this document. I would refer to page 4 and the table, which shows you in shaded letters the increases that the Canadian Merchant Navy Prisoner of War Association suggested we should have, and that your committee submitted a favourable motion.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Olmstead. Ms MacDonald.
Ms Muriel MacDonald (Secretary, Merchant Navy Coalition for Equality): Thank you, Madam Chairwoman and members of the committee, for giving us this hearing.
I'll give you a quick overview of my presentation, which is in two parts. The first part is the formal presentation for your records and consideration. I won't be reading it all. The second part is for your files as well. It contains source material for the references made in the first part. These are taken from government documents and coalition analyses of the relevant acts.
The overview is that since 1992, under Bill C-84 Veterans Affairs has said that wartime merchant seamen have the same access and the same benefits as military veterans. The coalition denies this after comparing the related acts.
During a brief change in deputy ministers in 1993 - and Mr. Olmstead went into this - the inequities in Bill C-84 were listed, corrected and worked out in consultation papers with the department and the coalition. When the government changed, the senior officials who had, quote, advised on Bill C-84 in 1991-92 were back. The changes that provided for the inclusion of wartime merchant seamen under the income-tested War Veterans Allowance Act, giving them true equality, are still on hold.
Since 1992 the coalition has been unable to get consistent and reliable figures from the department on matching dollars spent against benefits received by the merchant seamen. Of the original $88 million budget for Bill C-84 in 1992, how much has gone to merchant navy veterans, how much to civilian Canadian merchant seamen, and how much to other groups under this act?
The department says that if gaps or shortcomings can be proven in Bill C-84, they will enact yet another miscellaneous housekeeping bill. This is not the solution. Bring back the 1993 Veterans Affairs coalition consultation papers.
On March 27 before this committee, the Hon. Lawrence MacAulay reported:
On November 18, 1995, I wrote asking for a breakdown of the number of merchant navy veterans receiving disability pensions, income support and, under the veterans independence program, hospital or home care, home modifications, and a health card. I also asked what the administrative costs were and whether these were included.
Apart from total dollars given for war veterans allowance programs, possibly related to the merchant navy act, we did not get any solid figures. All we got were total figures.
I'll read you what the letter said, and the letter is tabled:
On the question of the number of pension applications, accepted and rejected, and the number of appeals, they were unable to give the number of appeals:
It is four years since Bill C-86, the housekeeping bill covering 21 groups, was passed. Part of the reason the department is unable to put the numbers receiving benefits against their estimated total dollars spent is that there are two categories of wartime merchant seamen, as I mentioned before. In the group of civilian Canadian merchant seamen is a sub-group of ``non-Canadians who served on Canadian merchant ships during the First or Second World War or the Korean War and who do not qualify as merchant navy veterans''.
Under this act there is different service recognition and different entitlements, with possible crossover service between the two categories. Would some wartime merchant seaman not qualify under both categories? Two pages from a current Veterans Affairs handout called ``Application for War Veterans Allowance'' listing eligibility requirements under Bill C-84 for the two categories of wartime merchant seamen show not alleged but built-in shortcomings. You have copies.
Incidentally, dropped from the 1994 cover version are the words ``veteran, merchant navy veterans, civilians''. They also dropped a list of departmental programs and benefits, such as health care benefits, assistance fund, special awards, funeral and burial grants, and the veterans independence program. When people don't know what's available they won't ask.
Of the 2,100 quoted on March 27 as receiving benefits, how many are merchant navy veterans? How many are civilian Canadian merchant seamen? Are these Canadians receiving benefits due to Bill C-84 or the previous civilian Bill C-64 of 1962? There was no transition clause in Bill C-84.
To go back to May 1990, then Minister Gerald Merrithew told the standing committee that there were 3,126 merchant seamen from the First and Second World Wars receiving the civilian war allowance. That's from Bill C-64. Under CWA there's no access to the veterans independence program, but war veterans allowance automatically gates veterans into VIP and home care, beds in community chronic care homes, and departmental or contract hospital beds.
In June 1991, Acting Deputy Minister David Nicholson was asked why veteran status had not been granted to the merchant navy, why they were still stuck under a housekeeping bill with 20 other groups who had not gone to sea. His answer:
At that committee a senior official thought the merchant navy population was 6,000. The coalition said about 3,500. In January 1992, the DVA statistical unit put the number of merchant seamen receiving the CWA at 3,016.
If you remember, Bill C-84 was passed in July 1992 without a transition clause. Given a death rate of one every three days, how did the department arrive at the 3,016 figure? After July 1992, how many were excluded? Public Accounts combines WVA and CWA total expenditures only.
In 1992, $88 million was allocated for Bill C-84 for five years. That's $17 million per year. Is that for the 21 groups or just for the two groups of wartime merchant seamen? A model letter from Veterans Affairs, dated August 31, 1995, to be used by members of the House when answering merchant navy complaints, puts the dollars spent since 1992 at more than $22 million in benefits to merchant navy veterans. If that's so, that's $7 million per year, not $17 million projected.
On the other hand, DVA said they spent less than a million in the first year. And then again the table of total merchant navy expenditures in a May 17, 1996 letter gives a $19.8 million figure, but that, as DVA said, is just an estimate for the sake of an estimate.
On March 17, Secretary of State Lawrence MacAuley told this committee that some of us in the coalition ``continue to allege there are flaws in the legislation. No actual cases have arisen to show the validity of these claims.''
The secretary and his senior officials refused to meet with the coalition with cases of rejected claims. They continue to demand that we just send the names of such cases and they will judge on a case-by-case basis. If a flaw in the act is the cause of rejection, they may consider amendments under yet another miscellaneous housekeeping bill.
Coalition letters of June 30, 1995, November 19, 1995, and April 28, 1996, giving names of rejections, have not been acknowledged.
Case-by-case review sounds so reasonable. Why is the coalition opposed to it? Aren't all veterans' applications handled case by case, treated, as the Bank of Montreal likes to promote, ``one customer at a time''? But as the rules for bank customers trying to get a loan differ one customer at a time, so do the rules for the merchant navy veteran and the civilian Canadian seaman, and their wait in the line-up has been fifty years long.
Tables of differences in service and areas of service for the two categories of wartime merchant seamen from the other groups in Bill C-84, and with the War Veterans Allowance Act and the Pension Act, have been tabled before and they are in the second part of my presentation for your files and consideration. These are not alleged or hypothetical flaws. The proof of differences is in the legislation.
A few merchant seamen have won appeals after years of persistence. There is partial compensation. There is no retroactivity to time of injury and there are no apologies. What this says is that individual compensation is possible, but it leaves the act with its injustices unchanged.
This discourages others from making appeals. Now the greatest discouragers are age, infirmity and obdurate government insensitivity. The intent to discriminate is well documented in a December 2, 1991 memo from a member of the consultation group appointed by Minister Gerald Merrithew. Mr. Olmstead has gone into this. These were the people who were to frame merchant navy legislation and they were the spokesmen for us. The group was chaired by Jack Jolleys, legion president of the dominion command, with members from the army, navy and air force vets in Canada and the National Council of Veterans Association.
In the memo, Mr. Cliff Chadderton explains to other members of the consultation group why he told an Ottawa Citizen editor he was placing a discrimination claim with the court challenges program on behalf of merchant seamen. He wrote that in effect the group had no indication from the minister, the deputy minister and Lieutenant General Jim Smith that the department was at least looking at remedial legislation. He felt their response was totally negative. At the time, the coalition was objecting to being excluded from consultation. He did it, he said, to prevent the Merchant Navy Coalition from making critical statements about the minister, the veterans' organizations, and more particularly, at him personally.
The case did not go to court. To this day the coalition's disagreement is not with the rank and file legion members, who in recent years have helped merchant seamen and supported their resolutions for equality only to have these dropped by dominion command. That letter is tabled with the second part.
Discrimination is legalized in Bill C-84. If you read the standing committee's minutes of May 6 and 7 of 1992, Minister Gerald Merrithew defends the lack of merchant navy consultation in the hiring of Lieutenant General Smith, who had little combatant experience and no naval knowledge to, as the minister said, advise him:
The committee asked to see General Jim Smith's report. The minister said there wasn't one, only notes. On March 27, 1996, Mr. MacAulay told this committee he and his senior officials understood the frustrations and many obstacles faced by the wartime merchant seamen in their 47-year wait to finally obtain:
Gordon Olmstead's analyses of the acts affecting merchant seamen and sections lifted from the acts for easy comparison give the lie to equal access. The revisionist history given by the deputy minister in 1990, 1991 and 1992 were disproved in the government's own documents by the archival and anecdotal research given by Professor Griezic and Gordon Olmstead. In 1991 both the House and Senate recommended equality for wartime merchant seamen, as later recorded in Hansard, ``with no discrimination whatsoever''.
It hasn't happened. The arguments disproved in 1991 are being recycled in the minister's speeches, letters and before this committee.
The answer to this inequity is not another sweeping under the rug of another housekeeping bill. Consultation papers, worked out by the department with the coalition, listed and corrected the inequities of Bill C-84 and provided for the inclusion of the merchant navy under the income-tested War Veterans Allowance Act. We were told it would take only half a day to ready the papers for enactment. Please consider Mr. Olmstead's suggestion. Perhaps this committee could form a subcommittee to study the 1993 consultation papers.
The last piece of paper I'll leave with you is a list of lapsed funds in Veterans Affairs from 1982 to 1994-95 fiscal years. You will note that in 1993-94, $154.7 million went unspent, and in 1994-95, $113 million. The amount in the department's contingency fund is unknown.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms MacDonald.
Are there any further comments from any of the witnesses?
Prof. Griezic: I would just like to give a kind of conclusion, if I could. There is the real problem that as the department deals with the merchant navy issue...
First, I'm delighted that this committee has permitted us to come before you once again to present our case and to make use of Mr. Broadfoot, who clearly didn't have access to such things as university education, business loans, land grants or any kind of health benefits available to the military personnel. As he recounted the dangers of the convoy, the injury that he had when he had to go to hospital in New York and be looked after there, again looked after not by the Canadian government but by the Americans, and the attitude of the government - not this government and not the members of this committee, but certainly the members of the bureaucracy...
I would point specifically to Mr. David Nicholson simply because he is the individual who was there in 1991.
We got a favourable response in 1993, and this was reflected clearly in correspondence from Kim Campbell when she became the first female Minister of National Defence and Veterans Affairs. The first female deputy minister of that department, who understood the situation quite well, was quite surprised that the department couldn't handle this situation, couldn't in fact computerize the new people who were going to be coming into gaining access to benefits.
It's a simple process. The department still has not done that, although it was requested by the deputy minister at that time that it be processed and continued along those lines.
At that time as well, consultation papers were created by the department under that deputy minister that clearly supported the position of the merchant navy representatives and outlined the flaws in the legislation. That was in October 1993. That was reconfirmed at a meeting with the secretary and the deputy minister at that time.
It was then re-established on October 18, 1994, when it was stated specifically that changes could be made within a half day that would grant the things are being looked after. There are only three of them: first, recognition as wartime veterans; second, equal access to benefits; and third, the benefits themselves. A sub-point to that third point is the compensation, which Mr. Broadfoot made because of having been without the benefits that the military had had for fifty years.
The government introduced legislation, Bill C-67, that was supposed to speed things up. You people listened to those bureaucrats and the secretary, who told you that supposedly the situation had improved. They also told this committee - not all the members on it - that this was going to be improved so applications would take fifteen days. I don't know if they were speaking in technicolour, but clearly that has not come about.
Merchant seamen are still being denied access. They keep saying to you people that they have never heard of anyone.
I can list them. I can start with Jim Kelley. I can start with Mr. McGladdery, who is a perfect example of an individual who does not fit the legislation, because he was injured in service, in gunnery training. Show me - and I asked the department to do this - where this man fits in the legislation. He does not fit, because there is nothing in the legislation that provides for him.
We can turn to Cliff Craig, Art Brown, Bill Hutcherson; we can go to William Black, John Ford, Elmer Parlee - individuals who have to pay for wheelchairs on their own because this government and this bureaucracy will not provide for Canadians who are destitute and without a means of improving their situation.
I think that's a blight on the good name of this Canadian nation.
How do we change that?
It almost appears as if there's a self-imposed ignorance by the department, a refusal to consult with Mr. Olmstead, with the coalition, a refusal to consult their own documents. They're in the archives. I'm prepared at any time to provide the specifics for them, because they're there. I've seen them. I think I have, as Mr. Broadfoot saw today, a lot of them in my office, which limits the space in my office considerably. But they're there.
If it's not a self-imposed ignorance, one wonders whether it's malice toward the merchant seamen.
I wonder whether it's not then the legion that is responsible for this. The legion, back on May 3, 1991, admitted that merchant seamen were excluded from consulting with the government for the creation of legislation pertaining to merchant seamen.
Now they've come up and said - they're going to be saying it at their convention - that they represent merchant seamen, not the merchant seamen associations or the coalition.
I think there's something wrong about that situation. I don't think you people, members, would permit someone else to be your spokespersons when you know better than anyone else what the problems are that you are confronting. Yet that's what the legion's dominion command is stating.
There's a further problem that comes up as they talk about not being able to provide compensation. It's not a money issue. It really isn't. There's something else involved. I would ask you people to ask the department what it is really that's at stake here, because it isn't money.
The amount of money that's involved in this issue is minimal. Look at the compensation that could be paid to look after these individuals, or even to give compensation to someone like Jim Kelley. His injury was documented in 1994. He gets a 15% pension rebate, not 100%. That's only from 1992. They only gave him 5% in his first case, and he had to appeal. Two years later they upped it, being very gracious, to 15%. The man spent 47 years paying for corrective shoes himself.
It was the same thing with Sam McGladdery, who has been purchasing special shoes since 1944 so that he can walk properly.
There's another problem too. I wonder about whether there is, on the part of the department, some kind of antipathy toward the province of Quebec, because that had 40% of the losses in World War II. You don't have to accept Professor Griezic's word on that. C.D. Howe stated that.
At this point, I would like to thank you once again. If there are any questions for any of my members, I would be delighted to have you ask them, because I'm sure they could respond to them. Thank you very much.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Mr. Leroux (Shefford): Mrs MacDonald, gentlemen, I am very pleased to welcome you before this comittee. Obviously, it is not easy for us to see what has to be done. Those events go back a very, very long time. When you enrolled into the merchant navy, nobody thought about what would happen once you got older. Unfortunately, we all get old. In any case, at that time, there was probably no recording system similar to those we have today.
I believe that is the root of the problem. Your rights have been recognized. You can correct me if I am mistaken. I am trying to understand. In 1992, your rights were recognized through the Merchant Navy Veteran and Civilian War-related Benefits Act.
If I understand correctly, some of the merchant navy veterans, called civilian merchant seamen, do not have the same rights. In other words, there are two categories of merchant navy veterans. Is that the problem?
You can answer in English because I understand English. I'm better in French, though.
I believe that is the problem. Some people have had their rights recognized in 1992, and those rights are more or less similar to those of the other veterans. In other words, the merchant navy veterans have more or less the same rights since 1992, do they not?
Prof. Griezic: There are only a few actually in that category because that legislation does not include all the service that the merchant seamen performed. Because of this, only a certain number are included in it.
Therefore, a large percentage of the individuals are excluded from access to the benefits because of that exclusion. That legislation, rather than being inclusive, was made exclusive, so the individuals as they apply for the benefits end up not getting them. That's why you have such a high rate of refusal on the part... At least, we're guessing that. They just give us estimates. For some reason they cannot provide exact figures. That's what they keep telling us.
Mr. Leroux: People appearing before the Board must prove that they were part of the merchant navy, that they sailed into dangerous waters, that they had to face potential attacks, etc, in order to qualify.
How many persons who qualified as merchant navy veterans and who sailed the high seas during the war did not get any benefits from the department? What percentage had their claims rejected? Do you know?
Prof. Griezic: I wish I could answer that easily, but unfortunately I can't. As I mentioned before, we're having a problem getting actual figures from the department as to how many people have been gated through with this legislation, how many are actually getting benefits who were getting benefits before by the old legislation. We have no idea, and they claim they can't tell us. If they can't tell us, then it's difficult for us to establish.
I find it really fascinating that the figure they are giving is that 2,000 of the 3,000 are getting benefits. In 1992 it was precisely the same figure - 2,016 - cited by Mr. Merrithew. It's four years later and they're using the same figure. What has happened? How do they arrive at that?
Mr. Leroux, I do not understand. I am not an economist but I know that people are playing games with the figures.
I just don't understand it. But I would clearly estimate that from the ones who have applied for benefits, by their own figures, at least 80% are being rejected.
Mr. Olmstead: I suggest you turn to the green sheet at the end of my distributed testimony. You will see two columns: civilian war pensions and allowances, and merchant navy pensions and allowances. You might try taking Mr. Broadfoot's place when he was put ashore in New York. In the new merchant navy veterans he wouldn't qualify.
There isn't really time to go through this, but I'd like just to read the note below to you. The first column quotes the old and new acts as they relate to civilian merchant seamen. The first table, the left-hand side, applies in both the old and new acts. It is clear and concise and provides specific recognition of service, but for very limited benefits. The second column for merchant navy veterans relates to an extended range of benefits. Recognition of service is irrational, and I've testified to that, and would require a Philadelphia lawyer to interpret. I suggest that you test the side-bar portion with some experiences.
Instead of providing equality of recognition with the military, it degrades equality with the civilians. I am better off under recognition of service under the old act than under the new.
Mr. Leroux: I would like to ask a final question.
Last year, when the legislation was changed, we were told that the claims would be processed much more quickly.
If I understand correctly, you believe that the processing of the claims is still very long. When the secretary of state, Mr. MacAulay, tabled the Bill, he stated that he wanted to accelerate the process. This is understandable since the people making claims are old and need their benefits as soon as possible.
As far as you know, are the claims being processed more quickly now or not?
Mr. Olmstead: When we asked questions during this period of Bill C-67, they told us they couldn't deal with them until they'd finished Bill C-67, which was going to save a lot of time after they got finished with it.
Prof. Griezic: From the personal experience of merchant seamen who have written to me, there has been no acceleration of the processing whatsoever. We have requested, as in the legislation, the personal intervention of the secretary, and he has said he is unable to do that. There has been no intervention on the part of Mr. Nicholson either.
Therefore, the only conclusion I can come to is that contrary to the evasive responses to this committee by those two gentlemen, the Hon. Mr. Secretary and Mr. Nicholson, there has been no speed-up for the merchant seamen at all. This is what we said would happen when they presented that legislation, when we appeared before these committees and before the Senate. There has been no speed-up at all. If you look at what Mr. Nicholson and Mr. MacAulay said, they are virtually admitting that. They keep saying that in the future it may happen. It has not happened to date.
The Chair: Mr. Wood.
Mr. Wood (Nipissing): Mr. Griezic, you made a very compelling and very passionate opening statement. You challenged us to ask the department what is at stake here. You say money is not the issue. I am a relatively new member of this committee and I'd like you to tell me what, in your mind, is at stake here.
Prof. Griezic: Are you asking me what's at sake for an individual such as Mr. -
Mr. Wood: You say to ask the department what's at stake in getting the benefits going. In your mind what is the hold-up? What is at stake here?
Prof. Griezic: This may seem somewhat simplistic and it certainly is not the entire answer, but what is at stake here is bringing someone into the club, as both Mr. Nicholson and the secretary have said repeatedly. Basically that means recognizing these individuals as equals, as has been done in Australia, where the merchant seamen have been placed under the same legislation with the same access to the same benefits. They eliminated the legislation for the merchant seamen in Australia and they are now considered to be war veterans with their military colleagues.
The legion is opposed to it. Mr. Cliff Chadderton is opposed to it. The army, navy and air force associations are opposed to it. I hate to be this blunt, but this is the situation.
It is an unfortunate situation because of the losses. Mr. Broadfoot spoke briefly about the dangers. He could relate other things such as how they broke up in convoy, and then the fears. But again, he experienced it. I didn't.
There's a real problem here and it is - I don't like using this term either - discrimination. It is discrimination that has not just been there since 1992. There are documents proving this, and I've cited them, in the archives on the part of the legion. The legion is prepared to give some benefits to the merchant seamen but not to give them veteran status. This is in correspondence to the secretary of state and to Lieutenant-Colonel E.L.M. Burns in May, June and July 1947.
Mr. Wood: I have a hard time getting my mind around this, because I can't understand why the legion and various other people would want to discriminate against someone who put their life on the line for our country, whether or not it was in the merchant marines. I have a hard time with this. What is the reason? Is it just control? I don't understand how people could think this way.
Maybe I'm out to lunch here, but I just don't understand why those people who obviously fought in the war are saying there is a problem with the merchant marine veterans who basically did the same thing but maybe didn't get recognized for it at the time. I have a hard time with this even existing in Canada today. But as you say, it does. There is obviously documentation that it does.
Prof. Griezic: Mr. Wood, I wish I could answer this, because to me it is unthinkable. I don't have a military mind. I'm serious as I say this. Perhaps someone like Mr. Broadfoot could answer it.
Mr. Broadfoot: I think it has to do with this mentality that is a kind of warped approach to tradition. It is the same mentality that says it is a crime to disband the Airborne no matter what they've done; it should never be disbanded because of their tradition as a corps. You should never allow people to wear turbans into a legion hall because it's not our tradition.
It's all the same thing. The same applies to an attitude towards what they considered a civilian organization of just casual people who joined up and became crews on civilian ships carrying cargoes. It has nothing to do with us because we are military - we are air force, we are navy, we are army. So it is a mindset that is almost impossible to penetrate.
An hon. member: [Inaudible - Editor]
The Chair: Stupid is the word.
Mr. Wood: I just have one more question. But did you want to say something?
Mr. Olmstead: There's another aspect to this. You may have heard on radio or various places that the generals have been running National Defence and not doing a particularly good job of it. Well, the same sort of condition applies in Veterans Affairs, where the bureaucracy is running the department. We see the same words, the same phrases, the same responses coming out of a computer that have been coming out for the past eight years. Nothing has changed.
Mr. Wood: This is my final question. Obviously we all know you've had a long and difficult time dealing with Veterans Affairs Canada. You have not been very successful, otherwise you wouldn't be here today. Clearly you have many areas of contention. But if there was one message or issue you would ask us to convey to the Secretary of State for Veterans Affairs, what would this be? What is the most pressing matter you would like to see resolved?
Mr. Olmstead: We would like to see a rewording of the act, a reworking of the act to provide what they said it would provide. I will go to my testimony in which I stated that Minister Merrithew appeared before the Senate Committee of the Whole on Bill C-84. He said in part:
Mr. Wood: You'd like to see the rewriting of the act. This is the number one priority.
Mr. Olmstead: Yes.
Mr. Wood: Good.
Prof. Griezic: In other words, if there was a new piece of legislation, which was suggested initially and which we thought was going to happen, the department did in fact state the merchant navy representatives could see the draft legislation. This is what happens when veterans' legislation is introduced. It goes to the veterans' organizations and they see what is there. They vet it.
We were told this is what would happen. Then we were told this couldn't happen. So what has to be done, I think, is simply a rewriting of the act to deal solely with the issue of the merchant navy by placing them quite simply under the War Veterans Allowance Act. What has to happen, Mr. Wood, is there has to be a equality.
These people - again, they can correct me here before you - don't want to be called military because they weren't. What they want is to be considered equal, as has happened in Australia and in the United States.
Why is Canada dragging its heels on this issue? If a simple piece of legislation is going to take half a day, we wouldn't be here. Bill C-84 should have corrected this. We shouldn't be, four years later, trying to correct this inequity.
Mr. Wood: Thank you, Madam Chair.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Wood. Mr. Frazer is next.
Mr. Frazer: Thank you, Madam Chair.
I find myself in an awkward position here because I don't very often side with the government. I don't think I'm going to completely do this, but I do have some concerns.
As you may be aware, I am in the process of tabling a private member's bill addressing, I think, most of the deficiencies you've brought out today, addressing the problem of high seas versus dangerous waters, addressing the problem of people in transit to their ship from their training organization where they first committed to serve with a ship, and also with the case of involuntarily interrupted voyages and so on.
What I'm concerned about here is what seems to be a confrontational attitude between your organization and the Department of Veterans Affairs. I can certainly understand your frustration, but let me expand a little on my frustration.
Professor Griezic and Mr. Olmstead, you came to see me in my office last November and we talked the situation over. I said I've heard what the Secretary of State for Veterans Affairs has said and he has said basically there is no difference. If there is any difference in treatment between merchant navy veterans and war veterans, he wants to know about it.
I asked you at that time to provide me with specific instances of where there was discrimination between the two. This is June, but I still have not received anything. I heard them for the first time today when you read off a list.
I offered to intercede on your behalf with the secretary of state and with Veterans Affairs, but I can't intercede if I don't have the necessary information.
I belong to a legion on Saltspring Island, where my home is. We have merchant navy veterans there who are absolutely full members of the legion and are served by the offices of the legion in their pursuit of compensation for claims.
So I'm having difficulty in accepting that you're doing everything possible to help your cause. Confrontation normally does not work; it gets people's backs up and it doesn't accomplish the purpose.
The Secretary of State for Veterans Affairs has said that he is contemplating a housekeeping act that will in fact bring the merchant navy veterans under the War Veterans Allowance Act. I really wish he would do that.
If I can't have specific examples of where your merchant navy veterans are being discriminated against by being treated differently from veterans, then I can't do anything for you. I want to help, but I can't help without you helping me.
On the case you mentioned earlier where the individual had to go back and reclaim, the same thing would happen to a war veteran who claimed. His compensation would go back to the date of his first claim. It would not go back to the war, because that isn't the way the thing works.
Again, I don't see where that's discrimination against the merchant navy.
Can you enlighten me, please, as to why this could be the case?
Prof. Griezic: Quite simply, Mr. Frazer, I think we're coming at the approach to this whole issue through different glasses.
I don't think that I'm confrontational. I was the person who in 1994 requested that this committee - not all the members on it - ask the legion to have a meeting with this coalition, because for years we had been requesting to meet with the legion. The legion refused. This is dominion command. As Ms MacDonald said, there's no issue with groups like yours. We know that is the case; there is support at the local branch level. That's not the problem. The problem is here in Ottawa with dominion command.
Mr. Frazer: [Inaudible - Editor]
Prof. Griezic: That's right.
At that time the legion agreed to a meeting, which was held on April 22. They conducted that meeting. I couldn't be present because of health problems. At that meeting they told the representatives that there was no sense in meeting again, thank you very much.
I don't know how you deal with that, Mr. Frazer, because we requested again, after that, to meet with them. They have refused. We've had meetings with the department. Since August 18, 1994, the minister has refused to meet with this coalition or any of the specific representatives of it. I don't know how you can deal with that.
Mr. Frazer: You can deal with it by giving me the information and allowing me to intercede for you.
Prof. Griezic: Let me continue. You asked for a case-by-case study. This is precisely what the legion wants, because they are advising the ministry. My problem with that -
Mr. Frazer: I don't go to the ministry; I go to the minister.
Prof. Griezic: As we do that, they will handle the case-by-case situation, will look at a Mr. McGladdery, will in fact give Mr. McGladdery something even though he's outside of the legislation, and ask him why he's not happy. The man has been waiting for fifty years to get something and suddenly he's supposed to be happy because they give him 5%.
The names I listed...and there are more of them, Mr. Frazer. It's frustrating for me not to provide those names, but if that's the kind of treatment they're going to get, why am I going to subject those people to that kind of treatment? Why am I going to subject an individual who has to go to the dump in Saint John to get a wheelchair...?
If I give a name to the department, they're going to say, guess what? You don't merit anything, so go and look in the dump.
I'm sorry, but I can't do that, Mr. Frazer. Maybe there's something wrong with me, but there is something wrong with a department that is so insensitive that it can't say, give me your whole list; we'll sit down and talk about it.
That's why I asked about the legion. That's what we've been requesting collectively from that department, from the secretary. Clearly his advisers are saying, well, there's no need; give it to me case by case. That's not going to solve the question. That's not going to solve the issue. That legislation will stay there and here we are, four years later, still battling, Mr. Frazer.
Much as I respect the competence you have in dealing with the department, the kind of responses that have been given to you, to the members of the Bloc, to the NDP, and even to some of the Liberal members of the House reflect quite clearly the specific response of the bureaucracy. The response is form letters. You can take various sections out of each of those letter responses. That's what they're going to deal with. I'm more concerned with wiping the slate clean, not filling in the potholes but putting in new paving for a new road, so these people, in the very last days of their lives, can have some degree of honour and respect, which they merit, and say, this is what has been given to us; we finally have been recognized.
Yet what you're suggesting is that we go at this piece by piece. If we go at it piece by piece, I'm sorry, as I suggested many times, with the number who are left, we are going to be in the year 3000 -
Mr. Frazer: I am not the Royal Canadian Legion; I'm a member of Parliament. I've asked you to allow me to intercede on your behalf. You've refused to allow me to do that by not giving me the information I need.
Now, I contend to you that when Mr. MacAulay says there is no difference between the treatment merchant navy veterans get and war veterans get, the way to prove to Mr. MacAulay that is not the case is to give him specific examples, one, two, three, or four. Then I can say to Mr. MacAulay, how can you say there's no difference between these two when this shows there is a difference? You don't allow me to do that, Professor Griezic, and I can't help you if you won't allow me to help you.
I'm very sympathetic to your cause, and I must admit my chief concern at the moment is obtaining immediate requirements for the merchant navy veterans, as opposed to compensation that goes way back. Let's get them looked after right now and pursue the rest of it later on. But I can't operate with my hands tied and no information to go on. I can't go to the secretary of state and say this is a clear case of discrepancy where this individual is not given the same treatment as a war veteran would be, because you haven't given me the information I can go with.
The Chair: Mr. Frazer, I just want to say were we in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, the late great Chief Justice Cowan would have said to me, in your place, stop arguing with the witness. However, I do see your point.
Can we leave this for a minute? I know, Professor Griezic, you want to respond, but can we wait just a second?
I take Professor Griezic's point. I think I know the one he's going to make, and it's one he has already made. I also understand Mr. Frazer's point. There's a bit of frustration here. Let's move along and see if perhaps we can come up with some response when we get to the end of the questions whereby the committee, all members, on a non-partisan basis, might be able to help on this.
Mr. Bertrand: I have a question for Mrs. MacDonald.
In the letter you received from the secretary of state dated May 17, 1996 - I guess it's fromMr. MacAulay, because all I have is the first page -
Ms MacDonald: I'm sorry. It should be double-sided.
Mr. Bertrand: It really doesn't matter.
In the last paragraph you talk about the 260 pension applications received...or he tells you; excuse me.
Ms MacDonald: Right.
Mr. Bertrand: He tells you about the 260 pension applications. Are you aware of why209 received an unfavourable ruling? Do you know if there was a recurring theme; for instance, these 200 were refused because...? Anyway, was a reason given for why the numbers were so high?
Ms MacDonald: No. We never get any reasons. This is the first time we've had any solid number - 260. So we're unaware of why they were refused.
Mr. Bertrand: Are you aware of the names of the people who have applied for them?
Ms MacDonald: No, we're not. The onus is always on the wartime merchant seamen to find out. We're all volunteers here. We have no back-up.
Mr. Bertrand: We've probably asked this before - I should be writing it down - but in the documents we have, you say there are roughly 3,050 left. I forget who asked this, but do you have a list?
Ms MacDonald: In the coalition, the largest number of people come from the Canadian Merchant Navy Association. I think they would be at about 2,050, or something like that. The death rate is about one every three days. In terms of the Canadian Merchant Navy Prisoner of War Association, I think Mr. Olmstead can reply. The birthdate is around...
Mr. Olmstead: The average birthdate is 1910.
Ms MacDonald: In terms of the Company of Master Mariners, I'm not sure how many would be eligible. In the Merchant Navy Association very few members are left.
Mr. Bertrand: Coming back to Mr. Griezic, and what Mr. Frazer was saying, I can understand what you're saying but I also feel for what Jack is saying. I remember, in some of the meetings we've had, that Jack would always say that halitosis is better than no breath at all. I'm just wondering if some of the members, even though they get 25% of their benefits -
Prof. Griezic: I'd say 25% is my wish.
Mr. Bertrand: Then perhaps 10% or 15% would be better for now than no benefits at all until we rectify the situation. But that's just a personal comment.
Prof. Griezic: I agree with your comment. The bit by bit approach makes sense - but it doesn't make sense. If we could just refer to the consultation papers in which the government has admitted there are discrepancies... That was in 1993. Now, two and a half years later, had they in fact done that and consulted even before the legislation or followed, as Mr. Olmstead said, what in fact was taking place in the introduction of the legislation, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
The individuals who are fighting, who are trying to get the benefits, who are blocked by the access, the frustration they have... You asked about the individuals and the numbers of people. I think this is really important.
A lot of people - and Mr. Bertrand, you and I have spoken about this - simply don't even want to bother. To them, it's a wasted effort. I find that extremely frustrating, because contrary to whatMr. Frazer says, I'm not a confrontational person. I like to discuss things. That's why I'm in education. The only way you learn something is by discussing things.
When there are people who won't discuss, what do you do? Who do you talk to - yourself? That's what the situation ends up being. That's why we're here today. The secretary won't talk to us. The legion won't talk to us. Again, I include myself in the merchant navy group. I'm too young to have been involved in the merchant navy, but I empathize with them so greatly. If you received some of these letters, Mr. Bertrand, I think you'd understand some of the frustration.
Again, I admit to being saddened by the fact that I can't make as great approach to the Québécois as should be made. I know a lot of those people are there. Sylvain Simard's father, as an example, was a ex-merchant seaman, something I hadn't known. I hadn't known Mr. Broadfoot was. I hadn't known Norman Jewison was, either.
There are people out there and they just don't have... They see no sense. I'm an optimist. That's why I'm here. And I'd like to think that's why we're all here. I would like to see the thing resolved. To me, the easiest way to resolve it is to just change that legislation, and then everybody is happy. And we don't do it piecemeal. In half a day, it can be done.
The Chair: Okay, Professor Griezic.
We're getting to the end of round one. I'm going to take the chair's prerogative and ask very brief questions, and then we're going to go to round two.
The first one is in regard to the definition of dangerous waters. It's now high seas, and I am assuming that therefore the waters in and around Nova Scotia, and in particular in and around Halifax Harbour, would not qualify, given that in the last war a number of Canadian ships were sunk off Sambro Head. That would not be considered high seas because it is still within the confines of Halifax Harbour.
Mr. Frazer: Madam Chair, I believe... In a ship that was actually sunk or attacked that -
The Chair: No, I'm not talking about a ship that was sunk or attacked. I'm talking about if somebody was injured...if you were perhaps doing something that was bringing somebody into the harbour. There are a lot of things dealing with the merchant seamen coming into harbour that might have happened. You could have been injured there and that would not be covered because you were in the harbour or at the approaches. That wouldn't fall under the definition. Is that correct?
Prof. Griezic: Yes.
The Chair: That's correct.
Second, Mr. Bertrand asked you about numbers. Do you have any ideas as to cost? The clerk and I were just throwing a couple of numbers back and forth, and I said a maximum of $5 million. I won't say what the clerk said, but he didn't think it was going to be that much.
Do any of you have an idea as to what the cost of benefits would be, just a ballpark figure? I won't hold you to it.
Prof. Griezic: It's difficult.
The Chair: I know it's difficult but -
Prof. Griezic: It really is, because we're hypothesizing here.
The figure that I suggested for paying compensation to them would in the range of $75 million. That would be outright compensation. For the benefits that are being offered to these individuals it seems to me...and again, it becomes very difficult because of the lack of figures from the government. Again, I use the term ``government'', but I really mean ``department''.
I think the costing for looking after these individuals through the benefits packages would range anywhere between $3 million and $8 million per year. In this regard, I'm being consistent with what the legion has suggested. They suggest the higher percentage of $8 million and I suggest the lower of $3 million. I base it on the $3 million because I think if more people are given the VIP you then aren't paying for hospitalization and that sort of thing. You really do...because you can look after eight people rather than one at home. I'd go with the lower figure. The legion has suggested the higher figure. It's somewhere in that range, Madam Chairman.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Mr. Richardson (Perth - Wellington - Waterloo): I want to pick up on the questioning of Mr. Frazer.
There's no doubt in all of our minds that as we get older and take off the uniform and sit in a job like this that the crazy world of Orwell and the Animal Farm and the territorial imperative was part of the dance of the services.
It was the pecking order at each rank level. Each had a different institute to go into and have a drink, etc. The same separation applied in the navy. It was all part of the world in which they lived. It was the world. It wasn't the real world, it was a world that was their own. When they came out of that, sometimes it was difficult to adapt to the real world and see that everyone was equal, that everyone did do their part in the war.
Those people who ventured voluntarily to put their life in harm's way and serve their country with distinction and valour should in fact be rewarded for such an offering, whether they had been in the air force as a ground crew technician or a first-aid person or whether they had served in the merchant mariners as an engine person or a deckhand or whatever the role they played.
The fact is that somehow we get caught up in the games people play, and they're generally mind games and do not allow for an equal playing field. I see it here and I've seen it since I've been a member of Parliament on this committee. Somehow we have to bring about the questions of what was the job to be done, were they volunteered, did they put their lives in harm's way, and did they serve with valour. Yes, yes, yes.
What we need, Mr. Griezic, is simply some strong evidence that in fact people have been denied benefits, and I have never been given a documented case of denial. You can see the goodwill in this committee. There's a body of goodwill that wants to do right for you. But you're going to ask us to start back with a philosophical base and rebuild it. We've gone through that. We've internalized the feeling, the hurt, and the miscarriage of justice here. You name the Veterans Affairs group as being in the wrong, but I have not yet been given an example of rejection. There's no hard evidence.
I know the feeling you have. Some things have been there and you don't want to give them to us, but we can't operate with air. You have to have reality. You're accusing people of doing this and yet you're not coming forward with the evidence. You give us the evidence and we'll carry the ball. It's very simple. That's all I'm asking, Madam Chairperson.
There's no doubt that this is our feeling towards you. It's a strong feeling to see that justice is served. But certainly you have to help us with the hard stuff. Give us a few facts to put together and sit down with the minister and say this committee has seen strong evidence of denial, evidence that there was wrongful denial, and we will carry the ball.
I hope I haven't misread you, Mr. Frazer. I think that's exactly what you were saying. We've served. We know what it's like. We know the game we play when we're in it. It's part of the mystique of the services. But we're now out, and the fog has lifted and we see a level playing field and we see everyone as a human being, not as navy, army, air force, or merchant mariner, but as people who served the cause for their country. That's all we want. If you can bring that kind of hard evidence forward you'll certainly get the support.
The Chair: I want to jump in just before Ms MacDonald replies. Maybe this will help the witnesses before you respond.
In the exchange between Mr. Frazer and Professor Griezic, I think I gathered a concern that if you give us specifics, the department will then maybe cast a bone or something, and people will feel humiliated, etc.
What both Mr. Richardson and Mr. Frazer are saying is that's not what we're looking to do. We're not looking to take the evidence from you to go for redress on a case-by-case basis. We're looking to get the evidence from you so that we can then go to the secretary and the minister both and say here are people who are getting caught in the cracks, people who are not being served, people who should be compensated.
I think we can say as a committee that we could guarantee that these people would not be approached and humiliated in the sense you are talking about. We would get an answer and perhaps - I can't guarantee this at this time - when we get the answer from the department after you have given us the evidence we would come back and talk to you people again and give you a report as to what we have learned and where we are prepared to go. That's if you give us the evidence.
I understand very much what you're saying, that people feel they've done enough and suffered enough, and they don't want to be patronized or otherwise passed over or given 5% when they deserve whatever. But you must see it from our point of view. To go to the ministers, we have to have John Smith was denied on such and such a date; John Smith served in the following capacity and therefore should receive thus and so. That's what I'm suggesting.
Please go ahead, Ms MacDonald.
Ms MacDonald: May I suggest again the letter of May 17, 1996? Madam Chair, I feel that this committee has more clout than we do. The minister says in his letter that 209 received unfavourable rulings. I think you would have more clout. You would get what you want if you asked them for the 209 and why they were unfavourable. We've tried and we can't get anything out of them. Where does the average citizen get something from the department? We've been trying for years. May I please suggest that the standing committee ask them about the 209? That was as of May 31, 1994.
The Chair: I see your point, Ms MacDonald, and we'll take that under advisement.
Professor Griezic, you have mentioned several people.
Prof. Griezic: Yes, I have a list.
The Chair: Would you give that list to us on the understanding, if the committee would agree, that those people would not be approached, but that we would use this as a form of documentation? We would come back to you before anything else was done, before any of those people were approached.
Prof. Griezic: I think that would be the best idea, to in fact look at it collectively. That's what has been suggested and I'm glad you've interpreted it in that sense. I see nothing wrong with that.
There is an individual from the POW group, and I think it would be okay, Gordon - Mr. Ford, who is there - to include him as well...
The Chair: [Inaudible - Editor] wouldn't, but if you have some who would... I'm saying that we would take that evidence and hear what the department had to say on those cases, and then come back to you with some response.
Mr. Richardson: If I may, Madam Chairman, on the POW, the merchant mariners were the first prisoners of war and were incarcerated for a long time. We recommended that they be recognized for the full time as prisoners of war and I would like to find out why they weren't. A prisoner of war is a prisoner of war.
The Chair: That's right.
Mr. Richardson: From the day they're incarcerated until the time they finish, they should be given full benefits.
Mr. Olmstead: You asked earlier, Madam Chair, about the costs. If you look at page 2 of the letter to Mr. Rompkey, you will find a figure of $1,482,000 for four years, which would be about $370,000 per year in total.
On the business of POWs, if you turn to page 2 of my new testimony you will find that everyone who suffered a traumatic separation of some kind from his ship, whether POW or thrown ashore or lost a ship, has had his recognition of service terminated. Does that not matter? I direct that question to Mr. Frazer.
The Chair: We're not suggesting that it doesn't. We are saying that if you give us some specifics, we will undertake to take them to the minister to find out why these people are being denied. Before anyone approached those people, because of your concern about them having been ill-used in the past, we would come back to your group, either the full committee or perhaps I as chair with certain members of the committee. We would undertake to do that. Would that be agreeable?
Mr. Olmstead: It's okay with me.
Prof. Griezic: Madam Chair, to follow up on what you're suggesting, could I then make the recommendation that in fact those names be provided to you so that you can act collectively on them through your means, through this committee.
Secondly, after seeing the names and consulting with the department, then respond to the -
The Chair: Consulting with the ministers, because we're doing that.
Prof. Griezic: Yes, okay. Then, after doing that, provide the coalition and its representatives with the response to that.
Secondly, consult the consultation papers, plus the critiques of those consultation papers, where the department admitted that there were problems with the legislation, so it would give this committee an idea of what the problems were and still are. I suggest this because nothing has changed since those consultation papers of October 13, 1993.
If you people saw those consultation papers and the critique, I believe you would understand what the difficulty is from our position as we're trying to deal with them, as they keep saying that the access...and so on.
The third point I would like to raise as a consideration is always a difficult one. I know this because Mr. Wood has raised it and it's been raised in the past as well. It's something thatMr. Broadfoot talked about in relation to other people who have come into Canada, and I guess the Japanese Canadian situation also falls into that category. It is to give some sort of consideration to compensation for these individuals based on the fact that for 50 years they have done without.
Because of that denial, there are a lot of them who, yes, have succeeded, as Mr. Broadfoot has, but were denied such things as education. It's not a case of introducing those programs again, but just to consider some sort of compensation for all of them.
The department have said that they can't go back in the past historically and correct an injustice. But they've done it with the Japanese Canadians. They've done it with the native population. They've done it with the -
The Chair: I am going to cut you off. You started me quoting Chief Justice Cowan; I'll end up quoting my mother. My mother would say, give someone an inch and they'll take a mile. I understand that as an advocate that's what you're supposed to do, but let's crawl before we walk.
You bring us those specifics with the undertaking that I have given you with the consent... I believe I have the consent of my colleagues on both sides - Mr. Frazer, Mr. Leroux, my colleagues on the government side. Let's cross that bridge first.
With regard to the consultation papers, I'd like to ask our researcher if he could perhaps prepare some kind of briefing for us on that, and we'll look into that as well.
With regard to the further...that's the next step. Let's do the first step, and then we'll see what comes from there. If you bring us the information, we will then take it upon ourselves to find out why these people have been denied and we will come back to you before any steps whatsoever are taken with regard to these people and see where we should go from there.
Is that agreeable for now? Is it better than a poke in the eye with a pointed stick?
Prof. Griezic: It certainly is. That is certainly agreeable. I would like to couple it, though, with that consultation paper, which -
The Chair: We'll ask the researcher to look into that for us.
Prof. Griezic: Okay. Then I think that that is...yes.
The Chair: We'll cross the next bridge when we come to it.
Prof. Griezic: I think that would be the compensation aspect.
The Chair: That's next. Let's deal with each thing as it comes.
Are there any further questions or other comments that anyone would like to make?
Mr. Frazer: Are you still having any difficulty in getting the acceptable justification for a claim by an individual; that is, identifying that he was in fact a merchant navy veteran, that he was eligible? Is that still a problem, or has it been resolved? Are you having trouble getting records that indicate that an individual who has a claim is in fact justified in making that claim? Is that one pretty well resolved now?
Prof. Griezic: I haven't had any difficulty in finding records. The department has said that it will accept attestations, but in fact, they don't accept the attestations.
Mr. Frazer: You're saying that it does not accept the attestations in fact?
Prof. Griezic: Yes.
Mr. Frazer: Not even a statutory declaration?
Prof. Griezic: That's right. We have a number of cases - there are some of these names I've mentioned - in which that has happened.
Mr. Frazer: I'm not completely familiar... Are you aware of any similar problems with the War Veterans Allowance Act? I presume their records are such that this wouldn't be a problem?
Mr. Olmstead: One of the problems that does arise is using the military criteria whereby everybody had medical records and such.
I'd just like to quote from Mary Hurley of the law and government division of the Library of Parliament. This concerns discrimination and it's in the War Veterans Allowance Act: ``Identical treatment may produce serious inequality''. That is the quote. It's extracted all right, but it has a fundamental truth to it.
Mr. Frazer: I would very much like to see it in context so I understand exactly where it's coming from.
The Chair: Maybe we can see that when we get the list.
Mr. Frazer: Madam Chair, if I can, with regard to the letter to Mr. Rompkey we have in our file, I would like to go on record as advocating that the committee should ask about the outcome of our recommendation of March 8, 1994, which says that there should be strong consideration given to the extension beyond the 30-month prisoner of war compensation schedule. We haven't heard back from that one yet. As I say, that was on March 8, 1994, which is some time ago.
The Chair: Okay. We'll write a letter and ask about that. Thank you very much, Mr. Frazer.
I would like to thank our witnesses very much, on behalf of the committee, and to say, Professor Griezic, that you're elected to be the person who will be back in touch with us as soon as possible as soon as you have your documentation. It could be either with me or Mr. Rumas, the clerk. Thank you.
I believe Mr. Frazer had a motion that he wanted to make.
Mr. Frazer: Madam Chair, given that the 1994 report from the Special Joint Committee on Canada's Defence Policy and the December 1994 white paper on defence concluded that the purchase of submarines would be (a) effective given Canada's vast coastline, and (b) very cost-effective in comparison with our frigates, and (c) easily integrated into existing elements of Canada's armed forces, I move that, without further delay, the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs urge the government to make immediate arrangements to acquire the four currently available British submarines for the Canadian Armed Forces.
The Chair: Mr. Richardson, do you have any comment to make?
Mr. Richardson: No. I'd like to see us get them, too.
Motion agreed to
The Chair: The meeting is adjourned.