January 20, 1916

LIB

Edmond Proulx

Liberal

Mr. PROULX:

I am informed that the

Minister of Militia procured a contract of $700,000 for the hon. member for Prince Edward (Mr. Hepburn).

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Was it the hon. Minister. of Militia who procured a contract for the firm of which the hon. member for South Renfrew (Mr. Graham) is a director? The evidence on these matters is too plain for any man, however dull, I may say, however stupid, to mistake. Whatever may be said about the conduct of the Shell Committee, this at all events can be said, that they have not conducted the distribution of contracts on any partisan basis. I repeat that; I invite a challenge. The hon. member for Carleton (Mr. Carvell) shakes his head. Now I make this challenge. For every company or

[Mr. Meighen.J

every man he names belonging to the Conservative party who has got a contract, 1 will name him another belonging to the Liberal party. My offer stands good just as long as there is a shell committee. Now we will wait for my hon. friend'3 answer.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Come on.

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CON
CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The day before yesterday the hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries (Mr. Hazen) said that in the very city from -which the hon. member for St. John comes, 75 per cent, of the contracts went to the Liberals. When the hon. member for St. John asked for an instance, he gave the instance of McAvity Brothers and of the Phoenix Company. What was the answer of the hon. member for St. John? Oh, he says, you are out,' the McAvity's got their contract from the Canada Car ^and Foundry Company, and, consequently, the Shell Committee had nothing to do with it at all; it was a Russian contract which they got from the Canada Car Company. Was that an honest statement to this House? The McAvitys got a contract; they got contracts aggregating over half a million dollars from the Shell Committee,

, and it was the same with the Phoenix Company. Was the hon. gentleman fair with Parliament? Was he fair with the country? Was he behaving himself in a manner befitting a member of Parliament at this time? I do not think the hon. member for St. John was unaware 6f the facts. There is no one who has lived through the last Parliament who does not know the close relationship that existed between that hon. member and the McAvity family. I have nothing to say against their getting contracts; but I have something to say against an hon. member who, from his seat in this House, tells us that an hon. member is wrong in stating that the McAvity Bros, got contracts of over, half a million dollars but that the contract came from the Canada Car Company, when the fact is that they got contracts of over half a million dollars from the Shell Committee. Whether or not they got a contract from the Canada Car Company I do riot know, and I have no way of finding out, but I do know that they had a contract of over half a million dollars from the Shell Committee. ' [DOT]

The hon. member' made another very interesting reference, too, in the course of his speech, and I am sorry that the hon. member for South Renfrew

(Mr. Graham) is not here to hear what I am about to say. This is really one of the most fascinating by-plays I have ever seen in ^Parliament. The hon. member for St. John quotes the Toronto Telegram. He has suddenly come to the opinion that the Toronto Telegram is a newspaper to be absolutely relied upon with regard to its political advice, and he presses that advice upon the Government. Here is the quotation he made:

Exploiting of war orders-Doings of middlemen

one of the worst terms of contempt in the whole vocabulary of hon. gentlemen opposite. ,

-Proposition is up to Premier Borden, declares the Contract Record of Toronto.

Down in New York way they're still sending out circulars that tell of desirable investments created by filling war orders in Canada, says tlie Contract Record in this week's issue. One of the latest comes from Gilbert Elliott and Company. It advises clients to invest in Canada Foundries and Forgings Company, which has shops at Brockviile and Welland.

I quote from yesterday's debate:

Mr. Pugsley: If I atn not mistaken, Sir

Henry Pellatt is president of that company.

Mr. Graham : No.

Mr. Pugsley : I may be mistaken as to that.

Mr. Graham : Yes.

Mr. Pugsley: I saw that there had been some denial of a statement of profits which had been put forth by a company with which he was connected.

Did you ever see hedging more skilful than that when he found he had been chasing the wrong animal? The _hon. member (Mr. Pugsley) continued:

I will read the article from the Telegram, not knowing, of course, whether there was any contradiction of it or not:

' We a"O advised from sources upon which we can re'y, that earnings for the past ten months ending ' November 1, 1915, ai-e over $900,000, and that the monthly earnings are now running at the rate of $150,000, or equal to $1,860,000 per year, which after taking care of fixed charges, will amount to over 150 per cent per annum on the outstanding common stock.

This is the instance selected by the hon. member for St. John as the greatest with which to denounce the iniquities of the middlemen, believing, as he thought, that Sir Henry Pellatt was president 'of that company, or at least as he stated he thought. But the hon. member who interrupted him, the hon. member for South Renfrew (Mr. Graham), could not let that go, because a director of the company is the hon. member for South Renfrew himself. The president of the company is a gentleman by the name of Weir, of whom I know nothing.

But this is a company of which Hon. George P. Graham is a director, and it is the company which the hon. member for St. John cited as a hideous example of the conduct of middlemen, and as an example to demonstrate that the work of the Shell Com- . mittee brought shame to the cheeks of all Canadians.

I stated that I would have something to say about the devices adopted by the hon. member for St. John. I made a statement in opening this speech that the British Government had recognized from the beginning that this was their committee, and had dealt with it as such, and that at no time and in no sense was it an agency of the Canadian Government; that they had made investigations, that they had exercised superintendence, and that they were furnished with reports as a part of that superintendence. One of the men who came over representing the British Government, the personal representative of the Minister oi Munitions himself, was Mr. Thomas, who was formerly a member of the Imperial House. Another representative since has been Mr. Hichems. Both of these gentlemen have made their reports. The hon. member for St. John referred to the verdict given by Mr. Thomas, and how did he do it? He stood in his place in this House and stated that Mr. Thomas had said that there were too much politics in the Shell Committee. Now, I affirm here-and the hon. gentleman has all this session to prove me wrong- that he cannot show that Mr. Thomas made any such statement. Then he went on to say that Mr. Thomas had said, "If I could lift the veil just a little." It is well to quote Hansard in these matters to get things right. Here is what he "said, and I do not think that anything could better illustrate the parliamentary methods of the hon. member for St. John:

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CON

Oliver James Wilcox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WILCOX:

How did the Canadian- price compare with the price that was paid in the United.States at the same time?

Mr, Pugsley: I take the statement of Mr. Thomas, who says that the price was higher in Canada. Mr, Thomas is a gentleman who was sent out from England in consequence, I take it-

"in consequence. I take it."

-of the dissatisfaction which existed.

Mr. Meighen: Will the hon. gentleman take all of Mr. Thomas's statement?

Mr. Pugsley: I am quite willing to take all of Mr. Thomas's statement. Let my hon. friend take particularly Mr. Thomas's statement when he says that if he could raise the veil just a little-

There are no two inferences to he drawn from that-Mr. Thomas, the hon. gentle-

man said, had expressed the desire that he might be permitted to raise the veil just a little. I knew that Mr. Thomas had made no such statement, and so I said:

Mr. Meighen: Will the hon. gentleman quote that from Mr. Thomas's statement?

Mr. Pugsley: Yes.

Mr. Meighen: All right, bring it out.

Mr. Pugsley: I will do so.

And we all remember how he stood in his place so long trying to find it. I do not know whether he found it then or not. He went on:

I should like to oblige my hon. friend. 1 think it was in Montreal that Mr. Thomas made the statement; if my hon. friend will allow me, I will give it to him before I get through with my remarks. In that statement Mr. Thomas says also that he is a politician himself, and he rather conveys the impression that he^found a great deal of politics in Canada in connection with the shell committee.

Making it clearer still that Mr. Thomas, the representative of the Government of Great Britain, had said in this country that he desired to, but could not, lift the veil, the lifting of which would show that there were a lot of politics in the Shell Committee, and that the result would be disastrous to the committee. No other inference is possible. Now a day passed, a day in which to forget the exact language that he attributed to Mr. Thomas. The next day the faori. member for St. John stands in his place and endeavours to fulfil his undertaking to quote these words from Mr. Thomas. I will read what he said on this subject on the 19th of this month:

I regret for another reason that my hon. friend the Solicitor General is not present_

That is just at the opening; I came in just as he got through with this paragraph:

-because last evening, when I called attention to the fact that Mr. Thomas had come out to Canada as the personal representative of Mr. Lloyd George to look into the question of the furnishing of shrapnel and high explosive shells in Canada, he made a careful investigation into conditions, and upon one occasion, in making a speech in the city of Montreal, I think-

There was no " think " to it before.

I. think he used the words: ' If I raise the veil a little.'

Why did he leave out the word " could," after the twenty-four hours that intervened? He stated yesterday that the day before he had made the statement that Mr. Thomas had said," if I raise the veil a little." He did not say that Mr. Thomas had said, " if I could raise the veil just a little." It is just the difference between

black and white. Mr. Thomas was explaining that he was raising the veil just a little, and was going to tell what he saw. And he did tell what he saw under the veil; he told it to the people of the Canadian Club, and quoting from the Montreal Gazette, I am going to read what he told them:

If I raise the veil a little, said Mr. Thomas, it will be on my own personal responsibility, and do not take it as coming from the Minister of Munitions. But, naturally, from my official position, I must have considerable inside knowledge of what is going on in Canada in the manufacture of munitions.

Then he proceeds to raise the veil a little, not to regret that he could not raise it at all. He proceeds to raise it; he tells what is under the veil, and I am going to read what he tells, and all of it, on this subject of the manufacture of shells. I will read it from the very paper from which the hon. member for St. John city himselt read. I wonder why it did not occur to the hon. member for St. John, when he spoke about Mr. Thomas raising the veil, to tell what Mr. Thomas said when he did raise the veil. It would not suit him to do that.

Mr. Thomas goes on at some length without referring in any way to the manufacture of shells or to the Shell Committee. Then the report says:

With regard to munitions, Mr. Thomas said:

I am in a position to tell you the Government desiresthat is, the Imperial Government-

-to place further orders for the smaller shells, and also desires to place orders for larger shells, provided prices and conditions are satisfactory. The British Government was anxious to give Canada every preference, but had to consider three conditions: efficiency of ammunition, expedition in manufacture, and economy. As to delivery, Canadian manufacturers up to last June had been far behind, but had made great improvement since then, but even yet they were not always up to time.

A condition of affairs which the hon. member for St. John would doubtless attribute to the Canadian Government, and in respect of which he would entirely absolve the manufacturers.

As to efficiency of the shells, those which had passed inspection had turned out well. In this connection Mr. Thomas paid a warm tribute to the shell committeehere is the veil lifted, and this is the verdict:

-a warm tribute to the shell committee, and particularly General Bertramthe maligned of the hon. member for St. John- '

-who, he declared, had placed the whole Empire in his debt for the manner in which he had devoted himself to the work. The committee had been criticised because manufacturers of shells sat on it, but he pointed out that if these were cut off it would be impossible to get experts on it at all.

The very feature of the Shell Committee which the hon. member for St. John denounced as corrupt and scandalous is the feature commended by the British representative, Mr. Thomas: [DOT]

The shell committee is now about a year old, said Mr. Thomas, a*nd I think the time has come when its work might well be revised. At my suggestion Sir Frederick Donaldson, perhaps the most distinguished expert on munitions in the Empire, is coming to Canada. He was chief superintendent of ordnance at Woolwich, but resigned to become Lloyd George's adviser. He will be here in a few days, and, I think, will be able to render a good deal of assistance in the manufacture of shells, and also in the manufacture of big guns.

Then, further, the report says:

With regard to economy, continued Mr. Thomas, that must be considered, and X may tell you the cost of shells in Canada has been higher than in competitive countries. It is complained that fat orders have gone to the United States, but I can assure you a big slice will be reserved to Canada as long as the price is fairly satisfactory. But prices so far have been higher here than in the United States or Great Britain, ^ where any extra profits have been commandeered by the Government.

I want that sentence noted; this is from the Montreal Gazette, the paper from which the hon. gentleman quoted:

Prices so far have been higher here than in the United States or Great Britain, where any extra profits have been commandeered by the Government.

As a sample of the patriotic impulses of Canadian manufacturers, Mr. Thomas stated that recently Messrs. Baillie & Wood, of Hamilton, had undertaken to manufacture a million IS-pounder eatridge shells at absolute cost. In the same spirit Hon. Prank Cochrane, Minister of Railways, had placed the Transcontinental railway shops at the disposal of the Imperial Government for the manufacture of munitions. They have done that, he said, without provision for profit to any one, and I thank the Canadian Government for the splendid spirit they have shown.

Mr. Thomas himself took the responsibility of raising the veil a little, and having raised the veil, in that speech he exposed to the people of Canada what was behind it-and I have read all that he said on the question of the Shell Committee.

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. E. M. MACDONALD:

Will the hon. gentleman be good enough to tell us-I assume he knows-whether the Government's offer was accepted, and what was done in regard to these Transcona shops

so far as the making of shells was concerned?

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I do not think it was

accepted at the time. As far as the Canadian Government was concerned, the statement of Mr. Thomas shows that it was made.

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LIB
CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. D. REID:

There is a question on the Order Paper in regard to that; you will get the answer there.

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LIB
CON
CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I understand that it is a rule of order

the hon. member for Pictou likely knows this that one shall not refer to questions and motions on the Order Paper. However, I would tell the hon. gentleman myself if I were in a position to give the particulars, but I am not. That, however, will be answered; the hon. gentleman need not fear at all.

I turn from that to another quotation which the hon. member for St. John made. The House has heard me read from the address of Mr. Thomas before the -Canadian Glub at Montreal, as reported in the Montreal Gazette. I have read in the clearest language from that address that Mr. Thomas stated that the price in Canada was higher than the price in the United States and in England. That is exactly the- way it reads. How did the hon. member for St. John place that upon Hansard? I am not going to say that the variation to which I am about to refer was deliberate on the part of the hon. member for St. John; I do not know whether it was or not, hut the character of the error is remarkable. Here is the way it is put upon Hansard, doubtless for distribution throughout the length and breadth of Canada: -

That must be considered, and I may tell you that the cost of shells in Canada has been Higher than in competitive countries. It is complained that fat orders have gone to the United States, but I can assure you that a big slice will be reserved for Canada as long as the price is fairly satisfactory. The prices so far have been far higher than in the United States or in Great, Britain.

Strange that that should be the way that it appears in Hansard in the speech of the hon. member for St. John, when the word in the quotation from which he

miserable quibble tut the hon. member for Rouville (Mr. Lemieux) himself.

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

Was it not stated yesterday, or the day before, by the Minister of Finance that the Government of this country was paying part of the cost of the shells manufactured in Canada?-

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

No.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

That is a phase of the subject which I shall come to. I understand the point to ,which the hon. member refers, and I intend to comment upon it. Before I do so, however, let me press upon his mind this distinction, that those moneys were in 1902 expended by officers of the Grown, by a minister of the Crown or his subordinates in the department;, that the work of expending it was work performed while such minister and the officers utilized were themselves in the pay of the Government of Canada. In the present case the Shell Committee, from its inception, has been answerable for its work to and has conducted its work under the guidance, jurisdiction, and superintendence and financial sustenance of the Imperial Government. There is that distinction.

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LIB
CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Not at all. The hon. member for Pictou seems to have a knowledge of the Minister of Militia that I do not possess. The Minister of Militia is a member of the Government of Canada, and in that capacity bears the same relation to the Shell Committee as any other member of the Government.

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD:

Was he not a member of both committees, the committee that was retired at the request of this Government, and the new committee, which was named by this Government to take its placer

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The Minister of Militia was at two meetings, the first one and the one at which the committee disbanded, and he was at no meeting between.

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January 20, 1916