March 25, 1936

CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

On the contrary, the hon. member for Parry Sound so understood it in

Wheat Board

the speech he made this afternoon, and every one on this side of the house who heard him, whether they are associated with him or otherwise, so understood it. That is the position. You cannot say that order in council is amended afterwards without involving that there has been a change made to the document that is signed by the crown, and I do say that is a position which cannot be accepted. Now the hon. minister says that this order in council would, unless these words have been added to it, have involved payments for coarse grains. The document says that it dealt with wheat and wheat only, and it states further that the whole payment was to be subject to verification by the auditors. As a matter of fact the hon. gentleman asked me a question which I do not think he had a right to ask, as to what my understanding of the order in council was, and I certainly understood the order in council to deal with wheat, but I did not know what sum was covered by the word " expenses," and when I did, as has been said, suggest the words should be added that were added, it is because I did not know what was included for expenses. But I certainly did not believe, from reading the language of that draft report, that it dealt with other than wheat; neither did the Minister of Finance, as far as I know. Because as a matter of fact Mr. Hunter first came down the country to, I think, Cornwall or some point on the line and then went through to Toronto that I might have an opportunity of looking more carefully into the draft, as I did, with the addition of the words to the draft as indicated by the telegram for the purpose of securing verification by the auditor as to the account. I can only say, in view of the language contained in the order in council as produced, it is quite clear that the auditor general would not make payment for anything other than wheat; it is quite clear that nothing but wheat could be paid for as far as this country is concerned.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

My right hon. friend does not wish to go astray there, nor need I remind him that the order was not one that would involve the auditor general. That was an authority to the wheat board to pay, and consequently would not come within the immediate purview of the auditor general, from the point of view-

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

But copies of all these orders in council, involving payments of money out of the public treasury, were, I believe, sent to the auditor general.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

There was no payment out of the public treasury at that stage. It was out of the guarantee fund, the wheat fund.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

If the auditor general did not receive it, it is obvious that he could not report on it nor refuse it nor one thing oi another. He is very careful to have constitutional authority for any payments that are made. If he did not receive it, my point haf no value.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

That is not my point The order authorized the wheat board to pay. It did not involve a payment of public funds; it involved a payment of funds of the wheat board, which my right hon. friend will recollect are bank funds under government guarantees and do not involve the immediate supervision of the auditor general in the same manner as do payments out of the consolidated fund.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That is perfectly true, but it is also equally true that the auditors themselves apparently would not have passed the account, because they have made clear in the report they made that it covered wheat and wheat only. That is the position as far as that is concerned. A firm of auditors would be liable in law for negligence, in spite of what has been said by the hon. member for Parry Sound, if they passed an account that was for wheat only and included other than wheat. The decisions on that point I think I can also give.

The next point I desire to have the hon. minister clear up is in connection with coarse grains. I want him to make clear to us how the liability in that has arisen, and what it is.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Yes. There was a loss, then, on oats of about $200,000?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Yes.

Wheat Board

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Would the hon. minister give us the exact figures, because I am rather curious as to this?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Well, they are in this report. On page 34 of the report, barley, there is a surplus of $15,482.58. On flax there is a surplus of $210,926.05. On rye there is a surplus of $124,276.02. On oats there is a loss of $200,037.90.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

So that I was right when I said that there was a net profit on the transaction with respect to coarse grains.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Well, they are not dealt with in that way.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

But there would be a net profit?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

There is a net profit of $150,000.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Yes, $150,000 odd. Now, the government is repaying the flax sellers or producers the surplus that arose from the operations of the pool?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

We are paying more than that. These are separate pools; they cannot be treated as all in one group, according to my understanding of the situation. We are paying back to the barley pool $15,482.58. We are paying to the flax pool $210,926.05. We are paying to the rye pool $124,276.02. Those three amounts are being paid back to those three pools, and the government, of course, is liable to the bank for $200,000 that has been lost in that oats account.

I should just like to add, if my right hon. friend does not mind, that I am rather anxious to get this legislation along. The discussion, of course, has taken a line that was not expected. The reason for being anxious to get it along is this, that seed grain has to be put out in western Canada within, the next few weeks, and if this $6,000,000 goes out to the farmers there, there is that much less to be paid by the government for seed purposes. I should like to get this up for second reading to-morrow, as it is just six o'clock, and if the committee would agree to allow it to go to second reading to-morrow I will undertake to see that all the information asked for by the leader of the opposition is brought down and is made available to the members of the house.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

As far as it may be possible to expedite it. I pointed out two weeks ago it should have been done long ago. As far as it may be possible I am only too glad to associate myself with the minister.

Certain further information must be received, but if second reading can take place tomorrow I shall not interpose any objection beyond carrying on the request for information which I hope to receive as the debate proceeds.

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CCF

James Samuel Taylor

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

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Taylor, Norfolk):

Shall the resolution carry?

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March 25, 1936