February 8, 1939

BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT

CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE


The house resumed from Tuesday, February 7, consideration of the motion of Mr. MacNeil: That the agreement between the government and the John Inglis Company, of Toronto, for the manufacture of Bren machine guns, the report of the royal commission dealing with said agreement, and all related documents, evidence, vouchers and exhibits, he referred to the standing committee on public accounts; and the amendment thereto of Mr. Stevens.


LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette

Liberal

Mr. J. A. BRADETTE (Cochrane):

Mr. Speaker, in speaking on this matter I am going to try to represent the opinions of my own section of the country and at the same time be true to the oath of office which I took before occupying my seat in this house.

There is no doubt that when the article in question appeared in Maclean's magazine last September, the article with which the whole country is now familiar, the minds of the Canadian people were troubled. A good many of them did not see that article when it was first published, but I believe later on the publishers of Maclean's magazine found it possible to spread the article into every section of the country. To anyone who took the trouble to read it, however, it was plain that it contained no concise accusations but only insinuations against people in the public life of this country, more particularly in regard to the

'Mr. Mackenzie King.]

Department of National Defence. Something had to be done; the newspapers were asking for action on the part of the government. Then, a very few days following the publication of the article, the newspapers of Canada were unanimous in praising the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) for appointing a royal commission. That step was taken at once, and by that action the Prime Minister and the government showed themselves ready and willing to get to the bottom of all these insinuations or so-called accusations.

On Friday of last week the Prime Minister again showed his honesty and sincerity of purpose in connection with all matters having to do with the administration of this country and the government departments when he stated in the house that he did not wish in any way to curtail discussion on any important problem. He also made it clear, however, that the best body to deal impartially with a question such as this was a committee appointed by the House of Commons, which naturally would be the public accounts committee. No one could take objection to or umbrage at such a statement or the taking of such action. Public opinion as expressed by the press of the country was unanimous in commending the action of the Prime Minister on this occasion.

But it is easy to build up partisan capital. The Prime Minister last fall in appointing a royal commissioner was careful to select a man who-not mentioning his political affiliations-was highly respected in his own profession and had made a name for himself as a lawyer in Canada. However, I was dumbfounded when from every section of the opposition I heard the action of the Prime Minister challenged, and heard the references that were made to his statement not that the commissioner was the supporter of any particular party but simply that he had been appointed by the late administration. I could easily visualize what bitter criticism there would have been had a man been selected who before his appointment had had Liberal inclinations. I repeat that the people have been absolutely satisfied, in their own minds, that the Prime Minister of Canada and the government as a whole wanted to have justice meted out, and to go thoroughly into the accusations that were made.

Frankly in a discussion of this kind I do not like the atmosphere of the House of Commons. Allegations of scandal have been made in a good many instances. I do not believe the country wants to hear discussions of that nature carried on by the opposition for days and weeks.

Bren Gun-Mr. Bradette

Before I proceed farther I want to ask a question of the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil). Last week it was published in every section of the press of Canada that he had been threatened by a prominent man of the Liberal party. I would like the hon. member to give us the name of that prominent man.

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

A prominent official of the house.

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
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UFOL

Agnes Campbell Macphail

United Farmers of Ontario-Labour

Miss MACPHAIL:

Well, I guess you have the right party, anyway.

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette

Liberal

Mr. BRADETTE:

I did not ask a question of the hon. member for Grey-Bruce;

I asked it of the hon. member for Vancouver North. It was said that he had been threatened. This is absolutely unfair-unfair to his reputation, unfair to the government, and unfair to parliament as a whole. The leader of the opposition (Mr. Manion) smiles. Yesterday the hon. member for Parry Sound (Mr. Slaght) gave us some of the philosophy of life of the hon. leader of the opposition, so far as the conduct, behaviour and policy of an opposition are concerned. I believe it will be good reading for the young members of his own party, to show the attitude he takes, but they cannot agree to such a philosophy.

I was five years in opposition, Mr. Speaker, and I believe I could say that-

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
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CON

Frank Exton Lennard

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNARD:

You may be there again.

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette

Liberal

Mr. BRADETTE:

I want the hon. member to speak louder.

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
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CON

Frank Exton Lennard

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNARD:

You will be there again.

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette

Liberal

Mr. BRADETTE:

Well, I do not think the hon. member is a very good prophet. I never opposed a government of the day just for the sake of opposing it.

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
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LIB

James Houston Spence

Liberal

Mr. SPENCE:

The hon. member is a perfect saint.

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette

Liberal

Mr. BRADETTE:

I want the hon. member to get up and repeat what he said just now, so that he may show his face to the house. We can easily see their line of conduct. Last week there was a Conservative caucus, and I believe hon. members opposite, in their action in opposition, are following the principle of their leader. This is the press report which was published in the newspaper Le Droit of February 2, 1939. The heading is as follows:-

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
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LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order.

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
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SC

René-Antoine Pelletier

Social Credit

Mr. PELLETIER:

One of the members

of this group tried last night to read a quotation from a newspaper, but he was not permitted to do so. The same ruling should apply to all hon. members.

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette

Liberal

Mr. BRADETTE:

I am satisfied to state simply the contents of the article. It says that the Conservative party is very happy about the present depression in Canada.

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

No, no.

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette

Liberal

Mr. BRADETTE:

There it is in black and white. And so the party follows implicitly the policy of its leader.

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Did they have a representative at our caucus, do you suppose?

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION FOR REFERENCE TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
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February 8, 1939