February 9, 1939

RADIO BROADCASTING

REFUSAL OF BROADCASTING PRIVILEGE TO PUBLISHER OF TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL


The order having been called for resuming the adjourned debate on the motion of Mr. MacNeil for reference to the public accounts committee of the agreement between the government and the John Inglis Company for the manufacture of Bren machine guns, and the amendment thereto of Mr. Stevens.


LIB

Arthur Graeme Slaght

Liberal

Mr. A. G. SLAGHT (Parry Sound):

Mr. Speaker, before the house proceeds, I desire to submit a question to the Minister of Transport (Mr. Howe). I have given him notice, but I am sorry to say-

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   REFUSAL OF BROADCASTING PRIVILEGE TO PUBLISHER OF TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL
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LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

The order of the day has been called, and we are proceeding with it. The hon. member cannot put a question unless he obtains the unanimous consent of the house.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   REFUSAL OF BROADCASTING PRIVILEGE TO PUBLISHER OF TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Go on.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   REFUSAL OF BROADCASTING PRIVILEGE TO PUBLISHER OF TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL
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LIB

Arthur Graeme Slaght

Liberal

Mr. SLAGHT:

With the permission of the house, the question is as follows, directed to the Minister of Transport: Has the minister taken any steps to bring to the attention of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation the technical regulations of the corporation which resulted in the refusal of permission to Mr. George McCullagh to broadcast addresses over privately-owned networks, the manu- ' script of which addresses he had offered to submit in advance?

I regret I have not given longer notice to the minister. I informed him only a few moments ago of my intention to put the question.

kivised EDITION

Bren Gun-Mr. Young

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   REFUSAL OF BROADCASTING PRIVILEGE TO PUBLISHER OF TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Hon. C. D. HOWE (Minister of Transport) :

Mr. Speaker, after the first broadcast I did call the attention of the general manager of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to the inconsistency of the ruling of the board as it worked out in actual practice. I also suggested that there had been a lack of notice, which had perhaps involved all parties to the broadcast in a rather untenable position. I suggested to the general manager that he should consult his board as to whether or not the new ruling was properly applied in the McCullagh case. The general manager did get in touch with his board, or with such of them as he could reach, and later advised me that the board had decided not to change its ruling in that instance.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   REFUSAL OF BROADCASTING PRIVILEGE TO PUBLISHER OF TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL
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BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT

CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION FOK REFERENCE TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE


The house resumed from Wednesday, February 8, 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, be referred to the standing committee on public accounts; and the amendment thereto of Mr. Stevens. Mr. A. MacG. YOUNG (Saskatoon): Mr. Speaker, when the house rose at six o'clock last evening I was discussing the Bren gun contract and pointing out the very strange tactics of the opposition. I should like in the few minutes I have left to sum up the argument I was making. The motion before the house is to refer to the public accounts committee the Bren gun ;ontract and the report of the royal commission in regard thereto, so that it may be fully investigated, if further investigation be necessary. The Conservative party has very strenuously opposed the motion. Why, then, do they not accept the verdict of Mr. Justice Davis, the commissioner, who said that he could not find any evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the minister, his deputy, or any other official, or any member of the House of Commons or of the Senate? The commissioner went further and said-this is the limit to which any man could go-that there was not even a suspicion of any wrongdoing. This is the finest testimonial of character and high purpose which any man could receive. As to form and substance of the contract the commissioner did say, "upon the whole evidence, that is a question for the government and parliament to pass upon." Let us accept that view. Then what should we do? What has always been the practice in this house when a particular matter had to be investigated? Send it to a committee, of course, where all the evidence given before the commission could be studied and, in this case, in addition the further evidence which is now available. From press reports which I read carefully I noted that the commissioner did not think it necessary to admit evidence to say how good the contract was. I most certainly have no criticism to offer on that account. His conception of his duty was to find out if there was any wrongdoing on the part of anyone, not to find out how good the contract was. He found there was no wrongdoing or suspicion of wrongdoing on the part of the minister, his officials or any member of the House of Commons or of the Senate. There is much evidence to be submitted to show this contract to be an excellent contract, and this is the reason why the leader of the opposition and his party do not wish this whole matter to go before the committee. They know that after all the evidence is heard the public will brand their speeches in this house this week, filled as they were with insinuations and veiled accusations, as being of a type used by cheap Tammany ward politicians. If there is honesty of purpose in their actions they should all vote to send this to the committee where the whole facts can be reviewed and where witnesses will have the right and the opportunity to be heard. Their tactics will be condemned not only by this house but by the people of this country. Many references have been made to the fact that there was no competitive bidding on the contract. What did government counsel propose doing before the commission about this? They wished to bring contractors from this country and the United States to prove that in a contract such as the Bren gun contract competitive bidding would be impossible of accomplishment. The witnesses were all present and ready to give evidence. After considering this proposal the commissioner decided against calling such witnesses, and so did Colonel Drew. The experience of Great Britain for over a hundred years demonstrates clearly that in such cases competitive bids are impossible. In conclusion let me say to the leader of the opposition and to his party: In the interests of this country, stop this petty quibbling, these unwarranted insinuations. After all, the Conservative party in the past has had a noble tradition. The hon. Bren Gun-Mr. Howe gentleman is a new leader; let me suggest to him that he start on a high plane, and not in cheap ward politics. His party is really worthy of a better effort than is now being displayed.


CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Mr. Speaker, I rise to a

point of order. I let the hon. gentleman get away with it when he said that our charges were like cheap Tammany ward politics, but he has just repeated that about myself and I demand that he withdraw his remarks.

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

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I do not think the rules

would declare that remark offensive or unparliamentary.

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

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

The hon. gentleman applied the words directly to me. I let him get away with it once but I do not think he should be permitted to do it the second time.

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

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I did not understand him to apply them especially to the hon. member, but rather to the whole party.

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

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

His first application was

to the whole party. I do not quite get the point that it is more offensive if applied to me personally. At any rate, this time he has applied it to me personally. However, if that is satisfactory to the hon. gentleman he is quite welcome to use it.

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

Alexander MacGillivray Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG:

I would suggest to the leader of the opposition that I am thinking of him as a leader of a party. I stated my conception of the whole argument advanced by the Conservative party during this week, and I believe I will be upheld not only by the members of this house but by the people of the country.

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

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Hon. C. D. HOWE (Minister of Transport) :

Mr. Speaker, this debate is certainly

the strangest that has taken place since I came into this house, and I believe it is one of the strangest on record. A magazine article appeared which caused a good deal of comment. The article confined itself to vague insinuations; it made no charge of wrongdoing. However, the government felt that

since the matter had been brought before the public, the public were entitled to the fullest possible explanation of the situation behind the article. As a result a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada conducted an investigation which lasted for a number of weeks. Throughout that investigation no

charges of wrongdoing were made. The judge submitted his report, and in it he said that there was no wrongdoing on the part of the minister, the deputy minister or any official of the department or any other person. Nevertheless, the report having been submitted,

71492-49J

we have had hon. gentlemen opposite discussing this matter for several days. Here again each member who gets up is careful to say that he makes no charge of wrongdoing. We have heard from the opposition only vague charges of inefficiency in dealing with this contract, and a blackguarding of the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie). It is with the charge of inefficiency in connection with this contract that I wish to deal.

I may sav. and I think all hon. gentlemen will agree with me, that the purchase of arms and munitions has always been a difficult matter for a government to deal with, and the situation is far more difficult in peace time than it is in war time. In time of war, a volume of munitions can be contracted for which will warrant the setting up of the particular equipment and organization required for the production. Most of the buying for my own department, and I imagine the same thing applies to other departments of government, is a comparatively simple matter because generally the articles being purchased are in ordinary commercial use and are such as can be secured from the general stock of the manufacturer. But no one stocks arms and munitions of warfare of the type useful in the situation that confronts us at present. The result is that it is necessary to make special arrangements for the manufacture of these articles.

I have had some experience with this type of purchasing. Like the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Massey) I received a training as an engineer, but unlike the hon. member for Greenwood I practised my profession for many years. I practised it in a highly specialized field and in that practice I had to purchase equipment which was not of standard manufacture, but which had to be designed in my own draughting room and constructed in the factories of Canada. It so happens that a large portion of that equipment was manufactured in the particular plant under discussion, the plant of the John Inglis Company of Toronto. We have heard it referred to as a broken down plant, but I know it as one of the best equipped of the boiler plants and machine shops in the Dominion of Canada. In my practice it was one of three plants in Canada which was capable of turning out a large order of mechanical equipment for a grain elevator. In my practice it has supplied equipment of that type worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars. I took enough interest in the matter a short time ago to visit this so-called decrepit and broken-down plant, because I wished to confirm my opinion that it was still capable of efficient production. To my surprise I found

Bren Gun-Mr. Howe

that the Bren gun was not being made in the Inglis plant as I knew it. That plant was being used for the purposes for which it had always been used, the normal production of boilers and special types of mechanical equipment. But I found that a new plant had been built as an addition to the Inglis plant, and that this addition was of most modern factory construction, of concrete, and with the best of ventilating and lighting systems, and I learned that the Bren machine gun was to be manufactured in that new portion of the plant. I found that that plant was being filled with the special machinery required to carry out the Bren gun contract, with the most modem lay-out that could be used for that type of production. This, then, was the broken-down plant that has been referred to so frequently by hon. gentlemen opposite in this debate.

Hon. gentlemen opposite take the view that they were able to handle their purchases of munitions without any difficulty whatever, but I think we have only to look at the appropriations of the various years to find why that was the case. Going back ten years we find that the defence appropriation in 1929 and succeeding years was as follows: in 1929, $20,000.000; 1930, $22,100,000; 1931, $18,900,000; 1932, $15,000,000; 1933, $13,000,000-1 imagine the purchasing problem in that year was confined to buying postage stamps; in 1934, $13,3000,000; 1935, $17,000,000; 1936, $25,-

500,000; 1937, $35,500,000; 1938, $35,500,000.

There is one thing that I wish to call to the attention of the house, and that is that at this moment all of us are defence-minded. We have all seen the threat of war come almost to the boiling point and then cool down, and we have all felt very thankful that something was being done to provide an adequate defence for this country. I just wish to remind hon. members that it was the present Minister of National Defence who started the machinery which is bringing Canada into a position in which she can defend herself against attack.

Now let us examine the particular transaction under consideration from the point of view of lack of efficiency. In 1933 Lieutenant Jolley was sent to England to investigate the small arms situation. In August, 1935, he visited the Enfield plant in England, which was just then beginning to set up for the manufacture of the Bren gun. In July, 1936, Lieutenant Jolley returned to Canada and reported to his department that the Bren gun was a distinct advance on other types of machine guns and would be the type required in Canada for defence purposes.

Some two months later, two machine guns were received in Canada from Czechoslovakia,

IMr. Howe.]

sent out for inspection, I presume, by arrangement of the Department of National Defence officials acting on the report of Lieutenant Jolley. There was nothing secret about those guns. As I say, they came, not from England, but from Czechoslovakia. England at that time had not completed the equipment of her factory and had not produced a Bren gun. These Bren guns were set up for the inspection of the defence department. Major Hahn came to Ottawa about that time looking for business for his plant, as hundreds of others were coming to every department of the government looking for business for their plants. Major Hahn saw the gun in General LaFleche's office and immediately was interested in it; for he thought that that was a type of arms which his plant was equipped to manufacture.

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

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

Equipped at that time?

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

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I said he thought it was equipped-he was interested in it at that time.

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON MOTION FOK REFERENCE TO PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE
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February 9, 1939