February 13, 1939

PRIVATE BILLS

FIRST READINGS


Bill No. 20, respecting Central Finance Corporation and to change its name to Household Finance Corporation of Canada.-Mr. Macdonald (Brantford City). Bill No. 21, respecting Industrial Loan and Finance Corporation.-Mr. Vien.


DEATH OF POPE PIUS XI

LETTER FROM THE APOSTOLIC DELEGATE

LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I have the honour to

inform the house that I have received the following letter:

Ottawa, February 11th, 1939. Hon. Pierre Casgrain,

Speaker of the House of Commons,

Ottawa.

Mr. Speaker,

The official commemoration of the August Pontiff Pius XI, made in your honourable House of Commons on Friday the 10th instant, was an eloquent tribute to the memory of the great Head of the Catholic church and generous and indefatigable Protector of suffering humanity.

I wish to offer my deep and heartfelt thanks for this expression of sympathy on the part of the House over which you so worthily preside. I am sure that it will be appreciated at its true value by the noble Canadian people.

Deeply appreciative of the call you were so kind as to make at this legation, I beg you to receive, Mr. Speaker, the expression of my best sentiments.

(Signed) Hildebrando Antoniutti,

Apostolic Delegate.

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EDITION


Bren Oun-Mr. Pouliot


BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT


The house resumed from Friday, February 10, 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. JEAN-FRANCOIS POULIOT (Temis-couata): Mr. Speaker, to say a few more words about the Bren gun contract required inspiration, so I went home and spent yesterday in that loveliest spot in all Canada, at Riviere du Loup. I met there scores of good Liberals, and they asked me to convey a message of kind remembrance and best wishes to our revered chief, the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King), and also to our beloved Quebec leader (Mr. Lapointe), who is celebrating to-day the thirty-fifth anniversary of his entrance into parliament. There is nothing so interesting, Mr. Speaker, as to talk with good old Canadians who are full of wisdom, well informed on Canadian problems, and who follow politics very closely. A few of them asked me this question: How is it that Judge Davis during the first thirty sittings of the Bren gun probe was so suspicious of the Plaxton family and so hard on General LaFleche, and then afterwards seemed to change his mind, and declared that there had been nothing corrupt in the Bren gun matter, and that he could blame no official of the Department of National Defence for corruption? I find the answer in the official report of the thirty-second day, November 8. I quote from page 4039; The Commissioner: .... My feelings are really not in connection with the details at all. The picture is so changed. However-that is a matter for argument. What I am very much surprised at is that learned counsel who appeared for the different parties at the probe did not call earlier for the evidence of one man who was responsible for the drafting not only of the Canadian contract but also of the British contract. At page 3948 the commissioner said: I do not know yet, from the evidence, who was the solicitor really acting for the government, the Department of National Defence. That was left in the shade, probably because every counsel was afraid of the kind of evidence which was to be given by the one who is not a judge or an advocate or a general, but who is the judge advocate general. At page 800 of Hansard of February 9 the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George (Mr. Cahan) said this: Then there is another young officer, with whom I am not acquainted, Colonel Orde, judge-advocate general of the Department of National Defence, who was called upon without any expert assistance to draft a very important contract. Then, speaking for himself: I have drawn more contracts dealing with munitions than almost any number of other lawyers in Canada. And then: But I had the good fortune, having so insisted, to have at my elbow some ol the best expert advice, and to that expert advice is due the fact that those tens of millions ot dollars worth of contracts, although some of them appeared in the courts, were never seriously brought into issue in the ^ courts. Therefore I know something of the position of Colonel Orde, who I judge by his evidence to be a young lawyer- An hon. Member: Not so very young. Mr. Cahan: I do not know how old he is, but I understand he is a young gentleman. Mr. Power: Aged forty-five perhaps. An hon. Member: Or fifty. Mr. Cahan: Well, even that is young. I am grateful that they have these young men who are growing up and developing, for the performance of essential duties in that branch of Canada's service. At pages 3950 and 3951 of the record of the evidence appears this statement by Colonel Orde: Mr. Ralston: How long have you held the position of judge advocate general? A. Since February 1, 1920. What are the functions of this official? Mr. Ralston: What are your duties as judge advocate general? Listen, Mr. Speaker: Colonel Orde: Generally, the superintendence of the administration of naval, military and air force law, and reviewing and recording proceedings of court martials, and advising and performing duties in relation to matters of a general civilian and legal nature in the department, as they arise. ... I took that from the king's regulations. By the Commissioner: Q. It is quite an undertaking, is it not, for one man? A. It is a fair sized job. However, I have assistants. I have help in the office. What is that help? According to a chart which was tabled in the civil service committee last year, on July 1, 1938, his staff was one clerk, grade 4, and one stenographer, grade 3. What is the staff of the office of judge advocate general in England? There is in the first place the judge advocate general, Sir Henry MacGeagh; a deputy judge advocate Bren Gun-Mr. Pouliot general. C. L. Stirling; deputy judge advocates, first, 0. C. Barnett; second, Hon. T. D. Free-man-Mitford, and an officer in charge, military deputy of the judge advocate general, Colonel H. S. Barrett. That is for the army. In the admiralty there is a judge advocate general for the fleet, who lives at Greenwich, J. G. Trapnell, K.C., and a deputy judge advocate, Paymaster Captain A. F. Cooper, O.B.E., R.N. Who is Colonel MacGeagh? I quote the following particulars: MacGeagh, Colonel Sir Henry Foster, K.B.E., cr. 1930; C.B.E. 1919; Iv.C. 1924; T.D.; Judge Advocate General, H.M.'s Forces (Army and Royal Air Force), since 1934; b. 21 Oct. 1883; o.s. of Foster MacGeagh, late of Hadlow Castle, Kent; m. 1917, Rita, o.d. of late William Kiddle of Walbundrie, New South Wales. Educ.: St. Paul's, Magdalen College, Oxford; rowed in Magdalen College eight, head of the river; honours degree history, B.A. 1905. Barrister-at-law of the Middle Temple, 1906; South Eastern circuit; member of the Council of Legal Education; bencher of the Middle Temple, 1931; held commission in territorial army (London Rifle Brigade), 1909-23; regular commission in the rank of colonel, 1923-34, when retired from army on appointment as Judge Advocate General; served European war, France and Flanders, 1914-15 (Bt. Major, C. B.E., 1914 star and clasp); military assistant to the Judge Advocate General, 1916-23; D. A.A.G., 1917; assistant adjutant-general, war office, 1918-23; Deputy Judge Advocate General British Forces in China (Shanghai Defence Force), 1927; military deputy of the Judge Advocate General (war office and air ministry) and in charge of the military and air force department of his office, 1923-34. Address: 33 Dover Street, W.l; 2 Barden Court, Temple, E. C. Clubs: Carlton, Conservative, Leander. Barrett, Colonel Hugh Scott, C.B.E., 1937; T.D.; military deputy of Judge Advocate General of the Forces, and officer in charge of military and air force department of his office since 1934; b. 3 March 1887; y.s. of late Sir William Scott Barrett and Julia Louisa Colville; m. 1916, Dorothy, d. of late Rev. A. E. Farrar; three s. one d. Educ.: Aldenham School; St. John's College, Cambridge (scholar). Called to bar, Inner Temple, 1911; Northern circuit; commission in 6th (Rifle) Battn. The King's Regiment (Liverpool), T.A. 1910-23; regular commission, 1923; served European war, France, 1915-18 (O.B.E., despatches twice); D.A.A.G. 1919: Deputy Judge Advocate General, Army of the Rhine, 1920-23. China 1927-28, Egypt 1935, Palestine 1936. Address: St. Nicholas, Kings-wood, Surrey. T.: Burgh Heath 451. Club: United University. Trapnell, John Graham, K.C. 1931; Barrister-at-law; Recorder of Plymouth since 1932; Judge Advocate of the fleet since 1933; b. 25 May 1875; s. of Caleb Trapnell. Stoke Bishop, Bristol; m. Ethel, d. of Thomas Chappel Gardiner; two s. Educ.: Harrogate college; King's college, Cambridge. Called to bar, 1903; joined the Western circuit; naval service, European war, lieutenant, R.N.V.R. Address: 1 Temple Gardens, E.C.4. T.: Central 8557; 25 Holland Park, W.ll. T.: Park 6951. Clubs: Royal Air Force; Hampshire County, Winchester; Royal Yacht, Southampton; Royal Western Yacht, Plymouth. 71492-54 i In the Royal Air Force there are thirty-two officers of high rank who are in charge of contracts, and especially there are fifteen senior contract officers. In Canada we have the judge advocate general, one clerk grade 4 and one stenographer grade 3. I hope that the house will have no objection to my placing upon Hansard the few lines which contain the details of the officers of the directorate of contracts under the air ministry.


LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

To do so will require the unanimous consent of the house.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Carried.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

The details follow:

The Royal Air Force

Directorate of Contracts under the Air Ministry Director

Principal deputy director 2 deputy directors 1 principal assistant director 5 assistant directors 15 senior contract officers 1 principal accountant 4 senior accountants 1 principal technical costs officer 1 deputy technical costs officer

Turning to the record of the commission, at page 3951, I quote:

Mr. Ralston: When did any matter relating to the Bren gun first come to your attention, officially?

A. In March of 1936-I think it was March 19, 1936; it had to do with the licence matter. Q. I am dealing with the licence matter.

The Commissioner: I am anxious to have it.

At page 3952 Colonel Orde said:

October . . . 1936 was the first time I had heard of Major Hahn having a connection with the Bren gun.

Q. Did you know Major Hahn before that?

A. No.

Q. You did not meet him personally until when?

A. November 19 or 20. 1937.

Q. Thirteen months after?

A. Yes.

At page 3953 Colonel Orde said:

On October 19, 1936 . . . The Master General of the Ordnance, General Caldwell, spoke to me in the matter of licence, generally, with which I had dealt about four or five months before-in the month of March, before . . . General Caldwell, if I remember rightly, spoke to me; and I am not sure whether I saw him alone, or who it was mentioned the matter.

He was not sure about it.

By the Commissioner:

Q. I suppose it was vague at that time?

And at page 3954:

Colonel Orde: Yes, it was pretty vague. So far as I was concerned, just an isolated incident in the course of my work . . . The instructions I got from somebody-and as I say, I am not

Bren Gun-Mr. Pouliot

And then an answer by Colonel Orde on page 3979:

On December 22 I made revisions of several of the provisions of the first draft.

Look at that, Mr. Speaker. There are many eminent counsel like yourself, in this house, and there are also many business men. I ask them to consider the actions of this man who holds the high position of judge advocate general in the Department of National Defence. Look at how he does his work. His answer continues:

They were just made on slips of paper, and they were either handed to Colonel Dewar or they were cut out and pinned to the earlier draft.

Lots of pins. Pins are dangerous for balloons. Then we find the following on page 3984:

The Commissioner: I am attaching some

consequence to this thing. Was it the draft agreement, that is exhibit No. 33, plus these revisions Colonel Orde made that went to the interdepartmental committee?

Mr. Ralston: I hesitate to make any statement without having compared them; I would have to compare them to see. I am afraid 1 have assumed that was so.

The Commissioner: I have assumed that too, but it may not be correct. I do not think Colonel Orde probably knows. What has been interesting me for some time is what was the document that the Department of National Defence sent on to the interdepartmental committee, who stood behind it, who said, "Well, now, if it were not for the interdepartmental committee, why we would pass this, but as a matter of fact it has got to go in there and there it is." That is the point. I am assuming, unless someone should tell me to the contrary, that Colonel Orde's draft of December 22, being exhibit No. 33, plus the revisions of November 22, 1937, was the document that went on to the interdepartmental committee.

The Witness: I am practically certain that was what happened because soon after the committee met I was making some further amendments. I was working on a draft which embodied my draft of the 22nd November, plus the amendments of the 22nd December, plus some further suggestions.

And then another question by the commissioner to Colonel Orde, as reported on page 3985:

Q. I was wondering if Colonel Orde, before he was dealing with the drafts, whether he saw the memorandum of December 10, 1937, which is exhibit No. 31. He may not have had it before him, but just before w'e pass on I should like to clear up that. That has been in my mind. That is the memorandum, I think, by the Master General of the Ordnance. It is a memorandum by someone.

Mr. Ralston: It is a memorandum of the

Master General of the Ordnance.

The Witness: I do not remember particularly seeing this particular memorandum. I saw

during the course of my duties numerous memoranda, but I cannot identify them by reference to any particular dates.

By the Commissioner:

Q. Look at the last paragraph and read it and see if you recall that that was before you at the time?

A. I may have seen it later. I remember seeing it some time.

Q. You do not think it was there when you were making the draft?

A. Oh, no, I mean it looks familiar and I may have noticed it when glancing through the file.

Q. Was there any discussion around that time, in the month of December, 1937, or January of this year, with reference to the last paragraph?

A. I have-

Q. Do you remember whether there -was any conversation with you as to whether that was wise or unwise, whether it might be well to have it stricken out before it went to the interdepartmental committee as an unwise suggestion?

A. I do not remember anything, I do not remember myself.

Q. You do not remember any discussion?

A. No.

Q. Have you the right paragraph, the one that deals with the chartered accountants?

A. Yes. It reads-

Colonel Orde then read the paragraph dealing with the employment of a reliable firm of chartered accountants. The questions by the commissioner continue:

Q. You do not recall that?

A. I have a vague recollection of hearing something discussed, but only informally. It never came to my attention.

By Mr. Ralston:

Q. I was asking you about interviews with Major Hahn during the period in which the interdepartmental committee were considering the Canadian contract. Did you have discussions with him?

A. Oh, I had numerous discussions with Major Hahn and the deputy minister, either in the deputy minister's office or consequent upon Major Hahn's seeing the deputy minister and being instructed to see me.

It is probable that at times Major Hahn went to the deputy minister's office, but as his visits related to the legal part of the contract the deputy minister always referred him to the judge advocate general, Colonel Orde. I ask hon. members to listen to this so that they will be in a position to see whether Colonel Orde is to be credited in connection with his interviews with Hahn. The evidence continues on page 3987:

By the Commissioner:

Q. Over what period?

A. Running from somewhere in January until I think towards the end of January.

And again on page 3988:

By Mr. Ralston:

Q. Just to clear that up. To go further with that. Does that mean you had no interviews with Major Hahn in February?

Bren Gun-Mr. Pouliot

A. Oh, I had some. I learned subsequently Major Hahn had come to England somewhere towards the end of January and that is why the interviews stopped then, at least for the time being.

Q. Did you have some interviews with him again in March?

A. I had some with him in February, around the end of February, after his return from England, and in March.

He had intimated before that his interviews were from the beginning to the end of January. The evidence continues with a question by Mr. Ralston:

Q. That is what I wanted, the period over which you had those interviews.

The Commissioner: Did Colonel Orde keep

any diary or contemporaneous memoranda from which he can refresh his memory in any way, or does he just base that on memory?

The Witness: I wrote during that period two or three memoranda which I think are already in as exhibits.

By the Commissioner:

Q. They were contemporaneous?

A. Contemporaneous.

Q. That refreshes your memory?

A. That refreshes my memory.

Then on page 3990 there is the following:

The Commissioner: That is, he had no interviews with any solicitor representing Major Hahn or the John Inglis Company in connection with the Canadian contract?

Mr. Ralston: In connection with the Canadian contract.

I must explain here that Mr. Lash, K.C., was appearing on behalf of the British government as well as on behalf of Major Hahn, When Mr. Orde met him, he did not meet him in his capacity as counsel and solicitor for the British government, but only as counsel and solicitor for Major Hahn. Then, again on page 3991, a question by Mr. Ralston:

Q. Did he ever tell you that Mr. Plaxton was engaged as a legal representative, until at the time I was going to deal with, that is March 17?

A. No knowledge of any connection with the Plaxtons at all.

That is to be noted. The evidence continues :

By the Commissioner:

Q. Did you have any indication, as far as the Canadian contract is concerned, by correspondence that Blake, Lash, Anglin & Cassels were acting?

Listen to how he answers this question:

A. It is rather hard to describe the situation. Major Hahn was continually up and down between Ottawa and Toronto and he was in and out of my office so many times. He would dash back with some suggested change and then he would come back two or three days afterwards. I do not know whether it is in order to mention it, but Mr. Lash's firm had been engaged in connection with certain other contracts of a similar type and I derived considerable comfort from knowing that Mr. Lash was at the other end of it.

Here is the judge advocate general of the Department of National Defence, who is entirely and absolutely incompetent, and who takes comfort from the fact that he is helped by counsel acting for the other parties. It is enough to disbar any lawyer whose name appears on the law list, and I do not see why this has not been brought out by other members who have spoken previously. It is something formidable. Here we have a man who, according to the evidence, can hardly sign his name, who oannot draft a contract, who has had no experience. You know the number of people who are engaged in that sort of work in the British war office, the British admiralty and the British air force. Here we have that man with a grade 4 clerk and a grade 3 stenographer, both of them incompetent, both making plenty of mistakes which were the cause of 'trouble. He cannot do anything; he has to rely on counsel for the other party ito do his own work. I continue quoting:

By Mr. Ralston:

Q. Did you ever discuss the contract with the Department of Justice?

A. No.

Q. Did you ever see Mr. H. A. W. Plaxton as the representative of Major Hahn previous to the signing of the Canadian contract?

A. No.

Then it goes on:

By the Commissioner:

Q. Why did you leave in the clause:

The party of the first part will provide or grant to the party of the second part an exclusive licence to manufacture the Bren gun in Canada.

Who told you to do that?

A. Instructions that I had got previously.

My time is not up yet, Mr. Speaker, but it soon will be, and I wonder if the house would have any objection to letting me finish reading this part of the evidence, which may take about fifteen minutes. I do not intend to say anything that will hurt anyone, but I want to put on record part of the evidence which is now downstairs and which is very difficult for hon. members to obtain.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Then I continue:

Q. You were solicitor for the-

A. I was the solicitor.

Q. Had you no realization of what an exclusive licence in Canada to manufacture the Bren gun meant?

A. Precisely, Mr. Commissioner.

Q. Who told you to put it in?

A. It was put in earlier. If you will look at the draft that was considered at the interdepartmental committee, at the first meeting that the committee had had, I think in January, and the clause that was inserted in there at the request of this officer, whoever it was, who saw me on December 22, you will notice there that there was an exclusive clause in that.

84S

Bren Gun-Mr. Pouliot

Then I quote from page 3996:

A Unless I was instructed to the

contrary I was not going to_ remove anything on my own volition. I never liked it.

Here is a matter not of right or wrong but a matter of liking or not liking it. Then at page 4006:

By the Commissioner:

Q. Did you have to say up until three o'clock in the morning that time while the committee was meeting?

That was in the middle of March.

A. Yes, sir. I was there until three o'clock and I left my office at a quarter to eight the following morning. I was present in my office.

Q. And there were communications passing to and fro between the interdepartmental committee and yourself?

A. That is correct, sir. Sometimes they would send a note up, other times I would get a phone message to attend and I would go down and attend. _

Q. And you were there until three o'clock in the morning?

A. I was.

Q. Great haste, was there not?

A. Very much so.

Q. Did you understand you had to stay up all night until three o'clock in the morning?

A. Well, I was instructed by my chief to attend and be on hand as the committee needed me.

There was the judge advocate general; there was the interdepartmental committee that was helping him with that contract, and the work of this gentleman and of the committee was so slow that after four months they had nothing ready in finished form. Therefore the deputy minister told the judge advocate general to stay that night in order to have it finished ready to present to council the next day. Apparently the British government was very anxious to have this contract completed.

Q. Whom do you mean by your chief?

A. The deputy minister of the Department of National Defence.

Then in discussing the work of the interdepartmental committee and also the work of the judge advocate general in drafting the contract, the commissioner said:

I am inquiring into the competency of those charged with the responsibility of drafting the contract.

Then, at page 4011, the commissioner continued :

Q. I am thinking of the hour. You worked through until 7.30 in the morning?

A. I did, sir.

Q. I sympathize with you very much. I sympathize with you very, very much. And you had no other legal help in this matter?

A. No.

Q. You just worked all night trying to put the document in the best shape you could?

A. There were two mistakes.

Q. You tried to put the document in the best shape you could? You were directed to stay to do this? I think you said, "1 was directed to do this or required to do this." By whom?

A. My instructions from the deputy minister were that this had to be ready for cabinet council at eleven o'clock the following morning.

Q. That is the system?

He had to work all night because he had done nothing useful in the previous four months. Then I quote from page 4021:

A. I attended a conference with Major Hahn and Mr. J. F. Lash, K.C., in the suite of offices of Blake, Lash, Anglin & Cassels.

By Mr. Ralston:

Q. Is that the first time you saw Mr. Lash in connection with this matter?

A. Yes.

That was March 28 or 29, in reference to the British contract. Then at page 4045 there is a letter from Colonel Orde to Major Hahn, an official letter which is extended in the evidence; and do you know how the judge advocate general, counsel for the Department of National Defence, addressed Major Hahn? Was it "Dear Major"? Was it "My dear sir"? No; it was "My dear Jim." He had known Major Hahn for only four months, but apparently they became very intimate.

Then at page 4048 there is a reference to the proposed British agreement which was made subsequent to the final draft of the Canadian agreement. Incorporated in the draft of the proposed British agreement were the changes which were consequential upon the interdepartmental committee meeting. Then Colonel Orde continued:

... I took one copy of this draft, of the proposed agreement which I called my working copy, which had in it the various changes discussed at the meeting-

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LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I am sorpr but the hon. gentleman has exhausted his time.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Go on.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

No.

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LIB
LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I cannot allow the hon. member to proceed except with the unanimous consent of the house.

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February 13, 1939