February 13, 1939

CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

I am speaking of Industry

and Humanity. I have not read the others.

I did not intend to speak long, but if my hon. friends opposite insist on helping me out I am afraid I shall have to take more time.

I was saying, Mr. Speaker, that the opinion I expressed in the paragraph I have just quoted from my book was just as sincere then as the opinion I hold now, and my opinion now is just as sincere as it was then. I believe the one thought that is in the minds of the people of this country to-day, and particularly of the young men who may have to risk their lives if ever we are so unhappy as to have to take part in a war again, is that no one should make money out of war. That I believe is the desire of all of us, and I shall quote the Prime Minister before I sit down as taking exactly the same attitude,

although I cannot understand why after taking that attitude, he permits such a contract as this to be made.

There was only one member opposite from the province of Quebec who raised the race cry in this debate. He claimed that we were making an attack on General LaFleche because of his race. But the hon. member who is just now taking his seat, the hon. member for Humboldt (Mr. Fleming), who belongs to the same profession as I do, not only repeated the race cry but as well went on to attack me for using patronage to get a job, as he put it. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, I was giving up what was for a young man a very lucrative medical practice to get a job in the army. That was the patronage I was looking for; that was the job-hunting I was doing.

We were also told that we were trying to destroy the minister and the deputy minister. I say that they have both been friends of mine in days gone by, and I think they are yet. As a matter of fact, we appointed the deputy; I do not know whether that fact has been pointed out. He had a very fine record, and I have a very high admiration for him, and my opinion is that the reason he acted so strangely in regard to Hahn is that he was being pushed forward by his minister.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

That is not true.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

The minister denies that, and I do not wish to misrepresent him. But irrespective of what the deputy minister did, it is the government of the day that is responsible-not only the minister. The deputy minister has been a friend of mine for many years and I have the utmost respect for him. Personally I made no attack on him whatever, and I do not think anybody on this side of the house, in any of the parties here, attacked him personally. We merely directed attention to the action taken by the department in an effort to give the contract to Hahn.

There have also been several wicked attacks on Colonel Drew, who is another fine soldier with a very fine record. Whatever Colonel Drew did he certainly performed a service for this country, inasmuch as he saved this country a lot of money-a quarter of a million dollars, as I have seen it claimed-by causing another letter to be drawn up as a supplement to the contract. In addition, I believe that his article will make any government in power in this country in the future more careful in the letting of contracts for munitions of any kind.

Bren Gun-Mr. Manion

Then there was a defence by several hon. gentlemen opposite of Major Hahn and the hon. member for Trinity (Mr. Plaxton). So far as Major Hahn is concerned I did not attack him; I have not attacked him. I think he was just a shrewd business man who saw in the hon. member for Trinity an instrument at hand to help him get a government contract. He found the government even more pliable as an instrument than the hon. member for Trinity, so he went right ahead and got the contract. That is all we can say about Major Hahn. I do not know him; I have never met him. In that respect I am in the same position as the Prime Minister, except that I did not appoint him as representative of Canada to get secret information from the British government, as did the Prime Minister.

But all these defences or so-called defences that hon. gentlemen opposite have put up, even that of the hon. member for Temiscouata (Mr. Pouliot), who has just sat down after making an attack on another official of the Department of National Defence, are no defence at all of the awarding of this contract. They are no defence at all, to my mind; they are just an attempt to confuse the issue. Every speaker from the Liberal party, with the exception of the hon. member for Vancouver-Burrard, ignored practically fifty pages of the report and tied his whole case to three short paragraphs which disposed of the charge of corruption.

Now I am going to attempt to define the issue, which is not that of corruption or graft. The issue in a sentence is the whole method of buying munitions at a time when, because of threats of dictatorships against democracy, we in Canada, a peace-loving people, are forced at a cost of tens of millions of dollars to arm in our own defence in order to maintain our freedom as a nation. That is the issue so far as I see it. Are we going to place our very life as a nation in jeopardy through politics, patronage, and favouritism, as in the Bren gun contract? Or, are we going to rise above that low level and act as a united people in building up our defence of all kinds

doing it fairly, honestly, sanely, without profit, so far as is humanly possible-giving our citizens at the same time a chance to show that they love sufficiently this Canada of ours to bend their energies, without the profit motive, to a great national endeavour on behalf of the safety of our country? If the Bren gun contract is any criterion, then we are going to take the low road of private profit and personal selfishness. But I refuse to believe that such is the desire of the great masses of our people.

I insist, sir, that our business men and all others are only awaiting the clarion call

of national service in order to answer it enthusiastically, honestly, and loyally. The government supporters say that in the last war patronage and war-profiteering were rampant. I do not know whether they were or not. I was not here. But if that charge is true, there was at least the excuse of a great crisis and a great danger because of Canada's participation in the war. Even if the charge be true, is it then necessary that we must again, in peace time, continue to wallow in the mire of filthy profiteering while the very lives of our youth and the very existence of our beloved Canada are at stake?

I say now, sir: let the Prime Minister rise to this challenge and I will stand beside him and back him completely in the noble work of not only declaring our high principles as Canadians, in this regard at least, but of living up to those principles.

How then does this contract, and the procedure leading up to it, conflict with the issue as I have defined it? To learn that we must study the whole report of Mr. Justice Davis, the royal commissioner who investigated the Bren contract. It is true he says that no member of parliament or senator is to share in the benefits of the contract, and he adds that there has been no corruption. He makes these statements in three short paragraphs on page 51. But on nearly all the other pages he shows the gross irregularities that led up to the consummation of the deal. For example, the report shows clearly, among other things:

1. That the methods leading up to the signing of the contract and the method of giving it were unfair;

2. That Hahn, whom apparently no one knew, except Mr. Plaxton, was shown great favouritism;

3. That thereby other industrialists, much better equipped, were given no opportunity to compete with Hahn.

4. That Major Hahn, although unknown to the Prime Minister or to the Minister of National Defence, was made by the Prime Minister the representative of Canada in order to give Hahn access to secret information from the British war office;

5. That Hahn and his fellow promoters were placed, through this contract, in a position to make more than 81,000,000 out of stock for which they paid nothing-this in addition to the profits of the contract itself.

Perhaps I should correct that. They paid an average of 52 cents a share and some of it sold for over six dollars a share, or over one million dollars of profits to them. This in addition to the profits of the contract itself.'

Bren Gun-Mr. Manion

These are a few of the aspects of the deal which seriously undermine the confidence of the Canadian people, not only in this deal but in the whole method under which tens of millions of dollars of this year's estimates are to be spent in purchasing munitions.

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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:

I hope my

hon. friend will make it clear that these are deductions of his own, and not findings of the commissioner.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Well, I think they are

the findings of the commissioner.

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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:

Where?

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

All right, we will deal with them as we go along. I know how quick the right hon. gentleman is to contradict statements. I have the proof here; I was not going to quote it, because the matter is so clear there is no dispute about it. It is on page 24.

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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:

I am not

speaking of an individual quotation; I am referring to these four or five different inferences which my hon. friend drew as he was speaking.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

I am going to prove the

inferences. In fact I am going to prove them and a lot of others as well. Neither the right hon. gentleman nor any one on that side of the house has risen and refuted -not one. The right hon. gentleman is now getting out from under. He has risen not once, but at least fifteen times to contradict hon. members on the statement that he appointed Major Hahn as representative. He said he meant that he had not appointed Hahn to get some information from the British war office, but when he saw I had the evidence he wanted to get out from under.

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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:

I meant what

I said, and what I said will appear on Hansard.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Well, here is the concrete information. The High Commissioner in London, Mr. Massey, had been asked by the Minister of National Defence to get Hahn inside information, to obtain for him entrance to the war office. Hahn states, according to this report-and I am sticking to the report-that he got very impatient because Mr. Massey was not getting him the appointments he had promised. Finally Mr. Massey cabled to the Prime Minister. The cable, dated November 9 is set forth in the report. I will not read it in full but Mr. Massey quotes the cablegram of the Minister of National Defence to him of that day to get Hahn in communication

with him, and then he adds-in his cablegram to the Prime Minister, who is the Secretary of State for External Affairs:

In order to obtain information desired, war office must be requested to give Major Hahn, as representative of the Canadian government, access to information of a secret nature which normally is not given to other than government officials.

That is the part which applies to my statement. I will read that sentence again:

. . . access to information of a secret nature which normally is not given to other than government officials.

And the Prime Minister, as Secretary of State for External Affairs, the following day sends a cablegram making Hahn representative of the Canadian government. I do not need to quote it unless the Prime Minister denies the cablegram. I simply say that he made Hahn the Canadian representative to get this secret information from the British war office.

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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:

What my hon. friend just said is quite different from what he said a moment ago. This was to get information, not to get a contract.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

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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:

If my hon.

friend will read the cable which was sent, and the reply, he will see that the purpose was to get information to enable the Department of National Defence to reach its own conclusions with reference to a certain matter,-namely the possibility of producing the Bren gun in Canada-nothing else.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

The cable was to get Hahn the information. The Prime Minister asks me to read the cablegram, and I will read it:

. . . Your cablegram 9th November 396.

That was the cable which was sent by the high commissioner to the Prime Minister.

Have discussed matter with Minister of National Defence. You might request war office to give Major Hahn, as representing Canadian government in this particular, any information which they consider desirable and necessary to enable national defence to reach conclusion on possibility produce Bren gun in Canada.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

It is not desired to request furnishing of information on any article other than this gun.

What are my hon. friends saying "hear, hear" for?

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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:

It is just to get information solely for the purpose of considering the possibility of producing the Bren gun in Canada-nothing else.

Bren Gun-Mr. Manion

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Not to get information, but to make Hahn representative of the government of Canada; to enable Hahn to go inin the words of the high commissioner-"as representative of the Canadian government" to get "access to information of a secret nature which normally is not given to other than government officials." That was the point, and it is clear. The Prime Minister has been jumping up from his seat-I have watched him rise about fifteen times-to contradict and to try to get out from under. Why, if there is not something wrong with the contract, is the Prime Minister continually trying to get out from under?

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

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February 13, 1939