February 13, 1939

CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

I do not think that the loud laugh proves anything. It is simply that the Prime Minister made Hahn the representative of Canada, when without his being made Canada's representative Hahn would never have got the British contract. By the way, some hon. member on the other side said that that contract was given to Hahn before the Canadian contract. As a matter of fact it was given four months after the Canadian contract.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

The

promise of it was not.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

I do not care about

promises. If we go into promises in addition to all this I do not know what we shall have.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

If the hon. member reads the evidence he will find that he is wrong there.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

No, I am not wrong. I am as right on this point as I am on the others.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

May I inform my hon. friend that a telegram came from the British war office on November 9, 1937, to the effect to give a contract for 5,000 guns to the John Inglis Company.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

The minister had an opportunity the other day to put some of this matter on record. Instead of doing so he indulged in a tirade against us on this side. I read from page 42 of the report:

The Canadian contract was authorized by order in council P.C. 561 of March 22, 1938.

A little later on:

The war office contract-

That is the British contract.

-which was complementary to the Canadian contract, was not signed until July 15, 1938-

Almost four months later.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

That is right.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

What is the use of quibbling about the details? It is just a quibble by which the Prime Minister tries to get away from the fact that he appointed Major Hahn as the representative of this government. That to my mind is one of the most extraordinary things in the whole proceeding; and I believe that the Prime Minister is ashamed of it. When I accused him of it the other day in the house he said -at first-no, he had not done it. He feels to-day, I think rightly, that he should not have made a perfect stranger Canada's representative. There are all kinds of employees of the Department of National Defence from the deputy minister down, who are outstandingly able men. .

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LIB

Norman Alexander McLarty (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. McLARTY:

May I ask my hon.

friend a question on this matter? This was for the manufacture of the gun, not considering it from the standpoint of technical efficiency?

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

What did Major Hahn know technically about the manufacture of the Bren gun until this government taught him, sent him over to learn about it in England? Surely my hon. friend the newly appointed minister does not suggest that no one of the outstanding servants of the Department of National Defence could not have gone over, quite as well as Major Hahn, and obtained that information.

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LIB

Norman Alexander McLarty (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. McLARTY:

There was one sent over, previously, and this was from the standpoint of manufacturing, not as to their technical efficiency.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Major Hahn had never manufactured. All he had done was to assemble radios, and when he was assembling these for ten years he or his company went broke and he paid twenty cents on the dollar. That is his record. I say that there are in the department this very day and there have been all along public servants like the deputy minister and various others who could have obtained the information and come back and laid it before the department. Industrialists could then have been called in just as the British government did in the matter of aeroplanes, and the whole thing would have been carried out in an absolutely upright manner and aboveboard.

We have had in the research department for some time one of the greatest soldiers in the British empire, Major-General McNaughton, a man who is not only an outstanding soldier but a Master of Science from McGill university. He is at the head of the National Research Council. He used to be chief of general staff.

Bren Gun-Mr. Manion

My former leader, Mr. Bennett, said many times that he had been informed by British soldiers that Major-General McNaughton was the best military man in the British empire. I cannot pass judgment upon that statement but I do know at any rate that Major-General McNaughton has a magnificent war record. Why did not the government send him over to get the information needed? Major Hahn is not a scientist. He is a lawyer by profession. Why was he sent? Why did not the-government enlist the services of Major-General McNaughton and have him bring back the necessary information and submit it to the department, and then have industrialists called in? If that course had been followed the government would have obtained the same sort of efficiency as was secured in connection with British aeroplane contracts for which the government there set up a board in Canada.

Major Hahn and his associates could have made a million dollars out of their stock dealings. At the price of the stock they stood to make a million dollars. These are a few of the aspects of the deal that seriously undermine the confidence of the Canadian people, but there are many other similar phases of the subject with which I shall deal briefly.

These points have all been brought to the attention of the government and of the house, most of them by myself, a good many of them by other hon. members including my own followers, and none of these points have been dealt with by hon. members opposite. They have confined themselves to the three paragraphs that exempt the persons involved from the charge of corruption. My hon. friends opposite have never tried to refute any argument advanced on this side. For my own part, in my first remarks I limited myself to the report itself. I gave chapter and verse for every statement I made, and I did not make any statement on my own authority. All the statements I made were based upon the authority of the Bren gun report as submitted by Mr. Justice Davis, the commissioner, and not one of the points that I established has been dealt with in the many speeches that have been made by my hon. friends opposite in supposed refutation of the arguments advanced against the government.

My criticism is against the government as a whole and not against the minister particularly for his action. I say that the whole government is responsible. Now what were the statements I made? Let me give a synopsis of them. First, I said the Prime Minister was deceived by the hon. member for Trinity when that hon. gentleman wrote

him in 1936, two and a half years ago, that a group of friends of his had a fully equipped plant in Toronto for the making of munitions. As a matter of fact the plant is not yet fully equipped; it is only being equipped at the present moment. Nor is it manufacturing munitions to-day. It was not fully equipped and therefore the hon. member deceived the Prime Minister. He rose in his place and expressed himself in a brief, dignified speech of three and a half minutes. I do not wish to do this young man any harm, but he never touched that charge made against him, and nobody has. Does anyone deny that he deceived the Prime Minister?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

The plant is as fully equipped as any plant in Canada.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

It was not. My hon. friend who is an engineer should know better, and he does know better. It was a boiler factory and had been closed for a couple of years.

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LIB
CON

Frank Exton Lennard

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNARD:

Some of the machinery ordered for this plant has not been made yet.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

As my hon. friend says, some of the machinery ordered has not been made yet. It was not fully equipped to manufacture Bren guns.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

That has not been said.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

If he had said that it

was as fully equipped as other plants in Canada there might be an argument, but he said that it was fully equipped. That is the first charge, and there has been no denial of that statement. And the deputy minister later, no doubt basing his statement upon the assurance of the hon. member for Trinity, spoke of a reliable group controlling plants- they had become plural by that time. In the second place, there was a letter of introduction given to Major Hahn by the minister -a letter of introduction given to a man who was unknown to the minister. The minister said, a year and a half afterwards, that he did not know this man. So that he was unknown to the minister, to the deputy minister, and to the Prime Minister. In the third place, there was this unknown man being made a representative of Canada. To me this is the most extraordinary proceeding in the whole transaction. I have the evidence here and I have given it, and I suggest that the reason why the Prime Minister has been trying to get out from under the position of having made this man the representative of Canada in this matter is that he realizes that he made a serious blunder. The

Bren Gun-Mr. Manion

next statement I made was that pressure had been put upon the British government, because the commissioner says in the report at pages 47-48:

As appears from the communications quoted above, the war office as late as February 3, 1938 (Exhibit 190), was still adhering to its desire to deal with the Canadian government and not with a Canadian manufacturer direct.

That was more than a month before the contract was signed by the Canadian government. And the Prime Minister, in reply to the letter from the hon. member for Trinity asking whether Canadian firms might obtain orders from the British government for the manufacture of munitions, said, as quoted in the report:

It would be necessary, of course, to see that it was distinctly understood that such orders as were obtained, were at the instance of the firm itself and not either directly or indirectly, at the instance of the government of Canada.

Major Hahn would never have got a contract from the British government without the support of the government of Canada. He was pressed into the contract, and the government of Great Britain, the war office, was fighting against it up to a month before the Canadian contract was let, and did not award their own contract until four months later. The Prime Minister in the House of Commons on April 2, 1937, a year before, had said, in reply to the leader of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation:

We agree with him in asserting the principle that no profits should be made out of war.

But how can you take profits out of war without nationalizing the industry? That is the only means by which profits can be taken out of war, by some form of nationalization. The minister himself is quoted at page 11 of the report, referring to this very statement of the Prime Minister which I have just quoted:

The Minister of National Defence said in his evidence before the commission that that statement was in agreement with his own view. The minister said that there had been no change in the actual policy of the government, or of himself; that government ownership is the best and that the next is competition.

But they did not have either; they had neither'government ownership nor competition but resorted to a form of patronage and favouritism; and the claim that Major Hahn was appointed merely to get information on behalf of the Department of National Defence is to my mind ridiculous and unfair. It is ridiculous because the department, as I have said, had at their disposal many men whom they could have sent to England. They could have sent over men who were better equipped

both mentally and by training than Major Hahn. And it is unfair to the other industrialists of the country that one man, without any special training, should be picked out and given peculiar rights, pushed forward by this government and made a special representative of Canada to obtain secret information from the war office in Great Britain.

The charge has been made from the opposite side that this discussion in this house has had the effect of suspending the flow of contracts from Great Britain. I say that is mere balderdash. The surest way of getting contracts from the British government is to demonstrate to them that they will get a fair deal over here, as in the matter of aeroplanes.

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February 13, 1939