February 13, 1939

LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

I may

tell my hon. friend that that was inserted by the interdepartmental committee against the actual objections of the officials of the Department of National Defence, in conformity with the British practice.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

I am glad to hear my

hon. friend say that, but if it was inserted against their wishes they should have had

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the courage to stop it from being inserted. The interdepartmental committee was overruled in almost everything else, and I do not see why the department or the government should let themselves be governed by the committee in this regard.

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LIB

Gerald Grattan McGeer

Liberal

Mr. McGEER:

Would it not be fair to say that this incentive clause was demanded by the British war office; that the Canadian department objected to it and the British war office insisted on that incentive clause being included?

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

I am afraid the hon. member for Vancouver-Burrard (Mr. McGeer) and the minister will have to fight that out between themselves. The minister says it was inserted on the insistence of the interdepartmental committee; the hon. member for Vancouver-Burrard says it was inserted by the British war office. I do not care by whom it was inserted; I do not think is was necessary. I think this man Hahn was making plenty out of this contract without the insertion of any such clause.

Then there is another extraordinary clause, to me the most extraordinary of all. My hon. friend from Vancouver-Burrard made a very fine speech on this subject, on which I complimented him before he came in. Incidentally he was the only speaker whom I did compliment.

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UFOL

Agnes Campbell Macphail

United Farmers of Ontario-Labour

Miss MACPHAIL:

They should make him Minister of National Defence; he was the only one to offer any sort of defence.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

I wish, however, when he made his defence, the hon. member for Vancouver-Burrard, with his fertile Hibernian brain, had dealt with the contract itself. Knowing contracts fairly well, as he does, I have no doubt he could have pointed out some of the bad points as well as the few good one he was able to find.

On page 14 of the contract there is one of the most extraordinary clauses I have ever seen, and I should like to read the important part of it to the house. I should like to know what it means, and I would like my hon. friend from Vancouver-Burrard, or any member of the government who can do so, to explain it. It provides:

-the party of the second part-

That is, Major Hahn.

-hereby agreeing that it will not employ any person on or in respect of any of the work required under this contract, or allow any person to have access to the plant wherein the manufacture of said Bren guns is being carried

out unless and until it has furnished in writing to a party to be designated by the party of the first part-

That is the government.

-the name, address, and other particulars,-

Politics, I wonder?

-as may be required by the party so designated of each such person, and said party has approved of such person being employed on or having access, as the case may be, to the said work and plant.

That appears in the middle of page 14 of the contract.

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LIB

Gerald Grattan McGeer

Liberal

Mr. McGEER:

If my hon. friend would accept an explanation of that clause-

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

The hon. gentleman has made his speech, and I am going to explain this clause. During the course of his remarks my hon. friend said a man never listened himself into trouble, and I pass the advice back to him now. I listened to him fairly patiently the other night. When I read that clause I asked what it could mean but this: it simply says that Major Hahn or the John Inglis Company-and I am referring to Major Hahn as the John Inglis Company -cannot hire anybody without the consent of this government. They have to give the name, address and other particulars, to somebody designated by the government, before ay person can be hired.

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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I should like to ask one question. As I read it, the first part of that clause entirely explains it:

The party of the second part undertakes and agrees not to disclose or communicate any information concerning the said Bren guns to any unauthorized person or persons, nor shall they permit any unauthorized person or persons to have access to that part of their plant where said Bren guns are being constructed during the construction of the said Bren guns-

Then it goes on to the section quoted by my hon. friend, but why did hg not quote the whole clause?

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

I did not quote it because I did not choose to do so. I allowed my hon. friend to quote it, but I should not have done so; he is following me and he can deal with it. I say that is not the case; I say secrecy has nothing to do with it. I say that is a political patronage clause for the purpose of giving this government an opportunity to hire its own friends. That is the only thing I can read into it. All they had to do was say that no one but Canadians could be hired, if they wanted to be particular; they could have seen that the employment was restricted

Bren Gun-Mr. Manion

to Canadians. Why should this government, in a contract given to a private individual, want the names, addresses and other information of all those to be employed? Incidentally some of the members from Toronto tell me that this is what is being done at the present time; that unless you are a Liberal you do not get a job in the Hahn plant right now.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

May I assure my hon. friend that that is not with my knowledge.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

That may be; I am not questioning that. I am simply saying it is probably with Mr. Plaxton's knowledge. He is the local member. And by the way, since hon. gentlemen opposite are asking me questions, I should like to know who is the man designated by the government. They say somebody has to be designated, and I should like to know who it is.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

I think there will be about thirty inspectors and auditors altogether.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

But in regard to the employment?

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

I have no knowledge at all.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Apparently someone is to be designated. To me that is the most extraordinary clause in the whole contract. Then there are a few other clauses on which I should like to touch. The government may cancel the contract, but if they do so Hahn receives $43,750; that is, if they cancel it before he starts to deliver these guns. If it is cancelled after he has started to manufacture them he receives more. If this contract is to be cancelled at all, supposing it should be cancelled by the government for cause, why should Hahn receive anything? Why should it be written into this contract that if it is cancelled before he begins to manufacture these guns he will receive $43,750? To my mind these provisions are sufficient to illustrate the preferred position of Hahn.

Then I should like to ask another question, touching a matter which I mentioned during my previous remarks. In his speech the other day the minister made no reference to it; neither did anybody else. This contract was signed by the Canadian government on March 22. It was tabled in the House of Commons on June 29, three months and seven days later. Why was it not tabled when it was signed? The house was sitting. -

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

It was never asked for.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Is that a proper answer, that it was never asked for? This contract should have been tabled immediately after it was signed, but it was not tabled until three or four days before the house prorogued, for the purpose of preventing discussion on the contract. Undoubtedly, sir, that is the whole answer. I say the whole matter was clumsily-

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

I rise to a point of order. On May 5 a press release was given to the press of Canada giving details of this contract. On May 16 the hon. member for Yale (Mr. Stirling) asked a question of me, and in my reply in this house I gave details as to this contract.

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CON

Grote Stirling

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STIRLING:

And on the point of order, if I may say so, the minister promised then to table the contract.

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February 13, 1939