Hon. IAN MACKENZIE (Minister of National Defence) moved the second reading of Bill No. 38, to establish a defence purchasing board.
Mr. JEAN-FRANQOIS POULIOT (Temis-couata): I have just listened to the statement of my right hon. leader (Mr. Mackenzie King), that his majesty may during his visit in Ottawa give his assent to a few bills passed by parliament. Of course such bills should be good legislation. I wonder if this bill is good legislation?
The other day I adjured my hon. friend the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie) not to proceed with the resolution upon which this bill is based. Now of course we have to study the bill. There are two things to consider about this piece of legislation. In the first place it is the work of the interdepartmental committee which was headed by Doctor Skelton of the Department of External Affairs. So much for the past. What is to happen in the future? This is a transfer of power from the Department of National Defence to the Department of Finance. What was said last Friday on the resolution preceding the bill has been questioned by the press. A paper which I mentioned yesterday said that my attack upon a public official who is in no position to answer back illustrates the quality of Mr. Pouliot's sportsmanship and of his courage. I want every hon. member of the house to read the evidence as contained in the official files kept in the office of the clerk of sessional papers of this house, referred to in Hansard of February 13. It is the evidence given by the judge advocate general before the Bren gun commission. It was only on that day, at the thirty-second sitting of the commission, that Judge Davis realized what was the trouble in the whole Bren gun business. Every hon. member who takes the trouble to read that evidence will want then to read the complete evidence which is downstairs, assimilate it and
be guided by it. Hon. members will understand that there is in the Department of National Defence as judge advocate general a man who is not competent. He is not here, of course; if he were here he could not act as judge advocate general.
There is nothing I find so silly as to say that here we attack a civil servant, and that we attack a civil servant who is not here. If any one of us talks with his wife about the roast beef which has been burnt by the cook, it is not necessary for the cook to be present at the conversation. If you say that your boots have not been well shined by your servant, it is not necessary for the bootblack to be present at the conversation. If you say to your wife or your friend that your butler has stolen your whisky, it is not necessary for the butler to be there to hear of it; and they are not supposed to listen through keyholes. We are here to decide upon our own business, the business of governing- not to attack or to criticize anyone, but to pass judgment upon what is wrong and praise what we think is right. There is no lack of courage in saying that. There is courage in not being afraid of blackmail of that sort. What has been written by that paper is just pure blackmail, trying to frighten members of parliament. Moreover they were bold enough to make suggestions to the Prime Minister and other members of this house to stop free discussion in this house. Will there ever be a padlock law applied to this house? That very paper protested against the Quebec padlock law, but now they want every hon. member of parliament to be tongue-cuffed. That as to courage.
I want to say something about the progres-. sive and nefarious influence of some high-posted civil servants, who probably do not mean badly but who are intriguers of the worst kind and who try to serve their own interests or the interests of those who are close to them rather than the interests of the state.
In the first place we will see to what extent some friends will act together. Some years ago, in 1924, there were two professors of the faculty of arts of Queen's university, in the political and economic science branch. They were in active service. One was Doctor Skelton and the other Doctor W. C. Clark. The former is now under secretary of state for external affairs; the latter is now deputy minister of finance. I have in my hand a most interesting book, the Canadian Parliamentary Guide for 1939, which contains some autobiographies. In one of these, it is interesting to note, there is a gap covering seven
Defence Purchasing Board