March 14, 1939

?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

[Mr. Mackenzie King.)

Topic:   ROYAL VISIT
Subtopic:   QUESTION OF PROROGATION OR ADJOURNMENT OF SESSION-FUNCTIONS TO BE ATTENDED BY MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT
Permalink
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

-even from the intimations that have come while I have been speaking. I do not think that any decision should be reached on this point until we see how we get along with the business between now and the time when their majesties are expected to arrive. By Easter we may have a general idea of the amount of business that remains, we shall see by then what progress has been made. I would say at once, however that when it comes to making a decision on the point, an effort will be made, with respect to whatever conclusion we arrive at, to have it in accordance with what appears to be the consensus of view of hon. members.

As regards the period of their majesties' visit to Ottawa, every effort will be made to have matters so arranged that hon. members of both houses of parliament will be able to attend all functions that may arise in connection with that visit, with regard, of course, to what may be customary with respect to a state dinner at government house. But I may say at once that the government intend to have a parliamentary dinner when their majesties are here, which will be confined to members of both houses of parliament, so that there will be opportunity for all hon. members to be presented to their majesties, accompanied, if they are fortunate enough to have them, either by their respective wives or by an unmarried daughter.

With regard to other functions, the unveiling of the national war memorial, the laying of the cornerstone of the supreme court building, the trooping of the colour on parliament hill, all these functions will be so arranged as to make special provision for the probable attendance of members of the House of Commons and the Senate.

Perhaps this would be a good occasion on which to intimate to the house what his majesty has graciously signified his willingness to do in the event of parliament having concluded its business at the time of his arrival in Canada. Should parliament have concluded its business and be prepared to prorogue, his majesty has graciously signified his willingness to prorogue parliament himself. Lest this consent on his majesty's part might be construed as an indirect way of exerting pressure on hon. members to hasten the conclusion of the session, I have asked His Majesty the King through His Excellency the Governor General whether in the event of our not having concluded our business by that time we might not have the great privilege of having his majesty assent to one or two bills which might be held for that purpose, so that hon. members could participate in a function in which the king along with members of both

Defence Purchasing Board

houses of parliament would be taking part in these buildings. I am pleased to announce that his majesty has graciously signified his willingness to give the royal assent to any bills which may be held for that purpose, so as to ensure that there will be at least one function within the walls of these houses of parliament at which the king and members of both houses of parliament will be present.

Topic:   ROYAL VISIT
Subtopic:   QUESTION OF PROROGATION OR ADJOURNMENT OF SESSION-FUNCTIONS TO BE ATTENDED BY MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT
Permalink

NATIONAL DEFENCE

CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES


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



or eight years; that is, the autobiography of Doctor Clark. If you will look at page 672, sir, you will see-


LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order. I do not think the hon. member is quite in order. The motion before the house is for the second reading of Bill No. 38, concerning the establishment of a defence purchasing board. I think the discussion should be confined to the advisability of establishing such a board.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
Permalink
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

Apart from that, Mr. Speaker, I am sure my hon. friend will agree that I am the last person in this house who would wish to curtail in any way his freedom of discussion; but I do feel that, as leader of the House of Commons, it is part of my duty to see that members of the public service, who are not in a position to speak for themselves during the course of debates which take place in this house, should be protected against any remarks in the nature of a reflection upon themselves, or references to their personal history such as the hon. member I gather was about to make. It must be obvious that members of the public service have to look to the administration for protection in the discharge of their duties; and if deputy ministers or leading public officials or any members of the public service are to be attacked here, in justice to them they should have the right to make reply on their own behalf from wherever they may happen to be. If that method were to be adopted with regard to the conduct of our public affairs I am afraid the public service of the country could not be carried on in the manner in which the country has a right to expect it will be carried on.

I hope my hon. friend will see that in dis-. cussing the matters he is dealing with at the present time, it is not necessary for him to bring in personal matters which really have no bearing on the question before the house.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
Permalink
LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I will not insist further on that point, Mr. Speaker, but in due course I will obtain that information by means of questions placed on the order paper, and I shall be satisfied if I receive complete answers to those questions.

What I want my chief to understand, however, is that I have no personal grievance against Doctor Skelton, Doctor Clark or any other man in the service. What I am very much concerned about is the fact that daily the high officials of the civil service are acquiring greater importance at the expense of the government. This is a matter of great concern to me, because these men are responsible to no one. Many times when a

minister wants to get some information from these officials-and I am not referring to these two in particular-th'ey think they are superior individuals. They feel that members of the House of Commons count for nothing, though we are here, working daily, meeting people in all walks of life and trying to do our best for them. We need the civil service to help us in our work. That is my humble contention, and I am sure my chief agrees with me.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
Permalink
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

In order to

make my position quite clear may I say that my hon. friend would be quite justified in attacking me or in attacking the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) with respect to any official within our departments who may not be performing his duties as he should. But we are the persons to be attacked; we are the responsible ministers, and the same would apply to the ministers of the other departments. My hon. friend is quite within his rights in bringing to the attention of the house anything at all in connection with the attitude of individual public servants; and, speaking for myself, if officials of any department with which I have to do are assuming attitudes which they should not assume towards members of the House of Commons or the Senate, I will be the first to speak to them about it. But I would say, knowing him as I do, that Doctor Skelton is the last man in the world who would seek for a moment to be other than wholly deferential to all hon. members of the house, and I believe the same is equally true of Doctor Clark.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
Permalink
LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I agree to a certain extent with what my right hon. leader has said. I should like him to understand that I have no vengeance to satisfy. I am much above that. What I endeavour to do, at times, is simply to enlighten the government as to what is going on, for their own good. Of course according to parliamentary practice a minister is responsible for everything that is done by those under his control; but with the new system of things-and this defence board is part of that system-I feel that the ministers will have less and less authority over the civil service.

My understanding of government is the understanding which was held by my great grandfather and my grandfather, who were also privates in the great Liberal army. It is that a member of parliament is entitled to all information concerning the expenditure of public money and that the minister who is in charge of a department is responsible for everything that is done by his department.

Defence Purchasing Board

What I regret, sir, is that to-day there is a strong tendency to lean upon the shoulders of somebody else; it is still the old story, "My little brother broke the glass." No one is responsible for anything. When 'any member of parliament writes to a department for information he is almost always told that he has come to the wrong door. In fact, for your information, Mr. Speaker, as well as that of my right hon. leader and all other hon. members of the house, I would say that out of the sixty letters I have to write daily for my constituents at least half if not two-thirds are due either to the silliness, the stubborness or the great importance of some officials of the civil service. So, instead of having the leisure to read some public papers which I must read I have to w'aste my time dictating useless letters because those to whom I have written did not give satisfactory answers in connection with very ordinary routine matters.

It is not my pleasure to rise to-day and to address the house on this bill. I do not do it for pleasure. I do not do it as a matter of entertainment; in fact I realize that my speech is very dull. I do it from a sense of duty and, in the best possible spirit and as a good Liberal, I give warning to the government. I want the principle of ministerial responsibility reestablished as it was at the time of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, as it was at the time of Blake, Baldwin, Lafontaine, Cartier and all the others. Those people may have made mistakes, but they were true imitators of the British parliamentary system.

Of course, I cannot understand a department which is not complete, like the human body. The Department of National Defence is one which requires quick action. At its head there is a minister. Then there is one deputy minister, and other branches of the department operate under each of the head officials. If this bill is adopted the Department of National Defence will be like a body deprived of its arms. It will have no ammunition, unless there is agreement by the Department of Finance. Who are the experts in armoury and gun making in the Department of Finance?

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
Permalink
LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

None.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
Permalink
LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Well now, that is a direct and timely answer. The experts in gunnery and armoury shall be left with the Department of National Defence. By exception we have two experts in the House of Commons-only two. There is the hon. member for St. John-Albert (Mr. McAvity) who was on the imperial munitions board, and the hon. member for Huron, who made munitions during the war. In addition to that, none of us knows anything 71492-118

about the making of munitions. The Minister of Finance has just said there is no one in his department who is expert in such matters. Well now, what will happen when there is an order or a requisition for a certain quantity of munitions, in a contract exceeding $5,000? The Minister of National Defence will have no authority to decide upon it. He may receive requisitions from Great Britain or from some other country, and those requisitions will be sent to the Department of Finance.

Then, we will have a board composed of four people-and this is in accordance with the report of Mr. Justice Davis. Who will those four men be? One will be a capable and experienced corporation lawyer, a com-merical lawyer who has had wide practice in dealing with large commercial contracts. You know, sir, that most of the trouble experienced by this country in regard to watered stock has been due to corporation lawyers. As a rule, corporation lawyers are a failure at politics, and no one has experienced that more than the present leader of the opposition (Mr. Manion), who is a distinguished medical doctor. There is no need for any corporation lawyer on that board. In fact, if somebody requires information about the solvency of a company which has sent a tender on a piece of ammunition he has only to subscribe to Dun's. It will cost $25 per annum, and he will receive all possible information concerning solvency of any company. If the Minister of Finance wishes to be more economical, he may ask the Bank of Canada to supply information concerning the solvency of any company which sends in a tender. Therefore there is no need for a commercial lawyer who has had a wide practice in dealing with large commercial contracts. And here is the point: It is just because the one who is now judge advocate general has had no experience at all in commercial contracts that one is required on the board.

Then the second suggestion is that there shall be a representative of labour. That is a farce, because the Department of Finance has no authority to prescribe hours of labour. You know, sir, the fate of the social legislation enacted by the House of Commons, but which was declared ultra vires by the privy council. There is no possibility of using the services of any representative of labour in connection with those contracts. We have no authority to do that. Unless the constitution is changed, the government can do nothing, except give a fat job or sinecure to a parasite of some kind. .

And now we come to the capable and experienced manufacturer. This is dangerous,

Defence Purchasing Board

because such capable and experienced manufacturer must have some friends to protect underneath. I find that provision most dangerous.

Then there is mention of a chartered accountant, under the Minister of Finance. This is what I have preached in the house: Instead of having accountants from the Department of Finance the Minister of National Defence should have his own chartered accountants. If we look at the British publication which shows the personnel of the British war office, the British admiralty, the air department and the department for the coordination of defence, we see the number of chartered accountants who are appointed to look after the expenditures of each department. But here all the accountants of all departments are in the Department of Finance. This is another most dangerous step. Officials of the various departments are all intermingled. We have the example of the Minister of Finance being the head of the accountants in all departments. There is not a single accountant in the civil service who is not under the Minister of Finance. With a few exceptions, the legal advisory counsel of various departments are under the Minister of Justice. You have also a lawyer like the chief advocate general of the department of pensions, who is not a lawyer at all, and whose only qualification was to study medicine for one year. Then there are the translators, who are mostly under the Secretary of State, although they are scattered amongst various departments. I am against that, Mr. Speaker. There is no more hierarchy; there is no order in the departments. The minister cannot give definite instructions to any one of these men who are amongst his employees because they are under another minister and to reach them he has to communicate with that other minister, one of his colleagues. I am strongly opposed to that in principle.

There is another thing which also causes me the deepest concern. It is that all that intermingling, if I may call it that, is an arrangement to allow various officials to be entirely free to do just as they please under the authority of no one. The further away the authority is, the lesser in degree, in my humble view. I have studied many files and what I notice-and I wish to bring this to the attention of my right hon. leader and his colleagues

is the easy way in which several high officials try to evade all authority and all responsibility. That may not always be noticed, of course, but it is a very dangerous practice. My right hon. leader knows that if there is communism in Russia to-day it is due entirely to the extravagance of bureaucracy;

and in Germany and Italy the members of their bureaucracy were so powerful as to cause the destruction of democracy in those countries. Their influence was not always apparent. They were like termites, which were undermining the pillars of state. Today there is no more democracy in Russia, there is no more democracy in Italy, there is no more democracy in Germany; and here in Canada we are on the eve of having a dictatorship of bureaucracy. We should see the connection between the editorial staff, the whole staff of the Ottawa Journal, and the staff of the civil service commission, to understand what is behind the insults of which I have been the victim. I do not pose as a martyr, because I do not care what is said about me in praise or blame. I try to do my duty. In fact, Mr. Speaker, ever since I have been in politics I have been called so many names as to exhaust the richest vocabulary, and what can be said of me now can be only a repetition. Therefore I am indifferent to abuse. But what I regret is that some people do not see what is behind this. If order is not restored in the civil service we shall run the risk of falling down as other countries have done where bureaucracy was not checked.

Of course, it is always unpleasant to say something of anyone which is not a compliment; it is not a pleasure, but duty must come before sentimentality. Moreover there is the popular side to consider. People are thinking more deeply now than they ever did before, and they are very much concerned about these special privileges that are granted to the very few.

A man cannot be judged by his salary. Here we receive an indemnity of 84,000. Of that, all of us may pay perhaps $1,000 for insurance, give away $1,500 for gifts in our constituencies, and for travelling expenses, and what is left? Very little. There is $1,500 to live on, and we have to run into debt. We are not considered important because we receive a very small indemnity. But if the members of the House of Commons were receiving as much as the two officials whom I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, we should all be great men because our incomes would be much higher. That may seem stupid, but it is the view of many people. In the civil service, however, when a man has reached his maximum salary he is considered a genius, even if he was dumb when he was earning but little at the start.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
Permalink
LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order. I have already called the hon. member's attention to the fact that he was wandering away from the

Defence Purchasing Board

question before the house, and I must again remind him that he is not in order in continuing to discuss the affairs of the civil service on this motion.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
Permalink
LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Sir, I shall not persist, but the reason I was doing so was that this bill makes mention of a new body to be created in the service, and in my view we have enough civil servants now-more than enough if they were all competent. In conclusion, sir, I say that if the incompetent ones were replaced by competent ones there would be no need for this new board.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
Permalink
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. M. J. COLDWELL (Rosetown-Biggar):

Mr. Speaker, I rise to discuss not the civil service but this bill, one of the most important measures which has been placed before this parliament since it assembled in 1936. The bill in my opinion adopts and commits parliament and the country to a most momentous policy. We are asked by this measure to concur in the principle of the private manufacture of arms. To this principle a very large section of the Canadian people are very thoroughly opposed; and before the house is even asked to adopt the principle laid down by the bill, every opportunity should be given for careful consideration of its provisions.

The resolution foreshadowing this bill was placed on the order paper on January 25. The minister discussed the resolution last Friday, March 10, and the bill was distributed in the usual way to the members on Saturday last. From what I have been able to see of this bill, and because many of the members have been otherwise engaged since the bill was distributed, I submit that hon. members have had insufficient time to go into its details.

The group with which I am associated regrets that the government has felt it necessary to abandon the policy of the manufacture of armaments in publicly-owned plants.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
Permalink
LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

That is not correct.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
Permalink
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

I heard the interruption, "That is not correct." Having read carefully the minister's speech and having noted that, for example, the minister placed on the record the minority rather than the majority report of the committee of the United States senate which reported upon the public manufacture of armaments-

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
Permalink
LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

Both.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
Permalink
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

No.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
Permalink

March 14, 1939