March 14, 1939

CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

The minister is the man who puts matters up to the board, after they have been passed upon by the defence council.

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

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

But then they survey the entire requirements of the department, in conjunction with the experts of the department.

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

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

The minister may be right. I am glad to be corrected by the minister, who says that this board goes as far as a munitions board would go. If so, I shall be more satisfied. But it is claimed by those who took it up with me-I do not know that I asked them to specify the difference, but it did seem to me that they were right-that a munitions board will go much further. The purchasing board, in my opinion, should have a closer association with the defence council than it has at the present time. I have said all I wish to say on that- subject, and I have now only one or two suggestions to make.

I think that what we require in this country is, first, good equipment for the money expended. Second, we need efficiency and speed in manufacture. Third, we require the elimination of profits, if possible. Apparently that is not entirely possible, but there should be the full control of profits, not only on contracts which are not let by tender but on contracts which are let by tender. I do not know that that can be done, but I believe some further investigation should be made in that regard. I do not wish to go into it in detail now, but when we come to the appropriate clause of the bill I shall have a few questions to ask. Finally, we all want wise and honest expenditure of the money of the Canadian people.

In regard to my suggestions, let me briefly recapitulate the points I have made. First, we must try to bring about a closer association between the defence council and the purchasing board. Second-and this may have been covered by the minister to a certain

Defence Purchasing Board

extent-if the government is not willing to go into government manufacture on a large scale, it could certainly have pilot plants in various parts of Canada which would serve at least as a check on the cost of munitions being manufactured by private concerns. Third, I think it would be well to have something in the way of a committee of both houses, to discuss, in camera if necessary, the whole defence problem of Canada; questions *will be coming up in the house, on the estimates of the department, for instance, which the minister will not care to answer. He will probably, and truthfully, tell us that in the public interest certain questions which we ask cannot be answered. These questions might well be discussed in camera by a committee of both houses, which would serve to reassure the people generally, even though they were unacquainted with the work of the committee, that everything was being carried on in a proper manner, from all aspects.

Finally I should like to see this bill improved, and we can do that better perhaps as it goes through the house, in order to satisfy public opinion in regard to profits. It seems to me that defence expenditure is so important that it is no exaggeration to say that on the proper expenditure of this money we shall have to depend if or when we are called upon to fight for our very national life.

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

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. T. C. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

Mr. Speaker, I desire to make only a few remarks on this bill before it goes into committee.

A perusal of the bill indicates that the government is now embarked on a very large rearmament program. There are two ways in which the government can get armaments: either by manufacturing them, or by purchasing them from private manufacturers. This bill would indicate that in the main the government proposes to follow the practice of purchasing from private manufacturers.

I want to draw two facts to the attention of the government, and particularly of the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie). The first is that despite his eloquent speech of last Friday, to my mind he has not yet given any good and sufficient reason why the government cannot manufacture a great many armaments and materials of war in its own arsenals.

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

May I interrupt my hon. friend for a moment? Two or three hon. members who have spoken from his group have said over and over again that the government's policy is to encourage manufacture by private interests, and not to have the manufacturing done under government auspices in its arsenals or other government

establishments. There is nothing in this bill which would justify that statement, and it is not true as a statement of government policy.

I want to assure my hon. friends that the question whether certain contracts are to be given to private firms or the work done in government workshops is one which will be studied as we go along with reference to the different contracts that have to be made, equipment or supplies that are required, and the circumstances under which alone they can be made. There is nothing in this bill which justifies the statement that the government is committed to the one policy rather than the other.

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

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

May I point out to the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) that there is nothing in the bill to justify any belief to the contrary.

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

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

Oh, yes. Section 2

specifically provides for government manufacture.

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

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

But this is a purchasing board

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

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

We would not need one to purchase from ourselves.

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

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

This bill

provides for a purchasing board whereby the government may purchase its requirements, and it contains all the provisions for the letting of contracts. The minister would not suggest that we will let contracts to ourselves.

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

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

If my hon. friend will permit me, we would not need a purchasing board to purchase from the government's own factories.

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

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

Exactly, we would not.

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

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

We do not.

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

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

Therefore the fact that this board is being set up, and the fact that we are to provide large sums of money for national defence, indicate that we now propose to purchase from private manufacturers.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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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 wants to present the government's policy in its true light, it would be this. The government is not in a position to say that it is going to have all armaments and munitions manufactured in government arsenals and workshops, that there is going to be a monopoly in the provision of armaments by government workshops and arsenals. All that the bill implies is that there will of necessity be some orders placed with private concerns, and that being the case this bill

Dejence Purchasing Board

makes provision for a defence purchasing board to deal with contracts where such are to be entered into. That is the true position.

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

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

Of course the Prime Minister can make that statement if he likes, but it is apparent that some contracts will have to be given to private firms.

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

And those are the ones we seek to control by this bill.

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

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

The Minister of National Defence the other day weighed the arguments pro and con in respect of public manufacture. Speaking of differences of opinion in the department itself, he said that certain senior officers were in favour of public manufacture, and then went on to say, at page 1760 of Hansard:

Others of equal senior rank pointed out that the capital cost of constructing and equipping the several plants advocated would run between $30,000,000 and $35,000,000.

Then he went on:

I think I am safe in saying that on principle the government favoured state manufacture. However, at that time we were faced with a most serious financial problem.

He proceeded to outline what the government's policy had been, that the policy has been the purchasing of armaments. By this measure we are providing the machinery whereby the government may continue to purchase from private manufacturers. The Prime Minister spoke of the extent to which that might be done. The extent to which the government will purchase from private manufacturers and the extent to which they will manufacture in their own shops will be left, of course, to the decision of the government, but the fact remains that nothing was said by the Minister of National Defence the other day to indicate that the government proposes to extend the machinery for producing in its own plants.

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

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

Most

definitely he did.

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

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOLTGLAS (Weyburn):

Oh, no.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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March 14, 1939