March 16, 1939

LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member should speak to that point.

Topic:   PUBLIC ACCOUNTS
Subtopic:   MOTION FOB CONCURRENCE IN FIRST REPORT
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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

My contention is that if the committee goes to Toronto it will be seeing a plant which has been constructed since this contract was made. This will be of no assistance whatever in coming to a conclusion as to the condition of the plant at the time the contract was made.

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LIB

Alexander MacGillivray Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG:

Does the hon. member

admit that the present building and plant is a satisfactory plant?

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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

Whether or not that is so can be easily established by calling one or two witnesses who know and can give expert testimony as to the condition of the plant. If this procedure is followed we can form a better judgment than we could by going to Toronto and inspecting the plant. To me this is a futile undertaking, a waste of public money. I opposed it in the committee and for the same reason I propose to vote for the amendment.

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LIB

Gerald Grattan McGeer

Liberal

Mr. G. G. McGEER (Vancouver-Burrard):

I supported in the committee the resolution to ask the house for leave to go to Toronto to inspect the plant and the present operations of the John Inglis Company, as they apply not only to the production of Bren guns but also to the commercial activities of the plant.

I did so in order that we might have a firsthand view of the possibilities of coordinating war-time preparation activities with peacetime commercial activities, not only to secure efficient means for the production of arms in time of need but also to coordinate that kind of work and the reestablishment of peace-time industrial enterprise. It is important to consider this particular contract from the point of view of the policy of governmental cooperation with private enterprise to aid as far as possible the preparation for the production of necessary arms for defence and, as well, the reestablishment of industrial activity in Canada.

Any better reasons for the inspection of this plant than have been advanced by hon.

members who have spoken against the proposal of the committee, would 'be very difficult to find. I am amazed that those who have been responsible for the enormous amount of time that has been taken in investigating this minor item in British empire defence should now hesitate to go and examine, or allow a committee of parliament to go and examine, the thing that they have condemned as unworthy of confidence.

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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

They would not know anything about it.

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LIB

Gerald Grattan McGeer

Liberal

Mr. McGEER:

Let me tell the hon. member for Waterloo South (Mr. Homuth) that this whole program is based on misrepresentation. When I read the Maclean's magazine article-

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

That was in Hansard.

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LIB

Gerald Grattan McGeer

Liberal

Mr. McGEER:

Well, the picture I am referring to was not in Hansard. One thing that impressed me was the picture of the John Inglis plant, and because I saw that picture, I stopped off in Toronto on my way through to Ottawa and took a look at the plant. No greater misrepresentation could possibly have been made to the public of Canada than the picture which featured the article which by innuendo made the charges which have been under investigation for months.

What is this committee asked to do for parliament and for the people of Canada? It is asked to ascertain whether the plant was a broken down boiler plant, whether the personnel of the company was competent to carry out the contract. What better evidence can the committee have than to go and see the men carrying out the contract, the problems of production and of organization, and to have explained to them the manner in which those problems are being faced and carried out? In a matter involving much technical detail no man can form a judgment so well from the evidence of experts as he can by going and seeing for himself the problem and its solution.

We are told that the delivery of the guns will be indefinitely delayed, that the company's assets were not of the value stated in the evidence before the royal commission, that there wras gross misrepresentation as to the commercial value of the plant as well as its war-time value-

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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, your honour has ruled that we should stick closely to the motion before the house. I submit that the hon. member is travelling far afield.

1948 COMMONS

____Public Accounts Committee Report

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LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member who is now speaking is as much in order as some who preceded him.

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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

There is this difference, that others were stopped and he is not stopped.

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LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER :

I stopped them, but they would not abide by my ruling.

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LIB

Gerald Grattan McGeer

Liberal

Mr. McGEER:

I wish to keep within the rules of the house, Mr. Speaker, and certainly I bow to any ruling you may make. But I am pointing out some things which as a member of the committee I feel we are required to report upon, and some things on which I believe we can form a better opinion by seeing with our own eyes than we can by merely calling experts whose views we may be unable to understand.

We are told that the plant and the company were not capable of being efficiently and economically converted into a production unit of arms for Canada, namely, Bren guns. What have we heard this afternoon? We have been told that a new building has been erected and that some $840,000 of public moneys have been expended on that plant. There is one feature of this particular kind of contract about which the committee by going to Toronto can get first-hand information. In the production line, which spreads over a very large building, a uniform temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit must be maintained, because this particular type of equipment, with its innumerable parts, has to move in production throughout under the same temperature. I am given to understand that, starting from a plant not in operation as against starting from a plant in operation, one of the reasons why it is wiser to adopt this course rather than the other-

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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. MacINNIS:

What other?

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LIB

Gerald Grattan McGeer

Liberal

Mr. McGEER:

-is that you can build a new organization and equip it having regard to the conditions that are necessary successfully to produce this kind of weapon. In any event, for any hon. member of this house to say that he does not want to go and will not go to examine a plant in which S840.000 of public money is invested and in which defence armaments are being produced, indicates in my opinion an extraordinary conception of the duties and responsibilities of a member of parliament. Let me say that while the hon. member for Waterloo South (Mr. Homuth) smiles-

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UFOL

Agnes Campbell Macphail

United Farmers of Ontario-Labour

Miss MACPHAIL:

We laugh.

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LIB

Gerald Grattan McGeer

Liberal

Mr. McGEER:

Yes, I know that.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

We are all laughing.

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March 16, 1939