May 16, 1939

CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

They are shipping high quality lathes to be used in the production of shells. These pieces of machinery are so fine they can be operated by a sixteen-year

Supply-National Defence

old girl. The British government has placed several different orders for these machines, and I believe the Australian government has done likewise. I suppose that machinery would be installed in the private plants about which we have heard. I doubt very much if a government plant would initiate the production of such machinery, because, as some one has pointed out, the profit a private company may get through initiation and development provides an incentive which is not found in the government plant. There is not the same incentive in a government plant to develop or invent.

After we have provided for the defence of our own eastern and western frontiers I believe the government plants could take care of the regular wear and tear and maintain the equipment already built. As I see the problem, cooperation between both suggested plans would ensure the use of our government arsenals to the limit. If necessary we may increase their size, but we should also invite private manufacturers to compete, produce and invent.

Some one has spoken about the plants of the Canadian National Railways. I realize these are first class plants, and that during the war they turned out necessary equipment. I believe shells or munitions of some kind were made in them. Many of the machines used in the plants of the Canadian National Railways were made in Dundas, Ontario. I saw the machines on the floor, ready for shipment and installation. They were manufactured in one of the finest plants on this continent, that of John Bertram and Sons Company, Limited, whose plant is in the constituency of Wentworth. As many as 3,000 men have been employed there at one time. They are inventors; they initiate and produce, and they could supply gun machines required by the government, if they were furnished with blueprints outlining what is desired. I know, too, that there are some first class manufacturing establishments in Brantford. I am familiar with those plants, having been connected with the manufacture of iron and steel products for a great part of my life. Then, in the constituency of Hamilton West-

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

They

supply much of the machinery for our arsenal at Quebec.

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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

All of these are first class manufacturing establishments, and could be used.

May I express one word of appreciation of what was said by the hon. member for Essex East (Mr. Martin). As I said before, I have felt that perhaps we are parading too much 71492-2614

before the world's gaze our lack of equipment and our inefficiency in methods of defence. It is to be hoped that no bad result may flow from it. On the other hand if we get together, as has been suggested, we might eliminate that parade of conditions before the eyes of the world.

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CON

Howard Charles Green

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GREEN:

Can we obtain from the United States any of our needs in the way of equipment?

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

I think we could. Since the imperial conference of 1907 it has been more or less a traditional policy to have our equipment standardized with the designs and patterns of the equipment of the old country. There has been a change in public opinion in this regard, but in the last several months exhaustive inquiries have been made as to the possibility of procurement of certain items in the United States as well as in Great Britain.

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CON

Howard Charles Green

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GREEN:

Then for all practical purposes there is little hope of our getting any of these requirements from the United States.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

That is a difficult question to answer definitely. I feel sure if there were an emergency we could get much equipment from the United States.

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CON

Howard Charles Green

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GREEN:

To what extent is Canada dependent upon Great Britain for arms and equipment?

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

I could not give an answer in definite percentages.

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CON

Howard Charles Green

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GREEN:

Could the minister give us a rough picture of the situation?

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

Except, for instance; for certain types of heavy guns, modern high angle mountings, certain types of armour-piercing shells, and such things, with proper preparation we could produce most of our requirements in Canada.

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CON

Howard Charles Green

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GREEN:

Could the minister give us a summary of the orders which have been filled in the last three years in Great Britain for Canada?

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LIB
LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

I have not that information at hand.

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CON

Howard Charles Green

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GREEN:

What orders are still unfilled in Great Britain?

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

I can get that information if my hon. friend wants it, but I should rather give it to him privately.

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LIB
CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

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

Mr. MacNEIL:

With the passing of this item we are committing ourselves to a long-range program with certain features that involve a policy, and unless other arrangements are made for discussing it we have no alternative but to continue the discussion on the item before us.

I am not criticizing the staff officers whose requisitions the minister stated to the committee this morning. I think they have done their duty in stating those requirements. But the committee should have some knowledge as to the strategical objectives in mind and the evidence upon which the staff officers recommend this policy.

The minister mentioned, for instance, 18 destroyers, as being one of the requirements specified by the experts. He made it clear that that has not yet been adopted by the government. But may we know why we are concentrating on destroyers? It is common knowledge that destroyers are expensive, and too fast for convoy work, convoys usually moving at 15 knots and destroyers at a speed of around 35 knots. Further, it is recognized that destroyer flotillas usually operate as units of a battle fleet. Are our destroyer flotillas when finally organized to operate simply as detachments of the British navy, or is their work to be confined strictly to coastal defence? Why is the emphasis placed on destroyers rather than on submarines? A study of naval programs of countries of comparable size to Canada and with a similar coast line shows that emphasis is placed on submarines rather than on destroyers. A submarine can lie in wait at certain points and embarrass a raiding fleet much more effectively than destroyers. Why the emphasis on more destroyers rather than on mosquito craft equipped with detector devices and torpedo firing devices? They also could operate to better advantage in our coastal waters than [DOT] even destroyers.

These are all questions of policy. I am not speaking with the object of having any naval secrets divulged. I am not asking the minister to state publicly in the house what should not be stated publicly, but the strategical objectives could safely be defined without disclosing information that might be of advantage to unfriendly powers. Again, I would ask, why destroyers? Is it the intention of the government to build up a cruiser fleet? A destroyer does not carry guns of heavy enough calibre to enable it to engage a cruiser, which usually carries 6-inch or flinch guns, and should a cruiser raid our coast a destroyer would simply have to stand by. A destroyer, again, is not equipped for transoceanic convoy work but rather for patrol work in the focal areas of our ports. If the

IMr. Roberge.]

minister is unable at this stage to announce his plans with regard to the discussion in committee, could he, for instance, with regard to these long-range features of naval policy and air policy, say something of the strategical objectives which he has in mind, so that we may be assured that they are correlated first of all to Canadian needs?

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

I wish

to repeat what I said a year ago in this house, that all these estimates are designed for the defence of Canada and only for the defence of Canada. In the second place, in regard to the long-range policy, this vote of S3,000,000 does not in any way affect the long-range policy which was submitted by the general staff to the minister and which I disclosed to the committee this morning. The S3,000,000 concerns only the capital expenditure of $29,000,000 which is part of this year's estimates of $60,000,000, except in so far of course as the $60,000,000 might be considered to be a part of a possible major expenditure.

My hon. friend will recall that I said definitely this morning that the proposed expenditures suggested by the general staff were entirely apart from the estimates of this year

what they thought were adequate for the defence of Canada.

In regard to the proposed committee, I fear it may be somewhat late to set it up formally this year, but if there is a general desire to do so, representatives of the various groups in the house could have an informal meeting, probably next Thursday, call in the chiefs of the staff, and go into the whole question raised by my hon. friend. I would have no objection to holding such a meeting. It might serve the purpose he has in mind at this time, and whoever may be in authority at the next session could consider the setting up of a formal committee, which I think should be a committee of both houses, so that all these things could be discussed and the long-range objectives thoroughly understood.

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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. MacINNIS:

Possibly the minister has already answered this question, but it can be answered briefly. How much of this estimated expenditure of $63,000,000 is it intended to spend in the coming year?

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May 16, 1939