February 28, 1941

LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Then why not prosecute?

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I would

suggest to the minister that there is something in this suggestion, and further I give him the name of a plant: Canadian Vickers. If he will send his public relations men, or whoever may be the proper people, to get in touch with the men in that plant, they will find that there is among the workers in Canadian Vickers a lack of morale which ought not to exist. This is due to the fact that the

War Appropriation Bill

men believe the pay is too low, and the company will not cooperate with the men. That is the information I have from inside that plant. I do not vouch for it, but I offer it in good faith and suggest that it be the basis of an investigation.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I would be very glad to

have that situation looked into, and I will do so to-morrow. The suggestion has been made-and it is a fair one-that the work of the Department of Munitions and Supply should be divided. There are two sides to that question. In England there are three departments purchasing supplies. The navy department purchases its requirements. The Department of Supplies purchases the requirements of the army, and the Department of Aircraft Production purchases for the air force. I have yet to find-and my colleague the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston) may have a view in the matter- any great enthusiasm for dividing purchasing in that way.

As a matter of fact, I saw a cartoon by Low which appeared in Lord Beaverbrook's own paper. It showed Lord Beaverbrook and his three busy bees. They were crouched in an alley, while three very respectable gentlemen, Mr. Alexander of the navy, Sir Alexander Duncan of the supply board, and Mr. Bevin were approaching along the main street. Lord Beaverbrook has a blackjack in one hand and a revolver in the other, and a fiendish light in his eye. Apparently Beaverbrook and his gang were to take what supplies the respectable ministers had with them. This cartoon was obviously intended to illustrate the subject of common gossip in England.

The trouble is that with three departments in the same market there is bound to be competition among the three. The navy may place an order in one plant. Then the supply department may come along and think that it requires the capacity of that plant to produce for the army, and as a result may give it too large an order. Then the aircraft branch comes along and gives orders for aircraft parts, on top of all this. There you have a company that is overloaded, and will disappoint someone-and probably all three. That is the difficulty.

In the United States there are two purchasing departments. The army buys for the army. In connection with the army there is an aircraft section which buys aircraft for the army. The navy does its own buying, and buys aircraft for the navy. Then, the president has set up a coordinating committee, and that coordinating committee is attempting to set up an overriding organization which will

coordinate the purchases of both. I was told in England, however, and I have been told repeatedly in the United States, that we are fortunate in Canada to have a single buying authority for all military needs.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I think the principle is sound, and I am bound to say that to the minister.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

That, I think, is obvious.

It is better to have a single buying agency.

Whether or not the work is too heavy, I do not know. I always regard it as a challenge, not to my industry but to my organizing ability. I do very little work round the department, I may say. If anyone comes to me and wants an order for something I simply say, "I do not place orders. I am not the man who places orders. Go to see So-and-so, who is handling the matter." If it is a general purchasing matter I would send him to Mr. Malkin's department; if it were a matter of purchasing munitions I would send him to Mr. Drysdale's department; or if it were an inquiry respecting the purchase of guns I would send him to Mr. Carmichael. The work is departmentalized, and as a department grows top-heavy we subdivide, and may subdivide it again. That is a process of organization.

Whether two ministers could organize better than one, or whether three ministers might do better than one, I do not know. That, too, I believe is a question which has two sides to it. I am not taking either side. I took the department as it was organized by parliament. If parliament, the Prime Minister, or anyone else wishes to subdivide it and give me part of it, then that will be all right with me. Or, much better, so far as I am concerned, if it were divided into three parts, and those parts were given to three other men, and I were permitted to go back to the Department of Transport, I would be the most delighted man in Canada.

However, we have that problem. But because it is a large problem, I scarcely believe it is worth while to describe myself as overloaded, overworked and so on-I believe those are the adjectives which are usually used. I doubt if that is so. I think it is possible for one man to create a big organization. There are many big organizations in the world which function efficiently. I may not be the man to do it; however I am trying to do it, and I suggest that we must be given credit for the fact that while we are a mushroom industry we have expanded very rapidly and up to this time have been able to carry on without a major scandal and without any serious break-down in the supplies which have been expected by the army, the navy and the

War Appropriation Bill

air force in Canada, and by those departments in Great Britain that have entrusted their business to us.

I am the last man in the world who should answer the argument my hon. friend has made with regard to dividing the work. I do not think it is a good thing to do; but if others believe it is, I certainly will not stand in their way.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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CON

John George Diefenbaker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

I believe the discussion we have heard during the past couple of days with regard to aircraft has been most interesting and illuminating. After recovering from some of the annoyances of a few days ago, the discussion to-day has been carried on in a manner that must have been helpful to the minister, and has been revealing to us.

The minister has frankly admitted that the promises made in July last, and the anticipated deliveries then expected, as well as the promises made in November and December, have not resulted in the fulfilment of his expectations. Various suggestions have been made, and one of them is that, realizing as we all do the tremendous responsibilities on the minister, and without any suggestion or any inference against him, the department should be divided, with a view to securing the fulfilment of expectations with regard to the numbers of planes to be delivered.

We have endeavoured to secure information and, speaking on behalf of the official opposition, we should like to have tabled before parliament the entire report made by Mr. H. R. MacMillan, except such matters as would in any way be of assistance to the enemy.

Mr, HOWE: It is in to-day's Votes and

Proceedings.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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CON

John George Diefenbaker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

While a portion of it is in to-day's Votes and Proceedings, there remains another portion which does not appear. I realize it is difficult to decide what parts would or would not be beneficial to the enemy. The minister has told us that in so far as the production of aeroplanes is concerned, industry has fallen down. He has said that it is a mushroom industry and that apparently it lacks coordination. He mentioned in particular the situation in so far as the Boeing aircraft company is concerned.

I have a suggestion to make at this time, arising out of the statement with regard to the division of responsibility in the United Kingdom. I suggest that, with a view to preventing the possibility of failures such as have occurred in the last six months in the matter of aircraft production, we have set up at this time a committee composed of representatives of the aircraft industry in

Canada, and that we get in touch with the Right Hon. R. B. Bennett, acquainted as he is with requirements in Great Britain, and experienced as he must be in consequence of the assistance he has given Lord Beaverbrook, and have him come to Canada and head a committee or, if you like, a commission, to investigate the whole situation with regard to the failure of our aircraft production, to the end that further failures will not have to be admitted in this chamber.

So far as the official opposition is concerned, our attitude is not one of offering unfair criticism. We believe that as an opposition we have the right and the duty to place before parliament and Canada the facts in connection with what we believe is not being done in the interests of this country. Apathetic acceptance of conditions will not win this war. The minister has said that we have not been able to live up to our expectations, that things have not turned out as we expected they would. That is not good enough. To-day we must have planes, not promises. We must have planes, not plans for the future. We must have action from this department and not just adjectives describing the perfection of the performance.

Our position is similar to that adopted in Great Britain in 1915 and 1916. The other day the minister spoke in critical terms of the Financial Post and referred to that paper as a saboteur. Twenty-five years ago I heard from the gallery of the British House of Commons the same criticism levelled against the London Times. At that time it was taking an attitude similar to that taken by the financial and other papers of Canada to-day. Our newspapers are asking for action instead of promises and excuses. As the hon. member for Weyburn (Mr. Douglas) stated a little while ago, Lord Northcliffe was maligned, condemned and pointed out as a traitor because he condemned what he believed was wrong, because he insisted upon action.

We, as the official opposition, represent a large portion of public opinion in this dominion. We represent the majority of the men who are in the armed forces of this country. We owe a duty to those whom we represent to place before parliament the viewpoints that we wish to express. I do not believe in criticism just for the sake of criticism, especially at this time of national need. I am not, nor are the members of this group, concerned with political platforms. The attitude of the Conservative party is to endeavour to assist and cooperate with the government. We will criticize where we believe criticism is due, but we will approbate when we believe credit is due. We realize the

War Appropriation Bill

responsibility which rests upon the ministers of the crown. I want to assure you, Mr. Chairman, that we have a sincere desire to cooperate.

On the other hand, if we banish partisanship for the remainder of the war, we are asking that the government do the same, that there be no suggestion of partisanship in the administration of affairs connected with the war. Our attitude is not as the Minister of Munitions and Supply would have had the people of this country believe the other day. We are not criticizing or attacking him unfairly; our only desire is to see if we can be of assistance at this time. I have a number of suggestions which I should like to make in connection with certain matters and which might well be considered by the government at this time.

I realize that the minister has taken the attitude that Federal Aircraft shall not be dissolved. If Federal Aircraft is falling down, as the minister admits, if I understand him correctly; if it has failed to secure the cooperation and assistance of the other industries from which it secures its supplies, then there is something wrong, and there is some justification for the criticism which has been general throughout Canada. The minister singled out one paper, but I have before me an editorial which appeared in a paper which has consistently supported the government of the day. In reference to the failure of this government effectually to assure a proper flow of aeroplanes, the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix had this to say on January 29, 1941:

It calls for complete and public enquiry into all circumstances and a direct placing of responsibility. And when responsibility has been placed it calls for penalties and assurances there will be no repetition for this affair gives a strong impression of something rather worse than incompetence and mismanagement.

That is the attitude expressed by the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix and many other papers throughout Canada.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

It is what one would call the long view, from Saskatoon to Montreal.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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CON

John George Diefenbaker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

All across the

dominion.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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NAT

Percy Chapman Black

National Government

Mr. BLACK (Cumberland):

Both Halifax

papers, the Chronicle and the Herald, took the same stand. That is why the minister should have given this explanation earlier.

Progress reported.

On motion of Mr. Ralston the house adjourned at 6 pan.

Monday, March 3, 1941.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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February 28, 1941