March 12, 1941

LIB

Ralph Maybank

Liberal

Mr. MAYBANK:

It is all right; there is no harm done. I believe that, in my endeavour to answer the minister, who does not want to wait for the answer, I was at this point: I said that this man had been in the employ of a company which is selling this equipment. He is one of the engineers of Allied War Supplies Corporation and one of the important men who made this decision. I now want to make it clear that I am not suggesting any improper motive on that man's part, but I am suggesting that with his long experience of fighting for a certain type of equipment he naturally, in making his decision, gravitated in the direction of choosing that which for many years he had thought was a good thing. I would say that that in itself is something which ought to be guarded against. That is as far as I am going. I have already mentioned the gentleman's name. It is Abbott. I think I have made that situation clear.

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

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

During

the discussion before the committee, from time bo time the matter of aircraft production has been mentioned, and mentioned on a number of occasions in rather disparaging terms. Yesterday when the hon. member for Hastings-Peterborough (Mr. White) was speaking, he made a statement, as I notice in Hansard, about the "muddle" in aeroplane production.

I should like to take a few minutes of the time of this committee to place upon the record some facts in connection with aeroplane production in Canada. Notwithstanding what has been said in the house, I believe there are still misgivings and misunderstand>-ings in 'the mind' of the public in connection with Canada's effort in the production of aeroplanes. I should like to deal with this matter in all fairness from the point of view of actual facts, and to place before the committee some reasons why aeroplane production in Canada is in its present state. And when I use the phrase "present state" I mean present state of production.

The other day the Minister of Munitions and Supply said that it would be a good fhing for hon. members to visit industrial plants in Canada bo gain some knowledge of what the government's war effort, or the country's war effort, is accomplishing in connection with the building of armaments. I have spent a great deal of my time during the last year in plants throughout Canada that are producing everything from ships bo aeroplanes, including the Canadian arsenals. But I am going to confine my remarks to aeroplane production. I am going to give the reason why aeroplane production in this country has not gone forward at the pace that would please bon. members of this committee and would, I know, please everyone in Canada. That reason is that we could not get . money voted in this house to build an aeroplane industry. Prior to the outbreak of the war the aeroplane industry in Canada was practically nil. During the years 1936, 1937, 1938 and 1939 it was impossible, as hon. members know-and I am not making this statement in any spirit of criticism-to get defence estimates passed through this bouse sufficient even to lay the foundation of an aeroplane industry such as is required in Canada at the present time.

In discussing the production of aeroplanes we must break that production down into two distinct classes. Class 1, as Mr. MacMillan has correctly stated in his report, includes fabricated or training planes such as were used in this country prior to the war and can be and have been constructed by labour accustomed to turning out that type of plane-the low-power training plane of the kind produced by de Havilland and Fleet. The technicians to develop these are not nearly as hard to train as those required for class 2.

In class 2 we have the all-metal plane which we started to develop in this country only after the outbreak of the war. I refer to the report of Mr. MacMillan tabled in this house by the Minister of Munitions and Supply some days ago and to the limitation he made in regard to every manufacturer except de Havilland and Fleet, that is, "unless unforeseen stoppages arise in supplies or component parts." In every case in discussing all-metal planes such as Lysander, Boling-broke and even the Anson, Mr. MacMillan has made the limitation that construction would go ahead at a certain rate provided the component parts were available.

Prior to the declaration of war the development of the aeroplane industry in Canada

War Appropriation Bill

was limited by the amount of money voted in the defence estimates by this house year after year. I want to pay tribute to the then minister of national defence and the then deputy minister for giving, in two or three instances, pilot or educational orders for allmetal planes. But the component parts for these planes were not being made in Canada. The manufacturers in Canada until the outbreak of the war felt that these necessary parts would be available from England. The British government and the representatives of the air ministry in London were very insistent on this-perhaps I should say conservative-that they did not want pilot orders for building of planes in Canada to follow the design of United States planes, but they asked-and I do not think I am out of place in making this statement-that in the construction of planes in this country Canada should adhere to British design.

In an 8,500-pound bombing plane, excluding the engine, there are 50,000 different parts. Instruments were not made in Canada, neither were tires nor hydraulics. Most of these component parts had to be brought from England. Even in England, until Dunkirk, people did not realize that they would not be in a position to supply the component parts, or even the engines, for Canadian planes. The result, as Mr. MacMillan stated in his report, was that the progress in the production of aeroplanes in Canada depended upon obtaining component parts either from England or from the United States. But after the war broke out, and particularly after Dunkirk, that source of supply was absolutely eliminated. It was impossible to procure instruments in Canada, even to procure tires for the landing gear.

Another factor of which hon. members should take full cognizance is that no order was given to or available for Canadian aeroplane manufacturers which would justify any attempt at mass production methods. When a company like National Steel Car had an order for only twenty-two Lysanders, allmetal planes powered with British engines, they obviously could not organize mass production similar to that attained by Lockheed, North American, or other companies in the United States. They had to proceed on the basis of the orders they had in hand, with no promise of further business.

To my hon. friends on the other side I say with respect-and with pity-that in the interests of Canada and the British empire it is too bad that we did not year by year, particularly in 1938 and 1939, get sufficient money in our estimates to be in a position to build up an aeroplane industry in this country.

[Mr. Maybank.l

After Dunkirk Canada found herself in urgent need of machine tools and precision instruments, gauges, every type of precision machine and tool used in the production of munitions and armaments. Only last week on the floor of the house it was stated that Australia had got into the production of aeroplanes, and I think reference was made to a copy of Life. It is true that Australia is producing a training plane. It is true that in 1937 the Australian government procured the rights from the Pratt-Whitney company for the production of the Pratt-Whitney engine in Australia. There was perhaps greater reason for Australia doing that than Canada, on account of Australia's isolation from the large producing centres of the United States. But Australia is producing only training planes, and only one type of engine, the Pratt-Whitney 500-horsepower engine, which is being used in that training plane.

What were we in this country confronted with at that time? When proposals were submitted to the government of the day by the Pratt-Whitney company, the same company that built the plant in Australia with respect to a programme involving about $12,000,000 for a plant to build aeroplane engines in Canada, the money, as every hon. member who sat in the house in those days knows perfectly well, was' not available. Neither -hon. members of this house, nor I believe the people of Canada, in 1937, would have acquiesced in the expenditure of a large sum of money to build aeroplane engines in Canada. Last week some hon. member asked, "Why are we not building aeroplane engines in Canada to-day? Why don't we start now?" The answer is obvious; you could not procure technicians to put in an aeroplane engine plant in this country to-day and establish and equip that plant in less than four years. I make that statement on the advice of the best aeroplane engine manufacturers in the United States.

Let us be fair, Mr. Chairman. When the war broke out the aeroplane industry in Canada was simply a myth; it was nothing, and we had to start from scratch. I think at that time we had about 1.700 people emplo3red in this industry. To-day we -have close to 20,000 employees, each of whom had to be educated in the construction of all-metal rather than fabricated planes. I want to contribute something to this discussion, Mr. Chairman, so I say to you that in peace time, before this war broke out, it took two years, even in England, to produce a 10,000-pound all-metal plane from the time the drawings were completed. We in Canada were confronted with the situation to which I have referred this afternoon-lack of technicians, lack of space

War Appropriation Bill

to build planes, lack of machine tools, and lack of precision machines. At the time we entered this war Canada could not possibly produce more than twenty per cent of the precision equipment that was required. Every plant from the Atlantic to the Pacific that was or could be equipped for the production of precision machinery, and that could get technicians or apprentices from the technical schools or elsewhere, is working twenty-four hours a day to my knowledge. Obviously such firms as National Steel Car, Fairchild and others working on all-metal planes can be tied up very easily because of the failure of subcontractors to supply the necessary equipment.

Now I should like to say just a word or two with regard to the statement made this afternoon by the Minister of Labour.

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):

Before the hon. member leaves the question of aeroplanes would he be good enough to give the committee his opinion about Federal Aircraft?

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

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

I should be delighted to do so, Mr. Chairman, if it were within the scope of my knowledge or capability.

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):

All right; we will excuse you.

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

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

I am

doing my best to cover what I know, not something I do not know.

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):

That is

a very good answer.

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

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

I am

being honest with the leader of the opposition.

Just for a moment I should like to refer to the letter which was read this afternoon by the Minister of Labour, and at the same time I should like to congratulate him upon the splendid presentation he made in connection with the difficulties with which he is confronted from time to time. I ask my hon. friend from Weyburn, who read into the record a paragraph or two from a letter he received from a certain person-

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

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

Not from a letter; I read from a memorandum submitted to the Minister of Labour by the representatives of a certain union.

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

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

The

representative of a union who was fired for sleeping in a fuselage.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

The hon.

member stated-

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

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

May I proceed, Mr. Chairman?

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

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

No; I want

the hon. member to correct that statement.

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

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

I have the floor and I am going to stick on it until I am finished. I said my hon. friend read from a letter from a member of a union who was fired for sleeping in a fuselage.

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

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

I rise to a

question of privilege.

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

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

I want to make further reference to my hon. friend who is on his feet.

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

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

I rise to a question of privilege, to say that I did not read from a letter. If the hon. gentleman will take the trouble to look at Hansard he will find that I read from a memorandum.

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

Thomas Vien (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

The hon. gentleman has already made that statement.

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

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

But the hon. member is repeating his former statement, and I insist that he quote from Hansard in order to show what I was quoting from, instead of merely making up his story. If his facts in reference to aeroplane production are no better-

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

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

I am

not in a position where stories matter. I am a realist; I deal with facts. I am not a gold medal debater, nor am I academic.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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March 12, 1941