March 20, 1941

LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette

Liberal

Mr. BRADETTE:

Let us get on with the business of the house.

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

Gordon Graydon

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

Mr. Chairman, I have a high regard for the hon. member for Cochrane. I do not believe I have ever interrupted him, and I can assure him that his humorous interruptions this afternoon are being taken in the spirit in which they are made.

Now, if I may proceed, I will say that while perhaps-

War Appropriation Bill

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

Joseph-Arthur Bradette

Liberal

Mr. BRADETTE:

Keep on moralizing.

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

Gordon Graydon

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

I did not hear that.

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

Joseph-Arthur Bradette

Liberal

Mr. BRADETTE:

Keep on moralizing.

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

Paul Joseph James Martin

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

He asked the hon. member to be moral.

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

Gordon Graydon

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

I was looking in that direction, and perhaps I may have deviated from that course a little.

It is not yet too late for us to pursue a sensible course in committee, so that the government can carry out the ordinary peacetime procedure of dealing with the estimates for the separate departments one by one. If we do this we shall have the opportunity of discussing the different items in an expeditious and orderly manner, and can release these hard-worked ministers for their other work.

I see in front of me now the Minister of National Defence, the Minister of National Defence for Air, the Minister of Munitions and Supply, the Minister of Pensions and National Health, and other ministers as well. There is no occasion for all these ministers to be here waiting to answer any question that may be asked from any corner of the house on any subject. I do not think we have ever witnessed a greater waste of time in this parliament than has resulted from the failure of the government to adopt the proper procedure for the regulation of this debate.

I make these comments in the very best spirit; I am only expressing now what I have felt for some considerable time. I had intended to get up before but I thought the government might change its way. When the hon. member for Fort William (Mr. Mclvor) brought the matter so forcibly to the attention of the committee I felt that the house and the country should know the real reason why there had been some delay in the course of this debate.

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

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

I do not know a more good natured member than my hon. friend the member for Peel (Mr. Graydon). Some comment has been made already in connection with procedure, and I know that my hon. friend and other hon. members opposite are pretty well satisfied with the procedure which was adopted by Sir Robert Borden and his government as a procedure that would be in the interests of the country. I think if my hon. friend will look at the records of Hansard-I remember having looked it up some time ago-he will find that exactly the same course was pursued then. The bill was introduced and my hon. friend will find that very few pages of Hansard were taken up with a discussion of individual items. The measure was regarded as a war measure for

which the government was taking responsibility, and information was elicited rather on the larger matters of policy. There was nothing like-and I believe this is a considerable understatement-the examination in detail which has taken place in this committee. There was no consecutive taking of one department after another. It was a free-for-all in which anybody could ask any question he liked on any matter covered by the appropriation that was being asked.

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 was early in the war.

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

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

My hon. friend will find that the same course was pursued all the way through. As I explained before, the ministers for the defence services have been making statements, and I do not think those statements were received with particular acceptance by my hon. friends opposite, who rather indicated that they were eut-and-dried statements and that they would prefer to proceed in the other way by question and answer. We determined that if that was the way they wanted it, we would go about it in that way. We have pursued that course. Hon. members will recall that about one week was taken up with a discussion of the aircraft situation particularly, and with regard to matters in connection with munitions and supply. Then one night the Minister of National War Services made a statement on the activities of his department, feeling no doubt as many other hon. members did that the taircraft subject had been pretty well exhausted, the members always having the right to go back to aircraft if they wished. Considerable time was taken up in discussing the work of that department, and then the members on the other side went back to the aircraft industry and discussed that over again, and I remember one or two speeches which rather repeated what had been said on previous occasions.

Then I made a statement on the army and the Department of National Defence. Somebody suggested that it was long. I did not read the statement but I endeavoured to give the house as full information as I could with regard to the whole gamut of expenditures in my department, and I answered questions as fully as I could. Even then we had interjected into that discussion a number of different things which had nothing to do with the army at all but with other projects W'hich might technically at least come within the scope of this resolution. I think even the agricultural policy was touched upon. No one had any objection to that on this side, but it just illustrates what may happen in a democratic assembly where no member is bound by any agreement that one department

War Appropriation Bill

shall be taken up after another and no other department discussed until that one is disposed of. That is the way we have proceeded.

The Minister of National Defence for Air then made a statement and we spent considerable time on that, and even yesterday we went back to the army, not because of the minister wishing to do so but to suit the convenience of members of the committee who wanted more information. That information we endeavoured to give in full.

The Minister of National Defence for Naval Services then made his statement, and there was considerable discussion on that. Now we are discussing a small amount which is to be appropriated for air raid precautions.

I do not think, therefore, that anybody is to blame in connection with this matter, except in regard to the amount of detail which seems to be required at this stage in connection with the appropriation which is asked to be voted. Perhaps we might have avoided some discussion of detail, particularly discussion with regard to expenditures, in view of the fact that a special committee is going into the matter of war expenditures. Nevertheless that was the will of the committee. I am perfectly willing to say that nobody is to blame in connection with this matter. It is the perfect right of the committee to have this information before it if they so desire, but I do say that the procedure is at variance with that followed in the last war, particularly as to the wealth of detail required. The procedure which has been adopted by the government in connection with this measure is exactly the procedure which was adopted and followed by Sir Robert Borden and his government during the three or four years of the last war when similar appropriation bills were brought down.

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):

The Minister of National Defence I think has made a fair and moderate statement of the position, but there are a few things he might have mentioned, I think, which he did not mention. First of all let me point out to him, and I do so with the utmost good-will, that when the war appropriation resolution was before this committee last year the utmost expedition was afforded to its passage with great goodwill by opposition members. At the same time we coupled with that exhibition of goodwill the statement that when we met again we would ask the government to give us the items of expenditure in some detail. I remember saying that the Canadian people would pay this money willingly but would hold the government accountable as trustees for the manner in which the money was expended.

The policy that was adopted by the government this year was to have the Minister of Finance bring down a very short resolution, and I must express some surprise at the lack of detail there was in his opening statement on the resolution. His statement did not occupy twenty minutes. When you are asking parliament to vote the sum of $1,300,000,000, which later the Minister of Finance increased by $160,000,000, the fullest information and detail must be given. I must confess that to me the amount of the appropriation was staggering. Just how to approach the consideration of this huge appropriation was something that I debated with myself for a considerable length of time. The discussion proceeded and I noticed that we were not getting very far. I am bound to say that the debate on the aircraft industry injected itself very early in the discussion. That was something that was bound to come up. It had to be aired on the floor of this house either at this time or at some other time. So far as I know, it is now pretty well out of the way; there may be repercussions of that branch of the discussion at a later stage, but certainly not now.

Then it dawned upon me that the government did not propose to give us any further information as to how this money was to be expended. I was astounded by the statement of the Minister of Finance that it was our duty to ask for the information and to dig it up. I should not have thought that was the principle upon which information as to government expenditures ought to be given to the public. It certainly is not the principle upon which we proceed in peace time. I admit at once that the two positions are not quite comparable, and that it might not be wise, perhaps would not be possible, to follow out the peace-time method of developing items of expenditure, for this huge war appropriation and for the $700,000,000 which was authorized last year, and the additional amount that was spent. But it was a matter of surprise to me when the Minister of Finance told me it was my duty to dig this out from the government, and that in effect I had been derelict in my duty. Well, I was not conscious of any dereliction of duty. I am just a young fellow trying to get along and to do a job, and I was astonished at the minister's statement, because I believe that trustees must account whether they are asked to account or not. That was the principle which was running through my mind as a lawyer, and when the Minister of Finance intimated that I was not on to my job, that I had not done my duty to the Canadian people, he rather " set me up," if I may use that expression. So this thing has gone along, and it will continue to go

War Appropriation Bill

along for a limited period of time. I agree that a good deal of time has been wasted, but I do not feel guilty, myself, and if there was the war pressure on this parliament which there was in June last, this resolution would go through just like that! But there is not.

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

Paul Joseph James Martin

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

It is worse now.

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):

Well, that is a matter of opinion. I know that in certain parts of the ministry there is an increasing war effort; I think that that is true of the two or three war ministers. But if they themselves had established an organization such as I think should have been done, and not waited for us to set up an organized debate for them, there would have been no necessity for any more than one of them to be in this chamber at a time. They could have intimated, for example, that "the Minister of National Defence will be here to-day and will not be here to-morrow." There would have been no cavil about that. The whole thing might have been organized on an orderly basis and a lot of time saved. Business would have gone along, we would have got the information we wanted, the resolution would have gone through, and in due course the bill would have been introduced and passed. I do not think it is up to a private member to lecture this house, but I believe the ministry will agree that there was a lack of organization in getting the matter directly before the committee. Perhaps we can all assume some share of responsibility for that. I am willing to take mine; I want the ministry to accept theirs.

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

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

I am sure that I do take responsibility so far as I am concerned, as other ministers do, for the course which was followed.

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 do not

say this in any cavilling manner.

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

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

But the course that was

'aken was considered.

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):

Well, I

issume that every piece of government policy has been considered. But may I say this and say it in no spirit of fault-finding, that I believe that there was just a little lack of candour on the part of the ministers when the resolution was introduced. If they had come forward earlier with the information we wanted, instead of deferring it until just before the middle of this month, things would have been much better organized, and possibly by this time the resolution would have been through.

With this statement may I ask the Minister of Munitions and Supply if he would

[Mr. E. B. Hanson. 1

be good enough to give me a statement of what he proposes to do at Saint John under the war vote. I am very much interested in that item. I am glad to see it there. When I had the honour to represent New Brunswick in the government of this country I undertook to do something with respect to the port facilities at Saint John. We had already let a very large contract for the rebuilding of the docks on the west side; they were completed in due course and a very fine job was done. On the east side of the harbour are two old wharves known as the Pettingill wharf and the McLeod wharf. They are old timber structures which have been there for, I suppose, a third of a century. They were not adapted to modern dock facilities, and I undertook to have them rebuilt. The government was defeated; my hon. friend became Minister of Transport, and in the course of his journeys down east he saw for himself the facilities, or rather the lack of facilities on the east side of the harbour of Saint John, without which facilities, I suggest, this great Atlantic port of Canada can never be considered to be a twelve-months port-an ambition of its citizens with which I strongly sympathize. When the minister went down before the war, in company, I understand, with the then sitting member for the city of Saint John, he agreed to rebuild the Pettingill and McLeod wharves, and I was delighted. But the work was not done. I do not know the reason why, whether it was lack of money, or what. Now that the war is on I am glad to see that he has in this appropriation, government-owned enterprises, an item of approximately one million dollars, indicated on page 1630, "National Harbours Board, $995,000": I assume that is for the construction of some new piers at the city of Saint John.

As to the location, I have seen in the press that there are to be additional facilities on the west side. Well, I am not in a position to judge as to the location. I know that the port is overcrowded five months in the year, especially in war time. But I hope that the minister has not forgotten the speech he made to the people of Saint John and his promise to rebuild the Pettingill and McLeod wharves. Maybe this item is to cover that cost, but from what I saw in the newspapers I understand that what is intended is an entirely new venture, to be located on the west side, designed no doubt to take care of the present congestion at that point. I should be glad if the minister would give us a statement of the position, and so far as I am concerned that will be an end of the matter.

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:

Mr. Chairman, perhaps I

should touch slightly on the past. As my

War Appropriation Bill

hon. friend knows, the building of permanent dock facilities in the port of Saint John is an exceedingly expensive business.

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):

Very.

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 difficult and expensive, on account of the great fluctuations in tide. It has been the policy of all governments, I think-

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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March 20, 1941