May 19, 1942

LIB
NAT
LIB
?

Mr. FR ASER@Peterborough West

That was what I believed the situation to be. May I point out that on May 13, 1942, the following question was answered in the house:

1. Has the priorities branch of the Department of Munitions and Supply issued permits for steel to be used in the construction of a building or a house for J. Franceschini, recently released from internment?

2. If so, how much steel has been allotted to this building?

The answer to No. 1 was "no", and No. 2 was said to be answered by the answer to No. 1. I now have information to the effect that Francheschini had steel beams shipped from his plant, or from the plant in which he is interested in Forest Hill village, to the Dominion Bridge company at Laehine, and that there this steel was cut and bored to specifications for a garage in the Lauren-tians mountains for Franceschini, a man who has been interned-and many people believe he should still be there. I suggest the minister should investigate the matter and see if there is any truth in the suggestion. There have been many reports to this effect.

I have received telephone messages and other communications.

War Appropriation-Supplies

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
Permalink
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport; Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Where in the Laurentians is this mysterious house? I have read a newspaper article about it, and had our people trace it down, but we can find absolutely no indication that Mr. Franceschini is building a house anywhere in the Laurentians. Has the hon. member the address of the house?

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
Permalink
NAT
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport; Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I wish the hon. member would give it to me.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
Permalink
NAT
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport; Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

We will look into it.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
Permalink
NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

I

understand it is a very large place. I should also like to know if his firm has been given two contracts in the last week or so for airport construction.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
Permalink
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport; Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

What firm?

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
Permalink
NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

The firm with which Franceschini is connected, the Dufferin Construction company.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
Permalink
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport; Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

The Dufferin Construction

company, to us, is just like any other construction company. I believe Mr. Franceschini has a stock interest in it. At one time he was general manager of the firm, but he no longer holds that position. A good many Canadian citizens also have a stock interest and a bond interest in Dufferin. We use Dufferin Construction company just as we use any other construction company. We use it to the limit of its equipment. I have no knowledge of their having had a contract in the last two months, but I know of no reason why they should not if they were the low bidder. If their equipment was desired, I have no doubt we used it.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
Permalink
NAT

Douglas Gooderham Ross

National Government

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

First of all I want to congratulate the minister and the manufacturers and men of this country upon the work they are doing. The minister is held responsible for the size and scope of our production effort. At times he is praised, and sometimes he deserves it; at times he is criticized severely, and quite often he deserves that. Sometimes the manufacturers are blamed, but so far as the minister is concerned, in my opinion a good deal of the criticism he receives is deserved, because he has too much to do.

Just think of all the minister has upon his shoulders-and then he has added to them questions such as this Franceschini matter. What is his job? I am going to say a few words about that. He is purchasing agent for the army, the navy and the air force. He

arranges the production of weapons and military equipment. He is the purchasing agent for Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, India and the United States. He is the sales manager for Canadian production in the United States. He has done a good job in selling goods over there, which has helped to maintain our dollar balance. What is the sum of our production to-day? It is just the orders placed by our forces and by the allied governments.

What more does the minister do? He supervises the wartime industries control board, which includes twelve controllers who try to ensure that materials and services shall be forthcoming. He supervises the consumption of materials, and prohibits consumption when materials are scarce or essential for war demands. Every order of a controller involving the imposition of a production quota must have his signature. He supervises the administrative machinery of the wartime prices and trade board and the priorities branch. He has virtual charge of all harbours and shipping. One has only to glance at the chart which he placed on Hansard of February 26, 1941, at page 1042, in order to appreciate the magnitude of the job he had then, his duties have since been considerably increased.

He has told us about the magnitude of our war production, which totals in the neighbourhood of $4,000,000,000-a very creditable performance. All this production must be carefully supervised. Have we wasted any money where waste could have been avoided? I know that economy and speed do not go together in war time, but has there been reasonable economy? Has there been extravagance only when speed was essential?-and we know how necessary speed is to-day. Could we have done more if the minister had had other ministerial assistance? Could our planning have been better? I think so. We used to make comparisons between the production in this war and the production in the last war, but really no comparison can be made.

The minister has another task, the mobilization of Canada's full productive capacity for the manufacture of munitions and so on. He still exercises control over the licensing of radios. I believe he has never calculated, certainly so far as this house is concerned, the present output in terms of what could be done. Have we reached our capacity? If not, when will we reach it? The minister said on May 14, as reported on page 2441 of Hansard:

I may add that Canada is, of course, producing munitions far in excess of the requirements of our own troops or the requirements for the defence of Canada.

IFar Appropriation-Supplies

But on page 2055 of Hansard, the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston) is reported as saying:

We .cannot issue complete sets of the most modern weapons to the basic training centres.

In effect the minister said that we have not sufficient armaments, not sufficient antiaircraft guns, coast defence guns, and so on. Is that producing munitions in excess of our requirements? Have we reached our limit? The minister says we are expanding as fast as possible; but are we? Who is doing the planning? The minister has said this sort of thing before. In 1940 he told the hon. member for Parkdale (Mr. Bruce) that we could not make tanks and that we could not roll armour plate more than an inch and a half in thickness, I think it was. But we can now and we could then. He told the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Green) and others that we could make only a few ships, that shipbuilding was a peace-time job. What are we doing now? We are doing it, and I congratulate him upon what he has done. Can we do more? He ridiculed the idea of wooden ships. Necessity is the mother of invention, and we are making them at the present time. Are there other things we can do?

There is the question of oil production. Of course we did not appreciate the fact that we would be short of oil because of torpe-doings on the Atlantic coast, but that danger was always there. There are the tar sands of Alberta, and hon. members from the mari-times have been talking about producing oil down there. It seems to me that something should have been done about this before now. I do not want to detract from any of the accomplishments; they have been most creditable, but some of them have been just a little bit late. The answer is that the minister has too much on his shoulders. He has much too much work to do. He is the government liaison officer. He is a member of the war committee of the cabinet. He is on the committee on scientific and industrial resources, the business committee of the government, and the treasury board. All these are very important duties. I might remark in passing that had it not been for the pressure which was exercised by the opposition in this house with respect to a number of these activities, I doubt whether our productive war effort would be what it is today. In these matters we have always tried to be constructive.

That the minister is a general executive minister and policy maker and cabinet liaison officer is a big enough job in itself. He cannot

do all that is required of him. I know that he is a pretty big man; he has a pretty big ego as well and thinks he can do these jobs. He has complained two or three times of being attacked, but as I have said before, it is his own fault. He has said that his health is perfectly good, that he is the one to worry about that Well, all of us are worrying about the minister's health. Remember that the country is worrying as well, and that is where the attacks are coming from; because he said in 'the first place that certain things could not be done, whereas they have been done. He just has too many things to do.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
Permalink
LIB
NAT

Douglas Gooderham Ross

National Government

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

He has done some of them. I am giving him credit for the things he has done. Also I am criticizing him for things which I will not particularize-some of them have been mentioned to-day-which either have not been done, or have not been done soon enough.

He has never calculated the present output in terms of what could be done. He has never declared whether we have reached the limit of our capacity. The productive problem has not been tackled from the point of view of all-out production As demands come in, the minister fills them, whether they be for the army, the air force, Great Britain, or some place else; he is the purchasing agent. But there needs to be more than that. There needs to be force behind the mobilization of production in this country Moments are precious, and regardless of orders, we have to make every gun, every tank, every aeroplane that we can produce, and accelerate our production to its maximum.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
Permalink
LIB
NAT

Douglas Gooderham Ross

National Government

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

Yes, I read last week's Maclean's magazine. It is a very creditable showing.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
Permalink
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport; Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

The hon. member did not believe it, I suppose.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
Permalink
NAT

Douglas Gooderham Ross

National Government

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

Will the hon. mem-bei tell us that that is all we can do? The job has never been tackled in terms of all that we can do. It is always dealt with in terms of what we have done; and the point is, when shall we know what our capacity is?

A great deal of the executive work which falls to the minister should be taken off his shoulders. He should be free to mobilize and plan and develop industry. He is the only executive officer engaged in this vast programme who is responsible to parliament. We took certain duties from some of the other

War Appropriation-Supplies

ministers because we thought they had too much to do, and gave them to the Minister of National War Services. There is a precedent; why should not the Minister of Munitions and Supply be relieved of some of his present duties? There should be another minister engaged in this work, responsible to parliament. He might be assigned to take charge of supply. I would not venture to suggest to the committee, because I do not know enough about it, just how the work should be redistributed, but I am sure that this should be done, because the public know that the present minister has too much to do.

Topic:   MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
Permalink

May 19, 1942