July 31, 1942

"0 CANADA" REQUEST FOR FURTHER STATEMENT IN ANSWER TO QUESTION AS TO STATUS


On the orders of the day:


NAT

Thomas Langton Church

National Government

Mr. T. L. CHURCH (Broadview):

I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question referring to his reply on the evening of July 28, as reported in Hansard, page 4S88, to the questions which had been raised about eight times this session on the flag and the national anthem by the-hon. member for Quebec-Montmorency (Mr. LaCroix).

The right hon. gentleman replied to me the other evening in reference to the statement he made on the national anthem in 1927, and he-stated that since that time we had had in: Canada a royal visit, on which occasion the two anthems were given equal recognition. In reply to an hon. member whose own side started this, he had already said in the house two or three times that in view of the fact that the war was on, the question in regard to a flag and an anthem could stand over until after the war, which I think was wise. It was secondary, and I did not start it. I should like to ask the Prime Minister to clarify the statement he made last Tuesday, because, when the law was looked into by me in 1927, on a question then put, the right hon. gentleman, then Prime Minister, stated that the existing anthem, "God Save the King," was and always would be Canada's national anthem, but that there was another one, which was somewhat provincial, like "The Maple Leaf Forever," and another provincial anthem namely "0 Canada." Would he clarify that

Status oj "0 Canada

statement? I think the house should decide these two matters according to the Prime Minister's reply of a month ago.

Topic:   "0 CANADA" REQUEST FOR FURTHER STATEMENT IN ANSWER TO QUESTION AS TO STATUS
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

I should like to clarify what I said, but I doubt if I could do so in words other than those I have already used. There

are times and seasons for all things, and this time of war does not seem to me, and I am sure it does not seem to hon. members generally, to be an appropriate time to provoke a discussion, either in the house or in the country, on the question of either a national anthem or a national flag. I believe that by custom, so far as the national anthem is concerned, it may be said that both "God Save the King" and "0 Canada" have been regarded-

Topic:   "0 CANADA" REQUEST FOR FURTHER STATEMENT IN ANSWER TO QUESTION AS TO STATUS
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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

And "The Maple Leaf Forever"-

Topic:   "0 CANADA" REQUEST FOR FURTHER STATEMENT IN ANSWER TO QUESTION AS TO STATUS
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

No; I am .speaking only of the two-have been regarded .as national anthems and have been accorded like recognition, not in all cases, but generally by courtesy. I should feel that during the period of war it would be preferable to allow matters to remain as they are. To go beyond 'that at this time would undoubtedly occasion 'misunderstandings abroad if they did not also *occasion misunderstanding at home. It would be the wish of all, I am sure, to avoid unnecessary controversy. I feel strongly that at an appropriate time this house should pass a resolution which would give definite status to the national anthem or anthems to be accorded due recognition and observance in Canada, but I do not think that the present is an opportune time.

Topic:   "0 CANADA" REQUEST FOR FURTHER STATEMENT IN ANSWER TO QUESTION AS TO STATUS
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NAT

Thomas Langton Church

National Government

Mr. CHURCH:

The visitors referred to just

did that as a matter of courtesy.

Topic:   "0 CANADA" REQUEST FOR FURTHER STATEMENT IN ANSWER TO QUESTION AS TO STATUS
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PICKERING MUNITIONS PLANT

INQUIRY FOLLOWING EXPLOSION-ALLEGED DEFECTIVE SHELL CASINGS


On the orders of the day:


NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Hon. R. B. HANSON (Leader of the Opposition):

On July 25, as reported at pages 4702 and 4703 of Hansard, I asked the Minister of Munitions and Supply certain questions in connection with the explosion at the government munitions plant at Pickering. Is the minister now in a position to reply to those questions?

Topic:   PICKERING MUNITIONS PLANT
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LIB

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

Liberal

Hon. C. D. HOWE (Minister of Munitions and Supply):

The proceedings of the inquest came to my hand only yesterday. I have not

had an opportunity to prepare a complete statement, but I can give the house certain information, and I am glad to do so.

On Saturday last, in reply to an inquiry of the leader of the opposition, I agreed to give the house a full report on the explosion which took place in the shell filling plant at Pickering, Ontario, some weeks ago, which resulted in the death of one employee and serious injury to three others. This accident occurred while a round of 2-pounder anti-tank ammunition was being buffed, to reduce the thickness of the metal of the cartridge case, that it might fit into the chamber of the 2-pounder antitank gun. The cartridge cases in question are made by a Montreal manufacturer, who up until June 8 had delivered a total of approximately 1,550,000 cases to this particular shell-filling plant. Of this total quantity of deliveries some 850,000 had been assembled into complete rounds by June 8, and of those assembled rounds about 10,000, or 1-17 per cent, had failed to pass the chamber gauge test. As soon as these defective rounds were discovered, an immediate investigation was ordered, as a result of which it was discovered that the defect was caused by overly thick metal at the mouth of some of the cartridge cases. The manufacturer promptly eliminated this fault and the first batch of acceptable cartridge cases arrived at the shell-filling plant on June 9.

It was then decided not to use any of the cases delivered before June 9 in the assembling of finished rounds of ammunition, but to set aside the balance of the 1,550,000 cases delivered before June 9 until they could be thoroughly checked and, if necessary, rectified. However, prior to this decision, a number of these faulty cases had been assembled into complete rounds. The question was whether the rounds should be broken down, or whether the neck of the cartridge case should be buffed to reduce its thickness. Both these operations are attended with considerable danger, and it was decided to adopt the second alternative, inasmuch as this would permit the salvaging of the entire round, whereas the breaking down operation would probably have resulted in the complete loss of all the over-size rounds.

Ten thousand rounds of faulty shells were successfully rectified by buffing, with the use of a 6-inch buffing wheel. It was subsequently decided that the operation could be speeded up with the use of a 12-inch buffing wheel. The 12-inch wheel was installed on June 8 but apparently was never properly tested. This wheel was not put into immediate operation because, with the delivery of satisfactory cases from the manufacturer in Montreal, on

Pickering Munitions Plant

June 9, there was no further need for buffing complete rounds. On June 25, 700 of the cases which had been delivered prior to June 9 were put into the line for filling and assembling, as a result of an error on the part of one of the workmen. This error was discovered by the floor foreman, but not before 100 of the cases had been assembled into complete rounds. When these rounds failed to pass the chamber gauge test, the floor foreman, under the impression that the 12-inch buffing wheel had been thoroughly tested, ordered the rounds to be buffed on that wheel. After three or four rounds had been buffed the explosion occurred which resulted in the death of one of the employees and the injury of three others. Immediately following the accident, the cartridge case manufacturer installed special equipment, at his own expense, in the shell-filling plant, to handle the balance of the 700,000 cases delivered before June 9. This work has been carried on efficiently and with entirely satisfactory results.

I have not had time to go through the coroner's report, but the following is the verdict of the jury:

We your jury empanelled to inquire into the death of Alexander Dodwell, present our finding: that the deceased met his death while in the employ of Defence Industries Ltd., Pickering, Ontario, on June 25, 1942. This death was accidental, the result of an explosion while polishing wheel was being used to remove high spots on a 2-pound shell.

We recommend that greater precautions be taken in future, and that other and safer methods be used in this operation should the need again arise.

My hon. friend, the leader of the opposition, said:

What the citizenry must know is why 60 per cent of all the shell casings received up to June 8 from the Montreal plant were defective; why 420,000 out of 700,00 received were defective.

That is 420,000 out of 1,550.000, as a matter of fact. The reply is that these passed through the inspection at the Montreal plant, although there was a minor defect. The extra thickness in the metal amounted to one or two thousandths of an inch. It was passed probably by inexperienced inspectors.

I may say that the inspection of munitions is carried on by an inspection board of Great Britain and Canada. The inspection board is responsible to the authorities in Great Britain for inspection of British munitions and to the Department of National Defence for inspection of Canadian munitions. The board is a very large organization, I think some 15,000 employees. The work has been splendid. The handling of high explosives is of course a dangerous operation. This death at Pickering

is only the second death we have had in such operations. In the case of the first death the person who died stated on his deathbed that it was his own fault, that he had broken the safety regulations. In this case there is no doubt these shells slipped through inspection. There is not a duplicate inspection; they are inspected out of the shell casing plant, and they come to the shell-filling plant with the inspector's seal on them. After the filled round is completed the filled round is inspected with the gauge to make sure it will fit the chamber of the gun, and it was then that this situation w'as detected. As I said,

10,000 of the rounds had been rectified by the method used on these rounds but with another emery wheel. It was not expected that any more filled rounds would require revision, but through an error about 100 filled rounds were filled and were buffed on the larger emery wheel, which had not been tested out and properly adjusted.

The second question is:

Was there any inspection at Montreal before the shell casings were shipped? If not, why not?

Of course the shells were inspected, and it was due perhaps to inexperience of the inspectors that these shells were passed.

Was there any inspection at the Pickering plant before loading? If not, why not?

As I say, the shells come into the plant with the seal of the inspector on them, and another inspection at that point would be a duplication, which is not considered necessary.

Is the inspection system effective? If not, why not?

I doubt if any one in this war effort has on the whole done a better or more workmanlike job than the inspection board. It has been a splendid job working under pressure. They had to take on and train thousands of inexperienced men and women and this, the first serious error that has been discovered, I think is not a reason for condemning the inspection board unduly.

Who pays for the defective shell casings, and who pays for the buffing of defective casings?

That is paid for by the manufacturer of the casings. We pay the manufacturer on inspection certificates but it is well understood in munitions production that the approval of an inspector does not free the manufacturer, that if defects are subsequently found the manufacturer must make them good. And he is doing so in this case.

Topic:   PICKERING MUNITIONS PLANT
Subtopic:   INQUIRY FOLLOWING EXPLOSION-ALLEGED DEFECTIVE SHELL CASINGS
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?

Thomas Miller Bell

Mr. COLD WELL:

How are these shells

paid for?

Pickering Munitions Plant

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

They are paid for by the British government.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

Is it unit cost or cost-plus, or how?

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Unit cost contracts.

Who is responsible for the production of 420,000 defective shell casings in one plant out of a total received of 700,000?

Well, they were manufactured in the plant of Rdbert Mitchell company, and the Robert Mitchell company are responsible. But I think it is a case where a very minor error was made due to defective inspection.

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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

It is one of the best plants in Canada.

Topic:   PICKERING MUNITIONS PLANT
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Yes, it has been one of our finest shell casing plants.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

Are any recreational facilities provided for the men engaged in this plant during the hours between shifts, or when they are at lunch? I ask that question deliberately because I know that is done in Great Britain, in order to keep the workers from spending the off hours in the bars of the inns and public houses. I have been told by people working in these plants that there is nothing for them to do except go and have a chat in the beer parlour. This means the drinking of several glasses of beer, which may affect them both from the point of view of their own safety and from the point of view of inspection. Have we followed the practice in Great Britain, where they have noon concerts, the workers themselves often taking part in it, in order that the workers may have the right type of recreation during their off periods?

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Great care has been taken to provide cafeteria accommodation inside the plant but away from the danger zone. We try to provide ample recreational facilities on our own grounds, where of course there is no beer to be had. The shifts are short- eight hours, with a lunch period; and I doubt very much if the workmen leave the grounds from the time they come on in the morning until they go home at night.

It must of course be recognized that in these explosive plants safety depends on every man knowing his job and doing it. The greatest care must be taken to ensure cleanliness and precision in every operation. We are filling about 2,250,000 shells a month, and I think it is remarkable that the. accident record is such a splendid one.

{Mr. Coldwell.]

Topic:   PICKERING MUNITIONS PLANT
Subtopic:   INQUIRY FOLLOWING EXPLOSION-ALLEGED DEFECTIVE SHELL CASINGS
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July 31, 1942