On a question of privilege, Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday last the hon. member for Weyburn (Mr. Douglas) categorically denied a statement made by myself as to the policy of the C.C.F. party of British Columbia.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I should like to have your ruling. First of all, on a question of privilege has the hon. member the right to deal with what was a question of fact? In the second place, if he is allowed to do that, am 1 permitted to reply to his statement, also on a question of privilege?
I will state the question of privilege. The hon. member stated that I was quoting something from a newspaper, without having the newspaper here. A fair inference would be that I was stating to this house something that was incorrect as to the reported policy of his party in British Columbia. I claim the right to show this house that I was stating the situation correctly, and was not attempting to mislead the house by quoting from the newspaper to which I was referring.
I cannot agree that this is a question of privilege. Perhaps it could be brought up on the orders of the day, but certainly not as a question of privilege. If there is a dispute between two hon. members as to facts, there are other opportunities when they may make their statements.
Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday last my hon. friend the leader of the opposition (Mr. Graydon) asked if I would make a statement with respect to the recognition or non-recognition of the present regime in Argentina. I have a statement to make which is a little longer than I might wish it to be. but I believe hon. members will appreciate having a statement given at some length.
The situation in Argentina' of recent months has caused considerable anxiety, both to her neighbours in the western hemisphere and to the united nations. This concern is provoked by the need for solidarity in the western hemisphere against axis intrigues and by the importance of Argentina as a source of foodstuffs and important raw materials for the united nations.
Since a coup d'etat overthrew the administration of President Castillo last June, the control of policies has passed from one military group to another, while the normal processes of democratic government have ceased to operate, parliament has not been summoned, political parties have been dissolved and the newspapers placed under more drastic controls. Within nine months, three generals have in turn exercised presidential powers, while the foreign office has been administered
by two admirals and two generals and, in addition, there have been several other cabinet changes.
On January 26 of this year the government of President Ramirez announced a rupture of diplomatic relations with the axis powers because of the revelation of axis intrigues within Argentina which were contrary to its neutrality and a threat to the security of the other American countries. This decision brought Argentina in line with the other countries of the western hemisphere, all of whom have either declared war upon Germany or severed diplomatic relations with her and other axis countries. The decision undoubtedly reflected the pro-allied sympathies of the great majority of the people of Argentina. It was thought to be a forerunner of other acts of hemispheric solidarity and defence.
In the month which followed, certain groups believed not to be in sympathy with the declared Argentine policy of joining the defence of the hemisphere were successful in forcing General Gilbert, Minister of Foreign Affairs to resign on February 15. Ten days later they secured the delegation of the powers of General Ramirez as president to the vicepresident and minister of war, General Farrell.
Following these changes in personnel the United States government instructed its ambassador, Mr. Norman Armour "to refrain from entering into official relations with the new regime pending developments." A statement describing the reasons for the position taken by the United States was issued by Mr. Stettinius, acting Secretary of State, on March 4, which stressed the fact that in Argentina "the support by important elements inimical to the united nations war effort of movements designed to eliminate action already taken could only be a matter of grave anxiety."
In response to a question in the British House of Commons yesterday, the British foreign secretary stated that in view of the obscurity surrounding the circumstances of President Ramirez' delegation of his function to Vice-President Farrell, the British ambassador in Argentina had confined his communications with the Argentine government to routine matters only. The same position had been taken as regards communications between the British government and the Argentine ambassador in London. Mr. Eden also announced that this attitude would be maintained pending developments in Buenos Aires.
The Canadian government has been kept fully informed of developments in Argentina by its legation in Buenos Aires. It has also had the benefit of first hand information from the Hon. W. F. A. Turgeon, who only recently
returned from serving as minister in Argentina. Pending a clarification of what remains a most confused and obscure situation, the government has instructed the Canadian charge d'affaires in Buenos Aires to refrain for the present from any official contacts with the administration of General Farrell. With the people of Argentina our friendship remains unaffected. We hope and trust that Argentina will evolve a policy commensurate with her past, worthy of her citizens and calculated to meet the needs of hemispheric defence.
Topic: ARGENTINE REPUBLIC
Subtopic: STATEMENT AS TO CANADA'S POSITION IN REGARD TO RECOGNITION OF NEW GOVERNMENT
On Tuesday last the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) referred to documents which had been tabled concerning relations before the war between Japanese interests and the Granby Mining Corporation. My hon. friend quoted a statement made by the Japanese minister in a letter dated October 22, 1940, to the effect that the contract of the Granby company with the Japanese company had been approved by the Canadian government and added that he could find in the return no document relating to the contract or to approval by the government. I informed the hon. member that my recollection was that the government had had nothing to do with the contract and that I believed this was made clear in the correspondence.
I have now had an opportunity to have the matter checked and I find that my original impression was correct. In the reply dated November 22, 1940, from the Department of External Affairs to the Japanese minister is the following paragraph, and which I should say was in the return which my hon. friend had:
In this connection it should be clearly understood that the contract between the Granby Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company for the sale of its output of copper concentrates to a Japanese purchaser had never been "approved by the Canadian government." So far as the Canadian government was concerned, this arrangement was an ordinary private commercial contract which did not require or receive the approval or disapproval of the Canadian government.
The correspondence itself shows how the idea first gained currency that the Canadian government had given its approval. After the fact was pointed out to the Japanese minister that the contract was a purely commercial transaction which had not been given the approval of the government, the Japanese minister admitted that he had never seen any confirmation of the approval, and added:
Granby Mining Corporation
Pending further instructions from my government, I desire to say with reference to the above, that the intimation I made in our memorandum of the 22nd ultimo to the effect that this sale of copper had been carried on with the approval of the Canadian government had its basis in a passage of the speech Mr. M. J. Coldwell delivered in the House of Commons on July 31, 1940.
This is contained in a letter of November 30, 1940, which is included in the return tabled.
The hon. member referred to the Granby Mining Corporation on three occasions in 1940, and it was really on May 20, at page 53 of Hansard, that he claimed that "the contract was made with the approval of the government," although he did refer to the matter again on July 31.
To conclude this question, I wish merely to point out that the Granby contract was entered into in January, 1940, almost two years before Japan entered the war. It was a commercial contract which the government was not called upon to approve or disapprove. However, as the final item of the correspondence, a letter of December 4, 1940, from Doctor .
O. D. Skelton to the Japanese minister, makes clear:
Like all such contracts, its performance was subject to the general conditions of the public interest, and it ceased to be binding when the copper requirements of Canada and her allies compelled the Canadian government to withhold further permits for the export of copper from Canada to other countries.
Topic: GRANBY MINING CORPORATION
Subtopic: JAPANESE INTERESTS-REFERENCE TO RETURN TABLED MARCH 6
I cannot answer that question offhand, but I shall get the information for my hon. friend. What I am surprised at is that when I asked my hon. friend if this statement of mine was not contained in the correspondence which had been tabled, he said he had read the correspondence through and had it in his hand but it was not there.
Topic: GRANBY MINING CORPORATION
Subtopic: JAPANESE INTERESTS-REFERENCE TO RETURN TABLED MARCH 6