Mr. Chairman, let us deal with this in an atmosphere of practical common sense. The act, here, is perfectly clear as to the purposes for which this corporation was created. Those purposes are contained in section 4, with a later amendment in the following year providing that this corporation shall have authority to act as purchasing agent on behalf of the Department of National Defence. It has been pointed out-and I am satisfied it is pointed out with accuracy-that the transaction covered by this item does not come within the scope of section 4.
Yes-"with reference to carrying out its purposes." But it must be shown that what is being done is within the purposes set out in section 4. It has been contended that they do not come within section 4, and there
is no suggestion of any explanation which would indicate that they do come within that section.
It is not sufficient for a minister of the crown to get up and say, "We think this was a good thing to do." It may be good, or it may be bad. But the first requirement, in dealing with a matter of this sort, is that an explanation be given to the house as to the statutory provision under which the order in council was passed. That is what is being asked now.
It is known to every member of the committee that, if there is a written opinion of Mr. Varcoe, if the Minister of Trade and Commerce would send a message to his department that opinion could be brought back here in ten minutes. I do not believe members of the committee should pass this item until the minister is prepared to produce that opinion which, he says, is on file and can be produced in ten minutes, while we are dealing with other matters.
No, I am not prepared to concede that. And I am glad the minister raised that point, because already we have come to that very idea. You put something forward in the estimates; you pass the estimates, and then have power of a statutory enactment of the House of Commons. Members of the house have a duty to know on what basis they are dealing with estimates when subsequently they acquire statutory power. The Auditor General has pointed out already in his very last report the tendency of this government to deal with matters without examining what the statutory power is. The Minister of Trade and Commerce is well aware that in the last report of the Auditor General there are several reports of transactions of this very kind, carried out with the statutory authority of an order in council, and without adequate coverage by the act itself.
Surely, if there is an opinion of the deputy minister of justice to the effect that this procedure is within the act, the House of Commons is entitled to have that opinion. If it is not yet in written form it could be put in written form in a short time. But surely in a matter of this kind, with a transaction dealing with a guarantee under a mortgage, there must have been some written record, and it should be before us.
Is there going to be no attempt whatever by anyone on the government side of the house to indicate to the committee the statutory power which enables them by order in council to perform a transaction of this kind?
From time to time the Minister of Trade and Commerce has announced in the house incentive bonuses to various industries for various purposes in connection with the urgent needs of Canadian consumers. My understanding of most of these incentive bonuses is that there has been a payment on the part of the government to certain industries, and that that has been the end of the matter. No guarantee is forthcoming from the industry as to what will be the quid pro quo so far as the Canadian consumer is concerned. I am willing to stand corrected if my understanding is wrong. What industries
are concerned in this sum of $135,000 asked in addition to the amount passed last session? What amount goes to each of the industries, and what is the quid pro quo to be received for guaranteeing these sums?