April 7, 1949

LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

No, this happens to be the only one.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

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.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

Would my hon. friend read section 4 (b) Cii)?

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

It reads:

To dispose of goods and commodities that are available for export from Canada.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

Yes, and as follows:

The corporation shall comply with any genera] or special direction given by the governor in council or the minister with reference to carrying out its purposes.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

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.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

I did not say that. Will my hon. friend concede this, that after this item is passed by this parliament it will be in order in any event.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

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.

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LIB

William Henry Golding (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Deputy Chairman:

Is the item carried?

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?

Some hon. Members:

Carried.

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LIB

William Henry Golding (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Deputy Chairman:

Item 639.

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?

Some hon. Members:

No.

29087-154i

Supply-Trade and Commerce

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Muskoka-Ontario):

No, it

is not carried.

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. Abbott:

Vote on it.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

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?

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. Abbott:

Sections 4 and 5 of the act.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Carried.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

On division.

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Item agreed to, on division. 642. Incentive bonus to industry to expedite the production of strategic building materials-further amount required, $135,000.


CCF

John Oliver Probe

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

Mr. Probe:

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?

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April 7, 1949