May 19, 1952

LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

A box at the foot of his bed.

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

We will pass over the trunks. I am not an expert on trunks. I apologize for bringing up another humble ordinary utensil of the kitchen. The

other day I brought up the question of the ordering of between 29,000 and 30,000 teapots; two-quart teapots, not just little ones. I do not know whether that is reasonable. It does not seem so to me. I am not so sure about that as I am about the forks but it seems a lot unless the Canadian army is a tremendous consumer of tea at a rate of which ordinary people would not be capable.

I must not take too much time, but we also have the question of boots. We have 1,304,000 pairs of boots, which seems a lot. Maybe that is stockpiling, too. I offer no comment except to point out the large amount involved.

The other thing that I think is disturbing the people is the reports of losses by theft, and in this case the figures differ widely. The minister gave us what seemed a fairly conservative figure. I was struck by the figure he gave us the other day with respect to Farnham. As I recall it he said the loss was $3,500 after what was recovered was taken into account. I am assuming-if I am wrong I will be corrected-that is not worked out on the basis of what we originally expended at Farnham, but that there was a liberal writing down due to the passage of years, which I think would be reasonable to a point. On the other hand I have the feeling that it is very easy for a court of inquiry to fix the value of something that has been lost at a very small figure. As to the incidents now before us, that of Petawawa is before the courts, and, we have heard a lot in the committee which I must not mention about the sacred principle of sub judice. Apparently we cannot talk about that without being put in jail, but the minister actually talked about it on April 21. I should like to recall what he said at the time Mr. Currie's appointment was announced. Speaking of the select committee the minister said, as found at page 1424 of Hansard:

In conclusion I would like to add that if in the course of its work the select committee on defence expenditure would like to look into the stockkeeping, accounting or auditing procedure, or any other matter relating to its work, on the spot and anywhere, all facilities will be provided.

Apparently in our simplicity we read that all wrong. We thought that meant we could inquire and get information with regard to Petawawa and other places, but apparently we were wrong. The court of appeal in the committee that I must not name was against us. Actually-and here I wish to speak with restraint-it seems that we have to spend most of our time in a very pleasant discussion about abstract matters of accounting with a lot of details as to what has happened under the system of accounting, but we find difficulty in coming to grips

Military Establishments-Fires and Thefts with the cases where it would seem that the system has most obviously broken down.

I am not going to pursue the matter further.

I repeat what I said at the outset, that I think the people of Canada are disturbed about this matter and that though I greatly regret to have to feel obliged to vote for the motion nevertheless it seems to me for the reasons I have tried to give, and those which the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) gave in addition to those given by my leader, that this measure, unusual as it may be although there are many precedents for it, is warranted at the present time.

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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. H. Ferguson (Simcoe North):

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton) and his parliamentary assistant are both friends of mine. Nevertheless I believe this is the time for me to voice my opinion about certain matters pertaining to the expenditure of taxpayers' money by the Department of National Defence. The minister commented on certain statements of the *leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) and compared losses by fire in military camps with civilian fire losses. Such a comparison would seem to me to be almost ridiculous. We all know that in civilian areas there are children and old buildings with worn-out electrical wiring systems, whereas the defence installations are new construction with new wiring systems. There should also be a constant patrol of military property by guards. I do not think the minister should have made a comparison with civilian losses from fire, because it is not appropriate at all.

We of the opposition know that it is our duty to guard the taxpayers' money whenever possible by bringing to light what we believe to be maladministration of the people's affairs in the Dominion of Canada. That is our duty. We are not trying to run the government. We are trying to show the government where they are not running the people's affairs correctly. I should like to refer to a particular incident. The leader of the opposition mentioned looting, but I want to refer to something that I would describe as looting on a large scale. It has never been mentioned so far, and in my opinion it constitutes looting on a large scale.

A week ago some buses full of young girls and boys pulled up in front of the parliament buildings. Upon inquiry it was learned that these young girls and boys came from a small town, a beautiful spot I understand, in the province of Ontario. They were transported a distance of 185 miles to the parliament buildings and back at the expense of the taxpayers of Canada and with the full knowledge of the Department of National Defence, which is trying to run a war in Korea and trying to provide implements of war, soldiers,

2342 HOUSE OF

Military Establishments-Fires and Thefts sailors and air force men in an attempt to bring about peace. I want to show how far the government is going with the taxpayers' money.

The press is a pretty mighty weapon in Canada, and I hope the people of Canada will learn that their money is being spent in this manner. I asked certain questions of the Department of National Defence. The first one was:

For what purpose were army bus 103, licence No. 6011F and army bus 105, licence No. 6115F used on the 2nd day of May, 1952?

The answer I received was:

Transporting royal Canadian army cadets of Finch high school, Finch, Ontario.

That would be fine if these buses did not belong to the taxpayers, but wait till I read the other questions. The second question was:

Were they used out of Ottawa on the 2nd day of May, 1952?

The answer is "Yes", with no hesitation about it. They were used out of Ottawa. The third question was:

If so, what trips were made and what was the total mileage?

The answer is as follows:

From Finch, Ontario, to Ottawa and return. Total mileage on each bus was 185 miles.

The expense of travelling 185 miles with army men as chauffeurs was paid for by the taxpayers.

Wholesale looting!

Then question No. 4:

At whose request were such trips made?

And the answer:

Headquarters, eastern Ontario area, Kingston, Ontario.

Whom have we in Kingston or any other part of Canada who should make a request to Ottawa to pay for the transportation of these young men and women spending the money of the taxpayer to tote them back and forth, to and from the capital of Canada? Who are these people? Then question No. 5:

What were the nature of the military duties on which they were engaged?

And this is the answer-and just listen to this, for "military duties"-

Visit war museum and House of Commons.

On that basis, every American tourist is a soldier. It would seem that we are trying to train them how to defend our country by having them visit the House of Commons or, as it says, "visit war museum and House of Commons". Well, that must make a veteran laugh, when he feels that he must be encouraged to support his country, both in peace and war, by being toted up and down to the

parliament buildings of Canada and to the war museum, where they have on display exhibits from the past two horrible wars.

What a training scheme! There was not a man in uniform either in the first great war or in the last one who ever needed to be taken to Ottawa and1 shown the war museum before he was prepared to get into uniform. He had a job, and he did it well. No man needs that kind of training, mentally or otherwise. Looting!

Then question No. 6:

Was any charge made for the use of the buses for such trips?

And what is the answer? It says, that no charge was made. No charge was made- except the charge I am making right now, And then, coming to question No. 7:

Are similar arrangements to those made in this case available in every part of Canada?

And question No. 8:

If not, what are the conditions under which applications for such arrangements must be made?

And just listen to this silly, nonsensical answer:

Transport to assist in carrying out training programs is provided for royal Canadian army cadets in all parts of Canada where it can be made available.

This, it says, is to assist in carrying out training programs. And the training program in this instance was a visit to the House of Commons, by a group from a Liberal member's constituency-free of charge- except on the taxpayer. Looting! Looting! That is another word for it. It will be noted that question No. 8 says:

If not, what are the conditions under which applications for such arrangements must be made?

As part of a joint answer to questions 7 and 8 we find the statement that where it is possible these facilities will be made available.

I come from a grand part of this country the county of Simcoe and the town of Col-lingwood, as well as Barrie, Ontario. I know those thriving and prosperous municipalities.

I do not know what the answer would be if I were to ask the department this question: Would you transport the high school students of my area down here to Ottawa, to see the parliament buildings and the war museum?

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An hon. Member:

And the member.

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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

Well, they could learn a good deal from the member and so could you, if you would only listen, regarding your duty to the taxpayers.

Now, if that is not wholesale looting and unmitigated gall on the part of this government, then I have never heard of it. I only hope that members will make this known

across Canada so the people may judge for themselves, and see where their defence money is going. I will admit that there may be some in the army and some civilian personnel who may stray from the narrow path and appropriate to themselves property which does not belong to them. But this is not done by men recruited in the armed forces. This looting is not done by civilian personnel. This is done with the authority of members of the House of Commons. This is done with the authority of the government. This is done by Liberal politicians. And I challenge the government to show that it is not wholesale looting, and absolutely unnecessary expenditure.

I do not think any member would rise in the House of Commons and say to any prospective soldier that he would be permitted to tour the parliament buildings and the museum at the expense of the taxpayer. I believe a trip through the museum would be enough to prevent anyone volunteering for the armed forces. These expenditures are one reason why the people begrudge paying taxes to support this government's defence program. To see the results of war, its devastation and destruction, would not encourage recruiting. The people know that defence expenditures have to be made if their freedom is to be preserved; but this kind of expenditure has nothing to do with the preservation of freedom.

Members of the House of Commons: in my opinion that is gross, flagrant and callous looting by this government, with the full knowledge of its supporters, of the taxpayers' money. When we need so badly every cent to defend this country, in the interests of peace, I resent this expenditure, even though it may be a small one, on free transportation. But in the midst of all the gross, flagrant and nonsensical expenditures, this one shows conclusively that the government has an utter disregard for its duty towards the taxpayer.

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LIB

Edward Turney Applewhaite

Liberal

Mr. E. T. Applewhaite (Skeena):

Military Establishments

Fires and Thefts quite frankly that a certain matter of forks was, and I quote, "a trifling thing". Knowing that it was a trifling thing he has brought it to public attention time after time. I would suggest to him that if he has urgent matters of major criticism against the Department of National Defence he should find something other than what he himself terms a trifling thing. Do hon. members opposite think they are assisting in building up confidence while they pursue tactics of that sort?

I referred to sweeping statements and resounding phrases without factual data, and unless I am stopped, Mr. Speaker, I wish to quote the words of the leader of the opposition when he was discussing this subject on April 21, and which are to be found on page 1425 of Hansard. If he so desires I will read all of what is in that column, but I particularly wish to point out the following: The leader of the opposition referred to...

. . the accounting methods, of the Department of National Defence, the laxity of which has been revealed by the wholesale looting of military property, and by continuing incidents such as:

(a) the looting and disappearance of the Farn-ham military centre down to and including tne buildings, disclosed as early as December, 1949:

Paragraph (b) was not quite so sweeping, but paragraph (c) reads:

The theft by carload lots of hundreds of tons of supplies including such military equipment, according to press reports, as a baby tank;

(d) The theft of property at various military establishments throughout Canada, with the revelation that officers had been ordering men under their command to assist in acts of theft and fraud:

I should like to read that one again.

... the revelation that officers had been ordering men under their command to assist in acts of theft and fraud.

If that is not so worded to try to indicate to the country that such ordering was a matter of common practice, I do not know what it does mean.

Paragraph (e) reads:

Fraudulent government inspection of military property;

(f) The outbreak of incendiary fires in military storehouses, significantly timed in such a way that they could have hidden the extent of any looting and thefts which had taken place in these storehouses.

Let us look at paragraph (f) for a moment. It refers to the outbreak of incendiary fires, plural, in military storehouses, plural. As long as statements of that sort, in that type of terminology, are made by people whose very position entitles them to the ear and attention of this country, how can some people get up and say they hope this country will have confidence in that particular department of government while they deliberately tell the country, by their actions today, that in their opinion things are so bad we need a judicial inquiry.

[Mr. Applewhaite.l

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An hon. Member:

That is right.

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LIB

Edward Turney Applewhaite

Liberal

Mr. Applewhaite:

Someone says "that is right". That is their opinion of the Department of National Defence, but it is not my opinion and it is not yet the opinion of the country. This country is not going to be carried away by a lot of sweeping statements for which, although plenty of time has been allotted, no supporting evidence has been forthcoming.

My good friend-I wish he would not stay out when I am: speaking-the member for Greenwood referred, in terms that were intended to be sarcastic, to the stockpiling of certain items such as boots. It is not so long ago that it was being suggested by those who politically are not favourable to this government that we were not taking a serious enough view of the world situation; that we were not prepared. In other words either we did not know our duty or if we did know it we were not doing it. The Department of National Defence now decides to stockpile certain goods so that, if what we hope will not happen, does happen, and some serious outbreak occurs, we shall be ready to mobilize immediately. The department stockpiles and is then accused of extravagance. You cannot win. If you do not buy these goods you are lax, and if you do buy them against the time when you may need them you are wasteful of the country's money.

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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

Forks.

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LIB

Edward Turney Applewhaite

Liberal

Mr. Applewhaite:

I do not think anyone, despite the fact the member for Simcoe North finds it hard to restrain his impatience-

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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

I cannot understand how a kitchen fork is a good implement to fight a war with.

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LIB

Edward Turney Applewhaite

Liberal

Mr. Applewhaite:

It is very difficult for me to hear the member's interruptions if I keep on talking. I do not think any member on this side or the other side of the house has any desire to whitewash the Department of National Defence or any other department. I should be very much surprised if somewhere within the* Department of National Defence there are not weaknesses, if somewhere things have not been done which should have been done. I hope we can locate them, but I am not of the opinion, and I do not think the house is, that the Department of National Defence is in the situation today where we should tell the country there is nothing more parliament can do about it, that we have to have a judicial inquiry. In fairness to our armed forces, in fairness to our very public-spirited and hard working citizens, both classes of which are vital to the opposition as well as to us, and in fairness

to the minister himself, I should certainly hope this amendment will be voted down.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. G. Diefenbaker (Lake Centre):

Mr. Speaker, I will detain the house but a few moments. I have listened with interest throughout the afternoon not only to the remarks made by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) and particularly those by the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) but also to the considered reply given by the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton). No one wishes to undermine confidence. No one wishes to raise issues that ought not to be raised. But the events of the last few weeks are the answer to the Minister of National Defence when he says that all is well and nothing needs to be done.

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Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

Mr. Speaker, I did not say anything of the kind.

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Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Mr. Speaker, possibly for once I could have just a little bit of order.

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Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Mr. Speaker, I do not mind the aimless interruptions; but I sat here this afternoon and listened, and asked but one question. Apparently what I am saying does not please the eggshell sensibilities of some of my hon. friends. But what I have to say is going to be said just the same. I think the Minister of National Defence would have welcomed the opportunity for a judicial investigation. I am one of those who, throughout the years, have stood most firmly against royal commissions composed of judges unless there is no other means to investigate matters which in any way might be termed political. I have taken that stand throughout the years. But I cannot see that there is any means other than a royal commission available to clear the situation in this dominion today. Certainly a committee of parliament will not do it. I have sat on some of those committees. Whenever a matter arises that in any way might cause any political repercussions as against the government, one can be sure that the matter terminates as soon as it is raised. Furthermore, committees of parliament are meaningless, for the majority simply passes on the situation; they make the report, and no minority report is allowed. A committee of parliament meeting on this matter could have its result predicted even before it commenced to sit. With no minority report allowed, the application of a coat of whitewash would be the inevitable result of any committee.

Passing on from there, what other method could be followed? The government has seen fit to have the matter investigated by Colonel 55704-148^

Military Establishments-Fires and Thefts Currie. It does not regard the situation as very serious for it appoints a man to investigate while at the same time allowing him to go on vacation or go away on other business while the investigation is taking place. A few days ago I asked a question with regard to this matter. The answer is not forthcoming as yet, though the minister today pointed out that the man who is to investigate, who is to be the spearhead of the investigation, has left the scene or the place where the investigation is to take place. It is all very well for the minister to say that while he is away things are going to be done. That is not what he was appointed for. He was appointed to direct the investigation. He was appointed to be the conscience of the minister; for the appointment is made under the section of the Defence Act that has no reference whatever to the making of appointments of investigators or of commissions to investigate. The minister says: All is well; we have the most perfect accounting system; there is no reason at all why anything should be done.

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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Claxton:

The minister never said anything of the kind.

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May 19, 1952