March 9, 1953

PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

Mr. Speaker, in connection with that I might say that owing to the great unemployment in New Brunswick many men have registered their names in the employment office, and they are waiting to see when this will be started. It is an urgent matter so far as our province is concerned.

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LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

No doubt there is some urgency to it, but in view of the fact it is the type of question that should appear on the order paper it might be more in keeping with our procedure if that were done. It would be called on Wednesday if notice were given today and there would be only two days' delay.

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PC
PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

I have waited for a month for an answer on the order paper. These men do not want to wait a month or more to find this out.

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LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Hon. Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works) moved

that the house go into committee of supply.

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REQUEST FOR INQUIRY TO PROMOTE GREATER EFFICIENCY IN GOVERNMENT

PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. George A. Drew (Leader of fhe Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, on Friday the hon. member for Hull (Mr. Fournier) spoke to me about this motion, and I indicated to him that, in the event of its being called, I did not expect there would be any extended debate. That is my expectation.

However, motions such as the one before us present the only opportunity we have to place before the house motions in positive form, in a way that we can be sure will

call for a decision on the part of members of the house. It is therefore my intention to avail myself of this opportunity to present the motion I shall make at the conclusion of my remarks, calling for an examination of the organization of government, departments of government and agencies of government for which the government is responsible.

We have asked before for an inquiry of this nature. This is something quite different from the type of inquiry we have had under discussion at other times during this session. This proposal calls for a businesslike examination of the organization of government, of the relationship between the different departments of government, and the relationship of government decisions to those agencies the government creates, either by orders in council or by legislation presented to the house for approval.

On earlier occasions a number of reasons have been given for opposing such motions. In the past it has been suggested that one answer to such a proposal is that definite examples of extravagance, waste and inefficiency have not been put forward. It has also on other occasions in the past been suggested that the motion called for some specific type of inquiry which the government did not feel was appropriate, even though they might conceivably have considered some other type, if that suggestion had been made.

For that reason I propose to place before the house in the simplest possible form a motion which will give the government an opportunity to decide what it wants to do in regard to this matter, without being bound in any way as to the procedure, or detail of that procedure, so long as it accepts the proposition. And because the motion is put in that form I seek the support of hon. members on both sides of the house who have reason to be concerned about the cost of government.

In presenting my argument today I am not placing before the house any suggestion of wrongdoing or of any specific example which might be put forward, and which doubtless will be put forward on other occasions by different members in other debates. I am dealing with this as an ordinary business proposition, and on a basis which I hope will commend itself to members on both sides of the house as being an approach which is not open to challenge, if one once accepts the basic proposition that the largest business in the country, the business of Canada, should be conducted on as efficient a basis as can be made possible by every step taken in the house.

Government Organization-Proposed Inquiry

Other governments have tackled this problem. Other governments have been ready to admit their set-up was not perfect. Other governments have been ready to admit that there is an important similarity between the business of government and ordinary business, and have taken steps accordingly. The most recent example of that is to be found in the United States.

We are often told that there is a great difference between the system of government in the United States and that in Canada. This is true. We have emphasized that difference; we have emphasized over and over again the importance of remembering that we have a parliamentary system under which parliament, and not the executive, is the supreme authority. It is to that supreme authority of parliament that I am presenting my argument on this occasion in the hope that members will find themselves free to support a proposition which I hope will commend itself as appealing to their ideas of good business. I should like to refer to what was said by the President of the United States in his "state of the union" speech on February 3, only to indicate the nature of this problem, and the way in which others are seeking to tackle it.

While they have a different system from ours, while we have a parliamentary system and they have a constitutional system, nevertheless from the point of view of business administration there are many marked similarities between our own system and theirs. That is particularly true because of the impact upon government of the federal system in the two countries. Because of the fact that central government must not deal only with the problems entrusted to its exclusive responsibility, but must deal also with many problems in regard to which there is a joint responsibility, we find the similarities very striking in many respects.

Therefore I should like to read these words from the "state of the union" speech of President Eisenhower:

I have already established a committee on government organization. The committee is using as its point of departure the reports of the Hoover commission and subsequent studies by several independent agencies.

To achieve the greater efficiency and economy which the committee analyses show to be possible, I ask the Congress to extend the present government reorganization act for a period of eighteen months or two years beyond its expiration date of April 1, 1953.

There is more involved here than realigning the wheels and smoothing the gears of administrative machinery. The Congress rightfully expects the executive to take the initiative in discovering and removing outmoded functions and eliminating duplication.

2738 HOUSE OF

Government Organization-Proposed Inquiry

Then in dealing with certain specific questions which he had in mind the President closed his remarks on this subject with these words:

In all departments, dedication to these basic precepts of security and economy can and will produce an administration deserving of the trust the people have placed in it.

Our people have demanded nothing less than good, efficient government. They shall get nothing less.

Pursuant to his statement that he would undertake such an inquiry, the President of the United States created what he described as a task force of one hundred experts, including men specially qualified to deal with problems of government, widely experienced accountants and businessmen whose training had given them the type of experience that would be valuable in an inquiry of this nature.

That task force has already been proceeding with its very important activities. As the President of the United States pointed out, it is proceeding to conduct its inquiry with the information already available which was obtained by the Hoover commission and which was brought up to date by subsequent inquiries by those associated with that commission. Since the Congress of the United States was dealing only with the organization of government as a structural problem, they have recently had before them the report of the Sarnoff commission on the utilization of manpower in both the armed forces and civilian occupations. They also have the report of the committee of Congress on overseas construction which recently made very important findings in regard to the huge expenditures on activities of that nature. These are only examples of the way in which an attempt is being made in the United States to tackle a similar problem.

A few days ago the hon. member for Hamilton West (Mrs. Fairclough) pointed out that we have no reason to be complacent about the level of taxes in this country. The hon. member gave to the house figures which disclosed that the per capita taxes in this country are substantially higher than those of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and France which have comparable economies and comparable types of industrial and other production, although there are immense differences as well.

At the time these figures were put forward there was an interjection by a member of the government pointing out that the figures were not related to the individual earning power of those who lived in the countries which the hon. member mentioned. An examination of the comparative earnings produces some interesting results which I shall

leave for discussion on another occasion. Since the government has raised this point, perhaps we cannot be blamed for accepting that as the basis upon which we should make a comparison. Therefore, I propose to make a comparison between the taxes levied by the central government of the United States and by the central government of this country on the basis of percentage of gross national product which is the most appropriate figure to use for that purpose.

The gross national product of the United States for 1952 was $346,300 million; the gross national product of Canada in the same year, 1952, was $22,984 million. The budget now before the Congress of the United States calls for expenditures of $68,700 million; the budget now before this house calls for expenditures of $4,817 million. It will be found by anyone who cares to examine these figures that the budget now before the Congress of the United States represents 19-84 per cent of the gross national product of that country, while the budget now before this house represents 20-96 per cent of the gross national product last year of this country.

On the basis of percentage of gross national product our government is charging our people a greater percentage in taxes than the people of the United States are being charged by their federal government. Surely this removes any suggestion that we have the right to be complacent, and disposes of any argument in favour of attacking this problem of high taxes simply by saying, "Look at our taxes as compared with those of other countries." In the case of actual taxes per capita we are substantially above those being paid in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. On the basis of percentage of gross national product, we are being called upon by our federal government to pay a higher percentage than is the case in the United States.

The important thing for us to remember is that, although they are more than one per cent below us in percentage, they are doing something about it. I have read the statement by the President and we see that immediately upon taking office he took the appropriate steps to conduct an inquiry, as any business would take if it had a similar proportionate expansion and expected to remain in business.

I want to make this abundantly clear. I am not placing before this house a suggestion that the government should agree to the setting up of a commission created for the purpose of conducting fishing expeditions into all departments of government. We

recognize that this or any other government must accept certain responsibilities in regard to matters of that kind and that being human they would wish to have some sound basis for an inquiry of this nature. I am suggesting that they recognize the need of doing it in exactly the same way that any business would do it if it had developed even a small part of that proportionate expansion that this government has had in its activities during the last fifteen years.

This is a straight business proposition and in the motion which I shall introduce I leave the form of that inquiry open. We recognize that the government must accept responsibility for the form of the inquiry and for the terms of reference and instructions that will be given to the body that will conduct the inquiry. That is left open in the motion I will put before the house. I simply repeat that any business which had multiplied its departments, expanded its activities and created new agencies in the way the government has in the past fifteen years, and had failed to appoint independent experts-I repeat, independent experts-to inquire into the general organization of the business, would almost certainly be bankrupt. The difference is that government in the very nature of its activities does not need to meet the competitive tests of ordinary business. That is not a reason why the government should apply less exacting standards. It is the reason why the government should apply the most exacting standards of all. The ordinary competition of business will take care of those who fail to observe business practices where there are inefficient methods. It is because the government is not open to these standards of competitive business that the most exacting examination should be made, by competent independent experts, of the whole expanded structure, and changes recommended for the purpose of producing greater efficiency in government itself.

In the past we have been told that there was no need for this because, in spite of the apparent cogency of the arguments, nothing had been put before the government or the people to show any reasons why such a thing should be done. We have been told that before we put forward any such arguments we should give examples of waste, extravagance and inefficiency. I hope, Mr. Speaker, that no one will rise in the house and say that there are no examples of waste, extravagance and inefficiency before us. It is not necessary now to refer to the long list of incredible examples of waste, extravagance and inefficiency that have been presented to the house wherever it has been possible to find out what the facts were.

9, 1953 2739

Government Organization-Proposed Inquiry Remember, we have only had the curtain lifted in one very small room of the large house of government. If one takes as an example the inquiry conducted into one branch of government which produced some unique examples of inefficiency and waste, we should remember that the inquiry in that case only covered an area of less than one per cent of the expenditure of the people's money by this government in one year. It was just as though we had seen before us a building with 100 rooms with the blinds down in every room, and inadvertently someone let one blind go up. We saw into that room. We saw how untidy it was. We saw how disgraceful the condition in that one room was. We ask for something which will permit some independent body to examine the other ninety-nine rooms and find out what can be done to effect a real housecleaning and to reorganize the government for the advantage of the people of Canada.

True, the government must accept the responsibility. I concede that immediately and anticipate any suggestion of that nature.

I hope that no one will rise and say: That

is our responsibility; we have been chosen by the people to do it and no one else is going to assume our responsibility. What I am suggesting is that the members of the government party should express themselves in these critical days as being in favour of a thorough examination of government, of the departments of government and their relation to each other and, extremely important, the activities of those agencies of government which are kept under a veil of secrecy such as we saw placed around one agency of government in the house this afternoon. It does not make any difference who has argued that in the past. The fact remains that a veil of secrecy surrounds these great and important agencies of government.

Again may I repeat what I said before. That is all the more reason why the most exacting tests should be imposed with respect to the efficiency of those agencies of government which conduct affairs in many different fields of activity of great importance to the people of Canada. Our people have reason to ask for efficient government today as never before in the history of the country. The elimination of waste and extravagance and government inefficiency is part and parcel of the great struggle in which we are engaged. Those men of immense power who now meet in the Kremlin under a new leader want nothing more than carelessness and inefficiency within the democratic world, because in the long run that is the most powerful weapon on the side of that power which seeks to enslave the world.

2740 HOUSE OF COMMONS

Government Organization-Proposed Inquiry

Again may I repeat that I am not placing before the house any of the many specific examples that could be brought forward of the most remarkable extravagance and waste. I am hoping that it will not be said that these do not exist. I am hoping it will be remembered that those that have been exposed have only been exposed within the limited areas that we have been permitted to see, through the examinations which have already been conducted by independent experts. Therefore it is my intention to leave the arguments there. On other occasions we have put forward many extended arguments. In this case I am speaking on behalf of the party that 1 have the honour to lead. I believe that it will not be an extended debate today and I hope that it does not need to be. I would hope that on this occasion, with the urgency of the issues now before us, when we have been reminded within the past few days by the brilliant head of NATO that the economic problems go hand in hand with the military problems and the social problems hand in hand with them, we will recognize the importance of everything being done to streamline the government and make it more efficient. Therefore I move:

That all the words after "that" to the end of the question be deleted and the following substituted therefor:

"in the opinion of this house an immediate inquiry should be instituted for the purpose of bringing about a more efficient and economic organization of government and the departments and agencies thereof."

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Right Hon. C. D. Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce):

Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to speak at great length on this subject. This is not the first time it has been discussed in the house. The suggestion is that we be asked to accept as a fact that there is waste and inefficiency in government. I would point out that since the beginning of our defence expenditure program there has been a committee sitting more or less continuously, a committee that also sat throughout the last war. We are still waiting for it to report to the house that it has discovered waste and inefficiency. It has not done so to date.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

They have not discovered efficiency.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

I say they have not reported to the house that they have discovered either waste or inefficiency. My hon. friend says that the United States government does it another way; that they appointed the Hoover commission and that the Hoover commission reported waste and inefficiency in the United States government. I have not heard of any great changes being made as a result of that report. The United States government may IMr. Drew.]

have believed that the report was a correct statement of the facts. If that government did believe the findings it seems to me that they have been very slow in making the changes recommended by Mr. Hoover.

I have never heard of the government at Westminster, within the last several hundred years, ever having appointed a royal commission to investigate procedure in that government. I know the hon. member thinks that the parliament at Westminster has a monopoly on all the virtues of parliamentary government, and that perhaps such an investigation is not necessary because there is no waste or inefficiency within the British government. I do not suggest that there is. I think Britain has always been a well governed country. I believe that today it is a model of efficient government for the world. I believe, however, that anyone who would make a suggestion in the parliament at Westminster of the type that has just been made would have very short shrift from the members of that parliament.

As the Leader of the Opposition has said, there is a difference between the United States government and the government of Canada. In Washington the president is responsible for the executive functions of the government, and for seeing that all phases of government are efficiently administered. He appoints a group of men to assist him in that function. He chooses the men he likes from any walk of life, or any part of the United States, to serve in his cabinet. The heads of the various departments of government are not men who have been elected to office but are men chosen by the president and appointed to. administer the various departments of the government of the United States. Here we have a totally different system. We have a government elected by the people, and from the elected representatives of the people are chosen the men who are made responsible for the administration of certain departments of the government. These men take an oath of office that they will carry out the specific work that has been assigned to them, and of course as members of the government are responsible to this parliament.

We are asked now to accept the view that these men are mediocre people, and very bad administrators. That is not the opinion that people outside this country have of those administering the affairs of government at Ottawa. I think that it is the opinion of most that the government at Ottawa is a government that administers the affairs of this country in a businesslike and efficient way. We are asked to get a group of independent people, as though there were no

Government Organization-Proposed Inquiry

independence in those administering the affairs of government. Well, I do not know whom you would get that would be considered independent. You could pick men who would be efficient in industry but without experience in government. Who would be responsible for this group of independent men who would be asked to remodel our government? Who would elect them? Who would choose them? I presume it would be the government of the day that would choose them. I presume that the government would choose the very best men they could find, but the fact that it would be an independent body without responsibility to anyone would be, in my opinion, no guarantee that they would be better judges of how this parliamentary government should be organized and administered than are the elected representatives of the people who have sworn to carry out that particular task.

We talk about independent people. Who is more independent than a member of the government of Canada? I gave up all the business affairs 1 had eighteen years ago, and I have devoted my attention solely to the work of administering the departments for which I have been responsible. Every other member of the government is in the same position. You will say we are mediocre people. Perhaps if we were better people the government might be better administered. We will admit that at once. Nevertheless, the people of Canada have returned us from period to period to carry on our work. All I can say is that we are being as efficient as we can.

It is suggested by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Drew) that if any member stands up in this house and says something is wrong, something is inefficient, that makes his statement a fact. I suggest that when we have a parliamentary committee investigating defence expenditures, sitting continuously and with access to all the records, someone ought to be able to prove his statement before the parliamentary committee. The hon. member for Moose Jaw (Mr. Thatcher), who seems to be anxious to get into this debate, spoke the other day about landscaping around military establishments. Yes, we put down grass to keep down the dust where military people are established. He asks if that is what we consider efficiency. The answer is, yes, that is what we consider necessary for the kind of people that are training in these camps.

He spoke about a swimming pool. He asked whether that was the sort of thing for which the people of Canada were being taxed. The answer is, yes. We are asking young men to volunteer to serve in that camp for long periods of time. If the hon.

member wants a swim he can go to the Y.M.C.A. in Moose Jaw, but these young men have to take the facilities that they find in the camp to which they are assigned and in . which they must stay. The hon. member cited other things and asked if those were the things for which we were taxing the people of Canada. He is very good at picking out the picayune things and asking whether they are going to save this country from destruction. He asks whether those projects are desirable. These projects are submitted to the minister of the department and, after taking all the factors into consideration, the minister undertakes to say whether those are desirable projects to be carried out.

The hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Pearkes) says we have been in too much of a hurry. He spoke particularly about the radar stations. These radar stations were started at a time when I think the hon. member was in as great a hurry as any man in this house. Certainly, our ally with whom we undertook to carry out that joint project was in a hurry. Military authorities in that country set a time of completion that we did not think was physically possible of attainment, but we did our best to meet it. Our partners, who are paying the larger part of the bill, were satisfied with what we were able to accomplish in connection with these radar stations. This is a difficult subject to discuss because it is surrounded with secrecy. We had no plans that we could make public at the start. We had to let the contract on a cost-plus basis. However, we picked the best contractors in the country. If there has been graft and inefficiency in carrying out those contracts, then there is graft and inefficiency throughout the contracting business in this country, for we chose contractors who we knew took their obligations seriously. I can say that they have carried out their obligations in a manner which is a credit to the industry.

We have had complaints, and where they were sufficiently specific to associate them with a project we have examined those complaints. In every case we found there was no foundation whatever. If men were diverted from the work, they were also diverted from the payroll. If materials were diverted from the -work, they were also diverted from the cost items submitted to the government for that project. Let us not be too ready to admit that every statement made in this house is a true statement, that every accusation of waste and inefficiency is a true accusation.

I know of only one occasion when a Canadian government undertook to get an independent body to examine the work of government and to overhaul government machinery. This was in the time of the

2742 HOUSE OF

Government Organization-Proposed Inquiry late Sir Robert Borden. He brought in a firm of efficiency experts from Chicago, with instructions parallel with those that the Leader of the Opposition would ask this government to give to a new body of independent experts. I was not a member of the government of that day-I came in later- but I can say this. I think the consensus of opinion of those who were associated with government at that time is that the report of that committee, which was made effective in part, did more to cause confusion in the government and produced evil results which took longer to eradicate than anything that has ever happened in government circles before or since.

I do not know that it is necessary, Mr. Speaker, to prolong this debate. I say that there is no foundation for the suggestion that this government is inefficient or that there is waste and extravagance in this government, and that there is no purpose in the independent examination that my hon. friend has asked for in his motion now before the house.

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CCF

Wilbert Ross Thatcher

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

Mr. W. Ross Thatcher (Moose Jaw):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to take only a few minutes in this debate. I think the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) was a bit touchy a moment ago. After all, one of the main duties of opposition members, as I understand it, is to try to scrutinize various expenditures. If we point out things that we think are wasteful, I do not think the minister should take exception to our activities, He knows better than does any other member of this house that private business, when they get into difficulties, quite frequently bring in outside companies to go over the departments, to point out weaknesses or inefficiencies. They are called efficiency experts. That is a common procedure in the business world. I do not see why the motion of the Leader of the Opposition has not a good deal of merit in it, because certainly this parliament is not doing an efficient job of examining our estimates and expenditures. We have been sitting here now for three months, and I do not believe one item has actually been brought down before parliament. It is physically impossible-

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

What my hon. friend is really suggesting is that we bring in efficiency experts to examine the work of the parliamentary opposition.

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CCF

Wilbert Ross Thatcher

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

Mr. Thatcher:

Oh, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Trade and Commerce is talking nonsense and he knows it. I say again that expenditures today are not being properly scrutinized. Why is the minister so touchy about the matter? It is small wonder that

this arrogant attitude which the government has is causing so much resentment out in the country.

In the past, opposition members have suggested methods whereby the government could save money, and the government attitude seems to be that they are not even interested. They rather resent such suggestions, as the minister has done this afternoon. For instance, cost-plus contracts were mentioned in the house last week. I do not think that the government has yet given a satisfactory answer with respect to these cost-plus contracts. We know that the cost of each man in our defence forces is from $18,000 to $20,000 whereas the equivalent cost in Britain is $5,000 and in the United States $13,000. What the answer is I do not know. I have my suspicions. However, I do not see why a committee of this kind could not do something to find out.

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LIB

John Horace Dickey

Liberal

Mr. Dickey:

The answer is that my hon. friend's figures are not correct.

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CCF

Wilbert Ross Thatcher

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

Mr. Thatcher:

The figures certainly are correct. The government this year is spending $4-8 billion and it is the average Canadian-the workingman, the farmer and the labourer-who is paying the major part of that $4 [DOT] 8 billion. Those people are getting fed up. Taxes are too high. Taxes in Canada are discouraging initiative and promoting inefficiency. No one knows that better than does the minister. The easiest way in which to bring taxes down surely is to find inefficiencies in the government; and if the government is not going to give us a chance to examine expenditures, how are we going to do that? I strongly support the suggestion which the Leader of the Opposition has made this afternoon, as do the members of this group; and when the motion comes before us, we are going to vote for it.

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SC

Solon Earl Low

Social Credit

Mr. Solon E. Low (Peace River):

Mr. Speaker, I do not think it is necessary to prolong the debate beyond a few words. I think that sufficient facts are before the house to make it possible for hon. members to render a judgment without going into a prolonged discussion of the amendment. I think there is a good deal of room for inquiry into the efficiency of the government and into the charges of waste and extravagance. The best way of doing that, I am not prepared to say nor, I suppose, is any member of my group. But certainly I stand for and will support the amendment as it is worded.

Before I sit down, Mr. Speaker, I want to emphasize that there is nothing in the wording of the amendment to suggest that a specific type of committee or commission

Government Organization-Proposed Inquiry

should be established. I draw your attention to the fact that the motion simply says:

In the opinion of this house an immediate inquiry should be instituted for the purpose of bringing about a more efficient and economic organization of government and the departments and agencies thereof.

I can think of half a dozen ways in which that could be done.

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LIB
?

An hon. Member:

Make your case.

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SC

Solon Earl Low

Social Credit

Mr. Low:

I imagine, Mr. Speaker, that it should be quite clear to all the members that it could be done. Now that I have had some interruptions from the other side, may I say that, if they want me to keep on talking, all they have to do is just to keep on interrupting.

Let me just say that one of the best evidences that an inquiry should be instituted into all phases of government activities is this. When members of the opposition have brought forward in this house specific allegations as to waste and extravagance, immediately the government has taken fast action to see that the causes were removed. I will just refer to something that was said here not long ago by the Minister of Resources and Development (Mr. Winters) in reply to a request for an inquiry into the Penhold construction situation. After my colleague the hon. member for Red Deer (Mr. Shaw) had spoken about the Penhold matter, the minister admitted at once that he had sent somebody in or had made an inquiry, and in his talk he indicated that certain causes were found for dissatisfaction.

That being the case, Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that the members of the opposition have not just been talking through their hats. They have had definite grounds on which to base a number of their charges. I suggest that it is high time that a complete inquiry was instituted into all the departments of government. I am prepared to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.

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CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. H. W. Herridge (Kootenay West):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to say a few words on this resolution because on first reading it seems to be quite innocent and something that all of us in this house could support; but I am under the impression that there is more in it than meets the eye.

I have on my desk a copy of "Policy Declarations and Resolutions" of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. In this booklet, at page 40 I find a paragraph entitled "Efficiency in Government" which reads as follows:

Recognizing the need for solving the problems of government organization and administrative management, the chamber recommends that at an opportune time there be instituted a thorough analysis of government departments and agencies by a royal commission (similar to the Hoover commission in the United States) with a view to making recommendations in the interests of economy and efficiency, and improved service in the transaction of public business.

I am rather in a dilemma, when I hear the Leader of the Opposition refer to the Hoover commission, when I read that that Hoover commission is suggested in this policy statement and when I also see, at the same time, a suggestion that this investigation, so far as efficiency, economy and waste is concerned, would or should result in lower taxation. The whole tenor of the policy statement of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce -and I do not blame the chamber of commerce one bit; the chamber of commerce defends business interests in this country- is that lower taxation will result in lower corporation taxes, and that welfare services have exceeded the limit.

I want to emphasize that we in this group certainly want to see waste and extravagance eliminated from government administration. We have said that repeatedly, and we are all behind the actual wording of this resolution, but we want to be quite certain that this examination into waste and extravagance that may bring some savings does not result in savings to the corporations of Canada but to the lower income groups. I am of the opinion, from what I have heard in this house, that possibly there could be considerable savings-as I have said before, perhaps 10 per cent without any loss in security in the Department of National Defence. But I would prefer to this motion that the government permit Mr. Currie to make a thorough investigation into the whole Department of National Defence. While there must be the usual minor inefficiency here and there, the only other department that I can think of that is outstandingly inefficient, and where we may make some savings, is the restaurant.

I want to make it quite clear that we in this group want inefficiency in government and waste and extravagance eliminated, but while we stand for a lessening of the income tax load on the lower income groups, we believe in higher corporation taxes. I want to make that quite clear to the house. We believe in an excess profits tax.

Topic:   REQUEST FOR INQUIRY TO PROMOTE GREATER EFFICIENCY IN GOVERNMENT
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March 9, 1953