February 13, 1939 (18th Parliament, 4th Session)

CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Major Hahn had never manufactured. All he had done was to assemble radios, and when he was assembling these for ten years he or his company went broke and he paid twenty cents on the dollar. That is his record. I say that there are in the department this very day and there have been all along public servants like the deputy minister and various others who could have obtained the information and come back and laid it before the department. Industrialists could then have been called in just as the British government did in the matter of aeroplanes, and the whole thing would have been carried out in an absolutely upright manner and aboveboard.
We have had in the research department for some time one of the greatest soldiers in the British empire, Major-General McNaughton, a man who is not only an outstanding soldier but a Master of Science from McGill university. He is at the head of the National Research Council. He used to be chief of general staff.

Bren Gun-Mr. Manion
My former leader, Mr. Bennett, said many times that he had been informed by British soldiers that Major-General McNaughton was the best military man in the British empire. I cannot pass judgment upon that statement but I do know at any rate that Major-General McNaughton has a magnificent war record. Why did not the government send him over to get the information needed? Major Hahn is not a scientist. He is a lawyer by profession. Why was he sent? Why did not the-government enlist the services of Major-General McNaughton and have him bring back the necessary information and submit it to the department, and then have industrialists called in? If that course had been followed the government would have obtained the same sort of efficiency as was secured in connection with British aeroplane contracts for which the government there set up a board in Canada.
Major Hahn and his associates could have made a million dollars out of their stock dealings. At the price of the stock they stood to make a million dollars. These are a few of the aspects of the deal that seriously undermine the confidence of the Canadian people, but there are many other similar phases of the subject with which I shall deal briefly.
These points have all been brought to the attention of the government and of the house, most of them by myself, a good many of them by other hon. members including my own followers, and none of these points have been dealt with by hon. members opposite. They have confined themselves to the three paragraphs that exempt the persons involved from the charge of corruption. My hon. friends opposite have never tried to refute any argument advanced on this side. For my own part, in my first remarks I limited myself to the report itself. I gave chapter and verse for every statement I made, and I did not make any statement on my own authority. All the statements I made were based upon the authority of the Bren gun report as submitted by Mr. Justice Davis, the commissioner, and not one of the points that I established has been dealt with in the many speeches that have been made by my hon. friends opposite in supposed refutation of the arguments advanced against the government.
My criticism is against the government as a whole and not against the minister particularly for his action. I say that the whole government is responsible. Now what were the statements I made? Let me give a synopsis of them. First, I said the Prime Minister was deceived by the hon. member for Trinity when that hon. gentleman wrote
him in 1936, two and a half years ago, that a group of friends of his had a fully equipped plant in Toronto for the making of munitions. As a matter of fact the plant is not yet fully equipped; it is only being equipped at the present moment. Nor is it manufacturing munitions to-day. It was not fully equipped and therefore the hon. member deceived the Prime Minister. He rose in his place and expressed himself in a brief, dignified speech of three and a half minutes. I do not wish to do this young man any harm, but he never touched that charge made against him, and nobody has. Does anyone deny that he deceived the Prime Minister?

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
Full View