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

CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

The British and United States navies existed in the early months of the war. But at that time the Emden went all around, to different parts of the world, and did a great deal of damage. There is nothing in the world which would stop such a raid. I am simply showing the possibilities *
which have been pointed out by this gentleman in the pages of the Canadian Defence Quarterly. I state these facts to show that I am not exaggerating when I say that this may mean the very life of our defence, and the very existence of our country as a nation.
So I submit that this is one of the most important questions before the Dominion of Canada at the present time. What condition are we in to protect ourselves? What condition have we got into, through the expenditure in the last two years of something like $70,000,000? I am told we are in a very, very poor condition. I have discussed the matter with various people who are much better informed in that regard than I am.
In view of these and many other facts I ask if the Prime Minister can sit quiet and endorse this deal? After all, it is his responsibility.
May I make it perfectly clear to the house and to the country that we have been discussing this important matter from the standpoint of what is best for Canada in defence, and of the method of providing munitions for that purpose.
My object, and the object of this party, is to insist upon the honest spending of the huge sums of money which are allocated for the defence of Canada.
I repeat now what I said in my last speech in this chamber, and on other occasions outside of the House of Commons, that there should be absolutely no profits whatsoever for anyone in the production of munitions to be used for the defence of our own country. That has been my attitude for nearly five years, and I am prepared to-day on behalf of this party to adhere now and in the future to that position. The attitude of our party is one of determination to stop, once and for all, any patronage or profiteering in munitions contracts.
Let the Prime Minister make any proposal he wishes to do away with such methods as the Davis report has revealed, and we will unhesitatingly support him.
In conclusion, may I say that this party has done what it conceives to be its duty. We cannot stop the reference to the public accounts committee, on which we have eight members out of fifty, and I assume the question will go to that committee. To that I have no particular objection, but I have no hope that the public accounts committee will add anything to the information already given to us by the Davis royal commission.
Hon. NORMAN McL. ROGERS (Minister of Labour): Mr. Speaker, the leader
of the opposition (Mr. Manion) has said just now that he believes the issue in this debate

Bren Gun-Mr. Rogers
ought to be more clearly defined. I agree wholly with that. He has said that there has been a confusion in the minds of some who have spoken as to what is the real issue in this debate. I agree with that too. But I would suggest to him that the confusion, such as it is, to which he has referred, has not been limited by any means to those who have spoken from this side of the house, and I would add further, that he himself cannot escape his share of responsibility for having not clarified the issue in the first instance.
He has said just now that the form and substance of this contract constitute the real issue before us at this time. Am I correct in that?

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
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