I am willing to accept my
hon. friend's word, if he says that, but I understood him to say that he had not read the contract.
This debate has continued now for something more than a week, and I am sure there
are many in this house and beyond it who believe that every legitimate public interest would have been served if the questions at issue had been discussed over a period of two days, with a subsequent reference of all matters in dispute to the public accounts committee, as proposed originally by the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil).
Why has this not been done? The reasons are abundantly clear. The leader of the opposition has preferred to prejudge and anticipate any report that might come from the public accounts committee. He has asked for the cancellation of a contract which was not condemned by the royal commissioner who was appointed to inquire into that contract and the circumstances surrounding its negotiation. At the same time the hon. gentleman has opposed, by implication at least, any further investigation of this contract and allied matters by a properly constituted committee of this house; and in this rather strange and devious course he has been aided and abetted throughout by members of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation group, including the hon. member who moved the original motion to refer this question to the public accounts committee.
In the face of these facts, it is small wonder that we on this side of the house who are as . anxious, as we have proved, as any members of this house to have this matter thoroughly investigated, are convinced that members of opposition groups have now replaced, as it were, what was at first the paramount consideration in their mind-the reference of this matter to the public accounts committee for further investigation-with considerations of immediate political advantage. I say this with some regret, but I question if any other conclusion can be drawn from the debate as it has developed in this house during the past week. It is not easy to see any good reason for the objection taken by the leader of the opposition to the reference of this question to the public accounts committee. The reason he gave-