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


Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)



-after arguments of counsel, whether or not he could deal with charges which had not been made specifically by Colonel Drew in the article written in Maclean's magazine. There was no restriction imposed by counsel, least of all any restriction imposed by the government. The only restrictions accepted by the commissioner were those implicit in the terms of the Inquiries Act.
Let me turn now to the issue which is actually before the house in this debate. Perhaps my hon. friend will allow me to state the issue as I see it, even as, a little while ago, he stated it as he saw it. In simple terms the issue before us is this: In the light of the report made by the royal commissioner on the Bren gun contract, should that contract be cancelled forthwith, or should the contract itself and the several questions referred by the commissioner for the consideration of parliament be referred to the public accounts committee for further investigation and report? These are the two. alternative procedures before the house at the present time. In his original amendment my hon. friend proposed that the Bren gun contract should be cancelled forthwith. When that was ruled out of order, the hon. member for Kootenay East (Mr. Stevens) moved another amendment which, I suggest, was in effect for the same purpose, namely to bring about the immediate cancellation of the Bren gun contract; whereas the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil) who moved the original motion suggested that the report on the contract and allied matters should be referred for investigation to the public accounts committee.
In the first place neither the report of the commissioner nor anything that has been said
in the course of this debate can be urged in justification of the cancellation of the Bren gun contract. There are only two sufficient reasons which might be given for the cancellation of this contract. The first is that the contract is tainted with fraud and corruption, and the second is that in substance it is not a good contract. I think at this point it might be useful to refer to what was said a little while ago by the leader of the opposition with respect to charges that had been made by Colonel George Drew, charges which subsequently were fully investigated by Mr. Justice Davis. The leader of the opposition has said that he is now making no charges of fraud or corruption with respect to the Bren gun contract. In the most recent issue of Maclean's magazine I read these words:
There is not one word in the Davis report which disputes the facts disclosed in Maclean's article.
But I suggest that one thing which has led to the confusion in this debate is this, that members on the opposition side have been dealing in large measure with the evidence brought by Colonel Drew before the commission, and have been ready to draw inferences from that evidence which were entirely rejected by the royal commissioner, Mr. Justice Davis. Maclean's magazine refers to the facts having been fully borne out by the investigation. But it was not the facts alleged by Colonel George Drew in the article which he wrote in Maclean's magazine that caused the most damage in this country, and my hon. friend, I am sure, is fully aware of this. What really tended to create suspicion and undermine confidence in the Department of National Defence were the insinuations and innuendoes which were drawn from those facts by Colonel George Drew. I suggest that the whole purpose of the article written originally by Colonel Drew and published by Maclean's magazine was to prove that there had been fraud and corruption in connection with the Bren gun contract.

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