March 14, 1939 (18th Parliament, 4th Session)

LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Well now, that is a direct and timely answer. The experts in gunnery and armoury shall be left with the Department of National Defence. By exception we have two experts in the House of Commons-only two. There is the hon. member for St. John-Albert (Mr. McAvity) who was on the imperial munitions board, and the hon. member for Huron, who made munitions during the war. In addition to that, none of us knows anything 71492-118
about the making of munitions. The Minister of Finance has just said there is no one in his department who is expert in such matters. Well now, what will happen when there is an order or a requisition for a certain quantity of munitions, in a contract exceeding $5,000? The Minister of National Defence will have no authority to decide upon it. He may receive requisitions from Great Britain or from some other country, and those requisitions will be sent to the Department of Finance.
Then, we will have a board composed of four people-and this is in accordance with the report of Mr. Justice Davis. Who will those four men be? One will be a capable and experienced corporation lawyer, a com-merical lawyer who has had wide practice in dealing with large commercial contracts. You know, sir, that most of the trouble experienced by this country in regard to watered stock has been due to corporation lawyers. As a rule, corporation lawyers are a failure at politics, and no one has experienced that more than the present leader of the opposition (Mr. Manion), who is a distinguished medical doctor. There is no need for any corporation lawyer on that board. In fact, if somebody requires information about the solvency of a company which has sent a tender on a piece of ammunition he has only to subscribe to Dun's. It will cost $25 per annum, and he will receive all possible information concerning solvency of any company. If the Minister of Finance wishes to be more economical, he may ask the Bank of Canada to supply information concerning the solvency of any company which sends in a tender. Therefore there is no need for a commercial lawyer who has had a wide practice in dealing with large commercial contracts. And here is the point: It is just because the one who is now judge advocate general has had no experience at all in commercial contracts that one is required on the board.
Then the second suggestion is that there shall be a representative of labour. That is a farce, because the Department of Finance has no authority to prescribe hours of labour. You know, sir, the fate of the social legislation enacted by the House of Commons, but which was declared ultra vires by the privy council. There is no possibility of using the services of any representative of labour in connection with those contracts. We have no authority to do that. Unless the constitution is changed, the government can do nothing, except give a fat job or sinecure to a parasite of some kind. .
And now we come to the capable and experienced manufacturer. This is dangerous,

Defence Purchasing Board

because such capable and experienced manufacturer must have some friends to protect underneath. I find that provision most dangerous.
Then there is mention of a chartered accountant, under the Minister of Finance. This is what I have preached in the house: Instead of having accountants from the Department of Finance the Minister of National Defence should have his own chartered accountants. If we look at the British publication which shows the personnel of the British war office, the British admiralty, the air department and the department for the coordination of defence, we see the number of chartered accountants who are appointed to look after the expenditures of each department. But here all the accountants of all departments are in the Department of Finance. This is another most dangerous step. Officials of the various departments are all intermingled. We have the example of the Minister of Finance being the head of the accountants in all departments. There is not a single accountant in the civil service who is not under the Minister of Finance. With a few exceptions, the legal advisory counsel of various departments are under the Minister of Justice. You have also a lawyer like the chief advocate general of the department of pensions, who is not a lawyer at all, and whose only qualification was to study medicine for one year. Then there are the translators, who are mostly under the Secretary of State, although they are scattered amongst various departments. I am against that, Mr. Speaker. There is no more hierarchy; there is no order in the departments. The minister cannot give definite instructions to any one of these men who are amongst his employees because they are under another minister and to reach them he has to communicate with that other minister, one of his colleagues. I am strongly opposed to that in principle.
There is another thing which also causes me the deepest concern. It is that all that intermingling, if I may call it that, is an arrangement to allow various officials to be entirely free to do just as they please under the authority of no one. The further away the authority is, the lesser in degree, in my humble view. I have studied many files and what I notice-and I wish to bring this to the attention of my right hon. leader and his colleagues

is the easy way in which several high officials try to evade all authority and all responsibility. That may not always be noticed, of course, but it is a very dangerous practice. My right hon. leader knows that if there is communism in Russia to-day it is due entirely to the extravagance of bureaucracy;

and in Germany and Italy the members of their bureaucracy were so powerful as to cause the destruction of democracy in those countries. Their influence was not always apparent. They were like termites, which were undermining the pillars of state. Today there is no more democracy in Russia, there is no more democracy in Italy, there is no more democracy in Germany; and here in Canada we are on the eve of having a dictatorship of bureaucracy. We should see the connection between the editorial staff, the whole staff of the Ottawa Journal, and the staff of the civil service commission, to understand what is behind the insults of which I have been the victim. I do not pose as a martyr, because I do not care what is said about me in praise or blame. I try to do my duty. In fact, Mr. Speaker, ever since I have been in politics I have been called so many names as to exhaust the richest vocabulary, and what can be said of me now can be only a repetition. Therefore I am indifferent to abuse. But what I regret is that some people do not see what is behind this. If order is not restored in the civil service we shall run the risk of falling down as other countries have done where bureaucracy was not checked.
Of course, it is always unpleasant to say something of anyone which is not a compliment; it is not a pleasure, but duty must come before sentimentality. Moreover there is the popular side to consider. People are thinking more deeply now than they ever did before, and they are very much concerned about these special privileges that are granted to the very few.
A man cannot be judged by his salary. Here we receive an indemnity of 84,000. Of that, all of us may pay perhaps $1,000 for insurance, give away $1,500 for gifts in our constituencies, and for travelling expenses, and what is left? Very little. There is $1,500 to live on, and we have to run into debt. We are not considered important because we receive a very small indemnity. But if the members of the House of Commons were receiving as much as the two officials whom I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, we should all be great men because our incomes would be much higher. That may seem stupid, but it is the view of many people. In the civil service, however, when a man has reached his maximum salary he is considered a genius, even if he was dumb when he was earning but little at the start.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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