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


Abraham Albert Heaps

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)


I am glad to have that statement from the minister. He prefers serving the public interest to seeking monetary reward. That is what I am getting at. If the minister and other hon. members of this house can serve the people of this country without the urge of monetary reward, why cannot the manufacturer of munitions be on the same basis? That is all I am asking. The minister says it requires the incentive of monetary gain; I believe that munitions can be produced without the incentive of monetary reward, just as so many hon. members of this house are prepared to give their services in the interest of Canada.
Further I believe that once you open the door to profit-making in the manufacture of munitions, the profit cannot be limited to five per cent, no matter how many audits are made of the books. I think it has been proved over and over again that these limitations do not limit. I would far rather see the government itself go into the production of munitions as far as practicable. I am

satisfied the government could do it on an efficient basis, just as the Ontario government runs its hydro, the city of Toronto its street railway system, or the city of Winnipeg its hydro. There is in this country to-day wherever you go a growing feeling of hostility to the making of profits out of armaments and munitions. When men are asked to serve in the military forces for SI.10 a day it is not a question of profit as far as they are concerned; it is a question of duty to their country. In the same way we should expect men to serve their country in time of need by producing munitions without profit.
I notice that the bill provides for the appointment of one paid officer, the chairman, and three others who will be given their out of pocket expenses and a per diem allowance. I am wondering what incentive there is to those three men to give their best services on this board. As to who is to comprise the board, I have just as much faith in the officials of the government who are in a way directly responsible to parliament as I have in any persons who may be put on the board. I believe that in .many respects this bill will not achieve the purposes for which it is intended. All it will do is create another department of government. I do not know where there are any greater experts outside than we have inside the service. Past experience with boards of this kind has not shown them to be very successful. All I hope is that if the bill goes through in its present form, at least there will be appointed to this board men of such a calibre as to merit the confidence of this house and the country.
Under the provisions of the bill now before us the functions of the board will not be very important, because once they have rendered a decision on certain contracts, those contracts will still come under the jurisdiction of the permanent officials of the Department of National Defence and the Department of Finance, and their decisions will ultimately have to be approved by the governor in council. That seems a cumbersome way of doing business. I would prefer to see a simpler method of awarding government contracts, a method under which those who award them will be directly responsible to this house.

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