Hon. R. J. MANION (Leader of the Opposition) :
I wish to say only a few words at the present stage; I shall reserve any detailed suggestions until the bill is in committee. Unfortunately the demands on the time of all hon. members are such that we have not as much opportunity as we should like to study questions of this kind. However I have read the bill a few times, and I have read over again the speech of the Minister of National
Defence Purchasing Board
Defence (Mr. Mackenzie). As other hon. members have emphasized, I believe the bill is one of very great importance; I cannot think of any subject before the people of Canada to-day which is of more importance than the proper handling of the money that is to be spent in huge amounts by the Department of National Defence.
I want to refer briefly to one or two remarks made by the minister in regard to selected lists of contractors under past governments. In the first place, of course, I know nothing about this; I accept the statement of the minister in regard to the number of contracts let to those on selected lists. I had nothing to do with that department; I had my own troubles in the department of which I was the head, and had little time to follow the doings of other departments. At the same time I remind hon. members that during the time the Bennett government was in power we did go through a world depression, and an attempt was made at that time to allocate contracts of various kinds in such a manner as to relieve unemployment in various parts of this country. I also agree that possibly the use of selected lists may at times be the best way to deal with contracts. I do not wish to go into that question at length.
There is this also to remember: that in that period the whole world was hoping for peace, as unfortunately we cannot do with such confidence now. The German dictator had not come to the zenith of his power as he has recently. We all remember how Great Britain refrained from rearming, as many now think she should have done. We in Canada were in the same position. I made it my business to look up the amounts expended on armaments by Canada in the last ten years. I find that for the five years we were in power the total estimates of the Department of National Defence for defence purposes amounted to some $75,000,000. This year alone an expenditure of $63,000,000 is proposed.
Subtopic: CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES