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


Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)


Probably it does, but that amount is almost equal to the total for the five years during which the Bennett government was in power. For the past two years the figure was $70,000,000, just about equal to the total amount spent during the five years of the Bennett government. I am not giving these figures in any spirit of criticism; I believe that with present world conditions we must be prepared to defend ourselves. As I said during the debate on the address Canada cannot sit back and depend upon other countries, however friendly they may be, to defend us if we are in trouble. Because of this huge expenditure, however, it seems to me all the more necessary that we should do everything in our power to avoid the errors of the past, if errors were made, as no doubt they were.
I have never questioned the statement that errors were mad'e during the war, though I have never checked up to see if that was so; and I presume such errors were serious. All the more reason, therefore, that at this time, when thank God the world is not at war, we should be very careful so to spend this huge amount of money that there cannot come from the public any condemnation of what we call our democratic parliamentary system.
To a certain extent I believe hon. members to my left, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, are right when they say the public demands or at least desires nationalization of the entire manufacture of munitions in Canada. The hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) admitted, I thought very fairly, that this is too much to hope for. I forget the exact words he used, but he admitted, in terms with which I agree, that such nationalization is really too much to expect. However, I think if we could get nationalization without too much in the way of capital investment by the government, and without getting into government manufacture on a huge scale, it would meet with the approval of the people. At any rate the people do desire, in fact they demand, that there must be no unfair profits, which is what I would call profiteering, in regard to these expenditures. In other words if they cannot have nationalization, they demand that we must have full and absolute control of profits.
With the object of the bill and the principle behind it, as I said the other day, I believe we all agree; that is, the principle of cutting down profits as far as possible. Whether or not this bill will accomplish that end I do not know; some of its sections I think require elucidation, and when we are dealing with it in committee I intend to ask certain questions and make certain suggestions in an endeavour to improve the bill. To show what can be done by private enterprise, however, I should like to refer to the Canadian Annual Review of 1918, which contains a very good account of the work done during the war by the imperial munitions board. Even though it may be a little tedious I am going to take this opportunity of putting some extracts on record, because I am convinced that the business men of Canada are the equal of the business men of any other country in the world. I am also convinced of something
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with which some may disagree; that is, that the business men of Canada, if given the opportunity, are ready to do their share in serving this country. I believe that, and I believe business men should be given a greater opportunity to serve without remuneration. Therefore I believe that with a better appreciation of what they did during the war-much of it for profit I admit-we might safely come to the conclusion that by calling in the business men of this country to assist whatever government may be in power we can obtain service for this dominion which we cannot secure if we merely maintain in its entirety the old profit motive.
I quote from page 542 of the Canadian Annual Review of 1918:
To the imperial munitions board, which succeeded the famous Shell Commission in 1915, under appointment by the imperial government and with Sir Joseph W. Flavelle as chairman, much of this success was due. Prior to August, 1914, Canadian manufacturers knew nothing of shrapnel or shell-making and had never made a cartridge case or fuse; by December 31, 1915, under the Shell Commission, they had exported $57,241,852 worth; in the next three years, under the imperial munitions board, they had exported nearly a billion dollars' worth- $296,505,257 in 1916, $388,213,553 in 1917; $260,711,751 in 1918. The total for the whole war period was $1,012,548,501, with contracts in hand which would largely exceed that figure, as a manufacturing total. In 1915 desperate efforts were being made to produce fuses; at the beginning of 1918 Canada was turning them out at the rate of 2,750,000 per month and of such high quality as to win congratulations from the imperial authorities. By this time the making of 16,000,000 boxes to carry munitions overseas had been carried out and the production of explosives such as cordite, T.N.T.. acetone, methyl-ethyl and nitric acid steadily developed and maintained; large orders from the United States were on hand including 7,000,000 shells, 10,000,000 forgings and 2,000,000 cartridge cases; over 300 aeroplanes a month were being produced and large orders for steel ships were under way. The board in these months was spending $1,000,000 a day in Canada, and contracts had been given or were being worked out by 950 manufacturing firms. As the year 1918 passed on the work of the board grew in volume and variety. National munition plants were put in operation at a cost of $15,000,000 in Montreal, Renfrew, Trenton, Toronto and Parry Sound, and in them powder and high explosives were made, fuses loaded, steel and forgings produced and aeroplanes built.
A little lower down on page 543 there is a quotation from a statement by the British war cabinet, which I think is worth putting on record:
Dealing at this juncture with production, as it had been in 1917, the British war cabinet declared that "the manufacturing resources of Canada have been mobilized for war production almost as completely as those of the British isles/' and added these detailed facts-

This is the statement by the British war cabinet:
15 per cent of the total expenditure of the ministry of munitions in the last six months of the year was incurred in that country.
That is, in Canada.
She has manufactured nearly every type of shell from the 18-pounder to the 9-2-inch. In the case of the 18-pdr., no less than 55 per cent of the output of shrapnel shells in the last six months came from Canada, and most of these were complete rounds of ammunition, which went direct to France. Canada also contributed 42 per cent of the total 4-5 shells, 27 per cent per cent of the 6-inch shells, 20 per cent of the 60-pdr. H.E. shells, 15 per cent of the 8-inch and 16 per cent of the 9-2-inch. In addition Canada has supplied shell forgings, ammunition components, propelants, acetone, T.N.T., aluminum, nickel, aeroplane parts, agricultural machinery and timber, besides quantities of railway materials, including no less than 450 miles of rails torn up from Canadian railways, which were shipped direct to France.
Then this article goes on to say:
Ships to the value of $64,000,000 were put under construction by the board; the operations at Shawinigan in producing calcium acetate, and acetic acid grew to large proportions and included cellulose acetate for aeroplane wings with important orders, also, from the United States-
Over on the next page it gives the complete figures of our exports during the four years, in regard to quantities. There are a good many other details which I do not wish to put on record, but I think these are worth while:
Shells 65,343,647
Fuses 29,638,126
Fuse parts 16,174,073
Cartridge cases 48,627,673
Percussion primers 35,386,488
Shell forgings 6.412,115
Explosives; chemicals (lbs.) ... 111,297,107 Metals; compounds (lbs.). . .. 107,282,336
Lumber (feet) 53,327,107
Exploder containers 13,285,000
Then it goes on to deal with the matter in greater detail. I quote this, sir, because I think it should be on record in justice to our business men. It shows the magnificent work that was done during the last war. I repeat that it is my opinion that given the opportunity, particularly in peace time when there is not the pressure that existed during the war, we can produce munitions in Canada in the same splendid way that we did during the last war, as is illustrated by what I have just quoted. I repeat that I believe we should do more, I do not mind saying that on one occasion I proposed to my own leader, in connection with another matter, to call in the business men of Canada to assist us in certain matters. I believe if some of our leading business men were given a chance

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such as Mr. Purvis was given in regard to unemployment, if they were brought in to assist, that they would gladly do so in any way they can-just as members of parliament as was mentioned a few moments ago, desire to assist their country. Undoubtedly that is the desire of members of parliament. I believe they are working for the good of Canada, whatever the criticisms may be that are opposed to that suggestion.
I repeat I would prefer that there should be no profits at all in the manufacture of munitions for Canada. But, after all, the government has looked into the matter thoroughly. The minister reviewed the attitude of the governments of various countries, and it is the opinion of the government that we cannot go in for the manufacturing of munitions by ourselves. Therefore the government must do everything it can to maintain full control of profits, such as they are.
I have made the statement that I believe discussion in the house on the Bren gun inquiry has had much to do with the improvement of the bill. The bill is a refutation of the statement which has been made outside the house, as well as in it, that the Bren gun discussion merely held up the business of the country. Had it not been for that discussion I believe this bill would not be as good as it is. I believe the government will admit it is more ready, because of the criticism it received-and perhaps it claims some of that criticism was unjust-to see to it that the bill is as close to perfection as possible.
For example, had the measure now before us been in force-even as it now stands, without the improvements which I hope will be made as a result of discussions in committee- there would have been competition in the Hahn contract. There was no competition in that contract, either through public tender or, through use of a selected list. To my mind a selected list would have done away With the severe criticism of the Hahn contract. Then, there would have been no letter of introduction to one man, to the exclusion of all others, or the making of one man the representative of Canada. There would have been no pressure on Great Britain. There would have been no stock profits.
When the minister is on his feet I would like him to explain further what he said as it is reported at page 1759 of Hansard. In reply to a question of mine he stated in effect that in the Bren gun contract the possibility of stock profit had been done away with.

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