March 16, 1939 (18th Parliament, 4th Session)


Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. ANGUS MacINNIS (Vancouver East):

I think little need be added to what has been said by the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil) in regard to the motion and on the amendment now before the house; that is, that the committee on public accounts proceed to Toronto to take evidence there. I took the position in the public accounts committee that we should first proceed with such evidence as could be obtained and such investigation as could be made in Ottawa, and that if subsequently we found it necessary to go to Toronto and inspect the John Inglis plant, that the permission of the house could then be requested. I am sure there would be no objection from the committee if it became evident as we proceeded that that was necessary. However, the majority of the committee thought otherwise, and we have this motion.
I sumbit that there is no reason at this time for inspecting the John Inglis plant. The commissioner who was appointed to investigate this contract and who heard evidence for something like two months, did not at any time during that time consider it a part of his duty to go to Toronto to inspect this plant officially. As the hon. member for
Vancouver North has already stated, if this committee inspects the John Inglis plant it will be bound to inspect all the other plants in Canada that %re capable of carrying on this kind of work.
We have in the report of Mr. Justice Davis, on page 37, the evidence of Mr. Fraser Elliott of the interdepartmental committee. He said:
The committee began to take an active part in the sense of asking questions and getting to grips with the problem. In so doing the committee indicated that competitive bi'ds should be one of the main considerations, and one of the first considerations. We pointed out that there was a number of very substantial subsisting companies in Canada that were manufacturing precision tools, and had. had experience in xvhat we thought was this line of work. We felt that they should be consulted and given an opportunity to submit competitive tenders. . . . The committee also thought there would be considerable time required for further consideration of the contract.
I submit that if we go to Toronto to see the John Inglis plant, and if we draw any inferences from what we see there, we are bound to visit these other plants and find out for ourselves whether they were or were not in a position to bid on this particular work.
One of the members of the committee, a medical man, speaking in favour of the motion to inspect the John Inglis plant and take evidence in Toronto, stated that he was taught by his professors never to make a diagnosis without seeing the patient. This is not a matter of making a diagnosis without seeing the patient. This is a matter of justifying a caesarean operation, two years after it was performed, by having a look at the infant. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that we shall be merely wasting the time of the house, the time of the committee and the money of the people of this country by taking this trip to Toronto. There are many things in regard to this contract, as the hon. member for Vancouver North has pointed out, that need investigating; but at this time it does not appear that there is anything that can be learned by going to Toronto to inspect this plant, because the John Inglis plant as it is to-day is not the John Inglis plant as it was at the time this contract was signed. As the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie) pointed out, I think on Tuesday last, something like $844,000 has been spent on this plant by the Canadian and British governments since that time.

Full View