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


Harry Leader


Mr. HARRY LEADER (Portage la Prairie):

As one of those who formed the minority in the committee in regard to this proposal I should like to make my position clear. When the suggestion that the committee visit the Toronto plant was first broached, I thought a smaller committee would be more effective and more economical. I voted for the suggestion of the hon. member for Halifax (Mr. Isnor) that a subcommittee go to Toronto instead of sending the whole committee. That amendment was defeated, and the main motion was carried. I did not vote for the motion, but so far as I am concerned if the motion carries to-day I feel that it will be my duty to proceed to Toronto with the rest of the committee. However, I still feel that a small subcommittee would have been just as effective and certainly less expensive.

Mr. KARL K. HOMUTH (Waterloo South): Mr. Speaker, the first thing that strikes me in regard to this matter is the fact that the Bren gun contract and the report of Mr. Justice Davis were referred to the public accounts committee over four weeks ago. Almost four weeks went by before the committee was even called; almost five weeks have gone by, and we have had only one meeting. At that meeting the proposal now submitted by the chairman of that committee was adopted by an overwhelming majority. As one of those who opposed it I want to make my position clear, and at the same time I want to point out to hon. members what to my mind is a ridiculous situation. There has been a great deal of comment by the press and by citizens generally throughout the country as to the waste of time and of public money. If we take this proposed joy ride to Toronto I consider that it will be one of the worst pieces of burlesque to which this house has ever been a party.
What is proposed? It is suggested that we should send this committee, consisting of fifty members, to the city of Toronto to look over a plant which has a contract from this government. The original motion was that we should spend not more than two days there taking evidence. Now I understand the idea is that we should not take evidence. What is behind the motion? So far as I can see, the only thing behind it is that hon. members who resent the criticism of this contract may be able to go back to their voters and say, " We saw a very well-equipped plant, which is making the Bren machine gun." Why is this proposal advanced? For no other reason, Mr. Speaker, than that these hon. members, without any particular knowledge of machinery, or the equipment of this plant, or what it can do, may be in a position to try to offset the criticism that has come from one end of this country to the other with regard to this contract.
What brought about this whole trouble? It resulted simply because a man obtained a very important contract through political patronage, and it has been shown very clearly who that man is. He is a promoter; he has been promoting companies, not for the general welfare of the people of Canada but for his own welfare.

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