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


Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. R. J. MANION (Leader of the Opposition) :

Mr. Speaker, I wish to say only a few words in connection with this matter, and in doing so I shall endeavour to point out the real issue before the house.
In part, the motion moved originally by the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil) and seconded by the hon. member for Weyburn (Mr. Douglas) was as follows:
. . . together with a copy of the agreement between the government and the John Inglis Company of Toronto for the manufacture of Bren guns, the report of the royal commission dealing with said agreement, and all related documents, evidence, vouchers and exhibits be referred to the standing committee on public accounts.
That was the reference to the public accounts committee. In other words that committee is to look into the contract and the manner in which it was given, and is to pass its opinion upon whether or not the contract was properly given.
The hon. member for Vancouver-Burrard (Mr. McGeer), in one of his usual eloquent speeches, has done everything he can as a lawyer to confuse the issue. He has dragged in a lot of material which has nothing at all to do with the investigation by the public accounts committee. For example, he said something to the effect that the trip to Toronto and the investigation was for the purpose of finding out if peace-time industry might be turned into war-time industry, or something along that line. I am not quoting his exact words, but that is one of the thoughts back of the expression he used. We all know that peace-time industry in this country can be converted into war-time industry; it has been done over and over again. Just a few days ago

I think the hon. member was absent at the time-I quoted from the Canadian Annual Review where they give the record of Canadian industry during the last war. I thought that this information should be placed on record. I showed from that statement that over a thousand million dollars' worth of war materials had been produced by Canadian peace-time industry during the last war, by converting those industries into war industries. I do not know that I can lay my hand on that 71492-123
statement at the moment, but I quoted from the same book a most complimentary reference to Canadian industry for the magnificent work it had done at that time. We do not need any committee to go to Toronto to find out whether peace-time industry can be converted into war-time industry. We know that without an investigation of any kind. The committee was not asked to do that, as the hon. member for Leeds (Mr. Stewart) points out. The committee was asked to make an investigation of this contract akin to the investigation carried on already by the Davis commission.

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