July 28, 1942 (19th Parliament, 3rd Session)


William Ross Macdonald


Mr. W. R. MACDONALD (Brantford City):

Mr. Speaker, when the house rose last night I had given a brief review of the military experience and qualifications of the officer in command of the Canadian forces overseas, General McNaughton, and also those of the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston). It had been my intention, had I not had so many interruptions, to place on Hansard the very fine military records of the two associate ministers of national defence. Time, however, will not permit.
The amendment suggests that there should be a comprehensive reorganization of the Department of National Defence. That presupposes changes in the department, and I presume that it presupposes changes from the head down. Other men may be suggested for those positions. If it is the intention of those who sponsor this resolution that Mr. George Drew, who is set forth as an expert military man, should have one of these appointments, then I say that Lieutenant Drew-for I would remind the house that in no field of battle did he serve in the last war in any higher rank than that of lieutenant-is not qualified by
experience, training or research to be set up as the greatest authority in Canada on military tactics. And I further state that he has no qualifications whatsoever which would fit him for the position of chief of staff, adjutant general, commander of the Canadian forces, or as head of any one of the branches of national defence.
It has been stated in the house that when hearing the evidence with respect to this commission, the chief justice was acting merely within his capacity of commissioner, and the impression has been sent abroad that in the inquiry he had no powers as a judge. An effort has been made to have the people think that he was merely a commissioner and had not the powers a judge would have. In that connection I would read from page 4255 of Hansard of July 15 last, where the following reference is made to the appointment of a commissioner under the Inquiries Act:
Such commissioner shall have all the immunities enjoyed by any judge of any superior court in Canada while exercising his judicial functions, and that any and all powers and authority of any such judge relating to any contempt of court, whether committed in the face of the court or elsewhere, shall be vested in such commissioner in respect of such inquiry.
I mention that so that hon. members may know that the judge when sitting as a commissioner also had the powers of a judge.
I would also bring to the attention of the house the fact that according to the record all proceedings before the commission were heard in camera. In that connection I refer to page 4254 of Hansard of July 15, on which appears a letter written by George A. Campbell, KG., in which, in the fourth paragraph thereof, it is distinctly pointed out that the hearing was held in camera. From the fourth paragraph of his letter I read these words:
It flows from such ruling that all persons, including counsel, were specifically enjoined as to their duty to preserve secrecy as to testimony given, documents produced and all other evidence placed before the commissioner.
I would also bring to the attention of the house the fact that it was definitely agreed that at the close of the inquiry all documents would be delivered up. The next paragraph in Mr. Campbell's letter states:
At the conclusion of the hearing for the taking of testimony in this matter, and some days before the date fixed for completion of the hearing of oral argument, all counsel-
I emphasize the word "all".
.-all counsel concerned received notice from the commissioner requiring them on the day of the final hearing of oral argument to deliver up to the secretary of the commission any and all transcripts of evidence, exhibits and copies thereof, written argument and copies thereof.
Hong Kong Inquiry

It was distinctly understood that all arguments would be delivered up to the commissioner. What happened? One of the counsel, namely, counsel for the leader of the opposition, boasted after the report came out that he had retained his copy, in spite of the arrangement which was made before the royal commissioner. The counsel for the leader of the opposition had the effrontery to boast that he had defied the agreement which had been entered into, that he had retained his copy. I quote from the press of July 15:
Of course I have a copy of my argument and it is fortunate indeed that I have same.
I do not think any lawyer in Canada would condone such practice. I do not think the leader of the opposition would condone such practice on the part of his counsel, and I say to him here and now, having regard to the example that we should set in the maintaining of respect for law and order in this country, that he should repudiate George A. Drew, K.C., as his counsel.
Yesterday in this house reference was made to two other commissions, the Dardanelles commission and the Roberts commission. I should like to refer to one other commission of inquiry which was set up in Canada several years ago. Hon. members will recall that prior to the war the Canadian government, in conjunction with the government of Great Britain, entered into a contract for the production and manufacture in Canada of 12,000 Bren guns, 7,000 of which were to be for Canadian account and 5,000 for British account. The present counsel for the leader of the opposition in the Hong Kong inquiry, George A. Drew, K.C., objected to the agreement, and by published articles and otherwise he insisted that a royal commission should be appointed to inquire into it. A royal commission was set up, and again I commend the Prime Minister for the personnel he selected. The Honourable H. H. Davis, a judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, was appointed commissioner. Mr. Justice Davis had no political affiliations; he had never been associated with the Liberal party. Prior to being appointed a judge he had been a prominent Conservative in the city of Toronto, but upon his appointment to the bench he had divorced himself entirely from politics. I might say that he had been appointed to the bench by the Right Hon. R. B. Bennett. The commissioner heard all the evidence and made his finding. The finding was not satisfactoiy to the present counsel for the leader of the opposition, he demanded a further investigation. A parliamentary committee was set up. The investigation before the royal commission and before a committee TMr. W. R. Macdonald.]
of this house lasted almost one year, and I charge the present counsel for the leader of the opposition, George A. Drew, K.C., with holding up the production of Bren guns in Canada for at least one year.

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